If you're looking for an overview of XOXO 2016, email me a mailing address at feiya dot wang at gmail and I'll send you the zine I made. And while you're waiting for that, you could check out the collection of overviews gathered by Tantek Çelik, the #xoxofest hashtag on Twitter, or read my XOXO 2015 overview.
For the rest of this blog post, I'm going to ramble on a bit about a few moments of my XOXO experience that stuck with me.
While washing my hands in the bathroom, I noticed Alex Swast waiting off to the side and from the ongoing conversation, it turned out that a XOXO volunteer had gotten a splinter in her thumb and Alex was keeping her company while she tried to get it out. I was wearing a pin that had been gifted to me by Jenn Sandercock, for her Order of the Oven Mitt edible game and it happened to be a brooch-type pin. I offered to let her use it to perform thumb splinter surgery and she was able to successfully get it out! It was a somewhat surreal experience, but I was happy to have stopped and been able to be of assistance!
Got "Recognized" by a Stranger
While I was waiting in the coffee line at one point, Dee Del Rosario came up and introduced themselves saying that they knew me through a mutual friend and that we had common interests that they'd like to pick my brain about! I was incredibly surprised that they had been able to pick me out of the crowd, but they said that our mutual friend had shown them some of my wedding pictures! It was a pleasant surprise and while I didn't get to talk to Dee much at XOXO, it was great getting to make that connection.
I was pretty excited to see Homestar Runner live and they did a puppet Strong Bad and live singing and music of the Trogdor episode, however, there were some transphobic jokes in some of the episodes that were shown that were incredibly out of place and not in the spirit of XOXO. I was disappointed that the Andys didn't call it out; I think it would have been good to publicly denounce it.
I really latched on to the pin trading, even though I've never traded pins before and it was fun having a quest of sorts. The best moment however was near the end of XOXO, when I was feeling somewhat despondent that I would ever secure a joystick pin, one of the most hotly guarded pins. My partner, Pat Kemp, had a few days earlier lost his Spry Fox bear pin and we went to the lost & found to see if someone had turned it in. Not only had someone turned in the bear pin, but when I spotted the joystick pin on the lanyard of a volunteer behind the booth, he very very graciously offered to just give it to me! I'm a completionist, so it was really amazing and I felt so happy. Thank you volunteer.
I had a great time at last year's #ladies meetup and this year was no different, we were much more spread out, but I really enjoyed talking with Jena Pyle, Kara Sowles, & Rachel Nabers, who I had met last year. I was really anxious to go to the meetup because I found I had all these questions I wanted to pose to the women about the women's group that I had been organizing and how to re-energize it. But the really lovely part of it was afterwards, when Rachel and I walked back to Revolution Hall and had a fabulous heart to heart about a variety of topics.
I'd love to share the fun little zine I made about XOXO with you. Just send me your mailing address via email at feiya dot wang at gmail or DM me on Twitter! I promise I won't do anything with the address besides mail you a zine.
June 24, 2016
This is dinner theater like you've never experienced. It's not sexy dinner theater. It's not tacky or roll-your-eyes cheesy dinner theater. It's not a mystery dinner theater. What it is though, is a sinfully delicious 4-course dinner seamlessly interwoven with theater, stories, & music.
The Devil's gravelly voice & spirit guide you through delightful tales from the point of view of the fallen angel. The music, scenes, food & drink are integrated in such a way that you just have enough time to catch your breath and appreciate each course and paired drink (a $20 upgrade that is not to be missed), before being sucked into the next story. The stories are funny and make you feel alive but is at no point scary or depressing. The lovingly detailed papercraft is a surprising delight to behold and transforms the one room brick theater.
You are welcome to be as involved in the initial summoning of the Devil as you would like, but I was happy that the majority of the show, while incredibly immersive, doesn't create the atmosphere in a taxing way. My only complaint was that the main course, a scrumptious jambalaya, and the last scene overlapped a bit and I was unable to fully appreciate either as much as I would have liked. In all the other courses, I had plenty of time to savor each bite and chat comfortably with my tablemates before the lights dimmed and the next story began.
