More and more, I’m realizing that I’m too damned concerned with what people are going to think of various posts, how well-written they are, whether they agree with them, blah blah fucking Kristen Kosmas blah, which is ridiculous/hilarious/sad, since a) this was supposed to be a space to figure some shit out, and b) not that many people read it, so just relax already. And, if perchance, I am drawn as one of the playwrights for 14/48 Kamikaze two days hence, I’m going to have to get way the hell over it or turn in blank pages.
I have a lot of things I’m thinking about lately. Too many to condense into one post. And, at this very, very specific moment, I don’t have time to write up any one of them, even all stream-of-consciousness (which I’m beginning to think is the way to go). But! There’s this song. That I don’t hear very often. And every time I hear it, I think, “I have to remember the title of this fucking song so that I can listen to it whenever I want to.” And it just came on Pandora. Rather than relying on my sieve-brain to remember it, I’m just going to post one of its YouTube iterations, and then I can come back to it for always. (And shut up, whippersnappers; I already know all your youthful brains have memorized every word and know all the fingering, etc. I seriously forget the title minutes after hearing it. Every damned time.)
Could I torture some relation between this song and any of the cornucopia of topics in my head? Probably. But I’d rather just listen to this song, because it spanks me.
Oh, also. Go, for Christ’s sake, go read #TheTwitterIssue of FRiGG. I personally don’t really get Twitter, but reading this issue, I sort of start to get it (reading #WhatIsThis? certainly helped). And this issue does, in fact, relate back quite well to the numero uno topic on my mind. Which I’ll get to. Or not. But I hope I do.
Okay. Shutting up and listening now. Keep walking and running and running for miles.
Still Not Elicia. This, in many ways, is what got the blog summit rolling. There was a post by a San Francisco improviser that numerous Seattle folk weighed in on, mostly in the comments. This was the one blog post that was directly spawned by it, though. A Touchy Subject is the most recent post, and deals with physicality (my favorite!) on stage.
The Unexpected Blog. The official(?) blog of Unexpected Productions. It looks like at least some posts from Still Not Elicia will be cross-posted there, but there’s also content by at least one other company member. Silence!–How Shutting Up Can Make You a Better Improviser is one such post, and is a good one, especially on a topic that probably scares the shit out of a lot of improvisers.
Tony Beeman. Clearly not shy about his identity. His first post is Quotes from Non-Improvisers That Apply To Improv, which is a great jumping off point to start other posts. In fact, one post on Seattle Comedy Nerd was inspired by a comment about this post right here.
And that’s it for now. Hopefully, I’ll soon be contributing more to the discussion than just oohs and aahs. And the obligatory plug: I’ll be performing at ComedySportz Friday and Saturday nights at 10:30. 2-for-1 tickets available for pre-purchase here.
Dammit, I really should be writing more about improv (or anything for that matter) instead of just dropping in when it’s time to pimp shows. That said, I have three shows coming up that are all kickass. So you should go. Y’know? Not because I want an audience (although, of course I do), but because you’d have a great time. Fair? So, in order of performance date:
Quiz Show is back again this Sunday (July 22) at Wing-It. Only five bucks at the door if you say, “Trebeck.” There’s a reason that this show has a fairly rabid following of folks who’ve been to numerous performances. You should find out if the reason applies to you as well.
ComedySportz Seattle returns next Friday (July 27) at the Ballard Underground, and runs purty near into perpetuity, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 and/or 10:30 (schedule varies a bit based on other productions using the theater). The preview weekend of CSz Portland vs. CSz Seattle was a huge hit. My older son (he’s 13) and I went to all four shows. He’s seen a LOT of improv, and these shows were by far his favorite. Super-high energy shows. Tix are twelve bucks online or at the door. Not sure which performances I’ll be in yet, but this isn’t for me, it’s for you! Go see any of ‘em!
