Archive for July, 2009

My name is Ozymandias

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Okay, no it isn’t.*  But I totally want you to look on my works, ye mighty.**  Of course, there’s the usual weekly updates for News in Rap and God To Verse. But I’ve also got a new book review up at USA Today, about a new book discussing the pleasures and sorrows of work. It’s a view of the workplace through fresh eyes, and I fear my mental desire to compare it to a foreigner like de Tocqueville looking at American democracy through fresh eyes may just be rooted in the fact that this author also has a French de-noted name (de Botton). Still, it was a neat read.

(Also, I got the manuscript version rather than the book version, which was weird for me as I hadn’t had a big packet-format object like that to read since college. I think I prefer actual pre-publication books to review, although reading a manuscript does remind one that the book doesn’t really exist yet.)

But most importantly, of course, is board games. My latest shipment arrived (using up the last of the credit I’d accumulated selling my Magic cards), filled with wondrous games like Small World, Yspahan, and possibly my new favorite, Le Havre. Le Havre is the sequel to Agricola, and while the play time is a bit longer than ideal, there’s a lot to tinker with, and I’m looking forward to tinkering with it more.

Speaking of board games, I have a new article up on the Best Dang Games Blog about Luck in Board Games. If that sort of thing interests you, or indeed if you play board games at all, it’s a very short read and something I think is worth considering. But then again, I’m probably biased.

Our improv show in Great Barrington last weekend went very well, which was nice because my family had driven up from RI to be in the audience, so I’m glad they could see me at my best. Our next show is at the Majestic in West Springfield on Wednesday August 12, and then we’ll finally be back in North Adams on August 22nd. Come watch!

* Although if my first name had been Robert, I’d totally want my middle name to be Ozymandias. Because then my name would be Rob, and my initials would be Rob. Also, Ozymandias is a pretty cool middle name, if a bit unwieldy for a first name.***

** Despairing is optional.

*** Or, I guess, an only name.

On the Precipice

Monday, July 20th, 2009

No, I haven’t played the Penny Arcade game. But I did recently get to see the last song in that game performed live, by none other than MC Frontalot. Last week I was at Nerdapalooza, enjoying the gathering of many nerdcore musicians from all over the country and even a few internationals. Although two twelve-hour days of solid music programming was too much for me, I tried to catch a song or two from every group, and even got to do a guest spot on one song. You can read about my adventures in last week’s column, although it doesn’t mention that the two main ways I impressed people over the weekend were by freestyling in the parking lot, and by baking delicious pizzas to share at a party hosted by a group actually named Emergency Pizza Party.

Actually, since I haven’t posted in a bit, you may want to read my previous columns on puritanical sexual mores and ettiquette advice. But now I have finally returned home, and with another mil(l/e)stone* fast approaching, I stand on the precipice of old age, soon never to be trusted, and I can’t help but wish to squeeze more out of the swiftly fleeting days.

I can’t complain too much, though. A few days ago I attended a poetry slam hosted by none other than national slam poetry clampion Taylor Mali. He was very entertaining as a host, but was not competing, which meant that I managed to emerge victorious. It was a lovely event to welcome me back to the Berkshires, and I account myself fortunate that regardless of how awesome my vacations are, returning home is always a pleasant experience for me. When life is good, frequent vacations are less important.

*Because it’s a milestone and a millstone, and because I was forced to read Derrida in college and there’s no reason you shouldn’t suffer too.

Rap-ocalypse Now

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

If you were to travel back in time and ask my highschool self what career I would have in the future, “Underpaid Rapper” probably would not have been in my first hundred answers. But sure enough, here I am, frequently rapping for insufficient remuneration. I suppose between my epic* limericks and my songs with Lex, the fact that I kept rhyming makes sense.

As with most things I do, it started largely as a joke.  I wrote an email to my favorite rap group at the time (Blackalicious), and ended up making a silly rap to send them. But then I ended up joining an online nerdy rapping community, and started rapping a lot more. I put up a myspace page and began writing raps for posterity. I started freestyling everywhere I went, from a humor conference in Ohio to the streets of San Francisco. The rap video I posted two months ago ended up winning a little contest. Last weekend my improv troupe was performing in Providence, and our most popular game is one I invented where we do the whole scene in rap form. Tomorrow I’m doing stand-up comedy at a local bar, and I generally end my set with a freestyle rap.

I’m still trying to freestyle about the news every week on my rap podcast, News In Rap. And later this month I’ll be heading out to a national nerdy hip-hop festival, to meet other nerdy rappers from that aforementioned online community and around the world. Somehow, rapping has become a large part of my life. It’s perhaps an odd place for me to end up, but I have to admit, I’m enjoying it.

(this column has nothing to do with rap. God to Verse, on the other hand, could certainly be performed over a rap beat if someone wanted to.)

* by which I mean many stanzas in length like an epic poem, rather than epic in the modern internet parlance that means full of win**

** although they were also full of win