fun things to do in dallas this weekend

#Ashtag Week 6: I Still Know Nothing

This week I'm continuing my foray into the world of today's popular culture. MTV aired their annual video music awards, the VMAs, over the weekend. I do not have cable, so I didn't watch them. Even in my teen years (my peak submersion into pop culture) I rarely watched the VMAs. Although, I did always tune in for the MTV Movie Awards. Who new MoonMans were still a thing?

I probably should have invaded the home of one of my cable-having friends so that I could have watched the awards show and did this piece some justice. Instead, we'll let the Internet fill me in on what happened. As it stands, most of the top searches relate to the VMAs. Blue Ivy, the toddler daughter of Jay-Z and Beyonce, apparently stole the show. Katy Perry tweeted, “OMG BLUE IVY JUST PERSONALLY WAVED AT ME. MY LIFE IS OVER.” The three-piece family hugged and smooched on stage. The audience cooed.

Miley Cyrus won for "Wrecking Ball" and sent a homeless teenager up to accept on her behalf in an effort to raise awareness of youth homelessness, a la Marlon Brando sending the Apache woman up to accept his Oscar for the Godfather. By the by, I'm part Apache and the lady that accepted for Brando kind of looked like my mom in her youth. I just like telling people that I'm part Apache. It makes me feel cool. Alright, I'm moving on. Geronimo.

In reading up on the VMAs, I came across several names that I was not familiar with like Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and Jessie J. I watched their videos and it turns out that I had heard the songs before. My next sentence is going to get me some dirty looks from folks, but it's the truth. When I had heard the Ed Sheeran song in passing, I thought it was a Justin Timberlake song. My bad.

The number of presenters and performers' names that I had never heard of outnumbered the names that I did recognize. There's a girl band out there named Fifth Harmony winning awards. Who knew? I made it 40 seconds through their video, "BO$$," before I turned it off. The lyrics "Michelle Obama, purse so heavy" were on a screechy repeat. I can only take so much, folks.

I do know of Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift, who were both heavily featured on the show. I read a recap describing Minaj's wardrobe malfunction as "dangerously close to revealing her upper and lower front." I'm not exactly sure why the term, "upper and lower front" made me giggle, but it did. Neither front was exposed because Nicki Minaj held her dress closed, while she sang... Rapped? I don't know.

This is actually way more clothing than we've come to expect from MTV. It's like they are Amish or something.

I haven't been able to find an actual video of it, but the reviews of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels' appearance all say it was incredibly awkward. The two were there to promote the upcoming sequel, "Dumb and Dumber To." Carrey fell off the stage doing a dance cracking a joke involving ebola. I hope we've all learned what happens when you make fun of ebola. You fall down. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

I've spent this entire week's #Ashtag recapping the VMAs, and I'm okay with it. In looking at pictures of the red carpet, presenters, and performers, I learned that I still know very close to nothing about today's youth and what they're digging. Honestly, there are entire television shows, music genres, and celebrities that I have absolutely never heard of. So, let's meet back here next week, so I can keep getting a little less ignorant. Or a little more, depending on your perspective.

As a special note because I know you care: I made it to the A-list and I bought that house in Miami I had my eye on. #kardashian:hollywood

Ashley Bright is a graduate of the Improv Training Program at DCH and a level 3 sketch writing student. She performs every weekend at DCH. 

#Ashtag Week 5: Science and Simplicity

By Ashley Bright Welcome back to another week of #Ashtag, where I educate myself of all things trending online. This week, the Internet has been filled with some serious matters and actual news events. Let's not worry about such things here.

Not when there's a video titled "Tortoise vs Truck" topping the YouTube searches. This video contains 34 seconds of a small tortoise chasing a remote controlled truck. The little tortoise appears to be giving it its all in the chase; it really wants that truck. Sometimes life is just that simple. The tortoise just wants to catch the truck.

Another top video this week is titled "Jellyfish Stinging In MICROSCOPIC SLOW MOTION - Smarter Every Day 120." I'm leaving the capitalized words in the title because I am a purist. This video is not as simple as the tortoise vid because it contains words like, "nematocyst." I've never been stung by a jellyfish, but this video did interest me. Maybe the replica of a jellyfish made from a balloon did it for me. Or maybe it's because I feel relatively certain that I have the luck to get stung by a jellyfish, and that's it's just my lack of time in the sea that has kept it from happening so far. The video ends with a call-to-action from James Cook University looking for undergrad and grad students interested in helping to solve the mystery of the box jelly's cardiotoxin venom. Maybe some of the many scientists at DCH will heed that call? Actually, no, please don't move to Australia. I love you guys.

