Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Day the Music Died. By Tony Garnett; A Review

The Day the Music Died. A Life Lived Behind the Lens. 
By Tony Garnett

This is an absolutely wonderful book by one of the best producers of films shown on BBC Television; it is a must for actors, producers, writers, directors – in fact anyone who has anything to do with the process of film making.
It is not a 'kiss and tell' piece and is wonderfully written with passion and feeling and in some places it is very moving. There is no name dropping, with one exception, nor gossip.
The one exception: I got the feeling that a chapter might have been suggested by the publisher, where Paul Newman is mentioned; as I said wonderfully written, but not that chapter and I don't think he (Tony) liked that period in his life, judging by the writing.
This is a memoir of Tony Garnett; the man, when he worked at the BBC – BBC Television, that is – who turned the drama department in to the National Theatre of Television.
Did the BBC deserve it, or really want it or even earn that phrase or praise?
Tony Garnett certainly deserved the praise for what he achieved there and, in fact, BBC Television Drama is still eating out on the work he did.
He was the producer of The Wednesday Play, so described by the infamous Internet Movie Date Base (IMDb) as a television series.
They were, in fact, ten single dramas (films) starting with Cathy Come Home in 1966 and ending with The Big Flame in 1969. Not forgetting the other IMDb described series called Play for Today, starting with Hard Labour in 1973 and ending with Spongers in 1979.
None of these were, in fact, 'plays' or parts of a series, they were full length single movies. They may have been politically motivated but who would not be politically motivated in the sixties and seventies when people in the UK were living in slums?
Between 1966 (Cathy) to 1979 he produced about 35 full length extraordinary films. Films that would win any award these days and films which never even see the desk of drama commissioning editors any more – and that is a pity.
I'm not saying the BBC doesn't produce good work these days, with the occasional series of Line of Duty and Secret Witness but the single film, the single great modern drama has gone.
In the book you will get to know what happened to the actress Topsy Jane; I remember seeing Topsy Jane in The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner when the film was first released; I didn't notice her in particular, or really understand the film, but later, when I saw it again and appreciated it better, I noticed and wondered what had happened to such an exciting young talent. The IMDb didn't exist and no matter where I looked I couldn't find anything apart from the fact that she had left the movie Billy Liar and was replaced by Julie Christie. There are some distance shots of Topsy still in Billy Liar, so they say, but that was it.
There is a little more information on the IMDb now but this book tells all as Tony Garnett was married to her and, like the rest of the book, it is a very sad tale.
In fact you will wonder, when you read it, just how Tony Garnett even survived and went on to do the great work he did.
His parents both died when he was very young; up to that time his mother would play the piano and the little Tony would dance and sing with her then suddenly, in a very moving and disturbing chapter, he loses them and he didn't sing and dance again; the music had died.
His family was split up, he went to live with an aunt and uncle, whilst his brother lived elsewhere and Tony disappeared in to a world of books. Not Biggles, or the Famous Five, but Freud and on to Marx's Capital (which defeated him) and on the way to books by RD Laing and other psychological and educational writers he devoured the Jacobeans, Shakespeare, the romantic poets and on to English French and Russian novels which must have formed his political ideas and subjects used so usefully later in his producing career.
I have often thought I had a great deal in common with him; I was brought up in Birmingham, albeit it on the other side of the city, and in the book he mentions Oswald Bailey's Army & Navy Store, where I worked in my first job from school; I supported Aston Villa, as he does – he because he lived on that side of the city (I presume) and me because we were Irish and lived in Balsall Heath and Sparkhill. He mentions David Turner (the writer) - I was in his last TV play for BBC.
We are at the other end of the spectrum on lots of other things, maybe because of that slight difference in our ages – seven years.
He mentions The Beatles and says 'I Want to Hold Your Hand was written for twelve year olds' when people of my age, watching them live for the first time, watched them with a male dominated audience (the same age as The Beatles) – at The Ritz, in King's Heath, Birmingham.
However the next time I saw them, at the same venue, they did play to young teenagers and we couldn't hear them, so maybe he has a point.
I believe The Beatles had a great hand in changing society from what it was in the fifties to what it became in the seventies, via the swinging sixties. President Regan always thought he brought down the Berlin Wall but he didn't; it was The Beatles and Levi Jeans.
Just as politicians thought they worked wonders and miracles, when it came to the housing crisis, with the forming of Shelter (the housing and homeless charity) but they didn't; it was people like Ken Loach and Tony Garnett who did more than any politician, in fact Shelter was formed as a direct result of Cathy Come Home.
In this memoir, (and what is the difference between a memoir and an autobiography), there is a chapter on Dennis Potter, another favourite television writer of mine, but Tony Garnett knew him and worked with him and the information therein is very interesting.
I met Tony Garnett once; it was when he was meeting people for a mini series called Law and Order – mini series is the wrong way to describe the classic series that it turned out to be; I wrote a review about it on the infamous IMDb.
Tony was in a BBC office somewhere with the director Les Blair and there was something about them, something I also noticed when I met Mike Leigh. They looked at me and as they did I got the feeling that they were looking in to my soul, examining every part of me to see what they could do with me, where they could fit me in to their scheme of things with their series.
I didn't get in to it and when I saw it, and I still do see it, I could see why; there was nothing in it for me but there was plenty in this book for me. Thank you Tony; thank you for writing it.


