Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Thoughts on Ron Howard's "Angles and Demons"

I saw "Angles and Demons" a while back and these were my exact thoughts as I was leaving the theater. I figured I should get them down on paper before I forgot. (Click for larger image)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Take A Risk

After a long break from comedy in general I got the opportunity to direct a new mission for the DC Defenestrators. A brainstorming meeting a while back produced what we all knew would be a great idea for our group to do.

Basically what happened is somebody mentioned life-sized board games and started thinking how we could pull them off. We then went over what we had access to in DC regarding monuments and statues and such that we could use. Someone recalled Navy Memorial which looks like this:
and the idea instantly became crystal clear... We would play a giant game of Risk!

The object of the mission would be to conquer the world. Not only were agents attacking countries, but also recruiting people from outside the event with the same color shirt to come attack or defend for their team's honor.

The Generals who commanded the troops and determined who attacked where.

Our Medics who aided in carrying any wounded soldiers off of the map and back to safety.

The giant dice we used to attack and defend countries in the game.

The crowd then started to gather and we went over the rules. The generals would say what to attack and a member of their team would attack with the red dice. A person from the defending country would grab the white defense dice. The first roll if there was a tie, there would be a re-roll, but a tie on the second roll went to the defender. The most important aspect of the game though was to get other people wearing the same color shirt to join in and attack or defend for you.

We all spread out on the board and it was time to play a game of risk!

We soon realized how supportive some of the other teams were!

Shortly after the first battle began and the dice started rolling...

and of course we had our first causality which the medic was quick to respond to.

Our medic carried an injured soldier off the field who was repeating "I've got to find Bubba, I've got to find Bubba"

That made me chuckle pretty hard.

More casualties of war.

After a while the dice really started flying...

REALLY flying!

Of course the most important aspect of the game became recruiting people from outside the game to fight. This is a red team recruit who was around for quite a time.

This girl was a blue recruit who stayed and played for quite a while.

I was actually the person to recruit the guy here in blue. I said "sir, I see you are wearing our country's colors, will you not help defend her? We need your help immediately!"

He was more than willing, but unfortunately he did not survive this battle.

Green also gained a few recruits. This is their general giving orders to attack red.

It was actually a red recruit that beat out the green general in this battle.

You can see it was her poor defense that led to her eventual downfall.

This recruit was fighting for red but something seemed strange...

We thought she may be a double agent!

One of the recruits from blue who was really getting into the game.

Our team was even recruiting them at a young age too!

The lady in the middle was just eliminated by the red general in this picture. I really think she was disappointed she didn't get to play longer than she did.

a recruit for red faces off against an agent for green.

After a hard fought battle it came down to this very battle between green and blue. After the dust cleared, these were the results...

Third place goes to the noble and supportive red team!

Second place goes to the strong and relentless green team.

I had to snap an extra picture of their general's "angry face"

And first place goes to the merciless and victorious blue team!

We gathered up for one final picture and dispersed for an afterparty in Chinatown. All in all it was a great day. Not only was the mission much more effective than I thought it would be, but it seemed like everyone wanted a chance to roll the giant dice and play the game.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Famous For A Day

*Note that all pictures link to their full size counterpart Click any of them for the full-sized image.*

For those of you who don't know by the title what I'm talking about, I organized an event recently for DC's chapter of Improv Everywhere. It's a group of people that get together, do something random to get smiles and glances, then leave everyone with a story to tell.

In the mission I decided to organize, we were going to try and convince everyone that someone - who was not at all famous, was famous. We did this by surrounding him with bodyguards, screaming fans and Paparazzi, and giving him a driver.

I wanted this to happen when the crowds were huge on the mall, so there was no better time than the Cherry Blossom Festival - when the Kite Festival was going on - Just after the Capitol Marathon on the Mall.

The goal of the mission was to turn heads and convince people that Peter - our "star" - was actually famous with the ultimate goal being to get him to the top of the Washington Monument without a ticket.

I surveyed the area and this was the crowd we were going to have to contend with. You can see how insane the crowd is around the monument.

I went from thinking "we can probably make it up" to "we probably won't make it up," but only time would tell.

I met up with a few people at the lake, however I think the map of where to meet didn't circulate as much as I had hoped because 20 minutes after the Entourage was supposed to meet we were still short a bodyguard, our star and our video camera - I was uneasy but hopeful. After getting in touch with Peter and being assured he was on his way, Allison showed up with the video camera which was a huge relief! We waited to make sure nobody else was coming and I began going over the mission and we began taping.

There were about 40 people that met and I was expecting around 100 by the facebook group size. I had to change how quickly people would meet up with the star, but that was just a small change.

Walking up we actually witnessed an accident between a bus and a car. The bus sideswiped the car and made off with its rear-view mirror. Photographic goodness here:

We all got into positions acting either relaxed and oblivious to what is coming (fans) or nervous and wanting more info from our tipsters so we can get the best shots (paparazzi).

These are some of our agents waiting for the star to arrive:

We were poised and ready to turn hundreds if not thousands of heads.

The driver gave me a call as he turned onto Madison Ave. and I bolted for the car and started to take pictures while it was still moving. They pulled up and the star emerged.

