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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Comedy, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 103
1. 6 Comedy Lessons that Chuck Jones Learned From Tex Avery

In this 1980 tribute to legendary animation director Tex Avery, fellow legendary director Chuck Jones shared six lessons that he learned about comedy from working with Avery in the 1930s. The advice remains essential to animation director working today.

0 Comments on 6 Comedy Lessons that Chuck Jones Learned From Tex Avery as of 10/19/2014 8:58:00 PM
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2. Arks to Go II - the Flood: calling Noah


ANGIE scans the telephone directory

Good I kept this old phone directory. Let's see here... H....J...N...What would he be listed, under? Duh! I'm so dense! Logically, has'ta be under boat building. If only I could remember the name of his company. The Ark Store? Try that. Good a name as any. Nope - not listed. How about...Arks for All... This is  ridiculous. They're a gazillion possibilities. Maybe he gave up his land phone, which would make this search an exercise in futility. Should have been nicer to him. I mean, he is old and all and meant well I suppose...and he did introduce me to a decent guy even though it didn't work out...What did I do in return in the way of thanks? Told him to take his ark and...

Phone rings. ANGIE answers


She hears heavy breathing

ANGIE (cont'd.)
Anybody there?

Still more heavy breathing

Do we have us a pervert, here? Really, your type are so obvious. Disgusting, vile, dregs of the earth...

Guess who?

...sewer slime... Noah? That you?

Bad cold...

(he sneezes and coughs)

Good that you stopped me. I was about to direct some very bad language at what I thought was one of those heavy breather pieces of garbage that pollute the earth...

I understand you were trying to reach me?

I misplaced your number and was trying to touch base with you again, but how did you know?

Let's just say that - (sneezes) -

...bless you...

I am that. As I was saying...I have connections. What's up?

I've been thinking things over and - well - perhaps I've been too rash in my judgement of your project

(coughing and blowing his nose)
As I recall in our last conversation, you made it clear that you didn't want to hear from me ever again

That was then. This is now. Sometimes my mouth gets the better of me and things roll out of my mouth that I don't mean

As in?

Not giving you the benefit of the doubt and questioning your authenticity. I should have trusted in you but nooooo... Instead I gave you your walking papers or in this case, your sailing papers...

Are you trying to say you've re-considered helping me rebuild the ark?

You got it - if you'll have me

How do I know that you won't lose interest like before. Time is marching on and bad weather is just around the corner.

 Let's just say that I've come to the realization that there are more important things in life than finding mister right

(sneezing repeatedly)
No time like the present to get back to work.

Where do we start?

There are some conditions, though

I knew it was too good to be true

Nothing that you can't handle


Your duties will include keeping the interior of the ark clean, when it's built of course

You have to be joking. All those animals...

I'm not finished. You will also have to play the roll of peace maker

(NOAH sneezes)

Bless you!

I am

But...there are so many species. How do I communicate with them?

Darn if I know but I have every confidence you'll find a way. Time is marching on and there's a lot to do. I'll  send Roger to come pick you up

Would this be the male representation to me? I better wash my hair...and pick my wardrobe to take with me...don't want to give a first bad impression...

Really - Roger doesn't care about those things

Has he seen a photo of me, perchance?

I did show him the one that we took together. Roger never forgets a face

Oh really?

I'm sending him over to pick you up. He should be there in ten minutes.

Hello...? Noah...? Better get dressed for the occasion. Want to make a good impression

(Ten minutes later the doorbell rings. ANGIE opens the door)

ANGIE (cont'd)

Just a minute...com-ing! I've heard so much about you...

(Angie opens the door and jumps back)

ANGIE (cont'd.)


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3. Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volume 25 by Yoshiki Nakamura

May Contain Spoilers


Holy Cow!  Sometimes I just have to get that off my chest.  The 25th volume of Skip*Beat! ROCKED!  The drama was cranked up when Sho made a surprise appearance during the filming of Kyoko and Ren’s TV show and WOW!  He really knows how to stir up trouble.  And best yet, how to get under Kyoko’s skin.  Jealous when he thought that she was hung up on Reino, a rival singer, Sho wanted to make sure Kyoko knew what she was missing.  Delivering a huge bouquet brimming with all the things he thought she’d love, he throws down the gauntlet.   He’ll not be overshadowed by the Beagle or by smarmy Ren, either!

When Sho steals Kyoko’s first kiss, hilarity ensues.  She is distraught, Ren is quivering with rage, and poor Yashiro – he can only look on in horror as his client’s sense of well-being is shattered into a billion tiny pieces.  I didn’t know who I felt worse for – Ren, Kyoko, or Yashiro, who would have to deal with the fallout from Ren’s state of agitation.  Kyoko is traumatized, until Ren scoffs at her reaction to Sho.  If she wasn’t a willing participant in the kiss, is it really a kiss?  Besides, she’s an actress, and there will be times when she’ll have to kiss a co-star.  That’s not a kiss, either, it’s just part of the script, and part of the job.  Just when he’s made her feel better about the whole episode, Ren works in a little threat; she needs to be careful to never let Sho take advantage of her again, because she only gets one chance.  There will be no second chances.  Oh, dear!

Later, when Kyoko is alone in Ren’s dressing room, he does something to push Sho completely out of her mind.  Literally.  Suddenly, she can only think of Ren, and don’t think that doesn’t make him all smug and extremely self-satisfied.  Valentine’s Day was so much fun, I was sorry to see it end.  This has been my favorite volume of Skip*Beat! so far, and I wonder if it can be topped.  Even the art was kicked up a notch, but that impression might be due to the amount of illustrations featuring Ren.

Grade:  A-

Review copy purchased from Amazon

From Amazon:

Kyoko’s Valentine’s battle with Reino has finally gained her Sho’s attention—but now it’s the last thing she wants! Sho is determined to make her obsessed with him, and shows up on set with an over-the-top gift to taunt her. But when Kyoko explains her true relationship with Reino, Sho makes an inexcusable move. Has he undone her years of healing in one fell swoop?!

The post Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volume 25 by Yoshiki Nakamura appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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4. D-Frag! Vol 1 Review

Title: D-Frag! Genre: Comedy Publisher: Media Factory (JP), Seven Seas (US) Artist: Tomoya Haruno Serialized in: Monthly Comic Alive Translation: Adrienne Beck Original Release Date: August 5, 2014 I follow a very simple rule when it comes to reading comedy manga: if I’m laughing because it’s legitimately funny instead of laughing while making up scenarios ... Read more

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5. Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volume 24 by Yoshiki Nakamura


May Contain Spoilers


Valentine’s Day seems like a complicated occasion in Japan.  It’s no wonder it gave Kyoko so much trouble in the 24th volume of Skip*Beat! Her interactions between the men in life are confusing to say the least.  There’s Sho, who tromped on her heart but now reluctantly harbors feelings for her, and Reino, the lead singer of a rival band of Sho’s, who stalked her and now that he’s captured one of Kyoko’s grudges, is demanding chocolates made with “her true feelings” from him before he’ll return what he’s stolen from her.  And then there’s Ren.  Ren.  Ren!  The guy who has gone out of his way to help her navigate the cut-throat world of show biz, but does she give even the slightest regard for his feelings?  No.  No.  No!  Sigh.  Kyoko, you need to worry more about the people who care about you because of who you are, and less about those who only want to manipulate you.

