Silly Mind Games Part II

(Sunday Paper, Volume I, Issue 14)


It's late August!

If you've been a regular reader, you know what that's time for me to get new vitamins!

If you're not a regular reader, well, I'll catch you up.

And then I'll tell you a little more about how my brain works.

Back in mid-June I wrote about a game I play where if something I consume every day has some kind of quantity to it, I like to figure out when I'll run out of it, and what will be going on at that point of the year. So that was when I started my new batch of vitamins, and right on time, they ran out this week.


Well, today we're back with another installment of 'Silly Mind Games'. (I'm being a little deflective with that title. I don't think these things are silly at all. To me they're downright serious. But I understand they're a little unusual. So I'll couch that by calling them 'silly'.)

Anyway some of you know that I like challenging myself with little daily things - like back in 2010 and again in 2012 I wrote a Facebook status update every day for a year. (I tried to make them funny and substantive...not just throwaway status updates.)

Then, in 2013, I wrote '365 New Things In 2013' and wrote every day about something new I tried or experienced.


This year I've done two things along those lines.

One is what that picture up top shows - on Twitter I've given a quick 140-character-or-less reaction to every Mets game this year. (Not that I've watched every minute of every game...just my reaction to what went on.) Obviously when I started this I was hopeful I'd have some kind of written record of a special season...but it's become more of an expression of my frustration in a different way than usual. I'm sticking it out for the full 162 games...and I haven't given up hope yet that there will be game 163 and beyond.

The more labor intensive piece is that since January 1st I've written a joke a day. I sometimes feel a little daunted by these personal challenges - '365 New Things' got a little scary when I thought about just how much 365 of something was - but the joke-writing has never felt too much for me. It's made me focus more on my observations to help me find material and turn situations into jokes, and I've already come up with some gems that have done well on stage. Every so often I'll revisit what I've written, and I know some of it, with a little more work, can turn into good material. (Some of it, admittedly, is no good.) By the end of the year I'll have more than 300 pieces to work on, so that's good.

I think I thought to do this when I was invited to participate in Improv Boston's '100 First Jokes' on New Year's Day this year. I had new material that I brought to the show that night, but it wasn't something I had just written. I figured it would be a beneficial exercise to write something every day even if I had to struggle through it. I'm hoping I'll get a chance to do that show again on January 1, 2017, using jokes I wrote, if not that day, then in the final few days of 2016.

The past couple of weeks, with the girls home, has been a bit of a creative struggle. If my brain continues to work the way it has these past two weeks, we'll have a problem getting from joke 241 (that's today) to joke 365 (on December 31st).

But so far, so good.

Because, if we've established nothing else, it's that my brain responds well to these silly little exercises.

*I'm searching for ways to make this blog a more interactive experience....I'm not sure if it's because I post this on Sundays or if it's because it's summer and people are out and about (and away on vacation), but I'm not sure many people are seeing these posts from week to week. That said, I'd love to hear from you. If you have an eccentricity along the lines of my silly mind games post it in the comments below or on the Facebook page. Thanks!


*This week the cross country bicycling article came out. Here's how this works: since one of the bikers lives in Lexington, that town accepted the article. But since all (or at least most) of the local newspapers in Massachusetts are owned by the same company, they could all publish the same articles if they wanted. The Belmont (the town where they teach) newspaper also ran the article, and it's possible that another town or two did as well that I haven't seen yet. Weirdly, though, none of the websites have a link to the article yet. (The Belmont version of the article promoted the website for more maybe they still plan on putting that out there?) Anyway, if there's a digital version I'll put it up on the Facebook page and the writing page at my website.


*September is almost here! I'm excited about the variety of venues where I'll be in September - Speakers in Marlboro, Terry O'Reilly's in Newton, Pavement Coffeehouse in Boston (near BU), The Comedy Studio in Cambridge, McGreevy's in Boston (near the Pru), and back at Speakers for my first of a few opportunities to host some of the shows there. Very excited about it all, and you can get more details at the Calendar link on my website.

*As for this week - we end August with an appearance at The Comedy Studio on Wednesday, and then open September with the first of the aforementioned appearances at Speakers on Thursday. Here's that Calendar link I mentioned - it's got all the info.

What I've Been Enjoying

*Wasn't meaning to talk about TV shows again so soon, but this show made some news this week so I guess I'll address it: We've been catching up on our DVRed episodes of The Jim Gaffigan Show. (This is one of those shows that my wife and I watch together, which I alluded to a couple of weeks ago.) We're not quite done with this second season, but it's really brilliant. I'm not sure I love it so much because of how accurately it portrays the stand-up world, or because so much of Gaffigan's experience is what I'm seeing as someone with a family trying to have success in stand-up (though we're clearly on different levels, the TV show's version of Gaffigan goes through experiences that more closely mirror someone at the start of his career...and at the very least it gives my wife an inside look at/confirmation about some of the inner workings of the comedy world I've tried to tell her about), but it's a really clever show.

They announced this week that the second season will be the last - the production was too taxing for Jim and Jeannie, his wife who is also a co-creator and partner in pretty much everything Gaffigan does. That's too bad, because it was quality television. But for it to be that good, it must have been a real bear on their family life. If you can find the show, I'd suggest watching it. Season one was good, and season two has been even better. It airs on TV Land...I'm not sure if they'll be showing reruns there, or if it's available On Demand, or if it's on a carrier like Netflix. But it will be at some point. Keep an eye out and enjoy a great show that stopped at its peak.


*Last week I told you about the collection of essays by E.B. White that I enjoyed. When I took the girls to the library this week and returned that book, I happened upon another collection of essays in the 'New Books' section. I wasn't really looking to take out another such book, but it seemed like the universe was trying to tell me something. The collection of essays was by Roger Angell, who I mentioned last week was White's stepson. So, how can you ignore that? A lot of these essays are very short, so I'm breezing through the book. Not quite done yet...but I'd recommend it.

*Meant to tell you last week, when the closing ceremony was taking place, that after all that talk about getting excited about the Olympics I kind of watched too much and burnt out in the first few days. So I'm not really sad they're over. And, as I mentioned last week, in less than a week's time I'll have some college football to watch...and then the NFL. (And the Mets are hanging in the postseason baseball is not out of the question.)

*The girls go back to school this week. I like having them around, we had a good summer (I always feel like I say this trying to convince myself that they had a good summer), but let's be honest: I get very little done when they're home. Here's to a productive September!