Friday, August 5, 2016

The Last Review of Eddie and a lot more

Hi folks: first of all this is the last review for you to peruse. Now the question is, not to be or not to be, but the reason I put the reviews up warts and all in the first place.
A lot of friends, some who invested in the crowd funding, wanted to see them and I thought it a good way to show them off as they're not bad. Nobody going mad over them but you can see they are, more or less, the same.
But what would happen if they were really terrible? Well the first thing would be I wouldn't give the reviewer free tickets to anything else – that's if there ever is anything else but would I show them off?
Peter O'Toole had the worst notices ever when he did a tour of Macbeth – awful they were so he made the theatre post them outside for everybody to see; used them in advertising and let everybody know. And the result: a huge hit; it was hard to get a ticket the whole things was a huge success; even went to Broadway.
Another play, a musical this time, was slated by the critics; another worst notices ever situation. The director called the Box Office to see how bad the ticket sales were on the second day, as he was going to make arrangements to close the show.
He was told by the box office that the queues were around the block; they had sold out many months ahead. The show: Le Miserables. Twenty odd years later it is still running.
When I first went to Edinburgh with my Irish Show I had a problem with my guitar just as the first night was about to open: I lost my capo and had to use one which would not hold the strings down. The reviewer said I would make a fortune as I would appeal to the old and middle aged but that it was the worst guitar playing he had heard.
I saw him before the notice came out, at a party, and he said he loved the show and thought it would go far – then I saw the worst guitar notice. And guess what I did: I told the theatre to put the worst guitar notice at the front of the theatre; and the result? You guessed; nobody came – I wasn't Peter O'Toole.
Also the fact that my family show was booked in to the 11.30 PM slot. Needless to say I didn't end up there at any of the other Edinburgh visits and they only charged me one week's theatre rent.
That show I had stop every night whilst the cannons fired at the tattoo which was taking place in Edinburgh Castle close by.
My favourite review for Eddie was the first; the first one I posted on here: she seemed to have it down to a tee; she spotted the Irish bits and called my final song Joycian which, to a James Joyce fan, is the highest piece of praise to have – even though the song wasn't by the Genius Jim.
So here is the final review. It won't make any difference to my play. I have received an enquiry about taking the play to America; if that works out I will take it to Santa Monica Playhouse too and then . . . who knows? Let's see if I have to raise any money for it and a lot of other bits and pieces and odds and sods and stress and mayhem – who knows?

