Saturday, November 13, 2010

Conor - Pretty Things

I'm here at Mizzou's campus, and while around walking aimlessly trying to find Robert's dorm, I found a way to word something that bothers me, something that I don't want to bother me anymore.

There are a lot of pretty things in this world, all of which seem bigger and better than the things I have, and I can't let that distract or depress me.

I'm walking around here in Columbia, Missouri and I find myself in awe of the campus, the clean, crisp, modern looking architecture and the numerous and expansive dorms. I mentally compare every detail to Oklahoma's campus, and I can't help but dwell on what this place has that Norman, Oklahoma doesn't. I look through the windows at the cafeterias I will never eat at and fantasize at the delicious food I'm sure is served within. I pass by the gym and wish that I could intend to go there. I passed by some attractive people who I'll never get to know.

Picking a college is a huge decision that will change your life forever. As Tynan Shevlin put it once "I feel like this is the first time I can really fuck up." He said something about how people often meet their wife or husband at college. I came to OU and my life is heading towards it's ultimate destination due to that. If I had gone to another college my life would be completely different. Right now at OU I'm making friends who I'll (hopefully) keep for the rest of my life. I'm making connections and learning things that will (hopefully) help me towards my dreams, later on. If I came to Mizzou all of what I have right now would be gone, replaced by something else. If I went to Mizzou, I'd go to school with Robert and Hillary, both of whom are pretty. Does Zane Thompson go here as well? Zane Thompson is also pretty.

I'll never know, though, that's the thing. It's so easy to worry about things like this, it's not worth my time. (things that are worth my time: time trials on mario kart) Lots of events have changed my life, and I can't worry about how things would've gone had they not happened as they did. If I hadn't made improv my life would be completely different. Yeah, sure. If I answered 2 more questions incorrectly on a standardized test my life would be completely different. Yep. If I took a left instead of a right at an intersection, I might be married right now. But I'm not. Fortunately for the ladies.

So I'm going to try my best to not think about these things. These are unnecessary distractions. I have nothing to gain by beating myself up for things that happen every minute of every day. There are a lot of things going for me right now. I'm at Mizzou, seeing some people I've really missed. I'm going to focus on that. /Mario kart.

Actually right now what I'm going to focus on is going to sleep.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eight Notable Soundtracks

by Brendan Cavanagh

Two of my biggest passions in my life are music and movies. Often people will lean towards one or the other, or neither at all. Luckily I'm able to enjoy both. What makes me appreciate both even more (if possible) is the fact that most movies contain a soundtrack or original score that usually captures the essence or feel of the story. I've compiled in this blog post a list of eight of my favorite movie/soundtrack combinations, though these are by no means my definitive eight favorite movies or soundtracks. In alphabetical order:

One. The Big Chill

The Big Chill is a classic movie which details the reunion of seven best friends from college who have reassembled in their young adulthood in order to attend the funeral of their buddy, Alex. If you watch only the first ten or fifteen minutes of the movie, you would think it's the beginning of a two-hour depressing sobfest. But when one of the seven, Karen, gets up during the funeral and plants herself down at the organ in order to play "one of Alex's favorite songs" (The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want") during the recession, the other six smirk to themselves in a knowing manner. At this point the tone shifts to one of rich, dark comedy and heavy musical nostalgia. Everyone spends the weekend at their friends' nearby plantation-style guest house, reliving the glory days of collegiate youth and lack of responsibilities. Although several arguments and even more hookups threatens to put a rift in their already strained friendships, they come to recognize the mutual interests and bonds that made them so close-knit, often revolving conversations and situations around one of their tightest foundations, music. Attending college in the 60's has imbued in each of them an extensive taste in the classic Motown and Rock 'n' Roll hits of the day, such as Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising," Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade Of Pale." Several scenes (such as the amusing and highly-relatable Kitchen Scene) really accurately show how music, for the aging college buddies as well as for all of us today, has a deep connection to what we do each day. A mutual appreciation for music can enhance social gatherings and solidify relationships with a magnitude unparalleled by many other factors.

