Saturday, December 27, 2008

I wish the smoke alarm on my building's enclosed back stairs was still going off, just so Maintenance Man Leo doesn't think I'm full of shit after I called him this morning to tell him the alarm has been going on and off since midnight. Nothing is on fire, and the only thing smoking is my hot bod (licks index finger, touches thigh, goes "tssssss").

And no, it's not the once a minute chirp it makes when the battery is low.

The alarm was going off and I can't reach it. I can poke it with a broom handle. I guess that's some accomplishment.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

xmas eve

I thought I had a conversation with my sister about how we should watch Gremlins this year because it's a great Christmas movie; anytime I hear "Do You Hear What I Hear?" I think of the scene where the mom kills multiple gremlins in the kitchen, including microwaving one until it explodes. My sister does not remember having a conversation about watching Gremlins. Either her memory is bad, or I had that conversation with myself, out loud or in my head, not sure.

I'm off to the suburbs, after I dig my yellow car out. I'm armed with a shovel and a bag of cat litter for traction, and if I have to pee bad I'm all set. A minute after I took this picture, that black car in front of mine attempted to escape and spun its wheels, rocking back and forth for 5 minutes, until a man emerged from the apartment building and gave them a push. I hope that was not a glimpse into my future.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Who's the cat that won't cop out when there's danger all about? (Shaft!)

ukulele orchestra of great britain performs the theme to "shaft"

I don't want to live on the moon

How many songs are there about what you don't want. I guess there are a few. The Aerosmith song "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" from craptastic Armageddon where I was praying for Ben Affleck to be left on the asteroid and then for the asteroid to land on Liv Tyler. "I Won't Grow Up" from Peter Pan and similarly "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" from Tom Waits, also songs from the LOLcats school of DON'T WANT. But most songs (stories, plays, movies) are about what you do want. Love, money, a new drug. "I Don't Want To Live On The Moon" is subversive -- and a children's song too! It's about the downside of pursing a dream, fantastical or not. You'll miss what you already have, the comforts of home, the security of family and friends. Ernie's argument for not wanting to live on the moon is very practical.*

But but but -- children aren't supposed to be practical. And isn't this story undramatic? Aren't we all about the pursuit of big dreams, and don't we root for the people who pursue them at all cost, even dumbass cost? Nobody watches Rudy to see him fail to play football for Notre Dame, proving everybody right, everybody who said he couldn't do it, especially his jerk brother. No, we watch that movie to see Rudy achieve his dream and play for the Fighting Irish. I guess "I Don't Want To Live On The Moon" isn't about that sort of feel-good thing. It's no hero's quest and you are no hero. It's to help all those astronaut dreaming kids brace for a stable career doing something that's kinda blah, but it pays the rent. That's pretty much everybody.

I sometimes want to live in a different decade or century. But I put a restriction on it. Like, I want to live in 1893 so I can visit the Columbian Exposition. (pause) BUT I DON'T WANT TO GET CHOLERA! Nope, sorry, I can't pick and choose. If I am going to time travel to 1893, I may shit myself dead with Cholera because that's what happened to some people in 1893. There's going to be a downside to dreams, especially dreams involving time travel (Have we learned nothing from the debacle of the Back to the Future trilogy?) That's what Ernie is saying here. It shouldn't stop me from wanting to visit 1893, but I need to know that I am going to miss a world where the Chicago River was reversed and I don't have to drink my next door neighbor's poop from Lake Michigan. Modern plumbing and water treatment is great. I would miss it.

I wonder what is on Ernie's mind that propells him from his bed? Does the crescent moon stir the Muppet subsconscious? Is he contemplating, gulp, death? All the things he would miss if he were to shuffle off Sesame Street's mortal coil. Hey, bummer.

You Muppets, always throwing a wrench in life with your sad, obliquely hopeful songs. Stop making so much sense. It's too much. Please. Stop. My shoulder popped from its emotional socket and I'm screaming uncle.

* clearly the most practical argument for not living on the moon is there is no oxygen and your eyeballs would bulge out of your face like what happens to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall. This was not included in the song because it is difficult to rhyme anything with Schwarzenegger. I'm off to edit Wikipedia with this fact, brb.

Friday, December 19, 2008

snowpocalypse: epilogue

Color me disappointed. It's a shade of puce.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

the answer: dinosaurs, snow, football, books; the question: what is "things that are distracting me right now"?

I don't know much about prehistoric times, but this is preposterous. Preposterously awesome.


If I believe what the Local News stations tell me -- and I do, every word of it -- tonight is Snowpocalypse. The only time I ever wish to have a neighbor with a 10 year old kid is when it snows; a kid I could give a few bucks to dig out my car and scrape the ice off the windshield.


I'm playing in my Fantasy Football league finals. This weekend. Smoking Babies (me) vs. the Well-Hung Ninjas (former roommate Charlie). Not since the early 1980s "Battle of the Network Stars" has there been a more anticipated fake athletic contest.


I made a small, one-book-sized dent in that list of novels you all recommended. Like a Hole in the Head by Jen Banbury is everything Eric promised it would be: "It's like if Raymond Chandler worked for minimum wage at a used book store and did lots of inhalants." The style was on par with The Big Lebowski, a neo-noir where a simple misunderstanding spins out of control and the hero is ill-equipped but goes for the ride because she just needs to get something back. The narrator is a woman who is an underachieving loner who is kind of a jerk and also very funny. I wasn't fully satisfied with the adventure by the time it was over. The plot rips along and never gets boring; it's also, at times, whip-lash exhausting. A great book to take on a 4 hour flight. I would read another Jen Banbury book, but this is her only novel (published in 1999).

I went back to the library fully intending to find another recommended book and then got distracted. Don't go to the Lincoln Square branch of the Chicago Library and expect to find what you are looking for. Sure, you may find your book. You also may get hit by a wealthy dude in an SUV and get a million dollar settlement which is great because you weren't even hurt that badly, but suffer an occasional bout of vertigo due to head trauma that doesn't bother you -- because you have a million bucks! These things happen. I'm most content when I go with a long list of acceptable finds, because chances are, I won't find most of them. Or better yet, leave it to my whim and the ransacked shelves. I picked up Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down and looked at the front page with this quote.