This is from AYoungerTheatre.com

Review: The Two Sides of Eddie Ramone, Jermyn Street Theatre

By James Bell on July 27, 2016 in Theatre
Chris Sullivan as Eddie Ramone in The Two Sides of Eddie Ramone
The Two Sides of Eddie Ramone, is as the title might suggest, a play built on conflict and tension. We see the titular character (played by Chris Sullivan), a formerly popular comedian now consigned to the cruise ship circuit, switch between his interior and exterior facing selves. And, alongside the play’s only other character, his daughter Katie (Shian Denovan), the piece sets up a fraught mirroring of recollections and intentions. Notwithstanding some flaws, the show is a thoughtful look how we build our realities and sense of self.
The subject matter is fiercely interior. The action opens on Eddie rattling through his tired stage performance when he suddenly finds he is having an out of body experience. This capitulates him inside his own head, where he starts to ruminate on his career and family relationships and builds a stylised life story constructed through his curated memories. It is striking that, even during his deepest ruminations, he is still performing to the audience, never quite able to let go of his on stage persona.
Later in the play his daughter joins him and adds her own clashing counter narrative, gradually unpicking the version of events that Eddie has built up in the first act. It is a deft manoeuvre from Sullivan, who also wrote and directed the show, and leaves the audience revising their interpretation to the very end. However some aspects feel a tad convenient and the narrative, trying to pack too much in, verges close to being implausible. The strong performances from Sullivan and Denovan, though, are able to paper over any cracks in the premise’s believability.
Eddie is of Irish descent and the work’s concerns are, too, staunchly in the Irish dramatic tradition. Catholicism, guilt, abuse, alcoholism and fear death are all writ large. The vision and thematic reach are grand in their scope, but there are some aspects of the execution which mean it falls short of its ambition. As the work unfolds entirely as a recollection, its main means of storytelling is through anecdote. These sometimes meander and run away with themselves and you catch yourself wondering what the point of all this exposition is, as it often adds little to the narrative thrust.
Despite a few unanswered questions, The Two Sides of Eddie Ramone’s chief interest is in its thoughtful character studies by the two performers. If you can overlook a few bizarre moments, it’s worth a look for their evocation of a troubled father-daughter relationship and the new light shed on it when it is remembered and retold.

The Two Sides of Eddie Ramone is playing Jermyn Street Theatre until 30 July. For more information and tickets, see the Jermyn Street Theatre website.



Thursday, August 4, 2016

Eddie Review - last but one.

This is the last but one review - unless I can find another one. As I said warts and all. This might be warts but . . . look at the last eight words!!!

The 2 Sides of Eddie Ramone at Jermyn Street Theatre – Review

July 26, 2016 Last updated: July 26, 2016 1:17 am By Chris Omaweng
The 2 Sides of Eddie RamoneIt’s a good thing, on balance, for The 2 Sides of Eddie Ramone to be nuanced and deep enough not to make it too obvious what precisely those two sides are. This isn’t a variation of Jekyll and Hyde, though if I were to hazard a guess I would imagine there’s a public-facing side and a private side. But even this is too rudimentary a distinction, as there really is no indication of Eddie (Chris Sullivan) being that much different when doing his stand-up routine as opposed to talking in lengthy soliloquies away from the crowds.
Don’t be put off by my description of the soliloquies as ‘lengthy’. I’ve seen a fair number of shows over the years that unnecessarily over complicate things by switching between scenes, backwards and forwards, not in chronological order, and it is hard work trying to untangle a confusing storyline. Here, the simplicity of both the minimalist set and the plot’s linear progression is refreshing. Lengthy, at least as far as this play goes, is good. Lengthy means the audience gets to know both Eddie and his daughter Katie (Shian Denovan) really well, and isn’t expending energy constantly re-orientating ourselves to yet another quick change of scene.
This production does let itself down, however, by being too slowly paced. I would not want to call for a breakneck pace – there are enough plays out there that are in a hurry, thank you very much – but the almost relentless serene and moderated tones, even when Katie is taking the audience on a journey through some rather harrowing personal experiences, makes the play stodgier than the script is. There is no need for melodramatic emotionalism, of course, but being quite so blasé about the tough challenges in Katie’s life makes her character less than fully credible. Okay, these characters are British, and are the epitome of stiff upper lip stoicism, but this is live theatre, and I think the show could have benefited from more of the thoughts and feelings in the script being demonstrably acted out rather than merely described.
The more distressing elements of the plot are balanced out by several excerpts of Eddie’s comedy routines, which were, for the most part, genuinely amusing, if of an outdated style. Not for him the aggressive put-downs and character assassinations of a lot of comedy acts these days, but pleasant jokes. Katie’s choice of career, broadly within the same industry as her father’s, threatens to give the play an aura of self-indulgence. There are some insightful musings on the life of an itinerant entertainer, particularly one with a solo act.
I understand this is not the first production of this show, which has been revised and expanded. There is still yet more room for improvement, but as it is, this is a thoughtful, intelligent and intelligible play.
Review by Chris Omaweng




Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Review number 2 from Eddie!

Chris Sullivan and Shian Denovan
First rehearsal

Here's another review as threatened, I mean, as promised. This time from Chicago Critic dot com.

The 2 Sides Of Eddie Ramone


By Chris Sullivan
 jMp Company
 Directed by Chris Sullivan
 Jermyn Street Theatre
 16b Jermyn Street, Piccadilly Circus, Lon SW1Y 6ST
 Monday 25th – Saturday 30th July 7.30pm; Saturday 3.30pm
 Running time 75minutes with no intermission                               
You’re Cruisin’, Eddie, Aren’t You?
There’s a strange frankness about Chris Sullivan’s alter ego, as he takes his place at the mike to deliver his cruise comedian’s shtick. I say strange because it soon becomes apparent that what, to his audience, is an accomplished and entertaining stand-up performance, has become to him, a hateful nightly purgatory.
eddieR-300x150
In this day and age, out-of-body experiences have become a staple of psychiatrists, and are not always the weird and slightly frightening conditions so popular with horror film makers. What is different here, is that this is what Eddie finds himself experiencing, without, perhaps, realising that it is what saves him. It is his defence mechanism, enabling him to endlessly keep on churning out the same tired old gags, without blowing his brains out.
This is the second incarnation of The 2 Sides Of Eddie Ramone that I have seen. Previously, at its Edinburgh festival outing, it was Eddie on his own with his demons, and I was moved to write: ‘With flashes of brilliance, mixing comedy and pathos, and with his original and bitingly powerful writing, the redoubtable Chris Sullivan’s performance is his most memorable to date’. He has lost none of this winning emotional cocktail. This version of the play now features Shian Denovan, who plays his daughter, in a beautifully delivered and felt performance.
Whether this two-hander development is the last version of this piece, remains to be seen. What is clear, though, is that the story deserves to go on.
I look forward to the next time, Chris and Eddie!
Saul Reichlin



Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Another Eddie Review 2

I am being very lazy and I am putting up another review - there are about five (I think) and I'll put one up each day till they're done. This one is from an online mag called Remotegoat which reviews plays etc:

"play performed with uncanny reality"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 27/07/16
Eddie Ramone is a comedian, rather past his best. He has played London New York Las Vegas in his career, now he is appearing at a pub somewhere.

His jokes may be a bit old, but he tells them with his usual assurance.

At first, we think Chris Sullivan is playing himself or someone with a similar life pattern. Then we realise that this is a well written play, performed with uncanny reality by the author.

The play starts in low key with Sullivan as Eddie doing a stand up with very little response from the audience. He breaks off to start telling of his real life – so different from the one he is presenting to the audience. He tells of his devoted wife and his beloved daughter = a beautiful girl who he has put through drama school at Bristol to get her acting diploma, introduced her to influential friends to get her work in theatre and eventually taking her to Hollywood where she gets a role in a sitcom. Shian Denovan, as the girl herself appears to tell her own story ~The two never meet on stage but each is spotlighted in turn as they tell their version of the truth. The story gathers emotional momentum as the story is gradually revealed And the revelation is surprising and unexpected.

