Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Short, Cold Winter (Break)






Since I've been home this winter break, I've been staying at my sister's house. Because they just had a new baby, there is no longer a guest room. I'm okay with this. It means I get to sleep in the double-decker palace that is my 4 year old niece's brand new bunk bed, complete with Dora the Explorer Sheets. I sleep in the twin bed on the top and the little rascal gets the full-size mattress on the bottom with the Camp Rock sheets and pictures of the Jonas Brothers that line the wall of her cave. Never in my life have I owned or slept in any size bed other than a twin, and for that I resent her just a little bit. Also, she snores. My resentment, however, fades away when she most amusingly makes up songs with my nickname in them (I'm Aunt Zeldy).


I think I've been at home for a couple weeks now, and despite the usual, ever-present, fret-filled and creaky cogs that turn in my head, I can say I'm doing alright. The most interesting experience I've had in these past two weeks, and perhaps in my entire life so far, is witnessing the birth of my new baby niece. I was present for everything, from the early stages of labor while I was singing and drumming for my virtual band "Cake Ball" in Rock Band, to when the placenta was caught in a garbage can. Being up for over 24 hours is well-worth it when it comes to ushering a brand new life into the world. I can't take credit for the kid or anything, but I can say I've known her the longest! Right now all she does is sleep, and occasionally poop and pee while my brother-in-law is changing her. Sometimes simultaneously - I find this narcoleptic timing rather impressive.


This experience, along with the large amount of time I've created for myself by refusing to get a job this winter has afforded me a great deal of time to contemplate, ruminate, sleep, and play with Bendaroos. These few weeks are probably going to be my last few weeks of idleness for a really really long time. I'm graduating in the fall, and after that I must get a real job with health insurance, hopefully to save money and go abroad. For now, however, I'm trying to relax and perhaps start doing the things I always put off to do school work. I've decided that within the next few months I need to get a lot done. These personal tasks range between everything from writing a song to developing a full opening comedy set, as well as watching, reading, and listening to anything that has to do with Orson Welles, Paul Newman, Moby Dick, whales in general, and pirates.

I really can't get enough Orson. I used to only want to look at pictures of him when he was young and dapper, but I've even grown warmly accustomed to that old, bearded, squishy face he had in his later years. Anyone who can eat himself to death and still be respected is someone I want to get to know in every way I can. Paul Newman was simply attractive - and generous. To watch both in "The Long, Hot Summer" was by far the best visual feast I've encountered in a long, long time. The way I feel about how I'll never meet Orson nor be enveloped by his behemoth being via conversation and hugs and how I'll never get to shake Paul Newman's hand (I'm leaving the hugs to my friend, Jackie, although I wouldn't refuse one if he offered), is the way I used to feel about the Backstreet Boys. One time I remember my former little girl self crying under a wall of posters because I knew I would never meet them. I have not cried for Orson or Paul yet, but I have been known to clutch a pillow during some of their more powerful movie moments. Their greatness is almost palpable and painful. I plan to name my next nameable thing, "Orson" as soon as I get the chance.

I'm going to now do what the professors who run the blog "A History of New York" do, ask you readers a question. (You should really hit up their blog, I'm going to add it to my side menu. It's fantastic)...

Does anyone else have these kinds of admirations? The objects of your admirations can be either alive or dead, of course. I just want to know if I'm alone on this, if I'm even crazier than everyone deems me to be.


As I sit and watch my niece stomp around singing, "I'm mad, I'm mad, I'm totally mad" and when I'm not being the DJ for her Camp Rock dance parties, and when I'm not fetching booties to put on the baby's claws so she doesn't gouge herself, I'm thinking and planning and making lists. Pretty soon, though, the lists need to start meaning something and getting done. Maybe I just don't know how to "take it easy" as the fucking Eagles say. I also can't hide my "lyin' eyes" when I don't have a "peaceful, easy feeling," but that's beside the point. (*Note: All of those songs sound EXACTLY alike. It's like they're the 70's version of Nickelback.)


Now that I've caught up on all of the hours of sleep lost due to finals and babies I should get to steppin' on all this stuff. It may be that the reason Welles & Newman were so successful is that they were always creating and performing and pushing themselves, especially Orson. He started very young and didn't stop until he died, even if that meant doing wonderfully awful and drunken wine commercials. I can't stand to waste another single minute and I get antsy and melancholy when I haven't produced anything for a while, be it a poem or a comedy set or even a really well-written and witty email. Still, maybe I should just really try to relax and enjoy the idleness. Maybe...


but probably not.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oh, Orson.

Watch him turn the interview around, insult Jerry Lewis, and be generally and pudgily adorabe.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's a mole? I thought it was a bullethole.


This is a video I made for my friend, Gaar, because he loves animal videos and recently mentioned the song "O Little Town of Bethlehem." In this excellent version, the tune is sung by the phenomenal Aaron Neville. I recommend all of his holiday hits. Enjoy!



Monday, November 24, 2008

People goin' down to the ground, buildings goin' up to the sky


I never thought it would happen, even after tumultuous freshman and sophomore years. When I applied to NYU, the thought of being kicked around by The City actually enticed me. I knew I would thrive in it, like a boxer who picks himself off of the ground just as the announcer reaches the end of the count, and then slugs his opponent for the win. A delayed-gratification kind of success. Sure, I would have to work hard, sure I would have to sell my precious time, my soul and my earthly possessions to raise $50,000 every year for four years. I even thought about letting a nice caucasian couple pay for the removal of a few of my eggs over the summer (luckily me Da came through). I do not regret my decision to live in New York City for college, and I even think I'll eventually end up here. However, never did I ever imagine that I would sincerely miss my Wal*Martian days in Upstate New York.


Over the past couple of months, penetrating pangs of nostalgia and longing have been shooting through my body. The most random incidents seem to set a spark in my brain. Whenever I see an episode of "Judge Judy" or "People's Court" I'm reminded of time spent in the living room of my house on snow days from school when I still watched television. I miss weird things. I miss feeling cozy and bologna and cheese roll-ups made by my Aunt Joan. I miss driving to our really shitty mall, Crossgates, through grey snow with my sister to see a movie and eat at the greasy food court. I miss when my niece, Emma, was still a baby and my sister forgot to strap her into the stroller at that same mall. She tumbled out onto the curb - unhurt, of course, but it's even funnier now because it turned out to be only number one of a series of unfortunate falls.


When my sister had just started dating her husband, we used to go to the mall all the time. Now that I think about it, I think many of their "dates" consisted of taking me to the arcade or going to Chuck E. Cheese. I think I was around 9 or so, very very short for my age. My brother-in-law is very, very tall - and strong! if you're reading this, Black Jesus. I was shy in general, but especially shy around large adults. Whenever I'm home and sitting on their couch during one of our heated life discussions, he always reminds me of just how short and shy I was. Whenever he would ask me a question, even something as simple as, "Andrea, do you want a root beer?" I would look up at him, look back up at my sister for approval, and then look back at him with a meek, "okay, thank you."


What solidified our friendship was The Ninja Ball. A blow-up beach ball with the ying-yang sign on it that I had painstakingly earned from the Crossgates arcade. He would hold it with one hand, and I would try to capture the holy grail from his super-human grasp. Because I was so small, this task proved difficult and I think I spent a lot of time rolling around on the ground. Like a young Jedi, he put me through a series of "Ninja Tasks" that I was to accomplish one by one. I can't quite remember what the rest of them were, but I'm sure they were equally daunting and fun. For some reason jumping on couch cushions fuzzily comes to mind. I also seem to vaguely remember some kind of grand task that was supposed to come with an equally grand reward. Most likely a trip to Chili's to partake in Molten Chocolate Lava Cake. I'll have to pester him about that...


My brother-in-law always had new sayings and new things for me to consider, even at the tender age of 9. There was always something to look forward to or watch out for, I never knew when the Ninja Master would be there to present a new challenge. "Don't fight windmills" and "They screw you at the drive-thru" have been some of the more memorable gems of advice.