Two. Cool Hand Luke

Cool Hand Luke, on the other hand, features an original score by Lalo Schifrin that is alternately haunting and ebullient and depressing and uplifting, and musically follows the story of Lucas Jackson, who undergoes life on a chain gang and subsequently vies for escape. One scene in particular, in which Luke discovers that his mother has died shortly after her brief visit to see him, features Paul Newman (who plays Luke, and actually supplied the vocals for the song) tearfully strumming a banjo as he quietly sings the comforting tune "Plastic Jesus" to himself. It makes you feel like your mom just died, too. Then at the end of the film, the End Theme (start at 3:55) plays solemnly over the gut-wrenching sight of Luke's lonely buddy Dragline as he contently does his work on the side of the road in his new set of leg chains, sweeping up into an aerial shot of the chain gang with a tremendous crescendo. Cool Hand Luke's score does a fantastic job of capturing the most natural, often melancholy moods of the characters and the audience.

Three. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

This score is by no means one of the best around, but it's definitely my favorite of the Harry Potter films'. For the first time in the series, John Williams declined to return to his post of composer, which meant less chamber-style, orchestral, easily-identifiable leit-motifs, such as his ever-enduring "Hedwig's Theme." Instead, Patrick Doyle took the reins and created this ominous, solemn score that portrays the building fear of the Death Eaters' rising, completing the Triwizard Tournament, and facing Voldemort. But there are also several tracks devoted to the whimsical mood of the Yule Ball and learning to dance. Humorously, there are even three songs performed by a faux-wizard band from the Yule Ball called The Weird Sisters. But more than the fact that the soundtrack adequately relates to the movie and captures a wide range of emotions and feelings, the fact that it was the first Harry Potter soundtrack to really relate to me in a sense was striking. There's a scene at the end of the movie where Harry strolls the courtyard as his peers cheerfully and boisterously say goodbye to one another and their international guests. Instead of partaking in the festivities, Harry just observes from afar, still getting back on his feet from facing Voldemort, his arch-nemesis. The song, "Another Year Ends" (skip to 4:08) plays a somewhat mournful tune throughout until Harry breaks a faint smile and realizes how much he's glad to be alive and surrounded by people he loves and who love him, and then the mood of the song lifts to match his mood. I've often ambled about, observing people I know and people I don't know, lost in deep, introverted thought, ultimately reaching the same conclusion as Harry. Listening to the song causes me to initially reflect, and ultimately rejoice.

Four. Jesus Christ Superstar

In eighth grade, Jesus Christ Superstar Mania swept my class, stemming from a "Culture Hour" in which we joined together to watch the movie. Not only was the movie ridiculously popular among my peers and I, but the soundtrack began to make its prevalence among the junior high's underground, bootleg-CD racket. Depicting the Jesus' last week on Earth and ultimate Passion (his painstaking final hours for you non-Gentiles), "JCS" presents the story as a rock opera, featuring and lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The soundtrack has all the understandable angst Judas felt- with a catchy guitar riff!; all the suffering of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane- featuring Ted Neely literally howling his agony!; all the love between Jesus and Mary Magdalene- with disco favorite Yvonne Elliman offering the soothing and heartbroken and necessary female vocals! Never before were the Gospels so appealing to me. you don't even have to be a practicing Catholic to enjoy the blatant 70s spin on the story of Jesus.

Five. No Direction Home

Not exactly a notable movie soundtrack, but not many others have been so influential in my life. In order to solidify what little I knew about Bob Dylan and in order to catch some note-worthy song titles, a few years back stuck it out through the three hours of this Bob Dylan biography, detailing his life from his quiet life in Minnesota as a boy to his peak of fame in 1966. Rather cleverly defying to accompany the movie with a compilation of his obvious greatest hits, of which there are many, the soundtrack features numerous rare and often previously-unheard home-recordings, outtakes, alternate takes, demo-recordings and live versions of both his popular and lesser-known songs. The live song I hyperlinked above is the end of the movie, featuring footage of one of the tracks on the soundtrack, the infamous "Judas!" live version of "Like A Rolling Stone." I don't think I've ever taken so many songs off one album in order to make my myriad various mixes. The film and soundtrack properly laid the foundation for my obsession with Dylan.

