Saturday, December 31

Beatles Podcasts

Last night I found a great site that offers podcasts of various Beatles related things - interviews (with 'the lads'), news reports from the era, music selections, demos, odd bits of this and that.

It's called Beatlegs Podcast, and you can find it by clicking on the word link

If you're a fan of The Beatles, and you're looking for stuff you probably haven't heard before, then this is the podcast for you.

Wednesday, December 28

Pick'em Down To The Wire

Well, with only one week remaining in the regular season, and then the playoff games left, The Annekenstein Monster's small but mighty playoff pool is really coming down to the wire.

Here are the standings as of this week:

reverseflash:  130-110 (54.2%)  points:  150   Last Week: 11-5
annekenstein: 130-110 (54.2%)  points:  150  Last Week: 10-6
Jim Simmonds: 127-113 (52.9%)  points:  141  Last Week:  10-6
Graham the Conqerer: 92-102 (47.4%)  points: 82  Last Week: 10-6

Over the course of the season, it had been a two-way battle for first place, between Jim Simmonds and myself, but JS has slipped the past couple of weeks and has some catching up to do.  Reverseflash, early in the season, was down and out but has been coming on strong and is a strong threat to win it all.  I've been pretty steady throughout the whole season, and if I don't win, at least I'll have that to comfort me.  Graham the Conquerer was right up there at the top the first half of the season, but at one point he forgot (I assume) to enter picks for a week and that pretty much ended his chance.  Like a trooper, though, he's been playing out the season.
For a brief period, we had a fifth member, Nils, but I believe he only picked one week, or two, then wasn't heard from again.  After a number of weeks of not picking, I removed him from the game.  His stats were bringing the group's average down.  As a group, we are at 52.4% for the season.

Isn't it exciting, wondering who will win this totally meaningless pool?

Prompt Service

Last night, for whatever reasons, I didn't feel like going to bed at the usual time (and when I finally did go to bed, I was wide awake), so I was up until 2am, farting around on the computer.  Actually, farting around on the blog here, seeing what's what.  I spent some time trying to increase the number of archive pages that are listed.  Currently there are only ten month's worth of archives.  Since I've been doing this since 2003, there are many more months that are at least two-clicks away (Can You Imagine!).
Failing to find a solution, I sent off an email to the Typepad people, asking how to rectify that issue.
This morning when I wake up, the reply is waiting in my inbox.  Prompt service.
Unfortunately, one cannot list all the monthly archives on the 'front page'.  It's limited to ten.  But, Carla suggested, one could add a Typelist link to my full archives page (even though clicking on the word 'Archives' achieves the same thing).  So, that's what I've done.
I'm happy enough.

Tuesday, December 27

What's This Podcast Thing, Then?

So, I was looking around the settings on this here ole Typepad site and discovered a setting to display one's podcasts rss feed link.  Hmm-ing about that a bit, I decided I'd set it up, even though I don't have any podcasts, and only a slight interest in creating one.  Actually, I have a middling interest in creating podcasts but I don't have sufficient storage space online, nor do I have enough bandwidth (assuming anyone would download them anyway) to handle anything of any significance.  If anyone wants to donate (sponsor?) the space and bandwidth to me, I could probably come up with a fun sporadic podcast type thingy.
Still, I'm curious to see how the Typepad podcasting system works, so I'm uploading a song I wrote a long time ago and pretending it's a podcast.  So, here's the experiment!

Download without_you.mp3

By the way, speaking of podcasts, the only one I subscribe to is The Ricky Gervais Show.  You can get it through his website, or through iTunes.  Updates weekly, and it's pretty funny, I say.

I guess it turns out that the "subscribe to my podcasts" rss link is the same as the rss link to my site.  no big whoop there, then.
Sorry to bother you.

Protect Your Whatnots

Tonight on Canada Now, there was a report about high storm surges due to the recent inclement weather.  A part of the report showed (what I assume to be) a fisherman standing on a rocky shore.  He was holding the  microphone, which was odd in and of itself, and talking about the potential dangers of the tide pulling the earth back into the water.  The reporter (off camera) asks, barely heard (because the guy being interviewed held the mic): "are you worried about having to protect your yard, fields and whatnot?"
I found the *unprofessional* use of the word "whatnot" rather humourous.

That is all.

Prepare Yourself: Okay, He's Dead

I may have written about this neurosis of mine in a previous post, but it bears re-posting because it's still, inexplicably, present in my life.
I have a fear that if my son sleeps longer than his usual wake-up time, that he has died in his sleep.  When he was a baby, and he slept beyond his anticipated waking time, I would begin to think that he wasn't waking up because he had died.  Of course, as I was talking myself into this irrational fear, I was

also simultaneously telling myself how unlikely that was, and how silly

I was for still fretting over such a thing.  Yet, no matter how much I tried to convince myself that I was being irrational, the thought just wouldn't leave my mind until he woke up. Sometimes, as minutes passed, I would be almost totally convinced that

he had died.  I'd prepare myself to walk into his room and see his

lifeless body.  When he was very young, the fear had, perhaps, a greater potential to be true, what with SIDS and all...
He never did die.  Not yet, at least.  Now that he's 12, I still find myself (not as often, mind you) preparing myself to see him dead when I walk in to his room.
These days, he's usually up well before 9am each day, whether he has to be or not.  I got up at 10-ish and realised that he was still in his bedroom.  Notice I didn't just say "realised he was still asleep in his bedroom". Yes, again I began to think that, since he wasn't up, he was dead.  And so began another battle in my mind regarding the life-status of my son.  As much as I'd tell myself the notion is preposterous, and as much as I'd agree, completely, with that line of thought, the 'he is dead' concern wouldn't completely leave my mind.
He came skipping down the stairs at around 10:45.  I think it was the latest that he's ever slept in.
Now that he's entering those awkward teen years, I'm going to have to adjust my "he's dead" clock to accomodate his upcoming predisposition to sleeping in.

Sunday, December 25

Have a Pleasant Day

Whether you celebrate the winter solstice, the birth of Jesus, your African roots, the birth of Mithra, Hannukah, or just that it's a Sunday, I hope your day is pleasant.

Friday, December 23

Bam! Kindergartner Goes Down!

I saw this hypothetical question asked elsewhere and it immediately piqued my curiosity.

How many 5 year-olds could you take on at once?

Here are the factors to take into consideration:

You, nor the five-year olds, have any foreign objects.  It's hand-to-hand only, and no protective padding, other than a cup, and normal, everyday street clothes.
The arena is roughly the size of a basketball court, and it's enclosed.  Nobody can touch the walls.
You lose when you are knocked unconscious.  They lose when the final five-year old is knocked unconscious.  Once a kid is knocked unconscious, that kid is "out".
The kids all receive one day of hand-to-hand combat training,  designed specifically to teach them how to team up to take down one adult.   You receive one hour of "counter-tactics" training.
The kids are motivated enough to not get scared, regardless of what occurs.  Even the very last one will give it their all.
The kids are all "average" healthy kids, half of the number you choose will be female, the other half will be male.

So, how many could you take on without being defeated?

I think I'd try to take on 12. 

Sorry For Your Loss

The Indianapolis Colts have been having an incredible year.  Until this past weekend, they were unbeaten and looking like they had the stuff to go unbeaten the whole year.  The San Diego Chargers stopped them cold, though, last weekend, in a terrific game.
So, as the 1972 Miami Dolphins once again crack open the champagne to celebrate being the only unbeaten NFL team in history, the Colts probably were looking forward to just getting on with playing football.  Likely relieved in a small way that they don't have the albatross of going unbeaten around their necks for the remainder of the games they play.
Now, comes word of a second loss this week for the Colts.  The sports pages are full of the story of Colts' coach Dungy's son who apparently committed suicide yesterday.  We see NFL players and coaches week in, week out during the season, and even through the human-interest stories and interviews they (the pregame shows et al.) give us, the players and coaches somehow seem more iconic than human.  They are more Character than they are Real.  At least for me.
So when a story like this comes down, we all get reminded that these football icons are people too, and they have shit happen to them, just like the rest of us.
Coach Dungy always seems like a Good Guy.  Through the years, it's been reported that to him family and faith take precedence over football.  He seems like a guy who knows what's important.  The players on his team, and pretty much all of his opponents, seem to respect him greatly, not only as an NFL coach, and not as an icon, but as a person.  For his players and team, this loss of his will be hard on them too.

So, in this week where the Colts lose twice, I offer my condolences on the only loss that really matters.

King Kong's Final Flaw

The Fam and I went to see King Kong at a Wednesday afternoon matinee.  I like the holiday matinees because they usually aren't as busy as regular movie nights and matinees.  There weren't a lot of people in the theatre for this showing, and that is always good.

The movie was fantastic.  Yes, perhaps a bit too long (but still entertaining) to get to Skull Island, but man oh man what a rip-roaring old-fashioned adventure once we got there.  It was pure excitement and thrill.  Fun fun fun.
My only complaint with the movie were the actions of the heroine at the end of the movie.  Without spoiling it for those who haven't seen it, I'll just say that the efforts she makes at the end of the movie are wholly not believable.  I don't care what your motivations are, but when you're standing on a 15 foot wide dome plate, a thousand feet in the air, you're going to act like you're afraid of falling.  And, I may be wrong, but I believe the winds at the top of the Empire State Building are blowing a lot stronger than it appeared in the film.

So, a great adventure movie that is only slightly tarnished by the ludicrousness of the final scenes at the top of the building.

Absolutely worth seeing at the theatre.

Thursday, December 22

Weigh In On This

You know how a lot of people who are overweight complain that their problem is glanular?  It's not that they overeat or eat bad food, necessarily, it's just in their genes.

Well, what happens to starving Africans who have the same glanular problem?  Do they end up being Super Models?

