31 October 2007

Impromptu! Improv Workshops

Announced formally today on the American Theatre Company website. Improv Fundamentals workshop with the completely and totally awesome Ryan Millar.

The ATC is holding a four day, two-weekend-long Improv Fundamentals course for people curious about improvised theatre and looking to develop skills in this area. This course is tailored to those already involved in the Brussels amateur theatre community, but is also accessible for people looking for an out of the ordinary experience vis a vis group interaction.

Improv Fundamentals will teach you the basics of creating improvisational theatre in the course of two weekends. This workshop will be a hands-on, fun, and intensive introduction to, (or refresher course in) improvised performance. The weekend will include: warm up exercises, character building, scene basics, performance games, and improv tips.

By the end of the four days you will be able to perform improv armed with only your bare wits, you, your scene partner, and a suggestion- guaranteed! After the final class there will be a performance of simple, essential, and funny improv games. You’ll have the opportunity to impress your friends and family in a show starring you!

Apply early to secure a spot, space is limited.

And so you should. Apply that is. If you live in Brussels and are ready for some fun, funny, non-intimidating, life-skill-building.

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30 October 2007

They're tryin' make me go costume shopping

I went costume shopping this afternoon after work and in walked somebody in the most brilliant Amy Winehouse costume. I mean perfect. Complete with exact tattoo placement and security detail and... waitaminute! That is Amy Winehouse. I'm so used to seeing her in a magazine with a 3/4 empty bottle of Jack daniels in her hand it was ashock to see her real size with a costume in her hand. Anyway, we're best friends now. We shop at the same costume shops and everything.

No. I didn't talk to her. I was too shy. But in my fantasy she gave me comps for her Brussels concert on the 31st.

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Brussels Improv

Oh Brussels, you lucky sonofabitch.

I have it on the highest authority that you are very close to having the opportunity to participate in some fantastic improvisation courses with a one-of-a-kind trainer.

They will happen in mid-January and cost next to nothing. And for two weekends you will be immersed in improv Valhalla. And on the final day you will have the chance to perform.

Be excited. Be ready.


I sure am.

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29 October 2007

Hallowe'en



Just mere days until Hallowe'en. Or maybe in North America everybody already celebrated Saturday night. Because they don't get November 1 off, like we do here in the Old World. Frankly I'll be celebrating REAL Hallowe'en REAL STYLE.

So here's a couple Hallowe'en treats:

That flaming pumpkin that's on fuckingfire? Spoooooooooky no? Check out Extreme Pumpkins for some pumpkin carving tips.

Vancouver's own The Stunt Man & Rhek The DJ - Hollerween Mixtape (Free MP3 Download) It's in 52 separate tracks form. For one continuous mix download this.

If you like spookygory Hallowe'en hiphop then you should rock that Wednesday night while you're eating the candy you should be handing out to children.

Also note: despite what you may remember from childhood, trick or treating does not occur during the witching hour, children usually go out while it's still light, 5:30 or 6:00 in the evening so they can be home by 7:30. It only seem so late thanks to HALLOWE'EN MAGIC.

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27 October 2007

News this week

Kind of a slow news week...

-I have four cavities. I learned this just before all my Hallowe'en trick or treating: the timing just couldn't have been worse.

-The power steering on our car stopped working. 600 euros to fix it.

-Dumbledore's gay.

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24 October 2007

400 million $ a day

That's how much Bush is asking for to carry out the occupation of Iraq.

And according to the FT, because the death toll of American soldiers in Iraq has hit a lull, the Iraq issue is moving down the priority list of voters.

But I've got to ask the question: why the fuck does nobody care that the government is spending 400$ million dollars a day over there and not making any progress!?!?

It's hard to imagine a scenario (other than reality) in which you could throw that amount of money at a problem and actually make the problem worse..

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Roma Rules!

AS Roma won last night in Champions League action. And I was able to watch it from the comfort of my own home. Thought the match was far from comfortable for much of the time, as an injury depleted AS Roma hosted Sporting Lisbon. However Mirko Vukinic fucking scored an awesome fucking goal in the 70th minute to put Roma up 2-1, and that's how it stayed.

