Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Let's Puzzles! (IV)

Finished "Cinderella's Grand Arrival" last week (so fast!), and took care of the (rather large) Marvel one in a day or two, because I've now got mad puzzle skillz.

My next puzzle project is to make a mash-up of Cinderella and Winnie the Pooh. Since they have the exact same cut, you can switch pieces between each one. I'm hoping it'll look somewhat odd and beautiful, but the color combination of blue and green really doesn't go together so far.

This might actually be harder than doing the puzzles from scratch, because you have to punch out each piece and they're sturdy little buggers.

2010: The year I revolutionized puzzles?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Let's Musical Improv! (IV)

I did it! (Again!)

Last Sunday was the free Intro to Musical Improv class offered by the Magnet Theater, and it was... pretty easy! And all because of teacher Tara Copeland and accompanist extraordinaire Frank Spitznagel, as well as the incredibly supportive class.

To be honest, I was nervous going in. It's not often that I take classes anymore, and I always feel like I've gotta prove my "veteran" status to the other students. Maybe everyone feels that way, I dunno. But it was a heck of a lot easier to have a handful of friends and teammates in there (plus it's always exciting to see Ari and Betsy rap), and the environment was blessedly free from any critical eyes.

Luckily, there wasn't much actual improvising, so I felt better - and yes, I'm aware it seems weird for an improviser to be relieved he wouldn't have to do any actual improvising in a Musical Improv class.

Since it was an introductory class, Tara ran a lot of warm-ups and simple musical exercises. To analogize this to my katana class from January, we were just learning how to hold the sword and swing it properly, not how to kill in one slice. You know, the basics. And since I've run a number of these exercises before, it was even less stressful. Also, it's hard to be nervous with Tara around, as she is one of the most incredibly supportive teachers I've ever had (also in that category: Ari).

Throw in the fact that Frank underscored all of the exercises with his epic level piano playing and it threw everything into a whole new dimension. Seriously, with him on the keys, even a simple game like Hot Spot felt performance-worthy.

About halfway through, I became delightedly aware that we were being trained somehow. And this sounds like a redundantly thing to realize while in a classroom, but it was pretty exciting to me. Tara explicitly taught us to not be ashamed of our singing or our lyrics, to never apologize, to love what we sing and to have fun. And those are all lessons I never tire of hearing. It's like walking past those guardians in The NeverEnding Story - you won't fail unless you let yourself fail. But if you live it, love it, sing it... you'll get whatever it is beyond those guardians.

And implicitly, we were learning to trust the piano, to realize the accompanist had our back and would only make things better, not make them harder. Maybe this li'l lesson delighted me so because that's something I've always worried about. As stated before, chord progression and crap like that is alien to me, and God knows I never want to be the performer who's singing off-key. Now I know that such a thing won't happen, the accompanist can handle it. Whew!

Our final exercise was, actually, improvising a song. Four people to a group, one person would come up with the chorus, two would each do a verse, and one would make up the bridge. I would've been happy doing any of those, but I got the bridge, which was probably the best choice, because I wasn't sure what one was until Tara explained it for us. And we sang a silly song about air pollution, and it was pretty great, and I loved it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Let's Christmas!

Christmas 2009 was a hit! And, for perhaps the first time in my life, I've felt like, "This was a good Christmas, and I'm glad it's come to a satisfying end," instead of the usual, "What?! That's it? I feel... so empty."

So what changed?

This season didn't have the outlook of being jolly - it came off of a pretty depressing Thanksgiving (where my 91-year-old grandfather, already recuperating from a recently broken hip, broke his wrist the morning of Thanksgiving), plane tickets that were mucho expensive (aren't they always?) and they edited out my favorite line from A Charlie Brown Christmas ("All I want is what I've got coming to me. All I want is my fair share."). Plus, my dog's still dead, and I don't think she's coming back.

But because of my grandpa's Thanksgiving trip to the hospital, there was no name-drawing for the family gift exchange, and I thought that made things nicer: everyone's gift was that he'd recuperated and most of us were together. Getting rid of gifts? G'04 it!

Actually, I did get a few gifts from my brother: a Sonic Screwdriver, but also a nice surprise - this Orange Bird pin that he picked up in Disney World...


And I love Orange Bird! I miss the li'l guy.

And getting that Christmas tree? I loved our tree and really enjoyed decorating it throughout the course of the month, either with real decorations or with stuff we've had forever. Having it for a month definitely made me feel like I got my fill of the season, and next year I might wait another week or so (just so it isn't pretty dead by the 26th, as it is now). And I loved making the Kinder Egg Nativity Scene and can't wait for the next one.

I was a bit disappointed to see that most of the old Christmas decorations from my youth (a walrus from Alice in Wonderland, an old lady - probably Mother Goose - riding a duck, one of those vintage Dwarfs I'm always talking about, this Oscar the Grouch head) are no longer with us, but I took it in stride. I wanted to plunder my favorites, but I can let the past stay with the past, and bring on the future with some new decorative traditions, like monkey head coin purses.

Maybe it's the realization that Christmas really is for kids, and rather than thinking that I'm a kid and I deserve Christmas joy for myself, I should try to give it to others. I learned this while watching Elf (for the first time!) last night. It's like, rather than trying to keep returning to Narnia, I have to accept that my time there might be over, and I now have to help others reach that magical Christian land. And maybe that's how I can get back, but it certainly isn't by helping myself.

Since my brother is having a kid soon, next Christmas will be the baby's first Christmas, and that's kind of exciting... even though he'll be too young to appreciate or understand anything.

Things I look forward to: pretending to be Mickey Mouse or Santa Claus on the telephone, which is what my uncle used to do to me. And I never stopped believing. Even now, knowing it was fake, I don't forget the wonder I experienced when talking to the two most important men in the world.

I guess that's why I became a bit jaded - I still want my phone call from Mickey Mouse, but of course that's not gonna happen, and so I stand around going, "That's it?" But what better way than to become Mickey Mouse? And to eventually become Santa? That's my plan.

So, like wisely deciding against thirds on that lasagna and ham we had last night, I feel good that Christmas is just about done. I don't wanna push it or anything. There's still Sarah's return home in a few hours and we'll exchange gifts, but all in all, what a hit! I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge felt after he got that World's Greatest Boss mug.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Let's Distant Worlds! (II)

Last weekend Sarah and I went to Chicago, mostly to see the Distant Worlds concert, and let me tell you, I can understand why people fly in from around the world to attend these shows.

It was a harrowing journey from downtown Chicago to the Rosemont Theater, and I was pretty scared that we'd be late, because of course the first song is probably one of the most vital: the prelude. Luckily, we made it just as the lights were dimming. This was as close a shave as when you're waiting for Shadow at the edge of that flying island. (If you don't understand or appreciate this reference, you might as well stop reading this entry right now.)


The prelude means nothing if you aren't familiar with Final Fantasy, but if you are, oh, man, it conjures up so much! Mostly I remember the excitement of first playing Final Fantasy II and the III, not knowing what exactly the adventure would be like, but knowing it'd be epic... and being right.

Man, oh, man. Those were some good times. Those are some great games.

The concert was a little FF8-heavy for me (I never played Final Fantasy VIII) and a lot of the vocal songs weren't my cup of tea. I was mostly hoping for a lot of VI, since that's probably the best video game ever made, but sadly, they did not play the Opera. As a consolation, we got the world premiere of Dancing Mad...


