Would Be Human
Last week, I watched a wonderful story unfold on TV with my Mum & Dad. Hercules – The Human Bear. Such a gentleman. We would have loved to have met him and his loving parents, Andy & Maggie Robin. We will have to make the trip to visit his statue and reinterred remains in the Isle of North Uist (Scotland), one day. He lived a wonderful life. It was great being able to see his story in documentary form. I think it could have easily fulfilled the duration of a feature length film. Wanting to meet Hercules brings me back to the day after Christmas (of 2007), when my Mum, Dad & I tried to locate where Bart the Bear 2 resided, at his home in Heber City, Utah. On the way through Utah, we took a detour and stopped at a visitors information centre. But the lady at the desk hilariously had no idea what we were saying let alone asking – like we were speaking in some kind of alien language. We quickly realised that unlike down under, the U.S.A. is deep in its Winter season, so Bart 2 would have been hibernating at that time. We have to get a “bear hug” someday! I bet Hercules would have given a very strong, bone crushing hug. Though, he was cautious. His caring nature reminds me of other amazing human animals – Nim Chimpsky, and the beautiful Koko the Gorilla. Watching Hercules’ documentary brings me back to the Unlikely Animal Friends program that Mum had kept recorded, for well over a year – because of how emotional it was.
Today’s the Day!
I love comedians. Comedy is a way I like to get in touch with my inner clown. Last week, the season finale of Last Comic Standing uncovered the chosen challenger to take away the title & prize – Rod Thompson, a.k.a. Rod Man. Yeah, ah, that’ll work! Uh, yeah!
There Must Be A Reason That I Am As I Am.
Once again, another of one of my favourite people on this planet has tragically passed away. I’m sure you already know that early this morning, Robin Williams was found unresponsive in his home, in Tiburon, California.
Waking up, on a normal day, I usually check my iPad for any new mail or Facebook activity. Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t do that because all too often, you discover shocking news like this, which absolutely throws your whole psyche off balance for not only the day, but for a long time to follow. That same feeling I felt discovering the passing’s of Ryan Dunn and Paul Walker, I felt again today. Your heart skips a beat just as your eyes open, leaning in towards the screen to precisely analyse what you’re really seeing. This just can’t be, can it?
Not many comedians can make your cry just as much as they can make you laugh. I loved his work. My Mum & Dad did as well. Seeing him improvise in interviews such as The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and Inside The Actors Studio, showed that he was born a funny man. A true comical genius, with a great big heart. Though, the funniest of people, as I remember Craig Ferguson saying, have the darkest of sides. When I told Mum about the news, she was really truly shocked. You just don’t get that kind of reaction – she was really upset.
I never want to end up being a selfish person in life, but if Robin really did take his own life, maybe it is what he really wanted. Maybe, he can now be happy at peace. Maybe it’s selfish of me wanting, wishing he would have stuck around with us all. I just have to be happy for him – as sad as it is.
Bicentennial Man, never failed in making me cry like a baby. I hated seeing my favourite comedian die in the end, with such an emotional send off. But it really taught me and made me think about the notion of “letting go”. Just last month, the last movie I watched with my Dad was The Angriest Man in Brooklyn. Robin passes in that film as well, but this time on a somewhat calm level of emotion. It has a happy ending of sorts. I’ll miss seeing his marvelous work. I’ll miss most of all his wonderful laugh!
One week ago, Saturday the 2nd of August, Steve-O brought his radness to Sydney, entertaining a sellout audience at the Metro Theatre. I was an incredible show, to say the very least!
“Rose: To the stars.”
Laurel & Hardywood
In this big wedge, I focus on something I think you might enjoy. Something really fun happened for many lucky Sons of the Desert patrons and guests in and around the Hollywood area this month (yes, Hollywood, not Honolulu).
