Category Archives: Roll Tide

Spice Up Your Life – Tuscaloosa Chili Cookoff

I can’t believe I’ve lived in Tuscaloosa for nearly 7 years and didn’t know about the annual chili cookoff. Well, this year, I plan to make a big splash.

Today is the 12th annual Asses of Fire chili cookoff, sponsored by WellThat’sCool.com and hosted by Egan’s Bar, located on the Strip. Registration starts at 2 p.m. and ends at 3:45, with judging to begin at 4:15. Now, in my opinion, if you haven’t already made your chili, you’re a bit late for that… though I suppose you might have time to squeeze out a fresh pot before then. I like to let mine sit. I finished cooking my two chilies on Tuesday and am reheating them now to do final taste tests and manipulations. You can enter as many chilies as you like, but can only win once, and I think most that know how I cook chili know which two I’ll be entering… with some slight twists.

Anyway, even if you don’t have a chili to submit for the contest itself, you can still come and partake of the eating of it. Those that submit chili eat for free, but for only $5, you can have all the chili you can eat/all the chili that’s actually there, though chili is a thick, filling food so I don’t expect people to come back for fifths and sixths. Egan’s will also be running drink specials all day… which might be helpful for downing some of the more intensely spicy chilies.

If you’d like to try out some chili or have your own to throw in the pot, come to Egan’s. But be warned… I plan on my chilies doing rather well. Hopefully. …it’d certainly be nice, at least. And I plan on bringing some extra hot sauce if anyone really wants their tongues to be yowling in pain.

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Breaking The Leg – “Coriolanus” By Improbable Fictions

Theatre season in Tuscaloosa is kicking into high gear in February, with several shows opening quite close to one another. I’ll try to see and write about all the shows that I know of, but today, I’m just going to talk about one show I won’t be able to see. Mostly because I’m in it.

Improbable Fictions is putting on a free staged reading of one of Shakespeare’s perhaps lesser known plays, “Coriolanus.” The Facebook event can be found here, and tickets can be reserved on this website. We’re having people get tickets since seating is limited.

“Coriolanus” focuses on a Roman soldier, Caius Martius. Martius is very stubborn and proud, and strongly supports the order of governance: Nobility, via senators and consul, rule the commoners. After a victorious battle in the city of Corioli, won almost single-handedly by Martius, he is given the name Coriolanus to mark his victory. Still, as a soldier and a brash man that refuses to play politics or not speak his mind, Coriolanus finds himself with many enemies.

I like to think of this play as almost in complete opposite to “Hamlet.” In “Hamlet,” Prince Hamlet is fighting conflicts internally throughout the entire show, constantly soliloquizing to the audience and revealing his mind to them. Externally, he often commits to non-action. Coriolanus, on the other hand, very rarely speaks to the audience, closing his mind to them. He is a soldier and fights his wars physically, refusing to even do the sneaky underhanded shadowy games political success requires. He speaks his mind without filter, though the inner thoughts are often closed away.

I really like this play. Not just because I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity to play as Coriolanus, my first definitively leading role… I think the play has a surprising amount of emotion attached, surprising because you don’t expect it when it hits you. Politically, it has some interesting ideas presented as well.

Anyway, it’s a totally free show, and I think it’s good to support art when possible. If you’re in Tuscaloosa or Northport, come see us perform “Coriolanus” tonight and tomorrow night at the Kentuck Georgine Clarke Building at 7:30 both nights. Please don’t forget to reserve a ticket, too. I hope to see you there.

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Breaking The Leg: “The Freese Collection” Collaboration

Sometimes, sadly, there are showings of the arts that occur in Tuscaloosa that go without much notification or notice, particularly in the local media. Fortunately, I’ve caught wind (and sight) of one such artistic collaboration, and want to let you know about it.

“The Freese Collection” Collaboration is a collaboration between the University of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance, specifically dance, and the art department. Held at Moody Music Concert Hall today and Friday (with the opening night being on Wednesday), the collaboration is a collection of artistic works called the Nall Art Show outside the concert hall, with the dance show starting at 7:30 p.m., utilizing members of the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre.

