Archive for the ‘Life is funny’ Category

Punslingers Success and Ancient Rome

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

I am pleased to report that Punslingers - the new musical I co-wrote with Sam Hammersley for this year’s Orlando Fringe Festival - received numerous awards including Patron’s Pick and Best Original Lyrics/Book. It was a pretty spectacular show, and I hope it might yet go further one day.

While Sam raps fairly frequently around Orlando, I rarely have rap engagements around here, which is why I am excited that I have been booked for this year’s Downstreet Art Festival in North Adams. If you’re around on the last Thursday of a summer month, pop over to Main Street and catch me doing a half-hour of freestyle rap.

Meanwhile, in what I can only call a completely unintentional theme, both of my columns this month ended up being about Ancient Rome. The first was my response to a thousand articles blaming Millenials for the demise of everything, and was titled “The Problem With Centurions“. More recently, you may have heard about the production of Julius Caesar that featured a Trump-like figure, and the surrounding controversy. My own response was a Shakespearean monologue which starts with the classic three words: “Friends, Romans, Countrymen“.

Also, sushi remains delicious, and half-price sushi doubly so.

Post-Performance Palaver

Monday, September 21st, 2015

The past month and a half were fairly exciting for me. I got to participate in the annual WordXWord Festival, as a finalist in both the Poetry Slam and Story Slam. And then I got to open for comedian Solomon Georgio, with a set that was very well received by a pretty good crowd. All of that was a very exciting two weeks of performances.

On the boardgame front, earlier this month was my annual Alphabetic Boardgame Challenge, where I play 26 boardgames with Debbie over the course of a few days. I have new reviews up for Le Havre: Inland Port (A 2p mini-Le Havre) and Isle of Skye (which is probably the best new tile-placement game since at least Vikings, if not ever.)

On a walk this evening, I passed a couple swearing at each other, as happens all too often. My emotions went from irritation to sadness to pity. So I decided to make a BLT when I got home, and that improved my day. If you’re wondering who deserves the credit for that, I refer you to my column about the Earl of Sandwich.

Hobo Sewer Bacon

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

This post’s title is my favorite clue that I gave in my most recent game of Train of Thought, the party board game I oft describe as “Taboo for smart people”. It remains one of my favorite games to bring to gatherings. As for newer board games, my most recent review is of a game about putting together a newspaper called Extra Extra. The print newspaper industry may be dying, but at least it’s an interesting theme for a boardgame.

I could tell you about recent columns on topics like marriage equality and vegetables, but I’d rather share with you this random verse I wrote. A friend had linked to an article about Marvel’s hip-hop covers, suggesting that heroes battle rap instead. I was amused by the idea, and found myself inspired to write a quick 16 from Iron Man dissing Captain America:

Awwww snap, it’s a rap where Cap gets capped.
I put on my Hulkbuster suit to give daps,
That is a testament to my genius,

Both for invest-a-ment and science, I mean this.
Seen this billionaire,
Fillin’ the air, killin’ it there,
Willing to share my wealth and power;
Built the Avengers their whole fuckin’ Tower.

You? I already told ya,
Unfrozen Caveman Soldier,
Hold yourself as morally superior?
Guess I’ll have to kick your posterior.
You’re inferior to my tech.
Without your serum, you’d get no respect,
So protect ya neck, and you best believe,
I’m a Stark; Winter is coming, Steve.


Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

I’ve been getting a lot of spam comments lately, for reasons unbeknownst* to me.

My Comedy Open Mics have been moved to Third Thursdays**, which means the next one is a lot sooner than I’d expected — June 18th! Anyone who enjoys seeing free live comedy, or attempting live comedy, or cafes that sell tasty food and drink, should come join us at 7pm at the Parlor Cafe on that date.

Life has been very good lately. I say this not to boast, but to encourage/remind people that if you spend a lot of time laughing in good company, that can end up matter more than whatever little negatives may occur. So if you can’t attend my comedy nights, I encourage you to find free comedy near you — or more importantly, funny people whose company you enjoy!