I loved this volume of Yoshiki Nakamura’s comedy romance.  It’s funny.  Kyoko makes a muddle of Valentine’s Day, and Sho is driven to misery when he thinks that Kyoko likes Reino.  I wasn’t so happy when Ren thought Kyoko liked someone else after dropping the chocolates she made with every bit of hate she possessed for the Beagle, or when she skipped around the movie set giving everyone obligation chocolates – everyone but him.  At least she gave him a birthday present, belated though it was, so I think Ren should cut her some slack.  Anyone who knows Kyoko well knows that she’s kind of a spaz.  What they don’t all know is that after Sho left her heart full of holes, she swore off love and guys, so because she’s not looking for a relationship, she doesn’t see the possibility for one when it’s standing right in front of her.  She is blinded by her need to have her revenge, and to silence all of her little grudge Kyoko’s. 

I love how this storyline sets up all kinds of opportunities for misunderstandings between, not just Ren and Kyoko, but between Kyoko and Sho, and even Kyoko and Reino.  I think that Kyoko’s personal, as well as professional life, is going to get very, very complicated,  and I can hardly wait to see what happens next!

Grade:  B+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

From Amazon:

Valentine’s Day is on its way, but Kyoko won’t be able to celebrate love and friendship the normal way. She’s getting blackmailed into giving chocolate to guys she hates, she has her ongoing revenge to oblige, and to top it all off, it’s Ren’s birthday! How can Kyoko give him a meaningful present when she’s slinging meaningless chocolate left and right?

The post Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volume 24 by Yoshiki Nakamura appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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6. Biting, whipping, tickling

The following is an extract from Comedy: A Very Short Introduction, by Matthew Bevis. It explores the relationship between laughter and aggression.

‘Laughter is men’s way of biting,’ Baudelaire proclaimed. The sociologist Norbert Elias offered a rejoinder: ‘He who laughs cannot bite.’ So does laughter embody or diffuse aggression? One theory, offered by the neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran, is that the laugh may be an aborted cry of concern, a way of announcing to a group that there has been a false alarm. The smile could operate in a similar way: when one of our ancestral primates saw another individual from a distance, he perhaps initially bared his canines as a threatening grimace before recognizing the individual as friend, not foe. So his grimace was abandoned halfway to produce a smile, which in turn may have evolved into a ritualized human greeting. Another researcher, Robert Provine, notes that chimp laughter is commonly triggered by physical contact (biting or tickling) or by the threat of such contact (chasing games) and argues that the ‘pant-pant’ of apes and the ‘ha-ha’ of humans evolved from the breathlessness of physical play. This, together with the show of teeth necessitated by the play face, has been ritualized into the rhythmic pant of the laugh. Behind the smile, then, may lie a socialized snarl; and behind the laugh, a play fight. But behind both of these facial expressions lie real snarls and real fights.

People often claim to be ‘only joking’, but many a true word is spoken in jest. Ridicule and derision are both rooted in laughter (from ridere, to laugh). The comic may loiter with shady intent on the borders of aggression; ‘a joke’, Aristotle suggested, ‘is a kind of abuse’. And comedy itself can be abused as well as used—racist and sexist jokes point to its potential cruelty. As Waters says of Price’s stand-up act in Trevor Griffiths’s The Comedians (1975): ‘Love, care, concern, call it what you like, you junked it over the side.’ Comedy is clearly at home in the company of insults, abuse, curses, and diatribes, but the mode can also lend an unusual inflection to these utterances. From Greek iambi to the licensed raillery of the Roman Saturnalia, from Pete and Dud on the implications of being called a fucking cunt to the game of The Dozens, in which numerous aspersions are cast upon Yo Mama’s character, something strange happens to aggression when it is stylized or performed. W. H. Auden pondered choreographed exchanges of insult—from Old English flyting to the modern-day exchanges of truck drivers— and observed that ‘the protagonists are not thinking about each other but about language and their pleasure in employing it inventively … Playful anger is intrinsically comic because, of all emotions, anger is the least compatible with play.’ From this perspective, comedy is the moment at which outrage becomes outrageous. Some kinds of ferocity can be delectable.

‘Playful anger’ sounds like a contradiction in terms, yet in Plato’s Philebus, Socrates notes ‘the curious mixture of pleasure and pain that lies in the malice of amusement’. Descartes suggests in The Passions of The Soul (1649) that ‘Derision or scorn is a sort of joy mingled with hatred.’ This chapter examines such curious mixtures and minglings of feeling by considering modes of comedy that seem to have a target in their sights—versions of satire, mock-heroic, parody, and caricature. We might turn first to the satirist; Walter Benjamin identified him as ‘the figure in whom the cannibal was received into civilization’. So the satirist is at once savage and civilized; he cuts us up after having been granted permission (perhaps even encouraged) to take that liberty. What is it, then, that we need this cannibal to do for us? The satirist, it would initially appear, is the comedian who allows audiences to join him on a mission. Satire is a scourge of vice, a spur to virtue; Horace imagines his ideal listener as ‘baring his teeth in a grin’. So far so good, but the listener may also get bitten from time to time: ‘What are you laughing at?’ the poet asks us, ‘Change the name and you are the subject of the story.’ Indeed, as Hamlet would later quip, ‘use every man after his desert, and who should scape whipping?’

Image credit: Business team laughing, © YanC, via iStock Photo.

The post Biting, whipping, tickling appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Theatre Review-Lysistrata by Christopher Adams and Aristophanes

So, I went to the Edinburgh Fringe festival. It was brilliant-most shows. I’m only going to review the shows I really enjoyed though-I don’t really see much point in spending time writing a 250 word review saying “this was okish.” So over the next week, here’s my pick of shows.

Title: Lysistrata
Writer: Christopher Adams and Aristophanes
Director: Christopher Adams
Performed by: DEM Productions
Major cast: Lousia Holloway, Charlotte Mulliner, River Hawkins and Robert Willoughby
Seen at: C Nova
Review: It starts with Lysistrata's birthday party and her friends have bought her a stripper. But prices are rising, they can't pay and so he leaves. Lysistrata, angry with the austerity measures and work exploitation and the state of Greece in general, convinces her friends to withold sex  until the men of Greece sort out the situation.
I've read Lysistrata by Aristophanes and I thought this was a very clever adaptation. I love the relavence of the Greek  financial crisis and the use of social media as a rallying call to women.  The transitions between rhymed verse and normal speaking is quite jarring  and the tone set up at the beginning means the verse sounds really out of place.
It starts off a faithful modern adaptation, as much as you can do with four actors, distilling choruses down to single people and using sound effectively to create crowds. Then about the 2/3 mark I think (I’m not entirely sure) it gets very different, a lot darker, and by the end I'm thinking two things: this was meant to be a comedy and the writer seriously thinks Greece is screwed. I left thinking “woah. Not expecting that.” and I think it worked in this version [possible spoiler-highlight to see] as the war on austerity would obviously take time to fix and not be sorted by a sex strike in one night, as opposed to a war being fought by men who could easily stop. [end spoiler]
All four actors are very good. Louisa Hollway is Lysistrata throughout, doing well as a drunk angry woman who wants change, but also good at showing a more vulnerable side. The other three actors multirole, often crossdressing, creating very different characters through voices and movement.
The logistics could have been better. I sat in the centre of the third row, but a few scenes were on the ground, an unraised stage, so only the front row could really see, and the actors didn't have microphones so it was really hard to hear them when music was playing, meant to be in the background but drowning the actors out.

Overall: Strength 4 tea to a strong modernisation and adaptation.

