Thursday, November 25, 2010

                 The Boys

      I like documentaries a lot. I have, in fact, committed the heresy of saying that I preferred "The Making of Gone with the Wind" to the actual movie. Same with "Hearts of Darkness" and "Apocalypse Now". I think that any balanced documentary beats out any biopic hands down. Since I'm a movie geek I like a lot of "making of"s and genre documentaries. I've been writing a lot about childhood stuff, lately, so the documentary I watched tonight was connected to that and a bunch of other stuff combined.

     It was called "The Boys" and it was about the Sherman Brothers who wrote many of the Disney Songs in the 60's. They also wrote all the songs for the first movie I saw multiple times as a kid, "Mary Poppins".

      In "My Best Friends have always been Monsters" I may have given the impression that I saw nothing but horror films when I was a kid. Not true. Between my parents and my own weird taste, I saw all kinds of different kinds of movies, and yes,  some of them were made by Disney. But I didn't own a lot of soundtracks. "Hard Day's Night", Help", "Mary Poppins" and "The Jungle Book". Most of the first 2 were written by Lennon and McCartney , the second 2 were written by Richard and Robert Sherman. Comparisons were made between both teams during "The Boys".

     The film was made by the sons of the Sherman Brothers, and part of it was an effort to mend fences between the siblings who, while they have worked together on various projects, have led largely separate lives since the 70's. They never attend family events together, and for show openings the are on different sides of the theatre.

      Part of what I found amazing was how persistent music and lyrics can be in the memory. I haven't heard a lot of these songs in decades, but when they were played I remembered all of them, music and lyrics. Also I never realized that the Shermans had also written the scores for "Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang" and "Snoopy, Come Home" among many others.

      There are several touching moments in the documentary, and I recommend it. Save the hankies for the end though, because even though it was released by Disney, remember, it's a documentary. not a movie.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

              Happy Birthday, Boris Karloff...

             William Henry Pratt never fit you, you always looked like a Boris Karloff.

             There is a story attributed to Karloff, that he was working at Universal playing bit parts and one evening he was given a ride home by the studio's biggest star, in fact one of the biggest stars in silent pictures, Lon Chaney. According to Karloff, Chaney advised him "The trick of this business is to do something totally different from the rest so they'll take notice of you." Chaney, if anyone, would know about that. Nobody could do what Chaney could do. Karloff never even tried, and the irony was not lost on him that when he finally found his niche, he kept being compared to Chaney.
             Even though he didn't do his own makeup,  he was as versatile as the elder Chaney. The Frankenstein Monster was one of only 15 roles he'd played that year (1931). He and James Cagney were  founding members of the Screen Actors Guild. He never lost touch with his stage roots, going back to Broadway on numerous occasions.

           And yes he played the Frankenstein Monster. He played it brilliantly, in a performance that holds up to this day. Bearing in mind Chaney's advice he never complained about typecasting.  On the contrary, he  said that "The Monster was the best friend I ever had".
            Mine too, Boris...

                                    Solipsism is the New Black

         It's my birthday next Monday (the 29th) and I'll be 51. I was born with almost exactly a month left in the 50's, or if you will a month to go 'til the 60's. It's a moot point because I don't think I've ever belonged in any decade. my favorite movies are from the 30's and 40's, also literature. I'm also a big fan of old time radio, and think that their should still be radio stations that carry original radio drama and comedy, because people get tired of just yapping about sports and politics.

         I guess I am unstuck in time. I like reading books. My art starts out from a pencil before it gets to a computer. But I do appreciate computers and technology and stuff like that there. I like video games, and I look forward to the advancement in technology where I can actually be IN the movie...It's getting there...There are a bunch of Bogart and Noir movies that I wanna do.

         Is it a getting old thing to miss civility? 'Cause I do...I miss when  people were courteous.

         Actually it's not an old thing. You know how I know that? 'Cause I see old people doing it just as much as younger people. The 60 something who barges in front of a line of people waiting for prescriptions, and loudly monopolizes the pharmacists time is just as bad as the teenager loudly having a one sided conversation on a cell phone on a bus late at night. If these were isolated things that would be one thing, but it's not. It happens all the time. People shove past you on the street, give impromptu sermons on crowded subways, have conversations in the theatre while a performance is going on...

And it ripples, feeds on itself, and breeds. The Clerk or the waiter who gets disrespected all day will, at some point, start issuing payback. Ditto the TTC Driver, Bank Teller, or Cop.

I guess it's that I seem to notice that people are spoiling for a fight and will supply you with one at the slightest provocation. And while I agree that there are legitimate reasons to be angry, It's important to be sure that anger is direct to the right person, organization or institution.

I suppose it's a form of Civil Disobedience, but it's not what Gandhi, or Dr. King intended anymore. Going from fighting against some large injustice to one persons inconvenience is not an equal use of time and rage.

Solipsism (loosely defined: Fuck everybody else, It's all about me, baby) has become a viable life path, and I think it sucks. That's only my opinion but who's were you expecting to see on my blog? Dennis Miller's?

I dunno. Maybe I'm just getting old and grumpy.

I blame the Danes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

      Almost Crazy is Not for the Feint of Heart

      I've been dealing with  psychologists and psychiatrists from the ripe old age of 8 or so, for a variety of reasons and issues. Believe me it wasn't my idea.

    Teachers started it because of the "not living up to potential" thing. I was the poster boy for not living up to my potential and I would have made one too, but I never got around to it. That went on from grade school to middle school, to the point where I was undergoing EEGs  and IQ tests. Psychologists would give me self-esteem tests too. Nobody would ever tell me whether I passed or not. There were vague references to a high IQ and being bored in class. I didn't care. It didn't make me feel any better.

    The irony to all this was the testing ended round about the time that the really nasty symptoms started manifesting themselves. Barn door locked, horse gone. But that's another blog (See Mr. Scary below)

     So for a long time I went through some serious shit by myself. I could have asked for help but I didn't want to go through the whole testing, poking and prodding thing again, with no results. I just wanted to be ignored by everything and everybody.

     Genetically I had reasons to worry.  I had immediate precedents on both sides of the family. and through multiple generations. Unfortunately you don't get to pick and choose which genetic traits you get any more than you get to pick your relatives. You just have to play the cards you're dealt, even if they suck. Luckily for me, I happen to be a pretty good poker player.

For the record (Those who know me already know this, because I have talked about it. If this is news, please don't worry, I'm still harmless) I have been diagnosed with Type 2 Rapid Cycling Bi-Polar Disorder, which is managed by medication, so I function in relative normality. I also have an anxiety disorder, as well which used to make new situations and meeting new people loads of fun. Again, Meds help...

A word about psych meds, since you asked...It takes a while before you can get them up to a therapeutic level. Most of them cause drowsiness, at least initially. Some of them have interesting side effects. One I'm currently titrating on gives me dry mouth something fierce. But I soldier on. And most people have no idea. They think I'm just an artsy, which is also true.

The next play I'm directing is "Nuts". I think I have the necessary background.

But I'm not crazy...I'm just a little unwell.

Don't be ascared. It's just me.