Posts Tagged ‘improv’

gross in my brain: a study in renga

March 11, 2009

in honor of my first, ever, experience of being in an improvised scene set in feudal japan, i have decided that we are all going to write a renga together.  this is a pretty exciting, pretty epic, pretty awesome thing to do.  let’s have fun, but this should be sweet.  i’ll outline here the rough ideas that i think we should follow.


  • a renga has two alternating verses styles, a 5-7-5 (three lines where these are the number of syllables per line), followed by a 7-7.  
  • the first 5-7-5 is called the hokku.  i get to write it because i’m the only “guest” of the group, now.
  • the first 7-7 is called the waki.  i also get to write that because i’m organizing this.
  • the second 5-7-5 is the daisan.  it’s got to end in a verb in a progressive tense 
  • the last stanza is the ageku
  • all other stanzas are called hiraku.  i recommend that authors complete a hiraku pair of one 5-7-5, followed by the 7-7 that accompanies it.

i think those will be the only shikimoku, or ‘rules that we follow’, but please study up on the renga terminology to understand it’s structure better if you’re going to participate.  i am exciting to be a part of this online kogyo.

to be clear, this can be an ‘epic’ poem, but it is inherently an ‘epic poem’.  let’s get started!

your suggestion, while smart, was also stupid…

February 18, 2009

improv class tonight was full of gems. in one game where the scared recruit was put in harm’s way by the excitable veteran during a 1st beat in vietnam, the second beat allowed the guy on the cross that was next to jesus to refer to the experience as “like a spa treatment.” the third beat prompted our instructor, “i’m sick of giving this note, but i need you guys to fuck the goat.” wonderful.

one of my favorites was an existential and theological twist on the common light-bulb joke: “how many light-bulbs does it take to change a person?” it was this very question, in fact, that pulled me away from the very interesting blister just behind the cuticle on my left thumb, which we shall discuss briefly.

on friday night of last week i cut off the tip of my thumb. what i did not do was cut off the first digit of my thumb, nor cut off my thumb entirely. in fact, i did not need nor did i have the ability to benefit from any serious treatment like stitches or a skin graft. no, i really just nicked it with a cheese knife while trying to be a good host.

i was a bit scared, however, that it was never going to stop bleeding. you hear these things, you know, where due to such-and-such and so-and-so you bleed out and die. so, naturally, when i bandaged my finger, i tight up pretty tight. flash forward to yesterday, my first full day of un-bandaged freedom. yesterday i didn’t notice anything strange about my thumb, other than it had a small scab over where i had nicked the tip. but it was only this morning that i noticed the blister. it’s not bad. it’s not that gross. however, it makes my finger look uncannily real. read more about the uncanny valley here. my thumb is now in it.

here is the dilemma: is it my social responsibility to keep my thumb bandaged up so that other people don’t have to look at it? if i think that it is, does that make me a bad person when applying the philosophy to deformities that won’t go away?