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Bob’s Burgers-Here’s to New Bacon-nings!

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It’s been awhile since Fox has introduced a new animated series into its Sunday “domination” lineup that has really put me on notice. Although I’m a mental idiot when it comes to “Family Guy” and “American Dad”, the perpetual pumping up of the “Cleveland Show” barely forced me to keep my behind on the couch the night it debuted. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Cleveland on F.G. but never felt as though he was a strong enough character to carry the weight of an entire series on his chubby shoulders. If anything, it seemed like the character of Glenn Quagmire would have been much more suited for that task. Truthfully, as much as I’ve attempted to get into it, it’s just not my bag and it definitely doesn’t fill the “King of the Hill” sized void that was left for me once that show was canceled.  After 13 seasons, K.O.T.H. had definitely run its course but like The Simpsons, it at least still had a unique signature that wasn’t oozing with Seth Mcfarlane. No back lashing here, he’s amazingly brilliant and I’d kill for an ounce of his mojo but 3 shows by the same creator in one night….it’s far too much of the same view point especially when Family Guy and American Dad are just the right amount of different from each other.

Enter-Loren Bouchard, the mastermind behind two of the absolute funniest and imaginative cartoons (Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, Home Movies) EVER. Bouchard is a guy who should bring hope to high school dropouts everywhere that talent (in some cases) supersedes a diploma. Clearly one of the main reasons why both of those shows were so hilarious (besides the writing) was the ingenious voice talent/acting of H. Jon Benjamin and it would seem that bringing him on for the lead character in Bouchard’s new series was a gimme. As the lazy but lovable Ben Katz (Dr. Katz’s son), Benjamin provided pointless phone calls and silly interruptions between his father’s therapy sessions with a multitude of the most recognized comedians of that time.

I still say their relationship is one of the most wonderfully written on screen father/son deals that’s been done, animated or otherwise.

As the bumbling Coach McGuirk on Home Movies, he provided some of the worst advice and soccer coaching skills that 8 year old budding filmmaker Brendon Small could possibly receive.

And most currently on FX’s “Archer”, Benjamin has been all sassed up in a handsome new package but still retains the glorious dufusness that has become his trademark.

No lies, I’m not a huge fan when it comes to that show (try as I might) but he’s not to blame. It’s more the writing and ensemble cast (sorry Aisha Tyler)  that put me to sleep. Just one nerd’s opinion obviously since it seems to be quite successful, garnering a decently sized following.

That’s also why there was so MUCH anticipation on my end when it came to “Bob’s Burgers” because A.- with Bouchard at the helm it was assured the writing would be top notch and B.-with a cast that included his go-to Benjamin along with the completely out there comedic stylings of Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords/The Daily Show) and Eugene Mirman (Delocated), it didn’t seem like it could miss. Then again, we all know what can happen when something is over-hyped or too many stars are aligned. Would Bob’s Burgers fall short of a cartoon geek’s expectations? By the ghost of Tex Avery, hell no!

Benjamin plays Bob Belcher, second generation restaurateur and purveyor of Bob’s Burgers.

In the premier episode we find him attempting to guide his extremely unhelpful family through yet another re-opening of their downtrodden burger business. It’s Labor Day weekend and what could prove to be an auspicious new beginning is riddled with adversity. Bob forgets that it’s also his wedding anniversary to Linda (John Roberts), his son Gene (Eugene Mirman) torments the customers next door at the crematorium while passing out samples and making fart noises via megaphone into their faces. His daughter Tina (Dan Mintz) has been stricken with a random itch in her private parts that leaves her the use of only one hand and therefore impedes any assistance she can provide on the grill. But all of that is trumped when the rumor his daughter Louise (Kristen Schaal) started at show and tell catches fire, bringing the health inspector to make sure Bob isn’t using human flesh in his patties.

Within the first five minutes rest assured you will fall love with all of the characters. Bob’s wife Linda is perpetually supportive in her own brutally honest way and despite Bob’s wet mouthed kisses and business failures, she doesn’t seem willing to ever give up on the dream he’s sold her on. Tina is completely bizarre and perfectly described as socially retarded while Gene may very well be the most annoying son a parent could be cursed with. But the standout is Louise, the smartest yet most diabolical of the three Belcher children. Even after being threatened with punishment, she still changes Bob’s chalkboard advertisement of his debut burger “New Bacon-nings” to “The Child Molester-( now with free candy)”. And then there’s Bob himself. Just a likable Joe Shmo trying to turn his big meaty vision into a reality despite all of the crap that continues to be hurled in his direction.

