Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Portland Center Stage

Tonight I saw Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Portland Center Stage. You have until November 29th to do the same. Do not miss out. It was amazing.

The house lights dimmed, the non-verbal reminder to turn off your phones was played, a man walked onto the stage in silence and then we were introduced to the stage itself. A masterful piece of art, structure and light I thought to myself that it could have overwhelmed the action of the musical if it hadn’t been given this moment to twirl before the audience and show off it’s dress.

I was wrong. Nothing could have overwhelmed the action of this musical. Nothing could outshine the performers on the stage. Each amazing thing is topped by another but nothing tops those performers.

The musical itself is very nearly operatic in that there is little to no conversation. The structure is a series of vignettes. The sense is a sampler plate of the best desserts all different types and flavors. Or a seven course meal with wine pairing by the very best imaginable chef, freshest ingredients, most spot on atmosphere.

I loved the performers so much it’s hard to call out individuals. This is the complete list.

Charity Angle Dawson
Mia Michelle McClain
DeMone
David St. Louis
Jerrod Neal
Ricardy Charles Fabre
David Jennings
Maiesha McQueen
Olivia Phillip
André Ward
Hailey Kilgore

Their voices and personalities are to other musicals and performers as Salt and Straw is to regular ice cream. It’s like pairing salty and sweet or putting bacon on a maple bar.

I know the play is about Harlem but it shines with the best moments of Portland, the moments when we experimented, when Voodoo Donuts said “why not Nyquil in donuts” and the FDA said “because it isn’t food!” New things arose, fresh things, exciting things, things that later tapered down to tourist stops or our grandparent’s music but still with the hint of amazing.

Yet at no point does Ain’t Misbehavin’ feel like our grandparent’s music. The voices are true to the era but fresh. David Jennings does an amazing piece under psychedelic lights called “The Viper’s Drag” which stands on its own as worth the cost of Admission. Charity Dawson, David St Louis, and Mia McClain for the cleverest interpretation of “Honeysuckle Rose” I’ve ever seen with perfect background facial expressions.

Olivia Phillip’s voice sounds like crème brûlée, soft and crisp, sweet and burnt. I am also desperately desirous of her wardrobe and every song she sang was straight to my soul from “Squeeze Me” to “I’ve Got My Fingers Crossed.” Also, big feet is just a natural side effect of being tall. Stupid boy. Ok, crushworthy David St. Louis, Bass singer of the best quality, who started “Your Feet’s Too Big” but has to be mentioned for “Lounging at the Waldorf” as well.

Maiesha McQueen shined with “Handful of Keys” and Charity Angél Dawson nailed it with “When the Nylons Bloom Again.” DeMone brought hilarious shape to “Fat and Greasy” as well as beautiful continuity throughout. Mia McClain was also adorable from the top of her straw hat to her toes with facial expressions to match in “Find Out What They Like.”

Then there’s André Ward. When he’s first introduced he seems goofy and weird but then to the audience and the characters around him it becomes apparent he’s a genius. A total genius. He sublimated himself into the era to the point of making me wonder if he was the long lost science project to combine all the genes of the Rat Pack into one man with just a touch of Fred Astaire because why not just go overboard when making a theatrical star in a science lab? Then there’s this twinkle in his eye, and a moment, a pause, and I realized that while he embodied the era and the music for Ain’t Misbehavin’ that he could just as easily do the same for Les Mis or Tron. Complete scope.

I could compliment all the individuals all night but that doesn’t even come close to expressing what a great group they were performing together, the smartness of the directing, the beauty of the production, and the miraculously good music.

This is it. This is the must see play of the season. Go see it.

Note: The website does not specify who sang what and I am doing my best to pair singers with songs based on memory. If I get any pairings wrong it’s more likely that I got the name wrong. Please do let me know.

Categories: performances, Portland OR, reviews, theater | 4 Comments

EFF Gives Us Privacy Badger

There are a few organizations I respect completely. ACLU is one. EFF is another.

