Friday was my first day back from this last trip to California. No more travel until March 7th! I was able to connect to all the right systems with work and actually be pretty productive over a VPN to Milpitas. Running an X server on WinXP and exporting windows over a VPN works pretty well, as long as you're not using a very intensive program. Fortunately, SSH with Putty works even better, so that's been my primary interface. It feels like 1994 all over again, with me working on Georgia Tech College of Computing systems from the Sun workstations in the Rich Building, but without all the obsessive xtrek players shouting out maneuvers to each other from nearby computers.
Friday night was a trip to the Hyde Park Theater with tangoglenn to see the Best of the Short Fringe (Part A), one of the wrapup performances of FronteraFest 2005. This was a collection of five short works, all excellent in their own ways. It started with "Haiku Death Match", a very funny competition among three poets from the Austin Slam. After that was "Chicken and Ice Cream", a really heartbreaking scene between a mentally-challenged prisoner on death row and a fellow prisoner that's been acting as his guardian. Right after that was a monologue called "Exactitude" which was a reflection on how theory doesn't match reality, and how we keep measuring the universe and finding better answers, ones that invalidate our old ones. There was a short intermission, followed by "My Own Little Empire", an exercise in frames of reference as exemplified by a group of occasionally spinning women. I really liked the way they integrated one of the woman's pregnancy into the performance. The final piece was my favorite, a monologue called "Wade" told by a man who spends a lot of time at a laundromat, and who wants to connect with people, but keeps failing. There's a story in this about his attempt to pick up a girl in the supermarket by offering expert advice on mayonnaise that's brilliant and could form the basis for a condiment version of "Sideways".
Saturday afternoon was a screening of the Thai martial arts film "Ong-bak". The story's really lame and the acting ranged from passable to atrocious, but the actual physicality of the main actor makes this film stunning. The foot chase through Bangkok where he jumps over and through an array of obstacles was just breathtaking.
Saturday night was a really nice dinner with orangepaisley, ocyn, and satryic at Romeo's on Barton Springs. It was packed with both early Valentine's Day couples and people carb-loading for the Sunday marathon, but the wait staff did a good job, and the meal was yummy. I had the cheese tortellini in tomato cream sauce, a house salad, and a couple of liters of iced tea. I really miss the Romeo's location that was at Burnet and 2222, so it was a treat to get down to this one.
Sunday was slow; I spent time on some projects for work, updated my Combee on Palm OS weblog with a few entries, and met with Charlie to go over plans for the March 5th SWNN Alamo event. I think we're going to have an interactive element to the show, with the audience influencing the clips that we'll actually show on the big screen. We've got a few really funny gags planned too, but I'm not going to give anything away just yet.
This week should be pretty low-key. Next Saturday I start improv classes down at the Hideout with the Heroes of Comedy group, and I'm getting really excited. The last time I did improv work was back in college, and while a lot of the writing for "The Show With No Name" was done in an improv style, we never did any formal training or tried to follow any of the standard forms. We were really creative, but I think the training will help me focus that creativity and use it to produce more sophisticated and more truthful comedy.