Del Close Marathon 8 Wrapup

In total, I spent 14 hours at the 8th Annual Del Close Improv Marathon. I took in 26 shows across two days, and as can be expected, that much improv leads to one being a bit overloaded. It is hard to look back over that much hilarity and remember individual bits, suggestions given, scenes edited, etc.

But with that said, here are my best attempts at something resembling awards. I should note that these distinctions are only for the shows I saw – I am unable to praise that which I was not in attendance for. The 26 shows were (in chronological order): Kid Dervin, Death League Tea Party, Asia-Town, Neely O’hara, Pax Romana, Rogue Elephant, B-Roll, Primal Bias, I Eat Pandas, Mister Diplomat, Delaney & Merrit: Omlette Vision, The Upright Citizens Brigade, The Academy, Krompf Breakfast, The Improvised Mystery, Ugly Stick, Pearl Brunswick, Flux Capacitor, KNC, Dr. Fantastic, BirdDog, Scheer-McBrayer, The Swarm, Fivesome, MySpace, and Walsh & Roberts. I should also note that I’m effectively giving one award to every group I really enjoyed. This isn’t to say the ones that didn’t get awards weren’t enjoyable (although a few were not), but these were the real standouts.

BEST TRADITIONAL IMPROV GROUP

The Swarm
What can be said about the veterans? Fast paced, great teamwork, and even a bit of wall breaking. Semantic arguments have never been so much fun. It’s a damn shame they don’t perform anymore.

BEST NON-TRADITIONAL IMPROV GROUP

I Eat Pandas
Mark my words: Glennis, Eliza, and Travis are going to be – if somehow they are not already – the next huge act out of NYC.

BEST CHAOS

Upright Citizens Brigade
Besides the previously mentioned accident: there was trying to jump the cooler over a ramp constructed out of plywood and Ian Roberts. There was Matt Walsh destroying a chair for no reason. There was a six person beer drinking contest. There was a two person banana eating contest, which had a fight on the cooler in the middle of it. There were scenes with nazis and six year old retarded girl hockey pucks.

BEST BREAKFAST

Krompf Breakfast
Fresh bacon, lots of OJ, bagels, eggs with scallions, and unlimited Bloody Mary refills? KROMPF! Also, the improv was good too!

BEST USE OF GIMMICK

Flux Capacitor
Flux revisits the same situation from multiple locations. It worked better than I expected, with some great running jokes and unintended hilarity.

BEST TWIST ON THE FORMULA

Dr. Fantastic
Inspiration used for horrible jokes, and then doing scenes off of those? WHAT A TWIST! No, seriously, it was a good twist.

BEST AURAL JOLT

The Pearl Brunswick
Nothing will make you pay attention like five gifted women singing with all their might.

BEST MORNING IMPROV TEAM

Asia-Town
Out of all the morning teams I saw, Asia-Town ran away with my personal laugh count. Given that I was groggy as shit at that time, this says something.

BEST SEMANTIC ARGUMENT

Walsh And Roberts
Is sour cream a garnish? They argued for 15 minutes, and I’m still not entirely sure.

THE JEN MALINSKY AWARD

(given to one performer who stands out across multiple groups, as Jen did last year)
Tim Curcio – holy shit, he was everywhere, and he was great! Go Tim!

THE MARATHON SUMMED UP INTO THREE ONE LINE JOKES

“Turn that smile upside-down into a bigger smile!”

“If there’s one thing about rape, it’s that everyone can relate to it.”

“I don’t mind being a nazi, but…killing puppies?”

With Power Comes Great Mediocrity

First: yes, we finally have our power back, as of this morning. The cable, which made its own outage in fear of not getting enough of our attention, is also back. Thanks to everyone who sent us well-wishes, and particular thanks to Jen & Jay for putting us up for the weekend so we could pretend as though we were a part of society.

As the dust begins to clear, and fingers begin to point towards those who should shoulder the blame, it was only a matter of time until Mediocrity reared its ugly head:

As power is slowly being restored in Northwest Queens, the mayor says embattled Con Edison CEO Kevin Burke should not only keep his job, but that he deserves a pat on the back from New Yorkers, much to the surprise of Queens lawmakers.

“I think Kevin Burke deserves a thanks from this city. He’s worked as hard as he can every single day since then, as has everybody at Con Ed,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference Monday. “It’s easy to go criticize, but once this happened, Con Ed has been doing everything they can to bring it back.”

Assemblyman Michael Gianaris and City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. — who believe Burke should be fired — were visibly stunned by the mayor’s comments.

In a way, Bloomberg is right. It is easy to criticize.

It’s easy to criticize a public utility company that gives counts of blacked-out subscribers based on the number of people who call to complain, rather than any real metric.

It’s easy to criticize a CEO that doesn’t apologize until the fifth day of the outage.

It’s easy to criticize workers who have been reported as sleeping on the job, hooting at women, and – in my own personal experience – reading books on Seamanship when they should be fixing the grid.

It’s easy to criticize a governor who refuses to declare a disaster area when over 100,000 people were without power for nearly a week.

It’s easy to criticize a claims program that only allows business claims for food spoilage, thus denying all businesses who don’t deal in perishable goods any immediate relief for their inability to be open.