It is an interesting way to tell a story and it is excellently performed by the two actors.

What is very strange for me as audience and reviewer is to watch this play in the presence of the author's real life wife and daughter who are entirely difference from the ones portrayed in the play.

It is directed by the author and performed with one microphone on a bare set with minimal settings.

This is a fascinating way to build a story and is extremely effective – I hope and expect this production to go further.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The 2 Sides of Eddie Ramone: a review

There are reviews for my play, not all in yet, but this one is interesting:

TUESDAY, 26 JULY 2016

Review The 2 Sides of Eddie Ramone


The 2 Sides of Eddie Ramone
by Chris Sullivan

A Comedian's Wake

Poor old Eddie - you have to feel for him. Like some latter dayCharon, he's left standing on a boat, in his words, going "into auto pilot". A stand-up comedian on a North Sea cruise ship ploughing its way through choppy seas from and to Hull - just one vowel away from the other place.  

In this way Eddie (Emmerdale and Bergerac veteran Chris Sullivan) starts his act in The 2 Sides of Eddie Ramone. Dressed in the colours of a prelate, red jacket and black silk shirt, he takes the usual place under the spotlight in front of the microphone with a routine minted before television voraciously devoured years of jokes honed on the musical hall and club cricuit and spat them out all in one night.

Both written and directed by Dublin-born Sullivan, Eddie,  an Irishman with (his stage surname Ramone presumably taken from  the famously divided punk pioneers) used to be something big on the telly, a quiz show host. Part of a perfect family with a wife and talented daughter, convent educated Katie (Shian Denovan) who, with help from her Dad, went straight into a sitcom after drama school.

The play sprang into life as a one-man show in Santa Monica and then had a moderately successful run at the Edinburgh Festival.

Now developed as a two-hander, it does indeed capture something of the seriousness, not just in the plotting, but the single-mindedness coupled with vulnerability needed for the successful comedian. 

The tragic tale of Eddie and his daughter can be taken at face value as a family melodrama. But it also explores the  intersection between celebrity, family, sex, the paparazzi and reality TV. Plus the new digital television environment (the sub editor in me did wonder whether this was why the title had "2" in figures instead of the word "Two"), drugs, booze, prostitution and, with an extremely light touch, politics and agents.

The performances are skilful and the drama draws together throughtfully the threads of our modern age. Sullivan shows his chops as a seasoned actor, although occasionally at the beginning, there was a tendency to drop his voice a little too confidentially and inaudibly in filmic style. Donovan is impressive as his daughter Katie, in the garb of a medieval nun, in whom past, present and future meet. 

At the same time, the balance between stereotypical dramatic tropes and the all-too common causes of true-life celebrity downfall  is a delicate one to maintain. The pacing sometimes sags and we did wonder what the eye of a separate director would bring out in the subtle interlacing of themes where literature becomes intertwined with life. 

Still it's a detailled performance from Sullivan with Denovan successfully portraying the younger generation and the uncredited lighting following a trajectory of its own with a hint at one point of early filmmaking. 

The play runs until Saturday, July 30 and with a rousing yet elegaic Joycean ending going back to Eddie's music hall roots coming over crystal clear, this was a thought-proving 70 minutes with a pleasing delivery. So it's an amber light from your very own TLT reviewing double-act.  



Friday, July 22, 2016

Eddie Ready? nearly.

