Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Houston...

Caught an early flight out of Chicago and arrived in Houston around noon.

It was 65 degrees when I got off the plane. Everyone down here is complaining that it's too cold. I'm wearing shorts.

It feels like a heat wave.

We're staying at the Houstonian. It's claim to fame is that it is the home of George H.W. Bush and was featured in the movie Charlie Wilson's War.

We've stayed here several times. It's very nice.

They have an outdoor padded running track that circles the property. It's a full mile to go around once so I circled it three and a half times.

It's the first time in a loooooong time that I've run outside. It's made my breathing a little raspy.

However, it felt really good. This hotel was built in a nature preserve so the track ran through a beautiful forest.

I'm used to running on a treadmill in the middle of a highly congested health club in snowy Chicago.

Running like I did today felt like I was running in paradise.

Back in Chicago...

I missed my flight Sunday afternoon and didn't get home until late Sunday evening.

It was worth it.

We had lunch at Mama Dips and it took a little longer than we anticipated. But the food was amaaazing.

I managed to get Jeannie and Guillermo to the airport with seconds to spare, but I had to take the rental car back. So, I missed my flight.

It was frustrating, but man-o-man, that fried chicken at Mama Dips was good.

Here are a few more random photos from DSI.
We found a Deal or No Deal video game. It paid off in tickets. Guillermo and Drew playing Celebrity at 5:00am.

Drew and Brian got into a wrestling match. It looks like Drew won, but Brian declared victory. I was just happy to see Brian in a Cubs t-shirt and not a Cardinal one.

Molly, Curt and Jeannie after the Basic Eight show.

Some of the photos from our show on Friday night at the DSI Theater. Photos are from kevinthom.com.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chapel Hill 2...

Even though it wasn't really that warm, we decided that it was warmer than Chicago and we were going to take advantage of it.
Sooooo, in 45 degree weather, we went to play miniature golf.

Guillermo Lugo is playing with Aphasia. He, Jeannie and most of the members of Basic Eight all braved the chilly weathers and shot 18 holes. I shot the game of my life and tied Drew Korb for first place with a score of 43!
Later that evening we had our Aphasia show. Also joining us in our set was Brian Finley. We played one long scene about an internet "Start-em-up" company who lived and worked together in the same room. I played one character, but the other three played several different roles in the single scene. At one point, one of Jeannie's characters got in an argument with another of her characters and we all watched as she had a full scale battle between her two roles. Eventually, one of her characters tossed the other one down the stairs.

I was very, very, very happy with how the show turned out. It ranks up there with one of the top 3 or 4 shows Aphasia's ever done.

Saturday I taught workshops all day. It's been awhile since I've taught an improv class and it was a lot of fun. I really miss teaching improv. The workshops went really well, I think. And, I got to meet a bunch of different people from all around the country.

Saturday evening, I filled in and did a show at 7pm at the DSI Theater. Big In Japan is a great team from The Impatient Theater Company in Toronto. They had problems getting down to North Carolina so their coach, my good old friend Kevin Patrick Robbins asked me to play with him and Kevin Thom, the only member from Big In Japan who had managed to make it down to the DSIF.

That show was great! It jut felt like it really killed. It was a blast playing with those guys.
After that, Basic Eight and Aphasia had dinner together at a great BBQ place. When dinner was over Basic Eight did their show at the DSI Theater and I went to the Arts Center to do the DSI All-Star show. Both shows went well.

There was a party afterward and we stayed for awhile, but then headed back to the hotel to get some rest.

However, that didn't happen. Jeannie, Guillermo and I stopped by the Basic Eight hotel room to chat and ended up playing a game called Celebrity.
We didn't get back to the Aphasia hotel room until 5:30am.

Needless to say, it's Sunday afternoon and we're headed to the airport and we're all very, very tired.

This was one of the best DSI festivals ever.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chapel Hill...

I'm down here in North Carolina for the DSIF Improv Festival. This is the 6th or 7th year I've come down here to teach at this festival. It's always one of my favorite festivals every year.

This one and the Toronto Improv Festival are my two favorites. Nothing can match them.

Aphasia looks a little different with Brett on the boat, but I'm excited for our Friday night show and think it will be great.

This evening we landed and went out looking for some food.

Living in Chicago has spoiled me. I can find food any time of the day or night in Chicago. Once we travel out of the 773 and 312 area codes, it gets a little difficult to find food after 9pm.

We drove around for a long time without finding anything. Not even a gas station was open. Ultimately, we got completely lost. It took a full 90 minutes to get back on track.

