Thursday, May 31, 2007

Jason's in Vegas...

My good friend Jason Chin left for Las Vegas yesterday. I'm jealous. I'd love to be there right now.



I'm not sure why I love it so much. I don't really gamble very much money. I don't drink. I've never been to a strip club. And, I've never gone to a Vegas show.


I'm Vegas' worst nightmare. I just go there to hang out.



Improvisor Scot Goodhart sent a few of us an e-mail asking us our recommendations about Vegas. Here's my reply:



As far as a hotel, Luxor is really the best bargain. Tropicana is really old and has that "I feel like someone died in my room" feeling to it. Not a gangland or overdose on drugs death, but a senior citizen with an oxygen tank death.

The Monte Carlo is usually pretty nicely priced also and it's right across the street from the MGM. We've stayed in all those hotels in that corridor and the Luxor and Monte Carlo are the most economical.

Vegas.com is the website we usually use because we always fly America West. They're good with hotel prices also. A few trips ago, I booked the Monte Carlo directly from the hotel website. Most of the hotel websites offer nice discounts when you book it straight from them.

As far as tournaments go, the main reason we stay in that area is because we really like playing in the Mandalay Bay tournaments. They have an afternoon tournament that costs $35. We also really like to play poker at the Luxor. They have a cheap morning tournament. The Excalibur is an awful hotel, but for some reason, we play cards there a lot. It has a decent size poker area and it's the least intimidating poker room in the whole town. The dealers there are very nice and very forgiving and they go out of their way to help out the players. Brett and I play there a lot because you can spend 3 or 4 hours there and it's super-causal and fun. However, the advice you were given was right. Never stay at the Excalibur hotel. The rooms smell like burnt chili.

The only advice I would give you is to take a cab to the Rio and eat at their buffet. I'm sure Jason and Brett will tell you to eat at the Mandalay Bay buffet, but it's overrated. It's good, but it's not as great as they make it out to be. Also, buffet's are cheap during the day. Go around 1:30 in the afternoon and fill your face and you won't have to eat for the rest of the day.




Scot told me I should write a guide book to Vegas. Maybe I'll pitch it to my agent. It'll be called:

An Improvisor's Guide to Vegas!


Which of course is the follow up to :

A Male Improvisor's Guide to Dating!

Subtitled as: Just because that chick laughed at you, it doesn't mean she wants to date you.



Which followed:

A Female Improvisor's Guide to Avoiding the Male Improvisors!

Subtitled as: Ladies, stop replying to his text messages. Every time you respond, he thinks it's a date.



Which followed:

An Improvisor's Guide to Making Millions as an Improv Comedy Club Owner!

Subtitled as: Has anyone seen my dogs?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day pt. 2

Brett had a cookout this afternoon. I stopped by for a couple hours. Here's who I saw:

Dennis O'Toole, Pat Gallen and Anthony LeBlanc.
Jessica Robbins and Kennedy (Kelly) Gates.
Danny Mora cooked chicken on the grill while Brett made sure his new grill didn't get any scratches on it.
Gina Nicewonger from Feverberry Mountain had a very cool new haircut. It's not her dog. Just some random dog that showed up at the party.
The boys from Topaz came in costume.
I saw other people, but I didn't get pictures of them. Mel, Amy and Brian from Basic Eight were there. I talked awhile with Todd Schanbacher and Ben Johnson.
I took a picture of Jason Chin, but I deleted it somehow.
Good food. Good people. Good times.

Go see Topaz and Feverberry Mountain. Both shows are at IO and the improvisors in both shows are some of my favorite people in the business. You can't get better than Rex Graff, Paul Brittain, Bill Boehler, Gina Nicewonger and Wes Haney.

Happy Memorial Day

Went to Arlington Park yesterday to watch the horses race. It was family day so there were kids everywhere.

It was appropriate that I went with Brett to the park on Family day because everywhere we go, people think he's my little brother. There have even been instances where people have asked if I was Brett's dad. I can't tell you how mad that makes me.

