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Archive for the ‘Charlie Chaplin’ Category

[ATTENDED: March 9, 2014] Cirque Éloize: Cirkopolis

cirkopolosI was a little concerned that we might be circused and acrobatted out when I got us tickets for Cirque Éloize.  But I’m really glad I got them.

What I have learned about circuses, cirques, and acrobats is that there are basically a half dozen things you can do: gymnastics on ropes, gymnastics on poles, contortions, juggling, wheels and balance.  So, when you see a new act, it’s unlikely you’ll get much variation on these essential skills.  The big difference comes in presentation.  And while the Chinese Acrobats do wonderful presentation, they had nothing on Cirque Éloize for overall presentation, stage set up and storytelling.

The first thing you hear as the lights dim is loud industrial noises (the music was a little too loud, I felt, but it really showed the sense of oppression they were trying to convey).  The din grew louder and louder until the curtain rose and we saw a man sitting at a desk stamping papers rhythmically.  He finishes his work and more papers come. More and more (with simple comic touches and sound effects).  He is dressed in drab grays as is every other person, including the women–suits, raincoats, all in drab gray.  They start moving around en masse, doing some simple but interesting footwork as the music grows more tense.  Our worker drone is swept up by the conforming masses.  And then a video backdrop appears with gears and dark buildings.  It zooms in on a scene as the first act begins–one where people start climbing all over his desk and jumping off. You get a feeling of Metropolis, or Brazil or even Charlie Chaplin films–and the zooming nature really makes it feel like you are soaring along.

What amazed about this sequence initially was their dress–you’re used to seeing acrobats in sleek outfits but these folks were in suits.  And they started doing acrobatic stuff–but more of a mix of dance and acrobatics than simple feats of strength and agility.  The most impressive part was when one of them men simple grabbed another man by the hands and essentially hurled him, upright, onto his own shoulders.  There were amazing displays of this kind of strength and balance–nothing slow and subtle, just pop, there he is.  And yet all the while other people are doing things behind him which are also amazing to watch. (more…)

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31SOUNDTRACK: THE REPLACEMENTS-Hootenanny (1983).

hootThis is the second full length from The Replacements.  For a band that just released two punk albums (one’s an EP), naming your new one Hootenanny is pretty ballsy.  As is the fact that the first track sounds like, well, a hootenanny (even if it is making fun of hootenannies.)

However, the rest of the album doesn’t sound like hootenannies at all.  In fact, the rest of the album is all over the place.  I don’t want to read into album covers too much, but the design has all 16 titles in separate boxes in different colors.  It suggests a little bit of stylistic diversity inside.

Just see for yourself:  “Run It” is a one minute blast of some of the punkiest stuff they’ve done. (It’s about running a red light).  Meanwhile, “Color Me Impressed” marks the second great alt-rock anthem (after “Go”) that Westerberg has put on record.  “Willpower” is a sort of spooky ambient meandering piece that, at over 4 minutes is their longest piece yet.  “Take Me to The Hospital” is a punky/sloppy guitar song.  “Mr Whirly” is sort of an update of the Beatles’ “Oh Darlin.'”  “Within Your Reach” is technically the longest Replacements song to date.  It starts with a cool flangy guitar sound that swirls around a fairly mellow vocal track (this song was featured in the end of Say Anything.  John Cusack cranks the song up past the red line).  “Buck Hill” is an (almost) instrumental.  “Lovelines” is a spoken word reading of personals ads over a bluesy backing track.  “You Lose” is the first song that sounds like another one…a sort of hardcore song.  “Hayday” is a fast rocker like their first album.  And it ends with “Treatment Bound” a sloppy acoustic number that sounds like it was recorded in a tin can.

As you can see, this album is all over the place, and almost every song sounds like they may not make it through to the end.  Yet, despite all of the genres represented, the band sounds cohesive.  The disc just sounds like a band playing all the kinds of music that they like, and the fact that there are a couple of really lasting songs on the disc makes it sound like more than just a bar band.

I feel as though not too many people even know of this disc (it was the last one I bought by them, as I couldn’t find it for the longest time).  But in reading reviews, I see that people seem to really love this disc.  I enjoyed it, and, like other ‘Mats discs, it’s certainly fun, but I don’t listen to it all that often.

[READ: June 9, 2009] McSweeney’s #31

The latest issue of McSweeney’s has a totally new concept (for this journal, anyhow):  They resurrect old, defunct writing styles and ask contemporary writers to try their hands at them. I had heard of only two of these defunct styles, so it was interesting to see how many forms of writing there were that had, more or less, disappeared.

Physically, the issue looks like a high school yearbook.  It’s that same shape, with the gilded cover and the name of the (school) on the spine.

Attached to the inside back cover is McSweeney’s Summertime Sampler. As far as I know this is the first time they have included a sampler of multiple upcoming works.  There are three books sampled in the booklet: Bill Cotter’s Fever Chart; Jessica Anthony’s The Convalescent & James Hannaham’s God Says No. I enjoyed all three of the pieces.  Fever Chart has stayed with me the most so far.  I can still feel how cold that apartment was.  The Convalescent begin a little slow, but I was hooked by the end of the excerpt. And God Says No has me very uncomfortable; I’m looking forward to finishing that one.

As for #31 itself:

The Fugitive Genres Recaptured (or Old Forms Unearthed) include: pantoums, biji, whore dialogues, Graustarkian romances, nivolas, senryū, Socratic dialogues, consuetudinaries, and legendary sagas.  Each genre has an excerpt of an original writing in that style.  Following the sample is the modern take on it.  And, in the margins are notes in red giving context for what the author is doing.  I assume these notes are written by the author of the piece, but it doesn’t say.

I’m going to give a brief synopsis of the genre, but I’m not going to critique either the old piece or whether the new piece fits into the genre exactly (suffice it to say that they all do their job very well). (more…)

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