Thursday, June 30

A Burning Desire to Scream & Flash

I have a very strong desire to do the following:

Go to the beach late at night with a few people (probably my wife and son).  Requirement is that it is dark.
One at a time, someone will scream as loud and as intensely as is possible for them to do so.
While screaming in the dark, their picture will be taken.

I expect the results to look rather interesting.

When I succumb to this desire, I will post the results here.
Is your breath baited?


We have some nice looking pork to barbecue and cause salivation.  We have some "new potatoes" to boil and drool over their melted-buttery goodness.  Some potato salad, bread, various beverages cooled, etc.
I've been looking forward all day to making and enjoying this meal.  We get home, I open the barbecue lid to preheat the barbecue and discover the grill is gone. 
Someone stole our barbecue grill!
We could, I suppose, bake or fry the pork, but it's not nearly the same and there really isn't time to do so before I rush off to rehearsal.
So, Karyn, bless her, has offered to run off and get some substitute fast-food.
Pork, you'll have to wait until tomorrow, when you'll be grilled up nicely on a brand new grill.  Potatoes, be thee boiled on the morrow as well!
To the prick who stole our grill: May you sleep peacefully tonight and wake up dead tomorrow.

Yeah, Wapner's On!!

I like movies, but I don't go to a lot of movies (I also don't go to a lot of anythings).  There are many reasons why I don't go to more movies, none of them really very good reasons, but I suppose, taken as a whole, they add up to me not going to movies.
One reason I don't like going to movies (and to theatre, too) is the potential (no matter how small) that it'll be sold out, or I'll be late, or some sort of minor inconvenince will occur before hand that will keep me from sitting in a seat in a smart, timely manner.  Yes, I realise I'm rather Rain Man in that regard.
So, last night, almost at the last minute, we (the family) decide to go see Batman Begins.  I check online to see when the movie starts and I see 6:45...  It's 6:25 as I check, and we're about a 5 minute drive away.  Good, let's go.
We get to the theatre and the marquee says Batman Begins  6:30.  It's 6:30 as we see this.  Stanidng outside in the rain (man) I have a small little breakdown and we (I) decide not to bother.  Yes, there are probably 15 minutes of previews, yes we'd likely get in before the actual movie started and really so what if we missed a few minutes... but... there was a heck of a long lineup for tickets (yes I could have used the robot-tellers in the foyer but there were lines for them too), we had to get some munchies because we were forgoing supper because of this last-minute decision to go and the lineups for food were likely long too.
So we didn't go to the movie.  I am turning into an autistic.  But where is my savantism?

Three-Fifths of a Fist of Chicken

Remember the good old days, when I'd update this site fairly regularly, with sometime entertaining (at least attempted), sometime inane postings about Nothing In Particular?
Then I kind of fell off the Blog Bandwagon.  I began to have trouble justifying to myself the bother of writing my stupid little bits of uselessness, and my number and regularity of posts dropped dramatically.
But, now, though, I feel I must return a bit to the old days and report on the saga of the chicken fingers.

It had been quite a while since I went back for chicken fingers to that place where the guy treated me well (or did he?  perhaps he treated everyone equally well...) by giving me 5 big fingers of chicken and copious amounts of fries.  Why did I stop going?  Well, I got tired, for one, of eating chicken fingers once a week, and for two, sometimes I went and they didn't have chicken fingers.  That was enough to keep me away for a month or two.
Yesterday, I went back, and the Generous Guy was nowhere to be seen (in fact, I noticed as I'd walk by that he's been there less and less lately, usually replaced by a early-20's girl). Now, there was an older woman who waited on me and an older guy who was kind of hovering.  It had a real feel of New Management.
How would that affect my chicken finger supply?  Well, as the title of this post suggests, I got three fingers only.  And not big fingers like Generous Guy used to give me.  Three piddly little chicken fingers (but still a large amount of fries).  I almost complained about how I used to get 5 fingers, but I didn't bother.  I didn't like the vibe of the new people and the chicken fingers'n'fries thing had been not doing if for me lately, so instead of complaining, I figure I'll just not go back much, if at all.
While I was there, an old guy ordered after me.  He was probably in his 80s and walked around with one of those four-footed canes. I liked him right away, because he was on the ball.  Whenever I see older people like him at fast food places or take-outs, they often seem distressed trying to figure out the food and ordering, etc.  Not this guy, though, he was totally in command of his faculties and very fast-food savvy.  His order was ready before mine (as it took a while for the fingers to cook) and I saw he would have difficulty with carrying his tray, plus the package he had, plus the cane, so I offered to help him by taking his tray to a table.  He was thankful and I felt good.
When I got back to the counter, my food was ready.  I noticed that the fries were covering the fingers, and I assumed that they did that to hide the lame number of fingers they had given me.

