Word Association

  • shoe
  • cartoon
  • Calvin
  • Coolidge
  • President
  • Clinton
  • knees
  • screwed
  • tool
  • T-time
  • knobby
  • Al
  • reverend
  • kneel
  • stained glass
  • antique
  • 5 points
  • pizza
  • brother
  • Army
  • Pawn Shop
  • CD
  • knife
  • walk
  • car
  • laughing
  • story
  • Vincent
  • Kentucky
  • Mall
  • girl
  • family
  • Pennsylvania
  • rest stop
  • turkey
  • Reese’s cup
  • roommates
  • cold
  • cat
  • laser
  • seashore
  • sand
  • moving
  • art
  • drawing
  • nudes
  • self-portrait
  • writing
  • sloppy
  • neat
  • ideas
  • contain
  • perform

(now do I go into a completely random direction?)

My Top 5 Comedic Influences (of all time)in

5. Any cartoon. Some of the things I love about cartoons are:

  • they make the impossible commonplace
  • cartoons transplant the viewer to another place and time
  • they have bright colors and bright colors capture my attention

4. Robin Williams. I cannot believe he is gone. Robin was:

  • high-speed
  • intelligent
  • topical
  • a chance-taker, and was willing to fail

3. My Dad. This was a no-brainer. My Dad can bring a laugh to any situation. BONUS: He loves me back, unlike the others on the list.

2. The Three Stooges. From the Three Stooges I learned:

  • teamwork
  • physical humor
  • how common we all are and that is what ties us all together

1. Monty Python’s Flying Circus (mainly the TV Shows) Python is gold standard of comedy to me, because it is:

  • intelligent
  • irreverent
  • fast paced
  • totally my sense of humor
  • teamwork

These together form the Mount Rushmore of my influences.

Oh, by the way, did you notice we are evolving into the planet of the apes. Great. This is part six.

This blog is focused on how the sixth movie, which was originally slated to be directed by Oliver Stone, was created to cash in on the success of the franchise and almost killed it off. In the first blog I said I would call Planet of the Apes 1968 after the year it was made. I did this because of the movie I am reviewing in this blog, also named Planet of the Apes. So we will use the same naming convention and call this movie 2001. 2001 does have some good things going for it, but ultimately it is the worst, worst by far, of all of the Planet of the Apes movies. It is the Star Wars Holiday Special of Planet of the Apes movies, for those who have had to and lived through it. (aside: if you never heard of Star Wars Holiday Special your life is better than it could be.)

The story is a remake of the plot from the original movie, astronaut gets lost and doesn’t realize he has been on Earth the whole time (INAPPROPRIATELY PLACED SPOILER ALERT) and meets apes who talk. Things that are good about this movie: visuals and special effects. Tim Burton was the Director so this is no surprise to anyone familiar with his work. Things that are bad about this movie: virtually everything else. The story is bad and the ending is UNFORGIVABLY BAD. I can’t keep thinking about it bad.

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The main reason that 2001 connects to the world we live in is that in the moments when life seems totally, horribly oppressive we can take solace in the idea that somewhere in an uncivilized world some model in a forest has impeccable lipstick despite her cruel slave-master simians.

Can I say that at the time I did not realize how much the female apes looked odd? It really did not hit my attention until many years later, bug I can now say i think the attempt was to make them look empathetic by way of eye makeup and eyelashes and… well, take a look at this.

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There is no redeeming quality of this movie except the small points I made. This makes me sad and make me worry about all of us. Come on, just blow us up already, willya?

 

NEXT TIME: Oh, by the way, did you notice we are evolving into the planet of the apes. Great. This is part seven. Coming soon!

Oh, by the way, did you notice we are evolving into the planet of the apes. Great. This is part five.

Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Battle. This is a movie in the canon that takes a lot of criticism. It is THE one of the original five movies that receives the most knocks, and there are many reasons why. Overall, there is a lot more going for this movie than against it, in this person’s opinion. First off, Roddy McDowall captains this movie, which means that aside from Beneath, when he was unavailable, he was in all of the original movies. That alone bears mention! A lot of what was intended to be good ended up not being so good… hence the reason why I feel it relates to the world we love in and it ends up her further proving my claim that we exist in the same universe as the movie.

