Sunday, July 25, 2004 -- 07:22 p.m.

The Tsunami Theatre Company's purported mission is to celebrate innovation, collaboration, inter- and intra-cultural communication and understanding. As for me, I'd never heard of Porcelain. But the Washington Post gave it a good review, saying it was chock full of gay male angst.

Goody, said I, and went.

Porcelain was a play by Chay Yew; according to the brochure, it was originally presented in London in 1992. I hadn't heard of it before, but the tickets were reasonable and the Warehouse Theatre was easily reachable by Metro. The theatre was a cozy black box, the center of the stage sunken in. Four doorways were set around the stage, spaced irregularly, each featuring a small telephone booth of a space with a single light bulb dangling from the ceiling. A black chair sat in each niche. A young Asian man crouched in the white chair in the center of the stage, ripping squares of red paper off of a toilet paper roll. He was folding paper cranes as we came in.

The cast was only composed of five people, four white men and the Asian boy. I loved the colors of the set, all black and white and crimson. The angst was multiple in dimensions and all-consuming: the boy was Asian, in London, and gay. Offered the slightest hint of affection, he latched onto it and made it his world; when it was withdrawn, he reacted passionately and tragically.

The production was quite impressive, the stark lighting and the five men managing to convey city streets, intimate bedrooms, prison cells -- all with nothing but five chairs and an oddly textured set. I wasn't too familiar with the multiple-narrator technique, but I liked getting the story in bits and fragments from several different people.

Adai summed up the angst quite nicely. "He gets it from both sides," he said. "The straight people hate him because he's gay, and the gay people hate him because he's Asian. I never thought about it like that."

Beautiful production, heartbreaking and harrowing, full of symbolism. I'm definitely going to pay more attention to this theatre company.

...in more recent news, this week's Live on Penn concert was They Might Be Giants, a band I've followed on and off since high school. TMBG concerts are always fun; there's generally a good balance between the hardcore fans and the curious bystanders. For every person standing next to you who knows all the words to twenty years' worth of music, there's another who is hearing the lyrics for the first time.

It's a great concert experience. Pennsylvania Avenue is closed down for the evening, and a large outdoor stage is set up. For the price of $7 and a stamp on your hand, you can get in. People crowd into the street, surrounding the still-functional traffic lights. Museums and federal buildings rear up to either side. It's oddly inspiring. For me, the best moment was when the band decided to pimp the upcoming MoveOn.org CD compilation, which would be featuring one of their songs. "Buy the CD," the singer said, the Capitol lit brightly white behind him. "It's for a good cause." The crowd howled agreement.

I love my city, I really do.

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Sunday, July 11, 2004 -- 06:15 p.m.

Now the page should work in IE. "Work" being a relative term, of course; the neato transparent gif background idea doesn't carry over quite as well. But at least the page is functional.

Dim sum with my family today, and some scattered aunties and uncles as well. The good thing about living in DC again: I'm closer to my family. The bad thing, of course, is that I'm closer to my family. I can take them in small doses, but it seems that my tolerance for them has gone down tremendously. Spending all day with them left me quite drained. It doesn't help any that my brothers have reached the age where they mix teenage sulkiness with intense competitiveness, resulting in bitter arguments every five minutes.

Where was I? Right. There are three stages to any dim sum outing. The first stage occurs right after the tea is poured and everyone is seated, and coincides with the sighting of the first cart. This stage consists of general gorging; it's a free-for-all, during which everyone takes the edge off their hunger.

The second stage sets in as the immediate hunger is assuaged. People can afford to be more picky, and will pass over carts in favor of others with better selection. Food is consumed in a more leisurely manner, with more time in between for talking, refilling of teacups, and casual conversation.

The third stage occurs when people start toying with the food on their plates, and waving off the carts that approach. Everyone is full. The tea-pouring and chatting continues, but the eating is pretty much done. People will offer morsels to one another, not because they want to share, but because someone needs to finish the food. The carts spin by, morsels are nibbled, and more tea is poured, until everyone is full to bursting not only with food but with tea.

And then the climax: otherwise normal adults will leap to their feet and begin wrestling (literally!) over the bill.

It's really quite a wonderful experience and we should do it more often. I just have to learn not to spend the rest of the day with my family afterwards.

...now, off to do some post-gorging exercise.

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Saturday, July 3, 2004 -- 11:48 p.m.

Cannot be arsed to change the layout, even though it still doesn't load in IE. (The IE people, of course, will not see my regret.) I'll get around to it eventually, I'm sure. Every now and then I get into the webdev mood, and for those few hours, no pixel is safe. These days, though...

I'm so busy. I'm back in DC and I'm drinking the city, plays and music and old friends, outdoor restaurants and long walks along the canal. I've been relearning the streets and the Metro stations, wandering about the Smithsonians and the memorials (the new WWII memorial is just ordinary, does nothing for me), and generally being completely out of the house on the weekends. As a result, my cat has been sorely neglected; even now she is twining around my feet, crying for attention.

