Just this past rainy Monday, my family and I were all driving around in our car (well, Carrie was the only one actually driving; Avery & I were riding in the backseat). My 3-year-old daughter asked if she could use my phone to take photos out the window. She ended up taking 86 photos in about 10-15 minutes. Here are my nine favorite in random order (click any to embiggen):
Also, at one point she put the camera lens down right on her leg and said, rather ominously, that she wanted to “take a photo of the darkness.”
A friend of mine posted this video on her Faced Book page yesterday. I watched it last night while sitting on the couch with my family and I was laughing so hard that tears were leaking out my eyes. My daughter asked “What’s so funny, Papa?” Here, watch:
Seriously, why does this make me laugh so much? In fairness, not all the bits in the video got me. The dice, the onion, the upside-down top, the puzzle, those fell flat. But the cake, the ruler, the circle, the stencil, those got me. Got me good. There’s something I think about incompetence. Those sequences are all setup for success; everyone knows how to slice a cake, and the rulers and stencils and the like are all there to make sure you can do these things right. And then the brazen incompetence with which the expectations are violated is just wonderful to me.
You know those dreams where you’re supposed to do something really important, but you didn’t know about it or prepare for it? The most common instance being you’re supposed to take a test or give a presentation in school but you’re completely unprepared for it. Y’know?
That was the kind of dream I had a few nights ago. There was some big Hollywood awards show—not the Oscars or anything, but big enough to have in a huge theater like that. There was going to be an interstitial between awards that featured a “James Bond-Themed” dance set to Duran Duran’s Bond Theme, “A View to a Kill.” In case you’re unfamiliar with that song, here it is:
The dance was to be performed by Charlize Theron wearing a black gown. My job was to operate the spotlight. At the last minute, the producer and director of the show called me over to the side of the state and told me that they’d decided I should get in a tux and go up on stage and join Charlize as James Bond. Charlize’s part of the dance had been completely choreographed, but the producer of this awards show literally told me to “wing it!” Hilariously, since they hadn’t planned on throwing me up there until the last minute, I was not given a prop gun, just a laser pointer that I was supposed to pretend was a Walther PPK.
The dance started out excellently. I was manning the spotlight. The stage went dark, and I turned on the spotlight. As the opening strain of the James Bond theme started playing, Charlize walked out into the spotlight, spun and fired a prop pistol directly at the spotlight, which flared bright and then went dark, mimicking the “gun sight” openings of the James Bond movies.
As “A View to a Kill” started playing, I had to rush down from the spotlight perch and head up the main aisle in my tux and climb up on stage.
Y’know how dreams like this are usually panic-inducing? Well, image instead that you embraced the whole “winging it” philosophy and had an absolute blast. Instead of trying to dance, I acted like the silhouette of Roger Moore in his James Bond opening numbers, striding around and posing and pointing my laser-pointer “gun.” Then I realized I could actually tell a story with this whole thing.
There was one part where Charlize was choreographed to head way off to one side of the stage, then quickly dance across to the other side. When she moved off to the side I was in focus on centerstage. I quickly spun around like I just noticed someone behind me, then slam, sprawled on my back as if I had been shot dead. Charlize started her dance across the stage to the other side, and right at the moment where she crossed behind me, I spasmed as if I had been hit with a defibrillator. When she reached the other edge of the stage I sat up, groggy, and instead of going back into Roger Moore posing, I started acting dazed, stuttering around Charlize as she danced, studying her every move.
Charlize, like a trooper, started playing to me instead of to the audience at this point, and the dance became a story about a man who was killed and then brought back to life as James Bond by Charlize’s femme fatale. By the end of it I was acting in full-on confident James Bond mode again.
It was hecka fun and funny. The audience of celebrities seemed to enjoy it as well.
Y’know how sometimes it seems like everybody in my life is a musician? Well, ad another whole group o’ folks called Gentlemen of Leisure to that list!
Made up of some of my very good friends, including a couple of Katrina evacuees from New Orleans who ended up in Tacoma (Sphinx Akashaa & Chris Blount) and a gorgeous redhead cellist from Philly (Jen Hasson), GOL (as they’re known for short) have released their very first EP, Great and Powerful! You can buy it right now, and it’s only pay-what-you-want:
The reason why this is being released today? Well, the whole gang is down in Austin, Texas, for the South by Southwest festival. They’re part of a showcase of Seattle-area musicians who all trekked down (dubbed Seattle X Southwest) that’s happening TODAY! See here:
Seattle X Southwest Lineup.
So if you also happen to be at SXSW this year, you should definitely go and check these peoples out.
3rd Annual Seattle X Southwest (Faced Book Event)
TODAY at 3:00 PM (Texas Time)
@ The Local Pub and Patio
2610 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705 (map)
They’re on at 9:00.
Hey, since GOL are on at 9:00, you’ll have time to go from their performance over to Barracuda to catch my other pal, Open Mike Eagle, do his set at 1:00 in the AM!
♫ He’s a Superfan! A Superfan! He’s Super-fannish! ♬
Kris Brannon, AKA “Sonics Guy” (AKA a former member of Fools Play Improv), is a pretty cool guy, and (obviously) very passionate about getting an NBA team back in Seattle after the Sonics were taken away many years ago. He shows up at events all over the region in his Sonics gear holding signs with various “Bring Back Our Sonics” messages. Everyone loves getting their photos taken with him:
Here we are WAAAAAAAAY back in 2011.