Pulling Out The Old "Ten Random Songs" Post

Maybe this will kick start my desire to post to this blog again.
Here we go, the first ten songs to randomly show up on my iTunes playlist:

1)  Elvis Costello - Tokyo Storm Warning:  I quite like this song.  It "moves", you know?  Elvis's voice is fully there, vitriolically spitting out the words, as only he can.  I think Costello has one of the best voices in Rock.  I'd put him up there with John Lennon and Joe Strummer.  This is from his Blood & Chocolate LP.  I have the impression that this album was underappreciated.  Not by me, though.... Okay, it's been a while since I've heard this song, and after typing all this, it's still on.  I realise it's 6:25 long.  Probably a minute or two too long.  I like quick, in and out songs, and this one just wore out its welcome at the five minute mark.

2) The White Stripes - Let's Build A Home: From the De Stijl album.  The White Stripes were all that for a couple of months.  They are still churning out some pretty good material, but I've pretty much lost my woody for them.  This song is pretty much a bit of nothing.  But well done, rocking nothing-ness.

3) The Dry Branch Fire Squad - We Believe In Happy Endings:  I don't know anything about this group, but it comes from a compilation album of Rounder Records recording artists.  This is a right purty song, kind of a slow-tempoed bluegrass thingy.  Nice close harmonies, simple instrumentation.  I could listen to this kind of music all day long.

4) Baaba Maal/Monsour Seck - Lam Tooro:  Apparently this comes from an album called Djam Leeli.  This is one of those tracks that I read about, positively reviewed on some music blog, and download out of curiosity.  It then gets added to my large library and gets forgotten about until it pops up in some random shuffle, like this one.  This is World Music, I suppose.   It's not doing much for me.  I'm trying to decide whether to keep it in my library, or delete it.  I'm kind of like a pack-rat when it comes to songs.  I hate to delete anything, unless it is really unappetising to me.  Because you never know, the next time you hear it, you might be in the right mood and there it'll be.  But, you know, I don't think I'm going to bother to save this one.  It's just a bit too much of a repetitive loop of a guitar phrase, going nowhere really.  To the Dust Bin with you.  Nothing personal, 'kay?

5) Neil Young - Sugar Mountain: From the Decade album.  Classic live acoustic Neil Young.

6) Hank Williams - I'm A Long Gone Daddy:  Hank has at least three types of songs.  Heartbreaking songs of misery.  Lighthearted songs of misery.  And religious songs of misery.  This fun song falls into the middle category.  A great song.

7) Tears For Fears - Head Over Heels:  One of those 80's duos where you wondered exactly was the other guy's role.  This song has a great big 80's sound.  Just listen to those trumpet-blast keyboard stings.  Somewhere, right now, Molly Ringwald's ears are perking up.  In 2 more minutes, they'll perk down and she'll return to present-day anonymity.

8) They Might Be Giants - Chess Piece Face:  TMBG make kids music for grown-ups.  Totally off the wall nonense type stuff a lot of the time.  What the hell is this song about?  Whatever happened to Chess Piece Face?

9) Elvis Costello - All This Useless Beauty:  A second Elvis song in the ten.  Well, whattya know.  I've always loved the title of this song.  The song itself is a lovely piano ballad.  What shall we do with all this useless beauty?  I'd like to see the musical that this song could be from.  Which reminds me, I've had the idea to write a musical but use already exsiting songs from other artists as the score.  It would be great!  Yeah.  It would.

10) John Lennon - Real Love:  From the posthumous Wonsaponatime album.  This sounds like a demo version of the song.  Sometimes I get sad thinking that John Lennon is gone, lamenting all the great songs that he might've written if he were still alive.  This song usually takes me to that sad place.

Wednesday, December 14

Jolly Old Sketch Nick

Yeah, so here's another plug reminding everyone that Sketch22's Christmas show plays this Thursday, Friday and Sunday at The Guild in Charlottetown.  Showtime: 8pm  Admission 15$

We've performed four shows so far.  Three of them were pretty good shows, while one (Friday night) was sub-par.  I think we were all a bit run-down from putting so much energy into Thursday's opening.

Why not come out this weekend and catch Sketch?  It's for what ails ya, Christmas speaking.

Saturday, December 3

My Own Private Charlottetown

As I was leaving rehearsal today, and walking to my car, I passed the UpperRoom/Foodbank, which is just behind the Guild.
As I was passing, I saw three older men, probably late 50's, standing outside the door.  As it was around 5pm, I assumed them to be waiting to eat.  By their appearance, and their location, I assumed them to be some of Charlottetown's destitute.  They were in conversation.  As I got close enough, I got to hear a snippet of their conversation:

"...does blowjobs to get some.  I haven't done that yet..."

None of these men are what one would consider handsome.  I am still having a hard time trying not to conjure up mental images.

David Cross Responds To Larry

Apparently comedian David Cross and Comedian Larry the Cable Guy are having a bit of a public tussle.  David, in a RollingStone interview, said something about Larry, and then Larry, in response to the RS quote, wrote something about David in his book.

This link is the latest (I assume) volley from David Cross.  I always enjoy it when someone takes the time to actually make arguments, counter other's assertions and defend their opinions, point by point.  This is what David Cross does here, in this link.  That it is entertaining to boot, well, that's always a bonus.

If the link doesn't work, try going here, to the Bob and Dave website, and clicking on the David's Corner link...

For the record, I am a pretty big fan of both David Cross' comedy and his publicly-stated opinions and positions on most things relevant to todays socio-political climate.

Wednesday, November 30

A Week And A Day Away

Sketch22 Christmas Poster 2005
Originally uploaded by The Annekenstein Monster.

The Sketch22 Christmas show is only a week away.
We've been asked a lot: "Is your show going to be sacrilegious?"
I usually start to ask: Can you define sacrilegious?, but end up just saying: "Yeah. Probably."

Sunday, November 27

My Music - A Snippet

From Steverinoland, comes this somewhat interesting survey of one's own music library:



first - 'Til The Money Runs Out - Tom Waits
last - Zoom Zoom Zoom - Nissan TV/Radio Commercial Music


longest - King of Rock (Charlie Chan Megamix) - Run DMC - 15:50
shortest - This Is Stupid - The Bloodhound Gang - 0:10


first - !!! - !!!  (the band's name is "!!!", and their album is called "!!!"  The song is "Intensify")
last - Zulu Workers Choirs In South Aftrica - King Boys - song: Just A Closer Walk With Thee


1. "Swamp" - Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense - 7 plays
2. "See The Constellation" - They Might Be Giants - Apollo 18 - 7 plays
3. "Rubber Biscuit" - The Blues Brothers - The Best of The Blues Brothers - 6 plays
4. "Take Me I'm Yours" - Squeeze - Singles: 45's and Under - 6 plays
5. "Do You Wanna Dance" - The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations - 6 plays  (this one surprises me)

"Puritans" by Dear Leader, from the album:  All I Ever Wanted Was Tonight  (a song, by the way, that I have never heard.

find “sex.” how many songs come up?- 87 (most are from Ron Sexsmith, though)
find “death.” how many songs come up?- 40 (mostly from the Pixies album "Death to the Pixies" and a couple of Death Cab For Cutie albums)
find “love.” how many songs come up?- 310

A Very Christ-y Sketchmas

For the past couple of months, we, the boys and girl of Sketch22, have been feverishly preparing for our brand new production: a Christmas-themed show of all-new material.
Yes, if you've ever wondered, or cared, what five mostly-atheist comedians have to say about Christmas, this is your chance.  We give the whole Birth of Jesus story a good-old Sketch22 re-telling, and we've got some pretty funny sketches on Modern Christmas too.  You know, the Christmas that revolves more around Santa than Jesus.  Of course, what would a Sketch22 show be without video?  We've got a handful of new videos which will make you laugh, and one which may very well make you cry as you laugh (please note:  Neither laughing nor crying at video is guaranteed.  I mean, we can't anticipate everyone's personality and likes and dislikes who come to our show, right?  And who's to say that you plan to come to the show, full of laughter and ready to use it, and then, just before you go, you learn that your Uncle Bud passed away, and then you go to the show all sad, and don't laugh once because all you can think about is Uncle Bud?  But Uncle Bud wasn't so close to you that his passing would make you cry, so you don't cry either.  Really, it's not Uncle Bud's passing that preoccupies you while at our show. You know, you only met him maybe seven times, and one of those times you are pretty sure he tried to hit on you.  No, it's not Dead Uncle Bud that keeps you from laughing and/or crying.  It's the whole notion of death and your mortality.  You're getting up there in age and there is still so much left to do.  What have you done with your life, really?  A job you really don't like, but you feel you're stuck in it because you got to make money.  And, shit, all those Christmas presents you still have to buy!  Where's the money gonna come from for those?  Surely to God it's not gonna be another year of giving out white t-shirts with some stupid iron-on stencil, is it?  Well, at least you don't have to buy for Uncle Bud this year.... Hey, there's a show on here!  Forget about your sad life and look at the funny sketch and/or video!  Why aren't you laughing? Or crying?  What?  Are we supposed to anticipate everybody's frame of mind, and create a show that appeals to the great unwashed majority?  We're not freaking Air Farce, man!... so, yeah, laughing and/or crying is not guaranteed).