As I've grown older, he's still around and every once in a while we have pretty great phone conversations. But, as everything else, things have changed. I don't live at home the majority of the time, I'm not 9, and I'm entirely too large for any Ninja Ball hijiinks. He's also busy making sure my sister gets an adequate birthday celebration, making sure my niece stops falling out of strollers, and making way for their incoming offspring. Whenever I'm working on a paper or getting through yet another ridiculous reading about the "racial education gap" I wish that I still had someone right there to keep things in perspective, make me laugh, and buy me root beers. Someone whose goal is to impress me because they want to marry my sister. I know I can call anytime, but it's not the same. Plus they're already married, so there's no pressure to impress me. I have to be my own Ninja Master, now. And buy my own root beers.
Stay tuned for more NYC frustration posts! Love and hate are so closely linked.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sailin' and Snugglin'

After a very stressful week, I was delighted to partake is some recreational activities. This Halloween season has been pretty glorious:
- my roommate and I made a pirate ship out of a cookie cake
- I AM The Snuggler.


Zach Galifianakis as The Snuggler has always been a personal inspiration of this young lady. If someone was in trouble or hurt, who wouldn't want a slightly chubby, slightly effeminate, bearded man to come snuggle you back to health? It seems, however, that most normal citizens do not share my views. To each his own, I guess. I can't believe how hard it was to get hold of a plain, yellow polo shirt! What's the world coming to? Also: I'm a bit disturbed that I can don a beard and horrible k-mart cut-off x-tra rugged men's jeans so convincingly. . .


The cookie pirate ship was for our Friendly Faculty Fellow in Residence's daughter's cookie decorating contest. Cookies were judged based on appearance, taste, and "ability to explain what you were going for." Since I've been obsessed with Moby Dick and sea chanteys and pirates and sailing, this kind of scene was perfect. My sister had sent me a "zombie cookie" recipe, so we decided to make zombie pirates with missing, bloody appendages. Look at the detail!


Our scrumption scene was a depiction of the rarely told legend of the Good Ship Venus. On their way to the Canary Islands to retrieve some rum, the boys hit a terrible storm. To keep the boat from sinking they would have had to throw all of the large barrels of rum into the water. Aself-respecting pirate would rather die than waste perfectly fine spirits. Unfortunately, they all fell overboard and sharks mangled their bodies. The pirates are now bound to their ship for all of eternity, haunting any passers-by around the waters surrounding the Canaries.


We did not win, but we were definitely the most creative and had the "liveliest explanation."

Here are some photos:



















Thought you all would enjoy that.
If you have no idea who The Snuggler is, shame on you. However, I will present you with this link to correct yourself:

Friday, October 24, 2008

If I live too long, I'm afraid I'll dieeeee

(Thoughts from sometime in September and just recently completed)


Pretty heavy, I know. But I'm watching The Darjeeling Limited right now, as a reward for my busy weekend and pounding out a five-page education paper about topics I've previously discussed right here on this blog. Within less than 24 hours I went to dinner with my friend and her father, saw a Broadway play, went backstage, went to a party, went on my first Seaport Museum training sail, attended the PhiloStream Planetarium event, and gave a speech at the second annual Broome Street Residential College Convocation. I'm. . . pooped.

I must say that the soundtrack for DL is probably my favorite movie soundtrack to date. In fact, it's the first soundtrack I've purchased since Clueless came out. I'm not afraid to admit that Clueless still might be in my top 10 favorite movies of all time and I'm even less afraid to admit - perhaps even a bit proud - that I can recite most of the dialogue unprovoked. I'm also still a bit depressed to find out with every viewing that my "man Christian is a cake-boy."

I chose this particular lyric from "Strangers" by The Kinks because it proves to be a bit ominous, and I think the topics discussed in the following paragraphs are, too. For my Conversations of the West class I am required to read a few books of the Old Testament. Tonight I dove deep into Genesis and discovered a thought lodged deep in my brain that I had never found before.

We all know the story of Noah and his ark. Here’s the abridged “Leave Your Keys in the Bowl Version” if you’re a little fuzzy:

God thinks that the world has gone to shit. The humans are stinking up the earth. God decided to drown everyone except Noah and his family. He also makes Noah round up some of every "crawling thing" that roams the land so they can procreate after the whole ordeal is over. God, in the parlance of our time, "makes it rain" for 40 days and nights, killing every living thing except those in the ark. Then, the rain stops and Noah and his family and all the animals have a big orgy and repopulate the earth.

God never touches the sea creatures. In fact, he gives them more living space. I know that the humans were the problem, but perhaps the sea creatures have something to do with evil coming back to the earth. Maybe they influenced us to be bad again, after we had just undergone a horrible, horrible punishment - mass drowning. While God was busy with all the land animals, the sea creatures were deviously rubbing their fins together, plotting their evil plans to corrupt humans. We do eat them, after all. Maybe the sea is full of mysterious evil or some other kind of even more powerful force and that's why humans are so fascinated by it. The sea has such a strange and sublime hold on humanity, and no one can quite put their flipper on it.


Also, have you seen these creepy-ass satanic-looking creatures:





I will admit, though, that some of these odd little guys are kinda cute (but then again, I've always been known to love the weird, uncanny type):


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cossack stooge!

This is the testimony of AK, student at New York University, under questioning by the newly re-instituted Un-American Activities Committee. The Committee was reinstated in late September of 2008, when the United States economy plummeted to an all-time low since The Great Depression of 1929. Being a very important election year, the frazzled federal government went into an intellectual “lock-down” of sorts, hoping to quell any anti-American sentiments from spreading further. The political and social atmosphere proved ominous, and fear of possible revolution, rebellion, and assassination following the election was foremost in certain political leaders’ minds. The Un-American Activities Committee was brought back to keep a watchful eye over various aspects of American life, including the hazardously influential world of academia.

TESTIMONY OF A.K.