Since Sundown at the Devil's House is the first Cafe Nordo's Pressure Cooker show, it has a short run of only 5 shows, and only 2 shows still have seats available, Saturday June 25th & Monday June 27th.
Hats off to the entire cast and crew and I look forward to future Cafe Nordo productions.
April 14, 2016
In case you haven't heard, they cast a white woman (Scarlett Johansson) as the lead in Ghost in the Shell, which is a Japanese anime.
When I see whitewashing of Asian culture & people in the media, I'm angry, but also sad at the same time. I've heard so many stories of Asians who grew up in families where they were whitewashed by their own parents and now struggle to regain their sense of culture and past and how it fits in with their identity.
It's a vicious cycle. Being white and acting white are held up as the standard for success and being successful is of utmost importance. We need to value our Asian heritage and defend it and fight for it, but first we need to unlearn those lessons taught to us as children of immigrants. That unbroken and unaccented English is the most beautiful, that wearing a uniform of jeans and sneakers helps us blend in, that eating bland sandwiches and fruit rollups would help us not seem “other”, that when we did get teased and bullied, to not make a fuss and ignore it so that we can survive another day. That our success in the world would make up for it.
We are in a system that has a set of rules and playing by those rules makes life easier and not playing by them means that you’re punished, sometimes outrageously so. But I think one of the reasons Asians are not a vocal lot, is because deep down, we’ve accepted that Asian culture is not as valuable. We’ve done such a good job of assimilating that we've lost that sense of urgency and ownership. This fight? No, no, that's not my fight, that's someone else's fight. And soon enough, there won't be any fights, it'll just be the accepted norm. Being white cannot and should not be the norm. We all need to remember that and fight against it.
March 25, 2016
The two main characters, Olivia and Humphry, have built up so many distractions that they can't see past, and are both just soundlessly screaming into the void. It's bitter and caustic, but surprisingly not in a depressing sort of way. Humphry has perfected the persona of the nice, caring husband, where nice means placating, and caring means only things that are good for you are allowed. Olivia appears to be the consummate wife; however, while she's attentive, it's obvious she's completely detached and does so by rote habit.
The show is gorgeously furnished by Stoneway Furniture, but a cheesy set piece/light and cell phone sound effects marred an otherwise mature production. The audience hems in the one room stage, slowly building a claustrophobic atmosphere that by the end, will leave you questioning how we got to a place where the answer is always safe = good.
February 18, 2016
I just got back from the opening night of Sinner Saint Burlesque's newest show: Forces of Nature. It's billed as "An Opulent Strip Tease Tribute to the Natural World" and was a whirlwind of scrumptious costumes and dazzling creativity.
If you've never seen burlesque before, this production is a fun treat that is equal parts high brow (there's a lot of voice over speeches & poetry in-between acts), traditional strip tease (gloves, glitter, silk & pasties), as well as sometimes irrelevant tongue-in-cheek humor that makes you fall a little bit in love with the performers for their honesty. Even the stage kittening (people who pick up the clothes & props) between the performances were a delightful transition.
While there were a few parts of the show where the music was distractingly loud, the overall show struck a balance between being sensuous, playful, and artistic without being crude (okay...except for that one time...oh and that other time where everyone was a delicious writhing mass on the ground...).
What makes Forces of Nature stand out to me however, is that it's a refreshingly Seattle, feminist, and unapologetic celebration of diversity in body types. Not everyone has shaved armpits. Not everyone has toned arms. Not everyone has big boobs. Not everyone has a flat stomach. It's the people that you see on your morning commute, transformed into decadent creatures stalking the stage. It's a show worth seeing whether you're a burlesque virgin, or well-acquainted with its charms.