Sunday, December 26, 2004

I can blog finaly mwa hahahaha

salutations loyal cellar dweller fans, joe here
as many of you may know i have not had the abitlity to blog on our new site due to either a computing malfunction or my personal ineptitude, i trust it's the latter of the two. so for all those who miss my insite and oponions, as well as lack of punctuation and spelling errors fear not for as deon sanders and grover cleaveland have said so many times " I'm back" and i do have a few things to share,

first off i'd like to thank every one for there support over the past year making it one of the most successful cellar dweller seasons on the books, ( not that we actually keep books) we appriciate your continued support in the 2005 season which will kick off after our short holiday break with improv on friday nites at the b.v.b, as well as some touring improv shows , our shows proper will begin again in febuary.

secondly be on the look out for some new dwellers as well as the return of classic dwellers from years ago, not gonna mention any names now, contracts are still being negotiated.

and finally the cellar dwellers will be auditioning for actors and actresses, as well as crew and lighting people for the 2005 season at the end of january so check the website for exact dates and times,

thanks for a great year

joe eoj

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Deconstructing Santa's DVD Extras (circa 2003)

Now that Decon Santa has wrapped up for another year, I thought it would be fun to go back into the archives and post what we wrote about the show the FIRST time we did it. I know this is alot to read, but it's all very fascinating and actually pretty funny. As soon as I make the actual Decon Santa website, we will have these posted on there... but for now, read some secrets about our beloved Christmas show:

JAMES: "here's a Christmas present just for all the - 3 or 4 - people who read the blog. As you may imagine not everything we wrote could make it into the the final script. For instance, as originally conceived the show would feature theatrical style trailers before the show proper. I wrote a couple of these - concentrating mainly on mocking the coming attraction voice overs - however they proved too difficult to produce visually on stage. The trailer idea was eventually completely nixed. But now in a kind of special-edition-director's-cut-DVD spirit, I give you one of the missing trailers from the Cellar Dweller's Deconstructing Santa in script form. Handle with Care:

In a world where conformity is the norm, everyone plays by the rules, a free spirit runs into a wall at every turn, and every question is answered with ‘no’ only one man is willing to break through and say “OH YEAH.” Prepare yourself for …KOOL…AID… MAN…The Movie. This summer Kool- Aid Man is hitting the streets for action and he has the man seeing red. Only Kool-Aid will wet your appetite for comedy, drench you with action, and slake your thirst for romance. Are you going to like this movie? OH YEAH!! "

MIKE: "Inspired by James' entry on the DVD Extras, I wanted to mention our idea for the alternate ending to the show...

After Aaron shoots the Killer and saves the day, everyone goes their separate ways, and Santa leaves Aaron. So after that skit, there was to be a short skit where Aaron was sitting on a curb or something (this idea wasn't fully developed) and Steve Clairmont and his wife Alice were to ADOPT Aaron, therefore giving him a family. Sure Aaron is like 20+ years old, but that doesn't really matter. It would have been a truly contrived ending, but the one we had was WAYYYYY better."

JAMES: "Apparently the DVD extra thing is a big hit. At least one person has told me they like it and that's about a third of our total blog readership. Here's a little nugget of Cellar Dweller's Deconstructing Santa trivia which the true Dweller fanatic cannot live without.

Did anyone wonder why most of Deconstructing Santa took place in and around Kansas City? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway. We chose Kansas City based on a joke which did not make the final cut. You see, the characters of Rob and Bert - who we referred to privately as the annoying guys and you probably thought of as the gay guys - were originally conceived as two hyperactive optimists who still never agreed on things. For instance, if Rob saw a cup as being half full, Bert would see the same cup as full half way. It was an idea based on an improv skit me and Joe performed at the Outlet for Creativity's Friday night improv. However, the characters proved too difficult to write as originally conceived. There was really only one joke and it got old immediately upon being put down on paper. It was a total disaster. Joe and I spent an entire evening trying to get it to work, but never got past the opening lines: "I'm half done packing." "I'm done packing half way."

