Thursday, February 26, 2009

Let's Banner! Also, Let's Enormous Television!

Lookie-lookie at the new look of the blog, compliments of the incredibly talented illustrator/designer Steve Dressler. I'd been meaning to spice up the site, and Steve made those dreams a reality.

I also wanted a new icon (that ol' chicken-on-the-go was so 2007), something that stayed with the chicken motif (which is weird, they're not my favorite animal or food... but it feels right for this blog), and I think we're all happy with the kawaii results. Kawaii means cute.

But wait, there's more! Thanks to some help from Sarah's dad at 3 Islands Press, I finally got the Disney Zombies site up and running. The story will begin on Sunday, March 1, when I publish the prologue.

Right now I intend to add a chapter every Sunday and Wednesday... this is a pretty lofty goal, but hopefully I can stick to it. I'm mildly worried because I haven't even read the story since finishing it. I just put the chapters in the order I liked. But I think I can do it, since I'd just have to edit two chapters a week.

Also, Steve did a very different sort of banner for that website, and I present the smaller version to you now:

A far cry from the cute chickens and Engrish, but it accomplishes its goal nicely. I didn't want anything cartoony or bloody letters, since that's not what the story is about, and I like the kawai image of a burning castle. Kawai means disturbing or scary.

So check that out on Sunday.

Also, tonight is Terry Jinn's Enormous Television 7.5 Check that out, too!

Enormous Television 7.5
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.
Thursday, February 26th, 2009
$5 cover

Jessica Allen
Tony Carnevale
Tara Copeland
Kirk Damato
James Eason
Kate Hess
Will Hines
Maddy Mako
Robin Rothman
Alexis Saarela
Andrew Secunda
Ptolemy Slocum
Shelly Slocum
Ashley Ward

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

Monday, February 23, 2009

Let's Drums!

This Thursday is Terry Jinn's Enormous Television 7.5, and during Sunday's rehearsal, Lou the drummer asked if Robin or I (the only two singers present) could help out with the drums for one song.

Here's a pretty standard Year of Yes decision. I can't play the drums; my only experience with them is from Rock Band. But I know they're fun to bash and bash and bash and watching Lou is lots of awesome. So, Yes, I wanted to help. Hitting things is fun. But No, I'd be terrified and probably bad at it and didn't want to screw up the song.

But since I'm blogging about it instead of hiding my shame, I obviously said Yes, and so I got to be up there playing the hi-hat and learning what a triplet is while Lou could whale (wail?) away during the very extended solo.

[It might not make sense why a drummer needs a second set of hands to play a neverending triplet on a hi-hat, but if I named the song, you'd go, "Oh, that makes sense..." (or should I say "cents?" No, I shouldn't.) but that would also spoil the song, and part of what I like about ETV is keeping the set list a surprise.]

It was really cool. I had this stupid smile on my face like a baby discovering how much fun it is to bang two pots together, and it just got bigger and bigger and bigger as the music grew and grew. Because this is one hell of a solo.

Man, I like music. Doesn't everyone? Even cavemen loved making things toot, whistle, plunk and boom, and I've never really gotten to experience the fun in boom.

Drumming's amazing! Watching a drummer up close, I always knew but never appreciated how complex it all is. There's so much going on that it just seems like a good drummer has to be ambidextrous. There's the standard one-two-three-four rhythm with one hand and the other is either one-two or one-three or two-four and every fourth beat comes the foot pedal and there's another pedal for a cymbal and then you spice it up every two measures, or maybe four. It's all numbers and math and runs like clockwork but it's also this great-sounding chaos.

And you can experience this great-sounding chaos over at Kenny's Castaways, Thursday at 8 p.m. at ETV 7.5.

Also, you can watch this cartoon to learn about music's humble beginnings, as taught by Professor Owl.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Let's Immortal!

There's a number of reasons why I did it.

Firstable, it's been on my mind, ever since Alana told me about when she was a little kid on a field trip to a historic McDonald's and her entire class spontaneously trashed the place. That story made me laugh hysterically. I wonder what I would've done if I was a teacher there, and know I couldn't be responsible; I'd probably join in.

