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Friday, May 02, 2003
It was brought to my attention that you have a quote on the back of the box of "Two Weeks Notice," praising the performance of Sandra Bullock.
Is this true? Are you OK?
Crap. I reviewed the movie last year and gave it two out of five stars. Nearly the only positive thing I said was that S. Bullock and H. Grant were good, you know, because that's their thing. It's like saying Tiger Woods is good at taking a golf club out of its sleeve. You know, d'uh. Then they went and used my anemic quote in the New York Times full-page print ad and then one bleak Saturday night, I saw a commercial for the movie with my blurb on it.
I really think Sandra Bullock is trying to enact some sort of personal grudge here. Sandra, if you're reading: Let me take you to lunch at Shady Grove or something. I'm sure we can find a way to work this out.
I started working at the newspaper about six years ago. Somewhere toward the middle of my first year, they moved the newsroom out from an ancient, green-text-on-black word processing system called "ATEX" and into the then-mystical world of Macs.
I like Macs fine. I'll only buy Windows computers, but I've seen Macs run smoothly and I got no problem with Apple as a whole. Macs, when you come right down to it, are just a lot less painful to deal with than PCs.
But somewhere in the last three of four years, they stopped buying new computers. We were getting boatloads of pretty new G3s (green) and G4s (silver). Then, when the economy tanked, we stopped buying computers and whenever one would get sick, it wouldn't be replaced by a new G3s or G4s. They'be be replaced by older beige Macs from other departments. Slow Macs. Macs with no sound cards or crappy video or tiny hard drives.
This year I was actually downgraded from the G4 I'd been using to a beige G3. It's trying to run Internet Explorer for Mac, Netscape (which is what we use for e-mail. Yes, I know that's ridiculous), a very huge editing/layout program called PageSpeed, AIM and anything else I might need to have up, like say our archive search program, MS Word or Excel. To run all this, they've put 128 Megs of RAM in the machine. That's it. Web pages take forever to load. Stuff just seizes up for no reason and I have to go take a walk and come back in 10 minutes when things unfreeze. This computer has no native USB ports, so my USB mouse and keyboard are hooked up through Dr. Frankensteinian hookups of serial-to-USB adapters. Until about two weeks ago, anytime I crashed, my startup process took about 25 minutes because a screen came up telling you not to let your computer crash and the only way to get past that was to click "OK," which I couldn't do because my mouse and keyboard are USB and the USB driver hadn't been loaded yet. I would have to stare at this screen, a silent scream in my throat, and wait until the requisite 15-minute "Fine, I'll just click OK for you," period was over.
And of course, my computer would crash at least two or three times a day.
I was talking to my dad, who does network diagnostics for a living for military hospitals and when I explained that the reason I quit out of AIM was because I crashed, he asked how often I crashed. Me, jaded: "Oh, you know, a couple of times a day." He was livid. He couldn't believe we worked in a place where they just let the computers crash all the time. I'd forgotten that in some workplaces this would be considered a bad and unusual thing. When he asked why we let our computers just crash all the damn time, I said, "Well, you would have to talk to our techs." He demanded I put one of the techs on the phone with him. Of course, I didn't do it. Because I like paychecks.
Our techs are really friendly and helpful, but really, they're working in a triage situation, just trying to ease the pain of these craggly computers before they die. They know they can't cure anybody. They just want to inject some morphine and make things bearable. Not liveable or happy. Just barely bearable. We also aren't allowed to upgrade our own computers (I offered to buy RAM out of my own pocket and install it, but I got in big trouble for that instead. I tried to make the point that running a G4 with 128 megs of RAM is like driving a Porsche with wooden wheels. No dice. I didn't even get a raise for my clever analogy.), so we're stuck with beige boxes with emphysema. Right now, somebody's working on my (relatively faster) beige box, while I type this on a Power Mac 7300/180, which is equivalent to about a fast Pentium I or a slow Pentium II, I think.
I expect a crash at any moment. I'm saving often.
But what I REALLY meant to say was...
It's a great show and you should come see it! Yay!
I wrote this earlier, but blogger ate my entry and then I wondered if maybe it wasn't some sign that I shouldn't be writing what I wrote. The gist of it was...
We had our show opening night last night and I've spent most of this morning trying to sort through a tangle of emotions about a wildly ambitious show that, on the first night at least, went far better than we thought it would, but still fell short of the vision we had. We had a much bigger audience than we usually do for a first-night Thursday performance and they were very forgiving of some technical glitches that ranged from merely annoying (our light man had a problem with the board and couldn't get the house lights to come down for the entire show) to nearly show-stopping (some stuttering digital video made some of the video segments hard to understand.)
