Little Shop of Horrors

The classic boy-meets-girl-makes-Faustian-bargain-with-evil-talking-plant story, Little Shop of Horrors may be best known by its 1986 movie adaptation starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin.

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The movie was based on a musical that started in off-off-Broadway in 1982, and made its way to off-Broadway and finally to Broadway itself. That musical was actually based on another movie released in 1960 – a B horror comedy cult classic.

Public Domain Movie: The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

One thing I learned watching the original Little Shop of Horrors is that Bill Murray’s character Arthur Denton was not imagined out of whole cloth just so the movie could have a funny scene with Murray and Martin. In fact, he is based on Wilbur Force, a masochist in the original movie who, after the murder of the dentist, insists that Seymour himself operate on him. This was one of Jack Nicholson’s earliest roles, and he is nearly unrecognizable he is so young.

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Finally, if you are a fan of the musical and were disappointed by the strangely abrupt and upbeat ending of the movie, you should know that it seemed rushed for  a reason. There was a complete ending closer to the tone of the musical and the original movie that was cut because it upset a screening audience. Fortunately, A Little Shop of Horrors “director’s cut” is out on DVD that shows the movie as it was originally intended. Watch it.


Lost in Austin

I went to Austin, Texas a while back and wandered around. This is from a series of Facebook posts I made while getting lost in the woods.

Walking through an empty, interminable forest trail.


A barking dog echoes in the distance…
I’m not sure I’ll find an exit soon wandering along this dried creek bed.
I see a house! But it’s on a steep dirt incline.


A six foot stone wall! I’ll have to travel alongside to see if there’s a way through.
An exit!
Back to civilization.

Black Panther is still a superhero movie

Superhero movies are among the rare areas of disagreement between Rotten Tomatoes and myself. Critics laud as an action-packed visual masterpiece what I see as a series of cliches and overused plot devices. I should know this by now, but every once in a while another film bills itself as a revolution and I fall for it.

Not that Black Panther isn’t revolutionary.  It addresses colonialism, something rare in Hollywood. Its strong female characters are described in level-headed publications as having the potential to change the world. It may be the first example of afro-futurism entering the mainstream consciousness.

It’s also two hours and fifteen minutes of one-liners, explosions, and people punching each other. If you don’t blink you might catch the minute or so dedicated to plot, character development, and interesting concepts. That minute is well worth seeing, but if you’re not into Marvel movies in general, consider downloading The Shape of Water to your phone and switching to it whenever somebody pulls out a gun, a spear, a witticism, or a remote-operated vehicle, or T’challa’s catsuit materializes on his body. You might be able to get through both.

Alternatively, you can donate $14.75 or whatever they’re charging for movies now to your favorite social justice cause and keep your two hours and fifteen minutes for activities that do interest you.


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A review of my games

My father has reached the level of notoriety that he has become known as “The Game Man,” and his game collection now grows through no effort of his own. People give him old games, unplayed games, and some very strange games because they know he will play them. He fills the top level of his foyer closet with his games, and has an entire bookshelf in the garage for the rest of them.

Comparatively, I am still merely a game boy. I still must purchase most of my own games, and my collection does not even fill a miniature bookshelf. It is a very nice bookshelf, though, a gift from my Mother. Also, I know a bit about the best game for the best situation. Let me go through my games from left to right and top to bottom.


A cross between telephone and pictionary. Popular at parties. People will often complain that they can’t draw, but tell them the worse the drawings are, the more fun the game is.


A one hundred year old game (114 years old, to be more precise) that simulates the commodities market. Boiled down, this game is quick to learn and tends to involve a lot of shouting as players each clamor to get the attention of a trading partner.

Seven Wonders Duel

If you have one fellow strategically minded friend, this is a good game for the two of you. Advance through technological ages and build an empire better than your rival’s!

Red Flags

A game where you make imaginary people for your fellow players to date. It’s a fun, simple to play game where you make ridiculous suitors such as a man who “loves kittens, shares all your interests, and is incapable of feeling emotion.” Don’t expect much strategy or a lot of replayability.

Aye, Dark Overlord

One of my favorites, Aye Dark Overlord is a guided improv game where one player plays the overlord and the other players are all his or her minions. The twist? The minions have already failed at a task that the overlord player makes up to assign them. Each minion’s job is to avoid the blame for the mission’s failure. The penalty for being blamed is, of course, death.

The Battle for Vyk Tornaahl

This is more of a piece of art than a game. It’s beautiful, but when my friend, who illustrated one of the cards, showed it to me, and I insisted we play it at three or four events, eventually he said, “Could we play a fun game?”


The classic D&D parody where you kill monsters and take their stuff. This game is simpler to play than a serious strategy game, but more tactically rewarding than a pure party game. My copy is many years old, and has so many expansions and is so well-played I have to hold the box together with rubber bands.

Unstable Unicorns and Exploding Kittens

A small sample of the recent explosion in kickstarter party games. Still more sophisticated than Red Flags strategically, but simpler than Munchkin and much simpler than a real strategy game. Their amusing illustrations and writing make them fun to bring out once or twice at parties, and unicorns and kittens may be effective at drawing out certain reluctant players.