(The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.)
Mr. MCCONNEL. Miss K, will you give your full name?
Miss K. I am __________.
Mr. MCCONNEL. And your address?
Miss K. Broome Street, New York City during the academic year. Rensselaer, NY the rest of the time until I graduate from university.
The CHAIRMAN. And what university is that?
Miss K. That would be New York University, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I see... We will get to your academic proposal in just a bit. But first, we would like to ask you a few routine questions.
Mr. MCCONNELL. Yes, Miss Kannes, how old are you and what year are you at New York University?
Miss K. I am 19 years old as of June 22nd, and I am currently in my junior year.
Mr. MCCONNEL. Where are you from originally and what kind of high school did you go to?
Miss K. I am originally from Rensselaer, New York, right across the river from Albany. I went to a small Catholic high school in Troy, New York named Catholic Central High School.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you a Christian, Miss Kannes?
Miss K. Well, no, sir. But I don’t believe that has anything to do with my proposal.
The CHAIRMAN. I think that we will be the judges of what does or does not have to do with our decision, Miss Kannes. So you attended Catholic schooling, but do not conform to the beliefs?
Miss K. Right, I do not.
Mr. MCCONNEL. And would you mind sharing with the Committee why you feel this way?
Miss K. Umm, well... I do not refute all of the beliefs; I believe that their New Testament doctrine of love could be a good thing. However, I think that one must not passively go through their lives. I believe that one must constantly question and challenge what one is taught to get to a greater truth. It is unfortunate that this religion, and most others, does not believe this. I once asked one of my theology teachers –
The CHAIRMAN. Is this relevant, Miss Kannes?
Miss K. You asked me for my reason and I was simply giving it.
The CHAIRMAN. Alright, proceed.
Miss K. I asked one of my theology teachers how it could be possible for all humans to have free will if God already knows everything we are going to do before we do it. He answered, “For those who believe, no answer is necessary. For those who do not, no answer is possible.” Ever since then I have not been a Catholic and have been a firm supporter of the use of reason over blind, submissive faith in anything. Intellectual inquiry and reason –
Mr. MCCONNEL. Next question. Do you or any members of your family have any official political ties or allegiances?
Miss K. Gentleman, I really do not understand what this has to do with the paper I want to write.
Mr. MCCONNEL. We would just like to find where your loyalties lie, nothing more. You opinions will indubitably come through in your academic labor, and it is our duty to find out just what kind of labor we may or may not be allowing to take place.
The CHAIRMAN. This information is of great interest and importance to us, Miss Kannes.
Miss K. I have a strange inkling that although we are in the land of freedom of political beliefs I may be penalized for a “wrong” answer, and I am not sure how American this Committee is turning out to be. You think you would have learned from before tha –
(The CHAIRMAN bangs gavel.)
Miss K. That’s exactly what I’m talking about.
Mr. MCCONNEL. Will you please answer the question? How were you raised politically and what is your status today?
The CHAIRMAN. We must know or we cannot let you pursue your paper.
Miss K. Fine. You’d love my parents. Blind, unquestioning Republicans through and through. My mother even has a job cleaning the Republican majority in the New York State Senate. Depending on how the election goes, she may not have this job for long. My father is a fan of McCain’s without really knowing anything about him. Your favorite type of voter, I’m sure.
The CHAIRMAN. I would be careful with your words, Miss Kannes. Your biases scream with every syllable. Please continue.
Miss K. Everyone has biases. In academia, it’s just a matter of working through them. I am, obviously, more liberal than my parents. Especially once I started going to school in New York City. I am not affiliated with any political party, however. I do not like to make commitments of that nature. I believe in the use of government to ensure freedoms. I believe that there are unnecessary laws in place that waste time, energy, and money of the government. Our system of courts is sometimes glorious, and sometimes too politically charged and bureaucratic to be fair. My father was incarcerated for seven years for a non-violent crime after such a trial, so I have strong feelings about this part of our nation’s notion of “justice.”
Mr. MCCONNEL. Fascinating.
The CHAIRMAN. It says here that you would like to research and report on the use of communism during the Federal Theater Project. Have you ever been involved in any communist or theatrical endeavors?
Miss K. What a poorly worded question. Is this some kind of trap? Have you guys ever cracked open a history book? It’s not going to work on me, sirs.
The CHAIRMAN. Alright, let me restate them as separate questions then. Have you ever been involved in any kind of theater or performing arts?
Miss K. Yes. I performed in plays all throughout high school, wrote a play that was performed by one of the classes, and once directed a children’s play. Currently I do stand-up comedy when I have time. I started doing stand-up when I was 14 years old, which led to a job seating guests and hosting the late shows at an upstate New York comedy club. I am very much a performer at heart and hope to be somehow involved in the entertainment industry at some point in my life.
Mr. MCCONNEL. Do you have any *political* material?
Miss K. Not on purpose.
The CHAIRMAN. Hmm... What is your view of communism within the Federal Theater Project?
Miss K. I have only done limited reading thus far on the subject, but I do believe that there were communists involved in the project. I am of the opinion that the political nature of the project definitely produced some passionate theater. I hope to research this matter further and report on my findings.
Mr. MCCONNEL. So you think it was alright for communists to be infiltrating our nation’s works?
Miss K. I said it made for passionate theater. I did not say I supported the communist party. That’s not what I said at all. Everyone knows that theater with a cause is always more complex and interesting and more electrically charged than a show with no heart behind it.
The CHAIRMAN. I think we’ve heard enough. We will now adjourn to deliberate on our decision about whether or not we will let you pursue your academic endeavor.
Miss K. Wait just a minute, please, Mr. Chairman. You have not let me finish my proposal. There’s more. I know you are judging me on my experiences and thoughts, but I would not be a true historian if I did not know how to set these aside.
Mr. MCCONNEL. Well, then, you think you are a true historian, then? Prove it to the Committee.
The CHAIRMAN. You can say that you will set aside your prejudices, but how can we know that you really will?
Miss K. I think of research and writing as a conversation. In order to have a fully successful and worthwhile conversation, you have to be willing and open to having your mind changed by the end of it. Sometimes it can be just as interesting to try and disprove your own opinion. And usually, through this kind of work, you can make your own argument stronger because you will catch all of its weak spots. Looking at information and documents from different angles is the only way to get everything out of them. My training as a stand-up comedian has taught me to look at situations from different perspectives. It would be unethical to prevent me from pursuing this topic just because you think I might “side” with the people you think of as “the enemies.” I cannot guarantee you what side my argument will prove, if any. I will not know what my argument is until I’ve done extensive research. And this, Mr. Chairman, is what I am seeking permission to do.
Mr. MCCONNEL. Anything else?
Miss K. That covers it, gentleman. I hope that you will consider my proposal for academic study with impartial minds and understand that it is not in my desires to disrupt what is left of our nation’s order. I sincerely think that intense studies of the past can shed more light onto the future. Thank you.
Mr. CHAIRMAN. Alright, Miss Kannes. We will see about this after lunch.
Miss K. When and how will I know of your decision?
The CHAIRMAN. We will let you know of our decision via the great United States Postal Service within 4-6 business days.
Miss K. (under her breath) Did I just order my decision from Amazon.com? I bet I have to pay for shipping...

It was later found out that A, not Barack Obama, had been the one palin' around with terrorists as Governor Palin warned.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Specal K with Ba-na-naaaas.


I have a new post in the works about things I've been thinking about lately and some recent unfortunate events that are sure to amuse you all even if they were horrific for me. But for now I'd like to share this with you:

Friday, September 12, 2008

My aunt keeps her shoes in the oven, too!




What exactly is a Maui Taco? I'm still not sure. All I know is that the place that makes them has a basement wtih a stage and a weekly gathering of New York City's unsightly's - including myself. For that one week, at least. Perhaps more in the future, but I'm still recovering from my first experience in front of that disheveled graffiti tin-roof background and duct-taped microphone.


The Maui Taco is indeed a taco eatery, although I did not partake in any of their menu items. I can't eat before I perform. Well, I can, but I've found that my time before getting on stage is best spent looking over my tentative set list than umm. . . well, you understand what I'm getting at. No need to be rude. Let's just say I still get a bit anxious before I perform.

I brought a few friends along for moral support in case the place turned out to be some kind of scary dive bar. In high school I did attend open mics at such places, but never by myself and always with my two 30-something trench-coat wearing bitter yet endearing male comedian friends. And, especially in the city, I was determined not to make a go of it alone at this juncture. My mom makes sure to relay every story about young college girls being raped and mugged in late-night Manhattan.



When we got to the outside of the "venue" -and I use this term loosely - I was confused. It looked like an indie version of a Taco Bell. I kept apologizing profusely to my companions, warning them that this wasn't a regular show, open mics are usually sucky, and not to be alarmed. I promised them that I would do whatever it takes to make up to them this possible several hours of torture. As a comedian I am used to such drudgery, and once once goes to an open mic one realizes why many comics are so bitter and "tortured" and angry by the time they make it. Go to one on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, and stay the whole time no matter what. You're bound to ooze frustration. But it's part of paying your dues and any performer should never complain if they're getting an opportunity to step on a stage. But I still believe it's okay to realize that watching one unfriendly yet unfunny and uncleanly performer after another drunkenly swagger onto a stage that barely sits six inches high off of the floor is a pretty shitty way to spend a night. Getting your own five minutes during which other breathing human beings are forced to listen to your words is definitely worth it, however. I think in a later blog post I will get all "deep" about how weird it is to be alone in front of people with only your words to woo them and get them to like you. The performer is basically in control of the audience's lives for however long they stand up there. But back to the Maui Taco.


The host was drunk, 80% of the other comics were at least a couple drinks in, and the friends I brought were the only non-performers in the dank, dark basement dungeon of forced, uncomfortable laughter. I felt right at home. When I first moved to New York City I had been afraid to perform here, even at the no-pressure open mics. I imagined that everyone would be very cold and snooty and look down on me as a young know-nothing loser who doesn't know a tag from a call-back. So wrong I was. The open mics here are E X A C T L Y like they are in Albany. Awkard but kind of exciting, small audience, small stage. I think it must be universal. It's an interesting experience; everyone pretty much keeps to themselves and talks to whoever they came with. They sit at tables alone while scribbling and clandestinely peering around. There's always one or two comedians that will come over and introduce themselves, and it turns out to be just a passing greeting or something "clicks" and you end up having a really long exchange about your crazy families until the event commences.


Here's a few realy embarassing pictures of me and a couple of my best friends from high school at various open mics around the Capital Region:

My really realy old Webshots!

I would have just posted a couple here, but Blogger is being a douche.


