Friday, August 1, 2014

Hugs to My Carpe Diem Friend

With my friend @YvetteF at brunch (May 2014)
Thanks to Yvette for a wonderful friendship that started virtually in 2010 via Reverb10 and has continued to evolve into a wonderful face-to-face friendship - when we are in the same general zip code.


This is Yvette's mantra and life philosophy - a challenge to herself, which she shares with others. She lives in Colorado. We met for brunch at Ella's when she was in town to run the Bay to Breakers. And we met again yesterday, where she came along to watch an improv show.


Yvette reminded me of how much I loved writing/blogging. In fact, we met through the on-line Reverb10. This was 31-days of blogging for each participant. My Reverb10 experience is shared in this blog post over here. Yup! That's a lot of writing and self-reflection.

Speaking of writing ... here is a book that Yvette wrote - The Laptop Dancer Diaries. Yup! That's fun stuff!

More later about my friendship with Yvette ... and her efforts toward ALS.

Big, warm HUGS and LOVE to you, Yvette, 
for a wonderful friendship.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

now in month 4 of #iquitmyjob

I remember April 4. It was my last day in a traditional cubeopolis - leaving around 8:45 pm with a great crew of friends who helped me not to freak out. (well, HELLO Mezcal ...)

It has been more than 90 days. Since then, I have continued discovering What's next?, as shared the day after, and this post is an update -
  • What I shared in June
  • End of June Mini-Retreat
  • Multiple Choice July
Key words of what's going on: Improv, Fluevog (shoes), water (esp. the ocean), connecting with friends, Anthrocubeology, and Resource Catalysts. 

What I shared in June
Two months after quitting my job, I shared on Facebook the following -
WONDERING WHAT I AM DOING (or not wondering)?
What I am working on - my time currently includes ... restarting my environmental + energy consulting practice, formalizing my coaching practice, getting organized for outreach (blog + write + speak), engaging in lifelong learning activities (aka being part of classes + on-line stuff), and making home-cooked meals.
- which certainly is NOT a complete list of my activities occupying the 168 hours of a week.

Admittedly, ever since June, I still find myself rambling on when someone (or the voices in my head) asks me -
  • "What's up? Are you retired?", or 
  • "So have you been interviewing or what? How is that going for you?", or 
  • "Do you have a business card? a website?", or
  • "I don't get it? What are you doing with all your free time?" 
My responses are generally informative as to where I am in my process but nothing specific in the traditional sense. Meanwhile, I know (and as does anyone knows who sees my Facebook timeline) two things are for certain -

I loves me IMPROV.
I spend at least 3 nights a week directly involved with learning, practicing and/or performing improv. I am part of The Letters (who are co-creating a new form) and of Scene Chicken (a Harold team). I am involved with Made Up Theatre and EndGames, and I am discovering other communities ....

I loves me some FLUEVOGS.
"Peace, Good Sole and Groovy Love Vibes
to All Who Enter"

I met my goal of "50 by 50" after my inventory of 41 Fluevog shoes last year February 2013. It's July 2014, and I have maintained a modest budget for Fluevogs. I ALSO won a $50 gift card on International Fluevog Day, not to mention my helping out at the Haight Street store. 

End of June Mini-Retreat
The past several weeks has been about my shoring up on ideas and activities, along with channeling others' ideas.
I loves me WATER, esp. the OCEAN.

At the end of June, I self-gifted a mini-retreat to Santa Barbara - just less than 200 steps (with my gait) to the beach sand.

And I met up with a friend visiting from Georgia by way of her conference presentation at Long Beach.

It was great talking through her perspectives about what I am looking to create. It never ever hurts to have friends that are totally motivational and supportive. 

Multiple Choice July
Now in July, my number of multiple-choice responses to the multiple questions has been trimmed down. Granted, What's next? has included other a-day-in-the-life-everyone such as budgeting tethered to financial planning, health insurance, car maintenance, and the like. Also, while retrieving files from my i-have-not-worked-my-consulting-business-since-2007 archives, garage storage, and home office, I am not only restarting my business (e.g., bookkeeping, invoicing, marketing, outreach, office administration, etc.) but also repositioning it - which is like starting a new business.

Short version - FOCUS.

For Behavior Design folks - CRISPIFY.

