Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
« January 2012 »
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31
You are not logged in. Log in
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Sunday, 15 January 2012
A Question of Comedy

In then 90s I went out with this woman I'll call Amy on and off for 10 years. Although she took acting, singing, and music lessons she would never actually get up on stage. When we were together we were absolutely hilarious every minute. If someone had followed us around with a video camera it would have been an incredible comedy show but she would rarely go to parties or social events so people rarely saw her. When I suggested that we get up on stage and do comedy together she acted as if I had invited her to take a space capsule to the moon.

I knew this other poet Kitty. We were romantic for a short time but that didn't work out. We hung out on the poetry scene all the time and she did these stories and poems that were hilarious leaving audiences rolling in the aisles. She passed way a few years ago.

    I found a copy of a letter I sent her once suggesting that we work together as a comedy team. I told her that if we teamed up we would be a big hit and she wouldn't have to clean apartments the rest of her life but it fell on deaf ears.

What I've discovered was that outside of Stiller and Meara comedy teams of a man and woman together is as rare the mating of Chinese pandas.

Mike Nichols and Elaine May toured together as a highly successful team in the late 50s but only lasted 3 years.

Sonny and Cher had hugely successful songs on the radio and a television show but broke up after just a few years to follow solo careers.

  There was series of sketches on the early Saturday Night Live: Two Wild and Crazy Guys It starred Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin playing two obnoxious Czech immigrants trying cluelessly to pick up American women played by Gilda Radner, Laraine Newman, and Jane Curtin. It was popular but I don't think it lasted more than 10-12 episodes.

 When you go to a comedy club what do you see? One guy or woman standing alone on stage telling jokes by themselves.

What happened to comedy teams? The Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello…..these were very popular comedy teams. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were hugely popular in the 50s.

But it seems that there are few comedy teams these days. Comedy teams of a man and woman performing together is extremely rare. Comedy teams of Chinese pandas performing together is even rarer than that. Why is that? I just don't know.

Posted by mcusiman at 3:57 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 20 August 2012 11:44 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 3 January 2012
I was a kid I used to build these miniature building sand bridges with sticks
in the back yard. My uncle watched me once and suggested that I become an
architect. The truth is I’ve been a cartoonist all my life and that has been my
number one thing. On my latest monkey movie I needed some shots for scenes of a
university anthropology building, restaurants, and a biogenetic lab. 
pictures I found on the internet were rather uninspiring so I invented some of
my own. These are some of the imaginary buildings built with Flash animation.

Posted by mcusiman at 9:34 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2012 11:06 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The movie Monkey Do Monkey Don't has been filming in Cambridge and Boston. Some filmming took place in the Occupy Boston camp.


Posted by mcusiman at 6:56 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2012 11:07 PM EST
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink

Newer | Latest | Older