Sunday, November 1, 2009

Absolutely MJ

I didn't feel like doing the passing-out-candy thing this year, so Mox, Linda and I spent Hallowe'en together at the mall. We had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, where I ordered my favorite, the Luau Salad.  When I arrived, one of the employees quickly pushed open the big door, almost hitting me in the face.  She ended up being our server, and said the word "Absolutely" at the end of every stop at our table. 
Her: "Is everything tasting OK?" 
Us: "Yes." 
Her:  "Absolutely."
I asked my friends to say the word to her sometime during the evening, and Linda quickly said it to her as the last word of our dinner time.  She, of course, was oblivious and probably didn't hear Linda because she was rushing around so much.  Thanks anyway, Linda!

I had thought of watching a Hallowe'en-ish movie, but sometime during the day, I realized that I wanted to see "Michael Jackson's This Is It" while it was still in theaters.  My companions graciously obliged. 
  • What an exciting moment for those auditioning to be the dancers for the show!  They flew in from around the world for the chance to dance on stage with Michael, and just to have the audition was mind-blowing to them.  I would have felt the same.  I can't even imagine what it would feel like to hear Michael saying to the others in the production company, "She's the one."  I mean, WOW.
  • The principal dancers were mostly male, and they were great.  I had seen them dancing on The Ellen Degeneres Show early this week, and enjoyed seeing them dance, doing the moves that were influenced by MJ.  I was not impressed by one of the gals, whom really just stood there and looked sexy, with rhythm.  I mean, *I* could have done that!  Move your feet, more!  She danced much more during the film, though. 
  • As good as all of those dancers were, when MJ was on the stage, he made everything look effortless.  The guys were noticeably working their butts off, and he, at twice their age, would just move like the music flowed through every inch of his body.  I mean, you can have a million people dancing "Thriller," but my eyes will always focus on Michael, because it's all him.  More amazing was the fact that we knew that MJ was saving his energy, what performers term "marking", because it was rehearsals that we were watching.  Even knowing that, he still out-danced everyone else.
  • I loved hearing him sing a cappella, in little bits and pieces of songs in order to demonstrate what he wanted from the musicians.  His voice was beautiful.  I wasn't crazy about his duet during "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" because my ear was telling me he was flat, but again, it was rehearsal, and he was marking at the time.  When he started jamming with the female vocalist, though, he got into the groove, then told Kenny Ortega not to let him do that, because he was supposed to be saving his voice.  Kenny told him that he knows MJ can't help it anyway.  It's hard to hold back when you're a performer and you know that people are watching you.
  • I had avoided a lot of the news coverage surrounding MJ's death, because I didn't want to deal with that sadness.  It started hitting me, though, when they were rehearsing the Jackson 5 segment of the show, and he sang "I'll Be There".  What an amazing talent we were able to witness, from when he was that little boy until now.  And now I'm finally crying about it as I type this.  Yes, his legacy will be marred by several things, but I prefer to remember him as that little boy with the angelic voice that blew me away when he did the Moonwalk on the Motown Anniversary Special.
  • I'll also remember him for those awesome videos that he produced.  And there he was, producing more videos for those same already-awesome ones as lead-ins to the live songs.  My favorite one was for "Smooth Criminal", which is a song I really like anyway, but the editing was great.  I also enjoyed the "Thriller" piece.  There's a big black widow spider that comes on stage, and MJ comes out from underneath it.  Neato.
  • I enjoyed seeing how MJ worked with the musicians, saying that the music needs to be what the fans are used to hearing from the records.  Because he's so hands-on with the production of everything, he remembers every note.  Not all artists can accomplish that, and certainly not all of those with a repertoire as big as Jackson's.  He knows what the fans want to hear, and he wants to give it to them. 
  • That female guitarist rocked the hell out of her axe.  I mean, Damn, Girl!
  • I liked seeing all of the different sets.  They were going to have ghosts flying above the audience for "Thriller"; they had a silhouette of NYC a la "West Side Story" for "The Way You Make Me Feel"; and they had dancers popping out from beneath the stage, like bread from a toaster, for a few songs. 
  • I loved it every time he said, "That's why we have rehearsal" whenever somebody didn't do whatever it was that he wanted.  That, and "It's all for the love."  So absolutely MJ.
  • My favorite part was "Billie Jean".  That man can dance.  I liked seeing the reaction from the dancers, the "extensions of Michael", as they watched from the audience.  They were all going crazy, as they watched their idol do his signature moves.  I mean, hello.  The man that you've been trying to dance like for all of your life is *practicing* those moves in front of you!  O.M.G. 
  • Whoever said that the man was frail during those days before his death needs to see this.  No frail man can do those dance moves.  Plenty of healthy people can't do them.  Nor would they have the energy to scream that signature "AAAAAHHHH!" as many times as he does, or do everything over and over again, to get it right.
  • The female vocalist said that her first performance in front of an audience was "Man in the Mirror" as a little girl, and now she gets to sing it with Michael Jackson himself.  What a wonderful feeling that must be!
  • I really enjoyed this film, because the musician in me loves to see the artistic process.  I love seeing stuff develop into whatever's going to be eventually performed for the audience.  I love seeing the wheels turn during the creative process.  It's mesmerizing to me.  Yeah, rehearsal can be a pain because of the repetition, but when done right, the results can be everything you wanted them to be.  I know that's why MJ is labeled as a Perfectionist.  You would be, too, if millions of people expected nothing less than brilliance.  That's what he would have given them.
We topped off our evening with a stop at Nubi, a self-serve yogurt place.  Linda and I got pumpkin flavor, so we were happy.  They didn't have candy corn topping, but that's OK.  The evening was fun enough without it.  Oh, and we did get to see some Hallowe'en in our movie:  "Thriller"!  I think that Gloomy and Diego (Skelanimal Bat dressed as a vampire) enjoyed the movie, too.

Thanks for the fun, guys.  

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