Tag Archives: plays

BQB in NYC – Cirque du Soleil: Paramour (Or, BQB Reviews a Broadway Play)

Wow 3.5 readers.

I knew if I kept plugging away at this blog I’d eventually hit the big time.

After reviewing a ton of movies for 3.5 readers I’m now reviewing a Broadway play for 3.5 readers.

Sadly, I couldn’t take a picture of the production but here is a terrible photo of some naked golden people who adorn the stage inside the Lyric Theater.

Art! I love it. I wish I looked this good naked.


FYI these naked peeps are way taller in person.

3.5 readers, if you’ve ever seen a Cirque du Soleil show, then you know it is an artistic circus combining stunts, acrobatics, and music. No elephants. 

However, there are sometimes some artistic high faluting clowns, though none in this show.

This Broadway version adds one more thing – a plot!

In the Golden age of Hollywood, a down on his luck director discovers an up and coming actress. He makes her a smash. She revives his career. 

They fall in love but the kindhearted songwriter she came to LA with isn’t going to give up that easily.

#lovetriangle

You’ve got people flying around and doing tricks and stunts and backflips and shit.

Totally awesome 3.5 readers. Highly recommend it.

Until next time, this is big time Broadway critic BQB signing off.

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BQB in NYC – Broadway

Chicago in New York City.

#mindboggled

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Undead Man’s Hand – Chapter 40

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From his veranda, Al enjoyed a smoke as he took in the show going on below.

Mortimer twirled the end of his mustache with his fingers as he regaled the crowd.

“And so, our hero made his way to the villain’s lair…”

A contingent of actors pretending to be unruly henchmen surrounded Bill.

“Wild Bill Hickok!” they shouted in unison. “That is very unfair!”

Shots were exchanged. All blank rounds. Each actor took a turn dying on stage as Hickok emerged victorious.

Mortimer continued his narration. “Hickok made quick work of Burly Bob’s gang, a gaggle of miscreants who were so sleazy.”

Bill addressed the audience directly. “It didn’t take much. It was really quite easy.”

The audience hooted and hollered.

An actor wearing a plaid shirt stepped out from behind the curtain. A cheap, poorly made beard had been glued to his face. He hammed it up for the crowd, taunting them and shouting out insults.

The crowd booed, prompting the actor to grab his crotch and reply, “Ahh, I got your boo right here!”

“Now ladies and gents,” Mortimer said as he held up a rotten tomato. “At this degenerate, your trash you may lob, for this man is none other than the vile criminal, Burly Bob!”

Mortimer hucked his tomato at Bob’s face, causing an explosion of disgustingly sour juice. The crowd followed suit, hurling all manner of expired fruits and vegetables and even, much to the poor actor’s chagrin, a few road apples.

“Hey seriously,” the actor said as he threw up his hands. “No shit and no rocks. I’m not making enough money to have shit and rocks thrown at me!”

The narrator leaned in and whispered into the actor’s ear. “You’re breaking character, imbecile.”

“I don’t care, Morty,” the actor said. “I should not have to get hit with a…”

Wap! It wasn’t the biggest rock, but it was big enough to stop the actor mid-sentence. He clutched his forehead and winced in pain as he continued to be pelted with produce and poop.

Seeing that the actor had taken enough abuse, Bill got the audience’s attention by firing a blank round into the air.

“Burly Bob!” shouted Bill. “Your reign of terror is through!”

The actor rubbed his forehead. “Damn it. That’s going to leave a mark.”

Mortimer leaned in to the actor’s ear again. “You’re on, dummy.”

“Huh?” the actor asked.

“Ahem,” Bill said. “I said, ‘Burly Bob, your reign of terror is through!’”

The actor looked around then adopted a deeper voice. “Oh yeah, Wild Bill? Well, I’ll show you!”

“Burly Bob” drew, only to drop his pistol and clutch his chest as Bill fired a blank in his direction.

The crowd gasped.

“Oh!” the actor cried as he staggered about the stage. “Oh Wild Bill, why did I not see? You are a better marksman than I and now you have…”

The actor plopped down on the stage and reached a hand up in the air. “…bested me.”

Claps. Cheers.

But the actor wasn’t done. “Oh sweat death! I feel your cold hand on my shoulder, escorting me to the afterlife…”

“What are you doing?!” Mortimer whispered.

