Being the random thoughts of Greg Tito, age 29.

Announcements for my standup comedy gigs are here at gregtito.com.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Quick Exclamation!

Last week, I read about an online magazine on Slashdot.org called Next Generation. It's geared towards game developers, producers and business guys. I wrote a quick email in response to their call for freelance writers. As I was writing it though, I realised that I wanted to write from a consumer point of view more than the business side of the industry. I gave up editing the email (I even left an unfinished sentence in there) and clicked Send, thinking I was never going to hear from these people.

Today, I did. I need to write a profile of Civ 4 and a brief history of modding. Two articles! I'm even getting paid. It's not a lot, but it's something. How fucked up is that? I've never gotten paid for writing before and I get my first job without even trying very hard.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go write some kickass copy (that's what they call it in the industry.)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Siesta

I've always been a big proponent of naps.

When working at Ivoryton Playhouse in my younger years, I would often stay up late doing various illegal activities. Working all day building sets in the 90 degree humid Connecticut summers would seriously deplete my energy reserves. To combat that, when I finally was in charge of my own crew, I implemented nap time after lunch. It wasn't any formal decree or anything. I would just nod off in the cool basement of theater surrounded by ancient props and furniture and left my crew to either join me or suffer in the sun. Over time, it became an institution unto itself, much to the chagrin of the production manager, one Arthur Pignataro. He was an aging queen who believed his sole purpose at the theater was to rob it's mostly sub-20 year old work staff of any kind of enjoyment in the workplace. Did he think we were doing this job for the money? No, we did it so we could drink until the wee hours on someone else's property and sometimes put on some shows.

But I digress.

I continued this trend of taking naps during the day while working at various theaters in the City. One especially, NYTW, had great couches and I worked there off and on for years simply because I could take naps. That's not exactly true, I loved the group of people I worked with simply because of their semi-carefree demeanor matched my own. But the naps were key, because I reasoned that a 15 min. nap in the middle of the day was the equivalent to four hours of sleep at night. That way, I could stay up till 4 in the morning and still work the next day by getting a nap during lunch. Most of the workers didn't get my drift but soon I was competing for space on the dressing room couches with my coworkers.

It seems I am not alone in thinking naps are great for increasing productivity. The Spanish and most Latin American countries, according to what I learned in school (I have no idea if this is true or not anymore), have employed a mandatory siesta for years. I've heard Japanese businessmen can rent a Pod for 15 minute intervals which plunges them in complete darkness and even pumps in the music of their choice. I thought this was only limited to Japan but a quick google search brought me to the attention of MetroNaps. There's one right near me in the Empire State Building, but the $15/nap price tag may be too much for daily nap consumption. And this article from the BBC states that British corporations are looking into incorporating nap-rooms or napnasiums into new office floor-plans.

Since joining the office workforce a year ago, I've had to curtail my midday napping. There's just no way to properly conceal the fact that you are sleeping at your cubicle without someone bigwig noticing. And there's nothing I'd rather do after big lunch then close my eyes and grab something close to 40 or so winks. Perhaps I eat too much but that's another story. I haven't been able to participate in my chosen lunchtime pastime. But as it began to get warmer these last few weeks, I've wanted to curl up in the sun. By my building at 320 Park Ave., there are a few public areas. One even has a fountain which adds a nice ambient gurgling to the normal aural cityscape. I have to admit on the more sunny days recently, I have lain on the often bird shit-speckled stones and slept in full view of the thousands of pedestrians on Park Ave. While this is somewhat enjoyable (the sun om my face is nice), the hard marble surface is not very conducive to a restful sleep. I wake up rubbing the places where my body was in contact with the stone.

Luckily, I've found an alternative. Right across the street from my office building is St. Bart's church. I am an atheist, so I have a natural aversion to churches. It took me months before I ever wandered into St. Bart's, just to see what it was all about. Admittedly, it is a very beautiful specimen of Byzantine architecture. Something about it's interior is very peaceful, maybe it's the stones, maybe it's the huge sweeping arches, maybe it's the fact that it's an Episcopalian church so it doesn't have all the trappings of guilt and doom that Catholic churches do for me. I walked in and out and didn't think much of it. That is, until I began my unconscious search for a place to sleep at 2:30pm every day.

