28 January 2004

Prometheus Unpaid.

Ah, the tragic flaw of overweening pride. The thing the Greeks called hubris. Not a thing that is good at all, the same hubris. And I too have been guilty of this. Right here, in this blog. Not too long ago I posted about my secret ambition to be, not an ordinary mild-mannered everyday smalltime blogger, but a THEATRE CRITIC. I flew into a turgid fancy, if you'll remember, flagrant in its narcissism and wholly uncalled-for. I fantasised about having minions at my beck, doxies on my arm, drugs up my nose, and our fair, smooth-browed Taoiseach on the other end of the phone. All complete idiocy of course. I apologise for inflicting all that muck on you.

For when I come to consider that which is my true calling, the noble craft of theatre criticism, I understand now that I'll never realise my ambitions by dwelling on such idle reveries. This is the time for action, not contemplation. To which end I've sent off a few pieces I've written for consideration. Some of the responses so far have been encouraging. Some, too, have been less than heartening:
"Oh you're from Galway? I've heard of Galway. My uncle's milkman's fiancee's dog's pedicurist went there on vacation once. Anyway let us know if you come up with anything else, er, Brian, isn't it?"

"This theatre criticism stuff is all very well, sir, and you have a certain facility for it, but don't you think the smart money these days is in those new blog thingies they're all talking about? I was looking at one the other day and it was great fun, all about imaginary blue catlike beings and punk woodland animals and stupid search referrals. What was it called again? No, wait, come back."

"We'd like to thank you for these submissions. Careful research by our highly-trained crack team of textual interpreters has determined that every word was, in fact, generated by polyglot monkeys with typewriters. Who exactly are you trying to fool here? Do you think we're complete idiots?"

"You, sir, are the greatest hero in human history and we would be happy to publish some of your magnificent musings on Mr. Shakeyspar. Please send 250 euro to defray printing costs and we'll be sure to put it in the March issue, and we'll even send you back 50 copies to sell to your friends."

"This is terribly written. We've checked - there is no such word as 'Fresnel'. We'd be interested in reading anything else you've done, though. Have you tried keeping a weblog?"
I've received no little interest, and plenty of encouragement, from a publication called Incomprehensible Bollocks Monthly, who have described my work several times in quite glowing terms. It's not clear yet whether they'll actually print any of my work, or pay me money for it, but such matters are moot. I have a Doc Marten on the bottom rung of the ladder, and that's the important thing. I feel I have finally found kindred spirits, others who understand me:
"Notwithstanding a certain crumpling, epidermal quality, tempered with outbreaks of plush metacarpal limburger tendencies, there remains a certain frisson of quasi-tectonic, almost mixolydian furniture displacement."
So, things are looking up. Until then, I accept that I am just going to have to roll up my sleeves, apply some elbow grease, and do some honest-to-goodness, no-frills, thankless but remunerative hack work for local papers. I'm not proud. Nor do I much fancy goething before a fall. So for the time being I'll be churning out stuff more along the lines of:
"Fair play to the Bailenamagairle Players for their fine rendition of Jonjo McPhooster's delightful romp, Me Mammy's Afther Joinin' The Guards, Who's Going To Make The Dinner So? Sangwidges at the interval were provided by the lovely Sorcha Ni Phlabbergast and spot prizes were given out by Father O'Botulism."
Genius is pain.

21 January 2004

No, I don't want my driveway tarmacked.

This whole "thing", this -- this "blogging" as I believe the less cultured call it -- it's never really come naturally to me. Sure, I suppose I "engage" with it on a regular basis. But this is in much the same manner as I "engage" with my backside when I wipe it, or the way that people with dysfunctional hearing "engage" with the tuneless excesses of the rockety-roll music.

Keeping a cheap little online diary has never been one's true vocation of course. One was meant, as I'm sure the sapient looseletter will have noticed, for much finer things, much more noble pursuits. These quotidian minutiae, this daily parade of (pfuh!) "links" and (ptui!) "content", such matters mean little to me beyond a way to bide one's time, as it were, until a more meaningful opportunity presents itself. A stopgap, no more.

For once one has inhaled (don't mind if I do, thank you very much) the rarefied air of sublime inspiration, of true art, then why return to the acrid fug of the sussurating snakepit that IS the thankless demi-monde of (shudder) Electronic Vanity Publishing?

I was not born for this blogging thing. I should have been, ought to have been a THEATRE CRITIC, DAMN IT!

Yes, a theatre critic. Scoff if you must. Your base concerns are not mine.

Picture it, if you will: the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the optics in the theatre bar. Delicious imported powders sandblasting my nasal passages and easing down the snot at the back of my gullet. Hot brandy and port to wash them down. Expensive cigars. During the intervals, plenty of opulent decolletage to admire. Younger hopefuls at my beck, acolytes of theatre criticism, hanging on my every word. Learning the craft from my wise old avuncular self. They cut my lawn, refresh my drinks, procure for my delectation the finest punetang. Meanwhile, inside, of course, a bunch of pantomime fools are stumbling around under a proscenium, talking loudly and avoiding the furniture. The first act passes, a distant irrelevant rumble, while, still in the bar, I finish the Times crossword, inscribing the final character and laying aside my pen with a studied flourish.

The mobile communication device, nestled in my pocket next to a ninebar of the finest Moroccan, trills pleasantly. Bored, I decide to take the call. It is my admirer, young Bartholemew J. He sounds in a bit of a pickle.

"Tell us! You know about dese t'ings, Brenno. Is it anny good? Is it?"

"Relax, Taoiseach," I tell him. "You can read all about it have someone read it to you tomorrow morning. Now go back to following the subtitles on TG4 with your finger."

Then, of course, a quick call to my loyal army of polyglot monkeys with typewriters, now much better off and ingesting a finer class of monkey chow. I confabulate with them briefly - fair, generous and respected employer that I am - offering them a few, er, enticements to get the thing rattled off and ready for the courier first thing on the morrow.

It is time I realised my true vocation.
"So it is, with a phalanx of amber fresnels (*) illuminating the beads of sweat on the immaculately appointed brow of Gorpth Fnorgerskal (fresh from his three week engagement in ORPHEUS UNPLUGGED at the Sawmill), that a sort of hush descends on the auditorium. As he speaks the final syllables of McDingus' famous Fifth Soliloquy, something that is neither visceral nor spiritual, but somehow a bit of both, partaking of the noumenously plastic and the timelessly antedeluvian in equal measure, seems to possess the room.

"It is not, friends, merely a play. It is a sort of History. And if theatre truly is about bums on seats (at the end of the day), then the preciously placed posteriors in the Grand Scarab Theatre last night must have been, dare we say it, quite moist ones indeed."

(*) I said "Fresnels". It's a word!
Let's face it. The very essence of theatre criticism courses through my veins. Read it back. The use and placement of the word "must" in the final sentence I find particularly piquant.

True talent will out. And the sooner this tawdry ball of clay that calls itself a "planet" learns to deal with it, the better.