For what's next, I have been clarifying some areas, other ideas are fully formed and yet to emerge, and other ideas are fully formed and being tested out. With all this happening, I do know a few more things since June -

- inspired by IMPROVISATION - on being an ANTHROCUBEOLOGIST.
Basically, with Anthrocubeology, I have merged my love of improv, behavior design, and what I would consider the elements of a workspace cultural setting that can emerge from the servant-leader philosophy. Yup!

I loves me R|CAT.
I'm rebooting and repositioning my consulting practice that was founded in San Diego back in the early 1990s. Oh the memories. Now time for some new memories in the making!

Month 4 of what's next?
is around the corner!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I #ImprovLove The Letters

I am part of The Letters (on twitter, on Facebook, on National Improv Network), an improv troupe formed in mid-January 2014, that has been co-creating a new form. For those that have seen us perform, y'know we always appreciate your bringing along a book(s) for our inspiration!

This post is just a virtual kiss to The Letters, especially after receiving a little love photo this morning from one of our Chicagoans!

Our First Gig
Since we formed, we have been practicing and jamming and practicing and jamming (lather, rinse, repeat). After one of our jam sets in April, we were asked to open - THANKS(!) to Nick, host of EndGame Up 'Til Midnight Jam, The Letters opened the jam on May 22.

The Recent Past

Knowing that two of our team members would move to Chicago in early July, we jumped on -

getting in group practices . . . 
oooo, dirty, sexy, jungle .... oooo
the inauguration-wedding of Man & Country

having an evening of karoake in the Tenderloin with them . . .  

and performing at the July 3 EndGames Harold Night
Getting pumped up before our performance
[Photo credit: Michael Fox Manziello]
I also dropped by the night before their leaving to say "buh-bye . . ." (tear. puffy heart.)

The Just-This-Tuesday
Turns out, one of the Chicagoans was back in town this week. He came by our weekly practice at our new little practice spot. (Cool. Very cool.)

Yes, it was very fun, but even looking at this picture - you can see that there is a physical, empty space among our team members. This made me think about that space in my heart for our other Chicagoan.

The Just-This-Thursday-Morning

Regardless of where each of us calls home -

Why I LOVE The Letters, Reason #83

Always there in spirit!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

#improv me some games, QUICKLY!

Quickly, now ... short form
  • Speed + Wit
  • Scene
  • Guessing
  • Stand in line / Rotation
Save-the-date for Sunday evening, May 11 at 8:00 PM, for a FREE improv show at Made Up Theatre.

  • WHERE: Made Up Theatre - 3392 Seldon Court, which is off of Osgood Road (near Fry's).
  • SEATING: Door opens at 7:45 pm.
  • STARTING: Show begins at 8:00 pm 

Some of The Games We Play

With many games to choose from, since March 23, our short form troupe has learned several games - some that involve fun improvised scenework while others involving quick wit, one-liners, miming, and gibberish language. Come to our show for a sweet variety of the games we play!

Here is "PART 1 of 2" of the games we have learned for our upcoming show. (Note: there are other resources on-line including Improv EncyclopediaWho's Line games list, and Learn Improv, to name a few.)

Speed + Wit

Fun, quick, one-liner witty tidbits (sometimes referred to as punchlines) based on an audience suggestion ... these games go something like this -
  • ONE EIGHTY FIVE (185) ... Given an audience suggestion, a player says - "185 *BLANKS* walk into a bar, and the bartender says, "Sorry, we don't serve *BLANKS* here," so the 185 *BLANKS* say ... (witty punchline)
  • I KISSED A ... This game also includes some audience involvement. Given an audience suggestion, a player says - "I kissed a *BLANK* last night." Then the audience and other back line players say, "Oh no you didn't!" And the player says, "Yeah, and (witty punchline)."
  • BACK IN MY DAY ... Given an audience suggestion, a player his/her experience without the suggested item - "Back in my day, we didn't have *BLANKS*, if we wanted *BLANKS*, we would (witty punchline). 
  • SEX WITH ME IS LIKE A ... This game also includes some audience involvement. Given an audience suggestion, a player says - "Sex with me is like a *BLANK*." Then the audience and other back line players say, "How's that?!" And the player says a (witty punchline).
  • LAST ACTION JOKE ... Given an audience suggestion, a player faces the audience armed with the suggestion and then gestures to "kill" someone with that suggestion, along with stating a witty action hero punch line.
  • MORNING COMMUTE ... Given a suggestion, the player mimics driving a car and yells out a "morning commuter" statement involving and/or inspired by the suggestion. 
  • HEY WAITER, THERE'S A ... This game includes an audience member. Given a suggestion, an audience member is seated on-stage as a customer, and each player comes up to him/her. The audience member says, "Hey Waiter, there's a *BLANK* in my soup." The player responds with a (witty punchline). (Each player is responding by using the same suggestion with a new punchline.)


