Starvoice • 11.18.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Troy Aikman turns 45 on Monday. The former Dallas Cowboy quarterback still makes headlines, whether for his divorce this year or the continued rumors that he’s gay. In September, he threatened to assault the man behind the rumor, Skip Bayless, on a local radio show and the comments went viral. Let’s not forget, he also has three Super Bowl rings.

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THIS WEEK

Mercury is turning retrograde and there’s a solar eclipse, all in Sagittarius. Be open-minded and patient. New information will make you change your mind about important matters, though it may take weeks to figure out.

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SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
Arguments at work easily get out of hand and cost you big time. Keep conversations calm and open-minded while focused on finding solutions. Take time for fun with friends to stay in balance.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
Birthday plans are sure to go awry. Roll with the punches. With Mercury turning retrograde in your sign it seems you do nothing right. Keep a sense of humor while cleaning up mistakes.

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Being generous to those in need boosts your reputation and even your career. Feeling beautiful and confident can start a row at home. Clear the air, try a daring, new solution and move on.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Your future plans need revision. Those changes challenge your associations. Be ready to change some of those. Don’t commit to those revisions, but take time to think them through.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Professional advice helps you clear up snafus. More mix-ups make success look further away than ever. Balancing humor with responsibility, you can solve them and advance.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
While you are feeling energetic, the rest of the world seems to be gumming up. Beware of rash outbursts. You will be heard more than you know, so think carefully about what you want to say.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
A person can get enough flirtation and sexual adventures. A sudden realization about what you really want in that department can bring focus as you turn to more serious matters.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
These next three weeks will have you backtracking and cleaning up. You’ll be reminded of neglected promises. Take complaints seriously and make no excuses or retorts.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
Sudden changes in your health are for the better, but consult a professional and review your exercise regimens. Focus on what you enjoy most about work. Colleagues will pick up on it

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Your playfulness and creative efforts make huge impacts on your work. That’s not a good thing. Are they a constructive focus or a frivolous distraction? Channel that energy productively to go far.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Neglected problems at home will blow up in your face. Think carefully and deal. Flawed efforts are better than none. Consider carefully any corrections offered by roommates or family.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
A homecoming offers some rude surprises. Take them in good humor and learn from them. An opportunity to heal a wounded relationship may require some changes in your routines.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Power of the pyramid

Kitchen Dog debuts ‘Ponzi,’ a financial horror story

NOUVEAU POOR | An heiress (Christina Vela, left) flirts with a man (Max Hartman) and his wife (Diane Casey-Box) in the economic meltdown play ‘Ponzi.” (Photo by Matt Mrozek)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

PONZI
The MAC, 3120 McKinney Ave. Through June 25. $15–$25.
KitchenDogTheater.org.

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“The rich are different from you and me,” Scott Fitzgerald waxed, to which Hemingway allegedly responded, “Yes — they have more money.” But they are different. Money is never a big deal to people who have it, so they stand above it all. They don’t talk about how much they have, or how much things cost because, at some point, what difference does it make? If you don’t have to work to earn it, its value is fungible.

Then again, losing money — losing a great deal of it — is something everyone can understand. It becomes a source of ego, of pride. How would you feel if you pissed away $20 mil you didn’t deserve in the first place?

That is the situation posed to Catherine (Christina Vela), the regal heiress in Ponzi, the world premiere mainstage production at Kitchen Dog Theater’s New Works Festival. Catherine’s father was a legendary up-from-his-bootstraps self-made man who left Catherine two things: A solid fiscal philosophy and millions in cash to execute it.

She’s honored him by not being as showy and shallow as Allison (Diane Casey-Box), the quintessential nouveau riche Real Housewife, a woman with more cents than sense. Allison and hubby Bryce (Max Hartman) are enraptured by the get-rich-quick scheme of a flashy money manager, and their enthusiasm — plus Bryce’s unabashed flirtation with Catherine, driven in part by his lust for her balance sheet — leads to a series of bad mistakes.

Ponzi should frighten you more than it does, the way the Oscar winning documentary Inside Job did. There’s so much techno-talk — about the gold standard, how Social Security is a classic example of a Ponzi scheme that no one will touch, about how greed feeds pyramid schemes, about the lemming mentality that can cause sensible people to behave irrationally — that it needs to chill you. Like the financial meltdown, it’s not that some people didn’t see it coming; it’s that none of these so-called experts had any idea how reckless they were being. (The use of tarot cards to emphasize the randomness of life and fortune is a witty touch.)

Such horror is a ripe fruit that playwright Elaine Romero should have picked. Instead, she removes some of the universality of the tale by making it so specific to these characters.

That’s not entirely a bad thing. Instead of getting lost in the esoterica of money, she concentrates on the personality traits that drive people to make bad decisions. An undercurrent of sexual tension — between Catherine and Bryce, but just as electric (though more subtly expressed) between Catherine and Allison — makes the seductive power of the purse all the more visceral. Money is the new toy — and it’s a sex toy, at that.

Casey-Box plays the betrayed wife better than just about any actress in town; she’s always quick to turn on the ravenously uncensored switch in her characters’ brains, the one that makes people both pitiable and annoying. It’s delicious fun to watch. Vela is good as Catherine, but her final arc strikes a false note; it seems literary, not realistic.

Even still, the actors ply all these twists in one the KDT’s best-looking plays in years, with lush costumes from Tina Parker and a sleek set by Bryan Wofford. Amid such glam, the seduction of money begins to work on us, too. Maybe more is more, even if we hate to admit it.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 3, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

What’s love got to do with it? Locals let us into their hearts, share some Valentine’s Day tunes

Last year, in the print product, I wrote up a Valentine’s mixtape which was filled with all types of love songs. The only thing was finding those that weren’t gender specific, and that can be a total bitch. Or maybe it’s just my anal retentiveness. So instead of going through the hassle again, I asked local peeps with a penchant for music what songs struck that heartfelt fuzzy chord with them. I asked why their selection stuck out and if there are any gay aspects to it whether by an out artist or not gender-directed. The selections ran the gamut. Check ‘em out below.

—  Rich Lopez