Posts from April 2013

Friday, 19 April 2013

Science is the Best Thing Ever: Wet Washcloths in Space

If you have a wet washcloth here on el planeta Tierra and you want to get rid of a lot of the moisture in a very short amount of time, you can simply wring it and much of the water will drip away.

But have you ever wondered what would happen if you did that in a microgravity environment? WHO HASN’T!?

Well, a couple of Canadian high school students wondered. And so they asked the Canadian Space Agency, which asked Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who is currently aboard the International Space Station. And here’s what happened:



Chris Hadfield, by the way, is one of the coolest astronauts around right now. This isn’t the first question he’s answered via YouTube. He periodically uploads answers to various questions as part of’s YouTube Channel. Scroll through and you’ll see some here and there among the uploads. WATCH ALL OF THEM.

He also has an excellent twitter feed that he uses live from the ISS. Because SCIENCE IS THE BEST THING EVER. He periodically tweets photos of some amazing things. Like this:

So all y’all twitterers should probably follow him. Because SCIENCE IS THE BEST THING EVER.

Categories: Science, Videos.

Monday, 15 April 2013

“Of the Month” April 2013

Link of the Month:
My Birthday Wish List!
My birthday is next month. Just sayin’. Y’know. *Cough*

Album of the Month:
Nanobots Nanobots by They Might Be Giants
Still as prolific as ever, They Might Be Giants have put out another “adult” album. This one has one of the strongest starts of any album; the series of the first nine songs is absolutely top-notch. That might seem like a lot of songs; many albums only have 10-12 songs total. This is They Might Be Giants, though, so there are actually about 25 songs on the album. The middle section flounders a bit, with a series of short songs that aren’t quite self-contained, but aren’t quite in the “Fingertips” style. The final stretch is much stronger, with songs like “Replicants” and “Icky.” It’s one of the better “adult” efforts by TMBG in the 21st Century.

Movie of the Month:
Everything or Nothing Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of James Bond
A fascinating documentary that chronicles the behind-the-scenes, making-of antics of the James Bond series, including Ian Fleming himself, Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, the undying specter of Kevin McClory, George Lazenby’s insane meltdown, the bizarre twist that kept Pierce Brosnan from becoming Bond for almost 10 years, and much more. This documentary has a trick of inserting footage from the Bond films when talking about real-world events. For example, when talking about the lawyers getting involved in the Broccoli/Saltzman turmoil it intercuts with Bond footage of various boardroom meetings and people passing papers around. It’s a very clever technique. I knew most of the information contained in this documentary already, but seeing it all in one place in chronological order is a treat. Plus, this has perhaps the greatest opening of any Bond movie ever: the six-gun sniper shot. So badass. You’ll see.

Categories: Of the Month.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Fools Play Improv’s 20th Anniversary Special

It was… special.

Last Saturday, April 6th, something pretty spectacular happened. Fools Play Improv celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary. Now, how did we come up with that math? Because that’s when Me, Mike, Ed, Geoff, and Josh first got on stage. Sure, we weren’t Fools Play at that time. We joined another troupe. But the five of us getting up on stage was the beginning of our improv career.

And that was in April of 1993. Hence 20 years.

We’ve known for a long time that the 20th anniversary was coming, and we knew we wanted it to be somehow special. Not a bullshit “special” like most of our anniversary specials have been, but an actually-special special. And we figured one of the best ways to honor the last 20 years of improv was to include for reals as much of that history into the show as possible.

And so we reached out to performers who had been on stage with us at at all points in the last 20 years and asked them if they could come re-join us for one special night. And many did.

But that wasn’t special enough! Oh, no! Not nearly! We also reached out to past (and many lapsed) and present audience members, especially ones who had seen us at more than one venue, and asked if they could participate in the show as well. But not as performers. How, you ask? As interviewees for a set of “documentaries” that we produced about Fools Play, and aired live during the show.

Here’s the documentary that opened the night: The Story of Fools Play. I’ll let it speak for itself:

And that’s how the last 20 years happened.

The 2nd documentary was about all the colored-shirt Fools, and you can watch that one here:

It was an incredible night. I was surrounded by friends and people I love, both up on stage and in the audience. An audience that was so packed that we ran WAY out of chairs, and we may have exceeded the legal, fire-code limit of the building (I’m not saying that we did… but…). Just take a look:


But the most special moment of the night for me came at the very end. You see, Fools Play has been around as an entity for 20 years, yes. But not everyone has been in Fools Play for all those 20 years. Josh split off with Joel to form their own troupe over a decade ago. Ed retired a few years back. Geoff took a hiatus one year to go to China, and now only performs part-time. Mike took an entire year hiatus to go to film school. So even though Fools Play has been around for 20 years, nobody has actually been in Fools Play for all 20 of those years…

Except for me.

That’s right: I am the only Fool who has never taken an extended hiatus or retired in all those 20 years. Sure I’ve missed plenty of shows here and there (probably more than 200 missed shows total), but the only break I took was when I was hospitalized for three weeks and the recovery afterwards… during which time I still performed in a show by phone, so that was more like taking sick days than it was taking a hiatus!

So I knew that this fact was going to be acknowledged. In fact we had a bit planned where the Whales would come interrupt our show and complain that none of us had been there for the full 20 years, and then my puppet “You” would show up and explain that I had! And that happened. But then something surprising happened after that.

My brother brought out a box and from it drew forth an award. An actual award that had been made just for me… and it lights up!

20 Years Full Time Performing

20 Years Full Time Performing

And then the over-packed audience full of friends and loved ones gave me a for-real standing ovation. Holy crap:

It was a very moving moment. I gave a speech. A surprisingly, honestly heartfelt speech! I transcribe it for you here:

Me: This is really awesome.

A lot of people have asked me over the years why I’ve done this every saturday night for more than half my life. I don’t know what idiot put a 15 year old kid on stage, but I think he’s somewhere around…

Ed: [Pointing at Howard] He’s here…

Me: He’s here! But I am eternally grateful.

Y’know, there’s many other things that potentially one could do on a Saturday night. But I don’t know why. Because this is, look around here. I met my wife by doing Fools Play. This audience is full of my friends and loved ones, and it’s just an amazing thing.

And, uh, this is actually heartfelt. Weird.

But it’s more than just a social thing for me. I heard a long time ago, I don’t remember who said it, but there’s a phrase that goes, “Happiness is an organism doing its intended purpose efficiently.” And I’m one of those rare people who know, I know what makes me happy.

What makes me happy is entertaining people.

Whether, you know, I have a blog that I update every once in a while. I write music. But Fools Play is so immediate. I get up on a stage in front of people and make them laugh. And it’s a huge, huge source of happiness for me.

And that’s really the reason that I’ve been doing this for 20 years, is because Fools Play is happiness for me. And I don’t see why it’s weird to do that for 20 years.

Mike: So chris, would you say that fools play for 20 years, that just isn’t weird?

Me: [In Weird’s voice] “That’s not weird.”

So I just want to express my unbelievable gratitude to Fools Play for allowing me to do this for so long. And [to the audience] thank you for allowing me to be happy.

Thank you.

I of course said all of that while a puppet was on my hand. And, yes, I got a plug for this blog in the speech 🙂

Seriously, I cannot truly express how grateful I am to have been able to do Fools Play for the past 20 years. Here’s to 20 more.

So that happened.

Categories: Fools Play, Life, Videos.