Sunday, December 14, 2008

Obscene Christmas Caroling

First off, sorry for the lack of updates! I haven't been doing anything out of the ordinary in quite a while, except for finishing up this semester of college.

Back the the regularly scheduled program:

Today I went down to Boston yet again, this time to the west side at the Brookline Hills subway station. We met up with fellow improveratti in a small heated area and received red folders with lyrics to Christmas/holiday songs. Not just any lyrics, really obscene lyrics. We practiced a few times, then stepped out and performed for the travelers getting off the above-ground subway next to us. After a few laughs there, we moved to a more residential area and knocked on a few doors to sing our masterpieces. I'm not sure if it was sheer shock, but the recipients of our holiday cheer had some very funny reactions. Moving on from there, we toured onto the subway heading towards downtown Boston. A great day had by all I'd say!

( Photography © Chris Andrews )

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Secondhand Serenade concert

Last night I went to a concert at The Roxy Nightclub in Boston with some friends from school. The bands playing were A Rocket To The Moon, Automatic Loveletter, Cute Is What We Aim For, and Secondhand Serenade. One of my favorite bands, or singers if you will, is Secondhand Serenade, so I had to go! Seeing him live was so much better than the live versions of most of the bands I've seen before. It was an amazing experience, and I hope to see him next time he's around here too!

Like A Knife

Stranger (clip)

Fall For You

Thursday, October 30, 2008

FA-18 Hornet visits Daniel Webster College

Today was mostly an average day, except for a visit from a very unusual plane. If any of you know Daniel Webster College, you know that its a very, very small airport tucked in the corner of Nashua, NH. We were all told that there was going to be an FA-18 Hornet, a military strike fighter jet, landing on our tiny airstrip. At least a hundred Daniel Webster students lined the fence next to the runway and waited for the jet to arrive. After waiting 40 minutes past its scheduled landing time, it soared by, shaking the ground. After the pilot landed, surprisingly only using half of the runway, he gave a presentation to anyone interested in the auditorium. At night, the students gathered again and waited for takeoff. The engines roared on and the jet taxxied to the end of the runway, with everyone anticipating a wonderful afterburner blast. As everyone had hoped for, the afterburners went on full blast and the FA-18 Hornet lifted off right in front of us, heading up at an extreme angle. In under a minute's time, it had turned to face the other direction, and was reportedly at 7,500 feet. Here are a few pictures and videos I captured while I was there:

FA-18 Hornet flying overhead before landing

FA-18 Hornet taking off at night

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Monster Mashup

Today, Banditos Misteriosos hosted MONSTER MASHUP. This was a Halloween-themed event that had everyone boogeying (boo-geying, scary, huh?).

At the sound of an air horn, everyone quickly suited up in their ghost costume, a colorful sheet with eye holes, and put on their MP3 played. At the second air horn sound, we all hit play and were listening to some of the most cliché Halloween music you can think of. Several ghosts stood at the top of a staircase in front of us and help up signs, with things such as bats and pumpkins on them, cueing us to perform a certain dance more. The event only lasted about 5 minutes, but many of us hung around much longer afterward chatting about this and previous events.

I'll see you next time! Until then, its time to get back to the grind of homework.

( Photography © Chris Andrews )

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Improv Everywhere releases MP3 Experiment videos

On Monday, Improv Everywhere released five videos about the MP3 Experiment tour. Besides the one I attended in New York City, it also happened in Chicago, San Francisco, and Toronto.

The posting on their website, viewable HERE, contains links to each of the four cities. I highly suggest checking it out! Here are the videos, as seen on YouTube. Note that each event was approximately 50 minutes, but the videos are only 5 minutes. The last half of each video is pretty much the same, but the first half of each city shows a slightly different set of events. All of these events that the videos show happened at each location, so watch all four cities to get a good impression of what we all did!

The MP3 Experiment Tour

MP3 Experiment 5 (New York)

MP3 Experiment Toronto

MP3 Experiment San Francisco

MP3 Experiment Chicago

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm still alive!

I know it has been a month since my last post! I've been extremely busy since then with college, and haven't had anything interesting (at least that any of you would care to know about).

I've been regularly attending Friday-night car shows at Target and working both my jobs, aside from school, so I've had plenty to do. I have only left town twice since I went to New York. Once was to have a meeting with the higher-ups of Boston SOS. The other was to fix, or in this case eliminate, an old computer network in Lowell, MA.

As for my spare time, its practically non-existent, and it chewed up by several projects, such as designing and developing an assembler-based operating system and a 3D shooter for the PC using technology from Nintendo Wiimotes.

This weekend I am planning on attending "Monster Mashup" by Banditos Misteriosos, so expect another post soon!

Monday, September 29, 2008

MP3 Experiment 5 in New York City

Originally my plans for this weekend included mostly alone time with school textbooks, but ended up being exponentially more exciting! Friday morning immediately after taking a shower, as I usually do, I checked my email. In my inbox was a rather interesting email from James Cobalt, the director of Boston SOS. He was asking if any of our members were interested in participating in Improv Everywhere's fifth annual "MP3 Experiment".