Then I started thinking of my old high school days, when our class would inexplicably goad Ian into doing his Quasimodo impression (we had seen the classic Hunchback of Notre Dame in an English or History class, and it affected us strongly). Once the name Quasimodo was said, you knew it was on. Within 15 minutes, no matter what was happening, Ian would crawl on his desk and beg for our pity, and the entire class would throw paper at him, reminiscent of the poor Hunchback's "crowning" as the King of Fools.

The teachers could never stop this. As Richard O'Brien writes, "It was as if she were riding a giant tidal wave, it would be folly to fight against it - her only chance would be to ride it out - adapt - and perhaps also - survive." They had no choice but to pause their lessons and let us go through the ritual.

It still amazes and amuses me.

Secondable, I had just gotten out of dinner with my old co-workers, and I'd had a Turkish coffee, probably my first coffee in several years, so I was feeling a bit different, to put it mildly. But it's unfair to blame it on caffeine.

No, if there's someone to blame for why I did it, I blame Sarah, because I asked her, "Should I do it?" and she opened the floodgates with her tacit Yes (which was probably more like, "Sure, if you want."). Yes, I can't be blamed for my own actions, a bigger kid made me do it.

See, there were these kids waiting on the subway platform. A big group of brothers and sisters or friends, maybe fourth grade or so. They were in a boisterous mood, laughing and playing, and when the R train showed up, one said something like, "Let's get on the Retarded train!"

[Disclaimer: I try not to use the word "retarded" in a derogatory sense. It's not nice. But it's also a hard habit to break.]

Well, when those kids said that, that made me laugh a lot. And coffee-fueled memories of Quasimodo and the wish that I could've seen that destroyed McDonald's (like, just picture throwing food and drinks and salt and sugar and ketchup EVERYWHERE! OMG I love it so) and the fact that I'm the highly suggestible type, well, Sarah's mild nod was the one little spark that I needed.

So I walked over to the train doors and yelled in after them, "Have fun on the retarded train, retards!"

I quickly walked away because their mom/aunt/guardian gave me a nasty look (similar to the ones on the faces of the other adult passengers), but I heard the kids go, "Ohhh...!" as I triumphantly fled.

The train didn't leave the station, so I went back and looked in the window to see their reaction. They were pointing and yelling and clearly had just witnessed one of the most ridiculous moments of their childhood, and I raised my arms in triumph (one of my favorite gestures) and then did the gun-fingers at them, since I'm still in mascot mode. I had to let them know that I wasn't just a random crazy, but I'd made the rational decision to dis them, and then wanted to showboat in my victory.

And the Retarded train departed, taking its passengers with it, and I blushed happily at the people watching me from the corners of their eyes. It's one of those bits of harmless chaos that I thrive on.

Those kids are gonna talk about it forever, even when they're adults, about the time some bearded lunatic totally pwned them, and that's the kind of immortality that I've always wanted.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two Decisions I Recently Made...

1. "Would you be willing to shave your eyebrows for our commercial?"

And I quickly said NO, THANK YOU.

I don't need the money, get little satisfaction at playing a taste bud, and I like my eyebrows a lot. My face would be weird without them. So, sorry, candy commercial, but you can count me out.

2. "Would you be willing to wear a [name omitted] mascot costume for a toy convention?"

And I quickly said YEAH, BUDDY!

I'd have done it for free, actually, instead of the big bucks they offered. Come on, this is Kirk they're asking. I'm an idiot that loves mascots and toys, and this is the closest chance I'll ever getting to becoming a human cartoon (side-note and name-drop: Dick Cavett once called me an "animated toy." Swear to God.), so sign me up!

I was young and foolish then. I feel old and foolish now.

For the past four days I've suffered, worked harder than I think I ever have in my life, and definitely experienced more pain than I've ever felt, including the time I was beaten up by a blind date who was twice my size.

I wish I could've blogged every day to complain and scream, but by the time I limped home, I was too tired and weak to do anything but sit in the bath and disinfect my wounds.

Yeah, if there is a personalized Hell for Kirk, it's what I experienced. To paraphrase Neil Gaiman, it sounds like a bad joke. But, like everything else in Hell, it's deadly serious.

Imagine being surrounded by every funzo toy in the world. And you're allowed to play with them because you're dressed like a cartoon! But... you can't. Your hands are covered in weird, four-fingered gloves that reduce your Dexterity by 10 (D&D scores), and you can barely see out of the dark, tunnel-visioned, mesh-covered hole that is your only outlet to the outside world.

