Comic Science Improv Is Building Momentum!


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It’s been a little while since I’ve written anything about Comic Science Improv, despite the fact that I’ve been meaning to.

Originally, I was going to maybe post about how we were on TV, and embed that video, but since then, we’ve launched our website, and you can see all of our media coverage there, along with some great videos and bios of our players and more.

Much more exciting is our last show, during which we packed the house at Acting Up! Academy where we perform on the first Friday of each month. In my seven years of doing improv with Face2Face and Comic Science, I’ve never seen a show with the attendance that we had earlier this month.

It’s very rewarding seeing people who had never been to an improv show a few months ago coming back to see us and bringing and referring their friends. It was so much fun watching them watch us, seeing how eager people were to give suggestions and how much they were enjoying the scenes.

But far more rewarding was watching the players. We’ve been through some transitions since we started a little over half a year ago, with some old Face2Face faces moving on and some new folks joining us, and it’s amazing seeing how this group has evolved into an amazing team. Everyone is doing incredible work, and is working together incredibly. I am so very proud of their performances, and love watching how much fun they’re having with each other.

We’ve got three shows coming up in March:

On Friday, March 1, we’ll be back at Acting Up! for our regular monthly show. It’ll be the last show there at our introductory price of $5 before a small increase next month. Kids 8 and under are free. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, March 16, we’ll be at Angel’s Island Coffee for a show starting at 7 p.m. Because of the smaller size of the venue, tickets will only be available online, so buy yours before it sells out.

On Wednesday, March 27, we’re going to be doing something a little different, participating in a multi-act comedy show at Crossroads in downtown Huntsville. A couple of clean stand-up comedians will open the show, and we’ll close it out. The show will start at 8 p.m.

Ticket information and venue directions are on our website.

Come join us, and we hope to see you soon!

Review — “Revealing Heaven” by John Price


Revealing Heaven

I’m going to start this review by mentioning that I received a free copy of “Revealing Heaven,” by John Price, for participating in the TLC Book Tours campaign for the book, in part to get the whole legal disclaimer thing out of the way, but also because the fact that this book came to me without me looking for it is relevant to what I got out of it.

The primary focus of the book deals with near-death experiences, how they relate to scripture, and what they say about God and heaven. Price, an Episcopal pastor and a hospital chaplain, has taken great interest in the subject, and in this book combines the results of both his readings and research on the subject and personal interviews he has conducted with those who say they have had near-death experiences.

I’ll be honest, I approached that primary focus with a large degree of skepticism. I have to admit that if you taken his explanations of his research as true, he makes a very convincing case. I also have to admit that I don’t have a strong counterargument to his conclusions. However, being honest, I don’t know that I’m ready to fully take the leap of accepting that his explanations and the stories he was told are infallible. The implications of the case he makes here would be huge, and it’s hard to fully understand how they could be true without having had that huge impact. However, I am forced to leave the book with a much more open mind on the subject, and imagine I’ll be paying it much closer attention in the future.

Equally intriguing to me was the meta-story of the book, a look at the reality of the modern church. Price began his career as a pastor not truly believing in heaven or an afterlife, and had been trained that way in seminary. It was interesting to discover new aspects of the diversity of the modern Christian church, and to read about large elements thereof that believe in a very mundane supernatural. On the other end of the spectrum, he recounts stories of pastors who lost their job because they stopped preaching an angry God in favor of a loving one. The book brings home just what a wide array of beliefs the word “Christian” covers.

I was particularly either challenged or encouraged by his final analysis — that the lesson to be learned through all of this is that, as scripture says, God is, quite literally, love. Challenging because I like his conclusion without necessarily being ready to fully buy into the math that got him there, encouraging because, as I said, this book found me at a time that it echoes a place my personal journey has been taking me.

Whether you agree with it or not, “Revealing Heaven” is a fascinating book with challenging ideas for those interesting in having their horizons broadened.

tlc tour host

Song Challenge Week 19 — A Song From Your Favorite Album


The latest entry in my 30 Day Song Challenge weekly project.