Six. O Brother, Where Art Thou?

An odyssey across the Depression-era American South reminiscent of Homer's most famous work, the Coen Brothers' classic O Brother, Where Art Thou? features an award-winning soundtrack composed by the brilliant T-Bone Burnett with modern reworkings of music of that era. The album has a feel good, old-timey quality about it that instantly relaxes the listener and rids one of worries, replacing those perturbations instead with pleasant thoughts of fields, sunsets, campfires and homemade moonshine. I think it's the only reason I was able to make it through my freshman research paper, about Jack London incidentally. I was stressing out in my attempts to come up with thirty notecards and ten sources until I bought a copy of O Brother, Where Art Thou?'s soundtrack. Immediately, at least in my memory, I fully realized that it was the end of the school year- it was getting warmer, and the room filled up with mild, brownish-yellow light recalling the color of faded old Depression-era photos might take up. Everything about the album is like this- from Norman Blake's sorrowful, finger-picking-riddled rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" to the fake Soggy Bottom Boys' hit, "Man Of Constant Sorrow" to Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch's bubbly, ethereal approach to the spiritual "I'll Fly Away." As with any Coen Brothers movie, the soundtrack and the songs they choose are very important to them, and I believe they simply nailed it perfectly when planning the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Seven. Summer of '42

Fifteen-year old Hermie falls in love with twenty two-year old Dorothy while living at his summer home during World War II. He initially watches her from afar and fantasizes about being with her. He then performs some chores for her, beginning to get to know her and realize that she has a beautiful personality to match her looks. Towards the close of the movie, he discovers that her husband whom she just married has been killed while serving in another country, leading to the most painfully depressing and romantic sexual encounter ever chronicled in film. The film is beautiful, but how could the director adequately convey the agony and tribulations of a teen in love without a score to match it? He found his man in French composer Michel Legrand, who did a leGrand job of capturing the film's heartbreak and triumph. The haunting "Theme From Summer of '42" while serving as the soundtrack's basic motif, is also played on a vinyl record before the ultimate love scene (kind of like foreplay for what is the longest and most agonizing silence of any movie), as if it is a real song in Hermie and Dorothy's universe. The song rises and falls with gripping emotion. The initial simple four notes on the piano are all you need to burst into tears.

Eight. To Kill A Mockingbird

When you start To Kill A Mockingbird, you witness a young girl, presumably the heroine, Scout, drawing with crayons as the title credits begin to roll across the scene. The sheer simplicity of the scene accurately exemplifies the meaning behind the soundtrack for To Kill A Mockingbird. Elmer Bernstein, the composer, expressed in an interview once that in order to come up with the soundtrack's main theme, he simply sat down and fingered random keys in the hopes to come across something striking and profound. What he discovered instead is that the soft, uncomplicated progression of notes interestingly resembled the way a small child would toy with piano keys with his or her index finger. From there, he composed an elaborate and sweeping score that reflected the beauty in the simplicity of childhood and the inherent goodness it contains. Aside from the racial and legal overtones that occupy a large part of To Kill A Mockingbird, the story is mostly about being a kid. And I think Bernstein really understood this and incorporated the idea into his score. Often the soundtrack evokes basic emotions of youth- those lazy and quiet summer mornings, or the brisk walk to and from school in late autumn, or the fear of isolation and the unknown that darkness incurs, or the comfort one finds in a parent. I can remember the fourth time I read To Kill A Mockingbird in eighth grade, when I played the soundtrack as I read, hoping to gain a more well-rounded perspective of all aspects of the story (novel, movie and soundtrack). For the only time in my life, I somehow read through the final scene, in which Scout nostalgically reflects on the years contained in the story and all the people she knew then, at the exact same pacing as the song which closes the film, called "End Title." If that's not explicit enough, what I mean is that each moment that the song covers in the film was covered at the same time as I read the scene. So basically, it was as if I was watching the movie in my hands. Get it? Anyway, it was really meaningful, and at that point in the movie, Scout talks about the people she knew then, and ultimately says, as her voice cracks, "...and Atticus" Just then the song swoops into the rousing, orchestral and comforting finale.

