Friday, April 29, 2005

The Latest from Skewed Visions

See, the tough thing about only updating my site once a week is that worthy theater-going stuff slips by me if it falls in between.

(And the not so fun thing about having to schedule my free time about a month in advance these days with the second job is that, well, there isn't a lot of wiggle room, even to see the free stuff. But I need the money. So there you have it.)

Skewed Visions is previewing their latest work on Saturday, April 30th. So, before you head over to St. Paul to help save Outward Spiral Theatre Company (see previous blog entry below or click here...)

You can catch a little of Skewed Visions new creation.

I've greatly enjoyed everything of theirs which I've seen so far, including Fringe 2004's Pipes, and the kickoff segment of Five Fifths of the Godfather, the Fringe's recent fundraiser. It's always compelling, amusing, thought-provoking entertainment.

Here's the info straight off their website...

"The Hidden Room is a new multimedia performance/installation written and directed by Gulgun Kayim based on the life and art of Jewish/Ukrainian artist, author & holocaust victim, Bruno Schultz. A Quiet Ambition is a new work by Charles Campbell and Cherri Macht utilizing film, sound, movement, language and image to evoke of the stillness of anxiety and the disquiet of solitude.

Excerpts of The Hidden Room and A Quiet Ambition will be presented for one night only on Saturday April 30th, 7:00pm, at the Artist's Cooperative Building Complex, 1618 Central Ave NE Minneapolis. A reception will follow the performance.

The event is FREE, but reservations are required to attend. To reserve a seat and for directions call 612-823-4990 or email

This activity is made possible by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Hidden Room and A Quiet Ambition are part of the upcoming work Days and Nights, a new series of original performances exploring interior landscapes of isolation, memory, desperation, myth and meaning. Join our mailing list to learn the latest about Days and Nights and other upcoming Skewed Visions work by sending a message to"

(This last, I am definitely doing, since sometimes the showcard comes in the mail when I don't have much I can do about it but think good thoughts and wish them well. If you're lucky enough to have some extra time on your hands and are wondering what to do on a Saturday night, Skewed Visions and Outward Spiral definitely have you covered this week.)

For more info on Skewed Visions, past, present and future, including directions to the event, visit their website at

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Fringe 2005 - We All Have Needs

Cleaning out my email box today and found an audition notice leading with the plea:

"I need male actors badly!"

And the first thing that popped into my head was

"Don't we all, honey. Take a number and get in line."

There's all kinds of uses for the casting couch after all.


Apparently I need more of a life. Maybe for my birthday.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit
Lend Outward Spiral Theatre Company A Hand on Saturday, April 30th

Got a notice on this in my e-mail box the other day.

Unraveling Muses appears to be the fairy godmother to all kinds of worthy causes. Recently, they did a benefit performance for the queer youth drop-in center District 202.

Now they're lending their talents to give a boost to Outward Spiral Theatre Company, local GLBT purveyor of queer theater, with a little show they like to call

April 30, 2005
Show at 9pm, Doors open at 8pm
Performance is at Over The Rainbow
719 North Dale Street in St. Paul

Tickets are $5 in advance, $7 at the door
Net proceeds go to Outward Spiral Theatre Company

Contact - 763-807-6115 or

In their words...

"The same artistic & producing entities that created the highly acclaimed 'What A Drag' and 'Outside The Box' are draggin' again. Unraveling Muses is proud to present their latest touring event, 'Dragstock.' Unrelated performances combine to form a fast and furious kaleidoscope of drag. Gender bending performers from multiple venues unite in this veritable dragapalooza to save the pioneer of queer theatre in the Twin Cities Metro area, Outward Spiral Theatre Company. Ten years in existence, this vital cultural entity is in danger of closing their doors for good."

They also call the potential closing of Outward Spiral not only an "artisitic injustice" but an "absolute queertastrophe"

(I know they're serious but it made me giggle a bit - queertastrophe - hee hee, I've had a few of those)

Here's the thing - they've been making "downward spiral" jokes ever since the theatre chose its name. But over the years Outward Spiral has contributed a lot of good theater to the local scene, and given some growing artists a home to cut their teeth and take some chances. A city with this big a gay community and this big a theater community, it'd be a shame to have queer theater relegated to just once a year during Fringe time, when people can "afford to" do gay and lesbian theater (bisexual and transgender, too, don't mean to leave anyone out).