14/48 Kamikaze is… well, I’ve talked about how insane and amazing 14/48 is before. The producers are amping up the insane level this time (hence, kamikaze). While there will still be 14 new short plays written, directed, rehearsed, and performed in 48 hours, and while it’s still true that the artists won’t know until their names are drawn who they’ll be working with, another element of randomness has been added. The fifty participating artists won’t know until their names are drawn whether they’ll be writing, directing, acting, designing, or playing in the band. After having been invited to regular 14/48 as an actor twice, I’m beyond honored to be invited to be in the first group of artists participating kamikaze style. Not so secretly, I’m hoping to be in the band. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Get your tickets early—shows often sell out. Shows are August 10-11, at 8:00 and 10:30.
In improv, in writing, in life… a reminder to myself.
And to you, should you stumble here. Go dance.
SmokeLong Quarterly is nine years old today! Woo! Go celebrate by reading the latest issue:
I know, right? Still busy, busy, busy. Tons of things have happened since the last time I posted, most of them good (SFIT, another 14/48, several Interrobang shows, etc.). I’ll revisit some of those things… sooner or later. I don’t know when. But I will (I especially want to talk about Kristen Schier’s amazing clowning class at SFIT). Eventually.
For now, three things:
1) I’m part of the inaugural roster of ComedySportz Seattle. Will be the first time since the 1986 Edinburgh Festival with Mee-Ow that I’ve done short-form. Both excited and terrified. First practice (yes, practice; CSz puts everything in sports terms) is tonight. Woo!
2) Interrobang is opening its new format this weekend (June 7–9) at the Center House. We hope to make this our signature show. It forces us to pull in the kinds of things we train for in rehearsals, while at the same time offering a lot of the freedom we’ve come to love in our open format shows. The show is called Eight. Expect badassedness.
3) Quiz Show is coming back as a monthly show at Wing-It. First show back will be June 17. Yay! Love this show.
Tweets While Drinking Scotch And Reading Submissions
An old friend asked me recently what we’re looking for in stories we accept for SmokeLong Quarterly. Since we’ve changed to a rotating editor on a weekly basis, it’s a little different. I can’t speak for every editor, but here are some tweets I made over the course of three nights drinking scotch and reading submissions. Most of these are of the “Do NOT” variety, but a few, at least, are of the “Yes, please” variety.
And again: scotch was being consumed. Also note: the piece I refer to as accidentally rejecting? That’s the piece I wound up choosing for our first installment of SmokeLong Weekly. Woo!
Havin’ a wee dram o’ scotch, reading submissions. 7:26 PM Dec 2nd from web
@ryancall My wee dram is gone. Another? Maybe so. 7:55 PM Dec 2nd from web
Fucking hell. I just sent a rejection to the wrong person. One downside to an online submission center: too easy to click the wrong link. 7:46 PM Dec 2nd from web
tip to writers: don’t have a typo in your first sentence. or your title. gives eds a quick reason to say “nope.”
Thankfully, writer of piece wrongly rejected is very cool. Piece still under consideration (and I really, really like it). 8:16 PM Dec 2nd from web
Tip 2: Don’t refer to another writer in the first sentence of your story. Tonight’s references so far: Tao Lin (barf) and Alice Munro. 8:19 PM Dec 2nd from web
Jesus, ANOTHER misspelling in the first sentence. “Thank you, but no.” 8:20 PM Dec 2nd from web
Tip mothafucking 3: read the guidelines. If we say we publish stories under 1000 words, don’t send a 5000-word story. 8:24 PM Dec 2nd from web
Realization: at the best of times, I can be a dick. When drinking wee drams o’ scotch and reading subs? I can be a serious dick. 8:29 PM Dec 2nd from web
Tip 4: unless submitting to Bulwer-Lytton, don’t use all caps on things like BOOM. http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/ 8:31 PM Dec 2nd from web
Tip 5: (and this may just be me) In a flash… it’s never necessary to give a character’s full (first and last name). 8:32 PM Dec 2nd from web
second “wee dram” is gone. I’d like a third, but I’d hate myself tomorrow. 8:33 PM Dec 2nd from web