So, obviously these characters simply could not be used, but we still needed some character(s) for the killer Santa to kill - in order to set up his full evil capacities. So, eventually Rob and Bert became hyper Christmas lovers, which was much easier to write. Still, several things remain from the optimists. The names Rob and Bert were chosen because one is Robert half way and the other is half way to Robert. Also, Christmas in purgatory was first vaguely imagined with these characters since purgatory is half way to heaven and to heaven half way. I hope you see why we nixed these guys. I would have killed myself if I had to write this crap for too long.

So, anyway Kansas is roughly half way across the country from either coast. By the time we jettisoned these characters it was too late - or we were too lazy - to change a lot of the other stuff which had already been made to take place in Kansas City. we ended up stuck in Kansas City.

Also, I think I should note that Rob and Bert are not gay. They were simply [enthusiastic]. Of course we knew how people would take the characters and played it up. But a close examination of the script - something which could have really helped our cast - reveals that we purposely mislead the audience into thinking the characters are gay only to undercut the seemingly questionable dialogue to be about something truly mundane. "

MIKE: "Anywho, the character of Steve Clairmont has an interesting history.

The trilogy began late one night during an improv workshop over the summer, when we improved the idea of a mugger being recognized by an old friend. In the improv version, the mugger actually SHOWED the friend how to rob someone. But I scrapped that idea when I sat down to write the first skit. I wrote the basics for all three skits, and then we punched them up as a whole, adding jokes here and there until they got to the way they were in the show.

The second skit was improved by me and Josh Knopp at college. It was basically me, a nameless robber, breaking into his next-door-neighbor's house. I then put two and two together and slapped the Steve Clairmont character in the skit, and connected it to the first.

The third skit was just the natural progression of the problem. Me and Mike the Tall brainstormed on AIM and came up with some ideas for it.

I wrote these three skits before we were even thinking about doing an all-skit-Christmas-show. Then, early one morning at the Copper Dog, we were planning the show and the character just natually fit into the show.

The name Steve Clairmont isn't really significant. I named him slightly after the main character in the Castlevania games: Simon Belmont. I just changed the name a tad because I have used the last name of "Belmont" in a handful of things I have written. The original titles for the skits were pretty long. They went something like: "The Steve Clairmont Experiment: Part One: The Mugging" But of course we changed them to be more audience friendly in the program.

Originally, I had planned on Steve NOT getting back together with his wife. He was originally supposed to go mad and "steal christmas" and therefore taking the role of the Grinch. Then he was to have a big ol' monologue and realize what he was doing was wrong. And then he was going to try and "return" "christmas" to a little girl's house, therefore running into James, Aaron, and the Killer. It was kind of a weird and abstract thing that made his character kind of cliched. The way we did it, with him getting back together with his wife, was the best way to go about it, and the third skit ended up being my favorite.

I'm a big fan of bank robbery scenes. I wrote an entire one-act for my highschool that took place during a bank robbery. They are pretty awesome, and doing this one, where Steve and Alice get back together, was really awesome.

As for the Green Hornet theme song, we didn't really think of that until about two weeks before the show. Joe and I were at Kings planning the music outline for the show when we started playing with the idea of giving him an actual theme song. The Green Hornet Theme just seemed fitting. And the short clip that plays in the middle of the third skit was an add-on that we came up with the week of the show, that I think worked amazingly well.

So there ya go. That's everything about Steve Clairmont, the robber that never was."

JOE: "now i know alot of you were interested in steve clairmont, and the two annoying or gay guys, however you want to call it, but the charector that i feel leaves the audience with the most questions, and curiosity is hostage #1 in the steve clairmont ex-wife skit, or the bank robbery skit as it is so reffered to as. (go poor grammer) . most people in our audience as well as some of our cast refered to hostage #1 as very 1 dimensional and or , a throw away charactor, meaning that he has no real relavence within the context of the show, this is where i must disagree whole hartedly, as you all know hostage #1 was played by me, joe , and i did enjoy the charactor, but even though hostage #1 was only seen for a short 5 line stint in one skit, the charactor was originally going to do so much more,unfortunately his extra quips were cut before he was even named. so lets take this time to explore the charactor of hostage #1

first off, he was from n.y. city, where part of the show was originally to take place before the whole kansas city joke was adopted and then cut, hence hostage #1's thick bronx like accent.