The rehearsal period has not been without incident.  (only two of the following incidents are true)  First of all, while shooting our opening credits video, Graham fell down the escalator at the Confederation Court Mall and broke a bone in his "piggy went wee wee wee all the way home" toe.  He's been hobbling around ever since and has been pretty grouchy.  An interesting side-note:  Every time we've filmed opening credits for our shows, at least one of us has been kicked out of the Confederation Court Mall.  Second, well into the rehearsal period, Andrew (with tears in his eyes.  Seriously.) tells us he can't be in the show because he's moving to Saint John for a few months.  As a replacement, our very own Jason Rogerson is adding "actor" to his current Sketch22 resume which already includes Writer, Producer and Masseuse.  Third, Dennis has had strep throat and has only been able to communicate at most rehearsals through navy signal code (which he learned, he told us, during a stint in the Canadian Navy).  It took the rest of us quite a while to learn the flag and lights language, but we can pretty much decipher his petulant wants and demands now, so all is good there.  Fourth, I have been on jury duty (maybe I shouldn't say this, but I'm one of the Saddam Hussein jurors!) and making it to all the rehearsals has been tricky, what with all the attempts on my life by Husseinites.  And fifth, Josh has been living in Toronto and, suffice to say, he hasn't made the daily commutes to rehearsal (I mean, the city's new bus service is only so good, right?)

Despite all these rehearsal setbacks, we've come up with what I think is going to be a kick-ass show.  Lots of funny stuff.  And like Nils told me once:  I know funny.  Yeah, it's probably sacrilegious, but only to the point where we question whether the birth of Jesus actually happened like it says in the bible, and you know, whether God would be brought up on rape charges, were he to impregnate a modern-day Mary.  If that's sacrilegious to you, well, then come to the show and allow yourself to be infuriated.

Sketch22's Christmas show runs Dec.8-Dec.11, and then again Dec.15, Dec.16 & Dec.18... basically, runs two weekends:  Thursday, Friday, Saturday Sunday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday...

Hey, we'll also have a Sketch22 DVD for sale at our shows.  Believe it or not, a Sketch22 DVD makes the perfect stocking stuffer.

Tuesday, November 15

I'm 24, Going On 41

I've often thought that I behave younger than my "real" age. In my mind, I'm still a young guy, even though my physical body tells me otherwise.
Well, now it's official. According the the scientific computations based on this test, I act as if I'm 24 years old. I think, though, that this low number has more to do with me answering "Spongebob Squarepants" than anything else.
Those who know me, what age do you think I exist at?
What age do you act?

You Are 24 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Friday, November 11

Fun To Be A Habs Fan

Has it been 12 years since the Canadiens have won a Stanley Cup?  My goodness, I'm starting to know what it's like to be a Maple Leafs fan.  This could be the year that Montreal surprises everyone and wins it all!  Not so for the Leafs, I don't think.  Their team is, right now, as good as it's going to get this year, and that's not good enough.
Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with the new NHL.  The rules, and enforcing those rules, seems to be making a difference.  It's a much more offensively oriented game now, it seems, and that's always fun to watch.  Especially after a decade of The Trap.
Has there been a more exciting team to follow than the Canadiens?  Every game, it seems, comes down to the wire, with the Habs pulling out another tough win after another.  Last night they lost to the Penguins in a shootout, but I can't be too upset when Crosby is the guy who scored the winning goal.  The difference I notice between the Canadiens and the teams they play against is the hustle.  Game after game, shift after shift, play after play, the Montreal players seem to be simply beating the opponents to the puck.  They have a very fast, agressive style that seems to work in this new NHL.

I'll say it now, Dewey-like:

Habs Win Cup in '06

Thursday, November 10

TSN Turning Point

Was watching a bit of the RedWings v. Kings game last night on TSN.  At the end of each hockey broadcast, they offer their TSN Turning Point.  The moment in the game where the momentum switches from one team to the other, I suppose.  Last night's Turning Point, they decided, was the winning goal.  Okay, except the winning goal was scored in overtime.
Now, I may be wrong, but I don't think the sudden-death winning goal can be considered the turning point in a game.  Wouldn't that be the Ending Point?

Sunday, November 6

"No Show" Jones

I'm a pretty big fan of George Jones.  Truthfully, not much of a fan of his later (past 15 years) stuff, but I love his 60's, 70's and early 80's songs.  Frank Sinatra once said of George Jones (paraphrasing): He has the second best voice in America.
So, back in the spring, when I was working at CFCY, and I heard that CFCY was presenting George Jones' performance in November in Charlottetown, I put out feelers for free radio station tickets.  I got lucky as the station's new Promotions Director, who, unknown to anyone, was going to quit the next day, gave me two tickets.
Not really knowing anyone else who was much of a George Jones fan, I asked my father if he wanted to go with me.  He said he wasn't a huge Jones fan, but he'd go with me if there was nobody else who would rather go.
Making the date, I put the tickets in my wallet.  This was in the spring.  Over the summer I had thought of, and looked forward to the concert, quite a few times.
Last night at about 11:30, I heard a country-ish song on some TV commercial which reminded me of George Jones.  That made me think the tickets in my wallet.  "Hmm", I thought, "that concert is in November sometime?"  I go to my wallet, get the tickets and see:

George Jones, November 5 -  8pm -  Charlottetown Civic Centre

I missed the show!  I'm an idiot!
I wonder if it was a good show?  I didn't hear anything about it.  I even wonder if it took place?  I assume it did.

Thursday, November 3

Cletus Dunn Thinks Big

More out-loud thinking like this, please.  I have no idea whether his suggestions are viable or cost-effective, but Alberton/Mimigenish MLA Cletus Dunn should be commended for being willing to be criticized for such grandiose thoughts.
I particularly like elementary school being grades 1-9.

TV Guide - Unsubscribe

TV Guide is a, ahem, magazine that we've always just subscribed to.  Used to be, it was invaluable for tv listings.  I've realised recently, that over the past few years, I've been relying on TV Guide less and less for listings information.  Partly this is due, I think, to my watching less television, and knowing precisely when the shows I do watch are on.  Occasionally, TV Guide will hip me to an interesting show that I might not otherwise have known about.  More than ever, it's now simply the magazine I pick up and read when in the bathroom.
The articles in TV Guide have been bugging me for quite some time.  I dislike the, ahem, journalistic approach they seem to favour (very too much fluff and very pro-CTV Global programs) and do not agree with their opinions very often.  And it's very much a female-oriented magazine, with far too much emphasis on fashion.
I've been thinking, for a while, of cancelling my subscription, but never got around to it.
Now, with this week's edition, I have the reason to do so.  This week, TV Guide presented to the people of Atlantic Canada (and Ontario and Quebec), their new "Eastern Edition".  Now, all listings are presented in Eastern Time zone only.  That means that we in Atlantic Canada now must convert the times listed to our time zone.  Sure, this is fairly simple, by adding an hour to all the listings, but it really bugs me that we have to do that.  It bugs me because they're implying that this change is somehow an improvement to their customers.  Obviously, to us in Atlantic Canada, it is not an improvement, and obviously, this is a cost-cutting measure.  But it is a pain in the ass.  A slight pain in the ass, but, principly, a pain in the ass, nonetheless.
It bugs me enough to email TV Guide and cancel the remainder of my subscription, and that's what I did on Monday..  So far, I haven't heard back from them, but I'm interested to hear how spin this.
I'll post their reply if a) I ever get one, and b) it's interesting enough to post.

Monday, October 31

The Blair Sketch Project

Sketch22 running through woods
Originally uploaded by The Annekenstein Monster.

Recently, the lads and lass from Sketch22 spent a day in the countryside, videotaping bits and pieces for a future video segment. Here, you see us either running from something, or running to something. Perhaps some of us are running from something and some are running to something. Quite possibly, the very thing that some are running from and some are running to is the exact same thing.

Back On The ChainGang

If you were wondering where I've been, blogaphorically speaking, the past couple of weeks, I've been:
(choose one)
a) in jail.
b) depressed and not feeling like posting inane nothingness to the handful of people who read this site.
c) feeling a great lack of inspiration and wondering if I'll ever find the desire to write again.
d) busy with other stuff.
e) watching television 24/7.
f) visiting relatives in Attleboro, Mass.
g) too nervous about all these hurricanes and terrorists and bird flues.
h) obsessing over things like whether it's "flues" or "flus" (or possibly an entirely different spelling), but not to the point where I bother to look it up.
i) reading something called a 'novel'.  It's kind of like a text-only fiction site on the internets, only it's all, like, hard copy and portable.
j) pirating movies and then watching them.
k) taking my wife to and from and to and from the hospital and visiting her there in between.
l) sitting by the phone and waiting for it to ring after our Sketch22 Contact East performance.
m) drinking so much beer that I've begun to wonder if I have a drinking problem.
n) looking for magic mushrooms in my own backyard.
o) spending way too much time playing a stupid video game on the GameCube.
p) taking all kinds of pictures with my digital camera.
q) letting my knee heal, mostly by just sitting on the couch and having it (my knee, not the couch) elevated.
r) chastising myself to the point of lethargy about my lethargy during this current work hiatus.
s) planning a little home work project, wherein I glue all kinds of discared CDs onto a black-painted wall,  and wondering where I could find enough discarded CDs.
t) rapping.
u) thinking about all the stuff I've lost over the years.
v) counting a bit too much on that big Lotto payday last week, but not even buying a ticket.
w) being unemployed.
x) admiring too much female nudity on the world wide web.
y) keeping silent on this site for two weeks because I lost a bet and the stakes were two weeks web silence.
z) not eating pizza, but really, really wanting to eat pizza.

Now that I have finished doing that one thing from the list above, I hope to return to a more regular posting schedule.

Wednesday, October 19

Sarah Silverman

I've been a fan of Sarah Silverman for a few years.  If I ever was to do standup comedy, I think I'd want to do the kind of comedy she does.
Here's a link to a New Yorker article on her.

Wednesday, October 12

Putting the "stmas" Back In "Christmas"

Hey all you Christmas Lovers, Christmas Haters, and People Who Don't Have Much Of An Emotional Stake In Christmas One Way Or The Other, Sketch22 is putting on a show just for you!
That's right.  We're in the process of writing a bunch of Christmas-themed sketches and videos.  And the plan is to allow anyone who wants to, to come to the Guild in Charlottetown on any of 8 nights in December* and, after paying a small entrance fee, watch us act out those sketches live on stage**.

