Friday, July 20, 2007

Bible Action Figures

Ten years ago, I had the extreme pleasure of working for Jellyvision and writing for the popular CD-ROM trivia game You Don't Know Jack. One of the best parts of the job was writing fake audio commercials to go over the closing credits. It really was a treat for me because of my love for Old Time Radio. I really cranked those mothers out. One of my favorites was called Bible Action Figures about a mom trying to get kids excited about going to church. Well, ten years later, there really are Bible Action Figures, as my pal Don Hall points out on his Friday Round-Up.

You can hear my commercial by clicking here. The voices are Ali Davis and Jason Meyer as the kids, Michelle Sobel as the mother, Phil Ridarelli as God, and that's me coming in at the end as the announcer. I don't know who the guy is that put this website together, but thanks, and, um, you're weird.

Hardwiring Nature


The great thing about doing sketch comedy, or any writing, really, is the ability to take two different ideas and mash them together like a mad scientist. Sometimes you get something that meshes together really well, sometimes you get a creature with a few loose bolts and a nose that keeps falling off.

This assignment is a specific version of a Clash of Context scene. A Clash of Context scene takes two different worlds and highlights what they have in common by bringing them together and creating a third new world. Our two worlds will fit into two categories, Nature and Civilization.

To begin, break out pen and paper - or keyboard and screen - for a list of ten. This is a list of ten processes or systems that one finds in nature, science or biology. Here's mine for an example...

1) pollination
2) popcorn popping

3) two male moose locking horns to impress a female

4) cicadas emerging from hibernation

5) post-coital spiders

6) waking up with a hangover

7) monkeys banishing a monkey from their tribe

8) growing old

9) birds flying south for winter

10) snake shedding its skin

Now, you're on the look for things from your own world, your own culture, that can be drafted to the first idea. My list now looks like this...

1) pollination//blind date or matchmaker

2) popcorn popping//high school graduation

3) two male moose locking horns to impress a female//singles bar or pancake house (I don't know why. It just popped into my head)

4) cicadas emerging from hibernation//coming out party

5) post-coital spiders//third date, first time having sex with someone

6) waking up with a hangover//IRS tax audit

7) monkeys banishing a monkey from their tribe//getting kicked out of a club

8) growing old//all the markers we go through in life (birth, first day of school, last day of school, sex, first job, first real job, retirement, death)

9) birds flying south for winter//retired people who migrate to Florida in the winter

10) snake shedding its skin//trying to mask sunburn

Some fit more easily than others. I have no idea what I would do with growing old or hangover. I like the moose fight and can picture two guys fighting over a waitress at an iHop. With pollination I have some images that come to mind, so that's a good sign. I don't know what the hell I would do with growing old.

Now, it's time to test out the ideas by fleshing them out a bit more. The first choice I have to make is picking which world the characters are anchored in. For example, are they animals that act like people or are they people who act like animals?

Let's take pollination. One scenario might be a flower and a bee on a first date, or blind date, getting to know one another. Or maybe they are with a matchmaker or they are further along and are with a relationship counselor. Maybe one of them is tired of the other sticking his stinger into anything that doesn't move. Another might be to have two people interacting with each other like a bee and flower do. So, maybe they're on a dance floor and the "bee" is juking on the "flower" until he's had his fill and then he heads over to another "flower." Our bee's a player.

The assignment is to build a scene that borrows part of it's world from nature and another part from civilization.If you have any questions or want to share your lists of ten, go ahead and post them in the comment section.

Here's a good example from Woody Allen's Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Sex - a very funny early Allen movie. In this Clash of Context scene, the biological system is what happens to a man internally while on a date and hoping to score and the cultural aspect is that the brain runs the body like it's a command center all the way down to the sperm who are like paratroopers. Enjoy the French subtitles, too. On the house.

The BS News Quiz of the Day Answer

On Thursday, I asked this question...

"Earlier this week, the town officials of Brattleboro, Vermont met to pass an emergency ban on what?"

(No one fell for this one, although it seems quite possible to me.)

Smoking (28% said this one. Not a bad guess.)

Smoking while driving a car full of explosives (14% picked this. While I'm sure it's illegal in most states outside of Tennessee, it's not correct)

57% of you are smart cookies and picked the correct answer... nudity.
Public nudity, in fact. Brattleboro thinks it's just fine and dandy if you go skinny dipping or sun bathing au natural. The problem was too many people extending, so to speak, this privilege beyond the beach. Apparently, the dangling straw that broke the camel's back belonged to an elderly gentleman who walked through the middle of town wearing nothing but his flip-flops and a fanny pack. The fanny pack was large enough to hold his goods, but not conceal them. It is unclear if the "flip-flops" were footwear or a description of the sound his nether regions made when walking unadorned.