secondly, like steve clairmont of the steve clairmont experience and experiment fame, hostage #1 had also gone through a painfull divorce hence his line, " if i wanted to here you two bitch i'd go back to my exwife," unfortunately unlike steve clairmont, hostage #1 was and still is very bitter about the divorce, and is a dead beet, hence the line "kinda makes me wish i would have paid my screw it she can work"

thirdly, hostage #1 is not a very good father,but, is still trying to be a father, and not abandoning his children altogether like some fathers, and MOTHERS have done to their children. oh no, hostage # 1 still sees his kids a bit, we know this from the line " can we hurry this up, i got my kids today" unfortunately we know hostage #1 is not a good father because of the following line, "are you done robbing us i still gotta get smokes for my kids" for shame, buying ciggarettes for his children.
finally hostage #1 does have his share of personal battles to overcome, like all good round charactors do. for it is implied in the line "ust give him the money so we can get outta here before the liquor store closes" that hostage #1 has an alcoholl addiction. so contrary to popular beleif hostage #1 is not the one dimensional throw away charactor that all of you have thought, even though he had a mere 5 lines, so much of his life and attitude are explored, you just have to pay attention and know where to look."

There's so much more to say about the show... and I'm sure it will be said, as there is alot of stuff we changed this year and it deserves to be mentioned. But this entry is long enough, so until next time...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Here comes Santa Claus

Tomorrow is the opening of the Cellar Dweller's now classic "Deconstructing Santa" Christmas comedy show. I say "now classic" because it debuted last year on this weekend and was one of the best received shows the Dwellers had produced. Looking to continue the tradition of a hilarious holiday, the Dwellers said "What the heck?" and started putting Santa back together again. And now, after weeks of rehearsing, digging out old props, and making some changes, Deconstructing Santa is ready for it's return to the yule tide shuffle!

I really can't recommend this show enough. If you were lucky enough to see it last year, you know it's worth your time to come and see it again. But if you HAVEN'T seen it, then you absolutely cannot miss this. So I advice you all to bring your friends and family (but remember this X-mas show is PG-13, folks) and enjoy a great evening of Christmas cheer.

If you haven't seen the show, and have no freaking clue what I'm talking about... here's the low-down. There are four Dwellers in this show: James, Ben, Mike and Joe. We play all of the parts, but the show focuses on four main characters: James as James the Santa Claus. Joe as Aaron, Santa's moronic elf sidekick. Ben as a psychotic serial killer. Mike as a recently divorced novice thief. The show almost two hours of sketches chronicling the journey of these four characters on Christmas Eve. Along the way you'll meet a handful of other colorful characters, like Rob and Bert, two guys a little too enthusiastic about the holidays; John Hancock, yeah the signature guy; a talking, burning wreath; and the Voice of God, as played by none other than Donnie Iris. All of this accompanied by a healthy serving of Christmas music!

It's a dark comedy with all the Christmas fixin's. There's something here for everyone, so make sure you don't miss it!

Friday and Saturday only!

Friday, December 17th at CCBC Allied Health Auditorium, Center Twp. 8:00PM $5
Saturday, December 18th at the Bagpiper Theater, Geneva College, Beaver Falls 8:00PM $5

For directions and other information, like our sweet poster, check our website.

See you there!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Pakistani Partay

It is a well documented fact that I am a certified party animal. Really, I've got the certificate framed hanging above my bed. I could have received a certificate in air-conditioning repair, but I opted instead to study party animalism. I am convinced I made the right decision. Sure, air-conditioner repairs offers more money, but party animaling offers more...Well, more parties. So, as I was saying, I am a world renowned expert on attending and enjoying parties. As such, I am always looking for new, unique party opportunities. I am willing to attend almost any kind of party at least once. True, this has led me to find myself in many an unsavory position. For instance, I was once invited, informally of course, to a party which was being held in a man's pants, and, even though he claimed 'everyone's invited', I was the only one who actually accepted. Still, my party animalism has led me to many fine party experiences. For instance, just last night I found myself at a three year old Pakistani boy's birthday party.

