Baltimore Guardian

Mid-Season Recap

It wasn’t until I actually sat down to write this post that I realized that out of 19 plays that have opened since January 8th of this year: I’ve only seen 2. Fifty Words and The Brothers Size both at Everyman, and btw – they both SUCKED. This is a shame since they (Everyman) truly are one of the best theatre companies in this city.

It’s not that I’m avoiding other venues, it’s just I have no motivation to see their plays anymore. Sadly, the ones I do want to see are often on the opposite side of town from me (like Coastal Disturbances over at FPCT) where getting back could theoretically be a problem.

Lest you think I’m being lazy, I’ve spent much of my time lately trying to come up with a good name for an arts\culture blog – that hasn’t already been taken. However, I’ve also heard that there is a slight – keyword “slight” – possibility that the (Baltimore) Guardian could come back in some form (probably immediately after my new site is up and running).

In the meantime, those reviews will continue to be posted here…where they’ll continue to get zero page views. 😦

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One month out

It has been one month since my ouster from The Baltimore Guardian.

I never went to Florida or South Carolina (train tickets cost money), but I might cover Occupy Our Home’s “Have a Heart: Eviction Defense March” in Hunt Valley on Tuesday (I could use the news writing experience…even if I was just at HVTC last Tuesday).

Beyond that, I don’t know. I sort of miss having a separate place I can post reviews to, but The Guardian was such a pain to post – make that attempt to post to. The problem is, I’m not sure where else to send them as local art\theatre stories have a very limited geographically salable range. Sure, I could still write about TV and\or movies, but I’ve found that covering beats gets old – fast.

As I stated in my previous post, maybe it’s time for a “change of venue:” after all, DC, NYC, and Philadelphia all have active arts scenes. Maybe I can cover courts or stocks… or maybe I should just go out and get a real job.

Categories: Baltimore Guardian, entertainment, job hunting, news, ramblings, writing | 1 Comment

Random Ramblings: Part 2

To be honest, during my last few months at The Baltimore Guardian I found myself wanting to write about something – ANYTHING – other than theatre. I kept hearing about all these supposedly good movies like Drive, Shame and The Adventures of Tintin, but there I was sitting in a claustrophobically small theatre watching some mediocre singer warble his way through “Try to Remember” (already an overrated song).I guess that’s part of the reason I took a Friday off to see Forces of Nature at the Science Center.

However much fun reviewing films look from the outside, I know for me it would still have a sort of “been there\done that” feel (my first clip was a review of Final Destination 2 for The Miami Hurricane in 2003). Sure, I’ve dabbled in reviewing books and video games, but one area that’s conspicuously absent from my writing portfolio is music.

For instance, I just did a search of the “Gigs” section on Craigslist and almost a third of the listings were from music blogs looking for “unpaid contributors.” ALL of them (like The Baltimore Guardian before them) promised to eventually pay their writers once they became profitable enough. This means one of possibly two things: 1) the market is so over-saturated with sites like these that they cannot differentiate themselves from the dozen or so identical blogs and will thus die within the year when their “volunteer writers” decide to look elsewhere (also like The Baltimore Guardian) or 2) the demand for ad space on blogs like this is so great that they have to continually hire new contributors just to fill the gaps between ads, and since paychecks are sent out almost immediately upon launch, the only turnover is due acceptance of work at larger publications. I’ll let you decide which (if any) is more plausible.

The other trend missing from my portfolio is financial writing. While missing from this month’s listings, writing about stocks appears often on several local job boards (including Craigslist). These positions are decidedly NOT volunteer based, but I still find it hard to muster enough passion to write about a .5% increase in Apple’s quarterly earnings with any sort of conviction.

I need to come up with new ideas and perhaps a new direction for my writing career… Servus.

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Random Ramblings

Sorry for not posting lately. I had a post ready for earlier this week, but as novel as short sleeves and sunshine is in the middle of January it doesn’t necessarily make for compelling reading. I then came up with an idea for reslanting part of my story as a rant, but it made my sound like a bigger jerk than I normally am. I even tried reframing some of my better observations as some sort of “roundup,” but by then realized it was pointless…kind of like this post.

In other business, I finally heard back from my former editor at The Baltimore Guardian. The site isn’t dead, but it won’t be posting anything in the foreseeable future either (in other words, it’s the Fidel Castro of journalism). He claims he’s going to “reorganize” and “bring it back” at some point, but for now, it’s…um…whatever the opposite of not-dead is.

In the meantime, I sent (Baltimore) City Paper an inquiry letter last weekend about reviewing Fifty Words at Everyman. I never got an answer back, which I guess is itself an answer. I completely forgot completely about Baltimore OUTloud until they updated their site yesterday afternoon. (Baltimore) Gay Life no longer runs theatre reviews, a shame since I don’t like posting reviews on this blog.