I've got a bunch of old blurbs from the past couple of months, messily scribbled during long Metro rides. Here's one from three months ago: Arcadia at the Rep Stage. I'd never seen a live production, but I'd read the script and had even written a lengthy essay on it back in college; Ming, on the other hand, knew absolutely nothing of the play. It was great seeing him react to the jokes, to the unfolding plot.

Rep Stage is actually located in the community college in Howard County, which places it north and east of DC. Itís a surprisingly well-manned and well-constructed stage for its location; I get the feeling that the theatre gets used as an overflow stage for the DC arts crowd.

At any rate, the production was wonderful. Casting was impeccable; I found Thomasina a bit grating at first (she looked the part, but projected a sardonic nasal alto that didnít quite fit the image of a precocious young teen); however, the rest of the cast was perfect. Personally I was fond of the actor who played Septimus, an intense young man who delivered Stoppardís dry wit with perfect aplomb. The actor for Valentine Coverley wasnít bad either, a tall rumpled academic type who just wanted to be left alone with his numbers. And Lady Croom was the best of the lot; she sailed across the stage like the figurehead of a cruise ship, mowing down or talking over everyone in her path. Truly impressive.

Arcadia is one of those plays that's great to read (you'll get all the jokes), but really good onstage. This production didn't stray far from the script; they followed all of Stoppard's stage directions religiously. And therein lies the brilliance of it: I hadn't realized, just by reading the stage directions, how very visually funny it becomes. Also, actually seeing that last double waltz scene is heartbreaking.

Stoppard is always entrancing; the play wasn't especially outstanding, but the production was definitely enjoyable. Next up: Waiting for Godot. But first, I must go see to my cat.

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Monday, May 3, 2004 -- 10:54 p.m.

These Death Eater cards by Zasio are absolutely amazing. Very stark, very expressive.

The days have been very long... my commute is draining, about an hour each way. It's delightful in the morning (birdsong, sunrise, hot coffee) but it's tortuous in the evening, when I'm sitting in traffic and aching to be home.

To make the drive better, I've been listening to FSTs. Mostly Sabina's PoT soundtracks, to be precise. She's got a fantastic sense of how well one song will lead into the next; I dunno how she does it. But one or another of them has stayed in the CD player of my car for at least two or three weeks -- impressive, considering that within a day, I've listened to one for two hours.

It's gotten so that I can even sing along with the French songs, despite not knowing any French. O_o It's probably a good thing that I don't carpool with anybody.

At least I like being at work. (I get to design things! much coolness.) Here's a conversation from today:

Kat: Wait, there's problem with the circuit. If we ask it to do [A], it'll also do [B]. Do we want to do [B]?
Mentor: Not always...
Kat: Should we fix it?
Mentor: Nah, we'll call it a feature.

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Thursday, April 29, 2004 -- 09:46 p.m.

Digging through the old blog entries, I came across this statement: I'm going into industry when I graduate. Set hours per day, here I come!

...to which I say, ha. Ahahaha.

This is the fourth day of the week and so far the only day that I haven't worked at least two hours' overtime. Deadlines are looming. Private industry is slightly more demanding than government work; the government asks politely if you'd like to work extra, and bribes you with overtime pay. Private industry asks politely if you'll please get a job done before the deadline, and then sets the deadline within the week and expects you to deal appropriately.

On the other hand, I love this job with an intense nerdy fervor, so it's no hardship. (I mean, it's design work. Absolute heaven.) Still, having an actual life during the week would be nice too.

I haven't had as much opportunity to explore the city as I'd like, but at least I've been able to see people. It's so refreshing to be able to hang out with the liberals again. And the cynical Jewboys also; I've missed them dearly. Good old Adai in particular has been very amenable to being dragged wherever Kat happens to be going. He was good enough to see Kill Bill II with me, even though he'd missed the first half.

Speaking of which: KB may have desensitized me to violence. The violence in the first movie was so stylized that I'd basically shut off the part of me that was appalled, and watched it with eyes and mind open to the aesthetic of it all. So I was essentially unhorrified by KB2 (save that one bit that tweaked my latent claustrophobic tendencies), and was able to watch the bloodshed with aplomb.

Still. When the movie ended, Adai turned to me, looking somewhat shaken. "I thought you said the violence would be cartoonish," he said. "It really wasn't."

The disturbing part is: he was right, and I hadn't even noticed. The violence had indeed taken on a more realistic tone. Poor Adai.

At any rate I enjoyed the movie tremendously; I thought it was quite refreshing, actually. Great fight scenes, very Tarantino conversations. And I was tickled by the Cantonese. It's rare that I get a chance to exercise my Cantonese mojo.

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