How To Kill Time

“It’s not so much knowing when to speak, when to pause.
Jack Benny


How To Kill Time

Robert Benchley had a great career. You have to sift through all that IMDBness to find that his How to Sleep won an Academy Award which went to his producer. It is a bit of a shame since Mr. Benchley had a whole series of How To’s like How To Behave. Very funny stuff and really short, it was something that was shown before the feature in our days of yore. I wanted him to have the statue, he’d use it as a doorstop, I’m sure.

Today’s topic is not as funny. When one wastes time, then it is a bad thing; there is stuff to do! Now, if you are killing time, well, you have done your chores and you are waiting for the next thing to happen. Killing Time is a true luxury.

My newest How To Kill Time (I am an expert, y’know) is rooting through a great blog that I recently ran over. It is called Travalanche and, seriously, I have killed time-and-a-half over there.

The guy knows his stuff and will tell it by posting articles. He works hard at it and it is a pleasure to read through anything that catches your interest. Mostly Vaudeville and early movies is his niche, he’s even written a book on the topic which is well advertised.

One of his posts is on the theater reviews by Dorothy Parker in which he said to buy it and gave a link and I clicked and I bought it and I’m enjoying it and I’m grateful.

For me, my interest in the Vaudeville Timeline is trying to understand how the Industrial Era led to so many people moving to the cities for work and (somehow) began the Modern Era with all of the arts; modern music, modern dance, modern art, modern writing. Vaudeville sits right in the middle of this puddle of massive change in America and the world.

Gone were the days of the patron supporting a painter, every Jill and Johnny could make work. My imagination fills in the blanks thinking of all the children being raised to sing opera or dance or play the piano and violin because there was work to be had. Vaudeville at it’s height had a circuit with acts traveling from New York to San Francisco and every town along the way.

There had to have been thousands of working artists performing in Albuquerque and Topeka and, maybe, eight cities in New Jersey. Imagine a generation raised on the arts and you have it right in front of you. And not just singers and dancers but stagehands and agents and pit musicians; work!

I don’t know how accurate Gypsy was as a movie. But from it I love the idea of a comedian honing his craft on an eight minute show, three or four times a day. I love the idea of a lot of professionals all working at once and understanding “how to” tell a joke or story or even how to strip.

Many of those guys, who had put in hours upon hours working on their stuff eventually went to Hollywood and worked for the big movie factories like MGM or went into television and radio. They knew “how to” do it and that interests me very much. I wrote before about the Director’s first question and I learned that lesson from only one guy and it seems so basic. Still, every now and then I sit up and listen; Seth Meyers was talking about “putting a hat on a hat” as a way of saying that the joke is being told, no need to add a second.

I mean, really, a “meet cute” has to be fiction though, right?

I think that it is cool that the Hero’s Saga is being taught in Junior High School now and that there is even a software template so that you can plug in the parts needed in a story. But there is so much more to learn.

I’m telling you, if you want to Kill Some Time, stop over at Travalanche and be thoroughly entertained.

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