Categories: Baltimore Guardian, ramblings, theatre, writing | Leave a comment

Happy New Year – You’re Fired

This post was initially going to be about the results of the Iowa caucuses and the political flameouts that resulted from it. But then I got an e-mail saying that The Baltimore Guardian would “no longer be sending me on reviews.”

In other words: the trolls have won, congratulations.

The “official” explanation is that he could not afford to keep the site going because it was losing money for him. However, I paid for every single show out of pocket with no compensation at all, and for this reason alone, if he hadn’t pulled the plug on this arrangement I would have.

This termination means that I am no longer seeing shows because I “have” to, and instead of stacking bad shows just to meet quota, I can see good shows because I WANT to.

Not only that, but by not seeing: MilkMilkLemonade (Single Carrot, who probably don’t want me at their shows anyway), Arsenic & Old Lace (Vagabond Players) and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Spotlighters), I can finally afford to see shows like: Fifty Words at Everyman, Centerstage’s A Skull in Connemara or even The Addams Family at the Hippodrome.

To clarify, I have nothing against the former theaters: $15 (TSC) + $15 (VP) +$15 (Spot) = $45 (Everyman). Yes, they’re a comparative bargain, but in community theatre you tend to get what you pay for. For instance, there was nothing fundamentally “wrong” with The Fantasticks, but I wasn’t rushing out to recommend it to anybody either. To be fair, there were a LOT of problems with Shooting Star, but none of them were Everyman’s fault (the cast was excellent… the script was terrible).

This, of course, brings up two questions: 1) what happens to the stories I’ve already started (capsule reviews of the IMAX Film Festival)… and 2) now that I’m no longer working for The Baltimore Guardian and was summarily rejected from grad school at UB, what is tying me to Baltimore (besides rent and jury duty)?

No really, since graduating from SHS in 1998, I have lived in four different states (California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maryland) for three years apiece where I held no single job for longer than a year-and-a-half (which, believe me, looks horrible on a resume). Do I take Amtrak to New Hampshire or South Carolina and do a half-assed update of Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trial? Do I try to restart my writing portfolio at another publication in\around Maryland or go full time on my freelance career?

So many questions…so few answers…just like in politics.

Categories: Baltimore Guardian, editorials, job hunting, news, ramblings, writing | 5 Comments

Baltimore theatre in review

September:

The Rivals” (Centerstage) ****

Epicoene, or The Silent Woman” (Mobtown) ***

October:

“Logic, Luck & Love” (Spotlight UB)***

November:

The Fantasticks” (Spotlighters) ***½

Captain Freedom” (Landless) *

December:

And Underneath the Moon,” Glass Mind **½

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Editorial: More thoughts on “Baltimore Heroes”

These are three important points that I didn’t address in my
review of “Baltimore Heroes:”

According to GEM’s website, Heroes strives to showcase the “unique personalities and businesses that make Charm
City so charming.” But, the problem is, they’re trying to do so in a room that
is maybe 20’ x 20’ – nowhere near enough room for three centuries of
philanthropy, innovation and athletic achievement (even though they have an
entire separate museum immediately below them for sports).

They currently get around this by rotating content every
four months, in other words, making it what it should have been all along – a
series of temporary exhibits (except more tightly focused on one individual or
group). For instance, they could do an entire exhibit on Baltimore radio
stations, rather than simply displaying a few neatly folded T-shirts on the
bottom shelf of their platinum artists’ case.

Another idea, and I’ve toying with this for a while, would
be to sell\lease the adjoining “Extra! Extra!
exhibit to another museum, move Heroes into that much larger space and then
shift “Going Global: 1991-2003” into the old Heroes space. This would be much more work
and be only a temporary solution at that, but it is easier and far less
expensive then spinning it off into its own gallery (see below).

This leads into the exhibitions second major problem: there
is nothing to tie it into the rest of the museum. Geppis is an “entertainment
museum,” and while not explicitly stated, these galleries reflect the shared
values and experiences of the entire country not the hyper-local jingoism
expressed by this exhibit.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with civic pride,
but this is not the venue to display it in. It’s about knowing who your
audience is – in this case tourists\visitors – and what they are looking to see
in a museum of this sort. Specifically, they are looking for that “shared
experience” I mentioned earlier, but regional magazines, old neighborhood
prints and TV station logos are not part of said experience.

It is this point that leads me to believe that the idea
behind this exhibit is worthy, but it is a poor match for its venue. If this
exhibit were located across the hall from “Nipper’s Toyland
or in the back room of the Baltimore Visitor’s Center,
I wouldn’t bat an eye. I can also see it housed at Power Plant Live as part of
a mini-museum row with MAP and the National Pinball Museum or coupled with the proposed
Ripley’s museum
in the warehouses behind Camden Yards or even a
separate space downtown (I hear Charles Center is vacant).

