CRY, AND THE WHOLE WORLD CRIES WITH YOU!

The death of a person and social media has been played as strange bedfellows within recent times. When a loved one of some kind passes, people who are connected to the recently departed make some kind of acknowledgment of the person’s death that align with making a former proclamation of the passing with the adding of photos and perhaps video footage of the deceased, augmenting links to “guest books” that many funeral homes place on their web sites (the homes that are taking care of the funeral arrangements), and create similar ways to pass their personal reflections upon the late party. Facebook has people give their say over a friend or relative’s death by posting their pictures, etc. Our alter ego “Tiffi”’s “friends” also post their takes on the people in their life that had died on a semi regular basis, with condolences added from their “friends” and so on.

Of course, a social media mourning of a person’s death isn’t just limited to a personal friend or relation. This method is most common among a death of someone from the media spotlight (entertainment types mostly) that are known by a wide mass of people. Within the recent past from the deaths of comedians Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, many blanketed the cyberworld space of these departures from people that personally knew them, and to those that just knew of them! For the latter, those mini tributes were reaching to an audience consisting of virtual “friends”, “followers”, and others that are mourning for somebody they didn’t necessarily know, let alone ever meet!

For those that desire tips on how to share their condolences for those departed pop culture stars via social media, Gary Homes, writer for MediaPost, created an article on his insights to reflect via cyberspace. Visit the link here at http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/233770/how-to-mourn-a-tv-star-on-social-media.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=headline&utm_campaign=75919

It’s been stated that the world is getting smaller over the passing of time. Not because the earth itself is shrinking (that notion may be debatable, but that’s another issue), but thanks to communication, it’s a whole lot easier to reach out and get in touch with somebody that ever before, especially when it comes to an announcement of a death. Back in the so-called good old days, when somebody did die, phone calls were made to those that had to immediately know. Letter were written to those that should know, but not necessarily right away! And at times, depending on who died and who needed to become aware this this fate, the death notice would sometimes wind up as a brief line or paragraph in a “What-I-Did-The-Previous-Year” letter that was stuffed inside a Christmas/Holiday card that would give the reader a brief rundown of the sender’s family antics that took place since the start of the calendar year.

But getting back to the social media’s function in a death for the moment. Gary’s article did touch upon the proper way to mourn over a person that was just “met” through the media. When Williams and Rivers (among many others) passed on, others on Facebook did give their comments over these deaths with very few that were worth the time reading, let alone posting! These same posters just wanted to have their say over a person whose only connection was a virtual meeting in an entertainment-esk vehicle. (A movie career, a TV series, etc.). It’s proper to give one’s sorrow over somebody’s death, but it’s mostly based upon who’s doing the morning and the mourner’s connection to the person that had died.

This very writer in the past has only made selected commentary over deaths, either of those known by all, or only known by yours truly. For the record, although I did create an article upon the death of an in-law of mine, I never wrote any commentary when a blood relative from my own family passed away some four years ago. I did this not to disrespect the person who passed, but I just felt that the readers of this news service wouldn’t hold the same concern over this death as I did, considering that the deceased in question wasn’t involved in media–the whole heart of this same news service’s editorial content. If this relative was, let’s say, a radio personality, a writer, or even the personal assistant to somebody better known, perhaps I might make some kind of acknowledgment. But that would only be limited to a brief write up rather that tweeting away aimlessly or glutting up our Facebook home page with mindless words and semi amusing pictures.

However as macabre as it may read, one of the major facts of life is death. And since Halloween is just around the corner if not already here, the element of the not living is all over the place, from Day of the Dead celebrations to the pop culture popularity of  zombies! In spite of this, when the next person passes, be it a beloved stand up comic, or somebody that was never known to the world at large, those social media tributes will continue. However, at the same time, (and part of the “circle of life” that the Walt Disney Company made “famous”), people will also use social media to announce births of those little tikes that are indeed a charm, posting such pictures as the proud mama holding the latest entry to the human race for millions(?) to see and admire! Are those new world entries part of the surplus population? That’s a line straight out of Charles Dickens! But that another story, and another holiday!

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NEWS AND REVIEWS

     Theatre Unleashed of North Hollywood presents the west coast premier of Justin Moran and Christopher Pappas’ POPE! AN EPIC MUSICAL, a musical epic of sorts about a visionary leader of a faith that becomes part of a frame up job as he fights to gain back the power and glory he once was beholden.