The actor’s soliloquy continued. “And as you drag me down to the fiery depths of hell, I cannot help but dwell on the vast collection of poor decisions I made that delivered me to this lowly state. Oh if only I could turn back the hands of time and be a better man, that I could embrace a clean life and set an example for others to follow…”

“Die already!” Mortimer whispered.

“Eat a dick, Morty,” the actor whispered back. “I’ve played second fiddle in this troupe for five years now and I’m going to get my fame one way or the other.”

The actor raised his voice. “But change can never occur for a damned man such as I, for my fate is sealed and my torment will be eternal…”

“Fred,” Morty whispered. “You either die right now or I’ll pick one of a dozen actors who will be willing to take direction for half of what I pay you, you pathetic hack.”

“Fine,” Fred whispered. And then louder, “Oh! Oh! Bill Hickok’s bullet has pierced my guts and I am now dead!”

Fred crossed his eyes and stuck out his tongue.

“Yes,” Mortimer said. “Now little didst our hero know…”

Fred interrupted the narrator. “Ack! Stone cold dead am I…”

Mortimer lost it. “That’s enough!” he shouted as he kicked Fred in the ribs.

The narrator straightened his tie and pressed on. “Now little didst our hero know that a damsel in distress was waiting to be rescued…”

The curtains parted and what appeared to be a shapely maiden walked out. She wore a blonde wig and a veil covered her face.

“Fear not, ma’am,” Bill said. “Burly Bob has been subdued!”

Fred lifted his head up. “I’m so dead!”

“I don’t even give a shit now,” Mortimer said, breaking character. “You’re fired Fred.”

Bertha bounced up on stage. “Morty! Who is that? Is she someone new?”

Morty did a double take. “What?! Why my dear, I thought she was you!”

The veiled woman moseyed on over to Bill.

“Wild Bill,” Mortimer said. “Will you accept a kiss as a reward from this comely lass?”

Bill lifted up the veil to reveal the face of a man with an actual beard. It wasn’t just glued on. He batted his eyelashes and puckered up.

The gunslinger dropped the veil. “Ugh. No thanks. I think I will pass.”

Mortimer strolled to the center of the stage. “And…scene!”

The cast emerged on stage and joined hands as they bowed. Naturally, the most applause was reserved for Bill as he bowed.

When the cheers died down, Mortimer removed his hat. “Good people of Deadwood,” Mortimer said. “My hat I shall now pass around. Whether a shilling or a bill, with your generosity, you will astound. As you are aware, it is not simple to provide such merriment and mirth, so I pray you will fork over the cost of what you think this show is worth.”

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Daily Discussion with BQB – What is your favorite Shakespeare Play?

Good morning 3.5 readers.

Did you know that this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death?

Too soon, Bill. Too soon.

As you avid 3.5 readers may be aware, the Shakes-meister is a friend to the Bookshelf Battle Blog.

When I died on the toilet after eating a lightning infused toaster pastry, I met him in the afterlife. He was assigned to be my spiritual guide.

But enough of my bragging.  The next time I talk to Billy Shakes (he still calls me from time to time, it’s a little creepy) which one of his plays should I tell him is your favorite?

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Beware the Ides of March

Caesar:
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Soothsayer:
Beware the ides of March.

Caesar:
What man is that?

Brutus:
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

– William Shakespeare

Julius Caesar Act 1, Scene 2, 15–19

The Ides of March are here!  Are you being wary of them?

THE SIBERIAN YETI:  Bookshelf Q. Battler, what is an “Ide?”  And also, get back in your cage!

BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER:  Good question, Yeti.  Well, the first one was, anyway.  The “Ides” of any month means the middle of that month.  Most months have 30-31 days so the “Ides” will fall on or around the 15th.  I argue the 15th but people might differ.  (I suppose some might claim for a Month with 31 days, the “Ides” would fall on the 15.5th day, or in other words, the morning of the 16th.  February, with only 28 days, will have its “Ides” on the 14th.

Enough babbling from me, it’s March 15th, so if you’re Julius Caesar, then beware!

THE SIBERIAN:  You will never get 4000 Twitter followers and your blog is a waste of gigabytes.

BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER:  Well, I never!

