Saturday, December 31, 2005


The big steak dinner with a bunch of friends went later than expected, so we were running late to John and Kerry's New Year's Eve party. And, of course, there was no place to park.

Young: This is miserable. We could end up driving around for an hour.

Frustration set in.

Young: Are those guys getting out of that spot or not? What are they doing? Forget it. Forget it! They're fucking morons!

Luckily, while getting the beers for the party (six packs, for '06), I had impulse purchased a festive holiday noise maker.

Young: It's practically midnight. No one's going to leave any of these spots. We're screwed.
Me: [TOOT!]
Young: This is a nightmare.

Friday, December 30, 2005

When your name is Arnie, you get used to it being your name, and no one else's. I met an Arnie in college, and instantly hated him. "What an asshole," I thought, "And he looks like an Arnie."

A few weeks back I was on a date and went to a party at a house I'd never been to, filled with people I didn't know, in a part of town I rarely visit. Standing on the front porch, I noticed that the building next door had my name graffittied on it. No one at the party knew anything about it. None of them knew anyone named Arnie. If my name was John or Matt I might not have thought anything of it, seeing my name there, but my name is Arnie, and I can't help but believe it was meant for me.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Went and saw Tom and Steph's new condo last night. They'd gotten a digital camera for Christmas.

"That's a good gift," I said. "A lot of people got digital cameras this year. I feel like if I saw a Christmas pie chart, it would be mostly digital cameras."

We then spent about 15 mintues taking pictures of each other taking pictures of each other.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

1. This is how I woke up the morning I drove to Hometown, Ohio for Christmas.

At about 8:30am I kept hearing a buzzing noise. Eventually I woke up enough to realize it was an alarm clock. Then I realized it was Young's alarm clock.

I got up to go turn it off. As I walked down the hall to his room, I thought:

"Why is Young's alarm going off?
"He hasn't gone home for Christmas yet.
"He doesn't have to work today.
"It's 8:30 in the morning. He wouldn't be up.
"Why hasn't he turned his alarm off?
"He didn't go out last night.
"Young is dead.
"Young had a heartattack and he's dead.
"I'm going to find Young's dead body laying in bed next to his blaring alarm clock.
"He'll be blue. Would he be blue? He'll be blue.
"This is going to really mess up Christmas."

In truth, he'd woken up early, went out to do laundry and forgotten to turn off his alarm.

2. Driving back to Chicago from southern Illinois after Christmas, Young saw someone have a stroke in a Wendys.

"Everyone kept eating their food. I said, 'Isn't anyone going to help this guy?' and the lady behind the counter was like, 'Well, I already called an ambulance.' And the guy was just there on the ground having a stroke."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


My first day at Jellyvision. I showed up earlier than I planned, so I sat in the car for a while, until it seemed like an appropriate time to go in.

Filled out a lot of forms (confidentiality, etc) and got down to work. Beyond that, it's top secret. And yes, maybe the funny story about the bathrooms and my wry observations about the staff kitchen don't need to be top secret... but, let's play it safe, anyway, and leave those things unblogged.

Monday, December 26, 2005

On Christmas Eve I sent N a text message. I debated whether I should do it or not. On the one hand, I didn't want to intrude, or seem like I wanted to get back together. On the other hand, it was Christmas, and wouldn't it seem uncaring to let it pass without saying anything?

"merry xmas. hope ur well."

I almost added, "no need 2 write back" but figured it was a given... and since she didn't write back, I guess it was.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Christmas Day, Movies We Didn't See Round-Up:

* Munich - Not showing in Hometown, Ohio.
* Harry Potter - Only one showing a day, at an inconvienet time. The girls didn't want to see it. Too long.
* Family Stone - Sherry had already seen it.
* King Kong - I had already seen it. The girls didn't want to see it. Too long.
* Memoirs of a Geisha - The guys didn't want to see it. Too long.
* Christmas Vacation and My Big Fat Greek Wedding [rentals] - Dad seemed disappointed that no one was interested in the DVDs he'd rented especially for the occasion.
* Rumor Has It - By a process of elimination we decided to see this movie. First, though, we decided to let Ty open one present. Then, because Mom wanted to open the digital camera she knew she was getting and charge the battery while we went to the movie, we each opened one present... then we just decided to skip the movie entirely and open all the presents.