The two weeks leading up to opening night had been a pressure cooker of fraying tempers and high-grade, nauseous stress. And last night, after a Wednesday run-through that was scrambly backstage and stop-'n-start onstage, I resolved before the show to do the best I was capable of with the material that I had control over and not think about the things I had no way of fixing or affecting. There's two sketches that I wrote where I'm mostly alone on stage and I'd been obsessing over the costumes, lines and choreography for those two for the last few weeks. Before the show, I ran the choreography in my head. I ran lines for ensemble pieces I was in. I made sure the costume changes I'd been worried about were going to be as painless as I could make them. And they worked. The sketches I had almost complete control of were hits and went off better than they ever had in rehearsals.
We went to Pango's, a really swank sushi place across the street from the theater with Raul afterward and spent about two hours dissecting the show, kvetching, commiserating, drinking. Nick, who hasn't had a lot of sleep these days, had consumed four Red Bulls during the course of the show (Karinna, who works for the company, had brought us a case of the stuff), and I was waiting for his heart to burst out of his chest and land in the miso soup. We talked and talked and I was in the strange position of feeling like I had a really great show that happened to be part of an overall performance that was really glitchy and that is still being finessed and finalized. I was proud of the stuff I'd been able to get together (the head lice sketch was great and the George Foreman bit finally made a successful transition from journal entry to stage skit), but I was also still part of the group mind, so my own pleasure and surprise was tempered with worry about the show as a whole.
It's hard to do an entire show of new material. This is the first time any of these sketches had been performed before any kind of audience. I think over the last five years, our comedic instincts have gotten really sharp. But this is a very ambitious show with more video than we've ever done and a timeline that, looking back, seems really naive. Is the show funny? I really think it is. Does it need work? Yeah. And it'll get better every night. Right now, we're a bundle of exhaustion, stress, nerves, but somewhere in there, there's still a deep need to have fun with what we're doing and to remember why we thought all this was funny to begin with. The technical stuff is out of most of our hands. When all of us start having fun on that stage is when we'll have a show that truly works.
Thursday, May 01, 2003
Me, a poster of Lex Luthor and a hotel room
Not many things stranger than seeing yourself discussed on a WB Message Board thread. I couldn't resist poking in there and making fun of some 13-year-olds.
I'm way ahead of them on that hotel room idea, by the way.
If I should stumble
I went over to the big, shiny Chase bank building on 7th and Lavaca to meet Martin, who graciously agreed to provide me with a Kufi hat for our show. (He even gave me a the choice of a blue one or a multi-colored one). We chatted a bit about the show and then Martin went back in to go work.
I turned and started walking toward my car. Across the street, one big dump truck was dumping dark sediment into the tiny carrier of a much smaller dumper. I started to watch because, well, it could be that they're Dumpasaurus' cousins or something. What I didn't notice was the tiny four-inch step right in front of me. My foot hit it at a weird angle and my leg collapsed. I fell. Hard. On concrete. Martin had already left and nobody was around except one lady who sort of noticed it. But when I say I fell, I mean I completely fell flat on the fucking Earth, gravity completely working, onto my side. It hurt in a way that seemed wholly disproportionate the the diminutive size of the step that did me in. My hands got scuffed, one of my shoes got all messed up and I'm amazed I didn't tear up my pants. The Kufi, luckily, suffered no damages. I honestly felt like I was unknowingly performing on a hidden camera show trying to get people to come over and help.
While I'm here, I'll pimp once more. Our show opens tonight and runs through Saturday. Then it runs against next Thursday through Saturday. If you're in Austin, come check us out. Tickets are here. And while you're at it, go check out Lee's show, too. I hear it's really amazing and hilarious. I don't pimp her journal here often enough either. She's hilarious and also a genuinely spectacular and sweet person. Go love her like the crazy Internet people you are.
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
New column name!
Just got done reading EW cover-to-cover (sometimes it takes two days), and although I've been avoiding Joel Stein's column since its debut, I resolved to at least give it one more chance. All that chance did was reconfirm to me that this is the most useless employed man in America. I can't say it any better than Fametracker, but I think if Entertainment Weekly is going to be accurate, they should call the (anemic excuse for a) humor column, "Wait, What Was Your Point Again?" But then, they'd probably think that was a hip, or edgy or clever way to be self-deprecating.
Nevertheless, I think we should start an e-mail campaign to have the column renamed. Drop EW a line and tell them that if they're going to waste space on Stein, they should at least let us have a little inside joke to go with it in return.
Later that morning...
