Thursday, September 30, 2010

THE: GSQ stages Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

GSQ stages the classic “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” with dynamite cast

The Guadalupe Stage Quartet is back to grace Kerr County theatre fans with an all-time classic – Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on Hot Tin Roof”. Onstage at Warrior Theatre in Ingram, the play will stage eight shows from October 15th to the 30th, including a Sunday matinee.

Big Daddy Pollitt is dying. He just doesn’t know it yet. The plantation is on fire though with bickering and backstabbing in preparation for letting him know.

One son, Gooper, is an established attorney with a nose for the family money – $10 million and 28,000 acres of prime farmland. His wife, Mae, though is the manipulative one in that family, at least when she’s not herding her brood of five about the house interrupting every serious moment.

The other son, Brick, is Big Daddy’s favorite son, but wants nothing to do with much of anything except visits to the liquor cart. His wife, Maggie, the ‘Cat’ of the title, wants something more from life than the empty bed she has been left with.

A cat caught on a hot tin roof can elicit several emotions: compassion for the poor thing dancing around trying to keep from getting burned; the chagrin you feel because there’s guilt in laughing at the crazy dance; and admiration for the determination it takes to get to where it’s going.

And such are the complexities of this masterpeice of American literature. The dances necessary to protect everyone’s self-interests and secrets are fascinating to watch as each encounter unfolds. The machinations never stop, the shallowness of love never fails to surprise.

The area’s finest actors were tapped for this production, directed by the venerable actor/director Andy Ritch, assisted by ITM theatre teacher and producer Holly Riedel. Both have directed shows at the Point Theatre, and are frequent lead actors with Ritch known for his dynamic performances in “A Christmas Carol” and “Harvey” among many others, and Riedel for her blistering portrayal of Martha in Jeff Scott’s production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”

Reprising his acclaimed “Cat” role as Big Daddy is veteran actor and playwright John Ruth, while Big Mama is played by ITM theatre teacher Marie Cearley. The two have worked together previously in Ruth’s “Circling the Drain” at the Point Theatre, and in GSQ’s “Lend Me a Tenor”. Ruth is also known to GSQ audiences for his star turn in “The Drawer Boy”, while Marie brought everyone to tears in “Death of a Salesman.”

Taking the central roles of Brick and Maggie are the suave Philip Huddleston, and the charming Lillian Beaudoin. Philip is a graduate of Tivy High School and Schreiner University, and has appeared in Schreiner, Cailloux and Point productions including his hilarious turn in “Almost, Maine”. Beaudoin is an ITM graduate and star of the Point’s “Cinderella”, “Steel Magnolias” and “Beauty and the Beast”. She recently finished up at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is pausing here for this production on her way to a Los Angeles career.

Mae is being handled by the wonderfully gifted Sarah Tacey, best known for her direction of “Cabaret” and a series of Valentine’s shows at the Point, and brilliant turns in GSQ’s “Lend Me a Tenor” and “The Octette Bridge Club”. Gooper is the province of a GSQ newcomer, Aaron James, who has graced the Cailloux Stage with a series of performances, most recently “Bye Bye Birdie”. He is currently in school at Schreiner University preparing for medical school.

In the supporting roles are a number of other local actors including students Aoife Scott and Caleb Hall making their debuts as Trixie and Buster, and writer/filmmaker Tony Gallucci as Dr. Baugh. Technical staff includes Eowyn Scott as stage manager, and professional scenic designer Jim Weisman as lighting designer.

Riedel is the producer of the show along with the Guadalupe Stage Quartet. GSQ is a production company dedicated to bringing serious dramatic theatre and intellectual productions to the Hill Country theatre community. It was founded in 2006 by Riedel, Cearley, Gallucci and the late Roy Burney, to whom all their productions are dedicated. In keeping with Burney’s love of theatre and his students at Ingram Tom Moore High School, 100% of the proceeds from all GSQ shows are dedicated to a scholarship fund in his name and to educational opportunities for the ITM Thespians. The scholarship has now been presented to five ITM theatre students.

The show runs October 15, 16, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30, 2010 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, October 24 at 2:00 p.m. at Ingram’s Warrior Theatre. The theatre is located at 510 College Street in Ingram next to the Ingram ISD Administration Building. From the light at the ‘Y’ in Ingram turn right on Texas 27 towards Mountain Home. At the next, blinking, light, turn left onto College Street, go two blocks and you’ll see the theatre up the slope to the right. Plenty of parking is available. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for students. Group rates are available by calling Riedel at 377-8957.

