Man’s Compliment is Another Man’s
I went to the
dentist a little while back…just for a “check up”
to get the choppers cleaned and x-rayed…have the tongue
and gums get a once over. You know…kind of a basic oil change
and air filter replacement for the mouth. I really like my dentist
too…even wrote a piece about his superb “air bass”
techniques for a previous issue of Naked Sunfish.
So I strolled in and made myself as comfortable as anyone can
get in the dental hygienist’s version of a Lazy Boy. Then
came the not unpleasant yet obligatory disjointed conversation
with the woman cleaning my teeth. Fortunately, unlike some Bicuspid
Nazi’s “Viy dun-choo quit vith zee COFFEE!!! You VILL
use zee FLOSS vill you NOT?!!” type of talk I’ve had
in the past, this woman is much kinder in conversation. And gentler
with the scraping. Our communication went something like this:
Dental Hygienist: “How have you been?”
Rick: “Uh…uh uh..UH!” (Then sitting up) Swish,
How about yourself?”
Dental Hygienist: “I’m fine. Have you been on any
vacations since the last time I’ve seen you?”
Rick: “Uuuuuuuuuuuuh. Uh uh.”
Dental Hygienist: “Later this year perhaps?”
Rick: “Uh uh…UH!!! UH!!!” (Then sitting up)
Swish. Gaaaargle. Swisherish…swish swish swish SWISH!!!
SPIIIIIIT!!! “Nothing planned so far but I’m hoping!”
And so it goes. Laying there trying to converse in this logistically
impossible way…looking at the children’s pictures
taped to the ceiling…trying to make sure my jaw doesn’t
lock up on me.
While all this is transpiring I can overhear my dentist in the
next room with another patient. He’s having a friendly chat
with a woman when I hear him say to her, “You really have
I immediately froze in horror. Even the hygienist’s usually
liberating announcement of “And what flavor paste would
you prefer today? Orange persimmon? Banana daiquiri? Avocado/artichoke
with pine nuts? Chocolate mousse with a chiffon truffle chaser?”
My mind was racing. He told her she had BEAUTIFUL TEETH!!! And
I thought, “Oh my God!!! What if he had gone into gynecology?!!!!!!
“Why…thank you!!” was the woman’s
response…and I sighed a heavy sigh of relief. I chose avocado/artichoke
with pine nuts tooth paste. And as I was being mesmerized by the
mini gourmet dinner/tooth brushing I had this thought. My dentist
is such a nice, gentle, charming guy…maybe if he HAD become
a gynecologist…one who pays compliments…he might just
get a “Why…thank you!!” in response.
by Ted Kane
Did the D.J
say ‘when we come back, we’ll
do it in the butt’?
The rain washes
smog away but floats garbage
out onto the beach
The dog barks
warning, then smiles as her
master walks inside
Where would Hemingway
go for lunch, McDonald's or
maybe Burger King?
I never want
see you again, she said,
and so far, so good
* * * * *
I’m the first to complain about a crowd being too rowdy. I’ve
made noise about that in other Shadowbox reviews. But this Thursday
night audience was one of the lamest groups of people I’ve ever
been in ... and I’m including church here. I mention this only
because “Sex ‘06” has wonderful material that was diminished by
... how shall I put this ... overt modesty?
firsts in this performance. David Whitehouse (Mr. Pratfall)
didn’t once fall to the stage. This I missed ... although being
a guy waiting for a knee replacement I can certainly understand
taking some time off. And amazingly there is little use ... or
any maybe ... of the “f -word” ... not that I have a problem with
saying “fuck” myself. It’s just that “Sex at the Box
06” works so well because the troupe grounds the
performance in nuance, innuendo and double, triple ... and perhaps
one or two quadruple entendres.
perfect example would be Gary and Galinda: Home Edition, which on
the surface is a call in radio show dealing with home improvement.