So, if you're interested in seeing what a bunch of atheist or agnostic (and perhaps a Closeted Christian or two - Sketch22 enforces a "don't ask, don't tell" policy) wildly-talented*** and boastful sketch comedians come up with on the topic of Christmas, make sure to attend.  I'll bet that we surprise you****
It's guaranteed to be the best sketch comedy show presented this December on Prince Edward Island"*""*.

*the specific 8 nights will be announced at a later date.
**video segments will not be performed live on stage.
***not an actual boast
****not an actual bet.
*****guarantee not valid on Prince Edward Island.

Tuesday, October 11

Eye Spy

On this website...
I spy, with my little eye, a word that starts with 'p'...

Tuesday, October 4

And It's Goodnight From Him

When I was growing up, The Two Ronnies was a show (imported from the BBC to the CBC) I enjoyed.  I cannot remember any specific comedy from any of the episodes I saw, but I remember the show to be smart comedy.  Writerly comedy.  I appreciated that. 

The only thing I remember, really, is the sign off: 

Ronnie Corbett: "It's good night from me..."

Ronnie Barker: "...and it's good night from him."

Yesterday, Ronnie Barker passed away.  And I bet ten pounds I'm the only one in the world who will have thought to use that headline.

Friday, September 30

Change of Email Address

Anybody who cares, I've changed my email address again.
When I started with email, I thought I'd be clever and use sendit2me as my name.  You know: "Hey, what's your email address?" "Send it to me at gmail dot com".  I was so clever.  In my head.
When I have to tell people my address, I quickly realised, I have to explain that the "to" in "send it to me" is the number 2, not the word "to".  A pain in the butt.

Fortunately, I was smart enough to also snag the name robmacd.

So, from now on, if you want to contact me, please do so at RobMacD at gmail dot com  (use capitals if you want, or don't if you don't want).

Update your address books, peeps.

I apologize for that "peeps" thing.

Good Night, And Good Luck

"We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."
Edward R. Murrow

I'm looking forward to this movie.

Thursday, September 29


This is great.
Click on this link to see a (quicktime) redux version of a trailer for The Shining.  A post-production house had a contest to see who could come up with the best alteration to existing movie trailers, to make them seem like different movies than they actually are.  This one won.

I'd love to see more of the submissions.  If anybody has a link, let me know.

via Screenhead, via Waxy, via Tattered Coat

Monday, September 26

Free Nucular Missiles For US Children

Here is a link to a video of one of George W. Bush's State of the Union addresses.  Well, okay, perhaps he didn't say all of those words in exactly that order, but a little bit of judicious editing of the video gets to the real subtext of his agenda.

"Our first goal is to show utter contempt for the environment. I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to devestate communities, kill wildlife, and burn away millions of acres of treasured forests."
"One by one, the terrorists are learning we are building a culture to encourage international terrorism."

Sunday, September 25

Did You Try Rebooting Your Vehicle?

I guess I never posted the outcome of my stalling vehicle problem from last week.  How could you all go on with your lives without knowing the status of my car?  I am so sorry for leaving you in the dark.

So, last Monday, we called Dave's Auto Electric.  They had, on Friday, put in a new alternator, and still our car was stalling pretty much all the time.  We suffered through it through the weekend.  On Monday, Dave's Auto Electric tell us they can't see us on Monday, maybe can squeeze us in on Tuesday.  We get tired of their apparent lacksadaisacal disinterest in our car and call up Walter Piccott Chev Olds.  Usually, I'm reluctant to take a car to a dealer for service, but this being third option, seemed like a good time to try them out, service charges be damned.  They can't take us on Monday, but if we drop by, say 7:45 on Tuesday, they'll look at the car almost first thing.
So, Karyn takes the car in for 7:45, and heads off for work.  I stay home, because last week I was a bum.  At around 10am, the phone rings and it's WPCO, and the car is ready to be picked up.  My father graciously offers to take me there and I go to the service area.
They tell me, that because the new battery we got, the car's computer system "wasn't reading the codes right" and so they basically reformatted the computer, put in all the correct codes, and the car should be fine now.
Uh huh.  I've heard that four or five times in the previous week, so I'm skeptical.  I pay the 44 dollars (basically it cost me an hour of labour, or there abouts, no parts, so that's good), and get in the car to drive it away.  As I'm driving off the lot, the car stalls, just as it had so many times in the past week.  Totally frustrated, I prepare to park the car, get out and try to be rational and calm as I tell them they've missed the problem, just like everyone else.  Instead, though, I decide to drive it a bit, to see if it works itself out.  I go to my parent's for a tea, and when I leave the car stalls again.  Before I take it back to Walter Piccott's, I decide to drive it around for a bit.  So, I take it on yet another drive around the north shore to see it the long drive allows the computer to reset itself.
Not once during the long drive does the car stall.  It still doesn't sound so great, though.  I don't allow myself to get any hopes up.  I decide to drive it around in town, a real stop and start test.  It doesn't stall once, yet it sometimes sounds like it wants to.  That's not enough of a reason to take it back to Walter Piccott's though, so I decide to wait until it begins to stall again.
So far, knock on wood, it hasn't stalled again since.  And each day, its idle sounds more and more healthy.
Maybe it's fixed.

Wednesday, September 21

Arista (1997-2005)

Our cat, Arista, the fourth member of our family of three, as much a sibling as our only child will know, died last night.
We are all sad today.
We noticed she, curled up in a corner of the house, had been panting labouriously and fast,  as if not enough air was reaching her lungs.  In obvious distress, I tried to massage her, to feel if anything was perhaps lodged in her windpipe, but found nothing but a distressing cack on each short breath.  I lifted her and took her to her water dish, but she'd have none of it.  She went to her litter box and did some business of the solid sort (which we thought may have been the problem, but still the breath was not coming easily).  She wandered off (with us following) to another, darker corner of the house, as if she wanted to be alone to deal with this troubling annoyance by herself.
Petting and comforting her was doing nothing but apparently annoying her, and she wandered away again.  This time to behind the couch, a sure sign of "leave me alone".  She couldn't be left alone, though, when she started meowing painful, mournful meowings.  Pulled the couch out and picked her up. Now her breathing was labourious and was beginning to sound phlegmy. Not a good sign.  Nor a good sign when liquidy discharge started to come out of her mouth.
We called the vet (this was at 9:30 at night) and told the symptoms and he said he'd meet us at the clinic.  Karyn went by herself, I stayed home with Cameron.
She arrived home about half an hour later.  Not good.  The vet would give Arista oxygen and call us with updates.  Cameron was, by this time, in bed.
Phone call another half hour later.  The vet was giving the cat oxygen, but it wasn't doing much..  He believed Arista had suffered a heart attack.  Also, there was substantial liquid forming in her lungs.  Perhaps, surmised the vet, she had taken some poison?  None that we were aware of.
As we were wondering what the next step should be, the vet says "hold on, she stopped moving".  When he came back on the phone, he told us Arista had died.

I was the one who told Cameron this morning, and that wasn't much fun.  She was the only pet Cameron had had.  He was the one who picked her out at the Shelter, when he was three or four years old.  He was the one who decided upon the name.  Immediately, she was house-trained, and a great addition to the family.  She played games with Cameron when he (or she) was bored, like Hide and Seek and Eat My Hair (don't ask).  She was devoutly jealous of almost every one of Cameron's friends, and would take every opportunity to hiss at them whenever they were occupying his time.  Those were the only times she'd show any hint of a negative attitude.
I'll miss those nights when I was falling asleep, Arista would jump up on my side of our bed and curl up beside me for five or ten minutes before heading off to her other nightly pursuits, and those countless times she'd curl up beside me on the couch and we'd watch TV together.

She was a great cat.  We'll miss her.

Monday, September 19

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Today is Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Just like last year, I choose to speak like a pirate who is a bit more educated, and has a better grasp of the English language, than your more typical (one might say "stereotyped") pirate.

So, in my finest pirate voice, I say:  a good day to you all, my friends.

Also, today is my 40th birthday.

Sunday, September 18

I'm Feeling A Bit Sensortive

Sunday - One week ago today:
My wife calls me (I was at home) from church and tells me the car won't start.  Ignition won't turn over at all, car clock is dead.  Surmised that the battery's dead.  Can't boost it because she can't (nor my father in law) get the hood open.  A couple of years ago, the plastic hood release latch next to the driver's side seat broke, and it's been more and more frustrating getting the hood opened, to the point in the past couple of weeks, where it's almost impossible.  In fact, I think I am the one who knows how to open the hood.
So, her parents give her a ride home from church and take me in to see if I can open the hood and start the car.  Getting the hood open involves cutting the carpet on the floor and stipping the plastic cording around the release wire.  After about ten minutes, I get the hood open, put booster cables on the car and it starts immediately.  Drive to my in-laws and borrow their battery charger.  The charger tells me that the battery is basically fully-charged.  Hmmm, I think, doesn't sound like a dead battery problem.  Assume, though, that it is.
Car starts no problem in the morning.  At noon, I drive to pick up DaveS for lunch.  Get in the car, and ignition won't turn over.  Swear a bit and get Dave to get his car and boost it.  Starts no problem.  I decide to take it to our mechanic.  I do, and tell him the problem.  We both agree that a new battery will likely solve the problem.  So, on Monday, the car gets a new battery.  Driving home on Monday evening, after picking up the car from the garage, it stalls at every intersection I come to.  I swear a bit at this new development.
Take the car back to the mechanic, who says he'll look into it.  I leave the car there all day.  Pick up the car (no charge for the second look) after mechanic's gone home, and the same problem.  Car stalls at every intersection.  Plus it starts to stall if I'm driving down the road without my foot on the gas.  Zen training keeps me from swearing much.  Plus I was pretty much expecting it to be not solved.
Take the car back to the mechanic.  Says he'll look at it again, but admits he's puzzled. If he can't solve it, he suggests I take it to a place where they can run computer diagnoses on it.  I come back around noon and he says he was talking to someone at Dave's Auto Electric.  He suggested that the computer needs to reset, and to do that, the car needs to be taken on a good long drive (he suggested 45 minutes).  Not allowing myself to believe this would work, I nonetheless go for a lunch-time drive around Brackley, the north shore, Tracedie, etc.  Car is driving better, but once I get back into town, it begins to stall again.  No swearing at all, because I knew the outcome and was prepared for it.
Call early in the morning to Dave's Auto Electric (the place our mechanic suggested we go), but they say they're booked up on Thursday but would try to squeeze us in on Friday.  Because my wife and I had places we needed to go on Thursday and Friday, and were totally frustrated by driving a car that continually stalls, my father graciously offered to loan us his car.  He says it sounds like a faulty sensor.  I agree and expect that's what Dave's Auto Electric will find. We leave our car at my parents.
Drop car off at Dave's Auto Electric, but because my wife and I are both busy all day, I ask my father if he'd be the contact.  Mid-afternoon, he goes to pick up the car.  They've installed a new alternator (that and labour = 225 dollars), they take it for a test drive and it's still stalling.  They suggest to my father that we take it for a good drive to reset the computer.  There is confusion from them why they were not able to check the sensors.  I am totally deflated at this point and do not press the issue, so  we take the car for a drive.  No change. Still stalling.
Drive the car into town to do the things I had scheduled.  Car stalls continually.
My wife drives the car to church.  I didn't ask her, but I assume it's continually stalling.
Monday (the day after today):
I don't know whether to go back to Dave's Auto Electric, or to take the car to a certified GM Chevy dealership and let them gouge me with their exorbanent labour charges.  Of if I'll be able to make an appointment at either or any place.

