Sunday, September 30, 2007

kitten vs. garbage can

Kittens are adorable and ignorant to how cruel life can be.

Friday, September 28, 2007

NewCity pronounces my last name

It seems a little early for a "Best of 2007" list. What if something really awesome happens in the next 3 months?

http://www.newcitycgi.com/cgi-bin/boc/boc2007.cgi?id=75

dramaturgy at its finest

This one is for you playwrights and dramaturgs.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

hey chicago, whaddaya say?

A nice Eric Zorn column about an anthem reborn at Wrigley Field. Steve Goodman's Go Cubs Go hits the PA after a Cubs win, keeping fans standing and singing before everybody heads for the gates. I noticed the other week the stretch of Lincoln Ave in Lincoln Square (at Wilson) is tagged with a brown honorary street sign: Steve Goodman Way. I don't pay much attention to those signs, but it's nice to know a little about the person behind the honor. You can listen to a few of his songs at this Steve Goodman MySpace page, including one of my favorite folky tunes, City of New Orleans. It's a song about a train. He managed to make a song about a train totally awesome.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

smoking monkey + stick of dynamite = awesome

The new blog banner is a postcard I picked up at Uncle Fun. If you're Chicago folk, you likely know of Uncle Fun on Belmont. Residents of elsewheres, if you ever visit Chicago, the first place I'm going to take you is Uncle Fun. After that, we'll hold hands and skip around Rosehill Cemetery as we ponder our mortality. You can go to the Sears Tower on your own.

Uncle Fun is where you go to buy useless crap, the kind of useless crap that will make your friends say, "Where on earth did you get that useless crap?" Bizarro toys, retro junk, strange postcards, bobble heads, fake poo. It's where I bought a smoking baby a few years ago, something I continue to buy and give as gifts to people. I tend to be friends with people would appreciate a ceramic smoking baby.

Speaking of smoking, I Netflixed the movie Thank You For Smoking per David's suggestion. Really enjoyed it, very funny. Katie Holmes sucked, but she sucks in everything. One of the peculiar things I learned during my week of working with Big Tobacco is that employees are not allowed to bring any child-related imagery into their office building. Like, an employee can't even have a McDonald's Happy Meal toy on his desk or in his bag. They're so paranoid about being further accused of marketing cigarettes to children that they take extreme caution in what can be found on the premises. I thought it was odd they'd hire cartoonists to illustrate product ideas from the brainstorming sessions; their lawyers would have to look over everything and approve them to even be let into the office. On the first day of work, none of the Tobacco people told the cartoonists they'd have to make any people they drew look absolutely mature, and a lot of the people had a youthful and sexy (for cartoons) appearance. On the second day, the cartoonists had to age-up a lot of their early drawings with facial hair and wrinkles, so men started looking like skeezy 'stached porn stars and the women looked god awful. They drew me into one of the pictures on the first day. I looked like a 14 year old and they aged me with liver spots and wrinkles and darker hair. I got a cartoon glimpse of my older self with a smokers wheeze. Hot.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

showbiz pizza & the rockafire explosion

If you grew up on Showbiz Pizza (now Chuck E. Cheese) in the 1980's, you may dig this article in today's Chicago Tribune:

Some find it odd, others see re-creating mechanical band as a way to tap into happy childhood memories


The gist of the article is that grown men in their 20s and 30s with too much disposable income are buying and fixing up these robot bands. Here's one example of somebody's fixed up Rock-afire Explosion doing a rousing rendition of Bubba Sparxxx's "Ms New Booty."


I went to a few birthday parties at Showbiz Pizza. I remember the Rock-afire Explosion, but I don't ever remember sitting still for a show. I was way more interested in Skee-ball and fleeing in terror from the Chuck E. Cheese walk-around character.

Friday, September 21, 2007

cat sitting

I'm cat-sitting my sister's cat Nomar this weekend. He's cute and fun to have around 97% of the time. The other 3% of the time a switch in his brain flips, and he attempts to spray my intestines from wall to wall. He gets under and behind my clawfoot bathtub. There is unreachable grime back there, and it gets all over his paws. I have dirty paw prints all over my bathroom. Adorable. One of my sister's friends named his Fantasy Football team Angry Nomar.

clearly I don't value the health and well-being of my left hand

somebody finally accepted me for what I am

This is good in many ways

Thursday, September 20, 2007

tagged. d'oh!