It's nice to connect with other people who have similar inner-workings of the mind; others who are not afraid to share things about themselves at the expense of being considered Odd in "normal" situations. The reality is, once you find someone like that to converse with, you're not weird at all. You fit right in. I kind of befriended this one young woman who used to go to NYU just like me, and she told me some of the darkest, disturbing details of her life and how she got into comedy. I shared some similar stories -although I'm not sure I topped her long family history of debauchery and drugs. Still, I've always felt that in order to be a really good performer, you have to have some kind of burning sense of redemption and miscellaneous yearning working for you. That moment was the first time in a while that I thought, "Wow, this is it. This is where I'm supposed to be. (Not specifically at the Maui Taco, I think I'm at least ready for the Alaskan Enchilada). This is probably the only place where I won't consistently get that 'awww you're kind of funny but really weird and take it a little too far' look." Just ask me about performing at the sonic boom that was Gould Plaza. And any recitation or group hang-out with new people I've ever attended.


I'm so grateful for my friends who came to support me, but there was a point when I felt them getting bored and creeped out by the excessive and aggressively not funny dick/boobie/vagina jokes. I don't really hear them anymore. Whenever there's someone who's having a difficult time onstage, it's best not to dwell on it and I always make sure to laugh heartily at anything they say that might have some kind of potential. What I actually really liked about this particular open mic was that if you had good material, you got laughs. I've been to way too many places where the comics just sit there stone-faced, even trying not to laugh, just because they're too absorbed in their own stuff.



I do believe that mis amigas gained something from the experience. Not only did we "fuse like a family," as any emotionally harrowing experience spent in a beer-stained basement that reeks of sour cream and old salsa (just listen to Colin Meloy and his musical account of male prostitutes), but I think they learned a bit about why I am the way I am. Most importantly, they learned never to eat nachos constructed with a Hawaiian flare.


Here's the video from that night. Thank you Katy for posting it! I look pretty terrible but I'm willing to blame it on the poor lighting choices made by the interior designer of that classy cellar of a room. No, I don't know why I did a jig in the middle of my set, either. It's a compliment that the camera shook a bit at some parts because it means at least Katy was laughing.


Remember, similar to the disclaimer I fed my friends, it was just an open mic. But it's still somethin'.





Thursday, September 4, 2008

How do I reach these KEEEEDS?!

I've noticed that my conversations with people go through phases, and that no matter who I'm talking to I always end up mentioning the same 2 or 3 key events or thoughts that are galloping through my brain's pastures at the time. It's as if I need to bounce my words off of anyone who will listen to make sure all that I'm thinking is acknowledged and examined from other perspectives. Another reason behind it could be that my endeavors as a comic have programmed my mind to organize itself into set lists. Once I have those two or three stories/anecdotes/quandaries, I have to try them out on as many audiences as possible until everyone I know is aware and amused by them - or until I get sick of telling them. So, dear reader, I'd like to let you in on my current Mind's Set List. It's a little longer than I would normally work into conversation with any given person, but that's perhaps because all of this has built up within the past couple of weeks of getting back into the school/Broome Street groove.







My first "bit" has to do with something that I'm avoiding by typing this very post. I should be reading a book called SMALL VICTORIES for my class, "Education as a Social Institution." How vague and uninteresting the title is. Guess what the book's about?! I bet you can't. Unless you've seen "Dangerous Minds," "Freedom Writers," that Matthew Perry Hallmark Teaching Movie, or "The Dead Poets' Society," et. al. There's even a South Park episode that mocks this format (it's where I get the title for today's rant). I love inspirational teacher movies just as much as the next over-privileged, spoiled, sentimental little white girl, but I'm sick of learning about it in classes that are supposed to prepare me to be a teacher.

The book is about a young white woman teacher in an urban school who figures out that she needs to "get down with the kids" in order to get them to do their schoolwork. She swears with them, calls them on the phone, brings in food, and does everything but write them a rap song about Walt Whitman. (This has been done, however. See that Matthew Perry movie, he raps about the PreZidentZ.) Her whole goal is to get them out of the Lower East Side and away from their screwed up lives. I appreciate her efforts (she's a real teacher) and I understand her troubles (I actually worked in the very high school she taught in), but I'm just so sick of the plot. At this point I've already had to read a billion of these accounts, including "Educating Esme," which is oddly about another young white woman with red curly hair in a tough New York City school. Her and Jessica Seigel are one and the same. Every NYU education class brings the same discussions and never lets us ever try to solve them for ourselves.

Yes, schools are bad here. Yes, the students have shittily scary lives. Yes, it's a social class issue. Yes, the school system is corrupt and screws with the funding. And that's as far as the classes go. We're never allowed to think of solutions to these problems. Our heads get filled with lofty progressive education ideals and discussons about "mislabeling" students as "learning disabled" when they're really just "learning differences."

If the student needs extra help and cannot function without it, it's a disability that needs to be addressed. When you call it a "learning difference" the effected students and parents could brush it off by saying, "Oh, why are you bothering us? He doesn't need extra help, he's just different." It's one thing if a kid has to go home and sing his vocabulary words to himself to learn them, it's another if he physically can't move his hand to form the aphabet with his pencil. He needs assistance.

With the amount of time that has been spent discussing the "proper terminology" for various problems and worrying about everyone's feelings, phone calls could have been made, help could have been found, and those problems could have been solved. It probably doesn't help that I have fairly radical views about what a good teacher should be, but that's neither here nor there and the explanation of these views deserves another forum entirely.


My second and third and fourth preoccupations are kind of entertwined.


Don't make fun of me, but only just recently have I seen the film "American Beauty."

But I think it's in my top three favorite movies of all time. It makes me wonder why I never thought of/wanted to see it. I think it had something to do with the picture it's famous for. When I read the title and saw the picture, I automatically assumed that Julia Roberts was going to be in it and it was going to have something to do with a woman and a man and they're Hugh Grant-ish dialogue. I didn't realize it was a young girl and not a well-known Hollywood starlette covered in roses.


Pardon me, but I must say: HOLY FUCK was I wrong. I had no idea it was going to be this dark, penetrating, poignant film that would make me sob. And fall in love with Kevin Spacey.

And no, people who know me well, it has nothing to do with the age difference between Lester Burnham and his little rosebud. In fact, the movie argues against their situation. It has everything to do with the idea of saying "Fuck it!" and finally doing what you want. . . and that decision's consequences, good and bad. It's about appreciating the sweetness behind everything and being overwhelmed by it. And realizing that the pain from the raw beauty of everything you see every day is better than not feeling anything at all. The argument and execution is perfect.

Spacey's delivery of lines is so precise and, forgive my annoying oxymoron, seriously comical, that I giggle in all the right places. This exchange is one of my favorites:


Carolyn Burnham: Uh, whose car is that out front?

Lester Burnham: Mine. 1970 Pontiac Firebird. The car I've always wanted and now I have it.
*thrusts fist into the air*. . . I rule!


Never much of a crier, I watched this movie practically three nights in a row and weeped every time. The first time I kind of sobbed, but it could have had a little to do with the rum. The second and third times, however, there were no outside circumstances. This sounds a bit over the top, but I think I can honestly say that something inside craved to see it again. Every time he picks up that picture frame, the string connecting my heart and brain gets plucked, signaling the buckets that had been filling up behind my eyes to spill out their warm liquid. It's an overwhelming feeling that's incredibly intense, making me feel excruciatingly awful and euphoric at the same time. Few other things have ever made me feel this way. Actually, only a couple other fleeting things I can think of. But it's something so rare that I am compelled to share.


I get the same feeling when I think about the ocean. Whenever I get fed up with the life that's directly in front of me and spitting in my face, I've been known to always mention my desire to "go to the ocean and never come back." Escaping completely is not even an option for me (a baby was born 4 years ago and one is on the way - not mine, of course, though I still feel attached to them), but just thinking about it makes me feel powerful.





This brings me to my next topic: being a mariner. I've always loved the water, but ever since the Bryan Waterman (one of the Faculty Fellows in Residence at the Residential College at Broome Street) took us sailing on the historic schooner The Pioneer, I've caught the sea-bug. I desperately want to learn how to sail. Working at the South Street Seaport is something I've already looked into, and I hope to hear from them soon. There's a possibility I could volunteer on a ship and learn to sail with them. The idea of floating out there, away from everyone and everything, is very appealing to me. When I was a kid I loved building forts and sleeping and eating cheese and crackers and milk in enclosed spaces. It made me feel warm and safe and special. (I kind of get the same feeling from reading about certain periods of history and visiting historical sites, perhaps it's linked somehow...).


