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FRINGE Days 3 & 4: Jay Pharaoh, “Intrepid,” and a Laptop Orchestra

The First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival continues its Tricycle tromping path throughout the city of Rochester. I’ve come to terms: as a Fringe audience member, I’m never quite sure what I’m going to see. This weekend my limits were stretched. I was witness to SNL stand up, a laptop orchestra, an hour long, prop-free, one-man show and more.

A Little Business at the Big Top

guide_photoA Little Business at the Big Top is a one man show, currently playing at the Geva Theatre and features accomplished performance actor David Gaines. He is a Fringe veteran who travels the world performing solo shows. Sans stage props, David Gaines prompts imagination. The man is pure electricity, the mime child of Steve Martin and Charlie Chaplin.

While at first, for me, the lack of dialogue and set design was a hard pill to swallow, but a few minutes into the show my brain filled in the details (like the food fight scene on Hook!), and all of a sudden the scene flooded in. I saw the circus tent, the animals, the tight rope. My imagination hasn’t seen this much action in ages. Thanks, David. It was truly magical!

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Rochester Laptop Orchestra

On the total opposite end of the technology performance spectrum was the Rochester Laptop Orchestra, hosted by Eastman and University of Rochester students. What is a laptop orchestra exactly? I’m still trying to figure that out. To the show’s detriment, composition explanations were riddled with enigmatic jargon that left me scratching my head. All this to say, I still had a really great time (even if I wasn’t always aware of what was going on).

The hosts incorporated ballerina dancing, drum circles, facial mapping, and more. Here’s a video of the orchestra creating music through genetic mapping. What were they mapping? A disease. Pretty cool stuff.

My favorite part of the performance was the facial mapping sequence: depending how the users would move their faces, piano notes would play. (more…)

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Fringe 1-2

FRINGE Day 2: After Hours A Cappella and Tricycle Madness in Manhattan Square

After a dreamlike introduction, a diffident storyline, and a long journey through the crowds of Manhattan Square, Fringe Festival’s Friday night headliner, Tricycle by Circus Orange, awoke its impatient and testy audience with a spectacle filled finale, leaving them speechless and in awe.

For instance, this happened:

Courtesy of the Rochester Fringe Festival

Courtesy of the Rochester Fringe Festival

Wait. Wait. Let’s back up. There’s more to tell. Much more. Let’s start earlier in the day, shall we?

DAY 2

After Hours A Cappella at Bernunzio Uptown Music

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After Hours always puts on a great show. I’ve never been clear, however, if their sound and style can sustain audiences beyond the academic, rarefied walls of the University of Rochester.

The first thing I noticed was that the show was almost sold out. So that is good. The second thing? These undergrads are amazing. Top notch voices, diverse song selections, innovative compositions.

From “Stand by Me,” to Little Mermaid‘s “Kiss the Girl,” to “Teenage Dream,” After Hours commandingly covered a range of popular genres, feeding their captivated audience with an overflowing trick-or-treat bag of ear candy.

After the gig, I met the crew and asked the gentlemen “Why a cappella?” (more…)

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Rochester Fringe Week on The Number Kevin!

The most wonderful time of the year (for Rochester) is here: the 3rd annual Rochester Fringe Festival. Ahh, I’m so excited.

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Spiegeltent, Cirque Du Fringe, Circus Orange, Jay Pharaoh, local theater, local music–over 300 performances!

The best part is that I get to go to all of it. I’m pleased to announce that, this year, The Number Kevin is one of the official bloggers for the Fringe! Yes, I just referred to myself in the third person. Things are going to get weird. Trust me.

So stay tuned! All this week, and a few days more, I’ll be posting everything Fringe. Where to go, what to do, who stole what show, what events are happening from the University of Rochester as well as other colleges, and, finally, who has the best beer.

Quick Snaps for Last Night

Fringe officially kicked off last night with the Mardi Gras themed, wow-inducing Cique Du Fringe at the amazing Spiegeltent. (Excuse the grainy pics, my phone can not give the Spiegeltent justice. See it for yourself. It is a one of a kind atmosphere).

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After the Spiegeltent show, some friends and I happened upon Eastman students playing jazz at Press Coffee. I don’t know who these hep cats we’re, but they were slaying it.

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Where I’ll be today, come say hi

Everywhere. But, specifically, (if I can fit it all in):

5:00-11:00pm: RIT’s Emerging Artists 2014 @ The Little, Free

6:00-7:00pm: After Hours -A Cappella Hour @ Bernunzio Uptown Music, $10

7:30-8:30pm Circus Orange’s Tricycle @ Martin Luther King, Jr. Park at Manhattan Square, Free

9:00-11:00pm The City: Choose Your Own Path @ Spiegelgarden, Free

11:00-1:00am Silent Disco @ Spiegeltent, Free

Whatever else comes my way.