“The Freese Collection” in particular is a world premiere of a solo organ performance by Faythe Freese, professor of organ at UA. The show is about an hour in length and features choreography from Cornelius Carter, Sarah Barry and Rita Snyder.

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a show utilizing the large organ in the Moody Concert Hall, and the first dance show I’ve seen in some time. I strongly suggest you go see the show to not only support the arts but also to enjoy the talent and hard work of the dancers who do an absolutely fantastic job.

One note I will make: This is in Moody Music Hall. Not Morgan Auditorium. I made that mistake. It is NOT fun trying to get from Morgan to Moody in 15 minutes.

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Roll Tide, Crimson Pride

Well, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide took home its third national championship in four years by beating the snot out of Notre Dame. That gives head coach Nick Saban four national championships, those three plus one with LSU, and ties him with Wallace Wade for the number of Alabama championships won. He’ll need three more to get up to Paul “Bear” Bryant’s level, who won six championships despite losing two bowl games. Declaring winners back in those days was far less clear, to be certain. (Interesting note, Saban will need 11 more SEC championships to tie Bryant, but with two SEC championship wins, he’s only behind three other coaches in Alabama history.)

The game was won 42-14, the same score/drubbing given to Auburn in 2011 that convinced BCS rankings voters to grant Alabama the number 2 spot and a chance at the national championship despite a late season loss to LSU. Despite the absolute ease with which Alabama rolled over Notre Dame, there are still some conspiracy theorists that think the referees handed UA the game. Which seems pretty ridiculous, especially if you’re someone that actually watched the game. It was brutal. Notre Dame had the ball for 15 minutes in the entire game. Different calls would not have changed the outcome much, if at all.

Anyway, I could do like the announcers were doing by the middle of the second quarter and start talking about Alabama’s chances next year, or I could analyze and hypothesize about what the potential losses of several key Crimson Tide players will do to the team, or blah blah blah. I’m not a sports writer. Never was, never will be. I never even liked football when I first came to UA. Hated it. People down here treat it almost religiously. I thought (and still think) that soccer is a way better sport.

But going to UA… it grows on you a bit. I’ve still never been to a game, never set foot inside the stadium. Only stadium I’ve been in is Legion Field in Birmingham. But, still, it grows. Though many of my friends, as in all of the ones currently going to UA, don’t have to remember being at school during the years of Mike Schula, the years when Leigh Tiffin was an absolutely horrendous kicker and not our top scorer… though they get to remember the glory days of Saban winning three national championships, I grew up with some of the tough patches. And, really, I grew up with them. Even though I was 18, 19, 20 years old, I grew into football with the rough spots. Before, I couldn’t have named a single player. Now? …well, I know a handful.

I’m not going to get religious about football. And I’m still not crazy about my school or state, as both have some MAJOR problems that need fixing… But every once in a while, it feels nice to be part of a community that takes pride in some extraordinary accomplishments. And I’m okay with that.

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Tide Rolls To Championship, Guerrilla Theatre Tonight

I’m still behind a post… got caught up watching the semi-finals for the BCS National Championship for college football. Or, at least, that’s what it seemed like, since the SEC Championship was between the No. 2 (Alabama) and No. 3 (Georgia) ranked teams. And it was a hard fought battle, perhaps the toughest game for both teams, apart from the single match each lost earlier in the season.

But Alabama won in the end, partly due to poor time management (which we nearly suffered from in the first half) and, ultimately, a slip of the foot. And, of course, 60 minutes of hard playing beforehand (though most of Alabama’s strongest plays came in the second half). And now, the Crimson Tide will be heading to the National Championship for the third time in four years, if I’m remembering correctly.

And after all that, I still can’t write a post to cover for yesterday because tonight is the last Guerrilla Theatre of the year.

I’ve talked about Guerrilla Theatre a lot, and I love going to it. It’s a chance for performers that would not necessarily be given a shot on stage to show their talents. It’s a chance to do something you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the opportunity for. And it’s just a grand old time. Seriously, there’s some amazing talent that performs at these things. I’ve only missed one Guerrilla Theatre this year, and I hate that I did. I don’t plan on it again.

