Outside the Window: A Noisy Review

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. What happens in my alley, is noticed and dictated by me.

It is très enlightening living on the first floor of an apartment when only a headboard and cracked window separate my ears from the nonsense that happens outside. One of the featured pedestrians traveling through is nicknamed “Drunk Mike” but could be described as “Coked Mike,” “Trippin’ Mike,” or “Angrily Sober Mike.” He’s actually just as fun as a barrel of monkeys. No more, no less.

I initially used earplugs when I moved here. Living with my fraternity taught me that such implements are invaluable. Once I lost my last pair, I realized I had robbed myself of the thinly-shielded traveling circus right outside. Sure, anyone who lives near constant foot traffic (and within vicinity of several bars) will find plenty of nonsense at night.

Of course, most of this happens during the day. Even “Drunk Mike.”

As a heads-up, I’ve seen none of this. All of this evidence is auditory. The main downside of this first-floor living is the constant need to keep the blinds drawn. Don’t ask, maybe tell.

  • My cat is a dedicated percussion teacher.

Oh, did that seem like a non sequitur? Lemme elaborate.

There is a child who has apparently scheduled drum lessons with my feline roommate. At least once a week at the approximate time of 5 PM, there comes a tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at my side window. Except “gently” isn’t the descriptor I’d use. “Spastic,” maybe. As my cat mews while on the window sill, this child does his best spastic Neil Peart impression against a material not meant for constant pounding. Insert your favorite sexual joke here. Heh. “Insert.”

Imagine this:

Only more like this:

Except constant and accompanied by a squealing child whose only word ever learned was “KITTY!!!” Y’know, like Boo from Monsters, Inc., sans any level of cuteness.

Also, I have no idea what “slaping” is.

  • Drunk Mike doesn’t intend to catch my attention through spontaneous drum solos.

No, he usually unintentionally does it via profanity, phone sex, and a laugh that no adult man (or possibly ANY human) should have. Like so:

Not even zombie George Carlin telling his best stuff could elicit such giggles from me. And I’m a man who inadvertently lets loose a titter every now and then. Not proud of it, but I’m humble enough to admit that I may be part girl.

  • Recently, this exchange woke me abruptly:

what


WHAT.

WHAT.

 WHAT.

WHAT!

WHAT!

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!

This kept building and building as the two curious men walked closer to my bedroom window. To this day, I can only wonder what their question was about. Were they philosophers, trying to break new boundaries on the art? Did they intend to repeat the word until it lost all meaning? Perhaps they were trying to jog their brains on the following lyrics of the hit song “What What (In Your Butt)” as they concluded their eve?

Personally, I believe the rest of the question should’ve been “are we doing shouting nonsense at the top of our lungs at 4 in the morning?!”

Coming up: summing up!

Entertainment Value: B. The daytime quirks can be enjoyed. At night, I prefer my dreams. Keep up with the matinees, and I’ll keep tuning in.

Musical Talent: 2/10. Though our little drummer boy has enthusiasm, I worry his talent is merely a lack of Ritalin. Our two philosophers have chemistry that likely permeates in the band, but their vocal style would fit in bands you never want to listen to.

Drunk Mike: Magnificent. His laughter endears. His substance abuse evokes tears. His phone sex creates fears. A wonderful creature.

There’s a reason I cancelled my cable. And it is definitely…well, not this. It’s because it was not worth the bill.

HINT: Playing both the Neil Peart and giggle videos simultaneously is pretty fun. Is this how Girl Talk figures things out?

Halvin and Cobbes: Profiting Sans Permission; the Review!

When you look back at your childhood, what do you see as a formative influence: your parents, teachers, coaches, friends, siblings, or unrelated mentors? Was your imagination an amorphous beast of ever-changing ideas and possibilities, or did you hone in on one train of thought and rode it until the end of the line?

The question implies you’ve left childhood behind you. Some of us, though we’re taxpayers and job-havers, have not. As a 26-year-old “adult,” I still harbor such a potent imagination. I go to bed with fluctuating story lines and intents flowing through my head. In all truth, I blame this on my main influence: a 6-year-old philosophical hooligan and his almost-Schroedingeresque tiger friend. That’s right; I was raised by Calvin & Hobbes.

Don’t get me wrong; my parents, teachers, etc. did a fine* job raising me. Luckily, both Calvin’s dad and mine shared several similarities. I often wonder if my dad would read the funnies before me just to get ideas on how to answer my childish curiosities that day. Despite knowing the science behind the mechanism, I still hold true that little men open the garage door.

