Thursday, October 8

Achatina Achatina!

Wowee, it's been a while since I posted a thing. We'll see if this gets me going again. This entry is in celebration of the new cage match improv troupe I joined: Achatina Achatina.

A cage match troupe is a troupe that performs/competes in the Coldtowne Theater Cage Match, which is on Saturday nights, 9pm, at 4803 Airport Blvd (next to I Luv Video).

A cage match is a very special improv event, because most of the time improv isn't about competing. It's part of the whole scene's vibe, the familial support of your fellow improvisors. But this is America, goddamnit, and who doesn't love shouting "Two Troupes Enter! One Troupe Leaves!" Cage matches have been described to me as "the thunder dome," "middle school dodgeball tryouts," and, well, "a cage match," which itself evokes. Coldtowne's cage matches are really not as testoterone-testing as all that. They offer more like a parody of competition. In the end, all the cage match troupes are friends and friends of the theater, putting together offbeat shows for a superb Saturday night slot that the owners of Coldtowne have generously given to a show that accepts every level of performer. I understand the cage match is frequently a new improvisor's first real show and/or troupe. It's mine, anyhow.

But so, the new troupe I'm in: Achatina Achatina.

Achatina achatina, pictured directly above, is the latin name for the world's largest land gastropod. More commonly called the african land snail, achatina achatina has a cool sounding latin name with a ring to it. Is there any more reason than (cool sounding) + (world record) needed for the name of an improv troupe? As it occurs to me: no.

The first meeting of the troupe was last night. Lemme run down the cast (as it exists right now, I know one or more people may be added/subtracted) (also I'm apologizing right now for spelling errors in names, I'm way too lazy to look it up): Brian H., Jerod, Nicole, Matt, Steve, Grant, Brett, Liz, Brian E., and myself. And our coach, Ashley. For a first rehearsal, I don't think it could have gone bettter. I couldn't have asked it to anyway. We (most of us. Brian E and Liz had stuff and couldn't come) got to the building (forget the name) on UT campus, and snagged a great lecture hall right near the entrance to start warming up. A game of "pass the sound&motion" evolved without comment into "pass the strange morphable pantomime-material and shape it into some object, do something with it, while making a noise if you want or need to." When Ashley took the object being passed and broke it half, flinging the pieces to two of us to start morphing and passing again, the game started to get complicated and over-my-head-a-little. I just couldn't follow both objects, what they were becoming in each person's hands, and when I was going to get passed to. I need to practice object work. But the game held together and definately got my funny bone muscled. Or my funny muscle boned.

I thought I would go into a bit more of the rehearsal, but I really shouldn't go into all our scenes and what-not. Although I tend to deny this, many experienced improvisors advise against retelling improv scenes. This is that even if they were great at the time, they always come out sounding sort of like dreams you had and remember exactly the what happened but somehow the why of it escapes. I dig it, but goddamnit. Some notable lines that came out of rehearsal, anyway, here: "I've never seen a staircase before," "I thought I was getting a new car, and now I don't know if I love you," and "Yes, we're going out to international waters to hunt whales. That's exactly what we're doing, you're right."

I'll post more about Achatina Achatina as it happens, hopefully.

Stay regular.

Sunday, March 29

second-time stand up

On Friday, I performed with We Do Stand Up at the Laughs of Love Comedy Festival at Tufts. It was my second set ever, so I had something of the howling fantods (reading Infinite Jest still, sorry), that is to say I was a ricocheting bundle of nerves. This is the first time my stand up was taped, so I'm kind of throwing this video around in everyone's faces right now, I apologize, but (ricocheting bundle of nerves) + (well-received performance) = (pride). That's kind of a blanket statement.

Point made; Here we go:

Wednesday, March 25

another old 20-minute story

Going through my old stuff. Thought this 20-minute story had some sort of economy theme, which is in the air right now. So here we go:


"You handle what?"
"Yeah. I buy, and sell, you know. It's a crazy market."
"Market for intestines?"
"Uh, yeah."
"What the hell do you mean the market for intestines is crazy?! You're crazy! Get the hell out of my store!"
"Look -- wow. I don't know what to say."
"Excuse me?"
"I've never got this reaction. You seem a little... freaked out... by my line of work."
"I guess I just never had anyone come in here looking to score some free intestines."
"Well, do you have any?"
"No, why would I ha-- well, I have intestines, but not -- no. No, no, no. I don't have any for you."
"Aw, come on..."
"Do you just go into any old place and ask if they have any spare intestines in the back room, huh? You think this is like getting old boxes when you're moving? What reaction do you usually get?
"Well... This seemed like a reasonable place to start."
"Gotta start somewhere."
"I need you to leave the store, now."
"Can I perhaps offer to sell you some intestines?"
"Get those off the counter!!"
"Now, as you can see, sir, I can divide the intestines however you like..."
"Oh my -- (gags) -- what the -- (heaves) --"
"... sheep, cow, moose. These here are some of my higher end items, I now you are a client of tastes, sir: polar bear right here, and walrus..."
"(vomits, severely)"
"Oh. Oh... Sir... I'm going to have to insist that you pay for the products you... soiled."
"I take it from the look in your eyes that I'll just have to... get back to you about the bill. I'll... mail you. And remember: when you think of intestines, think of--"
"I'll. Kill. You."
"Forget my business card, then. Good day."

