Monday, February 16, 2009

F1 just made me swoon February 16, 2009

I am not what you would call a fan of racing. I've been to a couple of races (because that's what you do when you live in a small town), but I've never so much as gone out of my way to watch a race on TV.

A few years ago, I came this close to driving up to Montreal for an F1 race. Not because we needed to see F1, but because a group of us were pathetically ensnared in working conditions that made us want to scream. And if you're going to scream, it may as well be at cars moving faster than anything you're standing beside should. We ended up not going for a couple of reasons, but that time that we almost took a road trip to Montreal is one of my most cherished almost memories of something that would have been cool if we'd done.

I just finished watching this video about the new F1 rules that are coming into effect this year. It's very well done, excellently animated, and very informative. If F1 turns out to be this cool, I may have to start watching it.

You had me at turbo boost.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Comedy Horror

After work last night, I dropped in on the CBC Hubcap Comedy Open Mic at the Pumphouse here in Moncton. For those that aren't familiar with it, amateur comedians get a chance to do short stand up bit in front of a live audience. The winner of the event gets to perform at the Hubcap Comedy Festival.

I have always wondered what it would be like to be a stand up comedian. I even sometimes think that I could do it well. After meeting me, many people have said "hey, you should be a stand up comedian". This advice, I assume, is pretty universal among people that want to try it. After all, if you're not generally acknowledged as being funny you probably aren't likely to get in front of an audience for laughs.

Which leads me to believe that, generally speaking, people are liars.

I arrived late and left early, so I was only exposed to portion of the evening's line up. Let's call it eight comics. Two were funny. Not "oh my god I'm going to wet myself" funny, but funny enough to get laughs on a regular basis. The rest ranged from amusing, like when the CEO of your company tells you a joke, to horrifying in a way that I can only believe that people not only lied to you but they also hate you.

Here are some comedy do's and don'ts that I cobbled together based on last night's experience.

  1. Do watch other comedians. Preferably professionals, but definitely the rest of the line up. You'll figure out what the audience likes and what draws a silence like Schindler's List.
  2. Do not think you are those professional comics that you have just watched. You are not. You know how everything that comes out of a pros mouth is funny? Almost everything that will come out of your mouth will not be. But that's okay. Just recognize that fact when you are writing your set.
  3. Do write your set. Write your jokes down and put together a set list so you know which jokes you've told and what the punch lines are. Doesn't matter how much you practice, even the pros blank sometimes.
  4. Do not write your set list on your hand, and do not put your set list somewhere where you cannot see it. Even if you are the most calm and collected individual with no fear of speaking in public, those lights are HOT. Also, if you write your list on a piece of paper, don't then put that paper on a ledge behind you.
  5. Do have a schtick. Have something that sets you apart so people will remember you.
  6. Do not have a disturbing schtick. People do not like clowns. You know who you are. Stop it.
  7. Do feel good about the fact you have the courage to do this. Not many people do. I haven't gotten the courage yet. Someday, I will, maybe. But for now, I'll just write snarky lists.
  8. Do not feel good that the courage you gained came in a chemical form. I have no doubt that you'll think that you were awesome last night, and that you had the crowd eating from the palm of your hand. I can only pray that you have good friends that will support you and guide you away from trying to do this again, and not bad friends that might allow you contact with children.
That's all the time I have right now, gotta get ready for work in the real world where I don't make people laugh for a living.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February 11, 2009

Have you heard of this Matt guy? Did I totally miss an Internet phenomenon? I don't want to brag about having my finger on the pulse of the Internet (seriously, I don't. That would be a scary admission of the absence of keeping my real life together), but I like to think that I have an idea of what's going on out there.

And then something like this happens. How did I completely miss this dancing guy before? It's funny and entertaining, and yet nobody gets kicked in the crotch. Come to think of it, maybe that's how I missed it.

But, then, I think I may be losing my mind.

The wife and I were watching City of Ember. Don't know if you've seen it, it's not that important to the story, but it's an okay flick for the kids. Someday, we'll get some kids to watch these movies. Anyway, like I said, the movie itself isn't what was important. It was the fact that there was an actor in a very small role that I kept saying looked familiar, but I couldn't place him.

At the very end of the movie, I realized that it was Martin Landau.

I said "It's Martin Landau! But he's dead, isn't he?"

I figured that the movie must be a lot older than I thought it was. Cause, Martin Landau is dead, right? So they shot the movie a couple of years ago, but only just released it. I didn't think about it again until tonight when I looked it up on IMDB.

Turns out that Martin Landau isn't dead. He's very much alive. He's 78 years old and he's still working.

Now, you're probably thinking that the fact that I thought he was dead isn't so far fetched. He does kind of look dead. But what you're not taking into consideration is that I love movies. A lot. I take my movie trivia very seriously. When playing "Scene It", the teams are usually divided into me on one side and everyone else on the other.

The fact that Martin Landau is alive throws everything I think I know into question. Is there trivia and bits of knowledge that I'm losing because something else is jockeying for position in my neurons?

