Sunday, January 19, 2014

Six years between posts? Dont worry; I have a doctor's note

BBC's League of Gentlemen
Over the last several years I've silently reflected on Veronica Mars, the structural weakness of The Majestic, the static character (and ultimately unsatisfying character) of Tony Soprano, the similarity of the BBC's League of Gentlemen to the CBC's Kids in the Hall and La Petite Vie, and common themes in American movies and how they damage Canadian culture (The Justice System is Broken and Torture Works So We Should Use It are two related themes). I've also been obsessed with Clint Eastwood films, Shakespearean films, and musicals.

So, I decided that I would fire up the blog again and see what comes of it. If you see a bespectacled man tapping away at a keyboard late at night don't call security - it'll be me.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire is a Must-See Film

A Life Affirming Film but you have to trek through hell to get there

I saw Slumdog Millionaire last night: the story of how a young man from the Mumbai slums finds himself on the Indian version of the hit TV show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and how he wins 10 million rupees.

Jamal, his brother, Salim, and another girl, Latika, are orphaned when their Muslim shanty town is attacked, set ablaze, and their mother killed (while the Hindu police watch and do nothing).

They survive as hustlers, thieves, beggars, and a stint as unoffical guides to the Taj Mahal.

It presents some pretty brutal scenes and situations. Any one who has kids or has had responsibility to care for kids will FREAK OUT by the things that happen to these little urchins and the dangerous environment they live in.

The reviews say the story is 'life affirming' but it's a rough road to get there.

For film buffs, the cinematography is fan-fucking-tastic; the camera work is sublime. The post-production colour correction is absolutely amazing; it's total visual candy.

For music fans, the soundtrack is filled with the latest and best Indian and Tamil hip-hop. MIA rocks the house; especially during chase scenes.

I don't know where they find these child actors with this depth of talent (like that kid in Cinema Paradiso) but Slumdog Millionaire is chock-full of them.

Great script; great acting; great directing; great soundtrack and sound-design; great editing; and wickedly great post (wickedly great!). You can't let this film pass without seeing it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New Dance from battery opera

October is for ...

Take out pencils and take note:

North American Premiere

OCTOBER 9, 10, 11, 2008
The Scotiabank Dance Centre
Tickets available soon.

The Whole Beast is a new solo work by Lee Su-Feh. In this work, the dancer is butcher, meat, cook and the cooked.

If my Daddy thinks I'm fine, I won't go, go, go

My Love for Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse came to my apartment last night, just after dinner and in time for the second bottle of Riesling. She came over in the form of her Back to Black CD and we listened to its full throated Motown-inspired goodness.

It took me 40 minutes to realize I'll love her forever.

Released in December 2006 it had nestled into the #2 spot on Billboard's Top 200 list by March 2008. As the album received both critical and commercial success I might be one of the last 2 or 3 people on this planet not to have heard Rehab, the first track from the CD. (The others are likely to be Canada's Minister of Health Tony Clement and some guy named Eddy.)

The lyrics to her songs are awesomely real. Drinking too much, wanting to spend time with Ray, sleeping with her ex-BF but not loving him and wanting forgiveness when the current BF comes around and catches her in flagrante delicto (she doesn't actually use in flagrante delicto to describe the argument in the doorway of her apartment with the boyfriend, whom she loves, while her ex lays in her bedroom waiting for the storm to roll over). I got the impression of a modern day Bessie Smith or Billie Holliday; smart, talented, sensitive, passionate, difficult and full-on psychotic trouble.

Exactly the sort of woman with whom you want to smash your carefully constructed life to a thousand splinters.

So, if Amy shows up at your house, slightly drunk, with her mascara running, make sure you are fully stocked with Tangueray and tonic. Invite her in. Turn her up loud.

God, I love her.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Rockford Files

A '77 tan Firebird, a bad back, and a too kind heart

In the 1970s American television series The Rockford Files, James Garner played Jim Rockford, an ex-con turned private investigator, who lived and worked in the LA region. In fact, he lived on the beach in Malibu - in a white-trash trailer.