"The cure for unhappiness is happiness, I don't care what anybody says." -Elizabeth McCracken, Niagara Falls All Over Again
I put the Hornby down and found the McCracken because I wanted to read the story with that sentence in it. Katherine Dunn (author of Geek Love, great book) gave one of the praise quotes on back of Niagara Falls All Over Again. Well! If Katherine Dunn likes it! It's the life-story of a vaudevillian, the "straight man" of a comedy duo. The time it covers is almost too expansive for a 300 page book, and parts of the story felt glossed-over. But Elizabeth McCracken's writing is so good and compassionate and full of humor that you're with it the whole way. I've moved on to her first novel The Giant's House: A Romance, a story set in Cape Cod in the 1950s about a spinster librarian and her relationship with the world's tallest boy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

  • Whenever I get the urge to delete myself from the internet, I'll rearrange the furniture. Move the couch from here to there. Get a new set of coasters. Throw out that bullet lamp, finally (it's been broken for 7 months!). Also, I vacuumed. Like new! Will it make me feel more share-y. TBD.

  • Don't pretend to care: I'm in Fantasy Football playoffs. Unless Geoffrey's kicker kicks 5 field goals and somehow runs one in for a touchdown tonight, I'm going for the gold next week. And by gold, I mean $60.

  • I am trying to finish a draft of a play by the end of the year. That is soon. So to all who are trying to finish something by the end of the year, we're in the same boat. If it seems the boat has a hole in it, don't worry. There are plenty of buckets to bail out the water. If your bucket has a hole in it, don't worry: bail faster. And if you end up in the water, don't worry. There are worse ways to go than drowning. Hooray for the silver lining. Hip hip.
  • things bears love

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    You will get your retro 1980's Xmas fix here: Go on.

    This is one of those things where you can have your name inserted into the video. I didn't feel like using my name. I used an alias and giggled every time the name came up. I would embed it, but the video starts automatically, and that's annoying. Click this instead:

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    Sunday, December 07, 2008

    It worked. Derek dropped that link in the comments eons ago, but I didn't try it until I saw the mouse dash into my stove right before I was about to preheat my oven for a frozen pizza Tuesday night. If I had anything else to eat for dinner, I might have had second thoughts about using the oven with a mouse somewhere in the stove top. But no. If it gets too hot, he'll find his way out. For the next two nights, I set a snap trap on the floor baited with a Cheeto covered in peanut butter. Two nights in a row the peanut butter Cheeto disappeared without the trap going off. So I was feeding peanut butter Cheetos to a mouse because I'm nice like that. On Friday, I unrolled half a roll of toilet paper to get the tube for the no-kill technique. Two more days went by and no mouse. Despair. Then this afternoon, while I was watching an episode of Dexter, I heard a *Thump* in the kitchen. Could it be?
    GREAT SUCCESS! Awwww. He's a lot cuter than if he'd been beheaded by a snap trap, still too traumatized by the fall from the kitchen counter to eat the Cheeto. I bundled up and took the garbage can outside and into the Prairie Grass garden in the park across the street. I don't know if the people waiting for the bus thought it was sketchy that I walked into and out of the park with a tall garbage can. I like to think the mouse will find his mouse friends in the snowy grass. They'll be having an early holiday mouse-party with hot chocolate and Peppermint Schnapps. The mouse will tell a harrowing tale about how he was almost incinerated with a frozen Tombstone pizza, and then fell off a 30 story building five days later. One of his friends will clap him on the back, glad he could make it because he sure has some crazy stories.

    But the warm holiday party with mouse friends is just a figment of the mouse's imagination as he slowly freezes to death. It's like drifting off to sleep, really. That's the part I try not to think about too much.

    Thursday, December 04, 2008

    the best cover of Blitzkrieg Bop you'll ever hear. on a ukulele.


    You know what's going to happen the second it starts, yet you can't... stop... watching.

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    yeah snow

    From Fargo. I like the fit William H. Macy has while he's scraping the windshield. That's how I feel when I have to scrape ice off my windshield; I would like to beat the hell out of the windshield with the scraper. My problem is I'm too short or my arms aren't long enough or a sad combination of both. Trying to scrape the center of the windshield is difficult. Unless I really lean into the car. But it's snowy and my car is dirty, and I don't need a dirty snow mix on the front of my coat that will melt and soak me while I'm driving. A part of my windshield remains unscraped. I'm not perfect, I assure you. I assure you with an icy line down the middle of the windshield.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Snap your fingers in front of my eyeballs. I'm not here.

    I got a jack-shit's* worth of sleep last night. I'm in a puppy-kicking mood. About to pass out. Or I might, possibly, forget to close the stall-door in the ladies room where I go to sit on the toilet to power nap. If I pull my scarf forward, taut, it's a face-pillow. But I have to hold it -- hmm -- really, it's a simple matter of tying it to something without hanging myself if I do fall asleep. Strike that. Bad idea.

    This woke me up a little. Nellie McKay, the rare jazz-rap chanteuse. I swear the girl doesn't breathe once during this song.

    For those keeping score of my cat-sitting escapades, I will be in charge of Nomar Rasputin Kittycat Mofo Garciaparra this holiday weekend.

    * [1 jack-shit = .65 liquid dram]

    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    question of the day (in which marisa attempts and fails to provoke discussion in the comments)

    Have you ever been tasered by the cops?

    If yes, would you consider it a low point in your life or "just something that happened after, like, five white Russians and whatever I had after that."

    let the right one in

    O, Sweden! You have a place in the cockles of my heart. Cockles furnished with Ikea furniture and an endless snowy carpet, blood-spattered, not vibrant red but gooey red-black; some days, bleak winter days -- ah cripes, it's only November -- the whole world feels like a post-war, pre-fab, modernistic wasteland suburb of Stockholm. Let The Right One In is kinda-sorta a young love story between a boy with a terrible haircut and 12 year old (more or less) girl (more or less) vampire (spot on). The boy is bullied. The girl is hungry. Both are lonely. I'm no vampire connoiseur. I know the basic lore, whatever. Never questioned why a vampire can't enter a home uninvited. This movie at least answers what happens if they do. It's kinda gross (see above). Anyway, if you see one Swedish vampire movie in your lifetime, this is probably the one to see.

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    this is why I don't run in real life as well

    Here's a game:

    I keep flipping backward and landing on my head.

    I give up.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    books to read by the fire (no fireplace? set something on fire and read by its flickery light [before the smoke detector goes off])

    Thank you for your novel recommendations! I went to the Wilmette Library on Monday and struck out in my search for a few of the recommended titles ("Material Checked Out" D'oh!). I'll give the Chicago libraries a try soon. I had been up in Wilmette for a dentist appointment, the dentist I've been seeing since junior high. My mom received a phone call from his office saying my dental records were about to be banished to the dungeon because I hadn't been back in awhile. My mom being my mom spared my dental records and made an appointment for me to get my teeth cleaned. Oh Fine! The first few minutes of getting plaque scraped off my gum line is a little hair-raising, but then I start tasting blood and my mind wanders. Look, I keep a clean mouth! Brush, floss, Listerine! That plaque is the stuff of life and it's been scraped away. I walked away from the chair with no decay, no cavities. I got new X-rays taken, so I have to refrain from biting anyone because those pics can be used as evidence in court.

