hobbies: table of contents
improvImprov is my major hobby. Some useful analogies for those of you not acquainted with improv:
- improv : theater :: jazz : music
- improv : theater :: crack : cocaine
Improv gets me playing, laughing, and just plain unserious. I view its absurdity as an important complement to my professional life.
- Groups (in reverse chronological order).
- Here in Buffalo I'm still looking for a regular longform gig, though I have guest-performed with the funny and talented duo, Show B. I also guest-perform with the Eclectic Company.
- Before moving to Buffalo I was a proud member of Kalamazoo's Crawlspace Eviction. They do longform improv and some scene-based shortform. Check out the website, and get on the mailing list for information!
- Before that I founded and was the "artistic director" (scare quotes are important to the title) for the group Tilt in Ann Arbor. We also did a mix of longform and shortform.
- Before that, in college, I performed with Harvard's group On Thin Ice.
- Before that, in high school, I performed at the old Milwaukee ComedySportz venue. My high school team - Nicolet - won the first ever "Meaningless Cup".
- Training (in chronological order).
- I got my first improv training with ComedySportz (I was tapped for free lessons from my high school improv team).
- I studied Clown at the American Repertory Theater in Boston (with Jane Nichols, now on faculty at Yale, Julliard, and The Actors Center).
- I took an intensive workshop on Lecoq style Clown with Walk & Squawk Theater while they were in Ann Arbor.
- I went to a two-week intensive workshop with the legendary Keith Johnstone at the Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary.
- I took several longform classes with Second City mainstager Margaret Edwartowski over at Detroit's Planet Ant.
- I've taken five levels so far with the iO-inspired Impatient Theater Company in Toronto.
- I took the Summer Improv Intensive at the legendary iO, the Mecca for longform. My amazing lineup of teachers was: Craig Uhlir, Lisa Linke, Jim Carlson, Bill Arnett, and Joe Bill.
- Various workshops all over.
- Favorite improv books (in no particular order).
- I think Johnstone's Impro isn't just one of the best books on improv - it's one of the best books, period. If you're interested in play, creativity, education, storytelling, or theater, this is a fantastic read.
- A more practical list of improv games and exercises is Johnstone's Impro for Storytellers.
- I also like Mick Napier's Improvise: Scene from the Inside Out.
- The "bible" of The Harold longform style is Halpern, Close, and Johnson's Truth in Comedy. It's kind of annoying in style, but it's an important reference nonetheless.
- Group Improvisation is a handy reference.
theaterI've done a lot of amateur theater, and some professional stuff too, including voice work. I've even had a real role in a real movie!
- Here's my current acting resume in pdf. (I trim the training credits depending on the audition.)
- My Kalamazoo improv group and I made Comic Evangelists, a movie that premiered in LA at the American Film Institute's AFI FEST 2006. Check out my (minimalist) IMDB page. (Someday, like imaginary girlfriend Natalie Portman, I hope to have a defined Erdős-Bacon number).
gamesI've always loved various games. (I guess if you were to pick one name for my hobbies so far, it would have to be "playing".) I try to host "game nights" on occasion.
Some games I like:
- Pool, especially "straight pool", 9-ball, and snooker. (It's worth checking out the official rules at that link if you don't know them.) Byrne's New Standard Book of Pool and Billiards is one of my favorite pool books.
- Chess is a somewhat masochistic hobby, since I'm not very good and quickly get frustrated by my inability to get better without any actual work. I like Pandolfini's Beginning Chess and Weapons of Chess for starters.
- Go is another such hobby. If you're not familiar with this game, but like thinky games such as chess, you should really check it out. It's older than chess, more elegant, and harder to teach a computer. It's also easier to play people of different levels. Go for Beginners is a fantastic intro book, and Strategic Concepts of Go is a great second book.
- My siblings and I bond over trading card games during family times. Mike especially likes Magic; Kris and I tend to play the now out-of-print Harry Potter version. We also like Pirates of the Spanish Main.