Now, I know what everyone's thinking: 'But James, I thought you weren't allowed within fifty yards of any three year old boy. Aren't you a xenophobe? How'd you end up there?' I can, of course answer all of these. First, let me say that it was all a horrible understanding. Second, no, I love that warrior princess show. As to how I found my self in such unusual circumstances, please, continue reading.

Kate, my girlfriend - that's right, while I wasn't blogging I got a girlfriend, it happens - is very good friends with a Pakistani woman, Annie, and through Annie, is friends with several people in the greater Pittsburgh Pakistani community. So, now whenever Kate gets invited to a party, I get the defacto invite as well. It's what I like to call 'using my girlfriend to get me into places with a free buffet.'

Now, before I went to this party, Kate had several words of advice for me, most of which boiled down to, 'James, please, in the name of all that's good and holy, don't embarrass me in front of my friends.' Kate was very insistent that I do many things which are against my very nature, like chew with my mouth shut and not pick my nose. She also gave me a whole list of things not to say, such as: 'Your people started the crusades', 'I feel like I should be paying you for gas', or 'Kate, those pants make you look fat.'

There were more sayings, all of which would lead directly to my being single again, but thankfully I never even thought of saying any them. As soon as I arrived at the party - held at the wonderful India Garden in strip-mall-arific Monroeville - everyone was very nice to me. Even though Kate and I were the only white people at the party, no one made us feel unwelcome. Of course, a lot of people were speaking Urdu - a language whose name I cannot spell - so there could have been a lot of people saying stuff about us, such as: "What's up with the crackers? Didn't their people start the crusades?" Although, to be honest, I didn't care what they were saying, because there was free food. The food was great, if by great you mean delicious but oh-my-god-my-throat spicy.

The party had a very interesting feel. It was Pakistani party with almost all Pakistan people there, but it was a child's birthday, so it had a spongebob theme and a baskin robbins ice cream cake. I think it would qualify as multicultural. This is particularly true because of the sponge bob pinata. Here was a traditional Mexican party toy made up as an American pop culture figure at a Pakistani-American party. I know there's some kind of 'we can all get together' moral lesson there somewhere, although I can't quite put my finger on it. The pinata was also note worthy because it was a new fangled 'non-violent' pinata. Instead of beating it into submission with a wiffle ball bat, the children took turns pulling ribbons on Sponge Bob's rear. Once the proper ribbon was pulled, the children were greeted with a flow of candy from SpongeBob's butt. It looked like Sponge Bob was taking a delicious, parti-colored bowel movement. I like to think of it as Willy Wonka's revenge. Of course, the 'non-violent' nature of the pinata went completely out the window once Sponge Bob was cut down and, for some reason, all the kids surrounded him and started curb stomping him like he was a prison bitch who snitched to the warden. I swear at one point Sponge Bob had all his arms and legs ripped off and was being beat with them. It was wonderful. I wanted to get in on some of that sweet, Sponge Bob ass kicking action, but Kate wouldn't let me - although later on I did find the discarded pinata in a corner and kicked it one good in the face.

After dinner and cake, the party really moved in to high gear. It was time to dance. First, Kate's friend, Annie, sang a few songs. She did a great job. She even sang a song in English for Kate and me. It was 'Walk Like an Egyptian'. Annie didn't know all the words, so she substituted the words 'A-oh, A-ohhh' whenever possible - which is more or less how the Bangles wrote the song. Then DJ SharQ took over playing all the big Pakistani dance hits. He played what is called Desi, which is a mixture of western dance beats and traditional Pakistani and Indian elements. It rocked pretty hard. I actually heard the Bee-gees and the Knight Rider theme sampled with Urdu lyrics. It was pretty awesome and dance-tastic.

