Monday, March 28, 2005

No More Questions

Not only was the Michigan State vs. Duke game exciting, it yielded a fabulous Za centered moment (courtesy of Tom Stites).


The Sphinx seems rather emphatic about not wanting to answer any more questions.

This year's tournament has been a disaster for me personally. I appreciate the amazingly competitive games and the underdog victories. I have watched nearly every minute of CBS's coverage and enjoyed the viewing. The problem is that both my wife and my brother have beaten me in the pool for the THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR. The string of defeats has moved beyond embarassing.

Speaking of embarassing, if Steven Ehrenberg does not post something on the blog soon, I will relate stories about his basketball career.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Dissertation is done

Okay, the dissertation is in. Should hear in four weeks or so whether it was accepted and what changes need to be made. For those of you interested in reading about interpersonal influence, you can find the dissertation here:

My Yale email account dies in a week, so I will be moving the images on this blog to another location. If I am any good at it, you'll never notice the difference. Not that anyone comes along here very often.

Substantively, in the comments, I will relate a dream I had last night where Peter Rubin and I try to buy Metallica tickets.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

New Skit

Last night (March 7) I had a dream in which a new skit was premiered. It was called ‘Mind Control 7C’. I had to perform it with Matt LeBlanc.

At first I didn’t know what Matt and I were supposed to do, and said as much to the assembled group (it was a full reunion show) in Bronfman 105. Toby, who was genuflecting, ordered me to do the skit anyway. A little afraid, I did…

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Ghost blog

I expected blog activity to fall off after the reunion, but wow. That was pretty complete. Gives the group (or at least the Zalumni portion thereof) a kind of Brigadoon quality, emerging from the mists every five years, then vanishing.

Anyway, two questions...

1) Is this thing being cached or preserved in any fashion? (My knowledge of 21st century data preservation begins and ends with the word "cached.") Presumably it's served its purpose and won't stay up forever. But some of y'all have proposed some manner of editing/organizing the contributions into a more complete & cohesive volume, at least in time for Za 2010: The Year We Make Contact. (Who am I stealing that from? Scoop?) Anyway, that's an effort I'm happy to be a part of.

2) Who was in charge of that perilously small strip of paper that had everyone's contact information on it? Could the info therein be disseminated or uploaded for group use? Even if the blog is but a husk of its once-thriving self, I'd surely like to keep in contact with y'all, individually & collectively.

Monday, February 07, 2005

So What Do We Do Now...?

As I nurse a cough that's gone well beyond the clinical indications of Robitussin -- clearly a side-effect of partying like it's 1995 in a going-on-32-year-old body during apocalyptic New England weather changes -- I survey this masterpiece of hypertrophied wit and wonder what the hell we can do with it. It's too good to put it to sleep and let the Philisophical Arieses of the world pick at it like vultures on a sun-dried corpse, but my life and career can't reasonably accommodate the sustained hypomania and obsession this thing tends to induce either. So I put the question to you guys, because this blog is ours, and whatever we decide to do should be arrived at through thoughtful consensus.


Monday, January 31, 2005

Back in my days ...

Okay, I figure it is time to be grouchy old people. Compare the activities of the group now to how it was done in your day. I figure it is never too late for a little cross-generational learning (evening though the ideal way to perform improv skits is hardly relevant to my life).

I'll confine my comments mostly to the comments section, but I would start out with these two:

Plus: Man, the video quality of the younger generation is SOOOO much better than back in our days. Crisp video is nice, but sound that can actually be understood by people not participating in the scene is a huge boon. That DVD with the three Za movies was great and I am wondering where the alums can get our hands on a copy.

Minus: The quality wasn't great, but we actually filmed most of our shows. Sitting back in my house is a VHS tape of the ten year reunion. I can remind myself of what happened, so I don't mutter to myself "I don't remember any of this" like Rich. Video taping the shows was also helpful in honing our craft. We could sit and watch tapes of the shows and try to find ways to improve our product (i.e., cut back on dead time between skits).

Okay, I've set the stage. Now y'all take over.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

News Analysis from Felipe

We take you now to SPC Felipe Perez, who has witnessed historic elections in Iraq.

Date: Sunday, 30 January 2005

Subject: Democracy, Public Affairs, and Bad Haircuts

Mixed with shock, relief, and humility, I am mostly happy to say that elections here in Mosul are going well. With a few hours left before the polls close, turnout has been solid, the city feels more or less safe, and voters seem to feel genuinely privileged to be participating in the democratic process. Had you asked me a week ago I wouldn't have expected it, but I feel blessed to be able to bear witness here, and honored to have played a small part.

I hope I'm not jumping the gun- that day ain't over yet, and the fat lady won't sing until the votes are counted, but I gotta say I'm feeling pretty good right now. That's my honest, initial reaction, which wanted to share while it was still warm.