- I also like toy, board, and card games. Recent favorites include Battling Tops, SET, Settlers of Catan, and Cranium.
- I recently discovered the Board Game Geek website. They aren't kidding - those are some people who are serious about their games, with detailed stats on each game. I look forward to trying some of the weird ones they evaluate highly.
- You can see many of the games I'm interested in trying on my Froogle wish list. I'm just saying.
exerciseDoes this count, really? What about dieting?
Exercising for its own sake is still not a hobby I pursue with much enthusiasm, I have to admit. But over the years my gusto has been growing, as I slowly come to see the various and deep benefits. (I guess Aristotle was right about habituation.) Also, exercise awareness gets me more likely to do stuff I like anyway, like hiking.
I just thought I ought to point out, in defense of my well-rounded-ness, that I do sometimes leave my room and move some.
dilettantismPart of the joy of a philosophy career is that you can fairly justifiably dabble in a bunch of other fields, which is something I think I would do anyway.
- computers. I've always been geeked for computers, to the
point where I could call it a bit of a hobby.
- For ideological reasons, I'm an
advocate of free ("as in speech") and
open source software, such as
GNU/Linux. Trust me, it is possible to do
entirely without Micro$oft products. Not just possible -
cheaper, better, and more ideologically sound!
- If you're considering making a switch to freer/opener computing, you might start with OpenOffice, which does everything Micro$oft Office does, but for free, and with open standards! It runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, etc. Download it and try it! What have you got to lose?
- As for operating system, myself I recently switched from Red Hat Fedora to Ubuntu as my chosen flavor of linux, mostly in deference to the bandwagon. O'Reilly's Running Linux has been helpful for me; I also have liked previous versions of the Linux For Dummies books, which include the software on CD.
- For (academic) text processing, it's tough to beat LaTeX typesetting on the emacs text editor. (Don't forget to use BibTeX for flawless and pain-free bibliographies!) All free software, and the typeset results are gorgeous. There's a bit of a learning curve, but books like Lamport's LaTeX: A Document Preparation System and O'Reilly's Learning GNU Emacs are very helpful, and it's worth the effort.
- My internet hosting company, 1&1, has been very cheap with decent support to boot. I figure that's worth a plug. (See, companies? Good word of mouth can pay!)
- It's cheaper to build your own computers. I'm not sure how exactly I picked up this skill, other than looking over various websites, and investing too much time at it. It's kind of fun; like I imagine grease monkeys are with their cars, I'm a bit of a chip monkey I guess.
- Other useful computer skills in which I still occasionally dabble include perl and the bash shell; the classic perl book is the Llama book, as it's called. O'Reilly also produces the helpful Learning the bash Shell.
- For ideological reasons, I'm an advocate of free ("as in speech") and open source software, such as GNU/Linux. Trust me, it is possible to do entirely without Micro$oft products. Not just possible - cheaper, better, and more ideologically sound!
- I try to keep up my Japanese when I can. I also like to "study" by watching the unique animation out of Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, which has deals with Disney now to release dubbed and subtitled versions of their delightful movies.
- I sorta try to maintain my ancient Greek skills too.
- These days I've been trying to learn Mandarin using the Pimsleur system. The audio CD's are expensive, but you can always buy them used. I use my mp3 player to practice in the car or while washing dishes.
- math. I learned fairly early that I wasn't going to have
my theorem by 22, but I miss it sometimes.
- Here's an archive of some Putnam contest problems.
- If I were stranded on a desert island, I would want The Higher Arithmetic: An Introduction to the Theory of Numbers, in order to keep me occupied indefinitely with minimal resources.
- I can get away with studying math within philosophy sometimes,
- Obviously logic is relevant; Computability and Logic was one of my early texts, and I refer to A New Introduction to Modal Logic on occasion.
- I'm curious about category theory and its relation to structuralism in math.
- Lately I've also been interested in information theory (not for the "intelligent design" baloney!); Information Theory, Inference & Learning Algorithms has been helpful, and there's a free online version.