Recently I've just learned of a program called S.E.A., through Boston University. You spend 6 weeks on the shore in Massachusetts and 6 weeks on a 136ft ship. The students are not only there to study, but they are the crew and the cooks and the scientists. To be away from land for that long is something I'd be very excited about. An act of deprivation and survival and hard work, along with that feeling of starting with nothing is something I've always wanted to experience. I've never had to physically work all that hard ever in my life, and for once I'd like to. As Jack Kerouac said of the Merchant Marine, I want to "work the lard off my belly" and probably gain a new perspective on just about everything.

In the same topic of isolation, I've also deactivated my Facebook. I think of it as a big step into adulthood. I'm not saying I won't regress and that I'll never get back on the wagon, but for the time it just feels good. I've wasted too much time clicking around, being creepy, stalking the same people's pages over and over again that it's unhealthy. I know I'm not the only one who looks for hidden messages in other people's activities and statuses, and it's just an odd way to spend one's days. Being contacted out of boredom is annoying and I'd rather people only contact me who really want to, not because they feel obligated to reply to whatever I may have posted / or if I "wrote on their wall." So sure, I guess it has a lot to do with wanting to remove myself from the norm. But it aso has a lot to do with my personal willpower. I became caught up in stupidities like "OMG What pictures do I have up? What funny link can I post next? I have to make sure everyone knows all of the cool music and movies I like so they know I'm cool." It was pretty pathetic of me and I feel kind of embarassed about it. But, it's okay. Once I learn how to use Facebook without abusing it I will be back. But it might not be for a while. In the meantime, I sure do seem to have an abundance of time to get my reading done!



And I am reading MOBY DICK, for my Conversations of the West requirement. The book is verbal crack. It definitely does not help me in my ever-present desire to figuratively "jump ship" from everything I'm doing right now in Manhatto and scramble onto a real ship as fast a possible. Melville is The Man.



More later. Much more. But the hour is late.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My apologies.

This blog has taken a turn for the worse. It's been annoying blathering about nothing. And there's no excuse for it. But it will redeem itself shortly. In the meantime, enjoy my current favorite comedian:

Friday, August 29, 2008

OH MUH GAH OH MUH GAH

I was going to write a new post but I must leave for the Skirball Box Office POST HASTE. A one Mr. Zacharius Knight Galifianakis is coming.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back, but not in Black.






Why hello there! (please read in the voice of the father from Gullah Gullah Island)

I haven’t been too consistent with this blog updating-thing, but I have a plethora of excuses and will be able to provide a very detailed and impressive list for anyone who may question me. This summer has been quite a ride, a lotta ups and downs, strikes and gutters; a lotta what-have-you’s. I’m finishing out the season with three funerals, lots of rain, a couple concerts, and some hearty life experience. I stole a TV, did some more time, but now I’m back in school! And though the faces may have changed, the hassles are just the same.

Before I delve into a lovely anecdote that ends as a life lesson, I would just like to bring something to your attention first. Yesterday my best friend and roommate Michelle and I were walking up Third Avenue to Coral, another one of NYU’s dorms. We were going to visit our friends Mallory and Katy, for they had birthday presents and a delicious home-made chocolate cake waiting for my arrival. Michelle and I crossed the Bowery and entered a maze of scaffolding covered in posters. Usually the posters are for the same things over and over again, a Sonic Youth concert or a movie that’s already out, or some cryptic advertisement that only makes sense months later. So I usually ignore them. However, we made a left turn in the paper-covered steel maze, and I gasped.

“Ahhhhhhh!”

(I asked Michelle how she would describe my reaction, and she all said was: “You did your noise.”)

Remember my post about that “Songs of the Soul” tribute concert to Sri Chinmoy? You know, the guy who named Albany as the First Peace Capital? The concert that I still shudder when I think about, the one that made me bleed internally from uncomfortable muffled laughter?

It’s back. Again. Already.


When I saw the same flyer of Sri Chinmoy that I had been handed last spring, the one where he’s holding his holy instrument with his eyes rolled in the back of his head with yellow glowing all around him, I couldn’t contain myself. The only thing I could get out after “my noise” was,

OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. IS THIS SERIOUS? OH MY GOD.

Usually I’m more articulate than that, but do you judge or criticize a Vietnam Vet for the things he cries out during his flashbacks? Regardless, I muttered out loud in disbelief while the other walkers became gawkers. The woman who had been traveling behind us stopped, looked at me, looked at the poster, and looked very confused. She had obviously no idea what chaos was being advertised right in front of her nosy nose and continued on her way to what I assume was Ben & Jerry’s – or The Continental.

Now, the line-up for the concert hasn’t changed, only this time Phillip Glass was not on the bill. He must have had the same reaction I thought he did, and had the smarts to get out of that sleepy-eyed CreepFest. Roberta “Batshit Crazy Drunk” Flack was still the headliner and I’m going to go ahead and believe that she still hasn’t taken off that blue sequined tragedy and that they rolled her into a bus, took it to the depot only to wake her up the evening of the next concert. Then they would immediately hand her a flask of whiskey, give her a nudge and say “Get out there, girl!” The concert is not on NYU soil anymore, but at a smaller venue, a Presbyterian church. How this all makes sense I just don’t know. I thought tribute concerts were only once a year. Did they go on tour? Was the tour so short that they’re already back where they started? In my mind, I see Roberta Flack leading the group into small cities in her pumps, holding up her middle school baton in the air, with the rest of the show sauntering in formation behind her with their Stepford Wives smiles and matching robes, each holding one of the 15 million bird drawings. I can also imagine a legion of Midwest housewives with brooms shooing them out of their towns and towards the hills, state after state.

Poor Sri Chinmoy. No man deserves to have this as his legacy, no matter how absurd it is to spend an entire lifetime scribbling birds and writing songs such as:

ICANLIFTTWOHUNDREDANDFORTYPOUNDS.

ICANLIFTTWOHUNDREDANDFORTYPOUNDS

ICANLIFTTWOHUNDREDANDFORTYPOUNDS

ICANLIFTTWOHUNDREDANDFORTYPOUNDS

ICANLIFTTWOHUNDREDANDFORTYPOUNDS



Saturday, August 16, 2008

Neil Zirconia

I peed a little.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dogged Up By The Rain


This whole summer has been nothing but a big puddle. A big puddle that's been beckoned me into a big muddle. It's been a soggy few months for everyone and we've all learned to make sure we've got our umbrellas on hand at all times. There's something ominous and eery about all of this precipitation and I can't tell if it's a cleansing or a punishment, or both. It depends on who you are, I guess. For me, it depends on the day, the hour, and sometimes even the minute. Sometimes I feel comforted by the fact that the only thing that's been consistent lately is the one thing no one would ever think they could depend on.



This week at my job was both the best and worst of the summer. It was terrible in the fact that it's the second to last week and it's getting ridiculously tedious. But it was also fantastic because our mutual disgruntleness caused me to bond with one of my coworkers. On Friday we decided to do enough work that lets us just exceed our expected quota, and then dick around the rest of the time (which only turned out to be about 45 minutes or so). As long as we're getting enough done, it really doesn't matter. And the more work we do, the more patients hate us.



I work in a department called Pre-Registration where we call patients before every appointment to make sure we have all of their "information" correct. We try to call them only once a month if they are repeat visitors, but sometimes errors are made and people get called multiple times a month. People are also scared of the title "Pre-Registration" and often complain that when thy hear it on their answering machine they get scared and think they're on some list to get surgery or something.



Long story short, we get a lot of angry patients answering the phone and calling us back. I hate talking to people on the phone in a professional setting anyway, so talking to angry people on the phone is what I think my hell is going to be like. This week an old man called our office back just to yell, and I was the lucky one who got to take the call. He was an angry coot. I think if I was as old as him I'd be perpetually pissed off. Imagine not being able to talk or pass gas without dust flying everywhere.



Our conversation went a little like this:

"Sir, our department is trying to help the patients by calling them and getting their information before the appointment so that when they get there they can go right in to see the doctor."

"That's not true. No, your department is a WELLFARE program designed to CREATE JOBS for people who can't get one!"

"Sir, I'm sorry you feel that way, we really are just trying to help."

"Yeah, yeah, sure. Thank you young lady...JERK."

And then he hung up.



