Monday, July 31, 2017

Zombies Stalk The Stage

More clowning around at AYPO. A show at the upcoming main festival Is called Please Remain Calm (featuring Joe Groebinghoff, above), one of two zombie shows at the festival. (The other is Democrats vs Zombies vs Republicans. How will we tell the difference between the second and third? I mean, just look at Mitch McConnell.)

Love Keaton Treece's shirt in the second picture and Lex Ronan's attitude in the third. And don't miss Alex Carnes' hunkiness at the end. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Indomitable Donna Weinstein

Another personality from Act Your Pants off. The judges declared Donna Weinstein the overall winner. Decades of experience have given her a powerful stage presence. She acts like she owns the place and I think she did. Age has its privileges and the only clothing she removed was a strand or two of those big beads.       

Saturday, July 29, 2017

They Just Keep Doing it

Taking off articles of clothing, that is, and making people laugh at it. There are all kinds of ways to play that combination. It's the premise of Act Your Pants Off.

By the way, the 2017 Fringe main festival season is just around the corner! Be there or be square. Find info on some of the top shows here (the photo on the upper left for the Snow White show is mine) and complete schedule details with ticket ordering here.        

Friday, July 28, 2017

Why They Call It That

The Act Your Pants Off show has a couple of premises. There are a certain number of professional actors and comedians, seven this time around, and two rounds of performance. If I got it straight, in the first half each actor is given a (usually silly) monologue to perform. In the second round they choose their own, which can be serious material. However, co-MC Desere' Declyne calls out directions from the balcony, ostensibly to test a range of acting skills, telling the actors to do, say, a Home Shopping Network pitch as Mickey Mouse or Euripides as a revival preacher. 

The audience buys "Fringe Bucks" for a dollar each and "tips" their preferred performers. This is totaled. In the second round the audience is encouraged to throw real cash at the actors, which they get to keep. When mistakes are made in the second round, the performers are in theory required to remove articles of clothing, hence Act Your Pants Off. Some bogus scoring occurs and an overall winner is declared. I might not have all the details correct but that's the general idea.

Above, Fringe executive director Matt Kerns feigns surprise over all this. Some performers really do have something to show off, like Alex Carnes, and Lola van Ella shows the right way to take off a glove.   

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Act Your Pants Off 2017

Tuesday night brought us the annual fund raiser and warm-up for the St. Louis Fringe's festival season, Act Your Pants Off. It has been featured in these pages before. The festival runs from August 17 to 26 and if you are in the STL area and you don't go you are Not A Friend Of This Blog.

The top photo features the Fringe's executive director, Matthew Kerns, and our mistresses of ceremonies, The Lou's favorite ecdysiast, Lola van Ella, and our premier drag queen, Desire' Declyne. Below, Lola belts out a very hot version of Love For Sale. (Reminds me a bit of Evita Peron singing Don't Cry For Me Argentina. The pose, not the song.) She wasn't wearing this much later in the evening. It was a great time. Plenty more to come.      

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Send This To Washington

A copy of Rodin's The Thinker in front of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. It has become a cliche and isn't my favorite Rodin anyway (give me The Burghers of Calais any day)  but it makes a point. I usually avoid all but mild references to politics in this blog but that narcissistic wanna-be dictator in the White House and his spineless sycophants in Congress enrage me. Would that there were more, shall we say, rational and independent thinkers in our nation's capital. Not holding my breath.        

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Law Of The Jungle

The displays of wild animals at Cabela's had a gruesome twist: simple, violent and completely natural predation, one species taking down another to devour. Still, it was a bit in-your-face for this kind of venue. How do children react to this? It's a lot more intense than Bambi's mother being shot.

Monday, July 24, 2017


After the visit to the Farmstead and a bit of lunch, the family decided to visit Cabela's in Kansas City, Kansas. It's a chain of huge outdoor equipment shops - fishing, camping, hunting, guns for all occasions. I was out of my element. Where I grew up, you wouldn't dare eat anything you caught in the local waterways. Where I grew up, only the cops and really bad guys had guns. City kid that I am, I never imagined that I would visit one of these. (As Gene Wilder said to Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles, the funniest movie of all time, what's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?)

The place is mind-boggling. Not just the store itself but the amazing dioramas, for want of a better word, of wildlife from Africa to the Arctic. You know, things you can shoot. They reminded me of but far surpassed displays like this in the Museum of Natural History in NYC when I was a boy. You can take a virtual tour by clicking the link above.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Kansas Farm Birthday

My wife's youngest sister, Mary Lee, has cerebral palsy and is severely handicapped. She has not had an easy life. Still, her brothers and sisters watch out for her. She is precious and much loved. She turns 60 this month and it was time to do something special for her.

