31 December 2007
21 December 2007
18 December 2007
happy happy happy happy happy anniversary!"
- For roughly the year 2007, we've had 6,909 unique visitors, 4,476 of those being "first-timers," and the remainder returning visitors (variable results, determined by a cookie).
- April through June was the period of greatest popularity, but May has August as a neck-and-neck competitor for most page loads (most likely because I left town [and day-job desk] for Prohibitive Standards in August, vanishing from the 'blogosphere for a bit, and everyone went, "oh crap did he die?").
- We've had 9,810 page loads as of 10:41 AM today, since loading the Aviary onto Statcounter. This means we've probably technically already surpassed 10,000 loads, but come on people now! Smile on each other! Just keep refreshing the page 200 times before the 31st!
- Some of the more distant and exotic places that have dipped in to this here 'blog:
Hungary (friend of mine, I'm sure)
Australia (circus folk?)
Finland (no earthly clue)
United Arab Emirates
New Zealand (more circus riff-raf?)
Ireland (friends of Patrick, I'm sure)
Slovakia (0.22 must be the smallest figure Statcounter gets to)
- I'm bigger in Ontario than I am in Virginia. NoVa boys, what up? 703- represent!
- By a landslide (of tracking cookies, of course), the most popular entries were May 22, 2007, and July 10, 2007. However, judging simply by comments, the most popular (or controversial) entry, with a whopping 23 comments, was August 14, 2007, the famed Batman v. Wolverine entry. And they say art is dead . . .
- Some things people searched for on the interwebz that landed them (to their great dismay, I'm sure) in the Aviary:
"When there's nothing left to burn you have to set yourself on fire..." (holy crap: so many search variations on these words--guess I wasn't the only one who was curious about their source)
"When you can snatch the pebble from my hand..."
who the hell is brian dennehy
travel italy gypsies
improv soup uncommon theatre
rilke on love and other difficulties
'swonderful 'swonderful chips chips
hits of the 90s
- The vast majority of visitors stay for under 5 seconds. Wow. I feel so violated.
It's been quite a year for yours (truly), and hardly a tenth of it has made it onto the log of this 'blog, I'm sure. Odin's Aviary is aligned to a purpose, or two, so I make a point of not getting into too much personal information on it. You can probably count the references to my family on one hand, and I knew, probably before I even knew what the 'blog would be about, that my love life would never ever enter into it. No, my mission statement, to journal the exploits of just one dude living what I termed The Third Life(TM), didn't justify that kind of public disclosure, and though the purposes have evolved through the year, I still would rather write about theatre, acting, comedy, anxiety and improvisation (apparently in that order). Maybe this journal isn't so much focused on The Third Life per se these days, but it can't help but be involved in it, as I am, every day. So even when I'm writing about Batman clearly being victorious over Wolverine in a fight, something of that has to do with the unique nature of a life lived for challenge and artistic expression.
Of course, too, one can't help but share a lot personally over a 'blog. Particularly when one's profession is as intricately personal as acting usually is. I've learned a lot about the pratfalls of sharing just a wee bit too much (pratfalls which are funny only in retrospect) in this format, as well as about how cumulative angst can overwhelm a reader when received all at once. Some people have been hurt that they weren't mentioned here. Others quite upset that they were, or just that I used their real names. It's been worth all the slip-ups, to me, at least. I feel like I've learned a lot through working in this medium. It's a little like therapy, or meditation, and like those venues, it can be overdone.
A few weeks ago I contemplated the decision to close the Aviary. This decision is tied in to the possible decision of switching my focus from trying to be a really, really, extraordinarily successful actor, to some other satisfying pursuit. That's not such a profound or unique thing as it may at first sound; like religion, I feel my career is only true to me if I choose it every day. Questioning keeps me in touch, keeps me fresh to the thing I'm questioning. It's a bitch most of the time, actually, but always worth it. In acting, there's a curious little habit of "bad" acting that I'm reminded of. Sometimes an actor will stop asking the questions in his or her lines. Whether it comes of memorizing the script by rote, or the monotony of rehearsal's repetitions, or simply knowing what the other character's answer will be, actors occasionally have to be reminded: Really ask the question. Well, I'm getting some different answers these days to the acting question, when I ask it, and mean it. It could be that change is on the horizon. It usually is.