The cast of the Guadalupe Stage Quartet’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, appearing at Warrior Theatre, October 15-30: (back row, l-r) Philip Huddleston as Brick, Lillian Beaudoin as Maggie, Sarah Tacey as Maggie, Aaron James as Gooper; (front, l-r) Marie Cearley as Big Mama, and John Ruth as Big Daddy.

Maggie (Lillian Beaudoin) pleads with Brick (Philip Huddleston) in the Guadalupe Stage Quartet’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, appearing at Warrior Theatre, October 15-30.

Big Mama (Marie Cearley) frets, while Gooper (Aaron James) and Mae (Sarah Tacey) ponder telling Big Daddy his diagnosis in the Guadalupe Stage Quartet’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, appearing at Warrior Theatre, October 15-30.

Brick (l, Philip Huddleston) and Big Daddy (r, John Ruth) go over the finer points of a life well lived in the Guadalupe Stage Quartet’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, appearing at Warrior Theatre, October 15-30.

The wealth of emotion on display in the Guadalupe Stage Quartet’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is apparent in this scene with (l-r) Maggie (Lillian Beaudoin), Big Daddy (John Ruth), Mae (Sarah Tacey) and Gooper (Aaron James). The show runs October 15-30 at Warrior Theatre in Ingram.

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The Daily Silliness

I think the freezer deserves a light too.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

ENV: Maverick County Survey

Pics of some things from an odonate survey of Maverick County and the Cunningham Ranch, 25 September 2010

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World Music News Wire #23

Asylum in New Mexican Maqam: Rahim AlHaj and the Little Earth Orchestra Find a Global Voice for Peace Via Iraqi Sounds


In the dry mountains of New Mexico, an Iraqi oud (lute) master raises homing pigeons. Persecuted for a single potent song, he fled his native land, only to be deprived of his beloved instruments at the border. Yet like the birds he cares for, he has homed in a new nest, where quarter tones can be urged from accordions, rock stars and classical violinists can play Iraqi maqam, and Middle Eastern lullabies echo in Pueblo Indian words.

Meet Rahim AlHaj, oud mastermind and composer behind Little Earth. On the album, a loose but poignant affiliation of musicians from a plethora of places and backgrounds tackle the filigree beauty of Iraqi maqam. Bill Frisell and Peter Buck, Cape Verde’s Maria de Barros and Mali’s Yacouba Sissoko, sitar and Iranian ney virtuosi all explore new territory mapped out by AlHaj’s deep sense of both maqam tradition and the expressive possibilities of global music.

Rahim_Cover “It was a dream, to compose music for all the world,” AlHaj chuckles. “The challenge of the project was to do more than just get together and jam. It was not just for fun.”

A favorite student of esteemed Iraqi oud player Munir Bashir, AlHaj was trained in both Iraqi maqam and Western classical music. He soon gained a sterling reputation as a performer, eventually leading decades later to Grammy nominations and recordings with the Smithsonian.

He also honed his skills as a composer, skills he has coaxed into full flower on Little Earth, where he transforms musical forms like sama’i (“Sama’i Baghdad”) and Iraqi sea chanteys (“Sailors Three”) into elegant pieces for unexpected instruments.

“Though most sama’i are written for traditional Arabic instruments, I wrote it for a Western string quartet, but they have to play it in the Arabic way, including the special intonation and microtones—we have eight notes between B and B-flat” AlHaj explains. “It was unique, the first time this form was performed by Western musicians on classical strings.”

Though highly successful in his musical career from an early age, AlHaj’s heart cried out against the suffering he saw around him in Iraq, especially with the advent of the brutal Iran-Iraq War that killed millions. “When I started to understand the world, I started to understand justice,” AlHaj reflects. “I felt like I was responsible and obligated to make all my music give voice to the voiceless.”

This desire moved him to set a friend’s poem to music and the resulting song of resistance—titled “Why?”—spread like wildfire from Iraqi to Iraqi. Soon it was being sung everywhere, and AlHaj found himself in one of Saddam’s prisons.

Only two years later did AlHaj end up at the border with Syria, free to go yet deprived of his precious ouds. After several years in exile, he was granted asylum in the United States, where he landed in Albuquerque thanks to a strange cultural misunderstanding: Thinking that, as a Middle Easterner, AlHaj would feel more at home in New Mexico’s arid climate, his sponsoring organization sent the new refugee to the deserts of the Southwest. A world away from the fecund land he had fled.

Yet this mishap put AlHaj in a state rich in diversity with thriving global music connections. And as he settled into his new life, he began to seek out musicians eager to bring their voices to AlHaj’s stunning oud, careful compositions, and heartfelt message.