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8. Theatre Review- Avenue Q

Title: Avenue Q
Writer: Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty
Director: Cressida Carré
Performed by: Sell A Door
Major cast:  Tom Steedon, Lucie-Mae Sumner, Stephen Arden, Richard Morse,Jacqueline Tate ,  Ellena Vincent, Jessica Parker,
Seen at: Wycombe Swan
Other Info: They're still touring! Try and catch them if you can. More info here.

Review: Princeton has just completed a BA in English. He now doesn’t know what to do with his life. Moving into Avenue Q and meeting a range of colourful characters, puppets such as Kate, Rod, Nicky and Trekkie, and humans like Christmas Eve and Brian. Oh, and Gary Coleman. Avenue Q follow them all as they all wait for their dreams to come true. 
I wanted to see this because...hello, Avenue Q! It’s a brilliant coming of age show, with a few songs for which it's well known but some others that are also really good, and I was looking forwards to a night of comedy and music and adorableness.
The show started with a cute little animation to the short opening theme. The screens occasionally came on between scenes or during songs, providing extra comedy.
All the cast were really good. Lucie-Mae Sumner's Kate voice was annoying to start with, because it's quite squeaky in places, but her Lucy was really good. Tom was good as both Princeton and Rod. I would have liked to see more of Ellena Vincent/Gary. Jacqueline Tate and Richard Morse's Christmas Eve and Brian were both cute and funny and paired well together. My favourites were Stephen Arden and Jessica Parker, who are Nicky, Trekkie and the Bad Idea Bears. They worked together really well, Parker's facial expressions as... well, everyone, were really good, and I loved the range of voices that Arden did (normal for Nicky, growly for Trekkie, and quite high for the Bad Idea Bears).  All the actors put a lot of energy in, the very skilled puppeteers made the puppets come to life, and this really showed.
The music was very good. The arrangements were a little different to the one on the recording (of a different cast), which I liked, though it's a shame they only got licensed shorter versions of Schadenfreude and The Money Song. Trekkie's song was very good, with an added pause after Kate's “Normal people don't sit at home” line  which worked really well for comedy. You Can Be As Loud As The Hell You Want (When You're Making Love) was really well staged, showing off the whole cast  (and the puppets' inventive sex).  I also really liked the way they did My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada, Fantasies Come True, Schadenfreude, and The More You Ruv Someone. 
I liked the staging, and the use of lights in windows to show where on the street each scene was taking place in.  The book is very good (someone else must have thought so too because it won an award for it). It touches on lots of themes, like acceptance,  friendship, relationships, in a way that is funny about 90% of the time, emotional the other 10%, and brilliant throughout. 

Overall: Strength 5 tea to a wonderful show with a very strong cast that made for an excellent night out.

Links: Company | Writer | Theatre

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9. You don't have to wear your pants on your head - Nicola Morgan

Don't get me wrong: humour is an essential part of life and wellbeing. The ability to make an audience laugh is a laudable one. When kids come out of an author visit still laughing, the endorphins fizzing round their brains, it's a happy result indeed. It's visibly A Success.

But authors should not feel they have to "do funny" and I wouldn't like schools to fall into the trap of thinking that the only engaged audience is one falling off its chairs with laughter. I say this because I've seen children's authors recently worry that their events aren't "funny enough" and comparing themselves unfavourably with talented comic authors and speakers.

We should not forget that not everyone always wants to be made to laugh; not everyone laughs at the same things; and some people have different needs. I, for one, given the choice between an hour of laughter and an hour of having my heart and mind spun dizzy with new ideas or shocked into a new groove by fresh images and stories, would opt for dizzy or shocked. And I was always like that. Doesn't mean I don't have a sense of humour or like laughing, just that they are not at the top of my priority list. They are fairly high up it, but not at the top. I know I'm not alone.

If our books don't feature pants, slime or slapstick, our talks may not lend themselves to funny. I've written funny - and in my talks on Chicken Friend, yes, it was great to see the kids laughing when I chose the funny bits to read, though I preferred the more thoughtful bits, the bits where my main character really struggled with things in her world. But my YA novels are far from funny. A mastectomy without anaesthetic isn't funny; nor is being stalked; nor is mental illness or alcoholism. Even my talks on the teenage brain - which some adults might say, unjokingly, was a genuine comedic mine - only look for the occasional release of laughter. And that's usually when I quote Shakespeare.

I do "funny" talks when appropriate - a Burns Supper "reply from the lassies", a launch speech to friends, or after dinner speeches, and I think an introduction to a keynote speech is improved by a smidgen of engaging humour - so this is not about not being able to do funny. And, of course, it's very heart-warming when people laugh (assuming you meant them to), as humour is social glue. But it's not the only glue and I'm not most interested in making people laugh. I often prefer the echoing silence that accompanies a new idea entering the minds of the audience, the shock on their faces as they take in a new possibility, and the way they will come up afterwards (or email me privately) and tell me something about their own lives that they now see differently. With The Teenage Guide to Stress, what I like most is responses such as the girl who emailed to tell me my talk had "settled" her mind.

She didn't want to laugh about her stress - even though laughing about serious things is no bad thing. She wanted her mind to be "settled". A book and a talk should do whatever they should do: inspire laughter or excitement or thoughts or emotions or resolution, whatever.

Today, I'm heading to Gordonstoun for two days of almost entirely unfunny events. However, I will at one point wear a knitted brain on my head (thanks, Cat!) and I can pretty much guarantee that people will laugh. That's fine. Especially since the brief laughter will flood their brains with chemicals which will make them better able to absorb the serious stuff.

But the value of an event is not measured in the decibels of laughter. If you set out to be funny, then it is, of course; if you set out to be thought-provoking, you might measure it in the silence and stillness. Or in the chatter afterwards. Or in a single question or email. Measure it how you like but don't be overwhelmed by the hegemony of humour.

So, to my fellow authors planning events: you do not have to wear your pants (or a knitted brain) on your head. Just wear your best ones.

The Teenage Guide to Stress is published on July 3rd by Walker Books. It's not funny so don't laugh.

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10. How does Comic Artist David Daneman Create “The DaneMen” Web comic series

If you’ve ever perused the online web comic community Tapastic.com, you’re sure to have seen the slice of life webcomic “The Danemen” featuring the DaneMan himself. The silent (word-less) comic transcends language through the use of visual queues that brings drama and comedy to the viewer. It’s like watching a classic Chaplin act and waiting for the finale, which never disappoints and is almost always unexpected.

In the video below, David shows us his work process and how it defines his unique style. Make sure to take notes, and don’t forget to support his Patreon campaign so he can make comics until the end of days!




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11. Short Animation About An Adorable But Self-Obsessed Robot

A small robot is born and sets out into the world, happily performing his simple tasks. Suddenly, in a small but profound way, the world as he knows it changes. What follows is a downward spiral of jealousy, resentment and unrestrained desire.

This animated musical short features Rob Fetters’ pop-rock gem, “Desire.” Story, Direction and Animation by Scott Thierauf. Sound Design and Creative Collaboration by Grant Kattmann, Editorial by Theresa Bruce, and Color Grade by Chris Joecken. ©2014 Red Echo Post redechopost.com robfetters.net

“Desire” from the album “Saint Ain’t” available on iTunes:


DESIRE – The Animated Musical Short from Scott Thierauf on Vimeo.

