We're back from Ann Arbor -- a wonderful trip; Dan, Trish, and Sabrina are delightful hosts. The important thing, though, is that I came up with a nickname for the truck -- "Ol' Crumple Zone".
We're back from Ann Arbor -- a wonderful trip; Dan, Trish, and Sabrina are delightful hosts. The important thing, though, is that I came up with a nickname for the truck -- "Ol' Crumple Zone".
Coming back to Chicago from Indiana your MapQuest* may tell you to take 94 to 55 or some nonsense. Do not. The Skyway is totally worth the extra $2.50. And then get off at Stony Island. It's good for the soul to get off the highway and know that you are back in the city. And then you're on Lake Shore Drive, which is all good. And if you're really lucky, the stoplights downtown will make you stop right beside Buckingham Fountain and the city will turn it on full blast just for you.
I'm posting often over the Chicago Metroblog. If you're not reading over there you've missed my roundups of our favorite local bands and vegetarian foods in Chicago, public illiteracy, me learning what a vaulted sidewalk is, a picture of a window, beer, riding the CTA, me not reading the paper, and my advice for driving into the city.
I found a cell phone this morning on the way to work. I called the last-dialed number and it was the phone owner's sister. She took my cell number and a few minutes later the phone owner's dad called me back. He asked me to drop the phone off at the office of the phone owner's mother. I feel like I know the whole family.
Coming back from Michigan, we changed radio stations just in time to hear the band leader exhort the band to "make it funky now!"
"It's always a good sign when the band is encouraged to make it funky," I said. Then I thought for a second. "Of course, it'd be even better if they didn't need to be reminded."
this is a test
Gah, I'm (supposed to be) editing the intro video for the Neutrino Project show (opens Friday! 9 pm! Improv Kitchen!) so no time to tell you about our great trip up to the Improv Inferno and how great it was to see Dan and Trish again. And Sabrina. And Shirley. But I do have the pictures for you.
If you're up in Michigan, the Detroit Neutrino Project opens this week at the Improv Inferno. Check 'em out.
So, our Kickball Nemesisi, Rusty's Wranglers, (aka the costume team) were the Chicago Kickball Champions. And they went to the Nationals in DC. And they had a series of Chicago Tribune articles. But if you google "Rusty's Wranglers" hits one and two are the Tribune and three and four are my site. So here's a little link-love: Rusty's Wranglers. Rusty's Wranglers. Rusty's Wranglers. (Oops, sorry about that last one.)
It doesn't mean anything. It was just a little blurb. And it was last weekend.
I guess I just want to brag a little and if you can't brag on your own website, where can you?
Chicago Neutrino Project was one of the Detroit News and Free Press' Top Ten Things to Do This Weekend on Saturday, July 30, 2005.
I just finished making the intro video for the Neutrino Project. We wanted to have something that would explain and introduce the show a little - kinda like this flash animation that Neutrino made (it's all Scottish because it was for their trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival). Ol' Leave-Everything-To-The-Last-Minute Gerdes, that's me.
I couldn't any info on the web about Burrito Mexicano, and for symmetry I really needed somewhere to link the words "pork taco" so I'll have to write something. (It might make more sense if you read this.)
I know there are finer Mexican restaurants in the city -- make sure you try Riques sometime -- but Burrito Mexicano (936 W Addison) has a number of things going for it: it's very convenient - just steps from the Addison Red Line stop, it's open very late so I can stop by on my way home from a show (or drinking), the staff is friendly, the food is good, and the Horchata Grande is big and cheap and refreshing - especially after a hard show (or a lot of drinking).
Well, that interview I said I shouldn't talk about -- the article is out now. Time Out Chicago has a nice article about the Neutrino Project. Go buy a copy of their fine magazine, if you live in Chicago, but here's a scan:
So, Neutrino Project: The Instant Movie finally opens in Chicago tonight. 9 PM at the Improv Kitchen. A lil' secret just for you, my web friends -- we're having an opening night thingy at the Town Hall Pub (3340 N Halsted) around 11 PM. Since the cast never gets to see the show while it's happening, we'll be watching the show on their TVs. I wrote up a list of reasons the show rocks.
