Friday, July 31, 2009

Welcome (Back) To The Machines

Okay, I confess: earlier today I engaged in a shameless act of self-pleasure. It had been a long time, though, such a long time since I'd indulged myself, that I thought "why not? What's the harm? Everyone does it! Why are my palms sweaty?" And after my equivocating, I cast a furtive eye over each shoulder, opened my web browser, rubbed my grubby hands together, and--for the first time in many months, months, I tell you!--I did a vanity google.

I wouldn't be admitting to this sordid act so openly if I hadn't discovered something funny: how is it that I never saw this while Machines x7 was still up and running?

There are so many layers of awesome here--a veritable deep-fried artichoke blossom of "heh, neat"-ness--that I'm not sure where to begin. First, I guess, would be that I reviewed theater for this site for well over a year back in 2005-06 and still maintain a deep respect for the fine folk I met there.

Second, I continue to hazard, would be that I am mentioned as a major force behind the production. Mr. Coyle, whom I do not think I've ever met, writes:
The real stars of this production are machine designers Steven and Billy Blaise Dufala, Technical Director Derek Cook and Marlon Hurt, the Master Electrician. Creating a stage-world of working contraptions and low-tech gadgets is not easy, and their creativity is often staggering.
Dude, did you catch that? I effing staggered someone! Often! I am the Master Electrician...of the synapses in your mind!


Artichoke leaf number three, sadly, is that I think Mr. Coyle is very wrong in his assessment of my impact on the piece. Yes, Steven and Billy deserve the kudos he hands them, but Derek--not to diminish his significant contributions--simply assembled the mass of lumber dumped on our doorstep into a pre-designed set and, other than the house lights, I did nothing fancier than make sure everything turned on. That hardly makes us the "stars" of anything except utilitarian fetishists. Not what I would call an aesthetically refined crowd, they.

I'm also disappointed that he knocked the idea of the show being "deeply profound." Granted, in certain contexts words like "deep" and "profound" rank up there, in my opinion, with made-up words like "frustrational." When used to describe the quality or content of a work of art, "deep" and "profound" have essentially zero meaning. What they indicate, though, is that thought went into the project. With Machines x7, this is a fair assertion: it never smacked anyone over the head, but the entire exercise was a meditation on American militarism in the age of Bush. Our paranoia, our overcompensation, our propensity to turn into a mirror image of the monsters we're fighting--all of this was quietly addressed by Trey, Geoff, and Quinn. One just had to stop laughing long enough to examine why one was really laughing to begin with.

Not that Mr. Coyle was laughing, or necessarily should have been. To each his own. But for me that's the heart of this tasty thistle. I didn't realize it, but I've honestly missed slinging hash with fellow opinion-mongers like my former colleagues at I used to find such calisthenics so brutally rewarding. (Scroll toward the bottom to find my piece.)

I may be the Master Electrician in question, but when I think about disagreeing with someone whom I have every reason to respect--and the kind of multi-layered awesome such a disagreement reawakens in me--well, consider me staggered.


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