Per usual, doors open at 10:30, it starts at 11 and there’s a $2 entry fee. Get there early, like around 9:30, because the line is very often very long, and the UATD/APO family is huge, so spots are limited.

I’m sure I’ll come up with something new to write for yesterday tomorrow.

…say that 10 times fast…

Oh, and of course, Roll Tide.

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Traveling Gourmand – Glory Bound Gyro Co. (Tuscaloosa)

First, a quick note: I’m trying out new themes. I’ve had several people say the coloration of the previous theme was just awkward, and I kind of agree. So, I’m changing it… unfortunately, most of the themes on WordPress lean toward use of pictures, which I don’t do, and require me to pay to change coloration. This current one hosts no color differentiation for links. Which is idiotic. But the coloration is better than grey on black, so I’m sticking with it for now. Likely, I’ll just have to shell out the $30 ($30?! It used to be $17! Ugh.) per year to get access to the CSS customization options and have someone whip me up something pretty. (I may have changed it by the time you read this so this paragraph is pretty pointless.)

…well, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these segments. Possibly because I eat absolutely nowhere new. But I’m bringing it back for this (and hopefully other places once I eat there once or twice). There’s a relatively new place in downtown Tuscaloosa on the corner of Greensboro and University, below the Twisted Martini where Brown’s Corner once sat. They call themselves a Greek restaurant with a Southern twist. They are the Glory Bound Gyro Co., the restaurant that my second place winning chili got me a $25 gift certificate to go to.

Incidentally, I think my two chilis split my votes… but I’m okay with that. This prize was way better.

Owned by the same people that own Mugshots, Glory Bound is a small chain insofar as it has a second original location in Hattiesburg, Miss. As you might be able to discern from the name, their specialty is the gyro, which someone with limited descriptive powers might be inclined to call a Greek taco. Really, a gyro is, traditionally, a lamb and beef seasoned meat mix with vegetables and tzatziki sauce (a sauce made primarily of yogurt and cucumber) wrapped in or held in a folded pita. Kinda like a taco.

While gyros are Glory Bound’s specialty, of which they serve something like 20-plus varieties, they have many other dishes. The first time I went, I noticed they had shawarma. Those that saw the summer blockbuster “The Avengers” may recognize that as the dish Iron Man wanted to try once they took care of business. From what I understand, however, Glory Bound’s shawarma is a bit different than what you might get elsewhere. Where Wikipedia tells me shawarma is actually the meat placed on the vertical spit and carved off, which I’ve seen used to typically create the beef and lamb mixtures for gyros and other dishes, Glory Bound’s shawarma is a bit different. It comes on rice pilaf, which has bell peppers in it I believe, and is covered in their shawarma sauce. I asked today what that sauce was, and I was told it’s a cream sauce of some kind. I forget what specifics the waiter mentioned the sauce had, but it tastes like a creamy cheese sauce of some kind. It’s tasty either way. The dish also came with sauteed zucchini and squash, and eight small slices of pita with a flavor of hummus, of which they have eight (with a ninth served special today).

I feel it says something when I have no idea what I’m eating (shrimp and beef shawarma) and still devour it entirely. Even more so, it says something when I DO know what I’m eating (squash and zucchini, and also hummus of which I ordered the spicy pepper), know I normally hate it and devour it entirely anyway.

Today when I went with my family, I had their most popular dish, the pepperjack gyro. This is a dish where the Southern twist comes out in full force. Their gyros, served with some tasty, flaky and crispy spiced cottage fries, come in a whole bevy of weird twists, such as the Italian gyro. This gyro comes with pepperjack cheese sauce and crispy bacon. And it was delicious. My family being there, they decided to try to spoil me. They ordered an appetizer (which I think was actually my mom spoiling herself as she and dad ate most of it), the cheese rolls. Completely different than what you’re thinking, they’re kind of like fried mozzarella sticks. They’re feta, pepperjack and cream cheese wrapped in bread and fried and served with a tasty pepper jelly that has just a bit of a kick. The cheese is very melty and mild enough to not be offensive while still maintaining a flavor.