But the fun doesn't stop there. Saturday night at 10:30, Erica will be co-hosting Don't Spit the Water as Patricia Montgomery, Sasha and the Noobs therapist. (The Noob is taking the week off.) I'll be helping Noah perform a bit that will make no sense to anyone not privy to a ton of complicated background.
And at midnight, Documentary South rides again. For the next two months, we'll be doing shows every other week at midnight during DSI's Afterparty slots at the Playground. Tomorrow night we're joined by a guest ensemble, The Glass Joe Project: Jim Buelow, Ben Duerr, Jason Kollar, Mike Kosinski, Jamie Landolfi, Tyler Lansdown, Nat Miller, Deanna Moffitt, Jeff Sevener, and Emily Tamblyn.
As MK Online notes, this interview Shaun did with Gamecloud "doesn't touch on very much that hasn't already been revealed". In fact, some nights Shaun falls asleep on the couch and starts telling Mustapha all the features of Shaolin Monks: "Multi-directional Kombat system... mumblesnort... set in the world of Mortal Kombat 3... snore... Multalities... grandpa, why are you wearing a penguin-suit?... Ko-op mode..."
It's likely that this advice is useful only to owners of the Sony F707 digital camera, but when you're waiting to take a picture of your girlfriend with a minor celeb in a dark area where you can't see through the viewfinder, you might want to be careful that you didn't have your thumb resting on the telephoto button, otherwise you might take a picture like this:
The good thing about digital cameras, of course, is that you can review your photo right and discover that you've screwed up. We didn't want to bother her for another posed shot, so Erica said she would just go stand beside her again, which is why Judy looks a little surprised in this one:
Steev described the whole evening.
I think Daley might be getting ready to run. He certainly looks scared being held in that person's hand. And such big eyes he has...
In serious (well...) news, the Sun-Times has added a Sudoku puzzle. No cute lil' ninja, but it's about 35% bigger (by area) than the RedEye one, which could be useful if you're a notes-in-the-box Sudoku solver, like me. Of course, it's 50¢ instead of (effectively) free.
Shaun sent me an email today asking if I had any pictures of him suitable for using in a magazine or on websites for his MKSM interviews. I went back though my photo archives looking for appropriate pictures. Now, most of the time I take a picture of Shaun it's because we're out-on-the-town, usually at an improv festival, and most of them are completely unsuitable for professional use (though I would have said that about this one...). And since I'd gone to all the work of making a gallery for him to pick shots from, I'd thought I'd share with you the Best of Shaun, 2001-2005.
Do you like responding to imaginary questions, Fuzzy?
Yes, I do!
Is that because you're too lazy to write interesting sentences?
Shut up, imaginary questioner.
Fine, be that way.
I'm sorry, imaginary questioner. Ask your questions, please.
... Oh, alright... So have you had an interesting week so far?
Is it all stuff you don't feel like you can talk about publicly?
Monday I had a meeting with someone who's putting up a play pretty soon. They had asked me to direct it (I know I was their second choice behind Steev Gadlin. I have no idea how far down the list he was. Homer once told me I was his sixth choice to direct Fratricide) and I had declined. But I agreed to have a few meetings and help advise on the show. I was a little worried that it was just a wimp-out way to direct the show but wash my hands of the show if it wasn't a smash hit. But it really was just advice -- the arrangement gave the writer/producer the freedom to reject my advice if they wanted to. Which they did, sometimes. "Does the show really need to open with a giant chicken doing the robot?" "Yes, it does." "Well, alright then." But I think we hammered out some important questions about the overall structure of the show and I'll be coming back for more advice-giving after they've had a few rehearsals.
Over the weekend I did some follow-up stuff for one article on the Neutrino Project and today I did a phone interview for another. I don't know why, but I feel like it's somewhere between uncouth and unlucky to mention the publication until the article actually comes out. Is that right or am I just dumb?
Don't ask me.
And tonight I'm headed off to Funny Ha-Ha 4-Ever at the Hideout. I've got my good camera and I'm hoping to snap a few snaps.
Well, good luck with that.
