Sunday, April 30, 2006

I know, in theory, that Allie, my youngest sister, has grown up and is finishing her first year of college, but at the same time, I often catch myself thinking of her as younger than she is.

I read this post from her blog and thought, "She's right. That picture doesn't look much like her. Her hair seems different. It's probably not wise of her to post a picture of her ID on-line. Wait, why is her ID from California? That doesn't make any... Oh. That's a fake ID. I get it. She's not even being particularly sly about it in the post, but it went right over my head. I'm dumb."

This post is followed by one where she writes, "I went to church this morning and the sermon was great as usual but it really got me thinking." I can imagine Mom reading Allie's blog and being unhappy about the fake ID but somewhat comforted by the fact that Allie goes to church every week. "I guess more than anything I left church with a question. How do you stop negative thoughts, feelings, and actions from getting to your heart and corrupting it? This question is supposedly going to be answered in the next two weeks. The problem with that is I will be out of town."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Steve gets a visit from Mr. Crane.

Friday, April 28, 2006

After a late night of CIF after-partying, Whirled News Tonight hopped in a van to Cincinnati to perform at a university there.

During the show, Steve told a story about how when he was a kid, when he wouldn't get out of bed in the morning his father would come into his room and say, "Steve, Mr. Crane is on the phone. He's on his way over. If you don't get up immediately, he's going to have to come and use his crane to lift you out of bed." Then his father would sing, "Mr. Crane, Mr. Crane, Mr. Crane..." and forcibly lift Steve out of the bed. Apparently this continued well into Steve's teenage years and he would dread the arrival of Mr. Crane.

I wonder if I'll ever reach an age where taking pictures of people sleeping stops being funny to me. I hope not.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Whirled News Tonight had the great honor of performing on the Chicago Improv Festival mainstage tonight. It was a much bigger stage than we're used to performing on, but it was a good show.

Afterward, downstairs in our dressing room, drinking free beers and eating free burritos we were interviewed by the festival archivist. I mentioned that CIF was in some way responsible for me moving to Chicago the first time.

When I was going to grad school in Arizona, years and years ago, I visited Chicago for one of the early CIFs and saw long-form improv for the first time, performed by the Upright Citizen's Brigade. N and I had been thinking about moving to Chicago, and seeing the possibilities of performing improv helped me decide that Chicago was where I wanted to go.

And Chicago is still the place I'm happy to be.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Girl: I did something bad.
Me: Uh, okay. What happened?
Girl: You left your drawer open and I saw N's ring. I didn't mean to snoop, but I saw the box in there... and I opened it.
Me: That's fine. It's not a big deal.
Girl: I just wish I hadn't. It's weird. I feel weird that I saw it. Why do you still have it?
Me: I don't know. Not for any reason.
Girl: I'm sorry. I wasn't snooping. I don't snoop.
Me: I don't keep it in there to keep it close or look at it. It's just in there with a bunch of other junk. Not junk... just... stuff I don't know what else to do with.
Girl: I'm mad at myself for looking at it. Why did I look at? Now I'm going to be thinking about it. [long pause] Yikes. Yikes stripes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Two last things about the morning show appearance.

1. The concept of the Whirled News Tonight show is that we improvise scenes inspired by newspaper articles selected by the audience. For our ABC-7 appearance Kevin Roy picked a news story, read it on-air and we did scenes.

Before our segment started he was talking to us, trying to put us at ease.

Kevin Roy: So, you guys don't know what news story I've picked?
Us: No.
Kevin Roy: I'll give you a hint...
Us: ... we don't really want a hint, the whole point is...
Kevin Roy: The key word is gas. If you can't come up with anything funny about gas, you're in trouble.
Us: ...thanks.

2. After we were done, we snuck onto the Ebert & Roeper set, where we took pictures and whispered things like, "Quick! Quick! Shhh!" and, "All thumbs up or thumbs down? Or a variety? Shhh!" and, "We gotta get out of here before someone catches us. Shhh!"

Monday, April 24, 2006

This is what I look like on television.

I've never been a fan of local news, or local newscasters, but I must admit that I liked Kevin Roy. He did a good job of putting us all at ease, especially me, designated "on-air captain" and interviewee.

During the interview, the few times I stumbled, Kevin Roy was there in an instant, keeping things moving. And it's easy to stumble. The festival is taking place at the Athenaeum. Where is the Athenaeum, again? Uh, can't remember. It's on Southport isn't it? Yes it is on Southport, thank you Kevin.

I wonder if anyone caught my favorite mistake that I made. When talking about the improv festival I said, "There are dozens of shows, hundreds of groups, thousands of performers."

