29 April 2008

Bush loves Cheney

Put that in your brain and smoke it. Yeesh.

An unrelated, but completely engrossing and awesome flickr photo stream is here. To cleanse your palate.

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Misunderstanding Plastic

I silently seethe when I go to the supermarket (as I plan to do after work today, FYI) and find all kinds of perishable goods wrapped up in plastic: apples, bananas, cucumbers, etc. Mother Nature (Bless her ingenuity) has provided all of these items with protective skin.

'What a fucking waste of packaging,' I mutter to myself self-righteously as I sancitmoniously fondle the produce.

According to the Financial Times seeing plastic at the end point actually means less of it was used in the overall process. Now I know.

According to one example cited in the article, they tried to get rid of the condom wrap on cukes. The cucumber growers argued that as a result more packaging was used: and the cukes suffered from a one-week loss in shelf life and frost damage.

And in fact, the loss of shelf life that results from unpackaging leads to wastage. Especially because you and me don't live so close to the farm. In India, there is more than 50% loss in the supply chain. In the UK it is about 3%.

Apples, the fruit whose packaging gets me hottest under the collar, is a similar story. Helene Roberts, Head of Packaging at Marks & Spencer, found that wrapping apples four per paper tray and covered in plastic resulted in a 27% reduction in packaging.

So here's me not getting hot under the collar when I see packaging anymore. Now I'm gonna get all fired up when I see food being wasted. Especially now that there's a food crisis going on. And I will accept that packaging on the consumer end means a (likely) saving earlier on.

Waste not, want not. Out of sight does not mean out of mind. A broken clock is right twice a day. And a single swallow does not a summer make.

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28 April 2008

Cafe Theatre: Saturday Night Special

Saturday night was the end of a remarkable run. The rush of live theatre multiplied by the fact that it was a play you wrote, to the power of an improv set to finish the evening.

It was a packed house. On the strength of word of mouth. Apparently many of the bookings had been coming in over the preceding day or two, a sure sign that people were telling their friends to buy tickets, and the friends were doing just that.

The closing night crowd was not too noisy, but happy and smiley with a few laughs. After wavering all week on the issue about which jokes in the play were funny and which weren't, I've come to a conclusion: they were all fucking briiliant and the ones that didn't get laughs were just because the audience was too stupid to understand. I will not pander in my writing, so I will continue to write hard-hitting, obscurantist jokes that compliments the audience's intelligence. And mix them in with dumb broad stuff.

I will not change my mind about this.

The addition of 3 guitar players with 7 songs to play into an already full programme made the show a little different and a little longer. I guess they were ok, though the reviews from the audience were mixed, and less diplomatic.

Finally: the improv was again a strong closer. I'm happy the folks have earned some stage time and been rewarded with laughs and confidence. They are ready for some more lessons (in the fall: Intermediate Workshop)

We had people in from Amsterdam, and even a guest from Rome. This made me very happy and honoured that they'd come from afar to support.

The fact that the support consisted not just of laughter and applause, but also of that douchebag Ben throwing the occasional 'Booooo!' out into the audience darkness during the improv was in fact, much appreciated. Gave me something to work with (and reason to be a dick).


Book sales: 8(?) Most of them autographed. Total sold: 25 or 30*.

* I was wondering why I greatly overestimated the demand for the play, and I remembered I originally thought I would be getting a price break by printing 100. When it turned out that wasn't the case, I probably should've hemmed in the dorder slightly. Ah well, these first editions could be worth something some day, (like when the movie comes out!) and it'll be good to have a stock of them.

BY THE WAY: Copies of the play are still available!! Get yours TODAY!

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26 April 2008

Cafe Theatre: Friday Night Lights

Last night: good show, big crowd a solid dose of laughs. Highlight was my man Corey Cornish making the trip from deep dark Flanders for the show. I was also able to givce him his long overdue birthday present, including the tie custom stenciled with the words 'FUCK OFF'. It was the perfect gift. Trust me.

The show itself was solid. The audience enjoyed it, and as always the highlight was the slow motion fight scene. Some sort of semi-positive compliment for the writer, I guess.

The improv was fun, and everybody is relaxing more into it. I'm looking forward to teaching these folks some intermediate skills. Like how to end a scene, and how to get suggestions from the audience. So it's not always my responsibility.

And speaking of improv, the show has been a great interest drummer-upper for the next set of beginners workshops.

One lat show tonight. Packed house. Here's hoping.

Plays sold: 3. Autographed: 1. Total: 17

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25 April 2008

Nods

I had two great nods yesterday:

1. Skateboarding downhill and home from work a van came up behind me. I pulled into the non-existent 'bike lane' to let him pass. It was taking awhile and I got a little irritated, as the van passed I expected somebody unhappy or scared, or scolding. Instead the middle-aged guy driving looked over at me, and gave me that smile and nod dudes give each other.