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12. Arks to Go II: the Flood - The Plan

Angie and her male friend, Joe, evening together is interrupted by a knock on the door. Angie attempts to ignore the interruption but it continues, growing in intensity
Aren't you going to answer the door
Knock? I don't hear a knock. Now where were we...
You're such a joker, Angie. It sounds urgent
Probably the neighbor upstairs, complaining again. She is such a pain. Bangs on the ceiling even when I sneeze. 'Get a life, Mrs. Plotnik!'
If you don't answer the door - I will!
O-kay...if you insist but I know I'm gonna regret this
(Angie opens the door to an elderly man (NOAH) with a very long white beard and hair down to the floor, dressed in army fatigues. He rushes by her)
Hel-lo! Noah's my name and arks are my fame! A little frivolity always helps to break the ice in a social situation, don't you think? Angie - introduce me to your friend, here
Noah - remember I told you my carpets don't need cleaning? Call me in a few years - preferably longer. Now if you'll excuse me...
(she tries to lead Noah to the door, unsuccessfully)
You're just joking, aren't you! We're old friends, remember?
How can I forget?
                                                                                                         SOUND: ELEPHANTS
What's that? Sounds like elephants
He comes with his own sound effects. Um - didn't I mention that Noah here, does sound engineering for movies?
No I don't! Aw - you're just teasing, right? 'I'll be back soon, guys!' They don't like to be left alone. Elephants are such babies. They're afraid of the jackals and the monkeys love to tease them. You know - when the boss is away... So...Joe - whad'ya think of all the rain we've been having?
Haven't given it a lot of thought, to be honest
Maybe you should. Could be the beginning of ...
...Noah here runs a zoo. Perhaps you should be getting back to your animals, Noah! Nice of you to visit...
(Angie attempts to move Noah towards the door but he resists)
You two seem like old friends. How did you meet?
Well...Angie phoned me about six months ago and asked me about building an ark...
...as a gift for my nephew. He's into arks and I wanted to give him something unique
...and we've been friends on-and-off
Good to see you again. Call me sometime
Somehow we lost touch with each other and I came across her number while cleaning out the parrot cages the other day and here I am! So Joe - do you like to sail boats, perchance, or maybe you build boats?
Stop with the questions, already, Noah! See you around....
As a matter of fact, I'm handy with a hammer and nails
No! What a coincidence. I'm looking for someone to help me with a project I'm working on that involves someone who knows how to put two pieces of wood together
Seriously? Maybe I could help you
You don't have to be an expert. I have a set of plans laid out by Someone who makes building an ark as easy as 1-2-3
Hello? Joe? I'm here. I think I hear the elephants calling you, Noah.
Why don't I give you my cell number? We can discuss this further over lunch
No need for that. I'll get in touch. Isn't this exciting, Angie? You, Joe...building a new ark together...think of the possibilities
My heart beats with eager anticipation at the aspect of spending time with wild animals. Why do I think my life is not my own, anymore...
I know what you mean. It's going to be such fun. Now Joe - do you get sea sick?

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13. Playing around: scene 3 of "Dead Writes"

Now and then - more then than now unfortunately - I actually work on plays yet to be finished. One of my favorites (don't I always say that?) is "Dead Writes" started a while back. A comedy, the story line focuses on a deceased, crusty old reporter (Felicia) who has to earn her way into the heavenly quarters by offering her experience and guidance to Chloe, a young up-and-coming writer.

In this is an excerpt, which takes place somewhere between heaven and hell, Felicia is explained how things work and given the guidelines to her assignment. My apologies regarding the formatting transferring the contents from Word.





SCENE: Somewhere between heaven and hell – a holding zone. Organ music is playing
AT RISE: FELICIA & her guide, JOSIAH, discuss her future - and responsibilities



This is just friggin' great!
                                                                             SFX: loud thunder clap
Sorry. New Years Day and I'm stuck here in no-man's land! This feels more like…the other place


(appearing suddenly)
Heaven is a state of mind, my dear. Really, you should forget about those earthly vices
Know what I'd be doing if I hadn't croaked? I'd be sitting in my usual booth at The Flamingo Lounge toasting in the new year, with the gang from "The Sentinal." Right now, we'd probably be uncorking a fresh bottle of scotch, inhaling the fumes and clinking our glasses together, toasting every major story we broke. And let me tell you - there were a lot of 'em! Yup, yup, yup…lots of good juicy ones!


Nobody is denying that you weren't good at your profession. It's your methods at question, here


It wasn't easy, 'ya know. There were pressures and if scotch helped me deal with them –who'd it hurt? Oh God….


SFX: loud thunder clap


(looking up)
…of course…she understands. Please, please choose your words more carefully


If I had only known -


- you probably would have lived your life the exact same way. It's not the first time we've worked with you. In fact, there were many, many times before this one 



Are you telling me that I've been here, done that, before?


We've been sending you back in the hope that you learn your life lesson. You've been close but as you say on earth, no cigar. At least not yet 


If you'd tell me what I'm supposed to learn, maybe I could fix it


Were it only that easy. You alone have to find that out


How was I supposed to know things would be held against me in my next life? Ya think I expected to die?


People think they're going to live forever and then – poof! You suddenly find yourselves in this state!


Listen, where are those gates everyone talks about? It's all a lie, isn't it?


There are gates everywhere, but you can't see them since you're not ready to enter. Hopefully, you'll earn your way through. Consider this place a sort-of… holding position. May I have Felicia Pembroke's review


                                                  (File drops down)
Let's see now…


Hell – how many more times do we have to review my life?

                                                                                               SFX: THUNDERCLAP


(looking up)
'I'm so sorry SIR. Believe me, it won't happen again. She knows, she knows! Forgive her SIR, she's a newcomer!'
Aside to FELICIA: You mustwatch your language! The last thing you need now, is to offend the HTM


    grabbing a sheet of paper that floats down
I must make a point not to use initials when talking to newcomers. Head Team Leader? The "ultimate" head team leader, if you get my drift.  Let me see here …at their last meeting, there still appears to be a split amongst the celestial gate-keepers. The score is five for and five against. A veritable tie


This is just typical. I can't even die right like other people. I wasn't that… bad. So I lived a little hard and fast, but my heart was in the right place. I always gave to the Police Benefit and the Adopt-a-Pet funds!  That ought'ta count for something. There hast'a be a way I can get in than having to work with Chloe


As I recall, you made a promise


You're not gonna hold me to that! I was traumatized at seeing my body in a casket. Now that I think about it, I haven't looked that good since can't remember when


You assured me that you were willing to do anything to redeem your soul, and your entry is conditional based on this covenant. The young lady in question needs your guidance to make it as a reporter, and her future is dependent on your help


This is some deal you're offering.  If I refuse, it's a black mark against my record and I can't even take a sauna without passing out from the heat. She – I mean dear, dear, Chloe - can't spell to save herself, and let's not even talk about grammar. What she does to the English language would make Shakespeare turn over in his grave


I happen to know personally, that The Bard is not offended by the well-intentioned efforts of young people. I think you've got what it takes to help her, if you can control those negative qualities


Let's get going. No time like the present to start


There are some facts you should know about your life on earth, now


What's to know? I follow her around and give her advice. How we going down, this time?


There will be some temptations that you would have to deal with




Qualities that are left over from your earth life, that could lead you astray


Don't worry 'bout me. Nothing or no one is going to stop me from getting it right, this time


Felicia, my dear, please be aware of your reason for returning to earth


I'm gonna succeed, no matter what it takes. Are we ready to leave now?


