Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 37

Sadly, nothing interesting to report. Again I dipped as low as 211, but was back up to 212 monday morning.

One positive thing to report - I FINALLY made it back to the gym Monday evening! My standard 30 minutes on the elliptical. I like starting at about 6:30pm, because I can flip the channel on the attached TV to "Cash Cab" and try to guess the answers with the contestants - and I don't even think about the fact that I'm working out.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-36 Loss: 25 lbs.
Week 37 Loss: 0 lbs.
Current Weight: 212 lbs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite

Everytime a hurricane pops up and assaults one of our coasts, I never really realize what it's like. That changed this week with the remnants of Hurricane Ike blowing into town.

Sunday morning I go outside and run the electric weedeater, since the grass is only tall it patches and mowing would be more trouble than it's worth. Heavier winds than normal, and I just think a thunderstorm is moving in. After I clean up, RedFaery gives me a list to fetch things at the store (she's too sick to go out). I also need an oil change, so I tell her I'm going to be out a little longer to do that.

It's only then that I realize the winds are much, much stronger than they were earlier. I slowly approach an intersection where the lights have already gone out, but they suddenly snap to red on me as I'm halfway thru. I think, "Maybe they were only out on my side," and I back up to let the traffic thru and go when it turns green for me.

I get to the oil change place, and they only manage to pop my hood when theur power goes out with a loud BANG - the lead to their business ripped itself off the electric pole. No power to run their equipment or take my credit card, so I leave and head to another one on Dixie Highway that has power still. As I leave there, I'm chased (really! chased!) by two of their metal signs.

By now, I've called RedFaery once to let her know what's going on and to see if she's ok. She told me we lost power at home, but she was still fine. Since we really needed food, I elected to keep going.

We have three Kroger stores that are equadistant to the house, so I head to the closest one to me. No power. I head towards one past Iroquois Park, but a large tree branch and police clue me in that I wasn't getting any further up that road. So I change direction again and head to the one near Churchill Downs.

As I weave in and out of tree limbs and trash cans, I see an upturned port-a-potty. As I swerve around it, it lunges at me. I shit you not (pun intended)!

The Churchill Downs Kroger still has power, so I get everything on the list. Little did I know that most of that money would eventually go to waste, since our power ultimately stayed off for 36 hours.

During all this, RedFaery and I are trying to keep tabs on one another. But the amount of cellular traffic or atmospheric interference kept sending us into each others' voice mail. So I left her a message to tell her I'm still ok, picking up lunch, and coming home.

The only restaurant left with power was the nearby J. Gumbo's, so I got cajun food. The place was packed.

I return home and fight the wind getting everything inside. I went outside a little later when the winds dropped to 20 mph or so to see if we had any damage. We were very lucky - no damage. Lots of shingles and siding was missing from various neighbor's homes. A good-sized tree limb had fallen of a tree where our neighbor normally parks his van, but wisely moved it.

That night we went into my work. Power was already back on, so I e-mailed our out-of-town offices to let them know the situation, then went to our favorite sushi place. The bar was packed with people that wouldn't miss their football game - glad some things never change!

I typically use a CPAP machine at night due to my sleep apnea, but obviously couldn't that night! Since my snores are enough to rattle windows, I slept in the living room with the cats. The next day I was a zombie, but work wasn't too rough on me.

RedFaery fought the headache from her sinus infection for as long as she could, but I had to take her into the emergency room to get her a shot so she could finally get some rest. It was a longer wait than normal, and it looked like there were a lot of minor accidents that had occured thoughout the day. One guy's arm looked chewed up - my guess was a chainsaw kickback of some kind.

She woke me off the couch at 2am when the power finally came back, so I could come to bed and use my CPAP again. At our house now, it's as if there never was a problem - but I'm one of the lucky ones. Many are expected to still be without power for a few more days.

I never would have suspected the hurricane would have sustained that much power through half the U.S. I can't even begin to imagine what it was like in Texas.

A Hard Day's Night

Our second scheduled Improv Challenge taping (I'm about 5 days behind!) went off pretty well. Lots of little changes made it smoother still.

The biggest change is the addition of Deuce Leader as our new music and sound director. I don't really know why Joel dropped out, but I do know that Deuce is an excellent addtion to the team! He's been a DJ in the area for a long time, and is really comfortable on the mic. He makes a great foil for me when bantering, and has some improv experience, so the creativity is there and is a good challenge for me.

Walden Theatre had to back out of this show due to scheduling issues, so Heyman Telent came back for another round. They went up against the cast & crew of the movie "Dead Moon Rising 2". Everyone brought their A-game, and I'm thrilled to see the teams getting very comfortable with trying to create a laugh. They're really starting to play to the camera!

I also got word that after this upcoming taping, we're officially moving the show off the little stage in Vinnie's, and moving to a bigger stage in the Fox Den. This brings us down to the audience a bit more, and gives us a lot more space for the audience.

