Sunday, November 29, 2009
I write reviews of live shows. Over the past few years, I've written hundreds of them.
It was on a Thanksgiving weekend when I was asked to submit a review for a new movie website. The money was small but I wanted to try my hand at it. And so my first- AND LAST- movie review was for a picture called AUGUST RUSH.
I loved AUGUST RUSH-the score, the kid, the girl, and the guy. I mean, I LOVED IT!
The MFWIC who owned the site mailed me a small check with a note saying that 90% of the readers disagreed with me.
Looking back, I still find it hard to believe that 9 out of 10 people got it wrong.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
For the past several years, I've been working with African lions, taming and training some Big Cats to perform in production shows. My newest best friend is a three year old lion, a young king, for sure. My reverence for lions shares a place in my heart right next to my lifetime love of dogs. In fact, I've been wondering why, thousands of years ago, we didn't domesticate the lion? Lions, like wolves, are very social animals and, had we bred them smaller and helped train them to live in our human communities, I have no doubt the lion would now have a place, right next to the dog.
If you ever have the chance to be close to this king, do yourself a favor: look deeply in his eyes. Seriously. You'll find yourself in awe.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
There is a moment- sacred, really- when a burnt orange afterglow is all that's left of the desert day. The neon is ready to take it from here, but, in that instant between what's passed, and what's next, lives magic.
There's a feeling that anything can happen.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
This is the city: West Hollywood, California.
When I think about Sunset in LA, my mind turns to books, and I tend to get all serious because West Hollywood is home to my TWO favorite bookstores, BOOKSOUP and MYSTERY PIER.
BOOKSOUP and I go a long way back. The time (and bread) have been well spent. And a few Very Famous Friends (VFF) have met and hung out with me at BOOKSOUP. It is a cool place for cool people. Over the years I've discovered some great books and met some pretty great friends there. KEANU REEVES plays his share of spaced out dudes but in fact, this great actor knows more about good books and authors than anyone I've ever met. He once handed me a novel (and was cool enough to add it to his tab) at BOOKSOUP, saying, "Here. This might be good." It was.
BOOKSOUP is one of the last independent bookstores and is home to great signing and music events. And the staff? They are the best!
Now when it comes to first editions, the best place is just around the corner. Every time I step into MYSTERY PIER I relive my first visit. No, I mean it. MYSTERY PIER has a timeless quality about it and the owner, HARVEY JASON is as charming and polite as he is erudite and helpful. On a recent visit I spoke to Red Hot Chilli Pepper bassist FLEA about his great collection of literature, most of which he assembled with Harvey's assistance. Not for nothing? FLEA is a fantastic trumpet player and a serious student of music. I suspect if he hadn't befriended Anthony Kiedis, the punk rocker could have easily gone another direction, which would have been bad for rock but maybe great for the arts, Universally Speaking. Today, FLEA knows enough about music and books to teach Music Theory and English Lit.
This is the power of good books, man.
Friday, November 13, 2009
I just received a nice note from an old friend, a girl a haven't seen in a while. She found this photo on her computer from 2007, and she was nice enough to share it.
In the photo is Apollo, my favorite dog in the whole world. Next to him is me and my swelling left eye. Five minutes before we took photos, the dog and I clunked heads. Five minutes after this was taken-and for two days- my eye would be swollen shut.
I remember the call the next day.
"Hey Will- did you take Lorcet-Plus or Percocet?"
"Um, yes," was my answer.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
I recently reconnected with an old friend on Facebook: the hilarious MAX ALEXANDER. Years ago, when we opened Crazy Girls at the Riviera, it was a 3-times a night show, with Max as the special guest star. I remember standing in back of the house and laughing (really laughing) every single set Max did, every single night. There is nobody funnier than MAX ALEXANDER.
So I'm looking at Max's Facebook page and I smile when I see he's posted STEVE MARTIN'S 'Great Flydini' video. Max did a film with his friend STEVE MARTIN and it got me thinking about comedy and magic.
Comedy is magic and magic is comedy.
You see, for a joke to work-for a comic to really kill- you need a set-up and a surprise punchline. And more than that, the performer has to be likeable. The audience has to care enough to identify with him. Now in magic, there's the pledge. Without it, you have nothing. And the turn is the surprise, the self same surprise that makes a joke a joke. Great comics (and good magicians) use misdirection and the result is something unique.
Because timing is all important, I know why so many performers are good magicians (Steve Martin, Johnny Carson, Dom Deluise; FRANK SINATRA loved magic and showed me some pretty great card things backstage), but I am surprised (and not in a good way) at how many magicians aren't good performers. Working today there is NO BETTER COMEDY MAGICIAN than JUSTIN KREDIBLE. I say that not because he's a friend. If I hated him I'd say the same thing. I happen to feel the opposite of hate which makes it more fun to write with him. Justin "gets" magic, he understands why it works. He has the natural feel for timing that allows him to make it all look so easy. Maybe it's because he's not worried about looking cool that allows him to be great. I don't know, but I do know that there are too many magicians who don't seem to understand what's what.
If you want to improve you magic act, consider the art of comedy. Think about who you are playing on stage, what your character is. The young actor R.J.CANTU is onto something when he brings his dramatic skills to the magic stage but maybe the answer is even lighter than that--- maybe the answer is comedy.
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