Every time they ask me that I kind of snap back at them and say, "Do I look old enough to have a kid that 24 years old?"

They always respond with, "No. But he doesn't look old enough to be 24. He looks like he's 12 and you look old enough to have a 12 year old son."
Does he look like my son?!?

We had a much better day at the races then we had last time. I won 3 races and I think Brett won 3 as well. I won around $36 which put me at even. Brett bet a lot more money than I did, so he ended up making a couple trips to the ATM.

He did hit a Superfecta, which is really hard to do. A Superfecta is when you pick the top 4 finishers in the race. Unfortunately, they were the top 4 favorites so it was low odds and he only won $7. A few races later, I picked the top 4 finishers, but I forgot to "box" them so I didn't win. If' I'd "boxed" them, it means the top 4 horses could finish in any order and I would have won. If I'd "boxed" them, I would have won $780. Oh well.


We were fortunate to have our good friend Curt Foxworth join us at the track.
His Memorial Day plans had fallen through so we were lucky enough to have him come out and watch the horses with us. Curt used to work at a horse track in New Jersey, so he's horse racing aficionado.


During our lunch conversation, Curt passed along a bit of information that I'd never heard before. He had just returned from a trip to Massachusetts where he had been told this little piece of trivia. Here it is:
The characters on the Saturday morning cartoon Scooby-Doo represent the five colleges of the Connecticut River Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. The Five Colleges are geographically close to one another and are linked by buses which run between the campuses. Daphne represents Smith College, Velma represents Mount Holyoke with Fred representing Amherst College, Shaggy as Hampshire College, and Scooby as UMass Amherst.

***PHOTO DELETED***PHOTO DELETED****

So, now you know!

After the races, I got home in time to see the Cubs blow another game. I'll have to say, I've avoided talking about the Cubs lately because they have frustrated me more than any team in recent memory. Last year the team was terrible so it didn't annoy me when they lost.

This year, however, the Cubs should be winning. They're in the top 5 or top 10 in all the offensive and pitching categories. But somehow, they manage to screw up every game. They're driving me crazy.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

.500.....

Well, the softball team lost last night. Badly.


How badly? The final score was 21-3.

Yikes.

It was ugly.

How ugly?Their first batter ran into and knocked over Carissa Diest, our first baseman. He should have been out because, but instead he was called safe and awarded an extra base. It got uglier.


Tyler Lansdown fell over first base as he tried to beat out a squibbler down the third base line. To Tyler's credit, he didn't push over the girl on the other team who was playing first base. He just falls down a lot.
Seriously, he falls down a lot.
We've played 2 games and he's fallen in both of them. In our first game he tripped over his own feet as he attempted to make a throw to second base.

I went 2 for 3 in the game and scored a run. However, I did make an error on a pretty easy pop fly over second base.

For the season I am 3 for 4 with 1 rbi and 1 run scored.


***


The other day I went to see 28 Weeks Later. On the way home I saw this statue in someones yard and it scared me half to death.
If you click the link for the movie, you'll see the trailer for the movie and you'll see why I was a little spooked.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Waitress...

Friday evening Jeannie and I met at Piper's Alley to watch a movie. She wasn't terribly excited about the movie I had chosen, but I knew she'd change her mind.

The movie was "The Waitress" starring Keri Russell. It's a great little film with quirky characters, snappy dialogue and very good acting. I implore you; instead of watching that awful, terrible, idiotic Spiderman 3 or the over-hyped Pirates of the Carribean go see this movie. It'll give you a nice, warm feeling inside.

Plus, it's got Andy Griffith in it! How can you not like a movie that uses Andy Griffith?

Afterward, we walked home and stopped by Treats. Oh my! That's some tasty frozen yogurt they have there.

