Monthly Archives: April 2013

Jackie and Kenneth’s wedding!

Saturday was Jackie and Kenneth’s wedding. It was beautiful, and the weekend was fantastic. I’m tempted to start talking about the actual wedding, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We left Southern California early Friday morning at 6:00. We had some quick breakfast, stopped for coffee, and then headed north on the 101. The 5 would have been faster, but we opted for the more scenic route along the coast. Not only did the drive provide ample time to talk, it also allowed us to listen to many episodes of the podcast My Brother, My Brother, and Me.

Chocolate Ladybugs (and a lamb)

We stopped at the Madonna Inn because gem had heard of it. It’s apparently a landmark of California. At least, that’s what Wikipedia tells me. It’s known for an exterior that’s reminiscient of the Swiss Alps, 110 guest rooms and suites with unique themes, and a waterfall urinal.

The coolest part, I suspect, are the themed rooms. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really see those without paying for a room. The exterior was neat looking though. The waterfall urinal was… a little gross. It was basically a couple drains in the ground with some water running over a fake rock above it. I didn’t really want to get splashed.

They did, however, have some extremely cute chocolates for sale. You can see what I bought in the photo above! There was a lemon ladybug, an orange ladybug, a strawberry ladybug, and a chocolate lamb. I also got a chocolate heart flavored with some sort of alcohol. They were all quite tasty.

gem at Creeky Tiki Island Grill

We decided to look in the surrounding area for lunch. It just seemed like a cool area at which to eat. I didn’t realize it at the time, but we were in San Luis Obispo. We looked around for a bit before settling on Creeky Tiki Island Grill. It was a nice little place with great outdoor seating near a creek. It was really nice. The food was pretty tasty – I had a BBQ jerk chicken pizza, and gem had a great salad (and they were willing to accommodate a special order). We also had a chance to play with gem’s new camera!

jackie and kenneth's wedding

After getting off in Santa Cruz by accident and driving around, we finally made it to Los Gatos. It was about 5 o’clock when we checked into the hotel. We were originally hoping to do a little hiking, but it was too late for that. We also wanted to grab dinner or drinks with a couple friends, but we couldn’t make it happen. Instead we went for a walk through a park and around a neighborhood. The trees were definitely pretty!

When we had our fill of walking and got hungry again, we decided to drive to San Jose to check where gem needed to go the next day. We went to Santana Row, which was a large shopping center. It was really packed – exactly the type of place I’d usually avoid on a Friday evening. We ended up going a few blocks away to A Slice of New York for pizza. Yes, I had pizza again. Their gimmick is authentic New York pizza. It was good pizza but nothing amazingly special. After dinner, I crashed pretty much immediately. It had been a long day.

Getting her hair done

Saturday morning we grabbed some breakfast before gem’s appointment at Dry Bar in San Jose to get her hair done. It seemed like a nice enough place. gem told me that her stylist mentioned that some people come to get their hair done multiple times per week. One wash, and the work is undone. It seems odd to get it done regularly, but for special occasions, it makes sense. Her hair looked great!

The "Ultimate" Spicy Tuna at Blowfish Sushi

We had lunch at Blowfish Sushi to Die For in Santana Row. They didn’t have blowfish. Odd! They did, however, have something called the Ultimate Spicy Tuna consisting of spicy tuna, diced jalapeños, spicy sesame oil, fried jalapeños, habanero tobiko, spicy mayo, and Sriracha. It must be really spicy, right? Wrong. Zenko Sushi’s spicy tuna was spicier. It was still tasty, but why bother promoting it as “ultimate spicy” if it isn’t really spicy. I’m not even sure it was what I’d call “white person spicy.”

Nestldown

We hurried back to the Los Gatos Lodge to take the shuttle to the wedding site, Nestldown. It was a beautiful location. You can see one building in that photograph. There were flowers and tall trees everywhere. I suddenly didn’t mind that I hadn’t had the chance to go hiking. There was amazing nature right here. We also ran into some friends that we hadn’t seen in a while. I wish we had had more time to catch up!

Tall trees

A path led down some wood steps to the edge of a lake where the ceremony was to be held. I took a few photographs and chatted while waiting for the ceremony to begin.