"The musicians use their own sound and environment—I don’t want them to imitate me—but they need to play the composition right, with the influence from the Middle East and the maqam,” AlHaj notes. “This music is composed music; we’re not just jamming. It’s all written."

Within these compositions, however, collaborators found new means of expression, using a language that they shared with AlHaj. Robert Mirabal, the Taos Pueblo Indian renaissance man and flute player, turned an Iraqi lullaby into a statement in his language of Tewa (“Lullaby”). Guy Klucevsek managed miraculously to get his accordion to hit the right quarter tones (“The Searching”), while Chinese p’ip’a (lute) player Liu Fung found a way to make her pentatonic work with AlHaj’s maqam modes (“River”), all to his great amazement.

The musical encounters often had a strong dose of kismet, as AlHaj’s work with Cape Verdean singer Maria de Barros proves. When recording took AlHaj to California, he met with de Barros and they struck up a conversation. AlHaj mentioned a piece dedicated to the memory of his mother and the warmth that emanated from her, de Barros exclaimed that she had Portuguese lyrics about her mother. The result (“Missing You/Mae Querida”) was more than a Cape Verdean morna being played by an oud; it was the bittersweet swing of de Barros’s home intertwined with the soulfulness of Iraqi maqam.

This soulfulness—the moan of a woman in mourning, the sigh of a palm tree collapsing under gun fire—remains AlHaj’s constant companion. It, and AlHaj’s political commitment to peace, continue to inform his work, and led him to close collaboration with a musical legend from his country’s erstwhile enemy, Housein Omoumi, master of the Iranian ney (traditional flute).

These elements are felt most powerfully in “Qassim,” a piece memorializing his vivacious and optimistic cousin killed during the U.S. occupation. “I needed to tell my cousin’s story in music. Iraqi women cry out in grief from their stomach, very low,” AlHaj reflects. “The piece starts with the sound of the horror at what happened. An Iraqi woman’s cry, thanks to Stephen Kent’s didjeridoo, and the rhythm of the piece are driving, insisting to be heard.”

Beyond the sorrow and insistence on telling the stories of those without voice, AlHaj has found a new contentment and sense of place in the U.S., and more mournful pieces are joined by sprightly expressions of pure joy. Works like “Morning in Hyattville,” inspired by a cheeky mockingbird and augmented by guitarist Bill Frisell, and “Athens to Baghdad” where AlHaj explores what he playfully calls “a place of sweetness” with his friend and sometime collaborator Peter Buck of REM.

It is this union of the bitter and sweet, the harsh and the soothing, which gives AlHaj’s vision its punch. For AlHaj, his work is about far more than curious peregrinations and sonic juxtaposition. It’s about finding a path to peace and ending the suffering of the women and children, the bold minds and kind spirits, he witnessed.

“Of course, musicians from opposite sides in conflict can come together and make music,” AlHaj states. “But we must figure out how to make music together before we become enemies, or we will prove ourselves fools. If we can hold that ideal high, as a principle, we can make it into fact. We will make it real and the earth will indeed become little.”

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The Daily Not So Silliness

Dear Humanity, when i pause to let you go by i'm not being nice i'm being efficient; when you pause too to be nice, you wasted both our time

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COM: Austin Shooter

Situation with one shooter resolved, but police say there's a second suspect. All my friends out there please stay safe indoors . . .

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COM: Austin Shooter

UT classes cancelled for today, shooter on campus . . .

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Monday, September 27, 2010

OBT: George Blanda

RIP George Blanda

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The Daily Silliness

thanks @kzelnio - you're right, this is brillliant . . .

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The Daily Sadness/Silliness

thanks TC!

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Daily Silliness

Bad decisions make good stories.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

ATH: Tivy goes Big

Tivy 55-27 over Uvalde . . .

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The Daily Silliness

MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

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The Daily Silliness

How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Daily Silliness

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.


The Daily Silliness

why is it that when anyone demands loyalty it's in the context of covering up wrongdoing? . . . which makes me wonder why we value loyalty


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

PHO: Just Wow!


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ENV: The Return of the Horror Fly


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COM: The Scourge of Facebook Tweaks

more smarmily invasive 'tweaks' from the megalomaniac slimeball Mark Zuckerberg and his slimy serfs at Facebook

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

OBT: Dr. Michael Looney

RIP Dr. Michael Looney

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World Music News Wire #23

Joyful Afronauts of the Caribbean: Systema Solar Raps, Scratches, and Funkifies Colombia’s Technicolor Coast


A new craft is winging its way through the sonic solar system, built from creaky amps and sleek laptops, powered by dayglo Caribbean sun and the brilliant pulse of street parties, and steered by hip-hop Afronauts from one of the globe’s new music hotspots.

