Sister Christian

It’s a tough time to be a Christian. Oh, I’m not talking about the organizations that stubbornly cling to outmoded dogma in the name of tradition or the groups that feel “oppressed” when the American public doesn’t always kneel and properly genuflect like they’re supposed to. And I have little sympathy for those who would impose their own religious creed upon public policy or hold their own beliefs as superior to others.

I took this photo at Gay Pride Day, 2010. This young lady was so offended by the groups protesting and saying all gays were hellbound, that she went to WalGreens, bought posterboard, markers and made this sign. She's awesome.

No, my sympathy is for the pious, honest people filled with faith. Every time a bigoted idiot claims his bilious speech or hateful action to be in the name of “Christianity” it seems like a slap in the face of all the people who actually behave according to Christian doctrine; that is, do to others as you would have other do to you.

In the world of comedy and satire, we should strive to take down the big guys; the corporations, the politicians and the public hypocrites. Nowadays, religious leaders are more and more the targets of comedy and ridicule as hypocrisy and out-right lies are exposed. It’s hard to not feel for the single individual that is devoutly religious and sadly, sometimes gets painted with the same brush as those public offenders.

I like people of faith. I don’t like zealots of any kind. People who regularly attend services of any kind are smart, fun, caring people. It’s the ancient organizations and the entrenched powerful that are corrupted.

Personally, I’m a man of science. I was raised with little or no religious instruction save “you’ll decide for yourself eventually” (which is either great wisdom or just plain laziness.) I usually go between agnostic and Taoist, but you know the old saying “there are no atheists in a foxhole.” I’ve been in (what I thought at the time were) life-threatening situations and I’ve found that old saying to be quite true.

I wish all these people making speeches and making decrees were as honest, intelligent and compassionate as my friends of faith. It’d be a much nicer and quieter world.

If Music Be… I’ll Click on this.

When I was a child I was obsessed with soundtracks. I would borrow random cassettes and albums from my local library of movies that I had never seen. I liked the feeling of story being expressed in soundtracks and musicals even though you might never hear a word of dialogue. I used to place my clunky Radio Shack cassette recorder near the TV so that I could record the theme songs of my favorite shows and movies. I still enjoy listening to soundtracks, but I no longer hunt them down and collect as I once did.

It was a childhood pastime, one I thought frivolous and perhaps, unnecessary to regards to my current life. Of course, I usually obsess over the pre-show music. I create playlists (or cassettes when I first started) specifically designed for each show. The creation of the pre-show music for the improvised comicbook, “Superhero Society of America Presents Crisis on Improv Earth” took two nights.

But then the Improvised Movie (“Our Feature Presentation“) came along and I begin to provide musical under-scoring from the lightbooth via iTunes. That was two years of shows with horror, action and romance music from various movies and tv shows. Then, 3033 came along and I began to add more and more music. I’ve been underscoring that show for about four years now and it’s been exciting all the way. Between those two shows I’ve underscored prison dramas, the city of Boston, magical dream worlds and even an impressionist painter story.

To me, the emphasis is the “under” in underscore. In that, the scene begins and then the music slowly wells up to support or highlight what is already going on in the scene. I rarely, if ever, start the music before anyone enters or speaks. I like to listen  a bit and see where the scene is going. For the Improvised Movie this was especially crucial for genre-creation. I wouldn’t want to unduly influence the improvisers onstage. I’m there for them, to support their moves and not the other way around.

So, that brings around to the next show I’m providing music for. It’s called Silent Treatment and stars Rance Rizzuto and Deanna Moffit. We’ve done this once before; I burned a disc with 30 minutes worth of instrumental music (each piece being between 1 minute and 6 minutes in length) with no other input from R & D. They played it and then then improvised a separate scene for each musical piece and to be perfectly honest, without hyperbole, it was one of the finest pieces of long-form improvisation I have ever seen.

That was about two years ago, I think. Now, we’re going to do a run of these shows with one major difference! I’m going to be providing the music from onstage and choosing as they’re doing their scenes (like I do with 3033.) In this case, I’m purposefully choosing music (with the same time restrictions) that will influence what they do and how they improvise. Like a good long-form piece, I’ll have to vary tempos and energy in the hopes of creating an entertaining montage of scenes. Of course, Rance and Deanna have the hard part; they’ll be onstage improvising without dialogue, one of the most difficult skills to master.

It’s an improv style I really haven’t done before and that’s why it excites me. Please, come see us play and experiment! Thursdays at the iO Theater at 8pm!

Hey, That’s Racist!

I know next to nothing about basketball, but I do know racism when I see it. Some facts; Jeremy Lin was born in California. He went to Palo Alto High School and then Harvard University. You know, THAT Harvard. He is the first AMERICAN of Chinese/Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA.

The first. So maybe people and the media can be forgiven for their misguided, ignorant and outright racist coverage of this very talented athlete. NOPE. This is 2012, mother fuckers. We’ve all seen Blazing Saddles. We were raised on Afterschool Specials and “very special” episodes of Diff’rent Strokes. You should know racism when you fucking see it.

Jason Whitlock (after Lin posted 38 points against the Lakers), a Fox Sports News columnist tweeted (I won’t repeat it here, but it plays into stereotypes and is, well, RACIST) a comment that if an Asian reporter for Fox tweeted something similar about a players race, he would have been immediately fired.

I live in Wrigleyville and every year I get to see the racist t-shirts on sale. “Horry Kow”, “Pujols Mows My Lawn”, and more. It’s annoying and frustrating.