The Bride

This is no surprise, but Jackie looked beautiful. Her entrance involved the same stairs I mentioned. I wonder if that was an extra bit of stress. Not only were all eyes on her, but she had to walk down the steps in her wedding dress. Of course, she descended gracefully.

jackie and kenneth's wedding

After the ceremony, it was time for some socializing and food. Our friend Joseph took this photograph of us as we waited for the train.

jackie and kenneth's wedding

Did I say train? I sure did! gem said it’d be like playing Pokemon Snap; we could take pictures of wild Pokemon as we went along the track. Sadly, I didn’t see any Pokemon.

The Lake

We had some cheese, crackers, and wine near another lake and chatted with our new and old friends.

jackie and kenneth's wedding

The happy couple arrived via the train and made their rounds talking to the guests. We took some photos together; I’m happy to have the physical reminder of the memories.

There was also a photo booth, complete with props. People who know gem would probably not be surprised to find that her favorite was the mustache on a stick.

Name tags

At dinner we received cards with name tags attached. The color of the card indicated our meal, and the name tags were labeled bottlecaps pinned to the cards. gem had the salmon, and I had the stuffed bell pepper. Both were quite delicious! We sat at the same table as Mai, which gave us a nice chance to talk. Dessert consisted of the wedding cake, a pineapple cake, and Oreo milkshakes that I didn’t know about until much later

With dinner came dancing, which was a lot of fun. There was modern music along with older dance tunes, and it was all great. They did a wonderful job selecting music. We even danced to Gangnam Style, of course.

As the evening came to a close, we headed back to the Los Gatos Lodge. We hung out and chatted while some people made an effort to finish the beer. I wasn’t interested in the beer, but I was definitely interested in talking with friends.

French Toast Sandwich with Banana Streusel from Hobee's

Sunday morning we had brunch at Hobee’s Restaurant. Oh my god. It was good. I had an orange swirl French toast sandwich with sauteed streusel bananas and toasted almonds. I also tried some of gem’s chicken, artichoke, mushroom, spinach, and cheese omelet as well as some blueberry coffee cake. Jackie’s parents also thanked people individually for coming. They were very friendly, and Jackie’s mom reminds me of her. After brunch, we walked back to the lodge for the final time with our friends.

Goodbyes are always sad, but they have to be said. We exchanged goodbyes with Jackie and Kenneth, Jackie gifted gem the mustache on a stick, and we left for Orange County. This time we took the 5 instead of the 101.

Fire near the Grapevine

When we reached the Grapevine, I saw fire in the distance. There actually was a fire to the side of the road. Luckily it seemed under control, and I don’t think there was much damage.

By the time we got back, the day was done. I crashed quickly once again.

Congratulations again to Jackie and Kenneth! They’re great people and are both very lucky. They’re also both wonderful hosts. Hopefully we see them again soon.

Eric likes velociraptors; I like Zenko Sushi

Pretty

After a sad evening, gem and I have dinner at Zenko Sushi, our favorite sushi place. We sit at the bar in front of Eric, a sushi chef we’ve had before. We put in our initial order, and the food’s delicious. Then gem proceeds to ask Eric some questions.

“What’s your favorite kind of sushi,” she asks. He replies with a long list of fish. “Basically every kind?” gem asks. He points out that he doesn’t like squid, octopus, or shellfish.

“What’s your favorite food?” she asks.

“Mexican,” I whisper.

“Hmm,” he says. “Mexican food. Or pizza.”

gem gets excited and confused. “How’d you know?!”

“You asked him that last time,” I respond.

The three of us laugh about it, and Eric says that he remembers us. He points out that we usually have the same seats, although one time we sat over there, and he points toward the seats in front of Toshi. We do get Toshi sometime. Last time, Toshi began preparing our sushi as soon as he saw us start marking our sheet. The first roll was ready by the time we handed him our order paper.

Soon it was time for the most important question.

“What’s your favorite dinosaur?”

“After seeing Jurassic Park – the velociraptor.”

Heck yes. What sushi chef doesn’t like velociraptors? Lame ones, of course.