Tweet me @kevindanielblog and let me know where I should be!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s wrap up, as well my recommendations for where to go and what to see!

White Noise (1)

Sharing Saturation Through DeLillo’s “White Noise”

Over summer, my wife and I visited the most photographed lighthouse in the world. We didn’t question the claim’s validity. We just went with it. The lighthouse stop was part of our New Hampshire and Maine last minute road trip. It was a good trip. We slept in the car and jumped in the water and ate a lot of seafood. We were in York when we heard about it: “The most photographed lighthouse.” Just up the road, said the internet, a few miles from where you are.

So we jumped in the car and found it. Instinctively, my first thought was, Yes, this looks like a lighthouse. It’s cute, scenic, impressionable. It is all the things lighthouses are and should be.

I didn’t want to take a picture.

Rather, it seemed better to be the guy who visits “Most Photographed” type places, and doesn’t take pictures. The concept would make for a good blog. But as I stood there watching dozens of tourists snapping their film and tapping their screens—a fervent mixture of new and old technology, crunching, shaking, iPhones uploading moments through invisible data, data that I too could claim!—something crept up inside me, like a tremor, and before I knew it, there I was, unceremoniously taking a picture.

So here’s the picture:

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It wasn’t until later, while reading a novel by Don DeLillo, that the lighthouse was *uhem* illuminated once more inside my head. As I’ve come to understand, DeLillo is a cultural critic; his novels address society’s many obsessions and explores what roles these obsessions play in our lives, as well as how they define us. Death, technology, consumerism, media, crowds, for instance, these are common motifs DeLillo highlights with excellent vision and irony.

His novel, White Noise, takes a look at these motifs and addresses them in terms of family life and the suburbs (also there’s an Airborne Toxic Event). Here’s what a book cover may look like: (more…)

TNK Kaleidoscope Banner

Interview: Gar Mickelson, Kaleidoscope Community Services

I walk into 2nd Street Commons, a nondescript building in downtown Coeur d’Alene (CDA), Idaho, sandwiched between a dive bar and a closed gun shop. Once inside the first thing I realize is that I have no idea how to categorize the premises, though I try: a coffee shop without a coffee bar, a living room without a TV, a pub without the liquored smell of vomit, a church without a program. There is no schema that fits, and I love it.

People are simply scattered. They look weary, but comfortable, at ease, respite. Some folks relax on the couch while others bustle up and down hallways, in and out of the kitchen.

It is here where I meet Gar Mickelson. He wears a bright smile, gives a big hug, and introduces me to everyone. “This is my friend Kevin,” he says. And everyone I meet makes me feel like family. They, too, give hugs and handshakes.

Gar gives a tour of the facility. As we walk along I continue to meet people, a mix of volunteers and visitors. Some are cooking, cleaning, painting, hauling. The volunteers are passionate and dedicated. Because I am cynical this is all odd for me. I’m waiting for the hook, the agenda, the money making scheme, something to take me out of this fairy tale of genuine coexistence.

We walk into a new room, “Excuse the camping gear,” Gar says. “We’re holding that for someone who was forced to leave his camp site.”

“For free?” I ask. “You’re holding it for free?”

“That’s what we’re all about here, Kevin. ‘Come and be for free.'”

I really want to give Gar another hug, but that would be too weird. So instead, we head into his office, and I ask him a few questions about how Kaleidoscope Community Services started, when it started, and what the heck this place even is.

What is Kaleidoscope Community Services? What is 2nd Street Commons, and how long has the CDA location been established?

Kaleidoscope Community Services is a private, faith-based non-profit corporation based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. KCS exists to bridge the gap between community needs and community resources, and we do this in a variety of ways.

KCS opened the 2nd Street Commons at the end of January, 2014. Since that time we’ve had over 100 volunteers from 10 different churches, served almost 500 gallons of coffee, served almost 1000 meals, and have gone through approximately 6 miles of toilet paper…  (more…)

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Rapid Recap: 2014 Digital Rochester GREAT Awards

Tonight, some Rochester tech entrepreneurs are feeling really great.

The 2014 GREAT Awards just let out, and what an honor it was to attend, to be surrounded and inspired by successful entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and rising stars. Digital Rochester, a non profit that brings “technology professionals together within the community,” hosts this swanky event every year. Here’s a succinct vision from the GREAT website:

To recognize and celebrate the Greater Rochester community’s entrepreneurial spirit in technological achievement for advancing commerce and resource conservation.

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The official program began with one of the more entertaining (if not best) opening videos I’ve ever seen for a stuffy, prima facie, awards ceremony, “The Fresh Prince to the Future of Technology.”