  • BLIND LINE ... Based on audience suggestions, lines of dialogue are collected and written on pieces of paper; these lines are collected without the performers hearing the suggestions. The pieces of paper are randomly strewn on stage. The performers come back in and do a scene. every so often, a performer picks up a line of dialogue, reads it, and incorporates it into their scene.
  • DIME STORE NOVEL ... One performer is at a typewriter/computer and starts to type/narrate a story based on a title given by the audience. after a set-up, the other performers start to act out the story and occasionally the focus and dialogue goes entirely to them. this game is all about Give and take of focus. go back and forth between narration and action. 
  • SAY IT DIFFERENTLY ... (next blog post)
  • FORWARD / REVERSE ... (next blog post)

Guessing Games

  • CHAIN MURDER - with gibberish, miming, and timing ... This is like Clue and Telephone. Everyone but 1 person leaves. The one person remaining gets "L.O.W." - a LOCATION, OCCUPATION, and WEAPON.

    The others who left will ultimately be the guessers (who later become clue-givers). One-by-One, each guesser comes in and receive the clues (in the L.O.W. order) through gibberish and pantomime. Once the weapon is conveyed, the guesser will kill the clue-giver with whatever s/he thinks it is. The game continues until the last person comes in and kills the last clue-giver. Everyone is brought back from the dead, and the host goes down the line and sees how far the clues made it.
  • 5 THINGS - with gibberish, miming, and timing ... One person leaves the room. 5 activities are collected. Each activity gets one or two changes, i.e., for baseball, the bat is a jigsaw puzzle and the ball is a chihuahua. The clue-givers use gibberish and pantomime to convey the clues. Clue-givers must get the guesser to do the activity before they can do it.
  • HOME SHOPPING NETWORK - with miming and timing ... (next blog post)
  • PLAYGROUND INSULTS - with miming and timing ... (next blog post)

Stand in Line / Rotation

  • BEASTIE RAP - rotation game ... The performers are split into two teams. A rap track (such as this over here) is played with two people who are up front from each team with the other performers behind them. A NAME will be taken from the audience, and going with the beat, the person up front - the lead rapper - will deliver a rap line intending to have the name as the last word in the rap line - - - it is the other players behind the lead rapper that will say the last word - the NAME.

    The other team's lead rapper will respond with another line, ending with a word that RHYMES with the name - again, the people behind the front person must say the rhyme so the set-up has to lead them to say that word together. The game continues - goes back and forth between teams - and the front person is rotated if s/he goes off beat, the back people say the wrong word, or any mess-up that the host sees.
  • LOVE SONG - stand in line ... Players sing a song (ABCB) to an audience member based on the person's name, occupation, and hobby.
  • PICK-UP LINES / CASANOVA- stand in line ... Two "teams" (of 4-5 players) are formed - each representing a team that delivers a pick-up line. An audience member will be brought onstage, and the first team will deliver a pick-up line one word at a time, based on a suggestion. After the end of the pick-up line, the first team members, together, celebrates and exclaims "YEAAHHH!!!!!!" Then, the second team creates a new pick-up line, repeating the same process. After both lines have been delivered, the audience member will then give a thumbs up to the team for the better pick-up line.
  • TALK RADIO ... (next blog post)
  • ADVICE PANEL / EXPERTS ... (next blog post)

next post with other games 
will be posted later this week

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

unfamiliar #iquitmyjob

Familiar #improv.
Last week Friday morning was the first time I felt something - an unfamiliar feeling. That's the best I can do to describe the feeling. 