After meeting with Carol and Scott today, we agreed to a few more format changes that will give me even more freedom on stage. A lot of the technical items, such as explaining the games, will become pre-recorded pieces. How we do the challenges will change as well, allowing me to not carry around my "crutch" of reading material. Whomever wins the first face-off picks the first game they'll play, and the opposing team will play that same game - the only difference is the subject. Speaking of the subjects for the games, those will be taken from the audience before the show as well. Each subject will be what is put on the cards drawn from the pockets on stage - it will be up to the team to figure out how to make it all fit.

Finally, the next taping (we're skipping this week due to the wind storms) will be TWO shows back-to-back. And the first one - a zombie special, just in time to be broadcast on Halloween! And we've already got plans in place to make it memorable!

It's really starting to fall into place!

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 36

I managed to drop down to 211 lbs at one point this week. Then with the wind storm killing the electricity in the area for nearly two days (another blog entry soon), we pretty much ate convenience food the whole time. I'l thrilled I only gained one of those pounds back.

I've discovered that if I go to bed a little hungry, it helps. If the hunger is really bad, I'll drink another bottle of water. The only drawback is that it sometimes makes it hard to get to sleep.

And just for my sister - no talk of pooping!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-35 Loss: 25 lbs.
Week 36 Loss: 0 lbs.
Current Weight: 212 lbs.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 35

I've found a secret dieting technique that REALLY WORKS!!! Get sick!

I mentioned briefly in my last blog of my Friday eating binge - all that weight disappeared in the restroom the next day, and I was kinda shocked. What then shocked me even more was that I had to keep going back to the restroom. I started to swear off pizza and Mountain Dew for the rest of my life until RedFaery told me to take my temperature. 100.6 degrees - and I thought I just feeling crappy from, well, crapping.

The thing about being sick - you never really feel that bad until someone points out that you SHOULD be feeling bad. Then you feel REALLY bad! I sweated like a turkey on Thanksgiving day all night, and was wobbley all the next day. I described the sensation as "vibrating on a sub-atomic level" - you feel like you're shaking, but in reality you're not. We had plans to visit friends for a wrestling pay-per-view, but didn't want to give anyone anything.

I'm trying the work thing this morning, but having the strength of a newborn kitten isn't going to get me far today, I fear.

The good news is my weekend-long shitfest has gotten me down to the lowest point in my weight since starting this program - 212 lbs! Now if there was only a way to replicate this without seriously endangering my health, this would be easy!


Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-32 Loss: 20 lbs.
Week 33 Loss: 5 lbs.
Current Weight: 212 lbs.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

This Boy

Hey, anyone reading my blog, feel free to pimp your own! On the bottom right-hand corner, I added the feature "Followers" - if you sign up there, it links to your own blog. Besides, I'm curious myself who's reading - I'm only aware of about five people (and I'm married to one of them).

In unrelated news - 5 pieces of pizza and 3 cans of Mountain Dew add exactly five pounds. I fucking hate Fridays - my tummy is a "captive audience" to whatever food is there.

Happiness is a Warm PUN!

Thursday night we taped the first official episode of the Alley Theater Improv Challenge. Or so we thought. Joel, our musical director, never showed. He not only plays the music during the show, but he also plays sound effects, gives me onstage cues, and gives me someone to banter with during the slow moments. After we were done, Carol and Scott were leaning heavily into the field of "let's make this a final dress rehearsal and start fresh next week" - it really all boils down to editing and deciding if Joel missing will disrupt the flow of the episodes. I just hope he's ok, cause we never heard from him.

But the entire time we proceeded like it's going to air. The whole day while at work I was anticipating what to do and psyching up. One of my co-workers was on a team that was performing tonight, and she was antsy too. Fortunately the workload was light enough, so I didn't make any major gaffes.

I got there about 6:30 and was first told about Joel missing. I covered with Scott all the things I needed to do in case he didn't show. Most of my cues we going to be delivered by the floor manager, which wouldn't look that great on camera, but would get the job done.

I spent a few minutes with the judges and gave them the rundown on what they'd be doing. They'd come from all walks of the performing arts, and were great all evening giving me someone to banter with when things got slower. I'll probably utilize them more in that regard.

I then gathered the teams together to cover all the last-minute changes and how they're going to affect them. Our competitors were evenly matched. The Second-Chancers were a group of ladies (including my co-worker) that had never pursued the performing arts, and were finally throwing caution to the wind and going for it. Heyman Talent was a group of aspiring performers - however one of their members had to drop out at the last second and was replaced by someone that had just a little instruction. All of them were ready to act silly and have a lot of fun, so I was thrilled to see them go.

Lots of memorable moments. During a one minute re-enactment of "Cinderella", my co-worker just randomly kicked her shoe off to her teammates, and that got a big laugh. Two members of Heyman Talent seemed very natural playing a husband and wife shopping, and they brought a ton of energy. In the end, Heyman Talent won by a mere 14 points. No one left unhappy, which is my goal.

Afterward, I "debriefed" with everyone. The judges gave solid critique of how we can tweak a few of the skits to make them more interesting to the viewing audience. Scott gave a lot of production notes there at the club and later in e-mail that will tighten the ship considerably. Carol and the performers had nothing but praise for the comedy and comfort they had.