I'm having a really good time with my play – you know what it is – all together: The 2 Sides of Eddie Ramone.
My daughter is played by Shian Denovan and there we are above having the read through – or pretending to have the read through.
There are not many seats booked in advance but you never know – people may walk in.
Whatever happens I have to use the old phrase 'the play's the thing.'
It's a very strange genre of theatre to market. I have loads of those kinds of contacts both with audience and critics. It's not the usual type of critic it's the bloggers we are after. They review the play on the way home, it goes on line and that's where your potential audience is as that's the way the play gets spread by Twitter and Twitter is the main means of communication in the theatre.
I looked at a lot of the 'off west-end' twitter pages and noticed which reviewers were getting re-tweeted and contacted those critics and I have a few coming on the opening night – so we'll see.
But as I say, when I said the play's the thing, that that is the most important thing about it. When you rehearse you learn a lot about the play and it's the most exciting part of the creative process. As I wrote this play I didn't think I would learn much – but I did; a helluva lot. (and that's a word, would you believe – helluva).
You'd be surprised what little nuggets you find in the text – but I wrote it, I hear you say, but it's true.
Shian is a brilliant actress and I knew straight away when I met how good she potentially was and she has proved it. She found little nuggets there, asked the right kind of questions and generally helped towards the production.
She even brought in two jam doughnuts for me today – and this poor old computer can't spell doughnuts.
I, on the other hand, have gone my usual way of learning things at the last minute; it's just the way I work, I suppose, and a pain in the arse when I'm working with other people but this is like two, one person plays. Or a one-man-show and a one-woman-show as we hardly meet on stage at all. And the only time we do our eyes never meet.
So tomorrow I finish of my study of the role, put some music cues on to a memory stick, mark the script for sound and lighting cues for the tech on Sunday (tech is the technical rehearsal) when we will also decide on Shian's costume etc.
We have to go from cue to cue making sure we are in our light so the audience can see us.
By the way – I did raise some money through crowdfunding but wouldn't recommend it to anybody. I think you've really got to be obnoxious or at least persistent – it's a bit like American hard sell – a bit like Trump as he raises billions and, as we have arrived at the door of politics, is the most dangerous individual in the world.
Come and see the play if you're in town it's called . . . . . .

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Cupid.

Here is a little tale for you; if you look at the bottom of the page to the comments you will see that various people contribute; sometimes I know who the people are who write in and sometimes I don't. I don't take any of the comments down, unless they are advertisements, or edit them, so what you see is what has been written.
I get some comments emailed directly to me too; sometimes hostile and sometimes not so but there is always something to say and I always reply – someone fell out with me recently because he didn't like what I said about politics; this was someone on the same side as me politically, but sometimes there are certain people on your side which you wouldn't want – I mean maybe the miners would have won their strike in the 80s without Arthur Scargill – he was a great nemesis for Thatcher; if he hadn't have been around maybe they would have invented him; maybe they did.
Some time ago someone, who wrote comments on a regular basis, asked me if I would let them know the name and contact details of one of the other contributors. Well of course I couldn't do that without the permission of the other contact. The first one, who enquired, was a woman, and the one I wrote to for permission was a man. 
It so happened I had worked with the man when I used to ride a motor-bike for the post office years ago, so I did, indeed, have his email address.
I wrote to him.
I never use names on this blog so I will not be giving personal details or backgrounds – a back story, as they say today, instead of history.
I'm pretty sure I started this blog in 2009 and this will be my 392nd post; they are usually between 500 and 1200 words each - this one is just 641 - so you can work out that I have written enough words for a book – maybe 392,000. I'm sure the posts are not all good but I like a lot of them and when I have the time I'll edit what I have and publish.
Apart from this being my 392nd post I have had over 140,000 hits – that's people reading them; it could be the same person reading it 140,000 times – but I doubt it and it can't be me because my hits don't count.
Look:

After writing to the fella, he answered by saying I had his permission to pass on his email address; which I did. 
This blog goes all around the world – USA, Europe, Russia and Australia – all over the world and many other places; tout le monde.
So I passed on the email address from person B to person A and low and behold they lived within a mile or two of each other.
The chances of that happening must be a million to one –  even more tout le monde to nothing – to miss quote Shakespeare!
That's a bit like Leicester City winning the Premiere League last month – at the beginning of the season they were something like 50,000 to one. A few people took it but when the season was nearly over I believe most of the punters cashed in their winning for a percentage – that is one thing I would never do; that's why I'm an actor – I never give up.
So person A met up with person B in a Starbucks and got on very well.
I met person B when I came back from America in a Starbucks (again) in Watford.