Movies We Did See:

* A Christmas Story - Bits and pieces of it, anyway, as it played on a 24 hour loop on TBS.
* Toy Story - My gift to Ty. He watched the movie and we watched him. Any attempts to talk to him ("Who's that? Is that Buzz?") were ignored. He was almost catatonically quiet until near the end when Woody 'breaks the rules' to talk to the bad boy across the street. After Woody's face came alive to say, "So play nice" Ty let out a cheer that suggested a deep appreciation of story mechanics, wise beyond his years.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

We spend every Christmas Eve with Dad's brothers. He has eight of them. And they are all married with several children each. And some grandchildren. It is huge and it is loud and it is Christmas.

[When I say "we" and "every" I'm glossing over the fact, that, of course, not everyone can make every Christmas Eve. Three of Dad's brothers couldn't make it this year. And this is the first time in several years that I've been able to make it. The last few Christmas Eves found me in Michigan with N's family, the ____________s. No one mentions N, but everyone asks, "How is Chicago?" which seems like the safest and best catch-up question. I answer, sincerely, that Chicago is very good.]

Uncle Pat shows a video slideshow he's working on, of the brothers as children.

Uncle Joe: Well there's baby Ron.
Dad: What a cute little shit I was.
Uncle Mike: Look at those heartbreakers. We look like the Beatles.

Afterward, standing behind several balding heads, Uncle Paul says, "You know, from the back, we're all starting to look the same."

Friday, December 23, 2005

A day on the road, driving back to Hometown, Ohio, for Christmas. After a few quick stops at local stores (do Best Buy and Applebees count as "local stores"?), I walked into my parents' house bragging that, for once, I had all my Christmas shopping done before the day of the exchange.

Julie pointed out that, although we were having our family Christmas on Christmas Day this year, previously we've always had it the night before Christmas Eve, tonight, and so I wasn't really done any earlier than usual.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Another picture from last week's IO Holiday Party.

(Seeing this picture and the one I posted last week, Young said that the first made it look like the party was awkward and this one made it look like it was fun. The truth is that it was a little of both.)

Despite having a Take A Picture Every Day website, I don't think of myself as hiding behind my camera. At the party, though, the thought, "I should dance" quickly turned to "I should take pictures of people dancing" and the first thought never returned.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

You've got to be kidding me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Apartment Update:

1. New fridge.
2. The buzzer may or may not be fixed, but it's too cold to go outside and check it.
3. The stairs [pictured] look like some junior high science olympics structural experiment. Before they added the plank of wood I'd think, "oh, the stairs creek." Now I think, "oh, I'm going to die."
4. The same.
5. (new one) One of the two washing machines in the basement has a sign on it that reads, "DO NOT USE WASHER. It doesn't agitate." Pun: It does agitate.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I feel like I've had a holiday party almost every night lately. Last night was one of my favorites: Otis-mas, the natural follow-up to Otis-giving.

Gandy brought rotel. ("It may not seem like holiday food to you, but trust me, where I come from, every FEMA trailer will be serving it.")

Joe [pictured] brought everything we needed to make our own ice cream. Everyone took turns shaking the ice-filled bags, passing them on when their hands got too cold. Soon the bag shaking start to sync up with the music we were listening to (Johnny Cash), taking on a maraca-like quality. An impromptu ice cream-making jam session.

And I wondered, what if making food always made music, and vice versa? After a concert, musicians would turn over their instruments and a freshly prepared feast would tumble out.

The ice cream wasn't that good. But I enjoyed the rotel.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

More Christmas Trees:

1. Alex has two Christmas trees (and a giant American flag) in his living room. Over the weekend he had the cast of Whirled News Tonight over to drink, eat and make ornaments. Young made an ornament that read, "X-Mas Kicks Ass." I thought it would be funny to make one that read, "X-Men Kick Ass" but was too busy drinking glog to bother with seasonal crafts.

2. Brett (mormon-born) and Natasha (jewish) have only been able to decorate the top of their Christmas tree because one of their cats (Dr. Marlena Evans Schwartz) keeps knocking the ornaments off. Many of these ornaments are home-made and have pictures of friends recently left behind in New York (Brett and Natasha moved to LA shortly after their wedding), making them both, I think, a little homesick. Dr. Schwartz is apparently less sentimental.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

For once, I have most of my Christmas shopping done early this year.

In case you're wondering, my all-time favorite gift is this framed still from The Apartment signed by Jack Lemmon. N got it for me during our first Christmas, or maybe my birthday. I have no idea if the signature is authentic or not, but it doesn't really matter.

It's one of my most cherished possessions, and yet I've never bothered to put it up on a wall. Even when N and I were still together, living together, not living together, living together again, it's always just sat on top of various piles of clutter.

I thought about sending N something for Christmas, but decided it's best to continue to give her the distance she needs.

Friday, December 16, 2005

My last day of Ear work. Not a bad day until six school buses pulled up to the Old Orchard Mall Food Court (where Lilly and I were stationed) and let out a flood of spazzed out junior high students. Our team manager told us not to give the ear squeeze toys to them, so our job quickly changed from trying to give out as many ears as possible to futiley trying to keep them from disappearing.

Student: Can I get an ear?
Me: Sorry, we can only give them out to people 18 and over.
Student 2: I'm 18 and over.
Me: No you're not.
Student 3: Can I try on the ear costume?
Me: No.
Me: Please don't hit the costume.
Student 4: Can I hit you in the face?
Me: Can I hit YOU in the face?
Student 5: I'm from Russia.
Me: Are you really Russian or are you just doing a bad Ali G impression?
Student 5: (a bit crestfallen) I'm American.
Me: It was actually an above average Ali G impression.
Student 2: Can I have an ear now?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Things in the apartment that are currently not working:

1. The refridgerator.
2. The front buzzer.
3. The left side of the stairs.
4. The power, period, if you try to run the George Foreman Grill and microwave at the same time (which, of course, is exactly what I want to do).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The IO Holiday Party, formerly the Improv Olympic* Christmas** Party.

*After years of threats of legal action from the International Olympic Committee, Improv Olympic has officially changed its name to IO, in case anyone mistakes an improv comedy show for the Summer/Winter Olympics.

**A nod to cultural sensitivity. Plus, I think the owner, Charna, is jewish anyway.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Going Away Gathering for Josh and Andrea.

Josh had been trying to move to Chicago for years, but there were always family issues/emergencies keeping him in Arizona.

In August he and Andrea were finally able to load up a truck (including my giant bed) and move here. Now, a couple months later, as they're starting to feel settled and Josh has saved up enough to start taking improv classes... another family crisis has arisen and he needs to move back to Arizona and raise his 13 year old brother. And they're leaving tommorrow.

Josh: We were supposed to leave last week but I lost the car. We thought it had gotten towed and then we thought it was stolen, but it turns out it was just buried under snow and parked in a different place than I remembered. It took a couple days to figure it out.

I'm tempted to draw a parallell to when I moved back to Arizona for N, but, really, it's not the same.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Whenever I check what websearches bring people to this site, I still find that there are a lot of people clearly looking for breakup advice or help who end up here. Things like:

"should we break up"
"how to break up with a guy first"
"nice ways to break up with someone"
"breakup will we get back together"
"getting yourself back together after a breakup"
"showing a friend you really care"

(these websearches tell a nice universal little story when placed in this order)

I also get my fair share of just plain odd searches:

"best friend with wife pictures"
"sexy young babies"
"pictures of girl"

Then there are ones that make perfect sense:

"menu for Cheddar's rest"

And ones that I hope aren't true:

"emotionally fragile"

The one that I've been thinking about the most, lately, though, is "prayers for a break up." I wonder if the person wanted prayers to help them get over a relationship or whether they literally wanted to pray for a break up ("forgive us our trespasses and deliver us from each other")... because I'm sure that happens too.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

There's never enough parking in Chicago anyway, but after it snows the situation gets much worse. This leads to the annoying (although slightly understandable) practice of people "saving" spots they've shoveled clear with crappy lawn chairs or milk crates.

Before moving to Chicago, Tom lived in Minneapolis for several years. I asked him if this happened there as well. It doesn't. After a heavy snow, on day one the main roads get plowed. On day two they plow the odd numbered side of the streets and on day three they plow the even numbered side.

"The bad part is, after it snows, 50% of the parking disappers for two days, but it's not as hard to find parking there as here. I think I prefer that smaller size of city."