Well, eventually Kate and I got tired of dancing, and had to leave the party for our long drive home. But I have a wonderful time. It was a party I will remember for a long time. Maybe because it was unique. Maybe because I had such a good time. Or maybe, just maybe, I'll remember it because I stole Sponge Bob's leg and am keeping it on my desk.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

I'm Back...With 365 Reasons Why That Rocks

Hey, this is James and I know what you all are thinking: 'Who the hell is James? This blog sucks. I'm going to look at some good old fashioned all-American internet porn.' Just so you know before you go traipsing off to gorge your baser desires, I used to write wildly popular blog entries on this very site. Well, maybe wildly popular is stretching things just a bit, mildly popular might be more accurate, or, better yet, almost completely unnoticed. Yes, that sounds about right.

Still, the few readers who have been fruitlessly checking this blog for my wry observations, probably have a lot of questions for me. Such as: So, James, what have you been up to? What's up with the long absence? Can you loan me a few bucks? And, as luck would have it, I have answers for each of these questions: Stuff, I'm a lazy sack of crap, and no, God no. I hope that clears everything up.

What's that? You want more information? Some humorous anecdotes?Scathing satire? Alright, I'll go into a little more detail.

Well, since my much lauded return to Beaver County, I have been forced to take a few jobs to pay what I like to call rent. For a while, I was at the lovely Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe, where I promised the manager I would not quit the second I got a better job. Then, I was offered a job at Walden Books and promptly quit the hot dog shoppe. But I hold no ill will. By the way the Hot Dog Shoppe in New Brighton has cockroaches. I'm just saying. They do. Seriously.

So, now not only do I work at Waldens, I also work at Day By Day calendar Company, the super cool calendar kiosk that Waldens runs. Now working at a kiosk has its own unique set of issues. First, there's the philosophical issue of when you are technically at work. Since the kiosk has no walls and ill defined borders, how can I say when I technically arrive or leave from work? How do I know when the kiosk ends and the rest of the world begins? If the kiosk has no walls, does that mean its borders simply expand outward in all directions? Can I be in the food court and still technically be at work? How about in my apartment? Just for the record, my manager and I have vastly different views on the answers to these questions.

Then, there's the whole issue of the calendars themselves. Now, we sell a lot of calendars. I may even be able to say we sell a crap load. We have a dazzling variety of calendars. Some of them are the good old standbys. There are the girlie posters for men, Chippendale's calendars for gay men, country clutter calendars for old women, Star Trek calendars for nerds, and horse calendars for retards. We have an alarming amount of dog and cat calendars, which mean I get a lot of people coming up and looking for a calendar that features a dog/cat which looks EXACTLY like theirs. If, for some reason they can't find, say, a cockerspaniel picture that looks exactly like their dog, they are not going to buy the stupid calendar. Heaven help the cockerspaniel who has just a little too much white in his tail. I don't know why it matters. It's not like their cockerspaniel's going to see the resemblance. Most dogs don't even recognize themselves in a mirror. (And yes, I chose a cockerspaniel so I could type cock. I tossed a coin and shitzu lost)

We also have cute puppy calendars, and cute kitten calendars. But neither of these hold a candle to the devilishly cute puppy kitten combo calendars. We had a puppy kitten baby combo calendar but it proved to be dangerously cute. People were dying left and right from cute related deaths. For a while we kept them behind the counter and required a seven day waiting period so a background check could be performed, but no one passed. Sure, we have other cute calendars. For instance we carry the Anne Geddes baby abuse calendars. They feature babies in a series of increasingly precarious poses. Here's a baby hanging off a high wire. Here's a baby hanging from a high wire over a hungry lion. Here's a baby playing with a gun. Here's a baby with a live hand grenade. Here's a baby with Celine Dion. These calendars are supposed to be adorable, but I just find them disturbing.

Well, there are a lot of other calendars. I could go into the utterly creepy ferret calendar which features evil sharp toothed rodents doing fun things like playing drums or snow boarding. I haven't even mentioned the Christina Aguilera whoring it up in '05 calendar or the plethora of lame comedy page a day calendars, one of which gives you 365 sure signs that you might be a redneck. I could go on, and on, and on, but I'm well aware that this is growing tiresome to everyone but me. As a matter of fact, I am sure there is no one left reading this. Not that anyone was reading this to begin with. I will be going now, but before I leave I just want everyone to know if when you step on the breaks and five dogs end up on your windshield, there is a very good chance you are a redneck.