Photography in any little rock venue is always difficult because the lighting is invariably terrible. But writers are a little easier to shoot than rockers because the former just stand there. So last night at Funny Ha-Ha 4-Ever I took a bunch of pictures of people just standing there. The reading was great, featuring Mark Bazer, James Finn Garner (Politically Correct Bedtime Stories), John Green (Looking for Alaska), Leonard Pierce, Schadenfreude, Claire "Zulkey.com" Zulkey and short films by Steve Delahoyde
and Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life). If you're curious what these people all look like whilst standing around reading their funny writings, gaze upon this Flickr set.
Making a movie in Wrigleyville. Without a script. by Nina Metz. The article has some nice pictures, so pick up a copy (or wait for the inevitable scan).
I had just put this list together for a friend who asked where to get a tattoo and I was going to put this all in the comments of Officer Gleason's post, but then I remembered that I can just post it! Bwa-haha!
Other tattoo places I would recommend:
Cherry Bomb Tattoo
1579 N Milwaukee
James Kern at No Hope No Fear is awesome. And he's moved to Oregon. But the website says he's often in Chicago, so it's worth a shot seeing if you can make an appointment.
No Hope No Fear
1917 W Division St
1754 W North Ave
1459 W Irving Park
My roommate has a tattoo from the Tattoo Factory and would recommend them.
4408 North Broadway
Our cousins the Detroit Neutrino Project had their opening night reviewed. It isn't a bad review, but the reviewer spends the last 1/2 of the article on suggestions of ways he thinks the show could be improved, which immediately raises my "if you're so damned smart, why don't you go direct your own show" hackles. I mean, please do point out things you didn't like about the show -- that's part of a review -- but a laundry list of suggested changes tells me more about the reviewer than the show. ("why not have us vote for the team with the best plotline and video?" -- Why not go home and watch American Idol if that's the kind of entertainment you want.)
(I probably shouldn't say anything. I normally have a grin-and-bear it policy with reviews I don't like. I'm feeling emboldened because it's not my show and it's a different city. But with my luck, the moment I post this, that guy will move to Chicago.)
We just got back from a sad event -- the last night of the Lakeview Lounge. The Lakeview Lounge was my favorite dive bar, a dark long room in Uptown ("there ain't no lake and there ain't no view," Joe would say) lit mainly by strings of holiday lights. The distinguishing quality (other than its proximity to my old house) of the Lakeview Lounge was Nightwatch, the three-man band who played Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and had been doing so for 18 years. The place was so small that Nightwatch were on a small platform behind the bar, and when drunk ladies wanted to dance with the band they had to come behind the bar to do so.
Evidently, the Lakeview has fallen victim to the same-old-same-old -- rising rents (and no public outcry to save them). Despite rumors of a new location down on Lawrence, the bartender tonight told me that there was no plans to move anywhere. My roommate had heard it was going to be a big party tonight, but it was pretty quiet when I was there*. Maybe most people were feeling like I was -- I stayed for an hour and had a free drink and took a bunch of pictures, but eventually I had to leave because I was getting too sad. I loved that place -- the wood paneling, and the handwritten signs, and Nightwatch's Johnny Cash covers (and the way they'd never finish a Hendrix song), and the old lady bartenders, and the Syrian food on Joe's birthday every year. Oh, and the dart board -- I played the best game of darts in my life on that dart board.
Damn, I'm getting all misty-eyed again.
Over at the Chicago Metroblog, recent posts by moi have included: a plug for Neutrino Project, some photos from a Metblog meetup, a "Sun-Times thing," a roundup of our favorite desserts (with a special guest contribution by Erica), a list of my tattoo parlor* recommendations, a lamentation on the demise of the Lakeview Lounge, and resources for finding Chicago dive bars.
This week's Time Out Chicago has an article (pg 42 - not online for non-subscribers) on the Improv Kitchen, the venue for our current run of the Neutrino Project and we have the briefest mention in the article. (Literally, the briefest: "In addition to Special Affect, about four groups perform monthly, including ... the Neutrino Project (through the end of September).")
At FuzzyCo HQ we have 11 tattoos between us, so you bet we're watching the two tattoo-shop reality shows on TV right now. And one sucks and one rocks.
