Thursday, September 27, 2007

East Bay Monthly: the local storytelling scene

Now appearing on doorsteps in "select neighborhoods in Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Albany, El Cerrito, Kensington, Alameda and Alamo" --not our neighborhood, mind you (not select enough, apparently. We'll have to pick it up at the local coffeehouse)-- is the latest issue of The East Bay Monthly.

This month's feature story is a 4000 word survey of the storytelling scence. Writer Autumn Stevens interviewed a bunch of local storytellers, and put together a nice article on the theme of "not just for kids." The article includes a description of yours truly:
More closely resembling, with his neat button-down shirt and perpetually earnest expression, a middle-school English teacher than a flamboyant performing artist, Ereneta introduces a Louisiana folktale about two sisters.

Middle school teacher, eh? I was hoping for sophisticated yet approachable, with hints of cherry and oak, and a nutty finish.

Maybe I should switch to a dinner jacket and bow tie. Or bring along poor Yorick here more often.

Photo by Lori Eanes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

BPN: Acting opportunities for parent & child?

Current posting on Berkeley Parents Network:

Acting opportunities for parent & child?
Does anyone know of any Bay Area opportunities for a parent and child to act/perform in an amateur stage production together? We recently visited some relatives in the LA area who are about to perform as a family in ''Annie.'' We'd love to do something along those lines. Any leads would be most helpful. Thank you.

Dear BPN Subscriber: We have had astonishingly good luck being cast as a family in a unique theatrical institution, the McGee Street Players. Just in the past year, we have completed the following run:

Death of a Salesman (family cast as Willy Loman, Linda, Biff and Happy)
Barefoot in the Park (Mom: Corie Bratter, Dad: Paul Bratter, Son #1: Corie's Mother, Son #2: oddball neighbor Victor Velasco.)
I Am My Own Wife (Dad: Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, Mom: Understudy. Son #1: House manager. Son #2: Assistant house manager.)
Oliver! (Dad: Bill Sikes/Fagin, Mom: Nancy/Widow Corney, Son #1: The Artful Dodger, Uncle Chris: Mr. Brownlow, Nephew Ben: Oliver Twist, Son #2 and Aunt Christa: Workhouse Boys/Fagin's Gang)
Peter Brooks' translation of The Mahabarata (Son #1: Aswhatthaman, also played Nakula in the touring production. Dad: Ganesha/Krishna. Son #2: the Deathless Boy. Mom: The Second Princess. Nephew: The Sun/Rakshasa/Ghatotkascha. Aunt Christa and Uncle Chris: all other characters.)
Sweeney Todd, revival directed and designed by John Doyle (Currently being cast. Production delays due to contract dispute over which character will be assigned the tuba.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NYT: Goodbye TimesSelect

Two years ago, when I said that the New York Times subscription model wasn't going to work, I thought it might last a year.

Turns out, it lasted two. Apparently the 227,000 subscribers (like Deirdre and I) who paid for full access to the NYT online brought in $10 million a year in revenue. Now the NYT is discontinuing its subscription model, although it said TimesSelect met projected expectations.

Apparently the number crunchers have figured out that opening up the NYT to the 13 million unique users who visit monthly will get them more ad revenue than the TimesSelect model, even after splitting the profits with Google and Yahoo.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Naked Armenian, AKA the Green Grapes

J.P. Manoux, sans pants.

The clip is from an episode of Comedy Central's Reno 911!, a parody of COPS that features mostly improvised dialogue.

I'm pretty sure he was naked before this, on CBS's Nash Bridges, too, back in 2001... he did a piece on All Things Considered about it.

You can catch JP in the upcoming direct to DVD sequel to the new Steve Carell Get Smart movie, an upcoming episode of Monk, some ER, and The Emperor's New School.

Oh, and check him out backing up Vince Gill.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Berkeley encounters: DeCadence

During lunch hour at Cal during the school year, crossing Sather Gate means two things: lots of student organizations handing out leaflets, and, most days, one of the many official or unofficial student a capella groups doing a concert next to the actual gate.

I haven't been on campus at the right hour in 8 years, but today leaving a meeting, I chanced upon DeCadence, a coed group, six men, six women, singing some pop songs. Nice choral blending, a little bit of vocal percussion, and varying qualities of solos (some thin and reedy, some big and brassy (which suited the outdoor location better).

DeCadence takes itself slightly less seriously than other a capella groups on campus, often wearing costumes or accessories to comical effect.

BUT for whatever reason today (I missed any intro or outro... didn't even figure out the name of the group until I played a game of "follow the links" through various Cal student club acapella groups)... they were all wearing business attire and dorky sunglasses*.

But the Business attire, combined with the haircuts of the men, meant that my brain could not avoid comparisons to everyone's favorite alum of Cornell's "Here Comes Treble":

(Ed Helms as Andy Bernard in NBC's "The Office")

So as much as I enjoy the fact that young adults spend hours practicing, performing, and touring songs in which they get to make "neer neer neer" noises to imitate the sound of electric guitars... I couldn't get out of my head today the notion (implanted there by repeated viewings of The Office) that college a capella isn't just populated with music dorks, but raving idiots destined for mid-level careers in sales)

I did enjoy their un-ironical arrangement of King Harvest's 1973 hit, "Dancing in the Moonlight," although they did have quite a bit of ironic choreography. And they had a somewhat clever parody of the Beach Boy's "Kokomo," sung as "Ber-kel-ey."

Like most college acapella groups, mp3s aren't easily available... but...
YouTube link!(KoKoMo)
YouTube link! (Dancin' in the Moonlight)

If you want to see them in focus: Wednesdays, noon, Sather Gate.

*And by dorky, I think I mean "fashionable." They look like they're all vintage 1977, but I think kids today are wearing that style now without irony.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Whistlin' Phil... and the Other one

No more delightful a sound than the sound of two men whistling

The next best thing to being there: having a single Whistleaire in the neighborhood to serenade the birds and lighten the hearts of the residents of our street with a cheerful tune.

Second best: YouTube video!