Thursday, March 29, 2007

It's The Final Countdown (do do DO do DO Do do)

As of today, there are three days of classes left. That's...50 minutes times 15, carry the 2, take the differential, triangulate the, not much time left to go. Here's a sampling of what's going on at the end of year one:

- Back in early March, I was elected president of Bigelow House (woo), so now the student exec is planning next year's events. So if any of you high school people out there decide to come to Mount A and are placed in've got quite the Frosh week ahead of you. I would highly recommend bringing old clothes that you don't mind getting dirty. Also, some Silly Putty. It won't be used, its just a lot of fun to play with and I don't have any. A Slinky would also be nice.

-On Tuesday I performed in a live play reading at the Owens art gallery as an assignment for my Introduction to Drama class. I had a choice between that and an essay...which is like choosing between an adorable kitten and being run over by 1996 Toyota Camry sedan while lying on a bed of nails listening to Kenny G (I'd choose the kitten, by the way). It was great fun - the play, called The Optimists by Morwyn Brebner, was a bittersweet, funny play about two couples visiting Las Vegas. Two are about to get married, the other two are dealing with a marriage on the rocks. I got to play Chick, one of the prospective newlyweds, a guy who wants to wear sweatpants to his wedding, which meant that I got to perform unshaven and wearing sweatpants onstage. And sing a few bars of "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story. And make ample use of the sailor-worthy profanity. I would like to take this opportunity to say hello to my mother. Hope you're enjoying the blog.

-Exams start the 9th. I would write more but my tears are short-circuiting my keyboard.

That's all 'til next time (which is tomorrow, what with the delay and all), but to tide you over, here are some YouTube picks that have been keeping me from doing anything valuable with my time.

is finally opening in Sackville tomorrow. I'd post the trailer with all the violence, gore and nudity, but some of you had to go and be under 17 and ruin the fun for everyone. Oh well...enjoy this quite hilarious PG-rated version instead.

Here's seven minutes of one-liners from David Caruso, who plays Horatio on CSI Miami. I've never been a fan, but after watching this clip, I've started wearing sunglasses, just so I can take them off and put them back on again to punctuate a sentence.

Also, in the next few days I'll be adding a few snazzy new features to the blog. I don't want to use hyperbole hear, but they'll change your life in ways you can't imagine.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Slight Delay!

Well, the title pretty much says it all...the latest post will be up tomorrow. Sorry for the delay, everyone.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Here Comes the Sun, and Copious Amounts of Rock and/or Roll.

At last, at long glorious last, spring has arrived in Sackville. Today is easily the warmest, sunniest day of the year thus far: people are out playing hacky sack outside, while others are walking through the waterfowl park in shorts or biking through the quad. It's like a recruitment brochure come to life.

It's certainly a far cry from last night's rain and at 40-5o km/h winds, which I had to walk through twice. You see, I turned 19 on Wednesday, so the bars of Sackville are now officially my playground. My boozy, licensed playground. I decided to celebrate by taking one of the biggest concerts to hit George's Roadhouse this year - Constantines, with opening acts Jon-Rae and the River and local heroes Shotgun and Jaybird. I went down to George's in the middle of a windstorm that was ripping branches from trees and pulling sheet metal from roofs. I arrived, showed them my ID which had just been done that morning (the photo on which makes me look quite, ahem, chemically enhanced), and I got in. Shotgun and Jaybird hadn't gone on yet, so I had a glass of Clancy's and chatted with some friends. That's when the music started. Suffice to say, the show was awesome, lasting until around quarter to 2. I'm working on a full review for the Argosy, but for now I'll give you a taste of the rock through the magic of YouTube.

Here's a clip of Constantines performing "Hotline Operator" in 2005. I couldn't find a clip of my favorite song, "On to You," but you can get it here (click to listen, right click and hit 'save target as' to download - don't worry, it's legit).

Here's Jon-Rae and the River, performing in Toronto during a January snowfall. Watch for people on stilts.