...and they concluded with the much beloved Terra's Theme, so I was pretty satisfied. The ending, especially, with the credits showing and the character sketches, that got to me. Just remembering poor Cyan, beautiful, suicidal Celes and Gau, the worst boy in the world. I could (and would) fly anywhere to see a fully orchestrated version of Final Fantasy VI, that's how much I love those songs.


But the highlight of the show was the attendance of the man himself, Nobuo Uematsu, who composed this great music. And during the encore (One-Winged Angel, of course), he played a kick-ass solo on the Hammond organ... while dressed in a ninja costume. Then, as a second encore, they played it again. The audience roared.


It was a very inspiring night. It's pretty amazing to think that this humble little ninja could create such amazing music, music that'll stick with millions of people for their entire lives, and it made me think of creating art as opposed to just creating a product, and there's something to be said for that. (I was in a pretty weird head space last week, but that's another story.)

Out of everything I got out of that concert, I'm probably most grateful for that li'l lesson. So much emotion was poured into this music (man, I even got misty-eyed during To Zanarkand and Aerith's Theme), and, I dunno, life's just too short to make some bullshit project for the sake of throwing something out there.

I feel that way about movies and television and books and everything, and we're overwhelmed with choices, most of which are empty and subpar (Four Christmases, our in-flight movie, comes to mind)... and is it worth it? Couldn't we just focus on what we love and what means something to us?

I know it seems ridiculous to think such thoughts while attending a video game concert, but eff that, it's good music, it stays with you, you care about the characters, they have a soul, and that's the sort of thing I want to make.

So I thank you, Nobuo Uematsu. I thank you very much.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Let's Musical Improv! (III)

I did it!

It was... not easy. But not hard, I guess. I dunno. It's hard to remember.

My favorite part was warming up vocally with everyone, since that's something I haven't done in almost ten years. Yeowch! And I thought, "Oh, right, we're also supposed to actually sing well."

And beforehand I'd asked some folks for simple advice, like, "What's the one thing you should know if you're going to do a musical improv set?" And the best answer I got was that your character should have a strong want - that's what you're probably gonna end up singing about.

And it was fun! A little nutso, but what improv isn't, and I actually sang two songs.

I've never been smart when it comes to musical machinations (I dunno the proper term for this, but things like fifths and eighths mean nothing to me), so I think I was paying too much attention to what the piano player (who did an incredible job all night) was up to, like if the chords were going to change or if we were moving into a different direction.

Then on top of that, there's the lyrics, which I'm responsible for. Yeowch! For some reason, despite being told to the contrary, I kept thinking the song should rhyme, and so that was a hard habit to break. I think that tripped me up the most. But I love rhyming so much, I don't know if I WANT to break that habit.

So we'll see how things go on Sunday. I hope it is a fun day. Four people are going - will my love of musical improv be growing?

See? Rhymes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Let's Musical Improv! (II)

Before Tara's introductory class, I'm gonna just try performing it. Tonight. Whoa Mama!

Musical Kaleidoscope
Monday, Dec. 14th, 7:30 p.m.
The Creek, 10-93 Jackson Ave.
Free, but the experience is priceless

Very appreciative to Jeremy for inviting me on his team, and, yeah, I'm kind of nervous! More nervous than I normally get before a show because I don't really know how to properly improvise a song. And by "don't really know" I mean "don't know at all."

There's a chorus in there somewhere, probably, and that's a big part, and there are also verses, and it should rhyme, but other than that, I just don't know. I kind of hope we don't go first so I can watch a group and try to figure this stuff out.

It'd be cool if I end up being this savant about musical improv (much like Charlie Sanders's legendary first Harold, where he came to class late, jumped in at the opening, did a hilarious and awesome set, and then after the teacher said, "So what'd you think of that Harold?" asked, "What the heck is a Harold?"), but I'll settle for not ruining the show.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Let's Chicago!

I'm leaving for Chicago in a bit.

IT'S VERY COLD THERE.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Let's Winter Wishes! (II)

My letter read:

Dear Santa

Lucas has been a good boy and enjoy Elmo anything that makes noise. He also likes cars.

Lucas is 2.5 years old. Stuff like this always breaks my heart, this little kid who loves Elmo and Cars, and I wanted to get him something nice.

But the thing is, I HATE a lot of those talking Elmo toys. I actually think they're detrimental to the development of one's imagination. Am I crazy? I don't think so. They're like robots that you just watch and the interaction isn't real. Where's the pretend?

Also, there's this amazing review video. Honestly, the extent of my research on a toy like this only included Amazon reviews, and they're always a mixed bag - "Love it!" "Hate it!" and it's all just anecdotal evidence.

But I had to go with my gut and eschew all those talking Elmo toys (crazily enough, there's one that goes for over $90 - WHAT THE HELL?), and I got an Elmo puppet, because either he or his parent can play with it and it's real interaction that requires imagination, not being talked to in a mechanical voice.

Some day, robots will be able to love us back, but until then, I think they're not proper toys. Also, they break too easily, eat up batteries, and steal old people's medicine.

(I couldn't figure out if he loved toy cars or the movie Cars - which every kid on earth seems to love - so I also got a stuffed Lightning McQueen.)


[Edited to add: after watching this video, I feel better about my choice. A toy is something you play with, not something you watch. And if it breaks as easily as they say, then screw that.]

Let's Musical Improv!

I signed up for a free Intro to Musical Improv class over at the Magnet Theater. It's Sunday the 20th from 3:30-5:30, and you can register for it, too - just click that link! Do it. Do it now.

I'm pretty psyched, actually. Musical Improv is something I've always wanted to do, since I like singing and making up songs and I really ought to have piano accompaniment in my life, but I never seem to have the free time/cash when classes come rolling around.

So this time I'm gonna do it... and I'm a bit excited/nervous about trying some skill that I have absolutely zero experience in (if you don't count the countless hours I've spent making up annoying songs around the house). It's like when I took rollerskating lessons - my body just had no idea what muscles to use, how to balance, anything, it was an entirely alien thing. Actually, that was worse, since it was physical. This should be easier.

As adults, I don't think we have many opportunities to be exposed to such newness, and in fact we probably avoid it a little - it's weird being uncomfortable and unsure and like, "I just don't know what's going on!" Hence my excitement/nervousness.

Maybe that's why I keep telling my friends (including you) about this intro class - so that I'm not stepping onto that stage with a bunch of strangers. To misquote Calvin and Hobbes, the unknown is never quite so scary when you're with a friend. So sign up!

That's what this blog's been about all along, I suppose. I don't mind doing it alone - sometimes it's fun to face weirdness alone - but shared experiences have their own power, too.

[Edited to add: Pam just signed up for it, so now the entire class is ruined.]

[Edited further to add: Ari and Betsy and Katey signed up, so now it sort of evens out.]

Monday, December 7, 2009

Let's Craftacular!

Yesterday was the Bust Holiday Craftacular. I try to attend every year, and 2009 is no exception.

Surprisingly, there usually aren't many things at the Craftacular for ol' Kirk, but at one booth I spied a fancy silver monocle. And I thought, "Now, obviously I don't need a monocle, but I'm sort of surprised I don't already own one, and some day it'll definitely come in handy as an awesome costume accessory. Also, this is perhaps the finest monocles I've ever seen, and I've seen many."