Scotty Candler and Katy Psenicka superbly
maneuver the callers’ questions into the land of double meanings
piqued with code words such as “knockers”, “backdoor” and most
humorously “caulk”. The sketch highlights the second half of “Sex
at the Box”.
good is Bustin’ a Move with Busty
Wiggles in which Julie Klein (Busty) imparts her stripper
wisdom on some fresh recruits: effeminate Stefan (Jimmy Mak),
boob obsessed Misty (Ms. Psenicka),
and shy but willing to try anything once Donna (Amy Lay). The
other veteran actors deftly play off Ms. Klein’s superb salty,
sultry boom chick a boom in a hilarious rave up culminating with
a “volunteer” from the audience.
Fetish concerns a reluctant football coach who is obligated
to teach a health class about sexuality to budding adolescents.
Predictable yet entertaining at the beginning, the skit accelerates
when the kids leave the stage and Ms. Pooter (once again a marvelous Julie Klein) confronts Coach
Bronger (David Whitehouse) about his
teaching abilities. Mr. Whitehouse’s character drones about the
similarity of football and puberty using a football as physical
metaphor so effectively ... circling the tip with his hands so
suggestively that the audience first might think “breast foreplay”
and eventually segueing thoughts into ... uh ... something a little
south of beltway.
the show includes some of the troupe’s more popular short pieces.
The innocence of Campfire
Boys: Valentine’s Day (Jimmy Mak
and Jim Andes) is as adorable as Cindy
and Laverne: Chaperones is jaded redneck. But once again the
charm of Amy Lay in Shannon’s Movie Reviews enchanted me. This
time little girl Shannon reviews Beauty
and the Beast and The
Graduate with Ms. Lay ... as usual ... convincing the audience
she’s a child who knows more than she should without the hint
of smart aleck.
at the Box
06” closes with a sketch called Teen Time! With what appears to be the entire Shadowbox staff onstage
this is an incredibly accurate parody of trite “goody goody” attempts to enlighten teenagers about the dangers of
life ... in this case sex. As a group of happy, happy teens who
preach abstaining from sex until marriage, this dead on mockery
of the 1960’s “Up With People” or “The
Johnny Mann Singers”, the old “I’m a pepper” Dr. Pepper TV
commercial, or maybe more recently “The New Mickey Mouse Club”
is wickedly funny. Dressed in white pants, red sweaters ... and
maybe penny loafers (I couldn’t see.) this skit hammers home the
hypocrisy of conservative propaganda aimed at teenagers. There
was even the token “Afro-American” (Noelle Grandison)
shucking and jiving and cliché-ing her
way through all this white, suburban nerdiness.
Having been victimized by such tripe myself as a teen I
hurt from laughing so hard. This is the most deliciously sarcastic,
right on sketch I believe I’ve ever seen Shadowbox Cabaret perform.
Kudos to the writers!!!
at the Box
06” is strong musically as well. Standouts are Greg
Couch singing “Senorita” accompanied by quasi-flamenco dance choreographed
by Katy Psenicka. “My Woman from Tokyo” gets a dynamic presentation by Sara Tomko ... although through no fault of her own, house band
BillWho? steals the tune musically.
But hey ... a woman covering a Deep Purple classic is at a disadvantage
from the get go. But the highlight is
the song ending the evening. Julie Klein is golden on Paul McCartney’s
“Maybe I’m Amazed” ... an interesting choice for a bawdy sex romp.
But maybe that’s what makes it stand out ... the unabashed romanticism
is a very strong showing by Shadowbox Cabaret. And I expect to
see at least 20 percent of “Sex at the Box 06” this summer for “Best of Shadowbox”.
at the Box” runs through March 25th. For more
information go to www.shadowboxcabaret.com.