Well, he was recently the subject of a fun little documentary about the leaving of the Sonics and the hope for their return, called Superfan. It was an official selection at the Seattle International Film Festival, the Tacoma Film Festival, the Chicago International Reel Shorts Film Festival, and was also shown on Alaska Airline’s in-flight entertainment. And you can now watch it RIGHT HERE:
At fewer than seven minutes long it’s not horribly in-depth, but it’s very well done.
Kris and filmmaker Leigh Burmesch at SIFF. Photo by Raimundo Jurado (obviously).
Heck, I don’t know many people who have been the subject of documentaries, do you? And, no, I don’t really count.
I could go on about how awesome it is to have a mainstream Disney fantasy film that isn’t about a European-style fantasy setting. But I’m sure there are people better qualified to write about that subject, and I’m sure they’ve written about it extensively, so you can go read those articles if you want. More important to me than the “importance” of a film is whether or not it’s a good film or not.
Thankfully, Moana is an excellent movie. And, Gods, what a beautiful film. Just frikkin’ gorgeous. Every frame is filled with visual wonder. I’m hard pressed to think of a film other than The Fall that is just this beautiful. The settings are surprisingly varied and all magnificent, the character design is incredibly appealing (and the skin on these characters is some of the best CGI that I’ve ever seen), and the animation expressive and just a joy to watch. There were many, many shots in the film that made me gasp.
At times it does stick pretty close to the standard Disney narrative. For example, the second song in the movie is an “I Want” song to go with such classics as “Part of Your World,” “Belle,” “One Step,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” “Just Around the Riverbend,” “Almost There,” “Waiting for My Life to Begin,” “For the First Time in Forever,” etc. But by the Gods, “How Far I’ll Go” is one of the best versions of those songs in decades. And it’s up on the YouTubes! Just watch this and tell me it’s not actually moving (and not catchy as all heck).
There are also some unusual and interesting things going on in this song, like the fact that Moana is so conflicted about her desires. Usually the hero/heroine of Disney movies is pretty clear in what their goal is, but Moana is really torn. It’s just heart-wrenching the way she sing, slightly off-key, “What is wrong with me!?”
I should talk here about the voice acting. The finding of 14-year-old Auli’i Cravalho is one of the greatest coups that Disney has ever had in voice acting. She’s absolutely, 100% brilliant as Moana. And by the Gods her voice when she sings… I cannot put in words how it moves me. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was also an inspired choice to play the buffoonish blowhard demigod Maui. Though he isn’t nearly as good a singer as Auli’i, the filmmakers got an astonishing range out of his vocal performance and he holds his own singing his song.
Speaking of Maui’s song… it is also very familiar to the structure of Disney movies: the introduction of a magical character who sings a song with very surreal visuals. In fact, it seems Maui and the Genie from Aladdin appear in their respective movies at almost the exact same minute mark.
The only things preventing Moana from garnering a full four stars from me are the facts that it doesn’t quite go far enough in breaking the mold of the Disney movie structure, even though it is one of the best versions of that structure. Also, there are a bit too many sidekicks. Moana has a pig (which thankfully stays on the island for most of the movie) and a chicken; Maui has an animated tattoo; and the ocean itself makes a mute-but-expressive tendril that acts as a sidekick. Thankfully all the sidekicks are mute, but they don’t really add anything to the story (other than the ocean making it impossible for Maui to ditch Moana). Also, the chicken (voiced, astonishingly, by Alan Tudyk) is legitimately hilarous, so there’s that. Seriously, so cluckin’ funny. And THANK THE GODS THE PIG DID NOT MAKE IT ON THE BOAT. I can think of few things that would have been worse than a film with two main characters and FOUR sidekicks…
Also-also there is a “Han Solo moment” that was so disgustingly, obviously telegraphed that I groaned the moment I realized it was being set up. Just, come on! It was SO FRIKKIN’ OBVIOUS.
But other than those minor quibbles this film is a legitimate masterpiece. I found it personally much more emotionally moving than Frozen. All the songs in it are just magnificent. It has some wonderful surprises in it. It is seriously fascinating to watch a Disney movie that has no real villain in it. And <spoiler>I just love love love a film that is obviously building to a big action climax, but then realizes that action is a false victory and the real victory is achieved WITH A SONG.</spoiler>
I plan on owning this movie and watching it many, many times. I think Te Ka is too scary for my sensitive three-year-old daughter right now, but I am chomping at the bit to introduce her to a strong, weak, feisty, scared, stubborn, empathic heroine in Moana. Faafetai mo se tifaga matagofie.
“March”… get it? MARCH? Because it’s the MONTH of MARCH!?
Hey, gang, here’s the info for the Fools Play Improv shows that are happening in March, and to which you should March (get it!?!?!?!? In all seriousness, though, you probably shouldn’t literally march to them unless you live within a comfortable marching distance from one of the venues. Otherwise you should drive to within a comfortable marching distance from the venues and then march to them (please check with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to march before embarking on any march)).
Olympia on March 18th!
Fools Play Improv in Olympia (Faced Book event)
Saturday, March 18th, 8:00 PM
@ South Sound Estuarium
309 State Ave NE, Olympia, WA 98501 (map)
In Tacoma on March 25th!
Fools Play at TLT in March! (Faced Book event)
Saturday, March 25th, 10:30 PM
@ Tacoma Little Theatre
210 N I St, Tacoma, WA 98403 (map)
All-ages, $10 (buy tickets)