Monday, March 10, 2014
Geez, I wanted to talk about choreography and the terms musical comedy choreographers use to talk about different kinds of dances and dance moves...terms like "the Foxy Trio" and "the Tea for Two," and words like "Terpsichore" and "Violanda." I just couldn't self-educate, even in a small way, in the short time I had. Oh, well...I'll still write about it soon, even if everything I say requires correction.
I still have choreography on my mind, though. I thought about posting about Jack Cole, an early jazz choreographer. While watching his videos I got sidetracked into watching Bob Fosse numbers again, and here are three of the ones I watched. You've probably seen them before. I have, dozens of times. I'm obsessed, I know. I'm to be pitted.
Fosse was a musical comedy guy. Watch numbers he worked on like "A Secretary is Not A Toy," "Whatever Lola Wants", "Brotherhood of Man" and the money song from Caberet to get a feeling for how he handles humor. He's great at it. It's surprising then, that he's so good at dramatic dances like the one above. Of course he sneaks humor into them.
Here's the death finale from "All That Jazz." The dark humor in it makes everything seem doubly tragic. I can't watch this without tears streaming down. It's amazing that the most moving depiction of death on film was done by a dancer/choreographer.
Posted by Eddie Fitzgerald at 1:05 AM
Friday, March 07, 2014
Wow and Double Wow! Take a look at this sketch (above) from the old Carol Burnett Show. It starts out a little slow, but stay with it...it gets better. Jerry's great in it!
Here's Carol (above) as William Shattner. This video isn't as good as the one at the top with Jerry but it contains some great ideas. That's the problem with TV...you can have a terrific idea but you hardly ever get the time to get it right.
I'm guessing that the scene where the two girls push each other's breasts up and down was built around funny, padded bras that were meant to stay in place in whatever direction they were pushed in. The gag didn't come off because the bras wouldn't work.
Here's Carol as Charo's mother. Haw!
And finally, Burnett's spoof of the film, "Born to Be Bad." Nice, eh?
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Geisel is, of course, the real name of the kids book author, Dr. Seuss. I love the way he used to draw hands. I've blogged about this subject before, but I thought it might be worth revisiting if I added photos of my own hands to help make my points.
Geez, this hand (above) is brilliant. It would belong in a cartoon museum if there was such a thing. What would you call it? A caricature of a hand?
Hmmm...well, not exactly. Real hands (above) don't look at all like the kind Geisel drew. Geisel's hand has long, breadstick fingers and elegant sweeping lines. It's so different than a real hand that "caricature" doesn't seem to describe it.
Here's (above) another Geisel hand. It looks gnarly and boney and...I'm searching for the word...deep-fried. It's less a caricature of a hand than a rethinking of what a hand is.
A real hand (above) is a multi-purpose tool that can be used for pointing and a hundred other things. That's all fine and good but Geisel favors the hand that's tailor-made for a task, and so do I. Geisel's deep-fried hand is a specialty tool. It's meant for pointing and nothing else. It would be no good for holding a spoon and sipping soup.
In the course of a funny cartoon a character's hand design may change many times....yet, paradoxically, it still must recognizably be the same character's hand. Interesting, huh?
Here (above) I'm guessing that Geisel just wanted to show how gnarly and ginger root-like a hand could be. Look at the joints and spots and wrinkles and hairs. Look at the weird bend in the thumb. Whatever the hand is pointing to is probably less interesting than the hand itself.
For comparison, here's (above) a real hand. How boring! In order to make interesting hands the Geisel way it might help to ask, "What is a cartoon hand for?" The answer is, it's for spilling and dropping, for scratching an itch, for insulting others with gestures, and for quirky, independent behavior that embarrasses its owner.
Saturday, March 01, 2014
The handsome bust above is of Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher who lived before Plato's time. I put it here because I want people to think it's Plato and be favorably disposed to him, at least for a moment. The guy (Plato) is out of favor now and needs every help he can get.