Fact is, most of the pioneers in queer theater that came before them have come and gone, like many a good theater in this town, gay or straight. It's tough to get one going, and keep it going. It's a lot of work as well as a lot of money.

Seems they've got the people willing to put in the effort, so this benefit is to help them get the money.

I've got a soft spot in my heart for Outward Spiral, since we both had our first production in the Twin Cities in the spring of 1996. (Not together. Opposite each other, running at the same time in April. For some reason, we've never actually worked together. But I'm always of the opinion there should be more theater, not less, regardless of whether they're ever going to produce one of my plays or not.) Both productions were "AIDS plays," oddly enough. They had the granddaddy of AIDS plays, "As Is." I had a haunted love story 10-plus years into the epidemic called Heaven and Home.

Back when I worked at the flailing Cricket Theater, in the year before they got bounced out of what is now the Music Box Theater, home of Triple Espresso, the managing director bemoaned the fact that it was hard to get help for a struggling theater. The fact that we have so many is both a blessing and sometimes a curse. Does it really matter if one more goes under, if five crop up to take its place? I'd argue that it does matter. A theater shouldn't continue to exist just because it has existed, I'm not saying that. A theater, just like any other going concern, has to continue to justify its existence, to make itself something that people can't do without. But I'd argue that Outward Spiral is certainly deserving of a second chance, based on the work they've done in the past, and even the work they've done recently, even if it didn't entirely wow me.

My Cricket co-worker shook his head and said, "It seems like people would rather go to a funeral than take the time to visit the same person in the hospital."

If all we've got to do to help avoid another theater funeral is go see a drag show for five bucks, that seems a small price to pay. After all, they're going to give us some entertainment for our trouble. It's hardly root canal.

So spend some of your Saturday night lending a hand to a good local theater company that still has a lot of good productions ahead of it, if it can just get over a couple of rough spots in the road.

After all, as the Unraveling Muses signature quote goes, "We are all part of an ancient tradition...We are muses all."

And if you can't make Saturday, but want to shoot some money to Outward Spiral Theatre Company directly, their mailing address is:

Outward Spiral Theatre Company
PO Box 2049 - Loop Station
Minneapolis, MN 55402

You can check out Over The Rainbow online at

Side note - Heaven and Home was first produced by The Early Stage and directed by the skillful Mr. Gregg A. Peterson, both of whom are hitting local stages again this summer as part of the Fringe with "Candy Ass! Saving a Sissy from Social Suicide" More on that later, but trust me, make it part of your "to see" list.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit
Best of the Fringe, Best of the Twin Cities

Check out the current City Pages.

The top two most popular Fringe shows last year - the tap dance and music orgy known as 10 Foot 5's "Buckets and Tap Shoes," and the storeography of Theater Latte Da & Jim Lichtschiedl's Knock! - were chosen as Best Dance Performance of the Past Twelve Months and Best Comedy, respectively.

Also in the honor roll is Fringe producer and Fringe host venue Calibanco Theatre, as Best Independent Theater. Born of the Fringe in 2002 with Two Noble Kinsmen, they went on to create a year-round home for their own brand of innovative theater. In 2004, they came back to the Fringe as a host to return the favor for other scrappy new up-and-coming theater companies.

Check out 10 Foot 5 at

Check out Theater Latte Da at

Check out Calibanco Theatre at

And put them on your list to check out year round when you're looking for some quality live entertainment.

And of course, mark the Fringe on your calendar for this year (August 4th through 14th), so you can see some of the best theater the Twin Cities has to offer, whether it all ends up on someone's Best Of... list or not.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit
Eating Out for a Good Cause

Don't forget, today is Dining Out For Life

Restaurants in cities around the country and around the world are donating a portion of their profits to HIV/AIDS causes.

Here in Minneapolis, today's the day and over 60 restaurants are participating. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all covered, one way or another. Sometimes at the same eatery. But there are plenty of options with which you can mix it up. Go out to eat at a participating restaurant today and you're automatically helping a good cause, doing something you want to do anyway.

