The Office

People can be pretty passionate about whether they believe the U.S. or U.K. version of the mockumentary The Office to be the superior sitcom. The British original version is too dry. The American version isn’t witty enough. American receptionist Pam is cuter than British receptionist Dawn. British boss David Brent is more offensive than American boss Michael Scott. It’s not a debate one would want to get stuck in the middle of, but here are some things to consider when taking a side.

Both versions operate around the premise of a fictional documentary team filming the depressing day-to-day goingson of a dysfunctional paper supply company office run by the worst boss in history. Both versions present and make fun of certain office archetypes: the bad boss, the zealous suck-up, the overqualified slacker, the would-be-artist-turned-receptionist. Though the plots diverge after the pilots, at least the main characters of each version parallel one another in the archetype they represent.

First, the two bosses compete to be more hilariously awful. Superficial and inept, Dunder Mifflin Scranton Regional Manager Michael Scott of the U.S. version lives in a world where he is prouder of things like his Chrysler Sebring or new HD television than of his hard-to-pinpoint professional accomplishments. His U.K. counterpart David Brent heads the Slough branch of Wernham Hogg, and though likewise an ineffective leader, is less of a doof, and more of a self-centered and downright mean attention hog than would-be people pleaser (if only he knew how) Michael. In deciding which is more comical, one must also return to the age-old comparison of the darker British sense of humor versus the lighter, sillier American one. And this argument can go back and forth forever.

Next, we have Dwight Schrute and Gareth Keenan as the bosses’ weasily aspiring cronies. American Dwight’s comic appeal is epitomized by the way in which he insists on being referred to as Assitant Regional Manager, though his title, like British Gareth’s is actually Assistant to the Regional Manager. His blind and militant ambition and total immunity to the opinions of others are the cause of many of his laugh-drawing antics. Not to mention, everything he does he does with what can be considered very American gusto. Gareth fights back with homo-erotic tendencies and a similar disregard for reality.

American Jim Halpert and British Tim Canterbury are too good for the antics of their coworkers and provide some sane perspective on their situations. Both have strong potential for the bigger and better, but both stay in their dead-end jobs to harbor crushes on the receptionist (with whom they endlessly knock the rest of the employees) and cast knowing glances at the cameramen.

Pam Beesly and Dawn Tinsley are the said receptionist objects of Jim and Tim’s respective affections, but both at least begin the show spoken for by other men who are not good enough for them. Both have a talent and passion for art, but just as they settle (at least at first) for unsatisfying men despite their intra-office attractions, they also put aside their artistic ambitions and settle for their mundane nine-to-five lives answering phones and providing deadpan reactions to their outrageous bosses.

As far as secondary characters go, the Americans tend to be more fleshed-out (with last names and weight problems to boot) than the Brits. Awkward moments and embarrassing situations ensue when fat people are asked to sit on tables and participate in sports. There are also several yuppie characters who might hold a mirror to the U.S. show’s 18-35 target demographic that stay loyally tuned to their own high-definition TVs to see the ways their fictional counterparts refuse to grow up or get a life. Usually, though, these viewers will find themselves more entertained than warned by the bleak outlooks for these characters. The secondary characters on the British version, on the other hand, remain more caricatures than actual characters. Little background information is provided about them, and they serve more as targets for David’s abuses than sources of tension and drama themselves. This may be in part due to the fact that the U.K. version lasted fewer seasons than the U.S. version has, with each season consisting of about a quarter of the amount of episodes.

The jury may still be out in determining which version depicts the funnier SNAFU, but luckily, with satellite TV or a high-speed internet connection you can catch both versions and decide for yourself.

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How to Start Performing Magic Tricks

Would you like to learn magic? Would you like to know how magicians begin practicing their art? Many people are mesmerized by magic, yet very few people practice the art of performing magic and illusions. Magic can be a hobby or become a full-time profession. The first step is learning where to begin.

Magicians vary in their personalities, magic tricks, and illusions performed. Whether you want to learn card tricks, do kids’ magic tricks, or coin tricks, you will need to consult some sources of information first. Sources of study can be found in local libraries, bookstores, magic shops, and online sites.

It is suggested to read literature on the subject and watch live and video presentations of exhibitions. Reading and watching will teach elementary magic tricks as well as provide a sense of the importance of proper presentation. Reading can provide the know-how regarding tricks while watching them performed can teach you how to properly conceal tactics and entertain an audience while executing magic tricks.

Magicians should meet and speak to other magicians. Look in your local phonebook for magic shops in your area. In addition, you can search the Web for forums and clubs that discuss and share information on the topic (one such club is the Society of American Magicians).

Next, a beginner needs to practice coin tricks, card tricks, and other magic tricks alone and in front of small audiences. Try practicing in front of a mirror to start. Remember that anything you can spot yourself doing in the mirror can also be apprehended by the audience. Practice your magic tricks repeatedly until it become second nature to perform them flawlessly.

Showmanship is a large part of performing tricks; a magician must practice their words, inflection, body movements, and overall ability to entertain the crowd during their magic trick exhibition. Some magicians use partners to additionally entertain the crowd as well as to serve as a source to distract observer attention.

Initial Tips

- Be aware of angles while learning magic. Some tricks require you to face the crowd head on. Having the audience seated to the sides may reveal how the feats are performed.

- Borrow needed items from the audience rather than use your own. It will make it seem like the feat is more magical because you didn’t have a chance to manipulate the items.

- Do not perform the same magic trick more than once in front of the same audience. Doing so would make it easier for them to guess how it was performed.

- Do not divulge how the trick is done. People will ask, but the secrets must be preserved in order to maintain observer wonderment and captivation.

- Any new magician has the ability to execute any card trick, coin trick, or other magic trick, but they must be practiced for some time before being performed in front of an audience successfully.

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About Jazz Dancing

Jazz dancing style is one of the most renowned dancing styles that have emerged since end of the First World War. The credit for the popularity of jazz dance can be attributed to its display in movies and in television shows.

Jazz dancing highlights an individual’s own ability to dance freely. Its style is free of all stiffness. It is, rather, a free dancing style. Jazz dancers portray their own styles and add innovations to the techniques. These qualities of jazz dance make it very individualistic. This form of dance is characterized by its high energy levels. Its unique steps and movements, fancy foot works, big leaps, twisting and turning movements make it a pleasure to watch.

History of Jazz Dancing

After the First World War ended, the society underwent a change. The people became more liberal in their outlook. They condemned the stringency of the earlier generations. The popular notion of the age was that life is short lived and is meant to be enjoyed. This age is called the age of the ‘lost generation’. Girls came out in short skirts and their altered morals challenged the values of the previous generation.

Jazz dance originated in the nineteenth century. Jazz dancing was popular in clubs and brothels in south and mid west America. The black skinned people who were released from slavery enjoyed this dance along with European music, mixing it in afro flavor. In the olden days jazz was popularized in New Orleans, St. Louis, Memphis, Kansas City and many other places. Jazz dancing is still popular in New Orleans.

What to Wear During Practice

Casual clothes serve the purpose well. Since the body line must come out prominently, baggy clothes are not preferred. Too tight clothes prevent free movement. So they are not advisable as well.

Jazz Movements

A little bit of warm up exercises are vital. They include stretching exercises and a bit of cardio exercises. The steps consist of basic turns, leaps, ‘jazz walks’. There are several types of these movements. Another famous move is ‘contraction’. Since jazz dancing is very individualistic, students are welcome to add their own styles.

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