Along the way, I saw some great sites. I saw all the old tobacco factories and the Durham Bulls baseball park. I also saw the campuses for Duke, NC State and of course, UNC.

Yep, we were pretty lost.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Boston Legal...

My best friend from college, Mike Loeffelholz is on Boston Legal tonight.

He was also on my first IO team, Monkey Rocket!

TIVO it, watch it, do whatever it takes to watch it this evening. This is his daughter.

She will cry if you don't watch Boston Legal tonight.

It's on ABC this evening at 9:00pm.

Here's the description of the show:

Boston Legal - Episode 4.14 - Rescue Me - Press Release
CARL SACK REPRESENTS THE SEXUALLY ADVENTUROUS ANDREA WHEN SHE SUES A COMPANY FOR LOSING HER MOTHER'S ASHES AND GIVING HER A CUBIC ZIRCONIUM, AND DENNY CRANE AND ALAN SHORE PREPARE TO TAKE THE COAST GUARD TEST, ON ABC'S "BOSTON LEGAL"

"Rescue Me" - The sexually adventurous Andrea once again secures the services of Crane Poole and Schmidt and Carl Sack when she sues a company -- that was supposed to turn her mother's ashes into a diamond - for misplacing the ashes and giving her a cubic zirconium instead. Meanwhile, Katie Lloyd falls for a client with AIDS who is charged with check forgery; Clarence Bell takes on the case of a woman suing her pastor for causing her to lose her faith after he ends an affair with her; Whitney Rome sets out to sue a high school for causing the death of a woman's daughter who was sleep deprived due to a heavy school workload; and Denny Crane and Alan Shore prepare to take the Coast Guard test, on "Boston Legal," TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

"Boston Legal" stars James Spader as Alan Shore, John Larroquette as Carl Sack, Christian Clemenson as Jerry Espenson, Gary Anthony Williams as Clarence/Clarice Bell, Tara Summers as Katie Lloyd, Saffron Burrows as Lorraine Weller, Taraji P. Henson as Whitney Rome, with Candice Bergen as Shirley Schmidt and William Shatner as Denny Crane.
Guest starring are Michael Landes as Leo Morris, Alison LaPlaca as Andrea Michele, Christopher Stanley as CEO Robert Winthrop, Henry Gibson as Judge Clark Brown, John Prosky as Attorney Walt Devlin, Mark L. Taylor as Attorney Adam Jovanka, Isabella Hofman as Carolyn Joseph, Debra Mooney as Judge Patrice Webb, Barbara Eve Harris as Principal Holliston, Eric Lange as George Parkes, Christie Lynn Smith as Maureen Janely, Michael Loeffelholz as Reverend Kurt Joyner and Pamela Adlon as Attorney Emma Path.

"Rescue Me" was written by David E. Kelley & Corinne Brinkerhoff & Susan Dickes and directed by Mike Listo.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Eye exam...

I have worn glasses since I was in first grade.

Every two or three years since I was seven, I've had to go to the optometrist for the dreaded exam.


I hate those eye exams. I didn't think it was possible to fail them, but it seems that I do every single time.

A few years ago I had an eye exam that lasted 2 hours. 2 hours!! At the 1 hour mark, the doctor put her hands in her face and said, "Let's take a 5 minute break and then we'll going to come back in here and get this damn prescription figured out. Now, go out there and pull yourself together."

When they give me the option of "this one or this one", I seem to always pick the wrong "this one". I can hear the disappointment in their voice when they say, "Are you sure?" so I immediately change my answer...which is the wrong thing to do...because then we have to go back to the beginning.

Argh.

Unfortunately, the optometrist of the United States have managed to get the state legislatures to change the laws so that now I have to get an exam every year. It used to be that my eye prescription lasted for 3 years. Now, it's only good for 1 year.

That sucks.

I discovered yesterday that not everyone has to go through these awful eye exams. I mentioned to Jeannie that I had an eye exam on Monday afternoon and she said, "Oh, that's fun." I asked her how she could like those arduous exams and she said she'd only done it once in grade school and it was a blast.

For some reason, I never put it together that people with perfect vision don't get eye exams. I guess I always thought that they went every 2 or 3 years anyway.

In my imagination, the "perfect-eyed-people" answered all the questions correctly. After every question, the optometrist high-fived the "perfect-eyed-people" and complimented them on their wonderful, exemplary vision. In between reading eye chart after eye chart, the "perfect-eyed-people" and the optometrist would tell jokes and stories about all their "weak-eyed" friends and patients.

