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Thursday, 3 November 2011
Cyprus International Film Festival

The story is that the goddess Aphrodite was born on the island of Cyprus thousands of years ago. Arriving in Nicosia we found many modern buildings banks, clothing stores, etc. In the Old City there were many charming stores and restaurants blighted my the intrusion of McDonalds, Starbucks, and KFC. Palm trees lined the streets as 82 temperatures kept the island summer-like when we were there. We did find local restaurants with outstanding Greek food. I went to Cyprus with Lee and Jessa two actors from my movie. Our primary mission was not to find olives and shish kebob but to premiere my nine minute movie Don't Spill the Eggs in the Cyprus International Film Festival.
The hotel we stayed at helped get us ready for the festival by serving scrambled and boiled eggs every morning. After breakfast we strolled along to the souvenir stores which featured small copper statuettes of Leonidas, Hera, Aphrodite, and various ancient Greek warriors.

One store had a rack out side filled with rubber chickens. Every ten minutes without fail some tourist would come by and squeeze one of the chickens which would let out a squeak. We visited Byzantine churches and local museums and explored the Venetian wall. Sections of the wall built by the Venetian empire are still standing all around town.

 University of Nicosia Cine theater hosted the Cyprus International Film Festival.
There was a movie Oppression a black and white movie about a woman who kills her own son, Dulcis in Fundo about a woman meticulously staging her own suicide, Mans Best Friend about a reluctant cop who is ordered to kill his aging police dog that he has become too fond. The feature that night was I shall Remember as story of a boy's recollections of the Nazi occupation of the Russian Caucussus in WW II. The first night of movies was a grim and dark experience.
We stayed in the Greek part of Nicosia but also crossed the checkpoint into the Turkish part. It was definitely a radical different culture with old shops and restaurants, and prayers broadcasts from the local mosque. The people dress a bit more conservatively than the Greeks though women are often seen in modern fashions. We had a shish kebob lunch in the legendary courtyard of Buyuk Han a fortress built in the Ottoman period.
  Lee and Jessa saw a rug they wanted from a few guys operating out of a condemned warehouse with no signs or visible indication of  legitimate business. They agreed to a price but the question was how to get the rug to Boston. They couldn't bring it across the Nicosia checkpoint.

It couldn't be mailed from a country that was only recognized by Turkey. The rug guys said they would send it over by courier when one of their friends visited America. When the courier idea had about as much plausibility as delivering it by magic carpet the deal became shadier than a mangy goat hiding under a palm tree.

The next night's films were much less dark than Sunday night. The movie Flu by Syrian director Riad Makdessi was about a Middle eastern village where fish are drying up. People are catching the flu but the symptoms aren't sneezing and coughing. Everyone in the village catches this flu and it leads to a contagion of non-stop laughing. The feature that night Love Story was about an Indonesian boy and girl who defy an age old curse that promises misfortune to any lovers from opposite sides of the local river.
This was the big night for the Eggs film. There were short films about liposuction, policemen, and a guy who kidnaps his own son from foster parents. There was a controversial documentary memories by Panicos Neocleous about the Greek Turkish Cyprus war of 1974.

 Finally the festival screened Don't Spill the Eggs. The audience was intrigued and responded with laughter and applause. The festival organizers interviewed Lee, Jessa, and myself about the movie. They were impressed not just with the surrealist comedy and acting but with the poem itself and the mix with animation. 

On our final day in Cyprus we took a bus on the Turkish side to the harbor resort town of Kyrenia on the Mediterranean sea where they have a Byzantine castle, casinos, and turkish coffee.

That night I took the 1:00 PM bus to Larnaca airport and waited to check in for my 5:00 fight. Originally I wanted to get off the plane and visit London but instead I crashed out at Heathrow from exhaustion. If you have to get stuck in an airport Heathrow is the best. They have all these interesting stores. I read a book about the Beatles by Hunter Davies. Arriving back in Boston I walked down the street but there were no palm trees in sight.

