Sunday, March 28, 2010

City Urges Travelers to Postpone River Crossing

ST. PAUL - Due to near-record high levels on the Mississippi river caused by a winter of heavy snowfall, St. Paul officials are urging pioneers, prospectors, and other cross-country migrants en route to the Oregon Territory to exercise extreme caution when crossing the river, and if at all possible, wait to see if conditions improve.

"We're expecting the river to crest at over 18 feet, well over flood stage," said J.P. O'Malley, director of Public Works. "At these levels, fording the river is a near-certain death sentence for you and the members of your party. Even caulking your wagon and attempting to float it across the river is bound to result in the loss of food, bullets, and an ox or two."

O'Malley added that the city's fleet of ferries are still in dry dock, and any attempts to hire an Indian guide to aid in crossing will likely be met with a dirty look and grumbling about the noble savage theory.

While officials are not able to offer an estimate of when the river will be navigable, they stress that the situation is temporary. Because it is still early in the year, travelers do not need to worry that this delay will leave them stranded in the Rocky Mountains when the winter blizzards hit.

Meanwhile, travelers are encouraged to take this delay as an opportunity to rest, recuperate from any illnesses picked up on the road, and restock supplies. "St Paul's many trading posts offer goods at prices that anyone, from teacher to banker, can afford. In addition, our friendly citizens are always willing to trade with you, or just chat," said O'Malley. He stressed that dispite the flooding, the city's water supply remains free of cholera and dysentery. However, "should a loved one pass away, you will find several skilled stone-workers in the city who are more than willing to carve any arcane pop culture reference onto a tombstone for you."

Updated river conditions will be published as they are made available. For more information, please contact the City of St. Paul Department of Public Works directly.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Excuses/Anecdote

I lied about the excuses part. I sort of forgot I made a blog. Which is weird, because it's right there, in the title. Out of sight, out of mind (I almost made a sight/site pun, but that sort of humor is beneath me. Instead, here is the word boner). But then I found out I had a fan/follower/friend/whatever Google calls them. So I came back to the blog. I must write. The public demands it.

So the other night I had a dream that I remember vividly, which is strange for me. I was in a room that looked like an amphitheater but was also the guest bedroom in my grandparent's old house. The seats were filled with people and I was about to go onstage with Heather, Rachel from Heather's old sketch group, and Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock's Kenneth the Page. As we walked out I became aware that we were there to do an improv set and I started to freak out a little, because I have no idea how to improvise. So I stood in the middle of the stage for a while, and suddenly, it came to me. I pantomimed fiddling around with a machine for a little while, then turned toward the audience and announced, "I am a mad scientist and I have just finished building a bullshit detector!"

I should mention that this was one of those dreams where the conscious self ("Real Naomi") is watching the dream and has full access to the thoughts of the unconscious self who is a character in the dream ("Dream Naomi"). It wasn't a lucid dream, per se, because I wasn't able to influence anything. It was more like Real Naomi was the Greek chorus to Dream Naomi's sad, sad tragedy. As soon as I (Dream) made that statement, I (Real) knew I had just screwed myself, because I had started a scene I had no idea how to work my way through, and the one thing I do know about improv is that you should not make declarative statements like that straight to the audience. At this point I assumed that I was in for one of those awkward, humiliating dreams and fully expected to see Dream Naomi shed her clothes in the most shameful way possible.

But then something amazing happened. Dream Naomi came through! Sort of. Jack walked onto the stage, and I knew that he was going to comment on the machine. He started to speak: "Wow, that's really ama-"

"BEEEP.....BEEEP....BEEEEP..."

Dream Naomi was no longer the scientist. She was the machine.

And Real Naomi knew that for the duration of the scene, there'd be a whole lot of bullshit.

Really, I was impressed with my dream self. I don't think I could have thought something like that up so quickly in real life, let alone have the balls to pull it off.. And I did pull it off, repeatedly - every time anyone tried to say something, I beeped at them. Everything was bullshit, even the stuff that contradicted itself, and everything set off the bullshit detector. I could tell that the other three were getting mad at me, but I just keep going. Beeping. Detecting bullshit like the evil device I was pretending to be.

I knew - and I think my dream self did too - that it was a lazy cop-out and probably the worst thing you could do as an improviser (so that's two things I know about improv, don't say stuff to the audience, and don't beep over your scene partners' lines). But I was so proud of myself. It was so out of character. And the audience was laughing! I must have been doing something right, or at least good enough.

I woke up the next morning still thinking about the dream, and I have been ever since. I don't think dreams necessarily have meaning, beyond a mash-up of everything you'd been thinking about the day before, but I felt like this one had special significance. I knew myself a little better. For the first time, I began to think I was more clever than I give myself credit for.

But man, was I an asshole.