This week my routine has been this: get out of work around 2pm, get some udon noodles from the cafe, chow down while reading John Irving's Son of the Circus (a surprisingly great book, not one of his better-known), escape onto the streets of Manhattan to smoke (I quit today) while making my way to St. Bart's, choose an out of the way pew (this took a while to discover, I tried to pick one behind on of the many columns which would provide the least amount of view to any passerby), lay down and sleep while listening to the organ being tuned or whispered conversations or the very faint sounds of the New York City streets. The pews are not very comfortable, they seem to be covered by ancient cushioning that is only marginally less injury-inducing than the marble outside. They are kind of thin so one arm is always sliding off. I've discovered the answer to this today though as I moved the kneelers (eight inch thick cushions, something which would never be seen in catholic churches) and stacked them so my right elbow has something to lie on.

It's the perfect napping place, without having to pay a cent (fuck you MetroNap!). So far, no one has asked me to leave or even to sit up. There are always homeless people in there so I guess they must think a guy in a suit isn't much worse. And I get my 15 minute nap and get back to work refreshed so that I can blog with more efficiency. Every day this week.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Titles, Titles, Titles

So I put some more links on the sidebar. Rain Delay, who I've linked enough already, was added to the blogs. PVP by Scott Kurtz was added because I've talked about him before, but never got around to putting him on the illustrious sidebar.

But the real gem is the Thundercats Outtakes. Remember that old cartoon from the 80s with the furries running around fighting evil? This site has 11 mp3s of the actors screwing up the voiceover for the show. To hear Lion-O swear or Mumm-ra get a little frisky, I have to say that it breaks down every thing that I thought was good or wholesome in the world.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I'm starting to hate my basketball team

Seriously. Ill Wind sucks. After crawling back to .500, we've flat out sucked. Actually, that's not quite true. We got a win last night, despite being blown out 95-54. Yeah, you read that right. 41 points separated us from the victors and yet we still won. Sound confusing? Yes, it does.

The team in our league, Ramsa I believe (the team that we best despite losing 2 players to injuries), forfeited because they didn't have enough players. Rather than just not playing the game, the NYURBAN league said we could go to a different gym to play a team at 9pm. We would already get the win in our league, and still be able to play a game. What fun!

Except that this team we played consisted of 6'9" guys who could dunk. Within 5 minutes, we were down by 20 and it became a rout. They were swatting our shots, stealing the ball from our sub-par ball handlers, tossing outlet passes and generally running us to death. That's not that big a deal, I kind of expected it after seeing them warm up. What pissed me off was their constant banter. They wanted to run up the score on us. They were competing to see who had the most points between them. They were laughing and cheering each other on to the point where it became disrespectful.

I got mad. Early on, one guy was bouncing the ball above my head while I was trying to grab it. He was toying with me, like we play with fucking cats with a string. Whatever else I am, I am not a pussy. After he got better control and passed it ahead, I elbowed him in the chest. Hard. The refs didn't see it, but their super tall center did.

"I saw that man. Just play the game." He had a good point, but I had to get something off my chest.

"I just feel like I'm being played with, not being played against."

He nodded and said, "Just have fun."

I said ok and gave the guy who I originally elbowed my hand and he took it. "No worries."

After that, it was a little more tolerable. They didn't block every shot or score everytime down the court. The big guy, the center, I could tell was letting me drive in the lane and score. That was a little frustrating too (what's the point of playing if they LET you score?) but I guess it's better than nothing.

The banter and yelling and laughing didn't really stop though and that's what really bothered me. The worse part was that they brought their 2 girlfriends to the game to keep the score and those bitches wouldn't shut up. They were more disrespectful than everyone else. At one point, near the end of the game, I got fouled going to the basket. All of them were complaining to the ref, "Don't bail him out!" True, I prolly wasn't going to make the shot that I took over 3 defenders but I did get fouled. The two "ladies" on the sideline were the worst about it though, they actually screamed as I was taking my foul shots. As if we were playing in a college game or something and the student section was going to break my concentration. That kind of shit is just not done in this league.