I hope his balls fall off. If he didn't like getting the call, why did he call back? He went out of his way to ruin someone else's day.



I used to volunteer at a nursing home and there was this one man who would spring out of his room, ranting and raving and shaking his fuzzy slipper in the air. Coming from his aged and cracking vocal chords we'd hear a thick screech: "YOU'RE WALKIN' TOO LOUD! GET OUTTA HERE." We were there to make their days a little less shitty by listening to their same awful stories over and over and over again about the pastor's boy rollerskating in the church.



If you're going to be cranky and make everyone else miserable, just die already. Once I become a burden to people around me, that's the end of me. Maybe that book The Giver didn't have it so wrong. Except for the whole lack of color, though, that's gotta suck. In high school I wrote a paper called "Should They Stay Or Should They Go?" about the euthenization of the elderly. It was for an assignment called "Arguing With Yourself" so I had to agree both for and against the idea. In my research I found out that the numbers of car accidents caused by old people are staggering... and I'm going to leave it at that.








*Note: I'm not saying all old people are mean, just a large portion of them. I'm sure you have an "adorable grampy" or something and I'm more than happy for you.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Karma Karma Karma Kameleon



August is like a month of Sundays.


I've always hated Sundays, except for the morning (if I find myself awake in time to enjoy it). I feel lazy, in limbo, and unsure of whether I should be in the process of wrapping things up or just starting to try. It may be too late, but in the words of Ben Lee, I only want it to begin. And that's what I'm doing by re-opening the forgotten and dusty tomb that has become my blog. I've been writing down ideas but haven't actually fleshed out anything substantial in quite a while.


My "Adventure in Solitude" was anything but. I definitely didn't spend the same amount of time at the computer as before, but I definitely didn't seclude myself like I had hoped. Things come up that need to be taken care of, and I have to use a computer ALL day at work. Thus, staying away from the Evil that the Internet had become was almost impossible. And what can I say? I've been a little lax in my convictions lately, but that's the least of it all.



You may ask, "But why did you thrust yourself into an 'Adventure in Solitude' in the first place? You seem like a rather well-adjusted young lass." Well, this answer is not a simple one. It has a little to do with a series of unfortunate events that made me want to remove myself from civilization and a lot to do with my parents' purchase of a Complete Care Warranty with my former laptop. I had a Dell Inspiron E1505, which a pretty significant portion of my peers also seem to have... and never have had a problem. I think mine was a dud. During my ownership I had had the hinges and screen and dvd drive replaced once and the keyboard replaced twice in two years. However even after these repairs, my DVD drive continued to grrr and purr like a very angry and hungry pregnant lioness... and everyone knows about my delinquently fussy "E" key.


Throughout my troubles I found out that I had this Complete Care Warranty. My brother-in-law told me that it would cover everything but theft.
"On the phone I even asked them: If she throws a party and someone vomits on her computer, is that convered?"


So me mind started turning. Yes, me mind. I had been threatening in conversation for a while, but this summer I finally decided to go through with it. I would destroy my laptop, send it back, and force Dell to show me something good. Late one Thursday night, my accomplice Jackie was making fun of the wobbly laptop screen by flicking it over and over after an exhausting session of Guitar Hero. I told her about the Complete Care Warranty and shared with her my dream. She was enthusiastically receptive. In high school, Jackie was in my circle of friends of Do-Gooders who didn't lie or cheat or steal or drink or have the crazy kind of "fun" that all the "cool" kids were having. Instead, we made inaccurate historical videos about Constantinople and listened to Neil Diamond. (We still listen to Neil Diamond and now me make accurate videos about Constantinople thanks to my lovely freshman-year Byzantine History odyssey with a one Mr. Konstantinos Smyrlis). I chatted online with a Dell Rep and told him that "While I was away, I was told that a large piece of furniture fell on my laptop and someone may have stepped on it." This was all while my lemon of a laptop sat beside me, fully intact despite its numerous flaws.


The foreign man responded, "Do not worry, you have Complete Care Warranty."


So when Jackie supported my idea, that was confirmation enough for me to get on with it... after pestering my brother-in-law about the possible consequences, both material and moral.


I decided to do the deed.


A few days later, after saving and securing all of my very important files (mostly music) onto an external hard drive, it was time. My brother-in-law retrieved one of his 25lb hand weights and set up a chair in front of the house. Jackie joined me outside and my niece scurried past us to her father's lap in the lawnchair. On the way out the door I opend ITunes and tried to find an appropriate track that would provide a soundtrack to this act of rebellion.


The only song I had that seemed appropriate was "I Got Your Money" by Ol' Dirty Bastard. As the song played I placed the laptop down on a piece of the slate pathway. After a few seconds of conversation and nervous hesitation, I held the weight over a corner of the computer


and


dropped


it.


The screen absorbed most of the shock. And the music was still playing. I opened up the laptop and the screen was completely cracked and distorted. It looked like some abstract painting one might encounter at the MoMA. But I could still make out the "play" button, and pressed it. The music resumed. So, I flipped the machine over and dropped the weight around the same area as the first time. The music did not come on again, there was a splendid dent near my hard drive, and the air vent was irreplaceably smushed. Mission Accomplished, much quicker than expected.


So when I sent back the computer is when I tried the whole "Adventure in Solitude" thing. Instead of being in solitude, I umm used everyone else's computers. Including Albany Medical Center's.


The replacement computer they sent me is a refurbished XPS M1530, apparently it's "the" laptop for today. I wouldn't know... because when I got mine, the screen had dancing green pixels that distorted picture and video. AND the audio was crackly and unclear. Was I sent another dud as my punishment? Is this karma? Was Dell getting payback by making me sit on the phone for a total of over 5 hours attempting to fix a machine that was promised to be fully efficient and functional? That was the one warning my brother-in-law had given me, the possible karma that greedily destroying one of my most important possessions in hopes of getting a better one. What I had was great, but not perfect. It just didn't seem like enough for me. But I kept thinking off all the bad things that might happen with it and couldn't stop creating worst-case scenarios in the talking picture machine that's become my mind. I believe this happens in more than just laptops, my dear readers. I needed to try my hand at something better at the expense of others' feelings and time - in this case, the laptop's(?) and the Dell workers. The negative energy was a-flowing out and negative energy was all I got in return. But hey, at least the workers are getting paid, right?


I must say that this whole happening has made me believe in something, maybe not karma exactly, but then again maybe so. Today I was supposed to meet yet another Dell rep at my house at 5:30. Around 4, the city started to dump buckets and buckets of stinging water onto the ground. A gross tan river covered the street I have to cross between work buildings, and the water was up to mid-calf. The sky was unforgiving as I tried to get back to the other building to meet my sister and go home. We left at 4:55. A ride that normally takes 5 minutes ended up taking 50, and on the way I saw a hatchback car on a street that was flooded up to the windows.


Shit was cuh-razy. But I kept a good spirit, joking with my sister about the guy who was drumming on his steering wheel with real drumsticks, the man who rode by on a tiny scooter, and the annoying people who cross the street during red lights - it's an epidemic in Downtown Albany!


I'm starting to learn how to step back from situations and repress my Kebbie instinct to go into Panic Overdrive Mode right away before anything bad happens, and even after it happens. Pre-panicking is always a deadly move and post-panicking doesn't do anything but drain the soul. I honestly believe that if I had started fretting and worrying, the Dell rep might have gotten the vibes and left before I got there. But she didn't. In fact, she was really cool. She enjoyed listening to the household conversations with Mom, my niece, Givne, and I. She was probably an RPI student, but I don't really know. All I do know is that she had to stop working to laugh heartily at an observation I had about Jon & Kate Plus 8, and that was good enough to erase the fact that I had probably stepped in raw sewage mixed with acid rain a mere hour earlier.


"Of course they have to buy organic food. Imagine having to cart around eight fat-ass kids?"



Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A-Change is Gonna Come

And that change is more blog posts.


Stay tuned. I'm back. And better than - well, I'm going to try to be at least just as good.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Adventures in Solitude

This will be my last post for a while. Recent event and thoughts have led me to the conclusion that I'm in need of some kind of cleansing, and I'm going to try at one. And that's why I no longer possess a laptop (for a few weeks, anyway). If you're interested in hearing the tale of a great battle with technology, an awestrucking display of consumerism, and wanton disregard of an inner compass, ask me about my Sunday.