Coffee and Tea

Familiar to me most mornings? The smell of coffee and tea. Unfamiliar to me in the morning? Not knowing exactly what day it is. Familiar - the time of day from my phone or or my wall clock in the distance. Unfamiliar - whether I have a commitment on whatever day it is. Familiar - a hangover. Unfamiliar - the consequences of a hangover WITHOUT having a hangover.

The Night Before

Improv. (Seriously, what else?) In addition to hanging out with Janice before the Endgames Improv's Harold Night, we stayed through the Endgames Improv's Up 'Til Midnight Jam. As part of improv team The Letters ('LIKE' us on Facebook), this was our second time performing - and this time with the full team. (Woohoo!)

"Oh Maple Tree ..."  
"Oh Blanket ..."
(photo credit: Michael Fox Manziello)

Familiar - Improv

The day after a fun night with improv friends - TOTALLY worth the unfamiliar feeling of quitting my job. That is, I did not have to go into cubeopolis the next day after a late night of improv fun.

L-R: Avi, Shirlnutkin, Krish, Megan, Matt
(awesome photobomb: Lacey)

(photo credit: Harpsie Ð Etat)

Thanks, The Letters,
for a morning of unfamiliar feelings.

Monday, April 14, 2014

#improv debut: the.saurus & MUTer

Last Friday, several the.saurus and MUTer improvisers and friends (from the East Bay, South Bay, Peninsula) spent an evening in San Francisco with many other Bay Area improvisers.  

the.saurus debuted at an improv jam. My memorable moment (because of the neck-kink I am still stretching out) - I was a tumbleweed in the desert.
Translation: I did a forward roll across the stage. 

Likewise MUTer debuted at the same improv jam. A collection of improvisers who met through Made Up Theatre (on web) jammed in San Francisco.

We attended Improv LUV: Leela's Free Improv Jam last Friday and hung out afterwards for drinks and chats at nearby bar Club 93.

the.saurus + Friends Post-Jam
In our post-jam photo, we have (L-R): Omer, Dean, Carolyn, Marcus, Amit, Joanna, and shirlnutkin (atop what is a couch). Friends Marcus (host of the evening's Leela's Improv LUV) and Joanna (ukulele protector) giving us some luvin'. And THANKS MUCH to Joanna of MUTer, who jump-started getting a crew of us to the jam.

Faucet & Doppleganger ... Thanks to the lovely audience for these suggestions that inspired our short form pun game - "I kissed a ..." and ultimately our montage set. 

the.saurus holding the fort* ... Several other members of the.saurus (the.sauri?) were not available Friday night to make it out to the improv jam. Meet a few other folks ... the rest of the the.saurus motley crew includes: Theresa, Alan, Jennifer, and Rachel Marie. And actually, we have had others drop by to hang out with us during practice.

MUTer Generations 
Those in the photo include a person who took Made Up Theatre's (MUT's) first ever improv class and a person who recently completed MUT's Level A class ... amidst others in-between. In fact, some folks met each other for the first time last Friday! We have (L-R): Carolyn, Arturo, Shelly, Dean, shirlnutkin, Omer, and Joanna - the ukulele protector. In our post-jam MUTer photo, the ukulele was not harmed, thanks to Joanna.

Thanks Leela 
(on Facebook, on web, on twitter), 
and we look forward to next time.

*because as we have learned,  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

f|break: on the english language

You had me even more so at ...
"Look. Observe this graph." 
Thank you! This evening I was very thankful to hear a friend comment on my proper use of irrespective. And similarly, neither of us use the f$#king make-believe-word irregardless.

Sure, the word irregardless appears in various dictionaries. Irregardless* is even in - properly defined (IMO), albeit a source of other make-believe-words, but still. Really people?

Nevertheless, this evening, I believe I was among several who feel likewise about the non-word, despite its being in existence as early as 1795 (per wikipedia). And this evening, I also learned about David Mitchell's Soapbox (on Facebook, on YouTube), otherwise also known as "i-am-going-to-binge-watch-soapbox" (because I'm still not employed).

Enjoy this fiber break with David Mitchell (over here)
for nearly 3:30 min on Dear America ...

"I could care less."

*after typing this non-word out as many times as I have done so, 
I must scrub my hands and do penance.

calendar makeover

Recall that I quit.
And recall even farther back, in 2006 my love affair with Quo Vadis planners began

I have always been consistent with making sure my weekly calendar was up-to-date - so diligent that I have meetings penciled in through July 2014.

