Friday, January 28, 2005

Why Alien Vs Predator Left Me Unsatisfied

I just finished watching the film - and I use the word 'film' very loosely here - 'Alien Vs Predator' or - as the Universal marketing department would prefer me to refer to it as - AVP. Luckily for me I didn't have to pay to see it, seeing as my roommate Christoph downloaded a bootleg on-line...Er, I mean he acquired a copy of the film through legally accepted channels. And his name's not Christoph...It's...Chuck....Yeah, Chuck. The movie is not very good. That's all I'm really going to say directly toward the quality of the film. This post isn't meant to be a review of a mediocre action/sci-fi film.

What this post is about is how the film left out a vital piece of information: The motivation of the Predators. Now I know what everyone's thinking: that in bad actions movies no one's motivation is clearly defined. I know that the human characters in the movie have very flimsy motivations, but at least they tried. Also, I am well aware that the aliens also have no motivation, but they don't need any. They're just mindless destruction machines. They have an unevolved intellect and want nothing more than to eat, destroy, and procreate. They're almost like frat guys. The only thing separating frat guys from aliens is the desire to get wasted - frat guys are a step up on the evolutionary ladder.

Predators, on the other hand, are given no motivation. According to Chuck - whoever he is, he's my personal authority on all things sci-fi - the predators are a war like race and live only to hunt. Fine, but why? Is there a reason they hunt? What do they get out of it? The movie never spells this out. I have an uncle who lives to hunt, but he has other things going on too: wife, kids, a job. He also likes beer. Maybe, beer is what's missing. In real life hunters always drink. In the movie, the predators never crack a beer. Of course if they did it would be a completely different movie. It would be a better movie too. I would love to see the predators acting a little bit more like the hunters I know: wearing orange vest, getting wasted, sitting in tree stands waiting for an alien to walk underneath.

It's not just the predators motivations, it's their whole civilization which remains a mystery to me. The predator civilization is far more technologically advanced than ours. They have space ships which can travel through the vast reaches of space. They have hi-tech hunting gear, such as cloaking devices - light years ahead of spreading deer urine on yourself. They have all this, and the only thing they want to do is hunt aliens - and Arnold and Danny Glover. Do they do anything else? What do they do between hunting trips? What do they do on the long voyages to the hunting destinations? Do they talk? Have long heart to heart conversations? Play Monopoly? On their home planet do they have day jobs, like accountants and video store clerks? Are there people in their society who don't like hunting? Do predators have hobbies, friends, families, hopes, or dreams? Do predators love?

Of course AVP, answers none of these questions. All we know about predators is they like to hunt and they have really cool gear. We never get inside their heads. We never get to know what really makes them tick. We aren't offered anything in the way of back story. Maybe an alien killed one of the predators brothers. That would be okay, if a little predictable. Maybe they hunt for food. Although I do remember a predator killing Jesse 'The body/governor' Ventura, and I don't think he would taste very good - I'm certainly not about to find out. Of course, maybe predators hunt for the same reason men here on earth hunt: to get away from their nagging wives. That's a good answer, but I can never be sure. Apparently B-movie makers don't need to know these things about their characters before making the film. ARGH!! It's so frustrating.

And that's why Alien Vs Predator left me ultimately unsatisfied.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

