Improv Comedy

At DerbyCon this year, I spoke about improv comedy. More specifically, how it applies to “social engineering” (talking your way out of trouble, or more maliciously tricking someone into giving up information that should be kept secret).

I didn’t even notice until posting the link here, but it amuses me that the video preview shows the demo slide that I often use, with the magic rabbit and the demolition reference.

DerbyConDerbyCon

“Hackers” get a bad name in popular media, but at its core, a hacker is just someone who wants to know how something works. That could be a program, a gadget, a policy, or anything else. Sometimes that includes taking something apart or breaking it or looking for a loophole.

Several hackers founded the infosec (information security) conference known as DerbyCon in Louisville seven years ago. I’ve attended five or six (I forget), but this is the first time I’ve spoken there. The founders are all a great group of folks, and love giving back to the community and putting everyone at ease.

The conference has four main tracks — Red Team (offense), Blue Team (defense), Purple Team (bit o’ both), and 3-Way (miscellaneous topics) — plus Stable Talks (shorter sessions on a variety of topics). There are also several other areas and events, like a social engineering village, a car hacking village, a capture the flag contest, and more. It’s very popular — in fact the 2500(ish) tickets this year sold out in just 3 minutes! If I hadn’t been speaking there, I wouldn’t have been able to go.

ImprovImprov All-Star

My presentation was a Stable Talk, so I only had 25 minutes to speak. I wanted to leave time for some audience participation and exercises, so I sped through some things faster than I’d like, and there wasn’t as much detail as I’d have liked, but them’s the breaks.

Here are the salient points that I covered:

  • “Rules”
    • Accept:  Yes, and…
    • Connect:  Relate to your audience
    • Respect:  Support your partner
    • Direct:  Focus on action
    • Project:  Follow the fear
    • Expect:  Mistakes are gifts
  • Stay Creative
    • Local Improv Groups
    • 48-Hour Film Project, Startup Weekend, Hackathons
    • Games (Who Would Win, Once Upon a Time)
    • Toastmasters International, Pecha Kucha
    • Learn, Travel, Meet – Engage!
    • www.sharpen.design

Download

You can download the slides here.

in remembrance of Kemp

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Love Songs

In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, here is some of my favorite love songs.

Some are well known, but there are probably others you haven’t heard before.

Dave Mattingly: The Musical, Part 15Love Music

Others: Honorable mentions, or barely-about-love songs.Love Song

Go back to Part 14: Halloween Music

Winter Quest

This weekend, I went to www.Winter-Quest.com, a charity comic-con to benefit the homeless in Louisville.

Comic-Con for the Homeless?Hotel Louisville

The event was held at Wayside Christian Mission‘s Hotel Louisville.

Wayside is a homeless shelter that has been in Louisville for many years. A good friend of mine runs the “Samaritan Patrol” for them, delivering coffee, sandwiches, coats, and such to the homeless camps, bridges, train tracks, etc. every Sunday.

Hotel Louisville was once a Holiday Inn, but it ran into financial troubles right after a major remodel. So Wayside bought the hotel, where it now houses the homeless. The homeless also run the entire hotel, gaining experience at cooking, cleaning, managing, and otherwise taking care of business.

The Waycool Cafe inside the hotel is crazy cheap ($5 buffet, anyone?), and they have a very good selection, including vegan and Esselstyn diets.Ministries

Ministries

I was at the con representing some of the various outreaches that I’m a part of:

  • the Christian Gamers Guild (geared toward board gamers, card gamers, and roleplayers)
  • the Grave Robbers (geared toward punks and goths)
  • Game Church (geared toward video gamers)
  • Fans for Christ (sadly now defunct, geared toward fandom, cosplayers, anime, etc.)
  • …and others that I didn’t specifically have materials to send home with people

Guests

The range of people and groups there was impressive for such a new event.Family Tree

Fun

Leia Cupcakes

“I love these cupcakes.”
“I know.”