. . .

A lot of people focus on one specific aspect of a movie in order to judge its merit. I like to take in the whole thing- acting, writing, direction, cinematography and accompanying soundtrack. I find that there is an important correlation between a movie and its soundtrack. Movies, with their acting and writing can honestly reflect the occurrence of real and unreal situations alike, but in my opinion, they can't properly convey the most basic human emotions unless they have some form of accompanying soundtrack, unless the lack of music provides some sort of artistic aesthetic. Even the most fantastical movies can still maintain a level of relatability if they're able to capture the essence of human emotion, evoking sadness, happiness or utter nostalgia.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


"The second you put anything out anywhere, someone out there immediately hates you." -Will Leitch

That is more than likely a misquote. I tried really hard to remember the exact wording, but it was strikingly similar to the feeling of trying to remember dreams after you wake up. It was just kind of blurry despite the fact that I was so focused in. I was doing my best job observing every hiccup, clothing imperfection, speech stutter, and patch of wayward facial hair that I could to cement in my mind what a famous writer looks like.

Will Leitch likes to talk a lot.

Now, given Classic Brian's typical audience, most of you probably don't know who Will Leitch is. I say he's famous, yet you've never heard of him. Put two and two together? The dude's a sports writer. And a symbol of innovation in the sports writing business. Basically he started sports blogging. is his doing, and that was the first successful attempt to fuse written sports news and true sports fan opinion. The difference between this and your typical sports column? They dressed as the news, breaking stories and such, but delivered it in a conversational and human form. Like the guy at the bar who knows more than everyone else, but eloquent and legitimate. Usually.

Anyway, I heard that he would be guest-speaking for our sports journalism class oh, about two months ago. At the time I was scrounging to remember who the guy was. Ah, yes, the Deadspin guy. That tiny scrap of excitement snowballed over the next two months to the point where this week that was the one thing I was looking forward to. Hell, if I didn't get to see all of you for Thanksgiving it'd probably constitute the highlight of my month (Fact: that made 95% of my readers happy. I love Denmark!). (November sucks.)

I've always had a thing with famous people. Being in Springfield, I was away from anybody who did cool shit with their life. (I wasn't so desperate as to freak out that Legally Blonde 2 shot a bunch of scenes in Springfield, but nonetheless I was somewhere between there and apathy) I used to go up to Packers training camp as a kid and be enamored by the athletes. Even the shitty ones. The ones who I knew were going to get cut and forgotten by everybody, even the Packers' trainer caught my eye and had to ask me twice if I was sure I wanted his autograph. Hell yeah I did, Pepper Burress. I guess it's something that stems from the attention they get. If someone who has been paid attention to simultaneously by thousands of people is devoting their attention to solely me, if only for a moment, I become important. That's why half of people get Twitter–to tirelessly try and grab the attention of someone who matters. But today I got to do that with a famous writer. A guy who used to want to do what I want to do, and now he does what I want to do! Crazy!

So, the guy likes to talk. He likes to write too, but he's not very good at writing, he should stick to talking. (Just joking, that's a little inside joke Will and I have) He talked to us about him, he talked to us about them, and he talked to us about us. We covered all bases there, pretty much.

First of all, I don't think it's in my head. Famous people are brighter than normal people. I don't mean more intelligent, I mean they emit light energy better than pedestrian humans like you and I do. He walks into the room and its immediately obvious that he's the guy who we're going to want to listen to for the next hour and a half. Then he starts talking, and it's obvious that he's the guy that we're GOING to listen to for the next hour and a half. For instance, I asked Mr. Leitch if he reads a newspaper (it made sense in conversation, I think), and eight minutes later he arrived at the conclusion that the decline of the newspaper industry WASN'T because of bad journalism or the rise of the internet rather than it was the simple lack of advertising stability. Yeah.