Commencing July 2nd through to the 6th – The 19th International Sons of the Desert Convention, ‘Laurel & Hardywood‘ had gone afoot, celebrating the gift and soul that is Laurel & Hardy. This was a particularly extraordinary meet this year as it is where Lucky Dog Theatre’s ‘Hats Off to Laurel and Hardy‘ made its U.S. premiere.
Philip, who is Ollie, has a grand habit of sharing great things on Facebook. I enjoy his wall very much and really appreciate what he has had to share with everyone in the past week (especially so). I love to show my Dad things related to Laurel & Hardy that he might not have seen before or have access to, so it was a particular joy to be able to show him the many facets related to the Laurel & Hardywood convention, all through the eyes of Philip, his partner Tony, and their super Lucky Dog videos. To see them is truly terrific.
Dave Saaf beautifully captures Philip & Tony in a serene moment, next to where the Hal E. Roach Studios, aka ‘The Lot of Fun’, used to be.
Philip and Tony’s wonderful tribute and heartfelt performance on stage is said to provoke many emotions from an audience. I do hope I can see their stage show with my Dad one day… From the clips I have seen, I know their job is very well done. It makes me so happy hearing of their success’ – for one, being invited all the way to Hollywood from the UK to play for everyone – such a monumental testament to their hard work. More so, I hear that the Jack the Ripper tour that Philip guides in London is also a blast to be had.
In sadder news, honored guest of Laurel & Hardywood Dickie Jones passed away on the 7th of July. I think I will always remember him for his work as a child – the voice of a wooden puppet who wanted to be a real boy, Pinocchio.
Mickey Mouse has been what i’ve always known as being “the beginning”. My Dad has collected Disneyana for almost his whole life, starting in the 60s, and when I look at the pieces he has from the early 1930s, I wonder where this merchandising megamonster came from. Why all of a sudden in the 1930s are all these toys being made? Why such a vast range of items? Who came up with these ideas…. With these naive thoughts in mind, I’ve gone backward a step to learn, and lately I began reading about Felix The Cat – a character story i’ve always swerved away from and not taken much interest in, until now. Dads love for all these cartoon-comic icons has never been absent. But for me, this is a new-found-love.
Over the past year however, while on this journey, I have learnt how fundamentally simple these characters are – thus their popularity and success (and reason for merchandising). I can see so many linking characteristics in so many different characters from all facets of comedy history. These characters have life in so many diverse forms.
“Keep on Truckin’, Felix…. He Kept on Walking.” – Just some of many of my favourite comedy couples.
[“Felix & Kitty”, “Mickey & Minnie”, “Laurel & Hardy”, “CatDog”, “Dumb & Dumber”, “Ren & Stimpy”]
I’ve been enjoying a lot of time with my Dad over the past couple of years, watching all the movies and TV shows we’ve missed out on or want to revisit. So many incredible movies and tv shows – too many to mention all, entirely. One vast series in particular, Batman, has captivated me most recently.
All the animated films, from the DC Universe Animated Original Movies to the Beware the Batman TV series (like something out of the Urban Chaos world…). Not long back, we even took a step backward to see Tim Burton’s 1989 live-action Batman film. Jack Nicholson plays an amazing Joker – I love that kind of dark humor!
Something I found strangely amusing I never knew about the Batman story, more-so relating to the Joker, was the infamous Joker Venom. By definition =
When someone is to breathe in Joker Gas, it kills them while giving it’s victim a vicious, sardonic smile on his/her face. There were many variations of Joker gas, and it also affect animals, such as cats, squirrels and fish. Joker venom can exist in liquid and gas states and has been used to a great effect. The gas form is slightly denser than air and in some portrayals dissipates over time. The effects are similar to the legendary Sardinian Cabbage which supposedly causes laughter until the point of death.
What a great invention – Smylex. I love it!
Born in 1890, one year before my great grandfather, Daddy Burt (February 1891) – Stan Laurel celebrates his 124th birthday today. There is no one who has made me laugh more to the point of tears, multiple times throughout my life, other than Stanley. His genius creation, with Babe at his side, has been the essential key for so much of comedy produced, post ‘Laurel & Hardy’. I see them everywhere I look – our Babes In The Woods are always around. Stan has given a great gift to the world, and I love him dearly for it.