Check out some of the astoundingly racist items in the media:

Look, we get it. He’s Asian. But he’s not. He’s American. If anything he’s Asian-American. By making him “different” than American, by identifying him as “something other”, you belittle him and generalize. “Oh, he’s so good at basketball… you know, for an Asian.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

MSG Network ran this photo during the game. Their excuse has been that it was a fan-made sign… yeah, but you focused the cameras on it and ran it during the game! It’s not like some racist boob hacked your signal… you made the choice, a-holes.

 

And then there was this… after the Knicks lost to the Hornets on Friday night, ESPN mobile ran this:

Are you fucking kidding me?

*sigh* Maybe I’m being over sensitive. Maybe I’m reflecting my own experiences onto this strange phenomena. (hey, I spelled “phenomena” correctly the very first try and without spellcheck. Good on me, eh?) I know I’m a comedian or a satirist or whatever, and maybe I should just go with the “jokes.” These aren’t jokes. It’s a pattern of racism that no one seems to be fighting on a large scale. Sure lots of blogs are saying “tsk tsk” but big shit. Where’s the condemnation of an outraged media that accompanies the mere perceived slur upon African-Americans, Christians, and other perhaps more vocal groups? When Whitlock tweeted that slur, what did “we” do? Well, we wrote a stern letter. What are we, the UN? Where are the calls for his firing? Goddamnit, Asian American groups get your shit together!

Recently, I had an argument with a friend who didn’t get “racism.” If the remarks are good and complimentary then how can it be racist? A believe or statement based solely on someone’s race is, by definition, racist.

I’m reminded of this exchange from “Silence of the Lambs”:

CRAWFORD: Starling, when I told the sheriff we shouldn’t talk in front of a woman, that really burned you, didn’t it? It was just smoke, Starling. I had to get rid of him.

STARLING: It matters, Mr. Crawford. Cops look at you to see how to act. It matters.

CRAWFORD: Point taken.

The point here is that when the media, with their editors, directors, and producers do this sort of thing it trickles down and becomes more and more unrefined and gross. Suddenly, the t-shirts, the posters, the blogs become even more venal, racist and just mean.

Jeremy Lin is an American of Asian descent who happens to be good at basketball. Let’s not all lose our shit and forget to use our brains.

221B or not 221B

Had the day off so I made my pilgrimage to see the official Sherlock Holmes museum and “residence.” in typical Jason fashion, however, I got real lost in Brighton, but once I figured things out it was pretty simple.
Took the tube to Baker Street and I felt a strange thrill. I’ve been reading the official Holmes canon for decades and I still read the stories all the time.. Literally.

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Took the Beaton train to Farringdon, then transferred to the brown line to Baker Street.

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Found it! Big store with lots of Holmes-erdise to purchase. First I went the wrong way on Baker and discovered the “Sherlock Holmes Hotel.” Aside from the name, there didn’t seem to be anything very Holmesian about the place. I mean, they didn’t even bother make up stupid names for the food on he menu.

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The actual museum is a replica of a three story flat with some replicas of various items that Holmes and Watson might have kept as souvenirs of their adventures. Also, there were strange, scary wax recreations of scenes. There was a sign-in book. The varied and far reaching homes of the visitors was a testament to the lasting effect of the original stories.

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There’s a great fad/movement here that fans of the most recent Sherlock series (starring Benedict Cumberbatch) should appreciate. Taking their cue from the public reaction to the original canon, people are reacting to the last episode in the series as if it was non-fiction. “I Believe in Sherlock”, “Moriarty is Real”, “Sherlock Lives!” were posted about town (I missed the original postings,sadly) but these notes were pinned on a board in 221B. Loved it.

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Yeah, I bought the Hat. The much maligned deerstalker. Sure I could have bought one from amazon, but coming here myself and buying it was terrific. I’m very lucky to have had the opportunity to do so.

Next stop, Gotham City!

Brighton Beach Memories

Left my house at 4:45am on Thursday, landed at London-Gatwick airport 7am on Friday. Met up with the delightful Heather U. And had a proper English breakfast.

20120204-225303.jpg Staying at a lovely B&B just yards, uh, I mean, meters from the beach. Of course, it’s about 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Went to the comedy club called Komedia and saw the UK version of “Whirled News” called This Just In.

20120204-225716.jpg hm. Not quite sure why this is being formatted like this. Ach, well, nothing I can do from here.

Free English breakfast at this B&B. Ran into the landlord/owner (whom I like to refer to as “innkeeper”). INNKEEPER: Ah, good morning, Mr. Chin! And how are you this morning? ME: I’m well, thank you. And how are you? INNKEEPER: Well, I woke up. The day I don’t wake up is the day I’ll worry.
To be honest he kinda looks like the auctioneer from Storage Wars.
All you can eat bangers, mash, bacon, hard boiled eggs and beans is wonderful. I keep a lean plate because my classes are 10am to 5pm.

Trading Places has the most suspenseful ending that no one understands.

I walked to the B&B from Komedia. To me it was only 6pm so I grabbed my first English fish n chips. It was good.

“I don’t know who you are but everyone’s pointing at you so I thought I’d come over and introduce myself.”- a nice gent at the show to me.

Saturday. Had a great first class with the Brighton brigade. Nice bunch of 15. “Feelings! What does your character feel at this exact moment? Okay, now tell them!” We all tend to forget the human element amid all the plot and “hilarity.”

More to come but take a look at this:

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