Also, I finally got a few spare minutes to write, as I'm stranded for the night at a small base south of Mosul. Had to jump on a last minute mission to fly some time-sensitive, Iraqi official documents down here (read between the lines), and it turns my ride wasn't heading back to Mosul after dropping the stuff off. I got no toothbrush, no razor, no sleeping bag, and no clean clothes, but at least it's quiet down here.

Now I need to go and write a press release (was recently promoted to head Public Affairs, thereby doing the work of an officer for the pay of a private), where I walk the fine line between touting the Coalition's (specifically, my battalion's) role in making this happen and applauding the Iraqi government and people's courage in pulling this off.

Anyway, I've been working lots lately, been pretty tired, been sometimes scared, been occasionally cranky, and often frustrated. But, all in all, the worst I can say that's happened to me all year is the bad haircut I'm currently wearing (picture an anal Army buzzcut, minus the neatness). Can't complain, really.

Much love-


Another job well done by Z-Force! Kind of humbling, huh? While we were preparing for the reunion, Felipe was preparing for elections in a precarious part of the world. We doff our Viking helmets to you, Felipe.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Viking Monologues

Follow the link to the rediscovered treasure trove of 1990-1991 Za mailings. Each scan is full-size so get your browser to expand the image to give you a chance of decrypting the Olde English font.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Sadly, I didn't use my camera as much as I wanted to at the reunion. Lots of good images, but they are all in my head. However, the pictures I did take are posted here.

Sated Goose
Attack Goose

I might put more on the blog. I would encourage everyone who took pictures to post them in places accessible to Zalumni.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Bringing Pictures of Togetherness Together

I may not know photoshop as well as the newbies (and our newest alum, Sam), but I figured y'all would appreciate these pictures.

I'll get other pictures up soon, but I figured these might whet the appetite a little. (Note: I can email interested persons higher resolution versions of the pictures, but I thought I'd post smaller versions so the page would load a little more quickly.)

4 Days Too Late

I was just re-filing the random Za papers that I brought with me and I discovered.... the secret stash. Apparently, before donating my Mac SE to charity and leaving my AppleWriter IIe next to a dumpster in Chicago, I printed out every Za file including those I inherited from Randy. And, I just found it all this morning. It's all here:

1) Tall, thin viking next to short, fat viking
2) Politically correct vikings
3) Break-dancing vikings
4) "Computer-generated vikings share an alarming insight..."
5) Many images of Professor Suderberg's head on pike
6) Letter of thanks to Professor Suderberg re: Brooks-Rogers show and pies
7) My budget request to college council for $50,275
8) A viking flyer in which Randy refers to himself as Comedy Despot! I had no idea!

I can't believe I missed this stuff when I was packing. If there is interest, I will scan and post. If not, I will put it away and forget it again in 5 years.

Things I learned at the reunion

Hanging out with all of y'all is an educational experience. I learned so much, I'm going to need to buy a new hat. Here are a few of the tidbits I picked up:

1) That propecia doesn't restore hair, but it prevents hair loss and might actually be good for your prostate.

2) The random number seed from on-line casino sites is generated from the number of mouse movements from users of the sites at that moment rather than from time on a particular computer because someone figured out how to game the system once upon a time (which I find astonishing ... finding out the algorithm would require an inside informant and synching your computer with the casino computer out to the thousandth or millionth of a second is improbably hard).

3) Toy soldiers can replace a child's love of dinosaur football.

4) You need to shake a box of wine in order to chug it.

5) Stealing wireless internet from a neighbor can lead to a relationship.

6) Sprint has better coverage in Williamstown than any other wireless carrier.

7) Cell phones make organization WAAAY easier.

8) US banks are more inward focused than European banks because the market is so big and could give a rat's ass about ethical foreign direct investment.

9) You can take the patent law bar without having a law degree.

10) Digital recording and editing equipment have made it possible for amateurs to make high quality movies.

11) Making a movie on a shoestring budget is really hard and involves a lot of cat herding.

12) Masturbating on stage in front of high school seniors will get you in trouble with the admissions office.

13) Companies want to settle as quickly as possible when their managers screw up.

14) Comedians make good lawyers (six lawyers? that has to be more than a coincidence).

I reckon I'll stop there for now.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Classy Za Swag

Once again kudos to one and all for a sweet weekend. I'd write much more but I'm new to this whole "employment" thing and need to rest up after travelling back across the country. I did want to add a friendly reminder that Official Combo Za crap of all sorts is available at
stay in school.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Many thanks

Hey gang, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the current members of Za for being such gracious hosts. I think we all had a great time. It was great seeing old friends and making new ones. Shame that the next reunion show isn't for another five years. Hosting 17 people rapidly approaching senility isn't easy, but y'all were up to the task and we greatly appreciate all the time, planning, and energy that went into the event.

I'd also like to thank all the Zalumns who showed up. What was the final roster? 17? Not too shabby for a bunch of aged, atrophied comedians who are crushed by the pressures of the real world.

I'd also like to thank everyone who participated on the blog (excluding Philosophical Aries and Zoltron). The weekend was too short as it was, virtually interacting with y'all isn't an adequate substitute, but is an agreeable supplement.

