Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The man synonymous with the word "mime" died in Paris on Saturday September 22. The incomparable MARCEL MARCEAU was buried today in the equally incomparable Pere Lachaise cemetery. Every non-clever epigram about "silence" has been written and uttered a thousand-fold, and if there's a clever one out there, I haven't heard it. This genius of gesture will be mourned by everyone who loved and appreciated his art-- and faux-mourned by a whole ton of people who have for years been exchanging groaning mockeries about mime over their coffees and cocktails.
At some point, perhaps in the 80's, it became fashionable to pronounce mimes of all sorts ridiculous and annoying. I suppose there were members of the profession who brought this on themselves: TV variety mimes Shields and Yarnell made it a coy and sentimental mass-marketed art, and it seemed for a time that big-city squares were teeming with street buskers who thought there was nothing more to the art than painting on a clown face and moon-walking inside an imaginary box. And then asking for money.
This in turn gave a lot of cool sophisticates and stand-up comics license to put mimes on their list of people to be anathematized without fear of argument. Some of us, however, stayed quietly loyal to the great art, and kept an eye out for people who were actually good at it, or drew on it in a newer context. Johnny Depp comes to mind, in Benny and Joon.
But the Undisputed Master of the art remained this man I'd had the privilege to see in live performance a couple of times when I was in high school. (I think I have an autographed programme somewhere.) I never saw him again after that, but paid him the best tribute I could by taking two semesters of mime from another, albeit unsung, master, Kaz Piesowocki at the University of Victoria, British Columbia.
Mime was part of the Acting program. I took the one compulsory Acting course without intending to ever put it to use in performance. But the mime component I returned to for a second round. I was just interested in finding out how it works-- gaining an appreciation for the way that acting starts with a physical "impulse" from the heart, and seeing how stripped-down essentials can communicate as much or more than busy details.
I wanted to know how you walk against the wind, and how you reach out to pluck the leaf with the smoothness of mercury. Kaz knew how to teach that, and I wasn't half bad at it. He was a pleasure to watch in action, either at mime, ballet, or as a director of full-length stories in mime, like the (oh-so-badly-lit!!!) story of Joan of Arc. (How we all laughed about the notorious Joan in the Dark.)
Kaz retired in 1998, the same year Marcel Marceau came to the U-Vic Phoenix Theatre and spoke to the students. Wish I had been there for both events.
I knew of Marcel Marceau as a clown and a tragedian under the Klieglights, but never knew until the obits [and here] came out this week about his role in the great tragedy of our time: being a Jew in France during the Nazi occupation, working for the Resistance to help others escape, losing his father to the ovens at Auschwitz. One is left wondering how, after all this, the optimistic spirit of his "Bip" could ever be born. Yet he was, and lived to be 84, and left this world unrivalled. I'm not sure he would have been so happy about that: a rival would have also insured a successor, which he plainly desired. Let's hope for that.
CANADIAN JOURNALISM HITS ANOTHER HIGH-WATER MARK
MACLEAN'S Magazine fancies itself the Time or Newsweek of Canada, and in the worst sense it may well have achieved that status. Continuing its sterling tradition of intelligent commentary on world events, as displayed in these cover stories of the past few years.....
... like their 2004 American election special....
Or this gem from 2006 (the answer to their question being, of course, "NO, that would be Jimmy Carter, by the landslide the voters didn't give him in '76.
Now the editors have gifted us with this:
Now that's HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM, EH? We're so proud, up here in the Great White North.
And how do we know this cover is a lie? HOW DO WE KNOW THAT BUSH IS NOT SADDAM, and that any suggestion of a resemblance between the two is so unspeakably, ungratefully STOOPID that is just defies human understanding????????
Because there's not a cloud of toxic gas now floating north of the 49th parallel in the vicinity of the Maclean's head office (that's One Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto...). Because Maclean's Editor Kenneth Whyte has not, to my knowledge, been hung on a meat-hook and beaten to death. Because, ... because, ... well, as Kathy Shaidle [new blog alert!] might put it, "If Bush is a Nazi why aren't you a lampshade?"
Speaking of Nazis-----
FLASH!!! -- SEEN IN AND AROUND THE BIG APPLE HOT-SPOTS:
Whadd-I-say??? Huh? Hey, don't taze me, bro!
New York City opens its doors (well, a few of them) to our buddy, Madmood Ahmadinnerjacket, so he can lay down some peace, love, and sure-I'm-a-feminist vibes for his adoring left-wing public. There were lots of places he wanted to go, but couldn't manage to get them all onto his already crowded itinerary [smiles and a hat-tip -- Hart Seely at Slate.com].
MINOR FOOTNOTE FROM THE RECENT TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM-FESTIVAL:
SEPARATED AT BIRTH
Film "auteur" and perennial ghoul David Cronenberg unveiled (as 'twere) his latest work and won the big prize at the TIFF. It's called Eastern Promises, and is the latest venture in a time-tested cinematic genre that has become Cronenberg's new signature style: Naked Tattooed Viggo-Vision. Our spies are certain they overheard the feted (fetid?) director muttering: "Well, if I can't have him, at least I can watch."