For a small first-year event, there was a lot going on.

 

Retro Rock

Over the years, there have been many bands who play like they don’t know the 60’s ever came to an end. This is great news.

On most stops along my magical musical tour, I’ve listed Known For for each band, to remind the reader where they might have heard of the bands before. But most of these bands are not known for anything, at least that I’m aware of. So I’ve replaced that with a Sounds Like, to give you a clue of who else they might remind you of.

These are “my” bands. The bands that helped shape who I am, roughly in order of how much they mean to me.

Dave Mattingly: The Musical, Part 15

Garage Rock

  • Mystic EyesMystic Eyes
    • Sounds Like: The Animals, Van Morrison/Them, Sweet, The Standells, MC5
    • Memories: The first song I heard from Mystic Eyes was “From Above” back in 1986. I thought that the singer, Bernie Kugel, sounded like Elmer Fudd with a cold (and I mean that in the best way possible), and loved him for it. The first line of their opening track, “she’s got a reason” sounds a bit like “she’s got a weasel”, which makes She Don’t Cry No More even more fun. In 1993 or so, I was on a business trip to Pittsburgh, and got to town a day before my conference, so I stopped by Get Hip headquarters, the label that produced their albums. It was great to meet the folks there, and pick up the band’s second album (that I didn’t even know existed).
    • Favorite Songs: From Above, Calm Me Down, I Lost My World, She Don’t Cry No More, I Believe You, I Can Only Give You Everything
    • Links: Some of their songs can be found here and here, and a great retrospective here.

Surf PopGuantanamo Baywatch

Psychedelic Rock

Girl Power Pop

Go back to Part 14: Halloween Music

 

Bible Gore

Bible GoreI’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.

This sermon talks about some of the scariest and goriest scenes in the Bible, and was prepared for my church service at the 2016 Fright Night Film Festival. It had been a while since I’d preached at a horror convention, and it was great to be invited to speak at this one.

Bible Gore

Sometimes, people ask me what I think is the scariest/goriest movie, and I generally answer, “The Passion of the Christ.” The graphic violence is very disturbing, but the same could be said of many other movies. What makes this one so horrible is that (Christians believe) it’s real, and was necessary because of our own sin.

In this sermon, I didn’t cover the crucifixion, which is brutal by almost anyone’s standards. I left that one out due to its familiarity. Most churchgoers and horror fans already know it, so I focused my attention on some lesser-known bits of horror.

Your Days are Numbered

Days are NumberedKing Nebuchadnezzar subjugated the Israelites, and forced them all to worship a large statue of himself or be put to death (or life in prison). One of them was Daniel, one of God’s prophets. Daniel was in prison until the king’s son, Belshazzar, took the throne.

King Belshazzar drank from a gold goblet stolen from God’s temple in Jerusalem. Then fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the wall: mene, mene, tekel, parsin (Daniel 5:3,5,25)

A disembodied hand wrote on the king’s wall!

The king’s advisors could not interpret the writing (which was written in Aramaic), so they sent for the prisoner Daniel. Over his many years in prison, he had gained a reputation for being a godly man who could understand visions.

PeggedDaniel explained that the writing said, “numbered, numbered, weighed, divided.” This was God’s warning that:

  • the king’s days are numbered (which is where we got the phrase that we still use today),
  • he had been weighed, he had been measured, and he had been found wanting (as so wonderfully quoted in A Knight’s Tale),
  • his many possessions would be split among his enemies; he would leave no legacy

Pegged

The Israelites were being attacked by the Canaanites, whose army was led by Sisera. When the Israelite army had the upper hand, the commander fled to take shelter in the tent of a Kenite ally.

Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to Sisera while he lay fast asleep. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died. (Judges 4:21)

Nailed it!

What a way to go. Very Saw or Final Destination.Big Hair

Locked Up

King David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). His son, Absalom, planned to kill his father and take the throne violently. Until the day he was outnumbered and ran away.

Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree, leaving him hanging midair. Joab plunged three javelins into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive. On top of that, ten of Joab’s men ran him through with swords. (2 Samuel 18:9,14,15)

“Dude, don’t leave me hanging!”

Absalom had long flowing studly hair that he was very proud of. But after riding so fast to get away, his hair bobbing up and down got snagged, and suspended him from the tree like a piñata. The army commander decided that he’d look better as a pincushion instead, and his men agreed.

Gut Reaction

Fat ManEvil king Eglon was soooo fat (“how fat was he?”) that when Ehud the Left-Handed stabbed him with a sword about 18 inches long (45 cm), Eglon’s fat closed up over the hilt (probably another 6 inches), and it got left there.

Ehud delivered tribute to the very fat King Eglon, and said, “I have a message from God for you.” Ehud plunged his sword into the king’s belly. Even the handle sank in, and his bowels discharged. (Judges 3:24,25)

Ehud stabbed the ████ out of Eglon.

Because of Eglon’s obesity, when his bowels emptied, his servants on the other side of the door assumed their master was relieving himself. He probably had a reputation for some real stinkers. This extra delay gave Ehud the time he needed to escape.

Inside Out

Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat (dontcha love that name?) was the king of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, and formed an alliance with the northern kingdom by marrying Athaliah, daughter of king Ahab (no whales were harmed in the making of this story).Pig Lizard

Despite his alliance, he rebelled against God (2 Chronicles 21:10). The prophet Elijah sent him a warning letter, which Jehoram ignored. As a result, God inflicted him with a slow painful death.

God afflicted Jehoram with an incurable disease of the bowels. After two years, it caused his bowels to come outside, and he died in agony. His people did not build a great funeral pyre to honor him like his ancestors. (2 Chronicles 21:18,19)

His insides became his outsides. His entrails became his extrails (another great quote from A Knight’s Tale).

My guess is that his intestines swelled to the point that they pressed up against his skin, and eventually pushed through. Doesn’t sound pleasant.Tremors

Baited Breath

Not all of the gory stuff happened in the Old Testament. King Agrippa got eaten while he was on stage.

Herod Agrippa sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, he was eaten by worms and died. (Acts 12:21-23)

Most people are eaten by worms after they die. You’re doing it wrong, Herod.

This wasn’t a Tremors-style giant worm, but bunches of tinier worms eating him form the inside.

WTF, Man?

Why is all this stuff even in the Bible? Do we really need to know all of that grossness?

Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16,17)Cannot Be Unseen

So what can we learn from these stories?

  • Belshazzar: We may not always see the hand of God, but our own days are also numbered.
  • Sisera: There is nowhere to escape God’s justice, even when it takes unexpected forms.
  • Absalom: The object of his vanity became the object of his ruin.
  • Eglon: Gluttony is a tool for our enemy.
  • Jehoram: When we don’t put God first, our life turns inside out.
  • Herod: Despite what Ghostbusters advocates, when someone calls you a god, say no.

I’m sure there are other lessons. The same story can teach many lessons to many students.

But I think the bottom line is this…

Terrible Vengeance

God made the world; he made us; he will judge us.

God said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:30,31)

Unless we turn to God and repent, a horrible fate awaits each of us.

Download

You can download the PowerPoint slides here.

If you’d like to further explore the intersection of the Bible and the macabre, check out the Grave Robbers Ministry.

Halloween Music

Here is some of my favorite music about Halloween, death, monsters, and otherwise spooky stuff, often on the silly side.

Dave Mattingly: The Musical, Part 14

Halloween Music

Go back to Part 13: Earworms or on to Part 15: Love Songs

A Fool’s Errand

48-Hour Film ProjectThis past weekend, I finally participated in the 48-Hour Film Project. Friends of mine have been doing it for years, but until this year, I’d always been on the road for Louisville’s event.

Forty-forty-forty Eight Hours to Go…

Imagine an insane love child of Startup Weekend, improv theater, and finals week.