If you're not already familiar with the concept of an "MP3 Experiment", it goes like this:

  • Tens, hundreds, or thousands of people that for the most part do not know each other download an MP3 file off a website and load it on to their MP3 player. It is critical that you do not listen to this file until you are instructed to do so.
  • All these people meet up at a specified location at a specified time. With their clocks synchronized, all participants watch the time closely, and press play.
  • Listeners are verbally encouraged, via the voices on the MP3, to participate in individual and group activities, with fellow participants or occasionally nearby strangers, that most likely differ from the social norm one would expect.
  • Usually during such an event, many or all activities are photographed or recorded on digital video and uploaded to the internet for future viewing by anyone.

Originally I didn't plan on accepting this invitation, as I had a stockpile of work to get done. After some smooth convincing on James' part, I bought Saturday 7:30am ticket out of South Station in Boston to 34th&8th in NYC for a mere $37.00. The ride, by Bolt Bus, was a much needed upgrade from those Asian buses. The bus had comfortable seats, electric plugs, mobile wireless internet, an on-board bathroom, and most importantly, a fantastic American (and thus English speaking) driver! It turned out that with such short notice, only three of us Bostonians could make it down the following morning.

Arriving in New York City for the first time, I was not amazed at the buildings, but rather at the volume of pedestrians moving about on the sidewalk. Compared to NYC, Boston is rather deserted. We immediately went into Penn Station, and boarded the subway to lower Manhattan. Again, I was shocked at the number of people on the subway platform. We boarded the ferry to Governor's Island, as the instructions on Improv Everywhere's site said. To view the instructions as we saw them, click here. Upon arriving, it was obvious that something was up. There were photographers, free umbrellas, and a sign that read:

GENERATE/L.C. INC. will be filming in this area for various future uses in connection with the program tentatively entitled "MP3 EXPERIMENT", including, without limitation, exploitation on all forms of television, home entertainment devices, theatrical distribution and/or any other form of reproduction or exhibition now known or hereafter devised. By entering this area where filming is taking place you hereby consent to the possibly reproduction of your name, voice and/or likeness in connection with any of the foregoing forms of subsequent exploitation of today's/tonight's filming, including all advertising and/or promotion therefore, and you now and forever expressly waive any claims you may have in connection therewith. If you object in any way to the foregoing, please STAY OUT OF THE AREA WHERE FILMING IS TAKING PLACE. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. Thank you. GENERAL/L.C. INC.

We had until 3:15 before we had to press play on our MP3 players, so we wandered around the island looking at some of the bizarre artwork that was scattered about, and eventually ran into Charlie Todd, the founder of Improv Everywhere. As time drew closer, more and more people began showing up and crowding around the hot dog stand.

As our watches read 3:15, approximately 1000 of us all simultaneously began pressing play. Most of the MP3 was of "Steve, the omnipotent voice from above", voiced by Charlie Todd. Starting off with some stretches and simple exercises, everyone began to loosen up. I will make sure to post the official video that Improv Everywhere releases, but that could take a while. I won't spoil all the details now, but you'll get a general impression of how it went. Early on, we had a thumb war, where participants had to challenge another with a different colored shirt. It so happened that everyone in my area was already color-matched, except two guys both wearing blue shirts who were sharing an MP3 player, each with an earbud in one ear. I found this particularly challenging, as I was in two thumb wars at a time, one with each hand.

After many easy, mostly individual events, we were told to group to the center of Governor's Island, walking while spinning our umbrellas in the air.

Many of the activities we proceeded to do were just amazing to experience, such as packing tightly together and opening our umbrellas over our heads, creating a canopy that blocked out much of the sun, making it significantly darker. Using the four colors of shirts participants were expected to wear, we grouped together and made Tetris pieces, and then combined into to form larger shapes.

The final activity we did, the EPIC BATTLE, certainly lived up to its name, in one way or another. Dividing into two groups, the Blue/Green shirted and the Red/Yellow shirted, we gathered at opposite sides of the field and inflated balloons to use as weapons. As instructed, we marched forward whistling a battle march on imaginary flutes and drums. As we stood face to face, we rushed into each other. I recorded much of this chaos and posted the video to YouTube; you can watch it at the bottom of this post.

After all was over with, and we recovered from the treacherous battle, we swarmed to the dock to load into ferries. Surprisingly, we were only divided into two groups, but took up most of the floor space on both ferries. As you can see in the picture below, the dark center of the ferry designated for parked cars was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with MP3 participants returning to Manhattan. Cheering and singing, we all made it safely back to shore. Before returning to Boston, we made a quick visit to Times Square in downtown Manhattan so I could be the typical tourist and take loads of photographs of the immaculately lit skyscrapers and the streets flooded with people and yellow taxi cabs. I hope you enjoyed this very long post, check back periodically for updates on my spontaneous lifestyle!

The "EPIC BATTLE" at the end of MP3 Experiment 5:
(note: all audio is from the MP3 audio track provided and is property of Improv Everywhere and its affiliates)

The MP3 Experiment Tour

MP3 Experiment 5 (New York)