What's Your 'Obsession'?
What consumes your every thought during the day? What keeps you up at night? Do you ever lose track of time because of something? If you do, you've got an obsession. On Sunday at Doyle's Cafe in JP we gathered to tell stories about our obsessions.
|Robin Maxfield host|
Robin Maxfield took the mic wearing a strange coat. “This coat brings together my various obsessions: coffee, crafting, and turning trash into treasure.” Her coat crinkled as she moved. “This coat is made out of coffee bags. And very expensive coffee at that.”
Many first time tellers were inspired by our theme and threw their names in the hat. Robin started drawing names.
Rage told us about her seventh-grade obsession: the bathrooms at school. She memorized the way the tiles were laid, the names of companies written on the drains, she played anagrams with those names. When she realized she could hide things in the ceiling of the bathroom, her obsession became hiding things she took from the girls who were mean to her in school.
We heard from first time teller Chris Hall about a his friend's cat named Turkey Pan and it's obsession with chasing string. An obsession undeterred by two visits to the vet.
“Darkness is obsessed with lightness and lightness with darkness,” Diana Valentine told us. She talked about the boy who for years would tell her dark things. But she had no darkness in her. Finally she told him about the light within her. He realized she was just as obsessed with him as he was with her.
Joshua told us about going to a new doctor for the first time. His doctor just seemed obsessed with Joshua's sex life. To say the doctor's questions strayed from the clinical would be an understatement.
|Marcy Goldberg Sacks co host|
Comedienne and storyteller Marcy Goldberg Sacks, our special guest, told a number of stories throughout the night. My favorite was about her childhood obsession.
When Marcy was a little girl she was obsessed with Miss Piggy. She thought Miss Piggy was so glamorous and so strong and unconventional, her own woman. Her world changed after her mom took her to the ice capades to see Miss Piggy skate. “Mom, that is not Miss Piggy,” Marcy said. Her mom told her that Miss Piggy wasn't real. This, of course, resulted in a crisis of identity for Marcy.
Years later she went to a retrospective on the Muppets. There was Miss Piggy in a wedding dress. Behind Miss Piggy was a video of Jim Henson talking about his inspiration. “Miss Piggy,” Mr. Henson told Marcy, “is really a truck driver pretending to be a woman.”
I told the story of the woman I met at the Museum of Fine Arts, with the crimson heels and the flower in her hair, and how I lost her. She was all I thought about and I burned with passion for her. When I sent her sunflowers, she said I shouldn't have – and meant it. I took home the Audience Choice Award.
Alison, a first time teller and our videographer, told us about her high school crush on her South Boston Romeo, the best hockey stick handler in New England. She remembered how he came to one of her parties and how they kissed before they'd spoken so much as a word to one another. And she also remembered how he didn't acknowledge her in the hallways until she confronted him. “Let's pick things up after hockey season,” he said. But then he showed up to one of Alison's friends' parties – with a senior cheerleader. Alison was so mad she kicked in a window. Her latest obsession is stained glass. Her story won second place.
|Tony Toledo 1st place winner|
Tony Toledo wouldn't say he is obsessed with books but his wife would. What's wrong with loving rare, first editions? “Nothing,” Tony says. First editions are something special. These were the first time the words were printed, not the 27th time. They represent the faith of the writer sending his or her words out in the world, not knowing if there will be more than one printing. Tony was able to keep his obsession in check until the librarian wanted to reward his volunteering by letting him take books home. “You mean, I could take a box of books home?” Tony asked. “A box? Take ten!” answered the librarian. Tony's story won first place.
|Robin Maxfield,Owen Grey,Tony Toledo,Allison Cook, Marcy Goldberg Sacks|
Owen Grey has been telling stories his whole life. He has found a home with massmouth and the Greater Boston storytelling scene. Watch him compete during this season.
The provocative theme lent itself to an evening of very entertaining stories, as an excited group of contestants and loud-cheering audience members found dry haven on a rainy night at former-police-station-turned-pub Precinct in Union Square, Somerville, Mass., on Thursday, November 10, 2011 for the “Pranked” story slam.
|Giovanni Alabiso co host|
Slam winner Brad Smith dazzled both audience and judges, relating a gaff involving the band Green Day, a mosh pit and a bag of cornbread that wreaked even larger havoc than 15-year old Brad had intended. Dan Dahari was runner-up with his hilarious, expletive-laced account of inter-collegiate pilferage and an unwelcome gift to school administrators. Audience Choice winner Anna Murray’s saga of her meatball-snitching dad recounted her parents’ years-long struggle to outwit one another in the kitchen. When you watch the video of this story, you’ll agree she “nailed” it.
|Brad Smith 1st place winner|
Other contestants kept the crowd laughing and groaning as well. Paul Maguire initiated the competition sharing how he outed his sister’s study habits – or lack thereof – to his father, and how comically his sister, in her ignorance, played perfectly along, incriminating herself during the ensuing parental interrogation. Paul started off by stating “My daughter dragged me here.” Later it became clear, when he got up again to share a one-minute tale – and still later, as he regaled this blogger for the entire intermission – that the man is a veritable Vesuvius of life experience poised to explode upon listening ears. Dragged, indeed!
Contestant Mike Sweeney described how the elaborate fabrication he constructed for his mother about his school day came much closer than he ever could have imagined to being plausible. Ralph Chadis recounted an overnight camp prank involving some very beached boats, and the inexplicable parallax between campers’ and camp staff’s ability to see said boats. Mike Cohen continued with a series of pranks, including another camp exploit – astonishingly echoed by other contestants later in the evening, both on and off the stage – of rowing a sleeping counselor, bed and all, out to a floating raft. Molly Cosgrove told about “The Diarrhea”, and how acting upon a dare came back years later to haunt her. Aaron Loren shared an alarming tale of a friend who lent him her car and seriously spiked his beverage, both enabling and disabling him for a four-hour job interview. Massmouth photographer Paula Junn closed out the contest telling of a childhood Korean New Year’s celebration involving a group of friends, a quantity of fireworks and an enraged neighbor.
|Winners l-r 2nd place Dan Dahari,1st place Brad Smith,Audience choice Anna Murray|
The massmouth slam series continues with a packed November schedule, first on Sunday, November 13th at Doyle’s in Jamaica Plain with “Obsessed”, featuring guest host, Comedy With Wings co-creator Marcy Goldberg Sacks. Next up: “Where I’m From”, Tuesday, November 15th at The Back Page in Lowell, guest hosted by techno-story instructor Jessica Wilson and co-hosted by actress Obehi Janice. November 21st will round out the month with the “Idols” slam, guest hosted by NPR’s Only a Game host Bill Littlefield, at Club Passim in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Bill guest hosted last season’s “Games” slam and has some terrific stories; he is not to be missed.
Diana Valentine will preside at Precinct once again on January 31st with the “College Daze” slam. For a complete slam series calendar and listing of other massmouth and member spoken word events, visit massmouth online.
Bruce Marcus has performed across the region at venues and events large and small for over two decades, entertaining crowds with his original true-life tales, made-up stuff, crowd-pleasing rhymes and various "medicine show" miscellany.