One of my favorite moments of the night was when Jon-Rae and the River played a great cover of The Replacements' glorious "Bastards of Young" at the end of their set. If you've never heard it before, check the music video here:

And finally, here's Sackville's Shotgun and Jaybird during the PEI leg of this tour. The song is "Two and Two is Four".

So that was the show. Tonight I'm going to check out Jazz at Jennings, a jazz band concert at our dining hall. Aside from playing the usual jazz standards, there will also be covers of the Beatles, Billy Joel and Bjork (!). As for the rest of the weekend, I'll be rehearsing for a live play reading and getting ready for the end of the year. Hope you have a good weekend, and I'll see you Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

2007: An Improv Odyssey: Part Two: The Wrath of Khan

Before I begin the epic conclusion of our improv odyssey, I would just like to announce that from now on, things are going to be a little more consistent around here. Blog updates will be posted every week on Wednesdays and Fridays. So, if you were having problems scheduling blog-perusing times, hopefully this will help.

Now, onto the exciting conclusion! Faithful readers will remember that the final event of the weekend was the actual competition. Here's how it went down. Two teams would be called onto the stage, and one would challenge the other to a game. The challengers had three minutes to play the game, and then the challenged took a stab at it. The judges (Eric Davis, who did the workshop, and Scott Brison, MP) would pick the best, and give them a point. As you might expect, the team with the most points walks away victorious.

Now, I'll admit it, my memory of the proceedings is a tad foggy, so I'll just give you the highlights of the evening's entertainment.

- Scott Brison, Member of Parliament for Kings-Hants, Nova Scotia, as an improv judge, was a bizarre and beautiful thing to witness. He offered punny advice to the teams as they were judged; nuggets of advice like "in the world of the blind, the one eyed man is king" after a game where someone ended up blind. My favorite moment, though, was the response to a skit where a man accidentally (and repeatedly) ran over his son with a lawn mower. He said something to the extent of, "I don't see why the father couldn't just accept his son's sexual orientation." Odd, yes, but definitely funny. I hope he comes back to judge another year.

- Whilst on the subject of judges, they decided to institute a penalty system. If you're too rude onstage, or if you break an improv rule, you'll get a penalty. Some penalties included; presenting your scene through dance, being silent for the scene, or portraying a Disney character.

- Now, onto the games themselves. I'll be frank, the games we played didn't really have too many bloggable moments. Until, that is, the final game. A game we had never played, entitled "Family Sitcom." Basically, it takes the situation from a sitcom like "Full House," only each character has an unusual trait. For this game, Dan and Randy - the two oldest members of the team - both smelled really bad (not really, just in the game). Justin (improv enthusiast with the uncanny ability to...well, you'll see) was given the task of impersonating a character from Disney's Aladdin. I was told to express myself by singing Abba, and Luke...well, I kind of forget. Sorry man. Anyhoo...the scene begins. I warble the choruses of "Dancing Queen," "Waterloo," and "Fernando" while Dan and Randy go around smelling bad and Luke...does his...thing. All in all, it's a pretty good scene. Then, Justin comes on, and proceeds to recite the whole opening scene from Aladdin - you know, the one where the merchant of Agrabah sets up the story? Yeah, that one. Word for word. And that's how we won the hearts of the Aladdin fans in the audience.

Well, the time came to tally up the votes, and lo and behold, SUSHI wins! We get a nifty wooden trophy with a plastic sword driven through it, and we are free to celebrate with our fellow improvisers. The celebrations include pool, shuffleboard, loud music and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (my triumph for the weekend was remembering the level select code - simply go to the sound test screen and select 19, 65, 9, 17, then hit start, hold down A and start a new game).

After a night of celebrating, we awoke and said goodbye to Wolfville in style - by rolling down the car windows and blasting "The Final Countdown" while rocking out in unison. An epic end to an epic weekend.

I hope you've enjoyed this little peek at one of Mount A's underappreciated activities. When you come here, give SUSHI a shot, or just come out to a show.

