Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday: Ends All Posts With "Home Boy"

Letter from Camp:

Dear Blog,

This week was fun.  I had two shows, a rehearsal, a class, and today someone bought lunch for me!!  I've been real busy.  Last night's show went real good too.  I got to spray blood (fake!) all over some people and that was real good.  I'm happy tonight I don't have anything to do.  I want to watch TV, eat pizza, and hang out!  That sounds real good.

I miss you, blog.  Hope you're doing real good and I hope we can hang out more next week.  You're great.  I'll talk to you soon.

Bye,

-Nat

Simultanously Destroying and Restoring Your Faith in Humanity: What's not funny?  Attempted rape in the projects of Hunstville, AL.  What is funny?  Watching the guy at the one minute mark in the following video.



Antoine Dodson, you are great.  And you deserve your own television show.

"We Got Your T-shirt..."

I envision this show consisting of Antoine Dodson telling people why they are "so dumb."  I imagine this running during the early to mid-afternoons and becoming wildly successful.

Book it, Home Boy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

SHOW TONIGHT!! VIKINGS VS SERPENT!!

It's the last show in a string of shows for me over the past two weeks.  It's a fitting culmination entitled:

"The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent" as Performed by the Inmates of the Assylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Great Sea Serpent!

And I play the Sea Serpent.  Here's me, in an incredibly not-at-all-sweaty poncho:

The show is tonight at the NeoFuturarium, on the corner of Ashland and Foster in Chicago.  8:00 PM, tickets are $10 ($8 students with an ID) and can be bought by calling (773) 275-5255

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday: Registering to Vote in TN

Today's collection of nonsense will be cut short today.  Why?  Because I'm going to go play softball and then drink.  This is America.

You know what's great about America?  Theoretically, anybody can run for political office.

The downside of that?  Practically speaking, anybody can run for office.

Consider, for instance, the candidacy of Basil Marceaux for Governor of Tennessee:



I love just about everything about this video: I love that he calls himself BasilMarceaux.com; I love that he wants to get rid of "traffic stops"; I love that he wants us to say the pledge of allegiance to the Republic every morning when we come out and pray to God and say amen; I love that he instructs us to have a nice day twice.

He has a website too.  I swear it works; I've been there and it is gloriously incoherent and curiously entertaining.  You can try clicking here, but when last I attempted it wouldn't load.  Why?  Because the site is hosted by something called 'freesitenow.com,' which is probably not set up to handle the high traffic that this guy so justly deserves.

You might try visiting again later tonight, perchance before you drift off into slumber land.

Speaking of Softball, Chris from RvD wrote something funny on the blog about that and the Cubs.  Thank God somebody still writes on that thing; lord knows I haven't published anything there in a while.

Note to self, write something for next week.

Okay jackasses.  I'm going to go now.  If you need me, I'll be the one drunkenly passed out on the Lincoln Park softball fields.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Not To Get All "Good Ol' Days" On You, But...

I recently received the book ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ from my wonderful girlfriend – given to me likely in the hopes that I actually learn how to be funny – and I’ve been working my way through ever since. It’s basically about the lives of influential American comedians. It’s a big damned coffee table sized book. I’m working my way through the physical comedians of the Silent Movie era – Chaplin, Keaton, etc. – when I came across some quotes from Harold Lloyd.


Harold Lloyd is evidently not influential enough to warrant his own section of the book, but I had heard the name before a long time ago. I made my way to the YouTubes, typed in his name, and found this:



That's Harold Lloyd's "Safety Last."

This is amazing. Particularly given that it was made in 1923, before computers and before anyone really knew what the hell they were doing. Just the sheer amount of precision and physical ability and likely rehearsal necessary to pull something like that sequence off is staggering. When’s the last time you saw a comedy that required that kind of ability?

Anyway, felt like I needed to share.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wunderphone

It used to be you knew I was about to make a phone call from the creaking of my cell phone flipping open. A couple of buttons pushed, a cloud of dust and I was off. I lived in the Iron Age of crappy camera phones – after the Stone Ages of the Zack Morris phone and the Bronze Ages of phones you could actually carry around – I was obsolete and obstinate about it.


“Look at these kids,” I would say sternly, “with their photo cameras and their video camcorders and their interwebs and ‘apps’ and music all on the one phone! If I want a camera, I’ll buy a camera! If I want interwebs, I’ll steal it with my laptop! If I want apps I’ll have to figure out what the hell they are first! Music?! I’ll show you music; where’s my gramophone?” and on and on.

I may as well have been typing those words out on an old-fashioned black Remington typewriter from a cabin somewhere.

Well things have since changed.