Anyway, this may be the final entry in the saga of the chicken fingers.

Sunday, June 26

The Oncology Show Report

We had a Sketch22 gig last night.  It was a 45 minute show for an Oncology Doctor Conference in Cavendish.  We used this performance as a chance to try out some of our new material for this summer's show.  We also brought back a few of the sketches from last year.
Doing shows like this is usually pretty tough.  The venue is usually awful, the people aren't really interested in what you're doing and it's generally a pain in the ass and something one just looks forward to being done with.  It was also a pain to re-rehearse those last year sketches because it took (precious) time away from rehearsing the sketches for this season.  But they had asked for some of the sketches from last year, so what the heck.
I think the performance went about as well as it could have, given the circumstances.  First of all, our dressing room turned out to be a deck outside the room where we'd be performing.  Okay, no problem, it was a nice night, and while the clouds were threatening rain, it stayed dry.  Secondly, the performance was late getting going because it was taking longer for the conference participants to come into the room to eat.  But they ate quick, the room was converted from dining to performance and we went on.
We weren't expecting a lot of response from the audience because the sketches we chose are fairly PEI-centric.  Still there was hope that the universally comedic aspects of the sketches would shine through and that would engage them enough to enjoy the show.
The stage was quite a bit smaller than we were used to during rehearsals, and our first problem during the performance was to accomodate the small size to our sketches.  The blocking in the first sketch got all confused and discombobulated, but it went pretty well.  Of all the sketches we'd be performing, that was the one I was most worried about.  Because it's kind of like - the audience is eating, enjoying, digesting and then - BAM - they're taken to this kind of weird sketch universe and asked to come along for a strange ride.  It didn't take them long to adjust though, and it went about as good as I could have hoped.
The next couple of sketches were from last year (Road Crew, Piping Plover and Moe Gorman) and they went over very well.  Our next new sketch went over fairly well, too, and our new finale sketch (which has an either hit-or-miss ending) got enough big laughs to make us feel pretty good about the evening.  The feedback from the audience was very favourable as well.
Now, with that show out of the way, we embark on the final week and a half of rehearsals for our July 7 opening.  A lot of work left to do, but now we have a couple of the sketches at performance level, so the Oncology show was good for forcing that upon us.
Plus we got a nice chunk of change for it too.
I think, though, that it will turn out to be our last such gig.  None of us like doing them, really, and despite the easy money, they're not something we're going to pursue in the future.
It may also have been the last time ever we perform Road Crew, Plover and Moe Gorman.  Time to put those characters to rest, we think.

Friday, June 24

Canada Rocks! A First Act Review

So, I had just spent about an hour writing a long detailed review of Canada Rocks, the new Confederation Centre musical.  I went into detail about those things that I liked (not a lot of things, to be honest) and those things that I didn't like (the majority of the length of the post).  Just as I was finishing up, a brief power outage caused me to lose it all.  With it was lost my desire to review it again.
But review it I must!

What I liked:
- I thought the band was fantastic.  A really sharp, great, tight band.
- I thought most of the songs were performed really well.  Most of the singers have great voices and overall, they did a great job of singing the songs in the style of the artists who originally performed them.

