Saturday, January 28, 2006

Another gratuitous picture posting

I know it's old news but I was cleaning up my email when I happened upon these fine, grainy i-pics of my trip to Germany and Leuven. Sent to me by my fellow travelers I thought I would wheel them out for a public airing (it's the visual equivalent of saying out loud "Look where I've been - Nyah Nyah Nyah..."

Monday, January 23, 2006

Keith Johnstone's TV viewing habits

Keith Johnstone came out to Australia a couple of years ago and taught a workshop for Impro Melbourne. A large and imposing man in life and legend, he was in a bad mood on this day and scared the crap out of all of us. Still, whenever he spoke, all the jumbled woo woo that we thought about improvisation started to become just a bit clearer (well, for some of us...)
The following are some out-of-context lines I scribbled down during the workshop and a couple of fairly unflattering drawings I made of him that day:

"Accept you can't win them all"
"There's nothing wrong with being negative - just do it in a positive way..."
(discussing TV) "...if I'm watching something that interests me, like a program about Black Holes or sodomy...."
"People love to climb trees"
"Look humble and courageous"
"Fail but don't punish yourself, fuck up and be happy and you will be a magical creature"
"Walk onstage and inspire your partner"
(My words) Brent just pretended to shoot Keith
"Ram the knife into your head, split the body and reveal a another head and a little happy, dancing dwarf" (This was a great exercise)

Luckily - we will all get the opportunity to shit ourselves all over again when he comes out later this year.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Letting Rip

A couple of weekends ago I was enjoying a salty sea dip with some good friends down at Airey's Inlet. The weather was hot, the sea was unusually choppy and I was happy to let the gigantic waves break across my back and be lifted off my feet and carried towards the shore by the powerful surf. At one point my friend's young daughter and myself were swimming close by when a wave reared up and dumped on us, when I came up I saw her swimming but looking scared, then I suddenly realised I couldn't feel the sand underneath me and we were in a rip that was taking us further out to sea. I panicked and swam towards her as did another guy who saw what was happening. The waves kept swelling and crashing around us as I reached out and grabbed her arm trying to drag her back to shore. He calmly told me not to panic and when I saw that her dad was heading towards us with a surfboard I relaxed somewhat. On the other hand I quickly came to the sudden realisation that I was a shit swimmer and had to get my own sorry arse into shore. I did eventually, out of breath and shaking from the adrenalin.
Old man Poseidon couldn't have me that day - feck 'em.

Image care of Heritage Comics

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Wally Wood and did....

I was trawling throughout the Heritage Comics Auctions the other day and came across some beautiful Wally Wood artwork. As a kid I was given a whole bunch of Mad Magazines from the late '60s and early '70s and would spend hours reading and re-reading Wood, Elder and Davis's "Hah-Noon", "Ping Pong", "Batboy and Rubin". Funny Scary and downright confusing to a child, I loved every detailed line. Wood was a master of the craft and could turn his hand to all sorts of genres and projects. You can read more about him here, here and here. I miss this sort of work these days, the closest I get is the dark, disturbing, wonderful work of Evan Dorkin and I'm hanging on for the next edition of "Dork" (such a great name for a comic) until then...I'm reading and re-reading the originals.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

New sketch book - new sketches.

One of the reasons I swapped over to blogger was how easy it was to post images. I want to be able to keep drawing and put up more sketches this year..however pithy they may be...
Although I spent most of the time capturing london with a camera I did buy a beautiful new (leather) sketchbook and jotted down some pretty quick doodles.

and some improvisers from Impro Melbourne I jotted down one performance ("oh my gawd? that supposed to be me?"). Don't ask 'cause I won't tell.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Lie back and think of England

A couple of months ago I promised readers I would post the second half of my travels to Europe, specifically London. So as the memories are already beginning to fade here are some bon mots that rise to the surface...err it is a bit long, sorry about that.

After coming out of the Tunnel from (relatively sunny and fair weathered) France into Britain, the first thing I noticed was that the sky was darker and it was already starting to spit rain.
The incredibly pretty French girl sitting next to me woke up and sighed as she saw the gloom that was starting to descend. I felt like going back to Belgium.

By the time I staggered out into Victoria Station to meet the lovely Caroline Barker it was pissing down. Jumping into her little red car we beetled off to her place in Clapham Common. Stopping briefly to illegally park at a Sainsburys. "If someone comes just jump across and move it"... Looking around I could only think about the film 28 Days and how it looked all to real. Thankfully I wasn't attacked by any zombies but I did have to get out of the way of a prick in a sports car.

Clapham Common was a great suburb and house I was staying in belonged to a fabulous actress who was off filming and/or swanning her way across Africa or L.A. I wasn't sure which or where. Original art and knick knacks were festooned around the terraced house but the highlight for me was the sheer volume of books that she had collected and were out on display. Hundreds and hundreds of titles covered the walls - shelved without rhyme or reason I found WW2 Flying Greats wedged between "Sappho was a Right On Woman" and a biography of Samuel Goldwyn. The other highlight was when I found out that Kelly Reilly was living in the flat below me.

