Help Kickstart a Lovecraft-inspred Webseries

I’ve blogged before about Miskatonic West, the Lovecraft-inspired webseries that I’m co-writing with Harry Kakatsakis, and that was created by Harry and Noah James Butler.

The Kickstarter campaign to get the ball rolling on production has gone live:

To contribute to this project, follow this link.

The first Lovecraft story I ever read was “The Tomb.” Being the sort of person who is drawn to musty, old paperbacks, I’ve found myself perusing many a shelf in many a used book store over the years. I say “found myself,” and I mean it. The mere sight of a used book store is enough to trigger a kind of somnambulistic trance; a waking sleepwalk wherein I follow some unnamed spirit to those dusty, worn shelves crammed with long-forgotten yet perhaps once well-loved books.

How intoxicating! The aroma of binder’s glue and paper breaking down, mixed with the faintest trace of mildew. The muffled silence of those shelves.

It was on one such shelf I found a Del Rey-published copy of The Tomb and Other Tales. The cover, depicting a human figure cocooned in spider’s webbing, mouth frozen in a scream of terror, promised hideous delights within. I began reading “The Tomb” there in the aisle, and soon after bought a treasure worth so much more than the dollar-fifty pricetag scratched in grease pencil on its inside cover.

I had heard of Lovecraft before, via my favorite author, Robert A. Heinlein. In his book, The Number of the Beast, a group of adventurers find themselves hopping through different literary universes. For instance, they visit Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom and L. Frank Baum’s Oz. The only catch is that all four adventurers must have read the same book prior to their journey. They write up a list of all the books they’ve read and compare notes:

“Is H.P. Lovecraft on that list?”

“He only got one vote, Zebbie. Yours.”

“Cthulhu be thanked! Sharpie, his stories fascinate me the way snakes are said to fascinate birds. But I would rather be trapped with the King in Yellow than be caught in the worlds of the Necronomicon.”

I knew him by reputation, and he did not let me down.

It is a delight to play in the singular, unnatural sandbox Lovecraft left for us. Along with Harry and Noah, I’m having way too much fun building our own eldritch sandcastles, and I can’t wait to share them all with you.

Bad Telemarketing Poetry

I did a brief spin through a telemarketing gig a week ago. It lasted for less than a week, but not because it was unbearably awful — it was surprisingly pleasant! Nope, I landed a long-term temp day job that is paying me handsomely for my brainpower. That’s a nice feeling, and it’s keeping the lights on at Maison du Snapper.

While I was at the telemarketing gig, I got the idea to write way-too-sincere poetry about telemarketing. It amused me to no end. Perhaps it will amuse you, too:

Bad Telemarketing Poetry 1I.

don’t hesitate

jump right in

waste no time

get to work

to dial …

… dial …

… dial …

and hope someone picks up



dregs seeking out dregs

hoping chance will sweep us away


desperate for a connection

we did not know we missed

longing for that voice

we’ve never heard before


carressing plastic

trying to remember what the

real thing feels like



some people

just want

to defeat you

don’t listen to their words

their broken, hurtful words

listen to their motivation

their true



and pity them their inhumanity



madly dialing numbers

desperate to hear a voice



pick up

hear me speak

talk to me

tonight I’m not selling

tonight you’re not buying

tonight we are two




it is not a personal failing

to miss a connection

no one is to blame

for bad timing

to hear your recorded voice

is not to resent you

(how much I would prefer

a conversation!)

I am here; I know you’re out there

living our lives

Bad Telemarketing Poetry 2


Existential unemployment …

Existential unemployment ...

Have Confetti Cannon … Will Travel!

Davy Crockett is on the hunt! MNT presents: MEATFEST 4: Skin at the Monday Night Tease! Photo by Andrija Bloom.

Davy Crockett is on the hunt! MNT presents: MEATFEST 4: Skin at the Monday Night Tease! Photo by Andrija Bloom.

Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, the greenest state in the land of the free, raised in the woods so’s he knew every tree, kill’t him a bear when he was only three …

You can’t have Davy Crockett without Beautiful Betsy, his rifle. If you’re toting a prop rifle in a burlesque show, it had better do something fabulous. Hence: My Betsy is a confetti cannon. At least, half the barrel is — the rest of the “gun” is just for show. I’ve been meaning to post a tutorial on this for some time.

A disclaimer: THE CONFETTI CANNON WORKS ON COMPRESSED AIR. You can easily injure yourself or others if you don’t use common sense! Only use this to blast confetti, and NEVER POINT IT AT PEOPLE, ANIMALS, OR FRAGILE OBJECTS. In fact, now that I think about it, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BUILD THIS THING. I’M A (self-trained) PROFESSIONAL.

When I perform the Davy Crockett number, I aim the rifle at the ceiling, above the audience. The blast of confetti looks awesome, and then it drifts down onto my adoring fans — double awesome!