But…whatever. It's your funeral. I am so witty lately


Don't I get a set of wings or something, to travel? I always wondered how those things work but I'm a fast learner anyway…


Around here, wings have to be earned. Let me remind you that you've got one foot upstairs and the other is in a place we'll not mention, so in the end, it's all up to you. Give me your hand…

           FELICIA takes JOSIAH's hand



There's no place like home, Auntie Em, there's no place like home…
They disappear in a cloud of smoke and re-emerge in FELICIA's former office
Hey - she's sitting at my desk no less! I'm gone barely a day and already she's taken over


Remember that nobody can see or hear you except me, and soon young Chloe there will be privy to your voice


           bell rings continuously
(staring upwards) 'Yes SIR... another meeting? But SIR'
Aside to FELICIA  Another meeting to attend – they never end! I'm leaving you now with the understanding you'll offer any and all your help to her. If you want to climb that stairway to heaven, you're gonna have to do it step by step. Those words are so appropriate…must add that to my heavenly harp composition. Good luck (looks up), 'Yes SIR, I'm coming…'
                                                                         JOSIAH disappears


Don't leave! How am I supposed to talk to this dumb… Josiah? Damn him!

SFX: Loud thunder-clap

Sor-ry! Hard to break long time habits
                                                                         approaches CHLOE's desk
Well, well, well! If it's not my pal Chloe! Hey kid, anyone ever tell you that you can't punctuate to save yourself? Shoot – this is great!
                                                                           SFX: Loud thunder-clap
           FELICIA looks up 
Alright already! I get your point!


           CHLOE is absorbed in staring at the computer screen
Is somebody in the office? You're scaring me!


You can hear me?


(whirling around)

Oh Lord…this is not possible! I've been over-working. Yes. That's it. I'll go home after writing this story and take a hot shower…


It's me. How's the 'puter working? I miss the old thing


(to herself)
This isn't real. I wa-was at Felicia's funeral last week, and I saw them put her in the ground! Gotta ask for some time off…I'm hallucinating


Oh pleeze! Don't be so over-dramatic! I'm dead! So what's the big thing?

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14. The Laugh Track

When did they make the last truly funny show? Has there been anything funny created in two decades or are they simply repeating the same thirty minute plotlines with different characters? The real question is, are they still using the same crazy laugh track from I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith show? We are […]

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15. Book Review- Model Misfit by Holly Smale

Title:Model Misfit
 Author: Holly Smale
Series:  Geek Girl #2
Published:  26 September 2013 by Harper Collins
Length: 356 pages
Source: netgalley
Other info: I kind of enjoyed Geek Girl (review here). Picture Perfect is coming in June.
Summary : “My name is Harriet Manners, and I am still a geek.” Harriet knows that modelling won’t transform you. She knows that being as uniquely odd as a polar bear isn’t necessarily a bad thing (even in a rainforest). And that the average person eats a ton of food a year, though her pregnant stepmother is doing her best to beat this. What Harriet doesn’t know is where she’s going to fit in once the new baby arrives. With summer plans ruined, modelling in Japan seems the perfect chance to get as far away from home as possible. But nothing can prepare Harriet for the craziness of Tokyo, her competitive model flatmates and her errant grandmother’s ‘chaperoning’. Or seeing gorgeous Nick everywhere she goes. Because, this time, Harriet knows what a broken heart feels like. Can geek girl find her place on the other side of the world or is Harriet lost for good?
Review: The book begins when Harriet is doing a modelling job. And then rushes to her  physics GCSE. This essentially sums her up from Geek Girl. Then it’s summer time, but none of her friends can stay around. It looks like it’s going to be the worst summer ever...until she goes to Japan to model for Yuka. Which would also involve seeing nick. Which would be good if they hadn’t recently broken up. Over in Japan, Harriet, despite knowing lots of things like how any nerve cells are in the brain and the chances of dying in a plane accident, she still has a lot to learn.
When I started this, I immediately decided it was better than Geek Girl because I didn’t want to punch Harriet (I really hated her voice to start with, but then got used to it and started liking it).
Harriet is a bit more mature here, having to figure out where she fits in her family, standing up for herself and being independent.
There’s some new characters here, models Rin and Poppy. who both provide different things, and the return of favourites like Yuka and Nick.
I’d have liked to see more of the family side of Geek Girl.  I get that half of it is in Japan, but the family is my favourite thing about this series because they're written so realistically,  and big drama things in the first half are happening and then we leave them so I’m hoping that in book three, we see them again.
I like the use of flashbacks to reveal what happened between Nick and Harriet. Current plotwise, it was hard to see what was happening until the end.

Overall:  Strength 3.5 tea, a bit more a 4, to a second book in a series that is growing on me.

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16. Life imitates art

On occasion during our run of the mill existence here on planet earth, life imitates art. This was the case during a recent visit from a plumber to unblock a bathroom drain. The visit was routine but there came a point during a conversation that seemed straight out of my play, “Gin: an Allegory for Playing the Game of Life.” You know how it is – that Twilight Zone/déjà vu feeling we’ve all experienced at some point where a conversation seems familiar and you’re not sure if you’ve heard it before.  

Here is the scene from the play where Lyle, the super, arrives to address the blocked sink of Becky, the main character and the cynic. SARAH, another character is one of those people who always sees the good in everyone and everything. I cut and pasted parts so the formatting isn't ideal. This is one of my favorite plays but then that's what I say about all of them.

                         BECKY opens the door to LYLE, the super, who is leaning on
                         the side of the door, engrossed in music coming out of earphones.
                         His dress is grunge with long stringy hair and grimy


Well, well. Look who the wind blew in. Hello up there? Anybody home?

                         BECKY taps him on the shoulder and he jumps in response

Forgive me but you do remember why you're here? To unblock my pipes? Lyle super - me tenant?

I know that

Of course you do and I'm Madonna

Hey – and they tol’ me your name was Becky Bitch. Oh… I see. Becky Bitch Madonna!

                         LYLE pushes Becky aside

Okay…what and where's the problem?

You for a start but I gotta take what I can get. My sink has been blocked since last week

Okay… hold it a sec…this is a good part

                         Lyle starts gyrating and playing an invisible guitar

My God – the kid has overdosed on drugs right here in my apartment. Call 911

(stops abruptly)
That was the best part of the CD. Bet'chu wash your hair in this sink, don't you

And your point is? Most normal people wash their hair, Lyle, but there are exceptions, like you for example

Ladies your age never wanna admit it but we supers know better. If I had a dollar for every time I've unblocked a sink and removed a big blob of the stuff, I’d be a gazillionaire. Wait a sec’…

                         LYLE begins gyrating

I hope I'm not disturbing your musical interludes or anything. Listen, there's no way, my hair, blocked that drain. Maybe you don't clean the pipes often enough, did that occur to you? So? Fix it. Hello? Lyle!


This band is like… fab-u-lo-so… We'll try chemicals first and if that don't work, we'll use the snake

You're gonna use strong chemicals in my sink? Come to think of it, you're probably no stranger to chemical mixes

OhmyGod! They use poor defenseless snakes to clean out drains, now? But I'm sure you use the non-poisonous type, right? Do the animal welfare people know about this?


Sarah dear, count your cards or something. Just do what you have to do and unblock it?

Got some news you won't wanna hear, lady

If it means you're quitting your job after unblocking my sink, it's good

I'm wrong about the blockage

Told you it wasn't hair. I'm not a plumber and even I knew as much

It's deep down in the main pipe system, under the sink

And this means that…

…it's gonna cost. Might hav'ta call in a plumber

Can't youfix it? What are they paying you for?

