I'm not going to front - I've taken nightclub pictures like this on purpose. But this night I was concerned (mistakenly, it turns out) about the Holi colors and so I brought an older camera with me than my usual one and the shutter speed was so slow that I thought I was done taking the picture and so lowered the camera. Happy accidents, my friends.
I have been having a lot of simple fun with KaleidoVid on my iPhone (I suppose because I am, myself, simple).
Best viewed large. It's like you're actually there, all jittery and with varying light quality…
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound played a free show at the Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park on Sunday—I videoed the show, but snapped a couple of photos during sound check (which is why the place is empty—there was a nice crowd once they started playing). If you aren't already into these guys, you should be.
Shaun and I went out to Norfolk, VA this last weekend to do a show at the 40th Street Stage that had been set up by our good friends Matt and Trish Martin. As a bonus, a bunch of family was coincidentally in Williamsburg and we were able to hook up for lunch on Saturday and then my folks came and watched Shaun and I teach a workshop. We also ate a bunch of good food and did some fun old-friends-hanging-out. Wanna see?
I've put a couple of sets of photos up on my Flickr account from my recent trips:
Last week I was in New York. Playboy is closing down their office there and I got some shots of the really nicely designed lobby, as well as my usual photos of hamburgers, bad ads, and things funny only to me.
And that's 367 Days of me. Taking 367 photos of myself (well, 340 -- I missed a few here and there through the year) has been a useful artistic exercise. It wasn't the outpouring of creative effort I thought it would be at the beginning of the project (I had visions of setting a home studio and doing some wildly different self portraits everyday), but just the daily effort of taking at least one picture has been a good strengthening of some sort of artistic sticking-to-it muscle. I'm done with this project, but I'm starting a new one with the very next post…
Coudal Partners linked to a delightful "Push Button, Receive Bacon" t-shirt today* and so I sent them (and they then linked to) my collection of "Push Butt" pictures (oft posted here as "I'm so mature"). I've even infected my in-laws.
* Have I mentioned that it's my birthday soon?
Update: I've set up a whole site with submissions from others and everything: Push Butt.
Don't we look like we are having such fun? And it's not just a facade -- we had a grand time iceskating in Millennium Park for Noah's birthday. Skating is free but skate rental is $10 -- it was a fun enough time that it started me thinking about getting a cheap pair of skates and keeping them at the office.
Greyscalegorilla and Coudal Partners are asking people to contrast their best and worst photos of 2008. I took over 12,000 pictures this year (wow!) so I immediately narrowed it down to just pictures I had uploaded to Flickr. That got me down to about 2,200 (so "worst" for me was "worst that I decided to share with the world anyway" -- I'm sure there are some wretched photos in that 10,000). Thanks to Erica and Disco for helping me get it down to two.
I won't torture you with my other possible choices for worst, but here are the other photos that I considered for best (I would have made a shorter list, but I didn't have time).
I haven't uploaded anything to my 367 Days challenge set for the last month, but it isn't because I've been slacking off on the project. Instead, I layered a little challenge on the challenge and I've been taking my self-portraits for the last month with a disposable camera. I missed 4 days, and there's one digital camera image in there, but it's done and now I'm pretty definitely in the home stretch of this project. I haven't taken nearly as many cool photos as I thought I might (when I started the project, I thought I'd be doing interesting lighting set ups and so on all the time) but I think it's definitely been a useful exercise in simply sticking to a long-term artistic project.
I'm catching up on posting some photos.
Early in September Erica and I took a roadtrip down to Vicksburg to clean out Memaw Bane's house (she's moved into a nursing home). We worked really hard on the house, but we were able to bookend the trip with great friends at both ends, which really helped.
Mid-September, we attended the wedding of our good friends Margaret Hicks and John Eiberger. Erica and I got all dressed up. They both love Chicago (Margaret is a docent for the Chicago architectural tours), so they got married on one of the Wendella boats on the Chicago River and the reception occured while the boat was cruising around out on Lake Michigan.
I think this month was a lot about looking through things.
Ze Frank's new Color Wars series of online competitions has a contest called Young Me, Now Me where you try and recreate a photo from your youth now. I was just visiting my family in Austin and dad showed me some old photos he had just scanned. So here's me in 1972, sitting in my Grandpa's old Model A on the farm in Iowa. And me in 2008 sitting in my parents' Toyota in their front driveway.
Update: I'm a winner, in the category of "Most Changed in Appearance".
My 367 Days self-portrait project has hit another milestone - Day 60 (or "Day 060" as my nerdiness would have it). It continues to be a mix of inspired days and what I call 'contractual obligation' days, where I just snap a dumb picture before I go to bed. (Did I say the same thing last month?) If nothing else, I haven't missed any more days.
When Erica did the Soiree DADA show last year, the city had Jim Newberry take some really great photos that were used to good effect to promote the show -- they were printed in quite a few listings and reviews. This week Noah was downtown and noticed that one of the photos was on several banners across from the Cultural Center. Erica and I went downtown this evening and it's really pretty incredible to see my wife's (scowling, white-faced) face on multiple banners.
V. busy weekend, with many pictures. Saturday, I went to my Saturday comedy writing workshop group, to refine some material for my upcoming standup gig at the Blewtenanny. That evening, I did a show out at the Chicago Comedy Company Theater, which is in the process of becoming the Laugh Out Loud Theater. Got some shots for Display Your Butt (the classiest site that a site with that name could be).
Today, for the Easter, Erica and I took pictures of the cats and then went over to the Knights for Easter Egg decorating and NCAA basketball. So close, Dawgs, so close. Then off to Sheffield's for a viewing party of Rock of Love 2. On this week's episode, the remaining girls were confronted with their exes. Except for Ambre, who was confronted with her good friend Adam. The party tonight was a surprise party for Adam. It was great fun, but it was so noisy (many people had already watched the episode that morning) that we had to watch the episode again when we got home (yes, had to).
The Doughty show on Thursday night was great from start to finish. The show opens early with an un-announced set from some mysterious gentlemen in beards who
may or may not be called Piad are called Ron Blackmon. They did some adventurous improvisation--they weren't just jamming, they were exploring. The results, at least Thursday night, were musically interesting, but incredibly inspiring. It reminded me of the exhilaration I used to find in some of our improv theater experiments. I think I've been a little more focused lately on entertaining the audience -- which is, of course, not a bad thing at all. But I think it'd be good for me to try some more out-there stuff every now and then, again.
The Panderer's Scott Wynn possesses the ability to sound really, really enthusiastic and really mellow at the exact same time. I feel really dumb that I didn't pick up his album from the merch table. We're going to be in Austin the same time as the fellows next month, so hopefully I can pick one up then.
Pedants will point out that the feast day of St. Patrick was actually Saturday, March 15 this year (moved to avoid running into Holy Week). To which I'll respond that my local grocery store had decorations up proclaiming "Happy Shamrock Day" -- St. Patrick's Day is well on its way to the same fate that has befallen Mardi Gras in this country. Stripped of any cultural or religious significance, it'll be just another Excuse to Drink Day where you wear a seemly-arbitary color of beaded necklace.
Did I get off-track? Oops. Happy You're-Irish Day!
* I'm sure if you back far enough on my Norwegian side, there'd be some cross-North Sea genetic transfer. But if you go back far enough, we're all African cousins. Hmm... I think I'm all out of "point" today.
I've finished a whole month of my self-imposed 367 Days challenge -- taking a self portrait a day for a year. Most people do 365 days, but I thought I'd be fancy and do it from birthday to birthday and take the leap year into account. So, of course, February 29 was the first day I missed. Oops.
It was a wonderfully clear night tonight, perfect for standing out on the lakefront watching the moon get
swallowed by the great wolf Fenris eclipsed by the Earth. Perfect except for the fact that it was about -100°. I came in after an hour when I started to lose feeling in my fingers. So I only have photos of the first half of the eclipse (and a nice little hacking cough). Science!
(Originally published on the Chicago Metblog)
The 365 Days project challenges you to take a self-portrait a day for a year. I've been thinking about attempting it for a while, but I've sorta been looking for a good start-and-end date. I missed New Year's Day (not, perhaps, a good sign for the project) so I've decided to do birthday-to-birthday, inclusive. Add in the fact that this is a leap year, and I'll be doing my own personal 367 Days project.
I've got some ideas for fun kinds of self-portraits to take, but to keep it realistic, I've also set myself some rules:
The day isn't over until I go to sleep. I anticipate plenty of post-midnight "brushing my teeth and... ooops haven't taken a self portrait today, yet." Which leads to...
It's OK to suck. This whole thing is going to go down the tubes real fast if every picture has to be great. I'm going to start off with (as above) some crappy camera-held-at-arms-length photos just to get myself in the habit of taking one a day.
Failure is an option. If I miss a day, eh, it's a self-imposed goal. No one is going to cry over missed photos. If the whole thing does go down the tubes, oh well.
For Christmas, Kate gave us a Kitty Wig (the "Pink Passion" model) with the condition that she get photos with the cats. The wig comes in a very nice wigbox and with careful instructions about not just shoving the wig on your cat's head. We had been following the instructions and trying to get Parker used to the wig over several days. But then last night Kate was over for my birthday and we just, you know, shoved the Kitty Wig on our cats' heads. Sorry, guys.
Note to all Blewt employees: the Blewt uniform dress code will be strictly enforced at all meetings going forward.
This is the second year in a row that I've just happened to catch the CTA's Holiday Train by accident. Last year, I was able to call up Erica and she met me and the train at Bryn Mawr and we rode all the way up to Howard. Remembering that made me miss my wife (24 hours until I'm back in Mississippi!), but it's hard to stay sad on the Holiday Train. Woo-oo!
Above, possum in the dog house. Also, possum in the house (by Steve Delahoyde).
When I was uploading those cat pictures this afternoon, Tricia asked if I had been taking pictures of David. Frankly, I hadn't been sure if everyone would want photos from these trying times, and so I had been holding back. "You'd better get on that," she told me. So tonight we took some all-pajama'd family portraits before we settled in to watch some TV. (More on Flickr)
I'm in Vicksburg until Tuesday. Notable non-David-related events so far include that tree losing two big limbs into the Reids' backyard (Jeremy, Katie, Don, and I all took turns with the chainsaw to turn this into this. And look what we found!) and Teddy, the handicapable kitten, getting shaved by the vet (this --> this). We love her, but she does now look like one of the Henson Creature Shop's creepier creations.
There's been a steady stream of visitors for David, which is great, but also tiring. I guess tomorrow is our last all-family day for a while, as Katie is leaving for Columbia. Erica's uncle Carl brought over tamales tonight (they were out of Boudin!). I don't think any of these sentences have anything to do with each other, but I am tired and it's just 7:30. Did I mention things were tiring? Erica and I "got out" today by taking a trip to Wal-mart. Sigh. It's going to be hard on both of us when I head back to Chicago, but I'm glad we have the flexibility in our lives that she can be here for so long.
Mike Doughty's on his The Question Jar Show tour right now -- small venues, set list assembled on the fly from audience shouting, questions answered from a jar -- and he and Andrew were in Chicago last Thursday night. Pictures were taken.
There were many fun moments in the show (you know, that Mike's funny) and gosh darn if Andrew doesn't play a pretty cello, but a personal favorite was we finally got to hear Andrew play Guardame Las Vacas (aka Keeping Watch Over Some Cow aka The Cow Song) in front of an audience:
The last-last time Erica was in Mississippi, Tricia gave her a "Ghost Hunter" camera to bring back -- a disposable camera that automagically* inserts "ghosts" into your photos. We took it on two major photo expeditions -- we had it along when we were on the Rosehill Cemetery walking tour a few weeks ago and we went out last night and took a walk to look at the Halloween decorations in our neighborhood. On the latter trip, Erica and I would ask each other, "Do you know the legend of [the place we're standing in front of]? It's hauuuunttttedddd!" and then snap a photo.
I got the roll developed today and the ghosts aren't quite as cheesy as I thought they'd be. Many of them are actually old photos and they are rather eerie. I've posted the whole roll for your day-late-spooky pleasure.
* I'm assuming they pre-expose the film with the images. That makes the most sense, right?
We spent the weekend in Mississippi, visiting Erica's folks, eating plenty of food (of course), and attending the Smith/Reid family reunion. As an extra treat, Sara and Erik and Faelyn came along for the ride. For a three-day trip with the stated goal of having as few goals as possible, we sure packed a lot in. And it was delightful to get to spend so much time with Faelyn, who is one of my favorite small people.
Of note in the food dept., the Reid family staple Goldie's Trail Bar-B-Que has moved. (2430 South Frontage Road, Vicksburg, MS is the new address -- the old one is still on a bunch of websites.) The old place had a quaint log cabin-y exterior and no decor to speak of inside. The new place has even less decor inside and a very bland outside. However, it's three times the size of the old place and the food is the same. Oh, except for the addition of an incredible sandwich -- the Becca's Special. Goldie's has always had great garlic bread and this sandwich lets you put barbequed beef, pork, or sausage on garlic bread. It's an excellent idea and I can't believe I never thought of it before.
Did I take some other pictures while we were there? Uh, yeah.
So I took pictures on the opening night of Soiree DADA with a disposable camera, with interesting, if not excellent, results. Mid-way through the run I saw the show again and took some shots with my normally dependable little U30 which totally freaked out. Well, where there's two, I have to make it three and make it a series. So for closing weekend I stopped in at Walgreen's and bought the cheapest digital camera they had -- a $10 Vivitar "Mini Digital Camera". My goodness, what a terrible camera. I've used plenty of these little cameras over the years (I have a weakness for them) and this one is by far the worst. Oh, it's so bad. (And Vivitar doesn't even want to acknowledge this little turd -- hold onto that driver CD, because you can't download the driver from the Vivitar website.)
(I also took some pictures with my now-non-freaking U30.)
I just posted a bunch of photos from the Marathon -- some that I took with a lil' camera while running and some Erica took while spectating and cheering.
Last night I presented Erica with a framed version of this triptych. Best viewed large. I'm not sure any explanation would do the piece justice, so I'll just let it speak for itself.
The last time I shot the Soiree DADA show something just felt right about doing so with a disposable film camera. This last weekend I saw the show again and I thought I'd just get a few shots with my lil' Sony U30 and darned if it didn't start to freak out. So I got a few shots I actually like and quite a few that have been 'enhanced' with lovely purple lines. I went ahead and posted them anyway, because, heck, DADA!
But we weren't just in Utah to go running (nor just to eat) -- Greg and I, and Jose from Phoenix, were there to teach two groups of Utah improvisors how to do the Neutrino Project and then help them perform a show each. We also did a performance of The Sickest F***in' Stories I Ever Heard.
I was really impressed with the two casts. We had blocked out 8 hours of rehearsal for each cast (and they had previously rehearsed with Joe and Jesse from Jokyr and Jesster, working on general concepts like working in pairs, in the real world, and thinking about where the camera was) but we were able to let both casts go early. And both shows were really good. Friday night we had one SLC shooter, Logan Rogan, who's a film student and really took to the format, pulling out some great shots under the time constraint. Saturday night the whole show was really tight. I'm digitizing both shows and I'll share them as soon as I get them tidied up.
I was a little worried about Sickest Stories -- part of what makes the show a show instead of just people reciting their stories to the audience is the sense of intimacy that comes from the veneer that these are friends playing poker in someone's house. The 'theater' space at the University was awesome for the Neutrino Project, but I thought it might be a bit sterile for SFSIEH. As well, we couldn't drink (other than pop) or smoke. The show, I'm happy to report, turned out fine. Jesse asked the small audience to move to the first few rows, the lights came down, and we really talked like friends. I don't think anyone got out a real lengthly story, but we bickered and shared much like we really liked each other :-)
Friday we had the whole day off and Greg and I walked down from the Guest House, where we were staying, to downtown, taking pictures along the way. I think it's the first time I've been out for a walk with another photographer. Usually I feel bad for my walking companions, because I'm always stopping to take a picture of some dumb little thing. Greg, not so much, because he was taking pictures of the same dumb things.
Thanks to the Slapstick Association for bringing us out, Joe for organizing everything, Jose for driving all the way from Phoenix by himself (and bringing the Phoenix MagicBox(tm), Heather for feeding us a home-cooked meal, and all the actors and runners for giving their all to the shows.
Dan has some theory that the bakery employees at Dominick's have nothing to do and so they pour their heart and soul into the cakes. I think they might just have a half-decent cake recipe. In any case, it's no Ace of Cakes, but this Hamburger Cake we took to JK's studio warming was both cute and tasty.
Some photos from Tuesday's Chicago Underground Comedy. No photos of Dan, because I was busy filming his set. You can check out Dan's bits and hear how much the crowd loved him. It's worth noting that Hans Holsen also knocked it out of the park -- pretty good for two guys who just started doing stand-up a few months ago.
Kristen's friends found a kitten in an airshaft in a house they're renovating and no shelter would take him, so Kristen is taking care of him. The kitten's working title is "Fish" (so that Shaun can say, "I didn't know my girlfriend was getting another cat -- she said it was a fish.") but I think Shaft might be more appropriate. Since he was found in, you know... Shut your mouth!
Me, sans glasses.
BT has a new band and he asked me to come to a rehearsal and get some PR shots of them. They sound good (which makes it easy to get behind making them look good) and are nice guys (ditto). As usual, I made a little set of some of the ones I like. The band will make their own choices for their MySpace page and such. I'm happy to note that I've been getting some good use out of the super fisheye lens my dad got me a couple years ago for my birthday (thanks, dad!), especially in tight band rehearsal spaces. My favorite thing about band photos is that I don't need to worry (or at least, I don't worry) about accurate color, subtle lighting, or distortion. That's rock and roll, man!
Lastlast weekend the Chicago Neutrino Project bundled into three cars (plus Dan down from Michigan and Alison flew up from Texas) and drove over to Oberlin, Ohio for the Oberlin Improv Conference. The show was plagued by some technical difficulties, but a fun time was had by all -- and I was happy to see my sister Jeanne and her still-newly-wed husband Jeff who drove all the way from Cleveland to see the show and then hang out with us at Brewster's at the Oberlin Inn (one of two bars in town).
Most of the folks left Saturday morning, but Sean Cusick and I stayed to teach workshops (and Erica stayed because she likes me) and panel discuss and then watch improv long into the night (with, I'll freely admit, a quick trip to the bowling alley next door -- with as long as I've been doing improv, if I watch too much in a row I get twitchy).
Oh, and pictures.
MC Frontalot was as great as I had hoped. MC Lars had one fun song (If I Had a Time Machine, That Would Be Fresh) but otherwise was as much of a tool as I expected. We were late and missed Optimus Rhyme because of a birthday dinner, and were told they were awesome. (Bought their CD -- awesomeness confirmed.) Ran into Nate Sands, K-Rock, Roger* and Greg, so comforted that we are not the only nerds in Chicago. Took pictures.
* Who disagrees on the toolness of MC Lars. So, hey, maybe I'm wrong. (I'm not.)
I think I lost him in the lights...
Chic-a-go-go is an awesome Chicago cable access show -- a crazy fusion of Soul Train and a puppet show, with plenty of corny jokes and punk DIY sensibility. A few weeks ago I got their periodic newsletter and Jake mentioned that they were taping the 500th episode and needed a photographer. I had to miss out on auditing the latest Don't Spit the Water auditions, but it was totally not to be missed. How great was it? DJ Casper was there and taught us the Cha-Cha Slide. Andre Williams ("Shake a Tail Feather") was there just being snazzy. People danced. We did the El Line and the Fantasy Dance. I took over 600 pictures. (Here's a smallish selection.) Yay!
Speaking of R. Buzzy, a couple of weeks ago Erica and I met up with the guys at their rehearsal space in Superior St and took some new publicity shots with them. I've put up a small gallery of the ones I like -- the band may choose different ones for their site. I was happy to bust out the superfisheye my dad gave me for my birthday a few years ago -- rock band promo shots may be one of the few places I can get away with using it and having it feel at all appropriate.
I should mention that we've extended the show by a week, so it now closes Saturday, March 17. So you still have 4 more chances to see me ham it up as a ninja. On closing night we'll be doing all of the optional scenes, if you're a completist.