Got tagged for this survey, or "meme" if you will, by Rob and David. I was not hiding well enough behind the couch.

Oh, this shit is hard!

“Make a list of five strengths that you possess as a writer/artist. It’s not really bragging, it’s an honest assessment (forced upon you by this darn meme). Please resist the urge to enumerate your weaknesses, or even mention them in contrast to each strong point you list. Tag four other writers or artists whom you’d like to see share their strengths.”

  1. I'm good at rewriting.
  2. I can write emotionally grounded black comedy
  3. I write good roles for women
  4. I can write a page-turning script with a well-wrought what-happens-next motor and a rock 'em sock 'em end of act cliff-hanger *
  5. I'm a good collaborator
I'm tagging Brian because I know he won't do it.

* I was once criticized in a review for ending my first act on a cliff-hanger. That criticism made my head spin. You mean I shouldn't want the audience to come back looking forward to what happens in Act 2? Really? Go fuck yourself ya pretentious prick.

Hold the phone!!!! I'm inventing a brand new "meme" as payback.

List 5 things that certain people (who are not deserving of being your friend anyway) may consider to be "totally lame," but you are, despite the possible stigma, totally proud of. Own it. Tag 5 others:
  1. My encyclopedia knowledge of the sitcom Full House and Trampoline accidents on America's Funniest Home Videos and anything with which Bob Saget is associated
  2. My ability to bargain-hunt cheap bear based on Alcohol-by-Volume content. (Icehouse @ 5.5% ABV - the winner, most of the time)
  3. In the heyday of America Online (1996-1998), I used to host a Walt Disney World chat room for "Destination Florida." Don't even try to test me on WDW trivia. You will be owned.
  4. I make awesome Ramen noodles. It's a finer culinary science than you can imagine.
  5. I own juggling clubs, and I know how to use them.
I'm tagging Rob, David, Tif, Dina, Ryan. And Paul. And Tracy. That's 7 people. Oh well. Spread the love.

hump day enfuego

The apartment building across the street from mine was on fire tonight. I could see flames in a 3rd floor apartment and the (wooden) fire escape is charred. Lots of busting glass as the FD knocked out windows in all the apartments in that section of the building. Nobody was hurt. No word on the cause, but a police officer was going around asking all the slack-jawed gawkers if they saw anybody setting fires. Oh, super.

One of the firefighters was speaking to a now-homeless family on the grass in front of my apartment building when the 11:30pm automatic sprinklers went off on them. Talk about insult to injury.

20 years later

From Richard Christiansen's book A Theater of Our Own, on Steppenwolf Theatre:

"In those early years, they kept close to the gritty, edgy, contemporary works that made their reputation. When Austin Pendleton, the New York-based actor-director who joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in 1987, urged the company to tackle The Crucible, Arthur Miller's drama set in a Puritan community of seventeenth-century New England, [Gary] Sinise dutifully read the play but reported back, "I just can't see us doing a play where people are called 'Goodie' and wear buckles on their shoes."
The Crucible is now playing at Steppenwolf.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm out of toilet paper

I have no excuse. No inconsiderate roommate to blame. My life falls apart in small ways. It causes me to question my ability to function on a very basic level. I buy a mondo pack of Toilet Paper god-knows-when ago and the assumption is this plethora of soft paper on cardboard rolls will last forever, like oil, or forests, or polar bears.

Of course a mondo pack of TP won't last forever. Have I learned nothing from the Giving Tree???

I have not. I have not learned anything. Bid farewell to the cornerstone of basic hygiene. God, it would really hurt to wipe with an actual cornerstone. Ouch! Forget that. I have Kleenex. That'll do for now.

I have learned some things in life: Don't microwave Chinese food boxes with metal handles. If I'm petting a cat and it flattens its ears back that means it wants me to die. Just because my neck is sore doesn't mean I have meningitis, I probably slept wrong. What's scary is that I know I have learned things, but how easily that stuff is forgotten as my brain rusts out like a junked car. Hell, I'm not even old, I still have dementia to look forward to. Last Friday I had to take a basic test of Clerical skills for an upcoming work assignment, and there was a section of long division, and it made me want to shoot myself in the face. I regressed to a 5th grade level of math anxiety. I wasn't afraid to fail this math test, but I mourned the loss of the part of my brain that could ace long division. This is why I'm never going back to school. I'm not really one for practical solutions.

Don't come over to my apartment if you have to hit the jacks (I'm also running low on Kleenex). I will be buying TP tomorrow. I'll go to CostCo and buy a 5,000 pack of toilet paper and end my TP-induced self-loathing. I will also have enough TP to build a TP roll fort in my living room. That'll be rad.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

9 to 5 jet lag

It happens every time my night-owl lifestyle smacks into the brick wall of day-jobby-job hours. I can't sleep when I should sleep the sleep required for a bright-eyed 6:20am alarm. I've been a little blurry. I could use a little more than 3 hours of sleep. But I've been working the job I like with all the fun people. It's the speed-typing gig that gave me a pink t-shirt with my name across the chest.

classy

The work is an 8 hour trip through the carpal tunnel of love. I get breakfast and lunch, good coffee, and a refrigerator filled with ice cold sodie-pops. All the caffeine I drink during the day doesn't help my quest for Zzz's later in the day, but damn if I don't start to see through time late in the afternoon. I sit a table with a couple of cartoonists, and they draw cartoons of various group-generated ideas while I jam on a laptop, and we converse about midgets who get tattoos or whatever 80s hair-metal band comes up next on the satellite radio. Really important stuff. I joined their betting pool for the upcoming season of Survivor: China, so expect to hear more updates because my Fantasy Football has already gone to shit.

This latest assignment at the typing gig has been with a very large Tobacco company brainstorming smoke-free alternatives.

First: lots of people spell "Tobacco" incorrectly. (incorrect: Tabacco).
Second: I've learned a crap-load about Tobacco and cigarette marketing.
Third: I'm not sure if I'm allowed to talk about it.
Fourth: Well, I never signed a confidentiality agreement.
Fifth: But I don't want to get fired.
Sixth: But I'm not really getting paid enough to be worried about getting fired.
Seventh: That is depressing and makes me want to start smoking

I can't really fathom a viable, money-making, smoke-free alternative. Despite the addictive quality of nicotine, isn't the ritual and physical activity of smoking a huge part of what makes it appealing? Tapping the pack, lighting the cigarette, inhaling the smoke, exhaling the smoke, ashing the cigarette, repeat. I don't smoke. I have bad circulation and smoking would only make it worse and then my fingers would have to be amputated (thanks for telling me that, Dad). Then there's that whole lung cancer thing, and $7 a pack thing, and getting winded, and all. But I've watched a lot of people smoke and am friends with smokers. I've stood outside with plenty of smokers at plenty of parties and thought, "man, I wish I had something to do out here while I'm avoiding the sweaty debauchery indoors." And it sure would give me a good reason for all the random outdoor loitering I do.

Even though upcoming legislation is putting the ix-nay on the igarettes-cay in bars and restaurants in Illinois, smokers should fear not: Big Tobacco has got your back. Lots of work going into smokeless tobacco products that'll help you with your fix when you can't light up. The future is (almost) now.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

bear down

I've already posted a couple times about Fantasy Fertbow, and to post much more about a team that doesn't exist would be lame. So here, in honor of the only real NFL team that matters, Bryan Griffin of Chicago's Lyric Opera sings Bear Down, Chicago Bears. Bryan Griffin is in his wig & beard get-up from the Lyric's production of Die Fledermaus, filmed early this year, right before Rex Grossman choked in the Super Bowl. Dear Rex. Please don't suck this year.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

hipster olympics

For those who love or loathe hipster style. And if you really don't care, you're probably a hipster.

