Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crazy in all forms, gathering together like Supastorm Sandy to make my waking life a bitter agony.....

In a kind of tribute to both the current insanity that has become a part of my life, as well as memorial to one particular woman who permanently screwed me up in college, I offer this humble number from Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I've had a very bad night, and I'm taking it out on Oscar.

It's that time of year when I admit that I don't watch awards programs; at best, they are nothing more than extended commercials for fashion designers, the studios and their films, and the award winners social and political beliefs.  At worst, they are all of those things as well.

Of course, some are worse than others.

The SAG awards, for example, seems to me to be the most masturbatory of them all.  Actors awarding actors.  The voice toasting the echo.

The Academy Awards, however.....I don't know what it is that grinds my wheat about them.

I mean, there are always surprises; and I'm always grateful for the surprise.  It flies in the face of all reason that some people win, even after all the studios have literally campaigned for the award.

But I think the chief reason is always this.....

The Best Picture Award is for people with really short memories.

The earliest release date for a nominated film was July 5, 2012.  That was BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, which had a total box office of 12 million dollars.

SILVER LINING PLAYBOOK was released in September
LINCOLN and ARGO in October
LIFE OF PI in November

So, are we assuming that all films released from January to July were crap?

And let's not forget the ageless argument about genre.

I believe that we could arguably place SILVER LINING PLAYBOOK in the comedy genre, strictly speaking.  But the rest......

At any least we have pretty people in pretty clothes with pretty opinions on pretty subjects, and a pretty orchestra to pretty much shut them up.

But I miss the streakers and the fake Native Americans accepting awards.

But I often wonder what those first awards ceremonies were like, with no television cameras; just a bunch of movie-town folk having dinner and handing out trophies.

But that was fun.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

More tales of boyhood, or: It's Like Drinking a Sparkly Cloud.

I'm always really entertained by the idea that I begin each of these posts with a kind of introduction.....of course, it's not a kind of James Michener introduction (he always seemed to begin each of his novels with the beginning of time, moving forward quickly to the current predicament of his main characters), but I suppose it's for the few people who may randomly stroll to my humble ramblings while looking for something else that I do so.  I wouldn't presume to be on the same level as Mr. Michener.  However, I do like to confuse him with the Michelin Man.

I was raised in Detroit, and as such there are certain memories I have that are tied directly to the specific qualities of the city and its suburbs.

Mostly, it is connected to food.

Oh, and with one exception, I always owned an American car.

And there are stories of my upbringing in places in the great city that no longer exist...specifically, Olympia Stadium, Tiger Stadium, and the Hills Theatre.  But I've talked a lot about those monuments at length.

I almost bought some old Tiger Stadium seats last month....but they were the blue plastic ones, and I'm holding out for the old wooden green ones.

I do have a story about the old Olympia Arena and a performance of Peter Pan featuring Olympic Medalist Cathy Rigby....and how I mentioned it to her when I met her about a decade later....and what she said to me....but that's for another time.

But now I'm back to food.....

I've talked about the Sanders Bumpy Cake....a staple for my Birthday; and I would be remiss if I didn't mention that they made a truly excellent white cake with Caramel frosting, as well.

I've talked at length about the Coney Island, which was NOT invented in New York, but down on Lafayette Blvd in Detroit...and how several places are palaces for the good bad food.  They are good with fries, but also very nice with Better Made potato chips....oh, so good.

And there are some people who read my ramblings that know of my fondness for Vernor's Ginger Ale...another staple of Detroit living.  It's an acquired either like it, or hate it.

My Uncle Tom introduced me at a very young age to a Brooklyn Egg Cream, and they're lovely:  a little seltzer, a little Fox U Bet chocolate sauce, a little milk, and a spoon to blend it to a lovely frothy treat.

My Mother introduced me to the Boston Cooler.

It was NOT invented in Boston.  It was invented at a little parlour on Boston Avenue in Detroit.

Tall Glass.  Scoop of Vanilla ice cream (don't skimp, make it a good vanilla....if you want a really specific De-treat (get it?) use Stroh's Ice Cream), and fill the rest of the glass with Vernor's Ginger Ale.  Let stand for a bit, and consume with both straw and long spoon.