If the car doesn't get fixed at the next place we take it, I'll be officially pissed off.

Saturday, September 17

Funky Waste Group: Compostables!

Tuesday was a very wierd day for me, as an actor.
In the morning, I did the first of my Stanley Theman appearances (see previous post).  Right after that, I donned the Big Donnie outfit, and with the rest of the Canada Rocks Garbage! characters, and a camera crew, we all headed to The Wave at UPEI to do a guerilla-style assault performance of the opening sketch from this year's Sketch22.
We arrived, parked our cars in the visitor's parking lot.  As we all got into costume (me as Big Donnie, Graham and Chewed Up Bubblegum, Andrew as a giant Plastic Bag of Dog Poop, Dennis as a Used Tampon, and Josh as Father Garbage), a couple of people scouted out the best location in the wave for us to perform.  We decided upon our plan of attack.
And then we ran it.
There were three video cameras catching all the action.
I rolled the green IWMC compost bin into positions, turned on the portable stereo which had the speech I mouthed on it, plus the music to the rap song, and away we went.
Some people knew what we were about, but others hadn't a freaking clue.  By the end of the rap song, there was a pretty big crowd, and got huge cheers.  When we were done, we ran out of the building.
It went very well.  Then we decided to do it again, in the same location, basically to get some pick-up shots.  This time through, the crowds didn't bother to stay and watch.  A few did though, and we got some more footage.
With Stanley Theman and Big Donnie, it was a pretty strange one-two acting punch in a couple of hours.

Stanley Theman

What have I been doing lately?
This week has been incredibly busy for me, with three or four assorted acting gigs going on.
The strangest, by far, is the one I'll talk about here.  About a month ago, I was contacted and asked if I could play a nerd.  Not really sure exactly was being asked of me, I said "sure I can".
Turns out there'd be a convention at the Delta this week, of the Mechanical Contractor's Association of Canada.  They wanted me (well, someone, not 'me' specifically, like, they didn't seek me out, just any actor who could do it, and someone at the Delta thought of me) to pretend to be a new delegate to the MCAC and show up to a few events and kind of make my presence known to all.
Wierd gig, sounded easy, and it paid pretty good money, so how could I turn it down.
The name they gave me was Stanley Theman (you know, "Stan the Man", ha ha, right?) and I owned a company called New Energy Refrigeration and Development Mechanical, Limited (or N.E.R.D Mechanical Ltd. for short, ha ha, right?).  I was to be from Whitehorse, NWT.  I was to dress "like a nerd" they told me.  Best I could do was this:  I made my hair look greasy and flat and greasy.  I wore my "Teddy Goldman" glasses and a tight short-sleeve dresshirt over a blue long-sleeve turtleneck.  I had my iPod in my shirt pocket, and some large headphones (which I "forgot" to remove) on my ears.  It was my wierd version of a nerd.  (I wore variations on this theme throughout the week of events)
So, my for my first appearance, I was to show up at the MCAC Board of Director's meeting on Tuesday morning, be confused about why I, as a new delegate, was not allowed to sit in on the closed meeting, then leave in something of a huff (or a minute and a huff, as Groucho might say).  It should take about 5 minutes tops, they told me.
So, in to the Delta I go on Tuesday, and into the Elfin Pekaha room, where, sure enough, a board meeting was taking place.  There were probably about 40 or 50 people, mostly men, sitting around a square of tables, doing, you know, important (to them) work.  I interrupted them.  I figured I'd be nervous doing this, but nervous in an actorly way.  In reality, though, I became really nervous because I was interrupting their meeting.  I could really sense the bother I was causing these people.  I fealt really uncomfortable.
The room went totally dead-quiet when I first entered.  I went to the snack table and thought about pouring myself a coffee, but couldn't find a carafe.  So I abandoned that idea and started to look around the table for an empty seat.  That's when the Chairman (who was the only one "in on" the joke) asked me, politely, what I was doing there.  That's when the nerves hit me, because everyone was looking at me, and a definite air of being-bothered was in the room.  I said I was looking for a seat.  He said it was a closed meeting.  I told him "yeah, no problem, I'm a new delegate. I'm a member" and showed him my conference badge.  He said this meeting was only open to member of the board. I didn't understand what that meant.
I continued to play dumb for a minute and he continued to ask me to leave.  Someone got up and left ("to get security?" I wondered/hoped).  Finally, I "got the message" and promised to leave.  I apologized to the room for being an idiot and said I'd leave.  I kept apologizing and the chairman kept telling me to leave.  I then changed my slant and said it didn't seem fair that I couldn't sit in, and wondered what kind of secret stuff they'd be talking about that I shouldn't hear.  "It's a closed meeting, you'll have to leave" he kept saying.  "Can I at least get a juice?" I asked. That got a laugh.  Kind of a "what a pathetic tit" laugh.   "Sure" he said.  As I was getting a juice, one of the board members, who was near me, said "What boat did you just get off of?", kind of as a joke to his compatriots, not really to me.  I replied.  "No I didn't get hear by boat, I came by plane, and those friggers lost my luggage."
Anyway, I finally left, and it took maybe 4 minutes tops?  Seemed to go well, I thought.

The next event I was scheduled to punk was the First-Timer's Reception on Wednesday night.  Basically, show up, get people to look at me, and then leave.  That's what I did.  I shook people's hands, approached and interrupted groups in conversation with awkward conversation starters of my own.  I was in and out in about 10 minutes, just like they asked.  As I was leaving the hotel, I was walking past The Club (a small bar/llounge in the Delta).  It was packed with MCAC delegates.  A trio of them, near the door, saw me (they were board members and remembered me from that meeting), and called me over to them.  I could sense, from their questions, that they were trying to figure out if I was real or not.  I had decided to use a variation of my Moe Gorman voice, as it was one I was sure I'd be able to keep up for long periods of time, if need be.  Unfortunately, it kind of comes off as a bit "maritimey".  One of the guys picked up on that and asked me "if you're from Whitehorse, how come you have that accent?"  "I moved to Whitehorse 17 years ago" I said without missing a beat. "Originally I'm sort of from the maritimes.  Guess I can't lose the accent."  I was quite pleased with this lie, but kicking myself for the "sort of" vagueness.  Sure enough, one of them says "what do you mean, 'sort of'?  How can you be sort of from some place?"  I began to hem and haw a bit, on the technicalities of time spent in one place and how perhaps the place you have lived the longest is the place you're from...  beads of flop-sweat being born on my brow.  Hemming and hawwing, until the third guy gruffly says "Where were you born?"  Sydney, Cape Breton I lied.  "Then that's where in the hell you're from" he said definitively, killing the conversation.  I am-scrayed from them as soon as I could.

Thursday, I was scheduled for three appearances.  First one at 7:15am, as people were milling around waiting for the breakfast event (at which Ron MacLean was guest speaker!!) to begin.  I brought my camera for this one and basically just kept coming up to groups of people, couples, people by themselves and asking them where they were from (I didn't have my own glasses on, so I couldn't read that information that was on their conference badges).  My goal, I said, was to try and get a picture of myself with someone from each province in Canada.  This seemed to work quite well, and got me interacting with a bunch of people.  I was supposed to do that for 10 minutes or so, and it worked out perfectly.  My camera's batteries died after about 10 minutes and that gave me the perfect excuse to "go back to my room and get new batteries" rather than enter into the breakfast room.

Second gig that day was the Companion's Tour.  I was supposed to try and take the Companion's Tour (on 3 Trius motor-coaches), but then end up not taking it.  This event didn't work out so well for me.  I was supposed to show up at 8:45 and talk it up with the delegates Companions (mostly women) about the tour and stuff.  Trouble is, nobody was waiting for the couches.  Slowly, women started to trickle in (from the breakfast) but it was pretty awkward to try and start up conversations with them.  It's easier to be kind of jerky when there are more eyes watching, I realised.  When it's one-on-one like I was trying at this moment, it felt pretty creepy.  Eventually, one of the coaches got filled up, and I went on it and took a seat, asking anyone and everyone if they thought they'd mind if I, who was not a companion, took the tour anyway.  After chatting up the women around my seat on the coach, and just before they were about to leave, I "happened" to ask when the tour was over.  3pm I was told.  That was too late for me, I said, and awkwardly made be exit from the bus.  I was only supposed to spend about 10 minutes at this event, but because of the trickling of the companions, it ended up being about 25 minutes.  It went okay, but was my least favourite of the week.

