Posts Tagged ‘RBIT’

Land Shark

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Last week I was a featured reader at a small poetry reading in Pittsfield called “Outspoken!”. They had asked me to come perform to help celebrate National Poetry Month, so I freestyled a few poems and read some of my own work. Some of my poems really work much better spoken than written, but in honor of National Poetry Month, I’d like to share one of my short poems here:

************************

“Land Shark”
by Seth Brown

There is a knock at the door
I look through the keyhole and see your
gleaming white teeth
so shiny and so numerous
“who is it” I ask
and you tell me that you are
an encyclopedia salesman
but
I do not believe you
because encyclopedia salesmen do not have
so many teeth, so pointy and sharp
and where are your encyclopedias
have you already sold them all
or are they held by the arm that I can see in your mouth
opening this door may be a bad idea
but you have offered me a discount encyclopedia
and I cannot resist

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In other news, my improv troupe has performances on April 24th and May 14th at Main Street Stage in North Adams, so please come see us if you’re in the area and looking for something fun. (Conversely, if you are not in the area and looking for something boring, I recommend this list of the rotation direction of airport luggage carousels around the world.)

The March of Inconvenient Punctuation

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Writing a humor column is an interesting thing. It’s tricky to hit the sweet spot. For me, I am most proud of a column when I feel that it provides people with interesting information and educates them, while at the same time making them laugh. And so if you were to ask me what was my favorite column I’d written recently, I’d have to say that it was the one about the Ides of March.* Another decent one which at least touched on the theory of relativity was Einstein Time.

More often though, I find myself oscillating between the overly silly (Candy!) and the overly serious (Roman Conservative Party). And usually these types of columns follow in close succession. If I write something that I deem “not funny enough”, then I often go extra zany in the next week or two. And if I write something that’s pure silliness, I tend to obsess about making one of my next columns really informative or otherwise grounded.

Outside the column front, I’ve been trying to do a bit more musically. The other night I got together with the inimitable Lex Friedman for an online songwriting session, so maybe if he STOPS HAVING BABIES, we’ll co-write some new funny songs this year. I have three other humorous collaborations all on hold because my musicians are too busy to meet with me, one funny collaboration on hold because I was hesitant to start another large project until I’d finished one of the many I have running, and one serious music collaboration on hold because it turns out I have trouble writing serious music.

With silly music, I just have trouble recording it, but I really enjoy coming up with ideas. This is why I may have done a little terrible voice work for this week’s RNZB Songfight.*** And I always like making up instant music as part of my improv troupe, which is especially fun since it seems like our musical games are often the most popular. In fact, we’ve got a show tonight (3/20/10), but the chance of you reading this in time to show up are pretty slim. If you wanted to know about future shows ahead of time, you should probably follow RBIT’s Facebook page.

*I’d wanted to title this post as a pun on “The Ides of March”, and have a list of bullet points to the effect of, “I’d like you to read this column”, and “I’d love to have my improv troupe perform more often”, but how do you pluralize “I’d” in a title with punctuation? I tried to make it, “The “I’d”’s of March”, which looks completely terrible, and then “The I’ds of March”, which is bad in a different direction, and “The I’d’s of March” splits the difference and is still awful. And thus, I decided to scrap that whole idea and call it, “The Inconvenient Punctuation of March”.** But then I figured, why not flip it around?

**Also, why the hell would punctuation go inside the quotes when it’s not part of what you are quoting? The American system is part of the march of inconvenient punctuation. I consciously choose not to put punctuation inside the quotation when it’s not part of “the thing being quoted”. I’m not bad at writing in AP style, I’m just an Anglophile using superior British punctuation rules.

***I have to admit, it’s still cool to me that I am now entering songs in Songfight, many years after interviewing them for “Think You’re The Only One?“.

Mumbletypeg

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Last week I was pretending to do some shopping, and was comparing prices between various stores. While walking through the parking lot, I was mumbling to myself, “Alright, so that one costs twenty. Twenty dollars.” And I passed another man who happened to be mumbling to himself, and just as I was mumbling “twenty,” I overheard him mumbling “Twenty-four,” and I thought to myself, gee, he’s off by four.

I really enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers. Turkey/stuffing/cranberry/sweet potato sandwiches are quite tasty, because the bucket of food theory still holds. My post-Thanksgiving column is also leftover food.