    Wait, I was talking about books.

    I like bookstores that tack hand-written employee recommendation cards to the bookshelves. So here are Chainsaw Calligraphy reader recommendations. I can't vouch for anybody's personal taste, but if you're looking for something to read, here's a list to chew on. I'll chew on it with my clean teeth.

    Tony recommends:
    Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

    Betsy recommends:
    Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt

    David recommends:
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
    Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    (Geek Love is one of my favorites too)

    Scott recommends:
    Time and Again by Jack Finney
    Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
    Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
    (I did read your copy of Time and Again. When we moved out of our apartment, I considered "accidentally" mixing it up with my books so I could take it with me)

    Paul R recommends:
    Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
    Martin Eden by Jack London

    Joe J recommends:
    World War Z by Max Brooks
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman

    Anonymous recommends:
    Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

    Eric Pf recommends:
    Like a Hole in the Head by Jen Banbury
    Towelhead by Alicia Erian
    King Dork by Frank Portman
    Salterton Trilogy by Robertson Davies
    The Short Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

    Alexis D recommends:
    Stoner by John Williams

    Sarah K recommends:
    Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt

    Eric Z recommends:
    The Human Stain by Philip Roth

    Losi recommends:
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
    A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

    Anthony recommends:
    The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    got any novel recommendations?

    I was walking around the library last week looking for something to read. All I could think was: oh, goddammit. All these books.

    Last few novels I've read have been okay, but can't say I completely enjoyed them. I was more satisfied with finishing the book than I was with the story, or the writing, but mostly the story.

    Got a novel you're always trying to push 'cause it's a great story and you didn't want it to end because it grabbed your brain and your heart and smashed 'em together like a little kid smashing two Tonka trucks together in a sandbox? Been awhile since I read something like that. Yeah.

    I'm looking for a novel to read. If you have a recommendation, drop a comment.

    Saturday, November 08, 2008

    Friday, November 07, 2008

    cats + boxes = weird

    I don't dayjob [verb] on Friday, so I'm not usually downtown on Friday. But I am a bonehead and forgot to sign and deliver a contract in a timely manner, so I had to go downtown to drop it off. I have a habit of putting important papers on my desk and then piling less important stuff on top of it and then thinking the important thing has been taken care of (the unimportant stuff is frequently half-completed Red Eye sudoku puzzles because my Metra ride is not long enough to complete a puzzle, or at least that's what I tell myself so I don't feel so stupid when I'm owned by a one-star sudoku). My disappearing stuff-on-my-desk problem is kin to the way I respond to e-mails in my head, and then somebody follows up with "I never heard back from you about such and such." And I'm all, "I responded to you in my head."

    On my Friday downtown, I ran into an old friend from high school at the corner of Dearborn & Randolph.

    I bought a tall mocha at Starbucks.

    And took some pictures.

    Pigeons in Daley Plaza take a break from pecking at garbage to pay their respects to dead soldiers. I can't look at an Eternal Flame without bustin' out a chorus of The Bangles "Eternal Flame"

    Starbucks unleashed their red Xmas cups after Halloween and now this.

    New banners around City Hall. Mayor Daley is very excited (earmarks!!! "overhead projector" for the planetarium!!! olympics 2016!!!)

    A lot of people ask me, "Hey Marisa, where can I buy a pair of earrings made with metal so cheap it will irritate my earlobes until they drip with pus?" I send them to Claire's in the Ogilvie Transportation Center. I don't understand why there is a Claire's in the Metra station as I don't figure too many 13 year old girls are commuting downtown for their 9 to 5. My photo doesn't do justice to the pink-ness of this store. It is very pink. My retinas fizzed and now I am blind.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Scout Tufankjian, the photographer who has been with the Obama campaign since the beginning. Cool photos:

    Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    Of all the important issues in this election, remember that you are voting for the next man to be turned into an audio-animatronic figure and bolted to the floor of The Hall of Presidents at Disney World.

    And they can take down this banner...

    "I think people passing a law against people wearing sagging pants is a waste of time. We should be focused on creating jobs, improving our schools, health care, dealing with the war in Iraq, and anybody, any public official, that is worrying about sagging pants probably needs to spend some time focusing on real problems out there. Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants."-Barack Obama on MTV

    Saturday, November 01, 2008

    "Wegrzyn...needs medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder"

    I know I said I wasn't going to make a habit of posting bad reviews, but I seem to enjoy posting dickhead bad reviews; if you read the last section of the review in the right light, it sounds like he'd rather see a play written by chimpanzees than by women. Those who have been following the hot topic female playwrights discussion on the interwebs will get a kick out of it:

    For the record: I do not need to be medicated for A.D.D. There are plenty other mental illnesses that may have been more accurate, like, I don't know, maybe I'm a weepy drunk prone to violent outbursts, or I'm OCD about making sure the stove is turned off even if I haven't cooked in a week; also, the pilot light makes me nervous as hell.

    Here's a better review in the big paper: Never did make it to Philly, but sounds like they did a good job with the play.

    A flickr gallery of Robocop on a Unicorn:

    Friday, October 31, 2008

    Is the Winkie's Diner scene from Mulholland Drive the scariest movie scene of all time? You don't have to know anything about the rest of the movie -- this scene alone is a 5 minute horror movie.

    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    A great post about Renaissance Women (or the lack thereof) over at Tomorrow Museum:

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    dog years

    Sunday, October 26, 2008

    The playwriting workshop I conducted at my old high school (New Trier) went well. It was part of a day-long Literary Festival, so a bunch of writers of all sorts of disciplines speak about what they do and/or guide some sort of writing exercise. Some other writers who were in attendance included Neo-Futurists' Greg Allen, playwright Sarah Ruhl, novelist Adam Langer, Ben Joravsky from the Chicago Reader, cartoonist Jeffrey Brown, Entertainment Weekly TV critic Gillian Flynn. Junior and senior writing students essentially have the entire day off from their regular classes to attend hour and half sessions throughout the day.

    This is the fifth year of the Festival and the third year I've been conducting a workshop. The first year, I attempted to talk for an hour and a half about playwriting which, if you know me, is an hour and twenty-nine minutes too long to be talking. Since then, I use a writing exercise that involves brainstorming and list-making, and then using that stuff to build a two character dialogue (it's more fun than it sounds). The approach is to just get stuff down on paper. It doesn't have to be good. Quantity not quality. It's pretty much a lesson on first drafts. And the success of any workshop like this depends on participation and sharing, and the students in my sessions did both. Well, most of them did. Some of them clearly were here by some unfair default in scheduling and life.