Roma's first goal was scored by Brazilian defender Juan, who, besides scoring that goal, is an amazing tackler. It's hard to execute a full speed diving tackle while looking casual, but he manages.

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23 October 2007

Red Trevi



Rome's beautiful and historic Trevi Fountain was the subject of an artistic intervention on Friday. The previously unheard of Futurist Action 2007 claimed responsibility for the action, a protest against the expenses incurred for the Rome Film Festival. The red water symbolized the red carpet.

And despite the fact that the fantastic Trevi fountain was not in the least damaged by the prank, the red can also symbolize the combined fury of city officials, film fest organizers, and fountain lovers.

But really: it looks beautiful. What a rich, deep, red.

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19 October 2007

iRack

This pretty much sums it up...



(If you're viewing this in firefox, as I just did, sorry about the lack of central page positioning).

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17 October 2007

Stolen Bike French Class

Look what I learned for my french class today:

Qualcun m'a vole' mon velo

and

Mon velo a etait vole'.

Both mean the same thing: My bike got stolen. Merde. Fucking merde.

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16 October 2007

Paris Punch-Up

Paris, like Brussels, Amsterdam and Rome, has a 'Nuit Blanche' where museums and art galleries are open all night. But only in Paris can you punch a priceless masterpiece. Claude Monet's "Le Pont d'Argenteuil" was damaged Sunday when intruders, apparently drunk, broke into Paris' Orsay Museum and punched a 4-inch tear into the canvas.

Masterpieces I'd like to Punch:

Edvard Munchs The Scream (1893): It reminds me of that scene in Home Alone where Macauley Culkin (who I'd also like to punch, circa 1990) pretends to shave.

Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa (1502): That smarmy smirk is so annoying .

Salvador Dali's The Persistence of Memory (1931): MELTING CLOCKS!?!!

Of course I'd much prefer to punch the vandals.

I'm all about unsolicited museum interventions, a la Banksy, but really? you just punched a priceless masterpiece as you were running out of the museum? Really? You ass. Lucky they're able to use a microscope and glue made from the bladders of sturgeons to weave the canvas together again.

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12 October 2007

Windfall

I met a guy who received a financial windfall when an international money transfer ended up in his account. He didn't give it back, citing the precedent of "Monopoly Bank vs. Wheelbarrow," in which the Wheelbarrow was awarded 200$ by the Court of Community Chest. This was apparently evidence enough for him to use this nest egg to pay off his student loans. I have no documentation of this, but wishful thinking is all the evidence I need. Believe!

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Celtic fan bests Milan goalkeeper


An un-named 27 year old Celtic fan viciously bitchslapped Milan goalkeeper Dida during a Champions League match, sidelining the World Cup winning goalkeeper for two games.

And by 'viciously bitchslapped' I mean 'gently tapped.' And by 'sidelined' I mean 'suspended for the next two Champions League matches for being a big, dumb faker.'



Footage of the incident, which was witnessed broadcast live and is now on Youtube, clearly shows the incident. Celtic forward Scott McDonald scores a tie-breaking goal in the 90th minute of Champions League Matchday 2, thus securing a big victory for the Scottish underdogs against last seasons Champions League Winners. As the Scottish players ran to the touchline to celebrate, an over exuberant fan runs onto the field and, to add insult to defeat, gives Dida a tap on the neck or shoulder as he runs by. Dida turns to chase the fan, but after just a few steps he collapses to the ground and needs to be taken off on a stretcher. He is holding an ice-pack to his cheek as he leaves the field.

In that he joins an extensive list of football players who consider 'diving' a legitimate on-field tactic. However, the legitimacy of 'diving' is disputed: it is dishonourable. It is cheating, plain and simple.

But the big problem is that Dida's foul was so blatant, so egregious, and so widely viewed that more than tarnishing the reputation of 'soccer' his own reputation has been badly damaged. The most pointed example: as a result of this incident Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi is reportedly looking for a goaltender to replace him. And if a slimy cheater like 'Il Cavaliere' can't support your underhanded tactics, you've definitely gone too far.