A while back I talked about Coursera, an internet school which offers free lectures and courses (graded or ungraded) on liberal arts subjects. Well, one of Coursera's latest offerings is a class on three of the dialogues of Plato. I'm not a Platonist but I grudgingly like the man because...Aaargh!... it's hard to finish that sentense. Plato's not a logician like Aristotle. What he has to offer is more subtle, more difficult to articulate. I'll give it a shot here, but I'm not confident that what I say will stand up to scrutiny.
Plato (that's him above) wants to be useful to real people in real situations. He believes in logic but he accepts the fact that real people are bound to culture and tradition and have a kind of in-built romantic bias. In order to reconcile all that he's willing to entertain ideas that are somewhat contradictory, something that Aristotle would never do.
If you were to tell Aristotle that you don't believe in ghosts but would be scared to spend a night in a haunted house, Aristotle might turn his back on you in disgust. Plato, on the other hand would be sympathetic, but...he might require you to at least try to find a unifying principal.
Plato's aware that accepting contradictions can lead to chaos so he emphasizes the need for character and thoughtfulness. A philosopher should study mathematics so he has a good ground in logic, but he should also sharpen his intuition and be self-critical and pious. Most people aren't capable of this kind of self-discipline, which is why Plato didn't believe in democracy. Neither did his hero, Socrates (above). I do believe in democracy, but it's possible to enjoy Plato without agreeing with him.
Friday, February 28, 2014
That's (above) the old Chouinard art school in the 30's, the school that later morphed into Cal Arts. It was Walt Disney's idea to combine the Chouinard Art Institute and the LA Conservatory of Music so that different artistic disciplines would be taught under the same roof. It was an interesting idea...cross pollination and all that...but did it work?
You have to wonder what would have happened if a showbiz dancer like Bob Fosse had supervised the Cal Arts dance program. Imagine the young Fosse lecturing to an animation class.
He would have shown them things like the Astaire tilted hat, the Jolson extended arms, face-open palms like a minstrel, clowning pantomimes, hiccuping joints, locking arms and legs that take a pose then suddenly drop it, tiny stepping like Jimmy Durante with knees bent and arms dangling behind...it would have been quite a show.
Fosse believed in keeping the actors moving, in establishing a stylized, confident flow that's never contradicted by a wrong gesture. He was influenced by what vaudevillians used to call "eccentric dancing," and he combined that with ballet.
Wow! What a teacher he would have made! What an influence such a teacher might have had on subsequent animation styles. Hmmmm....if any Cal Arts students are reading this will you write to Theory Corner to let us know how the dance/music/ animation synthesis is working out these days?
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Untitled from withnail pimple on Vimeo.
I thought I'd test Vimeo, just to see how it works. Holy Cow! They put graphics over the bottom of their videos! Not only that, but they put that stupid link underneath. What were they thinking?
Sorry for not posting sooner. I've been very busy, and still am. Just so nobody thinks I'm dead, here's a few recent photos from the "Astronomy Picture of the Day" site.
Above, that's Dingo Gap on Mars as seen by the Curiosity Rover.
How big is our galaxy? VERY. Our galaxy contains an area equal to that occupied by all six of the galaxies shown.
If intense radiation was confined to a small area in the very center of galaxies I wouldn't bother worrying about it, but I think it's more widespread than that, and may seriously hamper our ability to explore the galaxy and find intelligent life.
Above, the Earth at night as seen by the International Space Station.
A super massive black hole at its center leads astronomers to guess that it's the remnant of a larger galaxy that was torn apart by proximity with something else.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
None of them were what I expected. American gangster movies of the period always portrayed prostitutes as high-living Flapper-types (above). After seeing Jorge's pictures I'm wondering if that image was exaggerated. I don't see any Flappers here.
Some of the women (above) who were mere sex workers in those houses looked pretty mean themselves.
Maybe they were madams in training. They look hard as nails.
Some of the workers looked tragic, as if nothing good ever happened to them in their entire lives.
BTW: Most of these pictures were derived from a site called "vintage everyday," 1/26/2014