Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Most Pathetic Adventure, Yet, the Most Triumphant

The She-Beast

Stupid bunk-bed. Guys, it is impossible to describe adequately how much I hate this bunk-bed. To summarize my hatred: It requires assembly. I didn't sign up for this! It isn't even my bunk-bed. But today I had a five hour break between classes and thought that maybe I should get around to it. After all, the last line of my introductory post is, "I seek to build a bunk-bed." So really I should have done this a couple weeks back. But, adventurers, it's important to keep in mind that sometimes adventures get backlogged.

The real struggle of constructing the bunk-bed can be defined by three points:

1. I had to put it together by myself. I might as well just have consigned myself to failure.

2. I had no instructions. There were three different sizes of screws in the bag and NO PICTURES. I should have given up at this point.

3. Honestly, I chose the number three at random before I figured out a third point, so let's just say the third point is, uh...karma? Does that work? It works.

I went into this project, as you can see, with little hope of success. But adventurers tend don't need hope! Just that adventuring spirit and a lack of foresight. So I got out my Lance kit (Lance, I know you're probably a decent guy and I apologize for insulting your person, but you're still a tool), and got to work.

Guys, I have no idea what any of these things are

As it turns out, all I needed was a wrench. But it's never a waste of effort to bring in your Lance kit, fellow adventurers, because I walked a good twenty feet with it from my car to the door. Some babes probably saw me and thought, "That man would make a fine husband and a good provider." Because babes love a man who can wander around with a box, possibly full of tools (Lances). 

Moving on from babe-musing, I began to build the bunk-bed.

Trapped in a cage of my own making! 

 Righty-Tighty: The Mantra of the Adventurer

Somehow, fellow adventurers, I got the thing together enough that it was one solid structure that I could lift off the ground. So I braced myself, did some push-ups (two), ate a Twix (four, unless you count individual bars, then eight), and used my muscles (one, it's in my left calf) to lift the frame onto its feet.

I know, I am a pillar of adventureship, but keep in mind 
that this thing was like twenty pounds. I'll admit it.

After the beast was up, I put together the futon frame for the bottom bunk (A FUTON? I know, it's incredible. But I don't actually have a futon mattress, so...yeah). That was pretty much it, aside from mattresses. Now you all know how to build a bunk-bed, step by step! You're welcome.

 I know, it looks like the mouth of a dragon

Sleeping on a bed is way better than sleeping on a couch, probably (I think). But while sleeping is an important bedtime activity, what can an adventurer do in the daytime?

Sit in front of a window and yell at his neighbors, that's what

After almost two months of sleeping wherever I could find an even surface (in my house, where there are couches), I finally have a bed. Don't take it lightly! It took me a whole twenty minutes of construction. It was awful. 

The lesson here is: Somewhere in your home is an adventure waiting to happen! It may be one that bores other people and makes them think of you as lazy, but it's your adventure!

Also, this whole thing is an analogy about procrastination.

Uh...

Be distracted by this song!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Logan Out Loud: Blaydor's Nomads

I was homeless once for three days due not to a lack of funds but a lack of preparation. I had moved out of my summer housing without bothering to find a new place to live for the school year (because I don't live by your system, government tool). During two of those homeless nights I slept on a couch (a very comfortable couch by the way, one which is now for sale!) at the Logan Arthouse.

Jonathan and James Ribera--proprietors of the Arthouse--were kind enough to let me stay there. But after a couple of days I got it in my mind that things needed to change. It occurred to me that keeping my worldly possessions in a Chevy Bonneville and sleeping in a business weren't things that successful people do for too long when they have other options. So I moved in with my grandparents for a couple weeks. Was it ideal? No. But it had its moments. Also, I can't complain because I was the one who decided that my days of wandering were over but didn't want to go looking for more permanent housing.

