Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why I do the 24 Hour Cancer Dance-a-thon!

My mother is currently recovering from her second surgery to remover her cancer. Her appetite is growing and hopefully she'll make a strong come-back.

My father had a form of blood cancer before he died. He had other health issues as well, but the cancer was no help.

At the age of 12 I was told by a dermatologist that I had a high risk of skin cancer. So I wear sunscreen when I remember and I try to stay indoors a lot and eat well.


If you haven't heard of the 24 Hour Cancer Dance-a-thon before, its a large event put on by some Lindy Hoppers down in Irvine with proceeds benefiting the City of Hope, a center for cancer research, care and education.

I've been contributing to the 24 Hour Cancer Dance-a-thon since its inception several years ago. Certainly that was before I had learned of either of my parents illnesses. Now that my mother is fighting the disease too I have to think about why I've done it all these years.

If you haven't read it before, here's my write-up of the event back in 2009: What a Difference a Day Makes.

Here's a video re-cap of last year's event that I found on Youtube:

Going all the way through it is an emotional experience. I can't remember a year during which I didn't laugh, cry and feel a great amount of love. It's a very moving event. It's also loads of fun. That's certainly part of what makes me return.

Maybe that's only part of it.

I think I do it because it's very close to home. My parents, me, even friends I haven't mentioned here. I dance for me and mine. It could be your parents, you or your friends. I dance for you and yours too.

24 Hour Cancer Dance-a-thon 2011 is only two weeks away. Please consider participating or making a donation. Even a few dollars will help a really worthy cause. Even a few dollars can make a big difference.

If you love dancing and hate cancer, please figure out how you can help!

Thanks for your time.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The aftermath of FailBlog?

Thanks to Daniel Young for posting the above clip on Facebook.

Recently I posted two blogs about being a beginner, and the one here focused on the importance of failure especially in the context of improvisation: Thoughts for Beginners. I find failure to be important in all fields and in every arena of learning.

It seems that we have so much baggage when it comes to failure. I can't begin to unpack it in the few minutes I have this morning. Maybe it starts when the first report cards come in our formative years. And I think it's important to say that I don't encourage students to start failing entire classes. That's not what this is about.

One of the projects I have in mind is a series on how to be a teacher, how to develop the tools you need to be a good one. This is clearly going to be a part of that series. More on that as it occurs.

Something makes me wonder if these thoughts wouldn't be stirring so much in the intwerwebs if not for the popularity of Failblog a few years ago. Perhaps turning "fail" into an insult inspired folks to consider why it was important.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pretty Girls

I love the Kids of Widney High. I even have their comic book!

From their site:
The Kids of Widney High are a group of students from Widney High School, a special ed. high school in Los Angeles, who write and perform original songs. The group started in 1988 as a song writing class and changes as the students come and go from Widney. The students perform in the L.A. area with a band consisting of Vince Licassi-guitar, Judy Rudin-harmonica, Tony Bollas-drums, Spero Anthony-bass, and Michael Monagan-guitar.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thoughts for Beginners

Many thoughts on the importance of failure swirl around in my head. A few weeks ago I read an article about the role of mistakes in the classroom. Then I read on Mental Floss a piece about successful folks who got fired from their jobs. I’ve had some experiences lately that were starting to get me down and it occurred to me that these can serve to help me learn and grow.

On Facebook yesterday the quote above was posted by a few friends. The quote is attributed to Ira Glass, host of This American Life. The quote will be getting re-posted here and over on the LindyGroove Technique Class Notes blog.

Let's apply the thinking here to improv. It was either Rachel Dratch or Tina Fey who said that most of the time in improv you spend sucking. Maybe 10 percent of the time hits the mark. I don't have the Second to None DVD handy so until it gets returned to me we can just guess about who said it.

After a recent Improv Trick student showcase, a student approached me and apologized for failing. Firstly, I didn't feel that the student had failed. Secondly, if by their own standard they had failed then at least they have a way to measure their success. Perhaps, if they're lucky their will to improve will be strengthened. To be quite fair though, sometimes the lesson has less to do with actual failure and more to do with how we deal with our fear of such.

As I had mentioned, I'd recently had some experiences that were getting me down. I won't elaborate on those here, but suffice it to consider that suckage happens. The best thing to do is get off your ass and do it again!

Here are some podcasts that address this notion:

Loserball - Jill Bernard teaches an exercise designed to help students embrace their failures. You can listen to her interviewed on the Improv Resource Center Podcast.
Zenprov - Marshall Stearns and Nancy Howland Walker built an entire podcast around the theme of failure: Failure and Space.

Bonus: since this post was about comedy and referenced Ira Glass, it might be well to link this interview. WTF - Marc Maron interviews Ira Glass

Now with video!