Will started at the University of Illinois. He wanted to be Roger Ebert. He's not, but he's doing his thing. He got involved with several different writing outlets, one and most notably of which was a blog he started with his friends (DID YOU HEAR THAT GUYS? WE'RE ON OUR WAY!). Somewhere in there he started writing about sports instead of movies. He used the internet as a tool to expose himself (as a writer, not like Greg Oden or Brett Favre) to a bunch of different possible employers. And back then (way back, like in 2005), it was innovative. Neat! The question is, that won't work for writers today. And you're right, that wasn't a question. Exactly my point. Today you have to write in thousands of places and make great friends with every person in a higher position than you and you have to break an astounding news story every month and you have to simultaneously write a story, make a podcast of it, video tape a YouTube video and opine about it, tweet it, Facebook it, e-mail it, have a chat discussion about it and write a rap song about it all at the same time. It is becoming exponentially harder to fill in what few niches haven't been filled in yet. I figure it's best to quit college and jump right in as soon as I think of a good one. But maybe not really.

Going back to the quote I used to lead off this post, public people have to have thick skin. People are assholes and love to prove it. In fact, if I wasn't close friends with 80% of our readers and distant acquaintances with the other 20%, I'm sure it'd be impossible for me to post anything without getting lambasted and torn to shreds by some asshole who knows more than I do. But then again, just saying that makes me some asshole who knows more than he does. If you're writing an opinion piece, you can't make everybody happy. You can't make music without someone saying it sucks. You can't make a movie without someone saying it's not that great. You can't make a joke without someone thinking it's very un-funny. And usually that person is Tynan Shevlin, but at least he picks his spots.

What did I learn today? Not much. I discussed a lot of things that I wanted to discuss. I got a happy earful (why does that sound so gross?) from somebody who is well-known, and I got a renewed hope that maybe I can make it as a writer. Why? Because by the end of the chat, Mr. Leitch seemed more like a Will. He thinks Reilly stinks now just like I do, he loves Simmons but gets tired of how predictable he is from time to time, he appreciates a good joke and Buzz Bissinger told him he was full of shit on live television and he hasn't even YouTubed the clip. He's busy, he's happy, and most importantly, he does what he wants. He doesn't mail it in when writing about certain things because he doesn't have to write about that. He's got his niche, and that's all he needs to worry about. I just hope there's room for more than one person of that nature in the journalism stratosphere.

So what is the point of this post? Oh, I don't know. To exalt, perhaps. I had a good day. I met an interesting person. I met someone who was in my shoes once and now he wears the shoes that I want to wear myself at some point. Maybe I'll get there someday, but if I want to, I'll have to find a different path than the one he's taken. Well, I might have to.

We don't know what the future holds, but we're pretty damn excited about it.

--Eliot Sill

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A letter

Dear Taylor Swift,

It's me Mada. I wanted to start off by telling you that I bought your newest album Speak Now and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's catchy but not campy, easy to connect with and very, very, extremely honest. I think you are the only artist that I have followed since their debut which makes you very dear to my heart. I got your first album when you first hit country radio and bought the next two almost as soon as you released them. This means I have gotten to watch you grow and change as an artist. Again, very cool.

When your first album came out you had this really cool edgy country thing about you. I saw some of your early publicity shots next to a motorcycle, don't think we forgot your original image. Actually, most people did forget your original image. Whatever. Your hair was bigger and you showed a little midriff. Very un-disney. You had lyrics in your songs like "so go and tell your friends that I'm obsessive and crazy that's fine I'll tell mine you're gay." Shocking for little fifteen year old Taylor. But intriguing. And ear-turning. I have always had a guilty affection for country music and I loved your fresh and raw sound, and I loved the fact that someone so young had written enough songs for an entire album completely on her own. However, as you second album released some of this was lost.