I'll try but I ain't making no promises. I'm gonna go look for my tools, downstairs. Whoever you get to do the job will take a half a day, at least. Maybe more


This is really good. A handyman with no tools

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17. Book Review-Last God Standing by Michael Boatman

Title: Last God Standing
 Author: Michael Boatman
Series: First in series.  
Published:  April 3 2014 by Angry Robot
Length: 400 pages
Source Publishers:
Other info: Book 2, Who Wants to be the Prince of Darkness comes Spring 2015
Summary : When God decides to quit and join the human race to see what all the fuss is about, all Hell breaks loose.Sensing his abdication, the other defunct gods of Earth’s vanquished pantheons want a piece of the action He abandoned.Meanwhile, the newly-humanised deity must discover the whereabouts and intentions of the similarly reincarnated Lucifer, and block the ascension of a murderous new God.How is he ever going to make it as a stand-up comedian with all of this going on…?

Review:  Yahweh, aka the Abrahamic god, has decided he's had enough of being God.  Therefore, he quits, joins the Human Race and tries to live life as a stand-up comic. However, with gods of old pantheons trying to take his place, and a now-human Lucifer to deal with, this isn't going to be easy.
I was really looking forwards to this. Multiple pantheons, all the myths, all wrapped up with a big dose of comedy? Right up my street.
It starts off well. The dramatis personae sets up an interesting c premise, featuring my favourite gods from various mythologies, plus a few more I was less familiar with.
Lando has a good voice. I liked him and his comedy could be good if it wasn't wrapped up in a whole load of other stuff. I also liked Yuri, Lando's family, and Suhrabi. I love the way the gods are presented-Zeus and the Morrigan especially.
The thing that let it down most was the plot, and the way it just went ways I don't really get. The bit with Hannibal got good at the start, then relaxed a bit earlier than I  was expecting. The whole thing with Lucifer, Gabriel and the angels was very predictable, but turned out well. But then there's this whole bit in the middle where I think Lando swaps bodies or something with another guy. I say I think. I honestly don't know what happened there, but it changed Lando for the last quarter of the book. Also, the god battles, while fun, were also a bit confusing in that they went everywhere in time and space and were hard to follow.
Also, I didn't get the comedy that I was promised, apart from in small bits ie  introduction of the gods. Or maybe it just wasn't my kind of humour. Either way, sadness from that. 
Despite this, I will read book two. Just because  Hell. And game shows.

Overall:  Strength 2 tea to a book with a really good premise that just wasn't put together as well as I was hoping.

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18. PR-Viz to Release Ranma 1/2 in Newly Re-Mastered 2-In-1 Manga Format

{ED – And this, folks, is the series that started it all for me.  If you enjoy comedy, martial arts, and gender-bending hijinks, give it a spin.  Just prep at for a long ride, because this manga ran forever!} 


Creator Rumiko Takahashi’s Groundbreaking

Gender-Bending Martial Arts Comedy Returns To North America In A Newly Re-Mastered 2-In-1 Manga Format

San Francisco, CA, February 28, 2014 – The wait is almost over as VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in North America, announces next month’s exciting release of Rumiko Takahashi’s adored manga (graphic novel) series – RANMA ½ – as newly re-mastered 2-in-1 omnibus editions. The opening volume debuts on March 11th, presented for the first time ever in a right-to-left reading format that remains faithful to the original work. RANMA ½ is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will carry a MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN.

Ranma Saotome never thought a martial arts training mission to China would turn out like this! Due to an unfortunate accident at the cursed Chinese training ground Jusenkyo, when Ranma and his father get splashed with cold water, papa turns into a giant panda and male Ranma becomes a buxom young woman! Hot water reverses the effect, but only until the next time! Constantly chased by battle-happy martial artists and lovesick suitors of both sexes, what’s a half-boy, half-girl martial artist to do?

“RANMA ½ was one of the first manga series to achieve massive international success, and became a staple of the VIZ Media catalog for over 14 years, making it one of our longest-running titles and one of the longest-running manga series in North America,” says Hope Donovan, Editor. “The return of RANMA ½ in a new 2-in-1 omnibus is an ideal format to revisit the series or enjoy it for the very first time and will allow fans to appreciate Rumiko Takahashi’s classic romantic comedy action series in a whole new way!”

The spotlight on Rumiko Takahashi’s career began in 1978 when she won an honorable mention in Shogakukan’s prestigious New Comic Artist Contest for Those Selfish Aliens. Later that same year, her boy-meets-alien comedy series, Urusei Yatsura, was serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday. This phenomenally successful manga series was adapted into anime format and spawned a TV series and half a dozen theatrical-release movies, all incredibly popular in their own right. Takahashi followed up the success of her debut series with one blockbuster hit after another— Maison Ikkoku ran from 1980 to 1987, Ranma 1/2 from 1987 to 1996, and Inuyasha from 1996 to 2008. Other notable works include Mermaid Saga, Rumic Theater, One-Pound Gospel, and RIN-NE (all also published in North America by VIZ Media).

Takahashi won the Shogakukan Manga Award twice in her career, once for Urusei Yatsura in 1981 and the second time for Inuyasha in 2002. A majority of the Takahashi canon has been adapted into other media such as anime, live-action TV series, and film. Takahashi’s manga, as well as the other formats her work has been adapted into, have continued to delight generations of fans around the world. Distinguished by her wonderfully endearing characters, Takahashi’s work adeptly incorporates a wide variety of elements such as comedy, romance, fantasy, and martial arts. While her series are difficult to pin down into one simple genre, the signature style she has created has come to be known as the “Rumic World.” Rumiko Takahashi is an artist who truly represents the very best from the world of manga.

For more information on RANMA ½ and Rumiko Takahashi titles published by VIZ Media, please visit www.VIZ.com.

About VIZ Media, LLC

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, VIZ Media distributes, markets and licenses the best anime and manga titles direct from Japan.  Owned by three of Japan’s largest manga and animation companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media has the most extensive library of anime and manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. With its popular digital manga anthology WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, BLEACH and INUYASHA, VIZ Media offers cutting-edge action, romance and family friendly properties for anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages.  VIZ Media properties are available as graphic novels, DVDs, animated television series, feature films, downloadable and streaming video and a variety of consumer products.

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19. Let's Talk about Intercourse

You know, the small town in Amish Country, Lancaster PA?

What did you think I meant?

The Defective Amish Detective
Volume 2
The Intercourse Boondogle

The Defective Amish Detective is back. The Fixer with a heart of gold heads to Lancaster County for another case. His friend Eli, the Amish blacksmith with a mysterious past, spots trouble in the town of Intercourse. The name alone sends the Defective Detective on a rant. Outrageousness reigns as these two worlds collide again. Are you ready for a road trip to Amish Country?

It is a special treat to write with a friend. We have a blast putting this story out for you! It is a humorous look at the Amish, but we also make fun of our detective too. If you want something, funny, heart-warming and different, this is for you!

Available on Kindle:

Also on Nook, iTunes and Kobo

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20. Weekly Shonen Jump–January 21st Issue

Last week I was dealing with a house full of sick people (including me!) so I didn’t get a chance to read the January 14 issue of WSJA until today, so I’m just going to skip a recap of it and jump right into the January 21 issue.  This is the first issue of the simulations release with the Japanese magazine, and the magazine has been renamed Weekly Shonen Jump.  Good-bye Alpha and good-bye waiting for an English translation! 