To top it off, this shifty Asian guard decided it would be funny during a fast break to put a lay up in one of the practice hoops on the sideline. Hilarious. The refs called it out of bounds but I screamed at her (a women ref, rare) "Can we get some respect from the other team? Give em a technical" She didn't say anything and gave the ball to Robert to inbound. Robert had some words for me, however, telling me to cool off. What?

Let me back up with a little bit about Robert, our four-foot tall Italian point guard who shoots left-handed but can only dribble with his right hand (figure that one out). He's been taking the stance in games lately that whenever we bitch at the refs, we lose our composure and, subsequently, the game. In some ways, he's right, but in most of the ways, he's full of shit. Getting fired up is what sports is all about. To have that constantly taken away and deflated by a teammate gets a little annoying. And this time, I wasn't even btiching at the refs about their calls. I was pissed that this chick wasn't doing anything to curtail the disrespect. If anything, she was encouraging it by laughing with them. That's bullshit and I have a right to get fucking pissed about it. Don't tell me to cool down, you fucking fuck. Why don't you go turn over the ball by dribbling into the corner again?

Well, whatever. We still won the game.


I would like dedicate that last paragraph to Rain Delay and his treatise on swearing in the workplace. I hope I made up for it by painting this blog as blue as Lenny Bruce in a women's prison.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

And if I didn't say it well enough...

Here's a guy from Sony Online Entertainment (Everquest, Star Wars:Galazies) who expounds on his theory of fun in an Op-Ed piece in the LA Times.

E3 is this week. I wish I could go. I'm going to make it my goal to go in 2006, no matter what else goes on. Even if I have a baby and Mephistopholes has some strange form of flu and can't take care of the baby herself, and I have no more vacation days, I will call the in the Nanny 911, fake a stomach cramp at work and get my ass to LA.

Just look at all the goodies on display for E3 2005. That Xbox 360 looks badass. Time to start saving for that $400.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Love of Warcraft

I got to play a lot of video games yesterday, it being Sunday and the lack of any scheduled activities. Mephistopheles was a little angered by my chosen pursuit for the day but it was something that needed to be done. Brantley has reached level 60, where he will stay for a very long time. I will post more about WOW perhaps later, but for now I want to talk about something else.

I might've talked about this before but it's something that always bothers me. Why is the playing of video games an awful thing to do? It's judged to be a juvenile hobby. "There are so many better things to do with your time." A man who enjoys videogames is somehow "not-grown-up" or deemed immature. I really don't understand where this negative portrayal came from.

Video games are a new medium. They were really only conceived less than 30 years ago. Their use of computing technology has always been at the forefront of the industry, pushing the limits of what processing power was available to the consumer. Games have been popular with young men who, I would suppose ( I don't have the stats to back this up but it seems reasonable), have a higher than average IQ. Nerds and Geeks basically. These nerds and geeks, as everyone past the age of 18 knows by now, grow up eventually to become the most productive parts of our society, the engineers or the software designers or the doctors. Why then is the playing of videogames always a bad thing?

I may be stretching logic there, but the truth is that I prefer playing videogames to sitting and watching TV. The hours spent watching crap like "Newlyweds" and "American Idol" is somehow more valuable than playing Civilization 3. In one, I can learn that Jessica Simpson is retarded, in the other, I learn that the Mayans can indeed take over South America with the right combination of Javelin Throwers and Spearmen. Why is it preferable in some people's eyes to veg out and not move or think for hours, rather than having your cognitive ability constantly firing while making decisions in a virtual world?

Many may argue that TV is no better than games and that we should all go outside and enjoy the open air. This is valid and I must say that balancing indoor activities with outdoor ones is always preferable. But that's not what I'm talking about. If you say to an average housewife (and here I'm really just talking about my own Mephistopheles yet saying it's a cross-section of society, sue me), "Hey Hon, I just watched 4 hours of Comedy Central," or if you say, "Babe, I just played 4 hours of WOW non-stop and made level 60," which do you think will bring more derision?