What a birthday! After getting up at 5:40 to go give Don Hall his birthday present we picked up Alex and Alyssa from the airport. On the way back into town I took a gamble that the cold weather would decimate the line at Hot Doug's and I was right, so we had an excellent lunch there. While everyone else took naps, I had a rehearsal and then got home just in time to head back out to the Playground. The PoM show was redonkulous -- we had every active member there, plus PoM alum Steve, Alex (who just got on a team at The PIT), and Andrea Swanson all sat in. I think there were 100 people on stage. Don't Spit got canceled, because the heat in the theater was all wonky -- I was a little bummed, because it meant I won't be able to do Dr. Baron Ludwig von Evilschlager until March, but it did mean we got to get drinking early. We left a note on the gate at the Playground, but it was so cold that the tape was having trouble sticking. I hope it held and that no one showed up for the show and got confused. We spent the rest of the evening at the Spoke as friends came and went. Why do my friends like such violently named drinks -- car bombs and shotgunned beers? I owe Dan Telfer enormous thanks for sticking around until the bitter end to be my designated driver and for walking back to Broadway and Belmont in sub-zero temperatures to get his car and come back and pick us up. And now I'm old -- whee!
Did a photoshoot Wednesday night for the latest Blewt production, Impress These Apes. Perfect Cup didn't have any problem with us taking a bunch of pictures of guys in gorilla* masks, which frankly surprised me a bit. People are so touchy about that sort of thing, these days.
* I kept putting my foot in my mouth by calling them "monkeys". They are, of course, apes.
It was a road-trip after all, so we also ate plenty of road snacks. A few snacks of note:
Erica taught me to eat shelled* sunflowers the way her father had taught her. I'd never done the whole thing with sticking a bunch in your mouth at once and then moving the shells and seeds into different cheeks like a hamster. I'm not sure I've really mastered it yet.
Coming out of Starkville, I bought a little taste of home -- "The Original 1893 Chicago State Street Caramel Corn". Of course, it turned out to have been made in South Carolina. Tasty, none-the-less.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love pork fat. I gross out Erica all the time by eating the nice fatty strip of my pork chops. Pork cracklins are pretty weird, though. They're super-hard at first, but as they re-hydrate in your mouth they turn into -- fat. Weird.
I was having such a mixed coffee-experience on this trip that when noticed that a rest stop vending machine claimed it could provide me with an "espresso"** for 70 cents, my curiosity gland overrode my common sense and I got one. It was terrible, of course.
* Or unshelled? Are we refering to the process or the state? Anyway, they had shells on.
** Or chicken soup. Out if the same tube?
I'm something of chowhound and Erica's learning to put up with my occasional "but if we just drive 10 miles out of town, we can eat at this place I've heard has great burgers" (and sometimes it totally pays off). For whatever reason, on our way into New Orleans I didn't do my usual research and so we mostly ate wherever was close when we were hungry.
For lunch on Saturday, that was the French Market Restaurant. I had the shrimp etouffee and Erica had red beans and rice. Both were fine. We were both members of the Clean Plate Club.
For dinner on Saturday, we had a veritable feast at Desire Oyster Bar, right on Bourbon. We started with the fried crawfish, which were delectable. For our main course we split an order of jambalaya and a full order of oysters and shrimp. The oysters and shrimp were great. The jambalaya was disappointing -- rather dried out, and the chicken was grilled strips like you'd put on a caesar salad. Bleh.
French Market Restaurant & Bar
1001 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA
Desire Oyster Bar at the Royal Sonesta Hotel
300 Bourbon Street
New Orleans, LA
The first time I ever had Cafe du Monde we were driving back from Texas to Indiana and swung through New Orleans to get breakfast, which only added 6 hours to the trip. I was very happy, then, to learn that beignets at Cafe du Monde are totally worth adding 6 hours to a 20 hour drive.
A beignet is such a simple thing -- a lump of fried dough. But they're so good. And the coffee is that uniquely Southern coffee and chicory, so strong and bitter, which still shines through the creaminess of an au lait.
Man, writing this is literally making my mouth water -- I want some beignets now.
Cafe Du Monde
1039 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA
Middendorf's is a seafood restaurant out in the middle of pretty much nowhere -- at the end of that long, long bridge coming out of New Orleans, headed north to Jackson. It's so popular, sometimes, that they have an entire second restaurant next door that they open up when they need to.
I asked our waitress my new favorite new restaurant question, "if I can only eat at Middendorf's once in my life, what should I get?" She sold me on the thin-cut fried catfish and a soft-shell crab on the side. The catfish was so thin-cut that some of the pieces were mostly just fried, with not much fish. It was good, but I think Rowdy's was better. I've had soft-shell crab parts before, in sushi, but never a whole one. I think I'm not really a fan of the goopy taste of the insides, and the enterprise kept making me wonder if I was eating parts you're supposed to eat.
Highway 51 at Pass Manchac
We headed up to Starkville, home of Mississippi State (Go Dawgs!), as well as Melissa and Grady, and Mark, Robin, and Sam, for a cross-state, overnight trip. We arrived just before dinner time and so Melissa took us on a quick tour of campus and a fly-by of the best dining options in this cute college town. We decided to go to Grady's favorite spot: Mugshots. Mugshots has huge burgers, with the meat seasoned much like Don Hall* does them and great garlic bread buns (which has given me an idea for the next time we go back to Goldie's). They have one of those "Challenge Meals" -- if you eat a 3-patty burger in under 12 minutes, it's free. Since I couldn't finish the entirety of my single-patty bacon cheeseburger in a half-hour, I'm sure I'd fail. (Though, the excellent fries were also taking up some space in my stomach.) They also have two-for-one beer specials, where they literally bring you two beer mugs each time you order. They were smaller than a pint, but it makes you feel like a two-fisted drinker.
After dinner, we decided to spread out our Starkville experience and have dessert at a different restaurant. I was in the mood for a cappuccino, so I suggested the place that been described as an Italian restaurant, Bin 612. Where better to get a cappuccino than an Italian restaurant? Well, as it turns out, Bin 612 and I disagree about the proper recipe for a cappuccino, as what I got was a really creamy latte. But since we also disagree about the spellings of "dessert", "graham crackers", "marshmallows", and "cinnamon" and about whether regular coffee should be served hot or ice cold (hint, I say "at least warm") I have a feeling I might be on the winning side of the argument.
101 N Douglas Connor St
612 University Dr
* For the 4 people that that know what I mean when I say that.
Erica's been talking about "gas station barbeque" for years, and I was thinking of places like Rudy's in Texas -- full size restaurants that happen to be attached to gas stations. That's not the case in Mississippi -- gas stations have a smoker on the grounds* and a small selection of barbeque inside. Sweet Daddy's BBQ at the Exxon on Northside Dr and Hwy 55 in Jackson has a single case of meat inside and a gentleman standing beside it ready to serve you up some ribs.
There's nowhere to sit or anything -- we took our bbq and some Dr. Peppers out to the grass beside the station and ate our lunch while watching the traffic passing on the off-ramp of 55. But my god, that was some good barbeque -- a sweet, baked-on sauce, good meat. Damn. And that was a huge turkey leg.
* It's a natural combination -- gasoline and a slow-smouldering fire.
Erica and Noah and I went to the All-State Arena last night to see Andrew "Scrap" Livingston play. Oh yeah, and Mike Doughty and the Barenaked Ladies as well. (Do I make that joke every time? Probably. We like Andrew.)
Number of bass players in the show I've had dinner with? 2.
Number of cameras a cop made me put back in my car just because he wanted to, as far as I can tell: 1.
Number of cameras in the venue: a bajillion.
Number of cameras I brought back into the venue in my pocket: 1.
I wasn't sure if there was already CatsInSinks.com and I was somehow comforted that there was.
Get your "awwww" sounds ready -- Sunday we got to met Jeanne's cat Buzz who, as of a few weeks ago, only has three legs. He was shot and no one is sure how or by whom. The vet had to amputate his right front leg and said that Buzz would be out of it for weeks and weeks. Just a few days after getting home he was running up and down stairs and when we met him he was playing with cat toys and jumping into sinks. SUPER. CUTE.
This past weekend Erica and I took a roadtrip to Cleveland, Ohio to attend the wedding of my sister Jeanne Clair to Jeff Schwarz. It was great to be together with the whole family, which won't happen again for a while, because Disco took off right after the wedding to go live in Buenos Aires for nine months.
Friday night the rehearsal dinner was at The Boneyard, where we learned that Amelia is great at DDR and Jake is quite the Arctic Thunder driver. After that broke up, Disco took us out to the Lakewood Masonic Temple to see the Boilermaker Jazz Band and do a little dancing.
Saturday the wedding and reception were held at the Western Reserve Historical Society and Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, which explains all the airplanes and cars in the background of all the pictures. I'll admit I got a little teary-eyed when Jeanne came walking down the aisle. But to distract you from that, I'll talk about my bow tie.
Neither Disco nor I were standing up in the wedding, but he convinced me that we should wear our tuxedos (we have them, after all). I have plenty of ties, and even a clip-on bow tie that came with my $10 tux, but I decided that it was really important that I get a real bow tie for my tie. Erica picked one up for a reasonable price at Monitor down on Wilson and Clark. They gave her a photocopy of instructions on how to tie it, but we didn't bother to look at it until we were on the way to the wedding. Bow ties are impossible to tie! I tried, and failed, to tie the tie based on those directions. But Erica took the tie and figured out how to tie it based simply on "it needs to look like this, so this needs to go there". And then when we got to the wedding she managed to get it tied on me the same way. My wife is so awesome!
Sometimes I just get an image in my head and I can't rest until I make it a reality. And so a chance discovery of dog costumes at Walgreens a few weeks ago (yes, Parker is the size of a medium-sized dog) led to a full-on photoshoot last weekend. Some photoshoppery later, and I can finally get rid of that picture in my head, because you can see it too.
Oh, and Mustapha is really dapper in a cape.
It was VERY important that before Kate left for Japan I measure the cats' tails. Parker, 10.5", Latte 11", Mustapha 11.5". Very interesting.
Kate's hat with ears by Boho Butterfly. Squishy skulls by Wal-Greens.
This is friendship -- minutes (well, weeks) away from moving to Japan, Kate came over before Erica and I got home, cleaned our messy kitchen, and then cooked us a wonderful dinner. One of the 10,000 reasons we're going to miss her dearly for the next 10 months.
Me and Sean Ellis at the Chicago Comedy Company Theater at the Streets of Woodfield Mall over the weekend (Tami Torok was our third cast member). I've been out there two weekends in a row and it's been really refreshing to get back into the swing of pretty straight-forward short form.
Photo by Erica Gerdes.
I promise this is not going to turn into an all-cats-on-beds-all-the-time blog. Wait a minute - I promise no such thing. You never know.
Anyway, if you know the awkward dynamic between these three (Latte hates everyone, Mustapha loves everyone, Parker is still feeling like the new kid and isn't sure what to think) you'll understand why "three cats on a bed!" brings an excited cheer in our house.
Here's a cool trick I learned from Kenner -- let's say you want to take a quick self-portrait for MyBook or FaceSpace or whatever you kids are into these days. But you're at work, and who wants their boring old cubical office in the background? No one, that's who. So, put that office chair to good use and... spin!
Kate over for America's Next Top Model, "Lighting Bug Gummy Worm" candy kit, and a camera with manual shutter settings. Whee!
This weekend I did a photoshoot with the Belmont Burlesque Revue cast -- individual shots of all seven cast members, plus group shots. Plus video of 6 dance numbers. We were at the Playground for 10 hours. Did I mention we were in Indiana for Matt M.'s birthday the night before until midnight? I don't think I would have survived if Erica hadn't come along and been my photo assistant for the first 7 hours before she had to go to work (which meant she had a 15 hour work day -- the poor dear).
Earlier in the week I had had a bit of a panic attack when I realized that, while I take lots of concert photos and street photos and so on, I'm usually an available light kind of shooter, and that the theater lights in the Playground were not really going to be suitable for portrait work. So I bugged a number of my photographer friends, and found some good resources in a book, Digital Portrait Photography and Lighting by Catherine Jamieson and Sean McCormick, and in the Lighting 101 section of the blog Strobist (by David Hobby, staff photographer at the Baltimore Sun). I ended up running out to Calumet on Friday and picking up a Strobist-style lighting kit -- a stand, umbrella, reflector, and a Nikon SB-80DX, which I used off-camera for the shoot, but which can also be used on my Nikon D1 (versatility is my middle name).
So... part of the point of this is that I now have a more portraity-oriented photo setup. And I, well, spent more on the gear than I got paid by the BBR. So, if you need a portrait or some baby photos or something, keep me in mind.
Shirt by Chris Glass, cuff by Super Culture.
Because of various familial-required travels, my good friends Lee and Mary Davis aren't going to be able to come to our wedding, but they were able to stop in for a few hours on their way to and fro those travels. And I finally got to meet their two-and-half year old son Graham, which gives you an idea of how it's been since I've seen them. Which is a shame, not the least because Graham is a cute little scamp.
Whilst the kids were up in Michigan, my good friend Jason came up to Chicago and we did the LATE Ride. It was great to see Jason (I don't think we've seen each other in person in 5 years) and it was a pretty chill ride. And I do so enjoy riding around our fair city at 2 am. I mean, in general, and so it's also fun to do it with nine thousand other people.
And I rode Jase's recumbent bike for a block and didn't fall over that much.
Oh, and hey, we discovered the secret message of Mickey D's.
The Mike Doughty Band played at the Taste of Chicago on July 4th, which to us means, "yay! Andrew is coming to town!" I mean, and also, "yay! Mike Doughty is coming to town!" Oh, you know, it's different, but both good. We're fans of Mike, but friends of Andrew.
Anyway, too much explaining. It was a beautiful day at the Taste -- sunny, but not too hot. The band played a nice, tight set -- without hardly any of Mike's entertaining banter. But I can understand why -- the band was the opening act of three and it's always better to give the fans more music than banter (more rock, if you will, less talk). We blew off right after their set to talk to Andrew (Livingston), which meant we missed Andrew (Bird) playing with My Morning Jacket. Oops. It was great to see Andrew (and nice to see Mike and Pete and Chuck, too) (and meet Kirby).
Anyway, I took a bunch of pictures.
Oh, and here's a great picture of Andrew on Mike's blog.
I finally did my first Chicago Critical Mass ride, and I'm kicking myself that I've been in Chicago this long and never done one. It was soooo much fun.
Critical Mass is advertised as being officially without organization and I got to see that in action as two different routes were proposed, one to Humboldt Park and the other to Oak Park and the mass deciding by a quick vote-by-cheer. Also, I think on average the more committed riders show up earlier, so when it's time to actually start moving, they're stuck in the middle of a mass of riders who don't quite seem to know what to do.
But it all just worked out -- the Critical Mass ride seemed to be an example of the wonderful things possible when unorganized but well-intentioned people get together for a common purpose.
I have to admit I was a little surprised at how polite and cheerful the whole thing was. I mean, the ride itself is an aggressive thing -- we do stop traffic and hog the road. But everyone was unfailing nice. When a driver stuck in a long line of cars tried to lurch out into bike traffic (one of the, also surprisingly, few openly upset drivers) a young man riding near me called out, "Ma'am, please slow down." When she replied with a hearty, "Fuck you," his only response was a repeated, "Please, ma'am, just slow down, please."
So, see you at the Daley Plaza the last Friday of the month on your bike. Let's go for a bike ride!
Driving down Clark through Wrigleyville on Saturday after midnight, I was stopped at the light at Addison, looked out the window and there was the Neutrino Project's own Josh Chamberlin, nonchalanting against a payphone in the McD's parking lot. What to do but wave, then pull my camera out of my bag and snap a shot.
Six blocks later, I'm waiting at the light at Belmont and there's Don't Spit the Water's own Scot Goodhart. So, yeah, gotta get a shot of that.
Chicago's such a small town.
Our yoga instructor Mark (pictured above) invited us out to this full moon jam thing -- it turns out he's in SPUNN with KC, who I did FemmeTV with. And yeah, when we got there it turned out we knew tons of people. Chicago is such a small town.
Anyway, there was fire-dancing and I kinda went crazy with long-exposure shots. It was pretty neat that the swinging fire balls would act like a strobe -- you can see two distinct faces on Mark up there and KC is dancing with herself.
We're pretty heavy into the wedding planning, but our friends Dana and Bilal, who are pretty hard-core into some wedding planning themselves, managed to entice us out the city and off to the Michigan Dunes for the day. It was astonishingly relaxing. We did a quick loop of the dunes and then just sat on the beach for a few hours, chatting, reading, and flying a $3 kite I bought at the park convenience store.
Trip Odom 7.15 m
Moving Avg 13.7 m/h
We've dipped under 60 days on the wedding counter, and so, vanity, vanity, I'm trying to get in shape so I'm not all puffy and blobby for the wedding photos. The wedding is one day, but the wedding photo is going to be up at our parents' houses for-ever. Hence the yoga class last night, and I'm trying to ride my bike to work more. And I love riding my bike anyway, and I always want to be riding to work. My rule is that if it's over 50° and not raining and I don't have anything really heavy to carry to work, then I ride my bike. Except I break that rule all the time. Today was the fourth time I've ridden to work this year. Pathetic.
But hey, I got my new Tony Hawk HelmetCam (why? why not!) and so I shot my whole trip into work this morning. And then sped it up to make it one minute long. And added a delightful midi sound track of the song that you are required to add to sped-up video (it's a law). The camera's not really that bad, but somewhere in the compression to make it not a 26 meg download, the whole thing acquired this sort of soft-filter, dream-like quality. Which I don't think is actually that bad for this sort of video, so I'm not going to fix it. Anyhoo, Fuzzy's Commute (2.6 Meg Quicktime movie).
This is my dad:
It's his birthday.
My dad got colluded with me in getting our family's first computer, an Apple //e. We built a joystick for it together from plans in a hobby magazine. We built a model railroad together and never quite got around to making it all super-realistic. He gave me a great camera and then gave me another one when I lost that one. He taught me that we should probably hang onto this because it might be useful someday. He taught me to shave.
I'm saying, it's his fault I turned out this way.
Happy birthday, dad.
Allie (who was the kitten the last time we were in Vicksburg, but is rapidly entering the world of cat-ness) was lying in the doorway to the upstairs bathroom and could not be bother to move her tail out of the way as I opened and closed the door.
Friday night we met up with Ben and Emily and Dan and Victoria at Cleo's (grilled cheese! with bacon and tomato!) and then headed over to the Comedians of Comedy Tour at Logan Square Auditorium. Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford, Brian Posehn, and Eugene Mirman all danced like little monkeys for our collective pleasure.
Good things: They really are all very funny. Maria Bamford is extra very funny. In theory, I don't think I'd like Eugene Mirman just reading a letter he wrote, but in practice I like it just fine. I took pictures over people's heads.
Not-so-good things: It was very hot. Two hours is a long time to stand, especially when it is very hot. In theory, having all four comedians on stage recreating their in-van banter (ala their TV Show and Movie) should be very entertaining, in practice it is not. On a not-unrelated note, I am worried about the amount that Patton drinks.
Sunday morning I got up at 5:30 to make a 7:00 flight back to Chicago so that I could video Tory and Steve's wedding. Even operating the video camera, I (and Erica) found time to snap a few snaps.
Saturday was a baby shower for our friends Sara and Erik and their baby "B". The only "shower game" we played was that when you arrived you were given a strand of beads and if you said the word "baby" the person who called you out could take all your beads.
After we recovered from a coma-inducing Easter potluck, Erica and I followed our host Jeff Gandy to see the Fowler Family Radio Hour. The FFRH purports to be a radio show broadcast from the small town of Henley in an unspecified Southern state. It's a loose variety show featuring commercials, songs, dance, trivia games, guest bands, and the very dysfunctional antics of the Fowler family. Charming and hilarious stuff.
For Erica's chill birthday party last night the centerpiece, both figuratively and literally, was a 3-pound ball of Edam from Mississippi State University. The cheese was a gift from Melissa and Dr. Grady Dixon a few months ago and we've been waiting for a special occasion to dig into it.
As the evening wore on talk turned, as it often does, to tattoos and going and getting some. Kate, Erica, Noah, and I headed over to the Tattoo Factory just after midnight. Kate got a design she's been wanting to get before she leaves Chicago (sniff). We ran into Josh, Kevin, and Brian and Jill (of Cupid Players) who came to watch Brian get a tattoo -- Chicago is totally a small town.
I mean, I really do see the value in preparing material and then honing and polishing it, like say through rehearsal. These are not radical statements for most theater artists, I know, but I've just done so much improv for so long. And, in all modesty, people seem to like the stuff I improvise. So, often, it seems easier to just improvise everything.
But sometimes I think I should work that whole "prepare and hone" muscle. And it's hard to acquire actual skills through improvisation. So when Erica gave me a ukulele for my birthday a couple months ago, I asked Steve to give me a guest slot for Don't Spit the Water with the working title "Ukulele guy". He did, and that gave me a deadline to learn to play at least one song on the ukulele and work up a character and routine to go along with it.
Well, I got busy, as always, and I learned a few chords and practiced them, but I kept dragging on learning an actual song. When I'd start looking at a song, I couldn't figure out the character and act that would frame signing the song. And when I'd think of what I wanted the character to be like, I couldn't figure out what song(s) to do.