I still haven't dug my car out since the first snow. Maybe I'll leave it there until spring.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Tom and Steph came out to see Whirled News Tonight, and we had drinks afterwards (it was more fun than this picture suggests).

Tom: The new place is good. But I was looking for my Decemberists CD and realized that most of the D albums are missing.
Steph: So the 'Dying Young' soundtrack is missing?
Tom: Uh... yeah.

We also talked about New Years Eve, both the upcoming one, and the one, two years ago where it was Tom and Steph and N and I, two days before the move back to Arizona. I told Tom later that I supposed it was pretty obvious that we had been fighting just before we showed up, but he'd said that it hadn't been. And it was a pretty great night, all things considered, even though the impending trip back to Arizona seemed more like going backwards in time than forwards.

Friday, December 09, 2005

More Ear work.

Not only do we wear giant ear costumes, but we hand out these little stress balls shaped like Lynchian severed ears in plastic bags.

We were encouraged to come up with little puns while we pass them out ("Ear you go"), but I mostly just say, "Free ear. Free ear. Would you like a free ear?" Really, the important word is free. "Free. Free. Free. Free."

We were also told that if we encountered anyone that was upset or unhappy about the promotion, we should not deal with them ourselves but direct them to our manager, and do NOT continue to pester them. Although, for some reason, it seems much easier to come up with ear puns for that situation ("Why are you being so ear-itable? Don't be ear-rational.")

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Today's weather in Arizona: Partly Cloudy, 67 degrees.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

There's a great write-up about my new improv show, Concept Album, in this week's Time-Out Chicago. Unfortunately, they forgot to include the show's days, times or location.


In case you're interested, it's currently running Thursday nights at 8pm at the Improv Olympic (upstairs in the Del Close Theater).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I got a call recently at KunkleCo from an elderly couple trying to get ahold of a Scott Peterson. They clearly had the wrong number. For a while I started to suspect it was a prank call because they seemed almost over-the-top old and crazy but also because of the name Scott Peterson. It's probalby a common enough name, but it's also the name of a man who was convicted of killing his wife.

N had a bit of a fixation on the Peterson saga, and I never really understood how she could watch so many Dateline and Primetime Live shows about women being murdered by the men they loved.

Once, driving back from a trip, exiting the highway, and close to home, she told me that she'd been watching a special about the Peterson trial and they played some recordings of him talking on the phone. "And I realized, he sounds like you."

"What are you saying?" I asked.

"The way you talk on the phone, he talked in the same way. There was a similar... quality."

"Wait," I said, "Are you saying you think I'm going to murder you?"

"No," she said, "I know you're not going to murder me."

But as I drove on I could feel her looking at me from the passenger seat, after all these years, still trying to figure me out, like a true-life mystery.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Meador shows off his new Ravenclaw scarf.

Hansen: Hey Meador, is your Dr. Who stuff jealous?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Whirled News Tonight holiday dinner.

Alex had just returned from a trip to Vienna, so he was in charge of wine. Jordan is about to leave for a month-long job performing on a cruise ship so he was in charge of pretending to test the wine's flavor and saying things like, "It tastes like my penis."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Ugh. I stept in dog shit. So, if you need to track me in the snow, you'll know which set of prints to follow.

Friday, December 02, 2005

When I wrote, "giant ear costume," I wasn't kidding.

Most heard comment today: I hope you're being well paid for this.

My unspoken response: I'm being paid just enough.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Opening night for my new improv show, Concept Album (I'm currently doing a lot of improv shows).

Afterwards, went out for drinks with the cast and several friends who had come to see the show. Had a long conversation with Mark and Sarah about what will happen when sexy aliens finally make contact with this planet (FYI: Sexiest sexy alien traits? Silver skin and pointy ears). Mark was adament that you'd want to be one of the first people to have sex with them, impregnante them, and create a star child, thus bringing our races together and stopping the sexy aliens from destroying our planet. Sarah agreed.

I, however, was adament about waiting for the second wave of sexy alien sex, to let other people find out if being horribly killed is part of the sexy alien mating ritual. And frankly, there are several examples in the animal world and the world of crappy sci-fi movies to support this concern.

"Fine," Sarah said, "you'll just have to be the godfather to one of our sexy alien babies."

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