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Movie Review – Birdman (Or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 2014

Or, Hollywood is Sorry for Pushing Crap on You, But It’s Kind of Your Fault.

In 1989, Michael Keaton starred as the first Batman to not suck.  That role made his career.  I’d argue that it didn’t really define him though.  He’s been in zany comedies and serious dramas, performing expertly in both.

Yet, as a former Batman who’s ditched the cowl to seek out more serious roles, one is left to wonder how much of Birdman is semi-autobiographical.  Does Keaton identify with Riggan?  Only Keaton could truly answer that.

Keaton plays Riggan Thomson, a big time actor who, twenty years ago, played a feathery comic book super hero in a series of Birdman films.  They were special effects extravaganzas that made him a lot of money and were big at the box office.

Movieclips Trailers

Today, Riggan is trying to leave his past behind him and gain recognition as a serious actor.  He’s broke, having sunk a fortune into a Broadway play adaptation of a work by author Raymond Carver.  And true to the style of a play, the cameras follow the actors on and off stage, with very few cut scenes throughout the film.

Actors aren’t as happy as you’d think, there’s intense pressure, you can’t please everyone, and whatever you do, someone is criticizing you.  You try to produce art (i.e. Raymond Carver) but alas, people just want fluff (i.e. Birdman).  Even worse, once you “sell-out” and take a role like “Birdman,” the “true artist” community will shun you and refuse to consider your attempts at artistry, even if they are worthy of notoriety.

As consumers of entertainment, should we push for real, serious, dramatic art?  Plays and movies where there’s all kinds of gut wrenching dialog to make you think?  Or should we just have fun and watch Birdman fight bad guys?

Are purveyors of comic book movies making us all stupid?  Are creators of heady dramas just too full of themselves?

These questions are asked, and never really answered, though the movie serves as a chronicle of one actor’s attempt to produce serious art only to be stymied at every turn.

Riggan’s foil, played by Ed Norton, is veteran broadway thespian Mike Shiner.  Recruited for Riggan’s play, Shiner is a pretentious limelight hog and though he claims to be all about the art, he’s ultimately just as obnoxious as any movie star.

Meanwhile, Riggan has to deal with a snooty play review critic, who vows to shut Riggan’s play down before even seeing it, simply because she does not believe someone who stooped low enough to play a cartoon superhero is deserving of praise for attempting real art.

In other words, if the entertainment world is at war, then it’s a battle between the big blockbuster fluff eaters and the holier than thou tweed jacket wearers.  Both think they’re the smartest people in the room.  Neither is willing to meet the other half way.

Emma Stone, who plays Riggan’s daughter, Sam, earns her Oscar nomination with this speech:

TEXT OF SAM/EMMA STONE’S “RELEVANT SPEECH” FROM BIRDMAN

RIGGAN:  It’s important to me! Alright? Maybe not to you, or your cynical friends whose only ambition is to go viral. But to me . . . To me . . this is — God. This is my career, this is my chance to do some work that actually means something.

SAM: Means something to who? You had a career before the third comic book movie, before people began to forget who was inside the bird costume. You’re doing a play based on a book that was written 60 years ago, for a thousand rich old white people whose only real concern is gonna be where they go to have their cake and coffee when it’s over. And let’s face it, Dad, it’s not for the sake of art. It’s because you want to feel relevant again. Well, there’s a whole world out there where people fight to be relevant every day. And you act like it doesn’t even exist! Things are happening in a place that you willfully ignore, a place that has already forgotten you. I mean, who are you? You hate bloggers. You make fun of Twitter. You don’t even have a Facebook page. You’re the one who doesn’t exist. You’re doing this because you’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter. And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important. You’re not important. Get used to it.

I don’t know about you, but after I listened to Emma rant away on that one, I came close to shutting down this blog. (Obviously I didn’t, because, you know, nothing can stop me from my one a day post challenge.

Still, Sam’s right.   We’re all just shouting in the wind, trying to be relevant, trying to matter.  And at the end of the day, after movie goers walk out of the theater, after play watchers go out for cake, after novel readers put a book down, and after my 3.5 regular readers go on to read another blog…how relevant are we?  As it turns out…not very.

Fame is fleeting and celebrities just aren’t as happy as we think.