I of course decided to buy it, but first decided to do a circuit about the entire craft fair - see everything for sale, make sure there isn't anything more pressing to buy (like, say, a gift for someone who isn't me, or, more likely, a better gift for me), and also make sure a monocle is a responsible purchase.

But, as I said, the Craftacular doesn't have me as its target demographic. This would seem surprising, since I like things, all sorts of things, but the majority of items for sale include handmade soap, women's clothing or jewelry, and other things I only use on very special occasions.

So two hours later, it was back to the monocle to get it, when lo and behold, it was gone. Sold to some lucky asshole (my nemesis). I kept wanting to circle the table over and over again, as if I missed it, and I did... but not in the good "Oh, there it is!" kind of way, but in the "It's gone forever" fashion.

Suxor.

I think I learned an important lesson: When it's in limited quantities, if you tell yourself to wait and if it's still there, it was meant to be, then you gotta be OK with it not being there when you return, because it probably wasn't meant to be.

Or maybe I should've just bought it then and there. I dunno. Maybe I didn't learn anything. Whatever. I like monocles is all.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Let's Nativity! (II)


I'm pretty proud of my Nativity set. The walls are made up of Jenga blocks, and most of the pieces come from Kinder Surprise toys. There's a few exceptions: Cakey guest stars as the Angel of the Lord, and that monster from a Monsters Inc. Happy Meal represents either a) the serpent/dragon/monster that was slain by the Christ-child immediately upon his birth or b) just monsters in general.

This was a lot of fun to make, and it was surprisingly an exercise in editing. I didn't want to go overboard, and since I have over 100 Kinder toys, it would've been very easy for this to get out of hand. Note there's no Squidward/Patrick/Mr. Krabs trio popping up or playing the Three Wise Men, and I kept the number of identical ragged Shepherds to one (not pictured are the two goats and a donkey with him... and you can't really see the horses in the stables. Also, there's a tiny booger-looking creature known as an Ick sitting on one of the off-camera Jenga blocks. He represents a Nisse. And the Three Wise Men have three off-camera squires bearing gifts, which are a crown, a shield, and an empty pillow. I would've liked to have included everything but then the picture would have been zoomed out. Maybe I'll do some close-ups later.)

Maybe next year I'll go all out and display the whole of the Kinder Universe worshipping the Christ-child, but I'm pretty content with what we have this year.


And then there's the tree! A real, honest-to-goodness tree! I love it! I love the tree! I say good night to it every night. The picture doesn't do it justice, and I'll have to take some more later.

Seriously, getting a tree really upped the Christmas cheer around this place, and it makes me feel less weird for constantly playing that "Sounds of the Season" music channel up in the 600s. I love that channel! I love the tree!

For ornaments, we just own a set of six pine-cone rodent ones I bought in Florida, and I'm opposed to buying shitty ones (although I'm really into looking at weird vintage Dwarf ornaments and Disney ornaments on eBay), so we decorated it with a lot of little things around the house.

Examples: My graduation cord! Three very cute change purses shaped like monkey's heads. A tag thing or whatever it is from Tokyo Disneyland. Grimace. Two stuffed toadstools. A tiny stuffed elephant Sarah found in Times Square. A holiday card from 2002 (why do I have that? I didn't even live in NYC in 2002, so I brought it up with me when I moved here?). SMRT-1. A few buttons, and atop the tree is old X the Owl from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

Bringing back all these old, somewhat forgotten things makes me feel that this tree is more special than one filled with shitty ornaments bought at Target. And it's nice to be actually psyched about Christmas instead of that vague feeling of anxiety and disappointment, so hooray! Christmas!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Let's Nativity!

I have to give props to Heather for alerting me to this Playmobil Nativity Set, and I was immediately like, "Let's get one!" because the best way to avoid getting depressed during Xmas is to actually celebrate it in style.

And Sarah was reluctant, supposedly because she doesn't want to get a lot of stuff this holiday season (but I think it's because she hates Jesus). Then we fell into this idea of making a Nativity set with stuff we've already got: Grimace, that bald soy sauce man/baby, Nibbler from Futurama, etc.

And holy crap is that a great idea.

I'm blogging about it now because that'll force me to actually build it, so within a week expect a picture of a very awesome (if not historically/Biblically accurate) Nativity set.

Let's Get Awkward!

So here was a nice Let’s Yes moment.

Last Monday I’m at La Guardia airport, heading home to Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday. And as I walk down Terminal D (D stands for Delta!) I see a semi-familiar face. Like, semi-familiar, as in, I probably met this person before, but for the life of me, I can’t quite tell where. And I have no idea their name or anything like that, but I AM sure that they’re someone I’ve met face-to-face, and it isn’t, say, Lisa Loeb.

This isn’t all that unusual, because with the fancy lifestyle I lead, I’m always meeting tens - if not dozens - of people on a weekly basis, but I’m terrible with names and not much better with faces (unless it’s Lisa Loeb). And I like to say, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you” as a way of assuaging my guilt about this, because I don’t know them - they just know me. So that makes it OK, right?

We half-notice each other, and we're on the cusp of greetings and official recognition, but I keep walking. And I literally take two steps, stop mid-stride, think for a moment, shake my head and go, “Nah,” and keep walking to my gate, which is always at the very end of the terminal. Always.

But that was a very cinematic moment, I tell you. It might not translate so well to blogspeak, but it was one of those crucial points in the movie where the main character almost, almost, ALMOST could’ve solved everything, but then he kept walking because there’s still another hour of wacky highjinks to deal with.

So then I sit down at Gate 6, eat my sandwich, and think I might not have actually ever met that stranger at Gate 3, I might have dreamed about them. Stranger things have happened. And if they WERE some companion from a long-forgotten dream, then I really ought to reconnect with them, right? And, damn it, what’s the point of having this blog if I’m not gonna go up and talk to some semi-stranger and then blog about it later?

I finish my sandwich and walk back to Gate 3. I walk by, we half-notice each other again, but this time I make the greetings and the sign of recognition, and proceed to have a bizarre and pleasant conversation.

How are you doing? Where are you headed? For how long? Where do you live, again? How do I know you? What’s your name? What was it that we talked about the last time we met that I thought was interesting? Are you real or someone from the Dreamworld? Am I crazy? Do you actually know me, or just recognize me?

That sort of thing, minus the ridiculous questions. But I tried (and failed) to find out how I knew this person, and then when some very specific statements were said (“Did you go to the bar after French Stewart's show?" - thusly, we both know French Stewart, and more importantly, this stranger knows that I know him), I still couldn’t figure out how we knew each other.

Luckily, I called ____ afterward and was able to get the scoop, but hearing those details (“You met last month. We were sitting talking about old-fashioned card games.”), it was all news to me. Worse, Sarah remembered meeting this person, and yet I didn’t. That makes me a lame-o, right? Wrong! It makes me an awesome-o for even being recognized at the airport... and by Lisa Loeb, no less.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Let's Winter Wishes!

Please do this: New York Cares' Winter Wishes

I am, and I'm excited about it, even though I know it won't help the inevitable holiday depression that seems to be the bane of my existence.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Let's Bellairs?

Over the past month I re-read all of the books by John Bellairs, an excellent-yet-sadly-underappreciated author of children's gothic horror.

