Monday, July 5th, 2010

One of the highlights of the 4th of July weekend in Dayton is the annual Cityfolk Festival, a three-day event in downtown Dayton featuring multiple stages with various types of folk music and dancing
The Cityfolk pin I was prescient enough to buy unbidden
as well as food vendors on Monument Avenue by Riverscape and on Patterson Boulevard by Fifth Third Field.

My recollection was that Cityfolk was created after Dayton was chosen back in the 90s to host the National Folk Festival for a couple years, but looking at Cityfolk’s history page, I see that I was wrong.
An unfortunate
clothing choice
The 4th of July Cityfolk Festival indeed is Dayton’s successor festival to that National Folk Festival’s having been in Dayton, but Cityfolk as an organization existed for more than a decade beforehand. At any rate, although Cityfolk organizes many other cultural events, its Festival in July is what it’s most known for.

Living downtown I do try to stop by the Festival each year, and this year I made it over to the Festival twice, on Saturday the 3rd of July, when the Festival was fairly crowded because the City of Dayton fireworks that evening attract folk from all over,
Sparse attendance on the 4th led to boredom for the Montgomery County
Beef Queen
and again on Sunday the 4th, when the Festival was markedly less crowded. I didn’t stay long on the 3rd, having ventured down with my sister and brother-in-law just to partake of the good eats (I got a roadhouse porkshop sandwich and some dipping dots); before it got too crowded, we decamped back to my highrise apartment for a better view of the fireworks, but not before having taken in some views of unfortunate clothing choices.

Sunday evening, after a mid-day family cookout at my sister’s, I ventured back over to the Cityfolk Festival, where navigation was much easier than the day before. Despite not having
The Red Stick Ramblers’
“Two Guys One Fiddle” act
paid $30 for exclusive Room With a View parking, I was able to snag a parking spot on Patterson less than a block away from the main stage. I watched Ruthie Foster put on a good blues and soul show, Under 1 Roof teach folks under Five Rivers MetroParks’ new $6.2 million pavilion (MetroParks is lucky to have its own source of income) about house dance, and the Red Stick Ramblers put on a good Cajun/western show. Of course the real reason I’d wanted to come was to watch the last performance ever of Rhythm in Shoes, Dayton’s nationally known folk dance company,
Rhythm in Shoes dancer chats
with a fan
and, again despite my not having paid for exclusive Room With a View seating, I snagged a front row seat. Their Rapper Sword Dance is my favorite, and it was terrific this time too, bringing the audience to our feet with applause.

The final Rhythm in Shoes performance, combined with low attendance numbers, brought an end-of-an-era feel to the crowd, causing folk to murmur about whether this might also be
A great view of a great dance company
the final Cityfolk Festival. Certainly the continual shilling of Cityfolk pins (“Give us ten, so we can do it again”) raised awareness of the costs of putting such a festival on — luckily, despite not having sprung for Room with a View access, I had purchased a $10 pin and so was not embarrased when emcee Michael Lippert later called me out by name from the main stage. A Cityfolk board member, wandering through the audience selling those pins, stopped to tell some folk near me that she was sure the Festival would be back in some form next year. I hope she’s right.

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

I helped my mother to move some old electronics today, one of which was
circa 1998 Sony CDP-CX210 200-CD jukebox
a Sony CDP-CX210 200-CD jukebox, a 20-pound (according to the user manual) behemoth from around 1998. It cost about $150, got varying reviews and was designed so that serious CD collectors could buy more than one, using the same remote control on up to three of these monsters.

The first iPod, introduced October 2001
Within a few years people would instead be buying iPods, spending $400 in October 2001 for a 5GB iPod that could hold 1,000 songs, or about half CDs that the CDP-CX210 could hold. Of course, the price of iPods quickly dropped and their capacity quickly increased.

If you’re in the market for a CDP-CX210, you can find one on eBay for about $30. One hopeful eBay seller is marketing his thusly — Tired of opening CD jewel cases everytime you want to listen to a different disc? Here's a solution. Put 200 of your favorite CDs in this one and you'll have fast, complete control over what you hear. — as if iPods had never been invented.

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

American Express thinks I’m an idiot, or at least they’re hoping I am.

Why else would they send me a very important letter offering me “advanced internet surveillance scouring websites and public records,” “high priority alerts […] for immediate action,” and, best of all, “continuous benefits and convenient billing”? I’d be a fool to pass up their Single Identity-brand “24/7 monitoring and scouring [scouring must be important] of black market websites,” wouldn’t I?

