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vol 8 - issue 05 (jan 2006) :: stories
By Wayne Chinsang
Illustration by Sal Swayzo

Aspirin? Forget about it! Massages and foot rubs? Fuck all that! Hot tubs and pillowed mattresses and orgasms? Not on my watch!
Why? Because I love pain!!! I eat it up! I like to put pain on some burnt toast, smoosh it all around with a really sharp knife, and eat the fuck out of it with my bear trap-like teeth!!!
Or at least I must, because every year I always seem to find myself attending my cousinís high school holiday program. And amazingly, I pay for it. Apparently, I love pain so much that Iím willing to spend my own hard-earned cash to experience it. I must be out of my mind.
My mother's sister has three children: Rachel, Heather, and Matthew. Now, luckily, a few of their high school years overlap each other. Still, when all is said and done, they will have collectively experienced nine years of my life in high school. And with those years have come numerous cookie sales, endless sporting events, and the dreaded high school performance.
In fact, "dreaded" describes this yearís event perfectly, as it was themed after-- of all things, and Iím not making this up-- pirates.
Thatís right, folks, this yearís holiday performance had nothing to do with Christ or Santa or gifts or any of that... well, holiday-like stuff. No, this yearís performance was all about raping and pillaging and shark attacks... and Austin Powers. But Iíll get to that in a minute.
Before I bag on this teenaged talent(less) show, I do have to give them credit where it is due. The fact that it was about pirates was a good thing. I mean, do I really need to hear about the story of baby Jesus for the umpteenth-quadrillionth time? Especially considering itís all fake anyway? I think not. So give me mutiny over Mary any day of the week.
Sadly, the fun ends here. Since the show is now past-- probably on tour in Iowa somewhere putting Iowans into a coma-- Iíd like to offer up a few criticisms about this yearís performance for the programís director. My goal here is to be helpful, not spiteful and mean.
Okay, that was a lie. But letís just pretend here for one second that I am a real writer, and Iíll promise to pretend that the guy in charge of the show is a real director and not just a health teacher that somehow got suckered into putting the event together this year.
Deal? Good. Off we go:
- First things first, never, ever make a high school production two and a half hours long. Seriously. I canít think of anything that can hold my interest for that long, let alone a bunch of high school kids running around a stage in a pair of their fatherís pants and clumpy theater makeup. Hell, I canít even stay interested in boning down for two and a half hours, let alone watching a school show! Do it rain forest-style and chop that shit down!
- Second, donít put every kid in the school into the performance. Once your cast breaks the 200-member mark, itís time to seriously consider what your goal is with this thing. Because, believe me, not every kid up there is talented. Hell, itís probably safe to bet that not seven kids up there are talented. Edit, my friend. Cut out all of the screeching girls and the awkward, Frankenstein-like boys and youíll realize that youíll be left with a cast of maybe six kids. This will also help out with the first comment I had.
- Third, just because you enjoy music and have thousands upon thousands of songs you love doesnít mean you have to cram them all into one performance. Hopping from Disney animation tunes to Abbaís "Dancing Queen" to tracks from Les Miserables is pretty bizarre, to say the least. Especially when you consider that the show was about FUCKING PIRATES! Just like Fphatty said to me during the performance: "Eh, you know. The French Revolution, pirates... itís all the same."
- Fourth, never write yourself into the script. There are hundreds of bored and annoyed parents out there. You really want this angry mob to know what you look like? Did Anne Frank put on a parade for the Nazis in front of the house she was hiding in? No! Stay hidden, bury your face, scratch your name out of every copy of the program, and get to your car as fast as you can after each performance. For the love of Allah, man!
- The fifth thing, and possibly the most important one, is that you should never spoof any of the following things in any performance you produce: Austin Powers, Gilliganís Island, American Idol, or Titanic. Naturally, this fact should be ingrained into the minds of every newborn on the face of the planet. But I guess not. Austin Powers? On a pirate ship? Huh? No one thinks Austin Powers is funny anymore, man. No one. Not even Mike Myers. Next year you might have better luck going with either ALF, the California Raisins, or Max Headroom. Just a thought.
- Next to last, if youíre gonna have a traditional Irish dancer come out and do her bit, at least write her into the story somewhere where it makes sense. I know she was a senior and all-- I was (un)lucky enough to catch her 2003 performance in which she did the same exact thing-- but donít you think you could have come up with something a little bit better than just having her dance onto and off of the deck of the "pirate ship"? "Arrrgh... thar be an Irish lass on the starboard side! Check out her danciní moves and lack of arm movement! Arrrgh!!!" Did I miss something? Was the boat headed to Ireland? Did I ingest crack during the performance? Is this column still going on?
- And lastly, if you have true talent-- I mean, kids that are actually good at something-- push it! We want more of that! More of the girl that played acoustic guitar and sung really well and wrote her own songs. Less of the bit with Peter Pan. More of the kid who was dancing and frolicking around like he was destined to be the next Mikhail Barishnigay. Less of the dance number from Chicago.
So there you have it: my two cents. If the high school is interested, Iíll put together next yearís performance for free. Iím gonna be there anyway, as next year two of my cousins will be in it, so I figure I may as well put up or shut up. First, Iím gonna need about a dozen live alligators. And a badger. And an exploding stage. A very large, very explosive stage.

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