Month: April 2012

Caturday: Shed Kitteh Edition

Meanwhile, in other corners of the internet this week:

Audiences Make One of My Favorite Sounds

Not much beats performing live. It’s even better when the audience is a little rambunctious and caught off-guard by what they’re seeing. You can feel the energy, that precarious balance that they might burst out of control but they’re enjoying the show too much.

I think that’s why I love live music albums so much, especially when you can really hear the audience responding. One of my favorite examples is Harry Belafonte’s At Carnegie Hall album from 1959. I guess this was the first commercially successful live album for music (although I don’t know how true that is since Benny Goodman’s Live at Carnegie Hall from 1950, the first double album, sold over a million copies). Either way, there are a lot of nice moments due to Harry Belafonte being a charming and funny presenter, in addition to his beautiful and powerful voice. It’s obvious the between-song patter was pre-written and rehearsed, but he’s good enough that when he messed up and started to repeat an intro for a previous song, he gracefully pulled out of the awkwardness by riffing with just enough self-deprecation.

But the height is the finale number “Matilda”. I guess the call-and-response thing is kind of a cheap gimmick by now but when the energy is just right and the musicians play around with it, each other, and the audience, magic happens. And that’s just what happens here. Harry Belafonte packs a simple song with surprises and playfulness. He playfully singles out members of his band, women over 40 (my favorite part!) and more to sing along to the chorus, and the audience loves every minute of it, chaotically laughing and singing along. You can almost see him traveling around the stage and then to different sections of Carnegie’s seating. He’s cheerfully determined and protective of his audience to make sure everyone gets their moment to sing along. He isn’t even afraid to stop the band cold not once but twice. The first to tease his conductor Robert Corman, and again to let the audience in the way back sing along so they don’t have to worry about the delay in sound traveling from the back throwing things off. So listen closely to the audience, and enjoy 12 minutes of a magical communication between the people on the stage and the people in the seats.

It’s Time for a Sleepcation

Image by Tomaniac (click to buy a sticker)

This week, I’m not having a vacation, I’m not even having a staycation. I’m having a sleepcation!

I was calling it a bedcation at first, but it turns out that fake word already exists and isn’t quite right in this situation. So, sleepcation it is.

As of this past Saturday and until this Sunday, I have 9 days where I’ll be sleeping as much as possible for as long as possible with as much sleep as possible. Because sleep is good. Especially after overdoing it for too long. It’s either sleepcation now or crycation later. You can probably imagine what that entails. Of course, we all can use a good cry now and again, but 9 days straight sounds exhausting.

So, if you need me, my bed and I are going to be getting it on.

And OK, I’m hoping to also edit that video and write that web-series script, two things I’ve been trying to get to for a few months now. You see, as it turns out, I’m not very good at doing nothing. Even when not on vacation, I fill my time up with projects. I hear other people go home after work and watch TV or something. If I want to watch TV, I have to schedule it as a weekly thing and make an event out of it.

So I’m trying to sleep and lounge around and just decompress. So far I can’t say I’ve been terribly successful. While I have slept a lot (I’ve always been real good at that), I’ve also stayed up real late, and during the day I’ve been working on The Comics Observer, done some administrative stuff for the Magic Meathands, and been an obsessive dork about our music library. But I’ve also hung out with Nahleen and Cleo some, watched the Twin Peaks episode 6 (my favorite so far!), and started reading Any Empire by Nate Powell (if you’re a child of the ’80s, read this!). And I’ve kiiinda not been on Facebook a ridiculous amount, although I’m still staring at the computer way too much, which I’m sure isn’t entirely relaxing. But the week has only started. I’ll get this right some day.

Anyway, I can’t believe I just reviewed my own vacation.

How do you do with taking time off? Do you like empty time or do you need to keep just as busy as when you’re not on vacation? Or maybe you’re good at finding a satisfying happy-medium?

Caturday: Sack o’ Kittehs Edition

Last one to leave the bag wins.

The Magic Meathands have our final show at the Mary Pickford Studio tonight! Don’t miss it!

The Comics Observer just completed a round-up of all of the Finalists in the Graphic Novel category for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, which were given out last night:

The LA Times Festival of Books is going on today and tomorrow, and there are plenty of Comics Panels and Events to check out.