But the change will not happen today. Or, perhaps it's happening already, but for today Odin's Aviary will live 10,000 visits more, and I will keep treading boards, slapping sticks and donning masks. Thank you, sincerely, for checking in on the progress from time to time. I love a friend-filled audience.
17 December 2007
09 December 2007
07 December 2007
Concepts I Don't Believe In But That Still Rule My Life And I Have No Hope For Doing Anything About Because They're Just Too Pervasive In Our Culture
It's not just that I am uncomfortable with the idea that my life is planned out. I find the notion of fate insulting to my intelligence. What is the point of anything, if it all already exists in a plan somewhere? Yet most theatre is based on some idea, or at least feeling, of fate.
Self-fulfilling nonsense. And I will never stop seeing them everywhere. Thank God, actually, because these things can get through to me when I'm otherwise completely disconnected from myself.
- "Everything happens for a reason."
No, it doesn't. If science isn't enough to convince you of this, at least take a moment to regard that there is no ending to stories (except death), and therefore no basis by which to judge the supposed long-term purpose of incidents. Still, we need hope or faith or both to get through it all, don't we?
They make great symbols, but ultimately they're contradictory even to the theologies that purport their existence.
- The D/Evil.
Another great symbol here, and mainly what he's a symbol for is our guilt. Sometimes the guilt we feel over our lack of guilt, for growing up, for self-interest -- Lucifer (named for a mistranslation, by the way) is all these things. Mainly, I don't believe in such a thing as absolute evil. "Evil," as it is commonly perceived, requires self-awareness, and every self-aware creature I've ever met does "evil" things out of sickness, ill-thought. Plain and simple.
- Cuteness (as a virtue).
Oh man. Must I endure? I must, because cuteness, either as an expression of "aw" or the more visceral "oh," endures. We want to procreate, to get freaky with cuteness, to create more cuteness. So we'll always want the cute. But it ain't a measure of nothin'. Except that it is.
- Violence (as a solution).
It only works on zombies, and even then you've probably got a lot of personal dehumanization to deal with as an after-effect, assuming the movies are at all relevant to the "real" thing.
- Organized sports.
Blame it on my youth: They don't actually matter.
I eagerly anticipate the Star Trek utopian future, in which capitalism is obliterated somehow. As common systems of exchange go, money blows. I don't have to justify this feeling to anyone
I just don't get what was so great about The King. Maybe someone can explain it to me. In them meantime, alive or dead, he doesn't make my list of believed-in.
What inspired this rant of rejection, especially from one whose history is so steeped in a faith of universal acceptance? I have been noticing and reading a lot lately--or so it seems to me--about Atheism as a movement. I do not oppose this movement. On the contrary, I think Atheists have been rather oppressed in our global culture, and I don't like anyone to be oppressed (REpressed, sometimes...) and so, say "Bully!" to the outspoken Atheists. I worry, however, over the way so many of them with the benefit of the public ear are immediately resorting to the stampeding debate tactics of those further into a life of faith that they so oppose. It's natural, when your beliefs are shaped by what you don't believe, to oppose another view, and nascent societies (such as openly atheistic groups in America) are bound to overstate their claim when they finally get a voice. So maybe I've nothing to worry about. Maybe them thar' Atheists will never become quite as fascist as to start bombing cathedrals and synagogues.
I believe in God, and it's important you know that if you're going to know me. I know there's no empirical evidence for the big G. I know lots of people think they have lots of conclusive evidence that God can't exist. I don't disagree with such people on any particular point, and actually tend to agree with the "facts," as scientists understand them. I even agree with Lennon, "Imagine," and think the world would be a much more peaceful place without religion. So why do I continue to believe in God? Is it just because I'm a minister's son? Is it stubborn wishful thinking, or deep-seeded superstition? Perhaps it's just playing it safe.
It's that I believe in something greater than all we can perceive. This "greater" thing is pervasive, interconnects us and has more meaningful significance than forces like gravity and magnetism (hell: it may be the source of all force[s]). It's not important to me that the greatness, which I'll go ahead and call God from here on out, created us, or nurtures us, or even has any personally conceivable relationship to us. What is important, to my mind and heart, is that the belief in God keep us from turning completely into self-important little gits, hell-bent on destroying one another and our celestial terrarium. I feel most in a spirit of God when I am grateful for life, all of it, and I can do that without seeing God as a man or regarding a book as gooder than most (the gooderest book). So rock on, Atheists. Get heard. I'm all for it. I hope you do some good in the world.