The third that day was an appearance I was to make at the Suppliers' Showcase on the Mezzanine.  30 or so booths set up in rows up and down a couple of hallways.  I was basically to show up and visit each booth, ask stupid questions and be a bit of an annoyance.  And that's basically what I did.  I found it kind of tricky to get away from some booths without them asking me specifics about my company (to see, I assume, if I was worthwhile "pitching" to).  Even a cursory probe from them would've made them quite aware that I didn't know what the hell I was doing.  Luckily, I got away pretty much unscathed.

This morning at 7:30 was the Awards Breakfast.  I arrived and returned to my taking a picture with someone from each province routine.  I was looking for anyone from Quebec, the only province I still needed, so this allowed me to quickly go from table to table asking if anyone was from Quebec, and explaining my goal.  This worked very well in getting me around to as many people in a short time.
Then it was time to eat.  I played it pretty quiet during breakfast, as I didn't want to get into conversations with the other 7 people at my table for fear of blowing my cover.  After breakfast was eaten, awards were handed out.  For 10, 15 years service, Lifetime achievement, etc.
The final award was a new award for them, sure to be very prestigious, to be given out to a deserving member of the association. It was going to be given to me, I was told.  Then the MC told the room about this person's accomplishments, and the accomplishments were very impressive:  $400 million in income last year alone, 30% profit over blah blah blah.  People were very impressed with the numbers and statistics that were being spouted.  This person's business was hugely successful was the gist.  Then:  "The 2005 "Gotcha" award goes to... Stanley Theman!  Stan the Man, come up and get your award."  With the word Gotcha, the whole room, I'm sure, caught on if they hadn't already.
I went up and received my award - a rubber chicken - said thanks, etc, revealed my real identity and then promptly left.

And that was that.
What a wierd gig.  It was fun, but still through the week a fair amount of worry on my part, wondering what in the hell might go wrong at my next appearance, afraid of going too far and making it overly obvious that Stanley was a gag, or worrying about playing it too subtle and not making a big enough impression on enough people.  It's a pretty delicate balancing act, trying to be out there enough so that people take notice of you, but no so out there that you're not believable.
I had a good time though.

Wednesday, September 14

NFL Picks - Week One

The Dolphins won, so I don't really care about the pool.

I did pretty bad in week one of The Annekenstein Monster pool (where a huge 4 players are participating), going 6-10.  Good enough only for (a distant) second place behind jweale.  Right behind me sits Graham the conquerer at 5-11, and the "I don't want to play anymore" award goes to reverseflash with a paltry 2-14 record.

The first week is always pretty much a coin-toss (in a system where a coin toss can pretty much do better than me every week anyway), and now is the week where legitimate teams will begin to show themselves, and the fakers will fade.
I vow at least a 9-7 this week, or my name isn't Rob MacD.

If you'd like to join the fun (it's not too late - you're only two correct picks behind reverseflash), sign up at The Weekly NFL Picks Page and search for The Annekenstein Monster pool. Password is sketch22

Or, are you chicken?  Bwawk Bwawk Bwawk

Saturday, September 10

The Blame Game: Tag, You're It!

Check out this quote from a Fox News commentary:

Every American kid should be required to watch videotape of the poor in New Orleans and see how they suffered because they couldn't get out of town. And then every teacher should tell the students 'If you refuse to learn; if you refuse to work hard; if you become addicted; if you live a gangsta life; you will be poor and powerless, just like many of those in New Orleans'.  That's the truth.

Holy shit!

from this quicktime movie link (you need to click-through a 'daypass' ad to access this on Salon, but it's worth it).

Friday, September 9

Pledge of Arbitrary Allegiance

It's stupid, really.
20+ some odd years ago, I became interested in NFL football. Because Dan Marino was a young phenom at the time, his rookie season, I decided to root for the Miami Dolphins.  Really, for no other reason than Dan Marino looked like a great qb and the Dolphins looked like they were ready to create a dynasty.
The choice stuck, and I've been a devout DolFan ever since.  Sometimes I rue that decision.
Sometimes I wish I could cheer for the New England Patriots.  It would make so much more sense for me.  All their games are televised on Boston tv stations, which I receive, so that'd be great.  I'd never have the dilemna of deciding whether or not to pay for NFL Sunday Ticket.  But I can't.  I can't cheer for the Pats.  For one, they're hated division rivals of the Dolphins.  For two, they're hated division rivals.
They'd be a great team to root for, though.  They've had their terrible seasons. Dreadful seasons.  And now, for the past 4 years, they've been on top of the world.  Oh how great it'd have been to be a Pats fan for the past 20 years.  Even to be on the opposite side of that sickening snowplow incident.  Oh how I'd love to be able to laugh at DolFans about that.  But I can't. I wasn't a Pats fan, and I won't be.  I'm a Dolphins fan.
But it's stupid, really.  What's happened to my brain, my phsyiology, that makes it impossible for me to root, really root, for any other team than the Dolphins?   It was such an arbitrary decision all those years ago, how can it have imbedded itself so deeply into me?
Now, I'm stuck with the NFL Sunday Ticket decision.  Pay money (much needed money) to watch the Dolphins lose probably 12 of 16 games this year?  That's a tough call.  I'll likely have to go upstairs to the booth (where my wife makes the final decision) on that one.  But what if they're the surprise team of the season?  How sweet would it be if Gus Frerotte gets injured in game one and Sage Rosenfels becomes the next Tom Brady?  Shouldn't I be there, watching and waiting for that highly improbable scenario.  Isn't 20+ years as a disillusioned and disappointed DolFan worth it?  I don't know.

Last night, the Pats played the Raiders.  The Raiders are a team I've hated (sorry Dylan) since in my mother's womb, I think.  I still hate them.  Last night, watching the parts of the game I watched, I really found it hard to pick a team to root for.  I think that's why I ultimately stopped watching it.  Friggin' Pats win it, of course.  I really thought Randy Moss, with that touchdown pass he caught, was gonna lead the Raiders to victory.  I suppose that's the outcome I was really wishing for, only because that outcome has a positive affect on my Sage Rosenfels wins the Super Bowl fantasy scenario.

Please forgive me.  I'm a Dolphins Fan. 
I don't know why.

Wednesday, September 7

Down, Set, Hut! Hut! Hut!

The NFL season begins this Thursday night.
Just a reminder to anyone who wants to join The Annekenstein Monster pick'em pool at The Weekly NFL Picks Page can do so.
You'll have to register (it's free, and there's no annoying email cultivation or anything like that), then once you do, search for The Annekenstein Monster pool and sign up.  The password is sketch22

Thursday, September 1

Isis Oh Isis, You Mystical Terrorist

Bush Government Vows To Hunt Down Katrinal-Quieda Leader Known as “God”

With a handful of papers and documents under his arm that he claims show undisputed evidence of the connection between the devastation caused by the recent hurricane attack and a new Al Quieda off-shoot terrorist cell known as Katrinal-Quieda , White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan today vowed, on behalf of “the good and suffering people of America, and all the free world nations that are free and suffering along with us in our time of need and suffering and freedom”, to use all available military and intelligence resources to “hunt down and capture and kill the leader and all high-level members of the terrorist group, conveniently named and pictured here in this newest package of Terrorist Bubble-Gum Trading Cards” ™.

When asked by a reporter for the names of the terrorists in question, McClellan said “Well, we know they were in allegiance with Saddam Hussein, and right now we are concentrating on extrapolating that information from Saddam.  So far, we have four names.  First and foremost on the list, at the top of the list, is the terrorist known as God.  He has a number of aliases, of course, but here in America, he’s known as God.”

Research indicates that God has been suspected in many previous natural disaster attacks all over the world, including a massive world-wide flooding that devastated all of civilization except for one family and a menagerie of animals, led by a man who called himself Noah.

McClellan went on to warn that if any so-called Americans knew of God by any of his other aliases, such as Vishnu or Allah, they “could well expect to be visited for questioning and possible detention”.

Other terrorists that McClellan mentioned in today's press conference that “America is dutifully and single-mindedly searching for… well, single-mindedly except for, oh, what’s his name?  That other guy we’re supposed to be hunting, the one that claimed to be responsible for Saddam Hussein’s attacks on the World Trade Centres and Philadelphia?  What is it, I’m serious.  I honestly cannot think of his name now… Pretty sure it had, like, three names in it, kinda like Tiffany Amberson Thiessen.  It’s right there, on the tip of my tongue… Starts with ‘K’?...  I wanna say Kevin Bacon, but I know that’s not right… Osama!!!  Osama Bin Laden!!!  That’s it!!  It’s been so long since he’s even been mentioned anywhere, that I’ve almost completely forgotten his name.  And that’s funny, because he’s like a pretty serious dude we should be getting, right?  I mean, not as serious as Saddam Hussein, but still, not one to forget the name of.  Sorry ‘bout that,” are “an Iraqi named Poseidon, who we believe may have been responsible for the rising of the waters, and Thor, who most likely had something to do with the dramatic increase in wind.  The fourth of the terrorists we have a handle on is Isis. To be honest, we’re not really sure if Isis was involved, or really, what Isis would have done to assist in the devastation.  There are solid facts that indicate that Isis may have caused a snake to come out of the dust.  Possibly a snake full of weapons of mass destruction.”

At this point, Press Secretary McClellan allowed only one more question from the press corp, then drew two eyes and a nose on the side of his fist and began moving his thumb as if it were a lower lip, and asked himself, “Mr. McClellan, how serious is President Bush taking this latest attack against freedom, and how serious is he upset about the loss of life thus far?”, to which he replied “Well, President Bush is totally serious in his devotion to go after these guys in his total pursuit to save freedom, and is also seriously upset about the loss of life this far.”