There are not thousands of performers. There are maybe about a hundred performers in the festival all-told. Halfway through the sentence I thought, "Uh oh, these numbers are escalating too fast. I should have started with something lower than dozens. Oh well, I guess I'm just going to say there are thousands of performers. No turning back now."

Kevin Roy didn't bat an eye, just kept us moving forward to the next discussion point, like a man guiding his wife across a busy intersection, his hand casually, but firmly at her back.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Glynn, Young, Steve, Alex, Shane and I were on ABC-7's weekend morning show this morning to promote Whirled News Tonight and the upcoming Chicago Improv Festival.

Our stage was in a big room behind the main news set and next to the area for kitchen segments. There were two Roomba-like cameras slowly moving without operators.

Rushing around during a commercial break the morning show producer asked, "So how long is this skit?"

We had to explain that we were going to improvise some scenes so it could go as long or short as they wanted. It would be totally made up on the spot.

"Great," she said. "The segment will be three, four... seven minutes. I really don't know."

The sound guy set up the third microphone stand and said, "You guys can sing directly into these."

"No, we're not... we're not a musical act..."

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Last night was Marla's karaoke birthday party at the Hidden Cove. Unfortunately, earlier that evening her husband, James, was almost hit by a car while riding his bike and ended up hitting the pavement with his face.

Marla: I got the phone call and it was like, happy birthday, my husband's dead.

Luckily, he hadn't broken anything and they both made a belated appearance at the party.

James: It looks worse than I feel.

As I was taking this picture I noticed someone was singing a karaoke version of "Hit Me with Your Best Shot."

Friday, April 21, 2006

I was recently reading my co-worker Mary's blog and noticed she ended an entry with the words, "My life is perfect." That sentence really struck me as a bold statement and something I could never imagine myself writing. Not that my life is bad, or even, frankly, that I think my life isn't as good as Mary's, just that a claim like that seems to be tempting fate a bit. It's the kind of thing someone would say in a movie trailer right before everything goes into slow motion, fades to black and is followed by the sound of something horrible in the dark.

Then again, Mary ended a different entry with "The shawl is perfect" and maybe I just have a problem with the whole concept. I remember playing a party game years ago where people would answer questions about themselves and everyone else would try to guess how they perceived themselves.

One of the questions was, "How good of a listener are you on a scale of 1 to 10?"

I considered the person who got this question a very good listener so I gave them an 8. Their answer: I'm a 10.

This blew my mind. A 10? What kind of maniac ranks himself as a 10 for anything? Is 10 even an attainable number? Most of all, if you consider yourself a perfect listener, you're probably not a good listener at all.

I know that this is really my own hang-up, and not necessarily a flaw in Mary's thinking or Listener 10 (although... 10?! that's clearly nuts, right?). Truth be told, perfection frightens me.

That said, my life is going pretty well. I'd give it an 8.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Young: It was fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Last night was my first visit to the United Center. Young was very excited that our tickets told us to enter through Gate 2 and a half, as if we would have to walk through a wall and hop on the train to Hogwarts. In reality the half gates were the entrances to the luxury levels, which are their own kind of magical experience.

Within two minutes of walking up to United Center, I spotted some people I know: Justin, Rachel and Sanchez, who moved to Chicago from Arizona around the same time I did (Justin and Sanchez, you may remember, transported the Giant Bed).

Me: What are you guys doing here?
Sanchez: You should have called me. We're in a luxury box.
Justin: Free food and booze.
Me: I'm in a luxury box too. Luxury box wars!

It was the end of the season, and the Blackhawks had no chance of going to the playoffs. General attendance was sparse. I'm sure demand for the luxury boxes was low. I imagine most of the boxes held people like me, folks of little importance (friends of employees, neighbors of clients) tasting some luxury ("Hot dogs, chicken sandwiches AND mini hamburgers?!") at a game that doesn't count for anything.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hansen got comps for Nick, Meador, Trupe, Young and I to tonight's Blackhawks game for his law firm's luxury box.

Trupe: Should we pretend to be clients of yours? If so, I say we're land barons.
Hansen: Please all be land barons and wear silk cravats and ruby stick pins.
Me: I want to be a billionaire's son who keeps killing people but has the money to get away with it.
Trupe: Young can be the threatened, trembling accountant who has to cook the books but whose conscience is eating him alive.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I got a My Space friend request from my youngest sister a few days ago. I don't think she's been on My Space very long but she already has about a hundred messages in her Comments section ("we are soooo going to dinner:):):):)"). This was followed by a message that she'd "figured out" who the girl is and that they are now My Space friends as well.