But what will come of this incident? Unfortunately not too much. Despite Berlusconi's bluster Dida will likely stay with Milan. And if he doesn't, the world-class keeper won't have much trouble finding a home with another club. There is hope, however, that the uncomfrtable spotlight of this incident will continue to be focused on that jackass Dida. If his suspension is upheld, and Milan suffers in the Champions League as a result, then we can say that justice has been served. And perhaps the embarrassing nature of this incident, and the ensuing suspension, will serve as a deterrent to potential fakers in the future. If the rewards are replaced by shame and suspension there is no longer any incentive to take a dive.

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08 October 2007

A survey of some French Schools in Brussels

Berlitz: Pretty much the Scientology of language lessons: useless, expensive and exclusively the domain of the crazy and/or feeble-minded. Yes they gave me a cup of coffee, and their presentation used very nice laminated paper, but it still failed to convince me that 10,000€ (cumulative) is a reasonable fare for learning French. F-

CPAB: Through the 4 months of lessons I took here I made a friend. That's about it. My work offers me some conversations classes through here that I will utilize. Hopefully those lessons will turn out to be more useful than the ones I already took. Basically: the administration sucks and I didn't learn anything. 230€ for 3 months. D+

EPFC: These classes are offered through the University. They are heavily over-subscribed. Probably because they're good. I bet I would've learned some stuff. Also, they're not very expensive; 100€ for 2 months. B

Institut Fernand Cocq: I just started and I'm in level 5 - moyen. That means everyone in the class speaks French. It's put up or shut up time. If I can stick with it I too will be speaking French (or some approximation thereof) very soon. The level of French my classmates speak is a little daunting, but I think I can manage to fake it until I make it. The cost of 90€ from now until mid-June is pretty appealing too. B+

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Herman Dune, Turner Cody @Botanique Oct 6

Botanique is a great concert venue. First: it's the Brussels Botanical Gardens so the whole backyard is a jungly maze of vegetation. Second it's the Brussels Botanical Gardens so the whole trip from the entrance to the Orangerie Hall is a jungly maze of vegetation. And third: once arrived in the Orangerie the first thing to notice is how shallow the room is. It fits at least a few hundred people, but nobody can stand more than 15 feet from the stage. It's a nice arrangement. Too bad the guy standing in front of us was a CCCF (Chronic Concert Crowd Farter).

Turner Cody was up first to sing and play solo for the Bruxellois. His mindless banter between songs was meandering and charming. It didn't hurt that his main through line was how much he liked Brussels ('Your city name is plural! How cool is that?).

But the most impressive thing was definitely the music. His style hearkens back to a Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan-esque singer-songwriterthing. Not that he's necessarily on the same plane as those legends, but if one's going to hearken, you might as well make it good. And anyway he was definitely good enough and present enough to keep us engaged the whole opening set.

For his last few tracks he was accompanied by the Herman Dune band and he showed he could rock-out.

The headliner Herman Dune sold out their last trip to the Botanique, during Brussels Nuits Botaniques. They are like Jethro Tull, in that even though they have a guys name, they're actually a band.

And a really fucking good band at that. Catchy, hooky, melodic 'anti-folk' (as they like to call it). Upbeat and cheery, sometimes lovesick, sometimes with a ukelele, sometimes some trumpet, always dressed as extras in a low-budget western (vintage distressed denims, vests and scruffy facial hair), and always entertaining. All the way through their three encores.

Colour me ready for more live music.

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02 October 2007

Sky Italia

It's party time tonight. Me and a few hundred self-important big shots from media and the European Commission and Parliament will be snacking on calamari and champagne to celebrate the opening of the Sky Italia office in Brussels.

I love these kinds of things, but tonight I mostly love that I'll get to watch tonights AS Roma vs. Man U Champions League match with a bunch of Italians. And champagne.

Forza Roma!


Oh. And, uh, congratulations... Sky.

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Accidental Death-Saturday-Bedford

In like a lion, out like that... very same lion, only much more disoriented and error-prone.