Taking place within a low key parallel world, Pope (Jase Lindgren) holds a desire to become the leader of the Holy See. Since he was an adolescence, his dream job was to become the chieftain of the faith that runs the Vatican and all of its connections, from lowly Fathers to the higher up Cardinals. Pope makes it through the standard proceeder in order to become Pope, even sporting the namesake in which he stands. But all is not well as Pope is eventually framed for a crime he didn’t necessarily commit and is banished from the Vatican. This brings in a magisterial Archbishop (Shawn Cahill) into the mix as he takes over, taking advantage to the might and glory he holds toward his followers. Now Pope must fight for his right to dethrone the new Pope, and become the hero he needs to be.

This musical has everything one would want in such an epic musical: A great “book” (read: script-not to be confused with “good book”), lively and witty musical numbers, and enough humor that makes this a satire for the ages. This musical boasts a very robust cast (more on that in the later paragraph) that makes this an epic of its own sort. There are no lavish costumes depicted. Much of what the cast dons resembles street clothing sans the Pope and Archbishop wearing a shawl and Pope-ish hat. The sets and scenery is far from majestic as well. The backdrop consists of pages pulled out of graphic novels (read: comic books) and plastered upon a wall, suggesting that this Pope is some kind of a super hero–a job description that’s rather trendy and even profitable in this day and age! But what makes up for the lack of grandiose proportions is a original musical that is appealing to the masses! (Pun intended?) Jase Lundgren as Pope is the everyday man that is well suited to lead his people–bubble car and all! (No such device is depicted in this production due to lack in epicness!) Shawn Cahill as the evil Archbishop is an ideal villain for the post modern age. He may be the bad guy, but doesn’t necessarily look like one as many post modern evil doers tends to subsist!

As to the rest of the cast, this ensemble consists of Lindsay Braverman as Mary Frances, R. Benito Cardenas as Cardinal Buncan, Eric Cire as Cardinal Chuck, Jude Evans in a multitude of roles, Chris Farah (alternating with Kire Horton) as Linda, Sammi Lappin as Mary Elizabeth, Pat Scott as Cardinal Mitch, Melissa Strauss as Mary Prudence, and Mark Lopez as God. Gregory Crafts directs this show that never lets its sprit down! (Pun?) With Christopher Pappas as musical director performing his own score on the keyboards, the entire cast of players sing and dance from its humble beginning right down to its noble climax!

Interestingly enough, POPE! AN EPIC MUSICAL isn’t a faith inspired piece, nor is it about religion per se. It’s just a stage work that shows the undertaking of righteous and unfavorable with plenty of comic (book) relief added for good measure! This showcase doesn’t speak down at its audience, nor does it preach to it. It’s just a small spangle of a musical that is giant enough to be reformed within this theater company’s new and improved playhouse space! As they say might say in theology school, In Hoc Signo Vinces–or something like that!

     POPE! AN EPIC MUSICAL, presented by Theatre Unleashed and performs at The Belfray Stage upstairs at the Crown theater, located within the campus of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, 11031 Camarillo Street (one half block west of Lankershim Blvd), North Hollywood, until November 17th. Showtimes are Saturday and Monday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. For reservations and for more information on these two shows, call (818) 849-4039, or visit http://www.TheatreUnleashed.com.

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BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) features Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomson. He’s an actor whose career was at his peak when he played the comic book super hero Birdman some twenty year before when super hero-type films were starting to catch on. Time became hard for Riggan over the years through his professional life and his personal one. For his pro life, he’s seeking a desperate comeback as he was given the chance to direct, adapt, and star in a play running on Broadway, a melodrama called What We Talk About When We Talk About Love that features the title emotion with violence and surrealism thrown in. As to his personal life, he holds other battles. He must deal with his former wife Sylvia (Amy Ryan), who checks in with him every so often with the intention to keep his  mind together, his current girlfriend and costar Laura (Andrea Riseborough), as well as his young early 20’s daughter and personal assistant Samantha-“Sam” (Emma Stone) who just got out of a rehab clinic, still going through her thoughts she gained while she was “drying out”. As Riggen goes on with the rehearsal of his play that would either make or break him, one of the leads becomes hurt while a rigging light falls on his head a day before the show opens in preview mode. His producer and best friend Jake (Zach Galifianakis), worried that this play’s fate is on the line, tells Riggen to get his life together while still finding a last minute replacement. So with the suggestion of Jake and lead actress Lesley (Naomi Watts) they call upon Mike Shiner (Edward Norton)  a young guy who holds a cocky attitude, but is name enough to sell tickets and perhaps make this play a hit. But Riggen himself has one person he must face; himself, as he struggles through the antics with his family, his coworkers, and the alter ego he is as Birdman, as he tries to prove to the acting world that he is a true thespian, rather than a star that caters to fanboys.