Proceeds in Minneapolis go to help The Aliveness Project, a community center for those living with HIV/AIDS.

For more information and a complete listing of restaurants, visit

For information on The Aliveness Project at

And here's a shortcut right to the Minneapolis Dining Out For Life page - click here.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

Friday, April 22, 2005

Go See - The Presence of Children at Emigrant Theater

They've only got two performances left, tonight and tomorrow, Friday and Saturday, April 22 and 23 at 8pm, but if you can go, go.

The play takes place in an old warehouse at 2609 Aldrich Avenue South in Minneapolis, behind the CC Club.

It has the most basic of lighting. Bare bulbs, some of them colored.

Exits and entrances in full view of the audience. Suspension of disbelief is in full effect here.

The set is simply a bed, a very long table and a whole lot of chairs, plus the cage that was part of the space when they rented it.

Four actors, a script that's a cascade of language.

And it's brilliant.

The playwright is Matt Di Cintio.

The acrobatic feats he was attempting with language in The Valets for Outward Spiral at last summer's Fringe - this time, in the service of a completely different story, he nails it. And then some.

It's a play that actually defies easy description or plot summary, but their publicity blurb is as good a synopsis as any:

"An absurdist comedy with thirty invisible children, a father who knows worst, a mother caught in a fairy tale, and a .45 atuomatic. Who's happy ever after?"

The cast - Nick Harazin, Catherine E. Johnson, Erik Pearson, and Katie Willer - are wonderful. They ground peculiar characters and situations in very human souls.

The director - Jessica Finney - guided them expertly in decoding this script for an audience.

That set - designed by Jason Brown - is deceptively simple, and like the script, takes basic elements and makes them more significant than you expect. Even the chairs the audience sits in play a part in drawing you further into the action.

Empty shoes have never carried so much weight for me.

And a gun has never made me more nervous.

It's silly, sad, scary, uplifting, and very, very sharp. It makes you work, but it rewards your effort.

It's the kind of play that leaves you with one feeling in the watching of it, and then has you mulling it over for days afterward.

In part, it's about how the world is sometimes (perhaps oftentimes) a frightening and overwhelming place, never more so than when you feel the responsibility for someone else's safety and happiness - as a parent or a spouse, a friend or a sibling. And whatever it takes to keep putting one foot in front of the other, living despite the odds and less than perfect circumstances is often the most hopeful and courageous thing a person can do.

By sidestepping kitchen-sink realism (not that there's anything wrong with that, it's usually my stock and trade), the play becomes about things much larger than the individuals and plot points presented to the audience.

It's the kind of thing you always hope theater will do in the process of entertaining you, but so rarely actually get from a production.

And this is their first production.

I can only imagine what heights they're going to hit when they get up a head of steam.

They just moved to the top of my Fringe viewing list - they'll be back with Carson Kreitzer's play "Dead Wait" with Jason Brown in the directing chair this time, and Catherine E. Johnson I believe is back as part of that cast as well. I've already commented on it a bit in the Ping Pong Ball Awards - I've A Feeling We're Not In Kansas Anymore, Part 2. I anticipate it even more after this experience.

So, kudos all around.

[Personally, it depressed me a little. They're all so young and talented, I felt very, very old - and wondered what the heck I've been doing with my life. A decent night's sleep fixed some of that. The positive impression the production left remains.]

So check out the play, bookmark their website, and get in on the ground floor with this company. They're poised to do great things. Or should I say, more great things.

Visit them online at

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Fringe 2005 - How Not To Produce A Fringe Show - part 3: Whores

Even hookers know to get the money up front.

Now, of course, with the Fringe, we know this isn't possible. It's all dependent on the net box office receipts. The Fringe gets its cut. The artists get theirs. And its significant, as profit-sharing goes.

The Fringe lets the artists know in writing up front what the profit-sharing formula's going to be.