Inked is set in a newish tattoo shop in a Las Vegas casino. It's got plenty of reality-TV manufactured drama ("if he doesn't sign this paper, I'm closing the shop down!"). Everyone in the shop has a weird floating-in-a-white-background intro video that plays every time the show references them. The customers seem to be a lot of drunk casino customers and the show doesn't dwell on them a lot. Boo town.
Miami Ink is set in a brand new shop in Miami. Out of all the "reality-TV" shows I've seen, it seems the closest to actual documentary work. We meet the tattoo artists and they touch on the actual techniques of tattooing. The customers and their reasons for getting tattooed are a huge part of the show, and they obviously do follow-up filming with the customers, both to see the healed tattoos and to fill in details of their lives. And there's very little forced drama -- in one episode, Darren flaked on an appointment and the editing and interviews were just barely hinting at the usual "trouble is coming" (on Orange County Choppers you'd have been waiting for Paul Sr. to blow his stack) when Darren showed up, apologized, and had the meeting with the client.
And they're really showing the range of reasons people get tattoos. In the first episode I saw there was a French tourist who got a flower tattooed on her foot "just because". And there was a father who got a tattoo of his two sons to memorialize their mother, who had died in the World Trade Center. Super light to super heavy. Super awesome. (oh man, and how much do I love that the Miami Ink shop is in a strip mall with just the word "Tattoo" in block letters over the door.)
Obviously, I'm not the only one who's made comparisons between the two shows: Slate's Dana Stevens weighs in on Miami Ink vs. Inked.
It's a big weekend here at FuzzyCo HQ. Which I've started calling FuzzyCo HQ. I think you'll all just have to deal with it.
Friday night, Erica's improv ensemble KOKO will be performing at The Playground at 8 PM (Mustang Repair, Show Pony, and American Dream also appear). If you're a fan of those ladies, you'll be delighted to know that all 5 members will be at the show, which hasn't happened in awhile.
Saturday morning the Little Corner Restaurant is open again after the owner's three week vacation and it may not affect you, but it brightens our whole weekend.
Saturday night, Erica is doing a short play as part of the Abbie Hoffman Theater Festival. Change goes up at 8:15 pm. It's only 20 minutes or so, but there's plenty more going on during the festival -- plenty of good stuff and undoubtedly some crap. But at $25 for 41 hours of theater, that's about 61¢ per hour. How can you pass up such a bargain?
And since you'll already be up late at the Abbie Hoffman, you can duck down the street at midnight to see Documentary South, at The Playground. We only have three shows left and it's really a different improv show, so please come out. And this week we have special guests The Franchise opening up for us.
And my friend Lawrence is visiting this weekend. Again, doesn't affect you, just thought I'd mention it. Whew. I'm worn out just typing it all.
Certain things are in process and certain other things have been purchased (bookshelves can be more expensive than you'd think) and so Erica and I are in what we call a "no-spend zone". No CDs, no DVDs, no books, no video games. No board games, my new obsession. None.
And, oh, there are temptations. I broke down at Funny Ha-Ha. If you're a performer, and you're standing in front of me, and your CD or DVD is priced $10 or less, it'd probably take wild dogs ripping my arms off to prevent me from handing you a crisp Hamilton. Damn you, Steve Delahoyde, for knowing my weakness.
And then... stuff like this triggers some primordial response in my reptilian brain or something. A GameCube and two controllers and two games! I want to buy one for every kid I know.
And damn Steve twice, it's exact opposite of a no-spend zone, but if I had a spare $200 you know I'd be all over this.
I realized I've said nothing about how the show is going. Very well, thanks. This last week we were sold out, so I encourage you to make reservations in advance if you want to see the show.
Monday there was a piece in the Red Eye with the notion "Can't get a ticket to the I.O. Anniversary Show? Well, here are some other funny shows around town..." The Neutrino Project was one of thirteen shows mentioned. Don't Spit the Water got a nice mention with a big picture of Timekeeper Willis.