Sweat streams down your face constantly, but you can't wipe it off. You can't touch your head, so that headband you naively wore on the first day, when it slips down and blocks your eyes, YOU ARE SCREWED. When your glasses fog up or fall down too far, YOU ARE SCREWED.

So you go sans spectacles and headband and deal with the sweat. It stings your eyes. So it goes. You lose over a pound a day due to sweating. That sounds dangerous.

The head has this adjustable strap that digs into your forehead. You can't get it to fit right, so you try to hold your beak with one hand, as if you are thinking or have a toothache. The strap causes blisters on your forehead. You get a familiar, almost loving, headache as soon as you put the head over yours. It digs and pinches in all the wrong pressure points. You think you're going mad.

You realize why knights of the olden days sometimes suffocated. The head heats up horribly. You exhale in a way that hopefully blows cool air in your face. It doesn't work. You wonder what would happen if you passed out, and it's only pride and a weird sense of cartoon-character honor that prevents you from giving in.

You can't speak, of course. Mascots never speak. So when you eventually cry from the pain and because you think you're blacking out (and believe me, no matter how proud you are, eventually you will cry), you have to do so silently.

The body was made for someone bigger and stronger than you. It hangs heavily on your shoulders, and the straps unmercifully scrape your skin. The blisters bleed. Sweat gets in the open wounds. It hurts, but what're you gonna do?

Worst of all are the feet of this silly, harmless little cartoon character. You can't walk in the way God and Evolution meant for humans to walk. Your feet remain flat all day, you lift them up, almost like you are marching, and you cannot arch your foot.

The tops of the feet dig into your shins. They bleed, too. You put band-aids and socks over them, but with every step, every single step, they cut into your skin. Every time you walk, all day. And the blood and lymph (?) get stuck to the fur and to your cotton socks, and when they dry, they rip a little. This causes you to bleed some more. You take pride in the fact that none of your blood gets on the costume.

Your walk is somewhere between a waddle and a limp, which is good for the character, but it's really because you've pulled some muscle in your leg. The next day, you'll favor your other leg, and then you'll pull that one, too. By the third day, there's a full-on sprain or something. It hurts. The legs and feet are heavy, and you have all day to walk around and wave at people.

Speaking of the people, are they wide-eyed kids or fellow Kirks who appreciate things like mascots? For the most part, no, not really. This isn't Disney World. It's a convention. They've got business to deal with. Children, and this is true, are forbidden at the toy convention. The convention badge actually says, "Please save yourself and your child the stress and embarrassment of being turned away."

You wave, blow kisses, give a thumbs-up or a high-five. The adults wave politely, smile genuinely every now and then, but the majority of what you get are blank stares and feigned ignorance.

And you know what happens to a cartoon that's ignored, right? It dies.

And so died a little part of my soul.

[Note: This post was a bit dramatic and whiney, so I want to end it by saying my bosses were incredibly cool and sweet and nice, and all the suffering was on my part to be a martyr and not give up.

I thought I could make it through the entire convention, and I was right. I can barely walk right now, but I survived, and most amazing of all, there were even moments when I genuinely thought, "This is kind of fun."

Who else can say that after visiting their own personal little Hell?]

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Let's Amazon!

Last month, I blogged about that amazing Amazon gift card I received, and I just used it. Finally! Success!

I wanted something big and complete, something that would seem like a hefty, incredible purchase, rather than several smaller things. And after re-reading that entry, I find it amusing that I ended up NOT buying a Sonic Screwdriver.

But I still didn't know what to get, hence the delay. The complete Red Dwarf series, while essential, is not a pressing purchase. And I still hope to one day own a VCR so I can enjoy my old tapes recorded from MemberVision's Night Tide (Sundays at 12:30 a.m., all throughout the early '90s).

Then, after RPGing with Chris in a public space (that's a blog for another day), I mentioned how I'd never finished Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series. Which is shocking! How could I make it through nine volumes of this- I don't know how to describe The Sandman without using the word "seminal," but I hate using that word because it reminds me of semen, and I'm not quite sure what it means - word-similar-to-seminal work of comic literature, and just conk out right before the final volume? For, like, over a decade?