And then two horrible things happened. The first was that I was looking for online ukulele lessons and I found this advice:
If you are still a poor player, you don't have to play. You are playing music not typwriting. Forget your fingering and song voice. The most important thing is to keep the rhythm and continue singing. This technique is very useful if you memorize only the first chords of some songs.
And then I was noodling around practicing the three chords I knew and I sang Erica a little song I made up, and she said, "that was lovely."
Well, damn, I might as well just improvise the damn thing, then.
So I did. I was kind of mortified to find out that the Humpnight Thumpers jug band would be playing before the show Saturday night, which meant that there would be actual musicians in the audience. And I planned out some little bits that I completely forgot as soon as I got on stage. So I talked a little, and made up three little songs, and people laughed, and I got off-stage.
And hey, that picture way back up at the top: I dyed my hair black a few months ago to do a different character for Don't Spit the Water and it's grown out far enough that the roots are rather obvious, so it was definitely time for a hair cut. But since I was doing this show, I asked Erica to cut my hair "crazy" to make Morty that much more of an odd character, before we cut it for real on Sunday. She gave me this kind of wide mohawk and we both think it looks kinda cool, when it isn't spiked up to be all "kerazy," so I think I'm going to keep it for a few weeks (at least until I have to actually look professional for something).
And speaking of inflatable... last week at the MCA Gift Shop I was admiring the inflatable mounted moose heads and told Erica I wanted one for my birthday. When I came home from New York and walked into the bedroom to unpack my suitcase I sensed something looming over me. Ack! An inflatable moose head! My sweetheart is too, too nice to me.
The icing on the cake was a lil' stuffed moose that Erica snagged from a conference promo pack at work. Go Canada.
(P.S. We keep calling it a moose head, when it is clearly an inflatable deer head. I think 'moose' is just funner to say. Moose. Moose. Moose.)
Wednesday night I was halfway down the block from my hotel and I realized that I had ventured out into the New York night without a camera -- and ten steps later I saw a man covered, head to toe, in blinking lights. That city takes no time slapping you in the face with your deficiencies.
That night was a failure in terms of getting to a stand-up show, but a success in wandering around the city. (I have a $8 MTA card left over from wandering -- free to the first NY-based FuzzyCo reader to say "gimme".)
Thursday night I got over to the PIT to see Threat and Neutrino. This month is Threat's ninth anniversary of performing together. Neutrino was doing their first stage performance together (as opposed to the Neutrino Video Projects) in three years. Shaun and I have been performing together, off and on and in different groups, since 1992. Bare is 6 or 8 years old, depending on whether you count Bare Essentials Theater from Denver. (I don't have a point here, just rambling about numbers.)
After the show I hung out over at the Triple Crown with some of the Neutrino folks. I like those cats. Rebekka and I talked weddings. Square dance band!
I had been making fun of my co-worker Kyle because every time he comes to New York he eats the same exact thing: he stops at the Hard Rock Cafe on the way back to his hotel and gets a Nacho Supreme (or whatever they call it at the HRC -- a "Nacho Sonny Bono" or whathaveyou). I realized that every time I come to New York I eat at the same 4 places: bagel with lox at Smiler's or Ess-a-bagel for breakfast, Men Kui Tei for lunch, get out of work late, run straight to a show at the PIT, grab dinner afterwards at the Triple Crown. To make myself not feel quite so lame I had something different at both Men Kui Tei and the Crown this time. Tonkotsu Ramen = yum.
Also got to have a drink with Alex and Alyssa and watch the end of the Texas/West Virgina game, which Texas won in the last 0.8 seconds. I'm happy to report that I yelled out "Woo - Texas!" in a New York bar.
I think of Chicago as a public art friendly town, but hoodly-doodly there's a lot of art in New York. Especially in the lobbies of big buildings in Manhattan. I was making my slightly-tipsy way back to my hotel Thursday night, talking to Erica on the phone, and I had to stop and exclaim, "Inflatable Incredible Hulks!" Unsurprisingly, Erica said, "What?" "Inflatable Incredible Hulks! This lobby is full of inflatable Incredible Hulks. And a few monkeys. But mostly inflatable Incredible Hulks. I think it's art."
I assembled this little shelving unit*, put it in place, and Mustapha instantly shelved himself. If only all my things put themselves away like that.
And hey, Noah, that mug is on the bottom shelf because it is getting over to your house sometime.
* The problem with our great cedar-chest find was that we simply could not resist putting junk on top of it as soon as we walked in the door, which meant that the next morning we couldn't get hats or gloves out of it until we threw everything on the couch, which meant that the next night we had to clear off the couch to watch TV... by setting the stuff on top of the cedar chest.
I also made a lil' video using my lil' camera before Erica's feet were too hurt. No sound, so you'll have to 'thump-thump-thump' in your head while you watch it.
Well, we're not really clowns. But we play them in one sketch. I just finished my 500 Clown workshop and, damn, that's some clowning.
Sean is Comic #1, which means, among other things, that he gets to dress up as a flight attendant. I'm Comic #2, which means that I get to sit backstage alot and watch Tomas practice magic tricks. I'm going to be in the show for the next few weeks (this week for sure, exact dates TDB) so come out to Lavender Cabaret's Femme TV to see me in a red nose. Among other things.
The terrible part is that there's a entire grocery store in the first floor of my office building, so with just a short ride, I can buy healthy food, cheaply. But I still spend an inordinate amount of money getting crap from the vending machines in the breakroom. They recently 'upgraded' the vending machines (and raised the prices in the process) and here's two observations.
Golden Eye! No, not that GoldenEye. It's an infrared sensor that promises to detect whether or not something falls to the bottom of the machine. So if your snack gets stuck or you accidentally choose the row with the empty spot in front or whatever it'll refund your money. Viva la future!
Just so you know, if you want to get me to help you with your thing, all you have to do is say "it's an art project." Boom, I'm there. So it was that at 9 pm tonight I was out with 70 other people putting little green army men every 3 feet along Lincoln Avenue. For 5 miles, from Lincoln and Clark to Lincoln and Western.
Peace activist Sallie Gratch had brought the Mouths Wide Open Army Men Project to Chicago, as covered in a recent Reader article (PDF link), placing green plastic army men in random locations around Chicago. She inspired the organizers of the "March First" art/activism project to take that a step farther by placing 4300 army men "marching" down Lincoln Avenue. Each army man has a sticker (or should have -- the prone guys lost their sticker pretty easily) that says "Bring Me Home" and the Mouths Wide Open website.
The whole project had taken just three weeks from conception to execution, and the mood of those gathered at the Lincoln Tap Room afterwards was pretty chill. With a minimum of effort each (I covered just 2 blocks) we had accomplished a pretty big project. Would anyone understand / think about / be affected by the message of the project? Who knows. But together we had all done a thing.
Oh, there he is.
Photo by Erica Reid.
So on Saturday night I sat in on the Belmont Burlesque Revue as the on-stage stagehand, a role usually filled by Chris Biddle as Second Cousin Joe. I was Slick O'Donnell, Jack Midnight's bastard half-brother.
It's an odd job/role. I mean, it really is a job -- I was the house manager before the show, trying to get a sold-out crowd into the theater in an orderly and speedy fashion (and I realized as the show began that I hadn't been doing it in character -- which I don't think really mattered, and I don't think Chris does it either, but it suddenly seemed like a mistake.) -- and then I really was the stagehand, setting tables and chairs on stage and cleaning up after each act (and I was a human prop for one number). Other than that there's not much to do, but I was onstage the whole time. I tried to keep Slick engaged, without taking any focus. Noah told me that I was doing a "Billy Bob jaw thing" which I'm not even sure what it is, and I don't think I want to think about too much, lest I trigger the centipede's dilemma.
Erica colored her hair blue for the show she's in right now and everyone keeps noticing how it makes her already-startling blue eyes pop.
Over the last couple of months you might have heard me or Erica talk about the "real play, with words you have to memorize" that she's been rehearsing for. Well, tonight is the opening night of Camenae Ensemble Theatre Company's production of Dido, Queen of Carthage by Christopher Marlowe.
I went to the tech and dress rehearsals over the last two nights to take publicity photos and I have to say that I was really impressed. I was at the first read-through of the play and, I have to admit, at that time I kinda thought, "oh great, 16th Century language about tragic figures from 9th Century BC. Yawn-town." But Sara's direction and the fine cast have really brought this play to life. And the lush costumes really pop on the simple stage, which made it easy to take beyutiful pictures.
And speaking of those pictures, I tried a little directed-publicity experiment. When I was shooting, I didn't just focus on the principals, but I got photos of everyone. So last night I made the offer that if anyone had a blog or LiveJournal or whathaveyou, I would send them a URL of a photo of their own self that they could post to help publicize the show. I was expecting 2 or 3 people to take me up on the offer. Twelve cast members came forward and gave me their emails. A number of them have posted pictures, and I see from perusing their blogs that they were already, of course, plugging the show, but every little bit helps and it was easy enough to crank out 12 web-quality photos while watching Project Runway last night.
The Dido cast blogs:
I found this picture at Thanksgiving in a stack of family pictures. Mom says we never had a TV stand like that, so we're not sure whose house this was at. The photo is (presumably) by Don Gerdes.
While I was trying to clean up the color a little, iTunes random-play threw up Henry Rollins, Talk Is Cheap Vol. 4, "I Can't Get Behind That", about Hank recording a track with William Shatner for Shatner's Ben Folds-produced album Has Been. Ooooh... synchronicity.
Thanks to everyone who came out and made [my birthday|our engagement|our housewarming] party so fun. The kitchen/dining room ended up being the adult-conversation-world and the living room was Guitar Hero-town. Dan had me make a new save-file right at the start of the night and I was pretty impressed -- our band, Party, got all the way through Easy and most of the way through Medium -- not bad for a bunch of folks who were (mostly) playing the game for the first time. Except for the Guitar Gods, Jin and Kenner.
Anyhoo, I took a bunch of pictures. At my party. And no one else did. Which is why I'm not in any of them. Hmmm.
Hey, it's the Channel 12 Action Eyewitness News Team! Oh, I mean, the cast of SINema!
We made some pretty big tweaks to the show between weeks 1 & 2, getting rid of the intermission, throwing out the "commercials", adding another short-form game, and sexing-up the whole show (replacing, for example, Cheerleader[s'] Beach Party with SuperVixens). I think we really took that half-step from pretty good to really good.
And hey, some people (well, one person - but if one is asking, ten are wondering) had asked what movies we're doing. The first week our feature was Cheerleader[s'] Beach Party (the name is different on the box cover and title sequence) and we used scenes from Flesh Gordon and Trader Hornee for improv games. Week 2 our feature was the Russ Meyer classic SuperVixens and we added a 40s b&w short for games. I may tweak the short scenes for this week.
 I have a Kung Fu movie that has three completely different titles -- one on the box cover, one on the DVD menu, and a third in the title sequence of the movie.
So, when we woke up Saturday morning, the house was not ready for a party. And we had a limited window to borrow Shaun's truck and get party supplies. And Erica had a rehearsal. Panic! Panic!
What saved us was Noah. Yay Noah! Noah came over around noon and spent the next 7 hours helping us clean and organize the place. We got the living room looking like this:
Which, I suppose, looks like a regular living room. And you know, Fuzzy, the pillows and blankets are a little untidy on the couch there. But if you'd seen the GIANT PILE OF BOXES that used to be where that red futon is now, you'd know how impressive this is.
Happy Birthday, Rebecca Rine-Stone!
But fortunately, Steve does.
The Kinetic Playground is a) very dark, even by rock club standards, so I was playing around with long exposures, and b) interesting, design-wise. That is, I'm given to understand that the Kinetic Playground is a revival of an old (60s and 70s-old) rock club (or at least of the name) where Led Zeppelin, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, and Frank Zappa all played. The design of the club's logo and the outside of the place reflects that sort of heritage -- all psychedelic and hippy-trippy.
The inside, however, is all steel mesh and industrial and Ikea benches. I'm sure most people will be coming to see bands, but it's still odd -- someone who would be attracted to the design of the outside of the place would likely be put off by the coldness of the interior. And someone who was looking for a stylish club like the interior would like pass right by the hippy vibe given off by the exterior.
And anyone who actually wants to see the musicians in a band will be turned off by how freakin' dark the stage is! For reals.
So there's this challenge to read 50 Books in a year. (Did I read it on Bookslut? Anyway, I've been following Neal Pollack's attempt through 2005.) And now that we're in the new place and my in-boxes-for-two-years (or more) books are meeting my custom-built-for-a-different-house bookshelves, I'm confronted rather physically with how many books are in my too-be-read pile. And I feel like I used to read plenty more than 50 books a year. Of course, that was back in the 16 years as a student when reading books was, in effect, my job.
So, I've decided to try. It's just under a book a week. Should be no problem, right? Of course, we're already a week into 2006 and I've only just finished the last half of Cosmonaut Keep by Ken MacLeod, which I don't feel like I can count against 2006, both because it was just half of the book, and because it was a re-read in preparation for reading the latter two books of the Engines of Light trilogy. Sigh. Wish me luck!
Am I allowed to say that we had a terrible New Year's Eve? Nobody at work seems to know what to say when I respond to their cheery "How was your New Year's?" with an honest, "Terrible, actually."
It started out all right -- we got a bunch of errands done during the day and then laid down to take a nap, foolishly forgetting to set an alarm. Fortunately, we woken up by a phone call from Erica's mom just in time to get dressed and get to Dan and Victoria's wedding. They got married in a very touching ceremony (I have photographic proof) and then we all headed to the reception.
Where I proceeded to get rather violently ill. Erica had had a couple drinks, so our rock-star friends Ryan and Laura drove us home. Erica took care of me for a few hours until she started to show signs of the illness (food poisoning? stomach virus?). The rest of the night is a blur of trips to the bathrooms, snatched moments of sleep, and the thumping of Now That's What I Call Music Vol. 7 coming from the party that raged in our downstairs neighbor's place until 6 am. Oh, and the smoke -- they smoked so much downstairs that it was smoky as a bar in our place.
Anyway, thanks are also due to Kate for bringing us a morning delivery of Gatorade and popsicles and Shaun and Kristen for the evening delivery of more Gatorade and BRAT. And to Danny O'Brien for posting the make-it-at-home recipe for ORT on his website so many years ago.
So... Happy New Year!
The historic Goldblatt Building (1613 W Chicago), originally the first store in the Goldblatt Brothers Department Store chain, is now a City of Chicago office building. The Department of Cultural Affairs commissioned 12 artists to create works of art for the building.
Weeks ago, before I knew all this (and before there was any signage), I ran across the only one of these pieces visible from the street -- Tony Tasset's Snow Sculpture for Chicago. It's a note-perfect pile of dirty Chicago snow, complete with embedded trash, on display in a display window. It's awesome. It's startling when there's no snow on the ground, and it's verisimilitude when there is snow is striking.
Two weeks ago, I drug a friend over to West Town to see the sculpture again and there was now a sign up identifying the artist and describing the work. There was also a photographer inside the case taking a picture of a man I assumed was the artist. While I was animatedly exclaiming about the sculpture, the photographer motioned me and my friend forward. And now, in this week's Time Out, there we are... me observing Tony Tasset on display beside his artwork that's about observation and display. Or something.
Time Out Chicago: Art avalanche
I met up with Dan Telfer's bachelor party at the Green Mill last night, but the place was full (I did not realize that the Alan Gresik Swing Shift Orchestra was so popular) and they were only letting people in as people left, so we headed over to Carol's Pub for some cheap beer (Me: "Do y'all have Blue Moon?" Bartender: "Never heard of it." Me: "Awesome. Two Miller Lites, please.") and karaoke. More photos on Flickr...
We spent Christmas in Vicksburg, Mississippi at Erica's parents' place with her brother and sister-in-law and various extended family. And cats. Lots of cats. I've posted a set of pictures at Flickr.
I believe that, traditionally, the 5th day of Christmas is 5 Reids a-golfing.
Happy Birthday, yesterday, to Christopher.
We're on dial-up here. Worse, need-to-remember to send the Reids more memory for this computer, AOL dial-up. A leetle sloooow.
Our first Christmas tree together (awwwwww). We sprung for the 4.5' fake tree at Walgreens. The guitar is an opened-early Giftmas gift from Shaun -- it's the guitar controller from Guitar Hero, the second-best specialized controller game ever (Samba de Amigo still rules my heart). Mustapha is Mustapha.
Well, we had a great time in Austin, and I took a bunch of pictures of cute nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters, but the big news is that ring above -- Erica and I announced our engagement to my family. We were going to wait until Christmas to tell her family in person (and so I had to maintain blog-silence -- Hi Tricia!) but she couldn't wait and so we called them last night.
Ben Taylor home-studioing his little heart out creating the soundtrack for First Kiss.
Thanks to Cherie, Erica and I totally lucked into a free* OK Go show at Schubas (with Detroit's Tiny Steps opening). I took a bunch of photos. We were 6 feet in front the stage (which is why there aren't any pictures of the whole band -- I was too close) and right in front of Damian (which why there are so few pictures of Dan -- he was hidden behind Damian crotch for most the show**).
OK Go will be playing a regular buy-your-tickets show at the Metro on Friday (11/18). I have to say that they put on a heck of a show. I also heartily recommend the Audio Play that they've been periodically running on their blog.
* Sponsored by Lacoste (who supply the band's shirts) and Jane Magazine. Thanks, corporate music sponsors.
** It was a little disconcerting -- Damian would leave the center spot to go do something and I'd be looking through the view finder, focusing on Dan's face, and all of a sudden I'd be staring at a magnified Damian-crotch. Eek.
Can you tell that Erica is excited to be playing with the jug band?
Just another ol' Don't Spit the Water photo... Bwha? Yup, that's Erica as Sasha and Tyler ("Big Dummy") as the Noob. The Halloween surprise was us all playing each other's parts. I was Cutie Bumblesnatch (photos if Kate ever sends them to me).
We'll all be at tomorrow night's DSTW, but back in our regular places. Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the show and will feature the Hump Night Thumpers jug band and a parade of comedians from the last year.
And tonight I'll be at the Music Box Theater at midnight for a showing of Ted McGillicutty, Man of Action (and other films from Image Union's 28 year history). They've been including Ted as one of the "highlights" on the promo emails they're sending out and it's such an honor. We made a movie and people like it!
Super thanks to Noah (first one up), and Robin and his two friends (Kate's friends in town for SOFA, helped out just because), and Dan, Victoria, Ryan Dee, Ben, Rebecca, Leslie, Mel, Brandi, Shaun for the truck, and Jin (Sunday clean up crew). They all helped turn the picture above into... well, the same sort of pile of boxes, but half a block south. (Minus the Galaga stand-up -- that was the one thing of Shaun's in the dining room.)
excellent progress unpacking, and we'll have you all over soon.
While we visiting with Andrew, Erica kept bugging him to play "the Cow song" for me. Eventually, Andrew asked Mike if he could borrow a guitar and played and sang "Keeping Watch Over Some Cow" for us. It's a classical guitar piece from 16th-century Spain, Guardame Las Vacas, with Andrew's original lyrics. (And it sticks in your freaking head -- I've been singing it for days.) Mike made him play it a couple more times, and now Andrew is playing it in the show.
The other guys hung around in New York for the weekend, but we flew back Saturday afternoon so that we could go see Erica's friend Andrew (his "tour name" is Scrap) play bass in the Mike Doughty Band. As in Mike "M" "Soul Coughing" Doughty. It is the cheese!
We couldn't get together with Andrew in the afternoon because he and Mike went and did an in-store at Borders. But post-show (post-awesome show) (dang that Pete McNeal is a great drummer) (I mean, everyone else is great, too) we got to hang out with Andrew for a few hours before they fired up the tour bus and headed off to Indianapolis.
This is now two shows in a row where I've seen the performer before in a smaller venue and noticed the difference. (Kaki King from the Tin Angel to Martyrs' and now Mike Doughty from the Abbey Pub to Park West.) The Park West is a great venue (comfy chairs, cocktail waitresses), but there's definitely a difference -- during the rockity stuff it wasn't as noticeable, but Mike sent the fellows away for a few songs and played quieter stuff and the conversation murmur was evident and distracting.
And then after the ACM show and a quick taco with Ben and Emily, we ran home to pack for our trip to New York. Don't Spit the Water had a show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre on Friday night. Erica was performing as Cutie Bumblesnatch and I went along to help out. And hey, New York!
Well, hey, rainy-all-day-but-we-walked-around-all-day-anyway New York. Boo. And I forgot to bring an extra pair of pants, which was a problem when my only pair was soaking wet just before showtime. But I bought a new pair, that I kinda needed anyway. Yay!