I first encountered these books when I was a kid, when my grandparents would take me to the library every week and man, oh man, did I devour these. They're not at all like Goosebumps or the usual crap that passes for children's horror. They're creepy and scary. Also, the illustrations are by Edward Gorey, and that ups the eeriness tenfold.


It was pretty awesome to discover Sarah had the same Bellairs appreciation, and she still had her old collection up in Maine, so we brought them down after our last visit. Huzzah!

And I'm not saying the books are perfect or live up to my memories as a youngster - there's a lot of talk about gobbling hot fudge sundaes and all the characters really love chocolate cake, and a lot of the time I'm like, "OK, really, they would've died in this book," but Uncle Jonathan (a real live wizard) and Professor Childermass (which is probably where I got my interest in the title "professor") are still terrific characters and often the mysteries are just so... Bellairs.

Weird, wicked, dark black magic against the powers of Catholicism. I love it.

Also, I think horror, the best horror, is done with a PG rating. We don't need extreme gore or violence to be horrific. R-ratings and axes and chainsaws are amateur. A dream about a dead aunt? That's skill.

But I blog about Bellairs now because I've gotta think about something. See, many years ago I was given a gift of The House With a Clock In Its Walls, my first and favorite book. It was a cast-off from the library, so it had that plastic cover and the little pocket for the library card with all the dates stamped on it, and I loved it very much. But somewhere along the line, I lost it.

How does someone like me lose a book, though, especially in my parents' house, which is basically a storage space for everything that ever existed? Where the hell did it go? I'm pretty sure it's somewhere, but I've never been able to find it, much like Uncle Jonathan could never find that goddamn clock that was hidden somewhere within the walls of his mansion.

Anyway, I found a rare first edition of the book. It's quite a find, I should think, because old Bellairs books are usually scarce because of the Gorey illustrations. And even though I have no need for a first edition book, and I'm trying to keep unnecessary things out of my life, there's that Dwarven covetousness in me that would very much enjoy a treasure like this. Just because I would appreciate it.

So I've been thinking of making this purchase, which isn't that cheap, but it isn't a bank breaker, but I'm also trying to purchase other things, and I can't buy everything in the world, and then I wonder is this desire to find treasures from my past something to do with getting older (see that awesome Marvel puzzle I got for my birthday), or are all people in my generation like this?

So it's something to think about.


I mean, come on, a hand of glory with some milk and cookies? Genius.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Let's Puzzles! (III)

So it took about five months, but I finally finished that damn Winnie the Pooh puzzle.


Lemme tell you something, 1000-piece puzzles are HARD. I worked on this thing forever - mostly when Sarah was cooking or baking in the kitchen, so I could keep her company - and at the end there was a very satisfying moment of "Finally!"

And then after basking in my own glory for a few days, I started on the Cinderella puzzle (you can see the beginnings at the bottom of the photo). Fun fact: Its pieces are cut in the exact same way as the Winnie the Pooh puzzle. So I could set down the completed one as a placemat, and focus just on the shapes instead of the colors and stuff to put together "Cinderella's Grand Arrival." Fun, right? RIGHT?

I did that at first, but then it felt like cheating, so I took "Fishing with Friends" and turned it over - a nice thing about this brand is that they're sturdy and don't come apart very easily - so that I woudn't follow the cuts of the jigsaw.

And now I'm about 3/4 done with the border on this new one, so in about... March or so, I'll have something very pretty and worth framing.

You might be wondering why I didn't start on the Marvel Super Heroes puzzle I got for my birthday. Main reason: I have to do them in order. Otherwise there'll be a curse. And I feel like the Marvel one will be easy and might only take a day. Or a week, who the hell knows. And when that's done, it has to remain done and no puzzles can fit on the table until that one gets framed (and it will be framed, to make up for my tragic childhood).

At least with Cinderella, I can do it entirely over the Winnie the Pooh (saving space), and then I'll be ready for the Marvel Super Heroes. Unless, of course, I find that Seven Dwarfs one. Then I'll have to do that, too.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Let's Glasses!

As mentioned earlier, my glasses were killed in combat last Friday. It's some consolation that they died a warrior's death, and some day we'll meet again in Valhalla, where we'll enjoy an eternity of battle and feasting. Vikings, now that I think about it, had a very odd view of the afterlife. But, then again, don't we all?

So I had some decisions to make... I could go glassless until Thanksgiving, when I could buy a new pair pretty cheap down in Florida, or I could just suck it up and pay more for them right now.

After a night or two of wandering blind at night and not enjoying life (and realizing that borrowing a pair from someone with similar-but-not-exact prescription would cause headaches and eventual death), I bit the bullet and went shopping.

Which, actually, is a lot of fun for me. I love trying on different pairs, I know what I like and want (I want to look like Doctor Who)...


...I know what I hate (looking ugly), and there are a number of nice/cheap places, including my favorite, Fabulous Fanny's, where I've gotten two pairs of glasses in the past and they always remember me, which makes me feel kind of famous.


I found this pair of glasses in Chinatown. Note, though, that I don't think they're really the color shown in this picture. They're way more black instead of green, but the serial number is the same, so what do I know?

And I like 'em! They're a bit more narrower than the Doctor's, but what're you gonna do? The green background is a nice tint, and a change from my old pair, which were more brownish on the inside. Two-tone, is that the word?

And though I dislike the idea of wearing "designer" glasses, everything else just looks stupid and terrible. Part of my reluctance to shop in Florida is that their choices might all be awful, and then I'd be obligated, especially with my parents looking on, to make a horrible and regrettable purchase.

So life goes on, and now I can see. Whee!


RIP, Other Glasses
December 2008 - October 30, 2009
Non Omnis Moriar

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Let's October?

October was basically one neverending 80-hour workweek, and so I disappeared from the ol' blogosphere for a while. My sincerest apologies. If the first 30 days of my 30s are any indication of what the rest of this decade is going to be like, I'm not gonna make it out of here alive.

In November we'll hopefully return to our regularly scheduled programming, but for now, let's look back at the month that was October, quickly and in brief, and in reverse order.

Halloween.
I didn't go out last night, instead I stayed in and finally watched Twilight. But the night before was Buffyprov, and I got to play Giles, and had more fun than I thought I would. The episode ended with all of the Scoobies being murdered inside a Baskin-Robbins by puppet Angel, Spike and Drusilla, which I find acceptable. Also, my death was, as Sarah put it: "really funny."


After that, I went to a pre-Halloween party in Brooklyn, and it being Mischief Night, eventually some inconsiderate people crashed the party and lit some bottle rockets inside. Then they were asked to leave, and as that happened, the drunken fellow attempted to light one last bottle rocket.

I snatched it from his hand - because people who can't play nicely get their toys taken away - and in the struggle ended up smashing his head against the wall. In consequence, I got punched in the face, a regrettable hit that broke my glasses, so now I need new ones. There were more shouts and more punches thrown and a lot of shouting, and though there was almost a bit of a scuffle, it luckily didn't escalate that much further.

I feel bad for some of my comrades, one of whom got punched in the ballz - which is such a low-blow it makes me wish I smashed that guy's head harder - and one unlucky lady who got bruised up by a garbage can.

Funny to think that about 10 years ago on Halloween I also got punched in the face, so now I know what to look forward to when I turn 40.

Oh, and getting home was such a nightmare. We were ejected from a cab who took us in the wrong direction, and I ended up calling the Taxi and Limo Commission on him. Now I can look forward to a day in Taxi Court some time in the near future.