Even though there were only three paparazzi members and no crazed fans around the star in the very beginning we were already starting to turn heads just from the bodyguards and driver dropoff.

Our star is dropped off.

My favorite part of all the images I took was the ability to zoom in to small portions and count how many heads we turned. This picture demonstrates how far-reaching the effect was.

Peter began his journey to the Washington monument. We soon realized what a monster we had created when a couple of gentlemen from Saudi Arabia (not from our group) could get a picture with our star. Peter gladly accepted and some of us couldn't help but giggle. Most people concealed it well, but the reaction was priceless.

Peter continued on signing a few autographs, talking with the paparazzi (who were asking him who the new girlfriend was, what happened to the old girlfriend, if he had recovered from his drinking problem, etc) and slowly making his way towards the monument.

We had made up a title of a fake song Peter was famous for - "Trapped in my Heart" - and it was about this time that one of the male fans yelled at the top of his lungs "Trapped in my Heart changed my life!!!!" I got quite a kick out of that, but it wasn't too long after that Peter ad-libbed the chorus for "Trapped in my Heart" to ridiculous amounts of fanfare by the quickly multiplying crazed fans.

Peter Signing autographs for some of our agents

The Paparazzi out in front with the Entourage close to follow.

One of our agents requsting that Peter sign her boob - one of the funnier moments just because the girlfriend (who is not really Peter's girlfriend) acted very appropriately and realistically by getting mad and disgusted at Peter for signing.

Notice the girlfriend has stepped away. I do love the reaction of the girl just over Peter's head.

I love this picture because of the amount going on. Encouraged by the crowd on the right, Peter makes up with his girlfriend by giving her an emphasized hug for the cameras. In the background on the left we have our agent showing off her signature to a friend who just snapped a picture with his cellphone.

I would like to note the people in front of our star here are not part of our crew. They were asked by someone else not in our crew who he was and why they were taking pictures to which they responded "I don't know, everyone else was." - I thought that was priceless.

We passed a high school group which was pretty funny. They were shouting at our star, but I had to make fun of the one guy that was completely oblivious to what was going on.

Peter ran into the "free hugs" people on the DC mall which in and of itself was funny simply because it was one group of people that like to bring smiles and second looks to the people of and visiting DC meets another. After looking hard at this picture though I realized how many people who were sitting and staring at us and what was going on. The numbered people in this picture are people that are looking straight at what is going on, but aren't agents for the mission. (click for full size)

Peter Cardinale - The True American Hero

Peter's first encounter with the security guards. The guard shown was actually really cool about trying to get him up, but the tour guide who was dressed as Lincoln would not let Peter up and wouldn't budge on the matter. The guard suggested trying to go to the ticketing office and get VIP tickets issued. I don't have pictures of him down at the ticketing office, but one of our agents took video of the front of the ticketing office exactly like a crazed fan would. Peter would have even been able to get VIP tickets from the sounds of it, if park services was open. Because it was a Saturday though, we couldn't get up there that way.

Peter gave me a call ready to throw in the towel, but I told him to try and go back up one more time and reason with the guard again.

This is Peter just after visiting the ticketing office. I would like to note that nobody left of Evan (the bodyguard in the rear) is part of our crew. That goes to show how much attention we were attracting.

The second encounter with the Security guard (which we also have video of) The security guard up front just shy of fought with the monument's tour guide behind him in the Lincoln getup to let Peter up into the monument. Sadly, it didn't work.

Peter finally calling it quits to go sign some more autographs then head out.

Peter started to sign autographs again including someone's shoe and someone's hand. You can't see it right now, but he's actually signing someone's hand here that's behind the girl on the left. (Video here)

One of our agents brought a kite for the festival which he had Peter sign.

On the way back Peter lit up two cigarettes at the same time - one for him and one for the girlfriend. I then had a conversation about image with him that went something like this:

Me: Peter, you're not setting a very good role model for your younger fans here.
Peter: Actually, I don't think that's true. I waited until I was of legal age, and now that I am, what's legal is legal
Me: Yes, but what can kill you can kill you.
Peter: I'm pretty sure I have a smaller chance of being killed by cigarettes than blindly walking through traffic (as I'm walking backwards through the street to take pictures of him)
Me: *sarcastically* I hate you Peter.

Quite a funny moment on the trip - and Touche Peter... Touche.

This was when the girl who had her hand signed by Peter called his girlfriend "a complete bitch" and tried to persuade Peter to leave here. I couldn't help but chuckle at that. At this point I had completely filled up my second compact flash card and had taken over a thousand pictures in the short time we were down there. I continued to act like I was snapping away, but unfortunately I don't have pictures after this one.

I did run after the car though and "snapped" pictures through the back window as long as I could keep up with the car. I ended up stopping right in front of the natural history museum where curious onlookers struck up a conversation:
Them: Who was that?
Me: Peter Cardinale.
Them: Who's he?
Me: Oh, he's a singer... he has an album coming out soon. I think this was partially for publicity, but hey, it puts food on my table.
Both of us chuckle and I walk away having convinced them.

The crew split up pretty fast and some of us met up in Chinatown for food and drinks, but most of us were so worn out from the day that we were ready to pass out.

It was tons of fun and I greatly appreciate everyone who made it out and made the event such a success. I look forward to the next one!