Friday, April 27, 2007

Graceland...

After this afternoon's presentations, I ventured over to Memphis' biggest sightseeing attraction, the home of Elvis Presley's. Now, let me give you a little backstory on this. When I was a kid, my mom loved Elvis. Loved, loved, loved him. Whenever there was an Elvis TV special or an Elvis movie on, she would plop my sister Jenny and I in front of the TV and the whole family would watch. At some point, I've seen every Elvis movie ever made. Every single, awful movie.

Actually, not all of them are bad. I remember liking one of the Hawaiian movies and the one where they were in a haunted house. I mean, I think I like them. It's been 25 years since I've seen any of them.

It's strange, but one of my most vivid memories from my childhood is that of sitting beside my mother as we watched Elvis' funeral on TV. She cried and cried and cried. Because of that, I kind of thought Elvis was a distant family member. (I was young.) (Also, one of my uncle's looked a lot like Elvis. That kind of added to my confusion.)

So, I had a little bit of a familial attachment to going to Graceland today.

Before going to the actual house there were a couple side attractions to see. There was a collection of wardrobe and concert clothes to see.
Man, he loved white jumpsuits, didn't he.

There was a large collection of Elvis' cars.
This is the famous pink Cadillac he bought his mother.

And, there was Elvis' airplanes.

Before I headed over to the house, I stopped into one of the 50's cafe's and grabbed a burger. While I was there, there was a little bit of a stir in the booth next to me. This guy wrote a book about Elvis and was there at Graceland to give a private tour and to talk to the "All-Elvis" channel on Sirius Satellite radio. People were clamoring to get their picture taken with him.

He seemed very nice and told a couple Elvis stories as I sat there eating my burger and eavesdropping.

Once I was finished, I jumped on the shuttle and headed over to the house. I was immediately disappointed because they wouldn't let us go upstairs. The audio tour explained that the second floor was Elvis' private sanctuary and they wanted to respect his memory by keeping it private.

Baloney! They just don't want us to see the toilet where he died.

I craned my neck to look up the stairs and tried to squelch my disappointment. "I'm sure," I thought to myself, "that the rest of the tour will make-up for this devastating set back."

It did.

Here's the sitting room. Here's his parent's bedroom. Here's the dining room.
Here's the TV room.
Here's my reflection from the mirror ceilings in the TV room. Here's the game room.
Here's the famous Jungle Room.
It's much, much cooler than I thought it would be.

And finally, here's me in front of the pool.
My overall impression?

Everything was so small. The house was small. The rooms were small. The furniture was small. Everything.

Also, my pictures turned out great. Everything looks really beautiful and well preserved in my photos. Seriously, you don't understand. My pictures look great! In real life, none of it looked this great. I mean, everything was as preserved as well as it could be, but it's all starting to look a little worn. It's inevitable. He died 30 years ago. I'm amazed they've been able to keep things looking this good for this long.

All in all, it was a fascinating tour. I loved it. I came away having a newfound respect for Elvis. I liked him before, but now I really think he was cool.

I'm really glad I got to see it.

Now, I've got to get my mom down there to see it.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Memphis....

I flew from Pittsburgh to Atlanta to Memphis this afternoon. I arrived 50 minutes early, which was unusual, but nice.

This has been a cool trip because I've never been to Pittsburgh or Memphis. In Pittsburgh I traveled with Brett and Carla. We drove around the downtown area and were very impressed with the whole aura of the city.
Brett was especially excited to drive by the Heinz factory. He got excited about it the way most guys would get excited about their favorite beer brewery. It was funny.

In Memphis, I'm traveling with Tim and Meagan. They arrived early this afternoon and were able to go sightseeing. I mistakenly went to the wrong Marriott, so I unintentionally was able to do a little sightseeing of my own.


The downtown area of Memphis was very cool and exciting. They had Beale street blocked off for a music festival. I drove around with the windows open and was able to hear the blues music blaring from all the clubs. There was also a Memphis Cardinals game going on so the streets were crawling with people. It was sooooo cool.


The best part of both cities is that they are built around sprawling, powerful rivers. In the case of Pittsburgh, it's built around 3 rivers. The Allegheny River flows into the Monongahela River to become the Ohio River.


Memphis is built on the banks of the amazing Mississippi River. I feel a strong connection to this twisting, muddy river. 400 miles North of here, I was born in Quincy, Illinois at a hospital along the Mississippi River.


