Wednesday, May 19, 2010

While On My Way To Hell - 365 Sketches Project

While On My Way To Hell  is the sketch show I'm directing as part of the insanity which Joe Janes has wrought upon this earth better known as, 365 Sketches Project.

Joe Janes wrote one sketch per day and posted it to his blog every single day for a year.

Now, the world gets a chance to explore a year's worth of comedy writing:
...from the mind of one man
...under the eyeballs of 26 directors
...thru the commitment of 117 actors
...over the course of 10 nights.

Do you have the balls to witness this marvel? 
You've got 26 chances to man up and do it.

Tickets can be purchased here
Again. There are 26 shows.  Make sure you click the right date!

While On My Way To Hell will be performed ONE NIGHT ONLY! 
Saturday, June 5 at 10pm (sharp)
Directed by Rebecca Langguth
Performed by Kim Boler, John Brewster, Trey Hanks, Briana Hansen, Ben Harpe and Brett McGovern
Tickets for this are $10 (and include free Goose Island Beer, yo.)
Performing at Strawdog Theater, 3829 North Broadway St, Chicago.

They are going fast, I'd get them toot sweet!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

a tale told by a fool

This is the story I told at the SKALD event last weekend. 

I had a hard time settling on the right story, in fact, I never remember it being this hard to pin one down.  I changed my mind a dozen or more times over the last week and literally committed to this story about 24 hours prior to the competition. I wrote it the night before and edited it like nuts the day of...and just didn't give myself enough time to properly commit it to memory or time it out.  (Contestants are only allowed 7 minutes to tell your story, then the lights dim and go out completely 30 seconds later.)

Of course, now I know where I wasted time...and how I would continue to edit it, but I will put it down here, in it's complete and long-winded goodness.  This occurrence happened in 1982.  That's 28 years ago.  I never told it to my parents, until my mom asked me, a couple days later, what story I told.

I figured, it's too late for her to ground me from going to the roller rink, so I fessed up.

Maybe, if he asks nicely, I'll tell it to my Pops. 
Of course, he will still try to ground me.

Please insert knowing glances and glares where you feel I might have put them to really sell the shit out of this not-so-tall tale.


When I was a kid, I was what you might call "scrappy."

I was small for my age and rail thin.  So much so, for a time, my parents thought I might have a tape worm or some rare aberrant illness.  I was fine.  I was healthy. I was just a grade A tomboy.

I lived to run and climb and brawl with boys just to show them I was their equal. My two role models were Huck Finn and Laverne De Fazio .

There wasn't a day that I didn't have some form of bruise or scab on my body, which I wore as a badge of honor and couldn't wait to amaze you with the story of how I overcame some perceived physical adversity. 

And while I pretty much grew out of that stage by middle school, something happened there that proved to me other folks still saw me that way.  Scrappy.

I recently read a quote by a 14th century scholar named Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam...let's call him "Desi."  Desi was a Dutch Renaissance humanist and a Catholic priest and a theologian who enjoyed working on both religious texts and satirical works.

I am an American secularist who enjoys burritos.
So, we have a lot in common.

Actually, even though we lived centuries apart, I feel as though we might see the world through the same perspective. He was a very prolific writer and critic. You may think you don't know Desi, but you've heard his stuff.   He's credited for coining the adage, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."

Not too shabby.

He's also credited for originating the phrase, "Pandora's box."

See, when he was translating it from the original Greek into Latin, he misinterpreted "pithos" (which means storage jar) with pyxis (which means box.)  So, really, we should have been talking about Pandora's Jar for the last 600 years...but for my man Desi's screw up.

But the quote of his that's stuck in my brain is this...

The fox has many tricks. The hedgehog has but one.  But, that is the best of them all.

Now, most people probably wouldn't associate their power animal with the hedgehog.  I mean, it's not the most dynamic or virtuous creature.  But, something about it rings true to me.
When I was 12, our school district was drawn in such a way that while I lived 10 minutes from the nearest junior high, I instead rode a bus for an hour to the school our house was zoned for. 

It was a rare occasion that I ever stayed after school, as both my parents worked and there was no public transportation available.  One day, my friend, Bonnie Begley wanted to stay after school to try out for volleyball and asked if I'd try out with her.  That her mother would pick us up and drive us home.

Turns out, while scrappy, I was still pretty short and didn't have much "jump" in me and Bonnie was kind of a klutz.  She was much more adept at playing the violin and was first chair in our school orchestra. 

We decided that volleyball just wasn't for us.

Afterwards, we waited in the parking lot behind the school.  Her mom hadn't arrived with the other parents and the lot starts clearing out pretty quickly.  Students, parents...we even said goodbye to our teachers as they left. 

Pretty soon, we were the only ones there, standing in the gravel, waiting for her mom's van to pull in and kick up a chalky white cloud of dust.

