“Like salt in your diet, isolation is something that is both vital to the artist and a blockade that can interfere with intimacy”
Posts Tagged: "Jason Rip"
“The Cheese Poet parallels the windmill-tilting plot of Don Quixote as McIntyre attempts, in the encroaching shadow of World War I, to get the countries of Europe to contribute curds to the making of a thousand ton cheese”
Mascot work is not an easy way to make a buck. Hardy Londoners labour every day as the Little Caesar, the red tax leaf, or the open-faced daisy. Adolescents in need of a seasonal income brave the sweltering suit with the detachable head, awash in the scent of its most recent occupant. Hoping for a hug, innocent children punch mascots right in the vulnerables. Mascots spend long hours waving at passing cars, always conscious that the honour their family has worked for generations to acquire has been completely squandered.
Perhaps the root of the problem is that most mascots are crassly commercial: imagine immersion in a role, a second skin, with no other purpose but to sell pizza or roses. If a city like London were to choose a mascot, a symbol of civic pride, the profession and the performer might both be ennobled. Since our community is blessed with a virtual Noah’s rowboat of urban wildlife, I will limit mascot choices to local fauna.
JEAN-CLAUDE BAN DAM the SPINY SOFTSHELL TURTLE
Ban Dam is the comeback kid! After years of suffering in a ravaged habitat and getting caught on fishing hooks, Jean-Claude has bounced back. Check out the diameter of that flexible, leathery carapace! London has the largest concentration of these “reptiles at risk” who look like a combination of Greedo and a green crepe. They can grow almost as big as snapping turtles, but the spiny softshell would never bite your finger off. A good choice for London mascot since this turtle has successfully rebounded from troubled times.
BRAZEN the BLACK SQUIRREL
Did that little rascal just abscond with your bagel or your Stobie’s slice? That’s what this fearless rodent is all about: she really knows how to assert herself. Victoria Park and all its environs are her natural domain. Sometimes she pops straight out of a garbage can like a jack-in-the-box and scares the shit out of you. Black squirrels are a rarity on the colour-wheel of tree-rats: only one in 10,000 squirrels has that particular hue. There’s a thriving Internet business selling this same black squirrel as a lucky scratch ticket totem. Fortune and fearlessness: a great combination to represent our city. Continue Reading
As I approach twenty years in the independent theatre trenches, something interesting seems to be happening: edgy is starting to sell.
Last year’s Last Blast: Chet Baker Checks Out! and this year’s To Ashes have been able to attract large London audiences, a feat that I would once consider unlikely or, at least, uncommon as uncompromising, button-pushing type material is, by its very nature, always going to divide people.
First of all, what is “edgy?” I would define it as presenting a show, usually about the harsher aspects of life, without any fear of how it will be reacted to. I would draw a line between edgy and gratuitous when it comes to content. If you risk offence, it should be to make a point, socially or artistically.
Nudity, for instance, is very powerful and has only been used on London stages on a few occasions. Nothing makes an actor more vulnerable and, of course, they should not be put in this position without their own artistic approval and eagerness. I heard it through the grapevine that one of the shows that didn’t make the cut in this year’s London Fringe Festival lottery was an all-nude show.
It really doesn’t benefit an actor to have a lot of inhibitions. By its very nature, acting involves exposing yourself in a most unnatural way. That being said, the theatre business can be pervert heavy, and one should pay careful attention as to why one is being asked to do something. Part of a director’s job is to look after their actors and although they should be gently nudged out of their comfort zones this is a step that should never involve coercion or subsequent regret. Continue Reading
Archie Brindleton is likely the most famous dog in London. An associate of filmmakers Jordan Morris and Kaila Jarmain, Archie, a three-year-old French bulldog, has reviewed over 433 city parks, has played Oscar in Odd Couple spoofs for Diply Media, and will be meeting with the Canadian Mental Health Association in March to talk about a campaign in which a real black dog combats the metaphorical “black dog” of depression. Plus Archie has a few Snoopy-like alter egos, including Captain Flubberbeard, a pirate who declines to take his red ship (“Because red is faster”) out of sight of the shore because he can’t swim very well. This is one busy canine.
Unlike his ancestors who were bred to fight larger animals and each other, Archie is a kind-hearted soul with a generous word or deed always at the ready. On his webpage , he shares everything from immigration advice to dog biscuit recipes. He has acquired fans from all over the world, many of whom share their most intimate problems and worries with him.
Archie is a therapy dog, in this sense, but he is also an actual therapy dog, having worked with the St. James Ambulance Therapy Dog Program. Archie has the temperament for it whereas his sister and fellow French bulldog Mirabelle, whose first inclination is to bark and slap you with her paw, is, in Jordan Morris’s words “not quite as competent at it.”
How does a French bulldog end up with such a quintessentially British name as Archie Brindleton? According to Morris, Archie’s first few months were spent with his British breeders eating kippers and watching Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em. He narrowly escaped the name “Jean Pierre Baguette” by showing from the beginning that he was a dyed in the wool Anglophile. Continue Reading
When Jeff Culbert was approached to direct the revival of Jason Rip’s play To Ashes one of his first thoughts was that he needed to somehow use the song Ace of Spades by Motörhead in the play. The song was used in the original 2004 production of To Ashes which Culbert acted in. For Culbert the song sets the tone of the play. Jeff saw Jason Rip soon after being asked to direct the play and Jason said, without knowing Culbert’s own thoughts, “you got to use Ace of Spades.” The new wave, heavy metal song matches up with the high energy and aggressive nature of To Ashes.