I'm actually pretty excited to be disconnected from the Interwebs. Last spring I uninstalled AIM for quite a while, and it felt damn good. People contacted me who actually needed and wanted to, and there were no pity conversations stemming from boredom and obligation:


"what's up?"
"nothing... you"
"nothing"
"cool"
"yeah"
"definitely"
"yep"


So I plan on only using the computer while I'm at work and maybe sometimes while I'm at my sister's house. I'm sick of sitting passively for hours in front of the glowing screen without actually DOING anything, just checking the same websites over and over again, waiting for people to respond to me or hoping something new will pop up. I love the computer, but I've become a mindless addict who has forgotten its meaningful use. In order to get back my appreciation, I must deprive myself of it. I am not telling you all of this to be praised for going inside my little box, although you can admire me from the outside - I don't mind. (Jonathan Lethem reference, anyone? If not, please read The Disappointment Artist.) But it's just to let you all know that although I am not everpresent on your screens, I am still alive. Maybe more alive than ever. Which is both a healthy thing and a scary thing at the same time. Good and bad, bad and bad; I'm still reeling from it all.

I plan on spending my nights attempting to knock off a few books from my shelf of Unreads, watching intellectual programming (such as Law and Order: Criminal Intent, the John Adams miniseries, Rocko's Modern Life and Jon & Kate Plus 8), and walking over to Albany's Riverfront Park in contemplation. What shall I contemplate? Perhaps why certain parts of the park smell
like ass more than others. It's a tough conundrum, but someone's got to tackle it. I'll still be receiving phone calls and e-mails (NO texting, please!), but I know a lot of you young whippersnappers out there prefer more "distant yet instant" forms of communication. Fortunately, I don't know that many of you.

Hopefully this will not mean a hiatus of writing. I hope it's far from it. I bought a nifty notebook today that I am going to break down into sections to keep track of all the little notes and ideas I've written on various smaller notebooks, napkins, and foreheads. And boy! do I have many notes for possible blog posts. You all have something to look forward to since I know your lives rise and fall with my internet insights and memoirs.

In the meantime, I hope you'll allow me to assign you some homework for when I return. Please listen to the entire album "Challengers" by The New Pornographers, and pay special attention to the songs "My Rights Versus Yours," "Myriad Harbour," and "Entering White Cecilia." There will be an extended discussion and response paper due sometime in the month of August. I can't explain how much this band and that particular album has helped me lately. I really like a lot of music, but it only happens once in a while that I feel "moved." And I feel as moved as one of them peddlers I had to learn so much about in my American Jewish History class.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

You Were The Man, Mike.



I received some pretty terrible news today. My comedy godfather, mentor, and role-model, Mike Irwin, passed away today around noon. Mike had been battling Stage IV bone cancer for a few months, eventually contracting a staph infection among a myriad of other complications. If there ever was a guy who deserved to be ridiculously famous and live for billions of years, it would be him. I could try to be eloquent and try to come up with some grand metaphor about the circle of life and blah blah blah, but that just doesn't fit. The only thing I can say that feels right is:

This completely sucks.

There's no way around it. Fuck the universe, as my very insightful friend Brian Peek would say. And he always seems to be right.

If it weren't for Mike Irwin, I wouldn't have ever had the opportunity to pursue comedy. The summer after my freshman year of high school was a restless time. Even though I was barely fourteen, I felt a restlessness inside that wouldn't stop. My family had been in a sort of disrepair for reasons all two of you readers already know and I had just experienced the first year where I could actually notice a bit of social separation between my peers and I. I had been following comedy and various comedians since the time I had fully grasped language, and one night at a Fresno's restaurant while dining with my sister and brother-in-law something clicked.

"I think I could do stand-up comedy. Why not? So many ridiculous things have happened to me that it seems like something I have to do."

My brother-in-law was especially encouraging, but at the time I didn't think either of them were really taking me seriously. I went home and left them a voicemail at their apartment:
"I'm really serious about this. I'm going to do it. I'm going to. I have to. I'm serious."
The rest of the summer was spent e-mailing comedians and researching classes and clubs. The whole process was actually quite a success, and I caught a few comedians when they were stll answering their own e-mails. My favorites, of course, were from a one Mr. Galifianakis and I had an oddly lenghty correspondence with Jay Mohr who told me to "sin bravely."

Towards the end of the summer, I found the website for our local comedy club, The Comedy Works, which was then located at a Quality Inn in Glenmont. Mike Irwin was offering stand-up comedy classes there and I immediately e-mailed him my situation, about how I was a youngin' but I knew that this was something I was very passionate about. He was quick to respond and said he would check about things, making no promises but said: "If you really want to do comedy, you'll find a way."

I e-mailed the owner of the club to see what he had to say, and I later found out that he had suspected I might be a police officer posing as a little girl to conduct some kind of sting operation. So, like all kids do, I had my mom call. And then Mike Irwin got back to me with good news: the only thing I had to do was send in a permission slip, which I did right away. I was warned that there would be "adult content" and was instructed to prepare 2-3 minutes for the first night of class.

At the time, I was the goalie for my school's JV soccer team and went directly from practices and games right to class. Sweat, adrenaline, and all. I was so nervous before my first class, but as soon as I met everyone my large intestine sensed there was nothing to fear.

Mike did not treat me any different than the rest of the class, although the next youngest person after me was around 20. No one watched their language, watered their material down, or made me feel awkward about being there. It was from Mike I learned about stage presence, the basic joke forms, how to memorize sets, and how squeeze the most out of every single minute on stage. He taught us his "5 Rules of Comedy," which have always rung true. Comedy is almost impossible to pigeon-hole into various equations and explanations and organizations, but somehow Mike did it. Every week we were given assignments and writing exercises, many of which I still use today. One of my favorite assignments was when we had to make a list of things that were orange. By far, the best answer came from my pal Don: "Bougars mixed with blood!" I remember choking on my water from chortling. It's the best kind of pain there is.

The most valuable things I gained from the class were my "older comedian friends" and my relationship with Mike. Every teenage girl should have them, and they're the only reason I wish I could go back to high school, so I could spend time with them on a regular basis again.

Every week we each had to perform on stage for 2-3 minutes and even if we sucked, Mike would make sure to find something positive about what we did. But he wasn't afraid to tell us what didn't go so well. Sure, many comedians may end up bitter and jaded, but Mike knew that it didn't have to be that way - and that we weren't going to succeed if it happened to us. Later that year I took an improv class with him and some of my friends, and he opened up that world for me as well. He could have just said, "Go away, kid, get outta here. Come back when you're not a fetus." But he didn't. Honestly, I probably would have given up my quest. Without his belief in me and my potential, I think I'd have hung back more in my life. I don't think I would have pushed myself or accomplished anything near what I have. His instruction and faith gave me the confidence and tools to make the best of my situation that I desperately needed at that particular point in my life.

I don't think I have ever seen Mike get angry or badmouth another comedian. When I think of all the god-awful comedians (famous and not), managers, and Biz people he's had to deal with, that fact truly amazes me. It seems that no one ever got the best of him, and he was always ready to do favors.

When I started performing more, opening shows and going to open mics, he was always there when I had questions. He seemed to be watching proudly as I kept at it, and whenever I perform I perform as if he were there, because I know that's when I do my best.

Last summer I had the pleasure of doing a guest spot when he was headlining at The Comedy Works, which is now located on the corner of State & Eagle Streets in Albany. I got to hang out with him, his wife, and his son - and my friend - Carter. It was one of the best nights of that summer. Of course I had seen Mike perform, but not for a while. I've always admired how he never stopped writing and always had new bits. What sticks out in my mind about his performances, however, was the pure, unadulterated glee that you could tell filled him whenever he was behind a microphone. His smile and manly giggle were enough to make me smile and -yes, perhaps a bit masculinely - giggle.

Like many comics, he took his life's struggles as fodder for entertainment. But there was something twisted and sharp and endearing about his cadence and writing that never got boring. He was the kind of guy who wanted to win the lottery just for the interview. He wondered why the winners always want to buy a car when there's so much that can be done. Mike knew just what he would do: create a jell-o shortage. The man was a genius.





