Thursday, April 30, 2009

Let's Puppet!

In addition to changing the worLd, last night there was some puppet stuff going on.

I haven't blogged about it yet, because I hate saying "Here's something that might happen" and then it never happens, and also, I just didn't feel like writing about it until there was a finished product to display. Sometimes I'm like that.

So there's a pic of the puppet I built.

My friend Marcus and I have been talking about doing some puppet-related improv stuff for a while now, and since this is another year of yes, it actually happened. Good for us! He's actually a wunderkind at puppet-building. His puppet has hair and kickass eyeballs and rods and hands with fingers. Check it out!

Seriously, he has mad skillz.

I haven't built a puppet out of felt 'n' foam in many, many, many years (Cakey was built by Erika Kern), so my own skillz were pretty rusty.

Although I had a pattern, I quickly eschewed it and took a more intuitive approach. As a learning experience, pretty good! But as a finished product, meh. I don't like the felt eyes, but haven't had a chance to go to a thrift store, buy a cheap stuffed animal, and remove its eyes a la the Corinthian (Sarah has requested I don't leave the corpses lying around the apartment, as that would freak her out). I should've done the insides of the mouth before I did the skin, gotta remember to sew things and then turn them inside out, and one day I'll have to make a proper nose. Also, he wears a hat because shaping the head is hard.

But we had our first performance as The Puppet Regime last night, and it was pretty fun, and there'll be more. I have to build another puppet, I'm sure, since I'm not terribly satisfied with this one.

And it's really more of getting over my fear of making them than anything else. Like, I built this in the space of an afternoon or two. It's just a few simple steps, really, but I dragged them out over the course of months (months!) because I hate sucking and was afraid to fail. Each step was full of "Crap, I don't know what I'm doing. I hate my life!" when I should've just shut up and enjoyed the cement fumes.

Beh. So next time I might take pictures of the process. Not that I want people to learn from me, it'll mostly be a document of How to Blunder Along While Building a Puppet, but it'll be something for the ages.

Let's Change the WorLd! (The Recap)

Funny story: I was supposed to see this with Lynn, but we somehow bought tickets for different movie theaters. So she's texting me "WHERE R U?" and I'm like "IN DA LOBBY! WHERE R U?" and she's like "IN DA LOBBY!" and we're both right! We're just in different theaters! Haw haw haw and ha ha!

So I ended up seeing it by myself.

[I'm totally gonna spoil the movie, so stop reading if you ever intend to see it. But this entry has no effect on the manga series.]

Here's what I got: L wore that funny mask again. Score! And he ate more weird desserts (a skewer containing fruits, marshmallow-looking things that are probably mochi, and a FRENCH CRULLER. A donut. On a skewer. Oh, Japan.). No silly dance, but I wasn't really expecting that, I just wrote that to be a jackass.

And they totally said "change the world," but it was in a way that I found sort of touching. The inexact quote is "Not even a genius can change the world alone. And that is a wonderful thing about this world."

As for the story... it was pretty meh. This film had different, non-Death Note writers, and it really showed, both in plot and tone. It's about germ warfare, which I thought was pretty weird for L to solve, and also it was so close to home what with all this swine flu I try to not pay attention to. Also, this happens when the world is still in the midst of Kira mania, yet that never gets referenced. Wouldn't those ecological terrorists be afraid of Kira's judgment? Gagagooey? Are we supposed to believe this is some kind of magical xylophone or something?

And also, it was very... somber? Serious? I dunno, lacking in the fun department (the first laugh from the audience came 33 minutes into the film). Not that Death Note is a happy-go-lucky romp, but the whole thing seemed kind of joyless. Maybe that's to be expected from [SPOILER ALERT] a protagonist who only has 23 days left to live, but whatever, I just didn't dig it. And even if that's gonna suck all the fun out of his last mystery, they didn't expand on, like, how L must feel about his impending death. Eh, maybe something was just lost in translation.

Afterward, they showed interviews/behind the scenes footage, and the actor talked about how it was a challenge to recreate L and he had to compromise with the director some thoughts he had about the character, and it sort of showed. This L was a lot less quirky, a bit blander. However, he also said how touched he was to get to play L, which I thought was nice.

Still, I didn't hate it. I like L a lot, and it was sad to see him walk off toward his death at the end. I kept thinking they'd reuse his death scene footage from Death Note II, and that'd be kind of a buzzkill, but they didn't, and I appreciated that.

And it made me totally want to dress up like L at Dragon*Con.

This is what L looks like in that silly mask.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Let's Change the WorLd!

Not in the sense of actually doing anything helpful for humanity, but in seeing the movie L: Change the WorLd. Already I'm a bit turned off by the eccentric capitalization, but what can you do? It's Japanese.