This is a variant of dominoes with simple rules and bright colors.


I often refer to this as “the magnet game.” The goal is to put magnets on a mat without them touching each other. The rest is physics. I find this game is particularly good for attracting the interest of non-gamers, and I often will claim that it has never failed to entertain.

If any of these sounds appealing to you, they’re all still available for sale, I’m sure. If you’re in the area and want to play one, just let me know!

I’m not here to make friends

This is an old comedy sketch idea I found in my Evernote archive.

Sketch Title : “Upcoming Reality Shows”

A series of increasingly ridiculous reality show concepts presented as brief sections from each show.

Each section starts with a description of the show, a short clip of the activity, and an interview with someone asserting he’s not here to make friends. Maybe even funnier if it’s the same guy in every competition.

Competitive Origami: People at a table intensely and angrily folding paper cranes

Interview: “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to fold paper!”

Competitive Livestock Abuse: Two men harassing a donkey

Interview: “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to kick ass!”

Competitive Confessions: “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to make amends”

Competitive Carpentry: “I’m not here to make friends,” Holds up a pair of wooden bookends, “I’m here to make ends.”

Female-to-male drag competition: “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to make men.”

Writing contest for the next episode of “Friends”: “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to make Friends.”

Competitive Networking: “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to … uhh …”

Write a story about the moment when everything changed

This is actually a small fragment of a novel I’d like to write. Fantasy novels are such undertakings, but maybe someday.

It was the sort of freak occurrence that would have reverberating effects throughout the realm for generations. Imagine a horse falling out of the sky over your head. Now imagine it has razor sharp talons and a beak designed to rend struggling flesh from the bone. Imagine your mother falling down to protect you.

Try to tell that woman’s husband, that child’s father, that this is one out of a whole forest. Try to tell them the role in the ecosystem, protecting us from those who would take these woods for themselves. Tell the frightened, shouting masses to be calm. Just try to tell them to think about what they are about to do.

In the year of the wise man, the dry season, to raucous applause, Alisair Greenwarden overturned millenia-old protections. Laws so old they may well have been written by a congress of demigods and forest spirits. The leaves fell around us, brown and brittle, descending from the swaying trees who may have been young when these laws were first drafted, whose judging whispers we would never understand.

How one tragedy leads to another. That child. That poor, helpless babe whose mother died to protect her. She will never know a time before taxidermied gryphons stood in the sacred hall. Before eager young men wore necklaces of gryphon claws and wove elaborate fables about their latest kill. Before our people turned against our own protectors.


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Prompt Writing – Pill to grant the powers of a god

Since I received such a positive response to my last prompt entry, I thought I would make a series of entries based on my old prompt responses. Enjoy!


Give a story about a character who discovers that there is a pill to grant the powers of a god.


“Hypothetically we therefore could postulate the existence of a pill that would grant such powers of said deity.” Professor Werner’s hair stood out from his forehead like a thin, grey halo. My eyelids were getting so heavy I had to hold my whole head up by propping it on my palm. Cryptopharmaceuticals was turning out to be even more dull and pointless than I had imagined, not that I had put much effort into imagining it when I had marked it as my second choice for freshman seminar. Chocolate factory studies had filled up, so I was here learning about hypothetical drugs.

Serene Peace’s hand shot up. She was one of those modern children whose parents had named her an adjective they hoped would describe her. It didn’t. Her black hair was pulled back into a ponytail so tight that I thought if someone bumped it the wrong way, it would all be torn out. She always looked like her mind was racing at roughly 100 meters per second, which in imperial units means she was crazy. Serene never waited to be called on before speaking. “Professor, do you mean that it already exists, or that it exists conceptually and could one day be manufactured?”

Professor Werner snorted at this. “Hphuf!” He then resumed his lecture. Serene’s eye twitched. Despite painstakingly cataloguing Professor Werner’s broad array of snorts, grunts, and huffs, she had only managed to conclude that not one of them was ever meant to answer her question. Serene shot her hand up again. Again she asked her question without being called on, although I don’t suspect she would be called if she did wait, so I couldn’t blame her. “Professor Werner, has anyone ever succeeded in making a deidryl tablet, or any of the medicines you’ve described in this course?”

“Fffuf!” Professor Werner admonished, “You, Miss Peace, might find you’re better suited to,” and he added an extra harrumph, “Hhhh-applied CccHemistry!”

I happened to know that chemistry was already Serene Peace’s planned major. That was twenty years ago. Now we all live under the benevolent hand of Serene Peace. It’s hard to say precisely what has changed about the world since she developed and consumed the first and only successful deidryl tablet, but its clear that it’s better. I wonder if she’s just changed all of us to have more positive perspectives. Sort of lame to have my free will so roundly and effortlessly disproven. I feel like I would have been grumpy about that once. Deidryl’s one heck of a drug.


It's about whatever I say it's about