Perfect, joyful tears, would roll out from the corner of their magnificent eye sockets as they concluded another fantastic exam. At the receptionist desk, instead of giving them a bill, the optometrist would in fact give $100 dollars and a gold star to the "perfect-eye-person" as appreciation for allowing them to look in their perfect beautiful eyes.

Anyway, my exam went well, but my optometrist spoke with a little bit of a lisp. She kept saying, "Your sexual eye isn't as strong as your outer eye."

And...

"I'm going to give you some contacts that will really make the sexual part of your eye very, very strong."

And...

"Do you feel discomfort in the sexual part of your eye?"

She paused and waited for me to answer, but I didn't know what to say.

"My what?" I asked.

She overpronounced it and said, "Your ceeeennn-traaaalllll eye!"

Ah, my central eye. I still don't know what that means, but it's better than my sexual eye.

***
Jeannie's been performing with "Baby Wants Candy" at the Apollo Theater. It's a great space and the show is always hilarious. If you haven't seen them over there at their new space, you really should. "Baby Wants Candy" always puts on fantastic shows.


Last week, Becca and some of Jeannie's co-workers got to see the show.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Oak Brook

I don't have a car.

That's one of the great things about living in Chicago. You don't need a car. I really only know 4 or 5 people in the city who have one.

So, anytime I have to go out to Oakbrook for a meeting with the people at the company for whom I work, they send a car service to come and get me.

Usually, it's a town car.

Lately, it's been one of these...
I can't tell you how silly I feel when I have to go downstairs to get into one of these crazy stretch limos.

People are all standing around gawking. Heads are poked out of the windows. Everyone thinks freaking Michael Jordon is in the neighborhood.

They are all so disappointed when I walk out the door, trip over the sidewalk and awkwardly climb into the backseat of one of these monstrosities as the driver holds the door open for me.
So ridiculous.

Edible Arrangents...

I do not have good luck with any type of deliveries.

Ugh.

So, knowing that Valentines is a crazy time for florists and the such, I made my order several days ago. Instead of sending Jeannie flowers, I decided to do something different. I ordered a fruit bouquet from Edible Arrangents.

I went with this one.

I requested a morning delivery.

Jeannie called me several times Thursday morning, but at no time did she mention she had recieved her delivery. She told me about other people who had gotten deliveries, but nothing about hers.

I was trying to keep it a surprise so I didn't ask her about it. I just...waited.

By 3:00, still nothing. I called her thinking that she'd received the fruit basket, but had been too busy to call.

Nothing.

By 5:00 she had left the office and was headed to an improv rehearsal. I asked her if she'd received anything from me and she said no.

I called Edible Arrangements, but no one answered. I called several more times but still no answer.

I met Jeannie and we had a nice Valentines dinner at Lucca's on Southport.

I got back home at 9:00pm and called Edible Arrangements and someone finally answered.

Here's our conversation:

Me
Hi, I placed an order for today and the delivery did not occur.
EA
What's the name of the person who placed the order?
Me
Griggs.
EA
Ah, yes. That delivery did not occur.
Me
That's what I just said.
EA
Would you still like that delivered for Valentines day, sir?
Me
Are you asking if I want to hold that order over until next Valentine's day?
EA
No. We don't take orders that far in advance. Would you like it to be delivered for Valentines day tomorrow.
Me
That doesn't make any sense. You can't pretend that Valentine's day last for 2 days just because you screwed up the order.
EA
So, would you like for us to deliver it tomorrow and not call it Valentine's day?
Me
No. I would like for you to not call tomorrow Valentine's day and to give me a full refund.
EA
Of course. That will be no problem. Please accept our apologies and let me tell you the reason why your delivery did not go through...
I interrupted.
Me
That's okay. I don't want to hear it.
EA
Well, we have a very good excuse.
Me
That's okay. It'll probably just make me angrier.
EA
You don't want me to tell you that our freezi...
Me
No. I don't want you to say anything.
EA
You don't want me to say anything about the fact that our freezers broke down on Wednesday night?
Silence.
EA
Sir?
Me
Why did you just do that?
EA
Sir?
Me
I asked you not to tell me and you went ahead and did it anyway.
EA
I don't believe I did sir.
Me
You absolutely did. And, I was right. It's made me angrier.
EA
Why would all of our fruit being ruined when our freezers broke down on Wednesday night anger you, sir?
Me
Because, number one, I don't believe that at all. It sounds like a really dumb, made up excuse. And, number two, if the freezers really did break down on Wednesday night, why didn't someone call me on Thursday morning so I could make other arrangements?
Silence
EA
I'll go ahead and refund your account, sir.
Me
Don't you wish you hadn't told me now.
EA
I don't know what I wish, sir.
Silence.