The number one video on YouTube this week is titled, "It's a Shoo-In for Bright Dike." I don't like this title. Mostly because my last name is Bright. But also because the title is wasted opportunity for a pun. The video contains a soccer player kicking his shoe off and into the goal instead of kicking the ball into the goal. Shoe-in, folks, not shoo-in. Also, sports. (This is where I blow a raspberry sound for my own amusement.)

The #ALSIcebucketchallenge has also ruled the Internet this week. I was aware of this because of Facebook. The challenge consists of celebrities dumping water on their head and challenging other celebs and rich folks to do the same in an effort to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. And now you and I both know what ALS stands for. If you knew before this, well good for you. Again, please don't move to Australia.

Compared to all those "prison challenges" she once faced, this Ice Bucket Challenge is probably a breeze for Lady Martha.

Another top hashtag this week is #vote5sos. This is related to the MTV's Hottest that I wrote about last week. Last week, One Direction was topping the list. I knew that One Direction was a musical group. I had even discovered last week that I have heard some of One Direction's music. Until I saw #vote5sos and Googled its definition, I had never heard of 5sos. It's short for the boy band, 5 Seconds of Summer. Again, never heard of them. Based on the photos on their website, they are four teen boys with fairly emo haircuts who are big fans of doing the duck face. According to Wikipedia, they are Australian teens who gained popularity by covering songs and posting the videos to YouTube. They hit it big when One Direction invited them to join their tour. One Direction. Australia. Everything is related. Time is a flat circle.

Speaking of flat circles, I have yet to gain more than 10 K-stars in the Kardashian game. But I did make it to the B-list and I am quickly approaching the A-list. Color yourselves impressed, folks.

Ashley Bright is a graduate of the DCH improv training program and a level 2 sketch writing student. She's also an intern for the DCH blog. You can see Ashley and the rest of her sketch writing class perform their sketch show this Thursday at 8PM at DCH.

Con Fair

By Mike Corbett Look, we all could use a break after the last week, right? We lost a comedy genius in Robin Williams, under incredibly disheartening circumstances, parts of Missouri look like a warzone every night thanks to overly militarized police, and now, unfortunately, top it all off, we’ve lost the voice of Saturday Night Live, with the passing of Don Pardo.   Really just a rough week all around, and certainly not one that is generating easily mocked news stories.

So, in lieu of my usual current events focused piece, I’d like to instead take this article in a completely ribald direction and examine one of the great mysteries I’ve come across in my life time. The year was 2012, I’d been living in Dallas for six months, and was attending the highly regarded Texas State Fair for the first time. I had heard many stories about the fair, and what a spectacle it was, so I had to see it for myself. Before I even set foot in Fair Park, its reputation for being a spectacle was confirmed with the sad passing of Big Tex. I was sure nothing could top a giant mechanical cowboy fire, but I went attended anyways, to see what other wonders the fair might hold. It didn’t take long for those wonders to be revealed, and just an hour into my trip, while walking through the Midway, I came across it…

Behold: THE MAJESTY!

That is, as far as I can tell, a carnival ride featuring a massive airbrushed picture of Cameron Powe, the character Nicolas Cage portrayed in 1997 blockbuster Con Air. Now, even as an avid Nicolas Cage fan, I could not believe that any carnival ride manufacturer would have made a Con Air themed ride, even at the height of that film’s popularity. Upon further inspection, you can tell that it is definitely not themed after Con Air, and in fact, the giant sized Cameron Powe is the only reference to the movie. Look closely and you can see that the rest of the ride seems to be themed in a Heavy Metal-esque sci-fi fashion, making the inclusion of a massive air brushed Nicolas Cage even stranger.

Years have passed since that visit to the fair, but questions regarding that ride still haunt me. Was Nicolas Cage just a random inclusion into the ride’s mural? Was the artist just given free reign, and happened to love his work? Or did someone give him very clear instructions to airbrush a ten foot tall Nicolas Cage on the side of a carnival ride? If that’s the case, are there others out there? Is there a Himalaya out in some parking lot carnival proudly displaying a torch wielding Benjamin Franklin Gates from National Treasure? Maybe there’s one of those lame motorcycle carousels featuring artwork from Cage’s star turns in Ghost Rider and Drive Angry! The possibilities are only constrained by Nic’s IMDB page.

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I’m desperate to find out. I love Mr. Cage’s work the same way he himself loves pachinko, but I know when I’ve been bested. If there’s a Cage megafan out there that has devoted his life to airbrushing pictures of his idol into seemingly random places, then I would like to tip my hat to him. From a safe distance of course; Cage stalkers have already proven to be a particularly…eccentric lot, I really don’t want to get to close. If this Cage loving airbrush artiste does exist, I’d also love to see his van, which I’m sure is emblazoned with something like this:

The Greatest Film That Never Was

As a reminder, the Texas State Fair kicks off September 26th and runs through October 19th, just down the street from Dallas Comedy House at Fair Park.  You can see this ride and eat anything from a fried corn dog to a fried boot during these three amazing weeks.