I performed that night with Deb, Tom, Mel, Chris, Jim and Alex (and another lady who I can't remember the name of) from the Spontaneity Shop who had graciously invited me to come and play with them at the Latchmere Pub in Battersea. They seemed a little hesitant at first but to be fair, I was a stranger and I didn't know what the hell we were doing...but such is the beauty of improvisation that we created a fairly decent show that night. They are a great group and I got to have a natter with them after I dropped in on a workshop they were having at RADA with Patti Stiles - They appear to be one of only a handful of improvisation companies in London. I would have thought that it being the birthplace of Theatresports and Whose Line it would have been teeming with groups....go figure huh?

Caroline was lovely friend and host and took me on a tour of the BBC where she works. As we meandered through the canteens, endless hallways and TV studios I marveled at just how freakin huge the place was, I kept thinking of my time working on the Micallef Program at the ABC studios at Ripponlea and just how small and old they felt now. We stopped by Studio 9's "observation deck" in time to watch Banarama go through some rehearsals for a "Greatest Party Hits" Top O' The Pops special to be filmed that night. They looked bored, annoyed and just a wee bit older than how I remembered them in the '80s. Fantastic stuff.

That night as Bananrama rocked the house we were sitting in on The Late Edition with Marcus Brigstocke - a man who has an incredibly quick wit and an impressively large head (both in size and brain capacity). It was a very good show and I was singled out by the warm up man/writer as having "a dirty laugh". Too true - and it's very loud, as anyone who has sat next to me can attest. Actually I have the proof as Caroline sent me a tape of the show as went to air...sure enough you can hear my guffaw ricocheting off the walls and out through the door only to land in Bananrama's lycra one piece...much to their boredom and annoyance.

While at the BBC Shop I took the opportunity to buy the complete set of "The Comic Strip Presents" DVDs. What joy, what rapture..."blah blah blah, atomic bomb, blah blah blah....etc".
It's just a pity that I couldn't get any of the Q.I. series as I'm busting to see it.

London itself was incredible and I spent the week going up and down the banks of the Thames, poking through stalls at Camden market and generally just doing really daggy Touristy stuff:

The Globe Theatre - home to Shakespeare, his plays and thousands of little old ladies and primary school students. Sadly I kept just missing the tour and so I missed out on seeing the inside...but boy did that gift shop get a thorough going over. Strangely no Globe Globes?

The Tate Modern - saw a great Rousseau exhibition which took me back to my childhood (I would spend hours poring over an old Rousseau book Dad had) and saw a whole bunch of cutting edge, modern/post modern/neo modern/mod modern/ mo' modernery crap that wouldn't look out of place at the last VCA Art school exhibition I saw (there's hope for you yet kids!)
Sad, bitter jibes aside, I did see some fantastic art. Rachel Whiteread's Embankment was incredible to see from the balcony but the slapstick in me wanted to see someone pull out one of the bottom cubes and watch the hilarious results - Ulp!

The National Portrait Gallery was an incredible place. I saw two new exhibitions 'Shooting Stars' Camera Portraits by Cornel Lucas and SELF PORTRAIT: Renaissance to Contemporary.

The Tower of London. After recently seeing the Goodies episode - how could I not?

The West End - I couldn't keep out of this area. I loved it. I went and saw Ewan McGregor in Guys and Dolls a week before he was to leave and the cast would change over. I love Frank Loesser's music and lyrics - it was a good show with some great performers. The best scene in it was the night in the Havana club. Good god - if Ewan can pull off a singing career then I can surely start to get over my stumbling blocks with the tra la la-ing.

I went to a taping for BBC 4 radio of the legendary American comic Shelley Berman. One of the original Compass improvisers and an early experimenter of stand up (as well as playing Larry David's dad on Curb) he was still great, really, really old - but still great. Paul Merton and Barry Cryer were in the audience as well that night along with a strange, eccentric little English couple who sat in the front row and spooked the comic. Oh and (here's my dopey fan bit) he touched my shoulder as he walked through the audience...that means I'm only one degree separated from Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Paul Sills, Viola Spolin and shit load of others...heh heh...

Let's see this is getting a bit long and boring now so I'll speed things up:

Sherlock Holmes Walking Tour - The Game was a foot Watson and me foots were hurting by the end of it. Featured a wonderfully nutty guide who was once a actress in the West end and insisted on singing occasionally. Also bumped into an Australian mate Chris Zwar purely by chance, we had a beer at the Holmes pub afterwards and caught up which was a treat.

The National Gallery - did a mini tour in an hour, basically just whizzed past hundreds of religious pics and picked out the best ones...Velasquez of course...

Theatre Museum - impressive displays of emphmera, costumes and videos but I wanted more from this place...

Hampton Court Palace - Whod've thought red brick could look so darn impressive. A lovely trip to the land of Blackadder - I half expected to hear Brian Blessed's thundering voice roaring down the passages calling out after Dame Diana Rigg (private joke).

Buckingham palace - I was there at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month...ohhh the crowds...and then it started to rain. all I could think of was Raymond Brigg's Father Christmas landing on the roof...

Piccadilly Circus. For some strange reason I could've sworn I saw a young Twiggy and Michael Caine running through the circus...then again maybe I bloody didn't.

Sigh. That'll do Pig, that'll do...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy New Year Everyone!

Welcome to the new Lliam Amor Journal which replaces my previous blog I had over at Blurty which I was finding just a tad tedious to upkeep with pictures etc. For posterities sake (and just in case Blurty falls over) I have saved all my previous entries for the last three years - But I thought there was no point in reposting here when it feels so fresh. Dust off the pixels - and here's to a great 2006.

Thanks Lliam