Before the weekend, we chose our team, assigned roles, and scouted locations, without actually knowing what we’d do until we began. On Friday night, each team draws a genre out of a hat (actually, each drawing has two genres, and the team picks the one they’d like to do). The final film must be 4 to 7 minutes long (credits at the end of the movie don’t count against the maximum time).

A schedule typically goes like this:

  • Friday night: draw genre, frantically write the script and contact the actors, wardrobe, and locations that are needed.
  • Saturday: learn lines, assemble costumes, rehearse, film (ay, there’s the rub)
  • Sunday: edit the film, add soundtrack, add title and credits, frantically rush to turn in the final product on time

On top of randomly drawing a genre, each team has three required ingredients: a line, a prop, and a character. Even though each team gets its own genre, all teams share those same three ingredients.

The GenresFool's Errand

The randomly assigned genres include one of these:

  • Action / Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Coming of Age
  • Dark Comedy
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
  • Film de Femme
  • Holiday Film
  • Horror
  • Musical
  • Road Movie
  • Romance
  • Sci Fi
  • Silent Film
  • Western

And one of these:

  • Adventure Serial
  • Animal Film
  • Buddy Film
  • Detective / Cop
  • Fable
  • Family Film
  • Fish Out of WaterImpellizzeri's
  • Martial Arts
  • Mystery
  • Period Piece
  • Slapstick
  • Sports Film
  • Superhero
  • Time Travel Movie
  • War or Anti-War Film

Some are harder than others. With the variety of talent we had on our team, we could have handled any of them, but I personally would have had a difficult time with Musical and Animal, and several of them would not have particularly interested me.

Team Maybe

Thankfully, we draw Mystery or Film de Femme. Mystery is a well understood genre, and our writers bubbled with ideas.

Our (and every team’s) ingredients were:

  • Character: Dylan (or Diane) Murphy, a cook
  • Prop: Rubber band
  • Line: “But what if you’re wrong?”

Our team included people that I’ve been friends with for a long time, like Jessica Mathis, Patrick Gabbard, and Rachel Allen. And many more that I’d sort of known, or hadn’t met at all until the weekend.

My title was Assistant Producer. That meant that I ran for coffee, shuttled people around, and otherwise tried to make the experience smooth for the rest of the cast and crew. I also acted as an extra, and got kicked in the shins a few dozen times as part of a scene.

A Fool’s ErrandFool Moon

The movie we filmed is “A Fool’s Errand.” We’re part of the ‘Group A’ block of films that are competing. The movies will show at Village 8 Theaters in Louisville, KY.

Sadly, we don’t qualify for an official award, since we turned in our project late.

The power in the building where we were shooting and editing blew out on Saturday night, forcing us to reshoot several scenes Sunday. Without that previous footage, which got lost in the outage, we weren’t able to finish in time.

Still, our movie will be shown, and is eligible for the Fan Favorite vote. Everyone who attends can vote.

 

Game Master as Writer

The Christian Gamers Guild has reposted an article of mine about the similarities between running a roleplaying game and writing a story.

http://bit.ly/GMasWriter

The article was originally published in the guild’s ‘zine, The Way, the Truth & the Dice. The original article is much longer, and will be serialized into multiple posts.

 

Nerdy Event Roundup

There are a lot of great things happening in Louisville this weekend.

Geek Dinner

Get a jump on the weekend activities at the quarterly Geek Dinner. Gather at the BBC in St. Matthews on Thursday at 6:00. No pitches, no presentations, no recruiters; just a friendly get-together for technophiles.National Day of Civic Hacking

The National Day of Civic Hacking

Also called Hack For Change, this is annual event is a way for the government to promote the use of public data.

I’ve been to this one every year. I love it.

It’s a great way to make new geek friends, create something, and learn new stuff.

Here’s a flyer that you can use to spread the word!

