Friday, October 31, 2008
Excuse #1: The Job
Yes. The economic "slow down" (because god forbid, people actually use the word "recession" out loud) is killing jobs and business all over the place. The level of tension at our office is so rank it actually has a distinct odor. Smells a lot like combination of mildew, curry and burning tires.
I am one of the lucky few that still has a job. I know way too many people looking for paychecks right now. So, I apologise for my extremely crappy attitude about still being employed. I should be happy. I should be relaxed. Instead I'm a ball of nerves...that has to withstand the smell of burning tires and curry. Did I mention the mildew?
Currently, my work life has turned into a not-as-amusing rendition of "Office Space." Wherein, our hero has to continually create Powerpoint slides reflecting what work she is doing and what value she brings the to business. (You know...instead of spending that time...doing her work...that brings value to the business.)
If my bank account wasn't bone dry, I would tell them where to stick it, but alas, like a whore hooked on the junk, I continue to suck a dick.
Ergo, my desire to post witty or wry comments has been...limited. At best.
Excuse #2: The Election
This is good and bad.
The "bad" is any conversation with my McCain (and suddenly Palin) supporting father turns into a bloody corpse ridden car wreck. Even when we try to leave politics or the candidates off topic, we somehow find our way back to the charred and festering remains. And then stomp on them.
I'm pretty sure we need to not talk until Nov 5th. Or maybe Nov 6th even.
Watching all the fear-mongering at the McCain rallies would get filed under bad as well. Watching folks that look like my grandmother or my cousin say ignorant racist epitaphs and repeating lies and disproved rumors - it breaks a peice inside me every time.
Of course, I'm a Cubs fan. I'm used to repairing internal and consistant damage.
The good comes from how FREAKING EXCITED I am to be an Election Judge. For reals. My letter came about two weeks back and this past week I had my training downtown. There is something about this candidate that inspired me to not only get out and vote early, but to contribute to my community by serving in what's gearing up to be one of the biggest attended elections in decades.
Now, if you know me, you know how I feel about low voter turnout. The idea that people - either out of fear or hope or belief in one's candidate - are headed to the polls in numbers not seen in years, can't be anything but something to celebrate.
It's gonna be a long day. I start at 5am and don't get to leave until the last person in line votes and we've broken down the equipment. In fact, I'm taking the 6th off to sleep and hopefully celebrate.
If you voted early - AWESOME! I hope your line wasn't too long.
If you are voting on Tuesday, be patient and be pleased that so many of your neighbors are doing their civic duty and voting. Be nice.
And unless your Election Judges (the folks that check you in and hand you your ballots and give you your "I voted!" sticker) are completely assy to you...Thank Them. (Or at the very least, pretend it's me and Thank me.)
I'm going to do my best to be thrilled at everyone who walks through the door. Hopefully, not in an annoying way, but in a, "Voting is So Awesome and You're Awesome for waiting in line to do it!" way. Which is probably annoying after 4 hours, much less 12 or more.
Excuse #3: Halloween
Last week was all about getting a costume together for a friend of a friend's Old West costume party which was held last weekend. (every year they have a different theme.)
I went as a shot of whiskey.
K went as a shot of tequila.
M went as a beer chaser.
Ultimately, while fun to collaborate on (and easy to wear for the most part), most folks didn't "get it." We'd even hand out little pics of ourselves, as in..."Here! Take a shot of Whiskey!" And then folks would be like, "...oh....OH! I GET IT."
So, as an acheiveable costume, I believe this year goes down as a FAIL.
The best costumes need no such gaggery or explanation. But that's ok. We enjoyed ourselves, drinking Coronas by the firepit. And M got to have fun trying to hit me with the beer can he was "chasing" all night. Good times. Good times.
Also. There were giant cupcakes of death (and deliciousness.)
After all...not every year can hit the bar set by "Polygamist Zombies."
Big Zombie Love (click for awesome details)
Something for the mantle.
Little works of Zombie Art.
At least two still walk the earth...
Thursday, October 23, 2008
- - -
The play is memory .Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic.
- A Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams.
A few thoughts on two current Chicago productions of The Glass Menagerie and Our Town that I've recently seen...