This week’s issue is 185 pages, and introduced One-Punch Man to the line-up.  I have also discovered, much to my chagrin, that my by beloved Kenshin will only appear monthly as it is actually published in Jump Square.  Boo hoo!  But let’s put that disappointment behind us, and dive into this week’s issue of WSJ!

Naruto Chapter 616 – Nice color spread this issue and a congratulatory message from creator Masashi Kishimoto for going simultaneous!  After getting a pep talk about not letting Neji’s death be in vain, Naruto gets a second wind (or probably 4th or 5th with as long as this battle has been going on).  His chakra recharges and he quickly shares his renewed energy with the other ninja.  Yay!  We also get brave, determined declarations that he will never give up trying to save his comrades, and that despite loss and heartbreak, ninja will endure!  Very motivating!  These last two chapters have been my favorite since I have been reading the magazine, and the plot is starting to make more sense.  All of these quick battle chapters can get confusing when you just get dumped into them, and they last for, what, over 2 months now?

One-Punch Man Chapter One – New series!  Uhhhh.  Short chapter.  Saitama is a hero for fun, and he’s looking for an opponent who he can’t beat in one punch.  Uhhh…  Not sure about this one.  I like the art, but I don’t like Saitama’s character design.  He looks like a dork with an egg for a head.  This chapter was so short that I don’t think it was a good intro to the series.  Maybe next week’s chapter will knock my socks off?

One Piece Chapter 695 – Finally!  Luffy and the gang has escaped from the lab!  They are out in the fresh air and they won’t be victims of the poison gas!  Buffalo and Baby 5 scoop up Caesar and try to make a break for it, but no-uh-uh!  Usopp isn’t having any of that!  This is a quick, fun chapter with lots of great art and great poses.  I was getting bored of the lab drama, so I am looking forward to their next adventure!

Nisekoi Chapter 58 – Miyamoto has lost her glasses!  Ichijo and Onodera help her look for them, and Ruri, frustrated that they like each other, but won’t confess their feelings, tries to get them together.  Since Ichijo is so dense, her efforts don’t pay off.  Not a very original chapter, but the expressive art and the clueless Ichijo made it a fun read.

Bleach Chapter 523 -  Very cool color page get things kicked off.  Ichigo and Renji get to play with Oh-Etsu Nimaiya, the creator of Zanpaku-to!  More accurately, he gets to play with them.  He throws them in the middle of a horde of angry Asauchi, which are the ultimate Zanpaku-tos that can become anything.  They are pissed at how Ichigo and Renji have been using their Zanpaku-tos.  Quick shift to  Yachiru and Zaraki, who are facing off in the Soul Society’s underground prison.  These guys are so serious!  Someone is going to get hurt!  And then – the chapter ends!  This is a great setup for next week, and has  me re-engaged in the story.  I love Ichigo, but I am intrigued by Yachiru and want to see her and Zaraki cross swords.  I am sure it will be an epic confrontation!

Cross Manage Chapter 17 – I love this one.  The team is playing their first match, and after a motivating (more accurately, embarrassing) pep talk from Sakurai, the girls have been given the confidence to play all out!  This is a feel good series, and I have enjoyed it every week.  I keep gushing about it, but I love sports manga and wish there were more series available for me to read.  When are we going to get more Crimson Hero? 

Toriko Chapter 218 – Gourmet Corp is invading!  Their giraffe birds and other weird creatures are out for blood!  Starjun tries to make a grab for Komatsu, but Toriko is there to save him!  While this hasn’t been my favorite manga, this week’s was pretty good, probably because I wasn’t inundated with a billion new chef’s and their specialties.  The constant character intros has been driving me nuts!  Wow, I might not cringe next week when I come to the next chapter.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal Chapter 26 – I just don’t get this one.  It is boring and I can’t force myself to get interested in the plot.  I like the art and the character designs, but the story itself – yawn.  I don’t get the rules of the game, and so I find myself just skimming this one every week. 

And that’s it for this week!  Next week there’s a one-shot by Akira Toriyama!

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21. Listen to Me

Okay, maybe not me (that sounds needy), but I do have something for you to listen to.

I've been working on a new series called the Defective Amish Detective. It is a humorous, without making fun, look at the misadventures of an Amish blacksmith and his Non-Amish friend. The defective detective is admittedly a repentant man with a questionable past. He has reached an age where certain parts (eyes, ears) don't work as well as they did. Through travels with his wife into Amish Country, the detective has become friends with Eli, who also happens to have a shadow over his past. Together, they work to help those that cannot help themselves. Things don't always go as expected and both of their pasts may come back to haunt them. These stories are full of slapstick, but they also share a message and have heart.

Now, it is a special treat for me to share with you that my publisher, Helping Hands Press, has taken a big leap in putting Volume 1: The Whoopie Pie Affair on audiobook.

You can get more information on Amazon: http://amzn.to/13PgsSR

Another treat is the voice you will hear on the audiobook. It is none other than Big Daddy Abel. Also known as BDA, he is the frontman for a band called the Amish Outlaws and a talented author in his own right.

If you enjoy audiobooks, I do hope you will give mine a listen.

Thanks for reading and please visit me at www.FB.com/MarkMillerAuthor

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22. Odd Links: Resources for Comedy

Do you ever stop learning? I don’t. I may be able to teach a number of things and bring out the best in my students, but for myself, I keep learning.

Here are some things I’ve learned lately.

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23. On the Scene: NIGHT JOB Salon Gets Personal

NJ01 291x300 On the Scene: NIGHT JOB Salon Gets Personal

On March 21st 2013 at the Union Hall bar, restaurant, and music venue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, comics creator and TRIP CITY co-curator Dean Haspiel and comedian/actress Katharine Heller launched what may be the first of several salon events featuring comics, comedy, prose, and musical performances entitled “NIGHT JOB”. Though it was a new venture, neither Haspiel nor Heller are strangers to the stage. They were joined by stand-up comedian and writer Molly Knefel of the internet radio show RADIO DISPATCH, indie cartoonist Meghan Turbitt, author Reverend Jen of the long-running “Rev Jen’s Anti-Slam” performance event. Also performing were political satirist and stand-up comedian Angry Bob, and the music group Two Beards One Heart, including  Jeffrey Burandt (aka Jef UK of Americans UK), and Peter Boiko, supported by John Mathias and John Thomas Robinette III.

IMG 4748 300x225 On the Scene: NIGHT JOB Salon Gets Personal

[Haspiel and Heller host the salon]

Though the salon opened to a full basement venue, audience members probably didn’t know quite what to expect from NIGHT JOB, however they might have known some of the performers by reputation. The term “salon” often implies multiple genres in the mix, and NIGHT JOB presented quite a range. Though each of these types of performance have the potential to be very entertaining on their own, it’s a challenge to combine them and create a sense of a cohesive event that, collectively, develops its own personality. NIGHT JOB found its way by emphasizing the raw power of very personal content from its salon members.

IMG 4730 300x225 On the Scene: NIGHT JOB Salon Gets Personal

[Molly Knefel]

Knefel opened with a stand-up routine spoofing the “war on women” in congress last autumn, pointing out that a “war on anuses” would have had even the most conservative public official scrambling to sign up in protest. Her rapid-fire delivery and observational humor had the audience engaged from the outset, but her sense of personal commitment to the subject matter as a thinking person translating impressions of a bizarre world set the tone for the evening.