If this show winds up being used as "promotional material" for the next few weeks, like when I go on the CW morning show, Heyman Talent will probably get a bye in the tournament, and the Second Chancers will get, funnily enough, a "second chance".

Despite all the setbacks, I'm still extremely happy with how it's all coming together. I'm especially surprised at my own comfort level in front of three cameras trained on me. This thing is going to be HUGE!

Across the Universe

I need to catch up my blog on this last week, since I was so busy. First I'll start with the TSC BBQ in Indy.

RedFaery and I invited a friend to make the trip with us, as Cinn's expressed an interest in getting out more. I hadn't spent as much time with her as Red has, but I was happy to find that she's a great conversationalist. The 2+ hour drive to Indy didn't seem nearly as long!

We arrived a little after noon, and started introducing ourselves to the folks we hadn't met yet. I suppose I should mention that TSC stands for Tech Support Comedy, and it's an online community for those in the IT field that want to make friends and vent about the frustrations that come along with the job. RedFaery had been a member for a number of years before discovering the social aspect of it, and after I came along for the ride to the first BBQ we attended, I also joined and made some friends. I'm not a techie - I only offer the "C" of "TSC", but that's good enough for them!

A nice surprise for RedFaery - a co-worker from her days living in Indy was there, and neither one expected to see each other. While Persephone wasn't an active forum poster, she was a regular on the site. They'd talked online once in a while, but hadn't seen each other in six years.

The host of the gathering, RiffRaff (husband of Magenta, for those wondering the origin of the name) stated that in true TSC BBQ fashion, we were going to go "Office Space" on some old printers he brought from work. One of the British TSC gatherings started the tradition of re-enacting the "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" scene from the movie, and it stuck. When asking for ideas on how to creatively destroy them, I suggested stringing them up like pinatas, and the group seemed to go along with it.

As the Epson Stylus printer dangled from a tree branch, everyone took turns whacking it with a shovel. Many times it got wound up in the tree, but just as many times pieces went flying in several directions. I kept half a roller bar, and it sits above me in the hands of my Darth Tater as I type this. Memento.

After many burgers, brats, grilled corn and conversation, Riff insisted that I get up and entertain everyone. I'd kept everyone on the website informed of the Improv Challenge and how it progressed, and all the while unknowingly planted the seed in his mind that I was able to perform at the drop of a hat. He'd mentioned it to me when we first got there, and I laughed it off. Hours later, he's now standing up and asking, "How should I introduce you?". My response: "Oh my god, you're SERIOUS, aren't you?"

Since all the improv games I know involve at least one other person, I didn't let Riff off the hook and made him my partner. I quickly picked out "Moving People", since it didn't require much set-up. Basically while Riff and I talked about picking up chicks at church (the random subject), two others would move our body parts like man-sized dolls. We delved into picking up nuns and lactating (which was spawned by "me" putting my hands on my chest). At one point Persephone (who was moving me) was laughing so hard she could do nothing but lay her face in my back and gigglesnort. Offhand I'd say it went well - the YouTube video will be up any day now I'm sure.

We left as the bonfire was starting up, so we'd be home by midnight. Cinn had made a few new friends, so it was a great success in her "getting out of the house" mission. This having been our 4th BBQ, we've started to become used to the concept of "driving hundreds of miles to meet people you only know online" and are enjoying ourselves more and more each time. Our goal next year is to host a BBQ of our own and show off Louisville to our TSC friends.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Act Naturally

Tonight's the first taping of the Alley Theater Improv Challenge. I'm already too distracted - left my cellphone at phone accidently. Seems like half my life's in there...

We only have six teams signed up for this thing - we really want sixteen, so we're hoping once we start airing a few episodes, people will say, "Hey, I can do that!" and join up. So these next three Thursdays are pretty important!

We had a problem figuring out what to do about the judges - Scott says he's taken care of it, so I guess I'll find out tonight what's happening.

I tweaked how I'm doing the "game selecting process" - instead of having the cards list the entire skit, they'll only list the skit's name. I'll have all the descriptions in my cheat sheet on stage - hey, if Drew Carey can do it, so can I!

My biggest concern is filling the voids when they occur on stage. I have a musical directer (Joel) I can banter with a bit, but finding interesting/funny things to say on the fly is scary - despite my improv background. Nothing more than what I'm asking of the contestants, so I'll deal.

Deep cleansing breaths...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 34

Nothing like a holiday weekend to make you fall off the chuck wagon. And fall I did! Saturday was a BBQ in Indy - burgers, brats, and salsa dip all day. Sunday was the buffet at the local casino. And Monday was All-You-Can Eat soup, salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden for a friend's birthday. I'll probably blog on at least the BBQ later.

The good news about it all is that the pounds gained typically drop off after a day or so. The bad news is that it will be after my weekly check-in.

Mega-busy week - still probably won't get to the gym.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-32 Loss: 23 lbs.
Week 33 GAIN: 3 lbs.
Current Weight: 217 lbs.