Here we go …

The Pieces Parts

Here are the ingredients for my confetti cannon:

  • a length of 3/4″ PVC pipe
  • 1/4″ (inner diameter) vinyl tubing
  • 3/4″ male – 1/2″ female reducer
  • 1/2″ male – 1/4″ barb hose adapter
  • a tapered inflator nozzle (comes in a blowgun or air pump kit, along with a mattress inflator, sports ball needle, etc.)
  • CO2-powered bicycle tire inflator with — VERY IMPORTANT — screw-on Schrader fitting.
  • A couple of small hose clamps.

If you squint, you can almost make out what this is a picture of.

And here’s why you need a screw-on Schrader fitting. You’re going to attach that tapered inflator nozzle to the CO2 inflator. Attach one end of the vinyl hose to the nozzle, and hose clamp that sucker in place.

Look, I’ll be honest with you. You may not actually need the hose clamp. I’m a Nervous Nancy, however, and I want to make sure my connections are as tight as possible.

I'm a Nervous Nancy

Place (and by place I mean “shove”) the male end of the reducer into one end of your PVC pipe. I used a little E-6000 to glue it in place because, again, Nervous Nancy.

Here’s the genius of my confetti cannon: The hex head on the reducer keeps it from entering the pipe. Meaning there is no risk of accidentally propelling a hard brass fitting into the air when you activate this thing.

Insert the barb hose adapter into the reducer, put the hose on it, and clamp it. (Note: you’re going to want to put the hose through the hose clamp before you attach the hose to the adapter.)

Fill the PVC pipe with confetti, and activate the tire inflator. Huzzah! confetti cannon!

Now here’s a problem: My Beautiful Betsy is 50 inches long. I want to fit it into a standard-size suitcase for air travel. It needs to be collapsible, and so I’ve accomplished this with the addition of a couple of pieces of hardware.

Step One

Here’s what the connection at the PVC looked like.

Step Three

And here’s what it looks like now! I unscrewed the barb hose adapter from the reducer, and inserted a 1/4″ quick connect coupler and male plug with 1/4″ female plug. Now this part of the confetti cannon breaks apart …

Step Two

Like so! The gun stock is being broken into three pieces that I will assemble after I arrive at my destination. I’ll source the CO2 cartridge locally so I don’t have to travel with a compressed air cartridge. (I don’t know if it’s legal or not to travel with CO2 cartridges — I don’t really care. I like the idea of showing up in another town and looking for a bicycle shop. Gives me a chance to take in more local flavor.)

So there you have it: an inexpensive confetti cannon that can be built in a couple of hours.

How We Do


This is the Doodlebug. Her name is actually Felicity, but no one calls her that. We took the Doodlebug to the vet a few weeks back for her regular check-up, booster shots, and to have an evaluation done on one of her teeth that seems to be giving her some trouble. She was running a little bit of a fever, and so they decided against the booster shots and instead did a blood test in preparation for the dental work. As it turns out, our little sofa loaf (she is a bit of a napper) is anemic.

No sweat, put some iron in her diet, right? Nope. Anemia in dogs doesn’t work like anemia in humans. It could be caused by an infection (like what’s going on with her teeth) or it could be cancer. Or some sort of autoimmune issue. It could be a whole bunch of scary things. She’s on a treatment program right now, and she appears to be responding well (red blood cell count up the last time she was checked, about a week ago!) so we’re hopeful it’s one of the less frightening issues.

Needless to say, the vet bills are stacking up. But rather than make an outright appeal for financial assistance, my wife and I are doing how we do: We’re making stuff and selling it. To be specific, we’re making Doodle appliqué pillows, similar to the prototype pictured (along with the Doodlebug) above. If you’re interested in picking up a Doodle pillow and helping us get the Doodlebug the doctorin’ she needs, please follow this link to my wife’s website. And thank you!

Kermit Imposters + Tutorial!

A brief history of Kermit doppelgangers and a bonus tutorial!

I finally get to take the wife to see The Muppets: Most Wanted tonight. I got to see it a couple of weeks before it opened (I know a guy) and I’m stoked to see it again. I enjoyed The Muppets, but it felt like a reboot, and more of a vehicle for Jason Segal than a MUPPET movie. I’m not complaining! Kudos to Segal for doing the damned near impossible (judging from recent history, i.e. Muppets in Space): making a GOOD Muppet movie!

The Muppets Most Wanted puts the Muppets front and center. And it introduces us to a new Kermit imposter, Constantine, The World’s Most Dangerous Frog!


Image snatched from the Muppet Wiki:

But this isn’t the first time Kermit has been replaced …

Kermit the Pig


Image snatched from Muppet Wiki

In a second season episode of The Muppet Show, the pigs takeover the show. Performed by Dave Goelz, this is probably the most frightening of the Kermitgangers. At least it was to me as a little kid!

Robot Kermit


Image snatched from Muppet Wiki

Season one of the Muppet Show gave us this guy, who seemed like an explosion of Kermit id — up to no end of mischief. We also get  a Kermit take on the old Marx-bros mirror gag! (A gag that is revisited by Kermit and Constantine.)