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No this is not “seeing the world with rose-colored glasses”. This is a mutant, who has been living underground, underneath (see the similarity to people living below the poverty line or below the median income level of most folks in the Unites States reference? I just made it.) the city. So the story in this is that the mutants think the apes are going to attack, so they attack first. Sound like a familiar idea? How many times do countries do this to get a leg up on their perceived competition?

What happens if we get almost wiped out sometime in the near future? Doesn’t nature tell us that someone or something is going to come along and rule over what is left of civilization? There are an awful lot of really smart apes in our culture now. Ones we can care about. Here is the latest story of one:

When Andy Serkis heard about the plight of Louie, a chimpanzee who has apparently lived in isolation from others of his species inside a roadside zoo in the US state of Michigan for six years, he jumped at the chance to raise awareness of this cruelty.

In this moving new video that reveals what the lives of animals are like in these dismal facilities, he narrates Louie’s experience and asks for help to secure his release: watch the video

In today’s world we keep getting made lots of promises. A lot of what were told, or was intended to be good has ended up not being so good. I don;t know about you, but I am looking over my shoulder, waiting to catch first glimpse of apes on horseback.

“Now! Fight like apes!!”

 

 

NEXT TIME: Oh, by the way, did you notice we are evolving into the planet of the apes. Great. This is part six. Coming soon!

The End of Dirty Laundry

A few years ago, in 2014, I was recruited to be part of a new project at the Philly Improv Theater (PHIT). The Director,  Steve Kleinedler, was putting together a show unlike any other. The idea was to form a family onstage with a multi generational conceit, but luckily due to the actual age ranges of the performers, there was no need for a force fit. When we first met, we didn’t have proper names or a name for the show. After working together some, the show started to create itself. I picked our family name “Pinwright” because it is the last name from the first sitcom ever, at least according to Guinness World Records.

The first television sitcom was Pinwright´s Progress (BBC, UK, 1946-47) starring character actor James Hayter (UK) as J Pinwright, owner of the smallest multiple store in the world.

Mary, Kelly Jo, and Susan play 3 sisters. I play Kelly Jo’s husband, and David and Molly play our grown children. We assembled to discuss the show and create a rehearsal schedule for the summer and did our first shows in September 2014. Dirty Laundry performs monthly on a full sized stage at PHIT. The show runs and feels like a sitcom, I mean that in the best way. We have grown to love each other as a family does. Dirty Laundry is totally unique, and never will happen again.

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The cast of Dirty Laundry (Top to Bottom, Left to Right)

Peg Connelly: Mary Eklund

Elaine Connelly: Susan LaPalombara

Connie Pinwright: Kelly Jo Little

Bob Pinwright: Rick Horner

Haley Pinwright: Molly Scullion

Marcus Pinwright: David Donnella

Each month we are introduced by Steve and then do a 45 minute show based on one audience suggestion. There is a variety of energy throughout our show, with movement up and down in that energy. I feel quiet scenes are extremely engaging and if you’re doing a scene, there’s five other people in the shadows around you, adding to the energy. The show is about how the characters all feel about each other, it is not overly plot-driven. In a normal improv show we would want to be able to see everything that happens once it is said. But this show is designed to be more about how things affect people, so the aftermath, it’s not so much the telling of the story, but seeing how things affect us.

We have 3 downstage spaces and 2 upstage spaces. Upstage is Peg’s place and Elaine’s place; down center is the living room. On the sides, left down center is the kitchen and right down center is the study. Everything is not what it seems to be, for example our “couch” is a park bench that we cover with an afghan and some throw pillows. Generic offsite spaces are rarely needed but there is room for a few off-site scenes and if our story calls for one of these offsite spaces, we play the lip of the stage. The edits between scenes and background movement are done in a way I have never seen done by any other improv group too.

 

This Saturday, December 3rd, 2016 is our last show. There is another write up about this farewell show here.

 

Thanks Steve, for the vision and hands on to make this happen.

Thanks Susan, my kindred spirit and play pal, you brighten my spirits and I love love playing with you.

Thanks Kelly Jo, you always rock and I know how much doing this means to you and I have been so glad to be a part of it.

Thanks Mary, you are one of the most positive people I have ever met, I love your laugh and I can’t wait to play with YOU in front of a crowd wherever we end up next.

Thanks David, you are so smart and quick, it has been fun playing with you and I enjoy Dadding you.

Thanks Molly, you are such a great actor/actress and I always genuinely feel the emotions you are laying down. You are so so fun.