Mischief Night sucks.

ZombieCon.
ZombieCon was mostly a bust because the wet weather fogged up my gas mask almost immediately. I was effectively blind and had to abandon the best part of my costume. Lesson learned: in the event of a zombie invasion, DON'T WEAR A GAS MASK. It'll hamper you more than anything else, and you will get killed.

This is not me, but a similarly attired zombie.


Oh, and I saw one zombie peeing on the street in Times Square, which I find insane. Even more insane - no cop stopped him. Madness!

My Birthday Party.
Thirtyoke Kirkaoke, a hell of a lot of fun! And getting dinosaur party hats were definitely the spark to evolve this from just a normal Charmander-sized party to one of Charizard-sized proportions.

I look forward to having a Christmas Karaoke Gathering of Champions, since this one went so well. Get ready for it!


My birthday.
My actual birthday was mostly a bust, just because of a long day at work and then directing a show and then a not-the-best restaurant and then a Cookie Puss cake that was 1) almost dropped on the floor and 2) didn't have the all-important cookie bits in the center, but then I got the best birthday present ever:


which, seriously, is the best present ever. I mean, I blogged about it, for cripe's sake. It's like my Rosebud.

They Might Be Giants on Jimmy Fallon.
So I'd won this contest where I got to see TMBG on Jimmy Fallon, and we got to stand on the stage. Unfortunately, we were up in a catwalk and off-camera (except for my legs), but it was a really good time, and "Meet the Elements" is a pretty great song (I can't figure out how to link it).

But they also played "Dead"!



Medieval Fest.
I dressed as a gnome. The crowds got me down, but Jen Mac and I had some fun taking pictures.


I'm pretty pissed about my glasses.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Let's Giles!

Tomorrow night at the Creek, I'll be playing Rupert Giles in Buffyprov tomorrow at 10 at the Creek. I'm pretty honored!

Link
to the Facebook event (might not work).

Now I gotta figure out what suit/vest/tie combination to wear.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Let's Birthday!

Yesterday was my birthday, but since I'm working crazy hours this week, I don't have the time to go into all the crazy antics just yet.

But I WILL say this: watch tonight's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (specifically when the band is playing) to witness the best birthday surprise ever... and it's not just a Cookie Puss (although I got one of those, too).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Let's ZombieCon!

Mostly to remind myself, but to remind you, too, ZombieCon is happening on Saturday, October 24th (the week before Halloween).

So if you see this guy, stick with him, 'cause he's a survivor (and it's me!).


Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get into my gnome outfit.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Let's Medieval Festival!

Sunday is the 2009 Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon Park.

I've had to miss it for the past two years, either because I'd forget or because I was busy, but this year, I'm going (with Jen Mac!). Probably in costume.

If I blog about wearing a costume, it makes it more likely to happen, so yeah, I might (finally) wear my Gnome outfit.

Let's Gnome?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Let's Maine! (The Recap)

Back from Maine, but I've already posted the best part: that puking episode we experienced on the ride up from NYC. But then again, nothing could ever top that story.

Other highlights!


- Walking the breakwater in Rockland! It's a 7/8-mile walk out into the water, which equals 959 slightly uneven stones (I counted on the way back). I did this all by myself while Sarah was at her uncle's wedding, and it was pretty fun. Like, I got this sense of accomplishment for having done it, and when I reached the end of the breakwater (where there's that lighthouse), I pumped my arms, victory-style, for a whole minute.

- Eating at a combination KFC/Taco Bell, because I'm just like you, America.


- Shopping at Renys, "your favorite Maine department store." I came very close to buying this 30 Rock 2009 calendar for fifty cents, but decided against it.


- Since the Sunday rains ruined the Common Ground Country Fair (which was my Maine reason for visiting... also, please see what I did there), we just drove up and down US 1, which made me want to drive up or down the entire US 1 from Maine to Florida, and see all the sights there are to see. Points of interest included Heavenly Bean Bags.com and Perry's Nut House, which naturally has a mummy on display.


- Eating at Moody's Diner. Split a seafood platter (still 0-3 for getting a lobster roll while in Maine) and a very good piece of four-berry pie. "When I get hungry, I get Moody" said a sign in the diner, and I could appreciate that little bit o' wordplay.

- On the ride home, this baby in front of us kept saying the word "fuuuck" whenever she saw a truck. She also 1) threw broccoli on Sarah's shoe and 2) pulled the hair of the girl sitting in front of her. Still, this was no puke-tastrophe. Also, this old lady sitting next to us hummed offkey the entire trip from Maine to Boston, culminating in "Amazing Grace."

- Sitting in the front seats of the upper level of the Boston-NYC MegaBus. It was pretty cool! I alternately felt like I was in some motion-simulator ride or Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies, because we were up so high.

It's actually only that interesting while in Boston and NYC. The big stretch of highway in-between, while offering several sights worth seeing (mostly into other people's cars), gets rather redundant after a while.

And that was Mainely all that we did.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Let's Maine!

Oh, yeah, we're in Maine for the weekend. Wheee!

Quick story, the girl sitting in front of us on the bus threw up on this guy. It was pretty nuts. It wasn't a lot of puke, mostly water-puke, and if the guy hadn't stood up so quickly, I would've thought she just spilled some water or opened a bubbly soda, judging from the sound.

What is funny is that this guy was a very nice-but-weird kid who was overly personal and friendly and so I knew he'd had a rough week and had his heart recently broken and lost his bus ticket and he borrowed a pen from me and then he went to sit next to this girl after a while and they were talking for a bit until she threw up on him.

What is funnier is that he'd also just lent her his phone and the person picked up right after she started puking and so she had to deal with that while trying to deal with the puke.

I think she was expecting that she'd puke, because she was like "I warned you that would happen!" and she happened to have 1) a garbage bag and 2) an entire roll of paper towels with her, so she was sort of ready for the puke.

But she was very apologetic and embarrassed and the guy was very nice and made a joke about it, and all the while I had to sit silently behind them and not laugh and point and do a dance like I wanted to. Instead, I just mimed puking every now and then.

Oh, Maine!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Let's Sucker's Game?

Where has the month gone? Where are the snows of yesteryear? Have I really done nothing all month?

In a word, yes and no.

Basically, what I've been up to is this: making moneyz. And not in the fun way, just in working for The Man. And that's not very much fun to blog about, because you can't get too specific lest The Man be reading.

Still, though, my unemployment is winding down. We've had a good, long run, but I have to start thinking ahead. Some day, my savings will deplete, and one cannot live on Disney stock alone. In these troubled times it's probably wise to take in some additional sources of income, right?

So after getting two part-time offers for work, I said Let's Yes to both.

The first is teaching improv at a certain college that I've probably mentioned elsewhere on this blog, and the second is closed captioning at a certain company I've definitely not mentioned before. Nothing big, just helping out once or twice a week.

But... I got to caption this performance, which I loved!


(I like this version much more than the official video, just because it sounds a bit more crazy - although in reality, it's probably just due to Lady Gaga being out of breath - and so desperate. Mmm, crazy and desperate and crippled. Also, I really like the word "Gaga.")

So while working minimal hours, I've come to the conclusion that working for The Man is a sucker's game. 'Cause you ain't never gonna win. And I've gotten some flack about that opinion (mostly from people who probably feel trapped in the same game), but I can't help but feel it's true.