Well, well, well ... 
I fixed that nonsense today.

What are you 
making room for 
in your life?

Friday, April 11, 2014

day 4 also meant #improv

Thanks @MadeUpTheatre ... MUT's Playground - improv jam - is the stay-on-the-East-Bay-side kind of evening that I needed - that and a good dose of Facebook Blind Lines with this nifty group of peeps. The daytime wasn't too shabby either. Art, food, improv.

Day 4

On days 1, 2, and 3 of my first week unemployed, one of my former clients from my way-back business was texting me to check-in on how my official first week of unemployment was going. Each day, I had a fun stuff to report. He didn't text me yesterday. So here's my little report.

Collage 2014

Short version - Given a children's book of your choice, engage in an artistic expression that you share with one another, e.g., collage, poetry, etc. With 12 of us participating (where we rotate/share books) throughout the United States, each month, we are given a theme that inspires our one-of-a-kind creation.

(I will write more about this year-round project.) 
(Thanks, Jen, for your patience. Thanks, Theresa, for your patience and nudging.)

In theory - here is how Collage 2014 works ... In January, we started out with our own book - creating a collage of sorts (or whatever artistic expression we chose). We then mailed it to the next person on a prescribed list - and around the same time, we received a book from someone else. Given another theme for February, we once again created another one-of-a-kind artwork. Lather - Rinse - Repeat.

Collage 2014
from my starter book, my initial offering to
"The Smash! Smash! Truck"

Yes, I got a LATE(!) start getting my book over to the next person  The quitting of the job kind of started to cramp my keeping things on track. Anyway, next thing you know, I had three books. Well, yesterday was the day I mailed out all three books. Now I get to wait for my next book!

And after mailing the books out, I dropped by my fave Niles Pie Company (on Facebook, on yelp, on web).

Food, Friends, Fun, and Fluevog

Just as I mentioned Wednesday about STILL heading into SF, Thursday was no different. Bridge toll, there I went. Having lunch with friends was a great highlight. Dishing about shoes was a bonus.

At Piccino in Dogpatch with Denny and Marisol

What else but improv

And so we come full circle. Improv class on Wednesday night in SF ... improv jam on Thursday night in the East Bay/Fremont. Circle up improvisers!

What do you 
enjoy repeating
throughout the week?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

new #cubeopolis wednesdays + ice cream

Former routine ... Commute, workspace, hug, weekly mtg, hug, lunch, and after-work optional ice cream at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous in SF's Dogpatch.

New routine ... discovering options, creating activities, and optional ice cream. Not the old Wednesday routine.

First Wednesday unemployed

Reality has set in. I DO NOT have a weekly meeting. I am not going to ice cream. Wait?

That last thing ... 
I can STILL (and want to) do.

Wednesdays of the past 

This week, after a read a Facebook post (by a fellow improviser) about going to ice cream at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous in Dogpatch (on yelp, on Facebook) for the first time, I was reminded of my after-work jaunt with fellow cubesters.

Wednesday marks the beginning of hump day - that day in the middile of the traditional work week - half-way through, half-way over, often a sigh of relief for some. For me, in former cubeopolis, it also marked a weekly morning office meeting. Suffice to say, that's not happening now.

Meanwhile, on the occasional late-in-the-day when the timing was just right for two of my friends/fellow cubesters, we would gauge the likelihood of making it to ice cream - and specifically, Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous.  

Every once in awhile, ice cream happened after work - as shared in this previous blog post. TOO LAZY to read the previous blog post? YOU SHOULD. There is a nifty picture of their handwritten list of flavors/flavor ideas - back in 2011. Here's a blog post excerpt describing the after-work ice cream routine -
the routine-ish ... on weekdays, if i've driven into work, mr. and mrs. miscellaneous - which is about 2.5 miles on surface streets from work - is ALWAYS a possible after-work ice cream treat, as long as i leave the parking area by -
  • 5:20 (or much sooner) if traffic near my work is congested, or
  • 5:35 if traffic is near non-existent, or
  • 5:40 if traffic is near non-existent and there is little to no talking in the car (shiny penny andy and pho queen les lie know what that means)
upon arrival ... if we've looked on facebook prior to driving over to see if/what the flavors are posted, we do a combo of the following -
  • lament that there may be a "sold out" sign on a fave flavor,
  • cheer because the flavor we want to try is still available,
  • sample flavors that we may normally not try or no nothing about
  • negotiate amongst ourselves which flavors to enjoy, and
  • pray to the goddess asphalta that there is parking nearby enough, AND IF NOT, i push out the car while it's moving make whomever is/are my passenger(s) get in the door comfortably before closing at 6 pm,
  • scoop ice cream and making orgasmic noises while doing so,
  • chat with ann or ian

