Sam&Max – Remastered

Sam&Max: Beyond Time and Space.

A really funny game in a time when nothing is very funny.

Seasons One and Two of Sam&Max have been remastered. Colors are brighter, new music added, characters slimmed down — but most important — it allows you to play Sam&Max. I played it ten years ago — and if it’s your first you are due for a fabulous surprise – they are the most intelligent funny “games” out there. The humor is the center in the witty dialogue as the Freelance Police, a dog and a rabbit, embark on outrageous investigations.

This review is for Season Two. Season One came out last year. There are five linked episodes. They were called Episodic Games because the games originally came out bi-monthly.

Season Two: Beyond Time and Space.

  • Ice Station Santa:
    Tired of all the Xmas – “good will to men” stuff? This Episode will clear your sinuses.
  • Moai Better Blues:
    Yes – they go to the Easter Islands, talk to the giant stone heads – do you know they had feet?
  • Night of the Raving Dead:
    Taking a page out of Ann Rice’s book – a disco vampire with piercings.
  • Chariots of the Dogs:
    It had to finally happen – Space abduction, mariachis in space, and time travel to past and far future.
  • What’s New Beelzebub?
    Well – if they can confront Santa – why not the Devil and the whole Hell emporium?

In case you may be wondering where this outstanding comic crew emerged from – it’s a spin-off from the funny bone of LucasArts. But savor the game. Even after playing it you might want to go back to squeeze out every morsel of goodness.

Available from Steam for the Nintendo Switch, Windows and the XBox – $19.99 for the whole glorious bundle.

SFBallet: Nutcracker, 2021

San Francisco Ballet: NUTCRACKER
Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director
December 10, 2021
San Francisco Opera House

A Joyous Christmas Present

Helgi Tomasson has been artistic director of the San Francisco Ballet for thirty-seven years. The coming 2022 season celebrates his retirement from the company. As a farewell present, he has presented a superb, delightful NUTCRACKER for the holiday season.

Performances of NUTCRACKER run through December 30! Take yourself, both your adult and child self to see it! It will make for a happy holiday event.

There are many reasons to cheer. For everyone who has been confined for many months (including the dancers), returning to the opera house is a delight. The seats have been refurbished; the dining spaces are open; games and exhibitions are displayed in the Lobby. Although proof of vaccination and masks are required for entry, the San Francisco community can happily celebrate the performance NUTCRACKER.

Celebrate the artistry of the principles! Tiit Helimets as Uncle Drosselmeyer starts the show in his Market Street shop. He has created a magic Nutcracker to present to Clara (Abby Cannon) at the Stahlbaum’s holiday party. And what a party it is! The guests are entertained by a “Jack in the Box”, and dancing dolls (Lonnie Weeks, Lauren Parrott, Cavan Conley). All are splendid performers but Helimets dominates the scene. His every gesture, in this scene and throughout the show, is gracious and exact.

The dream magic of NUTCRACKER follows as Clara falls asleep with her Nutcracker doll. In the battle between the mice and the soldiers, Clara becomes the heroine as she captures the Mouse King (this time with a mouse trap!) and the Nutcracker (Joseph Walsh) appears. Wondrous stagecraft transforms the house into a magical kingdom where Yuan Yuan Tan and Henry Sidford, dance as Queen & King of the Snow, accompanied by dancing snowflakes (SF Ballet Corps) and 600 pounds of “snow.”

Act II provides us with continuous entertainment. There are dances from around the world (Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, French and Russian). Finally from within a huge skirt, we meet Madame Du Cirque: Louis Schilling with her Buffoons, (Students of San Francisco Ballet School). Lleyton Ho adds humor as a rolly-polly bear.

The Sugar Plum Fairy is danced by Nikisha Fogo. She has recently been appointed principle dancer for the company. As noted in Tomasson’s recognition she is a “versatile dancer, complete with superb technique and great musicality.” Fogo leads the familiar “Waltz of the Flowers” with the excellent SFBallet Corps de Ballet as the flowers costumed in fall colors, orange and yellow.

The performance closes with a Grand Pas de Deux: Frances Chung and Joseph Walsh. It is wonderful to note the many years of dance pleasure Chung has given San Francisco Ballet audiences. She and Walsh bring the 2021 “NUTCRACKER” to a close. The entire performance is a festive holiday present! Go see it!

Postscript Note:

The printed program produced for this 2021 NUTCRACKER event is a great pleasure in and of itself.The story of the NUTCRACKER is detailed in text and with photos of the ballet company, so that children and adults can follow the events on stage. The cast list for that days performance (since it changes each time), printed separately from the program is added below.