I'm getting off topic. Homelessness has struck once again, but this time, it's personal...just like last time....Logan Out Loud, providers of the finest improveries in Logan, got news yesterday that their last show at the Arthouse will be this coming Saturday. Apparently (not to name names), this tool named Lance (he's as much a tool as his name suggests) who runs an archery store behind the Arthouse decided that archery sales were going way up this year with the advent of Hawkeye, Katniss, and that really brave girl from Brave (is she brave? I haven't seen it, but I bet she is). With that firmly in Lance the Tool's mind, he set in motion events that led to the Ribera's leaving or paying through the nose for an issue that they didn't create. Then he swooped in (but not like a majestic bird, more like a sentient sea slug, constantly moaning, "My life is worthless") and put an offer down on the place.

I don't want to go into too much detail, so I'll just summarize by saying: Lance is a tool.

From now on, this is known as a Lance kit

So Logan Out Loud roams the streets now, looking for empty stages or abandoned theaters at which they can rustle up a few chuckles before moving on and, thanks to Lance (remember Lance? He's a tool), Logan has once again become a comedy wasteland.

But that's just the depression talking! Fellow adventurers, do not despair. I would not leave you without a king (guys, I'm the king). And no one even try to usurp me because I will conclude you in the most unceremonious manner.

Anyway, now that you are all reassured, allow me to continue. I learned from my homeless experience that if you have time to prepare you had best get on it immediately. Besides, we can't do shows at my grandparents' house. It attracts a weird crowd (I mean old people. Yes, you). As a group we brainstormed our next steps in becoming more powerful than before.

"Take it from me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, death is the first step to a better life!" 

First: we posted on Facebook (which is apparently still a thing?) that we are having our last show at the Arthouse this Saturday, and everyone was like, "What?" "NOOOOOOO!!!" and, "I will be there." And we were like, "Cool." So we rallied the fans, but that wasn't enough.

B: we posted to the Utah Improv Forum on Facebook (still a thing, for now...) that we were willing to perform with other troupes as individuals or in a competitive fashion and got endorsement from Calvin Dittmore (if you don't know Calvin, you don't know anything). Now we will be the "it" thing aaaaaaaaaaaaall up and down this great state. But was that enough? NO!

3: we made a bunch of plans that we had better follow through with in the next week or we are dead in the water, dead like a flotsam constructed entirely of dead rats, floating aimlessly in the ocean.

Multiply this by two-thousand, now multiply that by death. You get the idea.

!: we all spent the evening in mourning, pretty much moping around and lamenting the death of our dearly departed comedy troupe. But with the rise of the morning sun (which, did you know, rises every morning?) picked ourselves up from our puddle of tears, loosened our belts (we binged on candy because we're sad. So what?), and looked forward to a brand new chapter in our saga:

BLAYDOR'S NOMADS

We will rise again, stronger, more handsome, more dexterous, with better teeth, because we've broadened our horizons. Local comedy is good, but college tours are better. So look out, Salt Lake Community College and various instances of Stephens-Henager College. We're coming for you. We're coming to make you laugh. Also, we're coming for your money. Don't think that this is a charity thing.

Of course, the college thing isn't certain yet, but we're putting it in motion. Something about irons in a fire? I don't get it. But that's what we've got. A bunch of irons in a fire. Because we're going to have a lot of wrinkly shirts after the whupping we bring down upon those who get in our way (is that how that colloquialism is used? Yes, it is).

Wish us luck, fellow adventurers!

A bunch of tools, or, Lance-a-lot

P.S. Dear old people: I'm sorry I insulted you. We love you, with your wrinkly skin and your creaky bones and your wheezy cough (oh, how we love your wheezy cough! It is the infirmity that we love most of all!). Please never leave us.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In Search of Thomas Berger: In Which I Send an Email

June 24, 2012


Simon and Schuster blew me off. I expected this from Simon. But Schuster? He's always been a pal, a friend, a decent person. That cut me deepest. Then again, it was expected. After all, I sent them an email in which my reasons for wanting to contact Mr. Berger included, "Because he will die soon." People get skittish around death, I hear.

Also, Samuel L. Jackson never got back to me. What is the world coming to? When did we start living in an age where you can't contact a celebrity in the hopes that he has contact information for someone else and expect an answer? It's a sick world. It's also always been the world, so I'll deal with it somehow.

 "Hoho. Another tweet from a simpleton."