IMG 4735 225x300 On the Scene: NIGHT JOB Salon Gets Personal

[Katharine Heller]

Heller read a selection from her recent project featuring “erotica” geared toward Republican sensibilities, “Tickle the Elephant”, and ingenious attempt to get inside the minds of what appeals to conservative women particularly. Turning the lingo of the senate floor and government catchphrases into turn-ons relentlessly, Heller narrated from the perspective of a conservative seduced by liberalism into a sexual common ground. Heller revealed a rather in-depth knowledge of politics on both sides of the party schism in her artistry, and in her mix of satire and humor, suggested dialogue is possible even in the most heated debates.

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[A Turbitt comic panel]

Turbitt presented and performed a wide range of indie comix that appear online, increasingly irreverent to social taboos, particular in expressing women’s lives. From bathroom scenes of an intimate nature to things that most people find adorable but only annoy her, she pushed the envelope on expression and used the comic-panel reveal for shock-value. Her autobio approach struck many of the same chords as Knefel and Heller’s performances, bringing out the sense that discussing deeply personal subjects is still one of the most direct ways to reach an audience, who may be surprised to find out how much they have in common with the stories they hear and see.

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[Meghan Turbitt]

Haspiel’s comix performance of “Awful George” from his series STREET CODE took the audience deep inside the strangeness, and the horror of urban stories, reflecting his own autobiographical reaction to witnessing a make-shift attempt to save a hoard of cats that had been wilfully neglected in an apartment, only to be topped by the discovery of a mummified corpse, begging the question, “How do you deal with these kind of realities?”

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["Awful George" panel by Haspiel]

The answer from Haspiel is clearly “by expressing them and reaching out to readers”. His debut performance of a newly created Tommy Rocket comic, a spin-off from his BILLY DOGMA web comix, spoke to the twisted aspects of love, and the realities of failure and regret. Haspiel never pulls any punches in his comics, autobio or not, and these hammered home the role of authenticity in performance; getting up in front of a crowd to read your comics demands a kind of soul-baring stance that hits home for the audience.

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[Dean Haspiel]

Reverend Jen took soul baring to a whole new level by reading from her unpublished novel, memoirs of her life as a prostitute attempting to support her artistic endeavors as a painter. She’s known for her extreme honesty during readings, and her narrative plumbed the depths of tragedy and suffering possible in what seems like an everyday world. Her description of images, as well as emotions, made for a stellar performance of prose. Rev Jen’s motivation in performing, to “get stuff out” of oneself actually also served the function of engaging the audience emotionally and reminding them, perhaps, of human resilience along the way.

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[Rev Jen]

Angry Bob, true to his moniker, took on the role of voicing, like Knefel, Heller, and Turbitt, many of the things that people think, but don’t say out loud for fear of being ostracized as freakish. The truth, of course, is that they are not alone and everyone is wonder what’s considered “acceptable” to think or say in social settings. He described himself as someone “rooting through the garbage for shiny objects” like a racoon or other scavenger, and the objects he held up for inspection at NIGHT JOB were the ludicrous aspects of Reality TV, the curse of failed opportunities, and the general rage-inducing capabilities of young children, particularly in public. Angry Bob’s signature delivery, a high-octane rant that frequently addresses audience members directly, had their equally signature outcome: inspiring absolute hilarity at NIGHT JOB.

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[Angry Bob]

The evening’s performances closed with the strikingly independent tones of Two Beards One Heart which also managed to match the ambiance of the previous salon members’ presentations. Not just in musical composition, whose sounds were so original as to suggest that the “personal” can be evoked as equally in sound as in words and images, but also in lyrics, Two Beards managed to create their own singular message.

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[Two Beards One Heart]

Their first song illustrated rising angst through lyrics despite its melodic construction, while the second contrasted the poetic, upbeat aspects of love with bigger realities and banal conflicts. Burandt’s vocals, far from predictable, were particularly engaging, and contributed to a sense of individualistic expression of life’s perplexing highs and lows.

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[Jeffrey Burandt]

One of the most winning aspects of NIGHT JOB, aside from his cohesion as a salon of the personal made public, was the fact that Haspiel asked, repeatedly, if anyone else would like to perform their work, friend or stranger alike. It suggested an open-door to artists of any genre who also had something to share. The tone of the evening, celebrating unique perspectives with communal implications, was as well suited to comics as music and comedy.

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[Haspiel delivers an open invitation]

Setting comics alongside other genres in performance is not a new practice, but it’s becoming increasingly popular, perhaps because of the rise of self-publishing and internet sharing of creative work.  As comics find their footing among other artistic modes, it’s appropriate to start asking what comics have in common with other formats of expression, and what makes them particularly powerful for self-expression. NIGHT JOB did an excellent job of illustrating the point. Performance art forms are about a meeting of minds between the performer and the audience, and many genres already push the boundaries of inter-personal communication, comics included.

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Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.








1 Comments on On the Scene: NIGHT JOB Salon Gets Personal, last added: 3/28/2013
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24. Re-thinking and re-writing. "The Lemon" could be sweet

Go figure. Here I was under the impression that the BBC International Playwriting Competition was on hold or cancelled altogether. Much to my surprise, read on Facebook to stand by since they are about to announce the details of this year's competition.

While this is great news and under the assumption that the competition was cancelled, I've been re-thinking entering "Old Soldiers" as my entry.

"After all that waiting - you're going to abandon us?" Joe would probably ask. The issue is whether or not 'soldiers would be radio-friendly due to the necessity of sound effects.

A while back, I wrote a short play entitled, "The Lemon" focusing on the trials and tribulatiion of a female owning and trying to unload her car, which as the title infers, is a "lemon." A comedy, it's a fun story line and the characters would lend themselves to radio. At present it would run about 20-30 minutes but it wouldn't be difficult to add to the story.

This week I'm going to re-examine The Lemon with a critical eye to see if and how the story can be expanded. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the announcement of the new deadline. Progress reports to come.

0 Comments on Re-thinking and re-writing. "The Lemon" could be sweet as of 3/30/2013 12:53:00 PM
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25. Imploding

The newest offering of the Defective Amish Detective is available now! You can get Vol 6: The Sausage Log Implosion on Kindle here: http://amz.to/11MckpP

I have to say this whole experience has been a lot of fun. When Giovanni approached me about this series, I was a little hesitant. I have always known him to have an outrageous sense of humor and I knew the Amish were handled with a great deal of respect. I did not know how we would blend the two.

What came out of it was a story with lots of heart and its own kind of zaniness. I think we manage to show the proper amount of respect to the Amish. Much of the slapstick falls on the Defective Detective, who is not Amish. What is he? Something of a repentant hitman. Both of our main characters have mysterious pasts that give them unique skills to handle the cozy mysteries we throw at them.

In the end, this series is about friendship and understanding. It is about two men coming from two different worlds and overcoming their differences to work together for the greater good. It is a pleasure to write and I hope you have as much fun reading it!

About The Sausage Log Implosion“Muck is Muck,” Eli the Blacksmith says.How does the Defective Detective go from having a near perfect day to one of the worst? Simple – someone stole his sausage log. Everyone has something in life that makes them happy. For G, it is the culinary delights of the Amish, including whoopie pies and sausage logs. When his favorite market is sold out, G wants to know why. The charming, but innocent, counter girl tells him that the butcher’s meat grinder has been stolen. When something goes awry in Amish Country, G can’t let it go. He joins his stalwart companion Eli and the two of them are on the case. They have two questions to answer. What happened to the meat grinder? And, how much muck is too much muck? This is one explosive implosion!

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