My Favorite Shape - please don't hate me

Circles are not my favorite shape. I know it might be sacrilegious to suggest such a thing when I ... well ... run in the circles I do.
It’s not that I don’t like circles - I like standing in them talking to friends (even if it’s really an oval shape.) I especially like them if we’re playing Hackey Sack. Circles make soccer balls possible (even though it’s a sphere that makes them possible.) And I like the rings my coffee cup leaves on my unfinished manuscripts.
But still, it’s not my favorite shape.
The thing is, I like triangles.
When you’re talking shapes, let’s be honest, you’re really talking about the big three; triangles, circles and squares. Sure, there are other ‘basic’ shapes like ovals and rectangles, but they’re just spin-offs of circles and squares. (Notice there’s no spin off of the triangle – too original)
There are also shapes with great sounding names like rhombus and parallelogram. I love the sound of the word parallelogram. Say it. Go ahead. Say it out loud. It’s fun. “Parallelogram.” But picking a favorite of something simply from the cool sound would mean I wanted to be a paraplegic. Fun to say, (go ahead, paraplegic) not so much fun to be.
Since we’re talking about sound, triangle has the word ‘try’ in it. And the connotation of ‘try’ is everything life should be about. Try everything you can. Try new things. Try because that’s the first step to succeed. Sure, it actually stands for 3, but that’s okay, because if SchoolHouse Rock taught me anything, it’s that 3 is a magic number. Hence, triangles are a magic shape.
What’s the connotation of a circle? Getting back to where you started? Then why leave in the first place. I’ll just stay here and not worry about it. And with all due respect to Simba, the circle of life is stupid. Life isn’t a circle; it’s a path - point A to Point B, beginning to end, not beginning to beginning.
I know things repeat themselves throughout history, like fighting wars in the name of God, the rise and fall of great empires, Bell Bottom pants and episodes of MASH on fx. That’s doesn’t mean it’s a circle. It means historians and the general public have too much time on their hands. Who thought it was a good idea for a circle to bring back Disco?
Squares are good, but in life, no one really wants to be a square. Except for a brief period in the late Eighties when Huey Lewis said it was okay. Of course Huey also said you don’t no credit card to ride this train. You decide.
Once Huey said it was okay to be square, then square became hip. Square is hip, up is down, alternative became popular, there was mass hysteria, dogs and cats sleeping together … And aliens started making crop circles. That’s right, circles. Aliens never make crop triangles. (Mostly because it’s too hard to pound a stake in the ground attach a rope and walk around the stake at the exact distance needed to form a perfect triangle. Can’t be done.)
Without triangles, there would be no suspension bridges. Let’s see you try to cross the San Francisco Bay on the Golden Gate Giant Floating Beach Ball Car Transporter.
Even the alphabet knows triangles are the best shape. The letter A is a triangle and that’s where it all starts. Unless you’re Greek and in fourth. O is like 15th. And there aren’t any letters that are square, unless you’re making block letters and then you can make an O with a square shape, but it’s no better than tied for 15th.
Houses might be better in a square shape, but without a triangle on the top to deflect the falling rain and snow, that weak shaped square would crush under the weight.
I’ll give this to circles; they gave us Br2. An equation which makes possible the joke, ‘No, pi are round, cake r square.’ And any stupid pun joke is all right by me.
Br2. It’s a good equation but not quite as powerful as A2+B2=C2.
Squares don’t really have any cool equations. A=B=C=D and angle AB = 90? It’s a square for God’s sake, how complicated is that?
Squares are nothing. Circles are good, even if when drawn they sometimes signify nothing. But triangles are something. Triangles are god-like.
God-like you ask? Sure, even if you’re not Catholic.
Triangles have given me, a mere mortal, a piece of immortality.
Without triangles, there would be no paper footballs. Without paper footballs, I never would have gotten that detention in 7th grade English class. And without that one detention, I wouldn’t have a ‘permanent record’. Without my permanent record, it’s like I would never have existed.
Triangles made me immortal.
Let’s see a rhombus do that.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Man, I'm lazy.

Not only am I lazy, but I know a lot of stuff that can certainly NOT help me get a job. I'm gonna lay out most of the stuff that's happened in the last year to me.

I now have a sexy son. He's only 7 months old, but he'll be a looker. Not that he isn't already.

Well that made my life turn upside down. I needed more money. Plus, I was getting increasingly frustrated with my theatre jobs. I was not getting as many hours as, say, the guy that showed up two hours late every day. How does that make sense? It doesn't. Also a certain place that was supposed to be booking shows for me totally dropped the ball. I believe I made very little money this year. So there was that, but at least I had my summer camps to make up this awful void. Oh wait! The Center for the Arts went belly up! (They are recovering now, by the way, so feel free to take classes there again.) So that sent my financial situation to the toilet. Althoguh I have been paid for that. That sent me in a crazy scramble for a job.

That led me to try and sell insurance. There were problems with getting this job. I interviewed and got it right away. What they neglect to tell you is that the holidays suck for this job. I lost money daily, which was awful since I didn't have money to play around with. So I quit.

So now I have no job. I've been looking around, very unsucessfully. It's weird. I'm very smart, organized, good with people. I'm more qualified for some jobs than the people that have them now, but someone looks at my resume and sees theatre experience and tosses it. They don't realize that I could do their job while writing a mediocre novel in my spare time.