Nothing taken from Mintz or Roberts as they fulfill their purpose but Kristen Schaal and Eugene Mirman will hopefully become household names if this show takes off. I was lucky enough to catch Schaal’s stand up before the Flight of the Conchords at the Fox last year and it left me crying, even more so than Brett or Jemaine. And Mirman who was great on that show as well totally kills you with laughter as he unsuccessfully attempts to murder Jon Glaser’s character on Delocated week after week. It’s fantastic that they’re being given a chance to bring their unique senses of timing and humor to a much wider audience.

While it’s not quite grade A beef just yet, the pilot episode is already as good as some shows that are now running a season two or three and there were definitely enough big laughs to keep a toon junkie coming back to see what happens in the next episode. Another reason besides those already mentioned, would be the promised, eventual reunion of the entire cast of Home Movies (the first had Andy Kindler) at some point throughout this first season.  That includes Brendon Small and for any “Metalocalypse” fans out there, stay tuned for that! If all of the points made here still aren’t enough to force you to just give it a chance, then I’ve failed miserably and  completely deserve “The Thinker” if it comes around on the penalty wheel. If you ARE convinced and wanna check it out though-FOX Sundays at 8:30 P.M. The first episode is also being aired in it’s entirety on Hulu.   

Art

Rain and Fire in Sedona

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Ange Alex

A rainy day in Sedona? What are we going to do. Everything we have planned is outdoors. I am pretty sure that is why people come to Sedona, for the beautiful OUTDOOR activities, like hiking, biking, Jeep tours, viewing the red rocks and photography. 

What to do, what to do.

Oh, I know. I had the privilege of meeting some great artists that work in fire and glass! The perfect indoor activity when your outdoor plans are washed away!

The Melting Point in Sedona, conveniently located across the street for the Whole Foods (two birds with one stone, yeah!), is a group of artist focusing on creating and teaching others how to create as well.

When we entered the facilities, it was like entering a fine arts gallery. So many beautiful works of glass art. Jordan Ford is the general manager and one of the Artists. He came out of the workshop and told us the rules, then brought us into the fold. 

We were about to become glass blowers! 

Jordan had a love for the natural world from a very early age. He went on to study geology in college but that is when he discovered glass. He currently has Bachelor’s Degrees in both Earth Science/Geology and Visual Arts/Glassblowing.

Jordan says , “It’s the process of blowing glass that drives me. I find the physical act of making glass so overwhelmingly fascinating. I approach most of my work with a consideration for the more classical techniques – it’s the framework that I use as a jumping point for experimentation.”

Not only is Jordan incredibly talented, he is really personable and extremely funny. He made everyone in the room feel at ease and we all often irrupted in bouts of laughter.

Another artist that was helping us is Austin Littenberg. Austin became interested in the art of glass blowing at age 16 after watching a documentary. He spent over 12 years developing his craft and learning the technical precision needed to work at this level.

Austin views the many ways Art presents itself and is in tune with it all, and it shows.

Clearly these two artist love what they do, and I for one am grateful for their expertise and their willingness to show the world their art.

They worked with us to create a beautiful cactus, complete with three flowers, one for each kid, and a Sedona rock like base. We loved the patience they showed and the skill to make us feel at ease. We never felt like  we were about to do something we just couldn’t. It felt like we had been doing this before. That is the measure of a true instructor. 

Our work of art was complete and we left there feeling accomplished and quite honestly, amazing! 

Both Austin and Jordan have remarkable skills but also wonderful comedic timing. They were a absolutely pleasure to meet and I look forward to keeping up with their art in the future.

If you find yourself in Sedona and want to meet some really wonderful people, stop by The Melting Point and say hello! While you’re there, blow some glass!

How could I forget one of them most important things; They have a studio dog! Austin brings his sweet baby girl to work with him and she is an angel! We loved her! Make sure you give her some love when you visit!

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Artists to Watch

Cry With Us! Puddles Pity Party in Orlando

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Ange Alex

I owe him a poem:

Here’s a story of a sad clown who one night in February was traveling through O-town. 

He brought a suitcase and a lot of gum, he brought music and videos and tons of fun.

