Chaos Attraction

Mini Maker Faire and Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host

2015-03-28, 10:14 a.m.

On Saturday during the day, I attended the first Benicia Mini Maker Faire. I haven't been to a faire before (I know L went once to the big one while she was still here), and this was the closest one to me I'd ever heard of. So I was very excited. Anyway, it was rather kid-oriented--and held at a middle school--but there was enough stuff to entertain adults, or immature adults, for me to have fun.

Here's the photo album. It has steampunk cars, inflatables, R2D2, Legos, a master's thesis electronic children's book, a drawing machine, awesome automated machines I saw at the state fair, a Lego robot that solved Rubik's cube (the designer of it was maybe 11, took a year to figure out how to solve one, and now can solve one blindfolded with a Braille cube in less than two minutes), a Ukrainian egg demo, and saw my first 3-D printer. I also saw the founder of Maker Faire speak--I asked him about art and craft--and I got a free copy of the magazine that talked a lot about putting lights into clothing. Awesome!

I soldered my own light up robot pin. Which was fun but difficult to do. I know how to solder, but most of the time I've done it, I've done it in stained glass with a bigger target. Soldering on tiny bits is difficult and I managed to have the pin tack fall out a few times, had to have the hole repunched, had to resolder the battery holder in, etc. Oh well, at least I got the eyes to work right. I also made a steampunk mini-hat. and learned how to put a light into papercrafting and put my own DNA into a necklace. So I got my making on!

It was a good time. I'd like to go to the big maker faire, but that's about two hours away from me and on that Saturday I have to be in Sacramento dropping off state fair items and performing that night...well, maybe if I went to Mom's after the show and then went on Sunday...we'll see.

On that night I saw "Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host." This is Ira Glass''s radio/dance show--no joke--that he got the idea to do after working with Monica Bill Barnes (and her co-dancer Anna Bass, who evidently prefers to be the silent partner in the relationship according to this show) when she created a solo for David Rakoff for This American Life Live! Which you can see here. Anyway, now all of these folks are buds and putting together two things that generally have no business being together. Ira started it out by saying "We knew there was NO popular demand at all!" for this sort of thing. But what the heck...

The ladies are, for the record, This page gives you a good idea of what they do--the Vegas stuff mentioned in "Happy Hour" was in this show, I think.

Anyway, I attempted to take notes in the dark on what was going on, so let's see if I can translate that! The show alternates between Ira doing narration, dancers dancing (and yes, I mean Ira too, he's billed as a dancer), and a mix of all of the above. Though it was mentioned halfway through the show that Anna injured herself this week (sigh), so Monica was doing more solos than usual. I thought they had just been swapping off--and in all honesty, they look nigh identical in the same clothes, being around the same size and hair style and whatnot, unless you're seeing them close up. I can identify Anna now because I saw her close up, but in general from the stage, not really. It's like evil twin tricks!

Act One is about performing. Ira starts out the show telling the story of a girl named Katie in Riverdance. There's 40 performers in there doing 8 shows a week, no time off, doing the same shit literally every day. And they start buying lottery tickets and trying to go all "The Secret" about it, using the power of thinking and DANCE! to win! that! lottery! "Do it for the lotto!" They work themselves up into a frenzy on lotto night, the audience loves it...and they lose. They dance very halfheartedly the next day and....the audience loves it and has no idea. Ira posits that people go in with good expectations. Meanwhile, Monica is repeating the same dance (to "I'll Never Fall In Love Again") over and over, and sometimes she's doing it ah, more enthusiastically than other times.

In the voiceover Katie mentions that they'd try doing various random things during shows like counting how many turns they could get in to stay interested. Ira himself pointed out that after about your fourth time doing the same show over and over again, it's hard to stay sincere. He says he went through a phase where he thought "Firework" was the greatest song ever and then he got sick of it-- so Katy Perry must really be sick of it, Bruce Springsteen must be really sick of "Born to Run... "You know who really doesn't want to hear Candle In The Wind? No one, actually. Why was that a hit?" (Note: this was the song playing as the audience left.) The repetition makes it lose meaning. Later, Monica did the aforementioned Vegas act from their webpage. At one point she actually is getting into a fight with an imaginary dude on stage.

