Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Spotlight: The Cryptogram

Image: Dan Norman

by Quinton Skinner
February 21, 2007

David Mamet's one-act show is a dramatic shell game. One moment you think you have your eyes on the pea, then the subtext beneath the action changes altogether, leaving you scrambling to reconsider the events in a new context. (It also leaves you writing convoluted sentences in trying to describe it all.) The setup is simple enough: Donny (Annie Enneking) is hanging fire with Del (Peter Ooley), waiting for her husband to return home and take her son John (Jake Ingbar) on a camping trip the next morning.

The precise nature of Annie and Del's relationship is unclear; the fact that John can't seem to go to sleep adds to the tension. Also providing discomfort is Mamet's dialogue, a sadist's crop of sentence fragments, minutiae, and overlapping lines that leave the actors sounding like robots hopped up on diet pills. A letter appears at the end of the first scene, though, that clarifies matters somewhat, and the rest of the plot involves Donny's betrayal by her husband and Del. The action proceeds to unspool like the puzzle of the play's title, with a war-trophy knife taking on all manner of symbolic importance before things go well and truly to hell.

Director Annelise Christ's cast tightens the screws and extracts a good deal of real emotion from this potentially sterile contraption. And fifth-grader Ingbar hangs in effectively amid a mountain of verbiage and a character whose nature is ultimately the final piece to the mystery. At an hour and 15 minutes, this Walking Shadow Theatre Company production delivers a coherent and entirely viewable take on a work of bleak cruelty. You don't walk out with a smile on your face, but you may have some realizations about your own tightrope walk, with chaos on one side and meaning on the other. Now, put the knife down, John. I'm serious.

Review: 'The Cryptogram' -- Mamet at his briefest


Last update: February 19, 2007 – 1:02 PM

Walking Shadow Theatre Company, a group of idealistic youngsters, is one of the new entries in the small-theater scene, assuming the mantle from artists exhausted by the grind of creating work for little recompense.

I became aware of Walking Shadow, which has been around since 2004, through an eerie and ambitious piece in last summer's Fringe Festival. They are back at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage with David Mamet's "The Cryptogram," a 65-minute tryptych in which a small family's homeostasis is ritually hollowed out when a father bails out.

Annelise Christ, whose Hidden Theatre was once a darling of the small scene, directs with a brisk clip that matches Mamet's trademark concision.

However, this technical efficiency robs the necessary sense of transformation. Jake Ingbar, all of 11 years old, shows an extraordinary introspection as young Johnny, whose hopes for a weekend in the woods with his dad turn sour when dad's news lands. Peter Ooley shades family friend Del with a bland normalcy which, when critical secrets emerge, pricks our curiosity about this odd duck.

These two seem so natural that Annie Enneking's studied precision as the abandoned mother sticks out. It is just too easy to see her acting. (7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sun., 711 W. Franklin Av., Mpls. $14-$16, 612-375-0300. Ends March 3.)


Friday, February 16, 2007


Belly up to the barfood and you won't be disappointed.
Talk about on-the-job training. After working at Restaurant Alma, 112 Eatery, Cafe Barbette and other top Twin Cities kitchens, Landon Schoenefeld has put his sweat-equity education to very good use at his new gig. As chef at the new-ish Bulldog N.E., he's borrowed his former employers' cooking principles -- Grade A ingredients, strong technique, creative thinking -- and applied them to traditional neighborhood pub genre. Although the results are far from fancy, Schoenefeld's next-generation bar food exudes obvious smarts and attention to detail. Oh, yeah -- it tastes good, too.

It's difficult to imagine a better burger. Schoenefeld starts by trimming fat from Kobe-style chuck, curing the meat overnight with salt, thyme, garlic and peppercorns, and then cranking it through a meat grinder twice. The highly seasoned beef is then formed into thick patties, grilled to sizzling, juicy perfection and slipped into some of the best buns in the business, baked at the New French Bakery. Purists can stop there, but Schoenefeld soldiers on, offering his customers a few tantalizing variations, constructed with well-sourced building blocks: pungent Stilton, a slab of smoky Minnesota-raised ham, thick bacon from that same Waseca farm, earthy truffle oil, a mustard brimming with fresh horseradish, a snappy house-made aioli.

He has fries down, too: long and runway-model skinny, double-fried to just the right crispy snap, and finished with a liberal shake of Sicilian sea salt. Naturally, Schoenefeld tinkers with the genre. One version dusts 'em with fennel, a tarragon aioli subbing for ketchup; the most over-the-top variation fuses mellow Grana Padano and a splash of truffle oil to fries as they come out of the fryer. One bite and you'll be hooked; two, and you'll be stuffed.