Re-imagining Wednesday

Choices, choices, choices. I'm still figuring out what's next, and I have realized one thing ...

... I can drive to ice cream and go it solo ...

... I can meet a friend for ice cream ...

... or I can pick up my friends and have a little ice cream social!

What is/would be 
your re-imagined Wednesday routine?
(P.S. I miss the morning hugs.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

unemployed at #improv jam

Photo credit: Stacy Beckley | Location: Studio 210
My first unemployed work day - Monday - and I still went into SF. I spent my evening at a fun improv jam. 

Thanks Other People's Children for the monthly jam, and THANKS(!) Dwayne McDaniel for leading a fun group game!

Yes, I quit my job. And when I ran the post-employment numbers for my budget, I estimated I would save money on daily bridge toll, gas, and parking. Today, I saved money on parking.

And so it turns out after years of heading into SF for work, my first week of being unemployed includes going into SF at least 4 days this week - AT LEAST 4 days this week. Why? Improv, food, and friends.

Note to Self:
Budget for 
Improv, Food, and Friends 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

#iquitmyjob What's next?

After nearly 7 years, Friday, April 4 was my last day at work.

What's next?
My answer to the what's next? frequently asked question -
"As far as what is next, I do not yet have anything specific. I am still considering various options yet to be created. Some of you may be aware that prior to joining EPA in 2007, I had my own consulting practice for nearly 13 years. And more recently, I have been engaged in the self-study and practice of behavior design, servant leadership, and improvisation, as well as serving as a coach and mentor. With that said, potential endeavors are likely to involve these areas in some fashion."
- so, yeah. That's my answer. In fact, this is an excerpt from my Wednesday, March 19, email announcement.

For some, answering the question the first time didn't stop some folks from asking it again. Therefore, as I've responded in similar situations -
"Asking the question a second time
isn't going to change the answer from the first time.
Nevertheless, here's a deconstruction of the what's next? - if it helps. Key words -
  • yet ... I'm still in the creating and imagining mode, so stay tuned
  • options ... I'm casting a wide net, while also seeing what's outside of that net
  • consulting ... I've had my own consulting practice, so consulting is in my line of sight
  • behavior design ... From the teachings of BJ Fogg, my June 2012 Boot Camp experience continues to shape how I interact in and with life
  • servant leadership ... From the teachings of Robert K. Greenleaf, through the former certificate program of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, I have learned that my natural inclination is that of a servant leader
  • improvisation ... I'm entering my fourth year, and I love it - the people, the community, the different philosophies.
  • coach ... Dovetailing with behavior design, having completed BJ Fogg's Masterclass in Tiny Habits, I am a Tiny Habits® Certified Coach
  • mentor ... I have been and continue to be a mentor to those transitioning into and navigating around the workplace (or workspace), for which I especially enjoy working not only with college students but also lifelong learners
  • potential ... perhaps best described via a quote from Paulo Coelho 
"Everybody has a creative potential 
and from the moment you can express this creative potential, 
you can start changing the world."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

#improv love

@MadeUpTheatre @ENDGAMES_IMPROV @ImprovUtopia ... THANKS!

Two(-ish) weeks ago, January 31 marked the beginning of my 4th year continuing with improv, hanging with different improv communities, embracing (or not) improvisers' philosophies, mapping improv to other parts of my life, and drinking beer with fellow improvisers and friends. What have a learned? HAVE F@#%ING FUN!

Long Walk Reminiscing ... 

Oh the improv memories of past (and more to come) ... from blog posts labeled improv, photos and events, photos STILL in Dropbox, and chats with friends, I figured it's a good time to reminisce a little about my unexpected love of improv and the improv community. While not everything is listed, here are a few highlights and tidbits -
- and I am looking forward to more memories being created in the coming years.