Me, though: I'm a believer.
05 December 2007
04 December 2007
- The Transporter
Okay, yes, I know: I'm already in trouble with a lot of people. Jason Statham is not a martial artist and, frankly, he's a bit of a toolbox . . . especially in this film, for which he seems to have WAY over-compensated for his receding hairline in the ol' weight room. Just let me speak my peace, and we'll move on. Corey Yuen choreographed the fights in this film, and he's someone we haven't seen a lot of in the west. He's brilliant, and at the top of his form here. Anyone remember what it was like to decide to watch Die Hard for the first time, thinking, "Oh well, I know it'll be real dumb, but I've me time to kill," only to find yourself blown away, literally and figuratively, by the movie? This is what happened to me with Transporter, only in a geeking-out-over-kung-fu way. I expected dumb action with lots of orange fire balls; I got elaborate, creative fight choregraphy patterned after a particular actor's strengths. La la la, bad-ass driver, la la la, lots of guns, la la la, OH MY GOD HE JUST KICKED A GUY IN THE HEAD BACKWARDS!
- Ong Bak
Oh my God in heaven. If you are a fan of unbelievable, real physical feats, this is a flick for you. If you dig authenticity in your martial arts, and learning about new ones, this is a flick for you. If you get squeamish over the sound effect of bones breaking, don't . . . uh . . . don't rent this movie. Seriously. You'll yuke. But it rules. Tony Jaa stars in this movie, which principally involves Muay Thai traditional kickboxing (very different from aerobic kickboxing). It also has the best foot-chase sequence I have ever seen.
- Legend of Drunken Master 2 (US title)
This would be one of those highly mainstream kung fu movies I was talking about. It's remarkable because it's an incredibly pure martial arts movie from the latter part of Jackie Chan's career (wherein most of his movies are sort of adventure comedies). Jackie actually fired the director for his predilection for wire work, so there are only two or three moments of wire-suspended antics, and those for exaggerating responses to kicks. The movie is perfect for Chan. It centers around Chinese Drunken Boxing, which is a very eccentric style perfectly suited to his creative choreography and incredibly acrobatic movement. Part of what's cool is that the final fight is between Chan and his real-life bodyguard. (Also cool because it points up a weakness of drunken styles [that they generally don't include powerful kicks] by way of Chan's bodyguard being a fierce foot boxer [found paper bag, breathing into it...geeking out...subsiding...].)
- The Chinese Connection (US title)
There's so much to say about this movie, it's difficult to know where to begin. It doesn't translate to our times so well, but most of Lee's movies come across as pretty dated these days. Three words should sell it: Nunchaku-Katana fight. It is definitely his most hard-core martial arts flick, and it has a downer ending. Lee was trying to expand his range as an actor (or at least his cast-ability), and he made a movie that was an almost overt expression of his disgust over the racial discrimination he experienced trying to work in America. Now the style is pretty tough to pin down. Lee sort of patented his martial-arts philosophy under the name Jeet Kun Do around 1965, under which philosophy he spurned adherence to traditional forms as limiting to a fighter. He was trained from youth in Wing Chun, however, and The Chinese Connection (Fist of Fury in China) concerns a character who returns to avenge the death of his kung fu teacher, who was presumably a traditional practitioner. Someone who knows more about gung fu needs to throw me a freaking bone here.
- Fist of Legend
Now, some will call a foul on me right here, right now. Fist of Legend, you see, is a remake of Fist of Fury. Jet Li stars, Yuen Wo Ping (the first Matrix) choreographs. Un. Be. Lievable. There's plenty of wire work in this one, but it's beautifully incorporated into actual climactic moments in a fight (I know: what a concept [okay, there is one embarrassing "one-arm pull-ups" bit]). The glory of this film is just how coordinated the direction, choreography and Li's movement are. Li was the youth wu-shu champion in China for, like, sixty-two years in a row, or something like that. And wu shu is pretty, if nothing else. They ditch the downer ending, as you might expect, but they have a fight between blind-folded fighters. Literally, blind fighting.
Before everyone starts freaking out and commenting (though I suspect this may end up another comment-less entry) on my lack of Shaw brothers, or my adherence to big-budget glam in this list, kindly note: These are my top five. They don't have to be yours. If you think that's lame, I have but one response.
. . . Boot to the head . . .