    I had some free time between my sessions, so I wandered around the school.

    The main stairwell, looking down from the 4th floor. If you were going to drop a garbage bag filled with spaghetti sauce down any stairwell in the school, this was the one.

    The HomeEc kitchens are on this floor. This hallway smelled like cinnamon rolls. The other hallways smelled like sweat and hormones.

    One of these lockers was mine. I forget which one. The green one?

    Rainn Wilson, Ann Margaret, Adam Baldwin (from Firefly), and Charlton Heston. Charlton Heston is dead, to answer the "Where Are They Now" question. I do not make enough money to be included on this bulletin board.

    Arty ceiling shot of the second floor rotunda, if by "arty" I mean "bad photography."

    I've always liked this Indian carved into the Indian Hill Metra underpass. I don't know what that blue stuff is.

    Thursday, October 23, 2008


    • Let's slap Malcolm Gladwell across the teeth. His new book on geniuses doesn't include a single woman. Not even a pity inclusion? The woman who invented White-Out? No? My genius was disqualified because I once shot a staple into the pad of my index finger attempting to refill the stapler. It didn't need to be refilled, apparently.
    • I'm sorry I didn't respond to the Evite for your birthday dinner. Was it fun? I bet it was. Anyway -- look -- I would have been there but I was really, really, really busy.
    • Procrastinators, ahoy! It's the last weekend to see Ten Cent Night at Chicago Dramatists.
    • Psalms of a Questionable Nature opens in Philadelphia this weekend. I'm still debating whether or not I'm going to drive to Philly next week. It seems like a good idea until I look at a map and realize that Philly is on the wrong side of Pennsylvania. It's like 12 hours from Chicago, not including necessary stops at Arby's for curly fries.
    • Why is the governor of Illinois such a weasel? He gives people with impossible last names a bad name, and I'm sensitive to that.
    • Tomorrow I'm teaching a playwriting workshop at my former high school. This is my 3rd year doing it. I try to make playwriting sound fun while leaving out the bits that make you want to slam your head in the door of a walk-in cooler.

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    why I blog

    Andrew Sullivan's article, Why I Blog, in The Atlantic.

    Who I am on this blog differs from who I am in person. If I'm brash in text, I'm shy in person. I'm pretty quiet. Always have been. When I was younger, Mom would report back from the parent/teacher conferences: "Wish Marisa would speak up more in class." Is blogging and playwriting a symptom of repressed loquaciousness? A feeble attempt of "look at me look at me! I'm witty and worth your time look at me!" (shrug) In conclusion, if I've ever threatened to punch you in the balls or ovaries after some dumb argument about Saved By The Bell, I was probably liquored up. I'm not really like that. You were probably wrong anyway. Forget it. I forgive you. You're welcome.

    apartment life

    I have no idea what my neighbors are cooking, but it smells really really bad. Stewed fisherman's boots in curry-cilantro sauce?

    funny cuz it's true

    My apartment mouse is winning the battle over my subconscious. Last night I had a dream the neighborhood was infested with mice, and the only weapon I had was a golf club. WTF, brain? A golf club? I don't play golf! Why not a flamethrower? Come on.

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    ten cent night mix CD

    I like CD mixes. I like making them and I like receiving them. Not in lieu of a legitimate gift, like, "happy birthday/merry Christmas, I made you a mix!" Cheap bastard. But as a supplement or a bonus or a just because. I made a mix for some folks involved with Ten Cent Night. Music that feels like the play. It's very country, with a dash of folk, and some modern alt-country. I dislike the term "alt-country," but there it is.

    I would have included Tammy Wynette's "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad" on the mix if I had it on CD. Tammy makes female submission so toe-tappingly delightful! I oughta dislike the song on principle, but I'm not going to lie: I learned how to play it on my guitar. The best part about this video is Tammy Wynette sings this song with her daughter.

    And here's the track listing for the Ten Cent Night mix CD I made. The play closes October 26, so you got one more weekend to see it if you wanna see it. Thanks to folks who've made the trip to the Chicago/Milwaukee/Ogden intersection to check out the play at Chicago Dramatists.

    1. LUCINDA WILLIAMS – Can’t Let Go
    2. OLD 97’S – W. TX Teardrops
    3. FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE – Hung Up On You
    4. STEVE GOODMAN – City of New Orleans
    5. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Old Dan Tucker
    6. LORETTA LYNN – Fist City (FYI, this is the best song ever written about a woman who wants to punch another woman in the face)
    7. DWIGHT YOAKAM – I’d Avoid Me Too
    8. JOE NICHOLS & RHONDA VINCENT – Cash On The Barrelhead
    9. THE LITTLE WILLIES – It’s Not You, It’s Me
    10. NEKO CASE – Thanks A Lot
    11. MARTI BROM – This Is Love, Not Liquor
    12. PATSY CLINE – Back in Baby’s Arms
    13. ERNEST TUBB – Drivin’ Nails In My Coffin
    14. WILCO – Jesus, etc
    15. THE MARSHALL TUCKER BAND – Heard It In A Love Song
    16. ALISON KRAUSS – I Will
    17. CARL SMITH – Loose Talk
    18. JIM CROCE – I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song
    19. THE FLATLANDERS – One Road More
    20. TOM WAITS – Old Shoes

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    malcolm gladwell makes artists feel better about themselves

    Also, am I the only one who didn't like "Everything Is Illuminated"? I'd try reading it again, but -- no.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    shrimp on a treadmill + benny hill theme = funny

    Duffman452001 posted his video to YouTube in 2006 with this explanation: "I just took 2 things that made me laugh and combined them into one of the funniest things Ive ever seen." Genius is often that simple.

    Links to more things + benny hill theme = funny over at There's also a link on that post to sad guys on trading floors.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    the blehhh sort of day

    Life is filled with blehhh days. I woke up. Showered, dressed, walked to train, took the train to work, walked to my office building. Work completed, came home, la dee da dee da. And then, at the end of a blehhh sort of day, just when I'm sure I will sink in the the quicksand of blehhhh and spend the rest of tomorrow coughing up a sandy blehhh consumption, my day has been saved... by Robocop on a unicorn.

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    "the country" - billy collins animated poetry

    I haven't seen or heard my apartment mouse in some time. Maybe he's moved to somebody else's apartment. Maybe he died of old mouse age and is rotting in the wall. Maybe he's plotting his revenge and maybe I should seal all wooden matches in mouse-proof Tupperware.

    "take on me" literal video version

    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    drunk history - vol 4

    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    Atlanta, IL

    In eight years of driving back and forth between Chicago and St Louis on I-55, I have wanted to stop at the Grain Elevator Museum in Atlanta, IL. Atlanta is located midway between Springfield and Bloomington for those familiar with I-55. There is one hand-painted, fading wood sign for the Grain Elevator on the northbound side of the Interstate (there is no sign for travelers going south). I finally exited the interstate and visited a piece of Agricultural history.

    It was closed.

    A handwritten sign in the ticket office said I could call "Larry" on weekdays if I would like a tour in the off-season. Mehhh. I parked my car and wandered around Atlanta. It was delightfully ghost-town-ish.

    The library for all yer smart book-learnin'. The clock in that clock tower was saved from the Atlanta High School that was built in the early 1900s. The high school was demolished, but the clock was saved, just like in Back to the Future.

    I'm glad the spirited citizens realized the importance of books. (the library was closed on Monday. I don't much like reading on Monday anyway)

    Millstones from the 1848 Grist Mill -- or -- wheels from the Flintstone's car?

    I almost shat when I found this. Hold on to your butt:

    I had no idea that Atlanta had one of these giant men, but this giant comes from the same mold as the (semi)famous Gemini Giant of Wilmington, IL. He was originally designed to be a lumberjack holding an axe.

    I love Atlanta, IL

    fail owned pwned pictures
    see more pwn and owned pictures

    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    Hopefully some reviews in the Tribune and the Sun-Times will give Ten Cent Night a leg-up during the unprecedented run of both Chicago baseball teams in the post-season. I don't know if theatre in Chicago will turn into Tumbleweed Town during game nights, but it might not be an issue since both teams are on track for a spectacular implosion. I'm calling it: Cubs and Sox knocked out in sweeps. I know, I'm being selfish, but like a goldfish sucking the grime off the wall of its bowl, I feed on despair. Especially the despair of Cubtard fans at Wrigley who gave Big Z a standing ovation for pitching a suck game. Don't even explain to me why he might have deserved it. I don't care.

    I'm driving down to St Louis to catch Killing Women at Hotcity Theatre. I will drink Schlafly Beer and eat toasted ravioli and toast the history of Westward Expansion with my toasted ravioli as I gaze upon the Arch. I might even wander around my old Washington University stomping ground now that the VP Debates are over and the snipers have left their posts from the tops of campus buildings.

    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    I have no water at my apartment

    As I was walking home from the train, one of the streets in my neighborhood was totally flooded. I thought, wow: it sure would suck to live on THIS street. Ha ha.

    Turns out, it sure would suck to live in my neighborhood. My building has no water tonight.

    Dear Poseidon, Greek God of Water OR Chicago Department of Water Management (whichever one of you is less fictional and more functional):

    I would like to shower tomorrow morning. I would also like to flush the toilet. Please let that be possible soon. I bought a gallon of water for drinking and essentials. I'll hold number 2 until I get to work tomorrow. My co-workers will love that.

    Yours In Anger,


    P.S. Kidding about the number 2 thing. Girls d
    on't poop. We just don't.

    Water is back on. Thanks for your concern.

    final FP total in the wegrzyn sister fantasy football Week 4 smackdown

    Amanda's Lo-Panimals: 80.64

    **BIG WINNER--> Marisa's Smoking Babies: 87.74 <--BIG WINNER**

    (Commissioner Chainsaw of the Velociraptor Slumber Party league writes a brief weekly wrap up. She is a big jerk in the realm of fake sports. She didn't write a wrap-up last week because she lost in Week 3 and she took her football and went home.)


    The Brad called it. Dead-last i3oilermakers upset first place The In-Laws. Holy crap on a popsicle stick! It gives the Bad News Bears booger-eating spaz losers inside each and every one of us hope that one day we will transcend last place to second-to-last place.

    Would somebody beat The Gentrificators already? I don't mean to gang-bang any one team in this league, but COME ON! Bring. Schrock. Down. Annie's Annihilators have a go in Week 5. If The Brad can pull an upset, I have faith in Annie to gob-smack the number one team. I don't like winners. Unless that winner is me. I like Me. I hope I win. I beat my sister's Lo-Panimals this week. I know you can't see me as I type this, but I just did a double fist pump.

    Sasquatch Hunters and The Well-Hung Ninjas are in a dead-heat to see who can make the most inconsequential drops/adds in the league. Way to go guys! Keep at it! I'm sure it'll start to matter at some point!

    A Good Football Team made a desperate plea this week to vote against an accidental trade. While Brett's on-his-knees plea was met with a resounding "sucks to be you", I hope you will all remember this: one day you may be in Brett's shoes. Please remember this as you point and laugh at him.

    Commissioner Chainsaw

    Ten Cent Night clips on Stagechannel

    Holy crap, it's October.

    A couple clips from TEN CENT NIGHT on for you out-of-towners who won't catch the show:

    Stagechannel revamped their site recently. It's a nice upgrade.

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    trying new things

    There's a Mexican restaurant between the train and my apartment. I walk by it all the time. 2.5 years I've lived in this neighborhood, never eaten there. Looks like a shit hole from the outside. Why would I eat in a shit hole? Tonight I'm coming home from work on the train. Starving. Have a taste for Mexican food. I think: wellll. Let's do it. Let's try something new. I go into the shit hole Mexican dive and order the "Three T Dinner" -- Taco/Torta/Tamale. From the inside, the place looks like a health code violation waiting to happen. I'm a loony in the asylum: I have been committed (to buy dinner here). I bring it home. I feel like a spent too much money, but it's a decent amount of food. I give all three T's a try. Heyyy. You know what? ... it wasn't good. Not at all. I'm never trying anything new ever again.

    Animation free association: the first thing I thought of watching the video for "Maybe Sparrow" (below) was Really Rosie. I had the record and watched the movie quite a few times. I still remember every single word to the alphabet song "Alligators All Around"; can't remember a thing from high school calculus, but remember the lyrics to that goddamn song. My favorite song was the morbid ditty "The Ballad of Chicken Soup," the story of a kid who swallows a chicken bone and dies.

    I like the New Pornographers, but if I had to choose between seeing NP or Neko Case solo, I'd choose Neko solo. "Maybe Sparrow" is a gorgeous song and video. Love the animation.

    Monday, September 29, 2008

    I dig this video for The New Pornographers' "Challengers." It's like Pleasantville meets an old photograph on the wall of an abandoned farmhouse meets the "imagination banquet" scene in the movie Hook. You know what I'm talking about? God help you if you do. ("Rufio!!!")

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Had a nice opening weekend with Ten Cent Night. After a rocky final preview performance on Thursday -- technical malfunctions and the aforementioned broken chair -- opening night(s) went well. I ceased being useful in previews, writing-wise; my only function: I was the person who tuned the guitar that's used in the show. I won't be around next weekend to do that, so I'll hand off my tuner to somebody. I've been chillin' today, watching my fantasy football StatTracker. I need Donovan McNabb and the Philly Defense to do well; unfortunately, they're playing the Bears so I'm in pain. I'm battling my sister's team, the Lo-Panimals (a name inspired by the movie Big Trouble in Little China). To quote Amanda on the smack talk board: "Sister vs. sister. This is better than a Greek tragedy, mostly b/c there's money involved."

    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Was this the part of the production process where the very important metal folding chair is supposed to break the night before opening?

    It was? Sweet. Mission accomplished.

    Thursday, September 25, 2008

    not that I want to make a habit of posting my bad reviews, but...

    Dennis Brown at the Riverfront Times didn't like Killing Women:

    "Here we go again with yet another wail about women in the workplace. It seems that it's a man's world out there, and female hit men (even the term is chauvinistic) just can't crash that glass ceiling. If your heart bleeds at the plight of a working mother who has to miss her daughter's grade-school Career Day because she had to kill someone instead, this is the black comedy for you. Marisa Wegrzyn's Killing Women makes many mistakes — but none so severe as to have opened the same weekend as The Lieutenant of Inishmore. In terms of manner and character, there are many parallels between the two scripts. None favor this one, which by contrast comes off as lethargic."
    Let's forget a moment that he thinks I'm a whiny baby for writing about gender disparity in the workplace. Oh, yeah, and also forget a moment that he dismisses the audience for who this topic is relevant. Let's talk about important stuff: The play gets slammed for opening the same weekend as The Lieutenant of Inishmore? Are you fucking kidding me?

    Anyway, I felt compelled to air this one given the theatrosphere hub-bub a few weeks back sparked by Theresa Rebeck's article in the Guardian.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    an open letter to the smoke detector in my apartment

    I changed your battery in April -- on April Fools Day, in fact. What a fool I am for thinking that would settle our differences: you, thinking things are on fire when they are clearly not on fire; me, not wishing to poop the bed when you decide to go off -- for no reason -- at 4 in the morning.

    I'll give you the benefit of the doubt: Maybe you want me to hone my ninja instinct when your shrill, devil's screech yanks me from precious, R.E.M. sleep. Maybe you want me to poke you with a broom handle in a desperate, misguided effort to get me to clean my apartment. Does your smoke sensor need to be cleaned? Is there a fundamental mix-up in your wiring? Are you a remedial smoke detector in need of a poorly funded educational program?

    How come you only go off for 3 seconds? It's plenty enough time to scare the bajeezus out of me. I won't hear from you in weeks -- sometimes months. I think, hey, it fixed itself.


    I hate you. I can't live without you. I don't want to die in a horrible fire. That would hurt bad. I know you work as an ACTUAL smoke detector. Like that time I scorched a steak in a grill pan and you wanted everybody in my apartment building to know what a terrible cook I am. Thanks.

    There's no rhyme or reason to your bullshit. The only way I can reach you is by standing on the arms of a chair which I will fall off of resulting in my tragic death. You'd like that, wouldn't you.

    Monday, September 22, 2008

    ten cent previews

    Three previews down, one to go. Small cuts have been made in the preview process, but the biggest change of all is that by the time the play opens on Friday/Saturday, Ten Cent Night will have gone from being a two act play to being a three act play.

    Jiggawhat? You want to make a long play even longer? Are you stupid?

    Trust us! We're professionals!

    No, I didn't write an additional act in the past week. While watching the play with an audience, the three act structure was making a lot of sense dramatically. It's also great for people like me who have small bladders and drank too much beer before the show.

    Instead of two really long acts (with Act 2 being longer than Act 1 -- which can be problematic), we're doing this:

    Act 1 (scenes 1 - 6) - 55 min
    Act 2 (scenes 7 - 9) - 45 min
    Act 3 (scene 10) - 35 min

    I am hopeful that this turns out to be a good idea. It involves no extra work for the actors. It just requires some additional cueing from the light and sound designers, and for the stage manager to run the new cues. But Chicago Dramatists has rehearsal days built into the preview process so changes like this can be accommodated. Anyway, things are going well and everybody's feeling ready open this dang thing on Friday.

    Heart's "Crazy On You", which is an awesome song, was originally going to be the end of show/curtain call music. It didn't quite fit. It would have been the only identifiable piece of pop music in the show, and it didn't feel right. The song is kinda menacing? ... sexy-menacing? It's totally hot, but the end of the play is a little more gentle. So "Crazy On You" hit the cutting room floor. But here's an amazing live performance of that song. I want to BE Nancy Wilson in 1976.

    Friday, September 19, 2008

    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    not that I'm in any hurry to get to my dayjob

    But I just spent an hour underground in the Chicago Ave Blue Line station.

    Is it Beer O'Clock yet? Somebody please tell me it's Beer O'Clock.

    It's not?

    It's only 10:00 a.m.?

    I'm gonna sit in my grey cube and rock back and forth like a big autistic child for the next 7 hours until Beer O'Clock.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    There was a campfire story I heard at summer camp about a girl and her new doll. It goes like this: The girl placed this doll on a chair at the opposite side of her bedroom and went to sleep. The girl woke up a few hours later and the doll was no longer on the chair. It was on the floor. Strange, she thought, and went back to sleep. The girl woke up an hour later and the doll had moved a few feet closer to the bed. Strange, she thought, and went back to sleep. Another hour later, and the doll was now next to her bed. Strange, she thought, and went back to sleep. The girl didn't wake up again. The doll killed her in her sleep.

    Scared. Me. Shitless.

    Fucking summer camp. Worse than all the violent television, video games, and movies combined.

    This video reminded me of that story. (it's not scary. it just reminded me of that story)

    Saturday, September 13, 2008

    it's not delivery. it's DiGiorno. all over the kitchen floor

    You ever do something so clumsy that the only reaction you can have is to slack-jaw stare at the carnage until drool string-drips from your bottom lip?

    I'm here to make you feel better about yourself.

    Hey! Let's do the math!:

    vodka & lemonade + cutting a pizza too close to the edge of the counter with blasé regard for physics = guess I'm ordering Thai food now
    If it hadn't landed face-down, I would have eaten it off the floor.

    Fuck you, gravity. You owe me $7.99.

