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Special thanks to the Avalon Arcade for recently introducing me to a chivalrous young bard who honored us with a juggling demonstration and 824 free winning tickets.

1. The need for laughs: this is the root of of the bard complex and goes deep into their formative years when their talents went unrecognized as a child. Somewhere around 10 years old, they realized the best way to get attention was to perform outlandish acts of poetry, magic and cleverness. Various renaissance festivals and school plays reinforced this over the years.

2. Unnecessary Talent: Not every bard is a juggler, minstrel, stilt-walking magician or loud poet. But many of them are. Others express themselves through freestyle rap, playing obscure instruments or by performing absurd acts of physical comedy.

3. Long hair: this is a necessity for every bard. Unless the culture they live in does not permit it – every bard should have long hair. There is nothing romantic or frivolous about short hair, and those defining characteristics give the bard their charm. Long hair is also particularly good for various trans-gender character transformations.

4.¬† All the world is a stage: the bard is funny, endearing, often hilarious. But they don’t know when to stop. Like a train wreck of tragic comedy they will continue juggling the torches until they’ve burned the whole place down.¬† They don’t just want your laughter; they crave your tears.

5. They are indispensable: despite their frivolity, bards make excellent friends. They will entertain you when you are down; reading you sappy poetry and quoting the ancients. They will outwit your enemies with one cunning remark. They will charm their way into all sorts of unusual places. And at the end of your epic journey, after the last battle has been won and you are on the brink of claiming your treasure: a bard will always, always know the magic password.

Addendum: Some bards are not happy. They no longer have the will to live or perform. They live in disguise as retail specialists and hipster baristas or, god forbid, corporate artists. They see the world as a gray and cruel place. They are sad sad clowns who need nurturing from someone  like you. Just remember: bards are not usually motivated by normal things like food, booze and money. They embody the journey of The Fool and seek the realm of magic only. So brush up on your Aleister Crowley and bring it to them. Help a sad clown today.

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These puppets were not in the Solstice show, but easily could have been

I went and saw an epic shadow puppet show in celebration of Winter Solstice at Liberty Hall last night. I guess they’ve done it every year for a decade and this was the last (for the time being, anyway).

It was amazing craftsmanship, delicate and definitive. It opened with a little androgynous shadow puppet character taking mushrooms and going down the rabbit hole, where they found all kinds of beautiful plants and colorful delights. Then there was a great sushi scene, with actors profiles behind the screen, as they ate sushi and grabbed things off the conveyor belt. The finale featured a bunch of sea characters on an island of plastic that exists just off the PNW coast near Alaska. A giant octopus made of recycled objects and little plastic take-out containers with googly eyes foreshadowed the end of the organic world.

But what was the story, I wondered? The script didn’t seem too concerned with telling an overarching story, or even connecting the stories within. In fact, I’m fairly convinced there was absolutely no point to any of the stories, save for one or two of them. Hmm.

But so much WORK went into these amazingly beautiful puppets. Why wouldn’t they want to give them beautiful dialogue, peppered with anecdotal philosophy and tributes to paganism? It is the fair Solstice, after all.

That’s what you get when you throw a bunch of Anarchists together. They do amazing work, all under the banner of “Resistance”, but they forget the subtleties that speak to the human heart. The show was good eye candy, but it easily could have been so much more. EASILY. I don’t think this misfortune was lost on the audience either.

Don’t get me started on my dream puppet show…I will go on and on and on. And let’s face it, I probably couldn’t do any better. But one thing I would do is keep it simple. The greatest joy of puppetry for me, is seeing human expression magnified through other worldly doll creatures. So my focus would be on relationship, dialogue and of course a good dose of whimsy.