As you were preparing for Fearless you seem to have gotten caught in a publicity trap. I guess someone noticed that no one cares about Jennifer Aniston anymore and that the spot for America's Sweetheart was vacant. Next thing I knew your hair was smaller, you wore sundresses and you changed my favorite line "So go and tell your friends that I'm obsessive and crazy, that's fine you won't mind if I say." What is that? That's not cool or striking. That's not making me want to listen to what you say. Insult people! Let me know what you're really feeling! Don't water yourself down or deflate you hair or change your image because your publicist told you it'll sell a few more records. I realize you're in the pop industry to I can't really call you a sell-out but I will say that it hurt me a little bit. In my heart area.

Where's my motorcycle?

Finally Fearless dropped and of course i bought it within the first week. I didn't have an ipod cord in my car them so it remained on repeat in my cd player for quite awhile. This album had a very different feel than your last one. It was a lot poppier and at some points seemed less sincere and honest. It was a bit watered down and it was all very Disney friendly. One song was rumored to be about Joe Jonas but that was never confirmed and the song isn't mean at all. Don't get me wrong, I still loved it. I still know most of the words and I still listen to it every once and a while but there just seems to be something missing. I investigated this and realized that one of the main factors was that you co wrote about half of your songs. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time but I like you for your songs. Not songs with your ideas and mostly their input. That shit's weak. Love Story was annoying and I skip it almost every time. I get it though. Love Story played on the radio about a thousand time more than Tim McGraw did off you first album. I get that that's where the money is...

You released your third album Speak Now just a couple weeks ago and I already have it memorized. Don't worry, slight disappointments in Fearless did not keep me from being a ridiculous fan girl. I heard that you reverted back to your old ways and had written every song on the album and that made me even more excited for its release. Old Taylor! Upon listening to it I must say I was and still am very taken with it. You're songs are catchy but not in vapid way and holy God are they honest. Like you got your balls back in a big way. Awesome. Thank you. The song about Camilla Belle? So mean. So great. "She's not a saint and she's not what you think she's an actress. She's better known for the things that she does on a mattress". Burn. Killed. I hate girls too! Which means that I can listen to this song and vent. Having songs be about real events makes your audience able to connect with them that much better. John Mayer? You wrote three songs about him. Wow. I loved everyone of them. "Don't you think nineteen's too young to be messed with? This girl in the dress cried the whole way home" What a dick. I can't believed he hit it and quit it with you when he's like 33 and you were 19. Had you not written that song I would never had known this.

Basically I wanted to thank you for and congratulate you on your new album. I will say you've lost most of your country sound but every musician evolves and changes. What I appreciate is that you are back to being you. You are writing your own songs and you don't give a fuck. If someone does you wrong you're going to tell the world. I would tell you this is probably dangerous for your social life but you clearly already know that since it's all you ever talk about in your interviews. Like at all. If something is really important to you, you should say it. You shouldn't keep it bottled up inside or put it off until it's too late. You should speak now. Zing!

Sincerely, a devoted fan,
Mada Larson

PS Friend of yours?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nick - Mindblowing

This weekend I headed over to a place called Class Act in downtown Champaign to check out a college improv tournament. I hadn't been expecting much; I was mostly just there to support a couple of our local teams, DeBono and Titanic Players Team Kaboot. But once I got there and saw tons of improv teams from all over the region, it's hard to explain how awed I was.

A lot of you from Springfield probably haven't seen (decent) long form improv before, so let me start with that. I had always assumed that long and short forms were just two sides of the same coin; different ways to do the same thing. I kind of vaguely knew that somewhere out there, there were people who do long form improv. But having been exposed to long form improv for awhile now, I'm beginning to realize that the two forms are almost completely incomparable.

Short form definitely has its merits, and I miss doing it sometimes. Jumping into the world of long form improv is a huge transition. In long form, you don't get the luxury of having good games and bad games. Everything has to flow together; if something is failing, it has to be saved and rejuvenated. Everything stems from your source scenes, and fits together like a puzzle by the end of the piece.

