Monday, February 27, 2012

Music Monday - Peter Gabriel, Genki Sudo and Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Get ready to dance and sing... it's another Music Monday!

My niece likes to play a game in the car called "Favorites." Someone choses a category and everyone says what their favorite is. Favorite song came up this week. This was my pick.

Genki Sudo was originally a talented and entertaining mixed martial artist. I became a fan, not only of his creative fighting style but because, at the end of each match he won, he would hold up a banner that read "We Are All One." The banner also had flags from scores of countries around the world.

After retiring, Sudo took to the world of music and dance, continuing his message of world peace. With a dance group he named after his first single, this is the first release, "World Order." (I particularly like the kids that show up toward the end.)

You couldn't have told me before seeing it but "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is an incredibly good movie. It's about a transgender rock singer who is following her former lover, a hugely successful rock star, around the country to confront him about stealing songs she wrote. The music runs a gamut of styles. I can only say, if you haven't seen this, treat yourself to a night of good music and a moving story.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Funny Friday - The Celebrated Ape of Calaveras County, Woody Allen's Taxi Driver and Questions with Cleese (plus bonus)

Dana Gould is one of the most talented guys in comedy. He is a wonderful stand-up, an incredible writer and a precise improviser. He took up this incredible challenge from John Hodgman.

Lee Zachariah knows more about film than you ever will. He also makes them better than you ever will. Don't be disheartened. He's extremely talented and lives in Australia so, if you are an aspiring director, he's not much of a threat to you - yet. (All bets are off if he ever gets to Hollywood.) 

With Shannon Marinko, the two created the Bazura Project (clips of which are available on YouTube), the best public access show I've ever seen. It featured movie spoofs, news, history and reviews, all while being hilarious. Someone in Australian television finally pulled their head from under a rock in the Outback and recently gave Lee and Shannon a series, also called the Bazura Project, which covered different subjects of film - violence, sex, money, profanity, drugs and fame - again in a humorous fashion. I highly recommend watching it. (And you know me, I never underline anything.)

This is a funny short film Lee made exploring a world where Woody Allen was the Director of "Taxi Driver."

Here's comedy legend John Cleese answering a few questions from us commoners. (I love he has no idea who Jeff Dunham is - as it should be - and his interesting take on stupidity.)

And a bonus:

"Conan" staff writer Jose Arroyo has a new comic book out, "Seething with Joy," described as "24 pages of comedy and aggravation." I haven't read the comic but I've seen many of the individual pages he's posted and they are funny, funny, funny. 

See his blog for sample pages. And if you want to buy the comic, you can get it at Indy Planet, if not your local comic retailer.

Wanderlust hits theaters *I am somewhere in the background*

Me and Takota in the Bus School on the Wanderlust set
Just a reminder: Wanderlust comes out today and you might see me in it. I've seen myself in a couple clips and trailers. It should be a fun movie. (Warning: There is some nudity [not on my part] and sexual situations [I wish on my part] so, if easily offended, go anyway because it's a funny movie.)

Thursday Fun - A Patient Dog, The Beginning of the End and Dolphin Surfing (plus a bonus)

Here's a few sites and videos that I've enjoyed recently. (Don't judge me!)

If I felt this dog were suffering in any way, I wouldn't link to it. I do think is this is the best-behaved dog in the world. I also think this is hilarious!

For more wonderful pictures of the most patient dog in the world, go to the Food On My Dog blog.

For this video, I will only say this because I know we are all monitored here on the Internet: 

Skynet is here.

I wouldn't mind if this happened to me... I mean, if I wakesurfed... and if I could stand more than 15 minutes in the sun... and if I weren't scared of dolphins...

And as a bonus : I call this a Bad Day at the Circus. A motorcycle daredevil. A misplaced wire. A massive fall. (Note: The guy wasn't seriously injured.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Whatever Wednesday - Blow Your Mind Edition

I've always been fascinated by scientific principles and how they show the interconnectedness of life and matter. Here's some of my favorites.

Theoretical physicist Brian Cox now does a lot of TV work, trying to garner interest in the sciences and expanding people's understanding of how things work in this reality. I found this clip (from BBC's "A Night with the Stars") via the science and science fiction web site io9.

The following web site is one of my favorites on the Internet. "The Scale of the Universe" shows the large and small of things that exist in our reality. Use the scroller at the bottom of the page after it loads to move forward and backward in size - it can make you feel infinitely big or little, depending on which end of the scale you are on. (I couldn't embed it on this page. Clicking the link below will take you to the site... just don't completely lose yourself and forget to come back.)