To celebrate his birthday, the following is a sequence of text (from The Comedy World of Stan Laurel) that I think well demonstrates the humor Stan brought to us all. I found it to fit nicely here along with the photograph above – from the 1923 production ‘Oranges & Lemons‘. There is something about this photograph that makes me laugh and giggle every single time I see it. It is one of my most favourite photos of Stan….
Happy Birthday Stanley!
Stan’s inability to read even the simplest of words has long been a Laurel and Hardy staple, and in one of the Fables Stan had planned their presence at an inn where they were to order dinner:
(STAN picks up the menu, looks at it closely. Borrows OLLIE’s spectacles, looks at the menu again. Shakes his head and hands them back.)
OLLIE: Can’t you see through them?
STAN: Oh, yes!
OLLIE: Then what’s the matter?
STAN: I can’t read.
OLLIE: Why did you borrow them then?
STAN: You said they were reading glasses!
Today is a special day. Someone amazing who has overcome so many incredible feats, The man himself, Steve-O, turns 4-0!
There was a time not too long ago, where some were fearful and did not expect to see Steve survive his addictions. I remember seeing a clip, I believe was on the bonus “way too hot for TV” ‘making of’ DVD (The Dumbest Asshole in Hip Hip Mixtape), were Steve mentioned his predicted date of death. I was a bit too young at the time to foresee just how much danger he was in, realistically. I was especially too inexperienced to foresee that Steve’s drug and alcohol habits were driving him downhill until it was so apparently clear how close to death he was, early 2008. Those were dizzying, dark days. I don’t think I could ever forget the “downward spiral”. To me, Steve was someone I really admired and fanatically followed (always will). He was the coolest dude alive. The things he did, with such fear yet strength, courage and bravery, made me a loyal fan. I dare not challenge the danger he religiously lived. He had become a gangsta by this point in his life and I respected every attitude he had for life. Steve-O was radical, and that appealed to me.
One day, early in March marked the beginning of a life changing battle. That one day in mention begins with a memory I have, somewhat vague – Steve had sent out a message online, either on his website, his rad email mailing list, his messageboard and/or his MySpace blog, where he had alerted the fact that on that day, his plans to jump from his apartment onto the opposing buildings roof, were happening. We all knew that the ground outside his apartment was quite some distance below. This stunt, I think was in response to being evicted by the complex. I could be mixing up some of my memories here, but whatever it was, ultimately was going to be Steve-O’s most dangerous and potentially disastrous stunt yet. After school that day/evening, I had on my mind “I hope everything went okay”. I was in the dark, waiting, unknowing as to what happened that day, half way across the globe.
That night (a day or 2 after reading the emails because of the time difference between here and there – March 11-12-13 2008) I remember reading the news article stating that he was under psychiatric care on a 5150 hold. What a strange feeling I had… I didn’t know if this would be the beginning of change for good – a journey of healing, or an event to stir up Steve’s unbalanced fragile mental state. I think it was a scary period for a lot of people. Thank goodness what happened, happened – otherwise this story might not have had a happy ending.
I don’t think there is much more I should add from here on as Steve’s incredible book ‘Professional Idiot: A Memoir‘ and emotional MTV documentary ‘Demise and Rise‘ paints a much more detailed picture. What more I will add though is that Steve-O has always cared about his fans and loved ones, through thick and thin. The drive he has to do better and be better, in these past few years, is a true testament to the fact that he is awesome. Though, we should all remember that those days of trials and tribulations are not Steve-O’s defining moments. What I know Steve to be (because of), and what we should all take inspiration from, is the strength and determination to overcome, grow, let-go and face all fears. To replace negativity with positivity. The years of recovery and rise to be happy and healthy in the years after 2008, I believe are the years where we all get to know who the real Steve-O is.