I know lyrics to songs. I know that Harrison Ford was working on the set for Star Wars, when he was asked to fill out an audition group and got the Han Solo part. I know how to spell Han Solo. But I can only type 45 words per minute. Where is the $35,000 a year job that requires me to know the Konami code? Is it out there? I think my friend Alex and I should be on the Amazing Race, but then I realize that I'd lose in that last Sprint to the finish line because the straight running is where I'd falter.

I have a roommate that is making more money twisting balloon animals, eating fire, and belly dancing than I am trying to eek together some sort of new career. I don't want to go back to school and I think that is where I need to go, but I'm really against it. I have TWO degrees from a good school. Why should I not chuck all that knowledge and become a massage therapist? Or work in a toll booth? Cause I have a brain and I have to use it! I'm not afraid of hard work. I'll be honest, I don't like it in large doses, because as I said in the title: I am lazy.

Maybe I should just run for office. Maybe I could be mayor of Pittsburgh and this place could actually bring back some money by being smart about it. Allow business here. Fund public transit systems. Put a friggin' grocery store downtown so people can actually live there.

Well my ideas are often not that of the general public, but I can take criticism. I need a job for the money, but man I need it to shut off too much thinking.

Mike the Tall

Monday, January 17, 2005

Cellar Dweller Newsletter 01/18/05

In order to get the word out to more folks... I've begun posting our Dweller newsletter online. If you wish to get this in your inbox, just leave a comment below with your e-mail address!


The Cellar Dwellers are proud to announce our return to Thursday’s Restaurant in Bridgewater! Our long standing, and successful, relationship with this great venue continues as we present three all-improv shows there over the upcoming months.

Blatantly titled “Improv at Thursday’s” the show is a two-hour improv gem featuring the only professional, scene-based, improv comedy in Beaver County! It’s an entire show molded around audience suggestion, so it’s a different show every time. Not only is it going to be a hilarious evening for all involved, but look for some special guests to be with us as well. It’s going to be a fantastic evening filled with unrehearsed, unscripted, unpredictable improvisation.

The first show is THIS SATURDAY, January 22nd at Thursday’s Restaurant, Wolf Lane, Bridgewater PA. 8:00PM, admission $5.00. The show is all ages!

Also check out our performances there Saturday, February 12th and Saturday, March 12th.

For directions, visit our website



The Dwellers are hard at work on our upcoming sketch comedy show. As of right now things are shaping up very well, and it’s looking to be one heck of a show! So stay tuned to our website as we prepare to announce the name and locations of our next show.



We are continuing to present our improvisation workshop, FNIBC (Friday Night Improv in Beaver County), every Friday on the third floor of the Beaver Valley Bowl in Rochester. We had a great crowd last Friday and we hope to keep folks coming back.

We’ve decided to re-tool the way things are run for the FNIBC and are really focusing on showing the audience how improv works. Unlike our “all-improv” shows, this workshop is for everyone, not just us! It’s our pleasure to get some folks up on stage and let them try a hand at some improv, and each week we offer new tips and new games for everyone to try. It’s also a place for us to invent and experiment with new games and exercises.

So bring your friends for an evening of laid-back fun… hop on stage if you want to, or just sit back and enjoy the show. Either way it’s a good time!

The workshop is EVERY FRIDAY at the Beaver Valley Bowl in Rochester. 10:00PM to Midnight, admission is a $2.00 donation (all proceeds go to supporting the arts as well as allowing the workshop to continue weekly).



Chris and I (Little Mike) are always hard at work on the Dweller website. As of late, aside from changing the necessities like the Upcoming Shows and News page, we’ve been slowly adding “Past Shows” pages.

At the Past Shows page, you can now click on a few of the posters and a new window will open up! You can now read all about the behind the scenes info on the show, how we came up with the skit ideas, a full cast list, set lists with skit descriptions, and other little factoids that many do not know! Sure most people could care less about this stuff… but if you are ever bored, or are trying to think of a skit you saw us do in a past show, this is the place to look!

Also check out our guestbook which, aside from the occasional craziness, is looking for your loving embrace. We have also added directions to almost every venue that we perform at! And of course our blog is filled with hilarious entries and rants every week!


