August 27, 2010

August 23, 2010

Comedic Timing of the Week

[Underbelly bar, 12:40 a.m.]

Angry customer: I'm friends with the editor of the Scotsman, and if you don't give me a refund this will be all over tomorrow's paper.

[Scotsman paperboy strolls up]

Paperboy: Can I interest anyone in a copy of tomorrow's Scotsman?

Me: [suppressed giggle]


NB. If any potential angry customers are reading this, let me offer a piece of advice: threatening to call the media is the one thing you can do to absolutely GUARANTEE I will not take you seriously, because:

1) Even on a slow news day, the fact that some drunk tourist didn't get a refund for a Fringe ticket will not make it into print.

2) If you had a legitimate complaint you wouldn't need to threaten to call the media because I'd already be giving you a refund.

Also, side note: we are sponsored by the Scotsman, if you couldn't tell by their logo being plastered all over the place, so calling them will be doubly ineffective. FFS.

August 20, 2010

August 17, 2010


I was doing some Mac-PC networking at the office today, and when I tried to get info on one of the PC servers in the Finder this is what came up:

Yes, that's right: the generic icon for a PC server in the Finder is a monitor displaying the blue screen of death. Real nice, Jobs.

August 15, 2010

Real Life > YouTube

Apologies, as usual for the long blog silence. Please accept as a peace offering the following reviews-in-brief:

Celebrity Autobiography might be better titled "Irony: Live On Stage", because it essentially boils down to an exercise in deadpanning: the only "script" here is actual autobiographies written (or ghostwritten, at least) by sundry celebrities, read aloud by other (more minor) celebrities as if at an ordinary book reading. Where the show's considerable wit lies is in the selection of passages from those autobiographies, which are so histrionic, hyperbolic, and hilarious that it's often hard to believe they were written in earnest. The cast uses their well-tuned comic timing to mercilessly milk those passages for laughs, and the results — particularly Tiger Woods's description of his putting method, given his recent extra-curricular scandals — are thoroughly entertaining. Four pundigrions. (Udderbelly's Pasture, 19:25)

Bo Burnham, YouTube darling of 2008, has been persistently trying to break into the mainstream since his modest early-teenage successes, and his latest effort is a Fringe show at the Pleasance. I have to admit to being a little worried, when I saw his name in the brochure, that the Fringe would eat him alive — Edinburgh ain't exactly a webcam in your bedroom — but after seeing him at Spank! last night all my fears evaporated: it turns out he is actually just a great fucking comedian. He read the crowd perfectly, and his timing was impeccable, and he was generally a laugh riot from start to finish. If I can get tickets to his full show I'm definitely going to see it, and the rest of you should too. (Pleasance Dome, 21:35)

August 13, 2010

August 08, 2010

[Long Sigh]

Blog blog blog: I have been absent and remiss of late, and I apologise. Fringe setup this year has sapped enormous amounts of time, sleep, energy, sanity, etc. from me, even relative to the already enormous time/sleep/energy/sanity/etc-sapping tendencies of Fringe setup. Plus I've been somehow attempting to write course syllabuses for the fall and finish my book. So.

In any case, I finally saw my first Fringe shows of 2010 yesterday, and I can happily recommend them both.

The first, The Friendship Experiment, is a new play by perennial Fringe theatre company Big Wow. (A few years back they won a few awards for Insomnobabble, a really fantastic piece of surreal, psychological work — and I say that as someone who is pretty cynical about surreal, psychological theatre.) TFE doesn't quite recapture those impressive highs of their early years, and in places it really seems to drag — the meta-commentary/fake improv stuff is particularly overdone — though I think this is mostly a by-product of bringing a seventy-minute play to a festival where fifty-five minutes is the norm. If you can settle yourself enough to watch for the subtleties of the two actors' performances, however, you'll be amply rewarded: there's a superb set piece halfway through in a Blackpool nightclub, and the warmth and depth of the final minutes is piercingly lovely, and very touching. Three and a half pundigrions. (Underbelly, 15:05)

The second, Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones, is shadow puppetry and — since I'm something of a puppetry connoisseur these days — a fine freaking example of same. The Montreal-based Jeff Achtem combines all the things that puppetry does best: creativity, simplicity of storytelling, and the simple delight of seeing inanimate objects brought to life. He's also got a great, clownish persona of its own, a perfect soundtrack, and is generally just a joy to watch. Five pundigrions and highly recommended. (Underbelly, 14:00)

So, same time in two weeks?

August 04, 2010

I Believe This Is What They Call A "Vulgar Capitalist Mindset"

From Daily Finance: Seven Reasons Not to Send Your Kids to College

In a particularly insipid "column" on Daily Finance yesterday — insipid even by the admittedly Great-Depression-trough-low standards of Daily Finance — investment writer James Altucher explains why college is a scam (quote: "self-perpetuating Ponzi scheme"), and why we really ought to stop sending our kids there.

His seven titular reasons are of course provocative, in that special way that only people who depend on click-throughs to make a living can pull off, but let me boil them down for you:
1. Money.
2. Money.
3. Money.
4. Money.
5. Money.
6. Money.
You'll notice I've only listed six there, not seven. That's partly because reasons three and four are actually one reason that's been arbitrarily split in two — reason three is actually a common argument for college on its own — but in fact I'm willing to give him that one because reason seven does, ever-so-slightly, depart from the otherwise ridiculous logic that the only purpose of a university education is to increase your future financial well-being.
7. Alternatives to spending $200,000 per kid so they can waste four years of their lives:

Give them $20,000 to start one to five businesses. Most businesses fail but that's ok. The education from the process lasts a lifetime and the network you build when you start a business will lead to many future jobs and possibilities.
I'm sorry, so the alternative to "throwing away" money on sending your kids to college is to throw it away on an underfunded start-up?
Travel the world. That would be an education that pays many dividends and is much cheaper. Your kids can then go to college with a much more mature view of the world.
Oh, so now you want them to blow a couple of thousand dollars on travelling and then throw away all that money on college as well? Another great money-saving idea! Now, if only there were some way we could convince people to take a year off between high school and university. That never happens.
Work. They won't get the best jobs but they can make money, network, get a "hands-on" education, learn the value of money and go to college in their 20s when they can afford it -- and make every dollar worth it. Plus your kids will have a more clear idea of what they want to do in the world.
You know, you talk about the importance of networking a lot. So if you'll permit another sarcastic aside: if only there were some way we could get our kids to spend several years making personal connections that would last the rest of their lives. That never happens.
Do nothing but read. Get the benefits of a college education without paying the $200,000.
But you already said a college education HAS NO BENEFITS!!!!

FFS, SMITF, etc.