I have crossed it hundreds of times. I have witnessed it's rolling waters from a multitude of vantage points. I have stood at it's banks in Minneapolis, Cairo, Moline, St. Louis, Davenport, Baton Rouge, Memphis and of course, Hannibal.


I don't know why I feel such a connection to it, but I do. Each time I see it, I feel serene, calm and peaceful. Am I weird to think of the Mississippi River as a friend who I haven't seen in awhile?


You're right. It's kind of weird.


So, anyway....um....Memphis has a Pyramid. Strange, huh.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pittsburgh

We had a rough time getting to Pittsburgh. American Airlines cancelled our flight and rescheduled us to fly out tomorrow at 10:00 am. Well, thank you American Airlines, but that is ridiculous.

We had to switch airlines and even switch airports to get to Pittsburgh. We went from AA at O'Hare, to Southwest at Midway. Pretty insane.

Luckily, we arrived here earlier than we would have landed on our original flight. All of this leads us to the not so revealing conclusion that American Airlines sucks. They might be the worst airline out there right now.

Pittsburgh is quite a nice city. In fact, Rand McNally just named the city as the #1 Most Live-able City in America.

So there you have it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Late night at the ballpark

The Cubs are killing me.

2 days in a row they've gone into extra innings and they've lost both. Unfortunately, I was at the game last night and stayed to the very end. We left the ballpark at 11:30.

Don't get me wrong, it was fun going to the game. It just loses a little bit of it's fun when they lose.

And the Cubs lose a lot. Once again, Cubs are in last place.

I thought this year was supposed to be different.

Ah, well. It's early. Hopefully they'll turn it around.

***

I'm on the road tomorrow for the first time in a month and a half. I've got to get back in the swing of my travelling routine. I've also got to get out my scripts and "re-memorize" my presentations. I'm a little rusty on those.

***
Please pardon my rant.

Express lane at a grocery store means 15 items or less. If you have a full cart, you probably have more than 15 items. If that's the case, don't get in the Express Line!!!! Especially, the self check-out lines. It's not an Express Line if I have to stand behind you and your full cart and watch you try to figure out how to use the machine and bag your items.

Also,

If you're a Jewel employee and you see someone with a full cart get in the Express Line, tell them to move to the proper check out lanes!!!

Ugh. Yesterday at the Jewel across the street from my house all four of the self check out lanes were taken up by four women with full carts who insisted on checking out their own groceries. themselves.

So annoying.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fantasy Leagues

A year ago while waiting to get my haircut, I read an article in ESPN The Magazine about a proposed Fantasy league for women. Instead of a sports themed league, this one would rotate around US Weekly.

I have been doing Fantasy Sports Leagues for years. I love them. The first thing I do when I log onto my computer is check my Fantasy Scores from the previous day. I'm in 3 baseball leagues, my NBA basketball league finished yesterday and I'm counting down to the day when we do our draft for football.

Oddly enough, Joe Canale and Brett Lyons seem to be in most of my leagues. Unfortunately, Joe won the basketball league. So sad.

I was trying to explain to someone the other day why I and my sports friends like playing these fantasy sports games. I mentioned the article that I had read in the hair salon about the "US Weekly Fantasy League" and my friend's eyes opened wide as she excitedly replied, "Ooohhh, I'd do that in a heartbeat."

Amazingly enough, someone was inspired by that ESPN The Magazine article and created such a league. It's called Fafarazzi.

I created a league and invited 7 of my most "celebrity gossip obsessed" friends.

They are hooked.

There are 9 days left in our season and it's turned into a bitter battle to win the league. 3 of us are tied for second place with 106 points. Kara seems to be running away with first place, riding Britney Spears and Madonna all the way to the finish line.

I drafted Larry Birkhead and Kevin Federline and they served me well in the beginning. I picked up Don Imus off the waiver wire, but he's fizzled out as of late. I need Angelina Jolie to adopt another kid in the next 9 days if I have any hope of winning this thing.

If you want to watch our progress, it should be a tight race to the finish.

If you start your own league, please invite me to join.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cubs

The new job is going well. Very fun, very exciting.

So far it's been pretty flexible. Later on it'll get a little more intense, but for now, it's swimming along at even pace.

I finished early yesterday and managed to stop by the ballpark to watch a few innings of the Cubs game.

It was pretty cold and I wanted to get home to do some work, so I left after the sixth inning. I did manage to see new Cubs centerfielder, Felix Pie get his first hit in the big leagues. That was a cool moment.


Last night's poker game was awesome. I won a little bit of money, but that's not why it was so great. There were only six of us, but it was one of the most congenial and pleasant games we've had in a long, long time. Great conversation, good poker was played and no one got mad.