Rather than get discouraged, I decided to dig a little deeper in my search. On the Wikipedia page for Thomas Berger (which of course I can trust), there is a list of authors he has influenced. This list contains one name: Jonathan Lethem. I looked him up (apparently he wrote some books? Probably?) and found an article he wrote called "Fan Mail." Basically, he stole my idea. 

Back in 1989 (the year after I was born, so my complaint is valid), Lethem wrote to Mr. Berger, who responded. Since then they have kept a correspondence.

Guys, this is probably how those letters were delivered

So I decided to send Mr. Lethem('s secretary) an email:
---------------
Lucy,

I hope that you will pass this along to Mr. Lethem. I have put it in my mind that I need to talk to Thomas Berger, at least talk at him. I have been trying to figure out how to contact him for a couple weeks, and after reading Mr. Lethem's article, "Fan Mail," I think I've found the best way to do so. I understand of course that Mr. Berger may be careful to guide his privacy (otherwise I'm sure contact would have been much simpler), so if it is his wish that I pursue this no further, I accept. But frankly the man is a hero of mine, a literary giant among men, and it would be a privilege to ask him a few questions or even send a simple "thank you" for his work.

Any help that can be offered would be great.

Thank you,
Kendall Pack 
---------------


Jonathan Lethem, receiving my email from Lucy, and he's really excited

Now, we wait...

Possibly forever...

Wish me luck, fellow adventurers!




Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Whither, Allie Brosh: Part 1

Fellow adventurers, the search continues. Not just for Old Man Berger, but for many random famous folks who deserve my constant nagging until they talk to me. JUST TALK TO ME! Of course, they're probably busy...being famous.

Moving on, Allie Brosh is incredible. If you haven't read Hyperbole and a Half, then you should seriously consider a lobotomy. Fair warning, there is some language (mostly English, but also some curse words). For the last several months she has disappeared like a pile of dead rats, here one day, gone the next.

Okay, so it's a bunch of these, but dead, also, gone. Just...poof, gone

Her last post was called "Adventures in Depression," so I began to get a sneaking suspicion (very sneaky) that she had falling into a deep bout of said depression and thus was recovering. 

Sneaking Suspicion STRIKES!!!

So I did what any decent human being would do and sent her the following email:
--------------------
Dear Allie (Allie Brosh, also, "Dear" is weird, but...whatever),

I am sure (so sure) that you have received hundreds of emails concerning your lack of posts in the past months. I get that you're burnt out on them (because apparently I know your life?). So I'll make this email much less tragic than those you may have received (or not, I don't know, I don't read your emails).

I am writing a blog for a creative nonfiction class. However, this blog is something that I want to keep developing beyond the seven week course, and so I am looking for things that really matter to me to write about. Allie, as though you don't get enough fan mail, I am going to tell you right now how much I love your blog. Are you ready? Okay.

THE FAN MAIL PORTION, OR, HOW MUCH I LOVE YOUR BLOG

Allie, how much do I love your blog? Soooooooooooooo much.

END OF FAN MAIL PORTION

Back to the point. I want to talk to you about your blog. So really, I want to talk to you about you. And I get that maybe now is not the ideal time for you. For some reason, you may not want to talk to a random stranger about youwith all of the stuff you're going through (because I know, I guess?).

But if you ever do, I sure would like to write that blog post.

And regardless, thanks for the inspiration (you are that inspiration...now this email got weird).

Sincerely,

Kendall Pack
--------------------

As you can see, a little weird, a little creepy, and really pathetic. These are the three requirements of a good email to a famous person. 

Fellow adventurers, I'll let you know what shakes out. Until then, I leave with with this terrifying song. Just watch Paul Stanley at the chorus. I dare you.





Monday, June 18, 2012

In Search of Thomas Berger

June 18th, 2012
In my creative nonfiction class, a student presented to us his finest (and only) blog. Was it a magical blog, filled with those perfect things that make blogs really pop ("Those perfect things" include candy corn recipes, photos of thrifty fashion purchases, and musings about love)? No. But it was about his great passion: snowboarding.