Welcome aboard Colombia’s Systema Solar, the funkiest Technocolor hip-hop and DJ crew/Latin sound system ever to be pulled by donkey or graced with slammin’ beats. Uniting Afro-Colombian roots with rap, scratching with Afro-Latin percussion, and unstoppable dance grooves with a live video mix, Systema Solar has landed on the world stage with Systema Solar, the perfect intro to Latin America’s coolest musical-visual collective.

SystemAlbumCover Systema Solar bursts with the colors and sounds of Colombia’s Caribbean coast, right down to the band’s glittering suits. This florescent exuberance is inspired by a favorite local institution, the pikos, or mobile sound systems akin to Jamaica’s pick-ups, movable parties that can be set up anywhere.

“On the coast, everyone has a huge stereo, as big as possible,” explains Systema Solar’s producer and sonic architect Juan Carlos Pellegrino. “When the pikos began, people started buying more and more amps and got into creating really big sound systems and these parties. They close a place on the edge of town, or a street in some village or city, and start blasting music. The louder, the better.”

The piko evolved into its own quirky, vibrant format, with passionate competition between crews, insisting they’ll blow away anyone else’s pathetic speakers. Announcers imitate the undulating r’s and over-the-top diction of radio personalities (Systema Solar do their own version on “Plakas”). And musically, they’re platforms for reshaping Afro-Latin styles on the spot.

“Champeta is African music reinterpreted by the Colombian people on the coast,” Dani Broderick, DJ and producer with the group, recounts. “You have African sounds, mixed with Colombian rhythms and lyrics, with their lives and feelings, and with live remixing, putting on beats. Lots of pikos DJ love that famous Casio machine with the dog sound. That’s a classic: You start doing the beat and the barking and making up lyrics as you go along.”

All the spontaneity and quirky aesthetics are the perfect launch pad for the group’s vision of a Colombian music that brings together the best of the country’s hip hop and techno scenes with the best of its roots. Made up of some of Colombia’s hottest rappers, techno DJs, percussionists, and video artists, the collective transforms the essence of the pikos into bangin’, infectious, vivid tracks that use everything from sampled 1940s vinyl to scratching to blazing drums.

Powering all this creativity is another aspect of the Colombian Caribbean, verbena, the good-time celebratory spirit guiding parties from tiny hamlets to big cities. This positive focus on lifting spirits and getting down stands out in stark contrast to other hip-hop movements in Colombia, like the gangsta-inflected hardcore rap of Bogotá.

“Verbena is the traditional party of the people. That’s what we do also. We make that moment of joyful gathering possible,” says vocalist Walter Hernandez, trying to convey the word’s complexity. “The verbena lets everyone express and liberate themselves, to be free, to change their ways. That’s why we call our style ‘berbenautics;’ we’re navigating the verbenosphere!”

This spirit of verbena slyly turns Colombia’s often harsh realities—corruption, violence, poverty—into moments for reflection. Systema Solar aims to do more than tear the roof of the sucker; they want to call out injustice in the service of social change. And with a cheeky grin.

“Our goal as artists is to project positivity and joy, as a constructive attitude to confront the hard times our world is facing,” Pellegrino muses. “A lot of artists in Colombia, who live in a rough political climate, feel the militant revolutionary chanting songs or actions ‘against’ the system are no longer a functional form of bringing about change. What drives us is creating music, videos and a performances that make people conscious about the the troubles of the world, but in a way that is not fatalist, by showing the positive in what seems negative at first glance.”

The hip-hop jam of “El Amarillo” decries the passivity of the populace, turned into sheep and kept ignorant to serve others’ political aims. “Quien es el patron?” lambastes Colombia’s drug-lord culture, in an ironic celebration of drug culture and its ultimate supporters in wealthy countries. "Mi Kolombia" criticizes the imbalance of power between North and South, by telling of the woes of Colombians seeking visas to visit the U.S.

The unusual yet engaging mix of medium and message has put Systema Solar in the unexpected position of uniting old folks and young hipsters, metal heads and Latin music lovers, on the same dance floors, something unheard of in Colombia and rare elsewhere.

“At this moment in Colombia, Systema Solar’s importance lies in the way we’re gathering different people from all different musical scenes, audiences from different movements and generations and social classes,” reflects Hernandez. “It’s our contribution to a real world music. Not just a marketing niche, a music that can unite the world.”

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

ENV: A Zone-tail Day

Had a seven Zone-tail day . . . two at the old Stonehenge, four (two adults and two young) at the pecan orchard, and one a few miles past Boneyard. I don't believe i've ever had more than three at once before . . .

Pics of the pecan orchard four . . .

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