Archive for the ‘News In Rap’ Category

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.

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

May Flies

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

I can’t believe May is almost over. Wasn’t it just April? Well, if you want to ring out the month in style, come down to Main Street Stage on May 30th, and catch the last local improv show of the season. It’ll be a good time. Which I think 4:16am isn’t.

It’s a shame I’m not in an aristocratic court of 15th century Italy, because it would be nice if I could somehow convert my propensity for impromptu rhyming into a career.* Meanwhile, I posted a new episode of News In Rap. An old highschool acquaintence I haven’t heard from in well over a decade just commented about it on Facebook. Which is sort of neat. If people I haven’t heard from in forever are going to find me again, it may as well be while I’m doing something useful.

I wrote a political column last weekend, which ended up not quite as funny as I’d like. This weekend’s column will make up for it, I promise. Also, God To Verse will be updated tomorrow, because I am too tired to do it now. Goodnight.

*Besides, I look really good in a jester hat.

Migrating For Summer

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Not birds. Not even me. I mean my website. Apparently my hosting company decided to migrate it, so if you wondered why you saw three “Hello World I am a new Wordpress user” posts over the past few days, that’s why. Also, if this never shows up in the RSS feed, I’ll know why. Knowledge for everyone: This is why I was a philosophy major.

Actually, I suppose I will be doing some migrating this summer. My improv troupe is finally starting to tour more widely, with performances scheduled not only around our local area, but in Springfield, Providence, and Albany. Locals should catch us at Main Street Stage on May 30th, because after that it’s a while before we’re performing in town again. I’ll also be migrating* to Florida to meet some other nerdy rappers, but more on that in a month or two.

May, meanwhile, has been a very good month gustatorially speaking. In addition to the usual stir-fries and soups, we’ve made sushi (california rolls, inside-out rolls, and nigiri), pastitsio, spanakopita (fused with steak and onion pie), raspberry mango chipotle chicken, fish tacos, and a dozen little pizzas including the “Margherita” (Fresh mozzerella, fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, well-behaved chicken), the “French Classic” (Pear, Goat cheese, Onion, Sliced Almond) and something I like to call “Invisible Emu**” (Apple, Cheddar, Bacon).

And triple chocolate rootbeer floats.

One of the sites I wrote for, Gameist.com, recently went under, so I wrote this column. Then I saw my first movie in theatres this year, Star Trek, so I wrote this other column. Then I just finished a less funny column before posting this, which is sometimes what happens when I get political, but that column doesn’t see print for a few days, so you don’t have to worry about reading it accidentally yet.

*I suppose technically, that’s all more like visiting and not migrating, and that anyone nerdy would know that.

**The first apple cheddar pizza I ever made also had emu*** on it, and it was so good that all other apple cheddar pizzas for the rest of time will want emu.

***Ground emu meat, that is. Not a whole emu**** or emu hair.

****Emu is a pretty fun word.

A Taxing Week

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Yes, it’s soon to be April 15th, which means it is tax time once again. I still have to finish filling out some forms, but at least I finished paying my 2008 No Car Tax last weekend. Or I guess technically, two weekends ago, since last weekend I was briefly in RI to perform at the Catch a New Rising Star in Lincoln. With only a 5-minute slot though, it wasn’t much show. I figure those who like my rapping can catch my weekly podcast or my guest appearance this Saturday at the Red Room, while those who like my comedy can come to one of the monthly comedy open mics here, or catch a performance by my improv troupe.

Anyway, I know I probably sound like a commercial, but perhaps that’s because I recently reviewed a book about the infomercial industry. I must say, writing for the USA Today is interesting. Because they have so much to cover, they tend to like their articles very concise, and so I often find that my articles end up edited down quite a bit. Still, I’ve been told to write what I think the book merits, so I’d rather overwrite than be too brief and force editors to make up whole paragraphs.  Regardless, writing reviews is something I’ve always wanted to do, and now I’m doing it, so yay for that.

Apparently there’s recently been a large kerfluffle over at Amazon, where a number of GLBT-related books had their sales ranks removed. This was originally theorized to be an attack on homosexuality, but more recently Amazon has called it a “glitch” and some online troll forces have claimed responsibility, noting that they did it for the “Lulz”.  I was going to “comment” on this, but after the previous “sentence”, I got too entertained by putting “certain” words in quotes. I guess I’m easily “amused”.

The Renegade

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Okay, I’m probably never going to be bad-ass enough to be thought of as a renegade. But this week is my best shot. I reviewed a book for the USA Today called Career Renegade, about quitting your job and doing what you love. And hey, it sort of resonates.

