Monthly Archives: September 2007

Happy 10,000th Child!

We’re pleased to announce that 10,000 children have gathered since May 2006. The super-secret prize for our 10,000th gatherer goes to Elizabeth Trimble Durham. She will receive $10,000 and a sushi dinner with the GRC radio host of her choice.

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Commuter Reading Group: The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (audio edition)

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Discussion Questions by Dave Lemley

1. Did you listen to the audio version, or just read the paper book? If you read the book visually, how did that affect your driving? If you dropped the book in the passenger floorboard, did you pull over, or just try to reach for it when things slowed down? How did that work out?

2. What’s the worst thing that ever happened to your mother? Feel free to make something up. (Leader’s note: this last question will give you time to pee or get coffee if you showed up late to the meeting.)

3. When you got to the part where the other floating survivor bumps into Pi in the night, did you have to rewind to be sure you hadn’t missed something? Did you ever find your place again? Is that when you quit the book and started listening to Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, instead? How would the book have ended if Pi had a copy of The Secret on that life raft? Remember: tigers can’t even read, so he wouldn’t even have known what The Secret was.

4. Do you think someone in your carpool could have read it to you? Discuss how reading books together while driving might save the environment. What if someone read you the book while you were driving from an e-book on their handheld device? How many trees do you think would be saved? Or commuter minutes? Ozones?

5. How would the book have been different if the orangutan had known sign language? Would it have made you more interested in zoos? Can an ape who learns the sign for “I love you” truly comprehend love or is has she just learned the trick that elicits the most bananas?

6. Pi liked to say, “my suffering was so great.” Pretty much all the time. Did you ever drive through for a milkshake or Jack-in-the-Box egg rolls during the parts where he talked about being so hungry? Was it out of empathy, or sheer spite? How did you know Pi wasn’t about to talk about a disemboweled orangutan or gutting a fish/turtle, while you were eating? What foods do you find you can eat in the car without making a mess?

7. If the story Pi tells to his rescuers at the end of the book was the true story, why do you think Yann Martel made up all that crap about the floating acid island? Was he just trying to ride the coattails of the recent surge in meerkat popularity? Was Meerkat Manor before or after The Life of Pi came out? How does life on Meerkat Manor compare to life on Meerkat Floating Acid Island? Wouldn’t you probably watch Animal Planet more if they had that show? What do you think the meerkats on Meerkat Manor symbolize?

8. Do you think you’ll see the movie? What are some ideas you have that might spice up the boring parts and/or keep it shorter than Lord of the Rings? Are there actors that could be cast as Pi that might make all the gross and boring parts more sexy or provocative? Wouldn’t Sean Astin be cute? What if, at the end, Pi was rescued by hobbits? Or near the middle?

9. Do you think life rafts should be equipped with guns? What about other weapons, self-help books, or Apple products? How about wireless internet? GPS? Break into partners, and make up more stuff for a lifeboat, and then rewrite the book with those items, plus whatever lead actor you chose in the last question. How does your new book improve on the original? (Leader’s note: if you need more coffee or want to make a phone call, now is the time.)

The Patriot

“The mower moved so fast that it seemed to hover and basically did all the work for you. But still, I managed to work up a sweat while riding it, which caused me to take off my shirt, which got me into some trouble with my neighbors, my male neighbors (no women mowed lawns in Camelot; in this way we were like the Muslims), who all wore big, padded recording-style-type headphones while they mowed, and also, huge floppy hats and safety goggles and heavy-duty gardening gloves and long-sleeved oxford shirts and paint-spattered khaki pants tucked into the top of work boots. Except for tiny swatches of upper cheek and neck, there was no skin visible on them at all. My barechestedness ran counter to some unwritten subdivision behavioral code and had earned me some hard, disgusted stares from my neighbors. Every Saturday I reminded myself to remain fully clothed, but once I started sweating I could never remember to keep the shirt on and in this way fell into my own little unintentional piece of rebellion. I was like the patriot who kept forgetting not to dump the king’s tea into the harbor.”

– Brock Clarke, An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England

Bumper Sticker Kind of Woman

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Our protagonist, whose name escapes me, notices a liberal bumper sticker on the car in front of her. It’s cleverer than most. It criticizes the president’s lack of environmental action through pun. She smiles and wonders if she should go online and order this bumper sticker or one like it. After all, she is dissatisfied with the federal government’s cowardice, the way they cater to auto and oil companies. She remembers, though, that bumper sticker jokes wear out fast. And she has close friends who are conservative. She doesn’t hide her politics from these friends but the bumper sticker, she decides, would come off as pretty smug. Then she thinks, Plus, the trouble with putting a political position on a car is that I’m not always the best driver. What if I cut someone off and then fuel their hatred towards liberals? Then she wonders, Has a bumper sticker ever changed my mind? About anything? It is nighttime and lights are flashing at her, encouraging her to spend money. The world is sending clever sound byte-size messages to her. Too many messages. What this comes down to, what this really comes down to, she decides, is this: Am I a bumper sticker kind of woman? She is not.

So Go and Riddle Me Over

State Radio (fronted by Chad from Dispatch – “The General,” “Open Up”) is giving away all their albums and EPs for free on their website. Even their awesome Us Against the Crown. Take that iTunes store!