After the show, we headed over to the Triple Crown and ran into a bunch of my Neutrino peeps and former Chicagoans. New York is such a small town.
I had a good time on Talkin' Funny last night. I wasn't sure how serious to try and take it, but Erica did a great job of weaving between actually answering Sasha's questions and just inhabiting the world those guys live in -- their little dance break was hilarious. Though, by the time she was on, all 20 of our viewers had switched to the Sox game.
One of the first call-in questions I got was about my still cameras and it threw me a little and I started babbling about my love for crappy/odd cameras like my Lomo (which is broken) and my Holga. I'm sure what the caller really wanted to know was that I shoot most of my pictures with a Sony F707. It's a four-year old camera, but I looove it. I've even tried out its update, the F828, but I didn't like it as much. My next most-used camera is my weensey Sony U30 -- it's got no zoom, slow auto-focus and lousy low-light performance. But it's about the size of a pack (and a half) of Hubba Bubba so I carry it just about everywhere. I also have a Nikon D1 that I got on a bargain, but I rarely use it because it's heavy as a brick and it's got a really loud shutter, both of which are annoying for live performance photography. Then some scattered film Nikons and a nice Minolta. And a box of crappy sub-phonecam digital cameras.
So, out of all those cameras, the only one I had with me last night was... the poop-tactular camera built into my Treo 600. Didn't stop me from taking a bunch of pictures.
Thanks to Dan, Trish, and Sabrina for being the best hosts in the universe, and to Mark for helping out with tech, and to Erik, Clif, and David for running.
I haven't watched the show yet, but Greg tells us that Porcupines Float was a pretty good Neutrino Project movie. And I think that the X Show was 33% less cluster-fucky than the last time we Chicago barbarians invaded that Ann Arbor stage.
It's the first Friday of October, which means that it's Blogacatmas, the one day of the year when it's totally cool to put pictures of your cats on your blog.
On a lazy Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago, I noticed that the three cats of the house were in three adjacent rooms, each napping in a little kitty-circle.
On Saturday, Erica and I went to see Kaki King at Martyrs'. We were trying to make it a fancy night out, and so we wanted to go out to a restaurant first and then go to the show, but we were running a little late and we ran into Phil and Monica and chatted for a while and then decided to just head straight for Martyrs'. Which worked out extraordinarily well on several levels. For one, we had an incredible ham and fig pizza. And we had gotten there just in time to get the last front-row seats, which was great for both taking photos and for listening to Kaki's quiet and subtle music. The last time I saw Kaki King was in a smaller place in Philadelphia and the entire audience was nearly completely silent for the whole show. At Martyrs', there was a pretty constant murmur from the back of the room and I think it would have driven me crazy to be farther back and known that I was missing some subtleties.
The last time I was at Hothouse was also to see a big band - Antibalas. With Antibalas the energy is "this thing could fly off the rails at any moment" (in a good way). Pink Martini also has twelve people on stage, but the energy (and there's tons of it) always felt 100% under control. In any case, it was an awesome show. Click the picture about for a few more shots from the show.
That $10 tux is serving me well. Last week I got an email from Phillip Mottaz asking me to come be an extra in a wedding scene. He and Chris Vander Wal were making a Vidiocy entry (and I had blown off being an extra in a court room scene the weekend before). I emailed him that I had a tux and asked if that would be too dressy to be an attendee at the wedding. "A tux? You're the groom!" he replied.
So Saturday I stood around a gazebo in a park at Western and Montrose and got 'married' to Phillip's wife, Rachel, who had pulled her actual wedding dress out of storage. Actually, all we did was stand around and do the best man's toast over and over. We nearly ran out of sparkling grape juice.
The good news is that the film, Long After, is one of 8 semi-finalists (out of 31) for Vidiocy 9. The 8 films will be shown, judged by judges, and then the finalists will be voted on by the audience, this Wednesday (September 28) at 8 pm. If you happen to be at the showing, maybe the splendor of my tuxedo will hypnotize you into voting for Long After?
(Thanks to Noah for taking pictures of me.)
We start out gross in the next paragraph and talk about the funny stuff in the one after that, dear friends, so skip ahead if you're squeamish.
I'm typing a little slow tonight. In the photo above you can see the yellow band-aid on my left index finger -- after a long day with the Reids around Chicago, I chopped a healthy chunk out of my finger trying to cut up an apple for a pre-show snack. Boo. So my "show preparation" time became "apply direct pressure to stop the hideous flow of blood" time. I meant to take pictures before I put a bandage on to send to Show Me Your Wound, but I forgot in the heat of the moment. (Though really my little chunk doesn't hold a candle to the bloodfest on that site.)
So I was the "guest comedian" at Don't Spit the Water tonight and I tried out a new character -- stand-up comic Kevin Higgins (I'm fascinated lately with character names that sound absolutely ordinary.) I was a little nervous about the whole bit, because it was basically a one-note bit, repeated with variations, but it seemed to go well. And afterwards some people who are actual, successful stand-ups said they liked it. So, yay! And Cutie debuted a new bit called Jackets that went over really well, too. She wears, get this, jackets!
Getting my act together to take real screen grabs from the TiVo is not going to happen any time soon. So I just pointed my littlest camera at the screen and took some shots the old fashioned way.
Update: Of course they have the story on their website. Duh.
The show he got to see was, modesty aside, pretty darn good. Greg, who sees all the shows from the control booth, said it was the best one yet (of the run or ever? I forgot to ask).
I've been following my own advice for the last couple shows. That is, when the question of "what to wear?" had come up with previous casts, our answer has always been that, since the Neutrino Project restricts you to the reality of what kind of body you have and what you're actually wearing, that cast members should either dress neutrally, so that they can play a variety of characters, or make bold choices with costuming and then come prepared to back them up. Last week, I wore a cowboy hat and shirt but it didn't affect my character much beyond an accent.
This week, I wore my new $10 yard sale tuxedo (with a $40 tux shirt from H&M). On the way to the show, I was trying not to plan ahead, but I was thinking of the possibilites that a tux includes: on my way to or from a wedding? An awards show. And, I was going to be on a team with Bob Ladewig and Brian Goodman, so I'd be the odd-man-out in my fancy duds.
When I got to the show, I was reminded that Ben Taylor was out of town, so Bob was going to be taking over DJ duties. So it was going to be just Brian and me. And Shaun assigned our team the "location" of his motorcycle. And then, in the theater, our audience-supplied object was a Mayor of London business card holder stuffed with business cards from "Scott Wild". So, naturally, we became international action heroes Scott Wild and Hank Savage. Done and done.
So... the London Metrobloggers were mentioned and quoted in the mainstream press for their street-level coverage of the London bombings. The New Orleans Metrobloggers are currently getting the same sort of attention for their personal coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Today on my lunch break I was interviewed by CBS 2 Chicago for a piece they're doing on... spiders. Well and so. The piece should air sometime next week and you can be sure I'll post more information as I have it.
Some notes from the interview:
As we were setting up for the interview, me sitting on a park bench, the producer, Lisa, to my left and Aleph(sp?) and the camera directly in front of me, an old man came and sat down very close on my right. We all three just stared at him for a moment and he gave us a look back like, "it's OK, I'm next." (When dumb-founded staring didn't work, Lisa asked him to move and he was happy to do so.)
I've been feeling bad lately that all I have for my video camera is a plastic white-card for doing white-balancing -- I know I should get one with shades of black and grey to help with color correction later. Until Lisa scrounged in her purse to produce a folded memo that Aleph white-balanced off of.
I'm not sure how much of what I said they'll use (if anything) -- it's a short piece. But let me confess, even if they never air them, to two things. Erica pointed out, when I was recounting the afternoon to her, that I mangled the words to "Itsy-bitsy Spider". When I reference "according to the comics I read as a kid, Spiderman is so strong because he's got the proportional strength of a spider," it's an accurate statement, but I am, of course, fronting -- I still read comic books.
And another confession: the above photo is staged. We were done with the interview and Lisa offered to take some shots with my little camera. Thanks, Lisa.
Over at the Chicago Metblog I talked about our new season of locally- and loosely-organized kickball. My suspicions of looseness were confirmed tonight when out of four nominal teams we had enough people show up to make two teams. But out of all the things in my life I'm uptight about, kickball is not one of them, and most everyone else in the league feels the same way. We divided up odd-birth-month and even-birth-month and played some by-god kickball. They (the cursed odds) should have won at the bottom of the fifth, but there was still light, so to a chorus of "one more inning!" we played on and we (the glorious evens) came back to... well, to either win or tie. No one was really paying attention to the score. It is, after all, only kickball.
Confidential to Liu Kang: happy now?
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.
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.
Kate painted this portait of Mustapha. He, evidently, wanted to show what a good likeness it was.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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".
I walk down the most officey cabinet-lined office hallway at work several times a day, and at the end of the hall is this window, looking out on the lake and the sky and until you get right up to the window all you can see is blue and blue and sometimes I wish I could just fly through the window and go to where the two blues meet...
I saw this No Parking sign outside my work and wondered what the kind of sidewalk had to do with whether you could park there. I discovered that a vaulted sidewalk is a sidewalk "built over basement space originally designed for delivery and storage of coal"*. Ah... so "don't park here because the weight of your car might collapse the sidewalk down into the empty space underneath." Noted. I'm surprised there isn't just a symbol for that.
Well, it's been lurking up there on the calendar for a few weeks now, but I finally got the poster done, which seems like a good excuse to formally talk about the show. To wit, the Neutrino Project is back!
If you're a new FuzzyCo reader, the Neutrino Project is a unique film-theater hybrid: we create an entire movie while the audience is watching it. That's cool if you want to take a moment to wrap your head around that -- it blew my mind at first, too. The show was created by Neutrino in NYC and Shaun and I were the first outside group to ask them if we could develop the show in our own city, back in 2002. There are now versions of the show in Seattle and Washington, DC, too.
It's been a year and a half since we've done a run of the Neutrino Project in Chicago, and that run at the Three Penny Cinema was, frankly, a little rough. At the start of the run we overlapped with the Cubs play-offs appearance and at the end of the run we had problems getting paid by the Three Penny management. (Actually, we've never been paid. Fie on them, I say.) So that put us off the show for a while. But over the interval, I went to the Edinburgh Festival with the NY Neutrino, we took the show to Toronto Second City, and teamed up with the Seattle Neutrino Project to do the show at the Phoenix Improv Festival. All of which kept reminding us how much we enjoyed doing the show.
So Shaun has been on the prowl for a venue for a while and recently got us hooked up with the Improv Kitchen (3419 N Clark). The Improv Kitchen does an interesting short-form show with green-screen work, but the big attraction for us was that they have a full video set-up backstage and a big plasma screen at every table. No more setting up a projector and screen minutes before the show!
A big change for this run is that we brought in an outside director. Well, outside as in "outside of Shaun and I" as we've both directed the show in past runs. Lillian Frances has been an actor in previous runs of the Neutrino Project, but is an accomplished and acclaimed director and she and we all leapt at the chance to have her direct the show. Greg Inda, whose been integral to the show from the beginning as our tech manager is now also the assistant director. Looking back, I think we spent a lot of time in past runs on getting the show to work, and now Lillie is really making us all think about how to make the show work well.
There are a few new faces on the cast as well as plenty of old hands (alphabetical by first name, since that's how it comes out of my email program): Adam Devlin-Brown, Alison Mayer, Andrea Swanson, Ben Taylor (musical director), Bob Ladewig, Brian Goodman, Cesar Jaime, Chad Reinhart, Erica Reid, Fuzzy Gerdes, Jacqueline Stone, Jin Kim, Josh Chamberlin, Megan Diemer, Michael Starcevich, Patrick Brennan, Rebecca Hanson, Sean Cusick, and Shaun Himmerick.
The show will play Friday nights in August and September at 9 PM. The Improv Kitchen has a full bar and (of course) kitchen, but there's no two-drink-minimum or anything -- you can just come and watch the show if you want. But the food's really yummy...
Other exciting Neutrino Project news is that we'll be book-ending our Chicago run with trips up to Ann Arbor to Neutrino-alums Dan and Trish Izzo's Improv Inferno. I've been trying to get up there since it opened (and I have a computer to give back to Dan) so it's nice to be forced to go up and do a show.
We're halfway through our rehearsal process now and Shaun and I have been taking a few Behind the Scenes shots. Unfortunately, during the active part of rehearsal, we're usually too busy to take any pictures. So most of our shots are of people sitting on couches watching a TV or listening to Lillie give notes.
Adam hungers for Jin's head-burger
Adam films Bob and Erica
Steev had guessed that the opening night of the new open run of Don't Spit the Water would have 30 people in the audience. I'm happy to say that he was 200% wrong (50% wrong?) -- the show was jam-packed* and they had to turn people away. A reviewer was there from the Daily Herald, so look for that review soonish.
I had my camera* along and Steev has put up a gallery of some of the shots. I didn't take as many pictures as I usually do because I was helping Cutie Bumblesnatch with some of her bits, but here are some of my favorites:
Cutie makes someone spit just by staring at them while wearing a viking hat and marshmallows on her fingers.
Staedtler Per Müstach emotes the heck out of a song.
Earl LaRue makes the same woman spit through the sheer power of his maniless.
Shaun didn't like the picture that MK Online used to illustrate his Developer Diary, so he had them replace it with another one. The new one is cropped down from a picture we like to call "Shaun over-indulges". Drink, check. Smoking and pizza, check, check. T-shirt for violent video game, check. Vapid expression while watching someone do bar karaoke, check check check.
Sometimes it's just as simple as a sleeping cat.
I wish I could say this was our victory photo. But it's not. Once again, we came in second.
The day started out well. We got to skip straight to the semi-finals because our first-round team forfeited ahead of time. In the semi-finals we took Feets of Fury 4-3 in a rather tight game. Pete had the play of the game with a slide home that sent up such a cloud of dust that you couldn't see him for a minute. In the championship game, Rusty's Wranglers (aka "the costume team") bested us 2-0 with their firey pitcher and "white-trash prom"-themed costumes.
Tonight was our rain-makeup game against Yes We Can, so it was ironic that it was drizzling as we started. It rained pretty steady through the first three innings, but none of us wanted to give up. In end we won 5-1, which means that James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub Party finishes the regular season undefeated (7-0-1 if you're keeping track at home). Next week the playoffs begin.
Anyway, Indiana doesn't do Daylight Saving Time. Except in some of the corners where it does. And Vevay is in a corner. So when we got to Madison, where our hotel was, we asked at the check-in what time it was in Vevay. "They're an hour ahead, so it's 6:30."
Eeek! The wedding was at 7:00! So we threw on our wedding clothes and jumped in the car for the 20 mile drive to Vevay. We got there just at 7:05 and ran into Mo's Steakhouse. We pushed our way past the long line of people waiting for seats and asked a server at the front counter, "we're here for the wedding?"
"This is Mo's Steakhouse, right?"
"Do you have a banquet room or something?"
"Janice, do we have a banquet room?"
Mo's, it must be noted, is a good-sized place, but not that big. Fortunately, Janice did know that they had a banquet room, and even how to get there.
And it was 6:15. Vevay, despite the assurances of our hotel clerk, is on "slow time". The groom found us as we were headed into the banquet room. "I'm just hanging out here to catch fast-time people who are showing up early." Fast-time and slow-time, it turns out, are appended to times like the TV always says "10 PM Eastern (9 Central)". As in, "I'd better get home soon, because I have to be at work tomorrow morning at 6 AM Fast-time."
The rest of the wedding is in the picture set.
I've posted some of the snaps I took at my uncle Jim's wedding as a set on my Flickr account.
This is the official Documentary South cast photo. Too bad I look like a goon. Our opening night went well... a sold-out house and people said nice things. And those parts of the show (the, you know, beginning and end) that we had tossed in at the last rehearsal, actually went pretty well.
So tomorrow night you have a choice (if you were thinking of seeing this show at all, of course). Erica and I will be out-of-town (a wedding in Southern Indiana) so you probably would want to wait until next week or the week after (I making a rash assumption that because you're reading my site, you have some interest in me) but there is a coupon that gets you a half-price ticket, but it's only good for tomorrow night. So which is more important to you -- seeing me, or being a cheapskate?
7-3 over the Bike Rack Bullies. Yeah, we're winners. And sometimes, winners have to wear balls on their heads. You just gotta...
Worse than the pain is the half-hour of sleep they robbed me of this morning. Erica had food poisoning last night (and so she is the one who deserves any sympathy) and so we were both up late. To be woken up by a cat clawing his way across your face at 6 am can be summarized as, "Boo."
Here's the cast of Documentary South, documenting the heck out of Ryan Gilmour.
As I've mentioned, the opening of Doc South got moved up a few weeks because of a sudden space availability at the Playground. So we had an extra rehearsal last night to make sure we're all ready for our opening night this weekend. I think that, in fact, we are. If this cast improvises half as well as they dance, we're set.
The ball isn't visible because George has just kicked it out of frame, but it might as well be a picture of George kicking the ground in a traditional "shucks, mister." We weren't defeated, but neither are still all-victorious -- we went up against Rusty's Wranglers (aka "the costume team") and we tied 2-2. Shoot.
Jason Vizza and Melanie Keller as "a couple nearing an end"
A couple of weeks ago, Erica and I went to a benefit for Reverie Theatre Company that featured a performance of The Closer We Get by Chris Pomeroy. It was quite an extraordinary piece of theater. For an hour and a half, ten different scenes were performed simultaneously in different set-lets around the art gallery where the benefit was being held (except for the "Cupid" scene, which took place in the art gallery itself and was the only one to feature audible words) -- all having to do with different kinds of relationships at different stages: a couple on the verge of a breakup, a mother and child, a poet dealing with a failed relationship, a woman and her peeping tom, etc. At the start of the evening I thought it might be a bit hokey, but found it to be surprisingly powerful. Enough so that when it got a bit overwhelming, we'd go back and look at the mother and child for a while to reset. That kid was great!
More pictures after the jump...
Mike Garvey (right) gives his best-man's speech to Patrick and Jenny
Friday night everyone who was anyone was at the Chicago Cultural Center for the wedding of Patrick Brennan and Jenny S. The bride was radiant and the groom was handsome. The surroundings were beautiful -- the Cultural Center used to be the Chicago Public Library and the room the reception was in was designed by Louis Tiffany. And they had a photobooth where guests could take their own pictures and then paste them in a scrapbook for the couple.
Or take a copy for themselves...
More photos in my Flickr account...
Erica: I just gt back from lunch, so i haven't checked emailabout o'leary
Erica: i have a honkin big beef chimichanga for you if you want it, though
Erica: i could barely eat it
Fuzzy: I had a jumbo dog with fries and little birds came and visited me at lunch.
Erica: snow white gerdes
4-1 over Ferocious. This was a huge win, because they were also undefeated, but a game ahead of us, since we had a "buy" week and they had not yet. So we're now 5-0 and they're 5-1.
After the game we went to the official league-sponsor bar. It's new this season and last night was the first time I've made it over there after a game. I guess it's a little hoity and everyone else on the team is tired of dealing with the staff's attitude. So we packed up and moved up the street to Gio's (4857 N Damen) where they welcomed us with open arms and treated us like Kings and Queens. And not just the staff, the patrons were very accomidating to this huge group suddenly appearing in their midst. And Gio's looks very regular-Chicago-barish, but has a lot of Mexican food on their menu, which turned out to be excellent. Mike inhaled a beef chimichanga next to me and I had a delighful carne asada.
And... 4-1. Remember that part? Aces!
To paraphrase the Geto Boys: Damn it feels good to be a geeksta. Biking is fun and all, but biking with numbers... yeah boyee.
Home to work: 7.24 miles
Max speed: 18.3 m/h
Moving Avg: 13.2 m/h
Time taken: 32:40
What mysterious thoughts is she thinking?
Someone left the rest of their facial-hair disguise kit at the Don't Spit the Water auditions today.
7-0 over Is It In You? last night, and I kicked in two of those runs (whee!). It was sprinkling throughout the last three innings, but we all soldiered on and played a full game.
The league supplies shirts to everyone, with the only difference between teams being the color of the shirt. So we had our shirts screen-printed again with our team name on the back and team nick-names on the front. Here team co-captain Amber models her fetching new shirt:
One of the first things of Erica's we moved into the house was Parker. It's been interesting as the cats get adjusted to each other. Mustapha, as expected, wants to be friends with Parker, who is slowly warming up to him, and Latte... well, I guess Parker is lucky Latte can't use a knife, otherwise she'd probably shiv Parker in the sunroom.