Uncle Drosselmeyer: Tiit Helimets
Clara: Abby Cannon
Fritz: Kai Hannigan
Housekeeper and Maid: Maggie Weirich, Ellen Rose Hummel
Dr. & Mrs. Stahlbaum: Nathaniel Remez, Katita Waldo
Grandparents: Jim Sohm, Kristi DeCaminada
Party Guests: Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Blake Johnston, Swane Messaoudi, Elizabeth Powell, Sean Bennett, Estéban Cuadrado, Joshua Jack Price, Jacob Seltzer, with Students of San Francisco Ballet School
Dancing Dolls: Lonnie Weeks, Lauren Parrott, Cavan Conley
The Nutcracker Prince: Joseph Walsh
King of the Mice: Alexander Reneff-Olson
Queen & King of the Snow: Yuan Yuan Tan and Henry Sidford
Snowflakes: Alexis Aiudi, Kamryn Baldwin, Juliana Bellissimo, Samantha Bristow, Olivia Brothers, Thamires Chuvas, Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Gabriela Gonzalez, Sun Min Lee, Carmela Mayo, Pemberley Ann Olson, Leili Rackow, Natasha Sheehan, Tyla Steinbach, Jamie Adele Stephens, Victoria Wright


The Sugar Plum Fairy: Nikisha Fogo
Spanish: Isabella DeVivo, Ellen Rose Hummel, Diego Cruz, Cavan Conley, Myles Thatcher
Arabian: WanTing Zhao with Daniel Deivison-Oliveira, Steven Morse
Chinese: Esteban Hernandez with Students of San Francisco Ballet School
French: Ludmila Bizalion, Blake Johnston, Maggie Weirich
Russian: Lucas Erni with Joshua Jack Price, Jacob Seltzer
Madame Du Cirque: Louis Schilling
with her Buffoons: Students of San Francisco Ballet School with Lleyton Ho
Waltzing Flowers: Alexis Aiudi, Kamryn Baldwin, Samantha Bristow, Olivia Brothers, Thamires Chuvas, Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Gabriela Gonzalez, SunMin Lee, Carmela Mayo, Swane Messaoudi, Nicole Moyer, Lauren Parrott, Leili Rackow, Natasha Sheehan, Tyla Steinbach, Jamie Adele Stephens
Grand Pas de Deux: Frances Chung and Joseph Walsh


Ink Boat
“These Are the Ones We Fell Among”
Nov. 7, 2021 4 pm
ODC Theater. San Francisco

Existential Event

“Existentialism: concerned with existence, especially human existence as viewed in the theories of existentialism.”

Program notes tell us: “These Are the Ones We Fell Among” grapples with elegance in the face of extinction, looking for humor and grace amid excrement, entropy, fear and fury. Performed by Shinichi and Dana Iova-Koga, with music by composers Carla Kihlstedt and Shahzad Ismaily, lighting by Allen Willner and scenic elements by Amy Rathbone. Conceived and directed by Ann Carlson in collaboration with inkBoat.

Two human persons, trapped and transforming, enjoying an endless loop of abstractly absurd tender tomfoolery. “These Are the Ones We Fell Among” takes inspiration from the movements, myths and metaphors of our endangered animal cousins, persons called by other names, like “elephant.” Conceived, choreographed, written and directed by award-winning interdisciplinary artist Ann Carlson in collaboration with inkBoat. It is an evening length work reminiscent of Samuel Beckett and Dr. Seuss.

I quote all of the above data since it makes the intention for this performance clear and elegant. But, alas, for this reviewer, who has studied and staged works by Samuel Beckett, he does it better, clearer, and shorter. (See “Act without Words” by Beckett.)

One must appreciate and respond to the synchronicity and intimate responses that occur between performers Shinichi and Dana Iova-Koga. Their speech (though often unheard) echoes and unites their statements, so that the words become unnecessary. Their activity, ducking under cover, climbing ladders, leaning against one another and wandering the stage are all in marvelous synchronicity. This reviewer especially appreciated Ms. Iova-Koga’s elegant movement liquidity. She is a joy to watch.

The events (“movements/ myths, metaphors”) are many and well executed. Perhaps there are just too many. Although this reviewer appreciates the concepts, skill and execution of the performers, it becomes delightful when the scene movers enter and leave the space. Their calm, simple activity reminds us that we do “go on”.

Joanna G. Harris (