Monday, April 28, 2008

revisiting the rooms you once called home

On Saturday, I attended a designer meeting for Rivendell Theatre’s production of Psalms of a Questionable Nature which will be going into rehearsal in a couple weeks. The decision to produce this play was relatively last-minute; a confluence of circumstance, really. There are a few writing issues I left for when/if the thing is produced again. Nagging little things I would get to in the event of a next time. I am often unprepared when next time becomes right now. How it goes: I’m done and I dust my hands and the sod is years growing on the burial plot. Then years later the phone rings and a voice says: “yeah, your play? Has risen from the dead and would like to talk to you.” Oh, jesus, okay, put her on. Hello? I’m in the middle of other writing – can we – no? You need to talk now. Okay. Go ahead. (checks watch) Uh huh. Uh huh.

[back when I didn't carry my laptop everyfuckingwhere]

So you can always (or almost always) rewrite if someone wants to produce the play again. It’s an opportunity (or curse), part of the fun (or headache). The parentheticals get out of hand. (Clearly). You move on and become a different person and a better writer. Or maybe it’s a better person and a different writer? Or maybe you’re a few years older, a little brain damaged, and you live dangerously close to a liquor store. Once you have left a script behind, going back to it becomes a cold, clinical assessment. You are an editor on a script written by a person who just happens to have the same name as you. Then, on a beautiful Saturday, you find yourself sitting in a room with people who are talking about the play in the present tense and you can’t remember why or how you wrote this line or made that choice or what you were thinking and now you feel caught in a time-loop.

Doing what I can to get my brain back into the world of Psalms. Going back to some sources of inspiration. Tin Hat Trio’s album Helium. Richard Selzer’s essay “How To Build A Slaughterhouse” in his book Taking The World In For Repairs. Some new photos – unearthed by the design team looking for their own source of inspiration:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I hate the phrase "word of mouth" cause where else are words gonna come from? My butt? Don't answer that

I saw "Speech & Debate" now in previews at American Theatre Company. Sarah K texted "I have an extra comp" which are the sweetest words next to "open bar." The production puts the italics in well cast. And if I have some self-recognition in the character of the awkward girl/blogger/theatre dork SO BE IT. I don't laugh at anything ever, and the show made me laugh a little bit. I guess that's reason enough to recommend it.

why are we clapping? oh right. nostalgia

I saw Jersey Boys the other night. A long-standing Wegrzyn Family outing. I got down to the Loop early and plopped myself at the bar at Miller's Pub, but then I had to chug my beer after getting call from my sister saying they had my ticket and they couldn't go into the theatre without me and finish your beer and get over to the theatre so they didn't have to keep standing outside dammit. I don't recommend chugging beer before a show. So I enjoyed the Jersey Boys, but pretty much everybody else had a religious, toe-tapping experience. When people were singing along to one of the first numbers I thought: this is going to be a long night. My favorite part was the post curtain call auction at the end of the show. It was the company's last night shilling for Broadway Cares, and they auctioned off some prop sheet music signed by Frankie Valli. There was a bidding war between a dude on the main floor and an excitable chick way up in the balcony. I'm not sure where her money was coming from if she was up in the cheap seats, but it was probably her 20th time seeing the show. In the end, two sheets of autographed music went for $1900 apiece. People with disposable income baffle me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

mouse update 2 / inflatable dancing man

Look, mouse. Die in my freaking trap or leave a note telling me you will not be coming back. I demand closure.


My favorite inflatable gimmick is the dancing tube-man I see on the roof car dealerships and mattress stores. I like them more than inflatable purple gorillas or inflatable rats that show up at union protests. The inflatable dancing tube man is hypnotizing and delightful. Pure motion. Life. I want to dance with whimsical abandon, move to the breeze, limbs flailing, forgetting yesterday, not thinking about tomorrow, just being right now. I want to be inflatable tube man. However, I do not want an air-tube up my ass. Please enjoy this inflatable dancing tube-man rocking to Cream's "Glad."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

mouse: an update

I have not seen or heard the mouse since Saturday night. I returned home Monday to find the snap-trap had snapped. It was exciting to see results! But no, sorry, no paralyzed mouse. Either the mouse was spry enough to escape my peanut butter and goldfish cracker death trap, or the spring sprung, potential energy became kinetic energy, in a physics lesson to nobody.