She asks him some other questions. “Who’s the roll master?”

“I don’t know. Is there a roll master?”

“Are you the roll master?”

“Am I the roll master?”

“Did you come up with anything on the menu?”

“No, the menu was already designed when I started working here.”

I ask, “who’s your favorite customer,” pointing to gem with my head.

“All my customers.” That answer’s no fun.

gem tells him about the taco roll she had at Gatten Sushi in Irvine. It was terrible. I add that their fried chicken roll was the best thing on the menu, which exemplifies how bad their sushi is.

Are you ready for the reveal of something incredible?

“Do you know the most interesting roll I’ve ever had?” he asks. “I once had a roll called the Cowboy Roll. It had filet mignon in it. And it was only fourteen dollars!”

I must find this Cowboy Roll and try it.

Then again, that could be hard to find. Maybe I’ll just go back to Zenko Sushi and sit in front of Eric.

Mike Franklin

My coworker Mike Franklin passed away on Saturday, and tonight was his viewing. I didn’t know him very well, but when he joined Toshiba last year and I first met him, I liked him right away. He was a really nice guy who always seemed willing to tackle a problem with a smile on his face. While some people stress over a difficult situation, he seemed optimistic that a solution would be found. He looked at things pragmatically and didn’t let a problem get the best of him. He was also willing to make changes. Some people like the status quo, but he was willing to shake things up for the better.

His family was at the viewing of course, including his three children. The youngest was very cute and probably didn’t understand the full ramifications of what was happening. The oldest, on the other hand, was definitely old enough to comprehend the events. It was difficult to watch him hugging his dad.

I know that we’ll miss him at work. I was just talking with another coworker on Friday about what a great guy Franklin was.

I guess there’s always more to say, but I’ll leave it at this tonight. I just figured he deserves to have me write something down to remember.

Spectacles and ImprovCity

I saw some more improv this weekend! Friday after going dancing, we went to STAGEStheatre to watch Laugh Chance and The Friday Society. They were both really funny. Laugh Chance is the team that chooses games randomly. It’s a pretty great way of making the show different than other improv teams without really having to change much. I also wonder how much knowing what games you’re about to play helps a player. Maybe it’s a bigger change than I think. The Friday Society was very entertaining as well. I was pretty sleepy the first time I saw them, so it was nice to stay awake for it. gem didn’t drink coffee, and she struggled a little. Hopefully I’ll be back for more Spectacles in two weeks.

Last night I saw ImprovCity’s Cubed Comedy Matches. The night consisted of three teams of three with each team consisting two ImprovCity members and one of their high school students. The students were definitely talented! It seemed like a really great opportunity for them. I’m starting to get a feel for more of the players, which just makes it funnier as I learn their personalities. They had a particularly great town meeting, but I also liked when one performer decided to be the Bible’s Joseph for an advice game.

There was also a raffle for various prizes such as bread, games of bowling, passes to Boomer’s, and ImprovCity tickets. The biggest prizes were signed artwork by local artist Ryan Eduad. Guess who won? Well, quite a few people because there were a number of gifts, but what I care about is that I won as well! I won a print called The Soul Collector. Feel free to click the link to check it out.

ATOMIC Ballroom

Months ago, I heard a question comedy-advice podcast My Brother, My Brother, and Me from a girl wanting to convince her boyfriend to take swing dancing classes with her. Usually the brothers will have mixed answers and spend about 10 minutes with a question. They completely, flat out told her not to do it and spent about 45 minutes doing so. Never had they been so against something, and never had they spent so much time on a question. They claimed that it was pretentious and that no one just has that talent naturally. Obviously, they just went and learned it to show off.

When they were all done answering the question, gem revealed that it was her question. I felt so bad about how against it they were that I agreed. I did manage to delay it for a long time, but last night we took a beginner’s 6 count Lindy Hop class at the ATOMIC Ballroom in Irvine. It was a ton of fun! It was absolutely fine that we were completely new to it, and it was very reasonable. It was $15 per person for a 45 minute class that was actually closer to an hour, and the class came with free admission to the dance that was afterward.

