Sunday, March 30, 2014


The women are beautiful, the women are sexy, the women have spunk and humour and they can sing and strut and dance. They want to be stars, for a period of their lives they are stars and their desire to remain stars drives their every action. Their personality and talent and sexiness means that we want them to be stars as well, we follow their journies and we root for them

Oh yeh. One more thing.

The women are murderers

This is the world of Chicago, the Tony award winning musical currently running in Toronto at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

This play has been around a long time, it has been to Toronto before, but Collette and I have never before seen it. I did see the screen version many years ago; I enjoyed the movie very much and vowed that if ever returned here, we'd see it

Est voila

Chicago is the story of Roxy Hart and Velma Kelly, two showgirls during Prohibition era Chicago who gain fame not for their gams or their voices, but for the murders that land them in the Cook County jail. Velma is the elder "stateswoman" riding her tabloid fame to an acquittal and vaudeville tour .. both elements highly hopeful. Her reign as Chicago's most darling murderess is spoiled by the arrival of Roxy; younger fresher and with the blood of her lover fresh on her hands

Both women are represented by snake oil salesman (they call him a lawyer) Billy Flynn, who promises to get the women off their charges and on their way to fame. As he sings in his first solo, Billy does everything for love ... love here defined as 5,000 dollars

The play follows the two women in their quest for an innocent verdict and fame .. whichever comes first.

I remember Chicago the movie as being sexy and the stage version definitely does not shy back from that. The dancer's outfits seemed to have been designed by the strip club outlet of Victoria's Secret and the choreography is by Bob Fosse .. don't really need to say anything more

The play is way funnier than I remember the movie being; the film went for more pathos, there is some of that here, particularly in the character of Roxy's cuckoled husband and a Portugese showgirl/prisoner, but mostly the show goes for laughs and it gets them easily.

Bianca Marroquin as Roxy is a revelation; the woman can sing and she can dance but she is also an incredibly gifted physical commediene. Her facial expressions and body gestures are hilarious, she's like Lucille Ball in heels and stockings ... but with a better singing voice.

Equally effective and physically gifted is Terra MacLeod as Velma. She knows how to play to the back of the house, she has legs that go on for a month or two and her timing is impeccable. When the two women perform together you understand what the term "showstopper" means

The real surprise here is Elvis Stojko as Billy Flynn .. yes that Elvis. The figure skating Canadian dude.  His Billy is oily and arrogant, he wears his vintage suits with aplomb and there is an awful lot of strut in his walk. His singing voice is perfectly stage worthy and he uses it with a lot of confidence

C. Newcomer takes the small yet important supporting role of gossip columnist Mary Sunshine and turns it into something .. memorable. Trust me on this. One of the most surprising soprano's you've ever seen

As I noted this a Fosse choreographed show so the dancers are an important part of the production. They play multiple roles, are almost constantly on stage, and provide laughs, vocal support and sex appeal with such aplomb I swear the stage was melting

If the skilled and sexy dancers melt the floor, Carol Woods, as the jail's matron, blows the roof off with the most powerful voice in the cast. She also holds her own quite well in the comedy department.

The two performers who bring a touch of pathos to the show are Thomas Bevan as Roxy's sad sack husband a character so unremarkable he refers to himself as Mr Celophane and Naomi Kakuk as Hunyak, the one showgirl/murderer who does not live long enough to be a star and who's only command of English is the phrase "not guilty" and that, and not enough funds to hire Billy Flynn, does not bring you justice in Chicago

There is some social commentary here, about the pay for play legal system, about fame, about what our culture sees as important but that's all in the background; in the foreground is a hilarious, beautifully danced, well acted musical with a lot of moments and numbers that had the audience belly laughing and  cheering.

Chicago has come to Toronto. And it shows us that in the Carl Sandburg's city of the big shoulders, show biz really is murder

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


So today, as I'm puttering in my office, I'm flipping through the channels on my TV as I'm looking for something inane to watch, to have on as sort of background noise

Well, inane I found

It was one of those satirical mock news shows, like Stephen Colbert or John Stewart. Like those shows, they were using an actual well known news story as the jumping off point to poke fun at modern journalism

The stor was the missing Malaysian airplane. The one about which we know little: Someone on board deliberately (they think) shut off communications and diverted the plane from its original course. Beyond that there a few salient facts

But here on this satire show the hosts were mulling over theory after theory, flinging all kinds of speculative crap against the walls and not caring if any of it stuck. The "experts" they assemble are just journalists with no background or credentials and generally just yelling and wildly gesticulating over one another not to make a point, but to just gain face time on TV.