Meanwhile, my most recent column has even more puns than usual.

*Does anyone ever use the word “knownst”? I think I’ve only ever seen it in Spaceballs.

**Or as we call them in the portmanteau business, “Thirdsdays”

National Poetry Month

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Yep, it’s National Poetry Month. I am once again taking the 30/30 Challenge to write a poem a day all month long. If that’s not enough poetry for you, you can read my newsman’s ode to the esteemed Dr. Seuss in a column I call Headline Seuss. And later this month I’ll be giving a presentation on From God To Verse through a local Jewish group. National poetry month is the perfect time to buy my rhyming translation of the Torah/Pentateuch.

The other day Debbie made lamb and potatoes, which was delicious. I love potatoes cooked in lamb fat, which I have affectionately termed “lambtaters”, which* in turn led me to wonder what a good example of a lambtater would be. Muttonleany?

My 4th Thursday Comedy Open Mic nights continue at the Parlor Cafe; anyone who finds themselves local during the appropriate time should stop by for free laughs and reasonably priced food and drink. Non-locals can content themselves with my ranting in written form. Last month the Williams Alumni Fund sent me half a dozen emails of solicitation within a 2-week period, prompting me to write this column about The Alumni Fund. If that sounds too bitter, maybe I just need some Hobbies**.

And I have finally started using Twitter. Don’t worry though, I’m not really joining the 21st century, I still don’t have a cell phone or ipad or car or anything like that. I recently joined a local boardgaming meetup group, so I’ll just be hanging out doing some old-fashioned analog Luddite gaming***

*When shall we three meet again?

**Like measuring temperature from absolute zero. Everyone loves Kelvin & Hobbies.

***Amish pair o’ dice.

Better Living through Dropping Food on the Ground

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

In my latest column, I break the law!

Newest boardgame review: Patchwork - a short game by Uwe Rosenberg

Twice this month, I have been carrying too many things, and dropped some food on the ground. In each case, I felt the food beginning to fall, and had plenty of time to make a grab for it and prevent it from hitting the floor. And unlike the many times this has happened in the past, this month I’ve been doing something brilliant:


See, in the past, I’ve lunged for the falling food and managed to save it, at the expense of spilling water everywhere or dropping the other messier food I was holding. This month, I’ve held onto my water and let the cheese hit the floor. And watched the tortillas fall while standing calmly with eggs in my hands. Progress.

I figured out the Problem with this Blog

Friday, January 9th, 2015

I’d love to say that my conclusion was reached through introspection and analysis, but in fact it was after seeing two friends post much the same thing — one about LiveJournal and one about Facebook — that I realized it applied to my blogging here as well. And that thing is this: When you don’t post for a while, you feel like rather than just making a normal post, you have to account for all the time between now and your last post. And this is ridiculous, because it ends up making every post like a Christmas Letter, and not the good kind from your grandparents or uncle where you shake it and money falls out*, but the crappy kind where someone you don’t talk to very often feels the need to give you an uninteresting laundry list of events rather than going into interesting detail on any one specific event.

So sure, I should very briefly mention my latest boardgame review (Murano!) or my latest column (New Ears Resolutions!), but taking my last post as a leaping off point, henceforth my posts will focus on whatever is currently on my mind, rather than trying to summarize the past X weeks**.

Man, I should have had something on my mind before typing that last sentence, huh? Well, tonight I was frying up some Gringo Migas, and it occurred to me that waiting for things to fry has a lot of downtime with which I could be more efficient. So I decided to multi-task, and managed to wash the dishes *and* burn my food at the same time. Hooray, efficiency!

*Believe me, I have been shaking this blog for a decade and no money has fallen out.

