Amsterdam in Retrospect

Have some time on my layover to do a quick share. The conference was great. It was an amazing learning experience. There was so much good information, and it was totally awesome connecting with friends both new and old.

People were really affected by my talk, and it sparked a lot of reflection and discussion. I was given one of the highest compliments that I’ve ever received, passionate madman. Of course, I also had time to soak up Amsterdam’s charm. Thank you to all the generous and wonderful people in Portland and Amsterdam for making this trip possible. I couldn’t have done it without you!!!

Tour Guiding

I’ve been a walking tour guide for almost 5 months. You just never know what you’re going to get from tour to tour. Last week I was sexually harassed by this phillipino guy from Seattle because I made the mistake of revealing my sexual identity (thinking that it would build some commonality, it built a little too much).

I was giving an “Underground” Portland tour to a middle school a few months ago. The tour itself focuses on ‘Underground’ topics more than actual subterranean locales. This 13 year old boy from the tour group trots up to me as I’m pulling away from the group to ask “Where’s vaseline alley?”, which is a dated term describing Portland’s now defunct strip of gay bars. After collecting myself, I told him it used to be at 10th & Stark, but that it’s not really there any more.

Many of my tours take place in Oldtown/Chinatown in Portland, and they are often invaded by crazy street people who have something to say. I’ve taken to calling them “Portland Flavor” to my groups once they’re gone and out of earshot. There was one instance where a homeless man was invading and asking questions, and a postman walked up and took him away as he walked by. Myself and the group were pleasantly surprised by this act of consideration from the postman, and my comeback to the group was simply “Portland, a city that works.”

Today, I was scheduled to give a private tour to the Pear Bureau. Yes, there is a pear bureau because, evidently, over 90% of the world’s pears are grown in Oregon and Washington. Well, the surprise was that the pear bureau was actually hosting some high end Russian travel and food show. So I essentially gave a tour to a Russian television show. I’ll be appearing to 56 million Russians as the guide who introduced them to Portland and Voodoo Doughnuts. They even filmed me walking and talking with the host of the show. There’s no end to the thrills in my life.


I was awaken by the sounds of the Italian, Antonio, and the other American, Tom arriving a couple of hours after the cock crowed (Yann has chickens and a rooster who gets zealous at about 630). The Russian, Eugen, and the German, Wolfgang, arrived soon after.

After a light breakfast and coffee, everyone is off to nap, and I’m going to hit the pool. Here comes the opening BBQ. Woohoo! 

Learning new things in Antwerp

 So I learned a colorful new phrase in french, which has delighted my foul mind to no end. “Bouffe ma moule”, which essentially means “eat my snatch”. The story that phrase caùe from is even funnier,but too long for livejournal.

I was shown a place near the old part of the city where they would lock prisoners as the river was reaching flood stage in order to execute them by drowning. It was also downhill from a huge abbatoire of the time. So they would drown in a mixture of river water and animal blood/filth. Europeans have such colorful ways to end things for people. 

On the Farm and in the city

So I’ve arrived in Antwerp. Yann’s place is huge and great. I awoke to a rooster crowing this morning because Yann has a lot of chicken’s on his little estate on the west side of the Schelde River. Pictures will be uploaded when I get back.

I survived 22 hours of flying.  This was largely due to my pal, Dave, picking me up from my layover in Chicago and taking me to this awesome vegan place for lunch. I had some spicy veggie and nut combo that rocked my palate with a ginger tea finish. I needed it for the two other flights I had after Chicago.

The festival doesn’t start until Wednesday. I figure that I’ll have mastered this new keyboard configuration by then. Yann is also schooling me in sword play. We’ve been going through combat routines with shinai (bamboo kendo swords). So I’ll hopefully have mastered that as well. More later, off to photograph the chickens.

Heading to Belgium.

Saturday morning, I’m off for Antwerp the diamond capitol of the world. I was told to bring my swimsuit because it has been so nice there. It’ll be a nice change from Portland.

One of my old pals from Portland is going to meet me out there too! My friend Carrie has been working in Poland for the last 3 years, and I’m excited to catch up with her. She’s coming to one of the shows the international cast is putting on.

On top of all that, my hero, Antonio Vulpio, will be in the cast. But most of the people that I know will be there are so good, it’s hard to pick just one as the best. I feel akin to Antonio because we have similar performance styles. Anyway, if you’re near Belgium and you want to see some great improv, come to Improzac 08 next week.

The finer art of Transcription.

Since returning to Portland, I’ve fallen into transcribing the 45 hours or so of one-on-one interviews I compiled during my fieldwork studying the improv scene of Rochester, NY.  When I look at the numbers, it seems daunting.  When I look at how much time I have before I absolutely need to have a job, it makes me a little panicky. When I look at the words and listen to the interview as an analyst, I become very excited and intrigued. Sometimes I laugh out loud, and sometimes I hiss “Yessss” through my teeth while clenching my fist.

I started the draft of my thesis today, and it was exciting.

Here’s some quotes from various audience members and performers:

  • I find it very interesting to see the stumbling and recovery skills.  That’s terrific, really fun.   (Why do you think that’s terrific?)  Well because in real life we always get ourselves into jams, and, you know, the temptation is to feel terrible, just ashamed, and you know you want to disappear, die.  Please kill me. Take me now! But you know, children have this task to develop recovery skills from jams, you know, things that go on. And, you know, the better you do that, the easier the world will be.
  • It’s kind of like going to see a movie. You might not even be interested in it, but, you know, your favorite actor’s in it. You know, you know the person. You know their work.  They’ve made you laugh in the past. So you go and see them this time.
  •  Music or opera that involves a number of musicians and talents done to the Nth degree would be comparable to the best improv.
  • It wasn’t the sexual titillation of it, it was the horror of watching two people give themselves over to what developed between them in that space.
  • I was very touched [by a show]…I mean, that’s no lie, and I just said, “What if I lived that way?”   And it caused me to examine, on the lowest level, what if I said “yes, and..” to you and you [pointing randomly at people].
  • I wasn’t falling asleep like I sometimes do. In fact, they kept me awake, and I have narcolepsy. The guy that I was with kept looking at me to make sure I’m awake because he pokes me. And I said, “I’m not falling asleep”, and I stayed awake through that whole thing.
  • Man, it goes dark and dirty quickly.  It always does.  Comedy always does.  People relate to it somehow.  It breaks the ice.  It’s like ‘we all have this in common. We all love dirty jokes’. 
  • If the audience never saw human sacrifice Canasta, then I think they would be cheated.

There’s more, and only some of it will end up in my thesis.  I started writing it today, and I’m going for a draft by March.  Wish me luck.