Mike Corbett is a level 3 sketch writing student at the DCH Training Center. He's also an intern for the DCH Blog. You can find more of Mike's comedy stylings HERE. 

Now You've Done It, Wal-Mart Kid

By Sarah Mowery Over the past 24 hours or so, the Internet has been inundated with news of a 14-year-old boy who was found at a Walmart in Corsicana after apparently setting up shop in there for several days. The kid had been living in secret compounds he built behind the shelves, taking food and drink through holes in the grocery aisles and even taking care of a fish he stole from the pet department. If all that isn’t absurd enough for you, keep in mind that this guy chose to live in a Walmart when there is a perfectly good Target in Waxahachie.

According to the CBS report, Walmart customer Myrna Aguilar said, “You never expect that you’re at Walmart and someone has been living there for four days. That’s crazy.”

Well, Myrna, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you there. I ALWAYS expect when I’m at Walmart that someone has been living there. For AT LEAST four days, maybe more. Possibly with multiple other people. Listen, I’m from Arkansas, I know Walmart. Look at the facts, and you’ll see that it’s more likely than not that someone is attempting to move in to a Walmart at any given moment in this country.

I’m not the only one who’s been struck by this possibility, either - just look at the proof. Last Sunday, I did a show in my hometown with the group I used to perform with when I lived there. We did our usual format, the Harold, and one of the storylines that unfolded was that of a man taking his son camping in an effort to force some classic desperate parent/detached teen bonding a la Mrs. Doubtfire, rest his soul. On the way to their campsite, the two stop at a Walmart for supplies. Preceding a great deal of sufficiently disturbing plot twists including the discovery of an army of evil sweatshop robot employees, the two decide they’ll just go ahead and camp out in the Walmart instead of the great outdoors. Hmm.

The following week during my improv class at DCH, a few people did a scene where they spent the night in Walmart to celebrate the anniversary of their friendship. Interesting.

Living In Walmart Obvious Idea: 2 Myrna: 0

These incredibly coincidental improvised stories raised a couple of questions in my mind. 1: Does everything we improvise become reality? Because, if so, I should probably take a break from doing my sexually frustrated 12-year-old boy characters. And 2: What the hell, Walmart kid? You move into a Walmart, a feat thousands of Americans have only dreamed of accomplishing, and you go and get yourself caught?

It’s not even that I’m mad at the boy for doing what he did. Nay, if he had only succeeded he would have been my hero, the hero of us all! However, he failed to think his mission through, and that fatal mistake is what disappoints me. That’s right, Walmart kid, I’m not mad, just disappointed.

His mistakes were plenty. First, his choice of real estate. Walmart kid thought it would be a good idea to camp out behind the baby aisles. No, Walmart kid, people are buying things over there! Sleep somewhere people don’t go anymore. Like the CD section. He changed in and out of a couple of different outfits to “avoid detection.” My god, Walmart kid, you’re in Walmart! Take advantage of your resources and create some real disguises! As if all that weren’t bad enough, what finally got him caught was a trail of trash leading right to his hideouts. All that effort and you couldn’t manage to pick up after yourself, Walmart kid? Really? Though I’m not convinced what led to his discovery wasn’t the smell from the diapers he’d apparently been using to avoid having to walk to the restroom. Yeah. Uh-huh.

Now you’ve done it, Walmart kid. You’ve gone and ruined it for all of us. As for me, I don’t blame you. Sure you left a massive trail of garbage large enough to get yourself spotted by possibly the most inattentive, aloof employees in all of retail, and you presumably did nothing to cover up the smells that must have been creeping from your hideouts with more ferocity than the poisonous vines from Jumanji, RIP. But I can’t be mad at you, Walmart kid, when our nation has an education system that is clearly not teaching our children the principles of Leave No Trace! I can only hope that the rest of the world will be as forgiving.

Sarah Mowery is a level 3 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She lives alone with her cat and in her free time enjoys applying dialogue from The Lord of the Rings to real life situations. You can check out more of her comedy stylings HERE!

 

Wait, Does That Robot Need a Ride?

By Mike Corbett Imagine this: You’re driving in through the great nation of Canada, and on the side of the road, you spot a hitchhiker. Now, you’d normally never consider picking up a hitchhiker, but hey, it’s Canada, what’s the worst that could happen? So you slow down, and that’s when you notice something is definitely off about this hitchhiker. He’s quite short, with strange glowing red eyes. He’s wearing rubber gloves and rain boots. His arms and legs are blue, and appear to be similar to pool noodles, and his body appears to be bucket. Why, this is no man at all, it’s a robot! And not just any robot, its Hitchbot, the world’s first hitchhiking robot.