It's been a little worrying that all three cats seem to be eating Parker's weight loss cat food. Neither Mustapha nor Latte really needs to lose any weight. I hauled each cat onto the scale to check out where they were:
It's such a tidy geometric procession of weights, it's a little weird. I think I'll stop using pounds and just talk about the cats' weights in terms of Lattes, as in "Parker weighs about 4 Lattes".
Oh, and thinking of other made-up units, I'll point out that the house is steady at a CCI of 1. (CCI = Cat Craziness Index. Having any cat makes you crazy, but how crazy is determined by dividing the number of cats in the house by the number of people. If you say "do you mean humans, because cats are people," multiply your CCI by 2.)
Here's the cast of Documentary South - Chicago. Hmm... that sounds like it's a documentary about the south side. Here's the Chicago cast of DSI's Documentary South. This is not our press photo - I just asked Dan to snap a quick picture of us at rehearsal last night.
back row (l to r) Sammy Tamimi, Ryan Gilmour, Fuzzy Gerdes, Brad Dunn, Mike Higgins
front row (l to r) Christopher Alvarado, Kristen Studard, Erica Reid, Ryan Stone
I love photobooths. Erica loves photobooths. Yet somehow last night at Sheffield's for Beth's going-away party (she's headed out for four months as part of a Second City cast on a cruise ship) was the first time we'd both been in a photobooth together.
(Beth is the one in the blue vest in the clip called "Working" on this page.)
The Phoenix Improv Festival, as I mentioned, rocked. All of the organizers and volunteers were great -- shout outs to Bill, April, Darin, Stacey, Jose, and Mark for making our stay so enjoyable -- and we did (I say humbly) pretty-good shows and I had fun teaching two workshops. And super thanks to Michelle Edwards for taking some cool pictures of Bare. Yay!
Sunday, out for the Y-Me Walk (that's those 30,000 people in the background of this photo) we came across a sculpture in the median at corner of Congress and Michigan and then a group of three similar sculptures in Grant Park near Roosevelt and Michigan. "Why, these look brand new," I thought.
As usual, I was wrong.
Thanks to the helpful folks at the Chicago Public Art Program, I have learned that they're all by Dessa Kirk and that Daphne Garden will eventually make way for a large sculptural installation by a Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. (Magdalene will be on Michigan until the winter.) It's all part of the Art in the Garden project.
Clearing images off the camera phone -- I like this one from a few weeks ago.
Pretty uneventful second weekend of the Chicago Improv Festival -- except for the Odd Political Thing that I had to fix in my video unexplainably reverting to the Old Wrong Name the one time the Important Person was there. And KOKO doing a great show as headliners on the Showcase stage. And these cuties showing up semi-unexpectedly from Texas:
I just got off the phone with Circuit City's extended warranty folks who insist they're not going to fix my beloved Sony F707 because the lens assembly just coming off is "damage" (worse - I suspect that really it's improperly-tightened screws when they last had it for a cleaning to fix memory-card-reading problems). Boo. My poor baby.
So, to cheer myself up, here's some promo shots we (me & the F707) did earlier this month with the Camenae Theater Ensemble. They're going to use this one on an upcoming postcard:
Though I was partial to the ones we did with the construction equipment in the parking lot next door. These ladies are tough...
These guys make me question my team's commitment to kickball. I mean, sure we win (6-3 over the Burninators last night, taking us to 3-0 for the season) but we don't dress up like all the parts of a rodeo. (And I didn't even get a picture of the folks who were wearing child-size ride-a-ponys around their waists).
It's a little blurry, but I think you can see the victory in our eyes. Yes, kickball season has started again, and James Brown Celebrity Hottub Party is off to a great start with a win over Feets of Fury this week and one over the Kicktators last week. I think that's spelled 2-0.
I missed the game last week because of my book group, so I really felt I needed to go this week, even though I had missed half a day of work because I was sick. So I went to kickball and stood out in gale force winds for an hour and a half and, surprise!, I missed a whole day of work today because of my coughiness. Brainiac = me. (AND I'm kicking 000 for the season. Whee!)
And I don't know the whole story here, but Shaun and Tim asked Amber to customize their shirts and she showed up with these...
That's "Ahole" and "Cuz" spelled out in googly-eyes on the fronts of their shirts, which I guess are their nicknames, and, um... lace. Light blue and pink lace.
"I'd rip the lace off, but I think I know how much work went into attaching it to the shirt," Shaun said. And if that isn't the sweetest thing he's ever said, I'm not sure what it would be. (And if me posting that picture isn't the meanest thing I've ever done, it's probably in the top ten.)
Photo by Erica Reid
Erica took this on her trip to Houston earlier this month. Even more than my name, I love the exclamation point. This isn't pizza, it's "PIZZA!"
A couple of us went to a tattoo show this afternoon, but noone there had tattoos as cool as me (the alphabet) and Darin (pi to 20 places).
Phoenix improv group Ferguson performing puppet improv at the PIF.
I finally brought my good camera to Don't Spit the Water and took a bunch of photos, which Steev has posted. This week featured the return of Cutie Bumblesnatch (aka Erica) who is with the show for the rest of the run (2 shows!) and then their CIF appearance the next week (same day of the week, different time). Pictured above, looking all sheepish (sorry) is Camenae Ensemble's Sara McGuire.
Yet another reason that trains are cooler than planes: when someone calls you from O'Hare and tells you they're "in Chicago" for a few hours, you'd have to trudge all the way out to Schaumburg and they have to come out of security and then their plane is boarding and, ugh, it's just never worth it. But this weekend my god-children (and their dad) had a one-hour layover at Union Station and I rolled in at the exact moment they got off their train and we had a delightful smoothie and chatted about how school is going and they got back on a train and I went to pick up some food on the way home. Done and done.
(And check out the hair! Are my godkids the cooliest or what?)
The tech blog Gizmodo runs a periodic feature called "What's in your gadget bag?" where they ask tech figures like Cory Doctorow, Glenn Fleishman and ... Dave Barry what kind of gear they haul around with them. A few hundred users of the Flickr photo sharing service are using the tag whatsinyourbag to share the same information with each other. I figured it'd be a good chance to clean out my bag to take everything out, take a picture, and join the crowd.
From left to right
Timbuk2 Commute bag with Strap Pad and iPod case
spare business cards and Playground discount coupons
Stereo headphones for Treo 600
no-W button from Dan
keys with garage door opener
Game Boy Advance SP (Fire Emblem inside)
extra GBA games: Advance Wars 2, Super Puzzle Fighter II, Donkey Kong Country, Warioland 4, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Sony DSC-U30 digital camera
ibuprofen & ibuprofen/pseudophedrine
Maglite Solitaire flashlight
iPod (20 GB) with Sennheiser MX400 headphones
Macally Podwave mini-speakers for iPod
Griffin iTalk microphone for iPod (I never use it)
PocketDock 6-pin Firewire and line-level adapter for iPod
lens cleaner cloth for glasses
spare batteries for digital camera
spare MemoryStick for digital camera
spare SD memory card for Treo 600
Handsfree headset for Treo 600
Glide dental floss
Garmin Geko 201 GPS (which has an exposed power button, so it always gets turned on in my bag, so it's always dead)
SmartDisk 30 GB Firewire harddrive
Moleskine pocket notebook
RCA to S-Video adapter for Powerbook
ziplock bag of change (got my bag a second look the last time I went through airport security)
Halls Defense Vitamin C lozenges
Sony 256 MB USB Drive
Kensington 256 MB USB Drive
Headphone adapter for Game Boy Advance SP
Stereo headphone adapter for Treo 600
Pens, mostly Uniball varieties and Sharpies
Treo 600 PDA/phone (I did a whole post about the software I have installed on it)
And of course there's a book in there. Right now I'm reading Jeff Griggs' memoir of Del Close, Guru.
Yesterday we visited a pet store that had prairie dogs. Evidently you can't buy or sell (or move) them, but you can have them.
Chicagoist has already reported on the latest in the Burger Delights "story" -- the Burger King restaurants that morphed into Burger Delightses are now becoming Chicken Delights. I just wanted to point out that these changes are rather obviously not being done in any sort of organized fashion. It was just a week ago that the Burger Delights at Broadway and Foster replaced their Burger Delights tarp-over-the-still-visible-Burger-King-sign with a real sign. And now... you can see that big line across the middle of this sign -- someone had to cut the sign in half and replace the top half. And why a new font? It's just sad. (Though the 'leet speek in the sign below is a nice touch.)
Hey buddy, you got a little... on your arm... no, the other one... a little higher. It's a... oh, is that part of your arm?
Here's me and some friends on July 23, 2001 near the top of Mount St. Helens. (The banner, which someone else had made and loaned us for our picture, lies. This is near the top but not at the summit. Mary and I were the only ones from our group who made it to the summit that trip.)
Mount St. Helens has been grumpy for some time and had a big burp today.
As I go to and from the office here, I've been walking beside this for a couple of days now:
It wasn't until I went across the street to the Starbucks in Trump Tower that I realized I've actually been walking beside this:
The view from my hotel room. Much better than the last time I was in New York when my view was of the brick wall three feet across the air shaft.
Dear New York snow,
That's really not very helpful for visitors to your city.
(Yes, it was two blocks of snow-trudging before I realized that the other side would be visible.)
To you, a perfectly ordinary sidewalk.
To me... a radical transformation of my personal geography.
My office is tucked into a corner of the downtown Northwestern campus and this building has been under construction for four of the last five years I've worked there. For four years I had to walk on the other side of the street whenever (a lot) I headed southeast from my office. The sidewalk has been open for a couple of months now and still every time I find myself on it it BLOWS. MY. MIND.
(Of course, you can see the crane in the distance -- Northwestern has two other buildings under construction in the same area -- more sidewalks blocked for another four years).
Then, logically, rock beats happiness.
Metroblogs hooked up with Flickr, the first effect of which is that the photos across the top of the, for example, Chicago Metroblog page are drawn from the photos in a Chicago Metroblog Group on Flickr. So... I went through my 2004 photos and uploaded twenty-something photos of my Chicago. You can check them out on the group page or on my photostream.
(Free registration required to use Flickr. Lemme know if that sort of thing bugs you enough that I should put those photos here on FuzzyCo.)
And speaking of birthdays, Erica's parents noticed how taken I was with the Illinois Monument, so they gave me this Illinois Monument jar (a giveaway from the Vicksburg Bank Centennial) for my birthday.
It's filled with peppermint bark and pecans, which are not 100 years old.
I spent my birthday out-of-town and so did Kate, so for the last couple of weeks I've been trying to organize something with her to have a joint birthday-in-Chicago thingy. She's been really lame about getting back to me, so I had pretty much written it off. Turns out, she was avoiding the issue because Erica had organized a surprise birthday dinner for me on Friday night.
It was in the Pope-room at Buca di Beppo, and OK... I knew something was up, and when we got off the train at Belmont and started walking south I remembered that Erica had asked me out of the blue a few months if I liked Buca. But I was expecting a table with 4 or 5 friends, not 16 people jammed around a huge table with a lazy-susan-mounted pope bust. I got to sit in the throne-chair and drink lots of 3-liter bottles of chianti. (Like Mark said, "You can tell it's good, because it's cold.")
Thanks Erica, thanks friends, thanks pope.
Headless mannequins are nothing new, but I think we sort of fill in the heads in our imagination. This one in the Disney Store window display is holding a pillow where her head would be! So either she really doesn't have a head (creepy!) or she's the victim of a horrible slumber party accident (horror!).
I took my little crew out into the blizzard to see the Harlem Globetrotters at the United Center Saturday. My roommate, foolishly, bet me $5 on the New York Nationals (I even gave him 12 points -- the Globetrotters won by 20 or so points). They didn't do any of their super-crazy stunts (no ladders or trampolines this tour) but tons of antics and Kenyan dancers and high school drum and choral groups at half-time.
When I got back to the office on Monday one of my co-workers asked, "aren't the Globetrotters from Chicago?" What? Duh -- they're from Harlem.
Well, actually, the Globetrotters are from Chicago. The team was founded in Chicago in 1926 (by a short Jewish guy from the North Side) and was based here until 1976 (now they're headquartered in Arizona). (And WTTW has a history-geek-fascinating account of discovering a minor inaccuracy in the official Globetrotter history.)
Because we knew that our Sketchfest show was going to be a one-time-only kind of dealio, we planned ahead and it's one of our best documented shows. We had our friend Michael Starcevich come out and video the show (a two camera shoot!) and Aaron Gang came and shot a bunch of stills. I've combined Aaron's shots with ones Erica and I took backstage for a sketchfest-a-photo-rama.
Happy Birthday, Andrea!
Shaun, on the other hand, went to see All Shook Up (one of those musicals where they take a bunch of songs from an artist and then build a loose story around them -- like Mama Mia) and it was terrible. And Shaun loves Elvis.
On Sunday morning Erica and I went to see her friend Eric Reda play his accordion and sing in a house-shaped hole in a vacant lot. (Yes, Erica Reid's friend Eric Reda. I'm worried that someday they might touch and the matter/anti-matter explosion could take out most of Chicago.)
Eric is auditioning for a new production of Shockheaded Peter and wanted his audition tape to have the ambiance of a "junk opera". So 10 of his closest friends sat outside in 7� weather and listened to Eric work his way through an original song and covers of Toxic and Bj�rk's Anchor Song. Eventually his fingers froze and we moved inside for mimosas and another round of the songs.
Last night Erica and I went to a birthday roast for her friend and co-worker Erik Schnitger. I've put a set of snapshots up on Flickr.
The crew backstage
(Right after the show I went straight home to pack for a work trip to New York and that's been keeping me busy for the last couple of days. I'm sitting in LaGuardia right now waiting for the plane home and I finally have a few minutes to write this*.)
Mustapha prepares for his first role
Well first off, let's talk about* a one big difference between a sketch show or a play and the improv that I usually do -- the day of. With an improv show all I have to do is make sure I'm dressed nice and then show up at the theatre an hour early or so, mainly so that the house manager or producer doesn't have to worry about whether I'm going to show up (it happens -- people flake). With this show, not only did it occupy most of my free time for the month up to the show, but it completely occupied the day of the show with last minute printing out set lists and organizing and making sure props were in bags and so on and so forth. But the time we were packing the truck to leave for the theatre I had already put a day's worth of mental energy into the show.
Shaun traded his station wagon for a pickup truck this summer (and I got rid of my beast of a 30-year-old sports car) and we had so many props and a live cat to transport, so we decided to make two trips. I drove Shaun over early with a load of props and then came back for Mustapha and Erica.
And forgot the jackets.
The jackets that Megan slaved over for weeks. The designed-then-redesigned jackets. The I-bought-a-new-leather-jacket-just-for-this-show jackets. The start-off-the-show-with-a-bang jackets.
Erica even asked "Do you have the jackets?" before we left the house the second time and I answered something along the lines of "Of course (I'm wearing a jacket)". Because I was. Wearing a regular jacket.
I gave Brian and Megan the keys to our house and sent them off to get the jackets. Which, of course, induced more panic (on my part, anyway) that if they were delayed, we wouldn't have the jackets nor Brian and Megan to play their parts.
The dancers backstage
Shaun and Greg go over the tech
Oh, and Greg had had a simple request for the tech setup. He was going to be running both light and sound cues by himself but he had discovered that the CD player in the tech booth was behind him as he sat at the light board. He had asked that I bring a small CD player that could be placed beside the light board so he wouldn't have to turn around. I forgot that, too. We suggested that he recruit the Sketchfest-provided tech guy to run the sound cues off his verbal commands.
Well, Brian and Megan made it back with the jackets and Greg (I found out later) recruited Rachel Michalski, Superpunk's tech goddess, who had come along to see Superpunk do their 30 second bit in the show. Ten minutes before Rhythm Method finished we were escorted from the conference room where we'd been hovering into the just-off-stage dressing room.
And then we did the show.
Patrick Brennan MCing
And it almost all worked. And what didn't work (sound cues, mostly, and Mustapha freaking out a little more than we expected him to, and me staring blankly at Shaun for a solid 10 seconds when I spaced on my first little dramatic speech before I remembered it) all seemed to fit into the motif of the show, about our partnership and our show falling apart.
People were wowed by the dance (which got us off to a great start) and tickled by Ben's bumps and confused by all the interruptions to the show and they actually laughed at many of the bits, even the ones that we just wrote so that Don could interrupt them.
I never set out to do anti-comedy or anything, but Shaun and I seem to be pretty good at shows that leave the audience half-amused and half-wondering how much of what they had just seen was real.
All in all, I was happy with how the show turned out. I don't think we'll be doing it again any time soon -- too many people and things to organize. And I'm not sure Mustapha will want to do the show again.
Erica and I took some shots backstage and then Erica snuck out and took some shots of the opening number, so that's what I've got here. Aaron Gang came to the show and took shots throughout, so I'll put up a gallery of those as soon as I get them.
My hottie girlfriend sitting around being hot
I'm sitting on a plane on the runway at LaGuardia, a victim of the warm weather you've been having for the last few days while I've been in drizzly, chilly New York. (Chicgao is 61� right now, but the temperature drops 30� over 150 miles and that steep difference is causing extreme weather all over Illinois.) We've been on the plane for two hours so far and we won't have an update about whether or not we'll head for Chicago tonight for another hour.
But at least I'm better off than the guy sitting behind me. He's been talking on a cell phone to
a friend of his his sister, psyching himself up for a conversation with his girlfriend(?) where he's anticipating her blaming him for being late on purpose, and then getting mad because she'll have to pick up the rental car they need to get to his sister's wedding tomorrow. Which he can't pick up because he lost his driver's license in Mexico. (Lost, or lost?) He just said, "I might as well just get up and announce to everyone on the plane that this is my fault, because that's what Shirley*'s going to say."
We taxied back to the gate so that people who wanted to get off the plane could do so. Most of us decided to stick it out -- the weather can't be bad forever, can it?
Meanwhile, the guy behind kept up a steady cycle of calls to his sister, American Airlines (to check on the status of our and Shirley's flight), and phone and text messages to Shirley. His calls to Shirley started out very cautious and conciliatory, but eventually he got a little agitated and he left a message that started out, "well, I guess your battery must be dead because I can't imagine why you'd have it off...". And then his next call to American revealed that her plane was still in the air, so he immediately called her back to apologize to her voice mail.
The unkindest cut came when he tried to call the hotel they're staying in tonight in Chicago to authorize Shirley to check in without him. First he navigated a series of national reservation numbers to the hotel itself to someone who could help him (I heard the start of his explanation over and over as he started to explain the problem to some new hotel employee. "Well, Chad, I'll be arriving very late this evening...") only to have his cell phone cut off after the third re-explanation. When he finally reached the appropriate employee they wanted him to fax over some sort of authorization. "Ma'am, I can't fax you anything - I'm stuck on a plane."
And then, just as the captain announced that we were leaving the gate to actually head for Chicago (three hours late), Shirley called. The conversation seemed to go as Guy Behind had feared it would. "No, don't do that. Don't do that. Don't do that. Either wait for me or pick up the rental car. There is no third option. ... I don't have a driver's license. I do not have a driver's license. There is no third option. It's very easy to get to the hotel and my sister can direct you. No, she's up. I've been talking to her and she's ready to help."
I guess Shannon hung up, because then he called his sister to ask her to call Shirley. We were poised on the runway at this point and the flight attendants were announcing that we needed to have all electronic equipment off while he was talking to his sister. "Please call Shirley, she doesn't want to bother you because you're getting married tomorrow..." "Excuse me sir, that needs to be off." "... so please just call her..." "Sir, that needs to be off." "Bye. ... Do you think it was necessary to strike me?" "(inaudible)" "Because that was kind of bizarre." "(inaudible)" "Yes, you are sorry."
And then the plane took off.
You know, I don't know if this story is interesting to anyone else, but for the five hours I was stuck on the plane it was a mini-soap opera that was pretty much the only thing (other than Mario vs. Donkey Kong) that was keeping me from going crazy.
Anyway, as soon as we landed Guy Behind was on the phone again. And Shirley had screwed him! She had taken a cab down to the hotel, who hadn't let her check in (despite Guy Behind's earlier phone calls). I haven't really mentioned how calm Guy Behind was through all of this -- he was agitated, but wasn't going to blow his cool. And when I saw him at the baggage claim I was surprised to see that he was wearing a tie. Did he wear it the whole 5 hours? Crazy cool, Guy Behind.
Guy Behind waiting for his bag, shot with my the crappy camera in my phone
And sadly, that's as much as I know of the story. Guy Behind took off from the baggage claim and went back upstairs as I was headed to the taxi stand. Good luck, Guy Behind. Have fun at your sister's wedding.
Kittyloaf finished the jackets and for all of the problems she had, they came out great. There are little christmas lights all around the back, with a battery pack in each pocket. And the whole back section is just glued and velcroed on, so we can turn them back into regular jackets, or have her do the original metal-stud idea later.