I therefore resolve to get back to my roots. I shall be doing a lot more knitting because I have to sit my butt down in front of a television and watch a bucket load of movies. I shall spend less time worrying about viral videos and more time worrying about trying to get a copy of "Ultra Warrior" and "Blood of Heroes".

I'm going to get all Rocky on this movie trivia thing. Gonna spend some time watching someone run up stairs and live through their cinematic experience! You just watch me! I will defend my Scene It crown!

(Interesting side note: although the teams usually always get divided up into me against everyone else, I have yet to actually win the game. I always lose, and yet somehow, I'm still the guy to beat? How does that work?)

Monday, February 9, 2009

February 9, 2009

Some of you are going to read this post and think "um, what?". To you, I give this video link. Go watch it and be amused and happy that I suggested it to you.

Apologies for the absence. I shall once again lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of work. Work and my new baby niece, for whom I am knitting a blanket.

Yes, for those that do not know of my crafty hobby, I knit. It is something that I do when I sit and watch TV. If you've ever watched TV with me for more than five minutes, you know that I have a tendency to move my legs. Back and forth, up and down, kind of a roundabout motion... they all make an appearance. Sometimes it's only one, sometimes it's both. Either way, it's easy to see that it would get on anyone's nerves. Knitting keeps my legs still. Or at least more at rest than otherwise.

It started when I was a kid. I don't remember exactly why I wanted to learn how to knit, but I did. Maybe it was my neighbour, Mrs. Casey, who sat on her front porch and knitted all day while watching the street. If we were out playing and needed a rest or were between games, we'd go over and sit and say hello and watch her knit and talk. It was nice.

But she didn't teach me how to knit. I think, in some ways, I was a little scared of Mrs. Casey. First, when she got mad, she would slip into French, which I hadn't started learning in school yet (and never would learn to the degree I'd be able to understand what she was saying). Normally, when I don't understand the language (which happened pretty much all the time with Dad and the relatives on his side), I'd smile and wait to hear my name. But this was different because I wasn't related to her and I wasn't used to the sound of French. So if I was walking by her house and heard French coming out, I just turned around and got out of dodge. French sounded angry to me.

Second, she had a habit of referring to herself in the third person. What's that all about anyway? "Come and help Mrs. Casey move this chair," or "You tell Mrs. Casey if you'd like something to drink." I had only been using pronouns for a few years, but I was pretty sure I had the rules straight. She was breaking the rules.

Anyway, there was a nice lady at church who offered to teach me how to knit. I don't know if Mom asked her or if I did, but either way I ended up at her house eating McDonald's and learning to knit. For those of you that my have missed that: I was eating McDonald's and learning to knit. She could have been teaching me how to paint by numbers and as long as there was McDonald's I would have kept coming back.

I learned how to knit a scarf. Mostly. Then I put it away because I discovered girls and dancing. That's another story.

I stopped knitting for several years. Like maybe almost two decades. I don't remember when or why I started again, but I just had an urge and bought some needles and some yarn and tried to make a scarf again. It took a while to relearn how to do it by myself, but I did. Mostly. Then I put it away again because I had better things to do like play video games and go to the movies.

Then a few years later, I started again. Again, don't remember the reasons why, maybe I just found my old needles and yarn and decided I had to use it up. Whatever the reason, I've been knitting ever since.

My typical position for knitting, as you remember, is in front of the TV. This means that I have made a choice about what I knit because I must divide my attention between yarn manipulation and the entertainment being piped into my head. One of these things I enjoy more than the other. Therefore, I knit scarves.

Scarves are easy because I only have to go back and forth until I figure it's long enough. Then I stop. I make simple scarves, because the total amount of attention that I am willing to give to my knitting and take away from TV can be summed up as habitual movement. If it's got a pattern, forget it. Who can read those things anyways?

Okay, a couple of years ago, I got a baby niece and decided I wanted to do something different for her. I decided I would learn to knit a blanket. Blankets, I reasoned, are just great big scarves. You go back and forth, and when it's long enough you stop. I chose some yarn and what I thought would be an easy pattern to work with and ta-da! It sucked! It was the hardest thing I had ever done and I missed a lot of good TV.

But I did learn that some patterns can be repetitive. And repetitive was what I wanted. So after I finished that blanket, I started messing around with other kinds of patterns, and they weren't as hard as I thought they'd be. I knitted another baby blanket for the newborn of some friends. Then I knitted a giant blanket for my wife, which was really easy because it was just three big scarves that I stitched together afterward.

So now I'm knitting another baby blanket for my newest niece, Holly. I should have started it a lot earlier than I did (two weeks before the baby is due is not the time to start knitting a blanket, in case you were trying to work out the logistics on your own). Now Holly has arrived, but the blanket isn't finished yet. I can't let her go too long without it, that would be cruel. It's a baby blanket, not a toddler blanket. Therefore, I have to watch a lot of TV when I'm not at work.

And that's why there hasn't been a post in a while.

Sunday, February 1, 2009