It was an early fall day, still sunny out with a blue sky and a nice breeze.  We stood and talked about...whatever 12 year old girls talked about in 1982. 

We suddenly noticed a group of boys approaching from the far side of the parking lot.  They came from the direction of the high school that was only a few blocks away.  Sauntering across the gravel, in no big hurry...but directly toward the two of us.

Two awkward 12 year old girls, standing alone outside a locked school.

Looking back, I'm sure the boys weren't more than 14 or 15 at best.
But to us, they looked tall. 
And lanky.
And older.

Something was up.

While they were still a distance away, Bonnie turned and quietly pushed the violin case into my arms and said, "Don't let go of this."

Then they were there, standing in front of us, all smiles and chatty.   
In a blink of an eye one of them made a grab for the violin.

I did the only thing I could think of, the only reaction my body could muster.
I threw myself on the ground and curled myself around that violin case.

Like a hedgehog.
A quill-less, clueless, spineless hedgehog.

Two of the boys grabbed Bonnie by the arms and held her while the other two tried to pry the case from my arms with little success. 

And so, they started kicking me.

They kicked me in my arms. 
In my legs.
They kicked me in my back. 
Over and over and over and harder and harder.

The kicking seemed to go on forever...and then Bonnie screamed out in pain.  And the kicking stopped.  I looked over at Bonnie holding her arm and crying.

One of the boys immediately started apologising to her, afraid that he hurt her arm by holding it too tightly.  All four of them, in that instant because boys again.  Scared little boys, realising that they went too far.

They all apologized again to Bonnie and ran off.
Of course, her arm was fine.  She was faking her injury.

I, on the other hand, was still lying fetal on the ground.*

Without saying a word to each other, Bonnie helped me to my feet and started dusting the gravel marks off my clothes.  I handed her back her violin and in the next heartbeat, her mother's van pulled into the parking lot.

Bonnie sat in the front seat while I climbed in back.  She told her mother all about the tryouts and how lousy we had both done.  We knew in an instant if we told our parents what had transpired that neither of us would ever be allowed to stay after school again. 

We wouldn't be praised for besting four high school boys with our grit and quick thinking.  Instead, the small measure of freedom we were recently granted would have been unjustly revoked.

[I can not speak for Bonnie, but to this day, neither of my parents know the true story of what went down in that parking lot.]

I stared out the window, in what I'm sure her mom considered my bitter disappointment as an athlete.  

But as the world rushed by my window, I couldn't stop berating myself. 

I had fallen to the ground instead of standing my ground.
I had let some stupid boys kick me over and over instead of making them eat gravel.
Or feel the pointy end of my elbow in their gullets.
Or let loose with a well placed knee.

I had never lied down and let someone hurt me before.

Why didn't I fight back? 
Why didn't I defend myself?

I wasn't afraid.  I wasn't.  Sure I was outnumbered and knew that Bonnie wasn't about to throw down, but I was so baffled by my own response after years of never taking crap from a bully.

It took me a long time to realize that I did the right thing.  The only thing.  That my brain and body in an instant did the math and knew the only choice we had of keeping that violin was to curl up and wait for this brutal piece of business to pass.

Of course, I know that Desi didn't write that adage to make me ponder on my lack of bold response. 

I'm sure he meant to imbue something grander in scale in his allusion to such a creature. That if we hold true to our nature...our instincts will help us weather the fray.

Still, he reminded me that I will forever have that tomboy...that girl...that scrappy little porcupine inside of me.

That I am still scrappy.
I am a scrapper.

The fox has many tricks. The hedgehog has but one.  But, that is the best of them all.

*this is when my 7 minutes expired and the lights started to ebb, so I quickly wrapped it up with a very edited ending. The audience did not hear the whole end of the story.  You get to.  Lucky duck.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


File Under: Lessons Learned from the Inebriated

Lesson One: Do not get on a boat with more than one douchebag. If you need clues on how to spot a douchebag, please see our reference manual, Douchebags. They Live Among Us.

Lesson Two: Do not get on a boat that is zoned for six, when there is already 7 people aboard.

Lesson Three: In case of eminent plunge into freezing cold drink, Drop the Motherfucking Wine Bottle.

Lesson Four: If you are "fall down drunk" drunk, there is a 75% chance that you're going back in. There is no Pass Go for you. You're going back into the drink.

Lesson Five: The douchebag will always come to the aide of the blonde first.

Lesson Six: Elbowing your friend in the back to try to balance yourself will karmicly payoff by having a drunkass doucebag pull your arm out of its socket in his attempts "save you." You earned that trip to the ER.

Lesson Seven: It isn't "romantic" or "hip" to pay a couple of teen douches with a sixer in exchange for a private party on their dingy. Better to pony up and pay full dollar for the certified canal cruise. They at the very least, have life preservers and will not drive the boat away from your sinking drunk ass to save themselves.

Viva El Nederlanders!