Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lord of the Rings musical update.

"My leg! My leg!" Not good news for the production, which needs good news...

Is there a LOTR musical curse? Will future generations of actors refer to it only as The Tolkien Play?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I just came back from the Canadian High Commissioner's house...

And boy are my arms tired.

Wait. I don't think I told that joke properly.

Anyway, I was worried whether I was using the right fork at the right time or not. And I had to look up what "Lounge Suit" meant. NOT LEISURE SUIT. Just FYI.

I don't think I'm going to get into it tonight. Nor will I get into the dinner I had on Sunday night in an abandoned school in south London. In the abandoned drama room, with copies of Brecht's Mother Courage and her Children lying around.

But I thought I might link to a couple of songs I'm liking lately. Just because. I'm not going to become an mp3 blog, don't worry. Or, wait, maybe that would make this blog more focused. Maybe you would like that.

Okay, worry. If you like to worry. (And who doesn't?)

Anyway (I'm using that word too much lately; also "ersatz") here is a song by Low, a band that I saw at the All Tomorrow's Parties in Minehead a few weeks back. (You probably heard about them in 1994; I was listening to Weird Al sing "Smells Like Nirvana" then; sue me.) At the time, I thought: "I think I'll have a nap. These songs are making me sleepy." Now, I keep playing them or, rather, having someone play them for me.

I like this one: Belarus. (I sing, "Belle-ah-Roooooooooooooos(t)e... Belle-ah-Roooooooooooooos(t)e..." to myself, sometimes out loud, too.)

I also lurve this one called Sandinista: "Oh Sand-da-knees-sta... Oh Sand-da-knees-sta." (I sing that one too. Sometimes interchangably with Belle-ah-Roooooooooooooos(t)e.) I can't find it online, but you can hear some band cover it on YouTube and it's sort of like the actual song.

What else? Well, I love the first two songs on The National's new album Boxer. I loved the opening track, Fake Empire, even before Said the Gramophone posted it yesterday. (NB: Yesterday will changed depending on when you read this post.) I kinda like the lyrics, "We're half awake in a Fake Empire." Not too polemical, you know? Just kinda true. (Also the lyric makes me think of the title of Half Asleep in Frog's Pyjamas by Tom Robbins, who I don't really like that much, like I don't really like Breakfast of Champions that much.)

Oh, by the way, Low are Mormons. And Cold War Kids, who I saw the other way and who I might have liked more if their lyrics weren't so ersatz, are Christian. And it's annoying when indie kids back away from music because it's created by religious musicians. Unless those musicians are black. Because black people are allowed to believe in make-believey godheads because they're so salt-of-the-earth, gosh!

I bring this up, because Michael Hann has a good lil' essay about this in today's Guardian.

I don't just like things, by the way. I, for instance, hate some things. Like Mr Hudson and the Library. I call him Mr Hudson and the Die-brary, because he goddamn screwed with two of my favourite songs on his new album, the cocky, wannabe prick. (But which I mean he is a prick and a wannabe; he doesn't want to be a prick; I don't think; semi-colon. Period; punctuation.)

You can listen to him screw the corpses of Tom Adair and Matt Dennis and, what the hell, Chet Baker too with his "cover/hostage taking" of Everything Happens to Me over on his MySpace page. If you want to hear him rape Lerner and Loewe's On the Street Where You Live (I sing this in the shower!), you'll have to buy his album or something, which you shouldn't.

Wow! There are so many Chet Baker videos on YouTube! Oh, by the way Chet, you're not supposed to sit in an armchair cross-legged while you blow your trumpet... Okay, you can get away with it. THIS TIME!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Who wants to be Kevin Wallace?

My favourite email forward of the day
- thanks secret forwarder

----- Forwarded Message
From: ****
Reply-To: ***
Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 11:09:24 -0400
To: ****

Please direct all responses and inquiries directly to the theatre or
association listed in the e-drive notice below.

One male actor needed for a Toronto Fringe production of "The Lord of
the Rings: The Musical: The Musical" a musical comedy about the Toronto
production of The Lord of the Rings.

The actor should have strong singing abilities and must be available for
rehearsals in June. The part is for the character of the sinister
British producer.

Auditions: Saturday May 19th, and Sunday May 20th at 286 Lisgar Street,
Dovercourt and Dundas.

Email or call 647 833-4863 to sign up for an


Monday, May 21, 2007

I've been a bad blogger.

