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Enterfornment and acting and education and history and standup12 Jun 2008 10:02 pm

Enterfornment was a success. I hadn’t slept the night before, the game show didn’t work, I expected I was going to fall asleep, and was basically fueled only by panic and caffeiny energy drinks. Some segments got cut at the last minute because it was decided they “weren’t ready.” (Like the complete history of the split between Sunni and Shi’a Islam in 60 seconds or less, and the overthrow of Hawaii.) I didn’t have anywhere near enough memorized, and I didn’t even have all of my notes at the podium to read. And, all in all it was a success. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but the show certainly proved the baseline concept that it is possible to pull off an entertaining, funny educational show for adults. Even if you use a subject which is assumed to be extremely dry.

It wasn’t exactly a comedy show. When you talk about Osama bin Laden, and our support of the repressive Diem regime in Vietnam, the whole show can’t be 100% funny. It did have some funny parts. The audience did laugh a lot, and they got a lot of the jokes. I think one of the best laughs was showing a picture of Eric Estrada when talking about a Mr. Estrada who was important in central American politics around the start of the 20th century. Go figure, eh? A similar joke about Mr. Diaz with a picture of Cameron Diaz was found to be more confusing. Mostly because I botched the delivery.

The first act had First Barbary War, War of 1812, Opening of Japan, Spanish American War, and the Philippine American War. It ended right before the start of the 20th Century. The band, “The Moment” played in the middle of the act to break things up, right after Opening of Japan.

The second act featured American meddling in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, a note about Sayid Qutb and his role in creating the ideology that inspired Bin Laden while he lived in Colorado, Iran, Nicaragua some more, Panama some more, our role in the 1980′s Iran (again) – Iraq war, and Iraq again ( in Operation Desert Storm aka “The second first Gulf War” ). The overall theme was the importance of understanding our enemies, and how it can save us money, time, and lives. Almost every war, revolution, and overthrow included a line about how “it was then that we as a nation finally came to understand the vital importance of understanding our enemies.”

So, since the show ended with a brief mention of the Iraq-America war in 1991, the closer was a note about how thankfully, we finally acted according to the one lesson that was learned so many times over. We finally understood our enemy and acted accordingly (at least for a while). And, we closed with the infamous clip of Cheney talking about what the results of invading Iraq would have been. It would have been a Quagmire, because Iraq isn’t a unified country, but a collection of chunks which could not all simultaneously be controlled by us, and chucks would have fallen out of our control. It seemed a fitting and poignant end. The audience seemed to appreciate the irony.

So, I never adressed the current Iraq war directly, but in a sense, the whole show (and basically all of American history) were basically a setup for it. The show had enough historical examples to allow the audience to understand the current war in a different context, even though there wasn’t much discussion of Iraq. (Except for a few pictures from modern times used as an ironic means of explaining past events. Like how the water torture in the phillipines over a century ago was just the work of “a few isolated individuals,” in almost the same way that things like water torture and psychological torture is officially the work of a few isolated individuals in our current global war on terror.)

So, all in all. The audience says they liked it. They laughed during the show, and the vibe felt good. There is plenty of room for improvement, but it went well enough that I am planning to do more educational shows when I get a chance.

As for upcoming stuff, the 24 hour film contest is in a few months. Dunno if I’ll participate. I am doing some private dinner theater in July. Iraq War: The Musical is coming to town, and I missed my chance to audition. And, the Regional Championships for competetive air guitar will be taking place in Denver. I certainly won’t be competing as I have no musical inclination, but I will probably be a supporting member of the Rock a Feller entourage. (Who I insist ought to dress up as John D. Rockefeller.) No word if Bjorne Turoque will be there.

I think this lolcatz picture is funny, and makes me want to do an economics show.
I think this lolcatz picture is funny, and makes me want to do an economics show

education and history and standup29 Apr 2008 12:26 pm

Well, preproduction for the Enterfornment Extravaganza at the Bug is well in swing. I have a booth operator lined up who will be in town for the show, I have multimedia bells and whistles well started, and I spent last night at the Bug Theatre talking to them about some of the particulars for setting up the show. Did you know that the Bug Theatre has a liquor license? It’s an arts license, which means you can’t advertise the fact that they will be able to sell beer during the show. (Politicians were obviously drunk when they came up with that rule…) So, I’m not advertising that fact, but as a comment between myself, and those of you who are my close friends, it sure is an interesting thing, ain’t it… I have also been giving out some of my cool new flyers, and gave away a few freebie comp tickets at Freak Train.

