Simps, Improv and Education

I just came back from a show by the Stanford Improvisers (SIMPS) called “Phantom of the Improv” at the Pigott Theater. I watched 8 members produce a improvised, unrehearsed 50 minute Broadway-style musical called “The Ballet Class” (the title was selected through many audience suggestions and subsequent voting)

It was incredibly fun.

I love sIMPs shows: they are funny, musical and surprising. This show was the best entertainment I could recommend to anyone. The songs were catchy, the actors were funny and real, and the plot had a great ending. The story was basically about a school where a new kid gets into trouble on the first day with a “bad kid”, then joins the homeroom art project of “expressing yourself” with two other students who learn ballet. The bad boy is eventually convinced to join the project as well and give it a chance. Continue reading…


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Choking - Bad motivation

How do you motivate other people? How do you motivate yourself? To me it seems like the best way to do it through an emotional appeal. Its very very difficult to do something because “you ought to” or because “its whats logical (or rational)”. Nothing is truly rational anyway, but that is another story.

There are two kinds of emotional motivations: positive ones, and negative ones.

  • Negative motivations: do something or you will be sorry. You will be in pain. You will be mad. You will have missed out on a good opportunity. You will have failed. You will FEEL BAD.
  • Positive motivators: do something and you will be proud. You will feel happy. You will have won. You will laugh. You will have suceeded. You will FEEL GOOD.

Now, I like to use a little bit of both when it comes to motivating myself. ie – Study hard now Jason or else you will regret it when you’re totally lost in lecture next week. Also, if you study now, you won’t have to this weekend and you can party harder.

But when it comes to motivating others, I normally would stick with the positive one only. Because it’s ok when I make myself feel bad, but not when someone else does.

Yet people do this all the time. It’s called unsolicted warnings. “Take that job or you’ll be sorry”. Nobody wants to hear that.

If you want to motivate someone else, figure out what they really want in life, and show them how doing something will get to that. The rest should be simple. And if it doesn’t get them to what they really want in life, why are you trying to get them to do it in the first place?

An Update

I haven’t had a chance to blog lately because I attempted to do NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. So I didn’t quite make it. On Dec 1st, my novel stood at 25,000 words, half of the 50,000 designated as part of the challenge. It’s the first time I’ve really done any kind of fiction other than for a class or a 500 word short story. So while I can’t say I’m not dissappointed, I think it still was a good experience.

I’ll post the book in a week or two, as soon as I finish one or two more scenes that wrap up the book. The synopsis: A biotech employee and a journalist discover their mutual friend is dead, and work to unravel the sinister mysteries behind his death. They realize a wildly evil plot to unleash a bioterror weapon and must fight to save the lives of millions.

It’s called Interference.

In other news, I’ve been doing a lot of comtemplating and philosophizing. It’s turned really nilihistic and depressing. Among my insights:

We do not have free will

The universe is pre-determined

We’re all nothing but bags of chemical reactions.

As you might imagine, it’s hard to get motivated to do things when you think nothing matters. I’ve been giving it my best shot. The book actually helped a lot with that. The act of creativity seems to help keep me alive and going. Something about how books have touched me in a deep and meaningful way, and how I hope this book (or others I might write) may someday touch others in that way.

Thanks for all the people who commented on my blog with positive words and encouragement.

What Will We Tell Our Children?

After Robert Ebert saw Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, this is what he had to say:

In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to.

Global Warming is real

That is not the question. No matter how much oil companies try to throw uncertainty into the arguement, the facts stand for themselves. The question is, what are you going to do about it? has a section on how you can take action. Real simple actions like switching incadescent light bulbs, turning down the thermostat in the winter by 2 degrees and more.

And if you don’t take action, if you ignore this issue, if we as a people choose not to face this issue, we will face another question. And that is from our children and grandchildren. And that question is:

Why didn’t you do anything?

How Do You Feel?

In Ten Ways To Make A Difference, Peter Singer outlines pragmatic ways to create change. The first step he says is to have your finger on the pulse of the public. Know how people are feeling today, and how they could possible feel tommorow. Understand the people.

Now this is no easy task, but one cool tool that I just found can help. It’s called We Feel Fine. Using just a java applet, this site scans blogs for “I feel” and “I am feeling” and displays the results in several cool interactive methods.

The top results?
1. Better (128,000 people)
2. Bad (93k)
3. Good (76k)
4. Right (41k)
5. Guilty (32k)
6. Sick (27k)
7. Same (25k)
8. Shit (25K)
9. Sorry (24k)
10. Well (22k)
13. Happy (18k)

18. Lost (14k)

36. Loved (3k)

The list goes on for a long time, with a lot of adjectives and descriptors.

The Takeaway: However you are feeling, someone else is feeling the same way, and many of them are feeling better.