And I hadn't read it in ages, not since high school, at the latest, when my brother had all the first editions of the graphic novels, which I probably bent up and creased. And Sarah's never read it, which is not too surprising, since she isn't into comics, but it's an important series and one worth experiencing.

Like I'd mentioned before, I'm wary of buying any big collection of an unfamiliar comic or TV series. Sandman Mystery Theatre (of which the first graphic novel is NEVER on the shelf at Midtown Comics, WTF), Scott Pilgrim, anything might be good, even great, but I'm not going to buy something unless I know that it's my cup of tea and that I'll read it again and again. And while I like Fables (the only other series that I've read most of ), I don't love it enough to think it needs purchasing.

So I went with The Sandman. I hope it holds up. I remember the first volume not being so hot, but it certainly starts cooking pretty quickly. Right?

The entire collection will be here by the end of the week, and I'm pretty psyched. It's been a long time, far too long, since I've seen Fiddler's Green, and I look forward to seeing him again. We never got to properly say goodbye, and he was always my favorite.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Let's Dread: The Recap (Take Three)

So this weekend I ran my Dizney Zombies Dread adventure for the third (and probably final - though I'd be open to doing it again) time. This session was with some of the ol' Ghosty Teen gang, and it was pretty funzo.

There were only five players, which I think is my ideal number. It never felt too crowded or unwieldy and I don't think anyone spent too much time hiding safely in the background.

Also, the character choices were probably my favorite (after the dynamic duo of Gonzo and Mushu will never be beaten): Mary Poppins, Basil the Great Mouse Detective, Susan and Sharon from The Parent Trap (played by one person, a la the Ice Climbers in Super Smash Bros. Brawl), Jessie the Yodelin' Cowgirl and Dumbo.

Interesting because two characters are tiny enough to be carried around in one's carpetbag, one of whom is a doll, one character can't talk (but can fly), and no one brought along any weapons, unless you count Basil's mouse-sized rapier.

I mean, when the group's tank is a toy, you've gotta plan your battles wisely. Though, to be fair to Jessie, she was really effective - zombies don't tend to notice things made of cloth and plastic.

Still, scenes where I originally planned for several zombies I'd often reduce to one, because one was stressful enough.

In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have gone easy on them. But I also think that working with numbers is tricky. If one is scary, is two scarier? Or does it dilute the horror? It's a good question. The single zombie propels them to a confrontation. If there were two or more, these non-fighters might choose to run, or avoid the situation, even though I ultimately needed them to move forward and accept the adventure.

Anyway, a more random collection of survivors I couldn't imagine, but survive they did... for the most part. The twins, sadly, did not make it to the end.

And for a group of non-gamers, a lot of their decisions surprised me, which is impressive. Nobody ever surprises me. I thought I'd seen it all and was prepared for any eventuality, but apparently not.

At one point in the game, the characters saved a number of Dalmatian puppies (this is probably my favorite and, according to the looks of anguish on most players' faces, most horrific scene of the game). Basil and Jessie decided to keep one apiece that they could ride as a mount. I allowed it, as something similar happens in both of their movies, and those Dalmatians have enough gumption to learn quickly. And the twins wanted puppies, too, because they are giddy girls who like cute things.

Then, later in the game, when the twins were being chased by the scimitar-wielding zombie Aladdin, they threw their puppies at him as a cruel sacrifice.

I was shocked. It was as if they, to quote Ben Linus, changed the rules.

I mean, it's a technically sound, even brilliant, tactic. It's just one that I'd expect from a blackguard like Scar or Captain Hook, not from Hayley Mills. But in a moment of terror, yeah, I could see it happening. And I like to think it was karmic justice that caused the Tower to collapse later on in the game, leading to the twins' own deaths in the final act.

That's an internal debate I have with Dread. Survival is determined by the whim of the Tower (unless a player chooses to make the ultimate sacrifice). In this game, the twins died "well," but in previous games, death was random. Unlike movies or books, the game kills without regard to story or character or justice. You're either good at Jenga, or lucky, or you pull a bum piece and die.

And yet, although I don't always like it, I understand. That's a part of horror. You've got no safety net, even the main character, the hero, the doll, the baby elephant, the magical nanny, they're all beholden to the Tower.