Throughout the film, Riggan is taunted by Birdman himself – a gravelly voice that sounds more like Christian Bale’s version of Batman than Keaton’s.  Birdman is the voice of commercialism, urging Riggan to abandon his efforts at serious drama and sell-out – do a reality TV show, make a Birdman comeback movie.  Forget the hoity toy stuff and just rake in the dough.

And honestly, whether Birdman is right or wrong is left up to the viewer’s interpretation.

Big surprise of the film – Zach Galifianakis can actually act.  He plays Riggan’s agent and rather than be that same old obliviously rude cartoon character he plays in every movie, he actually comes across as a competent, reliable professional, someone you’d actually want to represent you if you were an actor.

At one point, Shakepeare’s “Life is a Tale Told by an Idiot” speech from MacBeth is prominently featured.  If you want to know more about that, you can read expert commentary from world renowned literary expert Bookshelf Q. Battler.

It’s a film that starts a dialog about what we, the entertainment consuming public, want from Hollywood.  Because, as it turns out, if enough of us want it, they’ll give it to us.  If we show them that high-falutin, chin-stroking, navel gazing, thought provoking dramas will make money, then Tinseltown will send them our way.  Yet, if we keep buying tickets for Birdman-esque blockbusters, then we’ll get more comic book movies.  It really is up to us.

And it’s also up to us to determine whether or not we should feel guilty about choosing comic book-esque movies over drama.  Personally, I don’t.  I’m a nerd.  I love comic book movies.  I love hoity toity stuff too.  There’s room in the world for both.  One need not cancel the other out.

And sure, the public often complains that Hollywood isn’t trying that hard, but then we pay more attention to viral videos, tweets, and gossipy nonsense than serious efforts at art.  At one point in the film, Riggan’s stroll through Times Square in his underpants gets more attention through social media than his play ever does.

We all want to be relevant.  We’re all clawing over each other to grab our piece of the public’s limited attention span.  We’re all idiots.  Can’t we all just calm down, take a deep breathe, stop crawling over each other for a few fleeting minutes of fame, and take a moment to enjoy friends, family, and the things that actually matter?  At the end of the film, Riggan frets more about not spending enough time with his daughter than he does about his fizzling acting career.

Heck, had I not promised my 3.5 regular readers a year’s worth of posts, I might seriously consider packing it in myself.

Because if a guy who was paid buckets of money to dress up like a cartoon bird hero can’t be happy, then what luck do any of us have?

I predict this film will win best picture.  Keaton’s had a long career and has yet to be graced with an academy award, so he’s overdue.  Ironically, it’s a movie about a man trying to get past commercialism and make some serious art made by a man who’s trying to get past commercialism and make some serious art.

The Academy will no doubt love its message – “Hey, we actors aren’t as happy as you’d think, we really struggle to make you all happy!”

And finally, I’d just like to say, I think Michael Keaton is awesome.  He made me laugh in movies like The Dream Team and Beetlejuice.  And I remember seeing him in the first Batman and I thought, “Wow, Hollywood picked a guy that isn’t all buff and muscle-bound to play a super hero and he did an awesome job.  Maybe there’s hope for us nerds.”  So I hope tomorrow night is his night to walk home with a little gold man.  (I mean an Oscar, not an actual little gold man).

Did you see it?  What did you think?  Flap your bird wings to the comment section and let me know.

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Romance Advice From William Shakespeare – Part 3

Do you believe in love at first sight?

That’s not a trick question.  I’m not going to ask you if I need to walk by again.

Do people instantly connect and have metaphysical fireworks explode in their hearts, or does it take time for love to grow?

Personally, I feel like the older one gets, the harder it is to feel those instant fireworks.  But what do I know?

Shakespeare believed in love at first sight.  And since this is a series about how to get chicks using the bard’s most romantic passages – well, if you meet someone and feel that instant connection, maybe you can recite this to said individual:

No sooner met but they looked;
No sooner looked but they loved;
No sooner loved but they sighed;
No sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason;
No sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy;
And in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage…

– William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Love at first sight or love that grows with time?  Is one better than the other?

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Romance Advice From William Shakespeare – Part 2

Dudes, you have no idea how lucky you are all to have me.  I’m here.  I’m taking time out of my busy schedule to inform you, the reading masses, how to use the writings of the most influential author of the English language, to score points with the ladies.