Beyond all else, it’s easy to criticize a mayor who refuses to hold anyone accountable for the longest blackout in New York City history.

Astoria Blacked Out!

Buttons Wonders Where The Food Is

I Was CoNNED

Closed No Power

Guarding The Dark

For those of you who haven’t heard, Astoria has been under blackout conditions since Tuesday night. We were still under said conditions when I left for work this morning, and expect to be in them through the better part of the weekend, if ConEd is to be believed.

One important thing to remember when you read news stories about this: ConEd loves to throw out this number of “1900 homes”. The proper term should be “1900 customers”. Each building is essentially one customer. I’ve seen estimates that 250,000 people are affected. (Since I originally wrote this post, ConEd has admitted that the number of customers affected is roughly 25,000.)

After throwing out all of our groceries last night, I decided to get out the camera and walk down Ditmars today; there are a few more on Flickr.

Vox Me

I’ve been “blogging” (quotes make it seem like I may have been doing something else!) for over six and a half years. In that time, I’ve had a horrible dilemma to grapple with: what exactly am I blogging about?

Faced with this, I have always chosen the dyslexic path. Political strife one day, geek howtos the next, wacky anecdotes the third day. My lack of a central topic has given more than one person whiplash.

This will never change.

However, there is one form of blogging I’ve been remiss from doing across practically the entire duration: short and informal. I would reckon that this might be called “Livejournal-style”, as it’s terribly popular over there. Memes, polls, one liners, single links – all the sort of stuff you tend not to want to use when trying to reach an audience.

But, still, there is an itch to scratch. And thusly Six Apart has stepped up and created Vox, essentially LiveJournal crossed with TypePad. In terms of use, it seems to be getting a lot of mileage from established long-form bloggers who want to pretend like they’re on LiveJournal with their established long-form blogger friends.

This just happens to be up my street, so I have joined thanks to a friend-of-a-friend invite. So for those of you who want more spontaneous Dan, who’s mostly going to focus on little events or music reviews or what have you, make sure you go over there and/or subscribe. I’m not ditching this blog by any stretch (and those of you who are reading on LJ, the syndicated account isn’t going anywhere either), I’m just expanding the business.

The business of giving you the business.

EDIT: Those of you on LJ who want to keep up from there should subscribe to remy_vox. Thanks, starcreator!

I Now Use IUseThis

I had previously seen IUseThis, a sort of social bookmarking app for Mac applications, but it was brought back to my attention by John’s bookmark yesterday.

Having just gone through the trials and tribulations of installing all of my apps on a new MacBook Pro, I figured it would be a good time to catalog what apps make up my standard install.

So if you want to learn what I can’t live without, check out my profile.

Empathy

A life lesson:

One of the greatest traits to have is to not only be able to listen, but to understand, to relate, to empathize. Tears on your shoulder, even for reasons you may personally not find worth crying over, need compassion.

Some people believe in the concept of “tough love”. Tough love is only effective as an occasional contrast, not as the standard. It cannot be the only tool in your emotional response arsenal. The emotionally distraught are weakened by their burden, and your focus should not be harming them in hopes of healing them, as that will almost certainly backfire.

If anyone you care about comes to you in their time of need, be there for them. Help them. Love them. Give them constructive feedback. Guide them where you can. If their needs conflict with yours, be willing to compromise.

Lack of empathy can lead to you becoming part of the problem. You will become a target of antipathy, possibly more than the actual problem itself, and you will only realize this after the damage is done. You will need to make amends quickly, because failure to correct transgressions will lead to permanent damage in your relationship. Apologies are rarely enough.

Strive to show compassion and love whenever you are able.

Musical Evolution

The first piece of musical software I remember sparking my interest was Rebirth 1.0. I didn’t have a MIDI keyboard, and I barely had a lick of musical inspiration, but setting up drum loops and turning the knobs on the virtual synth just made me feel…I don’t know, I guess the proper word is empowered.

To the best of my memory, my discovery of Rebirth was also right around the time I found myself listening to electronic music. Rebirth came out in early 1997, and the span from 1996 to 1997 was when the US had that big HOLY SHIT ELECTRONICA moment. And even if it amounted to little more than press hype, it started me down the musical tinkering slope.

June of 2000: I discover Igor Engraver – a then-free piece of music notation software. I tinker, I toy, I play. Nothing comes of it, but that creative spirit blooms again briefly.

Early 2002: I find my way into Beatmania. I never recover.

Christmas 2003: I receive both a copy of Traktor DJ Studio and an Oxygen8 keyboard. I put together a few mashups, and end up putting a few musical blips together to be used in some games.

In the time since, I’ve taken up photography, and as an immediate-feedback outlet, it’s hard to top. But that desire to screw around and craft music has never really disappeared.

Which leads us to today. Today is the day where I acquired Ableton Live 5.2. I list the software I’ve gone through because of the massive rate of growth the industry has seen. In 10 years, we’ve come from a simple synth and drum machine to something through which beatboxers can reach new heights, loops can be made out of common household goods, and music can be made while traveling. (Seriously, folks, watch these movies.)

I don’t know if anything worthwhile will come out of me having Live. It may just be another plaything, another toy I end up growing tired of. But once again, I feel that grand empowerment that comes from having a magical tool that almost begs to be bent to my will – and bend it I shall.