I tried to do the same thing in my book (and even though these games are played primarily for fun, in the back of my mind I'm always looking for ideas and possibilities I might have missed to go in the novel). I'm in charge of the characters' destinies, but I don't like the usual "main hero is invincible" idea. Especially in these dangerous worlds, virtue or skill might not be enough. A lot of the time, it's just random luck.

One of the biggest villains in the story gets a happy ending, while others are sacrificed. The survivors aren't great and mighty heroes, the Princes and Princesses of the world, they're the ones who just happened to survive.

(Yet on the other hand, I didn't have the heart to kill Dumbo. At least, not in the first draft. I figured he's suffered enough.)

As the old professor said in that Doctor Who Christmas special, "Of all the people to survive, he's not the one you would have chosen, is it? But if you could choose, Doctor, if you could decide who lives and who dies... that would make you a monster."

What does that make me, then?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Let's Unlovables!

Last night was a good old-fashioned Year2 of Yes dilemma: Should I spend a restful evening at home or should I drag my lazy butt out to Brooklyn to see a rock show featuring Hallie's amazing band The Unlovables?

Reasons to stay home: It had been a long day, I was tired, the show was far away and late at night and I'd be going alone and I only had oatmeal and carrot cake to eat all day and my life is very hard and wah-wah-wah.

Reasons to go: I wanted to. They hadn't played in what seems like a year, so I ought to take the opportunity. And it had been a pretty craptastic week, perhaps these minstrels would soothe my jangled nerves and get me psyched once more.

Obviously, I went, otherwise the entry's title would've been "Let's (Not) Unlovables!", or I wouldn't have written anything at all, like my unwritten entry "Let's (Not) Go to the Two-Day Employment Seminar Thing Because They Never Sent Me a Confirmation Email and I Didn't Want to Go at, Like, 8:00 in the Morning!"

And it was fun (the Unlovables show, not skipping the seminar, though skipping that was fun, too). It reminded me of the old days, when I'd go out alone (because I didn't know anyone) to some random event, be it a crazy $5 play, burlesque show, band, a "quiet party," whatever.

It was a good, strange nostalgia to have to fend for myself for a few hours, with no one to talk to and trying not to feel too alone or awkward, while slowly drinking my drink so I'd appear somewhat busy.

But I feel like I've gotta go to music shows by myself. I don't want to drag someone to see an unfamiliar band, because what if they hate it? That would suck. And even if they liked them, they wouldn't know their songs, so it isn't as much fun.

At least, that's how it is for me, so I assume it's the same for everyone else in my circle of life. I don't want them to have to sit in a dank bar basement (aw, but the dank, Moe, the dank!), listen to unfamiliar bands (though one had a nice cover of "You May Be Right" and another did a cover of the Night Court theme song, which pleased me to no end), and wait a few hours for the main event.

Actually, maybe this is learned behavior, because once I took a girl I'd just started dating to a similar show featuring similar bands at a similar venue. And in my fictionalized memory, I remember her smiling politely as people bopped. We broke up soon afterward.

Anyway, the night (both last night and the night of the half-imagined bopping) was worth it, because the Unlovables rocked. They always do.

The only thing I wanted was to hear Hallie sing "Samantha," which is my favorite song of theirs, and then they played it for their final number, so I chalked the night up to a success.

Then, as an added bonus, I got to briefly meet the actual Samantha afterward, which is like meeting Superman or Gordon Ramsay or Kermit the Frog face to face. You always figured he existed, but weren't sure, but then there he is, looking just the way you always imagined.

For all my whinging and hand-wringing beforehand (although I always knew, deep down, that I'd go to the show - there was a reason I spent about two hours killing time at Borders reading Death Note), their songs did indeed soothe my jangled nerves, and I traveled home, probably the only psyched person in Astoria at 1:30 in the morning.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Let's Fuerzabruta!

Last night I went to see Fuerzabruta! (for the second time) as part of that Off-Broadway 20 at 20 deal. It's this pretty amazing show that was featured on America's Next Top Model, as shown here in the winning picture of Whitney:

I like Fuerzabruta! a lot, and not just because there's an exclamation mark in the title and my friend Hallie is in it. Sarah describes it as "a show for sensation seekers," and I guess that's close to the mark. It's not a normal show with story and characters or even dialogue, it's more of an experience.