Saturday, the girl also mentioned this. "It's cute. But I need to edit my page. I'm sure your mom is going to see it."

The next day I talked to Mom on the phone and she had in fact seen it. "She seems cute."

"Oh no!" the girl screamed and immediately jumped on a computer to check out the damage.

"I don't remember there being anything that bad on your page," I said.

"My stupid friends," she said, scanning the Comments section of her page ("Hello slut!") and shaking her head.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I was surprised to find the Easter Bunny had left me a treat in the refrigerator. I was even more surprised to notice that we have two cartons of Fat Free Sour Cream. Odd.

Not a whole lot else in the fridge right now.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Called Grandma Anne. She sounded better (less medicated?) but still deeply unhappy to be in the Alzheimer's unit. She also mentioned how much she wanted to be able to go mow her lawn. She's always taken pride in the fact that she mows her own quite-sizeable lawn.

The dangers of not being able to do your own yardwork because you've been placed in a nursing home include:

1. The concern that it's not being done properly, overgrowing for all to see, heaping indignity on top of indignity.
2. The loss of exercise, access to the outside world and a sense of self-worth.
3. The probably legitimate fear that your son and his wife are moving their daughter and her unemployed husband into your house against your wishes.
4. The seeming pointlessness of it all.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Some College Town, Illinois.

I was asked to perform in an IO Roadshow. It was a fun show, despite the lack of promotion on campus and the fact that we were competing for an audience with a salsa band, an indoor miniature golf course and a Super Smash Brothers Melee video game tournament (Steve: It smells like sweat and balls in there).

The three hour van ride and our pre-show Olive Garden dinner had Middleditch (left) and Lyons (right) tuckered out, but the student activity board's complimentary mock-tails woke everyone up in time for our set.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The girl and I went to the 1900s show at the Hideout with Trupe and Wonak, and Nick and Katie. Katie actually gets a pretty prominent name check ("touch down for Katie Jane") in their song "Bring the Good Boys Home."

The Hideout stage looks sort of like Talent Show Night at summer camp.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Brett: (via e-mail) So I hope this isn't out of line, but you have seriously got to stop calling _____ "The Girl" in your blog. Or at least never call her "the girl I'm dating" again. Seriously. if you haven't already, you will definitely hear about it.

I've gotten a lot of suggestions about this in the comment section of this site. People have recommended the pseudonyms Helen, Anastasia, Babs and O.

I got an e-mail from my friend, Alice, in Arizona who is a traveling nurse and helped me out a lot after my gall bladder surgery. She wrote, "i too, think she should at the very least have a pseudonym that is not "the girl". i like "Tina". that's a nice fake name. it's sassy and simple. is your girlfriend sassy and simple?"

I IM-ed the girl herself and asked her what she thinks I should call her.

Girl: Well, the boring choice would be _. Do you already have a _? Babe, I don't really want ANYTHING from your blog, I just want to read it. So I don't care what I'm called, just as long as you call me sweet things in person.
Me: Okay, Shitbox it is then.

As C might say, who gets to decide what a legitimate identity is, anyway? Here, on this blog, I guess I do. For now she will remain, affectionately, the girl.

Happy semi-anniversary Shitbox.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

It's a nice 64 degree spring night out tonight.

Tonight is also the first time all of the radiators in the apartment have ever turned on all at the same time. Full blast, no less. It's the kind of heat that we really could have used in the dead of winter. Now, though, it's really just annoying.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Swamped with work, but it was such a beautiful day and I knew I'd be staying late anyway, so I decided to go out to lunch with some co-workers.

Conversation turned to our favorite things we'd seen in Chicago. For Evan, it was a bus load of clowns running into a bar yelling, "We love clowns!"

Allard (pictured) told a story of filming a video piece for the last You Don't Know Jack game. He and Poland were on the beach, Poland dressed as a pirate and Allard in a gorilla suit. As they were filming, an SUV drove onto the beach, went past them and then drove off a dock and straight into Lake Michigan. As the SUV started to sink, the driver got out and started swimming farther out into the water.

Lacy: So, wait, what was the guy trying to do?
Allard: I don't know. The police and the news showed up and we were the only witnesses, a pirate and a gorilla. The cops couldn't believe we didn't catch it on tape.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Finally did my taxes. I hate the strange combination of tedium and stress, but at the same time I do obviously like breaking down a year. And it was a long strange year. Two states. Two W-2s. One 1099-MISC. Even a little 1099-G. Travel deductions. Moving deductions. Medical deductions.

I can deduct movies I've seen too, so I have a lot of ticket stubs. N and I saw The Interpreter on 5/13 apparently. That seems odd, because I remember it as being a nice night out even if the movie was only so-so. It was very close to the end. And at that point we must have already decided that things would be over soon. Right?