I’m incredibly far from being able to say I know how to swing dance, but I had a good time. They have a variety of dance classes nightly and multiple dances per week. We’re planning to go more often. It’d be fun to learn!

OC Improv Fest feedback

Earlier this week I was surprised to find that Graham Beightol of the OC Improv Cup, Cherry Spitz, and the Friday Society, commented on my previous post. He thanked me for attending, asked if I could provide feedback on ways to improve for next year, and asked permission to use my photos in future promotions. I was pretty surprised (and not just because my photos were so bad).

I’m guessing they were Googling for feedback on the festival and came across WebPageless. I provided some feedback and gave my permission to use the photos. The festival was great not only as an event in itself but also as a way to get to know so many different teams. Hopefully I’ll check out more Spectacles improv in the future – possibly this weekend.

Austin Floyd, of whom I was critical in my previous posts, also commented. He said, “I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.” He went on to offer to cover my next ticket to a Spectacles show, which was very nice of him. We exchanged e-mails, and he even mentioned singling out his friends as part of his hosting. Honestly, it didn’t cross my mind that he might know those people.

I wanted to make clear here what a funny performer he’s been when I’ve seen him and how nice he was when he contacted me. After talking to him, I’m looking forward to seeing him host again. Maybe I’ll throw him a bad suggestion or two!

OC Improv Fest night three

With the third night being on a Saturday, there was no rush to get to STAGEStheatre for the third and final night of the first annual OC Improv Festival. We ate at Don Carlos Mexican Restaurant a block down from the theatre, picked up some Starbucks, and then headed to the theatre. Once again we managed to snag front row seats.

The Orange County Improv Festival

The night began with two family-friendly sets starting with May Contain Nuts. I saw their Halloween improv show back in 2011, so it was nice to see a team I knew again. Honestly, I have no idea if any of the performers this time were the same I saw previously or not, so maybe that didn’t really matter anyways.

The Orange County Improv Festival

ImprovCity was second, and I actually was familiar with the performers. They were generally very funny, but certain parts were a little hit or miss. They normally perform Friday and Saturday evenings close to my house; I really need to see them more often as I enjoy their performances.

The Orange County Improv Festival

After the family-friendly hour, Dr. God Revival with Dave Holmes performed a double-length, hour-long set. They actually featured Dave Holmes! Okay, I honestly had no idea who he was, but he totally has a Wikipedia page, which makes him Officially Famous. My friend Stephanie pointed out that he was VJ on MTV. I assumed she didn’t mean my high school friend VJ so I quickly guessed a VJ is like a DJ but for music videos. MTV was definitely not in my TV rotation.

Anyways, I don’t intend to belittle Dave Holmes. I only knew him as the guy performing improv, and he did a great job. In fact, they did things a little differently, and I always appreciate an improv troupe that has something unique. Dr. God used a lot of monologues by Holmes supposedly based on his own life. He would perform a monologue for five minutes or so, and then the team would perform scenes loosely based on the monologue. I really enjoyed the monologues. I’d love too see an hour of just monologues. I realize lengthening a five minute idea to an hour might be a lot of work, but it’s seem conceivable that it could be done if a group of four or five took turns telling monologues, each person beginning when he or she had something to say related to the previous monologue.

After Dr. God was the The Reckoning. I don’t remember disliking them, but I don’t remember much of anything, and I didn’t any photos either. I jotted down that they performed longform. They were decent enough, but I don’t think they were great.

The Orange County Improv Festival

At 10:00, Ghostlight performed. The Spectacles webpage described them as “a blend of hilarious and spooky,” so I was really looking forward to seeing them. Honestly, they didn’t live up to my expectations. However, I feel like it might have been due to time constraints and the luck of the draw. I’d really like to see them again in a full show.

During their set, they asked the audience if anyone had ever had a supernatural encounter. One person said he had, and they asked him to come tell them about it. He eventually came down to talk, but it took him a while to do so. As he told the story, he seemed to stall a lot. I get the feeling he was joking when he raised his hand and didn’t mean to volunteer for it. I guess that’s fine, but it also ate into their short half hour allotted time.