The morning show went fairly well, although there were only two of us and we didn't really have any material or Funny prepared. (Usually, I try to at least carry a travel-sized snack bar of Funny at all times, but at 7 a.m., I find I'm awful at packing it.) We got the message across, though, I got to pimp my head lice costume (pictures to come) and when we gave away some tickets to tomorrow night's show, the phone lines lit up. Miss Kitty, for the record, has enough personality to fill up like four morning shows. Five, even. She's this tiny woman who fills up an entire studio. And there was Nadine, a really REALLY tall drag queen who had seen one of our shows before and really liked us. I always seize up on radio shows because of one time when we were on KLBJ and I said "shit" on the air by accident. I felt awful after that and got a glare from one of the morning DJs.
We're supposed to be on Jammin' 105.9 tomorrow and Friday morning, so if you're inclined, check that out. I probably won't be on, but Mical, Karinna and others will.
If you read this in the next half hour, you can hear me and Karinna on the radio this morning on MEGA 93.3 with Miss Kitty. In fact, I'm driving there right now. (Tre unsafe!) We should be on a little after 9 a.m. if you live in Austin. Wish us luck!
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Baked potato soup...
More "Tales From Disjointed Man!"
Went to bed early two night in a row, but somehow, miraculously, still no sleep. Need a white shirt, couldn't get the jumper cables for Mical, also need a Kufi hat (e-mail Martin! Don't forget!) and maybe this isn't the best time to go ordering a new computer case or a component video switcher. I mean, damn, if you wanna switch from PS2 to Xbox, just run and change the cables on the back of the TV, lazy ass.
Maybe before dress rehearsal, I should get some Wendy's. I tried to eat healthy last night with the Marakesh hummus and chicken, but I was late and the hummus wasn't as good as I remembered it and the flatbread was a little too hard and flat, maybe they don't keep things as fresh in the late afternoon/early evening as they do during the lunch rush.
It's nice that that single-partent adoption bill, and the one about gay foster parents got killed, and did I really not get home until 10:30 last night? That's why I'm with the no sleeping; it's hard to wind down in an hour and a half. You know, the hummus and chicken was better as leftovers than a meal at the restaurant. Maybe it's because I was reading that Dixie Chicks story in EW while I was eating and seeing them naked made my taste buds recoil and eveything tasted as bland and flat as their music.
My wrist hurts. Ow. Right on the ball of my wrist. For no good reason.
Is eating Pasta Bake for lunch three days in a row bad? It certainly doesn't taste so.
Does our show really open in two days? Holy crap, man. That's just scary. I'm not gonna think about it. I'm not gonna think about it. I'm not gonna think about it.
Crap. Thought about it.
I'm dyin' to link to some info on the long-time-in-coming "Half-Life 2," but so far all the computer gaming Web sites are honoring a non-disclosure agreement not to post screen shots and the like. I have a print copy of next month's "PC Gamer" on my desk and lemme tell you -- it looks pretty sweet. ("Sweet" being three syllables long.)
The game is supposed to come out in September, with tons of mods and "Team Fortress Classic 2" following soon after. I'm continually amazed that people are still playing "Half-Life" (and its million mods) five or six years after it came out. It's that good.
No, I'm not a geek. Why do you ask?
Monday, April 28, 2003
I got the Jamba!
Just got back from my favorite repository for high-carb, fruity goodness, Jamba Juice, where they've arbitrarily decided that April is "Strawberry Month." They have three new flavors, Stawberry Dream'n (Dreamsicle-like creamy goodness which I'm now holding in my hands), Stawberry Tsunami (Strawberries, lemon juice, lime sherbet and other stuff) and Strawberry Wild (a strawberry is thrown in with a banana and other fruit and mercilessly gangbanged in the blender). I just depressed myself by looking at the nutritional info. 98 fucking grams of carb? Jeez. But, nevertheless? Yum.
New Smallville recap is up. It's got 11 essential vitamins and minerals**.
** Note, Kryptonite is not a real mineral.
Items I loaded into my car this morning:
One small wooden three-legged table.
A full head-lice costume complete with four foam arms.
A box of props and costumes, including head lice antennae, size-50 pants, a sewing kit, grilling condiments, a sofa throw, pipe cleaners, tiny glittery pom-pom balls, stuffed animal, George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine box, straw hat, fake diamond rings and empty prescription pill bottles.
A bag full of baby head lice made of styrofoam, pipe cleaners and pink cloth.
A Tupperware container containing pasta bake, a drink, napkins and crackers.
Laptop bag and laptop + a screener copy of All the Real Girls which I watched last night and liked quite a lot.
Other costumes including Uncle Pepe's guayabera, police shirt, standard black pants.
Bag of yarn, head lice comb, five-feet of stick-on Velcro.
Hot cup of coffee.
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