To Ashes is a two person play about two men who are both named Thomas Ash. One goes by Tom, the other Thomas. The play’s conflict comes from what should be a minor nuisance, but is instead the spark that lights the fuse. Tom Ash begins to receive calls from a collection agency looking to collect from the other Tom Ash, the one who goes by Thomas. Continue Reading
I’ve heard it said that the only vocation less lucrative than theatre is poetry. It certainly doesn’t bode well if the best you can hope for in any given production is to balance ticket receipts with expenditures and perhaps pay your hard-working actors a small stipend for their many months of work ( even this doesn’t get done much – they often get only a handshake and a “see you later.” )
Theatre is the “fabulous invalid” in the sense that it has been on the verge of death throughout all human history with everything from censorious Roman consulates, to Puritan bans, to movies and television all lining up to kill it. It continues to live on, but can it ever hope to make a little cash?
John Palmer is a very rare find, an actor who is also an economist. The term “unicorn” comes to mind. Aside from the mythical, single-horned horse, “unicorn” can refer to a single woman who shows up at swinger’s night: such a being is only rumoured to exist. Continue Reading
Before I begin to slander the values of the 21st century, I would like to thank it for the significantly prolonged lifespan and the wide variety of commercial available foods.
I am not about to go full urban Amish, but I often feel like I don’t belong here with the drones, and the phones, and the really bad music. Deep within is a revulsion, a rejection of what we’ve become and where we are headed. I prefer human contact to technology and have never been comfortable in this noisy, rushed realm of cars, cell phones, and computers. I hold true to the old-fashioned values of loyalty, honesty, and community spirit. Even within the comparatively few decades of my own lifetime, it seems like some very fine things are beginning to slide into a nihilistic garbage can of selfishness and human degradation. That’s okay – I’ll be the cranky dinosaur left behind with his silly books and his pathetic ability to hold a conversation.
An illustrative example: I was recently parked at a Tim Horton’s on Fanshawe Park Road. Another driver backed up into my car, bent my bumper, and, by the time I stepped out to deal with it, had sped away as quickly as they could. If I were any better at short term recall, I would have got the license plate number. I even chased after the car a bit, like a rural road hound-dog.
What we have here is a microcosm of the modern malaise: fear, irresponsibility, a failure to pay attention and an unwillingness to look out for the other guy. These days, an increasingly large percentage of people are neither good nor bad, just stubbornly oblivious to their surroundings and to their impact on others. We have successfully created Ostrich Man/Woman. Here are some anthropological observations from an obstinate outsider:
Driving Makes Us Monsters
Although I understand the perks of not having to slog long miles through the sleet, I have never harboured a car fetish. The fact that the inside of my 2002 Honda Civic looks like a Cheezie graveyard is evidence of this. Still, and I am not the first to say it, Londoners drive like assholes. “The London Left” is the name of the phenomenon where you never, ever get to make a left turn while the yellow arrow is still alit. This is because the next five cars will decide to run the amber light and the first few seconds of the red light too. Strapping into a car seems to instantly turn a person into an aggressive one ton creature with a tendency to ram its way through things. Can you recall a time when people used to wave to each other, and permit each other to gently merge, and flash headlights at each other to warn against speed traps? Courtesy and concern for not killing and maiming others is now only an imposition to getting to your nowhere destination as quickly as possible. Cars, cyclists, and pedestrians seem to be fighting a deadly war of attrition. When you couple this with the constant road construction, it’s like a sad combination of the vintage video games Frogger and Pac-Man.
Technology as a Substitute for Meaningful Human Contact
I have always had a pathological hatred of talking on the phone, even back when it was plugged into the wall. If Billy Idol has his opinions on Eyes Without A Face, I have mine on “Voices Without A Face.” Are we really better off because people can get a hold of us all the time? I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be got a hold of all the time. When I started to see couples in love staring into their respective phones instead of into each other eyes, I knew we were entering strange days. I have so much respect for people who are able to go without Facebook. I have ultimately succumbed to the siren of memes and kitty pics but of my approximately five hundred friends, I bet there are five that would help me move.
Free Range Children
Permit me to start the festive reminiscing with a creepy footnote: the apartment I grew up in (114 Arbor Glen Crescent – #301) is the same apartment that a six-year-old child was recently stabbed in, reportedly by a mother who “saw God.”
When I heard this location information on the news, I was chilled to the bone. We lived there for at least five years – by Grade Five, I found myself a resident of Whitehills – but during that time, I saw some very strange things, including Santa and his eight tiny reindeer.
I don’t mean to suggest it was an Overlook Hotel situation, and, granted, I had both a hyperactive imagination and an inclination to read scary comic books. Nevertheless, I saw what I saw. Continue Reading
I first met Mike Van Holst when we were both semi-professional comedians back in the mid-1990’s. He has always struck me as a man of honesty and candor who may harbour the odd unorthodox opinion. Mike lays it all out in the following interview, touching on everything from his Council plans to his current climate change controversy:
JR: You recently said that global climate change was “ridiculously exaggerated.” Were you surprised at the backlash to that remark?
MVH: It was less of a backlash than I expected. The positive comments outweighed the negative by ten times. One previous MP called and wanted to give me a medal. Continue Reading