2. While driving lostedly in the unfamiliar neighborhood of Schaerbeek I stopped to let a young couple cross the street. She in burka, he in jeans and sweater. They crossed in front of me carrying on their way, until the guy gave a look over his shoulder to give me that smile and nod dudes give each other.

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Cafe Theatre: Third Night is Alright

What can I say about last night? The actors were awesome, the show pretty darn good, the audience slightly less so. They were decidedly not a terribly responsive group. They seemed to be in large part an older crowd, Conservative types that pronounce theatre with three syllables. Perhaps not the show they were expecting, and not their cup of Earl Grey.

Certainly not big laughers, and not big supporters of independent publishing.* That's for sure.

Still the actors rose to the occasion, really stepping it up in an effort to break down what I would call 'response-resistance' but which one of the actors called 'a wall of hate'. (I think I'm missing the backstory on that.)

The middle set was good again. The audience seemed to enjoy the teenager monologue quite a bit, even if nobody put up their hands for any of the direct questions at the beginning: (How many of you have teenagers? How many of you had teenagers?)

Judging by the average age, at least a few people should've been in the 'yes' camp for at least one of those questions.

Also, there's a new musical mime, a talented girl with a couple of fresh pieces. The first one I didn't understand as well, but the second quite funny and charming. (And easy for me to follow!) I mispronounced her name alot.

She (and our stage manager and lighting guy) joined us for an extended round of freeze tag during the improv set. The improv was fun, the group was able to relax and have fun. Even the audience seemed to have fun. In their way.

I reminded the group (all newbies) that this opportunity to perform short form improv in front of a theatre crowd 5 nights in a row is an excellent way to get some chops, and in front of an iffy crowd is part of that experience. Anyway, it was good, we had fun, nobody got hurt, and I really enjoyed the extended freeze tag it had a clubby, party good-time atmosphere to the end of the show.

* Copies of play sold: 1 (improved autograph technique) Total: 14

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24 April 2008

Cafe Theatre: Sophomore Bump

I'm so tired today I can't really remember that much about last night except vague snippets of it: warm feelings and belly laughs, autographing copies of my book, which sold like warmcakes, and smiles and congratulations floating around.

The Power Force= stronger, fitter, faster. Actors more relaxed, all lines remembered, and a fight scene that ended in a (well-deserved) spontaneous round of applause for the combatants. It went very well. Lots of laughs in expected and unexpected places.

It was UNESCO's World Book Day, which was a convenient angle for the book flogging that took place at intermission.

I signed most of the copies. That was cool. Though I'm a terrible autographer; too flushed and embarrassed to really do a good job. I will be wittier with better penmanship tonight. Here's hoping book sales will again crack double digits. Financially speaking: Maxcap Media Empire is almost out of the red (!)

The middle part was good too: monologist more comfortable, and musical mime easier to understand after Chiara had explained to me what was going on.

The improv was great as well, a couple not-so-great moments. But mostly a bucket of awesome with a dollop of kick-ass on the top. And a rich, creamy, laugh-filled centre.

I've decided to focus on being less of a dick as a host. I think there's a fine line between being in control and being an asshole. I will attempt to cross it less, without sacrificing my domineering, high-status, mildly jerky, stage presence.

Perhaps it'll help sell more books.

Anyway: show was great the first night, much stronger last night and my hopes continue to rise.

Copies of the play sold: 12 (ish)

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23 April 2008

Cafe Theatre: Opening Night

Holy Crap. I was a nervous wreck last night before the show. Friends and colleagues came. I sat sipping beer all clam-palmed and shifty-eyed. I accepted my award for winning the competition and then scampered back to my seat.

The house was about 70 % full by my guess. About 60 people. The response wasn't super loud, but they seemed engaged. The pacing of the show was good. Some titters and chortles. And very little nervous shifting. The play rolled downhill, picking up speed, building to a crescendo.

I had a few quibbles, very few. None of which I shared with the cast. I'm all "Hands off!" now. But, some pausing for laughter could've given the audience more permission to enjoy themselves. But I trust the actors, they did a great job, a much better job than I on working through the opening night nerves. .

However, it was overall a success. It was good. People enjoyed it. The actors did a more than capable job. They were great!

So now we can all relax into it and just enjoy ourselves.

The other entertainment on the bill?

Not bad. A monologue on being a mom of teenagers was full of truth, if not terribly dynamic. There was lots of knowing and appreciative laughs.

Two musical mimes by a young theatre enthusiast were mostly enjoyed by the audience. What he lacked in detailed mime work (and he definitely lacked detailed mime work), he made up for in inventiveness and sheer cojones.

We finished the evening with a short improv set that went better than I could have imagined. Quick, clean and lots of fun.

An enjoyable night out.