The rest of the walk home, I, to no avail, attempted to call MicroCenter. Here's the story:
A few months ago, my 13 month old Dell desktop computer crashed. I point out that it was 13 months old because, of course, the warranty expires after 12 months. I dropped my computer off at Microcenter to have it fixed Friday morning. The technician called while I was in the movie to tell me he had a verdict on what the problem was with my stupid computer. Since that phone call, I have attempted a minimum of 100 times to return the call to MicroCenter, but NO ONE ANSWERS the phone there. Yesterday I was so frustrated I called the corporate office to complain. They apologized and gave me private line to call. I called that line and someone finally answered, but they had to transfer me to another line so I could talk to the technician. I'm sure you know what happens next. The phone rang and no one answered. I let it ring so many times that it eventually automatically disconnected. AAAGGGHHH!

So, the moral of this blog post is:

  1. Go see Waitress!
  2. Instead of eating ice cream, eat frozen yogurt at treats!
  3. Don't ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever do business with MicroCenter!
  4. Spiderman 3 might be one of the worst movies every made!



    *****
An addendum about the movie, The Waitress:
After you've gone to see the movie, then (and only then), read this article about Adrienne Shelly, the writer, director and co-star. It's a tragic, sad story and might influence your feelings on the film.

I knew nothing about the director until Jason Chin told me the story last night. We were backstage at Armando and I was glowing about the movie and Jason told me the details of her life. I was stunned.

Go see the movie, then read the article. I think you'll appreciate it more.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Track....




Brett and I drove out to Arlington Park yesterday to watch the horse races. I've never been to Arlington and was mightily impressed. It's a stunning, gorgeous place.



We were ecstatic to discover that we were there on "Senior Day". To honor seniors, Edith Bunker sang the national anthem (Brett's joke). The woman who sang the Star Spangled Banner had a pretty tough time. She ran out of steam in the middle of the song and it sounded like she was dying. She was a trooper though. She pulled it out at the end and finished with a flourish. In horse racing terms, she was more of a "closer" than a "pace horse".

It was a little chilly at the park, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

This led to quite a few arguments with Brett and I. He wanted to sit in the shade because he doesn't like the sun. I wanted to sit in the sun because I like the sun and it was freezing in the shade. We spent most of our time inside anyway as we poured over the race form.

Out of the 10 races, between us we picked 7 winners. The problem was, we weren't betting winners. We were betting Exacta Boxes, Daily Doubles, Pick 3, Pick 4's and Superfectas. We could pick winners, we just couldn't figure out who was going to place with the horse we picked.

It was frustrating, but still very fun.
In the last 3 races we simplified our betting and won a few races. I won $28 on "Piano Tunner". And Brett won some money when he bet "Win,Place,Show" on the longshot bets in the 9th and 10th races.
The other great thing about Arlington is that the food is great and the entire place smells like Caramel Corn and Cotton Candy. It's amazing. I'm trying to eat a little better so I had a turkey wrap and soft pretzel, but so much looked so good.


The horses were beautiful. The track was gorgeous. The entire place was amazing.
....and then we drove home. Yikes! It took us 15 minutes to get from my apartment on Southport and Waveland to Arlington. To get back, it took 2 hours and 25 minutes!!!!!
Ridiculous!

As if we weren't frustrated enough by losing money at the track, we had to deal with frustrating traffic.


We learned our lesson. If you go to the suburbs, be prepared to be punished.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Still undefeated!!!

....and I'm still batting .500.


Last night's game was rained out. It began raining right before the game started.


Somehow in the flurry of people running to take cover from the rain, I ended up with one of the game balls in my bag. Several people have asked me what the difference is between a 16 inch softball and a regular softball.


Well, I don't have a softball, but I have a baseball....
This kind of gives you an idea. Obviously, the 16 inch ball is bigger than the normal 12 ball that everyone else in the world plays with. The other difference is that there isn't a hard core in the 16 inch ball. If it gets hit around for awhile, it softens up.

That baseball in the photo is the only foul ball I've ever caught at a major league baseball game. Myself, Brett Lyons, Katy Fullan and Carolyn Minor were at a Cubs game two years ago and I snagged it off a foul ball from Michael Barrett's bat.