Well there you have it… that’s pretty much what’s going on with us at the moment. We will have some big announcements coming up soon, so stay with us and forward this newsletter to your friends!

If you wish to make reservations to our improv show this weekend, reply to this e-mail or visit our website. Seeya at Thursday’s!

-Little Mike

Sunday, January 16, 2005

every body hates

hey, joe here,

with another unimportant unpuncuated poorly structured blog

based on some questions i have recieved lately from some of our fans, or just people who like to screw with me at the mall, i wanted to follow up and answer now what i said i did not have time to go into at the time , victoria secrets is no place to chat with a cellar dweller groupy, well...unless she's planning on modeling her new digs for you later, anyways

the question was asked, "joe, what don't you like"

i must at this time explain the situation that lead up to the question,

fan: Cellar dweller!!!!!

joe: shit! (pretends not to hear)

fan: hey, i love you guys

joe: hey (confussed look of recognition)

fan: you guys are so funny!

joe: thanks, so are you

fan: i love the thing you did with the stuff that was on the stage

joe: i love things too

fan: what are you doing here?

joe: buying moistureizor

fan: for who?

joe: um.....(uncomfortable)

fan: oh,

joe: what are you doing here?

fan: semi annual sale!

joe: yeah i know isnt it great!! (shit) um i mean really , any good deals

fan: a ton, what do you think of this ( holds up underware that i could have made with half a shoelace and some cleanex)

joe: i like it, how old are you

fan: 16

joe: ( under my breath) perfect

fan: what?

joe: nothing

fan: and i'm getting this ( holds up equally disrespectable underware)

joe: nice, i like it

fan: hahah, your a guy what dont you like

joe: alot of things

fan: well i'm gonna go try this on

joe: lets go!!

fan: by myself

joe: oh,....oooooohhhhh. well hey dont forget to catch us at thursdays this saturday.

fan: ok byyyeeeee

joe: later gator ( did i just say later gator!!!! (damn i'm turning into little mike))

so with that explained i'd now like to list the top ten things i hate in reverse order,

number 10 bad popsicle stick jokes

9 bad popsicle stick jokes that have no punch line under the sweet sweet popsicle

8 milk

7 last call

6 the number 5

4 the kid from good burger that some how lucked his way onto S.N.L.

3 the w.b network

2 doctors

and the number one thing joe hates, ......(drum roll).........empty theaters.

well now that you know a little about what i hate, please feel free to tell me what you hate,

i can be reached at


joe eoj

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Improv at Thursdays!

The Cellar Dwellers are excited to announce that we are doing a handful of shows at our old stomping ground, Thursday's Restaurant, over the next three months! Thursday's is best known for holding bi-annual concerts with The Clarks, as well as other great local bands... and us!

The Dwellers started their touring, after our Strata-Cellar shows ended, at Thursdays back in 1999-2000. After a few years of doing sketch shows there, we switched it up and now enjoy a few all-improv shows there a year. Thursday's is a great restaurant/bar/venue and has an atmosphere that is great for theater improvisation (and the occasional drunkard yelling suggestions from the bar never hurts!)

I know what you are thinking "But they do improv every Friday, every Friday, for $2 donations... why would I come here and pay $5?" And the answer to that is simple: because this is a completely different experience. Our FNIBC shows are workshops, places to experiment and allow the audience to learn and play some improv games. This is quite different from our on-the-road improv shows... these shows are not only more professional, but they are also more streamlined and scene-oriented. You won't see as many "games," but rather scenes that show off our improv skills (which have been handed down to us by The Second City Improv School in Cleveland). Our Thursday's Improv shows sometimes also feature special guests, like Pittsburgh Cellar Dweller Mike the Tall or members of other improv troupes in the state. It's an evening to behold, because how often do you see professional improv that's not edited down to thirty minutes by ABC Family?

Our first Thursday's show is next Saturday, January 22nd, at 8:00PM. Thursdays Restaurant is located on Wolf Lane in Bridgewater, PA. The show is all ages and admission is just $5.00.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Hierarchy of Buffets

There are three tiers of buffet dining available in Western PA, and this probably goes for the rest of North Eastern America (restaurants tend to change as you get further south.) And while the most elite bourgeoisie prefer to go to all you can eat wing nights at road-side bars, there is definitely a class system amongst the "eat all kinds of crazy crap for one price" establishments in the area. And having visited a restaurant in each category, I can properly categorize them, and recommend that you don't try any of them.