1990 - 2006
by John Bennett
Million Easy Pieces of the Night Music
(with apologies to everyone)
now everyone is familiar with the fall from grace of James Frey,
the tough-guy recovering drug addict from Granville, OH. His elaborate
story of crime and redemption A Million Little Pieces was revealed
to be a near complete falsehood, shortly after being trumpeted
by Oprah Winfrey as a great book. Oprah, for her part, chose to
stand by the book, but it seems significant that her next selection
is a book of seemingly impeccable reputation, Elie Wiesel's holocaust
memoir Night. Quite a juxtaposition, IMO.
by Patrick O'Malley
is one of the most pertinent and disturbing trends in American
culture today. The apathy, disinterest, and ineptitude of growing
numbers of americans middle aged and younger. This demographic
more and more has become accustomed to a blasé attitude
towards everything but one's own well being. Ridiculously people
seek this well being through the acquisition of money and material
possessions, a culture of consumerism. How this has come to
pass is multi-faceted and unfathomably more complex than I can
understand or describe, but I can't help but think it has much
to do with the ever-growing dearth of intellectual pursuit for
its own sake and one's own betterment, as well as the ridiculous
short-sightedness of Americans.
of How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World, by Francis Wheen
by David Hochman
one book you read this year, make it Francis Wheen’s How
Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World. I don’t say that lightly.
The older one gets, the more discerning one becomes. Time presses
itself, seemingly unlike in one’s youth, upon one’s
choices, and one is less apt to be frivolous with it.
Wheen, a journalist and writer, has that wonderful English flair
for cutting through gibberish, decimating nonsense with humorous
Imagine thoughts invading you, regularly and with frequency
and some urgency, over time. Thoughts of a similar nature, yet
wholly diverse. Imagine, too, trying to one day put them into
one book, and not knowing where to begin, or how to do it. Imagine
then one day picking up a book, and that book having done precisely
that: taken those same thoughts and put them into a coherent,
decisive and brave cohesion.
September 29th, 2005
A Moonlight walk inside the Forbidden City
night I found myself inside the Forbidden City. As a foreign
expert at a Chinese government institution, I was invited
to see the Beijing Opera Concert in the Western-designed
music hall inside the Forbidden City. It was three nights
before the National Day celebration. My thoughts were too
noisy that I could not accommodate more melodies. So I took
a moonlight walk around the Forbidden City.
was no longer what it was a hundred years ago. The only
chance I would enter the palace then was if I were one of
the Emperor's daughters, maids, or concubines. Today the
majestic aura of the garden was still there, dimly lit with
luck-generating gold fishes swarming its heavenly styled
pond. Tonight, three employee of the palace were fishing
at the pond. They were shocked to see me, but did not stop
what they were doing. The Emperor was no longer there.
Beijing city lights beaming at full power to celebrate the
day the Chinese Communist Party liberated the nation, it
was not too dark to navigate along the corridor of Forbidden
City. The ceiling of the corridor was painted with thousands
of royal epics. A hundred years ago, it must have been gloomed
by the moon, stars, and red lanterns. Guards would patrol
the whole complex, leaving no room for threat against its
stability. A concubine of the Emperor with lotus feet and
a red jade necklace would be punished if caught wondering
around the courtyard even if she was only reciting poetry.
Only the silk covered wooden pillow could understand the
secrets of the mind rested on it, including forbidden love
and hidden coup.
palace should only project its enigmatic harmony, sealed
mightily by two gigantic stone tiger-like creatures. One
cuddled a baby tiger underneath her foot, the other one
was playing with a fiery mini globe. Woman bore children.
Man ruled the world.
Everything had to be perfectly balanced and complimentary.
Like yin and yang. Its prescribed ideal would attack any
lively incongruence and creative deviants.
grandpa left the mainland of China in the 1930s. He left
behind a very young wife, married by family arrangement.
After he could earn a decent living in Indonesia, he was
married to my grandma, an Indonesian-born Chinese. After
they had two children, the first wife of my grandpa came
to reunite with my grandpa. Three of them; my grandpa, his
first wife, and my grandma; lived as one family with their
children in the chinatown of Semarang, Indonesia.
the designated breadwinner of her family when she was younger
than 20 year old, my grandma has one brother and four sisters
to take care. She needed the financial support from my grandpa
to pay school tuition and living expenses of her younger
brother and sisters. Out of love for her siblings, my grandma
stayed with my grandpa, his first wife, her own children
and her stepchildren faithfully until my grandpa passed
away. My grandma even breastfed the children of my grandpa's
first wife because she did not produce her own milk. When
my grandpa passed away, he left behind 13 children; six
from my grandma and seven from his first wife.
culture told scary stories about love. A mother swallowed
her pain as she sold her daughter to a rich man. Love was
a hope for a better life. A wife cut her own flesh for her
starving mother in law. Love was a solemn sacrifice. A son
used his body heat to melt the frozen river so he could
catch a fish for his ill father. Love was not for oneself,
it should only give. A man aged and died lonely just for
the hope that he would see the woman he loved one more time.