Song Challenge Week 19 — A Song From Your Favorite Album

“You Can Call Me Al,” Paul Simon

I’m sure I’ve written about it here before, but I don’t do favorites.

What’s my favorite color? Well, am I wanting to color grass or the sky? What’s my favorite ice cream? What do you have I haven’t tried yet?

But my favorite album? If I were answering that from scratch today, I’d probably take that same sort of attitude. But I’m not, because I locked this one in before I became so hipster.

Back in high school, Paul Simon’s Graceland became my favorite album, and it’s remained such ever since. The impressive part, for me, is that it’s remained so not purely because it was locked in, but because I’ve enjoyed it more and differently as I’ve aged. My love for different songs has ebbed and flowed as the years have passed.

Some of that’s been for literal reasons — I’d never been to the Mississippi Delta the first time I heard about it shining like a National guitar, but went on to spend years there, nor had I stood on a corner in Lafayette, state of Louisiana the first time I heard the song, years before I was engaged to a girl from there.

Some of it’s been a little more general; the themes of aging and relationships and the world we live in speak to me differently as I get further into my life.

Almost twenty years later, these are still days of miracle and wonder.

Rambling “Review” — Burger King Cheesy Tots


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This is less a food review than it is a sad look into the mind of someone who overthinks things way too much.

So Burger King has cheesy tots. I heard this, and wanted some. So I ate some.

When I got there, they had a picture of them on the sign out front. And they weren’t at all what I was imagining.

I was picturing regular tater tots, but with cheese in them. The things in the picture were bigger, and looked cheesier. At this point, I’m picturing some sort of tot that’s got potato filled with tasty, gooey pockets of cheese.

And then I get them. And it’s basically regular tater tots, but with cheese in them. Yes, they’re bigger than regular tater tots, but the difference in size doesn’t reflect a real difference in substance. You can taste the cheese, but it’s not the gooey pockets of cheese I was envisioning.

So they’re fine, but I’m a little disappointed. I wanted gooey cheesiness, and didn’t get it. On a technical note, I think a different cheese might also have made them better, but that’s just me.

But again, that’s not a criticism. ‘Cause then I’m reevaluating, what if I’d heard about them, but hadn’t seen the picture on the drive-through sign. At that point, they pretty much would have met my expectations, and I would have liked them just fine.

And then I’m telling someone about them, and I’m having to do the whole story — what I expected, how my expectations were changed, and how my opinion was colored by both sets of expectations, and that’s when I realized that, to be as navel-gazing as possible, I should write a blog post about talking about how Burger King’s cheese tots measured up to what I thought they should and could be.

Point being, they’re not bad. Try ’em. They could be better with more and different cheese, though.

And as a bonus for reading this far — the Avocado Whopper is pretty good. The Philly Chicken Sandwich is lackluster. The fudge bites ain’t bad at all.

Mars Rocket Yadda Yadda Horses’ Butts


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According to an old story that’s circulated the internet for years, the dimensions of the space shuttle’s solid rocket boosters were prescribed by the width of a horse’s rear end.

The story goes from Roman chariots that were made wide enough to accommodate the back end of two war horses to British roads that were built for those chariots and ended up with ruts where their wheels were to Engish wagons that were built wide enough to fit those ruts to trains that were built from the jigs and toolings for those wagon and thus U.S. railroads were all built to the width of a Roman chariot and thus based on the width of two horse’s butts. And then it takes it a step farther to the fact that the shuttle solid rocket boosters were designed to be transported via rail and thus had to fit through a railway tunnel determined by the width of a  train and thus, yadda yadda, horses.

The particulars of the story get some stuff wrong. U.S. railways didn’t originally have a standard gauge, and were built to a variety of widths before being standardized, so there was no particular magic number that they had to be. On the other hand, it’s also worth noting that the original railroad cars were horse-drawn, so there was a more direct connection between the widths of train tracks and horses, so there is some basic truth to the story, even if the particulars aren’t exactly right.