Calvin (at least his eponymous strip) was born a mere 15 days before I was. And, like the spikey-haired (when not on the business end of an amateur barber tiger) rapscallion, I hold true that much me hasn’t aged. Maybe these similarities are strictly self-observed, but I’ve always felt a connection with a fictional character wise beyond his years and stupid for his age.

I had a Calvin & Hobbes shirt when I was younger with the two characters sharing a hug on the front. It was pink. The entire thing screamed “GIRL,” and it was still my favorite shirt. Not until adulthood did I find out that Bill Watterson, the hermit-like brilliance behind the comic, was strictly against merchandising his characters. Though there was one official C&H shirt made for the Museum of Modern Art, mine was not that.

Is that wrong? We see unlicensed material constantly around the internet. Many of us would snatch up merchandise featuring mash-ups of pop culture without blinking an eye at the legality or morality of the situation. But I feel there is a level of cheapness when it comes to some of this, and that’s where we get into the review.

A while back, my friend shot me a text with another friend in a t-shirt featuring the following image:

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“Chewie and Han” by Zomboy

It was glorious. Star Wars combined with Calvin & Hobbes was a geek’s dream. The brash, intense human with a more level-headed and potentially violent, large, furry friend. Seemed like a stellar (pun suddenly intended) match.

And then the internet changed my mind.

PhotobucketThese are several other images you can attribute to Zomboy. I’m not sure if this is something that falls under copyright, but it definitely falls under both copywrong and copytoomuch.

From top to bottom, you have references to The Big Bang Theory, Batman, Entourage, and Ghostbusters. These are four images with the same exact layout, very similar faces, and pairings that make little to zero sense. There are several other “designs” by him that follow the exact same format, but you’ll pardon me for sparing you both the link to his store and the infuriating pictures.

My basis for thumbs up or down regarding these relates to the actual relationship of the characters this “artwork” of which it’s based. Also, don’t mind my constant use of quotes, but I guess the artist’s version of hitting ctrl+c and ctrl+v doesn’t exactly tickle my inner Picasso.

I’ve not watched much of The Big Bang Theory on account of Community being just fantastic and that I despise laugh tracks, but was Hobbes an annoying know-it-all and Calvin the one who gets the girl, or were those somewhat reversed in the comic? Did Robin ever get to drive the Batmobile, and wasn’t Calvin the superhero? Did Calvin’s Duplicator cause him to change appearances and sprout a douchey beard while turning Hobbes into two unappealing humans**? Why the hell is the ghost from the logo riding backseat with…I don’t even know which Ghosbuster that’s supposed to be.

The connections made in these and Zomboy’s other “work” don’t make sense to be as a Calvin & Hobbes fan, and that’s what I like about mash-ups. The fact that this person is charging $28.63 a shirt on Redbubble is maddening. Maybe the website takes a large cut. Maybe Zomboy should physically take a large cut with a broken piece of glass. Maybe that’s unfair of me to say and an extremely unbalanced reaction to someone who thought it would be cute to make twelve of these shirts. Maybe it’s unfair to Bill Watterson to make even one penny off bastardizing his work in a way that barely pays homage to the original. Maybe.

There are a few exceptions, as there are with any dislike (not a massive rap fan, but I do enjoy MC Frontalot…which, y’know, makes sense).

BoinkPhotobucket

By Ninjaink (and via here), these two renditions offer some resemblance to C&H continuity, which is apparently good enough for someone as fired-up as me. The way the symbiote (yes, I know it’s not Venom, you fanboys) is pouncing Peter/Spider-Man akin to Hobbes jumping Calvin creates a geeksplosion that only the hardiest of Lysols could clean up. Similarly, the parallels between the clone saga and Calvin’s Duplicator is pretty darn neat and at least tries to make the two different universes connect to an extent (unlike a Calvin-Wayne driving the Garth-Hobbes mobile, an .jpg I shan’t link).

Ratings! Wheeeee!

Creativity: Little out of Much. The usage of an unlicensed Calvin is not uncommon. Anyone who’s driven behind a pickup truck can tell you that. It all differs on what Calvin is actually pissing on (and apparently who he’s actually pissing off). The idea of making money off property that isn’t inherently yours is even more routine. You have a glimpse for why I specifically chose unlicensed Calvin & Hobbes merchandise. Looking at both Zomboy’s cookie cutter concepts and Ninjaink’s relevant representations, they both violate the ideals of Mr. Watterson, and that lacks creativity when using others’ concepts for your own monetary benefit.