If you are a product of the public school system, you've probably seen or read these highly regarded American standards back when you were in junior high or high school. Or, maybe your brother/sister/cousin was in a college production. Perhaps your weird aunt dragged you to see it when you were a kid, trying to instill some sense of culture into the clay that is your brain.
I've seen them. I've seen both plays so many times and performed so awfully (so many times) and approached so similarly that, at some point back, I took a silent oath to avoid them. Been there. Done that. Me likely new works, thanks and there's the door.
But, I recently broke my vow and saw both in a matter of weeks.
Thanks to the talents of the directors, actors and technicians involved ...and the writers long past caring...I am eating a big bowl of crow. I'm choking on my fixed stance, "Never again shall I suffer through that." A big lesson to learn. (For the 427th time, I'm sure.)
I read somewhere that OT is the "most performed American play." In my experience, most productions of OT fall prey to one of two fatalities. They either:
A) embrace (in a Lenny-esque grip) the historical and turn-of-the-century-ness of the play. Spending more time on costumes and regional dialects and the search to find "the perfect ladder", or...
B) they overreach with an effort to "modernize" the text and it becomes the caricature equivalent of "rapping" Shakespearean verse.
Both roads lead to a focus on the style rather than on the substance of Wilder's greater truth. Wide swings in the wrong directions.
The Hypocrites production of Our Town - directed by David Cromer - feels balanced in a way so simple and deft in the unfolding - it places you beautifully off-balance. The actors wield such light touches...it erased every overly nostalgic and overproduced performance that I've suffered previously. My heart, oof...she is grateful.
In trying to describe the loveliness of the third act (without giving anything away), I believe that the best reference I can give is this: It gave me the same powerful sensation as watching Dorothy open the door of her house and seeing Oz for the first time in technicolor, as a kid. I literally held my breath as I watched that moment unfold.
I think Thorton would be proud.
This is a remount of an earlier run (that was a sell-out.) It closes this Sunday. I have no idea if there are any tickets left, but if there are, I highly recommend you scrambling ass over teakettle to get yer paws on one.
The Glass Menagerie
Last Sunday, I went and saw our good friend Mr. Dastmalchian in Shattered Globe's production of The Glass Menagerie. (You may know Mr. Dastmalchian as "the guy who played [my] son in Metaluna" or as "that guy in the Wendy's commercial who played [my] son in Metaluna.")
It had been about a month since I had seen OT. I was still wary - Tennessee Williams is one of those playwrights that can so easily be over saturated with the southern charm of the downtrodden aging belle. It's a slippery slope into caricature, but, when his plays are performed truthfully, it's really a thing of beauty to behold.
I had a lot of confidence in our friend Mr. D. and had heard some good word of mouth. It was really well done. Once again, as I stuffed my craw with crow, I was surprised and delighted with the performances and the direction!
That is, with the sole notable exception of the actress who played Laura. She stunk. Her performance was cartoonish in comparison with the grounded loveliness of the other three solid actors. I'm not sure if she's just one of those folks who thinks acting = making faces, or if this is just a poor casting choice. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and say maybe, she'd done stronger work in other roles, but as a frail, disconnected, overly sensitive girl? I didn't believe her for a minute.
(Post show, my friend B who also saw the show called me and read the TimeOut Review. I disagree with one thing...as much as the role of Laura falls flat, I think it's still worth checking out based on the quality of the rest of the actors.)
That said, the three other actors were so very strong, that they buoyed the lead weight that was Laura. The mother - played with just the right amount of sugar-laced overbearance - had more than one moment where you really saw the love for her children and not just the frightening attempts at control. The gentleman caller was a cold (refreshing) bucket of reality and was played with a likable naturalism that I honestly hadn't seen before. (Normally, the GC is an overplayed construct caught between the "football hero" and the over-enthusiastic moron.) It was so fantastic to see him grounded in such a perfect counter to the family's dreamy dysfunction.
Of course, Mr. D...was just fine. (Well, I don't want to give him a fat head so please don't tell him I thought he was disgruntled perfection in a rumpled suit)
Ah, screw it. Dave has such a wonderful way of embodying his characters that jolts me into remembering why I love going and watching live theater. Then again, I'm biased. I sat in a wheelchair and listened to him read me Dickens for a couple months and got hair gel in my mouth most nights.