Posted by mcusiman at 2:21 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2011 9:43 PM EST
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Rock and Roll
When I first came to Boston in 1984 I met some local poets and went to readings and listened to people who got on stage. Before that it never occurred to me to write poetry. My first time on stage, before I wrote my own poetry, I read the poem Celebration of the Lizard by the Doors. It is an amazing Jim Morrison poem because of the many shifting cadences. It starts out slow then it’s fast. Then it is loud and that turns into a whisper. I wondered how a 23 year old kid could write something with so much variety. It’s like a roller coaster of ups and downs. Then I heard an interview with Ray Manzarek explaining that at UCLA fil school he and Jim took a class with Joseph Von Sternberg. He was the director of Marlene Dietrich films. He taught them montage….how to juxtapose scenes in a movie fast slow, loud, and soft. So that is where they got it from.
When Jimi Hendrix was playing in Greenwich Village bars in the late 60s he was pretty much ignored. Chas Chandler, late of the Animals, became his manager and took him to London when Hendrix had about$10 in his pocket. On his first night there Chandler took him to perform at a rock club. In that audience was Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Eric Burden, Pete Townshend, and Eric Clapton. Of course he was suddenly a big local hit. Later he came to the Monterey Pop Festival as one of the British rock bands like The Who. That of course got him recognized in America and lead to his appearance at Woodstock.
Speaking of Woodstock which happened in 1969 the history books tell you it was all peace and love and the Woodstock nation/the coming of the tribes. Etc. It was pretty true in away. After the disaster in Altamont a few months later rock journalists said that Woodstock was the beginning of the communal counterculture and that it died at Altamont. That is a complete crock of bull. 
I went to the Strawberry Field rock festival in the summer of 1970 with 80,000 people. Everybody got along fine. People helped each other and had a good time. The only minor problem was when this guy on acid ripped of his clothes, ran through the crowd on all fours like a dog and climbed up to the top of the light tower howling at the moon.
Last week I met a woman at a Halloween party dressed as a 60s go-go girl with miniskirt etc. That reminded me of something. When Light my Fire came out, Satisfaction, Sgt. Peppers, etc. in the summer of 1967 we would go to rock clubs and guys and girls would dance to rock and roll music. When I tell that to people they don’t believe me. After disco came around almost no one remembered that people actually danced to rock and roll.

Posted by mcusiman at 2:01 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 3 November 2011 8:14 PM EDT
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Sunday, 28 August 2011
Boston Movies

Cartoon: New Boston Movies in progress

Posted by mcusiman at 4:19 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 28 August 2011 4:20 PM EDT
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Sunday, 7 August 2011
The Surrealist Adventure

The Surrealist Adventure

In 1938 the French Surrealists staged their most spectacular art show in Paris. The major artists Dali Duchamp, Chagall, Magritte, Carrington, Ernst, Man Ray, and Andre Breton where part of the exhibit. This is a cartoon story about that show. 

Posted by mcusiman at 1:07 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 7 August 2011 1:10 PM EDT
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Saturday, 28 May 2011
Recent photos from Paris, Cannes

  1. Napoleon, Victor Hugo, Balzac, Picasso, Gertude Stein. They all stood by the Seine in Paris and looked out at the moon. Now it is our turn. On the first night in Paris my friend Maria took actress Dawn and me to a party on the Pont des Arts footbridge that crosses the river by the Louvre. There hundreds of people were enjoying wine and cheese at an outdoor picnic on a warm spring night. We met several local people including Grace who hosts monthly artist salons in Montmartre.

  2. The next day we took a train to Cannes. When we got off at or stop we fond that it was a half an hour away from our hotel. Standing in the hot sun we were given directions on which bus to take. However we discovered that we were heading in the wrong direction. Finally we arrived at our hotel at Juan-les-Pins down the street from a beautiful harbor on the French Riviera. 