First Ever Class 
On January 26, 2011, I signed up for a Made Up Theatre improv class, which was Made Up Theatre's (MUT's) very first class - Level A. This was after MUT's formal grand opening on January 2011. I came across a local newspaper which had an article about MUT offering classes. Since then, I have pretty much taken all their class offerings - Level A-C, then added Level D & E, then some rinse/repeat ... well, it's not about the naming of the levels but the content and teachings of the class. MUT has been my gateway to short form, long form, and games.

First Ever Show
June 11, 2011 was the grad show of MUT's Level B - and thus, my first time performing improv. With just six of us, the first part of our show was channel surfing and the second part was montage -
June 11, 2011 - after my first improv show
Birth of a Drinking Game ... Ask me about how the suggestion SOCKS became a drinking game. (Yes, really!)

- and then throughout the rest of 2011, I had 3 more grad shows in 2011. Given the MUT guys' background in games, in 2012 MUT offered game type fun - several of the games we learned listed in this blog post.
"A-B-C-B" says MUT Bobby!
yes, singing improv games!
Gimme music and singing ... I discovered that I loves me the music/singing based games. I may not be the best, but I have fun!

The Playground Improv Jam
Late last year, MUT started The Playground - a combo of games, short, and long form improv. The jam is hosted by MUT's owners. Although The Playground is wrapping up in mid-March, I was at a recent record attendance jam and then a fun get-to-know afterwards at a nearby coffee house.
at The Playground on Jan 23
The Playground has been a great way to meet other MUT students, to meet those new to MUT and in the area, and to contribute to building the improv community in the East Bay/South Bay.

Leadership Conference in Indianapolis
What does a leadership conference have to do with improv? Read on.

During my Level C MUT improv class, we were assigned to read Truth in Comedy: The Manual of Improvisation. Strewn throughout this book are tips for improvisers such as . . .
LISTEN ... be honest . connections cannot be avoided . respect choices made by others . accept and build . avoid preconceived notions . stay in the moment . nothing is ignored . there is no such thing as a mistake . welcome the silences . there is action in thought . reflect each other's ideas 
. . . and it turns out, similar characteristics and philosophies - unrelated to improv - were strewn throughout a leadership course I was taking. In April 2011 I began a course - Foundations of Servant Leadership - with the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership (GCSL). For me, I saw how engaging the Servant-Leader philosophies was not too different from practices of an improviser.
LISTENING ... empathy . awareness . persuasion . conceptualization . foresight . stewardship . building community . commitment to the growth of people . self-awareness . changing the pyramid . developing your colleagues . coaching, not controlling . unleashing the energy and intelligence of others 
My second course with GCSL - Applying Key Practices of Servant Leadership - is when I virtually met Jeff Miller, the GCSL instructor. In October 2012, we submitted a proposed conference presentation. Jeff and I would later present at GCSL's 2013 annual conference, our session titled - Who's a Servant-Leader Anyway? - in Indianapolis, Indiana.

getting ready to do a "STATUS" exercise
Improv Warm-Ups, Games, and Encouragement ... Our virgin voyage of the conference session was fun and a bit different with our incorporating improv warm-ups and games, while also layering the connection to servant-leader practices. In fact, after the presentation, I was slipped the following kind note and spent some time talking with Kim afterwards.

Note of encouragement from
Who's a Servant-Leader Anyway?
conference session attendee Kim.
And thanks to Jeff for his encouragement of pulling a conference session idea together.

after the 2013 GCSL conference
hanging with Jeff Miller and colleagues
The point is - improv feeds my servant-leader related interests - and go figure ... I can share and teach servant leadership through improv. And my love affair continues.

Saturday San Francisco Straddling
In September 2012, I began taking classes with EndGames Improv. After I received an email that year in July from MUT about not being chosen as part of their first student performance group, included in the email was - 
"Another round of invitations will be sent out around November and every 3-4 months after that, so keep up with your improv, take classes (even outside of MUT), see shows, and you will have another shot to join the Performance Group."
So I did so, and I found EndGames.

