Thursday, July 25, 2013

Some Thoughts I Had In Relation to "Quidam" by Cirque du Soleil Tonight

  • "Wow, my now-rather-intermittent blogging still qualifies me as a member of the media? Thanks for the free tickets, Cirque du Soleil!" 
  • "Hmm. The Barclays Center may look like a pile of old farm equipment on the outside, but it's super-nice on the inside, with great food options: Calexico, Fatty 'Cue, sushi, Nathan's, a kosher deli. . . . And these Calexico fish tacos are really good. Hooray for mango salsa!"
  • "This is my fourth Cirque du Soleil show, after two big-top performances on Randalls Island and O in Las Vegas, so I know the drill: a 'quirky' frame story featuring a wondrous child and a goofy clown, linking acts of incredible beauty and physical accomplishment, all set to music by French-Canadian Enya impersonators. Will Quidam surprise me at all?"
    • "Ah. No."
  • "But the formula works as ever: astonishing acrobats, gorgeous tableaux, swelling music, imaginative costumes, many moments that make you go 'Ooh' . . ."
    • "Or as the Brooklyn lady next to me said to the contortionist as she lifted her leg over her head: 'Oh no, honey, don't!'"
  • "The German wheel? This is new to me. How does he do that?"
    • "(The answer that makes all things in this show possible:  abs.)"
      • "What's a Cirque du Soleil performer's favorite liquor? Abs-inthe."
        • "And her favorite vodka? Abs-olut."
  • "James and I should do this at our wedding."
  • "Or perhaps we could involve the whole wedding party."
  • "What do Cirque performers do on their days off? Abs-eiling."
  • "The humor in this lengthy clown interlude isn't entirely scatological, but there are certainly more poop jokes than you get in the American circus. This accords with French picture books as well. There's a sociology article in here someplace . . ."
  • "With sights like this, 
    I'm almost ashamed to confess: I was a little bored. I felt I had seen it all before, either at prior Cirque shows or on the Olympics or even just at cabarets in the city. The problem in our modern age: When we can see everything at any time, it's harder to generate awe."
    • "Though this problem  may be entirely personal to me, as I'm old and spoiled. Children would have a wonderful time." 
      • "And if you've never seen a Cirque show before, Quidam would be a great introduction, as it's short, relatively cheap, easily accessible by public transport (as the Randalls Island shows weren't), and gorgeously executed and produced, as all Cirque shows are. Well worth the seeing."
    • "I am in awe of the abs, though, really."
  • "Of course they try to teach their kids to practice abs-tinence . . ." 
    • "(What must it be like to grow up as part of this international traveling human menagerie?)"
  • "And if they fail, they go to church for abs-olution." 
    • "(Or be pregnant as a contortionist? Do you have to stop contorting for a while? Can you still do this with a baby?")
  • "A stronger narrative would help the show as well here. . . . The Olympic gymnasts did many of these same moves, but because they happened in the context of a conflict against other athletes and their own limits, their story had stakes and meaning. The pleasure here, in contrast, is all in the beauty for beauty's sake." 
    • "The current Broadway revival of Pippin, which uses circus techniques, is really fun."
    • "Cirque should hire Neil Gaiman to write a frame story for them. Or adapt Sandman! They have the dreamy sensibility and visual artistry for it, and it would bring a new audience in."
  • "But perhaps this isn't fair to Cirque. They do what they intend to do, and do it well; and you can't ask for more from an artist or a show." 
  • "What do two Cirque artists in a relationship say when they go off on different tours? 'Abs-ence makes the heart grow fonder.'"
  • "And on that note, good night."
Quidam runs through July 28 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. For tickets, please visit the Barclays Center box office; or,, or; or call 1-800-745-3000.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Quote File: Failure

“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.“ — Winston Churchill

“If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” — Mary Pickford

“There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.” — Buckminster Fuller

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” — Henry Ford

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” — Thomas Edison  

“Success is often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable.” — Coco Chanel

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” —Herman Melville  

“There are some books which refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn't because the book is not there and worth being written -- it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and if you fail to find that form the story will not tell itself.” — Mark Twain

 “Have compassion for yourself when you write. There's no failure -- just a big field to wander in.” — Natalie Goldberg  

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” — Pearl S. Buck

“I may be dense, but I fail to see why a chap needs thirty pages to describe how he tosses and turns in bed before falling asleep.” — an English publisher on In Search of Lost Time

“The lot of critics is to be remembered by what they failed to understand.” – George Augustus Moore  

“Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.“ – T. S. Eliot

“The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency -- the belief that the here and now is all there is.” – Allan Bloom

“It was our own moral failure and not any accident of chance, that while preserving the appearance of the Republic we lost its reality.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

 “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” — Elie Wiesel  

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” — James Baldwin  

“Anybody who tries to convince me that foreign policy is more important than child rearing is doomed to failure.“ – Anna Quindlen

“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” — Anais Nin

“Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.” — Tony Kushner  

“Do not commit the error, common among the young, of assuming that if you cannot save the whole of mankind, you have failed.” — Jan de Hartog

“Excuses: the first refuge of the failure.” — Yahia Lababidi

“The weakest living creature, by concentrating his powers on a single object, can accomplish something. The strongest, by dispensing his over many, may fail to accomplish anything. The drop, by continually falling, bores its passage through the hardest rock. The hasty torrent rushes over it with hideous uproar, and leaves no trace behind. — Thomas Carlyle  

 “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” — Teddy Roosevelt  

“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

Sunday, July 07, 2013

The Best Thing I Have Seen This Year

. . . was the LeakyCon 2013 Opening Ceremonies musical finale, written by Tessa Nutting et al., performed by an amazing cast (all of whom had about 48 hours' notice), and staged last Thursday in Portland, Oregon. If you're a fan of Rent, Doctor Who, Glee, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Hunger Games, Sherlock, The Avengers or other superheroes, Bonnie Tyler, Disney musicals, Twilight, or John Green and Brotherhood 2.0, there was something in this number for you. (The basic plot setup is that while Frodo and Samwise Gamgee sought the Ring of Fandom, Loki tried to dissuade the various characters lost in the Forest of Fandom from hoping there could be a place where they could all unite . . . until the 12th Doctor showed up, and the rest is "La Vie Fandom.") Click the little "CC" beneath the YouTube window to turn on the captions and catch all the references.

And if you enjoy the video, come next year! It's a fantastic weekend.