They also let me order a dessert, something I don’t usually do. I ordered what I called (from the description) dessert nachos. In reality, they’re the Glory Bound Favorite, which I’m pretty sure is just their Pita Delight dessert with two scoops of ice cream. It’s lightly fried pita chips covered in drizzles of cinnamon and caramel (and sugar, I think?), served with two scoops of some rather delicious ice cream. I think it was vanilla bean, as the vanilla flavor stood out quite a bit. The dessert is definitely one that’s big enough to share.

As for the venue, there are several TVs most often showing sports of some kind. It doubles a little as a sports bar in that way. It offers your typical chain restaurant level of volume, unless there’s a football game on and a fan in the building. Then things can get shouty like they were with LSU vs. Alabama. The only problem I’ve noticed with the venue thus far is the Twisted Martini upstairs. My older sister and mother are both allergic to cigarette smoke, and the stairs leading to the Twisted Martini are open. So, at our original table, we could smell the cigarettes pretty heavily, and we had to move. But the first time I was there, I never noticed any smell like that. I can’t say if that’s a common thing or not.

Service was good and food came out quickly both times, and if you get a to go cup, you’re given a plastic Glory Bound emblazoned cup to keep. All in all, it’s a rather solid restaurant. On Tuesdays, they have a $5 gyro deal that my $10 remaining gift certificate and I will be using at least once. And they also offer a decent military discount (though I don’t know if that was promotional or what).

If you’re looking for a new place with a Mediterranean menu, I’d put Glory Bound at the top of my list.

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Tuscaloosa May Not Be Safe Today

I don’t know if you pay any attention to football… but here in the state of Alabama, it’s pretty much impossible to not hear something about college football. Here in Tuscaloosa, it’d take a very severe coma and being locked in a room 300 feet underground not to hear about it. Especially this year. The University of Alabama Crimson Tide was one of four ranked undefeated college football teams going into their game today.

And today, due to unfortunate faults in defense, crazily well-made plays by the opposing offense, turnovers and fouls (some of which were rather suspect in being called/not called), the No. 1 Crimson Tide lost 29-24 to No. 15 Texas A&M Aggies. It’s a rather crushing blow for fans of the Tide, who truly expected a repeat of three seasons ago, an undefeated season leading straight to the National Championship, which would be the third one in four years. Unfortunately, unless at least two of Notre Dame, Oregon and Kansas State lose a game, UA may find themselves going to the Sugar Bowl instead. They are likely to finish their last two games without defeats and be sent to the SEC championship against, most likely, Georgia, but the National Championship may be now out of reach with so few games left.

Football’s very important down here. I feel like writing about anything else would get me ignored/yelled at by the populous. So, I’m writing about this. Because, with the loss of Mitt Romney and the Crimson Tide in the same week, I feel that Tuscaloosa may not be the safest of places to live in at the moment. I might not leave my apartment tomorrow.

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On Aid Privatization And Disaster Politicization

So, this hurricane thing… it’s been happening, and it hasn’t been grand. Hurricane Sandy has wreaked quite a bit of havoc on both New Jersey and New York City, with power still out in many areas of both places.

It used to be, it seemed, that when a big disaster occurred, be it natural or man-made (I will include terrorist attacks in this category), Americans could pull together to figure out what to do to fix things, at least for a while. Pearl Harbor brought the nation’s furious wrath into World War II, a war it had no true intention of entering before. 9/11 brought Americans together to aid New York City as much as possible and, for a few months at least, it seemed, brought petty partisan politics and hate to a standstill… well, except for some unfortunate xenophobia and Islamaphobia. Truth be told, we did the same thing to the Japanese-American population after Pearl Harbor.

…so, America doesn’t have the best track record on FULL unity and cooperation and support after massive attacks from a foreign entity… but when the tornadoes ripped through Alabama, severely damaging Tuscaloosa in particular, the nation turned to help. Same for Joplin, Mo. Neighboring states took in refugees after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. When the federal government failed to mobilize responsibly, local and private interest groups stepped in to pick up the slack.

But, apparently, that togetherness disappears a week before elections.