The Orange County Improv Festival

“Strange religious harmony what”

I wrote that in my iPhone to describe USS Rock N Roll as soon as their set was finished. I don’t mean religious in the sense they were spoke about religion. It’s more than they seemed like a strange cult. They were either far more artsy than me or pretended to be for the laughs.

USS Rock N Roll performed longform scenes, but their transitions were very odd. Let’s say that in a scene, a person said “no, no, no.” Someone not involved in the scene would stick their arms and circle around the people in the scene as if a child pretending to be a plane. They’d repeat the word “no” as they did so, and everyone else would follow until there was a circle of people chanting. Some would say a different word related to the scene or the feelings of the last scene’s characters. Eventually they would all be chanting loudly together until breaking apart into a new scene. They had a couple other ways of transitioning as well, but this is the basic idea. It was the oddest improv I’d ever seen. That said, I really enjoyed it. They were also able to perform what was effectively multiple scenes at the same time. It was funny and very entertaining. (But again, what? Odd.)

The Orange County Improv Festival

Mission IMPROVable, from Santa Monica, was one of my favorite teams. I’m fairly certain they were a team of secret agents sent, in secret, to perform a comedy. They performed a lot of the staple improv games with high energy. I wish they didn’t normally perform so far from home, because I’d love to see them more.

The Orange County Improv Festival

The festival ended with Laugh Chance, another Spectacles-produced team. Laugh Chance decides what games to play randomly. They had three categories of games – A, B, and C. When it was time for a new game, Lloyd, the host, would pick a category and then get the audience to roll inflatable dice. The letter combined with the number of rolls determines the game based on a board. You can see it (through the terrible blur) in the picture. The games themselves weren’t different than games I’ve seen before, but I appreciate putting a different spin on the normal. It’s nice for an improv troupe to have something that makes them unique. They were funny, but strangely I’m fairly sure not everyone who came on stage with Laugh Chance actually performed. What the heck?

It was a terrific third night, but it felt weird for it to end. After three nights of non-stop improv (except for when they stopped at the end of the nights, of course), I felt like I was improv-crashing. On the other hand, I learned that using the magic of Starbucks I can actually stay up late, so I suppose the festival also taught me that I can always come back on Friday or Saturday nights for more improv!

The Invisible Man

It took me over a month to read H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, mostly thanks to Scalzi’s The Human Division. I was familiar with the basic idea – a man becomes invisible and becomes a murderer. Through watching the story of Griffin, the Invisible Man, unfold and hearing him recount his earlier actions, the reader gets to see how he was driven to madness. However, it still seemed to happen too rapidly.

I would have liked to understand it a bit better. As terrible as it sounds, I wanted to feel like I could understand how one would end up doing the things he did. While I learned why he felt that way, I didn’t truly get to experience it. It also makes me wonder whether Griffin was unstable before his adventure even began or whether the disconnect between an invisible man and the rest of humanity naturally would create these feelings and tendencies in the invisible man. I suspect, due to Griffin’s early actions before becoming invisible himself, that he had inherent issues, but it’s interesting to ponder.

Of Justin Bieber and prescription drugs

What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t give my readers what they want?

I don’t really know much about Justin Bieber. I don’t particularly like his music, but it’d be immature to hate him for no reason. For a long time I had heard his name but not known his music at all.

And then my friend showed me this video.

It’s a parody of Justin Bieber’s Baby involving banelings from Starcraft. I don’t play Starcraft, but I found it amusing. Later I had it stuck in my head. What does it say about the Bieber’s original if the parody, using the same general tune, could get stuck in my head? I guess it’s not so bad honestly.

What about prescription drugs?

I don’t know. They’re good when you need them, I suppose. I’ve had antibiotics, Vicodin, and ibuprofen prescriptions. I don’t really understand the point in getting an ibuprofen prescriptions. Sure, I normally can’t get 800 mg tablets of ibuprofen over the counter, but I could just take four 200 mg tablets. I’ve never tried to get a discount on them. Saving money is always good, but I’m not sure I’d trust discount prescription drugs. Health is just too important.