In his journalism class the professor had the students start a blog about their interests. Rather than go the route of school programs (in which his interest stood at the "empty" line of his fuel gauge of fascination, which is an incredible metaphor), he decided to go for something he could write about for an extended time (from time, immemorial, to time, immemorial). To capitalize on this opportunity, he went about Facebook-stalking snowboarders to see if he might interview his heroes and ended up contacting several of them. Now he is an associate editor for a snowboarding magazine called, inexplicably, Snowboard (apparently a dream job????).

Suddenly the mortality of heroes washed over me like a pile of dead rats (I will not give up on this image) as I realized I would not get to interview Ray Bradbury (not in this life anyway...unless...unless he's...The Undead!), who recently passed away. So I decided it was time to get to work on talking to my more nearly-dead heroes.

"Beatrice, I'll never let go. Never!"
Now imagine a bunch of these...but WAY more deceased

Thomas Berger is a novelist living in Somewhertown, Somewhere, USA (probably, I hope?). In tenth grade I was introduced to him by my brother, Tyler. First I read Nowhere, followed by Being Invisible, then his Pulitzer-prize nominated, The Feud (which should have won, because Ironweed suuuuuuuuuucked. I'm calling you out, William Kennedy).

Give it back! Give back what you stole, William Kennedy!

I was captured (like a wild animal) by Berger's use of absurdity and juxtaposition of the eloquent with the vulgar. I even wrote him a letter as an essay for a writing competition a year later, but it got REJECTED!!!!! (this is the only sports word I know, so I use it often, also, bindings, I guess?)!!!!!!


SPORTZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!


This year, Thomas Berger is 87 and time is running out. So I wrote a letter to Simon and Schuster, publishers of his later novels, asking if they would send me his contact info so I could interview him, noting that, "At 87, he has one foot in the grave, so I'd like to do it before he dies. Your help would be appreciated."

But I can't leave it up to just one source to find Thomas Berger. I have to spread out, diversify, annoy. I went to Twitter and looked up Samuel L. Jackson's account. He is starring in a film adaptation of Berger's Meeting Evil, one of my favorites. The film can go straight to the vault (the vault is in Hell) for all I care, but I figured that maybe those who worked on it might have actually talked to the author of the source material before sending out the finished product (I'm not holding on to any delusions though). I asked Mr. Jackson ("Sam-a-Ram" I call him, but not to his face) if he would send me the contact info and threatened that, if he didn't, I would continue annoying celebrities until I got it.

I expect either no response, or one filled with profanities. If I get neither of those things and instead get a very cordial response, I will freak out. The following is how I expect that to go:

Sam-a-Ram: "@KendallPack My sincerest salutations, good sir. Attached is the address of Mr. Berger."
Me: "@SamuelLJackson...uh...I am both delighted and concerned????"
 
Sam-a-Ram: "@KendallPack Oh dear, I would love to clear up the confusion. When and where can we meet?"
Me: "@SamuelLJackson I guess...now? At Burger King?"
Sam-a-Ram: "@KendallPack Oh, may we? I simply adore Burger King!"
Me: "@SamuelLJackson Sure, yeah. That'd be great!"
Sam-a-Ram: "@KendallPack Oh, one more thing..."
"Never ever try to contact me again."

More on this story as it progresses, fellow Adventurers!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Teaching Improv, or, The Children are our Future

When I joined an improv troupe last Spring, it was not my understanding that I would have to put forth effort to teach inexperienced improvisers the ropes. Well, fair warning to all, they don't tell you everything when you join an improv troupe.

Logan Out Loud has been doing shows in Logan (hence the name) for over a year and our crowds have grown from a handful ("The little audience that could," we called them, hoping they didn't take it as an insult) to a consistent group of 70-120 during the school year. But when Summer hits, the comedy goblins pack up and head home for the season and everyone takes a suicidal nosedive in numbers.

David Bowie, King of the Comedy Goblins


To overcome that sudden lull in audiences, we decided that maybe it was time to reach it out in other ways than just posting statuses on Facebook on the day of the show, saying, "Logan Out Loud 2-NITE!!! All Bros and Lady-types invited for some hefty LOLZ!!!1! Seriously, please come to the show."