Act Two is about love. It starts out with a Serial reference and recap... "I guess I'm saying a lot can go wrong when love is involved." Ira snarked that half the audience had no idea what he was talking about there. Then he talked about the time TAL did a story on middle school dances. And while he's playing that, Anna and Monica go into the audience, pick out three guys and three girls, bring them on the stage to dance, do a little set dressing--bring out some balloons in an arch, get a tech guy to hold a disco ball and turn, have the couples get their picture taken in a hat and mask, cummerbund and sash, and prom king and queen. (This is how I saw Anna up close, she got a guy in my area.)

Ira switches to mentioning a guy he hard screaming in the street, "MEET ME HALFWAY!" which reminded him of married life. He talked about a show he did in the 90's . He talked about a show he did on the 90's featuring a young guy named Will Powers who worked in marketing and had to pitch himself as a brand to his wife, and they end up having this conversation about how he can ah, give her better service--pick up your clothes, things like that. Ira is fascinated by how Will talked in those kinds of buzzwords about his relationship (and he wishes the wife would have done an interview), because he used to sympathize with Will's wife but now relates to Will. Ira admitted he isn't good at figuring out how he feels or talking about it, he'd ask people questions to get himself out of conversational jams and then those people would feel close to him but he would feel nothing, his wife calls him Mr. Spock, etc. And a therapist-- "MY therapist"-- says all married women think their husband has Asperger's. He thinks Will's conversation with his wife worked because it was using a guy's way to talk about feelings--writing it down, using business speak...

Then he goes on to talk about poets Don Hall and Jane Kenyon--specifically reading the poetry Don wrote as Jane was dying of leukemia. The ladies are very slowly dancing on a table, one holding the other one up at times. I's very affecting.

Ira says he interviewed Monica and Anna separately for this show. Monica is used to being the head of everything and doing interviews, and Anna...well, Ira asked her what she liked best about dancing and she said that she didn't have to talk. But then he got a lot out of her about how they danced together and Anna said that it was a competition and basically, Monica is always showing her up, throwing in "spice," doing facial expressions...and then in ah, some kind of retaliation, Anna will be less enthusiastic....and they are doing a dance as this plays and you can SEE how the heck Monica is throwing in extra and then Anna starts doing less. Dang. Ira said in the voiceover "I feel like we've created an entire dance piece in minute six of this interview!"

Act Three is "Nothing Lasts Forever," and starts out talking about David Rakoff. Monica does a bit of the dance she choreographed for this, mostly in the dark. Then they cover Monica's interview. What got her into dance? The costumes. (I find that funny since most of the time I have seen them dancing, the costumes have been very plain. Though they do have sequinned dresses on at points in this one, so there's something.) Ira wants to find out what Monica will do when she can't dance any more, and she has no idea and has been worrying about that since she saw A Chorus Line at the age of nine. She does a dance to that and balances a chair on her chin. Ira asked her if the chair dance is supposed to be dependent(?) or sad and she said she'd rather not say.

I haven't mentioned this yet, but Ira has been doing a bit of dancing off and on in this. There's a lot of nervous "OMG IRA IS DANCING" giggling in the audience, but he's doing pretty well.

While the ladies are offstage, Ira makes a balloon animal and talks about his wife working at Rookie and one time he got asked to do the "Ask A Grown Man" video, in which a girl asks about boy behavior. Ira got a girl wanting to know how to tell her boyfriend she wanted to give him a blow job and Ira was all essentially, "That's easy, you don't need words!" After his coworkers saw this show, they all said they thought he was making a balloon penis (for the record, it was a poodle), and he was all, "I'm shocked! You know me! I won a Peabody Award! Also, that is so disrespectful of me as a balloon artist!" Of course, the audience here is thinking the same.

After a bit about his mother giving advice about people who are bad at the middles of relationships, Ira wonders how to close out the show. Monica likes to close with a bang, and confetti, and batons, so she and Ira (minus Anna, sigh) do a dance at the end and take a bow.

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