For the last couple of months, I’ve grown tired of lugging my laptop to coffee shops and restaurants every time I wanted to hop on the interwebs. I’ve refused to get the whole cable/internet thing that everyone seems to have because I am (a) lazy, (b) prone to wasting huge amounts of time watching cable cooking shows, and (c) cheap with regards to my own personal living situation. So off I would run to Caribou to check email and do various other things one can’t do without an internet connection.

Meanwhile, my girlfriend had an upgrade available to her cellphone and she wanted to go check out what phones were available to her. She had been begging me for years to trade in my hopelessly obsolete phone for something less ancient. Despite this peer pressure I tagged along anyway, planning to scoff at the ridiculousness of these all-in-one pieces of technological tomfoolery.

As the sales guy was taking us through the different phones and various features, I heard a couple of words that shattered my fa├žade of indignantly backwards resistance: “Free mobile hotspot.”

Free mobile hotspot?! My ears perked up. Like Caribou? But on a phone? You mean there’s a magical device out there that you can hold in your hand that makes phone calls AND it allows your laptop to jump on the internet anytime you want to without lugging everything to a coffee house and they aren’t going to charge me extra for it?!

Friends, it’s true. Such a device exists. I did not cave right there on the spot and demand that the sales guy sell me one immediately. My pride would not let me. I had fought so hard to stay in that world where phones make phone calls and that’s all there is to it.

But over the next few days those words – Free Mobile Hotspot – kept popping up more and more in my consciousness. I began researching the phone. Then fantasizing about the phone. Then obsessing about the phone. Until finally, over a month later, I caved in.

E voila, Wunderphone was born.

I’ve only had the thing for a little over a week, but already I’m addicted. I can check sports scores any time I want! I can take pictures and they aren’t incredibly crappy! What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow? I don’t know. Phone, what do you think? I can read email as they come in and subsequently ignore it right away.  Next time someone passes along a “fact” that may or may not be true, I can check it right there. Immediately.

In short, I am becoming irritating. And quickly too.  The same woman who urged me to replace my old phone must contend with Wunderphone for time and attention.  I am not proud of this.  It is simply the way things are now.

I have not yet joined twitter. Old reticent xenophobic type-writer-using me is holding on to that very last shred of dignity. He’s trying to hold out for as long as he can. How long, though, before the siren call of sharing every banal moment of my life takes hold?

Wunderphone is calling me.  I have to go now.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sea Serpent Preview

So, RvD's The Saga of the Viking Women etc. opens/closes (I guess "happens" would be a good verb) a week from Thursday.  Joe took a video from last night's rehearsal with his MAGICPHONE, which can be found here.

I'm quite proud of the bit in the video because (a) I wrote the song, but (b) everyone else in the cast does such a good job of making the thing look and sound great.  As you can tell from the video, I spend the whole song looking out at the audience, so I miss all of the awesome stuff going on behind me.

Check out the link, and if you're free come check out the show next Thursday at the NeoFuturarium.

OH!  And CRASSUS happens tonight again!

"Come on, Geoff.  This is comedy.  You're not supposed to be sad!"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Will Pass on the Heart Attack Sandwich, Thank You

The weekend, baby; we’re almost there. I even had a short week, but with the heat and the resulting lack of quality sleep, I’m about ready for some no-prior-plans weekendy goodness.



There’s still time left on the clock, though, so let’s knock a couple of items out, shall we?


We can call today’s episode the ‘Faith in Humanity is Momentarily Restored’ episode.

A Bunless Sandwich? What, Are You Trying to Kill Us? Ladies and Gentlemen, KFC’s apocalypse of calories and fat known as the ‘Double Down’ has failed to sweep the nation by storm.

For those of you curious as to what the hell a double down is, you can find a picture on it from my original post about it here.

Thankfully, the general populace innately sensed that a sandwich without bread is not a sandwich. Yes, we may love our sausages wrapped in bacon and then covered in a delicious glaze of sugar, spice and fat, but even we have to draw the line somewhere. America, you’re not as fat and prone to poor decision making as the rest of the world believes.

A Quick Detour Into History!

The Earl of Sandwich and Baron Montagu sit at a table playing cards. The Earl of Sandwich rings a tiny bell. Enter Poncenby

EARL OF SANDWICH
Poncenby!

PONCENBY
Yes, my lord Earl of Sandwich

EARL OF SANDWICH
I fear I grow peckish, and yet I wish not to leave this rousing game of Go Fish I am ensconced in with my good friend, Baron Montagu.

PONCENBY
If you wish, I can have the chef prepare something for you. Mayhaps a crock of deepfried goose testicles would satiate your appetite?