Lenny the Lizard


Image snatched from Muppet Wiki

The Steve Martin episode of The Muppet Show is my all-time favorite. Martin shows up to host only to discover that it’s open audition night at The Benny Vandergast Memorial Theater (better known as The Muppet Theater nowadays). The only show to air without an added laugh track, the laughing and applause you hear is coming from the crew and performers watching the performances. Great stuff.

Baskerville the Dog (in Fozzie Bear-esque polka dotted tie and brown porkpie) kills in his audition as comic. Fozzie gives him the ol’ vaudeville hook and yells, “Next!”

Says Kermit, “C’mon, Fozzie, you’re taking all this too personally!”

Next up is Lenny the Lizard (Richard Hunt) auditioning to be the emcee.

“NEXT!” yells Kermit.

Kermit the Forg, Kermit the Gorf, Kermit the Grof (Honorable Mentions)

Not really Kermitgangers per se, but this bit from Sesame Street stands out in memory:

BONUS! Make Your Own Constantine PEZ Dispenser Tutorial!

And now, because the internet is fueled by DIY and lists (and cats, but the wife is allergic, so I’ve got nothing), it is with almost patriotic pride that I present to you the Make Your Own Constantine PEZ Dispenser Tutorial!

STEP 1: Obtain a Kermit PEZ dispenser:


STEP 2: Using a fine point Sharpie, draw a mole:


STEP 3: You’re all done! “Hi-lo! I yam Kyermeet the Frerg …”


What did YOU think of The Muppets: Most Wanted? What sort of pointless tutorial would you like to see next? Let me know!

Squeaky Wheels, Too Many Irons in the Fire, and Bilbo Baggins

How I Spent My Monday Night: The Muppet of Burlsque Show at Monday Night Tease!

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” – Bilbo Baggins

Boy howdy, do I know the feeling. It’s a good feeling — I’m not complaining. I’m happy to have the problems I have because they are the problems of a creative individual. Problems like “I need to finish the costume I’m wearing next Monday Night” (as Brand from The Goonies) or “I need more jokes for the show I’m hosting Friday night” or “Seeing as how puppetry-type stuff is on my radar again, I should probably refresh my puppetry page on the website.” Stuff like that.

Starting with St. Patrick’s Day and culminating in next Monday night, I figure I will have exercised my full range of artistic skills. Making music, dancing, comedy, puppetry, etc. It’s all been on full display this month. That’s why I’ve been a little quiet here, at Mad Theatrics, and on Twitter. I’m busy doing stuff.

How does the creative multi-tasker get it all done? Red could probably give a better answer, because she is easily the most industrious person I know. But since she’s way too busy, I’ll give it a shot.

1. TO-DO LISTS. Seems obvious, eh? Well, this lackadaisical, lazy ass has learned the hard way to figure out what he needs to do before he starts doing. That way he doesn’t forget things. A bonus is, writing your to-dos down helps you do the next thing, which is …

2. PRIORITIZE. Some steps must be done before you can begin other steps. Sometimes you have to paint a prop first thing in the morning so it will be dry in time for the performance that evening. Hand washing a garment won’t wait until two hours before curtain. Blogging about having a lot on your plate will wait until midnight on a Wednesday.

3. EAT AND SLEEP. You will forget. You will get busy and totally blow past exhaustion and hunger. Then you’ll get cranky, make mistakes, etc. Take the time to eat and sleep.

4. SQUEAKY WHEELS. Put out the fires. This should probably go under “Prioritize,” but it’s late, and I’m tired and hungry. Seriously, sometimes you just have to prioritize based on what’s screaming at you the loudest.

5. LIMIT DISTRACTIONS. I still haven’t watched the last episode of Cosmos. At the rate I’m going, I might be able to squeeze it in on Saturday. I also tend to not drink much of the demon liquor when I’m in the midst of a whole lotta stuff.

6. MAKE A LITTLE TIME FOR BACK BURNER PROJECTS. As projects complete and come out of the queue, you’ll have more stuff entering the queue. Another way to put this might be INVEST IN YOUR FUTURE PRODUCTIVITY.

7. STEP AWAY BEFORE YOU BREAK SOMETHING. If you’re like me, you live about an eighth of an inch away from stack-blowing frustration. If you’re like me, you’ll have to learn to moderate yourself, and put the project down before you hurl it across the room. Letting frustration get the better of you only results in more work later. Go work on another of the dozen or so irons you have in the fire.

8. FINISH THINGS. Poke it with a fork, wrap it in a bow, put the cherry on top, and get it out of the queue. Don’t keep fussing with something you know is done. “How do I know it’s done?” Please, don’t bullshit a bullshitter. You know when you’re just fussing with something that’s done.

Having too much to do is a good thing. I’d much rather be exhausted from wrapping a show at 2 am after a week’s worth of writing and prop building and performing and and and than sitting on my ass watching the calendar pass me by. I’d rather be butter scraped over too much toast than butter sitting on a tray in the fridge.