BANZAI!!

OK, picture this. There I was, wasting another weekday evening channel surfing. Every channel had the usual tripe — dumb sitcoms, right-wing political talk shows, perma-news shows, and several gritty cop dramas. Nothing worth sitting through.

I was almost about to reach for a book (remember those paper things with words printed in ink?), when this guy shouts “BANZAI!!”

Okaaaay.

Banzai!Have you seen this show? If you’re not expecting it, Banzai can overwhelm your audiovisual senses like a hoarde of samurai from a Kurosawa film.

I hardly know how to describe it. I suppose it’s a show for gamblers done in a campy, pseudo-Japanese style that’s big on retro 70s graphics and commentators with thick Japanese accents. Each segment in this half-hour show lets you bet on the most bizarre things, like which vicar can drink the piping hot tea first. Other segments let you bet on how long Shaking Hands Man can shake a celebrity’s hand, which man lights a cigarette first, and more daring (and obviously sexist) bets like which Sharon Stone look-alike isn’t wearing panties.

Immature? Yep.

I’m not sure I liked it. I’m not even a betting man, but I actually put down the remote and watched it to the end. Pretty sad, really.

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A turnip shaped like a thingey

From Blackadder, as an explanation of my thingylamp blog:

Percy: …we came across a turnip that was exactly the same shape…as a thingy!

Edmund: …a “thingy.”

Baldrick: …a great big thingy! It was terrific.

Edmund: Size is no guarantee of quality, Baldrick. Most horses are very well endowed, but that does not necessarily make them sensitive lovers.

Baldrick: I found it particularly ironic, my lord, because I’ve got a thingy that’s shaped like a turnip!

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O what a rogue and peasant slave am I…

Last night, my inner thespian got loose and terrorized a room full of people. For the first time in five years, I stood up in front of people — albeit five people — and performed a monologue.

And I enjoyed it.

too much sake at a karaoke clubI’m almost ashamed to admit that, at the end of long years of theatrical training and studies at the University of British Columbia, I have done nothing — absolutely nothing — in front of an audience. That is, unless you count that incident where I drank too much sake at a karaoke club and tried to demonstrate my abilities as a lounge singer. I really hope that doesn’t count.

Not only have I not been on stage, but I also haven’t hung a light, raised a flat, or built a riser. I haven’t been backstage or on a catwalk, and the closest thing to a fly gallery I’ve seen was at a sushi stand in the West End.

I have been extremely negligent. While I’ve never claimed (or demonstrated) any strong acting abilities, it used to be the focus of my life, second only to beer.

So there I was, doing a monologue for the first time since graduation. The audience was a group called Ready or Not that meets weekly to be all artsy and stuff. You know — actors, musicians, writers, et cetera — all being wacky and trying out new material on real, live people. It’s a wonderful idea. I think everyone should try it.

Call up a few friends. Find a song. Pick up that guitar. Choose a monologue. Scratch out some words on paper. Have fun and share some of that repressed creativity.

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Citytv — proof that cloning works

With no shortage of self-generated hooplah, fooferah, and hullabaloo, Moses Znaimer’s Citytv assembly line cranked out another clone of Toronto’s trendy local broadcaster. Citytv was all over the Vancouver Sun, in the news on other stations, and even Gordon Campbell himself congratulated Cookie-cuttertv — oops, I mean Citytv — on it’s arrival in Vancouver.

Vancouver Citytv, (formerly CKVU, VU13, UTV, Global, then CKVU again) certainly has undergone a transformation. They took away news anchor Russ Froese’s desk and gave him a pair of hip new glasses. Say, that’ll drag in the viewers, and maybe inspire other forty-somethings to buy glasses too.

Following the Toronto formula, Citytv has big new windows on their building and a Speaker’s Corner video booth on the street. There’s only one unfortunate problem… unlike the Toronto Citytv building, which is smack in the middle of a bustling city, the CKVU building is tucked away at West 2nd and Columbia — basically in the middle of a near-empty warehouse district (but near the Clubhouse). Seriously — this is a wasteland where the foot traffic is almost negligible.

But I’ll stay glued to the television. Maybe someone else will lose their desk and the station will get so hip, they won’t be able to fit through a doorway.

Joe and Barbie in the 21st century

Admit it. You’ve been to a Toys ‘R’ Us when you weren’t shopping for a kid, haven’t you? If you haven’t, I think you’re really missing out. Even if you don’t buy, go have a look. Toy technology has advanced beyond the reasonable.

When I was a wee lad, an exciting toy was an action figure, like G.I. Joe. The grunts, all in camo, carried M-16s and drove Jeeps. Apparently, now Joe wears robotic battle armour and flies. Well good for him. Maybe his new hi-tech uniform will help him get a date with Barbie in her remote-control VW bug (the new one).

Back then, if my friends and I had a water fight on a hot day, we’d chase each other with squirt-gun pistols. The modern water warrior carries pneumatically powered cannons that could blast the paint off a car if one isn’t careful.

Not even infants are spared technology’s cold touch. Can you call yourself a good parent if you don’t mount an electronic music maker in the crib? Flashing lights and a curiously mechanical version of Mozart will reward a wee one for correctly operating the panel of lighted buttons. I don’t think I saw a good old fashioned mobile — except the motorized, musical ones.

The Toys ‘R’ Us is truly something to behold. It’s the bleeding edge of technology for the young, which could only be topped by their next business venture: Borg Implants ‘R’ Us.