**For those of you living in Rome, that’s ten weeks.

An Exceedingly Long Post About Race, Media, and Privilege

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Where to begin? I haven’t posted in a while, so let me start with the usual gaming updates: I played some boardgames, especially an old favorite called Goa, and also reviewed a number of new games including two that I especially enjoyed (Johari, Villainy). I also wrote many humor columns including two that I especially enjoyed (Terrifying Bear Danger Rating: A Fear Chart, Bard-Mitzvah: A Shakespearean Travelogue). And I played various video games, including two that I especially enjoyed (Wasteland2, Jade Empire).

I also performed poetry at a few different locations, comedy at a few different locations, and just last night, went to see a comedy performance by Hari Kondabolu. I was chatting with the strangers at my table, a couple from Northampton, and we wondered if one of the reasons people got excited by Kondabolu is that he brings a new edginess; half a century ago it was edgey to swear in your act, or to talk about religion. Nowadays such is commonplace on the comedy scene, but harshly calling out racial privilege repeatedly amidst your comedy act may be the new edgey. (Yes, such may be commonplace in certain small circles, but edgey has always been saying on stage to a wide mainstream audience what you’d normally just say among your friends but not in a room full of strangers.)

Anyway, listening to him talk about such things — and talk about the importance of talking about such things — has prompted me to re-post here a more private journal entry I made a few weeks ago. It is not, alas, funny, but perhaps you will find it worth reading nonetheless:


“The Clueless White Guy Chronicles”
or “Epiphanies of the Obvious”
or “Intellectual Knowledge versus Emotional Knowledge”
or “Sometimes Issues Are Sufficiently Large That It’s Hard to Choose a Single Title”

Perhaps some of you are familiar with a video game called Skyrim. I played the hell out of that game, well over 100 hours. A year or two ago, I recall having dinner with two friends of mine, M and Z, as I explained that Skyrim had been a bit of a weird experience for me insofar as my character received continuous random hatred from a majority of the NPCs in the entire game.

I’m playing as an Elf, but most of the people in the world are not Elves. They are Nords. And you start out the game imprisoned by this imperial alliance trying to kill you, and then you’re rescued by a group of rebels fighting the imperials, but it turns out that the rebels think Skyrim is for Nords and they tend to dislike Elves. So of the two opposing sides, it seems like neither really cares about you. And then you can just be walking into a random town, and people will start insulting you because you’re an Elf.

And there’s this one group of NPC heroes who are supposed to be the “good guys” in the game, but their main hero was someone on record as wanting to kill all the elves. And basically, across all of Tamriel, everyone is looking down on me or being a jerk to me for no reason and I don’t want to get in fights in town unnecessarily but it’s hard to just sit there and take non-stop insults and ill-mannered treatment from the entire gameworld, and if I respond in kind it starts a fight, and the town guards show up with a bias against me just because I’m an Elf even though the other guy started the fight. I explained to my friends that this was really frustrating and demoralizing to feel constantly harassed just based on your race.

“Yes, how interesting that must be for you,” my friends said, mockingly, “and how nice to experience that in a video game.”

At this point I should probably mention that my friends M and Z are of Filipino and Iranian descent, respectively. And so for them, a constant casual racism is not so much an anomalous feature of a particularly involved video game, but an all-too-familiar feature of the world. This kind of thing is very old news to half of the country. Now obviously I know this intellectually, but I’m guessing I’m not the only white person who ever found that experiencing racism for a few dozen hours in a video game (even though it’s obviously nothing like dealing with it in real life) makes you understand it in a different way than merely knowing it exists intellectually.

Last week I was thinking about all of that because I had a similar epiphany of the obvious. I’d been binge-watching movies on Netflix, and my recent selections had included a number of films like Shaft, Django Unchained, Harlem Nights, &c. And after a half-dozen films I found myself automatically suspicious of and/or ill-disposed towards any white people who appeared on-screen. I knew they were not to be trusted, and the counter-example of Django’s partner did not change my overall perception. He was “one of the good ones” who was “not like all those other white folks”, and I still knew that I could presume random white guy was probably up to no good, not just a friendly innocent black guy.