And, for someone whose legs turn to putty over fireworks and roller coasters and parades, Fuerzabruta! is right up my alley. Where else, I ask, can you see people flying and running sideways in a windstorm and underwater while right above you? That last part, especially, was cool - it's just crazy disconcerting for people to be splashing and rolling around just inches above your head.

I love stuff like that. It's inspiring and beautiful and gets me psyched and my writing doesn't do it justice. It's hard to put words to something that is wordless, you know? This, to me, is what EPCOT's Journey Into Imagination should be like, because it very much is a journey into the imagination. Throw in Figment (voiced by Billy Barty, of course), and I'd be in heaven.

My favorite part (as is everybody else's, I'd imagine - that's probably why their catchphrase is "Look up") was definitely the water. Hallie had said to let her know when I'd be coming so she could do one of the cooler parts in the show (I guess they switch around and it's not that set in stone as to who does what), so last night she was swimming.

I guess the four women in it (imagine a clear-bottomed, very shallow swimming pool, right over your head) are supposed to be water nymphs or spirits or just the human representation of the ocean (one thing I like about the show is that it is so open to interpretation). A lot of the time they're playful and having fun and sliding around like dolphins, but then there's a thunderstorm and they get angry and primal and screaming because the sea, as they do NOT teach you at The Seas with Nemo and Friends, can be very dangerous.

But before all that, during happier times, they were right above us, swimming around, and they sort of interacted with the audience a little bit. When Hallie was nearby, I waved, she noticed and recognized me (I wasn't sure she would, since I don't know how visibility is on her end), and we met, Hallie free in the water above, Kirk trapped on land below.

Our palms touched, though we were separated by this thick vinyl of the swimming pool bottom (sort of like the characters in Pushing Daisies), and the audience (according to Sarah) was like, "Whoa..." because clearly we were interacting in a way that was a lot more (hmm, what's the word?) comfortable/familiar/friendly than the rest of the nymphs.

I wish I had a picture of that moment. It was magical. I'm the type of guy that, when my friend Kellie plays Snow White in a Disney parade, she IS Snow White, so it was pretty amazing in that breathtaking moment, before she waved good-bye and swam away, to hold hands with my friend, the water spirit.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Let's 25 Things About Me!

There's some great thing going around on Facebook where you write 25 things about you then tag 25 other people and eventually you get a million dollars. I kept mine short, but had SO MUCH MORE to say on the subject, so here's the Extended Edition.

1. Nothing makes me laugh harder than a good clip from America’s Funniest Home Videos. You ever seen this pinata montage? YouTube does not do it justice.

2. My favorite memory (the one that could summon my Patronus) is of dancing to “I Wanna Dance With Someboy (Who Loves Me)” at some random UCB party with a pretty girl. This has happened at almost every UCB party I’ve ever been to, so I get to relive this memory pretty frequently. I need this song on my iPod.

3. I’m always more comfortable in a costume or mask or behind a puppet. Performing (whether it's improvising or announcing for the roller derby or even singing in a choir) is ever so much easier when I'm wearing some kind of costume. What does that say about me? When am I not myself? Are there any horse socks?

4. Karaoke is the best. I love it so hard. To me, the mark of a good friend is someone who will go to karaoke at the drop of a dime. That's all I want, really. The only bad thing is you can't do it alone without being a lunatic. I'd be doing karaoke right now if I could, but it's socially unacceptable.

5. I love a good Simpsons reference. Recently someone said “Tappa tappa tappa,” and that made me happy, because it’s an uncommon one. And then I had to scour the Internet for this heart-wrenching comic I read last year: "Don't Cry for Me, I'm Already Dead" by Rebecca Sugar. Please read it. I just did, and it took the wind out of my sails for this entire project.

6. I’m kind of sad that I’m too old to audition for American Idol. I wanted to do it with Cakey (see? There's that puppet thing again), because it might be good publicity, and then show up the next day and do it seriously. What if I made it? We'll never know now.

7. My memory is pretty terrible. I forget everything. The first time I did this, I wrote that Simpsons reference thing twice, because I forgot. Terrible!

