Vancouver Fringe Festival 2018 – Banned in the USA

Banned in the USA took a painful hour not getting to the point, and then went 15 minutes over its scheduled time.  This may be the worst fringe performance I have ever seen.

Banned In The USA poster for Edmonton promo.jpg

This show does not start off great, and it gets worse from there.  About twenty minutes in, it is so bad that it’s somewhat amusing, but by the end of the hour, I was getting angry.  I like to stay at a show to the end — I want to know how it ends, even if it is a terrible show (and this was definitely a terrible show).  But then, at the end of the hour, he keeps going.  He went fifteen minutes over his scheduled time (maybe it was just ten, but it felt like fifteen.  No, it felt like an extra hour), and there was still no pay off.

I should have walked out.

I went to bed thinking I should have walked out.  I woke up thinking I should have walked out.  But if I had I wouldn’t have been sure if missed out on a great ending.  I did not.

There was nothing offensive about this show, other than the fact that the artist doesn’t seem to mind wasting everyone’s time.  It was just stupid.  The first twenty minutes have nothing to do with anything, and it seems like this is more like an excercise in recounting events that happened, rather than any attempt to entertain, enlighten, or be provocative.  I will summarize:  he once got a gig at a murder mystery (and painfully recounts that performance), and then tells a story about almost missing a flight, going to a meeting, and then flying back.  Nothing particularly interesting happend throughout his 75 minute version of these events, nor do the two stories reveal themselves to have anything to do with each other.

The show made me feel like I didn’t want to tell stories any more.  He made me feel like telling stories was an unpleasant thing, and that you shouldn’t do it to people.  It made me not want to hear other people tell stories, or go to other shows.  This show wasn’t just a waste of my time, it was a poison.  It was a disease.

It did one thing, though, it provoked me decide that it is very okay to walk out of a show.  It taught me that walking out of a show, while perhaps a little impolite, is sometimes the right thing to do.  Because some people walked out of the show before it was done.  But everyone probably should have.  Because there are more important things than being polite.

That’s right, this show has made me feel like it’s necessary to be less polite, and I assume the rest of the audience felt the same way.  Which means that the show didn’t just suck, it made the world a less nice place.

Do not go see this show.



Vancouver Fringe Festival 2018 – Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life

tomatoes-tried-to-kill-meTomatoes Tried to Kill Me, But Banjos Saved My Life is a show in the true spirit of Fringe.  The performance will put a smile on your face, leaving you glad and happy.

First of all, it’s a great title.  The moment I sat down and saw Keith Alessi cradling his banjo, I was glad I’d come.  He has a pleasant presence, and I immediately felt relaxed, at ease, and happy.

I have seen some great shows this year, but this one seemed to encompass the spirit of the fringe festival more than any of them.  An honest and touching story; the performer shares his life and his music with us.

I don’t know what it was exactly, but he created an atmosphere that was so pleasing to be in; despite a lot of sadness in the show, I think I had a smile on my face the entire time, from the moment I sat down.  It would be a shame to miss this little gem of a show.

Vancouver Fringe Festival 2018 – Poly Queer Love Ballad

A 75 minute Slam Poetry Musical, that is good even if you don’t like Slam Poetry, Musicals, or 75 minute shows.  poly-queer-Love_Ballad_0202-5

I usually try to avoid fringe shows that are more than an hour.  Even for the most talented and decorated of Fringe performers, by the time an hour has gone by, I’m just waiting for the show to end.  Poly Queer Love Ballad runs at 75 minutes, so it wasn’t on my list.  But after some strong recommendations from trusted sources, I felt obliged to give it a chance.

In a nutshell, Poly Queer Love Ballad tells of the relationship between a monogamous lesbian and a polyamourous bisexual.  The show was structured to carry it easily through it’s 75 minutes, and you’re likely to endear to yourself to at least one of the characters.  The music puts a smile on your face and wins the occassional laugh, and the acting is natural enough to go unnoticed.

Further, the subject matter has been chosen and delivered in such a way that those familiar with the issues will be pleased to see them represented on stage, while those unfamiliar with them will be gratified to have their unasked questions answered.

What I found interesting about this show was that I didn’t feel any real chemistry betweeen the two lovers.  I didn’t particularly want them to be together.

(~spoilers to follow)

Continue reading “Vancouver Fringe Festival 2018 – Poly Queer Love Ballad”

Vancouver Fringe Festival 2018 – Jon Bennett: How I Learned to Hug

Likely the funniest show at this year’s festival, Jon Bennett: How I Learned to Hug is a touching and hilarious must-see at the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.


This Gem of a show was a late addition to the 2018 lineup (replacing The Silent House at the very last minute), and thus is not in the printed program guide.  For that reason, it might not be on a lot of people’s radar, but Jon Bennett: How I Learned to Hug is easily the best show I’ve seen so far this festival.  Despite being peppered  with sad and heartwarming moments, I still felt like I was laughing the entire time.  This show was a true pleasure to attend, from the moment it began.

We were a small audience (10:15pm on a Saturday night, at a show that wasn’t in the program guide…); my only regret was that there weren’t more people there to enjoy this delightful performance.

BOOKS: How Emotions are Made, by Lisa Feldman Barrett


It is evident from this book that Barret is an accomplished researcher. Further, her research is relevant and interesting — but what is most interesting is how she tries to portray her research. The book could have been far more informative, concise and enjoyable had she not been so obsessed with convincing the reader that her research upsets commonly held beliefs about emotions. Because it does not.

But what is so strange, is that she has chosen to misrepresent the commonly held beliefs, so that her research will appear to contradict them.


Continue reading “BOOKS: How Emotions are Made, by Lisa Feldman Barrett”

BOOKHUNT: Obvious Titles and Awkward Authors

pulp-fction-books_main-shelvesYou know when you’re in a proper bookstore – one of those shops where the shelves are full, and overflow piles everywhere?  And you notice someone else in that bookstore, and you wonder:  “What is that person looking for?”  And you kind of keep on eye on them, and possibly even follow them around, to see if you can figure out  what they’re looking for, or to see which book they have in their hand? Because there is something about that person, and you want to know what they’re reading?

Well, not so long ago, I was the one being watched.  Continue reading “BOOKHUNT: Obvious Titles and Awkward Authors”

Five Dollars: Free with Every Banana. Unorthodox Californian Banking Practices

Withdrawing money abroad can cost a lot in banking fees.  I solved this problem in California by strategically buying Flip Flops and Bananas.  You can, too. 

I suppose  title youthe above title may mislead some readers into believing that the State of California has incentivized banks to pay people to eat bananas in an effort to encourage healthy eating practices.  While critics of Californias regulatory habits might not be suprised by such a policy, it is not (to my knowledge) a policy which is currently in effect.

The following is not about government-sponsored pecuniary incentives for eating tropical fruit.  It is about circumventing ATM fees while travelling abroad.

Continue reading “Five Dollars: Free with Every Banana. Unorthodox Californian Banking Practices”