Cutting to a short story, this coming Friday we are travelling up to Solihull in the West Midlands to their wedding; so maybe I am Cupid after all.

Monday, May 30, 2016

New boots.

I went to Margate a couple of months or so ago; I wrote on here about it. On the day I wore a new pair of boots but after a while I noticed, or my feet did, that I was taking two steps and the boots would only take one. Also they were hurting as it was like picking up weights with my feet. This led to me being knackered with very little of the day gone.
The 'day out' to Margate was a last minute decision as I wanted to go to the Turner Centre to see the place – it is a wonderful looking building and to look at it from the train station it looks magnificent; I can't say I liked the art though but I've said that before.
As I looked at it from the short distance it seemed miles away when it is probably no more than half a mile. The more I walked the more my feet hurt and the boots, the further I walked, the heavier they became.
This spread pain to the rest of my body and pretty soon I was walking like an old man; I stopped at a shop window and could see my reflection; I am an old man!! Why didn't anyone tell me?
So I went in to the store, which is called Peacocks, and browsed around looking for a pair of thermal socks – to keep my feet warm and to keep the boots on.
Oh yes of course – the weather outside was about 40º and dropping.
I found the thermal socks peg and bought two pairs; after struggling in the middle of the aisle to get them on, you can imagine the delight and relief that I felt as a I swaggered along the street; an old man no more.
The boots as you will see, above, are very comfortable and I wore them, with the socks, on many occasions since but there was one thing I didn't notice when buying the socks: they were two different shades of grey; one a lot darker than the other.
I noticed this as I sat on the tube, one day, as I looked down and noticed: grey on my left foot and dark on my right - almost black.
I called my wife and said one of my socks is grey and the other one black.

She said “that's funny. You have another pair at home like that!”

By the way: I have no idea why some of the text is larger or a different font in some places - but I have an idea and will rectify it before the next post. Isn't the word rectify rather like the word rectum - I wonder why?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Carrington Event.

I hope you are getting satisfaction from the Internet and find it useful; I do and I freely admit it. I do my banking, pay bills, buy from Amazon and, in fact, buy from anywhere using Paypal: I even bought a pair of shoes on line and had to pick them up from the store. 
Much better than buying things personally as I just hate shopping.
A friend of mine, Ron, would go on line but didn't trust it; he would amuse himself by looking at the Red Sox statistics, fixtures and historical results; would search on line for nothing in particular but he would never use it for anything like banking, buying something or anything which would involve buying anything or using his credit card.
I remember buying things for him on my computer – but his credit card – as if it were somehow safer.
His point was that he wouldn't put things on to the computer in case the whole system broke down and everything would be lost. It never did in his life time. 
But it did once upon a time.
It happened in 1859; in those days (doze daze) electricity was hardly used as it hadn't been harnessed so it wasn't noticed by a lot of people. It was noticed, however, by a man called Carrington and how do I remember this? Because there was a teacher in our school called Mr Carrington. In those days (doze daze) teachers' first names were Top Secret! We would look at the initial and try to guess it; there was another teacher called S.G. White – what could that have been?
Back to Carrington the solar storm spotter of 1859: the storm he noticed came during solar cycle 10 and if it happened today it would cut all Internet activity, electrical usage – you name it – and prove Ron right.
The most recent solar storm of similar magnitude was in 2012 – but this didn't strike the earth.
By the way the Carrington I am referring to was Richard C. Carrington (I just looked it up on Wikipidia) and the storm was also noticed by someone called Richard Hodgson independently.
Here's what it says on Wikipedia:
From August 28 to September 2, 1859, numerous sunspots were observed on the Sun. On August 29, southern aurorae were observed as far north as Queensland, Australia. Just before noon on September 1, the English amateur astronomers Richard Carrington and Richard Hodgson independently made the first observations of a solar flare. The flare was associated with a major coronal mass ejection (CME) that travelled directly toward Earth, taking 17.6 hours to make the 150 million kilometre (93 million mile) journey. It is believed that the relatively high speed of this CME (typical CMEs take several days to arrive at Earth) was made possible by a prior CME, perhaps the cause of the large aurora event on August 29, that "cleared the way" of ambient solar wind plasma for the Carrington event.
Here is a link if you want to read the lot:
and be careful where you leave your stuff; don't trust that cloud!