There isn't a hot summer day that goes by that I don't think about drinking one of those lovelies under a shady tree, in a rickety lawn chair, with the chik-chik-chik of a sprinkler serving as rhythm to the day.

Perhaps it the memories of the warm summer days that get me through these almost unbearable winter months.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Post Game

I am returned to the land of snow.

It was a very interesting week, which as you well know culminated on a Monday with a ninety second audition in Memphis, TN.

Of course, nobody but the people who are looking for actors see your audition; so you don't usually get any outside critique of your brief performance.  Your own opinion is usually the only thing by which you may go.

I thought it went pretty well; the responses in the right place....the highs and the lows feeling really good in the body....that sort of thing.

As you probably know if you read along, my plan was always to get up and do it.  To see if I could still do it.  I was not picky as to how or when I got up.

So, success in that regard.

The problem, of course, is that they've changed things around a bit....all the non-singers are placed at the end of the day...which means that anybody who is casting a musical will leave the room before you get on the stage.

So.  Not a whole lot of people in the room for me.

But the backstage was fun; lots of energy bouncing off of the walls.  The warm up room was just as I remember:  a bunch of young people mumbling to themselves, or striking a note on the piano and wailing as loudly as they can, or sitting in little cliques and having the same conversations that every single clique of actors have had in every single warm up room at every single cattle call since I was walking about, and probably even before that.

I warmed up my voice, shook the nerves out of my muscles and read my book, smiling like some demented troll.

I did not receive a whole lot of call backs; far less than ever before at this particular venue.  But my tastes have changed in the ten years I've been away.  I no longer NEED to do stuff; so I'm through with children's theatre, and touring, and cruise ships and the like.

And I didn't sing.  So naturally, people don't look at the resume to see if I ever HAVE.

I did have a couple of fun callbacks, though.  So, there may be some action coming down the pike.

There were visits to the places I've worked in the past; smiles and hugs and reminiscences and trading of paperwork.  I enjoyed that.

But four moments of fun......

Seeing Michael Detroit again after ten years.  A grip and a grin and a hug and a quick talk because he was quite busy running the show.  It was nice to see him.  Michael told me that a common friend from our Yooper days was in the theatre.

And the second moment of fun was then.....I walked the stage, checked the acoustics, and looked into the house and saw the woman, who's name is Valerie.  She was deep in thought, and paying no attention.

I stepped down, walked over to be in front of her, and simply stated, "Excuse me....did we date?"

It took her exactly a millisecond to give me a glorious hug.

We had a good talk, sitting there in the theatre, catching up briefly and talking about the strangeness that was our relationship all those years ago.  It was a series of near-misses, and she explained why.  Which was nice.  We talked about many things, and was glad for it.

And by the way.....Marty, if you're reading this.....the mystery of the appearance of the bra at an inappropriate time at that apartment on Fitch Street has been solved.  I hope you remember the story.  I told it to her, and she laughed.  And well she should; it was a truly funny story.

Third fun moment....came around the corner and a woman yelled, "John!"  Looked into the eyes of a lovely woman named Francene, who was in fact another Ghost of Girlfriends Past.....or, more to the point, a Ghost of Almost Girlfriends Past.

The last time I saw her was in Boca Raton in 198cough.  We spent a few minutes catching up.

You may not realize, but under the right circumstances, time travel is completely possible.

There was one other magic moment, but I'm going to save that one for another time.

So, we can call this a success.  I came, I saw.....I ate ribs at BB Kings on Beale Street, and listened to the blues; I took a tour of Sun Studios and stood in front of a microphone that Elvis used.  I bought souvenirs and looked out over the Mississippi River....and I found, after much searching, the stone that commemorates the loss of the Steamboat Sultana.

Had a great time.

And now, we'll see what the fruits will come of the labor.

But in the long run, as I've said before.....Enjoy the Game.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Can we just play the Freakin' game?!

This is dedicated to Alicia Keys, who broke the record last night for the longest rendition of the National Anthem in Super Bowl history.
The ending of this is especially poignant.

And if you like this, I encourage you to watch the entire series of A Bit Of Fry And Laurie.