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Thanks to all of you, who have regularly explored the world Pinwright. Cheers!

 

ZACHERLE (a prequel to the last mummer)

ZACHERLE (a prequel to the last mummer)

Into our fears we must delve,
If we want to know what is ourself,
As you’ll see from two girlies,
And the only Zach-er-le,
When you see the show September twelfth

(this was a limerick I sent to the PA Fringe Festival for the half-written, half-improvised horror show I co created and performed in in September 2010. I portrayed the character Zacherle who was inspired partially from myself, and inspired partially by John Zacherle, known in Philadelphia as Roland, the Cool Ghoul).

This is a photo of a mask designed to resemble John Zacherle in his horror movie host persona. The mask was never manufactured for public sale.

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photo credit: Bobby Beeman / Toy Ranch

50

I turned 50 recently. Haha, yeah I am not the average college student, am I. Or wait, what is the average now? I changed my mind. I am the average! I may not be in the best physical shape of my life (I am not) and I may not be as smart as I used to be (I not am), but mostly I feel pretty good/ 50 is the new 40? Whatever. In all seriousness, I truly don’t measure myself by anything other than am I moving in a direction that I want to be? This answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no, but overall I am pretty content that all is good and I am happy. Life is good! It might be time to shave my beard off. Ow, what is that pain? Temporary. I know things now that I didn’t before, like when to take my foot off of the gas (this is not an analogy, it saves gas). Oh, don’t get me started on bodily noises. I happily look forward to what is ahead with a happy past behind me. Summary: life is good.

 

What you got, 60?

Oh, by the way, did you notice we are evolving into the planet of the apes. Great. This is part four.

Chronologically speaking, the next movie I would like to compare – the comparison being the world of the Planet of the Apes to our own world – is Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (hereafter, Conquest). I love most how each of the movies has its low and high points and yet all are about the same basic subject matter and handled completely differently. Each movie has a specific point-of-view and looks and feels different from all of the other entries on the Apes movies. This one is the look at the moment it is clear man and ape will not go peacefully together into the night, hand in hand. Rather than see clearly the definitions of peace against society, this movie showed me how little it would take to turn the smartest and kindest into maddened savages, thirsty for the blood of their rivals.

Yep, not for hippies.

Isn’t the story of our land partly how we have been led away from the arguably naive wording used in the Declaration of Independence towards our current hurtling culture of impending doom? All right, maybe that is a bit harsh but I can see it. I see an awful lot of people hesitate to act – except when they feel they are being threatened. Sad but true. For example, do you have a process for checking the labels of your food in your refrigerator, regularly, to see if it is expired? I bet not. But if the news talks about how some listeria was found in some hummus somewhere, I bet you go through all of the food in your fridge to make sure you are Sabra safe. Right? That reaction, when you drop everything you are doing and take some action with a priority over everything else, that is fear. That is a lot of how we react to information, especially news that makes us fear for our safety or the safety of our loved ones.

In Conquest, Caesar is exposed to the world for the first time, as a “lad”. He sees racism and anger and fear all at once. He witness the outrageous horrors inflicted on his people, and empowers himself to do something about it. Most interestingly, the original version of the movie that existed for years was not the original (and in my opinion, better) cut of the film. You can see that if you get the Conquest blu-ray. You may first have to get a blu-ray player. I don’t know what your set up is. I bought a blu-ray player because one of the Apes movies was available on blu-ray.

I don’t think it takes very much to make the average person angry. Very little, in fact. So just how much would it take to make the average person turn violent, aggressive, and war-mongering?

 

 

Let’s just see.

 

NEXT TIME: Oh, by the way, did you notice we are evolving into the planet of the apes. Great. This is part five. Coming soon!

Soap Lady Blues

I turned 50 on my birthday, as did my sister… (ok, side note, step sister for those of who are math majors, or just really count well) and we had a party on November 5th (not either of our actual birthday days, a great split down the middle of the time between the two of them). One of the fun things my wife planned for us all to do was to go to the Mutter Museum! So we did!!

The Mutter Museum is in Philadelphia, and was established in 1858 as a medical museum. Some of the many bizarrely unique items therein are things such as preserved medical oddities and all kinds of diseased specimens. There is an exhibit inside called the Soap Lady. The Soap Lady, according to muttermuseum.org, is described best as:

The Soap Lady is the name given to a woman whose body was exhumed in Philadelphia in 1875. The specimen is unique because a fatty substance called adipocere encases the remains. Adipocere formation is not common, but it may form in alkaline, warm, airless environments, such as the one in which the Soap Lady was buried.