This is a spin-off/sequel to the Death Note franchise (I reviewed Death Note II here), only now the focus is on L, the world's greatest detective. Hence the caps-lock hijinks.

I'm a little wary (Sarah opted out of the viewing, which shows how little she thought of the last movie), since I didn't love the last one, either. But this time it'll be subtitled, so that's a plus. And L is a fun character, so... how bad can it be? It's just a movie.

Things I am hoping for: A hilarious scene where L wears a silly mask or does a funny dance. Don't think I'm being a jackass by writing that; he had this great comic scene with a mask in the last film. Plenty of scenes where L eats an insane Japanese dessert (he only eats sugar). Music. A decent mystery. Insight into what it's like being the world's greatest detective. Even more eyeliner. Someone saying "change the world," preferably several times. A surprise cameo by me as an American in the background.

Things I am dreading: Ridiculously dressed teenagers shouting comments at the screen. Babies crying. Having to sit too close to the screen. Getting beaten up. These are my standard movie angsts, actually. Forgetting my puppet, either at home or at the theater (I have to leave right after to do this puppetry set). Being late for my puppetry set. A plot that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Suckiness in general. I hate when a movie is very bad, and then you look at your watch, and realize you still have 90 more minutes.

This will be the first thing I've seen in the theaters since Watchmen.

PS: Looking back over my Dragon*Con posts (I'm already psyched for this year), I realize I never mentioned the first person Cakey and I met, a girl dressed up as L.

To give you an idea of L's character, yes, a waifish, (probably) 14-year-old girl looks a LOT like him. That was really exciting, probably one of my favorite costumes at the con.

OK, another thing to hope for: Stick-like girls dressed up as L. Or incredibly fat people dressed up as L. Or me dressed as L, I don't care.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Only in New York!

So yesterday I'm about to enter a subway car, and as this guy flees the same car, he says something like, "Trust me, you do NOT want to go in there."

And usually when someone warns you like that, you listen. You never know if there's a homeless guy, crazy person, troubled youth or whatever lurking within, and it's just wiser to pick a different car.

So I did that, along with some other passengers and this man. One lady asked him, "What's going on in there?"

His response: "There's some lady in there, smells like she hasn't washed her [I can't type the word] in weeks!" Then, seeing that he was talking to a woman, he apologized.

So there I stood in the normal-smelling car (and, despite what the liberal media says about New York subways, most of them are fine. Just every now and then one is pretty awful), and the guy points out the offender to me. Because by this point we are buddies.

"See that lady with the walker? That's the one. Damn, I can't believe people are going in there! Look at them! Damn!" Although, truth be told, no one was really reacting much to her awful-smelling [again, I refuse to type that word].

I didn't want to talk to this guy anymore, since I had nothing to say (and what is there to say, really, other than, "Yep."?), and THEN the guy announced to everyone that he's homeless, just looking to get some food, could use a little help, one of the standard panhandling spiels you hear so frequently.

And that's when I'm like, "You bounder! There's probably NOTHING wrong with that other car! You just wanted to get more people in here so you'd have a better chance of getting some spare change. And now you think because you warned me specifically, I owe you. Well, sorry, buddy, that ain't happening, I just spent all my singles on these puppet skins. And maligning a poor old lady with a walker. For shame, for shame."

At this point I should also mention that, despite what the liberal media portrays, not all homeless people are grizzled and in rags and wearing garbage bags for feet. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of those, but sometimes they're people who pretend to work for fake organizations and are dressed nicer than me. So you can't always tell if someone is homeless. Heck, people have mistaken me for a subway weirdo, but only because I was saying "Hoppy Easter!" to myself over and over again.

None of this is a particular Year of Yes moment, but then when I reached my destination, I passed by the offending car. And I thought to myself, "Was that homeless guy lying, or was he telling the truth about the lady in the walker?"

And sometimes I just gotta do something stupid, like calling a bunch of kids retarded or yelling out to John Goodman "Hey, Mr. Monsters Inc.!", which I did last night after seeing him in Waiting for Godot (which was surprisingly disappointing), so I decided to take one step into the forbidden subway car and smell it.

That's really stupid, I know, it's like taking a swig of milk that someone says is spoiled, but I had to know if that homeless guy was lying. It would haunt me forever. It really would.

So I took one step in, right near the lady with the walker, sniffed, and walked out.

Monday, April 20, 2009

So Slayed We All

I played Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game for the first time this weekend, and it's a humdinger! Any game where you might cheer at a dice roll is pretty good, in my book.

So that the rest of this entry makes sense, I'll describe it briefly: Everyone plays a character from the show (I was Helo), and you work together to jump the fleet to Kobol. If you get there, you win! But some of the players are secretly Cylons, and they'll try to screw over the human race. Almost every time, the Cylons win, because this game is HARD.