8. If I could have any job in the entire world, it would be a Disney Imagineer.

9. I love to lie (or, as I consider it, "telling stories" or "being funny" or "exaggerating a li'l"), and wanted to put “a Chippendales dancer” for that last answer, but I go to great efforts to be truthful in things like these. Usually when I lie, I try to own up to it within a few minutes.

10. Because I’m a proofreader at heart, I looked up Chippendales on Wikipedia to see if it has an apostrophe in it (it doesn’t), and then read the crazy history about it. Check it out, it’s creepy.

11. Bowser used to be my favorite character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but I changed my mind after getting Toon Link. Toon Link is faster than regular Link, who I used to love, but he seemed to slow down in Brawl. I usually go for quicker characters, but think Sonic the Hedgehog and Fox suck ballz.

12. If I could have one superpower or wish, it would be that I could stop and start time at will. I think about this at least once per day. And then, to make it interesting, I usually add all sorts of limitations on it (to see when I'd think it's not worth having anymore) - what if I could only stop time for 60 seconds, once per day? What if I could only do it once? What if I could stop time, but it would last for an entire year?

13. I believe in the power of wishes, when done properly (which most people don’t know how to do). I usually get what I wish for. People have asked me about the proper way to wish. Obviously, you can't tell anyone. Two, you have to be in the right state of belief. That's the hard part. I think you either have it or you don't, you can't learn to trust that your wish will come true. It's like learning to fly (you have to fall down and forget to hit the ground). It's not easy. I'm just lucky in that it comes naturally to me.

14. If there was an actual zombie apocalypse, I think I’d probably commit suicide. This sounds grim, but NYC is gonna be a white zone, and there's no way I'm getting out of here alive. At best, I could hole up in this apartment, but would eventually run out of food while MILLIONS of zombies swarm around below. I couldn't live that life of fear.

15. I believe in parallel universes where every single possibility and choice plays out (see the Red Dwarf episode “Dimension Jump” for details). So somewhere out there is the Kirk who got his life 100% correct, and is as happy as I'd ever be physically able. I'm happy for that Kirk. I don't know what my percentage is, but it's pretty good. As the Dark Knight would say, "It's a good life. Good enough."

16. I think Chelsea Clinton is a honey. Many years ago I dreamed we were dating, and we were in the White House kitchen late at night, and her dad stumbled in sleepily, looking for a midnight snack. And seeing the president, half-asleep and in a bathrobe, I realized he's just a man like the rest of us. It's a very weird dream to have, but it's stayed with me.

17. I have almost 500 friends on Facebook, but only four of them are people I would call up to chat or hang out with regularly. Everyone else is just an acquaintance in my whirlwind life. I'm OK with it; four people is a lot, actually, when it comes to karaoke.

18. I like the smell of our gerbils. They smell good! I try to feed them by hand several times a day, so they think of me as some benevolent god. Then whey they are good, I take them out on the couch or play trampoline with them, which either terrifies, delights, or has no effect on them whatsoever.

19. My biggest regret that I can remember is not buying those paintings of hamsters as Doctor Who at Dragon*Con. And yet, I thought the paintings of hamsters as Indiana Jones or Captain Jack Sparrow were stupid. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?

20. I’m really scared of snakes. Like, seriously. I hate them, and don't want to touch one or hold one. I touched one once, that was enough, because it bit me and I had to go to the hospital to get anti-venom (that last part is a lie - though I DID touch a snake once, at a museum or something).

21. One of the first things I do when I get home is take off my pants. Pants are torture. I hate them. In a previous life, I must've been a woman or Scottish or something, because pants are a waste of time.

22. I could spend about four hours a day in the bathtub. Or more. In Saint Augustine, I would often fall asleep in the bathtub. Hot water aches the constant pain in my muscles and keeps me from going mad.

23. For the first time in my life, I think I have a decent haircut. I only know this because I've gotten a lot of compliments on the beard/hair combo lately. But I've always sort of hated my hair, as I've complained about on this blog. Even Lupe couldn't fix it.

24. I’m terrible at drawing, but think it’s a fair trade-off to be able to sing, instead. I sing all the time. If I could draw, I'd probably draw all the time.