Like, unless you're taking steps toward whatever your true goal/desire is, you're just spinning wheels and punching clocks and then it's three years later and you're still working for the Man. Sure, you've got some more money in the bank, but you also lost three precious years.

I think of the folks who eschewed the traditional 9-5, lived a life less luxurious and stable (and it sucks to lose insurance), but were able to focus full-time on their art or craft or schooling or whatever it was. It's a sacrifice.

And I'm lazy, I've barely done anything with my free time (remember these goals for 2009? The only one I accomplished was going to DragonCon again. That one about doing something TV-related? Oh, the shame of it all.), imagine how much less I'd get accomplished if I had to sacrifice most of my day for The Man?

It's baffling and self-indulgent, but at the same time, I spent the first few years in NYC working a lot (for a while on the midnight shift), building up some cash, buying some Disney stock, and learning some skillz, so one day I could be like this.

Now instead of "struggling," I'm... "middling," I guess, and can spend my days getting sent out on auditions, writing, or (more likely) being lazy, and then I can supplement my income by coaching improv at night, which is work that I really enjoy and care about. So that's a nice step forward. Not the biggest step forward (which would be instant fame and fortune... or just fortune), but it's at least a step in a direction.

There's probably some middle ground, too, somewhere. Maybe working for the Man but also following your dreams. Would that be wise? Or just wishy-washy? Both? Neither?

Beh, I don't have the answers. I just wanna repost this ol' gem:


...except maybe I'd add an asterisk that reads: "But do as little of it as possible while you take steps toward doing what you really wanna do."

That works, right? God, I hope so.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Let's Fantasticks!

I've been lazy about this, but tonight I'm finally gonna take advantage of the 20 at 20 Off-Broadway ticket thing and go see The Fantasticks.

Odd to think that almost exactly 11 years ago, I was in this show. That's really weird.

Over a decade? Where does the time go? Where are the snows of yesteryear? How is September almost over?

On a whim, I pulled out some old production photos, and criminy! As Julie said, "Everyone's so young!"

And you know what they say: You're only young once... and that was it.


Here's me, halfway through putting on my makeup. So skinny! Still wearing white undershirts! And whatever happened to that camera?

In retrospect, I find it very funny that, Cesar Romero-style, I kept my facial hair beneath the whiteface. And no one had any problem with it or told me, "Sorry, you have to shave."


I played The Mute, which is an interesting role... Odd to think that it's one of the most satisfying parts I've ever played.

The whole musical is very satisfying, actually: it's simple and pretty and graceful and is just a harp and a piano and (maybe) some drums, and it's just about a Boy and a Girl who fall in love, which is kind of the essence of all musicals, right?

Also, it was used in the series finale of Cakey!, as shown here (and that's me playing the piano at the end):


Seriously, it's a beautiful song, and a beautiful show.

"Try to Remember"? I always do.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reflections of Dragon*Con (III)

It's hard to believe DragonCon ended over a week ago. My head's still in Atlanta, I haven't caught up on all the post-con stuff I gotta do, and my back still hurts from that fat-ass Cakey. Then last night I used some of the hotel shampoo/conditioner I liberated and the smell instantly brought me back. Madness.

Oh, hotels. A good hotel is vital, since it's your base of operation. Also, if you do several costume changes throughout the day, you don't wanna have to walk very far in the Hotlanta sun. Especially while dressed as a Smurf (these two were the first costumes I encountered in Atlanta).


The following map was given by our concierge, and its usefulness cannot be overstated. Like, if DragonCon was an RPG of some kind, you'd be totally screwed without the map and would have to cheat and find one online or something. Or, if it was a real-life adventure, you'd just get lost and die forever.


2008, my first year, we were at the Westin (the con hotels are, like, the Hyatt, the Marriott, and the Sheraton - basically everything in the top-right quadrant), so it was nice and near. Also, next door to a McDonald's and a Hooters. Whoo hoo!

This year we were faaar away at the Omni Hotel in the CNN Center (all the way on the bottom left). Bad planning on our part, and a mistake that won't be repeated. At the time, we thought the 15-minute walk or so would be nothing, but we didn't realize it'd somehow be uphill both ways (I don't know how this is possible) or that we'd have to pass by the Centennial Olympic Park, which on Saturday would be absolutely packed with a different sort of conventioners - folks in town for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game.


Imagine this place (as seen from our window on the eighth floor) just a veritable sea of crimson and orange, full of Virginia Tech and Alabama fans. So many people! SO MANY PEOPLE.

I heard the "Roll... tide!" cheer way too often that weekend. And although I have no objection to the enjoyment of sport, I think it's kind of weird/impolite to shout that in hotel corridors. Especially at 9 a.m.

Oh, college football fans. Save it for the game, why don't you?

At least the Omni had a food court with its own Arby's and a Chick-Fil-A. Sadly, this is a HUGE plus in my book, since Arby's is the one thing you cannot find in New York City, and I want it all the time. Right now? Yes. I want Arby's right now, but sadly, that's not gonna happen.

But still, too far away, and despite the occasional free games on the Family Guy pinball machine in the CNN gift shop, I couldn't recommend the Omni to any con-goer.

Lynn informed me this morning that she's made our hotel reservation for 2010 - WHAT?! - at the Hyatt, which is right in the thick of things. Madness, I know, but even crazier because we're not intending on staying there. This is a "safety" reservation, since we can cancel it at any time, in case we can't find something better.

You're probably thinking, "What could be better than the Hyatt? It's right in the middle of the con!" which is exactly why we don't want to stay there. It'll be loud, crazy, and extra crowded all the time.

I'd rather avoid all that, at least in my place of rest. When I'm at the con, I'm at the con, but when I'm back at the hotel, I want to be able to relax. The Hyatt has a much higher chance of hearing crazy chants into the late night/early morning, though it'd be something more akin to "So say we all!" And although this does sound sort of fun, I'm a bit too old for that frakkin' nonsense.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reflections of Dragon*Con (II)

People ask me what Dragon*Con is like.

Basically, it's waiting in lines.

In a way, I'm grateful for the failed Little Mermaid debacle because it provided me with valuable line-waiting experience. Nothing at the con was anywhere near as bad as those five hours of futility.

If you want to attend a panel, you're gonna have to show up early (my rule of thumb: one hour) and wait in line. Such is life at Dragon*Con.

And, actually, I didn't mind them very much. Waiting in line is a solitary, Zen-like experience, and a welcome opportunity to sit down, relax, read the program guide, eat some Yan Yan, play SimCity on my phone, and look at the people walk by.

Also, it was very, very satisfying to watch the line grow and grow behind me.

The only line that really pissed me off was the very first one, the line for registration. We pre-registered (just like everyone else), arrived on Thursday night (a whole day early!) and still had to wait 2.5 hours to get our badges.

To misquote Terry's talking pizza, hey ya, that is bullshit!

The TicketMaster line was zooming by, no more than a 20-minute wait. And yeah, getting my badge through them would have meant paying an evil surcharge to a evil company, but it'd be worth it to save myself two hours of fun. So next year, maybe.

Seriously, that line sucked. Twice we were incorrectly told that registration was closed. Official-looking men on Segways said that the organizers ran out of badges. Insert another image of Terry's talking pizza, because that is super bullshit! They should know how many badges they need, because they were pre-registered. That's the whole point!