After some comical chatter, delicious dinner, and tasty tweets (eating and tweeting), the awards ceremony kicked off. There were eight award categories and twenty-four finalists in all.

Here’s a quick list of those who won: 

(more…)

Rochester, NY

My Rochester Bucket List

In less than nine months I will (most likely) be moving away from Rochester, NY. I’ll graduate from UR with two degrees and will be looking for jobs in the West Coast/Northwest. (That is, of course, unless an amazing opportunity affords me to stay).

While Rochester has been an absolute bastard at times (a garbage plate, if you will), the city has no doubt grown on me. I’m at the point where I kind of like it. Who’da thought? People here are genuine, there’s an art culture just waiting to explode, and while Rochester lacks a thriving socio-environment for young professionals—no friendly downtown district, poor upkeep of natural resources—I get the sense that Rochester will be an incredible place to live in about five years.

Downtown projects are looming, tax breaks are given for new businesses, public transportation is getting better, and (my fav) Costco is coming. Plus, Global Warming.

So why not stay?

Because mountains. And the Pacific. I’m a West Coast kid, and I can’t help it. Home is home. But right now, this next year, I want to enjoy Rochester and Western New York as much as possible.

So here it is, my Rochester, NY Bucket List:

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1. See a performance at the Eastman Theatre

The beautiful and rarified Eastman Theatre (1922) hosts over 700 performances a year. Wow! Why haven’t I seen one yet? Oh yes, classical music is expensive. Can’t we just do one night of local punk bands? Just one night?

2. Enjoy a Haunted Hayride

As a Halloween fanatic, I was impressed, last year, with the level commitment I saw Western New York dedicate to the holiday. Unfortunately I had just moved across the country and couldn’t even afford a hayride. This year? Oh yes. It is happening.

3. Visit Buffalo for authentic Buffalo chicken wings

I mean, I’m here?

4. Tour the George Eastman House

Before switching apartments, I lived just down the street from old George (Kodak guy). Yet, because of busyness, I never got a chance to tour his old stomping grounds. I did attend a summer concert in his backyard, however. Seems like a cool place, a mini-Hearst Castle. (more…)

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Flex your kindness muscle, jerk

One of my favorite short fiction authors, George Saunders (that is, short story, not short in stature), regrets his many failures of kindness.

51xfEKhLwAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Saunders released a new book this year entitled, “Congratulations, by the way,” and I would highly recommend it for your bookshelf. Honestly, it isn’t as much a book as it is a transcript of a commencement speech he gave. But it is fun. Also, the cover is pretty and the kindness theme is a blunt and necessary reminder. All this, of course, is well worth your time.

I found Saunder’s book at (uhem) *Urban Outfitters* in the clearance bin while on vacation. Clearance bin!? How kind.

Anyway, I’d like to be more kind.

I’ve never thought about kindness being a skill. Can it be a skill? If so, then the consequences are scary. It means our kindness can improve. I always assumed, embarrassingly, that kindness was limited by our predispositions, how our parents and community nurtured us. I assumed that “kind people” were naturally built to be nice, and the jerks (that’s me) were off the hook for round-the-clock niceness.

But framing kindness in this new light asks us to reconsider our intentionality (as well as coming to terms with the necessity of proper planetary social interdependence). Are we doing enough?

Saunders does three things in this book that I very much respect: 1) he admits he wasn’t always kind 2) he explores why we aren’t all necessarily inclined to be kind and 3) he assumes that everyone could be kind if they just focused on better (more selfless) things.

Here’s a couple quotes from the (incredibly) fast read:

“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering and I responded… sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.”

“Since we have observed that kindness is variable, we might also sensibly conclude that it is improvable; that is, there must be approaches and practices that can actually increase our ambient level of kindness.” (more…)

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City Whisk, the app that localizes discovery

The following story appears in the current issue of 585 Magazine (July/August ’14).

Jonathan Marcowicz is the first real explorer I’ve ever met.

We sit in a café, sip coffee, and reminisce of travel. He speaks of his past like he’s still there: a heuriger inVenice, a Chopin concert in France, serendipitous nights of intrigue in Versailles. His voice has heart; his eyes tell me all I need to know. And, really, I do know.

I tell him about an Ireland trip that changed my life. About Dingle, where the locals pointed me down a windy dirt road, past roaming sheep and old ruins, a path that led me to a drop-dead gorgeous cliff edging the endless Atlantic Ocean.

“That’s it!” he says. “Exactly.”

To Marcowicz, locals are the secret ingredients for intrepid adventure—a belief he cemented after a New Orleans New Year’s road trip.The more natives he spoke with, the more unique and engaging his expe- rience became. That’s how CityWhisk—a mobile app he cofounded with Marissa McDowell and Stacey Lampell—was born. The app offers travel itineraries from a local perspective and recently won first place in the Existing Civic App category at the 2014 AT&T Rochester Civic App Challenge.