The pickle plate -- a primo partner to the Bulldog's exceptional beer roster -- is also a beaut. It starts with some rockin' sausages (from a Wisconsin family farm) before moving on to an array of nicely conceived house-made snacks. Herring has a subtle coriander kiss. Beets have a faint cinnamon chaser. Miso puts an edge on turnips, and a few chiles give carrots a wicked one-two punch.

Ditto a fine (and affordably priced) assembly of cured meats, cheeses and spreads, particularly Schoenefeld's ruddy chicken-pork terrine and flavorful liver pâté paired with sweet-tart Wisconsin cherries. Brisket -- tender, richly flavored -- is another highlight, whether it's folded into a mountainous plate of nachos flecked with queso fresco or made a centerpiece of an exceptional chili. Its smoldering heat, emanating from fresh and dried fresno and poblano chiles, is cleverly cooled by a cilantro-infused crème frâiche. And you have to love a basket of Tater Tots, hot bite-size treats dunked into a harissa-laced mayo.

Overscaled salads (the kitchen makes a wonderfully creamy green goddess dressing), fancified hot dogs (get the chili dog, a Vienna Beef topped with that amazing chili) and a half-dozen nicely composed and overstuffed sandwiches round out the menu. A few larger entrees get the blue plate special treatment: big portions of stick-to-your-ribs fare. Best is a classic chicken-and-waffles combo, with a pair of light, yeasty waffles topped by an abundantly meaty, crispy-skinned fried chicken, all drizzled in maple syrup blended with bits of that seriously delicious bacon.

There's a weekly special, too; last week it was a spin on a Gopher State hot dish standard: Tater Tots, roasted Brussels sprouts and fork-tender short ribs, all tied together with a savory mushroom béchamel sauce that stood in nicely for cream of mushroom soup.

No dessert, although Schoenefeld is looking into the prospect of a few simple sweets in the not-so-distant future. For now, Schoenefeld's menu is available only at Bulldog N.E., not at its older sibling establishment in south Minneapolis. But who knows? If the ownership is smart, they'll take Schoenefeld's cooking on the road.

Rick Nelson • rdnelson@startribune.com

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bush is now the sexiest and most famous person on the team

Bush is so fancy now. She is being profiled this month on the website for Minnesota Women in Film and Television. Support her and check her out!

Current Spotlight .... Carrie Bush interviewed by Susan Marks.

Meet Carrie Bush, our Member Spotlight for February and March. Carrie works in the local freelance production industry as a coordinator and assistant. However, Carrie’s reach goes beyond Minneapolis. Recently, she worked on a documentary film that took her around the globe for four months. (Be sure to ask Carrie all about her exciting adventures!)

Carrie also works on independent projects, including a documentary film she is codirecting with Carrie Volk and MN WIFT member, Molly Worre. The three directors received an IFP Access Grant for this film that follows two women living in the Harriet Tubman Family Alliance.

“Our working title for this film is REDEFINE,” said Carrie. “Through our documentary we are exploring the cycle of abuse and hopefully giving a good sense of where these women are coming from - telling a story that doesn’t usually get told in mainstream media.”

Like so many others in filmmaking, Carrie has a diverse background and eclectic education. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Carrie attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she studied Cultural Anthropology and American Indian Studies. Carrie went on to teach Physics, Astronomy and Environmental Education in several nontraditional classroom settings, including a stint in Argentina. Carrie also turned her passion for camping and nature into a career, leading numerous canoeing trips for the YMCA.

According to Carrie, “I’ve had several careers, but my switch to filmmaking stemmed from the need I saw for more socially responsible media. I’m interested in being a part of the way the world communicates to one another. I love to know people’s stories from all over and see the interconnectiveness. And I decided I want to capture some of our rich oral traditions.”

While enrolled in MCTC’s Digital Arts Program, Carrie started working and interning for MN WIFT members, Melody Gilbert and Kathy Ferry. The mentoring experience had a profound effect on Carrie and she hopes to continue and give back through her involvement in MN WIFT.

“More often than not, I am one of the few women on set, so it’s great to be apart of organization that supports women in this industry. I love the comaraderie and the spirit of mentorship I see in MN WIFT,” said Carrie.

“My hope is to continue to work as a filmmaker in a sustainable work environment. I
love what I do and my goal is continue to help give underrepresented people a voice in media.”

Thirty-One Legged Race Cultivate Spirit of Teamwork!

This is my new favorite show. I saw it on chinerTV in Hawai'i.

Thirty-one-legged Race - Kids in Action - Kids Web Japan - Web Japan

Have you ever run in a three-legged race? Imagine if you had to run in a line of 30 people, instead of just two. Does that sound hard? Well, an event known as the 31-legged race is popular right now among Japanese elementary school students. In this event, 30 classmates line up in a single row with their legs tied together at the ankles. As one long line of 31 legs, they run as fast as they can against the clock over 50 meters. There is even a 31-legged race national championship for elementary school students, which is broadcast on national TV.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Spare me my life!