You'd think he was the bees knees if he made you cry every night and then forced you to inhale his Dep covered cranium, too.
SG's production only has two weeks left. If you're a value shopper, like me you'll check out HotTix and cut $10 off the $35 ticket price. GO SEE IT.
Both of these productions are beautiful to watch and cracked my brain open. Which is what good theater should do. Three cheers for good theater. We need you, baby. Now more than ever.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Karabakh-Armenian couples participate in a mass wedding celebration in Shusha. More than 750 couples from the Nogorny-Karabakh region participated in mass wedding organized by businessman Levon Airapetyan, who gave each couple $2,000 in U.S. dollars and a cow.
Reaction: WTF? Are these couples that desperate for 2K and a cow? Why would a businessman shell out 1.5 million dollars (not counting the bovine releated costs) just to get folks hitched? Would you want to share your special day with 1498 other newlyweds? I mean...WTF?
Two words: Baby rhino.
Reaction: I wish I had a baby rhino. I would totally dress up as a blind person for Halloween and make that baby rhino my seeing eye dog.*
Lastly a little Vintage Art!
Reaction: Pin-up art is so cool. It's like Norman Rockwell gets his sexy on. Also, get your VOTE on!
*Yes. I have already dressed up as a blind person for Halloween...and had Olive be my seeing eye dog. 1) Nothing wrong with recycling an idea after several years, and 2) as much as I love Olive, "baby rhino" trumps "12 lbs terrier" as comedic seeing eye dog. Period.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
[We missed the intro of Palin and Lorne Michaels...I have yet to catch that part]
We did catch the second appearance of Gov. Palin. If you missed it, she showed up in Weekend Update and the bit they wrote for her was a complete a waste of ink. The whole gimmick was,
Palin: I've decided not to do the bit you wrote for me.
Seth: Uh...OK...Amy, will you do the bit instead?
[Amy does bit - a "gangsta" style rap song]
Seth: Gee. I'm sure you're glad you didn't do that silly bit.
Palin: (...wait for it....) You betcha.
Yeah. A complete and utter waste of time and energy. After the last few well-executed and razor sharp Palin sketches, one had hope that they'd deliver another. But either her team had approval or the SNL folks got cold feet.
We all know that SNL runs hot and hella cold. After watching the sketch I'll call "Fart Face", I uttered, "Why are we watching this again?" Seriously? Sitting around in bad wigs calling each other "fart face" rates as comedy that people should tune in for?
I'm obviously not smoking the correct shit.
Afterwards we watched a few episodes of the excellent Chad Vader and All's Faire online series, both of which I recommend. (And if you are not up on the Drunk History shorts, truly, your world is bereft.)
I hate to be critical about the SNL writers (especially when I knew a few back in the day when I ran more with the improv wolves), but - brass tacks? When it comes down to it, this faux-commercial makes me laugh more than all the sketches put together last night. Oof.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Which renders the argument moot.
Actually, and I'm not saying this to escape the moniker, but the truth is that I've always lived on the periphery of geekdom. I am the moon that orbits around the planet of Nerd. I speak geek....but, with a discernible accent.
It probably started in high school, where my circle of friends were nearly all honor students. I only took one honors class in four years and I got through it by the skin of my teeth. One of my classmates would helpfully calculate how low I could score on that day's quiz/test/assignment and still make a passing grade. For the first time in my life, I was the very bottom of the bell curve. Still, out of all my time spent in high school, it was in this class that I first embraced my place on the strata.
Senior Year. Honors Biology. I love science! Especially the earthier ones where I didn't have to work out too many math problems. Physics? Hated it. Biology rocked. But this class? To this day I don't know if I was just psyching myself out - that I had finally gotten myself into the Honors Program - or if I just wasn't applying myself enough. Either way, I had a hard time in Mr. Lake's class.
Freshman year, I crapped out in my first semester of Algebra and I was nearly failing...it's like my teacher was speaking Greek to me. But, when she had to take a personal leave for several months, we got a new teacher. Suddenly, all the problems made sense. And by the end of the quarter, I was up to a high C and by the end of the year I was scrapping up against a low A. Me, 1, Teacher Who Sucks At Teaching, 0.