Men and women went through a long life saga with misery
and struggle just to show love. Love was a fatal obligation.
It was written decisively by immortal deities.
do I know about love? Is love like a Potehi puppet show?
However many people come, the magnetic wonder doesn't decrease.
More children can still squeeze and laugh until their parents
come with chicken-feathered broom to get them back to study.
It's always there to provide a cooling oasis after the sweaty
industrious life of Semarang's Chinatown. It's there for
all walks of life; the Chinese, the indigenous, the young,
the old, the rich, the poor. No cover charge, no string
love like a moon cake? It is round, soft, with sweet black
bean inside. It is available only seasonally, so we are
always waiting for the next moon cake to come. What we get
is decided by how much left from what others get. We are
never full of it because we only think about how much more
love like ancient herbal medicine sold in a Chinese drug
store? The giant cupboard that is divided neatly into equal
volumes stores each miraculous healing secret in different
drawers with careful prescriptions. Diverse preserved leaves,
roots, flowers, seeds, and other parts of wondrous plants
coexist peacefully while waiting to cure their patients.
'Someone will win'
he said, 'but it won’t be me
and it won’t be you
that's the way it is,
and you know it's true'
'You're probably right,'
I agreed, yet still
down my last five
When I started working in
this particular part of town
I wondered how come
everyone around here
drives like a complete
I think I’ve
got it figured out
of 2Co’s and the Blues
The Short North
* * * * *
by Rick Brown
My last 2Co’s review. And wouldn’t you know it ...
right after the city ... after what? 3 years or so ... finally
decided to get the arch lights spanning High Street repaired.
And to add insult to injury there’s a “For Rent”
sign in front of the building already ... sigh.
Still ... instead of a eulogy I’m going to celebrate the
spirit of 2Co’s Cabaret. This company of talents actors,
musicians and singers (not to mention servers, car parkers and
cooks) has made me feel more a part of Columbus, Ohio ... gave
me a sense of community ... than in the previous 30 years I’ve
resided here. Really.
And what a celebration “The Best of 2Co’s and the
Blues” is! Opening is Rich Orloff’s Off the Map
... a one-act play about a struggling couple lost in Antarctica.
After some marital bickering, Jean (Stephanie Shull) wanders off
looking for direction while husband Scott (Tom Cardinal) meets
A Local (Joe Lorenzo). Of course the locals in the area are penguins
and Mr. Lorenzo is the penguin of all penguins. Dressed in black
attire with what looks like snorkel flippers strapped to his hands
and feet, Lorenzo charms ... advises ... enlightens ... not just
Cardinal’s character ... but us all. Another member of the
troupe once commented to me that Joe was so “method”
in his approach to acting that before playing a winter scene he
will literally stick his head into the freezer before going onstage.
As affable as that story may be the man possesses a genius no
icebox can take credit for.
Tom Cardinal is stunningly poignant ... touchingly self-depreciating
... and warmly cantankerous ... in Rusty Russel’s “Superman
in the Nursing Home”. Sitting in the front row gave me the
opportunity to witness Mr. Cardinal’s amazing transformation
into an old (Super)man. His facial expressions ... body control
... made the musings, regrets and observations ... of a fictional
superhero as real as one’s own grandfather dispensing lifelong
wisdom to his grandchildren.