25. Sometimes I think I’m a sort of mischievous goblin who thrives on non-violent chaos and mayhem. But I’m instantly chastened by the sight someone in pain. I'm like the Riddler in that Secret Origins Special "When is a Door" written by Neil Gaiman, which I used to be able to quote. "Where was I when they changed all the rules?" He laments. "The Joker's killing people, for God's sake!" I don't want anybody to get hurt, really, I just want their minds to be blown by the giant typewriter I put in the middle of Gotham City.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Meatless March

I'm gonna go vegetarian for a month.

I thought March would be a good time to take on this project, because Meatless March has a nice ring to it, but didn't feel like waiting another thirty days. So we'll just do it in February.

Why am I doing this? I dunno. I thought it might be interesting to see if I feel healthier/less sick all the time and less like a big fat chubbalubba.

There's rarely any meat in the house, anyway, except for the occasional cheeseburgers I bring home from the place down the street, and the packages of liverwurst I enjoy having for lunch (cottage cheese and liverwurst, I'm like an unemployed schlub, circa 1960), so it's not gonna be that big of a change.

Breakfast is usually oatmeal and tea and juice, lunch is cottage cheese and chips, and dinner is whatever Sarah makes. Gone are my other options: cheeseburgers, Subway sandwiches, tacos from that truck down the block that are surprisingly really good and not poisonous, but I'll make do.

The only time this should be weird or hard is when I'm at a restaurant, which I don't do much anymore since I'm trying to save money. So it should be easy, right?

On Friday, after helping Heather move, we ate at that Polish restaurant, and I thought that was a fine note to end on, as far as meat-eating goes. I ordered the Polish Platter (I'll eat anything as long as the name is alliterative - cheddar cheese, Cocoa Krispies, rack o' riblets, Meatless March), and boy-howdy, was it something.

Stuffed cabbage, which I thought would be stuffed with... I dunno, the Polish equivalent of rice or cous cous, which turns out to be an amazing meatball. Something that translates to Hunter's Stew. A kielbasa that was tough and crispy, like bacon. Three pierogis, two of which had some kind of meat. And I think one other thing, I can't remember what, but it was definitely meaty.

I thought it would kill me, but everything was so delicious and free (thanks, Tom's family) and nothing made me sick afterward, so I feel I got enough to last me through a whole month.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Let's Dread: The Recap (Take Two)

Today was another fun-filled Recess event sponsored by, and once again I ran my Disney Zombies scenario.

It's the same one from last September (the survivors of a zombie apocalypse, holed up in Scrooge McDuck's Money Bin, are drawn out of their refuge by a mysterious message of hope) only this time with different players and characters.

This session saw Statler (one of the old Muppets who hangs out in the balcony), Wall*E, Eeyore, Quasimodo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) , Launchpad McQuack (DuckTales and Darkwing Duck) and Abu (the monkey from Aladdin) struggle to decipher this message... and survive.

Not a bad bunch... but with Dread, it's never a bad bunch. It's all in how you play the character, really. Launchpad filled Gonzo's role of being a heroic person who screws everything up yet saves the day, and Wall*E was played with incredible sincerity.

Statler went out in a blaze of glory about halfway through the game (since every action is resolved through Jenga, players can choose to purposefully knock over the tower. This ensures their success in the action... but they die in the process). I suspect he did this because he was bored. Maybe the game wasn't to his liking or he felt frustrated with playing an old man Muppet, and that troubled me a bit.

On the one hand, you can't please everyone, and we still had five people who seemed to be having fun, but on the other, I hope my game wasn't that bad that he just couldn't take it anymore.

What was interesting is that someone from the September session (the awesome player who kicked so much ass as Mushu) wanted to play again, which means I kind of have a following, but he backed out when I explained it was the same scenario as last time.

I'm running this scenario at least one more time, next weekend with the folks who played the Ghosty Teens game (two characters have been selected: Mary Poppins and Basil of Baker Street, AKA The Great Mouse Detective). Having run it twice now, I'm pretty confident with the narration and stuff, and, more importantly, I'm not bored with it. Hell, I'd probably run it two or three more times. It's fun to Dread, after all.

I did, however, decide to run a different scenario at the next Recess. Still Disney Zombies, still Dread, but next time (and get ready for the awesome premise), it'll be about the poor souls who go on a suicide mission issued by Professor Ludwig von Drake (the leader of their refugee camp), to rescue (or destroy, if necessary) the single most important person to the survival of humanity.