Wednesday, February 18
Friday, September 19
Cameron’s Annekenstein Sketch
Friday, July 4
Friday, February 7
At the beginning of a run, especially during dress rehearsal, you are positive that at least one of your quick-changes cannot possibly be done - there simply isn't enough time to make that change. Rather than alter the running order or rewrite something to give you the necessary time, you simply have to find a way to make it work. You figure it out. "If I already wear my nun's leggings underneath my cowboy denims and chaps, then that'll save a few seconds" - that sort of thing. And by the end of the run of shows, usually, you are so adept at making those seemingly-impossible changes that you probably fit a pee break in there too.
After performing 7 years in Annekenstein sketch shows and 7 years in Sketch-22 sketch shows, I have a pretty good grasp of what is possible and not possible when it comes to quick-changes. In the last few years, I've taken to writing up a list - explaining out exactly how my costume changes need to happen, and where my various costume pieces and my props are supposed to be back stage.
I just found the list I used for the latest sketch show I was involved in, A Very Sketch Christmas. There were a few very quick changes for me (for all of us), but all were manageable. In the second act, in order to make it work, I had to wear pajama pants under a heavy pair of donkey leggings underneath a shepherd's robe. It got pretty warm up in there.
Anyway, I get a kick out of a couple of items on this list and so that's the main reason for this post.
Thursday, January 30
One of those things I do not know a lot about is Comics.
When I was young, I read the Archie comics, some war comics (Sgt. Somethingorother?), and the odd Weird Tales comic here and there. I never had a collection, nor wanted one, and I was never one to wait eagerly, impatiently, excitedly, for the next issue of WhateverMan to come out. Comics were a casual part of my childhood, and when my childhood ran its course, so too, did my desire to read them.
I think I am a month too old (really, though: years too old) to have been part of the PEI resurgence of the Comic Book as art form or literature (or was it simply a surgence?) in, I'm guessing, the late-'80s, early-'90s. Could have been earlier, could have been later, I'm not good with dates.
So, when friends who were younger than me, or contemporary-aged friends who were hipper than me, began to read comics and graphic novels, I was aware but not interested. As the popularity, and culture-significance of this Comic Book World grew, I remained ignorant. And, at times, as it is with my personality, willfully-ignorant.
I read The Watchmen series sometime around 1990, probably. I enjoyed it. I am, and have been, aware of, and have read, a scant few other series and publications since then, but am woefully ignorant. When I am in the proximity of conversations about comic books, I generally zone out, due to my immense lack of knowledge of the topic(s) at hand.
All that to say: I am not in my comfort zone when I walk into a comic book shop.
I have a friend, Dylan Miller, who owns a comic book shop: Lightning Bolt Comics I've always felt the desire to support him and his small-business enterprise (and feel guilty for not doing so), but a couple of things have kept me from doing so.
The first is (was) the fact that for so long, I was consumed by credit card debt. The first 20 years of my adult life, credit card debt owned me. A number of years ago, my wife and I decided to eradicate that debt from our lives, and so we went on a serious spending freeze. Not that we were spending much on what I'll call frivolous things, but we put a halt on practically all non-essential purchasing, and put all our money towards paying off the debt. And finally, a year or two ago, we succeeded. We are debt-free.
However, one of the side-effects of such a purchase-purge, is that now I am very much the type of person who hardly spends any money. Like, I spend practically nothing. I find it difficult to justify spending money on new underwear, that type of level of miserliness. I have become a living example of the Scottish SkinFlint cliche.
The second thing is, when I go into Dylan's store, I feel a bit (a lot) like an illiterate in a library. Imposter!! Looking at the items offered is a bit like looking at things that don't make sense in my world. It's all a jumble of "I have no idea what I'm looking at, or for", and it's a bit overwhelming and uncomforting. This, I realize and admit, is a problem of mine. I should be "who fucking cares", but I'm not.