'Til Friday, keep fit and have fun!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

2007: An Improv Oddyssey: Part One: A New Hope

So, the AUIC (that's the Atlantic University Improv Challenge, for those not in the know). It's a friendly little competition, held annually around the Maritimes. This year, it was held in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and attended by teams from Acadia University, University of Cape Breton, King's College and, of course, Mount Allison.

Our trip begins on Friday the 9th, as we depart Sackville with a Ford Explorer full of luggage and a pocketful of dreams. It's about a three-hour trip to get to Wolfville, and we arrive shortly after sundown. Wolfville, as it turns out, is a lot like Sackville; a small, picturesque little town with a small movie theater, a few bars, shops and restaurants and a lot of university-related events on the social calendar. After navigating the treacherous maze of the university roads in the dark, we hopped out of the car and made our way to the Improv Showcase, where each team puts on a 25 minute set, just for fun. We didn't go on until the end, by which time most of the audience had left. You see, a member of another team went on stage drunk, and pretended to rub his crotch, bleed, vomit and vomit blood during his scenes. With kids and families in the audience. Needless to say, the place was pretty much cleared out by the time SUSHI went on, but it was still a good show. After that, I went with Luke to see the Jimmy Swift Band at a local venue (they were awesome, by the way) before heading to our place for the night. We were put up at the house of Tom, a superb host and our guide to all things Wolfville.

The next day, we arose early to search the mean streets of Wolfville and find some breakfast. In case the suspense is killing you, yes, we found some breakfast and yes, it was delicious. We make our way back to the Acadia Student Union building where, there's a farmer's market happening in the lobby. I buy some delicious natural apple juice and SUSHI regroups to begin practicing. We start warming up, and we're quickly joined by some other teams and some small children who are playing in the same room - it's like that old commercial about teaching the world to sing by buying everyone a Coke, except instead of Coke, it's ice cold Improv refreshment. After a free pizza lunch (three of my favorite words, especially when used together), the improv workshop starts. It's taught by a local improv guru named Eric Davis, who has us run through a few exercises to build up our improv game. Here they are:

1) "Yes, and.": You get a suggestion for a scene, and you act it out. Thing is, every line after the first one has to start with the words "yes and", which forces you to build on the last sentence to improve the scene, instead of just dilly dallying. It works like a charm, but the words "yes and" will be seared into your brain for weeks.

2) This one didn't have a name, so I think I'll call it "A Sea Lion Named MacGyver.": You act out a scene with a partner. But you can't look at them. A useful tool indeed, and it resulted in a hilarious scene where one person was paddling a boat, while the other did a large hit of heroin. Weirder still, their suggestion was "pantry."

We left the workshop, ready for the final event; the actual improv challenge. Were we victorious? Defeated? Befuddled? Tune in tomorrow: same blog time, same blog channel!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Back to the Sack.

Well, March Break has come and gone, and now it's time to get back to business. Though the second half of the semester is still young, there's still lots of cool stuff going down. Here's the scoop:
-As the last hurrah of the break, I got to see the Barenaked Ladies in concert at Harbour Station in Saint John. What a great performance; the musicianship was flawless, which brought some of their so-so new songs up to the level of their classics. Speaking of which, they played through some of their biggest and best: "If I Had $1000000," "What a Good Boy," "Pinch Me," etc. Best of all, though, they were extremely funny and charismatic, breaking out into choreographed dancing and fights during the set. They also played a couple of improvised songs and made a few Saint John jokes. All in all, a great show, especially since they were one of the first bands I remember hearing as a kid.
- I decided to run for Bigelow House president on Wednesday, and I'm now in the middle of getting posters, slogans, and other campaign paraphernalia. It looks like a fun race, and I have a lot of plans for next year, which I can't really go into detail about here...
- You may have noticed that there aren't any visuals on my blog. I know I certainly have. So, over the next few days, I'm going to try and update the blog with photos, pictures and maybe some other cool stuff. Stay tuned.

Current music: The Avalanches - "Since I Left You"
I missed out on this album when it came out back in the early years of the millenium. But this track is pure genius - a collage of samples taken from God-knows-where, and stitched together into four minutes of sunny, crackling pop bliss. Perfect for a cloudy day like today.