BestDangGames seems to have changed hands while I wasn’t looking. No matter; I was doing my Black Friday shopping at Fantasy Flight regardless, since they had a crazy discount sale. Although I really need to stop buying board games now. That, or acquire another room in my house that consists mainly of shelves.

Anyone local can catch my improv troupe in Pittsfield or North Adams in December. But I’ll have another more exciting post in December too. Just you wait.

Also, this cool lady that does make cool book also made this cool blog post with game with four. Read that post. Then, your next move? Seek that book. Some good read!

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.

Improv Touring Madness

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

RBIT is all over the place in June. Yesterday we were performing on Lark Street on Albany, where I was reminded why our improv works much, much better inside. Also, I accidentally got the entire street crowd booing me. See, I was taking suggestions for my freestyle rapping, and someone yelled out “Red Sox”, so I rapped about how I grew up watching the Paw Sox in Pawtucket, which rhymed with what the Yankees can do… and then when the booing started I remembered that Albany isn’t in Massachusetts.

Anyway, this coming weekend (June 13th) we’ll be performing at Dottie’s in Pittsfield, and two weeks after that (June 27th) we’ll be performing at AS220 in Providence as part of the Providence Improv Fest. And then Great Barrington in July and Springfield in August.

Meanwhile, I’m fairly pleased with my column about sports, and while my abortion column from last week doesn’t seem to be online, I just finished writing a column about same-sex marriage that amuses me, which will run this Friday.

On the boardgaming front, I’m still waiting for my long-ago placed pre-order of Dominion: Intrigue, but passing the time with plenty of Power Grid, Race for the Galaxy, and Caylus, the latter of which may still be my favorite game that makes use of the worker placement mechanic, because the provost mechanism (where players can influence which spaces activate after placement occurs) is so fascinating.

Pail of Sausage

Monday, April 27th, 2009

The problem with only updating bi-weekly is that by the time I get around to posting, I have a bucket of links. I will, however, do you the service of not posting the flash game to which I am currently addicted, as it is nothing but a humungous brainless waste of time. If you’re going to think about video games, reading my articles about People in your WOW Guild and Video Game Drinking Buddies will be much faster, and much less addictive.

Anyway, this blog has been slightly less storied than my WSO blog, perhaps because at that time I didn’t have many links to share. Back in those days, I wrote about the various ways in which I’d managed to fail at cooking. But I’ve consolidated the best of those old blog stories into a single column. Back then, just out of college, was the first time I was out of work. It’s vaguely similar to what I’m doing now, only I had no experience freelancing, no resume, and few books under my belt. Still, even back then I was working on God To Verse. This week’s portion I think is a good example of what I’ve tried to do in terms of explicatory work; the bible is filled with passages like, “She was in labor for seven days with her son, so she named him Mohar”, and it doesn’t make sense unless you know that “Mohar” was Hebrew for “week of pain”, so I’ve got little parenthetical bits to explain all of that.

The big link of the fortnight, however, is the video contest I’ve recently entered. See, I’ve been doing a lot of rapping at local performances, but I don’t have any sound equipment. So when I heard there was a contest to win a free microphone, I figured I should enter. Annoyingly, I don’t think the rap I entered is as good as the freestyles I perform locally, but it’s still a video of me rapping so you should feel free to take a look. (Thanks go to the inimitable Daniel Beck for videography.)

Oh, and in case I forget to post again before then, my improv troupe will be performing on Saturday May 9th at Barrington Stage in Pittsfield. Come out, and I guarantee a good time!

There’s No Place Like Home

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Well, I’m back from my week-long sojourn in Western lands. It rained for at least half of the time I was in California, which was sub-optimal. Still, it was a pretty good vacation, and I even wrote a column about it. The column doesn’t mention that I went back to Chinatown and got steamed BBQ pork buns from as many bakeries as I could. So tasty; I may have to learn how to make them.

In other news that transpired while I was away, some people in India are working on a new soft drink that sounds udderly ridiculous. Don’t believe me? Read my other column.

Last night was our improv show at the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield. Although a concurrent¬† local comedy show stole some of our crowd (our previous show there was nearly a full house), I still thought it went quite well. We debuted a new game I invented called “Rap Psychiatrist”, where I am a rapping psychiatrist who helps other troupe members with their (audience-suggested) mental issues. I think it went quite well, and once the other folks in the troupe get better at rapping, I think it will quickly become one of our most popular games.

Finally, people sometimes ask me why I play board games all the time, and why I’m happy all the time. Well, the answers may be linked.

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.