Snagged is a deceiving word. Actually, Barrett fouled off a pitch that flew several rows behind us. A guy happened to be walking down the steps with an arm full of food from the concession stands. The ball zipped right to him and he tried to catch it, even though he had a large soda in each of his hands. The ball shot past the sodas and popped him in the belly. Popcorn, nachos, hot dogs and sodas exploded into the air and the ball bounced down to me where I snagged it and held it up in the air and everyone cheered.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gameday...

Got a bad haircut yesterday. But, on the bright side, it only took 10 minutes.


Good hair cut/40 minutes....Bad hair cut/10 minutes....I think I'd rather take the shorter time and bad hair cut. Hair will grow back. That excruciating extra 30 minutes I'll never get back.


I bought a new bat for the softball team. We only have one which makes it look silly when someone's in the on-deck circle. They have to stand there and pretend they're swinging a fake bat.
It's a pretty cool bat.

On a completely separate note.... How awesome was last weeks episode of Soprano's!! So, so good.
Now, if only Lost and 24 could up their game a bit.

Friday, May 11, 2007

We won!!


Our softball team won on Wednesday. I batted 6th and was 1 for 2 with an RBI. My hit was a double, so my slugging percentage is pretty high.


Yesterday Brett and I went to the Cubs game and watched Carlos Zambrano blow another Cubs game. It was a great day for a ballgame and we had great, great seats. This was our view.

Jason Prah, from our softball team, joined us for the game. Last evening, Brett and I headed downtown to the Westin Hotel. We have an event here this morning and afternoon so we had to stay in the hotel last night.

We're right across the street from Marina City, so here's my view.
Meagan, from Deep Schwa is doing the gig with us so she and Jeannie joined us for dinner at Harry Carey's. This morning at 6:00am we woke up and did our first presentation. Meagan had to wear a wig. Brett on the hand, looks exactly the same as he does every day of his life.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Random...

In the past week, I've taken some random pictures with my phone. Here they are:

On Thursday last week I traveled down to Decatur and taught an "Improvisation for Business" class for Millikin University. They're using "Guru; My Days with Del Close" as their textbook in the class.

On the way home, I needed a new shirts so stopped by Hickory Point Mall in Decatur and was excited to see the WheelMobile.

The WheelMobile travels around the United States auditioning people for the Wheel of Fortune. I ventured inside and saw where they were setting up a miniature Wheel of Fortune set for people to come play. Unfortunately, this story does not end with me appearing on Wheel of Fortune. I didn't even get to see the auditions. I was a day too early.


*****

On Saturday I walked by Wrigley Field and watched part of the game through the "right field window". It was pretty cool.

I wanted to get back to my apartment to see the Kentucky Derby, so I walked down Sheffield and up Waveland to head home. As I passed left field, I saw the cage where they keep the smokers.
Filthy beasts.


I did not win anything on the Derby. Curt Foxworth gave me a tip on a horse in the #9 race, but it was beat by a nose. In the Derby Race, I picked Street Sense and Culin in an Exacta Box. Street Sense won, but Curlin finished third.

So close, yet so far away.


***

This picture I took a couple weeks ago.
It's Mel Evans' arm.

I guess as the coach of the Basic 8, it's my responsibility to keep track of their bruises.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Goosh...

I'm crushed.

I feel like I've been punched in the stomach.

Let me explain.

As a young kid in the Illinois public school system, one of our field trips every year was to visit Abraham Lincoln's tomb. I did that at least 3 times when I was a kid. The second time I went the tour guide told a story about Abe Lincoln's body almost being kidnapped a few years after he was buried.

For some reason, that story stuck with me all these years. To my surprise, very few people had ever heard that story.

About 5 years ago when I was looking for something to write about, I decided to research that old story and turn it into a play. After several months of research and writing I finished what I thought was a very funny and good play. I had a staged reading of the play at the Playground Theater and several people told me it would be a great movie. So, I taught myself how to write screenplays and completed a 120 page script that I was very proud of.

I entered the script into screenwriting competitions and made it to the semi-finals of the Nichols Screenwriting Competition. Several agents and producers contacted me about the script and I shopped it around a little bit.

While waiting for some word to get back to me about the Lincoln grave robbing script, I began writing "Guru". "Guru" took off and I spent the next two years devoted to that.

Still, I kept the Lincoln script in the background and continued to shop it around. I showed it to my Manager in LA and he loved it. He wanted to shop it around, but he wanted to wait until "Guru" and "High Rollers" made it to the screen so he had ammunition to fire with when he took it to producers. And so, we waited.

We waited a long time.

Too long.

When I woke up this morning, this article was on CNN.
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/05/07/abe.body.ap/index.html?eref=rss_us

Devastated. Utterly devastated.

Hopefully I'm overreacting. Maybe my Lincoln project will still be able to take off. It was such a small, little known story and I was hoping to be able to bring it to everyone's attention. Now, whatever I do, it'll look like I leapfrogged off this guys idea. Ugh!

Ironically, I just talked to several people yesterday about wanting to mount the stage play version at a theater in Chicago this fall.

I'm still going to do that.

We'll see.

Man. This sucks.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Baseball and lobster...

I've had some problems with my shoulder lately so I was worried about softball practice yesterday. I stretched and warmed up so in the hopes that it would loosen up a bit. Didn't work. I was lobbing the ball when I threw it, but it threw off my accuracy. I started throwing full out and I could feel my shoulder burn.

Practice was a lot of fun. I played a few games two years ago, but last year I couldn't play at all because of traveling and writing class. This year, my schedule's a lot more flexible so I should be able to play the whole season.

The team I'm playing on is the Playground Team. Brett's the coach. It's 16 inch softball, so we don't play with gloves. The first practice, my hand was bruised and sore from catching the ball. Last night, I was used to it.
Brian and Tres get some post-game notes from Coach Lyons.

In high school I played third base and the outfield, but both of those positions are too difficult for me to play with my shoulder like this. Hopefully I'll get it to feel better by the time of our first game next week.

Right before we left the field, the fog rolled in.

When I got home there was a treat waiting for me. A few months ago Jeannie was walking by WGN Radio studios were they were doing a "people in the streets" segment and asked her to come and talk to them on air. Like a good girlfriend, she plugged my book and said some things that made the studio hosts laugh.

They liked her so much that they gave her a whole bunch of prizes.

One of the prizes was a Lobster Gram.

We finally got around to ordering our Lobster Gram and it arrived yesterday.

We could have gotten a couple of whole, live lobsters, but I didn't want to cook them so I ordered lobster claws instead. We also got some clam chowder and two apple pies.

The red paper and tinsel were included in the package so people could take photos.

It was delicious.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

It's warm...it's cold...it's warm...it's cold...

There's absolutely no consistancy in the weather. Within 8 hours it changes from 80 degrees and sunny to 50 degrees and overcast.

I don't mind either temperature, but it goes from one extreme to the other so quickly. Yesterday I had a little sweat on my forehead as I walked over to the Landmark Theater on Diversey. I was wearing shorts and it was really nice out.

That was at 1:00pm.

At 4:30 I left the theater and was freezing. I almost stopped to buy a sweatshirt. Crazy.

For my birthday, Jeannie's mom and dad sent me some money to buy a gift so I bought a couple pairs of shoes.

These are radically different shoes than I normally buy. People tell me that my "non-sneakers" are always too big and clunky so I tried to streamline it a bit and bought these Sketchers.

As far as the sneakers go, this is the first time in 15 years that I haven't bought a pair of Nike's. People are always telling me they love New Balance, so I thought I'd give them a try.

If you see me and I seem different, let me reassure you that I'm not. I'm just wearing different shoes.