He sang high but mostly he sang low, and he put of one hell of a good show.

He gave a bearded guy a cupcake and danced with a lady, a wolf he would make

There is no doubt he is a boss sir, he even got love from Kevin Costner.

Fans filled the plaza for a night of delight as the 7 foot clown gave us some real insight.

He sang Bowie and Queen and even some Who, also Cash, Lorde and “Let it go” too

Videos played of pets and babies crying, also beautiful artwork and people smiling.

Last night Orlando was anything but mad as we showed much love for a clown that is sad.

Ok, I’d cry too after that poem. Here’s some more info:

If you haven’t been to see a Puddles Pity Party show, you are missing out. 

The show had me smiling and laughing so hard my stomach hurt, but I was also moved so many times by the range of Puddles voice. True entertainment never gets old and I have a feeling he is going to last forever.

I loved the interaction he had with the crowd. He pulled numerous people up to help him on stage and all of them were good sports, one man even singing the entire song, “All by myself” karaoke style! The show was so well thought out and planned but with room for some hilarious improv. Especially at the end when he pulled the 3 fans from the audience dressed like clowns. At the end of them performing together, Puddles suddenly remembers that he is scared of clowns! Genius! 

Hands down one of the best performances I’ve seen in years.

 

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Dance

“20/20:Visionary”: Looking Back, Looking Forward

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Photograph by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Last weekend (March 18-20) the Atlanta Ballet gifted the city with “20/20: Visionary,” three pieces, including a world premiere, presented at the Cobb Energy Center.

The world premiere, “Playground,” by British choreographer Douglas Lee, belied its name by being a shadowy piece danced between upright, rolling chalkboard set pieces. Prepared for a lighthearted, joyful expression of childhood, I was surprised that the work instead exposed the darker side of childhood memories. There were some light moments, such as the towering billboard inscribed with multiple lines reading, “Jackie must remember the steps” – clearly a humorous aside about Jackie Nash, one of the most capable company members and perhaps the quickest study in rehearsal. There were some easily-seen choreographic devices–a lot of theme and variation, even more pushing around of set pieces–but there were a few exceptional moments as well, including intricate, slow-motion manipulation of a dancer’s body by another dancer.

Pen-Yu Chen & Tara Lee in “Boiling Point.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

The opening work, “Boiling Point,” by Darrell Grand Moultrie, was playfully performed at breakneck speed. Dancers are often told to “make it look easy,” and the company took that concept to heart. Highlighted against the men in black costumes, the women wore bits of metallic fabric, providing splashes of intense color and exposing powerful bodies with long muscles. The piece began with the stage space open almost to its fullest, and the dancers running across like a rushing river. They rolled, twisted, turned, and slid like water itself. The choreography juxtaposed synchronicity with counterpoint, traditional with innovation. There was a gargouillade, rarely seen even in classical ballets. The lines of the bodies were critical to the piece, and often layers deep. The flow was almost nonstop, with only an occasional flick of a wrist or toss of a head to provide momentary stasis. The standout was Christian Clark, who sometimes nearly managed to integrate himself into the group but then something distinctive and powerful in his dancing drew the eye to him again.

“Red Clay” from “Home in 7.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

“Home in 7,” a work by Amy Siewert, closed the concert. A portrait of Atlanta, the ballet was a rich tapestry woven from music, spoken word, and movement. Performed in 7 segments to a libretto written and performed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and an intriguing, haunting string score composed and performed by Daniel Bernard Roumain, the dance, too, was a poem, shimmering like summer moonlight on the Chattahoochee. John Welker opened the ballet with tiny explosions of movement “Secrets.” Perhaps the most enchanting segment was “Home of the Braves:” 5 men using baseball imagery, holding their formation as they slid precisely between pitches and catches. “Red Clay” evoked August nights, intolerance, and redemption—Atlanta history, a story familiar to many. I first saw this ballet in 2011, and it has grown in depth as the dancers have matured technically and emotionally. Atlanta loves its ballet company, and never more than when it showcases its home city.

John McFall is ending his tenure with the company at the end of this season. For newcomers to Atlanta Ballet offerings, this will have been a dynamic performance. For long-time supporters, it will have been an opportunity to reflect on his legacy. There are a couple more opportunities to see the company under his watch, and then he will pass the torch to Gennadi Nedvigin, the company’s fourth artistic director. Stay tuned!

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