Price: No Thanks out of 5 Thanks. $28.63 for a t-shirt is too much. For any t-shirt. Ever. That print better be made of either gold or Reese’s Cups, because I’m not laying my wallet out for it otherwise.

Source: Stupendous! out of Tiger, Ferocity of! I love Calvin & Hobbes & the whole gang. You should, too.

So please, if you’re going to try and make money off someone else’s work, do it with some kind of originality tied in with the source. Otherwise, Get Rid of Stupid t-shirtS.

-GO HOME.

*Extremely debatable.
**I’ll be honest. Never watched Entourage. Never wanted to. Is “douchey” a proper adjective for the characters? Is it even more pertinent for the viewers? Aw…mean.

Auditioning on Both Sides: A Revue Review

I love theatre. That’s the plain and simple of it. Sure, I haven’t seen a show in ages, nor have I been on stage for a year. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I always/never say! To that point, theatre is how I grew into the person I am today. And genetics. Theatre didn’t cause me to be the short one of my family. Instead, it allowed me to flourish socially, thrive imaginatively, instill leadership and teamwork qualities, and convincingly lie about the three previous points.

Why would I review auditioning, though? It’s a process that varies from company to company; a fluid process that is based in subjectivity no matter how hard we pretend it doesn’t.

Because I’ll review ANYTHING. Thought that was clear.

Auditioning may be the most integral part of a theatrical performance. Auditions can make or break a show. For those who have never tried out for any sort of performance, imagine this: you’re interviewing for a job, except the competition is in the boss’s office with you. Instead of waiting to see whether or not you were hired on a solo basis, you get to see a list with that douche Shawn listed under the part of “Vice President of Marketing” that you so coveted. Apologies to all non-douche Shawns out there, however few you may be.

As someone who has spent a solid amount of time on both ends of the casting process, I will try to look at this with a completely biased standpoint and little-to-no objectivity. At least I’m honest about that.

A director or producer may choose a production staff based off their collective portfolio of work, but an audition is meant to be the total and ultimate judgment of an actor. Yes, many directors will ask for a resumé of work, but the most experienced actor could phone in his/her tryout and lose the part to a less experienced performer who brings everything to the table on his/her first go.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Favoritism and familiarity creep all too often into the audition process. As an actor, this has both helped and hurt my chances. I was a very hard working performer who functioned well with both staff and cast, but I’ve had poor previous auditions which led directors to view me as less skilled right when I walked into a subsequent tryout. First impressions definitely count, even if they happened months ago as you were forming a better impression through those months. Sound more petty than the leader of the Heartbreakers? Admittedly so. While I would never show it, I will harbor curiosities and form my own conclusions on why I was cast as a certain part, or if I wasn’t cast at all.

This has allowed me a better perspective as a director in the middle of casting. Of course, I fall into bouts of favoritism, as well. Like many situations, the worst thing to happen between someone of authority and those who follow him/her is social media. Facebook/Twitter/etc. have led to unoccupationings thanks to disgruntled employees voicing their opinions under the auspices of free speech. Hey, people, guess what? You can’t badmouth your employer! Same goes for your director/show, especially if you want a chance at a better part with the same company down the road.

I’ve seen several pissy responses to cast lists via social media. Particularly, Facebook has brought such truth to the phrase “there are no small parts; just small people.” As a director, I am a massive fan of actors like me: withhold your opinions on your part, be humble, and rehearse/perform to the best of your ability. Posting “Ughhhhh, cant B-LIEVE thissss!!! Nvr tryin out AGAIN!!! This iz da worst day ever…:'( FML” will always show me that casting you in your part was the right decision.Being overly dramatic in real life does not showcase your actual acting talent. Forge a stage presence, memorize your monologue, and sell it. THEN I’ll strongly consider you.

Until then, you think you come off as:

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When the actuality is I see you as:

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Except I WISH you had the ability to fake tears instead of just a whiny voice.

And yes, I’m well aware that those Facebook posts generally avoid proper capitalization, but I can only handle so much improper typing from these finger-digits.

Auditions are hard on both sides of the coin. It sucks that you can’t always get the part you want, and it blows that you can’t put all the worthwhile actors into their preferred parts. I’ve come to the realization that I will never be cast as my dream part of Cyrano (because I’m too damn beautiful), and I’m well aware that I could never cast all those who want to be Cyrano (because I’m too damn beautiful AND the director, and that’s just a douche move).

So let’s sum up the experience in three handy points of judgement.