Madness.

People got upset. If they had actually shut down the line, there would've been the con equivalent of a mutiny, especially because William Shatner was speaking at 10 a.m. the next morning. And if you didn't get your badge on Thursday, you wouldn't see Bill. Imagine flying out early for Shatner's first-time ever appearance at Dragon*Con, only to get screwed because they ran out of badges.

Seriously, people got upset.

I still feel bad for the piratey couple in front of us who gave up (after the first rumor of the line being closed) and went back to their hotel room. They'd have to deal with an even worse line on Friday morning, THEN have a full day of the con. At least by sticking it through on Thursday, we could rest up overnight.

It was a 2.5 hour battle, snaking through an intestine-like line of sweaty people, but we emerged victorious. And after that, I felt I could handle anything the con could throw at me... except for the Shatner panel. Those fans are too rabid for the likes of me.

Reflections of Dragon*Con (I)

This year, instead of giving a chronological account of the convention, I'd like to reflect on it thematically. (Also, for those who aren't Disney fans, the title of these entries are a tip o' the hat to EPCOT's excellent "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" fireworks show. Fun fact?)

Anyway, let's reflections about costumes! The costumes at Dragon*Con are amazing! Just do a search on flickr and you'll find so much good stuff. So much!

And I don't just mean this Cobra Commander:


I'm also talking about fun, simple stuff like this very obscure Red Dwarf costume that literally made me jump for joy:


And I found myself wishing I had an awesome costume, too. I do love a good costume. But, realistically, I'm hampered by the fact that whatever I'd make would have to be portable via airplane, so something like this would be out of the question:


Also, I'd want it to be appropriate to my body-type, because it really jars me when people don't look right in their costumes. This is a huge hindrance for ol' Kirky, since not many characters are olive-skinned with glasses (so I'll never play the Doctor or Arnold Rimmer, sadly). Not to say there's anything wrong with looking a bit out of place, I'd just rather be seen as the awesomest _____ instead of as just another guy dressed as _____. Here, for example, is a guy who picked a costume that is just about perfect for him:


Furthermore, and I thought about this a lot, but if I was going to work really hard and construct a kick-ass outfit, what would it be? Sure, Cobra Commander is awesome, but I'm not a die-hard GI Joe fan. I'd want the outfit to be representative of me, and not just something portable-yet-cool (like Wesley Dodds's Sandman, which, while fine, isn't something that I'm nutz about).

Even though I love some shows and games (Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Final Fantasy III, etc.), what is the one true thing that embodies what I believe in, fandom-wise? What is right for my body? And what do I love most of all? I don't know. Nothing seems to fit the bill 100%, to be honest.

Rather than focus my energy on someone else's creation, I'd rather make my own show, create my own characters, write something that I do love that is absolute Kirk and is truer to my sensibilities than the awesomest Transformers costume ever made.

And I looked down and Cakey smiled at me with his loving, uncomprehending face, and I realized I had the answer right there, all along.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Let's DragonCon '09!

This is a rambly and quick and might not make sense to the uninitiated.

Leaving rather soon... and wishing I had a bigger suitcase. I should be packing, not blogging, but this'll be the last time I'm on the Internet until Monday night.

My carry-on is stuffed with clothes: Cakey daywear, priestly vespers, my Rushmore outfit, tuxedo shirt, and black suit (which doubles as priestly outerwear). Sarah is better at packing than I am and she made it all fit. Still to add, though: shoes. Having a brown outfit and black outfit means needing two pairs of shoes. Yikes. There might not be much room for souvenirs.

BUT, on a whim I just ran to the cleaners to see if my olive suit was ready, and it was, so now I have the pastability of bringing that along. So... bye-bye, Max Fischer. Your jacket was a bit too warm for Atlanta, anyway. This was a hard decision.

There will still be little room for souvenirs, I fear.

My "personal item" is a backpack jammed with Cakey as a stowaway and thousands of stickers. It's pretty bulky, but I've done it before without a problem.

I'd also like to carry a bag of food. They can't stop me from bringing that along, right? None of it is dangerous-looking liquid.

Anyway, onward to Atlanta!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Let's (Not) See The Little Mermaid! (II)

Sunday was the final performance of The Little Mermaid on Broadway, and eff it, I decided I was gonna buy those Standing Room Only tickets and see off Ariel nice and proper.

This is a chronicle of that fateful day.

6:00 a.m. I wake, confused and frightened, as to why my alarm would tell me to get up at such a god-awful hour. Then I remember why and say, "Eff it, I'm going back to bed." Sarah then says something like, "Time to go," and I come to my senses. It's time to go.

6:15-6:45 a.m. It's interesting seeing the few people riding the subway so early on a Sunday morning. A few of them are wearing hospital scrubs. One guy is asleep. We're all tired, and no one seems to have any idea about what's going on.

6:40 a.m. I arrive in Times Square, so empty and peaceful before the tourists wake up. Some deli man is scrubbing down the sidewalk in front of his store, a futile practice I've always found quaint.

6:45 a.m. I arrive at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. I'm curious about the number of people that'll be waiting. This IS the final performance after all. Jeff had said he'd gotten there at 7:45, A FULL HOUR LATER, and was third in line. I wonder if I'll be so lucky.

There's just one woman there. I'm second in line.

Over three hours to go.

6:45 - 8:00 a.m. I sit on a very uncomfortable standing pipe (I don't want to sit on the damp concrete). I've brought several library books to pass the time, and read Disappearance Diary, an autobiographical manga of the time Hideo Azuma willingly went homeless/left his life as an artist and became a blue-collar worker/checked into a hotel for alcoholism.

It begins with, "This manga has a positive outlook on life, and so it has been made with as much realism removed as possible," which I find amusing.

8:10 a.m. I begin to text Sarah as a way of chronicling my experience. First text: Now they're saying the box office opens at noon... I'm cold and hungry.

Shit. Noon?

Also, I'm just wearing a t-shirt and shorts and haven't eaten in almost 12 hours.

8:52 a.m. I begin to question why i am doing this. There are six people here. Used to be seven.

9:05 a.m. Someone confirmed that the box office opens at noon.

9:28 a.m. Getting colder. Nine people are here now.

9:41 a.m. Right now i want to march around and sing 'Mammal' by they might be giants.

I can't help it. I'm cold and sitting on the pipe is very uncomfortable. I find doing these weird knee-lifts helps, despite making me look crazy.

9:51 a.m. I am cold!

10:00 a.m. And then, finally, the sun burst forth. Daylight. Such a wondrous thing. Hail Apollo!

The street turned into a beautiful, almost movie-like set, glistening with the morning sun. It was really something.

During this time I read A Few Perfect Hours... and Other Stories From Southeast Asia & Central Europe, and enjoy the final story, about the different attitudes toward death between the Balinese and New Yorkers.

It makes me think of Swiper. I'm glad his spirit has been set free. He had a big spirit - big enough to ride on.

I've been sitting here for over three hours and am losing my grip on reality a little.

10:02 a.m. The theatre speakers begin playing a 30-minute spiel about The Little Mermaid. Mostly song selections. This is a good idea for passing tourists, but a bad idea for people trapped in a non-moving line. Rather than getting me psyched, hearing "Part of Your World" several times makes me not want to see the show. It's just too much. And I usually LOVE "Part of Your World."