I don’t expect the museum to take my points seriously, but I
think Baltimore’s heroes deserve more than what this current show is offering
them.

Categories: attractions, Baltimore, Baltimore Guardian, editorials, entertainment, ramblings | Leave a comment

Editorial: Reflections on a half season of Baltimore theatre

I started reviewing theatre for the Baltimore Guardian back in January of
this year after being rejected from seemingly every paying job in the city. The review of “Shooting
Star
” was the second play I’d seen since moving to Baltimore in 2009
(the first was the abysmalZippy the Pinhead: The Musical”) and only the
second play I’d seen since “As You Like It” at UM’s Jerry Herman Ring Theater in 2004 (because there was
only ONE theatre in the rural town I moved here from – and it only showed middle\high school plays).

There is one misconception about my reviews it is that I “hate
all shows” or that I only go into them “so I can rip them apart” from some
perverse gain. I go into a show with the sole
purpose to be entertained, and if I’m paying $45 out of pocket
for a show than I expect to be at least not be bored (that’s right I’m talking
about you, “Crime & Punishment”).

Seriously, DON’T BORE ME – I can only take one “Muldoon” per season
(part of the reason I started writing art\movie reviews as well).

Also, when I write reviews I am always cognizant of the fact
that I am merely voicing an opinion,
and that sadly for some many shows it will be the only opinion (as the only other theatre sites for Baltimore that
I’m aware of are BBW, CN\DQ and Maryland Theatre Guide). I occasionally hear from people who disagree with my opinion
(“for every caller is a thousand listeners”) and enjoy hearing from people who legitimately
liked the show in question (to be differentiated from bomb throwing trolls from
the theatre companies).

City theatre companies (with the exception of Mobtown Players) have announced the
shows for their upcoming seasons, and I in turn have posted a preliminary list
of the shows I’m planning to see (for the first half of the season anyway). I also have a similar,
but nowhere near complete, list of upcoming art shows, but most of my time (and money) will be consumed with these
plays.

I have a few other projects to complete this holiday weekend
(none of which involve overpriced cars driving around in circles), and
barring any technical\server issues hope to have more stories posted later this
week. Servus.

Categories: Baltimore Guardian, editorials, entertainment, news, theatre | Leave a comment

Art, writing and theatre

Sometimes I get bored. It happens, but sometimes I decide to do something about it.

I woke up late on Friday with no particular plan, just a minor sinus headache and a somewhat abstract deadline. Never a good
combination, but I took an Aspirin and decided to make the best of it. I picked up the City Paper from the table, circled a few items and headed out the door.

My first stop of the day was…the Quiznos at MLK Blvd. You don’t expect me to judge art on an empty stomach do you?

My second stop of the day was The Walters Art Museum to see their new nautical themed show “Setting
Sail: Drawings of the Sea from the Walters Collection
.” It was a small, but stylistically varied show up on the 5th floor. In fact, the only
real complaint about it was the fact that I couldn’t find anything to complain about.

I left The Walters around 1pm, and decided to visit the neighboring Contemporary Museum as I’d pass it was on the back to the Light Rail. It’s a small museum, but I always find it vaguely inspiring to walk through if only in an “I can do that” kind of way. After two minutes in their gallery, I left utterly convinced that I chose the wrong major.

The train arrived at the station less than 3 minutes after I did, and I rode it up to Mt Royal station as they have a Starbucks that I sit and write at. I ordered my drink and went to one of the tables outside where I remembered there was an art show going on at the Student Center.

It was called “Hollow Men” and it was a collection of paintings hung in the hallway between the auditorium and the ballrooms. I liked the diversity of style and subject matter as well as the fact that none of the staff members that passed me said anything
about me drinking a frozen coffee in the middle of an art gallery.

I arrived back at the apartment shortly after 2pm and started writing my reviews.

Finally, I grew tired of staring at a blank screen and pulled my newspaper out again. There had to be something going on in this city, and there was – the opening of a play at that little theatre across from Centerstage.

Truthfully, theatre isn’t exactly at the top of my to-do list this summer, but it gave me an excuse not to cook dinner. The fact
that the show wasn’t as good as I had hoped is almost beside the point.

I got back shortly after 11pm, and began the processof venting my mixed feelings about the show I’d just seen. I knew that I’d eventually have to start writing those art stories, but I was tired and figured I’d work
on them in the morning.

Categories: art, Baltimore Guardian, entertainment, theatre, writing | 1 Comment

Update-Maryland film fest recap

I recieved a check from The Baltimore Guardian yesterday for all five shows I saw as part of the Maryland Film Festival. I did have to provide copies (as I am keeping the originals for my own records) of all reciepts from the festival. I have been promised payment for all my other pieces from The Baltimore Guardian… “sometime this year.” 

It’s a start anyway.

Categories: Baltimore Guardian, entertainment, festivals, movies, writing | Leave a comment

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