31 August 2007

Going Pro

I'm gripped by a bout of procrastination so severe I'm not even sure what it is I'm putting off doing.

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30 August 2007

502

I recently supercorrated 500 blog posts, now dismarcating 502 with this one i am descripting currently.

Google sent me a cake, we're having a party.

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Without the Cracks


From Bremen, Germany. wooster.

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28 August 2007

Accidental Death of an Anarchist

English Comedy Club of Brussels Presents

ACCIDENTAL DEATH of an ANARCHIST


By Dario Fo. Directed by Conrad Toft

Brussels: September 18,19,20,21,22 at 8pm

The Studio Rue Waelhem 69, Schaerbeek
Bus 58 & 59 trams 55,56 & 92. Limited Parking @LIDL

Tickets 13€ from ecctickets@yahoo.com or +32 477 408 704



That is not all though...

This motherfucker is also going on the road!!

Bedford England: September 28 & 29 at 7:45pm

The Place, Bradgate Road, Bedford
directions and tickets(£7.50/£6) : The Place


Synopsis:
Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo tells the story of an anarchist railway worker who "fell" to his death from a fourth floor window of the police headquarters in Milan. Fo's maniacal protagonist (who will be played by Ryan Millar (i.e. me)) wittily probes the police officers who conducted the anarchists interrogation, discovering everything but the truth about what actually happened on that fateful night...

The updated translation by Men Behaving Badly writer Simon Nye propels this hilarious satire on police corruption into the present day. Don't expect a quiet night at the theatre!

5 reasons you should see this play

1. I'm in it. If you're reading this blog entry than you probably know me and would be interested in what I'm doing. Also it may in all likelihood be kinda cool, and you should support things that are cool.

2. It's funny. And laughter has been scientifically proven to be totally awesome. There will also be booze at intermission which will make the play even funnier.

3. Dario Fo won a Nobel Prize for writing it. They don't exactly just hand those things out you know.

4. It's politically provocative entertainment. And you need that. It's good for you. Like laughter.

5. You cannot come up with an adequate number of acceptable excuses to cover all 7 performances. . Especially if your region of habitation is Belgium or England.


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Travel anecdotes

Holidays were awesome, but having left reportage until the very end I'm ensure how to relate the adventures.

Perhaps selecting a simple sample highlight from each city will suffice:

Paris:

I'm happy to report that the Eiffel Tower is pretty sweet. But crowded. Other than that not even close to disappointing. One of my all-time favorite towers.

Much sightseeing to be seen, but watching "Paris, je t'aime" on dvd and drinking champagne at the apartment in Montmartre we were graciously lent through couchsurfing was something awesome. Not pounding the pavement with the tourist hordes, but rather enjoying a civilized beverage in a Parisienne apartment and watching an excellent collection of shorts dedicated to the city of l'amour.

Rome:

I still like that place. Watched AS Roma beat Inter 1-0 to win the SuperCoppa. Went to Camden Town, behind the Colosseum at the suggestion of Corentin. Yelled in Italian at the terrible refereeing. Cheered in Italian when Roma scored. The goal was on a penalty kick earned by talismanic captain Francesco Totti, he elected to have midfielder Daniele de Rossi take it. De Rossi fucking drilled it home. Much was made of the significance of Rometown golden boy and present captain Totti having hometown golden boy and future captain De Rossi take the kick.

I greatly enjoyed seeing a Roma team stronger than ever, playing against and beating last years Scudetto winners. I especially enjoyed having the chance to watch that game in Rome, with a bunch of diehard tifosi. My people. We partied.

Vienna:

Lots of impressive looking buildings. best of all is not any of the imperial Baroque opera house or justice palace. But rather the work of architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000), specifically his Hundertwasser House. His name means Peace Kingdom Hundred Water and his architectural vision means "hodgepodge of the charmingly absurd."