So, for a long time, I wasn't purchasing anything, and Dylan's store was one of the many that didn't see support from me. Yet, now I am beginning to see a light, and, with a bit of a pleasant balance showing in our bank accounts, I am tentatively putting my toe in the Superfluous Purchase Waters.
I made the decision to buy something! This may seem like a minor thing to you and your lifestyle, but to me it was a bit more epic. Furthermore, I decided that the first place I'd go is to Lightning Bolt and support my fellow Popalopalot. Trouble is, I didn't know what I wanted, didn't know how to go about finding out what I might want.
Then I hit upon an idea: why not ask an expert what I might enjoy. Dylan knows me a little (I'm a hard fellow for anyone to know, I know), definitely knows his stuff, and it might be a fun little adventure. So I asked Dylan to pick out something from his store, around $30 (I know, big spender right!), that he thinks I might like, and I'd buy it, no questions asked. Dabbling my toe in the water, you know.
And this is what Dylan picked out for me. This is what I bought.
I had seen the movie Ghost World, based on Daniel Clowes comic, but had to be reminded of the connection.
So, I read it and really liked it.
Yeah, that's a long way to go just to say "I bought a book".
Friday, January 10
"It totally goes against what I expect from myself, but what the hey!" she said, and started on her way.
By the time she made her way to the outskirts of town, it was almost dawn.
At the town limits sign, the lady cat was observed by a bird who was sitting on a telephone pole.
"Now this," said the bird, "goes totally against what is ingrained in my psyche, but I think I'm gonna go talk to that cat." The bird flew down and landed in front of the cat, who was momentarily stopped to clean her face.
"Do I need to be afraid of you?" asked the bird.
"Not unless you plan on doing me harm," replied the cat.
Mutually deciding all was good, the two took the rest of the day getting to know each other, as they wandered beyond the town and into the woods. After hearing about the cat's previous cozy living arrangements, the bird stated he couldn't understand why she would ever give up such comforts.
"Comfort doesn't equate to interesting," she answered.
The two spent the next few days exploring the world together. They came upon a beautiful lake, and decided to rest there for a while.
"I'd flown over this lake a couple of times," said the bird, "on my down down south or back from down south, but I never thought to stop here. It's really quite lovely!"
The cat didn't understand the concept of "down south" but didn't let on, and just nodded in agreement about the loveliness of the lake.
The bird decided a fun thing to do would be to pick up stones in his beak - as big as he could carry - and then fly over the lake and drop them. He loved to watch the stones splash and break the calmness of the lake water. While he was doing this, the cat was attempting to catch fish by the lakeside, but just wasn't fast enough.
"It's your middle-class upbringing," said the bird, landing beside the cat. "You can't catch a fish because you never needed to catch a fish."
"Maybe we could catch a fish together," suggested the cat. "You pick up the biggest stone you can, hover over the side of the lake, here where it's shallow, and when you see a fish drop the stone on the deeper side of the lake. The surprise will force the fish to swim closer to the shore, and I'll be there waiting to pounce."
"Sounds like a plan!"
It took them several attempts, and even more hours, to accomplish their task, but finally, the plan worked perfectly. They caught a fish and sat themselves down to enjoy the spoils of their efforts.
"This is the best meal I ever had", said the cat.
"Because you caught it yourself. That's why. Maybe, for the first time ever in your life, you earned it. That's why it tastes so good."
"Well, I did have help!"
"We do make a pretty good team! Who'd have thunk a bird and a cat could work together to achieve such greatness!"
As they continued to feast on the fresh fish - the fish they caught together - they began to make plans on other ways they could work together to make their lives infinitely better and full of purpose. They got very excited about the prospect of finding a barn somewhere, because such a barn would no doubt be filled with mice and rats, for the cat, and also grains and bugs, which better suited the bird.
So engrossed were they in their discussion that they had let their guards down to the environment around them.
Suddenly, an owl who thought she was a bear, swooped down on the pair and with the expertise and speed and conviction of the wild animal she was, killed the bird and the cat, even before they knew what was happening.
