Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Guest’

Most people think of anything that falls on the eleventh day of the eleventh month as being a time to commemorate the brave men and women who have served in the Armed Forces.  That, obviously, is a wonderful tribute to their sacrifice and is a worthy use of this day.  But this year, there is an added element to the gravity of the day.

This day in this year, 11/11/11, Nigel Tufnel Day.  I believe this has something to do with some apocalytic countdown attached to the Mayan Calendar. 

Nigel Tufnel was, and is, the lead guitarist for the band Spinal Tap, the heavy metal rockers who were the subject of  the celebrated film mockumentary This is Spinal Tap from director Rob Reiner back in 1984.  As played by Christopher Guest, Tufnel is best remembered for the part of the film where he is showing his guitars to Reiner and explains why the dials on his amps all go to eleven rather than ten, the normal top number on most numeric dials.  It is a classic bit.

The film has become a classic, deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress in 2002.  The film popularized the mockumentary style and Guest has made a great series of films based on this format of a traditional looking film dockumentary using a reperatory of actors and improvised (and often very funny) dialogue.  Best in Show, A Mighty Wind  and Waiting For Guffman are all exceptional examples.

So, today, at the clock strikes the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of this eleventh day in the eleventh month in the eleventh year of this decade, I will first say a silent thank you to honor the service of all the troops, past and present.  Then I will plug my guitar into my amp and turn it up to eleven. 

I can’t embed the actual  that started the ball rolling for Nigel Tufnel Day but you can watch it on Youtube by clicking here.

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Yesterday was the annual appearance of the Mummer’s Parade from Philadelphia, which has been going on for a couple of hundred years there although the first “official” parade was held in 1901.  It’s usually held on or around New Year’s Day and fills Broad Street in Philly with incredibly costumed bands playing out pretty ornate choreographed pieces.  The amazing thing is how much effort is put in by the social clubs of that city throughout the year, practicing and making the stunning costumes, for the five minutes or so they get in the spotlight.

The idea of the Mummer’s Parade is derived from the Mummer’s Plays of medieval Europe where groups of costumed performers went door to door, acting out their simple plays which had many regional variations but normally involved a Hero being killed by some sort of evil opponent then being revived by a Doctor of sorts, usually on the day after Christmas.  It has survived in many parts of the world and is still often practiced during the holiday season with revelers going from home to home, singing and accepting drinks and such from their hosts.

They show part of the parade annually on WGN , the nationally broadcast superstation out of Chicago, and we always watch at least part of it.  It’s a great scene and you have to admire the dedication these groups have for the tradition of this parade.  Cheri has often said that it would be a great setting for a movie from Christopher Guest and company, of Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and Waiting For Guffman fame.  These movies usually have self-contained environments and casts of really interesting characters.  Perfect fit for this parade. Maybe Murder at the Mummers?

Here’s an example of one of the string bands, one of the different competing divisions:

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