On the flipside, Mr. Lake was a really good teacher. Period. So, I knew this was a different root problem. That it was something about me, about my brain, my comprehension of the material. I couldn't figure out why I was crashing so badly in his class, when I was maintaining an A-B average in my other classes.
I took the bull by the horns and approached him after class. I wasn't crying or anything, I was just completely befuddled and frustrated.
Mr. Lake, a sweet, but extremely short-statured man (who was probably not much older than I am now) turned to me and said words that impacted me almost immediately, and probably steered much of how I viewed my progress throughout my college years and beyond.
"Would you rather be the smartest kid in the dumbest class, or the dumbest kid in the smartest class?
Which is what you are."
It was literally the "light bulb" moment.
I was the dumbest kid in the smartest class. The mere idea of the reverse sounded like a fate near to hell. Who would want to be King of the Idiots? I would spend the rest of my life surrounding myself with people who were smarter or more skilled than I was in just about every facet of my world. I've always been of the mind that the only way you challenge yourself is to learn from folks who are more deft at whatever subject you are working in.
That you raise your game around smarter people. That you learn both from them and in an effort to keep up with them.
Also, wearing glasses helps.
Once again, I was reminded about this yesterday at Quiz Night. Every now and then, there is theme to a category, which, if you figure it out can help you solve other questions you're unsure of in the round. One time, all the song titles in the music round had cities in their name. (Tulsa Time, NutBush City Limits, London Calling, etc.)
Last night, when it was known that there was a theme, after a couple songs, (Take On Me, Walk Like An Egyptian, Come On Eileen), one of our team members proclaimed, "I know the theme! All the titles are command statements!"
I turned to my sister, who's visiting and joined us for the night and said, "I told you we are the geek team."
Of course, the theme was the much less cerebral, "80's Hits!"
Although, up until our team divided into two factions over the fifth song - SuperFreak vs. U Can't Touch This - I was onboard with the "command theme." The correct answer was SuperFreak and as much as one might argue the point, SuperFreak is not a command. Fortunately, saner minds prevailed and we got a perfect (double) score that round. Unfortunately, we got killed in both the Sports and Geography/History round and ultimately came in 2nd. Again.
Hmmm...maybe that's why I don't get too riled when we finish second to...ahem, the number one Quizzo team in the country. Team DSP has taken a lot of time off - we've only gone a handful of times since June - and are currently tied for 5th place nationally.
Don't get me wrong. I want to beat them. Every game. In fact, it's no small victory that we won the revered "t-shirt" round last night. (We got the most questions right in that round out of the 12 teams playing.)
I find that playing against a smart team is what makes me a hungrier player. Makes me read just one more news article or listen to a few more minutes of NPR or read some weird "did you know" fact off a beer bottle.
Smart people make me raise my game. Because of smart people, I've read more, learned more and have remained open to more experiences. That's why I like hanging out with smart people. Smart people are the reason why, at my age, I'm still looking shit up so I can keep up.
The thing is, I'll never be a true geek. I will never look at two disparate objects and say, hey, if you put these together they equal [insert awesome discovery which helps to lessen the burden of humanity - like washing your hands with soap or creating a coalition of NerdFighters.] But, I do have the ability to keep my head above water with geek talk on the whole.
All I'm saying is that, I know where and when to throw down with a Schrödinger's Cat reference.
Being the dumbest kid in the smartest class?
It's working out pretty good.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
In a time of economic turmoil...
With election muckracking at full stop...
And a man would kill his neighbor for the food on his table...
I have found solace in the most unlikely of places.
Easy listening music.
After reading J's confession of her connection to the song stylings of one, Melissa Manchester, it was like the scales fell from my own eyes. Lately, I find myself drawn to less confrontational more cerebral and certainly a moony-ish type of music.
I give you the calm glory of Anne Murray.
Admittedly, I'm not solely devoted to easy listening. I can only listen to so much Carpenters before I need to kick a puppy. But while I'm flying around on the dial these days, I seem get stuck on a song I otherwise normally would spin by. Just this morning I got stuck on a song I haven't heard in ages.