"Because that's what bears do," said the owl.
Thursday, January 9
This must've been rattling around up there, even though I'd not heard it for probably years and years. Great song, awesome band.
Wednesday, January 8
|A Very Sketchy Christmas - December 2013 at The Guild|
(to Brodie) ‘Sides, serves you right for breaking up with Destiny anyways. (to Dougie) Every year he breaks up with Destiny right before Chritsmas so he don’t have to get her a gift. Then, coincidence of coincidunces, he hops back on her, right after Balemtimes Day. Smart thinkin', that one!
|Trina, Tami & Brodie on the couch|
I'd said it, more or less like that, every performance thus far, in the run. This particular night was our last show, and maybe I was feeling a bit more loosey-goosey than normal. Maybe I wasn't concentrating enough. Or was concentrating too hard. I don't know. But I do know that it ended up being one of the bigger instances of on stage corpsing that I fell victim to.
"Corpsing", for those who may not know, is a theater term for laughing on stage when one is not supposed to be laughing. It comes from the notion that a person who is playing dead, a corpse, should not be laughing, and, thus, when does laugh, is corpsing.
I'll attempt to take us through this particular event, as it happened, kind of as a play-by-play recap. The words in bold are words I spoke out loud; the words in italics are thoughts I remember thinking as it was happening - my interior dialogue; and (parenthetical words) are my thoughts now, as I write this.
So, everything was going along quite well. Nice big crowd, everyone enjoying the show so far. This particular scene happens fairly early in the show, so everyone's energy is pretty high. I come to my line, totally not expecting what was to come:
'Sides, serves you right for breaking up with Destiny anyway.
(there is a small pause here - a blip - where normally there is not. I assume it is imperceptible to perhaps everyone but me - the pause would be timed in nano-seconds, so small was it, then it hits me:)
Huh, it seems I've forgotten what I am supposed to say next. That hasn't happened to me in forever. When was the last time that happened - never mind, that, let's get back to the matter at hand. ...breaking up with Destiny... hmmm? What's next? Nope, nothing's coming to me. I've truly and totally forgotten everything about these lines. Well, this won't do, it's still my turn to speak. I need to say something.
(this initial pool of thoughts probably lasted no more than one second, so everyone probably still assumed everything was as it should be)
Can't believe I forgot my lines! When does that happen? More importantly, what do I say now? Destiny. Funny name, that. What do I say? Okay, breathe. Think. You are totally in control right now. No, those lines are not going to come back to me, so I have to take other steps. I need to say something. Come on, improv training, kick in and get us back on track. What shall I say? Just start speaking, Rob, it'll be great. That's when you're at your best. At least it'll be something. Just start a sound and see what follows it. Okay, I don't know what this will be, coming out my mouth right now, but I need to speak right now, so here goes, let's see what I'm coming up with.
...Aaaakki akki akki...
(I am experiencing the classic "time slows down" feeling at this point - everything seems to be moving in slow motion, except my thoughts, which are racing)
Akki akki akki? What the hell is that? Akki akki akki. Fuck, seriously! Ha ha, that's awesome! Nobody could have predicted that!! Akki akki akki!!! I just said "Akki akki akki"! People probably think I just lost my mind. That's really funny. That makes NO sense. That makes me want to laugh. Uh oh, I think I'm going to laugh. When was the last time you laughed on stage like you're about to, Rob? Ed Rashed, goatee, third year of Annekenstein? Yep, I'm definitely going to laugh. And why not? Akki akki akki is a totally ridiculous thing to have said. If ever such nonsense deserved laughter, that is it.
