Tuesday, July 29, 2008

improv team names

The Upright Citizen's Brigade is having a Del Close Marathon Aug. 8 to 10 with non-stop improv on about 10,000 stages (teams scheduled for 4:15 A.m., the next team at 4:45, etc.)

So, I have this 4-page, 8 1/2 x 11" flyer of solid team names, and I need to list my 20 favorites:

The Ninjas, Blue Shampoo, Whorenado, Mailer Daemon, Gift of the Wild, Afternoon Delight, Suspicious of Whistlers, Big in Japan, I Eat Pandas, Last Day of School, Shark Attack!, Quiet Monkey Fight, The Sickest F***ing Stories I Ever Heard, Strippers' Picnic, Imaginary Friends, Bedtime Stories for Kidnapped Children, Matador Now!, Super Yum Yum 2, Mr. Licorice, and Brian's Epic Tan.

Friday, July 25, 2008


I bought a skateboard! So, this is my last post, as I'll scoot under the wheels of the crosstown bus on my NEW SKATEBOARD at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning.

I don't want to ride the subways anymore. They are dark, crowded and underground. And, while I own rollerblades and have the conpunction to go really, really fast, I'm bad at stopping. Now, I would love a bicycle, but this apartment is small, and I'd have to sherpa it up 5 flights of stairs. Plus, it would be strictly street-use, while a skateboard ...

Two instances cemented me on this rash ploy. The first -- I was walking home one night and leaped from my skin when some guy, right in my right ear, screamed, "MUCH-a CA-JONES!" (Not "ka-Jones," but cajones), paired with a shrill double whistle. Then, the squeal of brakes and the skid of tires, a car's frantic hoooonk, to my left.

The guy to my right was a Hispanic waiter reclining at an outdoor table, loudly approving the courage of a skate-daredevil across the way, who had just squeaked by a car vs. 9-ply deck catastrophe. WOW. New York's wheeled pedestrians must feel the joyous freedom akin to a bird's, swooping past a Civic's grill.

When you're walking, and the bright hand shines on the "walk" sign, you wait 1. For cars to go by. 2. For all the wheeled pedestrians that chase behind like dry leaves -- bikes, bladers, boards.

The second thrilling "wheeled pedestrian" experience (to sell me on a skateboard) was this one moment now forever-imprinted upon my psyche. The cars and buses at 3rd Ave. and 95th St. were converging on the intersection like the Red Sea, falling. Suddenly, your eye alights on one lone figure, carving through the center, barely making it out alive. A girl.

Or a statue. Of a goddess. On a skateboard. Probably woman's studies, but I do not conclude it based on cartoonish stereotypes, but on everything noble about the major. She's in the middle of the street, she's late for class, she's giving you a heart attack, but she does not care. And she has perfect confidence in her ability to execute this ... swoop.

I, on the other hand, just walk and walk and walk in New York City. When I used to drive, I tended to go just a leetle bit faster than everyone else on the highway (I-385!). I don't know why, except maybe I felt restrained, wanted to "break free." That's the way I walk, now.

New Yorkers, though, whether there are 2 or 20 in their party, fill up the entire sidewalk and walk slowly. The man is on the outside, sauntering, gesturing broadly with his lit cigar. His wife leisurely glances this way and that way at their five children, toddling along in a little string, the distance between each just slightly too narrow for an adult to politely BURST THROUGH at a brisk pace.

If New York is the melting pot, I am the spoon sticking straight up in the middle. So ... I would love to just go really, really fast. Hopefully, not out in front of a taxi. We'll see, tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Union Square Park

It's hard to know how long it's going to take to get anywhere in New York City, so you just start out an hour ahead of time and take a book. Any commute is going to be a complex mix of errand-running, trains (which will appear at your feet within 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the time of day/night), and the last few blocks walking (or walking around in circles, if you aren't quite sure where you're going).

So, I ended up in the Union Square park yesterday for an hour before work, reading Exit Ghost by Philip Roth beside a guy wearing a super-hero-y hood with holes for the eyes and mouth, wearing a Sharpie-marked cardboard sign declaring the day's top news stories. A student-type crouched down in front of him and, I could barely overhear, offered him the last cupcake in a plastic box he was holding. "No, no," said the Super-type. "I don't touch that kind of stuff."

The main part of the park lay across the street, and I watched a lanky man doing distintive kung-fu movements; with purpose, but also with such a casual playfulness, I thougth it might be Capoieta. (I was peeking over the top of my book.) But no, it was kung-fu, with the similtaneously moving hands/feet, blocks/strikes, and "upright" balance that prevents over-committing, provides the freedom to change direction/movements quickly, etc. Just stuff you know is called "Monkey combs his hair," and "Crane nips a dragonfly."