     Our first night at Cannes we saw a documentary tribute to Roger Corman Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel directed by Alex Stapleton. It was introduced by Peter Fonda, and featured interviews by people who got a start with him such as Martin Scorcese, Jack Nicholson, Peter Bogdonavich, and Robert DeNiro, as well as many clips from some of his 60s drive in B movies. Corman has made over 30 movies in is career. At the end there was a standing ovation as Roger and his wife were in the audience.

     We saw the Egyptian movie The Postman and a restored Rosselini La macchina ammazzacattivi from 1952. The UK Pavillion by the beach had a happy hour where I met the dog lady from London and a woman who rowed across the Atlantic Ocean.

    They had daily parties at the Short Film Corner which showed my movie Love @ First Sight. We met many other filmmakers at these events. Out of the many shorts only 9 were chosen for competition. We saw those 9. Many were European movies with very slow, dreary stories with little music. MEATHEAD directed by Sam HOLST  about a guy’s first day working at a New Zealand meat rendering plant was the most interesting visually.

    We thought BEAR directed by Nash EDGERTON was the best one but CROSS (CROSS - COUNTRY) directed by Maryna VRODA won the best short award. We watched several filmmakers and cast including Sean Penn walk the red carpet. It was a daily ritual where all the major films got their 9 minutes of fame.

    In the Middle Ages some peasants were afraid to go up in the mountains because of the many dragons who lived there.We stopped in Grenobe for a few days. It is a city surrounded by mountains with some vestiges of the famous 1968 Winter Olympics that was held there. We wen tup one mountain where a whole town has been built to accommodate skiers and summer tourists.

    We returned to Paris for a few days. From the outdoor cafes we went inside to the Louvre which was filled with French and Italian mythological and historical paintings among other things.

    We visited the house of Gustave Moreau an artist who's imagination gave mythological and historical paintings almost dreamlike images.

    We went to Galerie Atelier Z where I first exhibited my painting in Paris in 2003. They had photographs of women covered with bloody meat and there was a woman who was a living statue who dressed in prehistoric furs with a headdress of animal horns.

    Taking a break from art we entered the Museum of Natural History which was filed with skeletons of prehistoric and modern animals. Then we were off to the Zoo to watch the monkeys and orangutans.

    Finally on the last night our guide Maria took us to Grace's art salon in Montmartre. The occasion was a photographic art show and the guest list was eclectic. 

    The curator was a photographer who had a book of Cannes photos. There was an author of a book about Paris writers and a burlesque performer who has a TV show. Other Musicians, photographers, and artists added spice of a true legendary Paris salon. In fact this one was written about in a recent issue of the New Yorker. At the end of the night we went to a bar where we danced to American 1960s rockabilly music before our inevitable flight back to the States.

Posted by mcusiman at 9:27 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 12 June 2011 2:17 PM EDT
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Saturday, 23 April 2011
Poetry in the City

Poetry in the City

An epic project taking a dozen or more poets out of the bars and coffeehouses of Boston and into the streets of the City.

Posted by mcusiman at 11:29 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 15 January 2012 4:35 AM EST
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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Recently I went and saw improv comedy in Boston's North end. The routines were made up on the spot and were pretty clever and original. years ago I used to go to comedy clubs. I still go ccasionally and find them amusing. But there are some elements missing in modern comedy. The thing is that stand up comics get up onstage alone with a drink in their hand and tell jokes.

Nothing wrong with that but think back to the 20th century during the early days of movies.Actors liek Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton were silent they never spoke. The comedy and stories came out from pure physical action. The Keystone Kops never uttered a word but amused audiences with their manic chase scenes.

Stand up comedians often work alone. What happened to comedy teams? The Marx Brothers and the 3 Stooges were so much funnier together than solo.

 I was watching a Steve Martin DVD. His solo acts are funnier but he is much funnier playing off dan Ackroid, Belushi and the others from SNL. His Theodora of York routine is absolutely hysterical because he plays off all these other people.