And I think that's fucked up. This is a rambling, not well thought-out post. I'll admit that. But what I'm saying is true. Video games is a medium no different than Film, books or TV and they should be judged the same. We need to end this irrational, Motherly hatred of something we don't understand.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

More to talk about on the internet to people who don't really care anyway

My friend, Rain Delay, made a recent post about the nature of blogging. It's a strange animal, this blogging business. A Zebra with rainbow stripes that lives in Antarctica. A freak of nature that's absolutely incredible to look at but that no one will ever see.

Not that this blog is incredible, but I do wonder at my semi-dedication to it when there are so few who actually read it. What's the point? Is it as Rain Delay says, blogs have become just a means to a book deal instead of a real journal? Is that why I chose to do this?

I am a self-proclaimed writer with a serious procrastination/motivation problem. I abhor the physical act of writing so much that I will almost choose anything else to do before writing. And yet, it's my chosen vocation. I am the most happy, the most proud of myself when I put words down on a page. But I rarely do it. I have so many movies, plays, books in various states of development because I lack the drive to finish them.

This blog allows me the short term success. It let's me put words down in an order of my choosing and then press Publish Post. My thoughts and words are then immediately placed in the public arena for comment. But it doesn't really matter if anybody reads it, this whole thing is really for me. I actually was doing this for months before I told anyone about it.

Only Zuul is about me writing. That's it. And if someone sees the Rainbow Zebra in Antarctica, that's pure gravy.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I had me a bad game

Ill Wind had their 5th game of the season on Tuesday. If you remember, we got quite beat up in the previous game but prevailed to even up our record to 2-2. As we enter the second half of the season (only 8 games) our confidence was high, all pistons firing with a modicum of success.

That's usually where it all falls apart and this game was no excepation. We played a team called Trip Dorkeys (I don't know what that's all about) and had a generally awful game. After an opening 3-pointer from Mike, we did not score. Nothing went in. We were getting good looks from 5, 10 feet out but nothing dropped. It was ridiculous. I had maybe two or three shots in the paint and they just seemed to go nowhere. My shots weren't even close, careening off the backboard at weird angles, not even hitting the rim. Christ, we played like the Bad News Bears without a charming drunk guy coaching us or any chance to gain sympathy for being cute little kids.

At the half, we had only scored 10 points, 3 of which came at the buzzer from a Winston perimeter shot. The other team, led by a 6'11" dude, had 24. Those guys weren't particually good, except for the big guy, but they perfected the high post inlet pass to which Winston (with his bad ankle) and I could do nothing. And, as opposed to Ill Wind, Trip Dorkeys couldn't miss. I think I only had 1 rebound in the first half and it wasn't from not having position, it was from them not missing, ever.

The second half started and we had a little bit of momentum from Winston's buzzer-beater. I can't say that we ran at them, but we did hit a string of threes. Robert had 3 over the course of a few minutes. Suddenly we were back into it. The outside shooting helped open up the inside and I was able to pass to Winston on a couple of cuts to the hole. But even with a few assists, I have to say it was my worst game in a long time. I just didn't play well. I turned the ball over, I missed all kinds of shots, and I didn't do the one thing that the team expects of me, rebound. It was as if the ball just wasn't bouncing to me, but more than that, I lacked any kind of drive to get the ball. A few times I lazily grabbed a missed shot, only to have it snatched away. We ended up losing by six, 32-26. Trip Dorkeys scored less in the second half than we did in the first but it wasn't enough to get past them.

Who knows why I sucked? Perhaps I was over-confident from last week's game. Perhaps I shouldn't have jerked off right before the game. Perhaps I shouldn't have smoked that cigarette at lunch or that bowl after work. But with Jason out and Winston still hurting, I needed to step up.

And I tripped while running up the stairs, embarassing myself in front of everyone in the subway called Ill Wind.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Tidbits, biatch.