The 2005 Zalumni Reunion Show Skitlist

There will be a series of posts to look forward to over the next week or so. People should post pictures, thoughts, impressions, and whatever else they like.

To kick it off I thought I'd post the skit list (as faithfully transcribed as my feeble HTML skills will allow). Seems a good thread to celebrate and critique the skits.

ZA 20th Anniversary Hoe-Down


First Line - Felipe? 2 otha brothas or sistas

Z Force - H - Rich, H - Randy, V - Keith, F - Ben

Concussion - Jeff, Ricardo

Gibberish - CeCe, Ben, Schwab, Pete

Roshomon - Chris, JJ, Sam - Soul - LaVonna

Scrabble - Keith, Pete - C - Steve

World's Worst - LaVonna

Shoulda Said - Sean, Steve, Greta - C - Chris

Altered - Randy, Magary

Movie - Actors - Julia, Emily - Reviewers - Toby, Winch

Conscience - D - Brendan, A - Spike, M - Sarah

60-30 - Goose, Betsy, LaVonna - F - Spike

Evil - J-Ice - Winch, Jeff

Beastie - someone current will start, yo

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Notes from the Good Doctor

Hey gang, David Allen sent an email around responded to past emails and the blog. I'll post the full text in the comments section. [Note: Dr. David Allen is a registered author of the blog and could create a post any time he likes by going to, logging in, clicking on "Combo Za Blog" and then "Create" under the posting tab. If other people would like such power, just let me know.]

Wax on, wax off. Paint fence. Five-Point Exploding-Heart Palm-Strike?!!

I have a proposal. We're all really fired up about Wreckin' Ball's bench-clearing brawl opening. Let's make it a brawl to remember. For whatever reason, the Youngbloods need all of Saturday morning and a lunch hour to wake and bake, spend quality time with their sweeties, and decide what 12 CD's they're gonna spend a penny on plus shipping and handling.

So here's what I'm thinking: We get breakfast early. Maybe Chef's Hat? I don't know, something that'll keep our bellies warm with the minus-80 wind chill. Then at 10, 10:30 we find a suitable location, and I teach you to fight. Not any of that pansy Ed Norton shit either. I'm talkin' how to turn some dude grabbing your shirt into a pretzel. How to go from being in a full nelson to booting the chump in the face. How to make a fake choke look WAY tougher than that soap opera shit. Dig? It'd be sweet if the theatrically minded Youngbloods could join us, maybe throw in a few rapiers. This is gonna be Bad...Ass...Choreographed...Fightin'

Then, if we're really organized, we can hand over some cash and dispatch the folks who've mastered their death-touches to bring back lunch. We picnic and move on to the 1 PM festivities. Just like the Corps, baby.

Just a suggestion.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

WWFS (What Will Felipe Say?)

So Rich and Felipe will be recording some audio in the very near future and would like some feedback. Any ideas for how to best use Felipe's audio-only appearance?
It seems to me that maybe the best way to proceed would be to imagine a simple two-person skit like Complaint Department and just see what develops from there, Felipe can provide his half of the skit and maybe some non sequitors too. Are you bringing this on a CD, Rich, so we can skip around?
I don't know how political we want to get, my first idea was that Felipe would be coming in and the item he's trying to return is "Home from this Damn War" or maybe I forget how that skit works.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bring shit

This is my entreaty to y'all. Bring whatever you can lay your hands on.

I'm gonna be bringing a shitload of photos. I've got reasonably exhaustive photo-documentation of the 1989-92 era. I've duplicated all of 'em (ahhh, the pre-digital days), so they'll be available for defacing, captioning, what have you. If anyone else wants to be so enterprising, feel free.

I'm also still planning on hunting around and seeing if I can come up with some tapes of old shows, esp. Basement Tapes 1.0. Those of you who have 'em... please, please, please bring more BT shows. I will be a sad, sad man if I leave Williamstown without having seen The Next Guy, The Plant That Felt Hate, and Our Town of the Living Dead.

Any other artifacts are encouraged. Posters have been pretty well-covered. But I'd love to see the old mailings from the Dave Allen years -- Goose, do you have those? I'd even get a kick out of seeing old skit lists. And the Hot 100. Somebody better have a copy of the Hot 100. Traditional show apparel? The old James Joyce shirt is long past wearability, but I'll be damned if I'm not bringing it along, security blanket-like. There's gonna be hell to pay if I don't see J-Ice in his Mr. Big shirt at least once. (J -- if it's too difficult for you to be seen in public with it, call me on the cel. We can rendezvous at someplace... discreet.)

Monday, January 17, 2005

A friendly reminder

For those of you who are worried that you lost your mojo, I thought the following words of wisdom might help to get your juices flowing:

Comments for anything you like: rants against Del Close and his ilk; ruminations on the nature of improv; pep talks; posting credit card numbers ... world's your oyster, baby