Over the past couple of days, after a revitalizing kick – I have been looking more closely into implementing 3D LUTs into my photographic workflow and how this would work.
In April, Juan Melara introduced me to this amazing method when applied to digital video. It is so very interesting, being able to see how others mix and respond with colour. There is something that intrigues me most about the colours Orange and Teal in combination with one another (regarding colour photography). Today I was able to understand a way for me to achieve the correct results I wanted with my still photographs, as I first imagined, after witnessing the technical process required/designed in the RAW video workflow.
One of these days, I might just have to pull out my ISCO, figure out a small budget for Videography equipment, and start having some fun with motion pictures. It looks to be up my alley. But for now, I will be smart and stick with my first love, Photography.
This photograph chosen, was shot back in February of this year, one dark, monochromatic, wet, rainy day. When I encountered this creature, a lengthy millipede found among many – I thought about a poem titled ‘The Centipede’s Dilemma’. Although this encounter was obviously not with a Chilopoda, I felt that there was still a relating ‘invertebrate‘ connection.
The other night, May 23rd to be exact, I was playing Age of Empires II – a game which I had not touched for close to 10 years. I’ve day dreamed about it often over the years, as those early computing days were filled with much AOE action. I got a “1 level” demo disc out of a Nutri-Grain pack sometime in 2002, which gave me many great memories. Ever since they re-released the game in High Definition last year, I have been wanting to relive those awesome memories.
The day I decide to start my first campaign (straight out of the Scotland/England tutorial), just so happened to be the day that Joan of Arc was captured by Burgundians in France (near Compiègne), 1430 (the following article/link is very interesting to read). I discovered this because as I was escorting Joan the Maid along her path, when suddenly on the TV, news noted that today was a historic day (for that matter). What surprised me most was that I had very rarely heard the name “Joan of Arc”, ever – maybe since junior high school. At that moment, as I play with this character, the news gave me an unexpected, sudden surreal stun.
After watching a magnificent episode of The Outer Limits last night, I can’t help but make a connection between ‘The Borderland‘ episode and an entry in a book that I am reading (C20). Alvin Langdon Coburn, in 1917 invented ‘Vorticist‘ photography.
“When pictorialism became moribund, his attempts to create a new cubist photography around 1917 seemed destined to fail. Embracing freemasonry, he abandoned art for religion in 1924, and thereafter made few photographs.”
“The mind of man has always longed to know what lies beyond the world we live in. Explorers have ventured into the deeps and the heights. Of these explorers some are scientists, some are mystics. Each is driven by a different purpose. The one thing they share in common is a wish to cross the Borderlands that lie beyond the Outer Limits.”
“There are worlds beyond and worlds within which the explorer must explore, but there is one power which seems to transcend space and time, life and death. It is a deeply human power which holds us safe and together when all other forces combine to tear us apart — we call it the power of love.”
On March 22nd I found STOKED: The Rise and Fall of Gator (2002). Here is a great little documentary, both amazing and in adverse tragic, at the same time. I’ve always been a fan of skateboard art, and the Gator design was always something I thought of when thinking about 80s/90s skateboarding. It is in fact what brought me to find a copy of Sean Cliver’s Disposable Skateboard Bible. But what I didn’t know, was the story behind the man that grasped the Gator deck. I don’t know how this documentary slipped through my fingers for all these years. I am glad though that I discovered this incredible story. To see such a grand rise wafting with fun, and then a mind-blowing fall to follow, so disastrous and unfortunate, was so perceptive to comprehend. Part of me wishes I could have grown up and lived in the Californian sun, mid 80s, just like The Skateboard Kid, surrounded by fun hang-loose, carefree people. But part of me also feels privileged, as I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse “of what was left of” neighborhood street skating with my friends around the block – back when I was just a mere-ten year old. I haven’t had friends like that in many years. But just like Gators story, all good things must come to an end at one point or another.
“Oliver: Oh a knick-knack is a thing that sits on top of a whatnot.”