So work out your own with the artists that are working with you (and start thinking of them as working *with* you, not *for* you). Not just a verbal understanding. Get it in writing. That doesn't mean people don't trust one another. It's just common sense. If you leave it verbal, it's left to people's individual memories what the agreement was. Memory's a slippery thing and it's open to interpretation, and misinterpretation. If you put in it writing, simply, everyone has the same physical thing - ink on paper - to refer to. Fewer misunderstandings, less opportunities for unpleasant surprises and hurt feelings.

What you work out is up to you.

We're artists, we don't like thinking about money, or talking about it. It makes us uncomfortable. Like the art isn't pure if we sully it with discussions of money. Get over it.

There may be no money. But if there is, you should know what you're doing with it. You plan everything else about the production - casting, design, publicity, strike, etc. - you should plan this, too.

I used to go by the honor code. It only takes one time getting stiffed for royalties on something you worked very hard on, and you get practical.

First thing I did after I got stiffed for royalties the first time, I took a friend's advice. I joined the Dramatist's Guild. They take away some of the ick factor. It's not me all by myself asking for a contract, my union requires it. There are certain qualifications you need to have to join the Dramatists Guild. You meet them, and the dues payments, and to the Guild, you're a professional writer. They've got your back.

Whatever you have to do to prop yourself up (and believe me, I have just as many days as the next person feeling unworthy and weird talking about money), prop yourself up and get it in writing beforehand, do it.

It's just common sense.

Then you can go about the business of making the best art possible, and you don't have to worry about the other stuff. It's taken care of.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Fringe 2005 - How Not To Produce A Fringe Show - part 2: Corpses

The only good playwright is a dead playwright.

Many producers and directors love Shakespeare because, well, his plays are brilliant.

But there are some producers who like Shakespeare because he's dead. They can do anything they want to his plays, and best of all they don't have to pay him for the privilege.

This is, I'll grant you, so far as I can tell, a minority we're talking about.

But, just like with actors, there seems to be a blind spot some people have about playwrights.

I'm biased. I'm a playwright. And I'm still alive, thank goodness.

Writers tend to be more devalued in film. That I was ready for. When working on an option agreement for a screenplay of mine, my lawyer thought the amount the wannabe producers were offering was, at best, laughable, and at worst, insulting. The primary excuse was they wanted all the money they raised to show up on the screen, they wanted to insure good production values. That seemed reasonable. "If a good script isn't primary among the production values, what are you going to end up with?" noted the lawyer. This also seemed reasonable. As things sometimes to do, funding fell through, the project never came to fruition. But I did get a laughable/insulting payment or two out of it at least.

In theater, I've almost never had this problem, thankfully. But there have been notable exceptions.

One first-time producer was referred to me, read a couple of my scripts, fell in love with one, and then was surprised when I asked how we were going to work out royalties. The producer was committed to going ahead with the project because they were really taken with the script, but they said, in all honesty, "If I'd have known you wanted to be paid for the script before I read them, I'd have never considered them in the first place."

This, from someone who had originally planned to do an older script, by a more established author, fully realizing that this would require royalties. "Yeah, but that play was on Broadway. They made it into a movie."

How does anyone think writers get established? At a certain point, you stop doing it just for love and experience, and you have to start insisting that you be paid, if not what you know you're worth, then at least *something*

I passed that point about nine years ago now. It would have to be a pretty amazing opportunity coming down the pike to make me even consider backtracking.

For many people, this turning point in their careers is the Fringe.

The Fringe provides the infrastructure which minimizes risks so artists can feel free to take some risks.

When my two fellow playwright friends and I designed the Fast Fringe last year, we were giving some writers their first full production. And they were chipping in a small fee for the privilege. And while the show didn't do as well as we'd often hoped and believed it would, it did do well enough that we were able to refund that fee to everyone who paid it to us. So essentially they got a full production for nothing. My fellow producers and I decided to forgo getting paid so that the writers and actors could split the pot.

Now that's not feasible for everyone. And I'm not adovcating for producers to go without any more than any of the other collaborators. They take a sizable risk to make the whole thing possible in the first place. Producers are the driving force that brings a Fringe show into being. Many times, the same person wears many hats - writer/producers, actor/producers, director/producers. Some shows lose money. But if your show makes money, consider sharing it with the people who provided the foundation on which you built the structure of your production.