Saturday, April 23, 2016

To be or not to be . . .


. . . that is the question. And why shouldn't it be? This weekend marks the 400th anniversary of both Shakespeare's birth and death. 
It is presumed he was born on the 24th as he was baptised on the 26th.
He died on the 23rd.
There are lots of myths about him; the silliest being that he didn't write any of the plays. It is silly because the people who think this, say that he didn't go to a University so how could he know so much– well neither did Alan Ayckbourn, Ben Johnson and loads of others.
However he did go to Stratford Grammar School from 6am to 6pm for 6 days a week for years.
Oh, they say, he didn't write anything after he retired; no autobiography or anything like that – well who did in the 17th Century? 
Some did, I know, but there were no book shops in those days and no television or talk shows so you could sell your book!
To be or not to be is arguably the greatest speech ever written and a lot of people will say that Hamlet, which it comes from, is the greatest play ever written.
The speech, itself, has been crucified, vilified and even been ignored, in some productions, I believe. 
For some reason some actors want to do the speech differently from other actors as if that's the point.
A well known critic wrote recently that he likes to learn something new about Shakespeare's plays when he sees a new production – well how can we know what he doesn't know?
Later in Hamlet, Shakespeare himself, through one of the characters, says Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. In other words be it but don't overdo it.
And that about sums it up; it's a famous speech (To be) about a man who is considering suicide – To be or not to be . . so why do it any differently? Just feel it.
In London this week there is a celebration of Shakespeare's and the picture at the top of the page speaks for itself.

The other night I watched the movie My Darling Clementine; it's one of my favourite films and it was directed by John Ford.
Of course it's a western and in it a a strolling player – an actor – arrives in Dodge City to perform recitations and poetry. 
The Clanton gang capture him and put him on to a table in their saloon where he recites; the gang shoot glasses away from his feet and nearly make him dance.
Alan Mowbray plays Granville Thorndyke a true thespian (on the right above) and when he starts to be or not to be he forgets some of it and he looks in to the crowd where Victor Mature, playing Doc Holliday, stands as he has just entered the saloon to quieten things down.
Thorndyke looks at him and plaintively says 'Sir! please help me' and Mature finishes off the speech with such sensitivity it brings a lump to your throat. He was an actor who tried to join a golf club in Los Angeles, once, and was told that they didn't take actors as members; he replied, 'I'm not an actor – and I've got 64 films to prove it!'

Takes a great actor to say that – he was superb in all his films and his performance in After the Fox with Peter Sellers is a beaut; he sends himself up wonderfully, as a Hollywood star who is after a role in a movie that the character Peter Sellers plays is about to direct.
There are a few excerpts from bits of Shakespeare performances in movies and I think my favourite is also someone quoting from Hamlet.


In Withnail and I Richard E Grant, just after this shot (above), goes through What a piece of work is a man? from Hamlet and it is the best rendition of the speech I have ever heard – he has lost his friend and it is so moving as he recites it in the rain. The Purple Rain – let's sit and wonder if Prince's work lasts even half the amount of time that Shakespeare's did; RIP, in any case.

Monday, April 18, 2016

sOUNDz

Hi folks: I'm a little busy this week working on my play so don't have time to fill your day with any of my witticisms or wise cracks.
So have a look at my movie - it lasts 20 minutes and even though it's for sale on Amazon.com it isn't available on Amazon.co.uk. I am told it is something to so with licensing.
Let me know if you like it and turn up the volume.

YES I HAVE JUST AMENDED MY SPELLING MISTAKE - NAUGHTY ME!

And as you can see you have to click on to the 'play on vimeo' bit.



sOUNDz from CHRIS SULLIVAN on Vimeo.