I wish all the games were like that.

On a different note, Basic 8's Brian Finley got his haircut last week. This is what it looked like on Sunday.

He looks like the lead singer of an 80's band. It's a sweet look.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lessons I've learned from watching 24...

As I prepare to watch day 6 hour 18 with the rest of America, I thought I'd fill you in on the things I have learned from my three month marathon of the FOX television show 24.

In no particular order:

  • The Vice-President will do anything to get the President's job.
  • Your Chief of Staff will betray you...then help you out...then betray you again...then will be your staunchest supporter and you will forgive him.
  • All first ladies are CRAZY.
  • No one ever submits during interrogation. No matter how hard you try, they're not going to tell you anything.
  • The Patriot Act might not be good for our country, but it makes for excellent TV.
  • Apparently every phone call ever made is being recorded somewhere and is easly accessed with a phone call that is also being recorded.
  • There are satellites pointed at every square footage of land in California.
  • If you can drive a car, you can probably drive a helicopter, airplane and complicated military survaillance drone.
  • No one's dead. You might think they're dead, but they're not dead. You may have even seen them die, but they are not dead.
  • If your girlfriend still has feelings for her ex-husband and he is being operated on and you hold a gun to a doctors face and force him to operate on a terrorist instead, causing the ex-husband to die....your girlfriend will still love you. It'll take some time, but she'll still take you back.
  • Arms are unneccessary appendages. Cut them off at will. You don't need them.
  • Someone in your office will betray you. Wait it out. You'll accuse someone and they will be cleared of betrayal, but eventually your first instinct will have been correct.
  • Always...Always go with your gut feeling.
  • Never, ever follow orders. Your superiors are usually, always wrong. Disobey them at every opportunity. You'll always be proven right and they will be remorsefull about giving such bad orders.
  • You will be arrested several times in a day.
  • The new girl/guy in the office is crazy. Also, she's/he's evil. No matter who nice she/he is to you, don't ever trust her/him. She/he has an ulterior motive and agenda and will betray you. Your best strategy is to wait it out and and she/he will be arrested or killed soon.
  • People who are very, very important to you will often disappear and you will forget about them. However, they usually reappear in the last hour of the day.
  • You can be exposed to a deadly virus and for some unexplainable reason be completely immune because of the DNA in your body.
  • If you're married or have kids, they will be taken hostage.
  • If you have a mother who lives on the outskirts of town, she will be infected by radiation poisoning and you will not be able to visit her.
  • Never go through a closed door. There's always something on the other side that you don't want to see. Usually it's somebody with a gun. Best to always go through doors with your gun drawn.
  • If you're away from your office and need to talk to a coworker, just speak aloud. They usually are listening somewhere on a speaker phone.
  • Don't worry about aiming, just shoot and you'll hit most of them.
  • No matter how raspy and gruff your voice is, you'll always be able to speak very softly to a child or retarded person.
  • It only takes a few minutes to fully recover from a coma.
  • If you're going to fake out or bluff someone during a negotiation, don't tell all the people who are on your side. That way they will think you're crazy and will argue with you and will make the situation even more exciting and intense. Later on they'll apologize for believing your well crafted bluff and you'll have an edge over them because of their mistrust.
  • Which leads to...never believe anything anybody is ever saying. They're probably bluffing.
  • Nuclear bombs explode all the time. Most people usually survive...except your mother who lives on the outskirts of town.
  • The only way to keep your insanely hot daughter from being kidnapped is to have her work in your highly classified, highly dangerous job. Her only work experience will be that of being a nanny, but you'll be able to pull some strings and make sure she's given a job that she is very unqualified for.
  • If you need to stall for time, the best strategy is to rob a gas station. That usually wastes some time and allows the satellites to reconfigure.
  • Several times a day the President is threatened with the 25th ammendment.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people die around you everyday, but the only one who gets a funeral is the President.
  • It's pretty easy to get nuclear bombs, life threatening viruses, missles and submarines.
  • Always use people as bait. Everyone always falls for it.
  • Ask for immunity. You'll always get it.
  • Bad guys always have lawyers who make sure that they're immunity pleas were faxed to them.
  • If you see someone for several consecutive hours and then they disappear. It's probably because they were made a regular on Lost.

24...

I have done the impossible.

I have caught up with 24.

For Christmas, Jeannie bought me Season 1 of the Fox TV show 24. Since then, I have been watching as many episodes as I can to catch up with the current season. It seemed an unreachable goal, but it was made easier with the assistance of Netflix, Limewire, Bittorrent and Itunes.