Copies of the play sold: 0. Total: 0.*

The real-life Maxcap Media Empire made some handsome collectors edition copies of the AWARD WINNING play The Power Force. Available for only 5euro. I blame a poor marketing presence, hopefully rectified tonight.

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22 April 2008

Brainfood for thought


Zarghgh! Glbtthh mugh hungrrrrrry. Smixilk ghjklt gruuuuult. MMMMmmm.
Think about it.

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The Power Force: out of my hands

The dress rehearsal came and went with enough of a shaky start to give me hope for the 'crappy dress, great opening' theatre adage to come true. But, thanks to the wily brilliance of the actors, there were also enough great moments of genuine comedy that were certainly not put there by the writer or the director.

So here's hoping that tonight is a show to be reckoned with. I have handed over the reins to the stage manager, as all directors must, and will be there tonight as award recipient and Power Force book salesman.

Thanks to the ever-amazing Shortcut Kid, Andrew McAlpine, 100 (limited edition!) rather professional-looking copies of the play will be available for sale. Those copies that haven't been given to the cast and crew that is. It's my first (or first in a long time) experience with direct sales, but a writer and aspiring media mogul just doesn't have the time in today's big ol' world to wait for shit to happen. He's gotta get it done. Himself. With more than a little help from his friends.

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21 April 2008

Power Force: Mission Engage

Tonight is dress rehearsal. This afternoon is spent preparing things: manuscripts, notebooks, and other ephemera associated with publishing-as-I-imagine-it.

Plus getting a haircut. Hoo-boy, do I need to get a haircut.

And then tomorrow night, rain or shine, it's showtime!

PS The play is looking really awesome. Everything is coming together.

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18 April 2008

Power Force takes wobbly first steps

The relatively awesome play I wrote goes up next week in a real theatre, serving real food, with a real audience. Great. Get a ticket.

I'm excited. And super nervous. Of course I seek validation for my work, naturally. And having won an award, it's cool. I could've coasted, but I'm never satisfied. Now the process is a step further: will the play itself, as performed, be funny and make sense and be entertaining? That I don't know, and need to know, and will know very soon.

We had our first full run-through last night and it was, ok. Wobbly first steps. One actor doesn't know her lines. We don't have enough props or set or sound, and I've never actually seen the theatre we'll be performing in... this list goes on.

But there's also some great moments. And we're building on that. And we got rehearsal tonight, tomorrow, Sunday and Monday, and then the show goes up on Tuesday. And between now and then we can just keep tightening the screws, picking up cues, bringing big energy and just generally take the first work of an unpublished author as performed by amateur actors in a hard-to-find theatre in Scharbeek and turn it into a cultural tour-de-force.

I believe. Get ready.

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15 April 2008

Banksy work worth 1000 well-chosen words

Not unironically, a CCTV camera filmed the whole thing, including the assembly and dissembly of the 3 story scaffolding used to create this massive mural. Pic from Wooster via the Daily Mail.

Britain is one of the worlds worst surveillance societies, with citizens being filmed about 3 zillion times a day, and data mining and all kinds of other invasive privacy-busting measures being employed in the name of 'safety' and 'security'.

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Oh No! Berlusconi!

Dear Italia,

Che cazzo pensavate!! Mamma mia! Questo risulto e' inexcusabile. Adesso siete in guai, molto piu' grave di prima. Sono incazzate. Non posso continuare. Ma, sono fortunato che non vivo in Italia ancora.

Ryan

Berlusconi? Again? You've got to be joking. A politician on par with George W. Bush, for stupidity, hubris, and incompetence. Perhaps exceeding W in terms of unscrupulousness, ruthlessness and selfishness, is back in power.

Sorry Italy. I want to feel sorry for you, but you asked for it. Enjoy. Good luck managing your mounting social and economic problems now.

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Art of the title sequence

Movie title's can be awesome. Hypnotic and informative. Now you can watch them on this website without feeling obligated to watch all the boring 'movie' that inevitably follows.

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10 April 2008

Oh No! De Rossi!


Roma's Daniele De Rossi is everything you could want in a player: an impassioned, incredibly gifted midfield monster. He guides Roma's forward movement from just in front of the defenders, and when the defence is threatened he is there to throw a precision tackle, sweep dangerous balls away, and turn around and ignite the counterattack.
Plus he was born and raised in the Rome area. He is the future of this team. There's no question that when Totti retires, De Rossi will step up to lead the side.
And that's a beautiful thing. And I think he's a fantastic player and I will forgive him, but my heart broke a little last night watching the Champions League match. After Doni, Roma's goalkeeper put an impenetrable forcefield around the net and repelled about three perfect ManU chances, Roma's counterattack got stronger. On the half hour Mancini, Roma's winger was taken down in the area and the ref gave us a a penalty kick.
"Holy Fuck," I screamed, hanging up on Chiara. We just got a PK: the miracle we need could happen. A PK gives us an away goal and all of a sudden we're within one more goal of turning this Champions League tie on it's head.
Of course, in the absence of Totti, it's De Rossi who takes the kick. Staring down the barrel of unbearable expectation and pressure, he steps to the spot, and kicks the ball at the upper deck.
The "fuuuuucks!" I screamed now were those of despair, disappointment, and disbelief.
De Rossi has vowed to put the miss and the loss behind him, and he's a world-class player of unbelievable resilience and fortitude. I have no doubt he can.
I however, will be wondering 'what if...' and 'why?' and 'if only' for a long, long time.
There's a great consolation article on the offside.