(at this point I start to laugh, and it is probably only now that anyone else recognizes something unusual is happening - the following thoughts come to me through my laughter)
They all see me laughing. Do they even know? Do people think "Akki akki akki" is part of the script? I bet some do. That would be a crazy script, if it was. Who would ever write that into that script at that point in the dialogue? Wow, I'm laughing pretty hard. It's really horrible, and yet really fun. Laughing is fun. May be, but don't indulge yourself. Gotta stop. Did I just really say "Akki akki akki"? Was it "Akki akki akki"? Look at Lennie. He's really close to me, leaning forward, waiting for me to finish my line. He's doing really well, not laughing. Look at him, not laughing, while you are laughing uncontrollably. I love how much I'm laughing. I love even more, maybe, how much Lennie is not laughing. How can he not laugh. Good for him. Good for Lennie. Can't see Josh. Wonder if he's laughing. Is Kelly laughing. I'm letting Kelly down. Okay, let's get back to business here. Stop laughing. This scene won't continue until you finish your lines. Holy shit, this scene won't continue until I finish my lines! Balemtimes!! Balemtimes is the last word I need to say. Once I get to Balemtimes this wonderful nightmare will be over. Do I want it to be over? I'm really enjoying this moment. Alright, enough is enough. Oh, I remember my lines! Alright, let's get them out.
...Every year he breaks...
Nope, can't do it. Just noise through laughter. Just gonna have to ride this out. Just sit back and let it run its course, Rob. No, just plow through the fucking lines and get through it.
I am fucking gone! Helpless!! Awesome!! Bet Cameron is laughing. This is a memorable moment I am having right now. One to remember, for sure. But, seriously, get through it.
I'm just blurting out words now. It makes no sense. Is this close to what insanity would feel like? Total lack of control. I'm laughing really hard. Hard laughing is wonderful. But stop it.
... hops on her...
I can picture it, him actually hopping on her... I'm pretty comfortable on this couch. Leaning back so comfortable. I bet people are confused right now. Laughing. Come on, stop it.
... hops on her...
Just say Balemtimes. Just the one word and then it'll be over. Just say Balemtimes.
... Balemtimes Day...
Phew! Made it. Still laughing. What will happen now? Is this over? I think it's over.
Anyway, that's a little glimpse into my thought process as I remember it. Yes, the corpsing subsided soon after that, and the scene carried on, more or less as normal.
Tuesday, January 7
Monday, January 6
These are movies I liked and would recommend to others:
This is The End
John Dies At The End
Place Beyond the Pines
Star Trek: Into Darkness
These are movies that I liked but wouldn't necessarily recommend to others:
Olympus Has Fallen
Man of Steel
World War Z
White House Down
The Lone Ranger
The World’s End
These are movies that I watched but didn't impact me very much:
I’m So Excited
Saving Mr. Banks
This is a movie I hated, so much:
Iron Man 3
These are movies I started to watch, but because they were so awful and/or boring, I stopped watching them:
Thursday, August 8
Today Plinky asks me why I started writing, and is that still why I write.
I don't really recall *when* I started writing, but my goal, I would say, was, and still is, to make people laugh (or at least smile). I'd like to think I have a pretty good success rate.
Except, you know, for this bit of writing that you're reading now.
Tuesday, August 6
Today Plinky's prompt to write something says: Tell someone you're proud of just how proud you are.
So, I'll do that now. And I'll tell my son Cameron how I am proud of him, hopefully without getting all mushy and embarrassing and "Geez, Dad, I didn't really need people to read that" and stuff.
I could go on about how you're a smart, level-headed, responsible young person, funny and inventive, and strong-willed and opinionated, and junk like that, but instead, I want to focus on how you seem to be your own person - you don't seem to be very concerned with trends and expectations and perceptions. You're comfortable being, and discovering, yourself, and I'm pretty proud of you for that.
Monday, August 5
Sunday morning I had a revelation. I figured out how Purgatory should work. This is, I suppose, only valid for Catholics, since they're the Purgatory believers - but it should be implemented right across the board, imo.
It involves paperwork.
So, okay, you die. Your soul goes to Purgatory - a solitary room, white with no adornations of any kind. White table, white straight-back chair. Comfortable enough, but very antiseptic and uninspiring. You are all by yourself.