I was thinking about this story again recently because of interesting fact I learned about the Space Launch System rocket I’m honored to support.

The core stage of SLS is 27.6 feet in diameter, because it’s designed to have the same diameter as the space shuttle’s external tank in order to more effectively take advantage of existing manufacturing and launch facilities. We were talking about that at work, and the question came up as to why the shuttle’s external tank had that diameter. We suspected at first it, in turn, had something to do with the facilities left over from the Saturn days, but weren’t able to find the answer anyway.

So I called someone I know who worked on the external tank, and asked him. And the answer has to do with the fact that the shuttle’s solid rocket boosters were to be mounted to the side of the external tank. Given the volatility of the fuels inside the tank, you wanted the attach points to be somewhere on the structure off of the fuel tanks inside it. The length of the solid rocket booster had already been established, and that determined what the length of the external tank would need to be to properly accommodate the attach points. The engineers knew what the volume of the tank had to be in order to hold enough fuel for launch, so once the length was established, the diameter was just a question of division.

Which means that the next time astronauts fly around the moon, they’ll be launched on a vehicle with a diameter determined loosely by the width of horses’ butts.

Good Lord Willing


There’s wisdom, and then there’s wisdom.

Back when I was working for Cottage Senior Living, I had the chance to interview a guy who was living at The Commons, the 55+ active-adult apartment community.

And while the gentlemen, Bill, was definitely in the 55+ category, he was also definitely in the active-adult category as well. Most notably, several years back, he had started skydiving for his birthday every five years. Most recently, he had jumped a couple of years ago for his 80th.

There were plenty more interesting parts to Bill’s story, like how he had built his own airplane or had the chance to fly a helicopter, and it made for a really good story for capturing the sort of people that might be interested in The Commons.

But as much as I loved meeting Bill and want to be like him when I grow up and loved his story professionally, the thing that really stuck with me was a story he told about his late wife.

One on of his skydiving adventures, he asked his wife to join him, and she agreed. She got all sorts of questions, he said, about whether she was too old and so forth.

What if something happens to you, people would ask her.

To which she would reply, “If that’s the way the Lord wants me to die, I’d better get up there and do it.”

Amen.

You’re The Reason For the Grease Drops On My Guitar


Since starting this blog over four years ago, I’ve dealt with any number of important topics — space, religion, improv, relationships, etc.

And, of course, from near the beginning, dumb Taylor Swift lyrics.

I mean, Taylor’s talented for what she does and all, but there are sometimes that I just don’t think what she’s saying is what she’s trying to say. And while I’m not like the world’s biggest Taylor Swift fan or anything, it’s kind of hard to avoid hearing her songs, and there are lines that just can’t help eliciting a “huh?”

For example, not long after I started the blog, there was the post about how the guy was Romeo and she was a scarlet letter. Huh? I mean, yay literature and all, but what is that supposed to mean?

And then there was the one where she was talking to a guy on the phone at night, and so he was talking real slow ’cause it’s late and his momma can’t know. Huh? “Slow”? He’s on the telephone, and his mom’s there, but if he talks really slowly she won’t be able to figure out what’s going on? “That sounds like my son talking, but people don’t talk that slow”? Is that really what you’re aiming for?

So I’m in the car the other day, and I’m flipping stations, and here’s Taylor singing about how she knew some guy was trouble when he walked in. Which is fine and all. But then she keeps singing, and she’s talking about how “a new notch in your belt is all I’ll ever be.” Now, I’m familiar with the concept of someone being another notch in a bedpost, but in a belt? Don’t you put another notch in a belt to either let it out or take it in?

So, um, this is a song about how … Taylor Swift caused a guy … to lose weight? Or gain weight, maybe? Huh? Again, is that really the intent here?

“I knew you had burgers when you walked in…”