Chuckle chuckle

The "host" of the show is an actress and she does a great job of playing the role of what a female news anchor should not be; emotional, weepy, responding to tape of a mother crying and wailing by pressing her hand to her chest and staring out at the audience to say "It just breaks my heart" As if any journalist, of any gender, would make such a proclamation

Guffaw guffaw

The scene with the mother is real; she is at a press conference, surrounded by what appears to be hundreds of camermen as she is encouraged to ramp up her grief; this is TV mother, your words are not enough, could you possibly throw your hands up and toss your head back and maybe scream for us? The woman does indeed do this and the camearmen crush around her, enveloping her, literally knocking her off balance. As the poor woman is pushed to the floor the cameras follow her down so that she completely disappears

Back to the set of the fake news show the anchorwoman does not take this opportunity to critisize the media for not only ramping up the emotion but disregarding the mother's emotional and physical safety. Instead, sticking to her script, the actress presses both hands to her face, readies herself for her close up by biting her cheeks to get the tears welling and proclaims "Oh the tragedy of it all, that woman's scream will haunt our viewers for a generation to come"

Holy shit, some venomous, acid blooded satirical master penned that scream. Chortle chortle

I admired this show. By taking everything to a ridiculous level, by presenting journalists as profit whores who's only interest is to keep eyeballs on the screen with wild speculation, by outright lies and by doing what a journalist should never do .. by telling us how to feel about a story instead of us giving us data so that we can sort our our own response, and by encouraging real journalists (ie the cameramen and reporters at the conference) to influence the course of the story .. this brilliant satire shows us how a news program can go terribly terribly wrong

Golf claps all round

And the title of this clearly fake, satirical, made up TV news program? CNN

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ashes Linger

Ashes fall. Sparks rise upwards

I walk here where I have always walked. The place is always the same. It always changes

Dry pavement under my feet; rain slicked with street light calligraphy captured within; carpeted with brown leaves; hemmed by dirty snow

The place is always the same as it changes

I am changed as I remain the same

I walk forward into the wind; it pushes against me as I move into it. It pushes me back as I move forward

Time rushes towards me. I move into it. It pushes me back

I duck my head, hook my thumbs into the pockets of my jeans. I don't close my eyes, I want to feel the wind against my face, cold and sharp and filled with the scents of rain and snow and ash

Ashes fall

Wind skirls the ash around my legs. I walk through it. As I walk through the ash it is light and alive and it moves around me it swirls around me it touches me it embraces me it brushes against my face

As I move on I leave the ash behind. It settles behind me. Quiet. Still. With time it will show no evidence of my passing

Time rushes towards me, I feel it against me, it touches my face. It lays silent behind me

I hunch my shoulders and brush the hair out of my face

Sparks rise upward

Bright and sharp and twisting I smell the fire and the heat but it does not touch me, I do not feel it. It surrounds me. Swirls around me. Barbs of lambent light that etches shadows across my face.

I do not close my eyes

I pull my collar up around my throat. I walk on

This place is changing, it will always be here. Time pushes against me, it flows around me, it pushes past me

Behind me it is still and quiet with ash

I wait for the rain to come. To wash away the ash, sparks falling and dying in the rain.

I pull up my hood and turn my head slightly. Cold rain stings my face. The rain smells of ash

I walk on.

This place is always the same as it changes

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


It's been a while since I've fallen down the rabbit hole

And by that I mean I have missed the last Toronto Comic Con in March and the last Fan Expo in August. So armed with my new video cam and my new iPod Touch and a back pack soon to be filled with graphic novels, away I scurry down the nerd rabbit hole

Not much has changed in my absence, thousands of comics, hundreds of collectables, dozens of promotions and superheroes and Daleks and cosplayers, oh my!

More and more these conventions are becoming family events, especially this one, held at the beginning of the March Break. Some families travelled from as far away as Middle Earth ...

and in at least one case I think a DNA test may be in order ..

Every comic con has its share of heroes, some with nationalistic appeal ...

some with appeal for my honey ...

and some .. well .. let's just call it appeal ...

It's not all fun and games and .. er .. costumes at Comic Con though. Oh no, sometimes it is very serious down the rabbit hole. Such as when (as you'll see in the video) the three Spidermen joined up for a photo op, only to be assaulted by The Riddler .. gasp .. Marvel and DC, together! Some people actually did gasp while others broke into an ardent debate about the two universes and any instances of merging and .. Yeh. Only at Comic Con

Our heroes will always keep us safe from interdimensional conundrums

My first comic con with my Sony NX cam. I shot at 1080p/60fps, a frame too high to actually upload but good if I needed to do slo mo and just, I think, pretty kick ass quality. Still in a nice handy little package

You be the judge. And remember, if you don't approve, I will sick Lego Batman on your ass

Toronto Comic Con 2014 from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


It's a tough life, led by the dogs of Dogtown

Everyday they have to get up, convene, sniff some things we don't like to think about, then drag my ass out of bed to exercise me

It's a bit exhausting for them. Apparently I have to be exercised every day

It's an effort that takes about eight dogs to properly perform

Still, they are a dedicated bunch

Just don't forget the cookies

In tribute to Bach Turner Overdrive's induction into the Juno Hall of Fame

Taking Care of Business .. Dogtown Style from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.
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