See, when the tornado hit Tuscaloosa, President Barack Obama came into town to view the damage. Obama walked with Mayor Walt Maddox, Republican Governor Robert Bentley and several Congresspeople, many who were also Republicans. During that event, in April 2011 before the real meaty parts of the reelection process began, no one thought anything of it. It was the president doing his job, surveying damage with local government officials, discussing strategies for aid and pledging support. Didn’t matter who was what political party.

But, now, here we are with Hurricane Sandy. Obama has done the same thing he did with Tuscaloosa. He left the campaign trail to focus fully on his duties as president and try to preserve as much life and livelihood as possible. He mobilized FEMA. He called New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie the night of the storm hitting the coast. He came to New Jersey and surveyed the damage. Pledged support. Discussed strategies for aid. Gov. Christie has praised Obama for his speedy and efficient support in the matter, and it can be noted that Christie, a Mitt Romney supporter, has had some less than glowing words about Obama even within the past week or so. When “Fox and Friends” tried to ask Christie about whether he thought Romney would do the same thing, Christie said, “If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.” You can see it here on this “Daily Show” clip about the hurricane.

Of course, Republicans are crying foul over Christie’s words. Human waste pile Rush Limbaugh thinks Christie’s gay for Obama. The Daily Caller columnist Matt Lewis is wondering if Christie could find a way to not look like a prop for Obama’s reelection. And President George W. Bush’s FEMA director during the Hurricane Katrina debacle Michael Brown decided to criticize Obama for reacting to the destruction too quickly.

Yes, there is some political discussion that could be had. For example, what is the benefit of government-assisted disaster relief? Should FEMA be cut or privatized? Those are the conversations that can be had. After we focus on helping those in need, those affected by the disaster.

Yes, Romney suggested cutting FEMA, letting the states handle it entirely. Yes, that would likely leave New Jersey in trouble right now with how it’s been affected. And, yes, Romney has now changed his position on FEMA, saying it plays a key role in disaster relief. So, yeah, we’ve got another flip-flop from Romney, and yeah, the conversation about federal disaster relief v. state disaster relief v. privatized disaster relief is one that we can have, and perhaps should have. I plan to go into it myself at a later time when discussing the desire to have states with more government power than the federal government.

But can we not, for this moment now, just stop playing politics and just help people? Seriously.

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Breaking The Leg – Tuscaloosa’s Druid Dread Night

Okay. So, really quick before I have to head off to the show that I’m about to tell you about.

Tonight, at the Bama Theatre at 8:30 (doors open at 8, bar opens at 7:30), and tonight only, there will be an original Halloween performance and variety show, Druid Dread Night. The event is on Facebook here.

As this is a completely original show plus variety show plus other things, I can’t really talk plot or whatnot much. The night does include a show by the band The Resident Evils (I believe that’s Mark Hughes Cobb’s current band name, a.k.a. whomever talented he could get for the show), a variety show at 9 p.m. with acts from members of the community including, I believe, some Pink Box Burlesque performance? I’m not 100 percent positive on that, though. Pretty sure, but not positive. There will also be a costume contest, so show up costumed for some prizes. And then, at the end, there will be a performance of an original, Tuscaloosa-centered horror story, “In the Bones.”

The show is $5 to get in, and the profits will go to help pay for art supplies in the city schools. It’s also an 18-plus show, so no children. That’s one reason I’m pretty sure we’re getting some PBB vaudeville, but I haven’t seen the variety show yet. Just my bits.

So, booze, theatre, costumes, ghost stories… Fun times! And, bonus, I’m in it! So, you should totally come watch if you’re in Tuscaloosa. In the meantime, I’m off to rehearsal.

8 p.m., Bama Theatre, tonight, $5, 18 or older. Come watch.

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Breaking The Leg – “Fools” By UATD

One day, I’ll start buying tickets to opening night so these posts aren’t “I got to see this show, and if you didn’t, too bad, suckers!” Though, to be fair, this show was sold out for a good while. I only barely got in myself.

Anyway.