ISSA Kentuckiana Network Forensics Workshop

The ISSA (Information Systems Security Association) is hosting this network forensics workshop. Proceeds benefit Hackers for Charity (a group that I love to support; Johnny Long and his family’s mission to teach tech to street kids in Uganda).

WonderFestWonderFest

WonderFest is Louisville’s model-building and special-effects convention. It even hosts the country’s largest model contest for sci-fi, horror, comics, etc. There are also seminars, workshops, celebrity guests, and other coolness. I’ve attended several times, and even exhibited there a few times when I still ran a publishing company.

LEGO Kids FestLEGO Kids Fest

I’ve always loved LEGOs, but still haven’t been to one of these trade shows. This is at the Fairgrounds, right across the street from the Crowne Plaza that’s hosting WonderFest.

Neighborhood Summit

Also at the Fairgrounds, this summit focuses on healthy, sustainable, safe, attractive neighborhoods here in Louisville.

Butchertown Art Fair

Check out the exotic creations of the Butchertown neighborhood, home of LVL1 makerspace, Play Louisville, Cellar Door Chocolates, and other cool local businesses.Sub Rosa

Sub Rosa Reunion

Gather with freaks, geeks, and weirdos just like you at the Sub Rosa reunion, hosted by everyone’s favorite ginger: Divinity Rose.

After hanging out, stick around the Bard’s Town to catch the Friday showing of…

The Roast of Prince

The Louisville Roasters pick on someone new each month. This time around, it’s the color formerly known as purple. Roasters include David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and more.Julie of the Wolves

Louisville Outskirts

This benefit for Girls Rock Louisville includes one of my favorite local bands, Julie of the Wolves. Art destroys apathy.

Bonus Event

Next weekend, check out the Louis-Villainz Market for Mischief.

 

Earworms

Earworms are catchy songs that get stuck in our heads. I consider a song to be a personal earworm if I’ve ever listened to it continuously for an hour or more. Here, I’m only calling out songs from bands that I haven’t already covered in this series.

Rather than rank these by importance and meaning to me, I present them alphabetically. Being earworms, they all sort of “tie” anyway.

Dave Mattingly: The Musical, Part 13Liars

  • Alaska – Resistance
    • Highlight: very pleasant melody
  • Deer Tick – Mange
    • Highlight: three songs in one, moving from grunge to piano to hard guitar
  • Divine Fits – Would That Not Be Nice
    • Highlight: hypnotic drum beat
  • Elliott Smith – Sweet AdelineMika
    • Highlight: sad and slow, but packed with pain and meaning
  • Flesh Lights – Crush on You
    • Highlight: simple and primitive with “wow mama mama mama”
  • Giant Sand – Inner Flame
    • Highlight: mellow heartache
  • Got a Girl – There’s a Revolution
    • Highlight: stylish girl pop reminiscent of Nancy Sinatra
  • Inspiral Carpets – Find Out Why
    • Highlight: high energy with big soundRye Rye
  • La Roux – Bulletproof
    • Highlight: great bouncy dance hook
  • Liars – Mess on a Mission
    • Highlight: aggrsive electronica with commanding vocals
  • Mika – Lollipop
    • Highlight: incredibly fun and bouncy
  • Old 97’s – Bird in a Cage
    • Highlight: rambunctious rock with evolving callback lyricsTemples
  • Rye Rye – Sunshine
    • Highlight: makes me wish I could dance
  • Shakey Graves – Dearly Departed
    • Highlight: wistful sorrow with a solid beat
  • Simone Felice – You and I Belong
    • Highlight: cheerful and passionate
  • The Temples – Shelter Song
    • Highlight: retro psychedelic britpop
  • Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose
    • Highlight: brash glee with a throwback flair
  • Vic Chesnutt – Until the Led
    • Highlight: introspective and spirited
  • Tom Waits – Step Right Up
    • Highlight: it’s new, it’s improved, it’s old fashioned

Go back to Part 12: Guiding Lyrics or on to Part 14: Halloween Music