Rockford went up against bad people, got conned, punched, suckered until he ultimately prevailed. He rarely or ever got paid his $200 a day plus expenses.

Why bring this up? I was at CFRO FM, the community run radio station in Vancouver, BC, last Saturday for a broadcast of Redeye, our public affairs show, and came across Mike Post's theme song for The Rockford Files in a box of free records.

As I dropped the needle onto the LP I remembered that at 16 I once waved at a tan Firebird as it drove by 6th Ave, near False Creek, with the vague idea I knew this person but just couldn't quite put my finger on who. Until I remembered that it was Jim Rockford, my imaginary friend on TV, who drove one.

I don't often connect with TV characters. I did for Bill McNeal (Phil Hartman) on Newsradio (I couldn't watch the show after Hartman was killed by his wife in her murder-suicide spree) and I did for Jim Rockford.

What's the Buzz? Tell me what's a happening!

WWJD on alternate nights starting July 9?

(Vancouver, BC) Theatre Under the Stars opens July 9th with their production of Jesus Christ Superstar at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park.

The musical, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, is the hipped up, wowie, outta-sight story of the Passion of Christ ending in the crucifixion of Jesus (or 'crucifiction' to the historical literalist or 'crucifixation' to the contemptuous condescending atheist).

Webber-Rice's play is a wonderfully wacky, musical plotting of the final days of the Son of God: chasing the moneychangers from the Temple, the last supper, the betrayal by Judas Iscariot, the trial by the Sanhedrin priests, the interview by Herod, the interview with the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate, and the Crucifixion.

Jesus Christ Superstar was nominated for five Tony awards in 1972 when it was performed on Broadway. It was subsequently made into a film in 1973.

For ticket information click here.

For directions to Malkin Bowl click here.

All tickets are $31 for adults, $29 for kids age 5 to 15, and FREE for kids under 5. Click here for more details.

Wanna follow a more adult, less bombastic, more theologically correct discussion of the Passion of Christ? Click here for Geza Vermes' book, The Passion (2005), published by Penguin Books. (Warning - not much foot-tapping music and certainly no memorable lyrics in the book - for that, ya gotta stick with the musical.)

See you there.



Monday, May 26, 2008

DOXA - The Documentary Festival

A buffet of engaging facts and popcorn

(Vancouver, BC) - Sure, life is busy. But you always have a few minutes for sitting in darkened theatres with other intelligent, engaging and attractive people to watch intelligent, engaging films about stuff.

Check out Vancouver's DOXA - May 27 - June 1st, 2008 - yeah, the documentary festival - click here for the website.



Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Quick Look Back and a Brief Look Forward

The heart has reasons the mind knows not of

I began this blog in the hopes of having a place to put some thoughts, now and again, regarding the arts and culture as they touched my life. As a 'consumer' of the local art scene and a spendthrift on books I hoped to create a little pay-back.

The blog began to review various pieces I had seen and promote the works of friends and local artists.

However, the work-a-day world whisked me away frequently, beat me with its incessant demands, and only released me in its fickle moments when it briefly sought to pleasure itself in the ass of someone else.

But the work-a-day world and I have parted ways. For the moment. I've decided this is a good time for me to divulge in some of my own artistic projects.

These include some performance arts spaces (alcohol included) and a couple of spoken word pieces that may turn into ongoing things.

But I also want to revive this blog (I haven't written anything for it in several months - my other blog, The Red Rooster Newspaper, has had a couple of entries, as they related to the Canadian Parliament enacting of Bill C10. Go there to read a little more about it.) I really feel that a good arts community makes a livable city and community. I want to do as much as possible to foster and promote the arts scene here (and there, when relevant).

On a personal note (arts-wise) I've become infatuated with William Shakespeare and his works (MacBeth, Hamlet, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet to start). Seriously. I've been greeting my friends with, "do you bite your thumb at me, sir?" and hissing "Macbeth! Macbeth! MacBeth!". I can't help but cackle as I cook, "Cauldrons boil and cauldrons bubble!" And I dismiss things with a bored, "Buzz. Buzz." When they anger me I yell at my cats, "Get thee to a nunnery!"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Something about broken hearts and knives that leads to trouble

The Audience Gasped When the Clown Turned Nasty

(VANCOUVER, BC) I saw Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci performed by the Vancouver Opera Society last night.

