Laugh Out Loud Theater

Last Saturday I got a chance to visit my friend Lillian Frances. Lillie and I were on a team called Frank Booth at ImprovOlympic in the 90s. I was on that team for about 4 years during which we probably performed over 200 Harolds together, mostly at iO, but we also performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and a few other places along the way. We created a show with our friend Tara Davis called the Frank Booth in the Blue Velvet Lounge where we combined torch songs and long form improv, setting scenes in the same lounge where Tara sang. Our swan song was a show called Therapy directed by Miles Stroth where we vented our real life foibles in front of an audience and then poked fun at ourselves through improv.

Lillian Frances and Kevin MullaneyIt’s been years since we’ve seen each other, but we still have a very strong connection. Lillie and I had similar sensibilities and even more similar ambitions. We both wanted to run our own theatres, we both loved improv and we were both frustrated by ImprovOlympic. Don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderful place to learn and grow as performers. It was the kind of frustration you feel when you love something and feel it could be even better if only you were in charge. A feeling that many, many performers have felt over the years as they passed through iO.

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This Is Just To Say

My friend Calan writes a web comic that I love. The graphic style of it is wonderful and the mood of the comic is fun too, sweet Gothic horror. In her own words it’s:

A webcomic about a semi-neurotic goth gingerbread boy, his strange playmates and the sister who wants him dead.

Last week she put up a comic that was inspired by the William Carlos Williams poem, This Is Just To Say. She writes:

I was listening to a podcast of This American Life the other day and it opened with the famous poem ‘This is just to say’ by William Carlos Williams, followed by several spoof versions. Apparently, many writers have done versions of this famous poem. In fact, in classrooms and writing groups it’s not an uncommon exercise, not to mention a fun one, to create a rendition of the poem.

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In Praise of Matt Pack

I finally got on facebook. So far it’s been a great tool for me to reconnect with a lot of people that I lost track of the last couple of years. It’s very easy to feel isolated out here from all the great people I met in Chicago and New York. Facebook is a little more engaging than just emails to keep in touch. Plus they just added chat!

Matt Pack - this image linked without explicit permission from whimsicalfilm.comOne of the first people I had a nice chat with was Matt Pack. He mentioned the radio program he’s working on, Fair Game with Faith Salie. So I added the show to my podcaster and loaded 20 episodes to my mp3 player this morning.

What a great show. It’s mainly an interview format in the same category as say Fresh Air, which I also love, but younger and funnier with comedy bits sprinkled in. Faith Salie is a good interviewer and the show genuinely made me laugh. The first episode I listened to featured a sort of op-ed segment by Matt Pack. It was a nice surprise since Matt only said he was writing for the show. I didn’t realize he did on air segments as well.

I ended up thinking about Matt a lot today on my drive as I listened to the show, and I felt compelled to post something about him. He is one of those rare people who always makes you feel better. I can’t think of time that I’ve seen Matt Pack and haven’t felt happier because of it. He has an infectious smile and is just a great guy to hang out with. Hell, I feel better just thinking about Matt now.

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I Started a Book Club

Book Club IconI started a book club through meetup.com. If anyone has some recommendations for good contemporary fiction, please let me know. I’d like to work out my list for the first few months.

What are the requirements for inclusion on my list? Books must be in paperback and ubiquitous enough to be found in a local library. A big bonus if they are available for the Kindle (I may only use Kindle-available books for purely selfish reasons). Oh and they must be good books, hopefully with a bit of an edge.

I’m also considering doing some kind of virtual version of the book club. Perhaps I would do it in SecondLife, or via a group in Facebook or on my message board. Sounds like fun and not that much more work since we would read the same book in the different locations.

Did I Really Need to Tell You That?

I am not a private person. I like to talk about myself too much, not because my life is so fascinating, but because I have a compulsion to talk about whatever is currently on mind, no matter how mundane. If you give me the chance, I’ll bore you with details of my latest weight loss ideas, the electronic gadget I’m thinking about buying, what I just cooked for lunch or even what size underwear I bought at Wal-Mart.

Last summer I made a series of videos about such mundane aspects of my life as going to a movie or riding my bike. And it’s not like I’m able to spin it into some amazing anecdote. I’m sure if a random person comes across those videos, they will most likely watch it, shrug and say, “What was that?”

Sometimes I think I just never outgrew that stage in life when you come home from school and say, “Mommy, mommy, look at this picture I made at school!” as I hand over this pathetic still life made from shapes of colored paper, crayons and glue.

What’s most difficult about this now is that many of the details of my life revolve around illness and family. The details are mostly private and should be. Many of the things I do feel like sharing, should really be saved for personal conversations, not public postings on the web. But still I do want to share a few things. I can’t help myself.

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Would you send your kids to a school where you didn’t know the teachers?

Would you ever send your kids to a school where you didn’t know the teachers and you had no chance of ever meeting or interacting with the teachers?

Of course not.

So why do we accept a food system where we have little chance of meeting the farmer who grows our food?

There is an alternative, or rather alternatives.

Some Happy Moments in the Life of Kevin Mullaney

Today, I bought some men’s small underwear, and they fit!

My dad got a brand new washer and dryer for our duplex. I have spent most of my adult life without a washer and dryer. After about 6 months with a set in Arizona, I don’t know how I could live without them. This may be one of the top 3 reasons I don’t return to live in New York (unless I live far out on Long Island, New Jersey or Westchester). I remember scoffing at a friend of mine who lived in the Chicago suburbs, when he showed me his personal washer and dryer. Now I understand.

I just broiled and ate an absolutely lovely piece of chicken breast, smothered in walnut oil, a little butter and some lemon pepper Mrs. Dash.

Chicken