We had our tech at the Theatre Building last night. Because they have to get through tech rehearsals for 80 or so groups, we had a strict 45 minutes. As I had feared, we were "that group" and had to beg the next group for 5 minutes to run through the dance at the very end. Otherwise, it went about as well as could be expected.
And that's the last time we'll see the whole cast until Sunday at 5:00 pm. When we'll, you know, do the show. Eek. Just 7 or 10 props left to find or build, and Shaun and I should run through the show another 20 or 30 times. Wheee!
Update: Oh, and completely redo the sound cues CD (a bunch of the cues can be consolidated, we discovered, and I had left off two sounds).
Whooray! A snow day! Look, it's snowing outside! It's everywhere! Woo-oo!
What do you mean I don't get the day off just because it's snowing? I'm an "adult" and still have to go to "work"? Crap. And I have to go shovel the sidewalk because I own 13.25% of my building and we decided (in the summer) that it made sense not to hire lawn work or snow removal services, but to do it ourselves instead. Double-crap.
(Partly I present this picture to prove to my condo-mates that I did shovel -- by the time I got done in the front of the house there was already a good 1/4" on the freshly-shoveled section in the back.)
It's not that we don't know how to party, this year we just didn't want to share our party with anybody else. So Erica and I rang in the New Year with Univision on one TV and Katamari Damacy on the other, 2 bottles of lambic, and champaigne & PomWonderful for the toast. And then at midnight the Tivo auto-switched to record a terrible reality dating show and we settled back on the couch to laugh at the misfortunes of others.
By popular demand (which is to say, at Erica's mom's request), Erica's hair dye job.
This last weekend, the Belmont Burlesque Revue made the front page of section 2 of the Reader. They've had pretty good audiences, but this weekend's show was sold out and they had to turn a couple dozen people away (the Playground is all careful about fire codes and such, so we couldn't have people sitting in the aisles or anything).
Here's Gerdes and Reid from the Holiday Spectacular. How can two such nice looking people tell such dirty jokes? Practice, my friends, practice.
Your next chance to see the Belmont Burlesque is at the end of January. Don't risk another sellout! Camp out now!
Kaki King, Tin Angel, Philadelphia, December 9, 2004
Kyle and I were talking today about great opening bands we've missed (I missed Nirvana, Kyle somehow missed most of DJ Shadow because he was his own opening band (it was complicated)) and so tonight I... got to the show late and missed Devon Sproule. Oops.
I walked into the Tin Angel to find a silent room of people enraptured by Kaki King. She plays guitar. And that's it. (She was talking about getting popular in between some songs tonight and said, "You don't need to worry about singing or dancing, because I can't do those things.") Some of her stuff was quiet and slow and some was fast and sometimes she slaps her guitar and does all crazy things with plucking strings and scratching the pickups and sometimes she just played. It was a great show.
The advantage of all that coffee was that I was plenty awake for the two hour drive down to Baltimore to meet up with my brother and Jeanne and her boyfriend Tom.
Disco, Jeanne, and me
I couldn't get a single picture in which both Tom and Jeanne had their eyes open.
We met up at Crabby Dick's in Fell's Point and had a pleasant evening of family catching-up. I also satisfied, to a degree, the crab-craving I've been feeling for some time. Tom and I split a dozen mixed. Chesapeake Bay crabs are not in season, so these were Louisiana and North Carolina crabs, but prepared in the Maryland way -- covered in Old Bay Seasoning and steamed. The Old Bay is on the outside of the crabs, but it gets everywhere as you crack them open and ends up flavoring everything you're eating. It's a lot of work for not so much crab meat, so I always feel like I might be hungrier when I finish than when I started.
There were only two problems at the training today. One wasn't really a problem -- they kept filling a vacuum carafe in the conference room we were in with great Whole Foods coffee -- I had 5 big mugs during the day and I was pretty wired by the time we left.
The other problem, of course, was the tiger.
Hello from Philadelphia, 1 AM.
The real question, of course, is "how's that moustache going, Fuzzy?" I got rid of the mutton-choppy-things a few weeks ago, and it made it through its first trim, so I think we're gonna stick with a moustache for a little while.
(My current Game Boy Advance game is Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga, a delightful platformer/RPG mix in the same vein as Paper Mario. One of the stats that your characters can build up is "stache", which gives you discounts at the in-game shops and affects your chances of getting a critical hit. I can only hope that my 'stache power does the same.)
Ms. Pixy and Natanya at the Belmont Burlesque Revue
Adam Smith has written a nice statement about why he prefers not to use a flash when photographing live events that echoes the reasons I do my performance photography without a flash. And since he wrote it, I don't have to, I can just link to it.
(via Accordion Guy)
photo by Erica Reid
Here's Bare doing our standup at the Bird's Nest on Monday night. It shows off two things -- we started out in shirts and ties and ended up in our undershirts -- because that's comedy. And you can see how great the lighting (or rather -- the light) is at the Bird's Nest.
I think the show went fairly well. Especially for a Monday night in the back room of a bar with Monday Night Football blaring in the front room.
It's becoming a small tradition at FuzzyCo -- when I'm out of town, I actually have a few minutes to go through the pictures I take around Chicago. So, from Austin, Texas, a puddle on the corner of Huron and McClurg.
How embarrassing -- you've just made eye-contact with a cute guy and you poot so hard it blows up your skirt and makes sparkles in the air.
Becca said, "Put up your pictures from the kickball end-of-season party and make me the gateway image so that people can see how pretty I am when I get dressed up." There you go, Becca. Very pretty. Nowhere near as pretty as my girlfriend in some old t-shirt, though (sorry, I'm biased).
This plaque is set into the sidewalk in front of Swift Elementary School. Sadly, there is no tree in front of the plaque (there's a tree behind it, but I'm sure it's not 83 years old). In 1921 there wasn't yet a national Armistice Day (that came in 1926) so the children of Swift School were pretty on the ball.
Today I am remembering my father (eek - that makes it sound like he's dead. He's not.) and thinking of "exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations"1.
Well, not quite a month later, I've posted a bunch of pictures from Bare's trip to the Southern Improv Festival in New Orleans.
A dangerous combination is me, my facial hair, a clippers, and boredom. This was for a "biker-guy" costume that never really happened on Sunday.
Sunday night Erica was waxlips-a-scarirific in a Vote, F*cker shirt.
There are costumes you just know what the person is (e.g. sexy cop). And then there are the ones where you have to ask, "what are you?" Saturday night Erica and I were lawyers. We represent the lollipop guild.
I forgot to get a victory photo right after our game yesterday, so I got a picture of each member of James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub Party at the Four Treys hoisting a victory toast. Last night was the last game of the regular fall season, which we finished 7-1. Evidently, there has been some controversy over the league standings. The Chicago Kickball website has been calculating standings usually some complicated formula that takes into account runs earned and against, etc. By those standings, James Brown CHTP is #1. But the WAKA standings are just based on wins-losses, with the tie-breaker being who won in head-to-head meetings, so by that account Navy Menace is #1, since our one loss was to them. In any case, we're #1 or #2! We're #1.5! Next week the playoffs begin and conclude next Saturday.
To balance out all the happy faces above, I present a collage of (from left to right) "I am sad that James Brown CHTP has defeated my team again", "I am proud to be number 3", and "Look at my owie".
The Virgin Megastore is carrying these shirts now, so I got Erica and myself ones. I had been looking for one ever since I read this article in the NewCity (it's out of date, by the way, the shirts are no longer available at the MCA).
When I read the article I was amazed that anyone could have that strong of a reaction to such an abstract design, but since I've been wearing it around, it's gotten the most comments of any t-shirt I've ever worn (and I like to think I wear interesting t-shirts).
No one has expressed distain or hatred of the shirt -- mostly they're trying to parse it into a sentence:
Bare will be performing at "The Harmony" at Bird's Nest (2500 N Southport) again this week. Last week was a little rough because there was hardly anyone there (perhaps because it's Monday, perhaps because game 6 of the Sox-Yankees was on at the same time, perhaps, perhaps). So let me entice you out on a Monday night with... $1 tacos (haven't tried them, but they're just a buck!), really good wings (did try them -- they're great), and some comedy. And Mort, who I substitute-coached for Dan, will performing also, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that lively group does.
Here's the complete lineup from the Bird's Nest mailing list.
Subject: 10/25 - This Monday's "The Harmony" Line-up (Bird's Nest @ 8pm)
A scary-good show just in time for Halloween. Come out tonight to see..
Jeff Grace - Back hosting and doing stand-up
Mort - Harmony regulars bringing more high energy improv
Nick Vatterott - Stand-up with an improvisors flair
Bare - Returns for another week of improv
Dave Odd - Not for the politically correct
"The Harmony" Comedy Night
Every Monday @ 8pm
The Bird's Nest
2500 N. Southport Ave. (2 blks north of Fullerton Ave)
$3 at the door
$1 Tacos, $2 PBR and $3 Coronas
This picture is last week's victory photo -- New Orleans' lack of easy internet foiled its posting. That ball is a regular red kickball -- it was drizzling through the whole game last week and so the ball (and us) was covered with a layer of mud and then a layer of dust. Hmm... dusty mud. But that win propelled us to #1 in the league.
And, without me, the team won again last night, so I think the team is still in first place. I'm waiting for the standings to be updated on chicagokickball.com.
photo by Amanda Wolff
Here's Cowboy Fuzzy and Cowgirl Erica doing Cowboy Comedy at the last Greta Mae Variatae (0ctober 6, 2004).
photo by Malgosia Tomassi
The (somewhat creepy) question "where do celebrities hang out in Chicago?" was asked on the Chicago Metblog last week. The answer until November 7 is "on stage at the Goodman Theatre."
I was Erica's date last night to the opening of Finishing The Picture, a new Arthur Miller play. The play is a fictionalized account of the troubled production of The Misfits, screenwritten by Miller and starring his wife at the time, Marilyn Monroe. Evidently, she was pretty.
And you want celebs? Look at this cast list: Frances Fisher (Kate Winslet's mom in Titanic), Scott Glenn (The Right Stuff), Stacy Keach (Titus' dad and Mike Hammer), Linda Lavin (Alice), Harris Yulin (Training Day) and Matthew Modine (Vision Quest). And Stacy Keach's sister-in-law, Jane Seymour, was at the opening, too.
The biggest celebs of the evening? Skrebneski supermodels Erica Reid and Vivienne Dipeolu:
So both Erica and I have been thinking about getting new tattoos for a while. She's carrying around a Renee Locks birds design in her wallet, waiting for the right combination of paychecks and time to get it on her shoulders. And I've been working on (in a much more of a thinking-about way than a working-the-trackball way) my Great Wave Off Kanagawa design for my right arm. But for me, at least, there's a dangerously ADHD-sort of desire to just being doing something to my body. And I had been thinking of another design that would simple enough to carry around in my wallet.
(When I get complicated designs I do what I advise other people to do - I carefully design the tattoo and I research the artist and make an appointment. But I have also walked into tattoo shops and said "put this on me." (I can say, however, that I've never really gotten flash inked onto me -- all my impulse tattoos are simple stars.))
Anyway, back to this tattoo idea: Erica has a tattoo on her back that's a five-pointed nautical star, with each of the two-colored points representing her or one of her friends in some complicated system that I don't even pretend to remember ("this point is Christopher - he's green=earth and yellow=banana"). Her point is grey and purple (wind... and grapes?) so I decided to get a nautical star that was all grey and purple.
I think it's pretty common knowledge that getting someone's name tattooed on you is a pretty easy way to guarantee that something terrible will happen to the relationship fairly quickly ("Wino Forever", anyone?). But even pessimistic old me feels safe with a star.
And Erica's dad has just had a permanent colostomy for his colo-rectal cancer, so Erica had decided to get a pink star tattoo (approximately) where her dad's stoma is as a tribute to him. A stoma-star.
Friday night at the Metblog meetup we both realized that we had that rare thing for theatre people - a weekend night free. So we solicited tattoo shop suggestions from the table. Susan's tattoo was from Tatu Tattoo, she'd had a good experience, and it was close.
Mini-review! Tatu Tattoo (1754 W North Ave, Chicago - 773-772-TATU). Tatu Tattoo is a bright, clean shop with, the night we were there, about 5 tattoo artists and a piercer working. There's a large selection of flash mounted on the wall but, unusually, no portfolios laid out for any of the tattooers. Everyone was really polite (they kept calling me 'sir') (it seems odd to mention that, but I've been in a number of tattoo shops that seem to take a pride in being rude to their customers). Every artist there is an independent contractor, but they do take credit cards.
Anyway, there were two guys free - Nex and Rodney - so Erica and I got our tattoos at the same time (that's why there are more pictures of me-Erica's didn't take very long so she came over and took photos).
Oh yeah, before you go look at the pictures... like I said, we didn't plan on going and getting tattoos until dinner. I don't think I would have worn yellow-with-red-stars underwear if I thought anyone was going to see them. But at least I provided plenty of amusement for Tatu Tattoo's patrons that night.
We had a little Chicago Metroblog meetup last night -- Sean from Corporate and his wife Caryn were in town for a wedding, so they suggested a find-out-what-the-people-behind-all-those-words-on-the-screen-look-like meeting at Tecalitlan.
I realized as I was posting these pictures that I'm the only one of the Chicago metbloggers who has a picture in their mini-bio, so I'm gonna leave these unlabeled. But I will tell you that Susan, Lauren, Jason, Morgen, Catherine(?), Tom, Erica, and I were there.
Sean photoblogs me taking these pictures.
Erica and I are trying to look "candid" so that this picture would match the others, but I took the picture. Convincing, no? And hey, check out that skirt!
All the waitresses at Tecalitlan wear these Mexican flag skirts.
Erica shows off the delish salsa. Note that the Margarita special is good for Lime Only. Stop asking for Mango, jerks.
And then Erica and I went and got tattoos.
Update: Tom took some pictures, too.
It's BlogACatMas! AKA "Post a picture of a cat to your blog" day! Here's Joey's submissions.
As for me, I'm killing two birds with two cats by showing you Latte (top) and Mustapha (bottom) with The Ms -- the two-headed monkey that Erica got as her first animal from the Unfortunate Animal of the Month Club (formerly known as the Bunny of the Month Club).
Gaze upon the Faces of Victory (surrounded by, evidently, the Bubbles of Victory). James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub Party defeated Bike Rack Bullies 7-6 last night. As usual, you can check out more stats and standings than you ever thought possible for kickball at the Chicago Kickball site.
I got off the bus at the corner of North and Stockton last night and noticed that Ben Franklin was surrounded by scaffolding and half-covered with short pieces of text. "When did that happen?" I wondered. Mid-June, it turns out (never let it be said that I'm afraid to be late to the game). The pieces of text were submitted by visitors to a website for the art work -- The Invisible Garden.
I think the best kind of concert is running into a coworker in the hall at 4 o'clock and he says, "hey, a band you like is playing a free concert a few blocks away in a few hours" and you don't have anything else going on that night and there's mexican food on the way there. But that's just me.
Are these the faces of victory? Yes, yes they are. 6-5 over the Feets of Fury in a nail-biting bottom of the 5th comeback.
And now you see schedules of upcoming games and more standings and stats than you'd ever care about at the new Chicago Deep Dish Division Kickball site.
Hey, they fixed it.
Hey, I've put up a gallery of photos of the Chicago Neutrino Project crew in Toronto.
Clyborn, just south of Diversey.
I took this picture back in Chicago on Thursday but hadn't had a chance to post it yet.
Last night, Erica and I were having a late supper. On several recommendations we had gone to see Playtime at the Musicbox. It was great, by the way. I usually have an attention span of about 3 seconds, and I complain and complain about how slow old movies are, but I sat enraptured through long slow takes of very little happening at all (and other shots where so much is happening that you're not sure what to look at).
Anyway, we didn't even start cooking until 11 pm. I threw some burgers on the grill and grated some pepper jack (Tillamook pepper jack, which is also great. I remember when Tillamook cheddar showed up in Chicago a few years ago and I'm happy that more varieties of Tillamook are available here now) over some torilla chips and stuck them in the oven on broil.
And we got talking and yakking and I flipped the burgers once and, hey, I almost forgot about the nachos.
When I opened the oven door, cartoony flames shot out half a foot in my direction. AAAAAA! I slammed the oven door shut. Whadda I do? Whadda I do? OK, turn off the oven. Done. OK, let's get that pan out of there. Turn on the sink and grab some hot pads and open the oven door again. Flames! AAAAA! Slam. Now smoke was starting to bubble out of the burners on the stove. And the smoke alarm went off. Well, good to know that works. Fire extingusher! OK, it's got some sort of seal on it, good thing this isn't an emergency, I'd be dead by now. There, got it. Open oven door. Whoosh. The fire's out but there's still smoke everywhere.
And now there's another alarm going off out in the back stairwell. Great. Did I set off someone else's smoke alarm? And now the smoke alarm on the oven starts going off. Great job, oven. I set up a fan to blow the smoke out of the kitchen and sure enough in a minute the smoke alarm in my place went out. But the alarm in the stairwell was still going. Great. We all just moved into this building and I've been trying to make a good impression on the neighbors. A loud alarm at 11:30 pm is probably not the best way to do that.
I went out into the stairwell to look. There was a loud mechanical bell alarm in a box at the bottom of the stairwell. There were no switches visible to turn it off. The four units in my building all have alarm systems that the previous owner had installed and Shaun and I hadn't bothered figuring it out because we didn't plan on using it. But I guess the fire alarm in my unit had triggered it. But how to turn it off? I went down into the common area and found a box labeled "Norshore Alarm", the same name as on the security system in our unit. Amd it was even clicking in rhythm with the alarm. And it was locked. But it had phone numbers on it -- I ran back upstairs and grabbed a phone. "The number you have reached has been disconnected." Crap. (I didn't try this until today, but the "Contact Us" link on their website is also a 404. Good job, Norshore.)
When in doubt, brute force is always an option. So I took the alarm box apart and disconnected the alarm. It took a really long, loud time to get all the screws off the cover plate. And of course I took all the screws off in the wrong order so the alarm fell inside and the box and made different loud klaxons. But, finally - silence, blessed silence.
Oh, and the burgers? Erica saved the burgers.
P.S. If you have an oven fire, don't actually bother opening the oven. Just turn it off and wait for it to burn out.
P.P.S. I just realized that my little oven fire was literally a three-alarm fire.
On Monday, Erica took me along as her date on the annual Goodman Theatre staff boat outing. I've been out on the lake on a sailboat, but never on one of these cruise boats -- it was the same kind of flat, open boats they use for the Chicago architecture cruises (and yes, the same kind of boat that just got Dave Matthews Band's tour bus sewage dumped on it -- which we joked about everytime we went under a bridge.) We just cruised around the lake inside the breakwater until it got dark and then went up and down the Chicago river once. Plenty of snacks and beer and jello shots(!). Oh, those jello shots were nasty.
At one point, Erica started doing the Macarena, as she is wont to do (not that the song was playing -- she's just like that). Her boss' boyfriend bet her $10 that she couldn't get "a bunch of people to do the Macarena."
"Easy. But how many is 'a bunch'?"
"Twenty-five? That's a lot."
"Well, ten. But one of them has to be Matthew Modine."
Matthew Modine? Well, the first show in the Goodman's 2004/5 season is the world premiere of Arthur Miller's new play Finishing the Picture and a bunch of the all-star cast were along for the cruise: Scott Glenn, Linda Lavin (Alice!), Stacy Keach, Frances Fisher (Kate Winslet's mom in Titanic -- our friend Clint gave her a cigarette and then told us the story seven times that night -- "Frances Fisher bummed a smoke off of me!" "Yes, Clint."), and, yes, Matthew Modine.
Erica made a bee-line for Mr. Modine.
"Hi. Excuse me. I was just wondering if..."
"I'm not going to do the Macarena."
"OK, but it'll win me a bet and I'm poor."
In the end, Erica got about 12 people, none of whom was Matthew Modine, to do a full 'square' of the Macarena (again, not to the actual song). The challenger compromised and gave her $5 (which we blew on video games at ESPN Zone after the cruise).
I suppose Matthew Modine can't win. If he doesn't do the Macarena, he looks like a jerk. If he does the Macarena, there'd be a picture out there of him looking as dorky as we do:
photo by Jodi Brown
photo by Jodi Brown
Why am I up at 3:00 am putting pictures of lightpoles on my website?
A couple of weeks ago I read an item on Bookslut about a book publisher trying to promote a book by giving away copies of it to "intellectual mavericks" at music festivals and such. Today I ran into some guys I know* giving away copies of the book on State Street.