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09 April 2008

Ye Olde Photoshoppe Meets Worlds Greatest Busker


This is an example of an ad from Worth 1000 where they have contest to get people to do awesome with photoshop. I like/hate it because it reminds me how feeble my photshopping skills are. But the results are hilarious.
I myself, quite like the unexpected. Or the effects an unexpected context can have on perception. Speaking of, in a Pulitzer Prize-winning article from the Washington Post, Gene Weingarten tells a fascinating and oddly moving tale about the reactions rush-hour commuters have to an unusual busker.
"Standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made."
Do you think people would recognize the sublime talents and technical mastery of world-famous classical violinist Joshua Bell (who regularly sells out concerts where ticket prices average over $100 a pop) in this unusual context?
Not so much. Except the children. Children notice. Anyway, read the article. And keep looking for beauty and hilarity in unexpected places, often from unexpected sources.


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07 April 2008

THE POWER FORCE


Alright: listen up internet: the play I wrote is being performed very soon.

That's right, the WORLD PREMIERE of my AWARD WINNING play is fast approaching.

All the juicy info you need is here: The Power Force.

You won't be disappointed.

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04 April 2008

Serengeti "Dennehy"

If you like hip hop, Chicago, characters, or just your brilliance served up with a refreshing (and dope) dose of unpretentiousness, this might be for you.



I can't stop listening to this. I think I need this album.

If you're not yet convinced try this



I'm feeling it.

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03 April 2008

The week

Photolink


Sigh. If only life were always that easy. Alas two days after the Annual Report had been signed sealed and delivered, a late (and irrelevant and unhelpful) remark from one on high threatens to derail and delay the project on whihc my worthiness to stay ehre is being judged.

In other news, my Canucks and Giallorossi are both in the market for some serious heroics. Although magic would also be acceptable. At this point I would also settle for some serious and tenacious finishing.

Speaking of finishing, The Power Force is well on its way to being a hot and tasty piece of theatre, which I hope will draw out some crowds for its WORLD PREMIERE!!!!

It will also be a bit of a coming out party for the art, design, and writing coming out of Maxcap studios. Get in on that! Word is limited editions of the play with sextastic layout and design courtesy of the Shortcut Kid will be available.

Wedding plans inch closer to D-Day, my head scar is healing, and I'm thinking about taking the day off tomorrow.

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01 April 2008

AS Roma seek to slay giants

OK. The day is upon us. CRonaldo and WRooney and co. are coming to the Stadio Olimpico to take on a Totti-less AS Roma. Chris' Offside match preview here.

It looks like trouble. A tremendous challenge, if I'm being optimistic (but we did win this leg last year...).

We do need a hero.
Roma is an amazing side with incredible home-grown talent and passion, men who sweat yellow-red. And a dapper tactical genius of a coach. Basically, Manchester is by far the better team, but Roma has to want it more. After their 7-1 defeat in the same stage last year (which I've seen variously described online today as a 'humiliation', 'dismantling', and 'severely painful sportsrape') Roma is more than ready. And they've grown. Matured.

The whole team is seeking to avenge via revenge .

I however, in my personal life, have spread myself too thin, and am unlikely to watch the game tonight. In some sort of perverse test of faith, I may be forced to do something pleasant and couple-y with my girlfriend.

Something (ugh, I can barely bring myself to type this) we both enjoy.

Apparently she can't fathom how I can be 'incredibly passionate about', improv, writing, rapping, comedy, playing football, drinking with mates, directing The Power Force, contemporary art... and 'need to do/watch/go see' so many movies, bands, sketch comedy programmes, and Champions League, Serie A, NHL games... It tires her out.

Wait until Euro 2008, when we're freshly married and it's non-stop football onslaught! Mwa ha!

Anyway, I am firmly convinced that this immense passion I have, not only for life, but also for various self-betterment pursuits, distractions, and mindless entertainment is what attracted her to me in the first place.

The man lost in his singleminded pursuit of his own interests is a man. Period. Is a fighter. Period. Is a team desperate enough to take on the heavily favored ManYoo and eke out a victory.

Forza Roma!

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