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Uncategorized20 Apr 2008 06:33 pm

Friday, May 23rd, at the Bug Theatre
Visit The Bug Calendar
A History Lecture so ass-kicking that I had to invent a new word just to describe it. Multimedia, comedy, and a survey of the history of american interventionist policies and their effects merge in a brand new sort of show. Enterfornment. Information wrapped up in Entertainment. Imagine if The Daily Show did a college level history course, and you might be somewhere near the right sort of idea. This show is a sort of beta test to gauge interest level in a series of unusual informative lectures. Final details like ticket prices are still TBA. My new website for this venture is

Uncategorized02 Mar 2008 08:11 pm

A lot later than I had hoped, but it was fun. Sooo much to do this month, but I’m not actively in rehearsals for anything, so I may have a chance to accomplish 10% of it.

acting and education and history and movies and standup and travel26 Feb 2008 10:45 am

US History In The Middle East may be coming to a theater near Denver in the near future as a long form lecture. I did Freak Train last night, talking more about the 1953 Iranian coup. People are starting to seem ever more interested, and several have been asking where they can see me do a longer history talk. So, having been effectively drafted, I intend to start figuring out where I can do it. It’ll probably be a month or two. One guy even called me the “Carl Sagan of History.”

Always on the verge of losing all faith in Humanity, I am slowly being forced to admit that people really will pay attention if you put something in front of them, and keep it lively. This is a good thing. It took a few months, and thus a few five minute talks – out 20 minutes in total – to move the audience from not caring to having a bunch of people come up to me afterwards asking for more.

Rodents of Unusual Size (local improv group) have asked me about the possibility of opening for them in a few months as well. I have a dinner theater gig in Rui Doso, New Mexico this weekend. I need to learn my lines today.

Dangerous Theater now has a weekly improv competition on Sundays that is just starting out, but could be amazingly cool if it gets going. I went last week, but it was just me and another guy. And, our audience locked her keys in her car, so she spent half the show outside waiting for AAA to come and unlock the car. It was a short show, and then we all went out drinking and did a round of pub trivia. Their trivia was all fucked up, did you know that Crash Bandicoot was a Genesis game? Of course not, because it actually wasn’t! But, that was still the right answer. I lost my shirt. Not as part of the trivia competition – just in general.

Jon Stevenson, of “Intercourse, PA” directoring fame is premiering Kung Foo Kops at the “1st Annual Super-Amazing-Awesome-Happy-Funtime Film Festival”
Hosted by: Jon Stevenson and John Schmidt
Type: Party – Movie/TV Night
Where: Dave & Busters
When: Sunday, March 9 from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm

Be there, or be a stupid square jackass. Oh, and dress “70′s.”

I think that covers it for the moment.

Uncategorized11 Jan 2008 06:50 pm

To preface this: I’m not saying there is a conspiracy. I’m not ready to fly off the handle. i have serious concerns about the electoral process, but I’m not jumping straight to saying that it’s obvious that elections are being stolen and democracy is dead.

“It’s not who votes that counts. It’s who counts the votes.”

— Joseph Stalin.

John Silvestro counts the votes. He own a company called LHS. According to what I have been reading, LHS is the sole source for electronic voting machines in New Hampshire. John Silvestro is also old friends with Ken Hajjar, who is the LHS Marketing and Sales Director. Ken was once sentenced to 12 months in jail, and a $2,000 fine for “sale / CND.” That’s “Sale of Controled Narcotics/Drugs” who don’t speak dug-dealer-ese. Yup, the company responsible for counting votes has a drug dealer in their top levels. One who, thanks to his political connections, got his sentence deferred, and his fine cut in half. One who, consequently, sort of owes a favor to some of his political connections. From there, it just gets more and more interesting. Then, we get to some actual numbers from N.H…

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programming09 Jan 2008 03:16 am

Uh, happy New Year.