This review brought to you by someone who hasn't seen the movie. Too busy watching 3:10 to Yuma.
Monday, September 17, 2007
PRISON BREAK RETURNS!
While "24" has been re-running itself into a tizz, P-Break has been in quiet retirement, and we can only imagine the outrages visited upon the persons of heroes and villains alike in the legendary third-world Panama prison.
Welcome back, rewind the tape, and LET'S ALL BREAK OUT OF PRISON AGAIN!
ALSO ON THE TUBE, STARTING SEPTEMBER 23:
Ken Burns' new documentary series,
...to be seen on PBS in seven instalments (4 during week one, 3 the following week). The series covers the World War II experiences of real soldiers from four ordinary American towns. It's all documentary -- no armchair commentators allowed-- if you weren't there, you don't get to talk. (There is voice-over by actors, but it uses only the words of veterans no longer here to speak for themselves.) I'm especially anxious to see whose stories get told from Waterbury, Connecticut, home of one branch of my forebears, some of whom I know were veterans.
Burns considers this his best work ever, and though he may have seen this work within a personal context of opposition to the war in Iraq, it is hard to imagine that it will be anything other than a work of authenticity and integrity. I intend to give it a go.
Hope it is not in any way impeded by the fact that, over 14 broadcast hours, it apparently includes four instances of three of George Carlin's "words you can't say on television," which the broadcast standards folks are feeling uncomfortable with. Can you believe it? While skanky women are having "Sex in the City" in every location and position imaginable, and unsupervised children are watching music videos about pimps and ho's, somebody's worried about the men who saved the world saying two F's, one S, and an ***hole. PU-H-H-L-L-E-E-EZE!!!!!
All I can say, is F*** that, you dumbs*** broadcasting ***holes.
There-- now let's move on.
Friday, September 14, 2007
LAST "AFFIRMATIVE ACTION" COMIC STANDING
Wednesday Night Slaughter – GERRY DEE goes down on Last comic Standing.
Top Ten Comedic Themes of Stand-Up Artist
#10 – I’m fat.
#9 – I’m black.
#8 – I’m fat
#7 – I’m black.
#6 – I’m fat, black, and horny.
#4 – TBA
#3 – TBA
#2 – TBA
#1 – I’m stumped-- I think I’ll use the last joke I heard and do a lame spin-off of it.
By far the most original and funniest man in the competition, Gerry Dee was up against the unoriginal but moderately funny John Reep and the totally unfunny, often incomprehensible, blue-mouthed and boring Lavell Crawford, whose survival even into the Last Five category was inexplicable.
I have watched maybe three or four episodes of Last Comic Standing, and it is the only “reality show” I have ever watched. (No, wait, I did watch the final episode of the first season of Survivor just to see what everyone was talking about. Yawn.)
Apparently the answer is “yes”—and now the only explanation for the success of Crawford is that the show ISN’T fixed—the producers are enslaved to the stupidity and gutter tastes of hoi polloi.
This is sad. However, surely the exposure brought by the LCS competition will translate into some big gigs and forward career motion for Gerry. So all is not for nought.
Wait for it: the O.J. jury weighs in -- next week Lavell beats Reep.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
IN THE HOMELAND:
REMEMBER TODAY PRIVATE KRISTIAN MENCHACA AND PRIVATE THOMAS TUCKER AND THE 3,742.
REMEMBER THE 70,000 (numbers elastic)
AND REMEMBER THAT THE CANCER
HAS METASTASIZED ELSEWHERE:
and every single day in
[Link takes you to Little Green Footballs site-- link from there to Zombietime page, to EXTREMELY GRAPHIC PHOTOS -- RATED "R" FOR REVOLTING, RAGE-INDUCING, AND REAL]
AND REMEMBER THAT THE DEFINITION OF THE ENEMY HAS METASTASIZED TOO:
Friday, September 07, 2007
Apparently meteorites do fall out of the blue and hit the same place twice.
Just turned 30 on the weekend. Died in his sleep sometime Wednesday,
Requiescat in Pace.
Heaven just got a good deal hipper, and gained one more heart of gold.
Cue the angel Corus.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
It'll be a tough choice -- there's the Republican Presidential Debate in Durham, New Hampshire, where even now the empty chairs
await the (5? 7? 4? 12?) candidates for the Republican nomination, who will be taking questions Wednesday night from FOXSnooze's Brit Hume, Chris Wallace, and Wendel Goler -- who are, as far as I can tell, just about the only tv journo's in the biz who are fit to do a respectable job of this.
Damned exciting stuff! Nevertheless, I expect I'll be watching......
LAST COMIC STANDING!
That's because we're down to the last four, one of whom is Gerry Dee, local (Toronto) boy who's made good, doing good clean hilarious story-telling, mostly about the old days when he was a teacher at a school which shall remain nameless, but was attended by
all of whom were, at one time or another, taught by the said Gerry Dee. [As, I think, was Ian Van Toch of happy memory (scroll down), who enjoyed a good joke better than just about anybody.]
So which will it be? Comedy? or Gerry Dee? (ha ha)
Click here, VOTE EARLY, AND VOTE OFTEN (you can, you know)
for GERRY DEE to win the BIG PRIZE!