I suppose I could try to tease out some metaphor now about taxes and relationships, and levels of investment, and is it enough or not. Maybe toy around with an emotional refund joke, but really I'm just worn out from all the math.

Oh, but for the first time in years, I'm actually getting some money back.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A super-secret shot of Young on date #6.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Julie e-mailed me Will's 3 month pictures. Incredibly cute. He's very expressive. This one may be my favorite. Will looks sort of alarmed, as if Ty is holding a gun to his back, whispering, "Just be cool, and we'll get through this without anyone getting hurt."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

It's come up in conversation a few times recently that I don't know how to get in contact with any of my old girlfriends (except for one, N, and we're not in contact). So, I decided to try googling them. Here's some of what I found. Forgive the High Fidelity-ness of it all.

H - Married. Attorney in Pennsylvania. According to a family genealogy site she's a proud parent to a four pound Chihuahua named Scott.

J - Name too common to ever find anything.

A - Honestly not sure if I'm spelling her name right. Maybe she's married. Maybe she's working in DC. Maybe she runs a lot of marathons. Or maybe it's not her at all.

C - Director of an Effective Teaching Center at a university in the south. A lot of scholarly papers about identity and who gets to decide what a legitimate identity is.

M - Assistant Professor of English at a college in Indiana. In the town, I think, that she grew up in.

D - Only two sites came up, one of them from the time we knew each other in college. The other was minutes for a meeting with a motion to approve the reduction of her position by 3.5 hours. It may not have even been her.

R - Short stories in literary journals. No new ones as far as I can tell. Teaching at an elementary school in either Brooklyn or the Bronx.

Mostly, though, very few details about anyone. And, oddly, no one I've ever dated in the past is on Friendster or My Space. In fact, I'd probably have more luck finding an old flame on

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Yesterday morning I noticed a steady stream of water bubbling out of the cracks in the sidewalk in front of my apartment. Yesterday afternoon the water continued to flow, except someone had put an orange traffic cone down in the middle of the gurgling.

This morning a full crew was there tearing up the sidewalk. They were still there when I got home from work.

"There's no water," Young said, as I came into the apartment, using the back door since there was a giant hole right outside the front. "I don't know how long it's going to be out, but... it doesn't look like they'll be done anytime soon."

He was quiet for a while and then looked up at the ceiling and said in a voice filled with regret, "I pooped."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Monday, April 03, 2006

Yesterday was opening day. Young took the plastic insulation off the windows and I opened them up for the first time in months, letting some fresh air in.

Meanwhile, the White Sox had their first game of the season. This had the girl, a die-hard Sox fan, very excited. I don't follow baseball, and when I do I'm an as-lazy-as-they-come Cubs fan, but I watched the game with her. "I'm not superstitious, except for baseball," she said. "And I feel like it's a bad omen if you lose on opening day."

"What happens if the game gets rained out," I asked, trying to take pictures of lightening out the window.

"I don't know. Unpredictability?"

It rained. The Sox game was delayed. The windows were shut.

After the rain stopped, the Sox beat Cleveland. And the next day, today, the Cubs beat Cincinnati.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I'm not sure at what point my Grandma Anne had to stop going to school because her time was needed back on the farm, but I think it was right around the fourth grade. Mom has mentioned that she's not sure how well she can write, beyond signing her name. "My whole life, I've never known her to write a letter."

She's written at least one letter, though, this one, that she sent me a few years ago.

I called Grandma Anne in the nursing home today. I hadn't talked to her in... well, too long.

Me: How is the place? I mean, I know obviously you should be in a better place.
Grandma Anne: This isn't the right place.
Me: I think Mom and Dad are trying to get you to the place you want to be.
Grandma Anne: They have me on the Alls-timers unit. I'm with all those people.
Me: I know. Probably no one to have much of a conversation with.
Grandma Anne: No, no. You can't talk to them.

We talked for a bit and then she sensed it was time to get off the phone.

Grandma Anne: Well, thanks for calling. I always like hearing from you.
Me: I'll try to call again soon.
Grandma Anne: Don't forget about me.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Jeanine stopped by to hang out and show us her band's new CD.

Jeanine: It drops on May 30th.
Me: It drops?
Jeanine: (laughing) Yes, it's totally going to drop.
Me: I wish I had something dropping.

We listened to the CD and watched Sling Blade on mute, as if the 1900s was the soundtrack. After that I played a CD Poland had made of his children singing songs about animals.

Jeanine: I don't know if I'll ever get married. A husband and children, I'm not sure if I want that... but I do want a family band.

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