Attended a couchsurfing barbecue on the Danube with our host Michael and a fellow Canadian. Many were there. Ate some wurst. Afterwards we stopped on the way home at an unmarked bar. They playing some cinematic orchestra and the walls were covered in black-and-white distorted grid projections. Spacious, funky, and not just off the tourist map, off the fucking grid.

Prague:

My God this city is incredibly beautiful. Everything about it was awesome, excepting all the other people who were also there to see it.

Our first night there we scooted out of our hotel and were brave enough to get close to the Charles Bridge before aborting that mission to look for dinner.

We found a restaurant called Stoletti with delicious food (and beer) and rock bottom prices. We sat outside a stones throw from the Vlatva and feasted like royalty. The food was elegantly presented Czech cuisine and with appetizer, two mains, 2 beers, water, bread dessert and a whiskey it came to 25 bucks (we think; we never did get the hang of the conversion). A bargain at 3x the price.

Dresden:

The clerk at Lollis Homestay (best hostel I've ever stayed in bar absolutely none) told us about a street party going on that very night not too many blocks from us. We borrowed a couple of the free bikes(!) they had and cycled over.

The area was jammed with German punks and hippies and good time funsters clambering around the streets, beers and smokes in hand. The music was excellent including:
the dj set of fresh bigbreakbeats on the urban beach; the the 5 piece funk band with the honey-throated singer; and the experimental polka band with the sweaty, fat, pasty, shirtless bass drum player. Well worth a couple passes up the street, and would've been nice to hang out a little longer.

Train Ride Home

The (3) train ride(s) from Dresden to Leipzig, to Cologne to Brussels was long and not very excited. The one standout would be, after craving Burger King for an awfully long time, I managed to consume that fast and delicious food in the Cologne train station. It did make Chiara queasy, but it made me very ahppy.

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Agents Provocateurs at protest in Quesbec

I've been rehearsing Nobel Prize winning author Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist for a couple months now, and it's going up for production in a couple weeks. It was written in 1970's as a response to a particular incident, the titular "accidental death of an anarchist" that occured while an anarchist, Giuseppe Pinelli, was in police custody being questioned.

This piece of theatre is specific to the time and place (Italy in the anni di piombo); it addresses the nasty police tactics employed in questioning suspects, and also satirically exposes the ways factions attempted to blame a series of violent bombing attacks on anarchists and the far-left, when evidence in fact pointed to "elements in society who stand to gain from these outrages."

I came across this video on youtube, about an incident in Montebello Quebec, in which police agent provocateurs can clearly be seen to, well you be the judge.



After days of denials police admit that these men were officers disguised as protesters See if you agree that the men in this video appear to be "only at the protest to locate and identify non-peaceful protesters in order to prevent any incidents." Unfortunately this didn't occur thirty years ago in Italy. It was last week in Canada.

A succinct posting from MP Garth Turner here.

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26 August 2007

Home

Back in BRX.

Lickety-split quick trip full of photos and memories and sights heretoforeunseen, but there's no place like home: with it's varied custom menus, spacious unbackpack-like places to store clothes and unlimited internet access.

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21 August 2007

Vienna

Have made it as far as Vienna, after an unpleasant night on the train.

Entertained delusions of being some sort of roving reporter, wryly giving a running commentary on our holidays. But internet points are not really conducive to that kind of behaviour. Will have to belatedly break everything down from the safe comforts of my office (´the nerve centre´) in Brussels.

What I can report is this: AS Roma won the SuperCup, and Vienna is just outside the doors of this train station.

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16 August 2007

Hot Times in Rome

Rome is super hot. Wandered the city today, just like I used to do.

Sat on some buses, walked through the park, tried (as yet unsuccessfully) to find a newspaper shop open so I could get a copy of Corriere della Sera.

Going home to hide in a siesta.