ILL WIND: I've neglected to inform my loyal readers of Ill Wind developments. Last week, right before I went to see Ben Folds, we played another team that whose average height was over 6 feet. And it was another physical game. We led through most of the first half, I can't tell you why other than more of our shots seemed to go in than theirs did. But a couple of minutes before the end of the half, Winston twisted and sprained his ankle. It swelled up to disturbing proporations in a matter of moments. So there we are without our tallest player and top scorer for the rest of the game. Right after I subbed in for Winston at center, Jason was defending a player on the perimeter and gets an elbow to the chin. He goes down, in obvious pain, and needs to be subbed out (Note: somehow, Jason got called for the foul on the play.) Luckily, Mike was there that night and we managed the second half with only 5 unhurt players. The game was tight, it came down to gutsy plays and foul shots. I was able to get one coast to coast layup while getting fouled which made me pump my fist in the air. Of course I missed the foul shot but it didn't matter. We squeaked by and won by 2 despite the agonizing amount of fouls called in the last minute, both teams were well into double-bonus by that point. Winston had his foot elevated after the game and there was talk of hospitals. Jason also seemed to have punctured his lower lip with his tooth as a result of being hit in the face. I guess he got called for the foul because he headbutted the guy with his chin. Yeah, that makes sense. Ill Wind is now 2-2, but there has been no word if our players will survive to play tomorrow. Stay tuned for the next heart-breakingly exciting Ill Wind update.

STAND UP: I don't think I've ever mentioned it on here but I have been attempting to be a stand-up comic here in NYC. After taking a class with my mic-mate, the illustrious J-Date, I've performed at Caroline's twice. I've got another gig there coming up on May 25th, my first Wednesday show. J-Date and I are both going on at 7pm. Before that I have another gig at Gotham Comedy Club on the 13th of May, a FRIDAY! It's a 6:30pm show but whatever, it will be good. I really need to write some new stuff and go to some open-mics. The stand up scene here is all about stagetime. It's about getting as many minutes up there in front of people as is humanly possible so you test out what works and what doesn't. It's also about longevity. "I've been doing this for 15 years," demands instant respect over someone who is just starting out. But if you ask me, if you've been doing it for 15 years and you're going to the same open-mics as me, there might be a problem. You might not be funny. I don't have that problem. I know i'm not funny.

HHGTTG: Douglas Adams was a genius. The books/radio show he created are nothing short of hilarious, and even insightful. The recent movie, which I was very excited to see since I knew that Adams had written a version of the screenplay, bears little to no resemblance to the original. I realize that changes to story or character details need to happen in any adaptation, Adams himself was famous for changing his concept from radio script to books and so forth. But what we have in the film released on Friday is a complete change of tone. HHGTTG has a dry, sarcastic, British wit. The movie is an unfunny action sci-fi film about the importance of experiencing new things in order to impress women (I'm not joking.) Here's in short some good and points about the adaptation.
  • I liked a short bit about how Arthur Dent met Ford Prefect by saving his life from a speeding car with which Ford was attempting to shake hands.
  • I hated that no mention was made to Ford having a last name at all, probably because the joke of England having so many of a certain model of car in 1980 (the Ford Prefect) that he was so named to fit in with the dominant lifeform on Earth. In the movie, he is just called Ford, which seems like a cheap fix.
  • I liked Slartibartfast played by Bill Nighy. He got the nervous Britishman who had the unfortunate name down. A rarely subtle performance in this movie.
  • I hated that he ends the film (SPOILER) by finishing a newly constucted Earth and presenting it to Arthur Dent.
  • I liked Zaphod Beeblebrox's costume.
  • I hated Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox. Zaphod was supposed to be an egotistical asshole, but to play him as an American cowboy with no intelligence or wit was a bad choice. SPOILER(FOR THOSE WHO WOULD EVEN CARE) To make matters worse, Zaphod gets his 2nd head cut off and he must play half the movie as an imbecile. Which wasn't that much off from the performance to begin with. I like Rockwell in nearly everything i've seen him in, but either he or the directors totally screwed up with this one.

There is so much more that bothers me about the movie, perhaps I will post more but I'd rather just forget the whole thing if that's all right with you.

If you read the books or like Douglas Adams (who luckily died before this movie came out) at all, avoid this movie. If you like your intelligence or you like to laugh, avoid this movie. If you like agreeing with me wholeheartedly on this blog, see the film and post comments why you hated it too.