Difficulty: 9/10 as an Actor, 7/10 as a Director. For the actor, some shows don’t even call for your gender/age/size range. It’s possible that shows which have a role for you are precast for that part (something I will never be a fan of as a director). Not only do you have to find a show where you can actually audition, but you have to compete against dozens to hundreds of others by being memorable, talented, and hardworking. As a director, you might have to pick from the best amongst the best or the worst amongst the worst. Those are situations you don’t want to toy with, but they are possible. All you can hope for is that everyone who auditions fits a part perfectly, and essentially let the casting play out splendidly.

That doesn’t happen.

Cringe-itude: B for Actors, A+++++ for Directors. As an actor, you get to see some monologues/cold readings that make you squirm. Then you get to see the cast list which show that the actor who made your skin crawl got the part for which you vied. FAVORITISM!! As a director, think back to the time that you actually watched American Idol. Then think of the really bad auditions. Then imagine that you have to say nice things to William Hung because you don’t want to see like a jerk. Then realize that William Hung would be more convincing as a strong supporting character than many of the other schlubs trying out. Then buy yourself a fifth of scotch and sip generously.

Necessity: 99.9%. The leftover .1% is if you, as an actor, know the director and are confronted for a specific part with the audition being just a formality. The director’s .1% is if you are casting your friends. Don’t cast your friends. Well, unless they are fantastic performers. In that case, just start your own company and invite me along so I can get some experience. I can be a good friend! You already know I won’t badmouth you on Facebook or Twitter!

Just…don’t check back here. Take my word that I will never* say anything bad about you on here.

-And, um…well. That’s that.

*spamodically

Pre-Review Review: Pretty Sure There’s a Better Word for That

I have a problem.

Everything.

Well, okay, it’s not quite like that. I enjoy many things. I loathe many others. In essence, I feel strongly toward 150% of everything out there. My passion defies mathematical boundaries. Yes, there are ideas and objects that are beyond materialization that draw my ire/praise.

That guy that has a comment for every situation who thinks himself as the height of hilarity: he has two thumbs and is me. The two thumbs comment? Just figured you might want anatomical clarification. But me? I’m not the jerk who spews remarks consistently when inappropriate related to the time and place. Well, most the time. Well, at least a bit.

Look, I’m not here to crack wise and critique at a funeral. At least not loudly. Well, at least your deafer relatives won’t hear. I mean, it’s not like they react when they do hear me, right? I may be the only person whom A) is asked to RSVP to funerals and B) is told the cemetery is at capacity, and I should offer my sympathies in the privacy of my home.

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Also, sorry for the meme. I’ll get maintenance to take care of that.

For those who don’t actually know me, no, I’m not THAT big of a jackass. I do have smartassery furled in a bag ready for unleashing. But there are those moments that seem pointless on which to comment. There are services, products, and situations out there that don’t seem worthwhile to critique.

That’s what I’m here for. Also, to make up words and end sentences prepositionally* with.

“Cleverything” is my way to comment on anything and everything. A bottle of wine? Sure, I’ll criticize that. The concept of time? Let’s see the pros and cons of that. The effect of my current deodorant? Grosser, but just as equally interpretable.

Each post will be lined with notions relating to the ups, down, and middles for whatever I’m poking. I’ll sum each object/idea/whatever with a three-point reviewing system.

Let’s start with this post!

Readability: Passable. While the words are technically English, this post could be read as if a comprehensible idea was offered a 3-day, all expenses paid vacation in a sheisty blender and had to stay an extra night because bad weather prevented the plane’s takeoff.

Humor: B-. Were I to be purely biased, then I would rate this as “A++++++++!!! WOULD READ AGAIN,” but I will be the first to admit that I have no idea what audience I’m writing this for. Also, I’d be the last to admit it since I’m the only one writing here.

Purpose: 1 of 5. Or 5 of 5. It’s the internet: what’s the point in any of it? Cats and porn, right? Also, cliché comments about cats and porn.

I figure that this is a pretty easy relationship; I write, you read, you vomit, I judge the projection/consistency/odor of said vomit, I make that a new post, rinse, repeat, and physically rinse up the puke.

Let me point out one eeeeensy little thing: I am in no way, shape, or form an expert on what I expect will be a majority of my discussions. What I am a master of is one thing: passion. Well, two things: passion and gum. Actually, thr…y’know what? Nevermind. The point is: I will write, prod at, and relay everything in terms of my own knowledge with a little help from proper sources. I’d likely not write about it if I didn’t feel strongly one way or another.

And, class, if you were paying attention…that would be 150% of everything.

-And, um…well. That’s that.

*Except “prepositionally” is apparently a word. Thanks, spellcheck!