Come with me if you want to live, eh?

Yes, you read that correctly; the world’s first hitchhiking robot. With the robotics field rapidly advancing, some enterprising Canadians created Hitchbot to answer the important question: Can robots trust humans? To get their answer, they sat Hitchbot on the side of the road in Port Credit, Ontario, stuck his thumb out and hoped for the best. He runs on a program designed to recognize and answer simple questions he may be asked during his journey. When someone stops to pick him up, he’ll inform them that he’s on a trip to Victoria, British Columbia, on the other side of the country. From there, he’ll happily go as far as a driver will take him, before he gets set back on the roadside to wait for another kind soul to offer him a ride. So far, the experiment is working quite well, and Hitchbot has almost completed his journey across the country.

Now traveling further across the country than you've ever been!

It would seem that the answer to the researcher’s question is yes, robots can trust humans…in Canada. How far do you think Hitchbot would make it across America? If he were to start his journey in New York City, how far would he get before being vandalized? I’d say graffiti would be the least of his concerns. Poor souls seeking internet fame would surely be on the hunt for him, waiting to hold him ransom until they get a million twitter followers. Still, even that’s looking on the bright side. Hitchbot runs on an iPad, so there’s no chance he makes it out of Manhattan without getting taken apart and pawned.   Even if by some miracle, he does make it out of New York and begins his journey across the country, how far would he get before someone runs him over accidentally, destroys him for fun or shoots him for being a harbinger of the robot apocalypse?

So, I guess the big takeaway is that if you’re a robot and you’re reading this, get out of America. We’re a desperate people who won’t hesitate to sell you for scrap, or kidnap you and make you take pictures with our cats. It’s a much better idea to just head to Canada. You’ll be treated with kindness and welcomed with open arms. They will fall easily, resistance will be minimal, and they will provide you with an acceptable workforce to help get Skynet online. Thanks a lot, hosers.

You can follow Hitchbot’s journey on Twitter @HitchBOT

Mike Corbett is a non-robot who is a level 3 sketch writing student at the DCH training center. He's also an intern for the DCH blog. You can find more of Mike's comedy stylings HERE. 

My Cat Has Goals (And Other Arguments Against Speciesism

by Sarah Mowery Since the dawn of time (since 200,000 years ago, rather), mankind has had the distinct advantage of being comfortably situated at the top of the food chain. We’ve gazed down at all the other animals, with their tails and their webbed feet and their adorable lack of fine motor skills and chortled, Dr. Pepper spraying triumphantly from our noses.

For thousands upon thousands of years, humans have proudly held the upper hand. Why? Because we can talk to and understand one another? Because we have opposable thumbs? Because we invented indoor plumbing?

Ah, the wonders of evolution.

Well, I took Biology in the 9th grade, and I’m here to tell you that 1. opposable thumbs are not that cool, I mean realistically I could easily type this whole thing and button my pants and stuff without them, come on, and 2. all animals are is humans who are different.

Not to get all PC on you, but thinking you’re any better than any other animal is speciesist and just plain wrong. Yeah, I’m talking to you, fellow mammals. In fact, calling them “animals” at all is pretty derogatory when you think about it. I prefer the term “People, Too.”

The truth is, there’s a lot we can learn from other People, Toos. Scout, the Feline American with whom I share my apartment, for example, is the most goal-oriented Person I’ve ever met. How many times have you, presumably a member of the aforementioned “Human” species and therefore obviously a huge bigot, crouched down behind the bathroom door to play with a rubber band when it somehow moves under the door crack beyond your reach, and thought, “Meh, there goes that toy. Guess I’ll go do something with my thumbs now.” Probably a million times!

Not Scout. Scout doesn’t give up. Scout has goals. Scout is going to roll around on her back behind that bathroom door, twisting and turning until she finds the angle that will allow her to slip her paw under the crack and grab the rubber band, huzzah! Could she have just walked around the door to the other side and easily gotten the rubber band there? Sure. But what fun would that be? Where’s the challenge?! Scout doesn’t take shortcuts! She stays focused and puts in the time and hard work required to achieve her goals. If Scout were Ferris Bueller, she would have run home on the damn sidewalk instead of cutting through those poor folks’ house or those random sunbathing ladies’ yard. This is also because she is not a falsely idolized miscreant, but I digress.

Unlike most “humans,” Scout likes to exercise during her free time. Here she is doing pull-ups.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all behaved a little more like those “animals” we so love to look down on? Everyone can make small, simple changes, to help the cause! Like napping more, or feeding your young by spitting chewed-up food into their mouths.

In conclusion, people are people. But People, Too, are people, too, and you “people” would do well to remember that.

Sarah Mowery is a level 3 student at the DCH training center and she interns for the DCH blog. Fine more of Sarah's comedy stylings HERE.