Friday, September 07, 2007

in an alternate universe, I'm in Philadelphia right now

A couple old college friends are producing a production of Killing Women at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival this weekend. They offered to fly me out to see it and I'm all, "I'd rather drive." But now my car needs servicing and repair before I dare take it on a long distance jaunt. So much for Philly this weekend. Hope it goes well for them.

long way round


What have we let ourselves in for? I mean this is, really is the back and beyond of absolutely nowhere. I mean, it's just extraordinary.
-Charley Boorman


Ewan McGregor must've flipped his nut after doing those Star Wars movies, because in 2004 he filmed a 'round the world motorbiking adventure with his exceedingly likable friend Charley Boorman. The trip took them from London to New York, going east through the lot of Europe, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia, Russia (again), Alaska, Canada, and finally, the United States. The result is Long Way Round, a travel series documenting their 115 days on the backs of their BMW motorcycles.

I don't know why I added this to my Netflix queue. It was done long ago (I don't know why I add half the stuff I do to ye olde Netflix queue. It happens in the wee hours). I like Ewan McGregor well enough. He's an engaging film actor. Turns out, he's an engaging travel companion and adventurer.

I've always kinda-sorta wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle. Now I really really want to kinda-sorta wanna learn how to ride a motorcycle. I have a few strikes against me at the moment: 1) I never learned to drive manual transmission, 2) I'm on the small side to be wrangling the heft of a motorbike, 3) I don't have the dough to be taking lessons and buying a motorcycle. Dammit.

I made up a Long Way Round drinking game. Take a drink anytime...

  • Ewan McGregor falls off his motorbike
  • They get stuck in the mud in Mongolia or Russia
  • They try cuisine featuring boiled animal genitalia
  • They think local hospitality is mafia-related and they are being led to a place where somebody is going to put a bullet in their brains and steal their motorbikes
  • Ewan compares the landscape to the landscape of Scotland
  • Ewan claims his family is responsible for the construction of Mount Rushmore
  • You sense despair
  • Camera-man Claudio fucks up big time
  • Charley or Ewan says something "wise"
  • Charley or Ewan say "Fantastic!" (you don't have to drink: their charming brogues are intoxicating enough)
I've always wanted to write a travel book a la Bill Bryson. Watching Long Way Round stirs up those feelings of wanderlust and open-road travel and creative documentation. Anybody out there want to fund me?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

welcome to the food chain

A couple years ago, the Illinois Bureau of Tourism was giving away posters promoting the kitschy side of Illinois. I got one and tacked it up in my kitchen because it fit my decor: Crap Americana.


Here's my favorite thing about this poster:

Those kids are ass-ugly. The boy in front looks like he's pooping a bowling ball. That woman is sacrificing her baby to a dinosaur. Who gave the artist the green light for this? It's awesome.

The poster was free, postage and everything. Illinois can't help fund public transportation in Chicago, but free posters? No problemo!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

fantasy fertbow: the pink chainsaws roster

Thank you to everybody who gave me Fantasy Fertbow tips and advice (except The Brad, who told me to draft a kicker first. We'll remain friends anyway). I drafted a Wide Receiver who is suspended for 8 games and an injured kicker. Oops. Go team.

I also did what I was explicitly told NOT to do and drafted a rookie running back (Garrett Wolfe, The Bears).

Was I supposed to grab more than one defense? I didn't do that.

It was about this time last year that I called somebody a loser for talking way too much about their Fantasy Football league.

THE PINK CHAINSAWS

  • Drew Brees (NO - QB)
  • Lee Evans (Buf - WR)
  • Laveranues Coles (NYJ - WR)
  • D.J. Hackett (Sea - WR)
  • Brian Westbrook (Phi - RB)
  • Ronnie Brown (Mia - RB)
  • Chris Cooley (Was - TE)
  • DeAngelo Williams (Car - RB)
  • Ben Roethlisberger (Pit - QB)
  • Devin Hester (Chi - WR)
  • Chris Henry (Cin - WR)
  • Garrett Wolfe (Chi - RB)
  • Eric Johnson (NO - TE)
  • Shayne Graham (Cin - K)
  • Dallas Defense

a few more killing women pix

photos by Brian Golden.

