Friday, March 21, 2008

MacGyver Thinks Foolishly

In my last post I mentioned the problem solving prowess of MacGyver. But I have to admit that I've never seen an episode of the show MacGyver. And the actor who played him, Richard Dean Anderson, studied theater at Ohio University just like I did, which the professors there were always reminding us.

Now I don't have to watch it because I found a great Wikipedia entry called List of problems solved by MacGyver

They write:
MacGyver employs his resourcefulness and his knowledge of chemistry, physics, technology and outdoorsmanship to resolve what are often life or death crises. He spontaneously creates inventions from simple items to solve these problems. These inventions became synonymous with the character and were called MacGyverisms by the public.
Just like a good clown would do.

Here's one of my favorites they list:
MacGyver builds a distraction by balancing pots and pans on a bag of ice that melts from heat produced by a toaster oven. He spreads vegetable oil in the ground to incapacitate some kidnappers. Mac smears pine pitch on pine cones to make "land mines". He then buries a sack of these mines on the road and throws a flaming cone under the villain's car to make the sack and the car explode.
But don't rely on his methods for your own problem solving:
The creative team behind MacGyver made a point of leaving out crucial elements of the inventions so that children would not be harmed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fool's Aid Kit

Harpo Marx has his coat and Batman has his utility belt. Last week in rehearsal, I gave myself the exercise of assembling a foolish problem solving kit—a Fool's Aid Kit that would make MacGyver proud. I wanted the kit to be made up of ordinary objects that could be used in a multitude of ways and fit inside a briefcase, bag, box, or small suitcase.

The objects I picked were: string, scissors, zip-loc bag, an old sock (that looks cleaner than it is), umbrella, quarter, a stick of gum, coat hanger, marker, tape, tape measure, rubber ball, bungee cord, and roller skate, which all fit in this suitcase I've had for awhile. I think string and tape will have the most potential so I'll challenge myself to use the other objects first.

True story: I closed the case and picked it up and...

The latch broke and everything spilled out.

Luckily I could use some of the items in the kit to make sure the case never again opens unexpectedly.

Except I forgot to put the objects back in the case before I sealed it. Which turned out to be okay because I needed the scissors to cut the string on the suitcase; I made the knot too tight.

Foolish Performers:
Assemble your own Fool's Aid Kit that your character might carry around in case of emergency.

Creative Problem-Solvers:
Assemble a kit of items you could use when the non-foolish solutions aren't working.

Sunday, March 2, 2008