Learn English, self defense, and work out all at the same time!

Say Goodbye to Smut & Eggs

Another piece of my youth is gone. Where am I going to go now when I need to watch hardcore porn when nursing a hangover with screwdrivers and sunny side up eggs? - Coach

Bennett's RIP.
The Capital Times
By Doug Moe

LAST WEEK on the Badger Nation fan Web site, a forum topic that veered away from UW athletics brought a spirited exchange.

Somebody posed the question: Which lost Madison bar do you miss the most?

There were dozens of responses, and reading them was like taking an 80-proof stroll down memory lane. Among the mourned establishments: the 602 Club; Bob and Gene's; the Pinckney Street Hide-Away; the Flamingo Bar in the Grotto on State Street; the Fess; Pino's at Regent and Park (a personal favorite, as it was where I had my first underage beer); the Barber's Closet; and many, many more. It was 16 pages when I printed it out.

If the forum had been next month instead of last week, a place sure to garner more than a few sentimental votes would be Bennett's on the Park, which will have its last day of operation Feb. 24.

Doug Moe: Say goodbye to Park Street Smut & Eggs
Rich Bennett

That's right - or wrong, depending on your point of view. Proprietor Rich Bennett is pulling the plug on the legendary Park Street home of "Smut & Eggs," where on weekend mornings since 1990 you could get your eggs over easy and your porn overtly hard.

National magazines wrote about the unusual breakfast fare, which was initiated by Bennett's older brother, Gene Bennett, at his bar near Verona and Raymond roads. The brothers both have adult entertainment licenses, but perhaps because Rich's place was close to campus (and you know how young people like to gossip), the Park Street locale became more associated with "Smut & Eggs."

On Tuesday morning, a sign behind the bar in Bennett's on the Park advertised X-rated movies for sale, DVD or VHS.

"Got to make it any way I can," Rich Bennett was saying. He was not completely successful in keeping the bitterness out of his voice.

According to Bennett, the cause of his bar's demise is simple: The smoking ban in taverns did him in.

"I was doing fine," Bennett said. "It just killed me."

The decline started slowly, Bennett said, because the ban was enacted in the summer of 2005. His smoking customers had no problem ducking outside in July to grab a smoke. By December, they were less enthusiastic. Today, 19 months into the ban, his business is just about gone.

"There are nights when I will have one customer," Bennett said. "Those same nights, in the past, I needed two bartenders."

Bennett doesn't own the building at 416 S. Park, and his current lease is up this month. When the landlord announced a rent increase, Bennett knew he was done. "I can't pay the rent as it is," he said.

There are people in Madison who will not be sorry to see a working-class tavern with unusual weekend television offerings go away. Bennett thinks it's symptomatic of a kind of elitism in the city. It can be hard to be a shot and a beer guy in a wine and cheese town. But when the former are gone, Bennett said, they'll leave a hole.

"You're losing the guys with personality and humor," Bennett said. "You go downtown to those fern bars and the bartenders charge you $5 for a drink and walk away."

Bennett, 59, is a Madison native, and a 1966 Madison Central High School graduate. For the past several years he has sponsored all-class reunions for Central at the VFW Club on Lakeside. (He has another, this Sunday, from noon-6.) He enjoys the reunions but is enough of a contrarian to insist that all attendees have been Central students - in other words, no spouses. It hasn't hurt attendance. "Seven hundred at the last one," Bennett said.

Bennett boxed Golden Gloves as a kid, and later in the Navy. He has a photo of himself at Guantanamo Bay in 1968, standing with several other winners of a service boxing tournament. He played semi-pro football with the Madison Mustangs. (It was "semi," all right. Bennett was paid $18 for home games and $20 for road games.) He spent nine years all told in the armed service of his country, a fact that crossed his mind as he waited all night and was given four minutes to speak at the City Council meeting that effectively destroyed his business.

Bennett opened his bar in 1990, buying what was previously Frankie's. Bennett added food, and over the years it scored some fine reviews. "The Sloppy Joe," a State Journal reviewer noted, "tasted like the best Mom ever made. ...We were also bowled over by the deluxe burger: a half-pounder topped with two slices of bacon and served with pickles and chips."

Rich Bennett ran a good business. He paid his taxes. In over a decade and a half he didn't have a dozen police calls to his bar. Now it is all gone and you will forgive him if he's bitter - and leaving town.

"I can't wait to get out," he said Tuesday.

"Where are you going?" he was asked.

"Portage, probably. Anywhere. But February 25th is my last day in Madison."

"You're sure?"

"I'm positive."

Heard something Moe should know? Call 252-6446, write PO Box 8060, Madison, WI 53708, or e-mail dmoe@madison.com.
Published: February 7, 2007

Upcoming Events

  © Blogger template 'Portrait' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP