Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Let's Aruba!

One of the secret things I did last May was help make this video, written by my wonderfully talented friend Crystal.

"Help" originally meant being an extra (you can see me glancing worriedly over my shoulder for a moment), but it ended up being a little bit more.

You see, shooting stuff outdoors in NYC is never easy. I believe technically you can shoot on the street without a permit as long as you aren't using a tripod, but if a cop wants to hassle you, you're gonna have to shut down. Sucks, but such is life.

Anyway, we were shooting in a private residence community which has even stricter standards. Some security guards came by and we were quickly stopped. Crystal went off to the building manager to try and get a permit (which I doubted would happen), and I was the phone liason between her and the crew.

During that time, we got a lot of rehearsing done so the commercial could be shot in a single take (and it was! Well done, everyone!), but if it were up to me, I'd wait until there were no guards in sight and just start shooting. Rehearsing doesn't look that different from the real thing, you know?

It takes me back to my own days of "guerilla" filmmaking, filming at 8 a.m. before the crowds arrived, everyone dressed up in medieval gear and battling one another, hoping that no tourists or cops would chance upon that particular part of Central Park. Good times.

The day ended without a permit (yikes!) and the crew deciding to risk it anyway. We got in three takes before the rain started pouring, and I'd kind of like to see the final take with Joe screaming amidst the thunder.

This is the sort of stuff I love doing.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Let's Gerbilz!

So this weekend we moved the gerbilz into a new tank. Now instead of living separately (Chewie and Rowdy in their duplex next door to Swiper's lonely mansion), they'll be together in one big happy family!

As you can see, Rowdy loves it (and the camera). He's waving hi!

Nah, he's just scratching at the glass. That's one of their new favorite hobbies, the other being chewing/scratching at some tape that's in there. They're also partial to sleep.

It's a tricky thing, gerbilz. You have to acclimate them over the course of a week. So right now there's a screen splitting the tank down the middle, we keep 'em separated, and every few hours, we switch the side they're on so they get used to each others' scents. Then in seven days, they should be comfortable and won't fight. At which point they'll be ohana. Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind... or forgotten.

Anyway, you can receive updates about their very exciting lives on Rowdy's twitter.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Let's Half-Blood Prince!

So while talking to Jen365 about plans for the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince premiere, I said to her, "Agreed, I don't need to see this at midnight."

But then I immediately thought, "...Or do I?"

- Haven't been to a midnight release in, well... maybe ever.
- I'm highly suggestible, so if an idea pops into my head, I usually want to act on it.
- People might be dressed in costume.
- The audience will be full of people who appreciate the film properly. Not a lot of talking or asshattery.
- I don't have to wake up early the next morning, so the late night thing is no big deal.

- I don't really like the Harry Potter movie franchise, so what do I care?
- If I went and saw it by myself at midnight, I'd be honor-bound to go the next day with Jen and company, and I highly doubt I'll want to see this movie again.
- Crowds make me nervous.
- As I said to another group of HP movie-goers, "I don't have to see this movie, Dottie. I lived it."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Let's Hogwarts!

This is happening!

The Hogwarts Improvisation Society

Very excited!

Professor Londonderry Kirkus
Charms Professor
Head of Slytherin House

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Let's Yes & Know!

So I spent most of last week in Florida for my brother's wedding, and despite all the hours spent at the pool, my favorite part was reuniting with an old, old pal: Mr. Mystery.

Do people remember this guy? Did people get these books when they were kids? Are there any horse socks? Is anyone listening to me?

For the uninitiated, these are amusements you can buy at the airport or at a rest stop to keep the kids occupied while traveling. At least, that's where I've only ever seen them sold. And they come with an "invisible ink" pen that lets you do all the puzzles and stuff inside.

Whenever we'd go to Disney World (a four-hour drive that always began at, like, 5 a.m.), my brother would always get one. I assume I didn't partake because a) I was too young to do the puzzles, b) Reading in the car would get me sick, or c) I couldn't read, but it was fun to vicariously enjoy them.

The cover was so mysterious! Mr. Mystery, what a name! What excitement! And since I couldn't read, the games of Hangman and "Find the Twins" were ever so much more intriguing.

So while waiting for the flight back to the Big Apple (which, of course, was delayed), I picked up one of these to enjoy with Sarah.

And let me tell you, these are definitely puzzles for kids. Too easy! And there's not enough variety. Eleven types of puzzles are too few for a superior mind such as mine (and Sarah's).

"Fleet" is just another name for Battleship. "Hangman" is weird and dumb when you have SIXTEEN tries to get a word like "TESTIMONY" or "WARRANT." "Maze" is a maze, and "Find the Twins" is kind of fun, but disappointing that if you get it right your reward is just learning their names. And their names are things like "Charles" and "Akers," instead of something punny related to their profession (in this case, a Sherlock Holmes lookalike).

I will say this, though, I DID enjoy the riddles...
Mr. Mystery likes mystery, but not intrigue.
Mr. Mystery likes deduction, but not logic.
Mr. Mystery likes exploring, but not discovery.
Mr. Mystery likes solutions, but not problems.
Mr. Mystery likes detectives, but not investigations.
Mr. Mystery likes policemen, but not stations.
Mr. Mystery likes underdogs, but not dogfights.
Mr. Mystery likes hideaways, but not retreats.
Mr. Mystery likes patrolmen, but not beats.
Do you know what Mr. Mystery likes?

Too easy! But this one did give me pause.
Mr. Mystery likes suitcases, but not suits.
Mr. Mystery likes refrigerators, but not ice.
Mr. Mystery likes saws, but not wood.
Mr. Mystery likes briefcases, but not paperwork.
Mr. Mystery likes ovens, but not baking.
Mr. Mystery likes hammers, but not nails.
Mr. Mystery likes screwdrivers, but not screws.
Mr. Mystery likes skillets, but not frying.
Mr. Mystery likes paddles, but not canoeing.
Do you know what Mr. Mystery likes?

Well, I couldn't possibly solve this mystery. CAN YOU?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Let's Spaced!

As part of my never-ending quest to watch good TV, I just finished Spaced, that British TV show with Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, a movie so good I saw it in the movie theater... twice!).

For obvious reasons, I always thought this show was set in outer space (I had it confused with Hyperdrive, which stars Nick Frost), so it was a little weird getting adjusted to a sitcom about two roommates.

Anyway, what a nice show! As Daisy says toward the end of the series, "They say the family of the 21st century is made up of friends, not relatives. Then again, maybe that's bollocks." Well, I don't think it's bollocks. These characters were a surprisingly sweet little family of friends, and during the 14 episodes of the series, I really grew attached to them.

One thing I'll say about the British, though, they do like to make a short series. And sometimes that's for the best. I'd rather end it short and sweet and go away with a happy memory of Tim and Daisy, go out on a high note, rather than see it played out past its welcome.

Also, it looks like they had a fun time creating this, and that's something I always find inspiring. There's nothing better than making stuff with people that make you laugh, you know, and if I can one day do something like this, then my time here on your planet will not have been in vain.

So now I'm looking for something else to occasionally watch, especially since summer turns network TV into a dead zone. I'm thinking of re-doing The Singing Detective, since I think about it all the time, or maybe exposing Sarah to Red Dwarf, since that's such a near and dear part of my youth (up through Series V. After that, it lost a little bit of its luster.).

In other news, my brother is getting married this weekend.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Let's Take a Bite Out of Crime!

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny Sunday and I'm walking along the very busy streets of Manhattan when I witness a crime.

Since it's so nice out, the sidewalks are crowded. And there are the usual many vendors hawking purses and bootleg DVDs and pictures of, like, Looney Tunes characters and President Obama, but then I notice one guy running a three-card monte table.

And I am shocked and appalled like grandma at a burlesque show. Believe it or not, I've never come across this in my six years of living in New York City. And I'm like, "Are you serious? In broad daylight? On 34th Street? Have you no decency? Are you crazy? Is this 1988? Did Giuliani never exist?"

What gets my goat is that three-card monte is CHEATING. It's a con. It's always a con. And that's not right.

Also, it worries me to witness this crime is done so blatantly. It makes me think of The Tipping Point and how this is yet another sign that the city is slipping down the slope to trouble (the main sign that worries me is the growing number of vacant shops in Manhattan).

Something must be done to stop this. For the good of the city.

My first thought is to fuck with the guy and expose him as a cheating, lying con (it's not too hard if you know the tricks of the game). Harry Anderson of Night Court fame used to do this in New Orleans, and as a result would get the shit kicked out of him.

But, unlike Harry Anderson, I have a strong streak of cowardice in me (also, no health insurance and I've got my brother's wedding next weekend so I can't show up with a busted face), and unlike the crazy boombox guy, this card dealer looks big enough, strong enough, and sane enough to give me a pounding... even on a crowded 34th Street.

So I do the next best thing: I call 311. This is one of two times I've had to do this since moving here (the first was when a crazy man took up residence at a bus stop), and, surprisingly, they quickly transfer me to 911 - who whoulda thunk illegal gambling constitutes an emergency?

I describe the guy and the location, can't ID any of his confederates (the table just got too crowded too quickly, so I couldn't pinpoint who was winning the games and who might be picking any pockets), and then wait.

Hand protectively clamped over my wallet, I pass by the table again. It's still going strong, HUGE crowd of people, and seriously, do any of them really believe this game is on the up and up? I cross the street to watch the cops bust this guy.

But they never show. 20 minutes later, the guy hustles off. He pats someone on the shoulder and disappears. I briefly think about tailing the guy, but what's the point? Also, I'm not Batman.

Very disappointing ending, and I head to the subway, paranoid that his confederates are gonna follow me and beat me up. Now I'm just paranoid that he's gonna read this blog and get me.

I hate everything.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Let's (Seriously) Never Burger King

A couple of things happened recently that had me burning with rage, all at the Burger King. And I thought, "If those bastards want a war, they messed with the wrong person. I'll show them! I'll show them all!" and almost considered going on an all-out Internet crusade against the frame-broiled effers before realizing that's what a crazy person does. So instead I took a deep breath and I got real high and I screamed from the top of my lungs, "What's goin' on?!?!", all in the metaphorical sense of this blog.

1) A few weeks after my first complaint, BK sent me a "Have It Your Way" card, along with a very contrite and nice message about quality standard and how they're concerned and etc., etc., etc.

However, the card was a farce. $3 is not enough to have it my way, or indeed, any way. All I wanted was an acceptable and edible fish sandwich - a reasonable request which they have chosen to ignore - and then they gave me this slap in the face, as if to say, "Hey, asshole, we totally want your business but we'll send you a gift certificate that won't let you even buy the frakkin' sandwich. So give us 49 more cents!"

Seriously, it's not even a refund, it's a partial refund, for food that tastes like garbage can.

2) So I called them back. Yes, I did. And the lady seemed disinterested and explained, "Well, you never requested a refund. We just sent that card as a courtesy." Some courtesy! So I said I'd like a full refund and they have yet to send it to me.

3) Speaking of which, I am gonna call them RIGHT NOW to ask about it. So for the rest of this blog, I'll be on hold with pre-recorded pieces of Burger King trivia. (Nine minuters later...) OK, actually, that person who took my call was very nice and said she'd send in a special request to get that taken care of right away.

"How much of a refund were you expecting?" she asked.

"At LEAST seven dollars," I said.

4) So last night I pulled an all-nighter doing some crazy freelance captioning work (whoa, mama, I'm in the money because graveyard shift plus double time plus day-of bonus equals new Vespa, only not really). Now I used to do the graveyard shift when I first moved to NYC, and when I worked for the paparazzi company we would do a 24-hour shift, basically, for the Academy Awards and other big events, so it's a dance I've done before.

It's never easy. Your body goes through the change. And I felt all the old feelings, the loss of body temperature, the urge to cry in the restroom, the feeling that tomorrow we'll go swimming in some swank LA pool and this'll all be over, even the belief that "Geez, mom and dad are gonna wake up soon and go to work - how did I stay up all night playing Doomtown?" But it wasn't the worst thing I've ever had to do.

But when I went home, the one thing I wanted (since I hadn't eaten in 12 hours... nor used the bathroom) was a decent breakfast. And I love fast food breakfasts! I do, I admit it. They get me psyched. Mm, boy.

But all the local bagel places were still closed at 6:45 a.m. for some reason and McDonald's is too far away and this stupid Burger King is RIGHT BY MY HOUSE and I'm like, "Well, they can't screw up breakfast, can they?"

Yes, they can.

I should've ordered the pancakes or the French toast sticks, but I decided to try the chicken biscuit and the Croissan'wich, because why not, I am brave and need protein. I keep losing weight, no matter how hard I try, each week I weigh less and less, and maybe this will put some meat on my bones.

Chicken biscuit, while not actively bad, had the fun side effect of making orange juice taste like radioactive juice. And sometimes that's a part of breakfast, right? Actually, no. On its own, to be honest, I was fine with the chicken biscuit, but if it ruins the taste of liquids, SOMETHING IS WRONG. Right? I don't know, and should immediately go to KFC to see if it's a chicken thing.

As for the Croissan'wich... In theory, this should be delicious. I love a good bacon or sausage egg and cheese on a croissant. Croissants are good. Croissants plus breakfast stuffs should go together like peanut butter and jelly, but instead this was like some horrible mutation, the Tokka or Rahzar of breakfast sandwiches, if you will. Maybe the cheese was spoiled. It tasted wrong. Cursed. If there were an evil twin to cheese, this would be it. And I don't understand why, they are using processed cheese-flavored material so it shouldn't be all effed up, but it totally ruined the rest of the sandwich.

In a word: inedible.

And that's it, jerks. Seriously, never again.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Let's End of the World!

I'm in this show! It's tonight! It's gonna be a lot of fun!

I don't take a lot of classes these days, but when I saw Mr. Will Hines was doing a class on the End of the World, I had to sign up, unemployment be damned.

And seriously, this class has been a lot of fun. I'm sorry that it's over, but glad that we're about to start a four-week run showing the apocalypse in all its glory. Plus, I get to wear my yellow pants.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Let's LOLCakey!

Somehow Cakey got on ICanHasCheezburger.

I feel like we've finally hit the big time.

Fun Fact: The second most popular caption for this pic is "In Soviet Russia, cake eats you!" Somewhere up in Heaven [meaning Branson, Missouri], Yakov Smirnoff is smiling.

Let's Sightseeing!

As a gentleman of leisure, I realized I ought to start really enjoying this wonderful city that I live in, and not in the manner of stealing boomboxes from crazy people. What I mean is seeing all the unique sights that New York has to offer, so this weekend I did two such things.

The New York Aquarium
Friday! Coney Island! Birthday celebrations! Sounds like a sure-fire recipe for success, but our outdoor antics were thwarted by the rain. However, retreat was not an option (Coney Island is an hour-plus ride on the subway, and it's not a journey one takes lightly), and after enjoying several drinks, we weren't going to let a little rain spoil Ari's birthday.

What to do? Why, the New York Aquarium. Though I've been to Coney Island several times, I'd never been there, and I do love anything with animals. Doesn't everybody? It instantly turns me into a much younger version of myself, which isn't saying a lot.

The rain kept the crowds away, which made for prime viewing, and I had to remind myself that I was in mixed company, so I couldn't run around screaming constantly.

Though I love the Bronx Zoo, it can be overwhelming, and so I do appreciate the smaller New York animal things (like the Central Park Zoo or the Prospect Park Zoo). Here we got to see penguins eating (including one unwelcome visitor - see if you can spot him)...

Otters, jellyfish, seahorses, an octopus, seals (or "water dogs," as they are known in Korea), and a surprisingly big walrus (sadly, no masturbating walrus, which I was very much hoping to see).

I should elaborate on that last part. Betsy had told me there's a teenage male walrus who likes to do that deed constantly, while staring through the window at the human guests. It's some sort of weird dominance thing, and also he's going through that phase. So the kids find it funny because they don't know what he's doing, just moving his big flippers in some unusual way, but then all of a sudden there's a milky explosion, and that really disturbs the parents. I really wanted to see this, more for the people's reactions than for the actual sight, but that particular walrus wasn't out and about. Such is life.

The Cloisters
The perfect complement to wet animals is, of course, medieval art, and so the next day I visited the Cloisters. According to wiki, the Cloisters is a "branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to the art and architecture of the European Middle Ages." Whatever, it looks like the Scarlet Monastery from World of Warcraft, and that's enough for me.

Now I've been around the Cloisters a lot, because they hold the annual Medieval Festival in the same park, but I'd never gone inside. Just one of those many things you never get around to doing until you realize your time is short and you'd better get around to doing it before you're in another world, another life. So this weekend, we made it happen.

Why did I not go before?! It's full of amazing medieval stuff - unicorn tapestries (which I did not photograph, even without a flash, out of respect for the faded fabrics), crazy tomb effigies, reliquaries, statues of monsters and dogs, something that I am convinced was a magic wand, all sorts of stuff that comes straight out of an RPG and is right up my alley.

Usually art museums get me antsy (I don't really know how to appreciate art), but here I was in hog heaven, just taking close-up photos of all the creepy faces. It must've gotten annoying for my companions. But at least I kept my voice down.

Look at this face! Creepy, right? Imagine if it suddenly came to life. That's what I like to think about. I also like to imagine the history behind everything - some person made this, I believe it housed the skull of a saint (can you believe that?!) and now in another world, another life, it's freaking me out. I love it.

I took literally a million pictures at the Cloisters, and I can't publish them all (although here is a link to my flickr set), but there's one particular thing that bears sharing:

This is a stained glass window (there's probably a more accurate term) of three apes building a table. One of my favorite mysteries from history, we'll never know what compelled the artist to design such a scene - is it a folktale or an allegory that we've forgotten about in this modern world, or was he like me, simply a man who thought it would be funny to draw three apes building a table?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Let's Surprise Wedding Reception!

This is one of those secret things I didn't want to mention last month, because it wasn't my surprise to spoil: Improv Everywhere's Surprise Wedding Reception.

A really good time and a really great mission! Even though I've been a longtime supporter of Improv Everywhere, this was the first time I've ever been able to do a mission (life just always hands me conflicting schedules). So when I got the email from Charlie about being a guest at this reception, I had to do it.

And it was so nice! Tons of Let's Yes moments everywhere, from Charlie inventing IE and creating all these missions to the happy couple's response when offered an impromptu wedding reception. This sort of thing is right up my alley. Everyone was psyched.

I like how the groom said, "We're cynical New Yorkers so this is hard to believe," because in my experience, and maybe this is just the world I choose to live in, stuff like this happens all the time. There's so many wonderful people who want to add a little wonder and excitement and just want to increase the psyched-ness of the world... Even the biker Vikings who threaten to beat up yuppies are great. I really love New York. For every example I see of sucky crapitude, there's always three amazing things to make up for it.

My favorite moment: An onlooker who had nothing to do with the mission or the marriage remarked (and she meant this as a compliment), "Those are some fat-ass presents." And they were!

Many happy returns, Frank and Raff. And many more amazing missions, Improv Everywhere! And many more moments of wonder, world!