EFF put out an anti-tracker plugin that installed in your browser cuts back on how much sites can see of your browsing history. Privacy is important. Consider Privacy Badger.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tahini Muffins

Tahini Muffin Experiment

  • 2 cups ancient grains gluten free (or all purpose) flour
  • 1/2 cup packed Brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2/3 cup tahini
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • dash of toasted sesames

Preheat oven to 400 F and line muffin tin with papers.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside

Mix milk & tahini, add butter, then eggs, then sugar and cardamom.

Add dry ingredients to wet.

I like to use my 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop batter into the muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with toasted sesames.

Bake for approximately 15 min or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool a bit before transferring to a plate.

Texture turned out a bit sandy due to the tahini. Cardamom gives it a nice crisp taste. Palate cleanser.

Categories: food, recipes | Leave a comment

Fighting Stereotypes: #ILookLikeAnEngineer

Once upon a time a software company posted pictures of their employees. The end.

Or not. One of their engineers happened to be a beautiful woman. Out of nowhere she started getting comments and messages, “You don’t look like an engineer, are you sure you’re not a model they hired to pretend to be an engineer?” And ruder. Her response? #ILookLikeAnEngineer

When I first started down the path of becoming a programmer people would tell me that the money wasn’t good (it was just after the dot com crash) or the hours were awful or any number of negatives. Then they would say wouldn’t you rather be a teacher? Or a project manager? Or a product owner? Or a designer? No, actually, I enjoy the act of programming.

There’s a stereotype around what software engineers look like. The effect of that stereotype is that people who don’t fit the stereotype constantly have to explain why they want to be a software engineer. Since women are assumed to be worse at math than men the reason they want to be software engineers is often thought to be something other than love of the (at times) mathematical nature of the work. Instead of defending ideas that I have around programming I end up defending that I can even have those ideas as a woman.

The #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign touched me. I may not look like a model but I have had been told I don’t look like an engineer. I posted my picture to twitter. I write software. I am an engineer. I look like an engineer.

A week later my boss at Billups asked me if I’d seen #ILookLikeAnEngineer. I showed him my post. He said they wanted to help with the Indiegogo campaign. Then he and the owner of Billups threw the weight of the whole company behind helping get the best possible out-of-home billboard campaign for the project. The team handled the campaign from conception to execution, organizing the printers, getting good deals through contacts in the area, making the whole thing bigger and better pro bono. Yes, pro bono, no charge for our services.

We got the message all over the Bay area – we have coverage in Oakland (Coliseum), Bay Bridge, 101 (Santa Clara & Palo Alto), downtown SF, BART stations. Media formats include: Bulletins (static & digital), Metro-Lights, 2-sheets. (Yes, I’m quoting a coworker who was talking about what we did. I just build the software that helps organize the data and process, everything I know about the process comes from amazing people like Kristana.) AND we partnered with a great data company called ESRI that makes it possible to provide a density map of people in the Bay Area that had a Computer / Mathematical focus for strategic targeted planning. (They also often host the local #golang meetup.)

All that launched this week. What started with me caring about how software engineers who don’t fit the stereotype are viewed became the company I work for doing amazing things for the community. The official press release is here. And yes, they stuck my face on the billboard. Luckily I wasn’t alone and one of the other women who builds Billups’ software was willing to have her picture taken too. So here we are, looking like engineers before going back to work programming in Go, writing tests, creating data structures, building databases, and maintaining our legacy PHP codebase.

Alex & Rebekah looking like engineers

photo credit: Victor Garcia

Categories: feminism, geeky, philosophy, women in computer science | 5 Comments

2016 Hugo Award Contenders Short Story: Cat Pictures Please

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2015 Hugo Awards Best Movie: Reviewing Interstellar

Interstellar, screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, directed by Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Lynda Obst Productions, Syncopy)

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2015 Hugo Awards Best Related Work: Reviewing Letters from Gardner

Letters from Gardner, Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press)

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2015 Hugo Awards Best Novel: Reviewing the Goblin Emperor

 

The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)

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2015 Hugo Awards Best Graphic Novel: Reviewing Rat Queens

Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)

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2015 Hugo Awards Best Novel: Reviewing Ancillary Sword

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)

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