What I didn't like:
- The show was waaaaay too long, with waaaay too many songs included.  So long that I couldn't bear to stay for the second act.  Yes, I left at intermission.  Admittedly, the show I saw was the very first preview performance (a glorified dress rehearsal, I suppose) and I understand that since that performance, the show was scissored and cut to a more managable length.
- The real reason I left, though, wasn't because of the length, but because of the stuff that took place between the far-too-many songs.  The dialogue and story (hard to call it a story, with plot and all) was terrible and pointless.  It was about some fakey-fake Old Canadian Rocker taking the train across Canada.  He meets up with vain, young Canadian Icon (get it?) starlet who declares all those old Canadian Rock Songs to be Ancient History!  Old Rocker says "Oh Yeah?  Listen to this:  Sooooooo  oooooooo    ooooooo     ooooooooo maaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaa  aaaaaaa!".  They then travel across country in an uninspired, unappealing  travel-rock-ulogue that highlights All The Great Canadian Songs, Old And New!  Along the way, there's an Entertainment Reporter who checks in with them to see how things are progressing.
-Reporter uses a potentially cool gimmick:  a live video feed, projected onto the two video screens that adorn the wings of the stage.  The coolness of this gimmick, though, was quickly diminished as it became evident that the camera operator wasn't a cinematographer in any respect.  Most of the live shots were nothing more than unfocused shots of actors asses and the floor and the wings.  When there wasn't live video, the screens on the side displayed various boring photos and uninteresting stills representing the artists whose songs the performers were singing.  It was very Canada Post Vignettes/Hinterland Who's Who in that respect.  Very dry and uninspired use of the video elements.
-The set itself was also dry and uninspired.  A too-large platform upstage for the band to play on, a couple of flats that had some colour designs on them, and the absolute puzzle of the set:  a couple of dozen hanging hubcaps.  What?  Why?  Are they supposed to represent travel, like the travelling across the country by train?  Okay, but hubcaps are on cars, you know, not trains.  But, whatever.  Boo on that set design.
-Remember I mentioned how I didn't like the dialogue between songs?  Here's why.  First, it was that crappy type of sing-songy, rhyming couplet type shit of dialogue:

And now the train sets down the tracks
Our Rocker's finished with Halifax
The East is more than bodhrans and fiddles
And more to eat than chowder and viddles
As now where will our next stop be?
The great Rock Town of Shubenacadie.

Just terrible.  (that of course, wasn't real dialogue from the show, but I think it's accurate in a satirical way)  I really felt bad for the actors for having to say it.  Secondly, the dialogue was awful because it was irrelevant and pointless.  Because the 'story' had no gravitas or import, the dialogue for it was also worthless and unimportant to us, the audience.
- I thought the dancers were wasted.  When I go to see a musical (I guess this is more a Musical Revue, though?) I expect to see a bit of dance.  I'm not a big fan of dance, but I do enjoy it every so often.  I believe when I allow myself to enjoy it, I can usually 'get it'.   Not so with Canada Rocks, though.  The real problem with it (from my admittedly neophyte perspective) was that there didn't seem to be any direction in the choreography.  People were dancing whatever moves they wanted, it seemed, whenever they wanted.  I can't believe I'm about to type this but:  Would it have killed you to include even one artsy-fartsy interpretive dance for even one of the songs?
- That leads me to another fairly big complaint I had:  I was really bugged by the lacksadaisacal way in which the actors seemed to wander around the stage, onto the stage, off the stage, at apparently random on bizarre times.  This applied to bit actors/dancers right up to the main players of the show.  Someone would be singing a song, more or less alone on stage and various people would kind of wander out, kind of listen for a moment or two, then wander off, or across the stage...??  What? The?  Hell? Was? That?  Oftentimes, when people were on stage for any period of time, (to 'dig' the music, I assume, like fans or groupies) they'd eventually end up looking like they were bored.  Groups of three or four people, sitting on the stage, or leaning against the band's platform, looking like they're not paying attention to what's going on.  Was that just me projecting my disinterest onto them?  Who knows, but they often looked bored.  Too many people needlessly on stage doing nothing really, just being there.  I didn't like that.
-Apart from the one segment of comedy which I saw,  the show is totally devoid of humour.  I don't mean there aren't enough jokes.  I mean the show takes itself and its subject far too seriously.  Loosen the hell up.  It's a show about rock and roll, and it's presented in a kind of button-down shirt style.  Rip the shirts off a bit and flash your wangs and tits! (metaphorically speaking)
- There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the list of songs and to why they were performed when they were.  Song selection seemed totally arbitrary and pointless.  There was a vague east to west thing happening, but that concept was broken so often as to become valueless.  Bryan Adams and Sk8trBoi were performed, for instance, while the Rock Train was in Atlantic Canada.
-And of course, there were way too many songs.  In the first act.  Show started at 7:30 and first act was over at 9:10.  That's one big act.  Again, though, I understand that cuts were made, so perhaps it's better now?  Unless, though, they cut a pile of songs, and totally cut or rewrite the ridiculous between songs crapola, the show is still a pile of trouble, in my opinion.
Which is too bad, because there is some incredible talent in the production.  Only a few of the songs in the one act I saw were on the down side of good.  Most were fantastic.
As the act progressed, and as it continued to Not End, I started getting angry at the performers for singing another song.  About three quarters of the way through, every time a new song was started, I convinced myself that it was the final song of the act.  Still, though, they'd segue into another and I'd get angry again as they continued to Take Forever!  Near the end of the act, it seemed to have taken so bloody long that I had started to believe that they combined the two acts into one and were going straight through to the end.  No such luck.  Intermission came and it wasn't a difficult decision to make for the exits.
During a couple of the intervals when I wasn't wishing the act would end, I began thinking of the ways I'd improve the show.  Here's what I came up with.
1) Perform the show at the MacKenzie.  This is not a MainStage show.  It just isn't.  How great it'd be in a more intimate setting, especially if they improved the story.
2) Improve the story.  Do this by giving the peformers actual motives and conflicts and plot progressions. Give the actors something to invest some emotion into.  The bland, humourless fluff that sits between the songs now is pretty awful.  It wouldn't take much effort to inject some life into the script.  How about picking and choosing songs a bit more carefully, and make the contents/lyrics of the songs part of the story/plot.  Or not.
3) Failing that, I'd scrap entirely the between songs shit, and totally make it a song-fest.  "Canada's got some great songs, folks.  Here they are for the next two hours, performed by some pretty talented people."  Each night, mix up the playlist a little bit.
4) Don't make it a show that Senior Citizens might enjoy.  I know they're an important demographic to the Centre, with the bus tours and whatnot, but designing the show as one everyone might like just turns it into one which nobody will like.  Get some balls, Centre, and produce a show that has some balls.
5) Change the name.  Canada Rocks! as it stands now, is a lie.  A suggested name for the show as it was the night I saw it:  Canada Has Turned Up The Volume On Some Songs Made Popular By Canadian Pop Entertainers And Presents It In A Bland Non-Threatening Way For All To Enjoy But None To Love