Because, as effective as that post is (try it, just see how many "likes" you get), personal interaction with those interested in improv turns out to be much more vital to the growth of a strong, rabid, fanatically devoted core audience who would kill for you if needs be. Or darn your socks, whatever, they're yours to command.

"Shall I darn another sock for the masters, or shall I kill members of a rival improv troupe? 
Decisions, decisions."


Our way of reaching out was simple: Get a bunch of people to pay us to teach them improv. It's a foolproof plan! Plus, our self-esteem goes up about a thousand points because people trust us with their comedy education. But we also realized that it would be impolite to teach improv with no working knowledge of the manner in which improv is taught (apparently that's rude, I don't get it). So we set about learning from the finest improve teachers in the land ("the land" is the fifty mile radius around us and Ogden, because going further just seemed like a chore).

The next step in the plan was to teach a three-week course for free and invite only a small, elect, willing, text-message answering group of people to participate. But procrastination (the bane of the Adventuring spirit, fellow Adventurers) became rampant among the group, and what was meant to begin in May was pushed back week after week like a mound of rat corpses being swept away by a snow shovel (I only say that because it is probably the clearest metaphor).

Now, imagine a bunch of these, but dead


Finally I couldn't take the laziness (my laziness, mind you) another week and set up the workshop. I went about inviting people to join and figuring out what I would teach in my first course. Saturday rolled around (like a bulldozer, crushing that same pile of dead rats into a fine, hummus-like paste) and I arrived at the Logan Out Loud Theatre to impart some knowledge onto the unsuspecting (but willing, so it's their fault) participants.

The rat metaphor is really starting to infuriate this guy


Adventurers,

I waited for a while.

And, eventually, two people showed up. Two of the nine that we had invited.

And guess what? Screw everybody else, we had a great class.

We focused on creating and sustaining a reality (that sounds much more scientific than it is) within a scene. Two characters have to exist within one another's reality OR THE UNIVERSE ITSELF WILL COLLAPSE (not our universe, the universe of the game, so calm down). So here are the ways that we created that reality:

RULE #1: "Yes, and..."

Whatever your partner gives you, you must accept as existing within this reality, whether it is space aliens, unicorns, or a fair shot for every kid who grew up with no mother, no father, no friends, no prospects, because if he pulls himself up by his bootstraps, that boy can be a star! A star!...From that reality that your partner has created, you must also create. Accept his (or her, anyone can be an Adventurer!) truth and add to it with your own. This not only helps the audience imagine the world of the scene, but it creates the commonalities between scene partners that make the relationships that matter. If I don't care about the relationship, I don't care about the scene.

A perfect example is the movie, Transformers. Sure, we live in a world where alien robots are destroying each other. But the true meat of the movie is the love story between Shia Labeouf and what's-her-name. That's true love, Adventurers.

"I love you...(mumbles her name inaudibly)"


We practice this with a simple game which I refuse to explain to you because I don't give out freebies.

RULE #2: "What? You Think I Give Out Rules Like Taffy at a Parade? Just Be Happy I Gave You One."

Adventurers, this is the moral of this adventure: No matter how much you procrastinate, that first improv class is going to be a huge downer, because only two people show up. But at least you did it. Also, you are me in this scenario.

Adventure Accomplished!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Moments of Weakness: Rules of the Road

When the City of Logan (I capitalize "City" because I refer to the shadowy government of Logan and not her fair people) put in a roundabout, people were so terrified that the local newspaper had to publish a diagram of how to navigate this exciting feature. Literally, the following (literally):



This was on the front page of the newspaper. Famine in Africa? Forget it! I have a roundabout to worry about! This is an enemy occupation and the enemy is circular!


People were not amused. Apparently change is not something that we deal with well in Logan, Utah, which is where I live in America (AMERica!). But we soldier on, pulling timidly into the roundabout like meerkats (not mere cats, that's entirely different) peeking out from their holes, just knowing that this will be the day the lioness tracks them down, snatches them, and snuggles them to death.

She is clingy, and that is the worst thing.