It has a lot of the tension of the first season of BSG, which I like. Right off the bat, we were ambushed with a heavy assault, and it was like, "Crap! This ain't gonna be easy." But we were playing smart and rolling high and doing pretty well... until the halfway point, when my favorite thing happened ("What was your favorite part?" asks Dora at the end of every episode, so that's stuck in my head.)

Halfway through the game, you get another chance to discover if you're a Cylon. And it sucks to be me, because that's what happened to Helo. In retrospect, that's kind of cool, but at the time, it was very disappointing.

Like, my face fell, and I felt exactly how the Final Four did when they realized they were frakkin' toasters. We'd worked so hard to get this far, and we were doing so well, and all of a sudden, the people I'd been working with, my group of friends... we weren't on the same team anymore.

It's cool that the game made me experience what it's like to be a conflicted Cylon. I didn't want them all to lose, but I had a job to do, a game to play. Even if I didn't exactly enjoy it, I couldn't just go easy on them, because that's not respectful to the players.

Oh, it sucked massive in a most delicious way. Since the other Cylons were still undercover, I was operating alone, raining down my crises on the old ship and hating myself for it. But I could see, especially when my Cylon brethren joined me (Starbuck and the Chief, leaving the crew without any pilots or their engineer) that the human race was doomed. They'd never make it to Kobol, so why prolong their misery? Why force them to play hopelessly? It was a mercy killing, really. As Riff-Raff once said, "A decision had to be made."

So slayed we all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Let's Folk! (The Recap)

Boy, I must sound like a Johnny Come Lately, but Flight of the Conchords was an incredible show! What a great time! So inspiring!

I thought I wasn't gonna like it that much since I didn't know any of their songs, but that just made it better. Each song told a story, so I was always engaged (lyrics are usually my weak point in music... I never listen to them), and since it was my first time hearing the funny bits, I laughed a lot. Also, most of the ha-ha had to do with rhyming, and rhyming is one of my three favorite things.

Another realization that everyone else who's ever heard them has already realized: they're very good songwriters! Even if I didn't understand English, I'd still be like "What a great song!" Some of them were just so damn pretty, it made me wanna weep. In particular, that song about Jemaine's ex-girlfriends, which people know, and the one about a tour guide giving a tour of his town, which I don't think people do (a friend of a friend remarked that he'd only heard it on a rare mp3... but who knows, maybe everyone knows that one. I am ignorant of everything.).

Also, music is fun. Seeing two guys (well, three including Nigel, who played one of my three favorite instruments ever, the cello... He also played the steel drum and the shakers, which aren't so high up on my list) play guitar and a toy piano and a keyboard and an OmniChord, that's pretty good.

And their banter is pretty spectacular. Just low-key and nice. If that's what the New Zealand sense of humor is, then I'm a fan.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Let's Folk!

Last night I had a dream about LOST. I had moved in with Sawyer and Kate in their New Otherton house because I was sick of Jack and his ways. Pam visited me and thought I was crazy for leaving the safety of the beach, and then commented on how much grapefruit soda I was drinking. I explained to her that I was an adult, I could drink as much soda as I wanted. I believe in Jack's camp, we were limited to one soda per day.

Then John Locke appeared, and Pam warned me that he was gonna take me back to the beach by force. I didn't believe her; he's not like that. Plus, he had a big can of paint, and I think he was going to come help us paint some rooms. "John Locke is my friend," I told Pam defiantly, and when I woke up, those words still in my mouth.

Typical Wednesday anticipation. I dream about LOST pretty frequently nowadays; the last one involved me trying desperately to remember the original British version, which I remembered as being superior, but I couldn't remember any of the differences.

Anyway, eff all that, because I just got two free tickets to see Flight of the Conchords (before you ask, I can't tell you how I got them, but let's just say I'm very good friends with someone named Jermaine) this evening, so LOST will have to wait.

Don't think this blog post is just me flaunting my free tickets and my famous friends in your face (though, of course, I am). I actually had to force myself to say Yes to this one, since I am lazy and unfamiliar with their show and Wednesday nights are my double-date with Ben Linus and Allison the Big-Eyed Model Who Won't Win America's Next Top Model.

But Sarah is a really big fan of Flight of the Conchords, and I can only say no so many times before it sounds a bit insulting.

"Hey, Kirk, you wanna see us do a show on Tuesday?"

"Ooh, sorry, man, I wish I could, but I have a show that night." (This is true.)

"No worries, mate. We've got another one on Wednesday."

"Oh. Hmm, I dunno, I've got..." But then the slight shimmer of tears in his eye makes me reconsider. "Sure, thanks!"

So... let's folk! I'm pretty psyched.

(To be honest, parts of this entry are real, parts are a dream, and parts are fan fiction, but I can't differentiate between the three anymore.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Let's Florida!

