Sunday, July 13, 2008

Omega Recoil at the Fire Arts Festival

Tonight I went over to West Oakland to see the Fire Arts Festival, and particularly to see Omega Recoil's "Rat Scientists" performance.


It's a really fun bit of absurdist theater, in which giant rats in lab coats conduct experiments on "human" subjects beneath a giant upside-down Tesla coil. That's right, monkey boy: beneath an upside-down Tesla coil!

Beyond that, the amazing thing about the festival is all the fire. Fire looks really good. Really big flames look really good. But I actually didn't see much of anything that I'd call "fire art." Not because the art itself is the typical aesthetically immature Burning-Man-Outsider-Art sort of thing - of course it's that, and more power to it.

The reason is that it's "art with fire" instead of "fire art."

Ooh, what about a giant metal tricycle... WITH FIRE?

How about large-breasted women standing in front of.... FIRE?

Or maybe a big meditating Buddha made out of scrap metal.... WITH FIRE?

Or how about some flying trapeze artists, risking life and limb on a giant scaffolding... WITH FIRE?

To be fair, I did see a couple things that seemed to deserve the name Fire Art. There was one thing that seemed to be just a metal bucket with a flame in it. Assuming it didn't later turn into a whirlygig machine-art dingleberry WITH FIRE, then it's probably in the clear. And there was a guy who had a square column about a meter high, on a pedestal, with a fire in it, melting something on the outside. That probably qualifies too.

In that sense, the Omega Recoil show really stood out. It was fun, it wasn't self-important, it was frankly a whole lot more death-defying than any of the fire games, and it was actually about Electricity and the Tesla coil. (Presumably as a condition of participation, some wooden chairs caught fire while the hu-man subjects were basking in their electroshock mating ritual.)

(Disclosure: I live with John Behrens and Fearghal O'Dea, so I probably would have said something nice about the Rat Scientists even if I didn't like the show.)


The coil at rest.


Art With Fire.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Double your IQ or no money back.

I saw this today on Facebook. I wonder if Mr. Gate is really that smart.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down deserve as many blog posts as there are bloggers to post them, so here's one more.

I bought the two albums available on iTunes and have been listening to them a lot lately, and they continue to grow on me, especially the earlier one. There's no way I could ever stop digging "Big Kid Table" -- in addition to being awesome, it was my introduction to Thao, when I saw her perform it solo at the Utah over a year ago.

But lately I find myself listening to both albums back to back while working, and I think I have a new favorite. But it's a secret, in case I change my mind.

If you're looking for some good new music, and above all smart, witty music, check out Thao. Plus she's smokin' hot, which is always a nice complement to talent.