Is it wrong for me to want to lock Anne and Lyle in a cabin on a hill and not let them out until they wrote me a song?
Friday, October 10, 2008
It's a horrible and annoying habit and one that constantly reminds me what a dumbass I am.
Of course...I wasn't member of the Dumb Ass Gang** who left our economy in the mine with the blasting powder and a lit match. So, I can at least hang my hat on that.
Thanks, youtuber javery1427!
I will see your shaky hand-held camera and raise you a snarky retort.
*I want a Threadless-style t-shirt that reads, "I can't find my words."
Get on it, creative t-shirt making types.
**An offshoot of the Apple Dumpling Gang, except that Don Knotts and Tim Conway refused to have their names associated with characters that lame-brained.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
2. I have (seemingly instantly) developed an adversion to drinking out of aluminum cans. I can only drink out of actual glassware or plastic bottles. I actually poured my Fresca into an empty water bottle. It tasted much better.
3. When I talk to my father on the phone (on my drive home from work) I have started to hit the mute button just so I can punch the ceiling and yell at the top of my lungs, "OMG! Listen to me! You're driving me insane." Then I take a deep breath, hit unmute and say, "I am listening. I just don't have anything else to add to this particular topic."
4. They found a new species of crab off the coast of Tasmania. In fact, they found 85 other previously unknown species of marine life. Science rocks.
5. I think my new haircut makes me look like Grandpa Munster (less the bald monk's cap.)
6. That crab reminds me of that flaky peanut butter candy from my childhood. At least I think it was peanut butter flavored. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?
7. I talk to my father almost daily. I am quite aware that I am probably one of only two people he talks to on a regular basis. It breaks my heart in two when I think about it for too long.
7. While that crab elicits happy, joyful feelings of wonderment, this picture of a giant rabbit instills fear and loathing in me. They are bred in Germany and this gent is selling them to North Korea as a possible food source. This bunny is 8.5kg...that's 18.7 lbs, American. Their max weight is around 23 pounds. Bunnies are fucking mean little shits. I can't imagine something this big being so sweet looking, but decidedly ill-tempered. It's just plain creepy.
9. My dog is 11.8 lbs. She loves chasing squirrels and bunnies. That bunny could pop her head off like a daisy.
10. I'm going to name that new crab, Horace.
11. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a nightmare about that giant bunny at some point.
Least interesting fact: I can't sleep because my brain can't stop freaking out about the impact of the economic clusterfuck. To combat the stress, I watched Strictly Ballroom.
Question: Why does ballroom dancing make me clap my hands like the village idiot and then burst into happy tears? (This is not new. Watching people hug to a Beach Boys song has the same effect.) This movie makes has been making me burst into tears since 1992.
I highly recommend bursting into tears after watching an awesome movie as a sleep aid.
[To clairify, "Strictly Ballroom" is an awesome movie. "Love Actually" is not. Just the end part at the airport makes me cry. Because I'm a fucking pussy.]
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Something to do with the vanity of this kid wanting to videotape himself working out...
Something about his attention being on making sure he's in frame, instead of paying attention to what he's actually doing...
Something about the way he yells for his mother instead of picking up the trash can himself and trying to stem the rushing flow...
Something about the box of coins right near the lens...
Something about the video ending before you know how many of the fish survive the tsunami caused by the vanity of one boy...
Maybe it has something to do with what Ravin said last week...
Monday, October 6, 2008
DEADLINE TO REGISTER IN ILLINOIS IS TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7TH (at midnight!)
If you live outside of Illinois, use this amazing thing called "the internet" and google it up. For some states the deadline has passed to register. Get off the dime, my friends!
Early voting isn't just for breakfast any more. In Illinois, it starts NEXT WEEK on October 13th - that's Columbus Day, yo! My regular voting polling place is just over a block from my front door...but the lines can get crazy even early AM on election day. And this year, I think turnout is going to be even higher.
My prefered early voting polling place is over a dozen blocks away - but you can vote ANY DAY between October 13th thru the 30th! Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. And...you can vote in any of 51 locations throughout Chicago. You just need your photo ID. Dude! On Election Day you can ONLY vote at your registered polling place. Early voting = 51 locations!!