In other forms of the performing arts, maybe there's not a writer. Maybe it's a choreographer, a puppet-builder. You see what I'm driving at.

If you're trying to make money by riding on someone else's back, the least you can do is pay them for the privilege.

No artist should have to be dead before they earn a little respect for what they do. If the Fringe is about nothing else, it should be that - respect for your fellow artists.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

Monday, April 18, 2005

Fringe 2005 - How Not To Produce A Fringe Show - part 1: Livestock

The story goes that Alfred Hitchcock was once quoted as trying to correct a misconception about his directing style, "I didn't say that actors were cattle, I said they should be treated like cattle."


In case there was any question in the matter, my Fringe producer friends, actors are not your servants.

Yes, they may be doing a Fringe show primarily for the experience for their resume or simply for fun, but that doesn't mean you get to take them for granted.

After all, without them, you wouldn't have a show, would you?

(This applies to dancers for dance shows, mimes, puppeteers - whoever the principal people are who put their butts on the line by stepping out on stage for your show, that's who I'm talking about)

They are also your very best publicity - they get that word of mouth started and they fill those early performances with their friends and family.

So, if you have any latitude at all, pay them.

Yes, on a certain level, you are creating an opportunity for them to show off their talents. You could even argue that you're doing them a favor by taking the lion's share of the financial risk so "all" they have to do is perform.

But they're giving up a chunk of their lives, that they could chose to spend any other way at all, to help you create something.

Nobody goes into the Fringe expecting to make a lot of money. It's about building an audience and building community, and trying something with the Fringe as your safety net that maybe you couldn't afford to do any other way at any other time of year.

If it's a choice between you getting a nice (or even tiny) chunk of change, and paying the actors something - pay the actors something. It's not the size of the payment, it's the thought that counts (though some would argue that size does matter). To be compensated for your artistic talents happens all too rarely. The Fringe is one of the most artist-friendly spots on the theater map these days. That should extend to splitting up the pot after all is said and done.

Everyone has their own style and they're entitled to it. But for Fast Fringe last year, we knew our actors were working their butts off, so my fellow producers and I did without payment, so we could give the actors a little extra on top of what we'd already planned to give them.

It's up to you. All I'm asking is that you consider the people who are helping you carry the load.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Fringe 2005 - This Time Last Year...

I poked my head on the first gathering of Fringe producers and their reps the other day.

The handing out of the manilla envelopes with the golden page of times and dates and locations, and the even more golden Producers Handbook.

Seriously, people, read that thing. It is a blue print for a successful Fringe show (provided you're also talented and your show is entertaining - and sometimes even that's not necessary, as long as you follow instructions)

Last year, helping with juggling three shows, that handbook saved my butt. All the deadlines, all the forms, all the things I needed to be thinking about.

It's written by people who have seen, literally, hundreds of Fringe shows come and go. You may think your problems are unique but honestly, they've seen it before. It's in the handbook.

Last year, around tech time, I knew a producer who still hadn't read the handbook. He had all these questions about tech. After I got my head out of my hands, I pulled my handbook out of my backpack, plopped it down on the table and pointed to every single piece of information he needed.

This time last year, one of my fellow producers was in the hospital. I went from the handbook meeting to his room for a visit. Thankfully, this year, we're all in fine health. The fact that neither of us is producing a Fringe show this year I'm sure has nothing to do with it (hee hee)

As a side note, I know she's spoken for and, heck, I'm gay, but I love Leah Cooper. And all her merry band of fellow travelers on the Fringe staff. They genuinely love artists and want to improve the opportunities for all varieties of performance - artists fresh off the turnip truck and artists who've been around the block so many times that they've lost count. It's one big huge party, and come August, the general public's invited in to join the fun as well. (My mother is officially a Fringe junkie now, too. She plans her summer vacation to visit me around the Fringe dates and comes in from Pennsylvania to partake of the glorious sloppy grab bag of a mess of theater it never fails to provide.) It is the best breeding ground for performing artists I've run across in my 13-plus years living in the Twin Cities. We've got the biggest Fringe in the U.S., and in this case, the biggest also happens to be the best. And the Fringe staff is a very large part of why that's so. So give them a little love, people. They've more than earned it.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Fringe 2005 Ping Pong Ball Awards

The "Thick Hide" Award

To Berdahl Theater

The show description at the lottery was...