The Agency for Homeland Security asks that anyone who may see God, or the other suspected Katrinal-Quieda terrorists, or anyone who looks suspicious or foreign, to immediately shoot them and then phone for cartage pickup.

Wednesday, August 31

A Sketch22 Dating Question

If you've seen our show, then perhaps you remember some of the characters.

So here's a queston for the Ladies.  And/or for the Ladies inside the Men:

If you were to choose, which character would you pick to go on a date with:

Used Tampon, the happy Young Company Festy
Jim Simmons, the political correct word nerd
Hat-Trick, the one-night-stand mental midget
Debbie Gaudet, the foul-mouthed lesbian
Punchy, the stand-up Robot

Extra! Extra! More Shows Added!

So, you thought you could get through the summer without seeing Sketch22, did you?  You've been breathing easier this week, thinking that the run of that interminable in-your-face sketch comedy show was done, and now you could brave the streets of Charlottetown, not caring if you ran into "sketchers" because now you had your "Yeah, I was planning on seeing your show, but something always seemed to be coming up, and now it's too late" excuse speech practically memorized?
Not so fast, fast-pants.
We've added more shows.  Yes, Sketch22 has been held over for two more weekends.  There's still five more shows you'll have to avoid.  This Thursday and Friday, Sept.1&2, and next Thursday and Friday, Sept.8&9. 
"Ah-hah!" you say to yourself. "I've been fortunate enough to work in a field of labour that causes me to work on Thursday and Friday evenings, most likely in the food service industry.  Because of that, I'll still be able to avoid the show that people either really enjoy or really despise, but mostly really enjoy."
Again, not so quick, quick-shorts.
See, we've added a Super Special No Holds Barred Final Show on Sunday September 11.  Yes, Sunday.  So unless you have, like, the shittiest work schedule ever, you're gonna have an evening free to come to this show. 

And better yet, if you do go to the Special Sunday show, you don't have to worry about your $15  admission going to support the filthy-minded reprobrates who wrote, produced and act in the show.  No, if you go to the Special Sunday show, your $15 admission, every penny, will go towards food for the filthy reprobates who populate this town and rely on the Food Bank for sustenance.
Our Special Sunday performance is a show for charity, and every single dollar from tickets sold at the box office is going to the Food Bank.  Maybe you'd want to pay more than $15?

We hope to have one of those "presenting a giant cheque" photos taken for The Guardian.  Our dream is to have the character "Used Tampon" present a cheque to a street person.

Monday, August 29

Un-Labour Day

So now that I'm a famous media pundit (really the only person one should talk to in reference to all things The Office), it's time to say good-bye to the humdrum boredom of a bi-monthly paycheque and start the next chapter in my quest for financial stability.
This Friday is going to be my final day at the job I've held for the past 6 or 7 years.  Earlier this month, I informed those that needed informing that I was quitting. My reason for leaving is primarily one of feeling under-appreciated, as far as being paid what I should for the work I do.  I probably should have left two weeks after giving my notice, but, being the nice guy I am, I offered to stay on until the end of the month, to help train my replacements. Plus the extra couple of weeks of income will come in handy.
I quit without having any solid (or even loose-stool) prospects of a replacement job or career.  I have a couple of small projects that will get me through the next month or so, but after that, it's a serious question mark as to how my family manages to maintain the low middle class lifestyle to which we've grown accustomed.
Qutting a job at the age of almost-40 (only days away), with a wife and a kid and a falling-down house and breaking-down car may be the most moronic thing I've ever done, but I'm hoping it will lead to a more fulfilling life.
It's a rather scary step to take, but a step that I take with no concern that it's the wrong move to make.
It was time for a change.  Rather than wait for the change to come to me, I've decided to find the change.  (yes, I'm going to be a pro-active bum).
So, this Labour Day, as the world celebrates, um, Labour... I'll be celebrating Un-Labour.  Or De-Labour? Or Dis-Labour?

The People That You Meet

I am worried for a) the internets, and b) the state of journalism in today's universe.

Because someone thought me worthy enough to be interviewed for a People magazine piece on the TV show "The Office".  Worthy, based on a couple of posts I made regarding The Office on this here blog here.  Yes, I was interviewed via telephone yesterday by a writer for People magazine (at least, he claimed he was a writer for People magazine).  He wanted my opinions on the NBC version of The Office being nominated for The Emmys.  I answered his questions.
I had mixed emotions about the whole affair.  It was nice, I guess, to be singled out from the pack and asked my opinion.  But, really, why should my opinion matter?
Seriously, if this is the state of journalism (even if it's "entertainment" journalism), where a hack like me potentially (I honestly doubt I'll get mentioned in the article) becomes a source in such a piece, and the things I say thereby achieve some level of legitimacy because they're in this magazine (even if it is just People), then I wonder about the legitimacy of sources in every piece of journalism I see or read in the future.

In the grand scheme of things, I am a Nobody With A Blog (and I am not being self-deprecating, just honest).  Since when have we started caring what Nobodies have to say?   I realise that blogs have become a popular buzz-phenom in the mainstream media, and I know that the media has begun to masturbate itself all over the fad, but when I am the chicken that the media begins to choke, then I think it's gone quite a bit too far.
I should not be interviewed for a People magazine piece on The Office.  I just shouldn't.
Should I?

I think somebody, somewhere, made a big mistake.

Friday, August 26

Midnight At The Oasis

We are performing a special midnight show of Sketch22 tonight.  We usually do this for the Festies and assorted people who aren't normally available to see the 8pm shows...  It's usually a pretty fun show and the audience is usually, um, primed for a good time.
Check it out, if you're up to nothing at midnight tonight.
Believe me, you've not lived 'til you've seen Debbie Gaudet at 2 in the morning.

Tuesday, August 23

My Picks Are Better Than Your Picks

For the past few years, I've been making NFL picks at a fantastic free NFL Picks pool site.

Visit it here.

I've just created a new pool for the upcoming NFL season.  If you'd like to join my pool, and try to challenge my uncanny ability to prognosticate the weekly winners and loser of the Football League they call National, then why not sign up and join my pool.  You should be warned, though, I got almost 55% of my picks right one season.  That's, like, one better than flipping a coin... Remember, picks are made based on the point spread between teams for each game.

It's free to sign up.
Once you register, then look for the pool called "The Annekenstein Monster"
The password to join The Annekenstein Monster pool is:   sketch22

Monday, August 22

Ess-Tee-Eee... Vee-Eee-Arr... Eye-Enn-Oh

I know, I know, you're all sick of the Sketch22 stuff.
Sorry, it's all I have.
Here's a little bit of a word-up on the show from Steverino, the brother of Sean McQ.

Click Here to read the post from his blog, Steverinoland.  Thanks, Steve, for coming to the show.

Sunday, August 14

Appealingly Appalling

Well, I suppose I should comment on the quickly-becoming-legendary Charles Mandel Sketch 22 review.  Many are calling it the worst theatrical review ever to hit the pages of the Guardian.  I don't know, some of those Confederation Centre reviews they spew every year are pretty ass-kissy.  But I guess that's taking "worst" in the opposite direction.