There are a lot of elements that would make this film rather enjoyable if was told in a linear fashion. For starters, there is a bit too much surrealism in this film where the Riggan character has Birdman speak to him off and on camera. Second, when he has temper fits while in his dressing room at the theater, many time he “throws” things in anger as it was magic-making objects rise on its own to be tossed about! And what builds this entire piece as annoying is that the entire film is almost shot in own take. That is, the camera (hand held and unmounted) follows everyone about from one room to the next. (Most of the film takes place within the dark and narrow passageways of New York’s St. James Theater set in the East 40’s.) Thus, one fourth of the scenes consists of the camera angles following characters from behind as they ramble down the narrow hallways from one location to the next. Another annoying element is that there are too many close ups between Reggan and company speaking to one another. This would be OK if this title was made for television or meant to be viewed on a small screen. Since this feature was created for a theatrical element, it should be kept that way with adding more long or wide shots. However, this form of cinematography might have been done this way intentionally. (More on that in a moment!) And there is even special effects presented too, from having scenes where characters are standing in front of mirrors where their reflections can be seen but (surprise) no film crews are present, as well as a brief scene where Riggan, standing on top of a building attempting to get his mind together (or making a try to leap off), images that he in a scene of a Birdman picture where there are explosions and gunfire about a la action adventure super hero flick!

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, director of such art house favorites as Babel, and Amores Perros, is on helm to direct this title along with providing the screenplay that was also co-written by Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., and Armando Bo. In spite of the amusing but still annoying tracking shots created by director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki (who also served as the DP for Gravity, for what that’s worth), it also features a just as annoying music score by Antonio Sanchez. when his jazz drum beats should sound better is one is engaging in “sort-of legal” smoking material.

This movie, whose subtitle is The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance , is part of the parade of other features released within the last quarter of the year that tends to play toward Academy voting members that favors dramatic movies that holds lots of dramaturgic-esk character studies, but isn’t necessarily entertaining and would be viewed through DVD screener copies that those same voters receive every November and December. (Thus, the reason why this flick has lots of close ups–they look better viewed on a screen sized 60” and less!) As to Keating, although he does play his role rather well, his real film career dose reflect upon the role his plays in this movie. He himself played a super hero (Batman), as well as appearing in a number of other roles that range from comedy, drama, and points between.    (Mr. Mom, Gung-Ho, Clean and Sober, Pacific Heights, etc.) However, those films were released in the 1980’s and early 90’s when movies lived on through theatrical screenings, home video on VHS, as well as showings on HBO, Showtime, and other pay channels on cable. Will this film become the breakout role for Keating? Will he receive the comeback he desires? Will this film become a hit? Will this title woo those film voting members? This answers to those questions (as to this reviewer’s opinion) are: Not really, perhaps, no, and maybe! Considering the fact that as of this writing, the biggest money grabbing (and popular) movie released this year is a super hero title that features a computer generated heavy weapon toting talking raccoon and his sidekick, a tree that speaks only three words! So much for cinematic art!

This film is rated “PG-13” for mild cussing and TV-type violence. Opens at selected art houses on both coasts and eventually nationwide.

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TIFFI’S FRIENDS SAY…

(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)

I woke up the day before my daughter’s wedding with a pimple….I think I’ll put some windex on it

-Rochelle

Home sweet home time seems to stop when I am at work !

-Tamera

In case you were wondering, why yes, hummus does make an excellent breakfast…

-Kelsey

It’s after 9am, and I am still unable to get to school this morning.

-Ruth

My gf is hot!

-Vicki

As of October 20th, Tiffi has 2,412 Facebook “friends” and counting!

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2014 Linear Cycle Productions.

All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

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