Hell, you can even vote on Sunday in Chicago...but you'll have to go downtown to the actual Election Board Offices on Washington (9 a.m. to Noon) to do that.
But what a great way to spend a Sunday! Take the el downtown (it's pretty quiet on Sunday mornings) hit the voting booth on Washington and then enjoy this great city... grab brunch, hit a museum, visit the Lincoln Memorial (in Grant Park), walk down to the Yacht Club and watch the last of the weekend sailors, window shop along State or Michigan, take a riverboat tour...the options are endless.
In fact...I may try to rally some folks for an Early Voting Day of Hijinx! This sounds like an awesome plan!
- 644 W. Belmont Ave...lunch at La Creperie an indie flick at the Landmark!
- 1145 W. Wilson Ave...munch on indian food at Marigold, then catch an Annoyance Show!
- 2333 W. Sunnyside Ave...yummy fish tacos at Los Nopales and then a flick at the Davis!
- 1210 W. Elmdale Ave...catch a show at The Raven Theater (Odin's Horse by ICT)
- 7340 N. Rogers Ave...cross the city limits to Evanston and hit the CineArts.
The options are various!
Another reason I'm early voting...I'm still holding out hope that I might get tapped to be an election day judge...although, this late in the game, I'm not holding my breath.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I feel like I just won the lottery...except, without the ability to pay off my mortgage or buy a new electric car or pet monkey.
When I look at my calendar and add them up...sure as shit! 8 days left! You know, when you're broke ass and gas is over $4 a gallon for a good part of the travel season, I guess it's hard to recall the last time you took a vacation.
Normally, I take a week off around my birthday, but I didn't this year. Just didn't feel like it. In the last couple of years, I've also traveled to more trade shows and usually tacked on a few extra days here and there. No travel...no extra travel days.
Now, I can take a week off at the end of month, or take a full week off at Thanksgiving and Christmas combined! Both options seem equally appealing.
Hmmm. I think this calls for a poll!
To celebrate this fantastic news (and to get a jump on that leaf turning) I'm going to use one precious day and take Friday off. Start digging into that belated spring cleaning I mentioned. Amend that. I'm going to SLEEP IN and then crank on some spring cleaning.
Even though Fall officially started over a week ago...it really just showed up in the last day or two.
And because Autumn, to me, seems to hold nothing but opportunity, I have been gearing up to turn over a new leaf. Several in fact. I've been feeling super crappy of late in both mind and body. After a long embrace of denial and procrastination, I'm hitting reset and putting myself on notice.
I am now less than a year from turning 40. My goal is to feel healthier in mind and body by that time. To turn my house into a home and not just a way station. And to fucking hang those blinds I bought nearly a year ago. (You hear me, P? We're hanging the freaking blinds when you get here.)
So, leaf is mid-turn. I'm getting back on the WW wagon, eating only things that are good for me, starting a slow plan of exercise (my foot still giving me issues) and starting my spring cleaning around my homestead a mere 5 months after the fact.
With all that good choice making, I ask you...Is it wrong to already have a complaint?
I'm having a nice turkey sandwich on whole grain with mustard for lunch. It's a really good sammich. Lettuce, tomato and cucumbers...hell, it's fresh even! And I normally have a cup of chili with it, but instead I went for a cup of minestrone. It had tons of veggies floating in it and I'm all about ramping up my veggie intake.
Here's the problem. Aside from the freshly made deli sammich, most of the "entrees" our cafeteria produces all taste exactly the same. Flavorless. The minestrone tastes like they soaked the veggies until they were at full limp and served them up. It's not seasoned and really tastes like a cup of waterlogged zucchini and leftover salad bar. Every time I tell myself, "NEVER AGAIN WILL YOU BUY SOUP HERE!" it seems that a cold day comes along and I give it a shot. Always, always disappointing.
Amazingly enough, their chili isn't too bad....but it's a bean-lovers dream and in a small cubicaled environ, that poses other obstacles that I wasn't interested in traversing.
Uh. I've already said too much.
Look! What's that over there?
[climbs under desk where nobody will see]