The Ten on the Tenth for April has an awesome group of songs, and it’s not too late to post your own list of train songs.

I make a quick cameo in‘s weekly Moments of Peace this week. It’s a picture taken from last Saturday’s Magic Meathands show. It looks like a case of One of These Things is Not Like the Other, but I’ll take it!

Can’t Blog Now, Getting Yelled At By My Cat

Family portrait... sorta

Got the internet fixed (thank you, Verizon tech support, for actually being knowledgeable, efficient and effective).

Then got all set to write today’s blog until I kept hearing this little meow in the hallway. You see, our awesome kitty Cleo recently started this thing at night. Once Nahleen goes to bed she has to sit in the hall and wonder aloud why I haven’t also gone to bed. So I get these little reminders that just demand attention.

This is a recent addition to her nightly ritual where earlier in the evening she rather vehemently yells at the toilet for having its cover down. At no other part of the day does this bother her. Once I lift the cover up, she then heads into the living room to yell at Nahleen through our sliding glass doors to the balcony. Nahleen usually spends several minutes out there each night to read or do whatever Nahleens do, but Cleo doesn’t like this one bit because she’s out there and not in here with us.

So the point is that Cleo is a hilariously insistent kitty who prefers that all three of us be together. And I have no blog post. Well, except this.

Is This Saturday the Final Mary Pickford Studio Show for the Magic Meathands?

Change is certainly in the air for the Meathands.

This Saturday night, our Tag Team Comedy Show with the variety show Fun Night Live may well be our last time performing at the Mary Pickford Studio.

In case you haven’t heard, Indiewire initially broke the story and Deadline Hollywood has the most recent information. The basics is that the Mary Pickford Foundation cut off funding of the Mary Pickford Institute, which owns the Mary Pickford Studio. For those that don’t know, here is the Mary Pickford Institute’s mission statement:

The Mary Pickford Institute (MPI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating awareness of film pioneer Mary Pickford’s life, preserving her work, furthering her philanthropic legacy and honoring her creativity. Our community resources and services provide a bridge from early cinema to modern filmmaking. Our innovative outreach programs ignite an excitement for learning while building participants’ sense of accomplishment and self-esteem by utilizing teaching tools that are immediate, relevant and current.

There’s an online petition set up to ask the Foundation to reconsider. Please join us in adding your voice in support of continuing the legacy of Mary Pickford and the Institute’s (and our) efforts of outreach.

Truthfully, we don’t know much more than what’s been released in those links above, but we know that this Saturday night’s show will almost definitely be the last chance to catch the Magic Meathands in this great venue. We’re crossing our Meaty fingers for a last minute Hollywood ending. But in the meantime, we’re going to give the Mary Pickford Studio one heck of a blow-out for our final show! Please come out and help celebrate the good work the Institute has done. We have given a percentage of the box office from every show we’ve held at the Mary Pickford Studio to the Mary Pickford Institute. Maybe if we completely pack the house, we’ll send the signal to the Foundation that the Studio has value in the community and both the Studio and the Institute deserve to stick around.


  1. Come to this Saturday’s Tag Team Comedy Show at the Mary Pickford Studio at 8 PM!
  2. Sign the online petition to Save the Mary Pickford Institute and the home of the Magic Meathands!

Help Save the Meathands' Home

The above was cross-posted on the Magic Meathands blog. I’ve been a member of the Magic Meathands for over 3 years, performing over 150 shows of improvised comedy. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, give yourself a treat and catch one of our shows.

Magic Meathands: Our First April Show Will Feature More Making $#!& Up

I’m writing about our first post-Bill show and I’m already cartoon swearing. And the show is Family-Friendly! Oh, we’re doomed.

Come on out and see us completely make… stuff up based on your suggestions. (There, is that better?)

Every second Saturday of the month, the Magic Meathands (that’s us!) and Beach Cities’ Jump Start Improv put on a full night of improv comedy appropriate for the whole family. While staying sharp we offer a night for grownups where they can feel comfortable bringing the youngsters along.