She lives in a group home in a small Kansas town, quite some distance west of KC. The family brought her to town this weekend for a celebration. The suburban town of Overland Park, Kansas, has a remarkable facility, the Deanna Rose Childrens' Farmstead. It distills the essence of Kansas' farming tradition for kids who now live with air conditioning, cars and video screens. Good venue for the occasion. Above, my wife, Carolyn, is in  turquoise. Clockwise from her, Dorothy Holst, Mary Lee, Mel Kruse and Ron Kruse. 

Each of the pix below has a short note after it. And, by the way, it hit 108 F / 42 C in St. Louis today, breaking a record for the date set in 1901. Time to pay more attention to Al Gore.             

Greetings, urbanites.

Your face here.

My new business.

Lay or bust? Sounds apocalyptic.

I thought that's what scotch is for.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

At The Nelson-Atkins

The temperature was one hundred degrees when we pulled into Kansas City yesterday afternoon. The wind itself was hot, not a bit refreshing. We were grateful that the Nelson-Atkins, KC's excellent art museum, had an underground garage.

We think it is one of America's best regional museums. Its photography section beats the heck out of what we have at home. Hallmark Cards, based here, had a spectacular collection of 6,500 images it donated to the museum a few years ago. The main current exhibition was about the photographers who worked for the government during the Depression. Most prominent were the images of Dorothea Lange, including one of the most famous and heart breaking pictures in the history of photography.     

Friday, July 21, 2017

Ghost Rider

I like this car for its clean lines and sense of forward motion. Parking it mostly under a tree highlights the aggressive nose. 

Road trip to Kansas City today for a family event tomorrow. It's supposed to be outdoors. 104 F / 40 C here today, 105 F / 40.5 C tomorrow. Only slightly better in KC. We can bake here or bake there. I wonder if the venue will have to be moved.   

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Eat This To Get That

The cuisine required to own and drive XtremeMuscleCarz. Just don't tell your personal trainer or your cardiologist.          

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Street Rods

I don't know if you could actually drive these on, say, nearby I 55. The license plate in the top photo does not look like it has been valid in the State of Illinois since 1923 and using a Jack Daniels box as a trunk might attract the attention of the police. The Shelby Cobra, below, might be okay if the muffler meets government regulations.

It's not Phoenix, of course, but most people here are hiding out this week. The forecast is for high temperatures of 100 - 102 F / 38 - 39 C for the next four days. We've seen hotter in STL (the highest I remember is 106 F / 41 C) but, as they say, better get used to it.       

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


The car. The fuel, and lots of it.

It's been a few years since I last shot the Catsup Festival. I remember more variety of attractions. Now it's mostly a big hot rod, custom and classic car show. I'm not sure of the year of this old Cadillac (help appreciated) but it has the look of a dreadnought. I can imagine sitting behind the wheel, windows open on a warm summer day, no seat belts, radio blaring Elvis Presley, cruising across St. Louis on Route 66....

Well, no, I can't. But it is impressive in a glitzy, heavy way.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ms. Tomato Head

There is an odd event each summer in suburban Collinsville, Illinois. A factory there produces a local brand of catsup, Brooks. (Language debate: Heinz, the big national brand, spells it ketchup.) Just outside of town there is a tower with what is claimed to be America's biggest catsup bottle, more about which later. Anyway, it is a celebration of all things red and viscous, along with quite a large hot rod and custom car show.

Hence the hair-dos.  I think the second one is turning into a replica of the bottle. And that's not the big one in the bottom picture, just a portable model. Only in America.       

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Bulgaria In St. Louis

A car found parked on Locust Street when I was shooting at the Theatre Crawl. I didn't know we had much of a Bulgarian population. The world keeps shrinking.

Gotta get out and shoot some new material.           

Saturday, July 15, 2017


Very late post today. Too much to do, too much to do...

The last event I photographed at the Theatre Crawl was sort of a randomized performance of cabaret songs. There were quite a few singers. Each was assigned a number. Audience members drew numbered slips from a jar and that determined who sang. Some didn't get a chance, some got more than one.

The voices were beautiful and passionate.      

Friday, July 14, 2017


This picture sort of reminds me of the shots you see of people watching a terrible event or even a bomb test. It was taken at the Theatre Crawl, where the first event started outdoors and the audience had to stare into the sunset.

Bonne fête nationale française!



Thursday, July 13, 2017

Actors' Studio

The St. Louis Actors' Studio, led by the indefatigable Peter Mayer, above, put on a strange but intriguing little performance at the Theatre Crawl.. The premise was a support group meeting of the gods - Jesus, Zeus and maybe also Jupiter (I was confused), Buddha, Brahma. Hard to keep track. There was whining and backbiting and kvetching, which I suppose is common to such gatherings. (Can't say myself - never been to one. Which is not to say I shouldn't have.)

Everyone in STL has been hunkering down. It's been 100 F / 38 C here the last couple of days. Need to find something to shoot this weekend that's cooler. Our version of the World Naked Bike Ride is Saturday night. That's well ventilated.