All sorts of craziness, but recently I have been working on learning the GTK+ API. It’s slowly starting to sink in, and here is the progress of my current little test application:GTK+ Test App (Tracker)

That’s the screenshot. It doesn’t do very much yet, but I have usually always written my programs without graphical interfaces. Learning GTK+ has involved a lot of curse words. Eventually, it is meant to be a simple motion tracking utility. You’ll be able to select some points in the image, and it will track their motion in a video clip. This is really useful for a lot of special effects, but I won’t go into the detail now. It was sort of inspired by reading a description of how the motion tracking algorithm in a program called ras_track works. I was curious to see if my understanding of the description of the algorithm was correct. The algorithm itself is fairly simple, but all the peripheral work making a program that uses that algorithm took me slightly longer than I had intended. A week later, I’m about two days away from maybe getting started.

The point of using custom widgets derived from a base class finally sunk in today: The API was designed by a pack of drunken monkeys hell bent of poking themselves in the eye with something sharp – consequently doing things in a more sane way than using custom widgets is fairly annoying.

Now, ras_track inspired this project and also inspired a *lot* of other motion trackers since it is sort of one of the grand daddies of motion tracking along with “Track.” I mean, it dates back to the same era as a program which is simple named for what it does because at the time there wasn’t any confusion with other things that did similar tasks. Anyhow, Thad Beier, the author of ras_track, has been working on updating some of his old software to Qt according to his blog. Qt is sort of like the arch nemesis of GTK, so I find the timing vaguely amusing. You can read Thad’s blog here:

He is awesome, and knows everything.

Anyhow, this is what I have been killing some of my time with since the start of the year, in case you were wondering where the hell I have been. I have a lot of ideas for a compositing program I want to write… But, that’s ages off if the slow pace of progress on this mini-tracker toy is any indication. Like usual, I just need to be twice as clever and twenty times as dedicated.

Obscure TV recommendation: “The Strangerers”
British comedy about Aliens. I swear, one of them reminds me so much of Dan Aykroyd that it took me about four episodes of watching the credits and seeing some other guy’s name before I was completely convinced it wasn’t him.

politics28 Nov 2007 09:49 pm

The YouTube Republican debate was on tonight, and YouTube has a link at the top of their home page right now saying “The CNN/YouTube Republican Debate: Watch it NOW!” But, when I follow that link, I can only watch the posted questions. Not any of the actual debate. I assume that somebody at YouTube is busy encoding and uploading the debate so that the “Watch it NOW” link will eventually allow you to actually watch it. Even so, it is somehow darkly amusing that it seems that the most important part of the participatory debate is that the public gets to see little YouTube clips of themselves asking a few (generally loaded) questions, rather than the actual answers. It all seems a bit ego maniacal in a way that I can’t quite put my finger on precisely enough to be able to really explain why I find it so odd.

That said, you can see which candidate was chosen to respond to each question. Five of the questions I see on this page are apparently meant to be asked of only one candidate. (I haven’t watched all of them, so I don’t know exactly what issues they address.) Now, seriously… For fuck’s sake! How the hell can you call it a debate if only one person gets to speak on some of the topics?! It also looked like there were quite a few questions addressed to only two candidates, and I saw only a single question aimed at eight candidates.

It seems like the whole point of a debate is that you let a topic loose on the candidates and see what they think about it. They actually debate and argue and speak about opposing and differing perspectives and viewpoints. You know, like an actual DEBATE. When the debates are structured such that most of the candidates don’t even get to speak about a given topic, you wind up with a massive preselection bias. How well you are able to articulate an opinion at the debate seems to be less significant than how well you have managed to position yourself so that people want to ask you questions in the first place.

The word debate is useless in modern speech. It’s one of those words which no longer means anything, I think. A fact which is emblematic of a whole host of problems in our modern political system.

Uncategorized23 Nov 2007 01:47 pm

To avoid eternal sorrow, and a loathsome hatred for all the universe, there are four ultimate rules which must be followed during the creation of any motion picture.

No Children.

No Old People.

No Animals.

No Fog Machines.

See also, This Blog Post wherein I mention these rules, and include some rationale from Fistful of Staples.

Uncategorized23 Nov 2007 01:44 pm

An Office-Comedy/Western about an under performing business which brings in a productivity consultant named Wild Bill. He is supposed to shake things up, but it all goes a little too far when the office manager has to face down the productivity consultant in a duel.

Here is a quick poster I made for it:
Poster For Fistfull Of Staples

And, the original production still I used to make it:
Wild Bill, Productivity Consultant

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