I can sum up the experience in two words. Fucking. Awesome.

In I Pagliacci I didn't think I'd have any sympathy for Canio (he murders Nedda, his wife, for having an affair with Silvio) but god-damned if his heartbreak didn't make me hesitate just a little.

La Commedia è finita!
. No fucking shit!

And during Cavalleria Rusticana I fell in love with the music so much so that when I die I want to have 'Regina Coeli' sung en masse and everyone weeping with lovelorn heartbreak. Hey, it's my funeral and you'll cry if I want you to.

Definitely worth the time and money.



SOME MEN by Terrence McNally

Been there. Done that. Cried.

Raving Theatre proudly presents the Canadian premier of SOME MEN by Terrence McNally

Directed by David Blue
December 1st, World AIDS Day performance, benefiting the Vancouver Friends For Life Society

7:00 pm $50.00 including reception and special guest performances

"a lush, mixed bouquet of sex, pain, and laughs" -

"While two men exchange wedding vows, guests at the ceremony chart their own loves, lives and the degrees of liberation they've achieved—or not—over the years. At once a collage and a celebration, with equal parts wit and heart, Terrence McNally's play is set against the events that shaped the past century"

Tickets available through Tickets Tonight and Little Sisters Book Store

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Scribbles - Raw Notes Regarding Art

God may have taken seven days to create life itself - I'm slower and work on a smaller scale

These are some raw notes for an article I've been working on for months. They also form part of an argument I'm writing in support of an arts-related not-for-profit group. I lost some of the notes when my Treo (and the SD card) slipped out of my pocket during a drunken skateboarding adventure on Granville St. in Vancouver the evening of September 10th.

Art codifies beliefs

It simplifies aspects of life and organizes them so others may have measured experiences.

Art (or the artist) identifies, explains or resolves problems of society (relationships, technology, ambitions).

Art makes memorable the rules of conduct, gives insights to character, and draws conclusions that society finds useful.

Art imagines, defies constraints, overcomes, achieves the necessary place to allow the various human dynamics and urges (full) expression and (full) voice.

Art creates paradigms that allow us to perceive the invisible, to touch the intangible, step outside the ordinary, stop time, 'slip the surly bounds of earth and touch the face of God'.

Art is a spiritual activity. Only a creative force can bring art into being.

Art and Culture

People want to repeat culture - that's what culture is - an expression, aesthetic or otherwise, of a group's values, ideas or goals and ambitions. The songs they sing, their fashion, the way they decorate themselves or their environment positions them with or against ideas or values, with or against nature, with or against themselves as individuals or as groups.

To restrict this use in order to 'protect' copyright or 'control' reproduction of art is destructive to its purpose. An artist who creates a 'work' of art does not create a commercial object first but creates, rather, a new expression of the culture in which she resides. The art belongs to the community: it belongs to those who use it to express their lives or beliefs.

The commercial exploitation of the work is, and should be, protected on behalf of the artist or copyright holder. But non-commercial use is not protected , nor should it be.

The Necessity of Art

art restores equilibrium to life
art as decoration
art as investment
art as objective realism

art as a creative process - deliberately limited and isolated from life

a persons stops creating or creates on an automaticity - the willingness to create art reestablishes the willingness to create life and thus restores the feeling of being alive (hypothesis)

art as magic

art creates wordless communication between individuals

art distracts and entertains

Thomas and Melo Anfield and free agent productions presents

monkeys and other new works

Opening Friday November 23rd 6-10 pm

Also open on Saturday Nov 24th 12-5

643 e 24th Vancouver (24th and Fraser)

Friends welcome

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What a Queer Thing to Say - Playwright Tony Kushner

98 minutes with American Playwright Tony Kushner

(Vancouver, BC) The 19th annual Vancouver Queer Film & Video Festival opened last Thursday with The Bubble, a party at Celebrities, and a few rumoured makeout sessions.

