Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Get Thankful, You Ungrateful Bastards

Hey! It's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving! Which can mean only one thing! A 5+ hour drive to Michigan after work today!

YES!

Thanksgiving is supposed to be about tradition, so in recognition of this truth I am officially rolling out a new blog tradition - a blogdition if you will (wait, that sounds stupid) - for Clever Title:



THREE THINGS FOR WHICH I AM THANKFUL THIS YEAR

THING #1: I am, as always, thankful to have the next four days off from work. The closest thing I've had to a vacation lately has been getting ill. Before that, it was moving apartments. Before that, I don't even know. Probably getting ill again. I'll tell you what, though, working in Telecom gets to you after while. I can really use the chance to just chill out (even above and beyond my general distaste for work), and Thanksgiving is the harbinger for a season full of days off.

THING #2: I am thankful that I will be going home to Michigan this Thanksgiving and that my beautiful girlfriend will be along for the ride. The long drive home is much easier to take with someone else in the car. Now I won't have to pick up hitch hikers!

THING #3: Butterflies. They're beautiful.


And...


ONE THING FOR WHICH I AM NOT THANKFUL THIS YEAR

Detroit Lions football. I mean Jesus H. Christ, you people make millions of dollars you can't win one lousy freaking game? And this is what I have to watch on Thanksgiving? What an enormous pile of suck.



The plan is to do this every Thanksgiving season. Of course, chances are I'll forget come next year. Whatever, it's my blog. Don't judge me.

What are you thankful for, oh six loyal readers?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier & Clay - Michael Chabon

I guess I'm on a bit of a reading kick lately. Over the weekend I finished another book. That's two in one month! I need to slow down and watch more of the TV.

My most recently read book was The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon.

I bought this book a couple of years ago and started reading it but for some reason got distracted and put it down for a while. Then I read a collection of Michael Chabon's non-fiction (Maps and Legends, which is also an interesting read if you don't mind essays on writing and genre fiction) and was reminded that I actually own some of his fiction. So I picked it back up and finished it this time around.

I liked this book. I liked it a lot actually.

The story revolves around the lives and careers of two young men, a writer from Brooklyn named Sam Clay and his Czech artist cousin Joe Kavalier, who become successful comic book writers and illustrators around the time of World War II.

I feel foolish for putting the book down, but in retrospect I'm glad I waited to read this until after reading his essays in Maps and Legends. A big part of his critique on modern literature is that genre fiction - such as scifi, fantasy and comic books for example - gets a bad rap from the literati establishment, which tends to lean towards more critically accepted novels about disgruntled middle aged wives/ professors/ writers and their divorces/ psychological issues/ boring existential crises etc. This is a critique that I tend to agree with so it's nice to see someone voice that opinion and still win a Pulitzer Prize (for Kavelier and Clay no less).

In reading Kavelier and Clay, you can really see how this chip on Chabon's shoulder affects his work. The book reads like part comic book, part history book, part coming-of-age story. And yet, the novel never reads like the schizophrenically disjointed mess you might expect. He actually manages to pull it off quite well.

Then again, he better if they're giving him a Pulitzer.

What makes this novel so successful is that Chabon is able to take so many different ideas and topics - he manages to write about comic book history, the holocaust, the merits of high art, Houdini-style escapistry, immigration, love, Jewishness, World War II and homosexuality just to name a few - while simultaneously telling an honest to God story that is actually fun to read.

He manages this feat with humor and with care. His characters are fully developed as even his less admirable characters still inspire sympathy and his minor characters possess just enough depth to make them memorable. His style, while a little bit wordy for my taste at times (his essays are even worse to that end), is otherwise effortless and allows the audience to easily buy in to the story.

The result is a reading experience with a wide appeal that both intellectually challenges the reader while engaging them and ultimately entertaining them.

You don't have to be a comic book fan or a genre junky to enjoy this book and you don't have to be an English major to understand what's going on (although I might recommend keeping a dictionary handy as some of his word choices are a little obscure). If you have the chance, I'd recommend the read. It's a little long but it should be worth your while.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Show Wrap Up

Are You There God? It's Me, Satan closed this past Saturday. Of course, I spent Sunday weeping like a little child now that it's gone (momentarily). I'd like to think that it was a pretty good show and that people enjoyed watching it. Sure, we may have crossed boundaries of morality and decency, but we had some laughs while doing it. We even turned something of a profit on the show. So that was cool. I haven't been able to say that very often.