10:08 a.m. to 10:18 a.m. I text Bethany and tell her (because I'm a liar) that Sarah plays one of Ariel's sisters. She believes me, and I text her that she also understudies as Sebastian. I think she believes this, too, and when I admit that I'm making this up, she says, "Yeah, I was wondering how she could pull that off..." since Sebastian is traditionally played by a black man.

10:29 a.m. Ten of us. The speaker has repeated its spiel once.

During this time I read some of From Hell. The juxtaposition of this book and my mission amuses me.

10:38 a.m. Thirteen people.

10:40 a.m. Fourteen people.

10:54 a.m. Sixteen... Almost at the limit of twenty or so.

I get a grim delight in thinking of the people who show up for tickets but won't be able to get them because they arrived too late. Sucks to be you, suckers!

10:54 a.m. Starting third time the speakers have played.

Apparently I've lost my mastery of the English language.

11:00 a.m. Sarah shows up with a sandwich and a sweater. I had a feeling she'd do this (since she asked me where I was. I just replied "In front of the theater"), and it's good to have company in the last leg of the journey.

12:00 p.m. The box office opens, and we are told there are no Standing Room Only tickets.

Everyone stands, jaw agape, at the unfairness of this situation. We were told there would be SRO tickets, so we did our part. We waited in line (FOR OVER FIVE HOURS). We braved the cold and the damp and the never-ending speakers. We have our money. We did our duty. We deserve tickets.

They disagree. The only alternative is to pay $121 for regular tickets, but I'd barely be willing to pay $25 to see this (in the words of Jeff) "terdfest of a show." I'm not blowing away a lot of funny money that I could spend at Dragon*Con on a 2.5-hour trainwreck.

Angry and confused, I leave Times Square.

RIP, Ariel.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Let's ETV 8!



Enormous Television 8
a rock and roll music revue

Your favorite NYC comedians sing rock songs accompanied by the ETV band.
They chose the songs, we rehearse it extensively and present it to you in a genuine rock music venue.

at Kenny's Castaways
157 Bleecker Street, NYC between Sullivan & Thompson Street.
Friday, August 28th, 2009
7pm
$5 cover

http://www.kennyscastaways.net/

Starring:
Jessica Allen
Tony Carnevale
Tara Copeland
Kirk Damato
James Eason
Brian Fountain
Kate Hess
Will Hines
Tabitha Lee
Maddy Mako
Shannon Manning
Robin Rothman
Alexis Saarela
Risa Sang-urai
Andrew Secunda
Ashley Ward

The ETV Band:
Dan Goodman - Bass
Ernie Privetera - Keyboards
Andrew Dickerson - Guitar
Mark Lee - Guitar
Lou Iacobelli - Drums
&
Terry Jinn - Guitar

Let's (Not) See The Little Mermaid!

The Little Mermaid closes on Broadway this Sunday. And yes, I admit, I wanted to see it. It's a nice story, I absolutely love the music, and Ariel's a honey. But even before the dark days of unemployment, this show scored very low on my theatrical priorities, because it's supposed to be sucktastic. But I still wanted to see it, you know?

Then just the other day my friend and fellow Hogwarts alumn Jeff asked if I wanted to go to the box office early one morning and stand in line for Standing Room Only tickets. Naturally, I said yes.

But... I didn't go. FAIL. I was too tired yesterday and overslept my 6 a.m. wake-up call (and, perhaps not coincidentally, had a very strange dream involving Mary Poppins), so screw it, no SRO tickets for me.

As a punishment, I scoured YouTube looking for clips of what I'd be missing.

Turns out, I wouldn't be missing much.

"Under the Sea"


"Poor Unfortunate Souls"


This is such unimaginative staging! And the costumes are like a joke - they're awful. Sebastian and Ursula are great characters (I sort of dream about one day playing Ursula), but you suckify them by making them look like... cheap imitations. Hell, even Shrek put a lot of creativity and fun in their costuming.

Jeff's texts as he watched the show helped confirm my suspicions.
- Holy crap, this is a trainwreck!
- [Ariel's] too skinny. I could see her ribs from the back of the house. She needs to eat some fishsticks.

I don't think it holds a candle to Disney's Hollywood Studio's The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, as you can see here (pardon the poor quality):



Still, though, I should've gotten my lazy ass out of bed and gone to the box office. I might try on Saturday or Sunday, but I fear the weekends might be more crowded and harder to get ahold of SRO tickets.

So there's still the slimmest of slim chances that I'll get to go and be... (sung) part of that world.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

But you don't have to take my word for it...

Celebrities endorse my blog! Sort of. Not really.

Partial transcript of Stephen Colbert's commencement address at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois (6/3/06).
Say “yes.” In fact, say “yes” as often as you can. When I was starting out in Chicago, doing improvisational theatre with Second City and other places, there was really only one rule I was taught about improv. That was, “yes-and.” In this case, “yes-and” is a verb. To “yes-and.” I yes-and, you yes-and, he, she or it yes-ands. And yes-anding means that when you go onstage to improvise a scene with no script, you have no idea what’s going to happen, maybe with someone you’ve never met before. To build a scene, you have to accept. To build anything onstage, you have to accept what the other improviser initiates on stage. They say you’re doctors — you’re doctors. And then, you add to that: We’re doctors and we’re trapped in an ice cave. That’s the “-and.” And then hopefully they “yes-and” you back. You have to keep your eyes open when you do this. You have to be aware of what the other performer is offering you, so that you can agree and add to it. And through these agreements, you can improvise a scene or a one-act play. And because, by following each other’s lead, neither of you are really in control. It’s more of a mutual discovery than a solo adventure. What happens in a scene is often as much a surprise to you as it is to the audience.

Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what’s going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say “yes.” And if you’re lucky, you’ll find people who will say “yes” back. Now will saying “yes” get you in trouble at times? Will saying “yes” lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”


And Tina Fey's "Aha!" Moment (from the June 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine)...
Six years ago, I moved from Chicago to New York to work at Saturday Night Live. I packed up and was going through my things to see what I would take with me and what I'd leave behind. I found an orange folder—a regular school folder—in a bookshelf. As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was. There were quotes written all over the front of it. Some of them were: "Greet everything with 'Yes, and…'" "Make statements instead of putting the burden on others with questions." "Stay in the present, as opposed to focusing on the past or future." "The fun is always on the other side of a yes."

Years before, I was a student at Second City, an improvisational acting school in Chicago, and took a class with artistic director Martin de Maat. These quotes were some of the rules of "improv" he gave us. When I found the folder, I realized that taking that class had completely changed my life.

The things I learned in that class became part of the way I live my life. A couple of times I've been called on to do things—jobs or whatever—where I've felt, Maybe I'm not quite ready. Maybe it's a little early for this to happen to me. But the rules are so ingrained. "Say yes, and you'll figure it out afterward" has helped me to be more adventurous. It has definitely helped me be less afraid.

There are limits of reason to this idea of saying yes to everything, but when I meet someone whose first instinct is "No, how can we do that? That doesn't seem possible," I'm always kind of taken aback. Yeah, of course you can. There's no choice. And even if you abandon one idea for another one, saying yes allows you to move forward.

Sitting on the floor of my Chicago apartment, I realized that the words on the folder had a broader use than just for improvising comedy. Life is improvisation. All of those classes were like church to me. The training had seeped into me and changed who I am.