Tip 6: I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure “thus” isn’t a word that ever does much for a flash. 8:34 PM Dec 2nd from web
Tip 7: busses are kisses. If you mean the vehicle, it’s buses. If it’s important enough to have in your title, you should know the diff. 8:49 PM Dec 2nd from web
switched from wee drams and reading subs to cold Chinese and reading subs. Let’s see if my asshole quotient goes down. 8:55 PM Dec 2nd from web
Okay. Churned through over a week’s worth of subs. I think that’s good for tonight. 9:19 PM Dec 2nd from web
reading subs again. today’s tip #1: A cat should never be the main character. 9:53 AM Dec 3rd from web
Tip #2: I try to read blind. Putting your contact info right in the field for the story itself makes this impossible. 10:17 AM Dec 3rd from web
Tip #3: Putting “The End” at the end of your flash? Not really necessary. Also not necessary in a sub? Copyright notice. 10:21 AM Dec 3rd from web
Tip #4: Check your email provider’s settings to make sure that communications from mags you submit to aren’t being sent to your spam folder. 10:27 AM Dec 3rd from web
@beanglish There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. :) 11:00 AM Dec 3rd from web in reply to beanglish
scotch and subs again tonight. 7:48 PM Dec 6th from web
sub tips again (at least when I’m the reader): starting a story Every day, every month, every x amount of time… almost never works for me. 7:49 PM Dec 6th from web
tip 2) (not a negative) Drop me in scene fast, please. 7:50 PM Dec 6th from web
3) Be explicit. Show, don’t tell blah blah blah, but seriously… capture the single event w/in the larger series and just rock it, k? 7:53 PM Dec 6th from web
expanding on #3, some cool stuff happening in some of the subs, but related at too great a distance. get in there and bleed. 7:59 PM Dec 6th from web
4) Metaphors? A million times stronger than similes. 8:00 PM Dec 6th from web
And, of course, as a writer, I break all these rules myself. When it’s intentional: good. When it’s not: I should know better. 8:02 PM Dec 6th from web
5) OK, this is picky. But I really don’t like exclamation points in fiction. Let the words exclaim for themselves. 8:04 PM Dec 6th from web
6) Pop culture in lit fic can be great. But… don’t hang the whole story on a song/movie/whatever. 8:10 PM Dec 6th from web
7) confusing “your” for “you’re” in tweets? maybe borderline acceptable. In submissions? No. 8:23 PM Dec 6th from web
driving home from dropping off kids, saw a woman hitchhiking outside a cemetery. on 99, which, but for the cemetery, is prostitution street. 8:23 PM Dec 6th from web
(that last not a tip, obviously. just grabbed my attention.) 8:24 PM Dec 6th from web
unfair to submitters: reading subs the night after reading Pasha Malla’s “The Slough.” Because that? is fucking brilliant work right there. 8:27 PM Dec 6th from web
8) For God’s sake, love your characters: http://smokelong.com/interview/66.asp 8:31 PM Dec 6th from web
Ooh! Just read one I really like! 8:34 PM Dec 6th from web
9) You’re a writer, you have a good vocabulary. Got it. No need to show off. 8:35 PM Dec 6th from web
10) (hugely subjective) If you’re writing prose poetry, can you sing it? Dance? Howl? Can’t? Re-write. Sing/howl/dance anew. 8:44 PM Dec 6th from web
11) Ennui is my day job. Not really interested in reading/publishing it once I clock out. 8:45 PM Dec 6th from web
12) Oh, for God’s sake. Using an online sub form? Make sure your email is right. Just got 3 delivery failure messages. 8:51 PM Dec 6th from web
For God’s sake again (not even labeling this a tip): First sentence, two typos. 8:52 PM Dec 6th from web
Also: I’d reject Steph Meyer a million times given the chance. And yet, she accounted for 16% of book sales last year, so what do I know? 8:56 PM Dec 6th from web
@shaindelr Absolutely. The painfully bad ones are easy. The good, but not good enough ones are brutal. 8:58 PM Dec 6th from web in reply to shaindelr
13) Not sure why, but re-imagined fairy tales almost never work. 9:21 PM Dec 6th from web
14) Ever notice that friends look bored when you talk about your adventures on drugs? Yeah. So do editors. 9:24 PM Dec 6th from web
@pankmagazine I think the good but not great may be more common than the obviously bad, in fact. 9:28 PM Dec 6th from web in reply to pankmagazine
The sad fact: when one reads 100 submissions and can only accept 1, one must read with an eye to rejecting, not accepting. Sorry. 9:36 PM Dec 6th from web