Any time our science teachers in junior high didn't know what to do for the day - or wanted an easy time of it - they would pop in a VCR tape of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage." And I'm not complaining about that...

The 13-episode series covered all aspects of science, from the large to the small, from development of the universe to the development of life on Earth. If you've never seen it, it's worth the watch. Or if you'd rather wait, Seth McFarlane (yes, of "Family Guy" fame), Ann Druyan (Sagan's widow and co-writer) and astrophysicist Steven Soter (who worked with Sagan on the original) are creating a successor series called "Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey" for 2013.

The original series was one of the most influential things from my youth. It was mid-bending and eye-opening. Below is a clip from the original series where Sagan explains humanity's relationship to all of time in this universe.

Finally, to end things on a lighter note, "The Big Bang Theory." No, not the beginning of the universe - the TV show. Mixed with "Firefly." This inventive picture by designer Megan Levens, found over at zap2it, shows the "Big Bang Theory" cast as the characters from "Firefly."

Can't say I agree with all the pairings but the idea is fun!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Music Monday - Josh Joplin, Erato and Tim Minchin (again!)

Happy President's Day Music Monday!

I heard Josh Joplin for the first time on Letterman. I don't usually listen to the musical guest at the end of the show unless I've heard of them but he had a folksy sound so I decided to give him a try. He was promoting his new album, "The Future That Was," and this is the song that made me buy his excellent album.

 Erato is a Swedish vocal group and this video is something that someone shared on Twitter. Just shows what you can do with harmony, clapping and butter tubs.

Another one from the brilliant Tim Minchin. Again, a little religiously irreverent but fun. The appearance on the Jonathan Ross Show, however, was removed before airing even after the song he was going to play was reviewed by ITV standards.

Have a rockin' Monday!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Funny Friday - Marc Maron, Andres du Bouchet and Maria Bamford

It's hereeeeeeee... Funny Friday!

Marc Maron is one of the smartest and most honest comics I know. His mix of self-observation and social criticism sits so right with me I'm often saying to myself, "Why didn't I think of that? That's exactly what I think/feel." This bit, posted by fellow comic Ari Shaffir, is one of my favorite comic stories of all time - partly because it's hilarious; mostly because it carries in it a truth about life.

Andres du Bouchet is a very funny guy. His album, "Naked Trampoline Hamlet," was one of the best comedy releases of last year. (What I'm saying here is you should check it out.) It's unpredictable, surreal and laugh-out-loud hysterical. Andres works on Conan as a staff writer and you will see him quite often playing characters for the show. This is an early version of a bit from his album but doesn't represent the great character work he does on the same CD.

Maria Bamford kills me every time I see her. Every time. She's brilliant, adorable and hilarious. I saw her at the Laughing Skull in Atlanta and it was one of the favorite shows I've ever had the privilege of seeing. Characters, voices, hard truths about life - Maria brings it all. I love this appearance on John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show because it shows the gamut of what she does as a comedian.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday Feel Good Story - It's Not Always About Winning...

I always enjoy when I find a story like this. It gives me a bit of hope for the future:

Kudos to both of them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why There Was No Top Ten List For Valentine's Day

So I was writing a blog post yesterday. The topic: Top Ten Women I Know From Twitter Who Don't Have A Date For Valentine's Day.

I was almost done and I scrapped it - intentionally. Part of it was I realized it was a bit of an intrusion on people's lives; part of it was I couldn't actually verify that they weren't dating someone and I didn't want to present false information about someone.

So I've salvaged what I could from my first attempt at a post and changed my focus a little - why these smart, interesting, beautiful women might not have men in their lives.

I've read in past articles with supermodels that some don't date a lot. Why? Because they don't get asked out a lot. Men, they believe, are too intimidated by their beauty, stature or notoriety to think they have a chance of getting a "yes." It's a believable notion.

No matter what women might think, asking someone out can be a daunting task, even for the most confident of males. Even men who exude a boldness and brashness when approaching a potential date feel the sting of rejection. They may cover it with an dim-witted comment to their friends after returning to their group ("She must be a lesbian," "She's not as pretty when see her face-to-face") but their ego and confidence still hurt.

So funny, talented, gorgeous women like Olivia Munn (Perfect Couples, Date Night) and Rebecca Mader (Lost) - who I use as examples only because they openly said online that they didn't have plans for February 14 - might remain dateless for months because no one actually asks.

But there could also be other reasons, a major one of which I tried to sum up in a tweet the other day:

Some women keep themselves on the sideline because of past relationships that have gone sour. Not wanting to risk the pain of an unfaithful man or a reasonless break-up, they choose to keep themselves in a coccoon of solitude. I know I've done it - fairly recently in fact. It's a natural reaction to pain, in short to avoid it, and it's hard to fault anyone who takes that route.