On the table is a stack of white papers and a pencil and an eraser. And a pencil sharpener. You are instructed to list everything and everyone and anything and anyone that you would like to see and experience for the rest of eternity while in Heaven. People from your past that you'd like to see; Memories you'd like to keep; Things you'd like to do and/or try that you never got to when you were alive; etc.
It is suggested that you be as specific as possible with each item. And it is suggested that you be absolutely thorough, because once your list is compiled, it cannot be altered.
Basically, once your list is completed to your satisfaction, you sign off on it, hand it over, and then you are transported to Heaven, where the things on your list are available to you, whenever you want them, as often as you want them.
Some people will spend a long, long time (maybe forever) working on their lists, obsessing and making sure they don't miss out on anything. Others may think they will be content with just a few basics, more eager to move on to their reward.
This is, I think, an interesting approach, and puts the onus on each individual.
Does anyone see any flaws or improvements that should be addressed before I present this to the Powers That Be?
Friday, August 2
"Anyone want to go to The Exhibition?" Terry asked the room.
Beanie wrinkled her nose at the memory of her last time there.
"Can we maybe NOT go to The Exhibition this year?" she replied. "Don't feel like getting my clothes dry-cleaned from all the vomit again, thanks."
Everyone but Gaston glanced away from Beanie, not able to look her in the eye. For maybe ten seconds there was silence, as they each remembered their own complicity in "The Great Exhibition Vomitician", as the event had since been dubbed.
Gaston, who wasn't part of the group last year, looked around at the suddenly sullen faces and broke the silence. "How did you get vomit on your clothes at The Exhibition, Beanie?"
"I don't want to talk about it. Just suffice to say we're not ever going on The Zipper ever again!"
"Kevin hasn't been the same since," said Terry.
"Look," yelled Kevin, "just because a guy vomits and pisses himself AND shits his pants all at the same time, it doesn't make him a bad guy!"
"Now I really need to know what happened," said Gaston.
"Okay," sighed Terry.
"Please, no, Terry," pleaded Beanie. "Quiet. Really."
She looked quite serious.
Terry, however, had made his decision. Undeterred, he relayed the story of how everyone who was in their compartment of The Zipper, all threw up in unison, on Beanie mostly, as a result of the smell after Kevin had pissed and shit his pants in fear.
"Vomit!" laughed Gaston. "Who'd'a thunk you guys had such weak stomachs!"
Xerxes, the foreign-exchange student, who, up until this point, had remained quiet and unassuming, in the corner, finally spoke up.
"You should smell MY home town! Zipper-puke all the time!"
Wednesday, July 31
Some things I can't wrap my brain around. I find it hard, for example, to imagine people wanting to pay money to see/hear me perform music and songs - especially songs and music I create. The very idea of me singing in front of people (as myself, not as a character in a play or sketch) weakens me. Actually doing so has made me panicked and uncertain.
Why, I wonder.
I remember one time at Pat's Rose & Grey, years ago, David Ward (from Island Media Arts Co-Op fame) asked me why I didn't try to direct films (at that time, the medium was still primarily film, not video), and I replied "Because I don't have anything that I want to say right now".
I think that's a large part of my problem - the idea I have that, in certain mediums, I need "something to say".
I have the belief, it seems, that songwriting/performing, filmmaking, and creating art, should require you to do it because you are trying to say something, trying to express something. Yet the same notion doesn't exist for me when it comes to acting, or performing improv (notice that I separate the two) - I suppose because I am relatively at ease doing that - and I believe I'm good at it, perhaps, and I believe I am "saying something" (at least some of the time), I don't have the same hangup when it comes to sketch comedy or similar performance and creation.
When it comes down to brass tacks, I guess the reason I do not consider myself a singer or songwriter is because I don't want to waste people's time with my frivolities. Leave that to the grownups.
The same goes for art - only moreso. Whereas I *can* envision a world where I do sing on stage in front of people, I simply cannot fathom myself as someone who creates art - paintings, sculptures, drawing, photography, abstracts, etc. It is beyond me and my abilities. Or it *should* be beyond me, perhaps is what I think.
