Improv wiki roundup – Upcoming Improv Festivals

Inspired by a question in a Facebook status, I decided to make a page on the IRC Improv Wiki for Upcoming Improv Festivals. I have started working on it and have gotten a few festivals on the list, but I hope to do some more work on it in the coming days. If you don’t want to add your festival directly to the list, you could also leave a comment here on the blog with the name, dates, location and link for your improv festival and someone will add it to the page.

Some improv groups were added to the wiki this week, Great Heights and Twenty Seven and some updates to Whisker Bliss, UCBW and Un-scripted Theater. We also had some updates to some performer pages including Shannon O’Neil, Julie Klausner, Jodi Skeris, and Rachael Mason.

Improv wiki roundup

I thought this might be a semi-regular, fun entry for the blog. About a year and half ago, I started an improv wiki on my other site. It’s grown quite a bit with well over 1000 pages now for groups, performers, shows, concepts and more. If you are an improvisor, please create an account and start adding information that you know. At the moment, there is a lot of good information about the New York scene, but the Chicago and LA improv scenes are not as well documented.

This week I started pages for the New York groups Centralia and Burn Manhattan. I also started a page for Inside Vladimir, a long running Chicago team that featured Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (I added some info to both of their pages also, but they are still a bit sparse). Continue reading “Improv wiki roundup”

13 Great Songs You Can Download For Free

I recently got a new iPod and the last few months I’ve been busy filling it up. One of my favorite sites for free (and legal) mp3 downloads is I’ve found a surprisingly large number of songs on this site that I love. It certainly doesn’t have everything, but they have a lot of great tracks. Here are 13 songs I’ve downloaded from the site and highly recommend:

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My Favorite Podcasts

By far, my favorite podcast is This American Life. If I were stranded on a desert island and could only receive one piece of media regularly, it would be TAL. If by chance you aren’t familiar with this show, it’s a weekly radio show by Chicago Public Radio. It’s kind of a documentary magazine format with different stories all revolving around a theme. The stories tend to be personal stories, sometimes told by the participants, sometimes a reporter will edit together different materials, mostly interviews. At times the stories are funny, at other times the stories can be deeply moving. They are almost always interesting.

Every week, the latest episode is available for download free of charge. Also, if you are online, you can listen to their entire back catalog of shows, going back years. Older shows can also be downloaded for 99 cents from itunes.

One of my favorite episodes of recent memory is episode 355, The Giant Pool of Money which was a great dissection of the sub prime mortgage mess, told through individual stories from every link in the chain from home buyers all the way up to Alan Greenspan. This show, made in conjunction with NPR News, spawned another one of my favorite podcasts called Planet Money.

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Second Life Down for the Count

Second Life, the 3D virtual world in which I make my real life living, is offline today. For the last week or so, things have been bad. Linden Labs has made a number of “upgrades” in recent weeks to both their servers and their viewer (or client). It has not gone well.

When things start going badly, I start hearing from customers that they have lost their stuff. The things you own in Second Life, things you have bought, made or been given, only exist on the Second Life asset servers. You can’t back them up directly to your hard drive. Often you only have a single copy which you cannot even back up in Second Life. So when someone loses something it can be very upsetting. This week I’ve heard from a lot of upset people. It hasn’t been this bad in a long time.

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A Shout Out to ImprovEverywhere

I want to let everyone who works on the ImprovEverywhere missions that you are definitely penetrating the zeitgeist in the rest of the country.

When I was in Phoenix, I was attending a book club fairly regularly and struck up a friendship with the facilitator. We met for lunch one day and because she knew I was an improvisor, she brought along a friend who had also done some improv. The friend knew that I had worked at ImprovOlympic in Chicago and for the UCB in New York, but she didn’t want to know those theatres. Instead, the only things both of them wanted to hear about were the missions I had done with ImprovEverywhere.

Now tonight, across the country in Illinois, I’m sitting in a computer programming class at the local community college and the teacher spontaneously brought up ImprovEverywhere. He talked about the Frozen Grand Central mission. He was giggling with delight as he told us about it.

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I am a geek

I have always been a geek of sorts. As a child I would ride my bike to the local Radio Shack and lust after the TRS-80 computers. I would sit for hours writing programs in Basic. The sales guys loved it, an 11 year old kid typing away in the store. When a customer would ask about the amazing new computers (with 4KB of RAM!), they would point at me and say how easy it was to program one of them, “See even a kid can do it.”

Not long after this, I begged my mom for an Atari 800 computer. I spent so many hours programming it in my basement. I made all kinds of visual experiments, writing programs which exploited the incredible graphics modes like 160×96 screen pixels and even 320×192 pixels (these modes only allowed for 2 colors at a time). I attended an Atari computer camp in Minnesota the summer of 1983, where I completed my first computer game, a text only ripoff of Risk but with a more geographically accurate map.

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