Read more at 585Magazine.com

MODERN MANTRAS

Modern Mantras in Aged Fiction: Crichton’s Formula for Success

Hidden away in a forty year old (mainstream) fiction novel—a potboiler, a seemingly shallow tale, prime facie—lies the secret formula for life’s success. I almost couldn’t believe it when I read it. It was so simple, so perfect. See, I’ve perused business books and self-help guides, written by CEOs, millionaires and pastors; all these people with too much time on their hands, penning “how to succeed in life.” And I’ve read them, too, because that’s what leaders do. We read books and make mantras and talk about them on our blogs. But the lessons learned in business books often dissipate faster than tweets, and we’re again left with just ourselves, curious and conspiring.

But these two sentences said everything—articulated in a cold, simple language, a language that only Michael Crichton, the master of logical and academic science fiction, could accomplish.

You went out and you hunted, armed with your maps and your instruments, but in the end your preparations did not matter, or even your intuition. You needed your luck, and whatever benefits accrued to the diligent, through sheer, grinding hard work.

Take a second, and read it again. For me? And take it slow, because these are two damn-good, well-constructed sentences. Drink them like you would an overpriced glass of wine, and when you’re done, close your eyes to impress your friends. (more…)

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10 Amazing Toronto Animation Artists from TAAFI 2014

Last weekend, my wife and I were searching for coffee while walking along the Toronto waterfront. We were attracted to a building bustling with life, but instead of coffee, we found something much sweeter. We found TAAFI. What the heck is TAAFI? Great question. We asked ourselves the same question after stumbling into an amazing animation art festival.

TAAFI (Toronto Animation Arts Festival International) is in its third year. The four day festival includes screenings, lectures, exhibits, life drawing, workshops, and who knows what else. It’s a visual playground for anyone who loves animation, drawing, comics, or art.

TAAFI’s lectures, or talks, were tempting to attend: “Compelling Character Design,” “Indie Gaming,” “Comedians in Animation,” “State of the Industry,” and lots more.  But we showed up on the last day and spent most of our time walking the exhibits and meeting the artists.

Here’s a list of my favorite artists from TAAFI. All of whom I met, and all of whom were incredibly kind and gracious. All of whom, also, are from or are living in Toronto.

SIDE NOTE: I’m using these pictures without permission. If you’d like me to take it down, just ask! Also, all artist’s websites are linked in their names.

10 Amazing Animation Artists from TAAFI

Bobby Chiu might have been the most famous artist I met that day. He’s worked for Disney, Sony, and Dreamworks on a handful of films. He’s also designed toys and currently teaches at Schoolism.com. His website has a plethora of strange, amazing art (like the one below). It was hard to pick my favorite.

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Bobby Chiu

Ally Rom Colthoff is an artist that seems to do a bit of everything. She’s working on an online comic that posts every Monday and Friday. In addition, she also has great landscape paintings, as well as these wonderful, glorious things. She also leads a fun art blog.

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Ally Rom Colthoff

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My Hawaii Mission Trip

Please Support My Two Week Hawaiian Missions Trip

Dear Friends and Family,

When my Twitter ministry failed to find traction earlier this year, I realized I misheard the Lord’s voice. He does not want me to start a Twitter ministry after all. I guess, as I say it out loud, the idea of a Twitter ministry sounds ludicrous. If God were to launch a social media ministry, he would probably stick with LinkedIn. Most of those users have jobs.

Anyway, God is calling me to Hawaii.

I know what you’re thinking, “Kevin, for how long and how can I help?”

Great questions. God wants to send me to Hawaii for two weeks. It is not a very long time, which makes it incredibly convenient and easy to commit. Really, I don’t have to sacrifice much. Spiritual commitments that require only short term sacrifices, I find, are usually best.

But the time is plenty and the impact immense! Building long lasting relationships, for instance, will serve as a primary purpose in this two week period. Not only will I minister to lost locals, but I will also bring the Light to all first class flight crew as well as hotel and restaurant staff (at least, those who speak proper English).

More specifically:

The game plan

Days 1-4: Spread the Gospel exclusively to surfing instructors. No doubt, they are empty, sinful creatures. I will “act” as a normal customer. I will partake in the surfing instructions. I will even surf. Because as Paul says, “If they surf, you must become a surfer.”

Days 5-7: Continue to surf; when done, visit schools and poor villages for premium photo ops

Day 8: Hike a volcano

Days 9-10: Inevitably, hide from the sun to heal your sun burns (God doesn’t always make it easy, does He?)

Days 11-12: Leave gospel tracts for God to work his magic to sushi cooks and barkeeps in some scenic strip of town

Days 13-14: Shopping (more…)