Here was our instant literary criticism as we were waiting for the train:
"Hmm... 'All proceeds from the sale of this book will be dedicated to the conservation of strategic wilderness lands in Alaska.'"
"Well, I like wild animals."
"A guy gets turned into a ram. And gets chased by wolves."
"Oh. Are we going to stop at home or go straight to the restaurant?"
We had each taken a copy, but somehow after dinner I ended up with everyone's copies here at home.
* I keep running into under-employed improvisors giving me things, especially since half the people I know seem to be working on the Ted promotional staff -- and the Ted promotional philosophy seems to be "give things away and people will want to fly on our airline".)
Erica's brother and sister-in-law are in town for the weekend and we've been dragging them all over Chicago.
This weekend I went out to the Cheney Mansion in Oak Park for the wedding of Rebecca Rine and Trey Stone. Yes, she plans on going by "Rine-Stone".
Erica was the maid of honor. Everyone is gazing off to the right because they're looking at the official photographer, Peter Grosz.
Underpass, Ardmore between Broadway and Winthrop
This last weekend FuzzyCo participated in the Fast Forward Film Festival #15. Our topic was the pair of words "Start and Stop" (other groups got "Give and Take" and "Listen and Learn"). Also, everyone's movie had to include footage of Bob and Zach, two friends of the organizers. We came up with a short-and-sweet twist-in-the-end story of a glitchy robot. We included the footage of Bob and Zach as a fighting video game that the Robot and his girlfriend were playing.
The Robot (Jin Kim) and Guy in Intersection (Alex Farlow)
The Robot and Guy on Playground (Fuzzy Gerdes)
The Robot and The Robot's Girlfriend (Erica Reid)
The Robot and his Girlfriend play "Bob and Zach: The Video Game"
This was the lightest attended Fast Forward yet, with only 13 teams registered and, by my shakey estimate, only 9 or 10 teams submitting completed films. So, we were fairly optimistic about winning one of the three prizes this time.
The first place film deserved to win, but it rankled a little that one of the other winning films recycled their own footage from a Vidiocy entry. I don't think it's actually forbidden (the Fast Forward isn't very rule-bound), but it seems to go against the spirit of the Fast Forward.
Which is probably how we ended up in the street outside the showing shotgunning beers. Shaun didn't quite believe that I had shotgunned a beer with Alex at the Village Idiot in New York a couple weeks ago. Somehow the deal became that if I would shotgun one beer, Shaun would do two.
Some peer pressure and manhood-questioning later and we were on our way. Mmmm... MGD.
That's Shaun's dad looking on and laughing.
So much to talk about... and I have to get to sleep. I'm about to fall over and I want to get up early tomorrow to go shopping. And get a copy of the Scotsman. We've heard that we're being reviewed. Whee!
I ran into Matt Donnelly at the Gilded Balloon office, which was fortunate because I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to find everyone (a poor way to arrive in a foreign country, I know).
There are a lot of shows in the Fringe.
I'm in Edinburgh! I'm tired and loopy! We're doing a show tonight!
Last night (well, two nights ago, but it feels like last night -- stupid time change) Erica and I grabbed some grinders from Spirtinis and went down to the lake to eat dinner. We were going to go sit on the rocks at the north end of Hollywood Beach (where we filmed Candyland a few weeks ago). When we got there, we noticed a few bugs on the rock we were going to sit on. Then we realized that it was a lot of bugs on the rock. Then we realized that it was a sea of bugs around every rock. Bug Madness!
Geese on Lake Michigan, near North Ave Beach, this morning
This is something of an old-friends-weekend. Alex, who we're staying with, is a junior high and high school friend of Erica's. She hasn't seen him since high school, but they recently reconnected via the internet.
And at dinner I got to see my friend Robb, one of the Deadbeets and co-god parent of Emma. I haven't seen Robb in 2 years or so. He's keen.
Then we went and saw Avenue Q. Wow. I already have the soundtrack, so I thought I knew how good the show was. But the show was even more amazing than that. It's so funny and touching and vulgar and thought-provoking and puppet-filled. And, it turned out that tonight was their one-year anniversary of running on Broadway.
I made it back to the Del Close in time to catch Nailed Down (I wanted to see what they did with that form) while Alex and Erica took a stroll over to Chelsea.
And now we're back at Alex's, watching Kung Fu movies and packing up to leave New York early tomorrow morning.
KOKO had their show at the Marathon Saturday afternoon. This was the first time all weekend I had actually been to the real Del Close Marathon. You know, the, umm, reason we came to this town. I got to see a show and a half before KOKO while they were warming, but they were both Chicago groups. It always feels a little weird to come halfway the country to see groups I can see down the street.
After the shows, we headed over to The Village Idiot. It's one of Alex's favorite redneck bars and it's closing due to skyrocketing rents. Friday was the penultimate night for the bar. We drank our share of PBR and Southern Comfort shots.
photo by Erica Reid
After Neutrino, I stuck around at the PIT to be the bartender for The Sickest F***in' Stories I Ever Heard. The bartender is a position that the New York version of the show has added to be both an actual bartender and a commenter on the stories. This picture is completely staged because Erica forgot to take any pictures during the show.
Alex took us to Panna II for dinner last night. Ker-azzy lights everywhere. It was somebody else's birthday, so we got the full effect with a great Indian Happy Birthday song and light show.
And the food was great and cheap.
We made it! We zoomed straight into midtown and saw a toothless lady beating on a guy in the middle of the street. Yay New York! Now we're at Erica's friend Alex's place and I'm getting all up on his wireless.
There are tons of other Chicago improvisors making this same trip by road and plane. These guys left Chicago just before us and we chased them across 3 states and finally caught them at a Denny's in Pennsylvania (I think. The states all blur together).
17 hours of this (only mostly dark). Sammy drove the whole way. KOKO have a lot of fun together. Which is good... for them.
How the mighty have fallen -- undefeated most of the season, we lost again last night. It was a nail bitter -- a tied game going into the bottom of the fifth (kickball games only have five innings). And they got one in.
At least we had nice socks -- Strange Cargo had these tube socks in (more-or-less) our team colors. 13 for $14. What a deal!
Andrew Bird (with Kevin O'Donnell) @ Summer on Southport, 7/25/2004
Thanks to Chicagoist pointing out that you don't have to pay the suggested donation at street fairs we got in for the $6 Erica had in her wallet. The woman at the gate told us that all the money was going to the school but the poster says that the street fair benefits the Southport Neighbors Association. Sounds like a giant scam that I'd investigate... if I cared.
Anyway, spending so little left us enough to get meat on a stick. Oddly for meat on a stick, Erica was complaining that it seemed almost too healthy.
I only know a few people in Chicago who blog and we ran into a bunch of them (well, 3) at this show: Allison and Michael of Kady Ditch and Jessa and Kenan. Kenan took a much better picture and wrote much more intelligently than I would about Andrew Bird's music.
So today's edition of NTK (a techy news & gossip newsletter from the UK) has a reference to an archive of found pictures. I'm browsing the dozens of pictures from all over the world and then I said to myself, "Hey, I know that sign... and those tattoos. That's the Town Hall Pub."
The Town Hall has four things to recommend it: plenty of Grateful Dead in the jukebox (if that's a good thing to you), friendly staff, cheap shots, and... it's close to a theater (and theater people like their drinking).
The Town Hall is just down the street from the old WNEP Theater space, so it was our usual hang-out after shows (and I believe Town Hall is still the sponsor of WNEP's Theatre League Softball team). And now that The Playground is in that space, it's become that theater's post-show spot.
And one of the Town Hall's patrons needs to be a little more careful about which directory of their harddrive they open up for P2P sharing.
Danny's Tavern in Wicker Park is a house that's been converted into a bar. It still has the comfortable feel of hanging out at a house party (though evidently back in the day you could hang out in the "kitchen" or on the back balcony). It's also the the site of a monthly reading series. A couple weeks ago, my old Kids Around the World teammate John Beer emailed me and asked if Bare would be interested in doing a special comedy version of their reading series. "Sounds great."
Shaun and I (and Erica) showed up last night promptly at 6:45 to discover that place was still locked, so we had some chicken (a little dry, but tasty. excellent mashed potatoes) at Nick's Pit Stop around the corner.
Back at Danny's, we met John's co-host (whose name I unfortunately can't remember). "Here," he said, pointing to a small area beside the DJ booth, "is where we usually put the readers. Will it be enough space?"
I looked around. It was enough space -- one of our first shows was on a stand-up club stage that was about 5x10' -- but I was a little concerned about how dark it was -- candles and two lamps with yellow bulbs and a single yellow-bulbed track-light were all the light in the room. It was hard to make out his face. "Can it get any brighter in here?" I asked.
"Actually," he said, "it gets dimmer. But people's eyes adjust."
And, actually, the show went fine. John and his co-host managed to swing one more track light at the "stage". We kept the jumping around to a minimum and concentrated on verbal humor. And the audience was very attentive to our mangling of the life of James Joyce. And we got to say hello to Jessa.
But still. "It gets dimmer." Lordy.
So, kickball was rained out last night. It worked out for the best, because otherwise I would have been late to the Vidiocy showing and wouldn't have seen Candyland (it was shown first).
I hopped into a cab at Chase Park and the cab driver told me he wouldn't take me to Belmont & Broadway -- he was on his way north to pick someone up who had called for a cab and had just picked me up because he assumed he could drop me off on the way. I guess I understand (I'm a little too reasonable sometimes) but it was raining! Because of an accent barrier it took us a block to figure it out (he thought I said Balmoral & Broadway -- I thought he was asking what route I wanted to take to Belmont). Sometimes I wish I could get a good angry on -- yell at the cab driver and glower for an hour or two or something. Instead, I said "all right, then", got out of the cab, waited at the corner and caught another one fairly quickly.
For some reason I decided it important to document my wet self in the second cab.
At the Vidiocy showing I met up with Candyland stars Shaun and Jin Kim.
Candyland was, as I said, shown first. People laughed at all the right parts, so I was happy. The other 7 semi-finalists were all fine films. A standout, in my mind, was Rick Rios' Sugar (starring, full disclosure, my co-worker Scott Anderson) (Sugar ended up coming in fourth).
Candyland was not one of the four finalists. And it's chock-full of copyright-infringing songs and dialogue (the dialogue I might get away with as parody, but not the music) so I don't think we'll be submitting it to any other festivals. So onto the shelf it goes. Good-bye, Candyland. The short time we had together was... short.
Death (Shaun Himmerick)
Antonius Block (Jin Kim)
Megan Diemer in one of the alternate endings
Jin Kim and Brian Goodman in another of the alternate endings
It was all a dream...
I got iced tea, she got orange pop.
Photo by Cholley Kuhaneck
Bare performed at the Gong Show this weekend. An hour before the show we changed our minds about the act we were going to do. So we showed up at the theater with a box of snaps and a couple ideas. Shaun wrote a stand-up routine about sex and dating and then I used the snaps to negatively-reinforce him whenever he swore. Which was, as usual, a lot. Pow. Pow pow pow.
We didn't win, but on a night full of gonging, neither did we get gonged. That's a victory in my book.
Muppet Butts, Beatnix, Roscoe & Halsted
Well, the round-about way to say it is... we're not undefeated anymore. In fact, we were pretty soundly not-undefeated. And worse, it'll (probably) be on National TV. HGTV (Home and Garden Television) is producing a show called "The Games We Loved" and they sent a camera guy out last night to interview some kickball players and get some of the game action on tape.
I was a little surprised to see that the camera the guy had was basically the same as mine, and that, even though he'd brought a tripod, he did a lot of his shooting hand-held. I'm more professional than I'd thought.
On the Red Line this morning.
The new Snickers flavor is a bold departure from the original.
Last night I had a date with Erica to go to an art opening. I was running a little late (as usual) and a block away from the opening I ran into a union demonstration. Unions - yay. Four block detour - boo. There were these clumps of cops hanging around hospital in riot gear and I wanted to snap a few pictures, but lately I'm feeling a little nervous about taking such pictures.
The show is in the City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower and is called "On With the Show!" It features protraits by Victor Skrebneski and two other photographers (Tom Maday and Michael Voltattorni) of people who work in Chicago theaters. Erica is an Assistant Ticket Office Manager at the Goodman Theater and had been photographed by Skrebneski back in February for the show. She was nervous going in, because she had no idea how her shots had come out, which one they might use, and so on.
When I finally met up with Erica she was waiting down the block from the Water Tower. "Someone's already recognized me and said 'Nice photo'," she said. As we got to the door of the Water Tower, Skrebneski grabbed Erica and manouvered her inside. "I have a surprise for you," he said.
Nine Erica Reids, filling up an archway. Erica was blown away. She was, as someone remarked to her that night, "the Queen of the exhibit."
And the photos are (as I expected) great. He really captured Erica -- serious and beautiful for about 20 seconds, and then laughing her head off (and even more beautiful).
There were many other fine photographs, including ones of people I know from other theaters -- Alison Riley, General Manager at Second City, Vivienne Dipeolu, also from the Goodman, and Nick Sandys, Fight Director for the Lyric Opera (and others).
After the reception, Erica and I headed over to Aria to try the tiny tinis (on Chicagoist's recommendation). We got one round of 5 tiny martinis each and it was the perfect classy drunken end to a great evening of Erica-rock-stardom.
The kickball game was called on account of rain last night, so we're still undefeated. It was a shame, because just after the decision was made to call the game, it cleared right up and was all sunny and rainbowy. Oh well, more time for heading over to Carol's.
When I was driving home from Indiana I stopped to get gas and noticed that the moon was huge and low and yellow. The klieg lights of the gas station were just off to my left, casting a long shadow of a couple getting gas for their car across the pavement. "I'll never get all these different light levels in one shot," I thought. I was wrong. (I cheated just a little with the Shadow/Highlight adjustment in Photoshop.)
The best thing about the July 4th weekend was spending it with my uncle and cousins and their families. I'm standing next to my Uncle Jim, who's a retired Purdue Agronomy professor. I lived in a small house that's essentially in his backyard for 3 years. Next to me is my cousin Kristi with her three kids around her. They, and her husband Todd (down at the other end), just got back from a year in Spain. My cousin John is sporting a wicked 'stache these days. My cousin Karl talks. Professionally. This trip was the first time I'd met my cousin Gretchen's child Nikolai (who's having his ears protected). Rounding out the group is family friend Charlotte and her three children. (Hey, I went right-to-left. Because it all starts with me!)
Water fountain, Lincoln Park
Here's Shaun and I, outside The Playground just before The Deuce last night. Picture with one of my many craptacular little digital cameras (this was the SiPix Blink, if'n you care).
Clif and Chuck of Men in Shirts and Jesse of JoKyR and Jesster (I had to look it up to get the capitalization right) were all in town for Liz Allen and Jimmy Carrane's Individual Assessment Workshop and they all came out to see Shaun and I mug it up something terrible as Himmerick and Gerdes at the Belmont Burlesque Revue.
The CTA has put these test car(s) on the Red Line. The car has more center-facing seats, which they say gives more room for standing passengers, and those iconic subway hanging straps. The car has fewer seats than a normal Red Line (54), but the same as a Brown or Orange Line train (44).
Poop -- I counted while I was on the train, but now I forget. I see if the Rememberer knows.
Even Erica has to wait for the train.
Parker is a hefty cat.
Sidewalk art, Winnemac, west of Broadway.
Rebecca Rine at The Elevated Stand-up Showcase, June 30, 2004.
Mark Hanner starts the Schadenfreude show on Friday night the same way he starts every Schadenfreude show -- with a prayer.
This building is on the corner of Cornelia and Sheffield. The sign advertising the features of the new condos has the name spelled correctly. I wonder if they've noticed...
Allison has posted some more of the Kady Ditch photos I took this weekend.
James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub Party remain undefeated -- last night the other team had to forfeit (not enough players, I believe) and then picked up some sit-ins and played us and we beat them. Again. Or, anyway. In any case, we won. So we posed as ninjas. It makes sense when you've been playing kickball. I think I've managed a credible ninja pose this time. Or I'm doing the robot.
I reffed for an earlier game last night and discovered that the World Adult Kickball Association official rules PDF is protected so it can't be printed out. Which I think is dumb-city. For an organization whose motto is "it's only kickball" I think they're taking themselves a little seriously.
Lakeview Lounge was already the official FuzzyCo dive bar, but they get bonus signage points for using two Ns to make an M.
When we were there Saturday night Joe had a shirt that was evidently a one-off with the slogan "Ain't no lake, ain't no view". There is, however, Night Watch. And dancing behind the bar.
I spent a few fun hours with Allison and Michael on Saturday, taking photos for their new band,
Katy Ditch Kady Ditch. We got all the usual band-in-the-alley and band-on-the-el-platform and band-in-a-bar shots, but we also lucked into some shots with a dragonfly that landed on my pant leg and then stuck around on Allison's finger.
We took a bunch of Holga pictures, too (Allison requested that I bring that $16 piece of Chinese crappy-but-wonderful plastic, which made my little bad-picture-loving heart swell), but those won't be developed for a few weeks.
Katy Ditch won a round of the Uncommon Ground open mic competition, so they'll be competing for a grand prize on Monday, July 19.
I'm really happy about this picture because it was taken from the back of the pavilion, where to the naked eye Rufus looked like a tiny dot on the stage. Hooray for my fancy camera.
This was my first time at Ravinia and it's an experience. Unlike most "pavilion plus lawn seats" concert venues, at Ravinia you can't see the stage from any part of the lawn. Instead, the concert is piped in from dozens of speakers all over the huge lawn. As a picnic venue, it's great. As a concert venue, it's a little odd -- to a degree, the concert might as well be recorded or broadcast from Cleveland or something. Most telling, I think, is that hardly anyone on the lawn clapped at the end of songs.
Today's lunch sandwich also had melted cheese, but no picture. Instead, two views of that one guy who walks up and down Michigan Avenue wearing his homemade sandwich board. Oftentimes, as today, the signs are concerned with the replacement of the Vice-President with a Russian Spy. During the Clinton Administration he had pictures on his signs that proved that Al Gore had been assassinated and replaced with a Russian Spy (sometimes, a "Robotic Russian Spy"). Another classic, from early in the Bush Administration (before Cheney had been replaced?) was that National Parks are staging grounds for Russian Troops being massed in preparation for an invasion.
A transcription, in case you can't make out the signs at this size:
Initiate DNA testing to verify family linkage of all govt. appointees!!!
Screen out extensive Russian Communist infiltration!!!
Don't let your sovereignty slip through your fingers. Organize now!!!!
--- Personal Opinion ---
My recurring nightmare is that Bush's Russian Communist Double replaces him, & our govt. falls into Russian hands!!!
Recurrent DNA tests of high govt. officials are vital!!! In my opinion, the Bush-Cheney ticket is void because Cheney is a Russian Agent!!! & Kerry is Pres. by default!!!!
Nazarin Hamid posted a delightful close-up of sushi on Boochakanan today, so I thought I'd share the incredible ham & cheese on pita from the Flamingo that I've been raving about to all my friends. (Yes, I realize that this is literally a cheese sandwich post. You're just lucky I'm not posting more pictures of my cats.)
Not mere "winners," the James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub Party were victorious over the Burninators, thanks to Rene's "rally belly." And thanks to our ninja-like skills. In this picture we're all posing like ninjas. Except that I think I look more like I'm trying to be "down" with the team. Yo.
More pictures at kicksandgiggles.org (the last four on that page) (Thanks to Erica for taking these pictures)
Jin and Shaun represented FuzzyCo well in WNEP's Duo Improviso last night, coming in second place. (Cough, cough. Don said, "the Duo Improviso has one first place winner and nine second place winners.") The Duo was held on the set of Loser's Bracket, which explains the boat, bass, and bar in the background.
Erica, Erin, Aaron, and I went to the Doughty show. I'm a casual fan of Soul Coughing, but I wasn't really familar with Mike's solo work. It was a pretty good show, except for the super-annoying woman to my left who sang along with every song. Very loudly. I think it's safe to say that Mike Doughty has a unique vocal style. Please let me hear it. It made me very grateful for new songs, because she hadn't memorized them yet.
Store window somewhere in Chicago.
Erica es una chica.
If I had time, I'd make this a roll-over thingy where the super-serious Simon and Emma turn into the hyperactive and keerrazy Simon and Emma. But I don't have time. So just whip the scroll bar of your browser up and down to do it yourself, would you? Suffice to say that my god children are as delightful as possible.
I'll bet you're wondering what a winning kickball team looks like. Wonder no more. James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub Party defeated the Bike Rack Bullies 4-2 to bring us to 2-0-1. More pictures (mostly of post-game drinking) here.
If only I had known...