I see lots of art that I like, where it is obvious that the artist has a clear point of view and a talent to express it. "That person is an artist" I think. I also see art that I consider lazy, boring, unmotivated, pretentious - frivolous - and I think it's this - uninspired art and artists - that keeps me from even contemplating attempting something in that vein. I don't want to create something where, were an alternate-universe version of myself were to see it, I would consider it frivolous and trite.
Which brings me to tonight. Tonight, Arthole is opening in the Gallery at The Guild, and I have a piece in it. Yes, a piece of art.
That damn David Stewart is to blame. And praise, I suppose. A year ago, he basically forced me to confront my "singing in front of people" fear and bias by having my wife and me sing at his wedding ceremony. Now, almost a year to the day later, he basically forced me to display "art" that I have created myself.
I like the way it turned out. I expect it will confound some people and I like that. I expect some people will consider it frivolous and simple and stupid, but for me it is none of those things (well, maybe stupid).
And now that it exists, I don't even care what an alternate-universe version of me would think of it.
David's objective in curating this Arthole project is to have the artists a) challenge themselves; b) challenge the viewer; and/or c) express or represent themselves as artists.
For a) I certainly challenged myself - even contemplating that I was worthy to be part of the project was the biggest challenge I faced.
For b) it's not really up to me to say whether viewers will be challenged - but I believe the potential to be challenged is definitely there.
For c) I think this piece absolutely represents me, as it is basically a non-descript container that contains hidden and unknown elements that possibly nobody will ever see.
Tuesday, February 12
If The Walking Dead teaches us anything, it's this: during the initial stages of a zombie apocalypse, it's the zombies that pose the biggest threat to your life. Later on, it's The Living (specifically: egomaniacal insane dictatorial zealots and their posses) who ruin life for each other.
Another thing it teaches us is this: spending any extended period on a farm is really boring.
A third thing is: you will probably go crazy.
Still, in those initial months before one entirely loses oneself in a miasma of hopelessness and despair, one must really do all one can to protect oneself from being devoured by zombies. Here's one trick:
SECURING YOUR HOMESTEAD
First of all, find yourself (or your small group) a nice house with a nice yard, away from other live humans. Somewhat secluded, but not 'cabin in the woods' isolated. Make sure it is empty of zombies. Keep it well stocked with necessities (food and weapons, mostly). Only go out, sporadically, to restock.
When the coast seems clear enough, carefully, go out and explore warehouses, packaging plants, any type of business that utilized these:
The roller tracks, not the box. Bring as many tracks as needed back to your home. (The next step will take some time, but will be totally worth it. This is a DAYTIME ONLY activity. DO NOT WORK ON THIS AT NIGHT) Set the roller tracks up on your lawn, tightly packed together and radiating outward on a declining plane (higher at the house, lower away from the house). When finished, the entirety of your home will be surrounded by roller tracks, much lilke rays of sunshine eminating from the sun:
Once set up, this will keep zombies from accessing your home. AND it will be hilarious! Watch them constantly stumble and fall as they slip and slide on the rollers. There is no way they can get up those rollers.
You might need to have one segment of track open so that you can come and go as you need. Or, for 100% security, dig a tunnel from the basement of the house, to a safe distance away. Use that as your entry/exit path. Or, set up a speaker system outside the house, a safe distance away from house and, when needed, play noises (yells and whoops, etc. "Hey you zombies, over here!" "Come and get me over here" etc - these can be prerecorded and on a loop) - this will cause the zombies who are congregated around your house to all leave and follow the noise, allowing you to leave in the opposite direction. (if you don't have access to power for the speakers, set up a long fuse from your home to a pile of firecrackers that are situated away from your house - light them to create the noise diversion)
And there you have it: a perfectly secure homestead.
Next up: The Demographics of the Perfect Survivors' Group