EARL OF SANDWICH
No no no, you dumb plebe. That’s far too heavy. Instead, take a half pound of fried bacon, three types of cheese and some of that disgusting sauce we use to mask rancid meat and stick that betwixt two chicken breasts.  And deep fry those chicken breasts in batter and lard, for good measure!  Bring that to me post haste. And also, I wish to name this creation after myself.

PONCENBY
The ‘Sandwich’ sir?

EARL OF SANDWICH
No, you pile of dung! Call it the ‘Double Down.’ After my sexual habits.

BARON MONTAGU
I say, Early, that sounds rather delicious. Put be down for a Double Down.

EARL OF SANDWICH
Make that two, Poncenby.

PONCENBY
Of course.

Poncenby exits.

EARL OF SANDWICH
I daresay I’m licking my chops already.

BARON MONTAGU
Would you like a cigar whilst we wait for our tasty treats?

EARL OF SANDWICH
Why yes, that would be excellent.

Baron Montagu present the Earl of Sandwich with a cigar box. The Earl of Sandwich opens the box, revealing a clear bottle filled with an alcoholic beverage.

EARL OF SANDWICH
Zounds! A Smirnoff Ice! You have bested me, Baron Montagu!

BARON MONTAGUE
You have no choice but to fall to one knee and immediately consume this beverage in its entirety!

EARL OF SANDWICH
Alas!



And we’re back.

The Gulf of Mexico – Now With Less Oil! According to BP, that oil well that has been gushing since April has finally stopped. Of course, BP cautioned that this is the first step and that it’s possible depending on the pressure at that cap that there could be additional SHUT UP BP JUST LET US HAVE OUR GOOD NEWS ALREADY!

Of course some people, like RvD’s very own Chris Othic, refuse to accept any other explanation than the well ran out of oil.

And Finally, what better way to celebrate the end of the work week than with a visit to The Playground tonight. CRASSUS will be there! Songs will be sung, comedy sketches performed, and either laughter or tears will ensue.  Tonight at 10 for $10!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Late on the LeBron Thing, But Here Goes Anyway

Did anyone watch the ESPYs last night? I didn’t think so. Me neither.


It can be very easy to be tricked into believing something is incredibly important when, in fact, it is not at all important. Sports fall into this category. Entertainment does as well. I would include sketch comedy in this, but who am I kidding? Nobody thinks sketch comedy is important.

Where LeBron James decided (Miami) to go (Miami, I told you already) certainly qualified as something ultimately unimportant that was treated as gravely important (South Beach, Miami, to join two superstars already on the roster).

He ended up picking the Miami Heat, by the way. Don’t know if you all saw that coming.

I like sports; I like to watch them and I follow them. Sometimes I can be irritating about it. My poor girlfriend will attest to this.

But even I, who thinks it is incredibly important to play dress up and act like an ass in front of groups of people, will admit that some shit just isn’t that important.

Yes, whole industries have sprouted up covering Sports and Entertainment and Music, employing millions and millions of people devoted to dissecting every possible conversation and club appearance and court date etc etc, and where would those jobs go and what would those workers do if they weren’t following around LeBron James/Lindsay Lohan/Tiger Woods?

And yes, sometimes things can be construed to be good lessons for all of us about how to live our lives and be more like Drew Brees or forgiving like a certain pitcher from a certain baseball team that will not be mentioned here.

Fine.

But if you have convinced yourselves that the entire well being of your city hinges around the decision making process of a 25 year old with millions and millions of dollars who just so happens to be great at bouncing an orange rubber thing up and down a parquet wooden flat surface and then putting said rubber thing into a meshy thing that’s hanging above aforementioned flat surface then this is what happens. Meltdown.  In ridiculous fonts.

And if you happen to be a 25 year old who has been fawned over and paid handsomely for your ball bouncing abilities since high school, then of course you’re going to hold an hour long egomaniacal circle-jerk love fest to announce your intention to dominate the entire world by getting together with a bunch of other really talented rich people and putting said ball into aforementioned net more times than everyone else who gets paid millions of dollars to do the same thing and BEHOLD THE MERCHANDISE!

It's all about the shoes, bitches.

LeBron has not invented a cure for cancer and is only sharing it with one American city and for the love of GOD COME SAVE US FROM CANCER, LEBRON! This is just basketball.

Dear children: LeBron is not a hero. Sports stars and movie stars are not heroes. Heroes are people who are revered for figuring out how to do something good for large amounts of people at the cost of their own well being, not for doing something trivial for their own benefit.  There's nothing wrong with making a buck off of dunking over some fools, but don't pretend like it's an act of heroism.