Short version - I started taking classes with EndGames and have been straddling San Francisco as much as I can. Hmmm? Uhm ... Yeah, as much as I can. My lovely Saturday afternoons with Endgames began with Level I with Guillermo and James (of Fancy Ladies).
Guillermo and James sandwich
Our Level I show was in November 2012 at the Alcove Theater.
Debut and Closing at the Alcove Theater of

... and thus became a hug fest with the EndGames community and so onto Level II with Guillermo on Saturday afternoons.

Late Night Commutes from San Francisco
The EndGames crack got to me. Along came the 7-10 PM Level III, IV and Advanced Scenework classes.  I remember thinking there would be no way I would stay in SF through 10 pm after working all day - having commuted from the East Bay for work. San Francisco is about 35-45 minutes away on a great, non-trafficky day or night. Half of our Level II class went on to Level III (so I totally wanted to continue, right?!). And then several of us continued with Level IV. And speaking of ...
Our Level IV Harold team -
SIN KITTY(now Feral Kitty)
courtesy: Jayne Vidheecharoen (May 2013)

Our Advanced Scenework team - CARROT PEOPLE
courtesy: Megan Sauter (Sept 2013)
So pretty much from Sept 2012 to Sept 2013, my routine had been late night classes in San Francisco and late night classes in the East Bay/Fremont. Why both? Well, turns out there are different approaches to and styles of improv. Why not learn about others, eh?

Meanwhile, I also have kept on with MUT fun at the same time I have taken EndGames' classes.
Troupe 2013 fun.
Right now, I am part of the MUT Winter 2014 cycle of troupe, which ends in March with another cycle of troupe starting up in ~April.

Although I am not currently taking classes with EndGames (as they sell out quite fast!), that will change. For now I keep on straddling when I can, especially with improv workshops that EndGames offers, with the most recent being the trifecta with Craig Uhlir and Katie Rich's "Getting Out of Your Head" and "Harold". Oh - and then there are their  is their Thursday Showcase and jam afterwards, for which I finally got my fix a few Thursdays ago with folks I have met through EndGames and MUT.
HOT TRUNK Hotties after the Up 'Til Midnight Jam
L-R: Sean, Brian, shirlnutkin, Megan, Carolyn, Dean
Audience Suggestion: taco bell + pizza hut

Rogue Fun
At some point in early 2013, I was asked if I'd be interested in being a guest improvisor at a reunion-ish show of 4 other improvisers in the San Jose area who were part of a troupe called Party Fowl. They asked me if I knew other folks that would be interested. The result? My friend Dean and I joined as guest improvisors.
Dean and I - UkuleMe
(March 2013)
Three folks - Sean, Stephanie, Mike - that I met in a MUT class in late 2012 were part of a larger improv group, Party Fowl, in the South Bay/San Jose area. In March, we joined Party Fowl's Workshow, which included standup comedians, games, short form improv, and a little bit of jamming.
L-R: Stephanie, Mike, Trevor, shirlnutkin, Sean, Dean
We all continued to practice weekly toward forming a team called Illegitimate Improv with the intent of performing short and long form improv. While short-lived, we had fun. 

Since then, to keep on hanging out with Dean and get my South Bay fix, I've been hanging with other folks who meet up - YES! more straddling the Bay Area. Similarly inclined, we practice weekly primarily toward long form improv, while keeping sprinkles of short form improv in the pool.
the.saurus evolving and in the making
L-R: Dean, Amit, Rachel, Jennifer, Theresa, shirlnutkin, Alan

Camp Improv Utopia
Classes and shows aside, in May 2013, I experienced my first Camp Improv Utopia. 2012 was sold out by the time I registered in early 2012. Off of the wait list for 2013, I camped with ~ 100 improvisers (and a few virgin improvisers). Held during the Memorial Day weekend, food (tasty!), lodging, workshops, relaxing moments, and fun are all included.

at Camp Ocean Pines, Cambria, CA
2014? Yup, I am going again. I'm looking forward to meeting new people, reconnecting with those I met last year, and just seeing what happens.

Summing up My Improv Lovin'
As I wrote about in Anthrocubeology's Still Talking? Time to Create - pulling from Jimmy Carrane's blog post Stop waiting and start creating -

"The only power you have is the ability to create. 
No person or institution can take that away from you, 
even if you think so." 
Jimmy Carrane

What are you in love with?

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