    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    On the Gchat:

    Annie: if you're bored at work, enjoy this:

    (Marisa is bored at work and watches video)

    me: Oh wow. That's so awesomely bad

    Annie: some of the lyrics are questionable
    "he touched me down inside"

    me: I won't get that song out of my head for the rest of the day

    Annie: i know. i'm sorry
    i'll be humming it too

    me: I might have to stab my hand with a pen to distract myself with pain

    Annie: :-) just remember that jesus is your friend

    me: He'll love me if I stab myself

    Annie: it would be for Him

    Sunday, September 07, 2008

    rewrites, part... uh... 4?

    Swear da gaaaahd. I've thought I was done with "Ten Cent Night" rewrites, like, 4 times before this, but tonight is IT. I'm done! (Unless I'm not). Stuff keeps coming up in rehearsal, which is what happens in rehearsal. Tech is next weekend. What? Already? To quote The Wire's Clay Davis: sheeeeeeeeit.

    How bout dem Bears? But seriously, people, let's not get too excited. This all might be socks and underwear on Christmas morning. I'm taking Captain Neckbeard and Thug Urlacher week by week. However, my fantasy football team, the Smoking Babies, had a decent week 1 with Donovan McNabb throwing rockets and I may ramp up my smack talk.

    night bike

    Tonight was my first time riding my bicycle through the streets of Chicago at night. I had my required headlamp and flashing tail light so cars would see me before they ran me over. I made it home safely. Hooray.

    Thursday, September 04, 2008

    Monday, September 01, 2008

    labor day

    Playing a Labor Day game of Bags with my sister Carly out in Suburbia. My parents have an official, plastic Baggo set, which the Baggo company calls The Most Exciting Backyard Game Ever! I doubt that. I have played more exciting games of backyard water balloon tag with head injuries and crying. Neither one of us had played Bags before. I see people play sidewalk Bags on homemade boards all the time in Wrigleyville before Cubs games. It's the perfect pre-game game because you can play it and never have to set down your beer. Though I did almost spill my beer, and I think you get points for spilling someone else's beer. Here's the obligatory Toonces the Driving Cat photo.

    This week, on CSI: Wilmette

    Saturday, August 30, 2008

    folding chair drunk-fight

    I love when the fight choreographer shows up to rehearsal. "Ten Cent Night" has some physical comedy that requires expert coaching so the actors can perform the rough-housing consistently and safely. One thing that needed some fight choreography is a drunk-fight between an actor and the folding chair to which she is handcuffed. Our fight director had never encountered this sort of fight before (human vs. folding furniture), so he had to do some test runs on himself to see how to do it safely. What has to happen is the actor has to fall off the chair from sitting position, and drag the chair down on top of her as she slips out of it. The concrete rehearsal room floor was a challenge: premature chair leg slippage that makes the fall harder to control. I tried the stunt a couple times myself (I like to empathize with actors when I make them do strange shit). It's scary the first couple times you do it until you figure out how to control your fall. It'll be different on the wood stage floor. Then, when it gets to the chair-fight, actor Anna has to keep a hold on the chair with her cuffed hand so she doesn't jar her wrist on the cuffs. Handcuffs hurt, man. They're not designed for comfort.

    When I wrote this scene, I bought a pair of toy handcuffs at Walgreen's and handcuffed myself to a folding chair to figure out how to write it. I bashed the cheap metal of the toy handcuffs so badly that I couldn't get out of them. I hauled a folding chair around my apartment looking for a flat-head screwdriver to pry up the bent metal, wondering how I was going to explain myself if I had to call somebody for help. Don't expect quality cuffs for $3.99 at Walgreens.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    rob paravonian's pachelbel rant

    Friday, August 22, 2008

    this week kicked my ass

    All nighter. Another one. For reals. I rewrote the final scene of Ten Cent Night last night because its original incarnation was a clusterfuck. This is my largest cast play (7 actors, no doubling of characters) and I'm juggling a few different story lines that intersect throughout the play, but must converge in the final scene. If you don't stick it right, Olympic-style, it's just, like, points off from the German judge. The audience will kick you in the face if you screw up the ending. Endings have to be good. No pressure or anything.

    At 4 a.m. last night/this morning, my apartment mouse made an appearance. I had been numbed into silent non-movement as my laptop sat on my stomach, irradiating my internal woman parts. The mouse scooted along the baseboards in my living room and I was so tired I thought I was hallucinating -- but no -- mouse. Mouse! I know you're still there, mouse. I have another mousetrap for you, mouse. FYI.

    I e-mailed my rewrites at 5:09 a.m. this morning. Slept an hour. Typical. If I've had a productive night writing (it was productive) my brain continues spinning after I've submitted to the bed. Went to an 11:00 a.m. rehearsal at Chicago Dramatists, delayed slightly by a GIANT HOLE in Ashalnd Ave near Fullerton, and scene 10, completed 6 hours previous, was given preliminary blocking/rehearsal and -- you know what? -- I HAVE TO REWRITE HALF THE FUCKING REWRITE. WHAT THE FUCK. FUCK. (Wegrzyn throws chair at baseboard where she saw apartment mouse earlier in the day). I love actors, but they're so "detail oriented." They bring up "good points" like "how does my character know that information if she was never onstage to hear it." Godammit, you actors. Always making sense. Stop it. You're making my job difficult.

    Common occurrence at today's rehearsal:

    (director explains a certain complication in the story plotting)
    Director: But that should be simple to fix.
    Director: I understand, you're tired.

    I'm going to celebrate one success this week. I wrote my very first funny line about foot-blister pus. Throw confetti now.

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    drunk history - vol 3

    Annie alerted me to the new Drunk History up on the YouTubernets!

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    1st rehearsal

    First read/rehearsal of Ten Cent Night at Chicago Dramatists tonight. I've been pulling semi-all-nighters the past couple nights to get rewrites done (semi-all-nighter = work until 4 a.m. and then sleep til 11 a.m.; a full all-nighter = no sleep and then carrying on with the day). I used to think I worked well in the last minute panic, but now I think I just freak out like a screaming, arms-flailing Muppet, and then I end up microwaving Bagel Bites at 3 a.m. and watching an Olympics vaulting competition because I feel burned out; I'd rather feel bad for tiny women who do flips over things and then land on their knees out of bounds than think about my writing.

    While an all-nighter can be a gratifying accomplishment, it is ungratifying to pull an all-nighter and not finish what I needed to finish. It's actually, like, incredibly depressing. Because not only am I not finished, I am fuck-all tired for the rest of the day. And while the two cans of Red Bull seemed like a good idea at 9pm the night before, I suffer from energy drink hangover. My eyeballs feel weird and my nerves feel like they were stretched tight and snapped like elastic.

    Other than that, it's going well.