Thursday, March 12

notebook from jury duty

I was at jury duty yesterday. I woke up to catch the salem train -- which train I would, panicking in north station at 7:05 not seeing the 7:10 salem train I knew the MBTA website had promised me, find out was called the beverly train -- very much earlier than I'm used to waking up, and in dull stupor I packed two things in my backpack: a book to read and a notebook/pen. Yes, notebook/pen is one thing. I was just starting Infinite Jest, so that was the book, which may or may not be influencing this post's ramblings, but and also yes I love it. 

I was there for eight hours or so before being released, free of my civic privilege/obligation for three years (or so). I thought I'd share some clippits from my notebook. Things inside these: [ ], are modifications from now, the rest is from then.


Bailout for pens -- police guy who talked at the beginning [I think I meant bailiff]: "Mr. Obama won't send me any more pens." "Of the dozens and dozens of pens Mr. Obama sent me, all I have left is seven."

correct sp: impanelment

[in the courtroom, looking at bookshelves] Are these old volumed collections of books savagely outdated- and obsolete-looking?

 Judge from video: "I hope you've had the time to read the juror's handbook. " [I never saw one...]

Juror video is hilarious -- cut into talking in weird, tight rhythm, funny "relaxed poses," stenographer [nothing but this one word can convey the hilarity of this man], simple graphics... was this made in the 90s? 80s? [was it 80s or 90s-looking-like-80s?] 

After the video: exodus! [to bathroom]

Thought: Slug killing as a child still reverberates in me as a uniquely moral moment in my young life -- story: (character:) kills a slug in his adult life to recapture some emotion in him that was felt naturally as a child. Doing this for some creative endeavor? Creative/destuctive? Doing this for/to other creatures? What's the difference between doing it instinctively as a child a the "recreated" adult emotion?

This woman across from me: "My life has come down to textmessaging in the basement of a church. [...] Can't get closer to God than the basement." "I'm a big fan of Mary Magdeline." Very progressive, Space Pope?, very aggressive about it, about Euro counties being progressive, etc... "Most important issue: freedom of speech."

The judge said some really interesting things: he ended with some comments about how, after cases are closed, "juror after juror after juror" expressed they felt proud of what they did, happy, etc, he said that voting and jury duty are the pillars that equal this nation's freedom (the freedom we supposedly have), he talked about our forefathers coming here for freedom. It isn't voting that makes us free, I think. It is the freedom to "breathe free," as the judge says re: our forefathers.

Thought: I'm still so young; unused to running into old faces.

Reading IJ in jury duty (public) = Shame?

Thought: reject specialization.

[My fellow jurors] complain too much. Is this the American dream? The freedom to complain? At work, complaining. At school, complaining. In the stores, complaining. Jury duty, complaining.

This guy over here, with the tattooed arms [later he said he had the Boondock Saints prayer tattooed on him], works at Blockbuster and he says he's probably seen every movie you have. He just made a good point: "Sittin here in a church basement starin at a white wall for 8 hours, the perfect way build patience. Or the perfect way to kill yourself." Aren't the things that build patience always the causes of suicide?

I also made this drawing, which I have used expensive equipment to bring to you now, with voice over because my writing is too blurry:

Tuesday, March 3

breaking bottles on the hull of the blog: fiction-style

This is from a while ago, when I did a bunch of 20-minute stories with some friends. I don't know what I'll be doing in this blog yet, so maybe I'll post more of these, or something else will happen. The Shadow knows.

"The Longest Road"

The longest road connects the two furthest apart places: true or false?

False. The longest road connects the two closest places: birth and death.

But every road needs a little… upkeep.

Henry Maid Winshor, son of Henrysfather Winshor, was a construction worker, and his wife was a thousand shining little dots on a large square of black velvet. Henry kept his wife hanging in the living room, except some evenings when they would roll together in the bedroom, although nights like that were more common many years ago.

Did I mention Henry worked on the roads of time?

That kind of thing always slips by me.

Ho, ha.

So, at work one day, Henry accidentally misaligned a steel girder and a forty six year old man suffered a fatal heart attack. Another time, he was responsible for a busload of children… well, let’s not say what happened to them.

Returning from work one afternoon, he found his wife rolled up with the milkman. 

Yes, the milk of time. No, it’s not different from normal milk.

“I want a divorce,” Henry said through his mustache.

His wife replied in silence. Velvety silence.

“For the love of god, Maurine, you’re not eighteen anymore.” Henry stayed at his brother’s condo for several weeks, drinking himself into the couch. His brother was a turtledove. 

A turtledove, in this story, is a monstrous fusion of a turtle and a dove…

And an octopus.

“Blarg!” said Henry’s brother, waving his slick tentacle arms. “Bleffrgh!”

“I don’t need to stay here, Francis, you can’t tell me what to do.”


“You know what?” Henry rose drunkenly from the couch and picked up Francis’ television set. Francis had bought the television set as a wedding gift for Henry, but had never given it to him. 

Henry didn’t know that as he chucked it out the window.

Francis was stunned. His giant dove head retracted slightly into the turtle shell.

Henry stopped going to work. 

The roads, concrete ribbons swaying in the winds of time, deteriorated.

Something awful, I’m sure, resulted