Of course, I saved my favorite joke of his for last. He used to talk about how one of his relatives had been on the wrong side of World War II, and the only picture they had was of him in his uniform. So whenever people would come over to his family's house, everyone would see all the normal, lovely pictures of the family. . .

"and then some fuckin' Nazi."

"Oh, who's that?"
"Umm...that's just Gramps. He was really into the theater."

Mike, all us comics miss you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Every meal tells a story.

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while, but times haven't been conducive to my former late-night blogging schedule. I started a day job along with my night job, so last week I worked 67.5 hours. My brain is fried. Fortunately and little unfortunately (as I will miss my rebel teacherly friends) my exam scoring job ended on Tuesday night. So my nights are now free.

What will I do with my free time, you ask? Oh, the usual. Bowl, drive around, the occasional acid flashback. Maybe a yoga class. Hopefully I'll get back on the arduous Upstate NY Comedy Circuit. I think my lack of personal productivity is contributing mercillessly to recent stresses and upheavals. That must be changed!


For this post, I'd like to share an experience from someone other than me. Turn things around a bit. I'm a bit sick of myself.




Recently, my friend Steph - the same one who fell in love with the young busboy - shared an uplifting story with me. She currently subs at a Nursery School, and is finding it rather rewarding. She feeds them, washes their grimy faces, teaches them the alphabet, and sings songs about manners and baby animals. Steph attends to the kids' every need and whim - even their budding sexual desires. What can I say? She loves the youths.



But it's not what you think: "We were outside on the playground. I was just standing there. Two kids came up to me joking like aahhh I'm gonna get you or something like that, and one was hugging my leg. And that one became the humper." A three-year-old boy humped her leg, which brings about two questions that I would like answered, no matter how prudish you readers may be, and because I know you two readers, you have no excuse. Here are the hard-hitting questions:


1) Does that action even feel "good" and "special" at that age?



2) Should Steph stop taking the kid to Chuck E. Cheese every Friday night to "play" with him in the ball pit?




In other news...



On Tueday a friend and I purchased cheesy gordita crunches before our last night of exam scoring. It took forever as usual, but it was also worth it... as usual. As we stepped out of the car to go inside, we noticed that two infants were sleeping in their carriers in the back of a sedan next to us, with only one of the back windows open. At the very worst we hoped the parent was just running in to use the bathroom or to get something quick. Not that this would be acceptable, but it's better than what we ended up witnessing.


After we had waited 15 minutes for our tasty helpings of tortilla, beef, cheese, and vegetables in various combinations, we made our way back to the car to speed off. Following us out the door was a young couple in their late twenties. They sauntered over to the sedan with large fountain drinks in hand. They got in the car. They drove away slowly.


This winning boyfriend and girlfriend duo (no rings) had ordered a meal and ate it inside while their infants slept in the oppressive car heat. If everything we do is an argument, this one's a doozy. Their actions argued that eating inside Taco Bell is of more value to them than the comfort and well-being of their TWO babies. What disgusts me is the fact that they value eating inside the Taco Bell establishment at all. It's sticky, badly lit, uncomfortable and - worst of all - plays the "number one hit music station" of the Capital Region. I would rather eat in oppressive car heat with screaming infants surrounding me. Couldn't one of them have gone inside to get the food? Then they could have gone home and ate together as a family, fighting over the television remote and who was going to get the last cinnamon dessert twist.



Discuss.


A few days ago my friend Jackie and I dined at the Macaroni Grill and we had an excellent dinner for a chain restaurant. At the Mac Grill they have paper tablecloths and the servers write their names on it upside down in an act of friendliness. Like a party trick to break the ice. They leave the crayons on the table, and for some reason at tables with only adults at them the crayons are left undisturbed. It's okay for children to amuse themselves while they wait for sustinence but adults have been conditioned to sit quietly and make inane small talk until they glance their meals coming to the table from the corner of their eye.

"Yeah, yes. . . it's uhh terrible that they uhh in the news I saw ummm. . . Oh, here's the food!"


Fun and colors and art and doodles are nothing to be ashamed of. Jackie and I had a grand old time drawing cartoon cows and stars and writing our names and playing games and it really took the edge off our hunger. We discussed that a trip to an establishment like the M. Grill would be a great place for dinner in the early stages of dating. I'm not saying I endorse testing those you date and I'm not saying I ever have, but I think we've got something here. Does your date even notice the crayons? What color does he/she choose first? What kinds of pictures or words do they draw? Do they press hard or shade lightly? These answers could serve as an intriguing litmus test of personality.


I - pretty obviously - would enjoy someone who draws and doodles furiously without hesitation. Preferably elaborate stick figures or other amusing illustrations. No mundane boxes, please.




Speaking of a a dislike for the mundane, I'm not so much excited for my actual birthday weekend as much as the two weekends that follow. Although I've planned this weekend chock full of karaoke, parties, and Cranium, I'll still be in waiting. For next weekend one of my best friends, whom I admiringly refer to as just "Givney" is having me up to her camp on Lake Champlain.


Many a good time and life lessons have happened up at that there beach. Her family and I get along well. I'm pretty sure, after attempting water-skiing, that one of her uncles wiped the snot from my nose. We've bonded. I think everything was solidified after one enchanting occasion.



Givney and I were sitting in the camper enjoying refreshing beverages. This day I was partaking in Mountain Dew: Code Red, as when I was younger I used to consume it every day of my life. Just as I was taking a sip, Givney's father walked in the room from his shower with a silky royal blue Hawaiian shirt bearing an eye-catching pattern.


Givney brightly remarked, "Wow, Father, don't you look dapper today!"


Tears flowed into the ducts and my body convulsed. I felt the cold cherry flavor travel up my sinus cavity and to my nasal one, surging out of my nose while simultaneously an eruption of soda charged back up through my esophagus (accompanied by other stuffs, but I won't get into that) and out of my pie-hole.


I laughed so hard I puked.

And that is true friendship.


I rarely laugh heartily to the point of tears, so time with Givney and her posse is always top priority. Puke seems to be a common topc of discussion, and not just because of this incident. But, I'm legally and socially obliged not to give up the rest in public. Sucks to be you on the outside, that's all I"m gonna say.


I'm excited to have a bash with them to celebrate me still being younger than everyone else. I think I'm looking forward to this weekend more than returning to NYC for the 4th of July. I look forward to stepping into the camper again, where there lies a fabulous stain on their carpet, constantly reminding me of good times.


I am looking forward to going back home, though. Yes, home. It will be there that I celebrate my day of birth for the third weekend in a row. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I guess I can celebrate America, too. Does anyone know of any 4th of July festivities to be had? If you're in the city, I think on Saturday night I'll be dropping by the Sidewalk Cafe to see the afforementioned Frank Hoier and Feral Foster. I'm going down on a Thursday night so I will have 2 full days of summer in the City, plenty of time to take what it has to offer and not enough time to get so sucked in that I hole myself up in a stranger's apartment, refusing to return to the place I was born.


Here's something fun that was a major belly-laugh initiator towards the end of this past semester:


Hasta luego.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I've Made Up My Miiiiiiind...

...Don't try and tell me otherwise! I can't keep from talkin' 'bout these guys.

These are a couple NYC musicians that must be recognized. Before Washington Square Park was in disrepair, Feral Foster and Frank Hoier, were often found in their own musical world under one of the cozy tree spots. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Feral Foster on the edge of the fountain one day and he asked to borrow my pen. I let him keep it. Feral Foster is a raggedy-haired, passionately gruff belter and Frank Hoier croons like a bird. One evening my friends and I sat with Feral and Frank and enjoyed a sing-a-long. I've been following their careers ever since. At the Sidewalk Cafe, the home of Anti-Folk, The F's are often found. One time I went there and Feral did a fantastic version of the classic "John Henry." They both have great respect for traditional and new folk/blues/bluegrass/etc and put their own fascinating spin on it. Frank's song "Jesus Don't Give Tax Breaks to the Rich" was featured on some new political song list created by Neil Young.

The "41st Street Blues" are fantastic. My favorite lines are:

You're ridin' downtown in that old wheelchair,

But I can't stop starin' at your pretty brown hair!

You look good to me, you look good to me

Oh, ou look good to me and I hope you like me, too

Here's and interesting live version:

Frank & Feral:

Feral's rendition of "Orange Blossom Special":

Alright, had to get that out of my system. Hasta luego.