My brain did that after two days of movie binge on a very small particular subset of movies in the world. So what happens to the brains of society at large after decades of representation in the other direction? Again, this is in no way a new observation, having been experienced by, pronounced, and written upon by countless people (including many of my friends) for decades. But while I’ve always known intellectually that media representations of minorities are an important problem, it was still a moment for me last week where I said, “Wow, look at the kind of effect I experience on my perception.”

So that is a thing about which I have been thinking lately. And I debated a bit whether to post this where people could see it, both because a) The world is not desperately in need of another white guy’s opinions on race, and b) I’m pretty sure I do not come off looking too bright by saying “Hai guyz, did you know racism is really a thing?” when this is painfully obvious to many people who will read this and less painful but still obvious to most of the rest of you. But I guess that’s what invisible privilege is: The luxury to not think about racial issues, or at best to acknowledge intellectually that they exist but not have to experience or deal with them. So since I have that luxury, I guess literally the least I could do is to mention it, even though it does not make me look great.

Food Foolishness

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

The following investigation and one-sided conversation all took place in the span of a single second earlier today, in my brain:

“My thumb hurts, I wonder if something’s wrong.”
“It’s got red splotchy bits, is it blood?”
“No, it’s too dark for that. Maybe it’s bruising from an injury.”
“How would I have injured my finger? Maybe cutting onions for dinner?”
“Oh, the red splotchy bits are red onion.”

So that was fun. While making said dinner, I had to transfer some rice from the giant vat into the rice cooker. My girlfriend seems to believe that dipping the rice measuring cup into the rice works better than pouring the vat into the rice measuring cup, but as I was making the rice, I did it my way*. And apparently, my way consists of dumping rice all over the place. “That went pourly,” she said.

I was already unconvinced about dinner because we were using a tabletop convection oven rather than our usual oven, and I was afraid it wouldn’t work. But we ended up with delicious crispy fish, so I guess I should have had the courage of my convections.

In the unlikely event you haven’t already stopped reading this blog entry for terrible puns, I recently wrote a column sharing some True Facts About June.** Not mentioned, some other true facts about June: I had a lovely time at some WordXWord preliminary events, where I qualified for the August finals***. And I read a lot of graphic novels. And played more video games than board games. But another review is coming soon, I promise.

Meanwhile, if the Berkshires can stop losing power every other day, I have a fun new freelance assignment I’m looking forward to: Writing educational raps.

*To be perfectly Frank.

**To be perfectly ZeFrank

***They’re august August finals.****

****I guess I already used that joke in my column tagline, but I presume not everyone who reads my blog clicks through to the columns.

Improv Impending

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Tonight* I will be performing on stage with the Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe for the first time in… too long. I’m quite looking forward to it, especially since I’ll be able to play the game I invented called “Rap Psychiatrist”, where I play a rapping psychiatrist. I’d really love to have that job in real life, so if any of you have problems and want to hire me to dispense advice to you in rap form, I am admittedly not accredited, but I charge less than half of the standard psychiatry rate, so that has to be worth something. Two humor columns a month aren’t going to pay my bills.

But I suppose I should share them anyway, in case you were interested in reading about Insomnia Vincit Omnia, or False Independence.

Otherwise, while I’ve seen some minor problems back**, life remains good. Tonight, for the second time this week, my girlfriend and I were both sitting on a couch reading a book, which we have decided is how introverts have Date Night. The important part of dinner and a movie isn’t the movie (books are no less social), and she cooked a delicious dinner, so I’m declaring it a success***.

Finished another mini-chapter of the boardgame book. A few down, too many to go. Still planning on a completed draft by the end of the year, come hell or high water.

*chronologically tonight, as it’s past midnight, but actually tomorrow night, since I haven’t slept yet. Friday 16th, is what.

**and visa versa

***”It a success!”****

****Why yes, I was re-watching some Zucker Brothers films this week.