I got an ulcer because of you


Johnny Duke has a way with the ladies


Stagehand Rob McLemore gets his Theatre Seven company evaluation


Abby is afraid of needles. Wackiness ensues.


Career Day

Sunday, September 02, 2007

killing women: mike & abby go to career day

We had our production photo shoot tonight. I took a couple photos of my own, and then I realized, I should leave the real picture-taking to people who know what they're doing. I'll inherit some better looking photos soon, but in the meantime, enjoy this slightly blurry photo with slightly blurry dialogue-as-caption.

Mike (Charlie Olson) & Abby (Margot Bordelon), on the road to career day.

ABBY: Okay, you’re gonna have to stay in the car for Career Day.

MIKE: Why?

ABBY: Did you bring a change of clothes?

MIKE: This is good because it looks like I came right from work to Career Day.

ABBY: Ohh, man…

MIKE: What?

ABBY: Well—Mike—this means I have to go in there by myself!

MIKE: Aren’t you gonna bring Tess in?

ABBY: Yeah—but I wanted you in there with me because people seem to like you, and if you were there, maybe I wouldn’t have to talk.

MIKE: I’m sorry I hit a major artery at close range.

ABBY: No, no, that’s okay. I’m—nervous.

MIKE: I once took a public speaking class, and they always said that if you’re nervous about giving a speech then you should imagine your audience naked.

ABBY: Mike, this is a Kindergarten class.

MIKE: Wow, then that’s really inappropriate advice.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

ode to my Ikea bookcase, leaning to the right

You looked like a nice piece of furniture on the showroom floor. Fake wood looking like real wood under the fluorescent lights. You had me at Leksvik, and I don't even know what that means in your native tongue.

I imagined all the smart books I could stack upon your shelves: Ulysses (reality: Oddball Wisconsin), War & Peace (reality: The Yank's Guide to Irish Jargon), the Bible (reality: Depraved and Insulting English). I built you with easy-to-follow picture-book instructions that a 4 year old child could follow, yet, for some reason, you confused me. You made me drink. Maybe I shouldn't've been drinking assembling you.

And! ...you gave me more screws than I actually needed. What the hell? Why did you give me extra screws? I stood there for twenty minutes with 5 extra screws in my palm, tearing back through the assembly instructions, searching for a reason why I was standing there, now drunk, with extra screws in my palm. Why did you make me second-guess my Ikea assembly skills? Friends don't do that to friends.

But I forgave you because my stereo fits snugly in your belly. I didn't measure for my stereo, yet it was a perfect fit. It didn't even occur to me that you'd be a good place to put my stereo. Huzzah! Happy accidents! Huzzah!

You've survived two apartment moves. I didn't think you'd make it through the first let alone the second.

Yet...

You lean to the right.

You've always leaned a bit to the right. It's gotten worse and worse. I hardly noticed until one of my friends looked at you and said, "I feel like I'm in a wacky fun-house with crazy furniture." I was offended on your behalf.

Frankly, you're making me nervous. I'm not abusing you. I'm not overloading you beyond your means. I could show you abuse. Ohhhh, I could SHOW you abuse. I'm thinking of purchasing the Encyclopedia Britannica (A to Z), but I've shown you nothing but kindness in my vast collection of retarded paperbacks.

Don't even tell me this is my fault because I had 5 screws leftover from your assembly. I screwed you in all the holes you had. I sobered up and double checked.

Please, Ikea bookcase, if you're going to collapse, please do not collapse at 4 am when I'm asleep. You will fall down and make a shit-ton of noise and I will pee my bed thinking a crazy dude with a crowbar has broken into my apartment. I won't mind if you fall down in the middle of the day. Or if I'm out exercising (note: I don't exercise). Or if I'm having a party and somebody bumps into you and knocks you down because then I can blame my stupid drunk friend for your Scandinavian frailty.

I forgive you for your faults. Your stupid, stupid faults. I'll miss you if you die. Hold on just a little bit longer.

Hold on.

Hold on.