I have. You must agree.

Nonetheless, even in my current bad-blogging state, the Globe and Mail (by which I mean Siri Agrell, bon vivant and author of Bad Bridesmaid) asked me about being a blogger the other day for an article about bullshit jobs and the book 100 Bullshit Jobs. I was asked if "Blogger" was indeed a bullshit job, and you can read my response here, as well as the responses from a meteorologist (Michael Kuss, no less!), a handwriting analyst and a closet organiser - other professions deemed bullshit by the bullshit bathroom book author Stanley Bing.

You know who has been a good blogger, by the way? Vanessa Farquharson. My old Arts & Life colleague at the Post has a great blog called Green as a Thistle. On it, she is tracking her one-year quest to reduce her carbon footprint day by day. I can't even believe some of the sacrifices she has made over the past 78 days. My jaw dropped when she unplugged her fridge the other day... Is this this same VF who once came by my apartment and laughed at how little my television is? (Admittedly, it was so old it had a dial, so it was giggle-worthy.) I'm glued to her transformation.

Oh, speaking of bullshit (two paragraphs ago, but hey, I can segue however I damn well please), I must point you in the direction of this Sunday Times article about the Lord of the Rings musical, which having flopped like a house full of hobos in Toronto is about to open in a New! and Improved! version in London.

Kevin Wallace, the gab-gifted producer behind this insane endeavour, has been pedalling a revisionist history of the Toronto production to credulous journos here in L-town. It's hard to know where to start screaming with laughter at this particular passage from the Times:
Showing hobbit-like determination and a calm eloquence worthy of Gandalf himself, Wallace put a brave face on things when, in September last year, he abruptly closed the Toronto show after only six months. "We have made theatre history here," he declared, but he also promised that The Lord of the Rings would reappear in London in the summer of 2007. And Wallace spake wisely. His production, almost entirely recast, with more music and 25 minutes shaved off the running time to bring it in at three hours, is now previewing at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and will open for critical scrutiny, after a lengthy bedding-down, on June 19.

The widely received notion that the transferring musical has already been branded a flop is an understandably sensitive – and hotly contested – point with all concerned. Wallace insists that the show sold nearly 90% of the seats at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto. The chief deciding factor in closing early was the need to ship the enormous set to London before the Hudson River froze over. It took four months, and the complete removal of all the existing understage equipment, to install the Rings' elaborate machinery in the Theatre Royal.
I'm sorry, did you say something? I couldn't hear because I was SCREAMING WITH LAUGHTER. Shall we enumerate the bollocks?

At the press conference announcing the closing last JUNE (1), Mr Wallace behaved more like Gollum than an eloquent Gandalf (2), naming and shaming the critics who had given LOTR bad reviews, and then blaming Toronto in general, saying: "Its spiritual home is the London theatre."

Oh, I don't even want to enumerate anymore. But the Hudson river? Surely, the St Lawrence...

It's getting harder every day to root for this production. (But I am.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A hat!

Fiddler on the Roof holds a special place in my heart; playing Avram the bookseller in Grade 9 was probably the most exciting moment of my life to that point.

So it was a real pleasure to interview book writer Joseph Stein the other day. He even told me Avram (who has about 12 lines in the show) was his favourite character. He was joking, but I'd like to think he was telling the truth.

I hope I'm still writing musicals at 95. (Of course, that would mean that I'd have to start writing musicals at some point...)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Why does Lily Allen hate trannies?

And other fluff in today's music round-up.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gone with the Wind in 60 Seconds.

A funny little animation from Scott Chantler, the talented graphic novelist who I did those Beckett comix with last year.
When the cat's away...

... the mouse will fill in with the daily music news round-up.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Treat Your Mother Right.

So says Mr T. And so sings Mr T. [via the Brove]

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Eat your heart out, David Frum.

The critics are raving about my latest post on the Guardian arts blog, about Spider-Man 3 and the death of the neoconservative dream.

Spider-Man 3 and George W Bush

"This really is one of the poorest articles associated with The Guardian I've ever read."

"[I]s this the best use of the Guardians money?"

"The Guardian doesn't like it when you point out how close their conspiracy theories parallel the paranoid fantasies of anti-semites."

Ladies and gentlemen... the Internet!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dig that hole a little deeper, Kelly...

Over at the Guardian Arts blog, I confess that I'm looking forward to the Lord of the Rings musical opening in London.