However, besides all that and never-you-mind, last night I attended the screening of Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner, the 2006 documentary by Freida Lee Mock. The documentary follows Kushner as he revisits his past in Lake Charles, Louisiana, works on creating contemporary theatre pieces (the musical Caroline, Homebody/Kabul - a piece about the Taliban and Afghanistan, written prior to September 11 but opened December 2001, and Brundibar), and as he fights and advocates for civil society, economic justice and compassion in our relationships with each other (during the 2004 presidential election he works at a polling station in Florida, he speaks at rallys, he writes theatre).

Kushner explores his relationship with his father and mother and being gay (like the character in Angels in America, Tony calls his mother from a payphone and announced to her that he was gay - she cried for six months), we see how bits and pieces of his past are woven into elements of his plays and work; we see just how important his family is to him and how stable are his relationships.

The blurb in the VQF&V guide says, "throughout [Wrestling with Angels], we observe Kushner fighting for humanism, rationaility, and compassion. Informative, thought-provoking, Kushner is one of America's leading intellectuals and a brave outspoken gay man with a vision - this is a must-see."

A couple of memorable lines from the film: (Kushner is adorably funny throughout but especially during his commencement speech to Vassar grads). Click here to read it in full. But I especially loved these lines:
Thank you for inviting me, but I worry about you. Haven't you been reading the papers? ...why couldn't you have gone for something a bit more techno-savvy, someone from the movies, Spiderman for instance, why someone from the theater for God's sake, do you want everyone to think you're gay?

And when Larry Kramer, sitting on a panel with Kushner, says to a young man in the audience: "You're the invisible generation. You don't stand for anything, you don't fight for anything that I can see." It's a great line but it can actually be said of any of the last five generations in North America.

Look for Wrestling with Angels when it comes out in the video store or when it plays on CBC's The Passionate Eye (as it inevitably will).

The Vancouver Queer Film & Video Festival continues all week until this Sunday. There's still lots to see.



Monday, August 20, 2007

You Know You're Not Alone - Michael Franti at Malkin Bowl

When the rains came people danced harder, jumped higher

Michael Franti and Spearhead played the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park last night despite the rain. Hitting the stage at eight o'oclock on a warm August evening Spearhead lost no time in getting the crowd jumping and lifting their arms to the heavens.

And for the next two hours the energy never stopped from the stage or the crowd. Franti's music invites people to sing along, to clap, or to twist and turn like an ecstatic hippy.

At about nine o'olcok the clouds had thickened and it started to mist. The rain was so light I could only feel an occaisional drop on my bare foot but I could see the rain reflecting the multi-coloured stage lights. As the rain increased in strength and then began to pour Franti and Spearhead, undaunted, stepped forward on the stage away from the roof of Malkin Bowl and into the rain.

But as we all know, a little bit of water only destroys wicked witches of the West - Vancouverites are pretty much used to it. Everybody embraced it. Franti - Rain or Shine.

In two hours Franti and Spearhead covered most of the Yell Fire album, some of Everbody Deserves Music - they also covered some Marley and did a rocked up version of the Theme from Sesame Street - with two thousand vocal accompanists.

I was soaked through and delighted at the end of it.

Thanks Michael and Spearhead. Thanks Rick for the ticket. Hey to Linda, Laura and Andrew. Ian, call me.

Everybody deserves music, sweet music. Even the quiet ones in our family, they deserve music.



Saturday, August 18, 2007

Turiddu, you faithless, two-timing bastard! Marry me, already!

Turiddu to Alfio, "bite me!"

November 10, 13, 15, 17, 2007 Queen Elizabeth Theatre

The Vancouver Opera Society presents Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni (along with I Pagliacci by Leoncavallo) in the opening performances of its 2007/2008 season.

The story:

In Sicily, Turiddu, recently returned from the army, moves in with his mother (hey, he's Italian). He discovers that his fiancee, Lola, has, in his absence, married Alfio, who makes a living doing inter-village cartage. Turiddu is disappointed but turns his virile attentions to another local girl, Santuzzo.