Saturday was a good day, though I awoke feeling a little, as the Brits say, 'ropey.' After a delicious and hearty breakfast there was a spirited game of football at the park and some visiting time with the Birmingham side of the family. In fact all was cooking with gas until approximately 8 seconds after I stepped on the stage. It was at this point my scene partner clearly had absolutely no fucking idea where we were. The plot was lost and we were still on page one.

It took alot of back-and-forth to get us back on track and in the right place, and it did happen, but we set into an evening that was well known by all the actors to be a bit 'ropey.'

Maybe it was the over-exertion of the football, or maybe it was the fact that we had such a good fucking show the night before, or maybe it was because the director decided to fuck up a completely perfect part of the play with some prop mischief*... But more than likely it was just a combination of everything plus nerves.

*Towards the end of the second act my character manages to unsettle the bumbling police officers to such an extent that they begin arguing furiously with one another and they accidentally let slip that they pushed the Anarchist out the window. During this very tense time my Maniac retreats to the window ledge and picks up some popcorn and a soda and sips away, engrossed by the action. It's a nice little absurd visual joke that was discovered during rehearsal. It's also brilliant in that it actually contributes to the action, because the Maniac is watching the events unfold intently, as if it was a particularly tense scene at the movies.
The director thought it would be funny if he substituted the popcorn and movie-sized drink with a Burger King cheeseburger and a drink this night. It was not funny. And not just 'not funny' in the sense that I was all "Hey Conrad, that wasn't funny how you fucked with my props." But largely 'not funny' in the way that I was all "Hey Conrad: that hilarious sight-gag that heightened the tension in that climatic scene was actually totally undermined by your terrible idea. Thus robbing our already ropey performance of one sure-fire laugh and substituting it with a moment of awkward confusion. You suck."

...
Fortunately for us (and them) the audience had no idea that they had missed a far-superior presentation of Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist by exactly 24 hours. In fact, they seemed to enjoy themselves. And truth be told, so did I. Though it was alot harder work, and not such an excellent result it was still sad to say goodbye to the Maniac, and this production has re-inspired me to continue performing. I'll keep diggin on this amateur theatre scene here. And I think my theatrical cred here should be good enough to get somebody to produce my improv workshops. Though before I commit to anything else I've got a play to write...

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01 October 2007

Accidental Death- Bedford-Friday Night Highlight

After a full days travel on Thursday it was a relief to hit the Bedford Swan Theatre and do the unloading and preparations for the show. This relief was also largely due to the fact that we actors scuppered off for some relaxation time, while the crew worked their magic.

It quickly became apparent to me that Bedford was a lovely little town full of lovely people. And swans. I was chauffeured over to my hosts home and was instantly charmed by the couple. And not just because Sue answered the door in her dressing gown.

Just having reached retirement, and a spry seventy, respectively, Sue and John welcomed me into their home with open arms, a cup of tea, and plenty of theatre stories. They were champions all weekend long.

This 'tour' of Accidental Death was actually just a wonderful opportunity for dedicated theatre enthusiasts to meet, re-meet, share stories food and drink and enjoy some high-quality amateur theatre.

And that is indeed what happened. We came busting out of the gates, guns blazing and lit up Friday Nights show, to the delight of the entire crowd. This piece requires energy and rapid-fire delivery and the momentum built from the first laugh (five seconds in) all the way to the final round of applause.

Some fortuitous events conspired to make this go down:

- the two front rows consisted largely of gently drunk upper-formers who had studied the play in class
- A guy named John from the Bedford Theatre company, whose warm and raucous laugh sounded off all night long
-we all slept really well
-my awesome friend Lindsey came up (down?) from Oxford and we hung out before the show and after
-Constable Stevie Challens led us in a particularly spirited Theatre Haka before the show
-it was our biggest audience to date. Despite what we had been led to believe, a large, appreciative crowd turned up. And really enjoyed themselves.

It may have, in fact, been our best show. And the Indian food we went for afterwards may have been, the best curry I've ever had.

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Accidental Death- Reviewed

Our show was (positively) reviewed in The Brussels Bulletin



Besides being complimentary about the show in general and me in particular, she also spelled my name correctly. A hit!

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