Dear Cleveland: you don’t need a superstar to win your champion. I remember a certain team from 2004 who were pieced together with a bunch of castoffs and given no chance to get past the first round or two of the playoffs but managed to topple both Kobe and Shaq.

Dear ESPN: shut up already.

Dear people: it’s okay to get a little carried away. Sports are fun, and a good escape from actual important things. Just keep it in proportion, huh?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Point of order: Pluggery

Because what is a blog good for if not to plug one’s wares?


I have a busy couple of weeks coming up here, and I would like you readers (all five of you) to be a part of it. In chronological order:

Friday 7/16 @ 10:00 PM – Grafitti at the Playground. Geoff and I are trying out some CRASSUS sketches. 20 minutes of funny voices and songs.

Tuesday 7/20 @ 7:30 PM – SketchTest at Fizz Bar. More CRASSUS stuff.

Tuesday 7/27 @ 7:30 PM – SketchTest at Fizz Bar. Even more CRASSUS stuff. A goodly amount of CRASSUS stuff this month. You can find out more specific information at the CRASSUS blog.

Thursday 7/29 @ 8:00 PM – The Saga of the Viking Women, etc. at the NeoFuturarium. This is the crazy show I’ve been working on with Joe and RvD for the NeoFuturist’s film fest. Joe already has a little write up and a picture of yours truly in a super-comfortable and not-at-all sweat inducing poncho over at the RvD blog.

Add rehearsals, voice over classes and various other things and I’ve got myself a lack of free time which, truth be told, is fine with me. Hooray for doing things and being busy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Okay That Was Fun

Begin boring diary-type post now:

Sorry it's been absolute radio silence around these parts the past couple of days (although pickings have been slim for a good couple of months now, but I'll apologize for that another time when I can concentrate more on the necessary self-flaggelation) but I have been on a mini vacation.

A good buddy Ben - my college roommate and then housemate for the entire time I was in college - got hitched on Friday, and I felt it was my responsibility to show up, wish them well, and then proceed to slather myself in manhattans and food while jerking around the dance floor like a lunatic getting a dose of electroshock therapy.

The real victim in all of that was my poor girlfriend, who had to suffer the constant embarrasment of me "having a good time."

Anyway, Saturday was our 'Day in the D' - we took the family down to Comerica Park and watched a certain baseball team which shall not be named for fear of the dread Sports Curse.  Suffice it to say that the correct team won, and then we celebrated with Greek food.

I took this picture from my new Wunderphone (which has replaced my old phone that was made of slate and transmitted voice via pigeon) of the lovely Detroit skyline:

You'll notice that nothing is aflame.

Sunday the lady and I wandered around Clarkston and the area doing some shopping.  Monday we stopped through Ann Arbor on our way home.  And then last night I had rehearsal for the Saga of the Viking Women, etc.  Which went great.

So, what I'm trying to say is that I'm due for something horrible and depressing to come my way some time later this week.  I guess that's what work is for.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LeBron LeShmon! Come see our show!

I was going to fill this space today with some good old fashioned snarkery about LeBron James (for those of you interested, "LeBron" is French for "The Bron," and I hear he's looking for championships/money/fame/attention attention OH GOD GIVE ME  YOUR ATTENTION) but instead of that, I will share just a nice simple little mention from Time Out Chicago:

In an article about Dinosaurs in Chicago:

After a day of searching for reptilian rebels, slow it down with some good old-fashioned dino-themed entertainment. Opt either for Jurassic-sized rock when chameleon cover band Tributosaurus plays dinosaur-inspired songs August 4 at Martyrs’ (3855 N Lincoln Ave, 773-404-9494, martyrslive.com; 7pm, 10pm; $15) or for laughs when sketch group Robot vs. Dinosaur presents a live interpretation of the 1957 film The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent July 29 at the Neofuturarium (5153 N Ashland Ave; 773-275-5255, neofuturists.org; 8pm; $10, students and seniors $8).

BOOM.  PLUG'D!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Grammar for Spammars

It's the first day back to work after a long weekend which naturally means that I am swimming in it - and in this instance 'it' would not be 'chocolate' or 'gold coins' but instead a substance not at all pleasant.  So that kind of sucks.

Hooray for America.