Within the past few months, I've given myself a new directive. I included it in a blog post last week: "Go ahead, ask her." It's something I've never given myself permission to do in the past. I was always to afraid of putting myself out there. But I have always liked a quote by Basil King - "Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid" - so I'm trying to follow its advice now.

This isn't to mean I'm asking out every woman I meet. I tend to be picky about the women I date and need to get to know them some before I ask. (I think I've asked three women out in the last five months.) But I am giving myself those opportunities when I see something special in someone.

So what's the point of this? Well, first, it's not to place blame on the fairer sex. I think women can be called that not only because they are more attractive than the cretins men can be. But I also think they are, on average, "fairer" when it comes to affairs of the heart.

I think what I'm trying to say is consciously be more kind, respectful and gentle when dealing with each other in relationships - whether it's the blossoming of one or deep into the grit of one. The scars we leave on our past loves not only affect them and you - but the rest of us trying to get just that first date.

Yep, I Live In The South...

I was filling my car at the gas station today when I saw this at the pump next to mine:

No, this man was not being attacked by a rabid raccoon - it is his pet. He said he found it when it was 2 days old and raised it after its mother never returned. The raccoon is now 9 years old and, as the owner put it, "quite a handful." Several people came up to take pictures and pet it through the truck window.

Just one more thing I'd probably never see if I lived in the city.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Another Glimpse of Me in 'Wanderlust'

Here's a still of me hiding behind Alan Alda's shoulder. I think this was the first day I shot and was surprised because I didn't know he was part of the film. Needless to say, it was a good shock because he's someone I've always admired in entertainment.

The woman at my table is Jamie, who I recently found out teaches Hapkido at my YMCA. The little kid's name is Ian. He was a ton of fun, always trying to gross us out before and after takes. I didn't know it at the time but he was actually a credited actor in the film, with a few lines.

Here's the complete clip:

Really fun shoot, which is rare in extra work!

Music Monday - RUSH, Paul Simon and Sting

Going to cover some of my favorite musical performers/bands for this edition.

RUSH has been together for what seems like forever. And when I say "been together," it's just that - the same three talented musicians playing together since July 1974. They are the kind of band that are referenced as influences for other great musicians through the years. This is from what is probably my favorite album of theirs, the live "Show of Hands." The song, "Mission," is probably my favorite RUSH song of all time. It's about what it takes to be successful star and the toll it can take.

I don't think Paul Simon needs any type of introduction. Starting with Simon & Garfunkel, he has always stood out as one of the great American songwriters of the day. Love this single, "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes," from his much-lauded "Graceland" album for its smooth, soulful sound.

Another great songwriter and performer I've been a long-time fan of is Sting. From his earliest days with The Police through his jazz period to today, he continues to put out superb music. This song, "Why Should I Cry For You?" is from his under-rated "Soul Cages" album.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Funny Friday - Andy Sandford, Ted Travelstead and "Markets of Britain"

Sorry no post Thursday... time ran short on me and posting my tweets that I thought were funny has come to feel a little self-indulgent. I may toss some tweets in on Funny Friday and re-theme Thursday to something else.

This first Funny Friday clip seemed to be following me this week. I think the link was tweeted or re-tweeted to me at least half a dozen times. In any case, it is worth watching. Andy Sandford is a comic from Atlanta (currently in New York) who is part of a hilarious stand-up group called the Beards of Comedy. I've always found Andy entertaining... except for that one time he was pissing next to me at the urinals.

I mean, I don't want to be weird.

Ted Travelstead is an comedian and author who always brings an unique view to things. Sometimes absurd, sometimes outrageous, always hilarious. Check out this video he wrote, co-directed and starred in about two referees "having problems."

Peter Serafinowicz and Robert Popper are a hilarious comedy duo who created the show "Look Around You" (well worth looking for and watching.) In this found footage video, they follow an old codger through a British street market. Oddly, the video is called "Markets of Britain."

Enjoy your Friday!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Whatever Wednesday - ImpovEverywhere, Hockey Fans and Automatic Improv

It's another potpourri for Hump Day!

I love the silliness of ImprovEverywhere. While it's not true improv, it still captures the fun that improv strives for in its performances. Usually by using volunteers, they create a unique public "mission" meant to surprise and delight the unknowing. Here's a simple one:

Other favorites of mine include the Best Buy Uniform Prank, Meet a Black Person (in Aspen, Colorado), Pro Wrestler Wedding and the one I originally discovered, Frozen Grand Central. There are over 100 fun missions available to view, including all of the annual No Pants Subway Rides, at the ImprovEverywhere site.