Monday, April 21, 2008

no wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted/ out of a love poem that you used to know by heart

Here were some Sunday options: I could watch the Cub game on the telly, or spin my wheels on writing, or watch the snap-trap in anticipation of a rodent beheading. But I went out to see some 3pm art at Redmoon Theatre - their production Boneyard Prayer. Gravediggers and regret, puppets and dirt, death and redemption and sad, sad songs. It's a stunning production of a simple story. See it on a beautiful, sunny day. And after you sit in the dark for an hour, you will leave the theatre and remember you walk on the green side of the grass.

I wandered on the Redmoon Theatre blog and found this link to an animation (Quicktime ahoy!) of a Billy Collins poem: And then searched out a treasure box of other Billy Collins poetry here: Sources of inspiration for Boneyard Prayer, said the Redmoon blog.

In the early evening I scootered over to Lincoln Square. There were impromptu string instrument jam sessions going on all over the place. In Costello's Sandwiches, the Fountain Park across from the Book Cellar, under the Brown Line tracks. God bless the Old Town School of Folk Music for dumping its students onto the streets of Chicago.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

f.u., nature

Here's a tip. Don't ever tell nature to "bring it!" Now I have a mouse in my kitchen. Thanks, nature! CVS didn't have any live trap options. Glue traps are bleh because then you get a live mouse stuck to a thing. Poison might work, but it might also leave a dead mouse rotting in the wall. No, I want a mouse corpse! I'm going with the traditional wooden snap-trap. Break its spine and be done with it. Oh, snap!

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Enough about the earthquake already. Okay, fine. The earthquake, it woke me up. 4am something. I was having a bad dream and I thought the bed shaking was just -- I don't know -- my heart? I got out of bed to feel the floor but it had stopped. Then I thought my bed was broken. Then I went back to sleep in my now non-moving bed. It didn't occur to me it was an earthquake until I read it in the news. Drrrr.

My IKEA bookcase didn't fall down. It survived an earthquake. I can't believe it. To crib a line from Joe Versus The Volcano: Wherever I go, whatever I do, I'm gonna take this bookcase with me!

Big news in the Midwest. Threw that "wild cougar roaming Chicago" B.S. right off the front pages. The misplaced West Coasters today were all, I've blasted farts shook the place worse than that 'earthquake.'

Cougar. Earthquake. What's next? Bring it, nature!

What seems dangerous often is not--black snakes, for example, or clear-air turbulence. While things that just lie there, like the beach, are loaded with jeopardy. A yellow dust rising from the ground, the heat that ripens melons overnight--this is earthquake weather. You can sit here braiding the fringe on your towel and the sand will all of a sudden suck down like an hourglass. The air roars. In the cheap apartments on-shore, bathtubs fill themselves and gardens roll up and over like green waves. If nothing happens, the dust will drift and the heat deepen till fear turns to desire. Nerves like that are only bought off by catastrophe.

-Amy Hempel, from In The Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I'm a little too late to crack the "has anybody seen my pet Cougar?" joke

But Mayor Daley continues to provide a barrel of laughs:

"Now, I just want to tell you, if the cougar attacked a child, they'd sue the city because the police officer didn't do their job," Daley said. "I didn't see a neighbor run out and grab it and say, 'Oh I love you' and bring it in the house." -Richard M. Daley
The police would have shot the neighbor first if that was how shit had gone down.

prefatory remarks

Do you give much thought to what an author says or inserts before the main text? Like an author's note, or a quote, or anything? Does that W.B. Yeats quotation really deepen the meaning of a text? Why did they choose that quotation? Did it really inspire them? Really? C'mon. REALLY? Sometimes a prefatory quote is interesting. Probably my favorite quote is the one T.C. Boyle uses to kick off his monster collection of short stories. He quotes Bob Marley's I Shot The Sheriff: "Reflexes had the better of me." Which is not about the content of the stories but about the way he writes, all reflexes, so he claims. How does that guy write so much? He writes, like, a novel every other year and a short story collection in his off years. He's going to make Joyce Carol Oates look like a slacker.