Tangent fully explored, I return to my point. Traffic is terrifying, and so most people avoid learning about how to participate in it correctly because ignorance is the best defense. The trouble is, this leads to lots and lots of destruction on the road because people don't think much about how their choices will affect the future. DEATH?!?! Probably.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TURN RIGHT AT A "DO NOT TURN RIGHT" SIGN


This morning I almost had the opportunity to participate in, not one, but two car wrecks. The first experience was at a two-way stop, and the second was at a four-way stop. I will tell you about the second one first, because it is boring.

Some chump in a van decided when I was halfway through the intersection that maybe he did have the right of way after all. The end.

Back to the better story at the two-way stop. I approached the intersection on the road with no stop sign (the stop-signless street, if you will) and was fully prepared to keep driving. But a man who had stopped at to my right at the stop sign (which is a sign at which you are meant to stop, I have heard) decided that, as today was probably his birthday, the rules of a two-way stop no longer applied. He pulled through, not seeing me just feet from enacting the dreaded t-bone.

 Delicious, but no...


No! But I respect your music, and, uh, rest in peace?


There! There it is!

But here, fellow adventurers, is my moment of weakness: I didn't honk my horn. I have never honked my horn. 

I come from a legacy of horn-honking, really laying into it too. I grew up going on road trips where my dad always used one hand for steering and the other for honking. I learned beautiful phrases like, "Brain-Dead Bozo-Lip," and, "Geekburger." The sound of our family car horn honking is second only to the sound of a child's cries on my nostalgic sounds list.

And yet I didn't do it. I waited until the driver noticed me, just a couple feet away from his door. He, seeing that there was a problem, decided to fix it by stopping his car in the intersection (the best idea). I waved him on but he seemed stuck in the intersection, paralyzed with the realization that his death was mere feet from him. We stared at each other for a moment, a deep, cold, soul-penetrating stare.
 This is like a...
...negative one-hundred degree stare...

I wish that I could say I was the Charles Bronson of this stare-down, but my look was not one of manly vengeance and overpowering musk. I stared at him as he stared at me, both of us silently agreeing that we would forget this ever happened. He had neglected to look both ways. I had been too terrified of my horn to use it. Something inside both of us died.

He drove on, I drove on, but our souls remained behind to mourn our lack of adventuring spirit. At least, that's what mine did. I think his stayed behind because it didn't realize his body had left THISGUYISANIDIOT!!!!!

But it doesn't make it any better for me.

I have to make up for this.

I have to wrestle a wolf.

Or honk my horn.

Wish me luck, fellow adventurers!


Hearts, Hugs,
Kendall, Adventurer

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Welcome to Camp Adventurous

Fellow Adventurers, welcome to Camp Adventurous!

The following is a list of reasons why I am qualified to be the King Adventurer:

1. I once put out a match on my tongue, and it wasn't even a big deal.

2. I once swam a whole mile without stopping (it was awful).

3. I use Mane n' Tail shampoo and conditioner, which has instructions for both human and animal use.

4. My mom says I can do anything I put my mind to (she never said that, but I hope she would if I asked her to).

5. I created the blog, so I can do whatever I want.

Camp Adventurous is a place where we bask in the glory of all that I accomplish from week to week. It is effectively a journal of my grandeur. For example, this week there's a some-assembly-required bunk bed that has been sitting in my room for a month needing some assembly while I sleep on the nearby couch. I think I'll get to it this week!

Yesterday, as I was doing the dishes (because I'm incredible), I realized something. Water was spraying from the gap between the faucet and the Brita water filter, soaking my shirt with a fine but constant mist, and it occurred to me that everyone I know needed to hear about this.

Like the scent of old canned tuna water, wafting up from the sink into my nostrils, the idea of becoming a full-time Adventurer filled my mind. Like a piece of old food stuck to a plate and impossible to scrub away, that idea clung to my mind. And like the faulty faucet, it now sprays out like a constant fine mist over the pages of the internet.

Wikipedia tells us that an Adventurer is, and I quote, "One that seeks adventure (also, one that attempts to gain wealth and social position by unscrupulous means, but disregard that)." That is my goal. I seek to do those things which are hard to do, which many mortal men are terrified of doing.

I seek to build a bunk bed.