All of the added complexity of long form means that long form done well can go far beyond the threshold of what short form can accomplish. Watching everything come together, as well as the other advanced techniques involved, means that long form can go much deeper. It also, however, means that anything but the very best long form improv can be slow and draggy. Which is probably why it took me awhile to get to enjoy it after seeing it done badly.

I did not mean to talk about long and short forms for that long.

The competition was astounding. You had all different kinds of forms; there were long forms, short forms, intermediate forms, and musical forms. I'm happy to say that Champaign's own DeBono and Titanic Team Kaboot were my favorites, but the enormous number of styles and troupes was mindblowing. There were way too many awesome teams to write about all of them, but I want to mention some of the more interesting ones here.

First, the aforementioned DeBono is one of the most incredible troupes I've ever seen. Their style, which they invented entirely by themselves less than a month ago, is an improvised musical. And I mean a real musical, with heroes, villains, recurring characters, an incredibly talented guitarist, and a story arc. Imagine improvising an entire 45 minutes musical. (They were only allowed 25 minutes in the competition, but I've seen them go much longer.) In this form, there is no room for poorly thought out or weak scenes, and tons of musical talent is required. Were I a judge, I would have given them first place just for this form's invention, let alone its flawless execution.

We also had a representative team from Improv Mafia. Improv Mafia was a lot different from all of the other troupes performing, because they chose a form that lives somewhere in between long and short form. They start out with a short form game, and move onto a montage from that game. Their entire MO is extreme, fast paced, high energy improv. They didn't worry about conclusions to scenes or tying up ends. Short scene after short scene, thrown together quickly to draw as many laughs as possible.

As much as it pains me to have to lump teams together when they all deserved their own paragraph, there were a bunch of really great teams that employed long form or some combination of short and long form. The Crazy Monkeys (from Purdue University) was one of my favorites; their long form was hysterical. There was also a team from Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee (!) who just started doing long form improv last week (again, !). I got to meet a lot of them and I feel great about getting to make friends with other improvisers from across the region. There were a bunch of other great ones I feel bad for not mentioning, but this post is already way too long.

And now we arrive at my (admittedly biased) favorite: Titanic Players Team Kaboot. It's really hard to describe with justice the way that Kaboot operates on stage. None of their scenes are ever weak. Everything is always used perfectly; every concept brought up is brought back later, every scene comes together like a puzzle before the piece is finished. What impresses me most about Kaboot is their spacebending technique. And this is hard to explain if you haven't seen it done, but they "bend" space to make a large area on a small stage. For example, maybe a couple of characters walk out of a scene, but rather than walking off they walks in place; the rest would scoot off in the opposite direction so that it looks as if they're actually walking. They can use that to have scenes which span multiple locations. This is by no means the coolest thing they can do with spacebending.

I guess I got two lessons out of this experience. Firstly, I never realized how little experience I had with improv. EATIT is pretty much an isolated bubble of improv culture in the middle of Springfield. As amazing and impressive as this is, it means we never got to get together with other troupes and compare notes. I had seen Second City a few times, but they aren't anything compared to what some of the troupes in this competition could do.

And the second lesson: I will never, ever be this funny. But this whole experience has invigorated me to try.

EATIT forever,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Response to Robert's Post

--Jimmy Hibsch

All of my life I’ve wanted to be someone.


I thought college would be the place to do that, and it seemed to be: I had a great group of friends, I had been writing for the newspaper, I had been doing well in my classes.

That was all until a Nintendo 64 invaded my dorm room.

My already limited time with my roommate (limited because of his nightly three-six hour Skype sessions) quickly withered. What had began as our “dirty little secret” (the Nintendo 64 – we didn’t want the masses to know of our treasure) soon divulged. Our room is now a soup kitchen for the smash bros of Mark Twain, and no one is hungrier than Garrett Richie and Robert Langellier.

If I had thought being the third wheel when Garrett Skyped his beloved was bad, I was mistaken.

This was worse.

Occasionally I’ll plug in and kick some ass with Yoshi or Jigglypuff (I’m not kidding), but any “kill” I get is usually brushed off with a “fucking cheap shot” or some other adage of the sort. My queer character preferences aren’t a cry for attention. I see glimpses of myself in both Yoshi’s and Jigglypuff’s eyes.

