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Monday, July 20, 2009

"Oh my god! I have to get to a cave RIGHT NOW!"

Please watch the short snippet above from that excellent film, Better Off Dead, and then I'll take it from there.

Why is this quote relevant? Why is Lane's freak-out involving his upcoming race with Stalin the headline of this post?

Because I'm freakin' out man!

No, I'm not racing Stalin tomorrow. I don't even have a pair of skis. And while there are no shortage of caves in New Zealand, I am not so desperate as to be searching for one to hermit myself away in. Yet.

But watch this space. Why? Because tonight, after going out on the town to support some friends doing stand-up comedy (and good shows tonight Woody, Robbie and Nat), I somehow managed to volunteer myself to do a set in an upcoming "Raw Meat Monday". And I hadn't even been drinking!

Oh sure, I've toyed with the idea of trying my hand at a bit of stand-up comedy one day. One day. You know, far off in the future. Preferably via telecast from beyond the grave, so if I bomb I'll be dead and won't really care. But even then...

Seriously! Do you want your first act in the afterlife to be a case of serious flop sweat? I don't know where I'm going after this world, but I'm sure there will be crickets! And they can chirp just as loudly as here!

Ah, what am I saying. Probably everybody who's done stand-up before had felt this way right after agreeing or deciding to try it. It's only natural to feel this anxiety. I admit, there is a bit of a rush in there. Somewhere in there, mixed in with the stark terror.

But the crowds here in Wellington are very supportive and this particular scenario, the Raw Meat Monday format, as off-putting as it sounds is really the perfect time and place for anyone who has ever wanted to try stand-up to finally get off their duff and do it.

Yes, when you've finally completely lost your mind, and decided you'd like to single-handedly entertain a room fool of strangers with your own personal brand of comedy, well then Raw Meat Mondays is the place for you!

No really I am looking forward to this. I was going to get up there and try it once for sure, I just wasn't sure when. So when Derek fixed me with his imploring gaze this evening after the show and kept repeating, "So can I pencil you in for the 31st?", I just couldn't say no. Well, I did say no. Like five times at least. But I finally caved.

Haha, 'cave', get it? No?


Anyways, I'm glad I did! I guess I'm enough of a stage hog that the concept of improvised comedy wasn't enough so I decided to get all greedy and book myself for some stand-up comedy as well. Lots of friends of mine in W.I.T. perform stand-up so I'll be turning to them for advice and asking them to come support me.

But I'll be asking them to leave any and all recording devices at home.

See you on the night of Monday, August 31st Wellington!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All Moggies Great and Small

While I sit here and recover from the swine flu, I finally have no excuse to keep procrastinating regarding my blog. In the three months since I last wrote, I've been busy doing stuff, mainly things with W.I.T. I am happy to say. The most exciting thing there is our second annual New Zealand Improvisation Festival, which this year is taking place in early October. We'll host the Con Artists from Auckland, the Court Jesters from Christchurch, our neighbours The Improvisors from right here in Wellington, and - making this an international affair for the first time - some crew from Impro Melbourne. This will include a workshop run by Patti Stiles, the Artistic Director for Impro Melbourne.

What should coincide with the Festival is the unveiling of our new website, which is currently being overhauled. This is a project being spearheaded by our new Secretary, Jen Mason, and from what she's told us, our new presence on the web sounds like it will be really exciting.

There is also a good chance I'll be performing in my first W.I.T. show either next month or in September, so I'm looking forward to that. We are having two months of Micetro-style shows, an improvised comedy format that is friendly to beginners like me. I'm also working on developing a format of my own, and hope to finish the details soon and take it to Tuesday Training one week and foist it upon my unsuspecting impro comrades!

What I've been wanting to post about lately, though, isn't impro-related. It's more in the vein of a James Herriot-style story - or rather, stories - that have been happening here in Aotearoa these past few months. Periodically I like to try my hand at writing about cats or dogs I've seen in the past and the amazing things that they get up to, just as our dear departed Mr. Herriot once did. However, these four stories all wrote themselves and don't require any sort of re-telling from me.

OK they were written by professional journalists and I can't tell them better than they've already been told, so I'll just point you in the direction of the stories. They all involve cats in New Zealand and these stories actually got on or near the front page of the newspaper on the day they were published. I found it heartening and amusing to read about New Zealanders' pet moggies on the front page instead of the usual doom and gloom that greets me there.