This new movie Paul with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is funny because they are a team and they play off each other (and the Alien)

Another interesting thing you may notice is how rare male/female comedy teams are. There were Stiller and Meara. Mike Nichols and Elaine may in the 60s. Sonny and Cher were the most successful male/female comedy team but only lasted a brief time. Why is that?

Why aren't there more man/woman treams, why isn't there more physical humor, why aren't there more comedy teams in this age of solo standup talkers? I don't have the answer to that. This is just a blog but it's sometihng to think about.





Posted by mcusiman at 10:24 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 23 April 2011 11:38 PM EDT
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Saturday, 26 March 2011

The movie Cleopatra got lots of bad reviews over the years. It may have lost money costing $40 million but in fact it's a pretty good movie.

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Rex Harrison all add to the story. Some of the movie is historically accurate. Although Cleopatra entering the Roman Forum und ther Arch of Constantine is pretty funny. That arch was built 400 years later. It is like having Christopher Columbus walking by the Empire State Building.

It is a long movie (4 hours) but entertaining and worth watching on a long rainy day. 

Posted by mcusiman at 2:52 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 26 March 2011 3:06 PM EDT
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Saturday, 1 January 2011
Movies in Massachusetts

The last few years have brought many Movies to Massachusetts. I saw the Town and the Premiere of the Fighter.

They area all successful crowd pleasing films to be sure.



It occurred to me that outsiders watching movies about Boston may think that everyone in Boston is a local born and raised in the old neighborhood. That may have been true when they filmed The Friends of Eddie Coyle  in 1973. The truth is there are thousands of people in Boston from other places: Europe, China, California, etc. University students and faculty, biogenetic scientists come from many other places. 

Coming from a provincial town where everyone knows every one else from the sixth grade it's a breath of fresh air to constantly meet up with people form other cultures and countries.

What makes more exciting cinema? Irish cop and robber chase scenes or a Russian scientist pouring liquid in a test tube?

Actually there was a recent Boston movie The Social network about founding of Facebook by a Harvard programming student. We can't really complain though. Recent movie shoots have brought in over a $1 billion to the local economy. But just realize that we're not all a bunch of drunken Leprechauns.

Posted by mcusiman at 3:07 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 1 January 2011 3:37 PM EST
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Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Las Vegas

Las Vegas There is a hotel casino on the Vegas strip called the Mirage.

 In some ways it describes this never-never land for adults. Where else would someone build a replica of the Venice canals in the middle of a desert? The streets are paved with slot machines or more like guys passing out cards to tourists for hot girls @ an affordable price.


Caesar’s Palace is more ornate than Julius could have ever imagined.   I went to one bar at MGM to watch football on Sunday. The waitresses are serving drinks while the games are screened overhead. But then every half hour disco music kicks in and the scantily clad waitresses jump up and dance on the bar for 5 minutes. Then they go back to bartending. They made me miss the Chicago Bears touchdown.

 If there is one person who would thrive in Vegas it would be Dr. Victor Frankenstein. There is a major industry there digging up the bones of Elvis and the Rat Pack and building shows around these legends from 30-40 years ago. Walking through Caesar’s Palace I was offered a proposition by a lady of the evening asking me to fit her into my schedule. I spent a whopping $10 at the roulette table on the first night. I did go to see a Beatles tribute band and went to a comedy club. So why was I in Las Vegas anyway you may ask?  I was there for a cartoon/caricaturist convention.

 200 artists drew each other for 5 days straight and went to seminars by animator Bill Plympton and others. I drew dozens of people and several drew me. One guy drew me as the mad scientist from back to the Future. Las Vegas was a huge collection of sights and sounds…mostly the jingling of pinball machines. It’s certainly a place to visit for awhile before you go back home to reality. 

Posted by mcusiman at 2:35 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 29 November 2010 7:05 PM EST
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