OC Improv Fest night two

The second night of the OC Improv Festival featured local teams as well as teams from out of town, which was really cool. The show consisted of Secret City Comics Society (Fullerton), Upperclassmen (Long Beach), Kanyay! West (LA), The Lobby, Ranger Danger and the Danger Ranger (LA), Detroit Rock City (Detroit), StrongBose (LA), Acme Improv (LA), Puppet Mayhem (Fullerton), FlySpace (Fullerton), and Bat Manatees (Fullerton)!

Night two opened with the Secret City Comics Society. They were funny and friendly to the audience as well as family friendly. I liked them a lot, but I felt a little bad because the audience only had five people or so at the start of their set.

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The Upperclassmen, from Long Beach, swung around on the family friendly scale to a much more adult show. They were very funny, but I couldn’t help but wonder how they can act silly and do improv without getting killed in Long Beach. I’m glad I live in Irvine now.

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Kanyay! West from LA was by far the cutest team. Just look at them! And look at that sloth climbing on that man’s back.

The Lobby is another Spectacles team. With the Spectacles teams, there seems to be a lot of “in” jokes. The improv is still hilarious of course, but it seems like I miss out on the whole experience by not being a regular. It’s also odd that they’re listed as if they’re separate teams, but it’s really just different configurations of the same people.

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Ranger Danger and the Danger Ranger from LA were unbelievably funny and just two people. They performed a longform about two brothers, their taco truck, and their quest to find one brother’s biological parents and restore Mexico’s gold. That’s quite the endeavor.

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Detroit Rock City (someone tell me why I keep typing “Detroid”) came all the way from Detroit. I wonder if they really came just for this or if they have friends here or something. It seems odd. Regardless, they were amazing. Detroit Rock City, Ranger Danger and the Danger Ranger, and Puppet Mayhem were my three favorite teams of the night. Detroit Rock City performed a longform about three people on a road trip. As they drive, they slowly discover that one of them is a mass murderer who keeps killing people who “have it coming.” It’s the eyes.

StrongBose and Acme Improv were up next. Sadly, I have nothing to say about them. I just have to be honest. Sure, they were definitely funny, but you can’t expect me to have comments on every team.

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I was looking forward to Puppet Mayhem the most, and they didn’t disappoint. Improv? Hilarious  Puppets? Well, those are just awesome of course. Obviously combining the two who would make for a lot of laughs. It was great to see my friend Alex Foster, plus the team featured two of my new favorites, Michael Rosenbaum and, uh, maybe his name was James. I don’t know! I was amazed to find out that Puppet Mayhem has an on-going continuity as well. That’s such a fun idea and really makes me want to never miss a show. I’m definitely going to continue watching them.

The last two teams were FlySpace and Bat Manatees, both Spectacles groups and hosted by Austin Floyd. I mentioned last time that I didn’t care for Austin’s hosting style. He’s a funny player, but I disliked his aggressive hosting. In general, his banter with the actors and the audience seems forced, but I particularly didn’t like him cussing as his actors or berating the audience. During FlySpace’s set, he announced that their were smores under everyone’s seats. I don’t remember the context, but it was a joke that made sense at the time. After a few people checked their seats, he singled-out one person in the front, saying “You’re dumb. You’re a dumbass. You’re dumb for looking.” When the Bat Manatees were playing, he asked for a film genre. A member of the audience suggested noir to which he replied, “sounds like a great suggestion, but it’s shit. It’s just smoking and darkness.” Now at one point he specifically asked for a bad suggestion. Remembering last night, I couldn’t help but yell out “strangers!” As I was in the front row, he turned to me, laughed, and commented on how I must have been there the previous night. I suppose that’s encouraging the hosting that I don’t like, but I couldn’t help it. Regardless, I don’t think his style would stop me from seeing improv, but I really dislike it.

The night was fun one, and I’m looking forward to the final sets tonight. I can also say that getting Starbucks before the show definitely helped. On the first night, I was struggling to stay awake at 11:00, but last night I was fine even though I didn’t get home until 1:30. I’ll get some more coffee tonight!