"The 3 authors of Triple Espresso performing Art."

Yes, the joke writes itself.

Yes, it was spoken aloud at the lottery. And everybody got it. And laughed.

But it's the three-man play "Art" we're talking about here (more on that below)

And c'mon, admit it. We're just jealous.

Gvien the chance, wouldn't you want to write a play that was so popular, it not only gave you an acting job for as long as you wanted, but provided steady jobs for countless other actors (not to mention all the other people a theater employs in order to run a show that long) and played continuously in cities around the country? Triple Espresso's been running for over nine years in Minneapolis. Nine years. It pretty much singlehandedly revived the fortunes of the theater building that is now called the Music Box Theater (a space that's near to my heart, since it housed the late, lamented Cricket Theater where I had my first job as a stage manager after to moving to Minneapolis.). It's been running for nearly eight years in San Diego and just opened in Green Bay, plus it's going to open runs in two theaters in LA next year.

OK, does that make it a masterpiece? No. Is it entertaining? Yeah. I'll admit it. I've seen it once myself. (It includes the kind of possible audience participation, being plucked from the audience, that frankly terrifies me, but that's my problem. A lot of people get a huge kick out of that stuff - obviously).

Michael Pearce Donley, Bill Arnold, and Bob Stromberg want to do a Fringe show, try something other than Triple Espresso. Good for them. They can certainly afford it. (And wouldn't we all like to be able to say the same?)

So give 'em a break.

And here's more on that play they plan to do...

"How would you feel about your best friend if she suddenly did something so colossally stupid, it made you doubt the very basis of the friendship? It happens in Yasmina Reza's monster international hit, Art. When an art lover buys what is in essence a pure white painting for a horse-choking sum, his best friend goes ballistic. Yet a third friend gets squeezed in the middle. Questions about the meaning of strange modern art and strange modern friendships--and how they're sometimes not all that different--fly thick in the limelight."

"This is not some irrelevant fringe production;

(Hey, watch it, buddy!)

it is a major intervention in the cultural debate of the country by people who are keen to keep the reactionary tides running. It is probably the most sustained attack on modernism yet seen on the British stage, and it represents a stern challenge to the brilliant success story of British contemporary art."--The Guardian

"Not only brings to the stage a topical debate, it makes it invigorating, touching and finally disturbing. This dark comedy, translated from the French, in sparkling form, explores its themes through a rift between friends."--Financial Times

"A remarkably wise, witty and intelligent comedy . . . has touched a universal nerve."--The Times

"Chic, short, and wickedly, perceptively funny, it's the perfect West End play."--Nick Curtis, Evening Standard

"Art, which has been translated from the French by Christopher Hampton, is filled from first curtain to ending with a dazzling array of language."--Iris Fanger, Christian Science Monitor

"It's an actor's dream, a nonstop cross-fire of crackling language, serious issues of life and art expressed in outbursts that sound like Don Rickles with a degree from the Sorbonne. Brilliantly translated by Christopher Hampton, . . . Art takes that yawny old bore, the play of ideas, and jolts it to life."--Jack Kroll, Newsweek

[To see the rest of the Ping Pong Ball Awards, click here.]

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Fringe 2005 Ping Pong Ball Awards

The "Wow, Maybe Working Two Jobs Isn't So Bad After All" Award

I've been contacting some Fringers to find out a little more about their shows and among all the newsy and informative emails I received in response, I had a couple that begged off til the weekend. Understandable, I can certainly relate to limited free time issues. The one that put a different perspective on my own daily life included the following apology:

"One thing though: I am writing from Occupied Palestine. I am going to be here/in Israel until friday. Can we defer contact until after this weekend?"

Oh, the old "I'm in Occupied Palestine right now" excuse. If I had a nickel for every time... hey, wait a minute.

The worst I deal with most days is the commute from Minneapolis to St. Paul and back. Makes you think, don't it?

[To see the rest of the Ping Pong Ball Awards, click here.]

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit