Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Adam Sandler is a Thief

Maybe not Adam Sandler directly, but I still want this on the record somewhere:

Here is the link to a new comedy courtesy of Universal Pictures, just released on July 20th, 2007: www.chuckandlarry.com. It’s the side-splitting tale of two straight guys pretending to be gay and married so that they can reap the benefits, featuring Adam Sandler and what’s his name from the King of Queens.

What the hell is his name?

Kevin James. That’s right.

We at date-nite posted this on our website back in October of last year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1P13-SzoObk. It’s about two straight guys pretending to be gay and married to reap the benefits.

I know that the process of making a movie, unlike having a baby, takes much longer than nine-months but still, come on. How does this happen? Not only that, but this is a premise that my friend Aaron and I were kicking around in the parking lot of his apartment complex about a year or so before date-nite even existed.

My Dad used to say that when good ideas (or in this case, relatively good ideas that may or may not become mediocre full-length feature movies) are created, it becomes possible for someone completely unrelated to have that same idea through some mystical force called the spiritus mundi. It’s as though the moment an idea is generated it becomes available to the collective imagination of humanity. It sounds like a whole load of hocus pocus crap, but the explanation was invented to describe those phenomena whereby other people have the exact same thought as you at roughly the same time.

So maybe that’s what happened. Or maybe the movie executives bugged Aaron’s car. I don’t think I would mind so much if “Chuch and Larry” wasn’t a 3.6 of 10 on rottentomatoes.com. Can’t we do anything without Adam Sandler and Kevin James ruining it?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cabin Weekend Wrap-up

I just got back from a cabin in Wisconsin and boy are my arms tired!! Did it work? Am I any funnier?

This last weekend I went up to a cabin in Cambridge, WI, just outside of Madison, with my Robowriter’s group. I believe I wrote about that in the last blog so this should come as no surprise, but that’s why I haven’t written anything in the past couple of days. (I hope it wasn’t too painful for you – I know all two of you hang on my every word)

If you ever have the chance to spend the weekend in a cabin in Wisconsin, I highly recommend it. Our cabin was not so much a cabin as it was a giant lake house. We each had our own bedroom, and there were five of us. We got a lot of work done, looking for themes and connections between scenes and all of that writerly goodness, but the majority of the weekend was spend drinking, grilling and sitting around. It was magnificent.

We laughed. We cried. We had pillow fights. We played card games and shouted at one another. We went swimming to get over hangovers. When the time came, I wasn’t ready to leave.

But now I’m back, and back to the grind. Sigh.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Cabin Weekend

Does anyone know how to make gorp?

I’m going out of town this weekend. The Robowriter’s group is heading up to a cabin in Wisconsin, somewhere near Madison, for a writer’s retreat. That means we’ll be quietly writing out the words to kumbaya. I’m actually looking forward to getting out of the city. The last time I was outside of Chicago for any significant amount of time was in May for my grandmother’s funereal in St. Louis. That doesn’t really count though. I don’t think I’ve left Chicago for pleasurable purposes since Christmas.

Not that I’m tiring of Chicago. I love living in this city. I was just thinking about that yesterday on our mandatory work-related boat cruise. A bunch of coworkers and I were sitting out on the deck looking at the city from Lake Michigan. I couldn’t help but marvel; Chicago really is a very beautiful city.

Quick side note: if you ever have the chance, take the Spirit of Chicago boat cruise. They have four singer/dancer types called “Spiritainers” who put on a floor show for everyone. It’s the most awkwardly entertaining thing I’ve seen in a while. The food was okay too.

But sometimes you just got to get away from the noise and the commotion. I was born and raised in one of the furthest Detroit suburbs – really more of a small town than anything although it was rapidly growing – so there’s still a part of me that likes being surrounded by trees and tucked away from all of the traffic and congestion.

I’ll try to update the blog while I’m up there, but there may need to be a brief hiatus so I’m not promising anything.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Avast, ye salty sea dogs!

The company I work for is taking a couple of hours out of the middle of the day today to go hang out on a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan. Free food, free drinks, free seasickness. It should be good times. If anything embarrassing happens, I will let you know.

I do appreciate the fact that my job does the occasional company outing. The last outing was Whirley Ball, which is a combination of basketball, lacrosse and go-carts. Good times were had by all. It almost made me forget that I was a low-level project manager who types emails all day for a living.

One of my coworkers accidentally stumbled across this picture of me sailing to Sydney, Australia. This was, of course, back in my short lived days as a pirate. I thought those times were behind me. Yet here I am, at the start of my new life as a "land lubber" and already the memories are welling back.

Maybe some day I'll be willing to part with a few of those tales. Maybe I'll write a memoir. Who knows, if you buy me a mug of grog or two, I might be willing to spin a tale for you. It'd have to be really good grog.

But not right now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Old People and Online Commentary

Finally, proof! From the BBC a few weeks back:


This is why your Sunday matinee performances are usually awkwardly quiet. I always assumed that old people didn’t get my jokes because they couldn’t hear what I was saying, or because they’re “dumber than normal people,” or because they’re “twisted and evil creatures.” But then, I’m a cruel and awful person. Turns out that the divide is caused by a natural degeneration in one’s cognitive abilities, such as short-term memory, keeping two trains of thought going simultaneously, etc.

For me, the best part about the article is the talk-back section at the bottom where all of the old people get to write in with their own personal anecdotes about how young humor is just not funny. From the article:

“I am over 60. I am just as quick-witted as I ever was - but I simply don't find
some of the the (sic) things that are supposed to be funny to be funny anymore.
In other words, I have matured. My sense of humour (he’s British) is no longer
puerile, but a lot more subtle. Sorry, I am not slower on the uptake!
Anthony Owen, Monmouth, UK”
No longer puerile? Why don't you go eat some poop, you big fart-headed dumbo a-hole?

Good use of the grammatical anomaly known as a “double the,” by the way, but completely missing the study's punchline. The experiment was not a test of what is or is not funny. Instead, it asked participants to fill in the blanks on jokes to see if they can figure out the proper punchline for the joke – essentially we're talking about pattern recognition. The idea is that people should be able to recognize the structure of a very basic joke (“knock, knock!” “Who’s there?” “Wakawakawaka!”) regardless of the subject matter. In fact, the researchers went out of their way to pick the most age-neutral jokes possible. Read the example joke in the article. Not exactly side-splitting hilarity, but at least you know why it’s supposed to be funny.

You’ll see these talk-back sections attached at the bottom of many online news articles. It’s the new news fad. Hell, we just had a presidential debate where all of the debate questions were sent in by youtube viewers. It's a new world out there, where politically active snowmen finally have their day in the sun.

I appreciate that the world's great news corporations are finally willing to fake interest in what people think about stuff and things, but often times you’ll read these comments from people and it will be painfully obvious that they didn't really read the article.

If you actually want to comment on the article, then you're not helping your case if you can't speak intelligently to what the reporter just wrote. You'll just look like an idiot. If you just want to write something for the sake of being clever and biting, albeit tangential to the topic, then do what I did and get a blog.

And this is not just for humorless old people; this goes for everyone out there, from young punk teenagers to soccer moms to pompous Ivy League college students. Please: if you or anyone you know is going to start gracing everyone with your two cents on every article you see, do us all a favor and take the time to understand what the article is about first.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My One Week Anniversary!

Well, it’s my blog’s one week anniversary. I’ve come up a little bit short of my readership goal: that everyone in the world reads it on a daily basis. Currently, I can only confirm that three people other than myself have actually taken the time to visit. So that leaves me about six and a half billion people short of the goal. Maybe by my one month anniversary I’ll have a drastic increase in viewership. It may also help if I told people that the thing actually exists. Whatever; I’ll get around to that eventually.

For those of you who have not done so yet, I would highly recommend starting a blog. It’s a good chance to vent or to throw out ideas or what not. It’s also nice because with a blog you have a place on the Internet where you can go and read your own words. I’m such a geek. I read my own stuff all the time. It must just be the magic of seeing my own words put up where other people can read them. I imagine it’s like having your own published novel or play, except in this case it’s immediate gratification.

And it’s good practice for those of you who like writing and who want to get better at it. Nothing helps to that end like daily practice. Maybe I’ll start throwing up little fictions or whatnot.

If you’re lucky, I may even start penning poems again. I stopped writing them when I realized that most of the poetry I was writing was sappy sentimental bullshit. I also realized that writing bad poetry is not a difficult thing to do. My poetry writing phase coincided with my bitter love-stricken college days, so that might have been the problem. The nice thing about poetry is that it really allows you to play with language, which I seem to have forgotten.

At any rate, for those of you who read, thank you for coming and I hope you enjoy the occasional entry. Keep stopping by. I’m not planning on quitting any time soon.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Date-Nite Meeting

We had a really good date-nite meeting yesterday night - a lot of good ideas were thrown around the table, bears were mentioned, beer was imbibed. It was an all around good time.

It has been very difficult lately getting everyone together to work on date-nite. And by lately I mean the past half of a year.

For those of you who don't know yet, date-nite is an internet sketch comedy website that three friends of mine from the Second City Training Center and I started just under a year ago. The group started originally as an excuse to get together and drink at the Duke of Perth, a local bar. The outings were to be our "date nights" where, instead of spending the evening with girls (I was the only one with a girlfriend at the time) we'd spend the evening drinking, cussing and dicking around.

And because we four were all new to Chicago improv, sketch, etc. none of us were really doing anything other than taking classes. As a result, our conversations often leaned towards the topic of trying to get work.

I think Colby was the one who brought the idea of doing internet sketch to the table. We all immediately latched on to the idea. To hell with everyone else. Let's start making our own shit. I had a camera, Todd had a computer, and off we went. Before long our weekly date nights had become writing sessions where we would try to think of as many funny ideas and scenarios as possible. And voila. Date-nite came to pass.

Originally the intent was to churn out one new sketch a week. We kept up on our promise for a good long while before the sketch-a-week regimen fell apart. By the beginning of the new year we were lucky to have a new sketch a month. Suddenly there was no single night of the week where everyone could meet. Nobody wanted to meet at the Duke anymore. Date-nite became less a weekly meeting of four friends and more a chore. It became an obligation.

My theory is that date-nite slowed to a halt because we got away from the original intent of the group, which was to get together, drink, hang out and bat ideas back and forth. And of course, that environment was where we were most productive, where we had the best ideas and where we had the most fun. So, provided we get back to meeting like we used to, like we did last night, you may just be seeing some more wacky shit soon.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Foray into the World of Panties

Today I went underwear shopping. Not for male underwear. Female underwear.

My girlfriend gave me very simple directions: nude colored underwear; that's it. Get in, get out, you'll be fine.

Katie has this white dress that she bought and that she wants to wear but, in order to do that, she needs underwear that's not going to stick out. So, she jokingly asked me if I would be willing to run out and pick her up a pair of underwear that's flesh-toned. And I, being the nice guy that I am and not really having anything to do today, decided "what the hell, I'm gonna go buy some goddamn panties."

I had these momentary flights of underwear fancy on my way to the store. Thoughts of lace and leopard print ran through my head. Yeah, I was going to get her the flesh toned underwear she asked for so that she could wear the talky-talky whatever. But in return, I was going to get her something pink and skimpy and lacy, and that would be her penance for making me run her underwear chores. We were going to live out my Playboy fantasies. It was going to be awesome.

In I walked into the Victoria's Secret store near my house, fully intent on buying something degrading and nasty, and I took my first few proud steps into the store before I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks. And I froze up. There I was, standing completely alone and by myself in the middle of a lingerie store, suddenly confronted with the complete awkwardness of being a dude in a lingerie store.

You wouldn't think that a bunch of fabric would cause you to halt in your tracks, but, for my part, the moment that I stepped into that store I was paralyzed by the miles and miles of soft, colorful fabric that stretched out seemingly for miles before me. I was no longer in my element. I was overwhelmed. I was awkard. I was alone.

After a good creepy five minutes, one of the sales reps came over. "Do you need help finding something?" she asked, an unspoken "perv?" implied by the leery upturned pronunciation of the question mark.

I said something. I can't remember exactly what, but it must have been pathetic and unintelligeble. The words "flesh toned" must have come out. Thank God she understood. Off we went to a corner of the store, and she managed to find what I needed in order to fullfill my quest. She pointed me in the direction of the checkout desk. God bless her; I thanked her profusely.

On my way to the checkout, I passed by a couple of negligees and bustiers and various other French pieces of clothing in a myriad of different animal prints. I had a moment where I thought that maybe I might pick something out but thought better of it. Just the panties today, thanks.

Hats off to you transvestites out there. I don't know how you do it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Thunderpussy - My First Theatre Criticism Blog

I promised myself when I started writing this blog that I wouldn't be one of those bloggers who only talks about one subject all the time. For me, that topic would be theatre. So, I promise, I'll do an entry about sports or something soon. But I saw a show tonight, and it's all I can think to write about, so y'all are stuck for the moment.

Not that anyone is reading this anyway.

I just saw a show at the Annoyance theatre on Broadway (that's Chicago) called Thunderpussy: A Tommy Bartlett Story. It actually reminded me a lot of a good performance of Danse Macabre. The major difference, of course, was that this show was scripted (writen by the director and cast, which generally means that the show is based on improv) whereas the Danse is not. However, there was that same strange macabre weirdness about it that permeates the best Danse Macabre performances. I mean there's a giant murdering Humpty Dumpty egg for chrissake. The deaths are masterminded by a talking treasure-claw machine. I don't want to give too much away for those of you interested in seeing it. Suffice it to say, most of the cast dies by the end of the show.

The performances were generally very even. The actor who played Tommy Bartlett gave a nice larger-than-life performance, and the remainder of the cast played their parts very well. If I were more experienced as a theatre critic (it's my first time, so bear with me) I would employ better, more creative verbage. I also very much enjoyed Kyle Dolan's performance in the show as well, a: because he's a former improv teacher of mine and b: because he has a very weird Vincent Price on crack aire about him that suited the piece very well.

There were also many funny lines in the show and many funny moments. Occsionally there were moments that might have benefited from some judicial editing - some of the schtick went on a little too long at times - but all in all, some good funny.

My only regret is that in the end the plot lacked the weight to really make this a truly great show. The title would suggest that the show is about the story of Tommy Bartlett, but in the end it wasn't really about Tommy. For the majority of the show, Tommy just facilitated the murders. Only at the end do we see that character really come to life, but by then it's too late to fully develop him into someone that the audience can really latch on to. Ultimately, the show is more about comically bizarre murders and scattered pieces of funny than it about the story.

Luckily for Thunderpussy, those pieces of funny are enough to keep one entertained for about an hour and a half and, all in all, I'd recommend it for a good laught or two. Plus the drinks are decently priced.

If you're interested in the show, here's the info:

Thunderpussy: A Tommy Bartlett Story

Annoyance Theatre
4840 N. Broadway Chicago

What happens when two Icelandic cops, a Mexican drug lord and his handicapped wife, and a failed English gymnast and her psychic sister win an all-expenses paid trip to the Wisconsin Dells? Well, murder of course, as they come face-to-face with evil at a children's arcade.

Thru - Sep 21, 2007


Show Type: Comedy
Box Office: 773-561-4665

Friday, July 20, 2007

Katie Meiners is My Girlfriend

I got in trouble yesterday with my girlfriend because I have yet to mention her anywhere in the blog (it's been up a whole four days - what the hell is wrong with me?). Her name is Katie and she is probably reading this entry right now so, just so everyone knows, Katie is a beautiful, intelligent and funny woman who has changed my life for the better and, contrary to anything I might tell you, does not keep my testicles in a mason jar.

In fact, I have written this short biography on the life of Katie, which I would now like to share with you:

Katie Meiners (February 6, 1895 – August 16, 1948), also known as "Hot Pants McGinty" was an American Major League baseball girlfriend from 1914-1935. She is widely regarded as one of the greatest baseball girlfriends in history. Many polls place her as the number one girlfriend of all time.

Katie's reign is referred to as the Golden Age of Katie. Katie was a decisive girlfriend. Her favourite motto was video et taceo ("I do what I want"). This last quality, viewed with impatience by her counsellors, often saved her from marital misalliances.

But she was not without her detractors. As one such person put it,
“She was a charlatan. In 1896 she published three papers claiming that she had cured X number of patients. First it was thirteen and then it was eighty. And she had cured them all by obliging them to remember that they had been sexually abused as children. In 1897 she lost faith in this theory, but she'd told her colleagues that this was the way to cure the chest cold. So she had a scientific obligation to tell people about her change of mind. But she didn't. She didn't even hint at it until 1905, and even then she wasn't clear.”
In May 2005 Katie became involved in an unusual legal battle with her barber of 20 years, Carlos Marx of Lebanon. After cutting Katie's hair, Marx sold some of it to a collector for $20,000 without Katie's knowledge or consent. Katie threatened legal action unless the barber returned her hair or donated the proceeds to a charity of Katie's choosing. Marx, unable to get the hair back, decided to donate the proceeds to the charity that Katie chose. Then she started dating Nat Topping, and has regretted it ever since.

Well, there you have it; the story of my lovely girlfriend Katie Meiners. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading her life story as much as I have enjoyed making it up.

(The only reason I'll get away with this load of drivel is that Katie has a great sense of humor. I love you very much, Katie)

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I am a part of a writer’s group that is meeting tonight. The group is an extension of a New York theatre company called Robot Versus Dinosaur. It’s some group of people that Joe Janes randomly found off of craigslist, which is not always the best place to meet wholesome, savory people. We are in the early stages of writing a show (some type of sketch/play/show amalgam that we have yet to wholly define yet) which, if all goes according to plan, should be up and running sometime in the fall.

The group has been a really exciting project for me. We’ve been doing a weekly meeting since early May in which we’ve been bringing in scenes, doing guided writing exercises, drinking beer and eating free junk-food. It’s been something for me to look forward to each week and, truth be told, it’s a blast.

When I moved here to Chicago, I had difficulty finding somewhere to write. For the longest time I felt like I was just sitting on something that I love to do, something that I was fortunate enough to be able to do all throughout college through the RC Players, where I wrote for evening of scenes and the occasional play, and even through the Purple Rose, where I wrote spoofs and where I wrote scenes for our dark night performance. By the time I reached Chicago I was going through writer’s withdrawal.

I started taking improvisation classes at the Second City before I even had a place to live here (I slept on a friend’s couch for much of my first couple months in Chicago) and I had a great time in class but I still wasn’t really writing. I met three guys through the program – Pat, Todd and Colby - and we started our internet sketch group called Date-Nite. The link is on this page if you would like to check it out. I have done a little bit of writing for the site, but most of what we consider to be writing is really just setting up scenarios off of which we mostly improvise. Every once in a while there is a piece that is truly written, but those are few and far between.

I met Joe by auditioning in a Writing Level 5 show at the Second City Training Center, which he was directing. In addition to teaching and directing for the training center and for Columbia, he also worked with a sketch/improv group called Teatro Bastardo. He cast me for the training center show and then, later, asked me to join Teatro Bastardo to perform in the Danse Macabre, which is an improv show based on early 20th century horror movies.

After the run, Teatro Bastardo decided to write a show for Sketchfest, and I latched myself on to their project. I don’t know if they ever intended for me to be more than just an actor for the Danse, nor do I know if they expected me to actually show up to their writer’s meetings, but I decided that I was going to write something goddamnit and that this was my chance to do it. I actually wrote a proper scene for that show, and it was actually performed in front of an audience too. Once Sketchfest ended we moved the show to Donny’s Skybox Theatre for a run as well. After the run finished up, I was afraid that there would be another long draught before having another show. This time, though, I continued to write scenes for my own amusement. Eventually, I decided to just shell out the money and take comedy writing at the Second City – if for nothing else but for the deadlines and for the in-class readings.