And I was watching for the article to come out, but somehow missed last Friday's Daily Herald (if anybody has a copy, I'd love to have/borrow it). Jack Helbig wrote an article about "improv shows inspired by reality TV" and Neutrino Project is featured along with pHrenzy, Justice is Served, and The Improv Match Game. For some reason that I'm sure makes sense to the Daily Herald's web system, the article is spread across two webpages: the introduction and the groups.
And, of course, it's time for an installment of FuzzyQuibblesWithAnArticle. I understand that Jack was trying to make things fit into his theme, but I wouldn't call the Neutrino Project Reality TV -- we're explicitly making works of fiction. And before you start wondering when you're going to see the Neutrino Project on your regular TV, because the article says I'm "investigating the idea of turning the show into a real reality TV show" -- Jack must have misunderstood my mentioning previous inquiries we had from television producers (which never went anywhere) and my musings about what it would take to turn the Neutrino Project into a TV show.
And if you read that article and want to find the Chicago Improv Network, it's actually www.chicagoimprov.org (cin.org is the "Catholic Information Network").
And since I'm in Quibbling mode, I think that in the otherwise-excellent Tribune article a few weeks ago, the actor "standing in a parking lot alone and conspicuously undressed, drawing befuddled stares from the lot attendant and occupants of a passing car" was actually Bob Ladewig. I just wanted to say that out-loud for Bob, especially since that scene is called "the best one of the night".
Another brief mention of Neutrino Project, this time in this week's Newcity cover story, "Seeing Stars".
... and this month, FuzzyCo is back with the Neutrino Project, its improv-movie crossbreed.
As I said, brief. But it's in the context of "there's a lot of good improv going on around town." So I'll take it. Besides, it's our name in print. Whee! We're in the paper! Look, ma!
Andy Ihnatko continues to lead the life I'd love to lead if only I wasn't doing all the things I'm doing that I love doing already. Huh? Anyway... last weekend he set off on the The New England Ironman Diner Decathalon, visiting 10 Diners in 6 New England states in one day. In the course of his extensive notes on the journey, he lets off an excellent
rant discourse on the attraction of diners:
Look, here's why I like diners: they nail the compulsories. Stereotypically, they're not interested in making you a short stack of pancakes cooked with artesian-style whole grains on a stone-floured hardwood-fired grill, served with a kiwi/loganberry compote and the Penguin edition of "Boswell's London Journal." No, they want to serve you the most perfect stack of ordinary pancakes you've ever eaten. Ditto for a BLT, a club sandwich, or a slice of apple pie. Diners are all about simple food done exactly right.
Erica woke up Sunday morning with the word "chopsteak" floating in her head, so off it was to the Little Corner Restaurant (the place that always makes it sound like you can't remember its name), not that we would have needed much prodding, anyway. I got the no-thanks-I-don't-need-a-menu, two-eggs-scrambled-pork-chop-grits-raisin-toast-buttered, and Erica got the same, but with eggs over medium and a chopsteak that perfectly satisfied her craving.
I'm 65% Nerd, 56% Geek, 13% Dork. Except, of course, that the fact that I took an online test means I'm 100% dork.
Update: my brother got 69 % Nerd, 65% Geek, 17% Dork, which means that he is (slightly) nerdier, geekier, and dorkier than me. Of course, his current job title includes the word "mathematician," so it's to be expected.
So here's a quick recap of the first four Neutrino Projects at the Improv Kitchen. We've got five left (every Friday in September), including this week. So if you're not headed out of town for Labor Day, consider stopping by our critically acclaimed show on Friday night.
"Stop shaving your chest"
Katie posted an update on Erica's parents, the summary of which is "they're OK".
(Chicagoans should read "Erica's parents" for "Chris' parents" in the post.)
Kate painted this portait of Mustapha. He, evidently, wanted to show what a good likeness it was.
Ben had a rooftop party to watch the Air & Water Show a few weeks ago. We got there too late to see any planes, but it was still fun to hang out. I posted some pictures from the afternoon over at Flickr.
I haven't seen a lot of shows lately that I'm not actually performing in. A delightful exception was The Monday Show that Erica and I went to see last Monday at the Playground. The show is an attempt to recreate the style of improv practiced by the Compass back in the 1950s, but not in a nostalgic or stylized way -- it's just a different approach to modern concerns.