It was a few hours after lunch, but the park teemed with people. A large, flat configuration of light concrete, puddled with iron-ringed patches of grass and trees. It was a little cooler, yesterday, and the sun seemed bright but gentler. The concrete gave the impression of light reflecting upward, like a low, bright band into the pedestrian level, like the light-casting of a swimming pool or beach sand. All these bobbing heads, enjoying Union Square, close together and unconcerned, eating sandwiches and talking on iPhones.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Harold is Brilliant

I've been champing at the bit/pawing the earth for a while, now, to see the Upright Citizen's Brigade's Harold show -- funny enough, they switched things up to mock short-form improv the first night I tried to catch it (April Fool's day) -- since I'll be doing it/learning to do it (whatever Zen-appropriate verb I should use) in August.

Last night -- eureka! I already had the gist; had read Truth in Comedy (and I'm probably going to plagerize it in some way, though the akwardness will be all mine), but to see it ... wow. The laughter didn't seem like just an emotional response to the energy of someone having a good time pretending to be gay or drunk (they were all already gay or drunk -- Ha!) It was ... delight.

It seemed like an "efficiency" going on (now, I'm getting all Zen) was the pleasing part. They seemed to chase the path of simplicity and connection (of plot, dialogue, etc.) Fantastic. Plus energy -- they seemed delighted too, and to have a good time pretending not only to be gay or drunk, but also opera-singing contractors. Specifics, and not extraneous specifics, but specifics becoming "plot," becoming character ...

I wonder if I've always tried to create in a vacuum -- I think, for the time being, poetry is going straight to the slam, short stories straight to the mailbox, the urge to sing straight to the karaoke bar and ... random thoughts/journaling to the blog no one reads. An attempt at connecting with an audience? To try to complete the circle of creating, finding a little more meaing in it ...

A little more connecting, and hopefully a little better-quality creating; though I'm realizing my "(karaoke) stage presence" looks like I have long-studied the movements of the wind chime -- a gentle twisting, turning, to Erasure's "Respect." Hey, I'm still "trying hard to discover! A little something to make me sweeter."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Nothing to speak of/(so I wrote something really fast)

I don't really have anything to write about today. I don't know if I feel comfortable meandering around on a blog, so I'll try it.

I did hear that cigarettes are $9 a pack in New York, so I feel justified in buying books. The unbridled courage smokers have in plunking down ten for their habit gives me the courage to plunk down ten for, in particular, the Penguin Books Great Ideas series. In one bookstore I pass on Madison Ave., on my way to work, there's a whole wall of the things -- thin books, covers embossed with maybe a quote from the work, a stylish retro red-and-white design ... I am helpless! Everything from Seneca's On the Shortness of Life to Nietzsche's Why I am so Wise.

Exorcising the Shy:
It's courageous because I am just on the brink, again, of being impoverished. Spinning on a dizzy edge (air) ... And I'm also embarking, soon, on a creative activity that's going to require me to have composure, of sorts, in front of people. So, I'm singing karaoke. A lot of karaoke, trying to enlist co-workers to go with me -- getting up in front of people again to at least try to knock off that edge. If I had my guitar here, I would busk in the subways. I might also try a poetry slam, and am scouting a likely venue in the Village tonight. So, just books and Bleeker St., and probably the Battery this morning, to read by the water while it's still cool. Nothing of which to speak.

How it turned out:
Tonight's out-in-front-of-people thing was poetry slam at the (very, very fun) Bowery Poetry Club. I had never even seen a poetry slam before, I'm ashamed to say, (after all those shifts at Coffee Underground)! So ... I kind of got a quick overview, and since it was a nerd-themed slam tonight, decided to try. I wrote that stinking thing in @ 15 mintues and ... well, got up and performed it. Some good response! Some things I know I need to definitely work on. But ... extremely worthwhile. Here's my nerd love to Loch Ness (and the general field of cryptozoology).

Black slate clasps
the surface of black slate breaks
up through Loch Ness--
my monster

They say peat bleeds green,
obscures your world-- empty --
40 feet below the air--

I know they shut the case, say
you're fake, but I'll see your face
slytherine, serpentine

in the labyrinthine loch,
prehistoric rift, a gift evolution missed --

Faithful, I wait (even at work)
watching the Loch's webcam, bookmarked
on my MacBook --

choose me to be the one to see
you emerge
to hit "save," and "freeze."