Invented Statistics #6

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with Dave Lemley of “36 Cents For Your Entire Brain

79% of dates designated “In the Year of Our Lord” indicate fictional
historical tales composed by a 17th century Irish traveling minstrel
named Lucky Thumbs Hernandez. A former ombudsman for the Knights
Templar, he is also responsible for 23% of the text of closing
arguments in network legal dramas.

If a car is traveling the speed of light and turns on its headlights,
there is a 43% chance the car alarm will already be going off when it
slows to the speed of sound. But in 99.7% of cases, the driver would
not be able to hear it, because she is traveling at the same speed as
the soundwaves. .3% of drivers would be able to hear it, because of
an unusual phenomenon that speeds up all sound they receive to the
speed of light. These individuals find the Hollywood Bowl a very
disorienting venue. All drivers in this scenario are instantly killed
by airbags, rendering the statistics unprovable. 100% scientists agree.

8% of all facebook groups were created by actor Steve Buscemi. He
obsessively maintains this percentage at all times, often using a
double in public appearances when he is “warned” by his “minifeed
sense” that he must create another group.

1 out of 4 cell phones in the United States are equipped with x-ray
vision, a feature mechanically suppressed by the FCA until 2012.

By the year 2012, 87% of Americans will use x-ray vision to solve
crimes at home, creating a 90% drop in the popularity of police
procedural dramas and a 93% drop in public funding for police
departments. By 2014, David Caruso will have died from obscurity. By
2015, all U.S. cell phones will have their heat vision features
unlocked. By 2018, 79% former public servants will be employed in
Verizon mall kiosks. At that time Verizon will be exclusively selling
a dairy-free frozen confection labeled “The Ice Cream of the Present.”

Every time a North American IP address is identified downloading
music from a questionable foreign mp3 site, Steve Jobs revokes an
angel’s wings.

Showbiz in the Morning

Elizabeth Trimble Durham has a new web site where she posts “aesthetically pleasing things for your eyes and mine”. It’s already got a heap of posts. Jump on it:

eye candy Lo! In the Morning

Also added: Nanaki Records

Partners in Promotion

If you’re into music blogs, check out our new “Partners in Promotion” on the blogroll. We link to each other and mutually expand our reach in this wide world that is the web. If you are interested in becoming a Gather Round Children PIP, please get in touch (you needn’t run a music blog).

Also:

– Coming this Monday: A very special “Invented Statistics” with Dave Lemley.

– “And You’ll Like It” is now the “starts playing immediately” song at GRC MySpace.

– We now have a “Submit” page for those interested in contributing to Gather Round, Children. Our guidelines are rigid yet rewarding.

World Premiere: And You’ll Like It

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Studio Version: And You’ll Like It

song by Gabe, Dave, Tom and Darnell, recorded in East Coast seclusion by Gabe 

“And You’ll Like It” is a song we made up on the spot on the radio with Dave Staples and then repeated with Matt Highfield. All the lyrics in this recorded version were sung (or based on something sung) in those improv songs. This form of songwriting is called “The Shotgun Method,” based on Biodome 5’s popular song where we made up some lyrics once and then never changed them. Songwriting should not be this easy.

Invented Statistics #5

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The average stomach temporarily expands 15% at the mention of dessert.

I could be somewhat familiar with 200 new musicians if I stopped listening to my favorite musicians.

I could meet 200 more acquaintances if I stopped returning calls from my friends and neglected my spouse.

80% of people who employ the “slippery slope” method in arguments (“If we give them food today, won’t they tomorrow come to expect food and break into our homes and murder our spouses to get the food?”) also employ the “that steamed broccoli could have been sent to starving children” to advocate the completion of dinner.

An ironed dress shirt demands 50% respect than an unironed dress shirt.

Demanding respect of another person is 66% more stressful than respecting yourself and hoping that others will follow your lead because, after all, you are a person.

A little boy at a bus stop in Northampton will dangle his feet twice as quickly if there is a homeless woman yelling, to no one in particular, that she should not have to be digging for food in the garbage.

“Gather Round, Children: The Best of Improv” Has Just Hit Shelves

Best of Improv

Gather Round Children: The Best of Improv

1. Baby… Shut Up
2. Where Did the Light Go?
3. Just A Little Thing
4. Little While Longer
5. Mother Russia
6. And You’ll Like It
7. Count Your Sins
8. Take My Money
9. Seduction Song
10. They Have No Shoes
11. Cliffhanger/Pick A Number
12. Dancing To and Fro
13. Nothing
14. We Won (No One Else Won)
15. Just A Little Thing (reprise)
16. Get On Board the GRC Train

At first we considered charging ten dollars per song because the album is so good. Then we decided to make it free because the album is so good. Enjoy. And remember: All positive reviews of “GRC: The Best of Improv” will be blurbed, thus immortalizing the listener for his/her supurb taste.

Special Guest Key:  Liz Durable (1, 10), Alex Moore (2, 12, 16), Jessica Kloor (3, 4, 9), Michael Brinley (5), Dave Staples (6, 8), Matt Highfield (7, 13), Christopher Faris (11, 14, 15)