Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Big Show

After 12 years and something like 800 performances, I may have reached the pinnacle of my improv career Friday night.

Tantrum got to perform at the annual conference of the National Collegiate Honors Council. We had a captive, energetic audience of over 1,500 people.

Our show was at The Midland, on the same stage where Jerry Seinfeld had just performed the night before.

It was the largest crowd I’ve ever entertained, and the largest and best venue I’ve ever played.

And we were ON. Just a tremendous show.

Instead of running onto a small intimate stage, we waited--music cranked--for the enormous curtain to be lifted.

Instead of entertaining a few dozen family, friends, and fellow improvisers, we were making more than 1,500 very intelligent people laugh big and laugh often.

It was quite a rush, and of course it was over too soon.

And that, in retrospect, is the bittersweet part of it. Realizing that these opportunities don’t come along very often, that we may never do such a great show for such a big room’s not hyperbole to say that Friday night may have been a once-in-a-lifetime gig.

Damn, was it fun.

P.S. This happens to be my 200th post on this here blog. It took less than seven months to get through the first hundred, and almost seventeen months to get through the next hundred. Thanks to all of you who still check in, even though my output isn’t what it used to be.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Overheard at the Gym

After I finished my workout today, I climbed off the cardio machine du jour and removed my headphones.

A woman, probably about 40 years old, was on the elliptical in front of and to the right of me. She was talking to a girl, probably 13 or 14 years old. I'm assuming it was her daughter.

As I walked past them to return the magazine I was reading, the girl says:

"What are 'show-ers' and 'grow-ers'?"

My head whipped around to catch the mom wrinkling up her forehead, as if puzzled by the question.

The guy on the machine next to her happened to be taking a sip of water, and he did the most wonderful, honest spit-take I've ever seen. As he coughed the excess water away, the mom said, "Well it looks like HE might know!"

The guy looked mortified, and he violently shook his head side-to-side as he tried to gather his speaking voice.

Finally, he said, "That's WAY out of my jurisdiction. I would suggest that you [the mom] look it up first and proceed with caution."


Monday, October 4, 2010

Your 2010 Kansas City Royals

Well, another lost season has come and gone for the Royals. After flirting with 4th place most of the year, they finished with authority and ended the year in the cellar. At 67-95, they had the 5th worst record in baseball. At least they didn’t lose 100.

The 2010 Royals were strange. The first half of the year featured Guillen, Ankiel, Farnsworth, and Podsednik—middling veterans who we knew (hoped?) would not be around in August. The second half showcased…Betemit, Blanco, and Ka’aihue.

Yes, it was an odd year, but at least they didn’t bother getting our hopes up (Ned Yost’s All-Star Break “we’re still in it” comment notwithstanding).

Random observations:

-The Royals leader in home runs was shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt with 16. Yeah. Him. Technically, he was tied for the team lead with Jose Guillen, who was traded in August and only played in 106 games for KC.

Sixteen home runs is tied with the Oakland A’s for the worst team-leading total in baseball this year.

For perspective, Betancourt would have finished NINTH on the Toronto Blue Jays in home runs, behind such luminaries as John Buck.

-Quiz time: Who had the lowest ERA among Royals starters this year? If you said Zack Greinke you are correct. But if you said Bruce Chen, you are also correct – they tied at 4.17. So yes, last year’s Cy Young winner and a career journeyman who throws 86 mph had roughly equivalent seasons. Chen led the Royals with 12 wins.

Speaking of Greinke, he never looked dominant this year. The lack of motivation may have something to do with it, but he never seemed to have any of the electric stuff he showed last year. More alarming, he got absolutely SHELLED a few times. I have no idea what to expect of him next year.

-Joakim Soria is probably the best pick in the history of the Rule 5 draft. The Royals might have the best closer in the game right now, which is about as useful as owning a motorcycle in Alaska.

-Alex Gordon, who is ready to “dominate” next year, batted .215 in a couple hundred at-bats.

I don’t expect much in 2011, and that’s as it should be for a Royals fan. We might see our first glimpses of the future in Montgomery, Moustakas, and Hosmer. But I see another win total in the 60s, while bigger crowds than they really deserve cheer them on between texts and facebook updates.