“Victoria’s Secret” (Billy Collins) is hilariously
read by John Croke. Mr. Croke not only provides funny dialogue
as a young man commenting on what he believes are the moods ...
personalities ... motivations ... of catalogue supermodels but
sells it all with body language that screams “hormone fueled”
male adolescence. Along with Hank Hyena’s “William,
I Giggled” (read by Gabe Smith), Charles Bukowski’s
“The Walls” (Joe Lorenzo), Pam Callahan closing “The
Best of 2Co’s” with Laughing Wild (by Christopher
Durang) the performance’s title is most certainly an understatement.
The show is equally strong musically. Blues standards like Muddy
Water’s “Hoochie Coochie Man” (sung by Mr. Lorenzo,
Ruth Brown’s “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show”
(Lydia Tew), and “Stormy Monday (JT Walker) gave me chills.
And though not technically “the blues” Tom Cardinal’s
rendition of “Lullaby” was a smarmy delight. Ditto
for Pam Callahan backed by Ms. Tew shaking their moneymakers while
copping an attitude on “That’s Your Boyfriend”.
Sam Champa’s take on the Beatles’ “Oh Darlin’
was like a musical sorbet cleansing the audience’s palate
about mid show.
But it was Stephanie Shull, fronting house band extraordinaire
Downtown DFN, who reigned as blues diva this evening. Book ending
the second half of the show with two Etta James tunes, Ms. Shull
demanded our attention ... first taking “At Last”
beyond it’s sometimes clichéd overuse to it’s
rightful place as one of the finest blues songs ever. Then on
2Co’s final number “Ball and Chain” Shull crooned
with the aloof “ice running through my veins” coolness
of Peggy Lee while leaving enough compassionate tension in her
voice to make most of us yearn for the chance to be her ball and
From beginning to end “The Best of 2Co’s and the Blues”
is one of the finest shows I have ever seen ... and I’ve
seen my share. The performance runs through February 25th so make
reservations soon. As for me ... I plan on being there again ...
at least two more times. I’m not ready to say goodbye to
my friends. And I’m definitely not through celebrating.
For more information go to www.shadowboxcabaret.com
Night with a Monday Off
by Rick Brown
know ... people say early to bed and all that shit. But when the
opportunity presents itself ... I always promise myself I’m
going to be disciplined ... you know ... drink and eat moderately.
That’s the easy part really. I can do that ... when I’m
alone ... I mean me and the dog ... I’m cool with THAT.
But the going to bed at a reasonable hour thing ... as they say
... getting up early to make the most of “the day God has
given me” ... I can’t handle that crap.
by Andrew Wood
other self-help book has ever opened my eyes to the joys of breaking
into someone’s home, and then replacing all their pictures
with one of myself holding a sign that says, “I win.”
other book has so foreshadowed the dissolution of love between
two people like this one, especially when our hero and his heroine
get married in a patch of quicksand.
finishing this book, I ran through a supermarket and pounded people
on the head with it, yelling “BOOK, BOOK, BOOK, BOOK!”
almost threw myself into the garbage can along with this book,
but I just didn’t want to be that close to it again.
book was fantastic. I had no idea that bananas were capable of
operating heavy machinery.
fact that sparrows will demand indoor plumbing if you build them
a birdhouse is not news to me, but what I did find truly inspiring
was their willingness to split the water bill.
you’ve ever been mauled by a gorilla because you mentioned
he could use a shave, then this book is for you.
writing style is hilarious, in that it is hilarious to think of
all the reasons how someone this stupid could get a book published.
loved this book so much that I took it on vacation, and even let
it drive a little. But I’m hoping the sequel can parallel
best thing about this diet book was its cover. I am currently
wearing it as a pair of pants and now, when I sit down on the
subway, everyone can admire my small portions.
took a dump in my desk drawer.
book made me seriously reconsider my marriage to a houseplant.
just say I took this book out for dinner, then asked for separate
book made me quit my job, sell my kids, drug my wife and send
her off in a hot-air balloon, then wear a powdered wig and offer
guided tours through an abandoned outhouse. But at least now I
know how to restore my Windows operating system from the “Safe
Mode” to a previous date.