**It's important to note that these classes are determined by atmosphere, price, and quality of food, not by the kinds of people that go there... although different folks do go to different places.**

The Upper Class: Fire Mountain Grill
Definitely high brow, as dinner rings in at about $9.00 a person. But you really get your money's worth here, with as much sirloin steak as you can eat. And on different nights they have different main courses, like crab legs or cat fish. You can also grab as many cheeseburgers, pizza slices, or ears of corn as you wish. But by far the reason its on the top of the list is the inclusion of those awesome rolls that you get at every Texas Steakhouse. You know, those really warm sweet rolls with cinnamon butter that EVERY steakhouse gives out, and yet you can't get enough of them.

But of course, like most of these places, it's strictly "quantity over quality." And the entire place, while I was there, was packed which made negotiating the sharp corners of the buffets rather impossible. But out of all three of the places mentioned, this one gives you the most bang for your hard-earned buck.

The Middle Class: Old Country Buffet
I haven't been here in a while, mainly because my last visit was filled with so many elderly folks that I started get liver spots on my eyes. This is by far the most popular of the buffets, but once again doesn't offer much in the ways of quality. However I do know that when I get old I'll probably hit this place up thanks to their lovely senior discount.

The Lower Class: Ponderosa
Oh how the mighty have fallen. What was once an elite, respectable steakery/buffet has been reduced to nothing more than a subpar Ground Round or Bonanza. The best items on the buffet are the swedish meatballs and the wing dings... the rest is for those without tongues (because I know you're out there.)

The only real benefit to going to the 'Rosa is that you actually order a meal and the buffet is included. Their steak is kinda iffy, but the BBQ chicken is tasty. Overall not a bad choice, but you won't really want to eat all you can at this place.

I think it's understood that you don't really go to these places for delicious food. You go for a hell of alot of food for a medium amount of dollars. You can stuff your face and go throw up and then stuff it again all for 7 bucks. My problem with these places is that there is nothing unique about them or the food contained within. It's a hall with a buffet, and the food has to all be sort of bland and standard or else the masses won't enjoy it. It's not like a fancy restaurant (say Ruth Chris) where they can have their own style for their food. People go to these places because there is something for everyone... that includes old people who can't handle "the spice."

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Curbing Suicide with Construction

Every year about three to five people try and kill themselves by jumping off of the Monaca/Rochester Bridge here in Beaver County. I'm not exactly sure why this happens... maybe it's poor family life, a dead-end financial situation, or the fact that they are bored out of their minds. But for whatever reason they try to end their lives--and usually fail at it. And so in order to put a stop to the suicidal madness that is plaguing the community (or at least slightly annoying it) Penn Dot put extra metal guardrails on top of the concrete rails that were already on the bridge. This created a nightmare of traffic for approximately eight months straight.

Of course, no one has actually come out and said the true purpose for adding these guard rails. For all I know it could be a Homeland Security measure, a new piece of money-wasting legislation from Rendell, or even a necessity to keep the bridge from collapsing. But for the time being, and for the sake of me having something to actually write about, we'll say they did it to stop bridge jumpers.

And so last Spring they shut down half of the bridge (long-ways) and put up fifty barrels that seemed dangerous restrictive. It was sort of a mystery as to what they were up to. There was nothing in the paper about construction, and there weren't any signs saying "Coming Soon: Olive Garden!" All I knew was that they were making rush hour in the hub of Beaver County even more of a living hell than once imagined.

The train of thought, as the months passed by, went something like this:
1. Oh, they must be repaving the bridge... that's cool except for the fact that it didn't have any potholes.
2. Perhaps this is to strengthen the bridge so it doesn't buckle under the massive load of resentment it holds for the towns surrounding it.
3. What are these guys even doing? There are more port-a-potties in this construction zone than there are workers!
4. Hey, they are re-making the concrete rails bigger.
5. Hey, they are adding steel rails on top of the concrete ones? That's superfluous! Superfluous I tell you!