I'm in Colorado for the week. This is the view from my hotel room -- I get to see it for a few minutes in the morning before I go spend all day in meeting rooms. Boo.
I just wanted to show the proof that we handed in our Challenge editing job.
If you'd like to see our movie, and the 13 others, they're all being screened Thursday night (June 3) at the Biograph Theatre (2433 North Lincoln) -- doors open at 6, the screening begins at 7.
The Chic-a-go-go set
Erica and Fuzzy
Erica and Miss Mia
Wow, it's picture-central at FuzzyCo this weekend -- sorry if you're on dial-up or something.
Even though it will probably be the thing that pushs this weekend just over the edge into killing me, going to Chic-a-go-go was totally worth it.
Chic-a-go-go is a cable access show that's loosely modeled after Soul Train -- a couple of acts come on and lip-sync their own songs, and then dancers dance to a variety of dj'ed songs. The two big differences being that half of the dancers are kids under 10 and that one of the hosts is a rat puppet.
We taped two-and-a-half half-hour shows tonight, though it felt like were dancing for hours. I think my new fun home-game will be to watch Chic-a-go-go episodes and try and guess whether they were taped early or late in the evening -- by the last set, the kids were getting pretty tired (well, I was, too).
The performers tonight were a great mixed bag -- Sharkula, Aaron Ackerson, No More Lies (a band that came all the way from Spain just to be on Chic-a-go-go), and the cast of Lookingglass' The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World were all great.
You can catch me dancing in my orange cowboy hat on these Tuesdays at 8:30 pm and Wednesdays at 3:30 pm on CAN19:
June 15 & 16 (the show with "The Shaggs")
June 22 & 23 (with No More Lies)
June 29 & 30 (with Sharkula & Aaron Ackerson)
It's just before midnight and we're 99% done with filming. We have one more scene we could film, but don't have to, because its action is already described by another character. And the motorcycle battery died, so we'll only be able to film it if the battery recharges before we all fall asleep.
I also still need to assemble our credits list and (more editor-friendliness) I was going to try and find a few sound effects I think they'll need.
But 99% yay!
And above, 4 pictures of me (thanks Sarah) as the menacing "Motorcycle Rider". It's also the only continuity error (that I know of) in our film -- my glasses suddenly appear after I get off the cycle.
Here Jin Kim as "Dog Walker" surveys what's left of the dog he was walking after "Walt" gets done with it. I have to say that our quick special effects (a hamburger and some ketchup) looked almost too good (good as in "really disgusting").
We're trying to be as editor-friendly as possible. We're logging all our footage as we go. (And look who's still around -- we've already shot all of Sarah's scenes, but she's just hanging out to help -- FuzzyCo peeps are the best!)
Clif Highfield as "Walt" and Ryan Stone as "Benjamin" in "the guys' apartment" (my living room).
We've shot all the girls' apartment scenes. Whoo-ray!
Andrea Swanson as "Myra" and Sarah Pappalardo as "Frances" in "the girls' apartment" (my kitchen).
Yesterday Shaun, Beth, and I took Mustapha (in a fancy harness courtesy of the Stone-Kulhans) to the Lakeview Mayfest Pet Parade. I know you want to see more photos...
I don't even like dogs that much (gasp!), but the Pet Parade was very entertaining.
So, Friday night at the festival, they started the night off with a showing of Cesar Jaime and Jeff Pacocha's documentary about Del Close, The Delmonic Interviews. Somehow, I had never seen the film before, but Shaun has seen it 5 or 6 times. That night he mentioned that watching the film always depressed him because it made him think about what he was or wasn't doing to advance "the work".
And later that night I happened to overhear some of the Tucson improvisors discussing who was going to performing the next day. "Well, there's those guys from Utah and there's Bare." "What are Bare like?" "Oh, a friend of mine from Chicago told me that they're, you know, crowd-pleasers."
Crowd-pleasers? Is that an insult? A compliment? Just accurate? I mean, we do strive to entertain the audience. We are, modesty aside, pretty funny. Is that bad?
In any case, on Saturday night when we were trying to decide what to do for our show (Hotel? Small Town? "Who would do that?"? Pageant of History? (which we will be doing this Wednesday at The Playground's Motel 6)) I jokingly threw out "Actual Theatre."
Actual Theatre was a show we developed two years ago with director Don Hall. It was an improvised show that centered around the real relationship between Shaun and me. We used personal monologues and (long) scenes that were usually half-a-step from reality to explore our often-contentious relationship and build to an exaggerated argument which would end when one of would get so angry that we'd storm out of the theatre. And that'd be the end of the show. We did a run at WNEP Theatre and really felt like we accomplished our goals for the show. Good friends of ours would leave the show asking Don if he thought we could do the show the next week since this week "ended so badly."
After listening to (and about) Del for an hour the day before and having been mulling over that over-heard comment, it was suddenly attractive. If we did it right it wouldn't be crowd-pleasing, but crowd-affecting.
There were a number of good reasons not to do the show.
We tried to get some people to talk us out of it. We asked Jos� if it was alright to end the festival with a odd, maybe jarring show. "Sounds great," Jos� said. We called Don to ask if he thought we could do the show after two years and if he thought it was OK to do that to the festival. "A festival is the perfect place to do Actual Theatre! Have fun!" Don said. "Do it! Doooo it!" Jen yelled in the background.
So... it looked like we were stuck. I didn't want to go back to Chicago and tell Don we had wussed out of doing the show. We went out into the parking lot and worked out some structural changes to the show to accommodate the lack of Don or really any light control and to work within the audiences expectations. "No sense in warming up," Shaun said. We went back inside to watch JoKyR & Jesster. Their show ended all too soon (it turns out their was a miscommunication about pulling their lights and indeed, it was too soon).
And... we did Actual Theatre. The opening, movement to music, went better than we could have expected. The first loooong scene went so well that Shaun told me afterwards that he was considering trying to figure out how to indicate to me that we should just do that scene as a 40-minute scene and be done with it. But we jumped into the monologues that took the whole thing into a (controlled) spiral into chaos. At about 40 minutes, I asked Shaun if I could join him in his improvised car. "No," he said, "get out." "Fine," I snapped, and left the stage and the building and headed down the street to Fat Cat's for a shot and a beer and to wait for Shaun.
And... it worked. The show was, by turns, funny and confusing and dramatic. The next day people were still asking "Is Bare OK?" Whew.
So... some more pretty pictures of Phoenix:
More unrealistically beautiful palm trees and blue sky.
Koi at the Chinese Cultural Center.
Windmill at the Castles & Coasters miniature golf. Which sucks, by the way, Far too many of those holes where you have to get the ball into a specific hole on an upper level and then it drops through a pipe into a lower level.
Apollo 12 invokes "comic book".
Bare begins. Thanks to Amy Carpenter for taking photos of Bare.
That first long scene, just sitting in chairs.
I'm usually the one taking the pictures, so I'm just enjoying having so many pictures of Bare to choose from.
Shaun does a monologue in the one well-lit spot on stage.
I lecture an imaginary class about working together.
I deliver a rambling monologue.
Things start to get ugly and chairs are thrown.
Shaun sits in his improv car and watches me leave the building.
Woo-oo! More Phoenix
The sky is so blue here it's not realistic.
Of course Tommy C has a trunk full of puppets.
A monologue from Mark of Galapagos.
Dueling monologues from Men in Shirts.
Shaun starts off the 40 person jam at the end of the night. At this point there were 6 people in the audience, including me.
Chicken and Waffles! Lo Lo's had good chicken and one of the best waffles I've ever had.
Well, we made it to Phoenix. Tonight at the festival was "Arizona Showcase" night with 6 Arizona groups, then a jam with Bare, Men in Shirts, and 5 randomly selected Arizona players.
It's late (4:15 AM Chicago time) so here's just a mess of pictures (sorry if you're on dial-up):
Shaun is here.
And so am I.
Jos� Gonzalez, Bare's "den mother" for the duration of our visit here.
Jos�'s sweet 1975 Pontiac.
Evidently, there aren't many restaurants open late downtown, but El Norte�o saved us from McDonald's.
I know well the trouble of keeping a multi-group evening on schedule. Each group's time left is projected on the wall, in rather large numbers.
The time is also visible to the rest of the audience, reflected in a large window. Oops.
Men in Shirts made it down from Detroit.
And, oh yeah, there were some groups performing. Here's Jester'Z.
The first neighborhood bar we visited tonight, Fat Cat's, had Magic Johnson leering at a lady.
And the second, Bikini Lounge, had tikis everywhere.
Everything looks fancy in black and white.
This elephant wants to know why there are no monkeys in this pack of animal crackers.
Here's a panorama Noah took at the beginning of the day as we were loading up the stuff from Canal Street Storage (nice space, friendly employees). You can see Amanda in her car on the left, Shaun and Patrick putting some random pieces of furniture in the pick-up and is that a shadowy Fuzzy in the U-Haul?
So, the move went great. We got everything in one day -- all the stuff from storage, and from both our current residences, and a bonus couch from Kate (who was moving the same day). We even got done in time for Shaun to house manage at The Playground and me to perform there with The Mighty.
Big FuzzyCo thanks to Amanda*, Ben, Homer, Jenny, Megan, Merrie, Noah*, Patrick*, Phillip, and Taryn* for helping us move. (* indicates Medal of Honor of doing 2 shifts.)
Now I just have to unpack everything.
Here's some pictures of the new condo. We are definitely painting the entry way.
I had complained about the photobooth at Schubas because it had eaten some of my pictures -- they just never came out. The machine still sucks -- a photostrip I did on Monday had one panel just totally black -- but I guess the ones that don't come out must get stuck in the machine somewhere and whoever maintains the machine retrieves them, because a photostrip of Meredith, Erica, and me from the Damnation Game pubcrawl was stuck behind the plexiglass of the photobooth.
By the way, I was at Schubas on Monday to see Dan Darrah. I've known Dan for years through improv, but had never heard him perform with his band. He's great!
Saturday night at "Midnight and a half"* Bare performed at the Belmont Burlesque Revue. (We performed as "Himmerick & Gerdes" because we thought that sounded more Vaudevillian.) We did some sketches from a book of Burlesque comedy bits that Megan had, and one original piece. Someone was supposed to take pictures, but they didn't. So I don't have any pictures of Shaun and me in oversized jackets mugging shamelessly. I took this one picture of Madame X from waaaay offstage with my little camera, and then I got caught up in remembering the set list.
* It's tricky to advertise a show after midnight -- we did have one person get confused because we had put "Saturday at 12:30 am" on the posters and they came Friday night, because it is, technically, Saturday once you get past midnight.
My friend Dan Izzo has a new show opening soon called The Damnation Game. This last Sunday the cast went out in costume to do a promotional pub crawl and at Dan's request I tagged along to take pictures.
P.S. I loooove photo boothes, but the one at Schubas is a rip-off -- I fed it money for 4 strips, but only two came out and one of those was under-developed. Boo.
The Village Tap has a photobooth -- an unexpected birthday bonus.
So... right now our apartment doesn't have any heat (nor running water). As it's 23� in Chicago, the place is pretty cold. I'm alright (I feel like some sort of odd high-tech refugee -- huddled under a blanket in the living room, wirelessly browsing high-speed internet and watching something on TiVo) but the cats (and Shaun) were having a fairly rough time of it, so I've sent the cats (and Shaun) to Beth's for safe-keeping.
If you've met Latt�, you know that she hates to be picked up. So she got to make the ride in the cat-carrier. But Mustapha got to make the ride up front.
Chinese New Year was actually the 22nd, but the celebration on Argyle Street was this Saturday. There were lion dances and a dragon and tons of firecrackers and a bunch of Amy's friends and me drinking hot cocoa and a snow storm. Kate and I took pictures with the little camera and she's put them up on her website.
Lake Michigan. Brrrrrr.
Today I did the OctaSketch at Chicago Sketch Fest -- 4 groups of 5 actors and a director each put together a half-hour sketch show between 9 am and 8 pm, when the show went up. It was a blast.
My group was Thea Lux, Jeremy Sosenko, Aaron Walters, Adam Yencho and me. Our director was John Hildreth. We were... Dynamite! I took pictures!
I just had to get out of the house and walk around today because of this kinda stuff.
This is my backyard:
For once, a mess is not my fault.
I've lived in Chicago for four years now, and I've gotten along pretty well -- same apartment, nice (though crazy) landlord, reasonable number of parking tickets, no big hassles. Recently, I think, the city itself woke up and realized that I wasn't having a real big city experience. So I've been fighting a mechanic who over-charged me $2000 in September (I finally got it back today!) and my car wouldn't pass emissions inspections and our building got sold to someone who was going to gut-rehab it into condos. Only, they didn't have permits. So the city gave them a stop-work order. But not before they had gutted enough apartments to create that mess in the parking lot behind the building. And there's no cold water in the bathroom (water comes out -- but it's hotter than the hot water). And so on and so forth. (Oh, yeah, and the city shut down the two theaters I do most of my shows at.)
I finally got my photos from New Zealand organized and online. Somehow we didn't get any photos of our incredible hosts -- Mark Scott and Bill Scott. They put up with two Americans over-running their house, made us innumerable cups of tea, and helped us in dozens of ways. Yay!
I'm just a coy urban cowboy.
Just messing around at work with a webcam (for work! really!) and thought I'd show off my Sirens shirt.
I spent Thursday night with the lovely ladies of Strawberry Quick, working on photos for their new show poster. There are worse ways to spend an evening.
Working backwards, the reason I couldn't go pick up my FFFF topic on Friday night was that I was at Schadenfreude's extravaganza of a show at the Athenaeum Theater. Schadenfreude wanted to document the show like crazy, so they had five camera people with six cameras shooting the show from all angles. I was on random-backstage-nightshot patrol, which was great because it was low-pressure and meant I could get a bunch of still pictures, too.
KW was one of the Balcony Bits Players, so we kept dashing past each other in the dark. She got to be a tiger and kill Roy in a sketch, whoo-ray.
Neal Pollack's band, the Neal Pollack Invasion, was the opening act of the show. Because I wasn't doing Schadenfreude-documenting yet, I got a ton of good shots of the band. I like taking concert photos and I have to say that the lighting in the Athenaeum was a jillion times better than in most rock venues. And, I'm a fan. So, yay.
One thing that made this last weekend so busy that I'm still catching up was the 11th Fast Forward Film Festival. I looove the FFFF. 21 hours seems, to me, to be just the right amount of time to make a 3 minute film. It's an evening of brainstorming, a morning of filming, and an afternoon of editing.
This time the theme of the FFFF was "At the Drive-In" and the topics for the movies were poster tag lines from old action, horror, and sci-fi movies. Our topic was: "When the heroes are forgotten. When the stakes are life and death. There's one stand you've got to take. There's one rule you've got to break." (I just did the search to discover that this was the tagline to a medical drama, Article 99. I didn't look before we made our movie because I didn't want to know.)
FuzzyCo's FFFF crew this time was me, Shaun, Brian Goodman, and Sean Cusick. Shaun had a CCC gig Friday night and I was at a Schadenfreude show, so I coerced my friend Kate into going and picking up the topic for me. After a short amount of brainstorming Saturday morning, we decided to do a sequel to Ted McGuillicutty, Man of Action, starring Brian as Joe McGuillicutty, Shaun as the villain, and Sean as everyone else. We would use the lines from the suggestion at dramatic moments in the film.
This was our highest production value shoot yet -- we filmed at my house, on Lake Shore Drive, at the 59th Street Metra station, and all over Chinatown. We had special effects and stunt motorcycle riding and real (cheap) Chinese weapons.
Somehow, between all the running around, and then the demands of editing the film down to 3 minutes (I seem to naturally tend towards 4 minute movies) all the suggestion lines got lost. So I'm not sure if the movie looks like it was really inspired by the suggestion, but it was, I swear. I'm really happy with the result. I even turned it in 8 minutes before the deadline.
Shaun has the same sort of love/hate relationship with this squirrel that I do with Mustapha. Except, of course, that I don't have to worry that Mustapha has rabies.
HCBB and their pirate leader. The ATM at the Osco next to the 3 Penny was broken, so we were all buying little items to get cash back with our purchase. I bought a juice. Sean bought an eye-patch. Sean is much cooler than I.
Neutrino going up on the marquee.
Adam shooting Sean and Jen in the middle of Lincoln Ave.
Set up at the 3 Penny went a lot faster this week, because I spent a couple hours at home on Saturday afternoon organizing and labeling cables, making sure I only had the gear I needed, etc. It was good that it all went faster, because the 3 Penny had scheduled an even tighter interval between our show and the earlier movie than the week before. And Shaun was out of town, which mainly affected my pre-show time in that I had to answer the question "Where's Shaun?" 20 different times for each cast and crew member. Special thanks to the HCBB crew for stringing cables like mad.
We also had camera person confusions (Andy Eninger's shooting, right? Well, he is, except he hasn't slept since GayCo got back from LA. But Starcevich is out town. Oh, no he's not.) and a runner no-show. But we had some great last-minute help from Rachel Michalski and Phillip Mottaz, who came just to see the show and ended up teching and running, respectively. We also had some great (planned) sit-ins: Schadenfreude's Adam Witt on camera, Megan Kellie and Jen Ellison on camera, and Paul Miller joined Ben to create the score. And I gave up my on-screen spot to run.
The audience was, again, a little small (damn you, Chicago Cubs, for winning so much*) but enthusiastic. David Shepard is in town to do a workshop on his video improvisation techniques, and he came and saw the show.
* The rumor around town is that a Long-Running and Popular Show had 7 people in their 300 seat theater on Friday night. We had quadruple that, so I don't feel so bad.
It's the First Annual 'Post A Picture of A Cat to your Blog' Day. So here are my two cats. Done.
Can you leave a dog or a baby alone for three days with a big bowl of water and another of food? No. The dog will poop all over the house and the child will die and then you'll be arrested. That's why I like cats.
New City's annual "Best of Chicago" edition came out today and The Neutrino Project was the first item in the Culture section with the heading "Best use of a video camera". Yay!
[nit-pick in brackets]
"The most ingenious idea to hit the camcorder craze is surely The Neutrino Project, that guerilla improv-film hybrid organized by Fuzzy Gerdes [and Shaun Himmerick]. Based on a single audience suggestion, director Gerdes [Shaun's the director now], four different teams of camera crews and a slew of actors race out into the night and create a one-hour film, on the spot. It's a concept so winning (and seemingly obvious), it's kind of amazing no one thought of it earlier. Gerdes and company are back at it again this month at the Three Penny Cinema, launching an 8-week run of "Neutrino Project 30,000" a bigger and better version that features a live score improvised by musician Ben Taylor."
[And I understand it's a short paragraph, but the implication is that we came up with this "seemingly obvious" idea, and of course that was Neutrino.]
Anyway, here is a picture of our poster up at the Three Penny:
and the cast getting ready to watch themselves at our last rehearsal:
and Greg Inda and Ben Taylor rehearsing being technical:
The third and last wedding of my summer was my friend Kerianne to a delightful young man named Brian. They got married at a beautiful facility that used to be a Henry Ford auto parts plant. Mostly, I took pictures of penguins.
Now, that's a package.
Rachel Michalski Mottaz' birthday was yesterday. Her party was a "make a piece of art that says how great Rachel is" party. Also, a harvest party. Also, a "pretend that all the people with Mexican flags on their cars and honking are honking for Rachel" party.
I'm a big fan of ephemeral art, so KW and I did "Rachel" tattoos on each other's arms. The O+ on my arm is not the woman symbol, but rather is "O positive" which KW imagines is my blood type. Because I told her about how Japanese video game characters all have their blood type specified. And she thinks I'm a Japanese video game character. Or something.
Look! Rachel is pretending to blow out the candle on her birthday cake, because I missed the picture when she did it for real, but her mom is totally spoiling the illusion by picking up the candle:
I spent a couple hours Sunday morning as an extra in a short film Adam Devlin-Brown is shooting for the New York Midnight Movie Making Madness fast film competition. I got to sit for a while and then, excitingly, come in the door of the Gingerman take after take.
The last couple of weeks I've been spending my weekend mornings at Montrose Beach shooting Phillip Mottaz's new short "Party Beach USA." I took a few behind-the-scenes photos.
The hole in the (old) engine of my Datsun 260Z. I think it was the mayonnaise that did it.
Phil (feet) and Paul (silhouette) of R. Buzzy. I never get good pictures of Matt because a) the drums are always farther back and b) he's always moving so fast.
I also video-taped Dan Izzo and Trish Conlon's wedding, so again most of my pictures are from before the wedding and during the reception.
I had an interesting lunch meeting about future fast-filmmaking opportunities. I don't want to pooch it by saying where, but it was somewhere with a box labeled "Scary Masks and Ears". I need more boxes like that in my house.