Anyway, I thought I would share this little piece of junk email that graced my filter this morning:

I always thought, if the whole 'job that shackles me to a desk but is of a confusing Byzantine nature that it is impossible for me to explain in detail anything related to it whatsoever to any potentially sympathetic listeners' thing didn't work out, I could become a proof reader for this type of junk mail:

From: Williams Simom [williamssimon0090@ozu.es]
To: (me)
Subject: have been diagnosed with cancer

Dear friend,I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer .It has defiled all forms of medical treatment and I have only few weeks to live so I want you to assist me Distribute my USD$7million to charities. I have set aside 20% for your help, if you can to handle this project please get back to me



Williams Simon


In these instances, I like to practice what feedback I might give.  For example:

"Hi Williams Simon,

First, I want to say it was a pleasure reading your spam email.  It was short and, though oddly intimate for an email coming out of the blue from a completely unknown person, to the point.  I do have a couple of suggestions to make it a little more legible to your intended audience.

First, before we get started, you realize that your first name is a recognizable last name and that your last name is a recognizable first name, correct?  Don't know if your parents decided to play a life trick on you by naming you 'Williams Simon' or if that's a typo for 'Simon Williams' but whatever the case may be I thought I would make sure you were aware that your name sounds fake.

Also, it doesn't help that your email calls you "Williams Simom."  Might want to get that straightened out with your email provider.  I hope you speak Spanish better than English.

Anyway, kudos on picking a disease that actually exists, although you should be more consistent with your capitalization - 'Esophageal cancer' - I would recommend both are caps or both are lower case.

I don't think you mean 'defiled all forms of medical treatment' as that sounds vaguely sexual.  Defied maybe?  Deflowered?  Depends on which way you want to go with the sexual/nonsexual intent of the email.  I'm going to assume you meant 'defied' since 'sexual' and 'esophageal cancer' don't normally go together.

There are a couple of issues in the next sentence, so I'm just going to correct it and you can copy/paste it into your email: "I have only a few weeks to live so I want you to assist me in distributing my $7 million to charities"

Don't use infinitive verbs if you can avoid it: 'if you can to handle this' would read better as 'if you can handle this.'  This way, you sound less like a caveman and more like an actual person.  Also, if you are using an 'if/then' form in your sentence then you should either include the word 'then' or place a comma where 'then' should be.

Also, I'd recommend changing the subject of your email to something that actually does include capital letters, does not start in the middle of the sentence and doesn't include the word 'cancer.'

Here is your corrected email:

From: Simon Williams
To: Sucker
Subject: Spamming Opportunity

Dear friend,

I have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.  It has defied all forms of medical treatment and I have only a few weeks to live.  I want you to assist me in distributing my $7 million to charities.  I have set aside 20% for your help.  If you can handle this project, please get back to me.

Simon Williams

I wish you much luck in your future scamming (provided of course anyone gets over the incredibly personal nature of an email coming from someone of whom your intended audience probably has no prior knowledge) and look forward to receiving your check.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday: YAY AMERICA Please Let Us Go Home Early Work Please

Quick, give us some e-phemera before the long weekend begins!

THE OATMEAL, funny internet cartoons.  This one is about owning an Apple product.

ALSO, 'Tea Party Jesus' puts the words of conservative talk show hosts into the mouth of our Lord and Savior.  Yeah, people of the extreme conservative bent might not find this funny, but you comedy nerds out there should appreciate a good clash of context.

Come on.  Even you have to admit, that's kind of funny.

ALSO ALSO, a commercial about soccer and rugby.



YAY AMERICA!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Observations of a Young Family at Dinner

Sitting at Pompei last night (it's a restaurant in Chicago) eating a piece of delicious four cheese and tomato pizza and doing a little rewriting for some sketched Geoff and I are working on - I'm the creepy guy sitting in the corner on his laptop; hello; don't talk to me; I'm eating - and there's a family of four a few seats down from me.

Nice looking set of parents; Dad's probably a sales rep in his late thirties, Mom's wearing a Northwestern Alumnus T-shirt.  They have a little girl with her younger brother, maybe two years apart in age.

And they are fighting up a storm.

Under normal circumstances, I would be irritated.  But my day at work kind of sucked ass and everything else in comparrison seems tolerable, so I just kind of listen in on such pieces of wisdom as:

"People do not like getting poked in the face.  People never like getting poked in the face, okay honey?  Don't ever do that, okay?"

There's a constant shifting of seating position at the table, like the shifting front line of a battlefield.  Mom grabs the daughter and sits her on her lap.  Dad tries to distract the son, who is crying because daughter just got done poking him in the face.

Attack, advance, retreat, regroup.

"That's it; sit over there.  Over there.  Over.  Away from your sister.  Can you sit over there, buddy?"

Before long, reasoning and diplomacy break down and Dad just switches seats with son.  Son and daughter are now on completely opposite sides of the table, where they can't get at each other.  No more blood shed, no poking and pushing and prodding.

So, with no physical outlet for aggression, it's time for the war of words - jumbled kiddy words mixed with squeals and grunts - to commence.

Parenting must be like being the United Nations.