Browsing "entertainment"
May 17, 2006 - entertainment    No Comments


The new Cirque du Soleil show, Delirium, is in town.  Four of us went to last night’s show …wow.  This is the third Cirque show I’ve seen, and I still can’t find words to describe them.  In talking about it afterwards (well, not so much talking as staring slack-jawed at each other) we all agreed:  You can’t explain one of these shows to someone who’s never seen one, you have to experience it yourself.

What I can say is it’s very different from what you’d expect from a “typical” Cirque show.  The other’s I’ve seen (Alegria and Corteo) were more “circus-y” with positively unreal acts of physical coordination, dexterity, and teamwork, all performed to a bed of original music.  Delirium is (for lack of a better description) the exact opposite.  It’s more a concert than a circus, where the music takes center stage and the circus acts (lesser in number, but not in intensity) augment the songs.  Truly outstanding.

This is a short-run show (only 2 nights) in cities across the US and Canada, and it’s opening up in more and more of them.  I know I’ve said it before, I’m going to say it again, and I’ll say it after every Cirque show I see:

Go … now.

Oct 23, 2005 - entertainment, observations    No Comments

Corteo: The Show Moves On

I finally went to see Corteo this afternoon, catching the last show before it leaves Minneapolis and heads for San Fransicso. As I said back when Alegria was in town, if you ever have the opportunity to see a Cirque du Soleil show, go.

Sitting in the 4th row back from the stage, it was almost too close (the show is heavily aerobatic, with people flying on wires all over the place), but it was definitely worth it. I’m not even going to try to describe the performance, it simply cannot be done with words, you have to experience it for yourself. And the DVDs, the music CDs, and the TV airings on Bravo don’t get you there either. Yes, they’re good … but they only give you a taste … and it’s simply not the same. I find myself comparing the evening to the MasterCard commercial series:

  • Tickets: $70
  • Parking: $10
  • Bag of popcorn the size of your head: $5
  • Chance to see Cirque du Soleil: priceless

I went alone this year (was trying to get some friends to go … and they were interested … just not enough to commit to a date so we could get tickets. Their loss.) and, although watching those lithe, limber athletes bounding around both sky and stage (reminding me how out of shape I am … and how old I’m getting), it was still fantastic. Even better was seeing that Minnesotans have grown up a bit from when Alegria was in town: not a single cellphone went off during the performance (at least, none that I could hear). The opening announcements I found creative yet subtle when dealing with this:

“… after the show, please remember to turn your cellphones and pagers back on …”

No “please turn them off, now” message like the last time (for all the good it did … just read my post) … just a polite reminder to turn them back on when you leave. Inverse psychology, if you will. I like that.

And still, there are some things that are so traditionally “Minnesota un-nice” … I think they’re typical of human behavior regardless of the state or city … like trying to get out of the parking lot after the show. Rather than go into a diatribe around each instance, I offer the following “Tips of Parking Lot Etiquette”:

  • When entering the lot, think ahead. It may make perfect sense to put the car as close to the exit as you possibly can, but parking in the aisle you know people are going to be driving down when their trying to leave means you’ll have to make a jackass of yourself backing out into the exit lane when you want to go.
  • If you must park in the exit aisle, go find a restaurant or bar and have a cocktail (or two) after the show. Wait for 30 minutes (or an hour) before trying to go extricate your car. You’ll have more fun, and spend less time waiting.
  • When walking to your car, remember that there are people in large, heavy, metalic motorized vehicles that are already trying to leave … walk through them at places that will do the least damage to the flow of traffic. You may find that things are easier for you to get out when you finally get into your car if you let more people ahead of you do the same.
  • Since we’re all trying to do the same thing (leave), show a little courtesy for the people around you. Honking your horn, flashing your brights, or riding up on the trunk of the car in front of you because they’re not moving as fast as you’d like them to (nevermind that they can’t go forward right now because the traffic light at the exit is red) isn’t going to get you out the door any faster.
  • While I’m on the subject, keep in mind that we all have to squeeze out the same exit … so share. Just because you’ve got an SUV doesn’t make you special (stupid, probably … special, definitely not). Wait your turn.
  • Last (but definitely not least), relax. Be patient. You’ll get out just like everyone else.

In short, think. The very people who don’t think of those around them … are the same ones who get so mad when someone else’s lackof thinking directly impacts them.

That said, even the antics of my fellow Minnesotans didn’t tarnish the evening. It was a damn good show. If you ever have a chance … GO.

Aug 21, 2005 - entertainment    No Comments

Reality TV = Lotto with Ads

NBC had a “Fall Preview” show on this morning.  Really nothing more than all the ads for their shows played back-to-back (nothing deeper, no “behind-the-scenes” stuff, nothing) with Vanessa Marcil and Nikki Cox (from Las Vegas) hosting (aka “eye candy”)… in other words, the same pointless, mindless, useless fluff the networks have become known for.  I see Martha’s dominion is back in full swing, becoming the next Apprentice franchise (leave it to Martha to key into something with the word “franchise” attached) … and that put me back into my ongoing internal rant over the entire concept of “reality TV”.

Then it hit me:  reality TV is the next Lotto.

Our society has been preoccupied with the concept of accumulating excessive wealth for centuries.  Along with that has come both the hucksters and the “hucked” of one get-rich-quick scheme after another.  Look at some of them from the last decades:

  • Publishers Clearing House
  • Amway (and all the MLM or “MLM-like” derivatives that preceded and followed)
  • Day trading
  • Real Estate (I’m talking about the more speculative side)
  • Beanie Babies
  • The “dot-com” boom (more of a ka-boom, as we saw)
  • the Lottery (gambling from the comfort of your gas station)

Some may say “Hey!  Real estate is a real investment!”  To them I reply “you’re absolutely right … assuming you know what you’re doing and are willing to accept the consequences (e.g. financial loss) if you don’t or are wrong”.  Problem is, many people don’t accept the responsibility of failure … we just go hunting for someone to sue (another bullet to add to the list above:  lawsuits).

My point is this:  look at the trends that have driven some of the greatest crazes of our time, and they all come back to the same things:  money or fame (or getting famous because you won money … or getting more money because you’re now famous).  And we’ll do anything we have to to achieve that fame/money … including reality TV.

And the cool thing about reality TV is you don’t have to be what they’re looking for on the show, you just have to be willing to do anything for the cash.  In “Hell’s Kitchen” (Gordon Ramsay’s entry into realTV from Fox), half of the “chef wanabees” didn’t even work in the food business (out of the 12 there were 3 chefs, 1 baker, a culinary student and a server … the rest were outside of the food industry).  Who won … a chef (go figure) … but, hey, at least someone who’d never worked a line in a restaurant had a chance.  Like the lottery … there’s always a chance.

And the networks will gladly create this schlock, because advertisers will pay to have it created … because we will watch it.  There’s money to be made.

I wonder what would happen if someone tried to combine reality TV with politics?

Just a thought …