Bardin’ ‘Aint Easy

OK.  Look at me.  LOOK AT ME.  Take one night out of your life and woo your woman.  All to often men underestimate the power of woo.

What is woo?  It’s not easy to explain.  It’s the effort you put in to make your woman feel special and loved.  Frankly, if you have to ask, some other dude has probably wooed your woman away by now anyway.

Don’t half-ass it like you do everything else.  Your woman is not some rug that you can just sweep dirt under and then pretend like you actually cleaned the floor.  Look at your woman and pitch ridiculous amounts of woo.  Take all of your wooing skills and just send them straight into your woman’s general direction.

Shakespeare’s Henry VI dealt with all of the political power power plays and general nastiness that led to the War of the Roses.  What was that war about?   I don’t know.  One side had some roses.  The other side wanted roses.  So they fought over the roses.  What do I look like?  A history scholar?  We’re not here to talk about roses (although you should order your lady some in advance because they’ll be sold out by Valentine’s Day by dudes who thought of this stuff before you did).

We’re here to talk about this quote:

“She’s beautiful, and therefore to be wooed; She is woman, and therefore to be won”

– William Shakespeare, Henry VI

Take a knee, dudes.  Listen – want a translation of what Bill just said?  Here you go – you can’t phone this shit in.  Your woman is beautiful and so you have to earn that right to be around all that beauty.  Get her flowers.  Sing to her.  Read her poems and shit.  Or if she’s not into all that, then do chores and crap without her complaining about it or acting like a martyr because you had to wash a dish.  Make your woman happy!

Happy Wife = Happy Life.  Woo.  Learn how to Woo.

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Romance Advice From William Shakespeare – Part 1

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, dudes.  And even though I totally just reminded you, you’re going to wait until Feb. 14th at 6 pm to get some tired, left over card and a box of stale candy from the discount bin at the drug store because that’s all they will have left.

So, I’m here to help.  Even if you screw up your gift giving responsibilities, you can still check my blog, and recite some love poetry with the help of my main man, Bill Shakespeare.

“To Mac, or Not to Mac? That is the Question.”

Shakespeare was the most romantic dude of his day, which, alright, was pretty easy, since he lived in an age where people thought bathing was optional.

Alright.  SCENARIO – You get home on Valentine’s Day.  Your lady love is all dressed up, waiting for you to get your romance on, and what do you do?  You’ve got nothing.  You’ve got one of those M and M Dispensers where the cartoon M and M men are doing something hilarious.  But it’s not enough for this woman, because, I don’t know, what, does she think she’s the Queen of England or something?  Why is your woman not cool enough that she can’t just appreciate a good M and M dispenser?  Sheesh.

Alright, anyway, all you do is lay out the Romeo and Juliet action:

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That her maid art far more fair than she:

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

I’m just going to say it.  Women like drama.  Ok some women do.  Not all.  Let’s not use sweeping generalizations.  Some like to have all kinds of attention and have the focus be on them.

What was Bill saying in this scene?  He’s having Romeo tell Juliet, “Hey, Juliet, you’re hot like the sun, and you’re such a hot sun that you’re hotter than the moon.  The moon’s got nothing on you baby.”

You can just skip the poem altogether and just tell your lady, “You’re hotter than the moon.”  Or, just pick a gal she hates.  Her sister.  Your next door neighbor.  The dame she complains about from work.  Just be all like, “Baby you are way hotter than Becky from Accounting.”

Actually, don’t do that.  Then she’ll just accuse you of checking out Becky from Accounting.

The point is – Bill Shakespeare can get you chicks.  So keep following and I’ll tell you how.

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Polonius’ Advice to Laertes – Shakespeare – Hamlet

At some point, you must have heard these infamous words:

“This above all, to your own self be true!”

They originate with the bard himself – William Shakespeare.  And “truer” words were never spoken.  If you aren’t being true to yourself – i.e. if you are trying to be someone you aren’t, then you are just not going to be happy.

It is a scene that plays out all the time – a parent gives advice to a child who is heading off for college.  Here is what Polonius had to say before his son, Laertes, set sail to pursue his studies:

Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame! The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay’d for. There; my blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory

See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade. Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,  But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.  Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!

What say you, readers?  Did Polonius give good advice?  Bad advice?  Discuss in the comments!

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