The lack of an Internet presence these past few days can be explained by my Easter vacation in sunny south Florida, where, yes, there is no Internet.

Most of my days were spent reading on the patio. Then, when it got too hot and I'd feel my skin start to burn, I'd jump in the pool, dope around underwater and laugh and scream at the sudden change in temperature, then get out and dry in the sun. I'd repeat this about 40 times.

And it was strange, since I've spent the first 2/3 of my life trying to escape America's wang (Simpsons reference), that this weekend was the first time I could appreciate how nice everything was.

It was very quiet. No car horns or nothing, just some people laughing as they rowed a boat on the lake. And birds singing, tons of birds. I don't know what almost any of them were. Some were crows or blackbirds, if there's a difference. Some were these tiny white birds that would dive into the lake and catch a fish. Those were new. The ducks were familiar, but those other water birds that splash so loudly, no idea about those guys. And off in the distance was a flock of green parrots that aren't natural to Florida's ecosystem (those guys are EVERYWHERE nowadays).

And the sky was ridiculously blue and the air was creepily fresh and the sun (which my body hasn't seen in six years) was bright and full of Vitamin D or K, and since the weather hasn't yet hit hellish summer levels, it all mixed very well with the pool.

I've never really been on a vacation where I could sit around all day lazing around (though that sounds a lot like my normal life, actually). I've usually got a ton of dumb things to do, so it was a pretty nice change of pace.

When I first got in the pool, I was gabbing and bitching on the phone with Pam about all the usual sort of NYC crap, and later my parents were like, "Is everything all right? You were shouting on the phone."

At first I was like, "Huh? Everything's fine. That's just normal conversation," but then it struck me, like, is that what my life is like (other than the lazing around)? Because it all seemed so loud and shrill compared to the serene peacefulness that is my parents' backyard.

It made me never want to talk again. I'd be fine just listening and reading, and occasionally screaming.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Beauty! Love! Truth!

So this Friday I took part in an interesting experiment involving film and improvisation, run by my friend Shannon Manning, for something called Beauty Love Truth. In Shannon's own words...
The name came about after Sept 11 when I was in Chicago with my sister and wondering/defending/on the verge of a very emotional fight about why I was staying in NY, what I was working on, what I cared about. I shouted out, "I dunno! Beauty! Love! Truth!"
...and I always thought that was a pretty noble and worthwhile sentiment.

BLT has been performed as a stage show off and on for a few years, and recently Shannon decided to try taping one. But instead of performing on a stage, it was like a house party, with people improvising conversations, a musician providing interludes, food and drink and a dog.

I took part as an actor in the inaugural party/show, and I got to wear my priest's uniform (I wanted to play a priest). It was pretty fun and interesting, but that's what one would expect in a living room full of fun and interesting people and a dog.

My favorite part ("What was YOUR favorite part?" Dora always asks at the end of the episode - I should mention I watch a lot of Dora the Explorer these days) was actually when we weren't taping. The two cameras had left the party to follow a scene that was taking place out on the street, and the musician Greg Peterson just started riffing on his guitar. It was very nice, very cinematic, to have music underscoring our conversations.

Anyway, the real challenge lies in Shannon working her movie magic and editing the entire evening so that it's coherent and good and magical. So ultimately the Let's Yes moment belongs to her. G'04 it, Shannon! And I hope the next BLT party is just as wonderful.

Let's (Not) Stab... Yet.

The rapier and dagger workshop was postponed due to lack of sign-ups.


Friday, April 3, 2009

For Mr. Arranciata...

I don't blog about everything Yes-related in my life. The stuff I keep quiet about is usually either too personal or stories that ended tragically. I want this blog to be a happy place, so I try to excise the bad.

One such example, unearthed for the first time, is my entry into the Disney Chief Magic Officer contest, made in early 2008 (thanks again, Bill and Heather and Cakey):

I didn't win. I'm still a bit disappointed about it. And I'm embarrassed how wooden I appear onscreen. I didn't wanna write about the contest beforehand and get everyone psyched, and I never wrote about it after I lost because that was teh suck.

Sure, there's a nugget of wisdom to be learned from this experience, so maybe it was blog-worthy, but what was the lesson? You win some, you lose some? Life sometimes sucks? That sometimes, no matter how much you want something, you'll lose? Fail? Bleh. Eff that ess, I say.

Another case in point: the waffle sandwich incident. The wounds are still too fresh. It just came to such a sad, bad end, with the dream of a lifetime supply of waffle sandwiches crumbling into the harsh reality of an unreasonable three-per-day limit and expiration date of 12/31/09 (apparently their definition of "lifetime" is nine months), that I'd rather put it all behind me and move on.

As Nico sings, "Please don't confront me with my failures, I had not forgotten them."