Friday, June 17

100 Things You Couldn't Care About Me

1)  I hate the word "meme".  I don't know what it means and I don't want to bother to look it up.  Okay, I looked it up and I guess I did pretty much know what it meant.
2) I will sometimes say I'll not do something, or say I will do something, then go ahead and disregard myself. (see #1)
3) (see #2)
4) ...

The Best Poker and Blackjack Hand

Okay, so you are playing cards in some weird environment where the hand you play in the poker game must be the same hand you play in the blackjack game.  In other words, the same five cards in your hand (I know, sometimes blackjack hands are more or fewer than five cards) must be used for both the poker and blackjack hands.

So, what is the best possible 5 card hand for both poker and blackjack?

I have surmised that it is the four 5s and an ace:  21 in blackjack and a four of a kind, ace high for poker.

You cannot beat that hand.  Can you?

Saturday, June 11

Ah, The Self-Imposed Deadline

So, we've been getting together for rehearsals for Sketch 22 twice a week for the past couple of weeks.  Next week we move up to three times a week as our July 7opening looms ever closer.
Last Thursday night, it hit me just how little time we have left.  And still there was a sketch to write.  Not an important one, though.  Just the final sketch of the show, and the one that somehow should try to a) connect the earlier sketches together if possible and b) make some sort of artistic statement without, of course, sounding like it's an artistic statement.
I took on the task of writing that final sketch and gave myself the deadline of having it finished by this coming Monday's rehearsal.  Friday day I had to work - no time to write.  Friday night I set aside a chunk of time and began to write.  Hard, unfunny laboured writing.  Just a bunch of unconnected lines of dialogue that one somehow sometime come together to form a complete sketch.  I managed to write an opening monologue that I kind of liked but left it feeling lost and hopeless that I'd ever finish in time.  Still, I thought, I had Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday likely wouldn't be happening for writing, so I had convinced/challenged myself that Sunday would be the writing day.  However, with a Montreal Formula One race to watch in the afternoon, time would be tight.
Saturday day was spent shooting the final video segments for the show.  They went very well, I thought, and should provide some laughs.  At the very least, they'll provide some puzzlement and confused raised eyebrows.  Which was kind of the point of them to begin with.  Laughter would be a bonus on those videos, we figured, when we first wrote/read the scripts for them.  Having now shot the video, I think laughter is guaranteed.
Anyway, Saturday day was a bust for writing.  I got home and was so very tired as I trudged out to help my son cut the grass (he and a friend now cut the whole thing - two mowers, two kids, very little assistance from me), play a bit of football with son and friend, go buy groceries, barbecue portions of just-bought groceries.  After supper I told myself to sit in front of the computer and see if anything happened in terms of writing.
After the obligatory time-wasters such as browsing blogs, websites, etc, I finally opened my word processor.  A quick unsatisfactory re-read of Friday night's stuff and I was ready to call it quits on Saturday.  Don't give up!  Play around with some formatting of text:  italicize any stage directions I already had.  Okay, what if this character says this: type type type... man, that sucks!  So dry and dull.  A few more attempts like that and I started thinking that Sunday would be my day.  Ugh.
Wait a second.  What if this character says this: type type type.  Yeah, and then this character says: type type type.  That allows this other character to enter and say: type type type.  etc.
Four hours later, and it's done.  And I like it quite a bit. Yay!  The final sketch of Sketch 22 2005 is finished.
Assuming the rest of the group likes it, of course.  If they don't, then, hell, one of them will have to write it himself.
Now my Sunday will be free for me!  You have no idea how much of a bonus that is.