First off, I acknowledge that it's hard not to sound petty when the scathed confronts points made in a scathing review, so I hope I won't sound too petty.  But, in short, I think Charles Mandel pretty much got it all wrong.
Yes, he's entitled to his opinion and yes it's his job to report his experience of the performance.  So let's get that out of the way first.  He did that, and he quite obviously hated the show.  I can live with that.  I wish, however, that in his review, he would have been more truthful
about how his opinion of the show seemed to be counter to the opinions
of the majority of the people in attendance with him.
When we were writing and rehearsing the show, we knew there would be segments of the audience who would hate the show.  Our hope, though, was that the majority would like it.  Our hope seems to be winning. 
Besides the goal of producing a Funny Show, another of our goals this year was to challenge ourselves and our audience as to what is funny: So we wrote sketches that dance all around the limits of comedy, and the boundaries of "good taste".  We acknowledge quite openly that we often cross those boundaries.  Yes, to shock, but also (and I don't want to get all artsy-fartsy here), to explore.  Explore just how far one can go before a joke becomes too much.  Explore how far an audience is willing to go before they say "enough, that's too far".  Explore the depths even further and see if the audience decides "no, we were wrong, this is still funny", and then go farther still, until all agree that the limit has been reached.  And how do we judge the results of the explorations?  Simply, by the laughter.  If an audience laughs, then it's funny.  It's (almost - see below) that simple. 
Now I know of actors who kid themselves that their productions are better than they are, and who brainwash themselves into believing that audiences are loving their shows and performances more than they actually are.  I believe that I'm a pretty objective critic of any shows I've been involved in and I believe I have a pretty good sense of when an audience is honestly enjoying a show, and when they are "being supportive".  With comedy shows, it's much easier to guage an audience than it is with drama.  With comedy, audiences either a) laugh honestly, b) laugh in support, or c) don't laugh.  I may have brainwashed myself into believing this, but I'm pretty sure that audiences who see Sketch 22 are laughing pretty honestly.  A lot.  And hard.
Which brings me to the crowd in which Charles Mandel found himself in last week.  Now, Charles insinuates that the audience wasn't enjoying the show very much.  Saying things like "People forget to laugh"; "but the majority of the crowd remained silent" implies that the audience didn't laugh.  Saying something like "finally, though, a couple of the questions loosened the crowd up", implies that the crowd that night was stiff and tight.
This may very well be the way Mr. Mandel heard the audience, but from my perspective, the crowd that night was, without doubt, the most boisterous, loud, accepting, energetic, appreciative crowd we'd had so far to that point.  This year or last year.  It was a fantastic show, from beginning to end, and the audience's enjoyment was a huge part of it.  Again, maybe I've talked myself into imagining this, but I honestly don't think so. 
Because the audience was so over-whelmingly supportive and appreciative, I was looking forward to Mr. Mandel's review.  If he didn't like the show, I thought, at least he'd have to comment about the way the rest of the crowd liked it.
So, I was rather dismayed by Mr. Mandel painting the picture to Guardian readers that the show was not appreciated by the audience.  I think what happened was, the show wasn't appreciated by Mr. Mandel (and, no doubt, a few others), and to prop up his minority position, he, perhaps, chose not to  hear the roaring laughter, the clapping and cheering.  Maybe he was so worked up and bothered, outraged, by the content, all he heard were the swear words, and all he saw was filth.
Because, based on his review, he certainly missed a lot.  In fact, he missed a fucking great show.
What did he miss, in particular?
In my opinion, he missed some very key components of some of the sketches.  Too fixated on the crudeness, perhaps.  Regarding the lesbian stand up comedian, he claims (at least this is how I read it) that I bombed in my performance.  Even if he is referring to the character bombing (but I'm pretty sure he's referring to me, the actor, not the character I was playing), he says "It's not pleasant watching a comedian bomb."
Well, to me, that comment speaks volumes and perfectly illustrates how Mr. Mandel failed in his review of the show.  You see, Mr. Mandel, in that sketch, the character is supposed to bomb.  She is supposed to be an unfunny comedian.  Regarding that sketch, you wrote "nervous titters and giggles came from a number of people along with outright expressions of dismay".  What you failed to recognize is that the sketch was written and is performed to achieve precisely that reaction from the audience.  I wrote that sketch so that an audience would (hopefully) laugh along at the beginning of the sketch, and then as the character becomes uglier and more vile and more gratuitous in her language, more and more of the audience would feel uncomfortable and fewer and fewer people would laugh.  And it works very well.  Most people, whether they realise it or not, understand this, and are more than willing to come along for the ride to see just how bad it's going to get.
So, Mr. Mandel, you see, you don't see.  Now, you may ask, why would you want to have a sketch in a comedy show that's designed to get an audience to stop laughing?  It's a very good question, and one that compelled me to write the sketch.  It's kinda like an experiment.  In one sense, though, Mr. Mandel, I did fail in that sketch.  You see, by and far away, that character and sketch has become beloved by a huge number of people who've seen the show.  I tried to write a character that would repulse an audience, and ended up creating one who is adored by many.  In that way, I failed.  Yet, you were repulsed, Mr.Mandel, so in that way I succeeded, I guess.  Just like a Bag of Dog Poop, I'm so confused.
What else?
Okay, the "man-on-man" kiss.  You seem to take pleasure in the "Thank you" heckle from the audience member.  As if you were relieved that there was another person in the audience, besides yourself who couldn't handle such an event taking place before their (your) eyes.  You seem to be proud of that heckle, whereas I see it as a sad statement of homophobia.  A person so appalled by the very threat of seeing two men kiss that he is compelled to shout out his thanks at it not happening.  In truth, though, I don't think that guy meant it in such a homophobic way (yet I'm wondering whether your inclusion of it in your review is meant in that way?).  I prefer to believe that he just didn't want to see the big blonde guy kiss the skinny dark-haired guy.  I think that's the beauty of that moment.  Most people are equally compelled to watch and to avert their eyes.  They want it to simultaneously happen and not happen, hoping it'll be as awful as they're scared it will actually be.  It's such a Beautifully Ugly moment.
Hey, you know, maybe that homophobic reaction is exactly the kind we were hoping to elicit?  Maybe we're saying it's not the two guys on stage who are kissing who are appalling.  Perhaps the appalling ones are those in the audience who are disgusted by it. 
And, in reference to that heckle, you say "it's bad when the funniest lines come from the crowd."  Now, I question, really, whether that was the funniest line of the night, but it did get a laugh, to be sure (there are so many lines that get huge laughs, it's really hard to single one out.  We love all our babies.  Again, strange you didn't mention all the laughter in your review).  Yet, again, I have to disagree with you when you say "it's bad".  To me, a funnly line at a comedy show is a good thing, whether it's spoken by someone on stage or off.  If it somehow fits within the context of the show (as this line did) and it gets a laugh from the rest of the crowd, then I don't care who says it.
Oh, the "minds of 13 year olds" line. I'll have you know, I don't think there's one fart joke in the whole show.  Your comment almost compels me to imply that your review was written with the same basis of maturity, but my sense of decency keeps me from doing such.
Really, though, you're right that many of the lines in the nudist sketch are rather juvenile and full of double-entendre.  I don't know why that's a concern, though, since most nights many of those lines can't even be heard by the audience or by the actors, since there's a roar of laughter through so much of the sketch.  Seriously, it's like the Beatles performing at Shea Stadium.  We can't even hear ourselves perform at many points during that sketch.  Too bad the audience is being tricked by us into laughing.
Another comment that I think misses the mark is the one about Trailer Park Boys being a "not so intelligent satire".  Truthfully, I've only seen a few episodes, but the ones I saw seemed to be pretty smart satire.  And I would also suggest he misses the point if he thinks that sketch was making fun of TPB.  I would say we were exploring the same areas of society that TPB explores.

Other lines to comment on: 
"But bludgeoning their audience with scandalous language isn't particularly clever."  I would counter with this: Nor is it particularly clever to entirely miss the clever aspects of the show you're claiming isn't particularly clever.
"Much of the show can't even be discussed in a family newspaper such as this one." I bet a competent writer would find a way. (okay, that was a little petulant.  I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant he didn't *have time* to bother to find a way to discuss those aspects of the show in a way suitable to a family newspaper such as this one.)

I guess, in the end, it boils down to a difference of opinion.  I really enjoyed reading it.  It doesn't bother me that he didn't like it.  I wish, though, that he tried a bit harder to see beyond his outrage at the foul-mouthed outrageousness and attempt to review the aspects of the show that take place beneath that layer of filth.  I am also a bit bothered that his review, in my opinion, misrepresents the fun and excitement and pleasure so many audience members seem ot experience when they see the show.  I feel bad for those who were perhaps contemplating coming to the show, and then, having read his review, decide against seeing it.

Seriously, who are you going to trust?  The guy who hated the show the one time he saw it, or the guy who loves to perform in it more and more with each successive performance?  And one of the main reasons I love to perform in it is because the audience reaction is so fantastic and enthusiastic.

He's right though, the show is appalling.  But in a most appealing way.

Friday, August 12

But Did You Like It?

Sketch-22 pushes show to the raunchy limit

by Charles Mandel

    Judging from the full house Friday night at The Guild, the word is out about Sketch-22.

    The suspicion, however, is people are jamming the venue not because the comedy quintet is especially funny, but because they've heard the show is especially raunchy.
    Make no mistake, Sketch-22's second season is about as raw as it gets.  Much of the show can't even be discussed in a family newspaper such as this one.
    But if foul-mouthed stand-up comedians strike you as funny, you'll love this show.
    It's not as if profanity is something new in humour.  Comedians like Lenny Bruce have relied on the shock of the outrageous to pull laughs from their audiences.
    It's a little different, though, when the outrage overtakes the humour.  People forget to laugh.
    That's exactly what happened at times at the Guild. The troupe pushed the performance so far that they lost their audience.
    During at least one skit in which Rob MacDonald played a lesbian stand-up comic, nervous titters adn giggles came from a number of people along with outright expressions of dismay, but the majority of the crowd remained silent.
    It's not pleasant watching a comedian bomb.
    Josh Weale's appearance as Jesus offering to take questions from the crowd also got off to an awkward start.  Finally, though, a couple of the questions loosened up the crowd.
    Elsewhere, at the end of the night, when MacDonald was threatening to give another cast member a full tongue "man-to-man" kiss, but backed off, someone from the audience heckled, "Thank you!"  That prompted one of the first full laughs from the audience in several minutes.
    It's bad when the funniest lines come from the crowd.
    A segment featuring Andrew Sprague as a doctor visiting a nudist colony drew waves of helpless laughter from the audience - even if much of it was in disbelief.  Although the language of the skit was fairly juvenile, composed of obvious double entendres, people cracked up as members of Sketch-22 appeared nude but for strategically placed items.
    The Full Monty had nothing on this.
    Another piece that kept the audience in stitches featured MacDonald as a man who arranged swaps for unwanted babies.
    And why would they be unwanted?  Because, they were "from away".
    Advised MacDonald: If you want that boy to be an Islander, "make sure his first word is pogey."
    But the laugh-out-loud skits were few and far between this year.  The problem isn't with the comedians.  MacDonald, along with fellow satirists Josh Weale, Andrew Sprague, Graham Putnam and  - new to the troupe this year - Dennis Trainor are reasonably funny guys.
    However, if their material is anything to go by, they have the minds of 13-year-olds.  The majority of their skits seemed designed to be as offensive as possible.  If that was the goal, they succeeded.  But bludgeoning their audience with scandalous language isn't particularly clever.
    Occasionally, snippets of local or political humour made their way into the act, but for the most part it was just one vulgarity heaped upon another.
    Perhaps Sketch-22 believes this is what an audience raised on Trailer Park Boys, rap music adn MTV's Jackass deserves.
    To be sure, one skit explicitly made reference to that whole culture when MacDonald introduced himself as "Teddy Goldman, producer of the Low Income Boys."
    The problem, though, with trying to make fun of something that's already a not-so-intelligent satire is it becomes a question of how low can you go, and as Sketch-22 proves, they can go very low indeed.
    Given that Sketch-22 wrote their humour to be as outrageous as possible, what more can be said: they succeeded.  The show is appalling.

Here's the review of our show by The Guardian's Charles Mandel.  I'll comment more when I get a chance.  Thought you might like to read it, though.  I think he liked it!