OC Improv Fest night one

Last night was the first night of the OC Improv Fest at the STAGEStheatre. It was a lot of fun even if I had to stay up later than I intended. We saw Improv Shmimprov, Cherry Spitz, Improv Revolution, Fart Jar, Comedy Kaze, Improvfessionals, and The Friday Society. The OC Improv Fest is three nights of comedy featuring most comedy troupes in Orange County and some from out of town! Each team plays for a half hour. Thursday night was 8:00 to 11:30.

OC Improv Festival 2013

The first team, Improv Shmimprov, was my favorite. I’ve seen twice previously back in 2005. I can’t believe it’s been eight years! Some Live Nude People graduates moved on to Improv Shmimprov, which is why I saw their show in the first place.

They were hysterical, and their host said my sweater was quite dapper! Thank you! You can see them in the photo above. I particularly liked the person second from the left in the photo who was very funny (but as I wrote what he said I realized it was a bit too graphic to post). I also enjoyed the person to his right who pretended to be Saddam.

OC Improv Festival 2013

My second favorite team, shown here, was Cherry Spitz. First, check out the one guy’s hair. Glorious! The girl in that photo was so great. In one skit, she played a mountain. She was the best mountain I’ve ever seen!

Next was Improv Revolution. I have to admit that I think I was a bit biased. I found out that they’re from UCI. Why does UCI have two teams? Why wasn’t Live Nude People here if iRev was? Argh!

Also, two of their members just weren’t funny at all. In fact, they were bothersome. I did, however, enjoy their longform improv about the bounty hunter type person from the Gap.

The rest of the teams were all pretty funny. My only complaint is about the Improvfessionals. While funny, their host, Austin Floyd, berated the audience when he got suggestions he didn’t like. There’s no reason to do that. If you don’t like a suggestion, wait for another one. For some people, it takes guts to even speak up. I saw him in the Improv to the Future show and really liked him, but now my opinion of him has plummeted. He asked for a relationship between two people, and the suggestion was “strangers.” even if he hated that suggestion, which was fine in my opinion, he could have easily just used another.

The last team, The Friday Society, featured some people I had seen in earlier groups. They were definitely great, but their scenes were hard to follow because I had trouble staying awake. What can I say? I don’t usually stay up to 11:30!

My friend Alex Foster is a member of The Friday Society but didn’t perform that night. Luckily I’ll see him tonight with a different group, Puppet Mayhem.

And now I should stop blogging because it’s time for night two!

Thanks for the props, Thor

ThorOfAsgaard gave me props on Fitocracy! I can only assume this is the real Thor. People couldn’t just lie on the Internet, right?

Also, I skipped my workout yesterday because I needed to get as much sleep as possible. All I tracked was four miles of walking, so I’m not sure why Thor even propped it. But thanks!

The Human Division final thoughts

John Scalzi asked for feedback on the serialized run of The Human Division. As long as I was providing it on his site, I’ll post it here as well. It serves as a good final review of The Human Division.

John,

I consider The Human Division a huge success. I want to collect your novels, and the novels in the Old Man’s War series in particular, so I definitely thought about whether I wanted to buy a physical release. However, there was no way I could pass up purchasing the episodes. Tuesdays became my favorite day of the week. I couldn’t wait to download my new episode and give it a read. Every Tuesday I would eat lunch alone so I could sit while reading or walk around the block while reading.

The episode lengths were perfect. I enjoyed being able to read each episode during a lunch break. The first and final episodes worked well as double-length episodes. If you choose to continue with a similar format in the future, I’d be fine with the occasional longer episode, but I’m also just fine with the current length. I don’t care about the quantity of words; I care about the quality. If a particular episode is shorter than normal, that’s fine too.

The pacing of The Human Division was excellent, and the order of the episodes worked well. We didn’t stay far away from the central story very long, and the auxiliary episodes were always interesting and related. I particularly liked seeing settings with which I was familiar but hadn’t seen – Earth, Phoenix, and the Conclave. I’d love to see more of all three. I also enjoyed seeing the points of view of different characters.