Wednesday, June 8

From A Death, to...well, Death

The fifth and final season of Six Feet Under is finally underway, with episode one airing earlier this week.

I think it's going to be a harrowing final season.  Without giviing too much away to those who are watching it on DVD and are therefore a season or more behind, it looks like Ruth is going to go through a rough time but I expect she'll find contentment in the end.
But who knows where the heck Nate is going to end up.  Horrible things just keep on happening to him.
David, actually, has the best prognosis on a happy ending (which could easily mean that he'll end up the most miserable). 
Claire needs to rebound from the disappointing storyline of last year.  Don't know if she will with the seedlings of a story that were planted in episode one.

It's almost all too much to bare.  Can't wait until next week.

Monday, June 6


My wife's grandmother, Mildred, died yesterday.

She lived to a great old age, and apart from the last year or so, when she really began to decline in health and spirit, she seemed to live a good, happy life.  The last time I saw her, I don't believe she knew who I was.  It is, as they say, for the best that she passed.
Mildred was always quick to laugh around me and I enjoyed being in her company.  She seemed to have a mischieviousness about her which I appreciated.  After her husband died, she remained for many years, alone in the house they shared, and I was often amazed at her ability to keep her house and yard in shape.
She and I shared some good games of cribbage. I believe she beat me more than I beat her.  She had a thing for owls.
She was a good, strong person and I have not a single negative memory of her.
She was a great grandmother-in-law.

What's In A Name

Another free Movie Idea for you.  All you have to do is write it:

Two versions on the same theme:

1) Will Farrell plays a kind of happy, contented everyman. Or, is he?  Married, kids, good job, yet he somehow is missing something?  He comes in contatct with some guy who, in some public situation, off-handedly makes fun of his name.  The new nickname catches on, and through a series of misadventures, causes Will to lose everything.  The rest of the movie revolves around him finding out what is really important.

2)  Joan Cusack is a woman who is stuck with a terrible name.  Really ridiculous.  It's caused her to be a social misfit and consumes her to the point where she will only date men whose last name will make her name more bearable.  We see a series of these awful dates and see her fall to more and more desperate situations.  Of course, she has a male friend who is obviously in love with her, and she him, but, alas, his last name makes her name even worse, so she ignores her feelings for him.  In the end, though, she finds out what is really important:  love.

There you go, Hollywood.  Write 'em up!

Wednesday, June 1

My, He Had Well-Groomed Stool

I have been watching more and more documentaries and "educational" programs on television lately.  One was "Battlefield Britain" which I quite liked.  Each episode examined a different, specific battle that took place throughout history on Great Britain.  It was hosted by a father and son team.  The father examined the battle itself, strategies and weapons used, mistakes or innovations, etc, all pertaining to the military aspects of the battle.  The son examined the more humanistic aspects of the era in question.  How the battle affected the people who lived in the area, imagined the mental states of common soldiers from both sides of the fight, etc.
It was quite enjoyable.
Anyway, while watching that on The History Channel, I saw ads for an upcoming series called "Worst Jobs In History".  It looked like it'd be about this guy who attempts to tackle some of the worst jobs in history, actually trying to perform the jobs as they would have been done at the time.
Last night I saw an episode that examined a few jobs from the Tudor period of England.  They guy examined and/or  tried a few different jobs, including a Spit Boy (the man who turns the spit near the huge fireplace in the castle kitchen).  The one that followed that was a job entitled "Groom of the Stool".  Apparently, the Groom of the Stool, in the King's castle, was, in terms of importance and status, second only to the king himself.  His job?  To wipe the ass of the king.