After months and months of work, these determined little lemmings managed to put steel railing up. And I must congratulate them because no longer shall our towns be plagued by folks leaping to their death because they can't... climb... over foot high... rails? Wait, that's totally stupid! There has to be a better reason for putting these railings on because you have to be a little more than naive to think that's gonna stop people from leaping.

Guy1: Tom, I think I'm going to kill myself tomorrow.
Tom: How you gonna do it, dude?
Guy1: I'm gonna jump off the Rochester/Monaca Bridge and into the shit-brown Ohio River.
Tom: Whoa man, didn't you see the bridge?
Guy1: No?
Tom: They put up steel rails!
Guy1: Seriously? Oh well screw that. Wanna go to Arby's?
Tom: No, dude, I just ate.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Santa Claus Has Skipped Town

It's been a whole week since Christmas and let me tell you this has not been the best week for me. Not that there was anything wrong with Christmas, but it has not been a fun week at work. Now, I'm sure that everyone who works retail will back me up when I say the week after Christmas is the worst time to work. People who come to the mall tend to be on the grumpy side. They did not get what they wanted for Christmas. They're looking to return everything, leading to fun statements like: "I don't have my receipt. Can I get cash back?" or "What do you mean this is exchange only, it should say that on my receipt." Of course, you can't get money back on a return without a receipt, and, at the calendar kiosk where I work, it does state, very clearly on the receipt that we are exchange only. People don't like to here this. They have a tendency to take out their petty frustrations on the poor, under-paid retail employees. They blame us for everything. They blame us because they bought the wrong thing. They blame us because they cannot read a receipt. But most of all they blame us because their child did not get exactly what they wanted and we somehow have ruined Christmas forever.

I'm sure everyone who works at the mall has heard this. We've all been blamed for crushing a child's hopes, dreams, and innocence. We've all heard it. Well, all of us except for the one mall employee who is most responsible for building up a child's dreams: Santa Claus. After Christmas, the mall Santa is no where to be seen. His chair and little village are still there, but they remain empty, uninhabited by that jolly fat man who is most deserving of the wrath of young boys and girls and their petty, petty parents. Sure, Santa's there for the weeks leading up to Christmas. He's there with the lines of smiling, cheerful children. He's there when hopes are still fresh and dreams are still alive in every child's heart. But as soon as Christmas is over, and the mall is overrun with children who did not get what they want, Santa is gone. Santa's there when everything's rosy and wonderful, but now that there are upset, complaining, vindictive little brats about, that fat sack of crap has skipped town.

Here's what I want. I want the mall Santa to stick around for one extra week, until New Years at least. One little week, that's all I ask. I want Santa in his chair with a line of children ready to sit of his lap and give him a good cock punching. Because I am sure there are a lot of children after Christmas who want nothing more than to hit that jolly old man right in his little elf making equipment.

I have two major reasons for wanting this. First, it would help alleviate the ill will shown toward the humble mall employee by placing the brunt of the bad feelings squarely where it is so rightly deserved: on that lying crap weasel, Santa Claus. Second, it would be hilarious. Can't you just see all the priceless interactions between Santa and disaffected little children? I would love to see this. I would want to be Santa's post-Christmas photographer. I can picture it now:

Me: Ok Billy, tell Santa what you got for Christmas.
Billy: I got some stupid building blocks.
Me: Now tell Santa what you REALLY wanted for Christmas.
Billy: I wanted a new game boy.
Me: Now show Santa what you think of him now.
Billy: Take this, dick face. (WAM)
Me: Wow Billy, you sure got Santa good. I got the shot right when you put a foot in Santa's ass.
Santa: I think I'm bleeding on the inside.

I'm sure there are plenty of people reading this who think I am a sick, sick individual. While this may very well be true, I have a feeling anyone who thinks this way has never worked retail around the holidays. If you have then I feel safe in saying you're with me on this one. You, like me, would like nothing more than to walk throughout the mall on December 29th and see a whole line of pissed off kids waiting to enter Santa's village. I'd like to see it, a whole group of children pulling out brass knuckles and slapping baseball bats against there palms waiting for their chance to go medieval on Santa's ass. I can picture it in my minds eye and the image of Santa screaming for mercy as an eight year old goes to town on his kidneys is so beautiful that tears are welling up in my eyes. And isn't that what the holidays are all about?