    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    election day for ten bucks

    This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Theatre Seven is giving our friends a super special cheap bastard ticket deal for our production Election Day. Ten dollar tickets. Ten. $10. I know!!! Call the box office at 773-853-3158 to make a reservation. Here's some voter testimonial for why you should Vote Clark this Election Day. I make a cameo. Yes, that's my scooter.

    more netflix

    Some additional comments from the Facebook phone lines regarding the power that Netflix has to make us feel like failures in life.

    I always feel bad if I watch the first half of something, and then it just isn't catching my attention, so I "watch" the rest of it while doing something else. Oh well.

    You know what makes me feel like a netflix failure? sealing and sending off one of my own personal "the office" dvds and never getting it back.

    And Emily tried to make me feel better about myself:
    La Vie En Rose is in the 'watch now' section of netflix online...or at least it was right before the oscars... Feel bad no more i say. For you can watch at any time!
    I love the Netflix. Sure, it has its occasional problems, like cracked/scratched discs or long waits on brand new releases. My main complaint with Netflix is actually a manifestation of my own psychological problems. I'm not good at predicting what I think will make me happy in the future or, at the very least, satisfied I spent 2 hours watching a stupid movie. I project right now into my queue, and when I have a fit of nostalgia for a movie (Bugsy Malone), I throw it in my queue. And then months later, that movie arrives and I'm over it. I have to be more vigilant about adding impulse adds to the top of the queue.

    And then, there was Mark's observation that movies come as an obligation. This happens to me with classic movies I need to watch so I get pop culture references. I just got There Will Be Blood so I can finally understand what that "I drink your milkshake" is all about.

    There's also the flip side to the problem. Getting a movie I wasn't too jazzed about having to watch, and then loving it so hard it hurts (Twin Falls Idaho). But, mostly, I use Netflix to binge watch critically acclaimed TV series on DVD.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    You know what makes me feel like a failure? Returning a Netflix DVD without having watched it. "La Vie En Rose," you've been sitting on my TV for two weeks and season 5 of The Wire was released today. Je suis désolé.

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    photo 30: backpacks

    It looks like I'm doing my impression of the homeless dude I saw pee on the wall at a Starbucks in Edgewater, but no, we are just showing off our matching backpacks after opening night of Election Day. Tracey K rocks it catalogue-style with initials stitched on her bag; my bag is anonymous. Nothing screams "sexy" louder than an L.L. Bean backpack. The opening night party rolled out to the back patio at Happy Village, but I had to split early to get some work done. By 4 a.m., I couldn't sleep and watched the end of The Haunting on WGN. Cool special effects, lame-brain everything else. I should read the book.

    Hey. 30 photos in 30 (almost) days. Photoblogging mission accomplished.

    Saturday, August 09, 2008

    photo 29: rewriting process

    Normally I wouldn't agree to a playwriting collaboration with a large body of water, but here's how this is gonna work: I will throw my script into Lake Michigan, and whatever pages wash up on Foster Avenue Beach will remain in the play. Don't let me down, nature.

    Friday, August 08, 2008

    photo 28: ghost bennigan's

    Bennigan's at 225 N Michigan Ave. The place settings remain on the tables: ketchup, mustard, rolled utensils, salt & pepper, drink menu. The neon beer signs are illuminated. Do I smell mozzarella sticks? No, no, shake it off, Marisa. Just my imagination. Bennigan's wheezed and coughed its last Monte Cristo on July 28, 2008 and then flatlined to that great franchise in the sky. Somebody forgot to tell this puppy dog Bennigan's that the bank took the house, and the owners drove away to cook cans of beans over a garbage can fire in hobo shantytown; yet, here it sits, tail wagging, on posh Michigan Ave waiting for the lunch crowd.

    The Wegrzyn family frequented the Bennigan's in downtown Evanston on Sherman Ave (it was replaced by a fancier, more expensive Pete Miller's a long time ago). My sisters and I delighted in the variety of cheeses that Bennigan's offered (grilled or fried), the Ms Pac Man game by the bar, and the CLAW MACHINE (see photo). Every Bennigan's had an allowance-raping claw machine. And the claw didn't even work. It had claw machine Parkinson's. There was no way I was going to win that Casio calculator watch. No. Fucking. Way. But every time we went to Bennigan's, I plunked quarters into the claw machine. That's the thing about being five years old. You're really stupid, and you can't help yourself. No -- wait -- it's not stupidity. It's that bastarding irk, hope. You hope, yes, next time, the quivering claw will clamp the coveted prize. You wanna teach your kid the value of a quarter, you took 'em to the Bennigan's school of hard knocks.

    I am and will always be (for the franchised, non-closed Bennigan's) a fan of the buffalo chicken sandwich*. The week before this Bennigan's shuttered, I almost ate there. Almost is never enough. Gonna write that on a slip of paper and toss it into my shoebox of regret. Sure, Bennigan's was a corporate whore, but it was a corporate whore that meant so much to me.

    * I have considered writing a spin-off culinary blog dedicated to restaurants serving buffalo chicken sandwiches, similar to the blog dedicated to pancake houses in Illinois.


    Security cam video of a kid climbing into a claw machine. - Watch more free videos

    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    photo 27: classy finger 'stache

    ingredients for instant fun at the office:
    • One black ballpoint pen
    • One index finger (preferably your own)
    step 1: draw mustache on finger
    step 2: place finger under nose
    step 3: there is no step 3

    Wednesday, August 06, 2008

    photo 26: mini me

    I was freaking adorable.

    All downhill from here, folks.

    Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    if today had been a person...

    I would have roundhouse kicked him in the face at 3pm and called it a day.

    photo 25: gimme shelter

    Hey, anybody need a broken air conditioner? Stormin' weather, tornado sirens, the whole lot on Monday evening. I met a couple of my neighbors for the first time, all of us hanging out in the basement so we wouldn't die. We talked about the guy who owns the liquor store across the street and how he seems so unhappy and can't manage to keep the snack food well-stocked; how he told one of them he doesn't make any money, even though we all claimed to spending half our paychecks there. The power went out. The basement isn't nearly as creepy when you can't see how creepy it is. The worst of the weather passed and we returned to our apartments, never to see each other ever again. The only candles I had were scented Yankee candles. I tried to do some work by candlelight, you know, the way it was in olde-timey times, but I got a headache from the scented candles. Olde timey people probably didn't work by spring scented Yankee candles.

    I might have some thoughts about the Steppenwolf panel. I did the First Look Rep marathon and saw all three plays on Sunday. Good work to be seen. Between casting for "Ten Cent Night" at Chicago Dramatists, the First Look Rep, and running from the weather, I am wiped the hell out. Goodnight.