Fast Food Joyce

I’ve been thinking about adapting some Social Nonsense games to online play. On the one hand, I never want to get away from the idea of people sitting around a table, or strewn around an apartment, and creating something together. On the other hand, There’s something to be said for people going about their day, and making art with people they never met!

So I got five volunteers to play Fast Food Joyce. On Friday, they each emailed me a five line story with the instructions not to take more than a few minutes. Some sent me six lines, which was fine. On Saturday, I sent each one five (or six) lines from different stories, and their task was to replace each word or phrase with something richer, and email me the result. On Sunday, I rearranged the new sentences, and everyone got five sentences to replace (on a word or phrase level) with something more grandiloquent. (Details of this game, and others can be found in Social Nonsense, orderable from this! very! website!)

I put the sentences back in their original stories, and the result was Joycean and gorgeous. Here is one which appears to be about the dangers of waylaying a cat:

Beyond the Pale and in olden times (or was it yesterday?), a cat steeped in changes, from Ellington to Akioshi, launched a mission to retrieve some sunburnt poultry adjacent to grids of gluten. The morning birds seemed unconscious and she fretted that her issues would most certainly overcome her until the monkeys woke up and began throwing their shit, but Nina’s brain had reached maximum drive when it came to thinking about her problems. The sister carpenter disassociated and begrudgingly pulled her hair relatives over her parched epidermis over and over and over and over. Death was appreciably nearer to every mortal by the time she had perceived her opportunity and acted; her hands became as the municipal chipper that, in her youth, had patrolled each neighborhood in turn, rendering branches into shreds, and this digital mastication resonated through her corporeal self, ultimately reaching the spiritual. She was alone, outside, without any food or drink or wine when suddenly an unknown two footed created whacked her upside the head with it’s wooly walkers. Now we are thrown into speculation with the knowledge of the grievous path of the she-devil sent down to the mines lacking the wholesome benefit of that which buoys our spirits and feeds our souls, cursed with immediate discontinuation; still the female form of Satan will terrorize our lives for now and forever with her incredibly uncouth display of fireworks at the inebriation period for our workforce.

I think this one is lovely to read aloud.

And of course money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness:

Gaining that amount of income in a singular moment was the most fitting result for People’s 2005 Sexiest Man Winner, said E. Miller the graveyard keeper. The male individual sank deep into thought about the reality of a finite period of time being his ladder climbing moment in the room beneath the water line. Verily, as the misanthropic sentinel had perceived upon the delivery of her afternoon scone, none shall be spared who lie in the wake of a rampaging malignancy. What sadness had overcome the couple as they walked from the cookery knowing this was a one time crest of their wave of passion, low tide was surely coming.  At the time it arrived to spend cash on the smoker of archaic wares, the canine of a male adult emerged into new life as a member of the j dead tribe, a hermit crab’s home of his previous notoriety; his digits smeared with sticky, viscous fluid, the fowl grease on his lower face, the first president’s visage on paper above the meal location his final one. Evelyn affianced the Whirlpool Stainless fortified scattering section in the sanitization contraption, pulverizing her Benson and Hedges into the floorboards, which sustained her throughout this wearisome responsibility, then confessed,  “You managed an astonishing situation, adolescent! hereafter, you will be obliged to arrange the banquet every twilight!”

Six strangers, living in different states, bringing something new into the world. Are you curious to read the original stories, and see the contrast? I’ll end with one that wound up poetic to me.

I’m obsessed with Shameless. It’s embarrassing. I can’t stop watching it. Then again, I know people who seem to emulate each character. Frank, Fiona, Lip, Ian, Liam, Carl, Debbie-I hate loving you so much.

This is the original story

The daughter of my mother is deeply affected and terrified of her bold, haughty, exhibitionist behavior. Time has ushered me to a moment, an occasion, a nexus of existence that leaves me saturated in self-loathing and the jeebies known only to heebies. I knew it was true, the amygdala, the hippocampus, the cerebellum, and the prefrontal cortex necortex would not let go of the vision that had presented itself.  After intentional mirroring, my soul is deeply connected with intensely sad ones who create shocking obvious attempts to meet up their movements to those of every single blue alien. Shoo, Bert, lover of men, rent-to-own, caught in the matrix, receipt, assume the engagement pose, and the pipe-called boy — my heart is sick and full.

This is the final result

Overall, a lot of fun was had by all. If you would like to do this with your friends, drop me a line, and time permitting I’d love to facilitate!

Essence of a Drawing fun

I facilitated a social nonsense workshop at the Applied Improvisation Network conference in Stony Brook. It was really cool seeing dozens of people playing Essence of a Drawing. Here are some of the results!

The prompt was “Draw Breakfast.”


I’m loving the “Questions” game more and more.

I teach a 75-minute class. That’s a long time for a student – or for anyone. My classes are usually interactive with a variety of activities, but last Thursday was mostly me talking. Interesting, funny, etc. can take you so far, but not for that period of time. So half-way through, they needed a break. In the old days I would have said, “Take a ten-minute break” and they would talk and joke or walk around or something. These days – Phone comes out VOOM! – and then I say, “time to start again” and the phones get put away, or moved to the lap.

Which is fine in the sense of having a break, but not fine in the sense that it doesn’t really refresh the mind and body. It’s a break without the benefits.

So we played “Questions.” They wrote a “why” question, turned their paper over, and traded with multiple people. “So you don’t know WHAT the question is or WHO wrote it!” Then they wrote an answer – this was fun watching their expressions when it dawned on them what I was asking them to do. There was much laughter and sharing. The final step was “Pass the best ones forward to me – the ones that delight you!” I wound up with a handful which I shared with the class. And then we did more math, but the atmosphere in the class was… ready. We were together again.

Why do I pee blood? Because you have no money.

Why don’t penguins fly? Because they are tasty.

Some of them were silly and whimsical

“Questions” is a great game for large groups of people. Everyone plays at once, and it doesn’t take long at all. It’s a simple game with great results that make everyone smile.

Why does adulthood suck? Because life is funny and wants to ruin us.

Why does no one love me? Because Chipotle is my life.

Why do we have 40+ million uninsured US citizens? Cause Beyonce settled and married Jay Z.

Some of them reflected real anxieties

Facilitating Tips:
Especially in large groups – don’t overexplain this one! Either hand out cards, or tell them to get half a sheet of paper out. That’s it – until they’ve done so. Then tell them to write down a question beginning with “Why,” and that it can be about anything. And wait until they’ve finished. One step at a time.

Collect some of “the best” to share with the group. There are elaborate ways to do this, but the fastest is “Hold up the very best ones and I’ll collect them!” If you are doing a long presentation, you can break up topics by reading a few after each transition.

Why do you do this to me? LOVE!

…and this one elicited a moment of silence and then applause.

Some fun Questions results

We played a bit of “Questions” at a book signing, and I liked the results.

Q) Why do we have Trump?
A) That’s just the way it is.

Q) Why are we all here?
A) Because Mom Said So.

I like how in the first one, the question was really specific and the answer was more general. And in the second, it was a general question that had a specific answer. I think that contrast is what makes my mouth move into a smile as I read the answers.

Q) Why do people have to be like that?
A) To bring joy and peace to the world.

I love how this question had a pessimistic feel that got pleasantly subverted.

Q) Why did Doug write this book?
A) Because people don’t really care about their own best interests.

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