Walk the Plank was the perfect second episode. After the long introduction episode, Walk the Plank set the expectations. It showed that not every episode would be about the same characters and that some episodes might not even seem related at the time. It also made a point that episode length could vary as well. Walk the Plank always stood out as particularly odd to me. How was it related to the story? In the final episode you bring us back to the Eerie Morningstar. Not only does this give Walk the Plank context, but it also reminds us that we do in fact know a little about the Colonial Union’s enemy.

After finishing Earth Below, Sky Above, it was evident that you were at least hoping to continue. I’m very pleased to learn that you already have something planned. You might not have answered all my questions, but this is just the first season of The Human Division. Even if not everyone fully grokked that The Human Division was modeled similarly to a television series, it still worked well. I hope to see a similarly structured second season that answers some of my questions and leaves others open (for a third season of course).

Thank you for continuing to explore the Old Man’s War universe. The delivery and format of The Human Division worked exceptionally well. It’s nice to see some experimentation. In fact, I also really enjoyed the format of Redshirts. I’m sad to hear that the hardcover will have a time-exclusive extra story, but the trade-off allowing me to read the episodes weekly (along with the fact that I will eventually be able to read the story) is worth it to me. While I’ll continue to purchase your books (and any other creations) in any formats, I hope that you continue releasing episodically.

Thanks again, John!

– Peter

As you can see, I was a big fan of the way it was presented. I wish more books were released using this method, and I look forward to The Human Division season 2!

The Human Division concludes with Earth Below, Sky Above

In episode 13 of The Human Division, Scalzi concludes his tale with Earth Below, Sky Above. It was one of the most exciting and emotional episodes in the novel. Earth Below, Sky Above didn’t answer all my questions, but it definitely satisfied me and left me wanting more.

The episode really brought things full circle. There were mentions of the main characters being the B-team, referencing the first episode, The B-Team. Before reading Earth Below, Sky Above, the second episode, Walk the Plank, seemed completely out of place. While it seemed like it could eventually relate to the plot, it hadn’t yet in any way. That changes in Earth Below, Sky Above, and suddenly the odd episode becomes central to the plot. It was positioned perfectly as the second episode of The Human Division.

I mentioned in previous reviews that the plot was building oddly. If the last episode was going to be a large confrontation, surely a substantial reveal must come before that. By the end of the novel, Scalzi still doesn’t answer all the big questions, but the story concludes rather nicely anyways. The structure of the plot progression made a lot more sense once it was clear that we weren’t getting those answers.

If I thought the universe was ending with The Human Division, I’d be rather frustrated. However, upon finishing novel, I had no doubts that Scalzi would be continuing. I immediately tweeted at him asking him for the reveal of the next Old Man’s War book. This morning he revealed on his blog that there would indeed be a second season!

The Human Division worked extraordinarily well. I’m sad to see it end, but I’m looking forward to a sequel. Even if you haven’t read the other novels in the series, it would be enjoyable, but I highly recommend you read the other novels first to get the full experience. As always, Scalzi continues to impress and amaze me.

Lost hamsters

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After dinner earlier this week, look what I found in the parking lot. On the base of a lamppost in the parking lot was a cage with five hamsters. They were adorable. I watched them for a couple minutes, unsure of what to do.

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I didn’t really want to just leave them, but what would I do with hamsters? Plus, what if it was an accident and there was a family rushing back to the parking lot while I stood there? In the end, I didn’t do anything. I sure hope they’re okay though.

gem named them Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe, and Tiger.

The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads brings us nearly to the end of The Human Division

The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads CoverI was expecting the twelfth episode of John Scalzi’s The Human Division to finally reveal who has been behind the acts of war described so far. While The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads provides some great new information, we still don’t know who the antagonists really are. Danielle Lowen, who you might remember from episode nine, The Observers, is back in the United States. She witnesses a terrorist attack and while trying to puzzle together who could be behind it, receives some interesting information.

I’m happy to hear that the final episode next week will be double-length. This was an exciting episode, but it didn’t have much of a cliff hanger. We get a nice reveal at the end, but it’s only about one aspect of what’s been happening and still doesn’t show us who did it. I expected a big reveal in this episode so that we could be left salivating at the resolution in the final episode. Scalzi hasn’t let me down yet; I’m still excited to read the finale, but The Human Division’s structure has been building oddly to the climax.