Meanwhile, my column rails against the very popular Facebook, because we renegades rail against things that are popular. And things that it’s popular to rail against, like the bible? That we re-write in rhyme.

Because after all, we know that rhyming is the province of renegades.* Only a bad-ass gangster would bring you the News In Rap, right? And only a 1960s renegade beatnik refugee would be planning to perform at a poetry slam this Thursday, which you can see by showing up at The Alley on Thursday night around 8ish.

And now it’s time for the big renegade move: Ice Cream For Lunch. Yes, rebellion can be delicious.

*Roses are red, Violets are blue,
Renegades often ignore the rules of rhyming.**


**But not when you expect them to.
(To rebel in season is not to rebel, suckas!)

Captain Healthy Rides Again

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Well, the good news is that I am feeling healthy again. If you want to know more about why I might have been sick, feel free to read Friday’s column. There has been a lot of illness going around, though. Many friends of mine have been feeling under the weather.* I’m just glad I’m getting better before my upcoming Horace Greely-inspired** journey.

Things here, meanwhile, have been entertaining. I’ve been focusing less on my rapping, and more on my poetry*** and comedy. And of course, by “focusing”, I mean “paying attention to for the hour a day when I’m not playing games”. But my constant gaming is to your benefit: Here’s a new guide for how you can become a better Settlers of Catan player.

Meanwhile, if you happen to be near Pittsfield on the evening Saturday, March 7th, I believe there will be an improv show for you to catch.

*Then again, if they were over the weather, they’d be gods.

**I looked up the quote to check, and apparently the original quote is by John Soule. But Greely was the man who popularized it, and so I maintain that is by him that the journey is inspired. If you disagree, Go Soak Your Head, Young Man.

***Monthly local poetry slams have started up again. I wrote a new poem for the last one. It won.

Even February has holidays

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

My Groundhog Day column comes a bit after Groundhog Day. To make up for that, next week I trust my Valentine’s Day column will be out the day before Valentine’s Day. Which, coincidentally, is Friday the 13th. And if you’re looking to celebrate Friday the 13th, you could either put on a hockey mask and buy a chainsaw, or you could come out to the RBIT show. The Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe will be appearing at the Main Street Stage in North Adams at 8pm, and for a mere $5 cover charge, hilarity could be yours. C’mon, it’s Friday the 13th, February, and near Valentine’s Day. You NEED some hilarity.

Actually, if you were the type of person who plays a lot of video games, there’s a new video game humor site that recently launched, called Gameist.com. And the reason I know this is because I’ve written a few articles for them, and hope to write a few more. The site is very video game focused, so if you like video games, you should go read my articles there. Conversely, if you hate video games, don’t bother following that link. You’d be better off just listening to the newest episode of News In Rap.

Beware of Mechanical Gorilla

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Last week my improv troupe had two performances in South County. During the Saturday performance at Barrington Stage, there was a game of Quotes* where I was playing a mad scientist**. For this reason, with no other prompting, I decided to threaten my enemy with a giant gorilla robot. Sadly, my invention was not perfected, and the robot stalled out and did not attack. A minute later in the scene, my partner picks up a quote and reads “Get your stinkin’ paws off me, you damned dirty ape.” Needless to say, I was overjoyed to have proof that my evil gorilla robot was functioning after all.

Note to self: Never try to describe improv to people who weren’t there.

In other news, my column is about board games, my freestyle rapping is about the news, my friend’s new fantasy short story is about Odin’s ravens, my rhyming version of the Torah is about due for a shot at publication, and my bedtime is about now.

*Quotes is a game where we get our audience to write random lines of dialog on scraps of paper before the show. These papers are folded and not looked at. During the scene, actors will pull out random quotes from the audience, read them, and work them into the scene.

**Yes, I know, typecasting.

Happy Day After Christmas

Friday, December 26th, 2008

And what better way to celebrate than my Day After Christmas column?  Well, sure, you could catch up on God To Verse, or News In Rap, but why not do all three?

I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas, playing board games all day, then out for traditional Chinese buffet with some artist friends, some gaming friends, and some girlfriend. Said girlfriend and I then came home to watch Police Squad and play more board games, which is pretty much a perfect evening. If you’d like to learn more about gaming with your partner, why not read my new article about that?

Also, I’m always surprised when the Chinese restaurants have Christmas music playing on Christmas. I asked them to either turn it off or switch to something more traditional Chinese, because most people going to Chinese restaurants on Christmas? Really don’t need any more Christmas music right now, thanks. Anyway, Christmas is over, so there’s the Chanukah party tomorrow, and then New Years festivities for the next week. Now that’s how you ring out a year.