I look back on prefatory remarks I've provided in the occasional program and I wonder what dipshit wrote that dipshit prefatory remark. The Butcher of Baraboo is getting published in an anthology and the editor gave me the option for a prefatory remark. I couldn't think of anything I wanted to say about the play. It wasn't inspired by a quotation or any one thing. I thought about sticking a Billy Joel lyric in the preface because one character's affection for Billy Joel is a running gag in the play and that would make the preface a part of the joke. But - I didn't write any prefatory remarks. I'd rather not write anything than write some dipshit two cents worth of wisdom hooey. I'm not talking about your prefatory remarks. Your remarks are not hooey. They are revelatory. It's not you, it's me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

the continuing saga of crap I break in my kitchen

Look everybody! I tore the handle off my favorite coffee mug in a dishwashing fury!

everything you love will be destroyed

My free souvenir from the day in 2003 when I paid a man to stick a needle through my face. I guess I can still use it for coffee. Not sure I can handle it though. Har har. Might have a better life as a pen/pencil holder.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Derby Tamales: a food you find on a low shelf at the grocery store. You bet that jar has been sitting there since 1982. There might be a layer of dust on the lid. That's okay. Wipe it off. I grew up eating Derby Tamales because my parents grew up eating Derby Tamales. It is like religion, but with tamales. Derby Tamales, yes, a food you would not eat for the first time in your adult years unless you were totally wasted; even then, you might pass in favor of that box of stale Peeps from Easter. Derby Tamale beef is -- hmm... -- okay don't take a close look at Derby Tamale beef. Don't poke through it with a fork. Close your eyes. Make a wish. What did you wish for? A delicious bad-for-you tamale? Wish granted. Wink.

Tamale digression: You haven't had the Chicago bar experience until you have bought $2 tamales from a Mexican dude hawking them out of a banged-up Igloo cooler at 1:00 a.m. These are real deal tamales, mi amigo, tamales cooked in corn husks tamales. Your brain screams DO NOT EAT FOOD EXTRACTED FROM A DIRTY COOLER, but screw it. You are bombed and this bar does not sell food. That is why the bar allows Tamale Guy to peddle his gourmet treat. Tamale Guy lets the good times roll, selling this two buck fantasy: eat my tamale and you will not wake up with a hangover wishing you were dead. This tamale was made with care by Tamale Guy's mom who has been making anti-hangover tamales in the basement for 92 years and she knows what's what. Oh man, this chicken tamale is made with dark meat blehhh. Wait, is this even chicken? Is that dirt? Was this tamale dropped on the floor? Who cares. It is deliciouso! Nom nom nom all done. You are with a friend who has never had a tamale before and he is trying to eat the corn husk. Fool.

Derby Tamales are less authentic than Igloo cooler tamales. One: no corn husk. Two: they are made in Omaha, Nebraska which, last I checked, is not Mexico. Three: the radioactive orange glop is only one third of the magic in the sauce. The other third is grease. The final third is also grease, but it is grease infused with love. Buy a jar of Derby Tamales at your local grocer. You won't regret it. Unless you're a Pollyanna prone to the runs.

HEATING INSTRUCTIONS: Slam your Jose Feliciano cassette in the ghettoblaster. Pop a can of Tecate. Simmer tamales on low in a sauce pan until they are smooshy. If the tamale is chewy, you have forgotten to take off the paper wrapper (How much Tecate did you drink?). Smack yourself on the forehead. Have a laugh. Eat. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

sick as poo

I called in sick to the dayjob on Thursday and Friday. Strike that. I e-mailed sick. I didn't even spell check it: "I'm sik [sic]." I don't feel obligated to delve into symptoms. I'm not going to be there, okay? I felt terrible and what a relief! Back to bed. How weird is that? Those circumstances where I'd rather a virus attack my body so I can sleep for another 5 or 9 hours. Would I really rather be unconscious, oozing phlegm, unable to swallow, than get on the downtown train? Yes. Yes I would. Very much. On my deathbed, which I hope isn't tomorrow but you never know, I might look back on these thoughts, these foolish thoughts of youth, when I forsook my good health. And of that I think - god, old people are annoying.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

is this just the weirdest defense for a controversial building project?

Mayor Daley proves he should never be allowed to improvise at press conferences as he explains (?) why it's a good idea to build a new Children's Museum in Grant Park over the objections of, like, everybody: (link)

I really believe that is the right location. We moved it from Monroe Street to Randolph Street; we took care of all the buses. They don't want to see the kids on Randolph Street, so we put them underground. Because there's something wrong with the kids today? There's nothing wrong with children today. I'm very proud of children. I'm very proud to see children going through parks and being active with their parents and teachers and all that. How many teachers take their children down there? It's as simple as that.
While I am tired of retarded politicians, I must admit, the part about putting children underground is ingenious.