I'll post a link to the story, then offer my own comments after that link (assuming you'll want to folow the link - go on, the stories are quite short!). Please feel free to chime in by commenting on this post, and at the very least I hope these stories make you laugh as much as I did. The last one is kinda creepy, but in a very cool way, and is funny in its own right as well.

1. Owner struggles to solve Rubiks' cruise

This is one of those stories that makes you laugh and also makes you cringe. He's certainly an intrepid little cat, this Rubiks, and he's getting the utmost out of his outdoor existence. Yet you do worry about a cat that likes to wander so much, especially as the traffic in the areas he's chosen to visit can literally be murder for a cat.

But what really floored me is that this cat made it all the way to the Hutt Valley! Between Mt. Cook in Wellington (lower left on the map), where he began his sojourn, to the Hutt Valley (upper right of the map) where he was found is basically all motorway. Check it out:

View Larger Map

There's hardly any room at all for a little cat there, and certainly very off-putting to any would-be travelers who'd dare come this way. Between the high-speed motorway and the waters of the harbour (which splash very close to the road) is a railway, so it's a very daunting prospect indeed. My guess is he made his travels well after midnight, when the trains weren't running and the traffic was next to nil. Cats are nocturnal anyways, so this fits his modus operandi quite well.

Unfortunately, I wasn't called in on the case to question Rubiks, so we may never know the hows and whys of his errant ways. At least, for now, he's back patrolling his home territory, although I'd be a fool if I thought this most recent trip of his was his final one, if not his greatest. It has been over three months since the story broke, so in all likelihood he's wandered off somewhere again!

2. Would-be stowaway saved by a whisker

This story about Dr. Chicken the cat (can Kiwis come up with great cat names or what!) is another heartwarming one. This kitty definitely dodged a bullet, and while I've heard of animals surviving very long periods of time without food and water, I'm not so sure Dr. Chicken would have survived 8 days in a shipping container. Unless, like Tom Hanks' blind luck in the movie Castaway, Dr. Chicken happened to be fortuitously stowed away in a shipping container filled with cat food, a leaky water bottle, and a volleyball (everybody needs a Wilson), she was going to probably have spent all 9 of her lives right there.

But I really like how the shipping container company was sincerely and immediately helpful, especially given how daunting the task was of finding which container was the right one!

3. Sinbad: a mog with catitude

This one made me laugh the most. I know the poor fella has had more than his fair share of travesty (watch the interview if you want to hear more on this), but it's just the descriptions of his antics that got me laughing. Picturing this fat, tailless cat 'scrabbling' around in the toilet bowl he'd just splashed into is a mirthful image I can't let go of. Or Sinbad having 'burnt lips' after sucking (!) on the end of a weedkiller bottle. I thought only dogs did that kind of thing! Also, in typical understated Kiwi fashion, his owner describing him as being 'a bit wobbly' made me laugh as well.

What got me most, however, was how he managed to topple his letterbox from perching his huge arse upon it every day. How sad that he can't do his daily greeting ritual anymore, though! After all he's been through, he's a real Lazarus all right, and I just hope Sinbad keeps ticking along for many more years yet.

4. Ghost cat couple cop flak

I always enjoy a good ghost story, but particularly so when it involves the ghost of a cat! Definitely watch the attached video with this story, it's really pretty spooky. It's funny how this little 'ghost' is sort of behaving like a cat, isn't it? Sure it's moving a bit fast, but then again he's a ghost now, so he's got supernatural speed. I like how there is no reflection in the puddle, then right on cue here comes a real flesh and blood orange cat later on, who walks by the same puddle and casts a reflection. A nice bit of 'proof' in the same few moments of video footage, if you will, that the initial orange blur is something not-of-this-world.

Hopefully there will be a follow-up story, not only after the experts have reviewed the tape to say that it's not been doctored, but also perhaps they will catch this little blighter on video again! Who knows? Maybe in the next one, he'll be trotting after that lazy orange cat that appears in this video, trying to get him to play.

Well, that's all for this installment of "News For Cats". Trust me, if any dogs had made it into the news (or horses, wombats, etc.) I'd have mentioned them as well. This is, after all, an equal opportunity blog when it comes to our animal friends!