And then Joe called me out of the blue one day in April and asked if I wanted to write a show with this new group, an extension of something called Robot Versus Dinosaur, which he was starting up in Chicago. So, of course, I jumped at the chance. And now here I am, in the group and in class, writing about two scenes a week. It’s nice to be busy doing something that you actually love doing. Once I have more details on the show I will post them on this blog, so check back occasionally.

What, am I writing my life’s story? Good God. I’ll let you go.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mickey, No!

Cartoon characters are actively trying to destroy society as we know it:

As an expatriate Detroiter, I sometimes like to check in on the local newspaper websites to see how things are going in my home town. This particular article is not Detroit specific – it’s from the AP out of New York but it was on the free press website and I thought it was worth a quick read.


So there it is: the answer to all of our obesity problems. Finally, an end to the advertising tyranny of Shrek-colored pastries and Tony the Tiger is in sight. The children will no longer be force-fed deep fried starches by wicked clowns. I always suspected in the back of my mind that Count Chocula was probably up to something sinister and creepy-perverted. I mean, just look at the guy.

Come on. Look at the hair. That's a perv if I've ever seen one.

What kind of sad no-responsibility-taking world do we live in where we blame cartoon characters for the “chronic fatness” of our nation’s children? First of all, if you’re dumb enough to take nutritional advice from a two-dimensional moving drawing, there’s nothing anyone can do to save you from a lifetime of watching television in a pile of your own filth. Second, who are these parents that let their children make any type of decision in their household? Of course your kids are going to want the box with the colorful mouse. Your kids would probably stick a penny into an electrical socket if you gave them a chance too. I used to get “no” all the time from my parents. Apparently, “no” has since gone out of style.

“But advertising is forcing their evil will upon the impressionable minds of our children. How can we compete with corporations who are deliberately researching the best methods of brainwashing us into buying things that we don’t actually need?”

Well, maybe we should be teaching our children to think for themselves and to be wary of the big poofy cartoon character. Just a suggestion.

(By the way, speaking of the article, thank God the large greedy corporations are finally looking out for our nutritional good. I personally can’t wait for the development of the whole-grain Twinkie.)

On a lighter but related note, I remember hearing about this fuzzy little story - about a cartoon character with a mission and who also bears a certain resemblance to a well known public figure - a couple of months ago:


Not only does Hamas refuse to acknowledge Israel; apparently they refuse to acknowledge copyright law too.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Everyone Needs A Blog!

I hear that back in the day if you wanted people to read your writing you had to convince someone to publish it first. You'd have to type everything out into a manuscript and send it off to publisher after publisher and then wait for long periods of time to hear back even on a rejection. Pretty soon, you'd be collecting those rejection letters like they were stamps.
Not so nowadays. Today you can hop on the Internet, snag yourself a free blog and start typing to your hearts content. Before long, you're reaching people in different countries on different continents.
The nice thing in this day and age is that the Internet has made widespread self-expression more accessible to the masses.
The downside is that the Internet has made widespread self-expression more accessible to the masses.
Pretty much any bigoted ignoramus with access to a computer can start cluttering the public webspace with sports predictions, half-baked political manifestos and suggestive and inappropriately sexual comments (not that I'm complaining; I intend to fill this blog with all of that drivel and more). But I'm not planning on trying to impress anyone with my inflated sense of my own intellect. I'm not going to flatter myself into thinking that anyone really gives a goddamn what I think or have to say - I mean who the hell am I? Some twenty-five year old no-named slacker living in Chicago. I wouldn't care what I think if I were you either.
But this isn't really for you (no offense - I like you very much). At the time of writing this entry, I think I've told only one person about this blog. This venture is more an attempt to keep myself writing as much as possible. After all, if you want to be a writer then the best thing you can do for yourself is write. And that's what I want to be. So, if anything I write on this blog turns out to be amusing, bonus. If not, well at least I'm writing something.
Okay, enough drivel for the night. Thanks for reading.