It looks like Budweiser took a page from ImprovEverywhere's book when they created this ad. It's self-explanatory. I think the look on the face of the guy sitting on the ice at the end tells it all.

And speaking of improv, here's a fun video titled "Lines From A Play," featuring Andy and Sarah from Automatic Improv's main cast. Andy taught my Level 1 improv workshop (which I got a ton out of) and Sarah acts as the dean of Relapse University, the collection of workshops and classes offered at Relapse Theater in Atlanta. Both are great performers, as evident by this scene.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten - Top Ten Things I Wish I Could Tell My 21-Year-Old Self

And with ten minutes to spare before the end of the day!

This isn't meant to preach to anyone. This is specific advice I'd give myself even though it may apply to you too.

Take care of your skin
It's important. If you don't, it will lead to regrets and scares later on.

It doesn't have to be perfect
Know the time to let it go and know it's okay to fail.

Figure it out sooner
Don't shy away from what drives your passion. The sooner you arrive at this, the more time you have for it.

Drink less
Most of the things I regret in life I've done after drinking too much.

Go out more
Most of the things I've enjoyed in life are experiences that wouldn't have happened if I'd stayed home that night.

Follow your dreams
You know what that is; give yourself the time to get good at it.

If it seems like an opportunity, jump on it
I can think of half a dozen chances I've been given that could have made a lot of difference.

You aren't as weird as you think you are
Everyone is just as scared, confused, joyful and excited about things as you are.

Go ahead, ask her
If you don't ask, you'll never know and probably always wonder.

Spinach isn't that bad
Just don't put all that vinegar in it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Music Monday - Songs about Hope

I picked a theme after seeing the first video here - the theme is hope.

Daniel Lloyd, also known as Taihg, was a busker (street performer) in Canterbury, England. He was found drowned in Reed Pond in Canterbury January 23, 2012, under suspicious circumstances. He was well liked and admired by the community. The video that follows is an original inspirational song of his called "Guiding Stars" that speaks of what anyone can do when they try hard enough. The song is available on iTunes with proceeds benefiting his daughter.

"If you want to be an angel, you already are..." - 'Guiding Stars,' Taihg

Mumford & Sons' "After the Storm" shows the hope a person holds after life-altering turbulent times. It's melancholy but it's moving and forward-thinking.

Matisyahu is a Jewish singer/rapper who sings about peace, both for the world and in Israel. "One Day" has a great sound and a great message.

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. 
I do not judge the universe. - Dalai Lama

Friday, February 3, 2012

Funny Friday - Sheep, Sheep, Sheep

Don't normally do this but a theme arose this week. Welcome to the world of funny sheep!

What makes actual sheep funny? They are not smart...

I imagine these sheep thinking, "Where are all these cars coming from... and why do they look exactly the same?!"

And credit to YouTube user LankyDrummer for thinking of this Python quote:

"Follow. But. Follow only if ye be men of valour, for the entrance to this cave is guarded by a creature so foul, so cruel that no man yet has fought with it and lived. Bones of full fifty men lie strewn about its lair. So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth!"

And what makes animated sheep funny? They are smarter than humans... A favorite character from Aardman Studios.

Have a great day... not a BAAAAAA-D one!

(yup, I went there)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday Tweets in Review - 2/5/12

Here's Thursday's feature where I present some of my (and other people's) funniest or most relevant tweets from the past week. Let the fun begin!

(Admittedly, I didn't tweet too much original material this week so this may be a little heavy with other people's tweets.)

No need for an explanation on this one.

If you've ever seen a David Blaine special, you know what he means.

It's funny because it's true.

My improv friend Amy is darn funny and worth the follow.

This stupidity arose this week. I know they do good work so I'm extremely disappointed that the organization folded in this regard to religious zealots.

Again, it's funny because it's true... but in this case, the truth isn't so funny.

If you haven't been to Morgan's Markerpiece Theater, go now. I'll wait. *taps fingers a while* Was I right? Hilarious stuff!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Whatever Wednesday - Improvisation, Funny Dog Videos and Franny's Last Ride

It's a free-for-all on the blog every Hump Day!

Here's a great TEDx talk about Improvising and how it relates to everyone, not just performers. Good life lessons! (shout out to fellow Level 2 Automatic Improve student Surriya Colleen for posting this on Facebook)

A couple of short, entertaining dog videos. One puppy looks smart; the other, not so much.

This is one of the most moving stories I've ever heard. Unfortunately, comedian Mike DeStefano passed way too early. But he left us a great legacy of honest, raw comedy and incredible life narratives. Give yourself a few minutes to listen to this.