The Fall 2012 University of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance season started off last Monday with the premier of directed grad student John Nara’s first show at UA, “Fools” by Neil Simon. Simon, as a playwright, became extremely well known for his witty, often fast-paced comedies such as “Barefoot in the Park” and, perhaps his most famous play due to the eventual television series, “The Odd Couple.” Simon received more Tony and Oscar nominations than any other writer, as well as a Pulitzer prize for his complex “Lost in Yonkers,” though many feel he was underrated due to his continual comic works. It tends to be true that drama gets more respect than comedy on almost every level. Unfair, but true.

“Fools” is perhaps a bit more… shticky and slower than many of Simon’s other comedies. And “slower” can be applied in multiple ways. See, the plot of “Fools” is such: The sleepy little Russian town of Kulyenchikov has been under a curse for 200-plus years. The curse states that there can be no love in Kulyenchikov, and that everyone living there for more than 24 hours, and everyone born there, is made phenomenally stupid and unable to leave the village. The unaware school teacher Leon Tolchinsky (John Paul Snead) answers an ad for a teacher placed in another city’s newspaper and arrives… to a village of fools.

The characters of this town are colorful, and each memorable and hilarious. First, we meet the shepherd (Joey Gamble), who has lost his sheep and is wholly unable to understand how his horn works. Gamble’s shepherd was the perfect introduction to the abject ignorance and idiocy this town would provide throughout the show. Leon attempts to keep optimism and smiles throughout his stay in the town (the play takes place, pre-epilogue, over a slightly-more-than-24-hour time period), but his frustration begins to seep through the longer he stays and the more crunched for time he is. The other villagers – the butcher (Jordan DeWitt), the old lady peddler (Bess Houston) and the postman (Ben Mitchell) – test his patience. Perhaps the one that tests his patience most is the magistrate, played by Wen Powers in one of the most dedicated bits of physical humor I’ve seen in a long time. A crouched over old man, Powers moves at approximately half the speed of dead grass growing. His first entry onto the stage, in which he circles the outside of it, takes about three full minutes, or five minutes in the play.

Leon ends up crunched for time when he discovers that he has 24 hours to break the curse, leave town or be hit by the curse as well. Unfortunately for him, the option of leaving town is eliminated when he falls for the daughter of the doctor who placed the ad, Dr. Zubritsky (Tommy Walker) and his wife (Loui Clagett). Their daughter Sophia (usually played by Natalie Riegel, but played by understudy Esther Workman at the showing I went to) is especially problematic, having only just recently learned how to sit down properly. And worse, the only known way to break the curse is for a Zubritsky to marry a Yousekevitch (the family that created the curse), and so her hand is being constantly asked for by the last, and immensely cheesy and over-the-top very obvious bad guy, Yousekevitch, Gregor (Sam Hardy).

With physical humor and absurd word play and wit sometimes reminiscent of Monty Python, the play has quite a bit to offer in the ways of humor. Most of the audience was giggling for a large portion of the show when I saw it. With some special jokes thrown in to the theatre students of UA and other parts of UA’s culture (Gregor Yousekevitch invited the audience to his tailgate next Saturday), and just good acting all around, there were also some good moments for big guffaws of laughter.

There were also moments where Simon was perhaps attempting to be pointed and poignant, making sweeping statements about the ignorant masses or philosophical statements about knowledge and teaching, but I’m not so certain those hit the notes nearly as well as the comedy and meta-humor laced throughout the show did. Perhaps others enjoyed the mild social commentary, but I found the show to be quite enjoyable just as a witty, laughable comic routine. And the actors chosen for the show were amazing, and amazingly transformed through costume and makeup by the talented designers Alex Kosbab and Tiffany Harris. The set, though I didn’t get to experience it in all its glory due to my poor seat in the house, was whimsical and playful, designed by Brad Lee.

Ultimately, it was a great time, a very cute and quite entertaining show filled with stellar comic actors (who all understand physical comedy and timing quite well), and a great premier show for director Nara. It will be interesting to see his next step is and how that goes. (It’s either Noel Coward’s comic “Design for Living” or Helen Edmundson’s tale of ethnic cleansing in 17th century Ireland, “The Clearing.” …A bit of a difference there, either way.)

Next time, I’ll try to see the show early enough to get you all to buy tickets, too. Next UATD show is “Side Man” by Warren Leight. Should be interesting.

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