Here's something most people don't know about me: I love stand up comedy. In my more daring days, I even tried my hand at it a handful of times. As a performer, it was one of the most terrifying things I ever did. Standing up in front of a bunch of people and waiting for a reaction is brutal. It's not like you're talking about something and your one joke bombs...if you don't make them laugh, you suck, end of story.
Although my standup days are over, I still really enjoy watching and have been known to spend late nights in front of the TV watching specials on Comedy Central. I hadn't been to a comedy show since I moved to California, but last night I went to the Evening of a Thousand Scowls benefit for 826 Valencia, an after school volunteer program providing tutoring for kids. The night was a success as a fundraiser, making over $30,000 on ticket sales alone.
I have to say that, aside from being a fifth wheel (which, for those counting, is twice as bad as being a third wheel), I had a great time. I had a hard time catching my breath in between laughs. The show featured Bobby Lee (MadTV), Tig Notaro (The Sarah Silverman Program, Al Madrigal (
Welcome to the Captain), Ian Edwards (
Punk'd), and Jonathan Coulton, hosted by Found Magazine's Davy Rothbart.
The crowd was a little tight (I'm not sure the guy next to me laughed once), but it was a really good show. I had heard of most of the performers except for Tig, who was absolutely hilarious. Her style is more like thinking out loud. She talked slowly and deliberately...and it was hilarious. I nearly fell out of my seat several times. I was honestly sorry when her time was up because she was so good.
Of course, the big crowd pleaser was local boy Jonathan Coulton. If you haven't heard of him yet, don't worry, you will. He's the guy who was a software engineer and quit to write music. He's not really a traditional standup comic so much as a funny folk singer. He led off with a folksy version of Sir Mix-a-lot's Baby Got Back that really got the crowd going. A tribute to his geek side was the song Flickr, which told of a bunch of random photos he found on the site. As an added bonus, he had the actual photos projected on the wall behind him. Another great song, Re Your Brains, is about the lead zombie trying to convince someone to let him in. There was audience participation on this one for the chorus, "All we want to do is eat your brains!" A lot of fun. He finished with a song that doesn't appear to be on his web site, and I can't really repeat the chorus in mixed company, but it was an ode to springtime and the fun that can be had.
All in all, it was a good show for a good cause. I really wished Tig and Jonathan Coulton had more time to perform because I was really enjoying them. Maybe next time.
She looked at me confused. You'd think I had asked for a side of puppy meat.
"Yes, no bun," I responded back with a smile. I've played this game many times when going out to eat. My friend Shelby was trying really hard not to laugh out loud...I had warned her before we entered the restaurant that this would happen. This was her first experience eating out with me and I wanted her to be prepared.
"So you don't want the bun at all?"
"That's right," I said, "I'd like a chicken sandwich without the bun. If it's really too much trouble, you can give me the bun, but I won't be able to eat it. I just don't like wasting food."
Having a gluten sensitivity is a pain, it makes eating out more difficult and the phrase, "just try it" conjures up images of extreme illness. Most of the time, I'm not daring enough to try new food when I'm out in the off chance that someone thought it would be a good idea to add wheat or some other gluten grain to the mixture. It seems like nothing is sacred, even seemingly safe foods.
Did you know there's wheat in most canned soups? How about soy sauce? Some potato chips, even. It's really quite annoying. Consequently, I end up cooking for myself for most meals when I'm at home, and eat very simple foods when I'm out. I eat a lot of what I call "one-ingredient" foods, things like eggs, chicken, rice, fruit, vegetables...essentially things that are rarely mixed with other ingredients. It may lead to a boring diet, but it's better than being sick all the time.
Eating out can be challenging, especially when I don't get to choose the restaurant. There's been many a time when I've sat with a glass of water and watched other people eat. Sometimes the risk is just not worth taking. Othertimes, I can find something that's reasonably safe and make a special request to remove the unsafe parts. Which leads to strange responses from waitstaff.
"Boy, you know, I've never seen someone order a chicken sandwich without a bun...and I've worked here 17 years."
I haven't done this in a while, but I've recently met some really cool people doing work at some really cool startups, so I figured I'd share in case they may be of interest to anyone out there. So, in no particular order, here are some sites you may find interesting:
- vLane - A web application for finding the car of your dreams. The interface is incredibly lightweight and snappy...and powered by YUI. vLane aggregates car information from all over the Internet to help you research, making it a one-stop shop for your car hunting needs. I love how clean the interface is as compared to other car search sites. Oh, and they're hiring front end engineers, in case anyone is looking.
- Dating Thoughts - What do you get when you take a bunch of 30-somethings from the Bay Area and ask them to share their thoughts about dating? You get this site. Evenly spread between guy and girl authors, there's a wide range of topics being written about, including why opposites don't attract, dating in your 20s versus your 30s, and awkward dating moments. It really is an eclectic mix of well-written essays and quick notes on dating and love. If you want dating advice or just want to share in someone else's misery, this may be your spot.
- CoolIris - The product here isn't the web site, but a Firefox addon called PicLens that helps you explore the web through multimedia. I'm not sure I can accurately explain the user experience for this one, just go to the site and watch the video. It's really cool.
In the past month or so, I've met the people behind each of these sites and I'm excited to see where their businesses will go.
Rumors of demise have been exaggerated...slightly. This past Tuesday I fell dreadfully ill with what could accurately be described as the worst flu I've ever had in my entire life. Now, I'm not a big fan of conventional medicine or doctors, usually going the Chinese medicine route for just about anything that ails me. I've become quite the student of herbs and teas, and most of the time, it's worked fabulously. This time was quite different.
Anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows that I am a pragmatist, I rarely speak in absolutes and certainly don't believe in them. I understand that it's the exception that proves the rule and I accept it. The exception for medicine (in my mind) is that conventional medicine is absolutely the best thing for emergency situations where your health needs to be stabilized fast. After throwing up for about five hours with only intermittent breaks for breathing and nearly passing out on the bathroom floor, I realized I had reached that point.
As luck would have it for me (certainly not for her), my mom was visiting this week. I asked her to find me a doctor as I still don't have a primary care even 20 months after moving to California. She did her mom thing, found a walk-in clinic, somehow loaded me into the car and got me to the San Jose Medical Group. Let me again say that I am not a fan of conventional medicine or doctors, but these people were incredible. From top to bottom, nurses, lab techs, and the doctor, they were all incredibly compassionate and treated me wonderfully. Aside from the requisite uncomfortable tests and the too-short-for-me stretcher, they made me as comfortable as possible while pumping me full of fluids and meds and trying to rule out appendicitis and food poisoning (which they did).
The end result is that I just had the flu as the telltale fever and blood pressure drop appeared several hours into my stay. I can't recall exactly how long I was there for due to the anti-nausea meds making me extremely groggy, but by the time I left I was able to sleep pretty much straight through until late the next morning. I'm now recovering, though quite slowly. Still with the dizziness and nausea, though those are much less than earlier in the week. The fever is gone too. Hooray for small victories.
I just have to publicly thank the staff at the San Jose Medical Group for being the absolute best people I've ever dealt with as far as conventional medicine goes. I wish all hospitals and clinics would take a lesson from how you treated me. And of course, a big thanks to Mom for proving once again why she's the best. Hopefully next time you visit we'll be able to do something that doesn't involve vomit and needles.