But Turiddu tires of her and soon starts a flirtation with his ex-flame, Lola, during one of her husband's frequent absences. He abandons Santuzzo and she is emotionally devastated and ruined (the Church has excommunicated her for being a fallen woman).

During the Easter festivities while the villagers wend their way to the church Santuzzo pleads with Lola to leave her Turiddu alone. But Lola won't have any of it and pulls away to enter church. Santuzzo reminds Lola that only those who are without sin can go to church. Lola gives praise to God that she is without sin and bounds up the steps and into church.

Santuzzo fights with Turiddu, who doesn't want his little thing with Lola ruined. They scream at each other. Santuzzo vows revenge. If she can't have him, she'll see him dead.

Santuzzo tells Alfio that he's being cuckolded by Turiddu. After the services Alfio, outraged, bites Turiddu on the ear, a Sicilian mortal challenge. He goes behind the garden to wait for Turiddu.

Turiddu asks his mother to care for Santuzzo, if doesn't return. He leaves to confront Alfio in a mortal knife fight.

A villager soon returns announcing that Turiddu has been knifed to death. Every one is sad, sad, sad. He was such a keeper, wasn't he, Mamma Lucia?

Cavelleria Rusticana (The Rustic Chivalry) was composed by Pietro Mascagni in 1889 who submitted the score to Sonzogno, a music publisher, as part of a competition he sponsored for one act operas. Mascagni's score won first prize and was soon performed to great acclaim and popularity. Its hyper-realism captured the imagination of the public and approval from the critics, who dubbed the style verismo.

According the liner notes to a copy of I Pagliacci I own, both Leoncavallo and Mascagni submitted scores to Sonzogno but Mascagni won because of both the quality of his score and on a technicality - Leoncavallo's score was actaully in two acts. But Sonzogno wisely snapped up both pieces and they have been performed together pretty much ever since and are popularily known as "Cav-Pag."

Click here for parking information

Click here for tickets.

Click here for the Vancouver Opera Society’s 2007/2008 season.

Are you afraid of clowns?

Vancouver Opera announces its 2007/2008 season

November 10, 13, 15, 17, 2007 Queen Elizabeth Theatre

"Crazy Joe" Davolo: Are you afraid of clowns?
Cosmo Kramer: (nervously) A little.
I Pagliacci by Leoncavallo
First produced May 21, 1892

The Vancouver Opera Society has unveiled its 2007/2008 season.

I Pagliacci is up first. It will be familiar to Seinfeld fans from episode 49 of that sitcom, The Opera.

It's a tragic story of possessive love. A troupe of strolling players arrive in Calabria at the time of the Feast of the Virgin di Mezzagosto. Canio, the chief of the troupe, invites all to come to the performance later that evening and then goes off to drink with the locals and members of his troupe.

Tonio, the clown, remains behind to care for the donkey. Underneath his striped clown costume is a deformed body. He proclaims his love for Nedda, the Columbine of the troupe, and who is also, of course, Canio’s wife. He tries to force a kiss from her and she rebukes him.

Tonio sulks off and vows revenge.

Nedda meets with Silvio, a handsome and wealthy villager, and he convinces her to leave this life she loathes and come away with him. She agrees – "Look in mine eyes, and kiss away my sorrow."

Tonio brings Canio, Nedda’s husband, to the tryst and they arrive just in time to hear Nedda’s parting words to Silvio, "Tonight love, and forever I am thine."

Silvio slips away into the night. Canio demands to know her lover’s name but she vows to seal her lips forever.

In the second act, the villagers arrive to enjoy the performance. The players present a stock-piece domestic comedy that mirrors all that has gone on between them in the first act. Tonio plays the idiot servant and he declares his love for Columbine (Nedda) but is rebuffed with scorn. The Harlequin (Bebbe) declares his love for Columbine but is nearly surprised by the arrival Puchinello (Canio), who arrives just as Columbine is helping her lover escape. He hears her repeat the same words Nedda used with her real-life lover earlier that evening.