Monday evening I will be watching the show with the rest of the world.
  • 5 and 1/2 seasons.

  • 137 episodes.

  • 4 presidents.

  • 5 scheming vice-presidents.
  • 2 mentally un-stable first ladies.

  • 100's of ultra violent interrogation scenes.

  • 1000's of dead terrorists.


  • Scores of bombs and explosions.


  • Hundreds of family members taken hostage.



  • 1 dead Edgar.



  • Uncountable instances of Kim Bauer crying and saying, "Where's my dad?"


  • Uncountable instances of Jack gritting his teeth and saying, "How is that possible?"

  • Numerous dead coworkers.

  • 4 different haircuts for Kim Bauer.
  • 5 awkward romantic interludes in the dark hallways of CTU.

  • 11 leadership changes at the head of CTU.

  • 1 angry daughter who thinks her dad's dead...again.

  • 1000's of times that Chloe has made me laugh.

  • Hundreds of implausible storylines.

  • Million's of corny, ridiculous lines of dialogue.


  • 1 (thankfully) dead wife. (I hated her.)



  • 3 season long costumes which gratuitously flaunted Kim Bauer's cleavage. (Please come back Kim)


  • Hundreds of bizarre guest stars.
  • 4 awesome and surprising appearances from Mia Kirshner.
  • 2 surprising and 2 not surprising from former CTU employee/lover Nina.
  • 1 Cubs coffee mug.

  • 1 broken, but brave Patriot who fights for his country.

  • 1 boy tired of watching the world almost coming to an end every freaking night.

I'm pretty much an expert of the show. Since I've been watching episodes every night for the past four months, it's all fresh in my memory.

In order, I'd rank the season's this way:
  1. Season 3
  2. Season 2
  3. Season 5
  4. Season 1
  5. Season 4
  6. Season 6
It's the best one-hour drama on TV. I love it.

But, I'm ready to move. Like season 5, it's time to get back my life back in order.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Vidiocy


There was a nice article about Vidiocy in the AV section of the Onion.

It's still Winter

There's always cold days in April, but this is ridiculous. There have been snow flurries every day this week. That's insane.

Oh well, eventually it'll get back to normal. Right? I mean, it has to. Right?

***

The past 12 days have been a bit of a whirlwind. It's been pretty crazy.

12 days ago I ventured out to iO to watch Jeannie perform with her iO Harold team The Republic. While there, a good friend approached me and asked if I had some time to sit down with he and another colleague to discuss the possibility of us working together on some future projects.

I agreed. The 3 of us met a couple days later at Clarke's on Lincoln.

A few days later I met with their boss at an office in the West Loop.

A few days after that, I met with his bosses in a bigger office in the same building.

12 days after that initial meeting at iO, I have a New Job.

It all happened so quickly. It seemed so improbable and impossible.

The meeting with the big bosses happened this past Monday at 8am. They closed the meeting by telling me they would get in touch with me sometime this week to tell me their final decision. Since then, I can't tell you how much food and how much money I've spent trying to subdue the anxiousness I've felt about this impending decision.

It was such a relief when they called yesterday. I very badly wanted the New Job, but more importantly, I wanted everything to be decided. The waiting was killing me.

Now that everything's been decided and I have the New Job, it has kind of thrown everything into a state of flux. I had most of the rest of my year planned out and all of it might need to be severely altered. I had 2 trips planned for Toronto, 2 trips to Maine, 1 trip to LA and several improv festivals and workshops lined up. Now, I'm not sure about any of them. This New Job has to take top priority and I may have to cancel most, if not all, of my previous plans. We'll see.

I will still be doing some work for the Old Job. My travel for that job is usually only 1 to 3 days a month, so I might still be able to swing it. If not, I'll be able to rejoin the Old Job in December when this New Job ends.

So that's it. Pretty exciting. I know I've been a little cryptic about "New job"/"Old job", but I'm worried about legalities of mentioning them in a blog. In a couple weeks, if you ask me in person, I'm sure I'll fill you in.

Right now, it's best to be cautious.

***

While waiting for the "New Job" decision to be made, I went to a couple movies to distract myself.

Grindhouse is great. The first 40 minutes of TQuentin Tarantino's movie is typical tedious dialogue from his script, but the payoff in the last half of his film is great. I didn't want to like it, but it's good.

However, if you're looking for a truly great movie, go see The Lookout. Small budget. Small cast. Great, great script. I really loved it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Seriously....

I mean....

Seriously.... What is this white stuff falling from heaven?!?

Wow! It's a great day for baseball. I have tickets to the Cubs game and I don't want to waste them. So, .....

I'll go in, eat a hot dog, drink a soda and watch 3 innings and come home.

I have a feeling the game is going to be canceled soon so I won't even make it to the front door of Wrigley.

Seriously.

How can we be in the middle of a snowstorm in April?

Yesterday, I spent eight hours working on my taxes. Today I got an e-mail telling me that one of my employers sent me a 1099 that might be wrong by 8 thousand dollars. Yikes. Should have looked at those things back in February.

Go Cubs.

EDITED: 2 seconds after I pushed the publish button for this entry, I got this message:

Astros-Cubs snowed out
Game rescheduled to be played July 12

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Day trip to Milwaukee

One of my dreams is to watch a baseball game in each of the MLB ballparks. So far, I've seen games in:

  1. Wrigley
  2. US Cellular (White Sox)
  3. Old Busch Stadium (Cardinals)
  4. Shea Stadium (Mets)
  5. Dodger Stadium
  6. Rogers' Centre (Blue Jays)
    and as of last night,
  7. Miller Park (Brewers)

That's only 7. I've got a long way to go to reach my goal, but I have a feeling I'm gonna knock a lot of those ballparks off my list this summer.

On the way to Milwaukee, Jeannie, Brett and I stopped at the world famous Mars Cheese Castle.

That's not a real beer she's holding. It's Summer Sausage.






As we arrived to the game we were very excited to discover that we were there for Bobble Head Night. How fun is that!

We were in the Club Level section which is Super Nice. They have all kinds of fancy food and desserts and private bathrooms. It was a great way to watch a ballgame.

The other advantage to watching the game is the roof. While the White Sox game was cancelled because of cold weather, we watched the Cubs trounce the Brewers 9-3.

It was an awesome, awesome day!

So much fun.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Birthdays and Video contest

The Birthday went well. Jeannie bought me a cake.
It's an Ice Cream Cake from Dairy Queen.

Vidiocy went well tonight.

Good movies. Good fun. I'm sure a lot of them will be floating around Youtube.

My movie is here:




Give it a watch.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

It's my birthday

Yep.


I got a year older today.


Jeannie was the first to wish me Happy Birthday. Then Curt Foxworth. Then my mom.


For the first time in years, it snowed on the blessed anniversary of my birth. I really can't remember the last time that happened. Strange.


It's also strange that I'm home on my birthday. 4 out of the last 6 years, I've been out of town on this holy, holy day.


I've never been one to reflect too much on my birthday. I feel like I look and act younger than I am. So, birthdays don't mean a lot. It's just another day where you get a little more attention than normal. Which, of course, is very nice. We all need a little extra attention every now and then, don't we?


However, I've found myself reflecting and thinking about my life quite a bit on this day today. I'm not sure why.


Maybe it's because of the weather...or I'm writing a lot lately....or I'm well rested....or the excitement about the possibility that my life's about to be tossed 180 degrees into a different direction....or maybe I've been watching too many episodes of 24....


Whatever it is, after a great deal of contemplation and reflection, I would like to state that I am supremely and unequivocally happy.


I have a great girlfriend.

Great parents.

Great friends.

Great job (s).

Great opportunity to perform improv any night of the week.

And I live in one of the greatest cities in the world.


During my reflection, I never questioned my happiness. The only question was, "I've been so lucky and so happy for 36 years. Is it possible that I could be any luckier or happier?"


Hopefully that answer is "yes."


And, for no reason at all, here's a picture of the Harry Carey statue.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Opening day...

It's not going well for the Cubs or the Sox.

That's okay. It's a long season.

As I wrote earlier, on Saturday Jeannie and I went to see "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf". Our tickets were in the front row. It was amazing.

Look how close we were.

At points I felt like I could reach out and touch Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin. The show was great.

The production was at the LaSalle Theater which is the old Shubert Theater. It's one of my favorite places to see plays. I've been there two other times before. I saw Rent and Stomp there with my friend Gail.

To get to the theater, Jeannie and I took the Brown Line Train. This is significant because it was one of the last trips of the Brown Line at the Southport El Station. The Southport stop is being closed for renovations for 1 YEAR! 1 year!!!! Are you kidding me!?! Most of the stops are closed for 3 to 6 weeks. This street's going to be a ghost town in a couple months. Restaurants and bars are going to close down and everyone who doesn't own a car is going to move away. Stupid CTA!