Yesterdays anecdote, for today:

Many a tourist in Rome can tell of the horror of realizing they've been pickpocketed. Yesterday, after a wonderful late afternoon's chat-time with a good friend by the name of Daphne. I realized my wallet was missing out of my backpocket.

Chiara and I raced back to the little yet crowded park we had been hanging out in, to find my wallet under the bench, where it had lain since it worked itself free of my backpocket not 15 minutes or so earlier.

In Italian there's an expression 'Che culo!' Which literally means 'what ass!' but actually means 'Ryan, you are one ridiculously lucky son of a bitch!' Everyone in the park who watched me scoop up my wallet agreed.

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14 August 2007

Paris-Brussels-Rome

I'm no frencher having seen Paris. I am however, more tourist savvy. I used to be a tour guide, but Paris reminded me how it is to be bumped down the ladder of savvy and clamouring to see the great sights like the rest of the sunburnt boobs.

Will try to pull it together for the rest of the trip.

Truth be told we were a little tired after only a weekend on the road; i understand why backpacking is done by the under 30 set.

Eiffel tower is actually really cool, hype notwithstanding. Couchsurfing in Montmartre was the stuff of dreams and most Parisians weren't rude, though the ones who were were spectacularly so.

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10 August 2007

Hot Street Art

Not seen by my eyes on my travels, but on the internet.

This is self-explanatorily awesome. Eine in London


This hearts and gushylove on US Army truck in Italy


Both from wooster

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09 August 2007

Big Travel in Little Europe


Starting tomorrow Chiara and I put our mid-summer cultural itinerary into practice and hop the train for Gay Paree. I've never been, but that window is closing, and a new, Frencher, Ryan will be climbing through the otherside.

One who has seen the Eiffel Tour, and other Parisian things.

After that it's friends and family and hopefully a few things I didn't manage to see during the almost two years I lived in Rome, before taking the 'sleeper train of the summer' to operatic Vienna, soaking up the, uh, whatever is in Vienna.
Next it will be some time in Prague to Czech it out (whoo hoo hoo. ha) hopefully with some Scandinavian jackasses who will be there on the whim of coincidence.
Lastly, a night in Dresden, inspiration for Slaughterhouse 5, (So named because that's where Kurt Vonnegut hid while the Allies bombed the shit out of this strategically irrelevant centre of culture. 2 notes: R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut, and Did you know his brother Bernard was the one who invented the rainmaking technique 'cloud-seeding'? Now you do.)
Then, German train conductors willing, we'll be back home two weeks hence for me to jump back into rehearsals.

PS I will have learned all of my lines for the play by the end of our trip. Or else.

There will be some couch surfing going on as well. If all goes according to plan, our new best friend-who-we-haven't-met-yet will be leaving us his apartment in Montmartre for the self-imposed long weekend.

And we'll be crashing at the apt. of another friend-who-we-haven't-met-yet in Vienna.

We're hostelling in Prague and budget hotelling in Dresden, but hope for a coffee or drink with a local or two thanks to couchsurfing.
There will be updates.

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08 August 2007

John Smith- Climb Everything

John Smith, Winnipeg. Making his city his own.



This guy doesn't get enough credit: his shit is hot. Peanuts and Corn.

From his album blunderbus.

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06 August 2007

Polish Proverbs

We had a couple Polish couchsurfers stay with us this weekend. It wasn't a match made in heaven, far from it in fact. In future, we will probably use some different criteria to check people who are coming to stay with us, but we did have some good times. Including Bartosz teaching me some Polish folk wisdom:

For the bad dancer, even the shoelace can be a problem.

You can't teach fathers to make babies.

A gentleman is someone who knows how to play the accordian...but doesn't.

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03 August 2007

Rice Paddy Art

You might know that I love street art, the concept of sanctioned or unsanctioned beautification and interventions by individuals into public space.

A dialogue, or monologue splashed onto the greyness that dominates any and every city.