For those of you who did not get the chance to see the show, we will be doing a stripped down version of it for this year's Chicago Sketchfest. We'll be performing Thursday, 1/15/09 at 9:30 PM in the South Theatre. Sketchfest is always a good time because it offers people the chance to see sketch comedy groups from around the country (and Canada!) perform, so if you get the chance you should come check it out.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Last Weekend

All right you bastards. You have only two more chances to see this sketch show. I suggest calling ahead for tickets or reserving them online. Here is the info:

Robot vs. Dinosaur Presents:

ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, SATAN
HOW SATAN SOLD HIS SOUL

Closing: November 22nd, 2008
Days and Time: Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm

Location: Gorilla Tango Theatre
1919 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

Tickets: $12
For Tickets, Call 773.598.4549 or visit http://www.gorillatango.com/

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Breaking Silence

Earlier this year I came to the conclusion that this blog was cursed. I became convinced that by simply mentioning a favorite sports team I could potentially doom them to a year of outright suckitude and, as a result, I've avoided talking directly about sports as much as possible.

Of course my college football team, the Michigan Wolverines, has since gone 3-8 and are a 20-some point underdog against the 10th Ranked Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio State this weekend and the Lions are, well, the Lions.

So much for the curse.

Today I thought that since Michigan's struggles this year have clearly been well out of the hands of this blog, and since Michigan's likelihood of beating Ohio State this weekend is in a word slim (though not completely out of question goddamnit!), why not break the silence and reflect on the experience of the past football season?

Just a warning, this might be a long one since we're talking about three and a half months worth of pent-up sports-talk here.

Being a college football fan is a stupid, stupid thing.

Objectively speaking, it is silly to get so rabidly upset or rapturously euphoric over the movements of a weirdly shaped brown leather ball over a big field covered in fake grass made from ground up tires. Yet, college football has the power to turn the most erudite sophisticate into a blithering loudmouthed idiot. This is, somehow, part of the beauty of the sport.

It has been a very odd year for the Michigan fan. In years past, I would watch a Michigan victory and worry that they hadn't won by enough, that despite the win there were still apparent weaknesses and deficiencies, an exposed Achilles heel that would keep Michigan from winning that Rose Bowl game or making it to the National Championship that was our birthright as Michigan fans.

Then came the first game of last year's season, otherwise known as the great terror of 2007.

And now here I am, over a year removed from that awful day, elated over any victory Michigan can get. I was happy for days after Michigan beat Minnesota this year.

Minnesota!

Of course, since last season, Michigan has changed coaches, changed coaching staffs, changed playing style, changed the stadium. They lost all but one starter on their entire offense. Their quarterbacks were all incredibly young and had never played a snap of college football prior to this season. Their offensive line was patched together with anyone who might be able to hold a block. Their defense consisted of a good D-line, mediocre linebackers and a secondary capable of both brilliant and mind-numbingly awful play.

At the beginning of the year, we all thought, "Who knows? It could work."

This is a team consisting for the most part of underclassmen and you get the sense in watching the games that sometimes the whole thing could completely fall apart if not for Rich Rodriguez, the new coach, willing them from the sidelines to keep playing.

No, there was bound to be pain. We Michigan faithful have had to endure losses to Notre Dame and Michigan State and the jeers of their fans. We've had to endure a season's worth of ridiculous articles from the likes of Drew Sharp, writer for the Detroit Free Press and I have to believe one of the most loathsome sports columnist ever to write for a major publication.

I watched the last part of the first game at a bar with my friend. During the final five minutes or so, some douchebag in a Cubs hat came up to me and said, "I'm sorry for your loss." "Well, game's not over yet" I said affable, to which he replied, with a smug look on his face, "Are you kidding? Your whole season's over," laughed, and then punctuated it with a "Michigan sucks" for good measure.

Of course, at the time the Cubs had yet to exit the playoffs without a single win, so I had nothing.

With all this angst, the Michigan fan base has been tearing itself apart. In fact, without the help of my favorite Michigan blog I might never had made it through.

And yet I have to say, despite all of that angst, that I haven't enjoyed a season of football this much since I saw my last home game as a student.

Why? Am I a sports masochist?

Who knows? Maybe. I'm still a Lions fan after all.

I'm not completely sure why this is. My theory is that this year, instead of irrationally asking perfection and inevitable disappointment from a slew of NFL bound seniors, I'm looking for flashes of talent and portents of the future from a group of kids who are not really ready to play yet but damn it they're playing anyway.

I don't know what to expect anymore. There's no Mike Hart, Michigan's all time leading rusher and graduate from last year's senior class, to run 100+ yards per game regardless of who they're playing. I could tune in and watch Michigan give up 48 points to Purdue of all teams, or I could tune in and watch a former walk-on quarterback, an interception machine from earlier in the season, play the game of his life in Minnesota. I could watch them lose pitifully to Toledo or make a stunning second quarter comeback against a nationally ranked (at the time) Wisconsin team.

Who knows?

This Saturday Michigan will play the hated Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio. They will play with their patchwork offensive line and their slew of freshmen and what's left of the defense and they will most likely lose. In fact, they may lose by a lot.

But then again, who knows?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Again With The Shameless Plug!

It's a new Friday tradition! Like TGIF! Only funny!


Robot vs. Dinosaur Presents:

ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, SATAN
HOW SATAN SOLD HIS SOUL

Opening: October 31st, 2008
Closing: November 22nd, 2008
Days and Time: Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm

Location: Gorilla Tango Theatre
1919 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

Tickets: $12
For Tickets, Call 773.598.4549 or visit http://www.gorillatango.com/



Only two more weekends of this and then I'll have to actually start writing stuff again.

Yikes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Der Kettenraucher!


I'm not going to make any value judgements or statements. I'm just going to say that I found this to be an interesting piece of information.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Road - Cormac McCarthy

I picked up The Road by Cormac McCarthy a couple of weeks back and finally got around to reading it this past weekend. I had heard good things about it froma couple of different people and it was on sale at Borders so I figured what the hell.

The book is about a father and son in their quest to survive in some sort of gray, ashen, post-apocalyptic world full of gray dust, canibals, and gray. Also, there is some grayness.

A hilarious romp? Not so much.

But an engaging read nonetheless, and a quick read too as everything is written in tiny snipets.

As far as plot goes there was nothing spectacular and I had guessed the ending just by reading the back cover of the book. I was also bothered in the back of my head that I was never told why the world had decended into apocalyptically grayish gray grayity. I realize this was likely intentional and that the reason why wasn't at all the point of the novel. Still, I'm a sucker for that kind of back story.

There were two remarkable aspects of the book, though, that I did enjoy quite a lot. The first is that the language really created the perfect atmosphere for the story. It was a little tedious at first slogging through all of the descriptions of gray dust and all but after a while it became the tone. By the end, it was almost as though I was more experiencing the book in all of its desolate grayness than just reading it.

The second is that, by literally stripping away almost everything else, the novel can really concentrate on the relationship between the father and his son. At the end of the day, that's what this book is about: the relationship between these two and how it changes as they struggle to survive.

Definitely worth the read if you get the chance.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's Friday! Which Can Mean Only One Thing....

...time to plug the show! Again!


Robot vs. Dinosaur Presents:

ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, SATAN
HOW SATAN SOLD HIS SOUL


Opening: October 31st, 2008
Closing: November 22nd, 2008
Days and Time: Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm

Location: Gorilla Tango Theatre
1919 N. Milwaukee AveChicago, IL 60647
Tickets: $12

For Tickets, Call 773.598.4544 or visit http://www.gorillatango.com/


"More fun than an old fashioned monkey knife-fight!"




No matter how hard I try, I just can't stop loving this picture. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts on the Day After

This morning I woke up and, apart from it being unseasonably warm, it was a normal fall weekday. There were piles of yellowed leaves in the streets and on the sidewalks. People were going to and from work. The bus was still crowded.

It was a perfectly typical Wednesday morning.

You really wouldn't have been able to tell this morning that the night before was a historic night, that the country had chosen to follow up nearly eight widely unpopular years with the risk of the unknown, that hundreds of thousands of people had packed downtown Chicago to hear the first black president-elect in the history of our country claim victory, that after a long, gruelling and seemingly endless election process we finally had our answer to the question: who gets saddled with fixing our collective mess?

People were crying and dancing in the streets all over the world. All over the world. Who can remember the last time people celebrated all over the world for the election of an American president?

Years from now I am certain that people will ask me if I was there downtown when it happened, when Obama claimed victory and a quarter of a million people went absolutely wild and Jesse Jackson cried for all the television watching audience to see world over.

And I will tell them no, I was at home in my apartment. Eating leftover chicken fried rice out of a carton. Typing away on my laptop with the election on in the background.

Anti-climactic, I know.

From the comfort of my desk chair, I saw John McCain step up to a podium in Arizona. I listened as he gave an eloquent and graceful concession speech where he quieted the shouting disappointed masses as best he could and pledged to work with the new President. He was calm and direct, and I could have sworn I detected a certain amount of relief.

In that brief speech he was the John McCain I vaguely remembered from before the campaign.

And Obama gave the type of speech that Obama gives, draped in the soaring rhetoric of hope and change, a call which has become synonymous with his campaign along with the easily repeatable slogan "Yes we can." Still it raises goosebumps.

But I think this was the last time Obama could really give this speech. Last night Obama ceased to be the embodiment of change and became the new establishment.

It remains to be seen what this new establishment means. It remains to be seen what change really means, and whether or not our President-elect can live up to (or even come close to) the insane expectations that the world has of him.

All of this for a guy who was a state senator, what, four years ago?

Last night I expected that the whole country would wake up today feeling a confusing mixture of exhilaration, fear, relief, doubt, excitement and uncertainty. Yet this morning, all I had was the understanding that I still had a job to get to and a bus to ride.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

MEME and GO VOTE, A-HOLE!

I'VE BEEN MEME'D!


What the hell is a meme? I guess it's a survey thing that gets passed around the interwebs from time to time. Like syphilis for bloggers. In this instance, I've contracted it courtesy of the loving caress of a Mr. Joe Janes.


List seven random and/or weird facts about myself:


(1) When I was a kid, my parents used to take us to Kentucky on vacation to go spelunking.


(2) My parents have family video of my brother and I dancing rather embarassingly to Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" when we were very tiny. They like to show it to girlfriends whenever I bring them home for the first time.


(3) I nearly went to Washington University in St. Louis to pursue a degree in Architecture.


(4) I hate having my blood taken. This was not that big of a problem until my girlfriend decided to enrole in a phlebotomy program. Now every once in a while I will catch her staring at my arms. It creeps me out.


(5) My favorite movie to watch when I was sick was "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves." I was too young to be bothered by the fact that Robin Hood was the only one in the movie without an English accent.


(6) I am a huge fan of "Good Eats," the television show on the Food Network.


(7) Saturday night, I came home to my apartment on the third floor to find a homeless man sleeping in front of my door.

There you go. I'll tag my sister Vanessa, ex-coworker Lauren, and current castmate Lisa.

GO VOTE

I did it. I got my ass up at 6:00 AM, struggled through my complex yet simplistic local Chicago precinct poll, waded through seas of disgruntled people through what seemed like 20 lines but goddamn it I performed my civic duty. And if I can do it, so can you. Get your asses to the polls, people!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Sigh of Relief

First, I want to thank everyone who came out for opening weekend of our show, Are You There God? It's Me, Satan. We had pretty good turn out, especially considering that Friday night was Halloween and Saturday night was Halloween Part II, the after-Costume Party. I'd particularly like to thank my Parents, who saw it twice, my girlfriend, who overcame intense moral objections, and my friends Jesse and Natalia who both came in from out of town.

The show is now up and running. People seemed to respond well to the show and we had a couple of big laughs, which is always nice. After months of rehearsing, it's easy for the writers, actors etc. to lose sight of the fact that your comedy show can actually be funny. Those first laughs are huge confidence builders. So now we can all sigh with relief comforted by the fact that somebody is going to laugh, so now all we have to do now is perform the damned thing.

Aaaah.

We have three more weekends, Friday and Saturday nights at 10:00 PM. You should come out and bring everyone you know.