Canio loses his head and forgets his part. He demands furiously the name of her lover. Nedda tries to restore the play. The audience, unaware of the real situation, are amused and in good spirits. They fail to grasp the seriousness. Tonio, sour with desire for revenge, keeps Bebbe (the Harlequin) from interceding before the the situation becomes lethal.

Canio, enraged at being denied the name, grasps a knife from the table and stabs Nedda in the heart and sings, "di morte negli spasimi Lo dirai!" (you will tell it with your dying breath).

And she does. She calls out in anguish to Silvio, who leaps from the audience to the stage, and dies in his arms.

Canio stabs Silvio to death and says, "So! Tis you, then? Tis well!" He turns to the audience, "The Comedy is ended."

There it is. Fucking clowns. You are wise to steer clear of them.

I Pagliacci is performed along with Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni

Click here for parking information

Click here for tickets.

Click here for the Vancouver Opera Society’s 2007/2008 season.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Innocence is dangerous, says the Italian poet, it brings around the wolves

I'm reading Dante's The Inferno and it's hellishly good

I'm sure you've all read Dante, or at least leafed through the illustrated version once or twice looking for nudie pictures, but I haven't. I started reading Pinsky's translation when Robert Bringhurst sneered at me for choosing such a terrible version. He said I should read it in the Italian. Yeah, easy for you to say Mr. Polyglot, award winning poet and translator, and awesome intellect - but unlike you I'm fundamentally lazy and I use my modest intelligence for worrying about getting fat, about my cats, and pissing off my neighbours with too much laughter and Matisyahu on the wicked turntable (see earlier blog posting).

And so I set Dante aside until a couple of days ago when I told a friend, off the cuff, that I would be readng The Inferno and drinking wine on my patio while on vacation. Well, what a great read it's been.

It begins, 'about midway through our life's journey, I found myself in dark woods, the right road lost'. As Dante descends into the Inferno he becomes completely dismantled. All that defines man suddenly is revealed to be an illusion; each level of hell is reserved for various illusions, self deceptions, and conceits.

As a person who is midway through our life's journey myself I will be checking under the bed for those ravenous wolves whose desires can never be sated and listen for the murmuring of those lost souls floating in a lake of shit.

And of course hanging out with ghosts and drinking cabernet by the litre.



Friday, April 20, 2007

The Plaintive Voice of Unrequited Lunch

The Midnight Man's on tour and she's not there for him no more, no more

Avalon’s Taco

Last night I googled Avalon’s taco
and nothing came up, nothing came up
last night I googled Avalon’s taco
and this morning I wax poetic

Last night I googled Avalon’s taco
And nothing came up, so help me sweet Elvis,
I booted up and googled Avalon’s taco
And put the cap back on my hot sauce

Avalon, oh Avalon, did it never happen?
Did I never in the moonlight on the beach eat your taco?

Oh last night I googled Avalon’s taco
And came up with nothing, no nothing came up
And last night I googled Avalon’s taco
Oh, poor chorizo my.

Authorship refuted by author

copyright held by author

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I mean, c' mon - he'll be gone for three days - it's not like he'll miss me

Railway Club on Saturday April 7th - a simple line up while we wait for Jesus to resurrect

(Vancouver, BC) I think I might be double booked - an Easter Vigil at St. Paul's Anglican Church or an evening with my friend, A Tall Scotch On the Rocks. The Easter Vigil is probably mandatory but I'm thinking I'll head over to the Railway Club on Dunsmuir and catch RICH HOPE & HIS EVIL DOERS Hung Jury and Junior Major. It's roots rock n roll and it'll be $8 at the door.

Now, I don't want to disrespect Jesus' shtick but he's been resurrecting every year for two millennium - it might be time to go see Rich Hope and have a Strongbow with A Tall Scotch On the Rocks. I mean I can always catch the Sunday Easter service.

And, of course, if I end up going to Hell for this and burning for eternity, I don't want to hear any of you say, "Well, I told you so."

First band starts at 8PM. I'll be with the tallest smartest woman there.

And you?