MUSIC REVIEW | Why? blow your mind at the Fine Line Music Café

Why? was kind enough to bring its distinctive indie hip-hop sound back to Minneapolis on Saturday, February 23 for a show at the Fine Line with help from Radio K. In tow were openers Sarah Winters and local favorite Astronautalis, who have been on tour this month with Why? The three bands rounded out a near-perfect Saturday night of music in the Twin Cities. Traditionally, an opening band is meant to heat up a crowd, but Sarah Winters was more of a salve to the crowd’s excitement about Why?. During her solo set—the stage drenched in red lights—Winters and her keyboard hypnotized the crowd into calmness, the sullen sounds of her songs drawing everyone’s attention to her like an ear magnet. Continue Reading

Jeffrey Skemp presents a cacophony of poetry at the Bryant-Lake Bowl

Despite a great number of near-meets, sightings, and acknowledgements of friends-of-friends, I still haven’t met poet Jeffrey Skemp. Prior to October 18, I had watched him read once, at the Hazel and Wren Words at WAM open mic last February, and in June, noticed him watching (and enjoying) Sierra DeMulder, Haley Lasche, Cary Waterman, and Richard Robbins reading at a Maeve’s Session, while I sat hoping that he would get up and read as part of the open mic. No dice.

Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | Cirque du Soleil’s “Dralion”: Insane in a good way

Wednesday night was opening night for the Minneapolis stop on Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion tour. The show, which premiered in Canada back in 1999 and makes an appearance every now and then, “draws its inspiration from Eastern philosophy and its never-ending quest for harmony between humans and nature.” Directed by Guy Caron, choreographed by Julie Lachance, and outfitted by costume designer Francois Barbeau, Dralion is an insane spectacle, though a little differently insane than I had imagined it would be.

Continue Reading

Literary exchange (and rivalry) between Duluth and the Twin Cities heats up

On Saturday, July 28, I got to find out first-hand how beautiful Duluth is. Recently John Jodzio, friend and author (published at Paper Darts, where I work as the editorial director), was awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant to create a series of literary readings in four Greater Minnesota cities. In June, for the first of the four events, Jodzio took Twin Cities authors Eric Vrooman, Dennis Cass, and Maggie Ryan Sandford out to St. Cloud for a reading as part of the Granite City Reading Series to perform with local authors Rex Veeder, Jeff Carmack, and Steve Klepetar. Over the last weekend in July, Jodzio invited some Twin Cities writers (including me) to Duluth for the second outstate reading, this time as part of the Zenith City Tales storytelling series at Teatro Zuccone. Performing along with Sandford, Cass, Jodzio, and me were talented Duluth authors Lucie Amundsen, Ryan Vine, Andy Bennett, and Luis Jenkins. Continue Reading

Angus McLinn’s “Your Heart Really Does Explode”: Twisted spiritualism from Cloud City Press

Color me not-all-that-surprised but Cloud City Press is still at it. Following up their first two publications—Filmpocalypse and Dragons Are Hung (authored by previous interview subjects Luke Marcott and Oliver St. John, respectively)—with Your Heart Really Does Explode, written by Cloud City staff editor Angus McLinn, the chapbook press is kicking ass with the help of names. Vouching for this merry band of young writers are the likes of John Jodzio, Peter Bognanni, and Ethan Rutherford, who have all vetted the newest offering from the chapbook publishers. Continue Reading

Field of Reads at the Walker Art Center: If you build it up, you’ll be bummed

Expectations are weird. A natural occurrence of that silly brain of ours, having them often doesn’t do any good at all. Mostly, having expectations just leads to unwarranted disappointment about things that we could have made the most of if we’d approached them with no expectations and a good attitude. Having Great Expectations can lead to falling in love with a girl who has been trained to never requite that love. Continue Reading

Is Rachel Gold’s “Being Emily” the first young adult novel to tell the story of a transgender girl from her own perspective?

About a month ago I spent a couple of hours tabling for The Loft Literary Center at the annual conference of the Golden Crown Literary Society, a literary and educational organization for the enjoyment, discussion, and enhancement of lesbian literature. Based in Georgia, the GCLS convention took to the roads this year for the first time ever, settling on our lovely state (specifically, Bloomington) to be their inaugural national host. Continue Reading

Katie Robison’s “Downburst”: A down-to-earth character in a wild young adult fantasy

Due to my “year of genre” (which has been a teensy bit compromised by my decision to just skip the western month and say shoo to Lonesome Dove in favor of…well…taking a break from reading) I haven’t had the chance to review many books for Lit Lyfe over the past few months. However, that’s about to change. Recently, I received an email from local author and Ph.D. candidate Katie Robison about her new book Downburst, a young adult dystopian fantasy-thriller based on Native American legends, which is the first in something called the Windstorm Series. The cover depicts what looked to me at first to be a bird clutching a weapon of some sort, leading me to suppose the book was a neat little Hunger Games rip-off, I understand now that the illustration, and the book, is something else entirely. Continue Reading

Dan Savage talks sex and raises money at the Pantages Theatre

On Friday, June 22, author Dan Savage returned to the Twin Cities for a stage show of his sex advice column, Savage Love, at the Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. As a straight, married woman, I find myself to be a little outside of the demographic that Savage wishes to serve—a feeling that exploded during the first few minutes of his show when he AKA-ed his show something along the lines of, “Things I didn’t know straight people do … man, you guys are kinky”—though I frequently read his column during long bathroom breaks, and find myself listening to his podcast while I’m pwning n00bs in the world of Call of Duty Black Ops.

Continue Reading