I am fairly certain that the Soap Lady was moved, she did not move herself, it should be made clear. I wouldn’t want to freak you out. She is dead. Since she is dead, I thought for fun it might be funny to think about what the Soap Lady would have thought about my birthday day.

My wife and I started out the day at home, with electric. The Soap Lady would not have had electric in her home – so score one for me. I am pretty sure I used both my indoor lighting, and my Keurig coffeemaker to have at least three cups of coffee. So I see the Soap Lady as being jealous of our modern conveniences on my birthday day. Second, I heated up a sausage and ate it for breakfast. Since the Soap Lady had no teeth when they exhumed her I bet even if they had readily available microwave sausage, and a way to heat it even if not by the as-yet-not-invented-microwave, she would have had no teeth to chew it with anyway. So I see the Soap Lady as being sad about our modern sausages on my birthday day. Lastly, for many years, it was believed that the Soap Lady was middle-aged. Then, in the late 80’s they finally x-rayed her, and she more likely was in her late 20’s. Assuming there is the tiniest, most minuscule amount of consciousness still left in Soap Lady, I imagine how angry she would be that she laid around being mistaken for a middle-aged person for all those years. Since I am often taken for being younger than my age, I think the third thing the Soap Lady would have felt on my birthday was anger. Seething, you-got-me-all-wrong anger. Mad as hell Soap Lady on my birthday day.

On the flip side, she doesn’t have to get up for work, she is already there. She doesn’t waste money on fast food. She is lean, no body fat. She looks legitimately comfortable and people from all over the world cannot wait to see her. You have to PAY to see her. She doesn’t have to pay taxes or worry about healing up a twisted ankle. She has all the time in the world to do whatever she feels like doing, and no one can stop her or bother her.

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You win, Soap Lady.

Oh, by the way, did you notice we are evolving into the planet of the apes. Great. This is part three.

The third movie in the original Planet of the Apes trilogy is Escape From the Planet of the Apes. They blew up the world, so how do you follow that fer crying out loud!?!?! SPOILER: Go back in time. The apes fixed the broken space ship they found in the lake… ahem, somehow… we are told. And this, despite showing any evidence that they were in any way any sort of civilized society or had the ability to do this. BELIEVE!

How does Escape connect to the theory that we are living in the same world as the Planet of the Apes? Escape is a pretty standard fish-out-of-water story where the APES this time around get stranded in OUR world. I run into a good number of polite, well-intending neanderthals during the course of my day. Do you? These are the people who feel like they don’t quite belong; that who and what they are isn’t “normal.” I personally don’t think that there is a such thing as normal these days, but I think the way many people are raised and many people’s experiences in the world leave a lot of people feeling unsatisfied with their standing in the world. I see an awful lot of people trying to find a way to fit in while they are standing out. We, the entire world, have turned into our own fish-out-of water.

The story of Escape is that once the apes display their intelligence, it is ridiculously revealed that at some point apes, not man will rule the world. We live in a world where apes HAVE displayed a pretty fair amount of intelligence – not the power of speak mind you – and yet no one seems to be particularly scared. And this civilization has the benefit of the Planet of the Apes movies as reminders that everything could suddenly go awry, information I assume is absent in the world of the movies (but really, who know?)

The first half of Escape is a comedy; the second half a tragedy. Weird, bizarre combination! When I watch the movie Escape I see it through the lens of fear just about every time I watched it. That is the same kind of civilized world we live in now. A world of fear, or at least an America of fear.  Watch ten minutes of television and it will tell you the latest thing to be afraid of or that you should feel under-confident about. To me, the world of Escape is a direct reflection of our world, a straight-up comparison.

Are we headed for a future where we will be taken over? I could envision that, seeing the many displays of ineptitude I see all around me. Could we blot ourselves out of existence completely? I would love to tell myself that we are not capable of it, but I can’t be convincing enough to myself that it is true. Can we prevent bad stuff from happening, or is it destiny? Escape is a case of showing us how we are doomed to not only repeat our failures, but how they lead us to destruction.

SO LET’S PARTY!

 

NEXT TIME: Oh, by the way, did you notice we are evolving into the planet of the apes. Great. This is part four. Coming soon!