All for the extremely reasonable price of $9.99 a month (“plus sales tax, where applicable”).

Or, to put it another way, $120 a year to do something I can do myself, namely keep an eye on my credit card statements, bank balances and credit reports.

They don’t even promise to do a good job, instead stating in the fine print that they “may not be able to apprise [me] of all [my] personal information that may have been compromised” and that they “may not be able to apprise [me] of all instances in which [my] Social Security Number may have been compromised.”

Say what? You want $120 a year, and you can’t even do a good job?

Perhaps I instead should take advantage of Kroger Personal Finance®’s generic identity theft protection, available now in your Kroger checkout lane for only $5.99 a month.

Oh, wait! Kroger has practically the same fine print! At least I’d be saving 40% with Kroger.

Update: PNC really thinks their customers are idiots, charging $12.99 a month for the same service Amex and Kroger sell (check PNC’s very similar footnotes).

Update 02/19/2013: Looks like Amex has gotten out of the identity theft protection business. Their domain now redirects to a page on their main site that says their ID Protect program has been discontinued as of January 1, 2013:
American Express ID Protect has been discontinued as of January 1, 2013

Update 04/10/2013: It turns out that American Express has a new, more expensive service for idiots, CreditSecure®.

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Looking out my window this morning and seeing a plane circling downtown Dayton pulling an airborne ad along did make me curious enough to get my camera out to take some photos but did not motivate me enough to call 1-800-STATEFARM.

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Inside the Boy Meets Boy program
is a stunning endorsement of ETC by none other than Lady Gaga.
I went last night to see Evolution Theatre Company’s revival of the play Boy Meets Boy and found it flawed but enjoyable. I wouldn’t be quite so harsh as Michael Grossberg was in his review of the play (“Cast fails to carry low-budget spoof”) in the Columbus Dispatch but do agree with much of his assessment.

As a musical the play would have been stronger with a cast more capable of singing—the ensemble numbers were the weakest part of the show. However, as Grossberg points out,
Talented opera singer Eric McKeever
Eric McKeever was a “notable exception;” he’s quite a good singer, as well he should be given that he works as an opera singer (read about his rather unconventional return to that career on his blog “Back in the Game”).

However, the play was still entertaining. It’s a riff on light-hearted 1930s comedies—think Philadelphia Story—combining a skewed theatrical view of “high society” with a love triangle starting out with person A engaged to person B and taking a convoluted path to realize that person A is really destined to be with person C. Only in this case person A isn’t a girl torn between two men but rather a boy.

English rose
Daniel Christian
The boy in this case is Guy Rose, played by Daniel Christian, and some suspension of disbelief is required in order to enjoy the play. Just as Clark Kent manages to keep everyone from realizing that he’s Superman by simply donning a pair of glasses, so too does Guy Rose manage to confuse his two suitors, Boston millionaire Clarence Cutler, played by Scott Risner, and world famous reporter Casey O’Brien (McKeever), who, believe it or not, after missing the scoop of Edward VIII abdicating the throne of England for Wallis Simpson, decides to cover the high society same sex wedding of Rose and Cutler. Yes, that’s right—this alternate reality 1936 England won’t stand for its king marrying a divorcée but fawns all over queer aristocrats marrying one another. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the play anyway.

The funny
Scott Risner
Risner, who works outside the theatre world as a stand up comic and who went to Wright State University here in Dayton, brings some much needed comic relief to the play as the jilted lover scheming to keep Rose and O’Brien apart. His asides to the audience bring quite a bit of laughter.

No disrespect intended to Daniel Christian (considered mousey by O’Brien and Cutler if his hair was mussed and he wore the aforementioned glasses but found to be a stunningly beautiful “English rose” if he simply combed his hair and wore contacts), but frankly I found Adam Mesker
Go see Boy Meets Boy to see quite a lot more of Adam Mesker (in the end)
more attractive. Perhaps I was swayed by his revealing turn in the second act’s Folies de Paris scene, but I think any red-blooded 1930s gay guy who’d seen Mesker’s naked butt would have prefered he be the boy gotten in the end.

So, if you’re reading this before the play’s final showing on July 24, go see it and take Boy Meets Boy for what it is—some light-hearted fun for the gay guys. Overlook the weak singing (and enjoy McKeever’s talented singing), suspend disbelief (that you can bring cocktails into Studio One may help with that), and enjoy some gay comedy (and a view of a fine ass towards the end).

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