A portion of ticket sales is donated to the Mary Pickford Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating awareness of film pioneer Mary Pickford’s life, preserving her work, furthering her philanthropic legacy and honoring her creativity. Part of the organization’s outreach includes the Mobile Film Classroom, which brings cutting edge digital film technology and the opportunity to learn to children throughout Los Angeles.

Tickets: $7 ($3 for kids 12 & under)

Mary Pickford Studio
8885 Venice Blvd. Ste 102
Los Angeles, CA 90034-3242

Plenty of parking in the lot right there at 8885 Venice Blvd. (cross street National Blvd.).

RSVP on Facebook

The above was cross-posted on the Magic Meathands blog. I’ve been a member of the Magic Meathands for over 3 years, performing over 150 shows of improvised comedy. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, give yourself a treat and catch one of our shows.

What Are Your 10 Songs About Trains

Or somehow inspired by trains. Something to do with trains in some way.

My father’s favorite mode of transportation is this month’s Ten on the Tenth. It just kicked off about an hour ago, so click on that link, compile your list of 10 songs and post away!

Can’t wait to see what people come up with this time.

Caturday: Scouting Kitteh Edition

– All sorts of exciting things are going on over at The Comics Observer:

  • The debut of our newest column The Journey, Man by Wayne Rée, where he takes you through his discovery of comic books.
  • The second installment of Dig Comics by Miguel Cima, where he reveals his recent discovery of dramatic manga.
  • And here are three graphic novels released this week worth checking out for people with little or no history with comics.

– Changes are afoot with the improv comedy group Magic Meathands! If you didn’t read about it here, check it out over there. (And we’ve got a show next Saturday.)

– Music lovers! Get your lists ready! Ten on the Tenth is happening on Tuesday, April 10th.

– And continues to be revealing, eye-opening and funny. I think my favorite one this week was her total take-down of the interior decorating skills of doctors’ offices.

Magic Meathands: Goodbye to Our Director, Hello to Our Future

Bill Johnson sees something he has to go do. Shane doesn't like it, Marshall ignores it.

Sunday’s rehearsal was our final with director Bill Johnson. He was the original founder, teacher and director of the Magic Meathands improv comedy ensemble.

After 8 years of guiding us, he is leaving us behind to let us grow to the next level while he pursues his own opportunities.

Bill taught most of us for years and encouraged us to explore the absurd, the silly and the joyful. Because of that influence, the Magic Meathands have developed a dynamic, high energy that is unique among most improv groups. He also brought his focus to community outreach, making the Magic Meathands the only improv group in Los Angeles that regularly brings live comedy to the very people most in need of joy and laughter. Just this past Saturday, we played to an enthusiastic crowd at the Ocean Park Community Center, a facility in Santa Monica that serves the homeless and mentally ill. Next month, we’ll return to our friends at the Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services facility in Altadena, where they house over 40 boys aged 10 to 18. We first performed for them in early 2008 and continue to visit them several times a year. And finally, because of the variety of our audiences and venues, Bill developed a team of performers comfortable with audiences of different age groups and content preferences. Not too many improv groups have their own rating system for their shows, but the Meathands do to make sure audiences know what they’re getting into.

So yes, Bill created a pretty magnificent thing but the time has come for him to go. So now what?

Always passionate about reaching out to the community and helping children, Bill is pursuing a teaching career at a school in the Coachella Valley where he’s teaching math to struggling kids. Yes, math. We don’t get it either.

We also expect him to continue his writing. Bill’s first novel, The Dark Province: The Son of Duprin, debuted last year to great reviews. We’re told a sequel and another novel are in the works.

Meanwhile, the Magic Meathands have been preparing for this day for some time. Over the last year, we became a self-directed performing group. That means we all share the responsibility of running different parts of the show, instead of Bill serving as sole director and emcee every show. In turn, our shows have been evolving into a completely new format that is bringing out the best in our cast. Simply put, if you haven’t seen the Meathands in the last 4 months or more, you haven’t seen the Meathands!

Your next chance is the popular Family Friendly Show with Jump Start Comedy Improv at the Mary Pickford Studio on Saturday, April 14, at 8 PM! See you there!

The above was cross-posted on the Magic Meathands blog. I’ve been a member of the Magic Meathands for over 3 years, performing over 150 shows of improvised comedy. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, give yourself a treat and catch one of our shows.