Shoes over telephone wires, wheatpaste art, stencils, graffiti, the 2000 piece puzzle of the Mona Lisa framed and hung on contruction boarding in a Mechelen sidestreet.


But it's the theme of intervention into shared space, that I love. This art project in Inakadate, Aomori prefecture Japan is achieved by growing different varieties of rice in the same rice paddy. I can dig it.


from pink tentacle via wooster.

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01 August 2007

Reflections on turning thirty

To make me feel better about turning 30 some people have told me that 30 is the new 20, or 40 is the new 30, or retro tight swim shorts (any colour) are the new black, or whatever.

But for me 30 is the new 29.

It's true. 30 has replaced 29 as 'that age on the cusp of adulthood'. And not 'young adult' as the term is understood by those who classify fiction books, and not 'adult' as it applies to prodigious over-achievers, who by my age (30) are now being groomed for CEO-dom, or retiring from the entertainment industry to promote their own swimwear line. But adult as it is understood by the rest of us.

At any rate, it is a natural progression. Not to get overly philosophical, but 30 ALWAYS follows 29. Think about it. It's true.

29 is the last year of the twenties. OK, fine, no big deal. But 30 isn't the birthday to fear. That birthday will always be 40. 30 just pushes you into a better position to reflect on your now-finished twenties, and simultaneously preflect (I can do that now, neologizing is one of the privileges your thirties bring) on the years ahead.

And they too, these years ahead, can be good years. And people in their thirties can be good people, despite some of the prejudice and brainwashing (eg."don't trust anyone over thirty"). To which I have two things to say. Firstly: fuck you, hippy.

And secondly, I'm not over thirty. I am thirty. It's different. There's a big difference, but you won't understand it, until you're my age. Which is 30. Let me explain something important to you, you fucking hippy. A subtle but significant detail for which you'll thank me later.

30 means presenting an air of having ones shit together.

Statistically speaking, one doesn't need to actually have ones shit together until somewhere between 34 and 37 (results may vary), but at age 30 one must look and act at frequent, if irregular, intervals, like somebody who knows something about something. Not just in appearance, but mostly. Sophistication should be manifest in clothes and speech, yet you can still get stoned and practice ninja sweepkicks when nobody is home; it is the best of both worlds.

And like I said before, you only really need to get your shit together when you hit 37. Because then you gotta start saving for a sports car. Or a boob job. Or whatever. Because life begins at 30, and mid-life crisis begins at 40.

But forget about 40. Yes, a 30 year old needs to make responsible life choices and long-term plans for the future, but not right this second: it's time to enjoy the 30ness of 30. It's the new black.

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Birthday Party



Birthday was awesome. Look at me: I'm loving it.

A couple of excellent mates, Creaseless Ben the Australian Dutch, and Howard Hudson of Rome and London came down with no actual pleading necessary.

And Saturday we became a party of 11 (with the emphasis on party) having a delicious dinner at Belgo Belge. Friends from Amsterdam, friends from Rome, some new and awesome friends from Brussels, and of course Chiara. And when they cut the lights and threw on Stevie Wonder Happy Birthday it was party time. Cake dance party time.

We then went downtown to Place St. Gery, a lively square with plenty of terrace space and flowing beers. More friends, more beers, and an erratic dj.


By the time we left it was already quite late, but we managed to squeeze in a stop at the Bikini Beach party. Apparently a film club had been playing wholesome Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon movies with live surf band accompaniment, but by the time we got there it was a weird and kinda cracked-out scene. The only people wearing bikinis were fat dudes with moustaches (not joking). No surf band.
A stop for a good time, definitely not a long time.

We then made it to la touche d'ivoire, a bar around the corner from my house that boasts 'all rock and roll.'
By the time we got home it was after five am.
The next afternoon we had a living room dance party to a dj z-trip live album.

*************
My actual birthday (31 July) I received a new bike from Chiara and we had Japanese food and went to the Simpsons movie. Nice!
Now you know.

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