We are the forgotten. The neglected.

Our cute exteriors shroud our internal desolation. All we ask for is someone to let us shine.

As I sit and watch the duo wallow in their smashing, I feel like a voyeur.

I’ll plea for some acknowledgment:

“Kirby looks cool when he’s blue.”

“I’m going to go jump out the window.”

“Wouldn’t it be funny if I wrote about me having to watch you guys play this game?”


My only response is the ring of a virtual home-run bat or a “Fuck!” from either of the two. My existence has been degraded to nothing. Sitting entombed in invisibility at my desk, I am left to only my iPod as a source of solace.

And even it taunts my existence. As soon as I began penning my sorrows, I put it on shuffle. Celine Dion’s “I Surrender” was its first choice. And I do.

I’d surrender everything to feel the chance to live again. I reach to you two --

Every night, the games get longer and the fire inside me gets stronger. I swallow my pride.

Can’t you hear my call?

Smashing is a Virtue

Robert Langellier and Garrett Richie

Much like Matt Mckinney, I want to share my finest piece of journalism thus far with the audience.

Some things in college demand your attention. There are massive reading assignments, part-time jobs, weekends, the ladies and Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 64. You can guess which one demands the most.

Smash Bros. serves as the great equalizer of the Millennial Generation. Regardless of one’s cultural, ethnic, or socioeconomic standing, every round offers the opportunity to destroy or be destroyed, to kill or be killed. Consistent smashing cultivates a greater knowledge of vice and virtue, victory and defeat, life and death. With every thrown controller or celebratory dance amidst animated confetti, the world of Smash Bros. offers practical examples of MU’s famous four pillars.

Is it really reasonable to allot more time in a day to a decade-old video game than to sleep? Shut up. Of course it is. There is absolutely no question, and this is why:

1. Excellence. I don’t know if you’ve ever played either of us, but we’re really really really super good. We can tell because of how we’ve grown desensitized to the way people often tear up after we’re done ripping their character apart. Super Smash Bros. ignites the desire to succeed…at nothing of importance, but there is a principle that I’m sure has been ingrained in us that will help us become better people down the road, maybe. We frequently hone our inapplicable talents by playing 1 vs. 3 team matches against level 9 computers. (That’s like playing one level 27.) We play hour-long 99 stock matches and master highly specific ways to kill our opponents. We comb the internet for Smash Bros. knowledge, studying tier systems that rank character abilities. Excellence achieved.

2. Respect. One might take the steady, screaming flow of colorful obscenities as derogatory, but really it’s a Smash Bros. code of language to show respect to our opponents. We also have deep respect for the Code of Randomness, always submitting ourselves to the game’s decisions. Never choose your computer opponent. Never choose your stage. If you’re fighting Pikachu, Link and Ness at Samus’ acid stage, take every thunder, B-Up sword slice and PK fire like a champion before being acid cleared to your undeserved death. Like in the real world, the players who consistently come out on top know how to adjust to what is thrown at them, adapting to and conquering their circumstances. Respect the Code.

3. Discovery. Smash Bros. encourages players to expand their horizons, embarking on a journey to discover new and exciting possibilities by switching characters. Learn why Jigglypuff’s aerial-attack-to-B-Down combo is the best in the game, or why Yoshi’s cute little jump is actually impossible to stop when he’s defying death with a triumphant hum. Realize the fan’s shield-breaking potential and shatter the hopes of your unexpecting opponents. Have high frequency Bob-omb battles with your friends. Have a Captain Falcon battle where the only allowed move is Falcon Punch. Falcon Punch someone in real life. Super Smash Bros. is a gold mine for inspiration when used properly.

4. Responsibility. We’ll admit, there’s not a whole lot of this going on here. Spending hours tearing apart lesser players (all other players) just because we can doesn’t necessarily translate to an accomplished resume, but we like to think that taking out our violent frustrations on each other with a video game is just another step towards growing up.