Luckily, I had back up Valentine's gifts to give Jeannie.

However, I'm done with deliveries. From now on, I'm doing everything myself.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

V-Day...

Happy Valentine's Day everybody.

Our gift is that there is no snow and no forcast for snow today.

Seriously, I've lived here in Chicago for 13 years and I've never seen it snow this much. I've been here in bigger, crazier snow storms. But, I can't remember any time where it has snowed consistantly almost every day.

***

This morning, my brother Jacob is participating in the Macon County Spelling Bee. He won his school spelling bee a few weeks ago. I'm waiting to hear how he did.

***

For those of you who like Project Runway, here's a link to the final collections of the top five finishers at Bryant Park.

Apparently because of their TV episode schedule they had to have 5 people show their collections at Olympus Fasion week.

I know nothing about fasion, but I like the show a lot. Looking at the pictures I think Jillian should win...but I'm sure I'm wrong.

Christian's is crazy and weird, so his will probably win.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Evanston

On Thursday I drove up to Evanston to do a presentation for the corporate job. We had a big snowstorm on Wednesday night, but they seemed to have recieved a lot more snow than we did in the city.
Brett is leaving for 4 months so we have a new guy taking his place. His name is Eric and he's a student at IU in Bloomington, Indiana. Here he is with Carla.
Interestingly enough, the new guy can somehow manage to stay awake for longer than 3 minutes at a time.

On Friday, Brett, Jeannie and I went to see "Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins". Man O'man, that movie made me laugh. I was rolling in the aisles.

On Saturday we had dinner with Jeannie's sketch group at Joey's Brickhouse. Once again, they had the greatest desserts in town.
After that we went and said goodbye to Brett.

For those of you who don't know, Brett has been hired by Second City to perform on a cruise boat. He's out to sea for 4 months. He'll be touring the Carribean and the Bahamas.

Jeannie crawled on top of him and begged him not to go.
He went.

He left on Sunday.

He says he's going to write a blog to tell of his adventures on the high seas. We'll see.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

DHL Part 2...

I couldn't take it any longer.

I went to the DHL Service Center to find my printer. Here's my angry face. Pretty mean, huh?

I walked up to the counter, handed the attendant my slip with the tracking number on it and said, "Hello, I'm here to slap Lois."

Without batting an eye, the attendant said, "Hold on."

She stepped two steps into the hallway and shouted, "Lois, some man here says he's here to slap you."

Lois answered, "Is it my ex-husband Rodney?"

"No," the attendant replied. "It's some boy named Jeff Griggs."

"Oh no, I ain't going out there," Lois said.

While they weren't standing directly in front of the service desk where I was standing, they were only 3 feet away from me, so I could hear everything they were saying. Lois acted as if she was hiding from me, but there wasn't any place to hide. It was a wide open office area.

"Why did he say he was here to slap you?" the attendant asked.

"Because I gave him permission to," Lois said.

"Girl, why did you give him permission to slap you?" the attendant asked.

"Cuz, I didn't really think he'd come here to do it," Lois answered.

The attendant assured her, "I'll take care of it."

The attendant turned around and walked the 3 feet back to the service desk. "I'm sorry," she said, "Lois ain't here today."

I smiled. "Is she sick or on break or something?"

"Yep," she said.

"Okay," I said. "Well, if you find her back there, can you tell her that I'm not leaving until you idiots find my package."

"All right," she said. "I'll go tell her."

30 minutes later, they found my package.

Now, please tell me, how in the world could they possibly have lost a package this big.

Seriously.

Look at it. It's huge.

How could they have misplaced something this big. I mean, it's not like a set of keys or credit card or cell phone. It's 3 feet tall and 65 pounds!

To be honest, I didn't realize it was this big. When I ordered it I thought it was going to be a small desktop printer. It's not. It's freaking huge.

And yet, it's still tiny enough that the "morons in the Chicago office" somehow lost it for six days.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

DHL...

I hate DHL.

Really, really hate them.

Here's the story.


Last week I bought a laser printer over the internet.

The type of laser printer I need is pretty expensive, but I print out a lot of manuscripts and maps and materials for my class so I go through ink cartridges like they're sticks of gum.

I got an e-mail message telling me that the printer would be delivered on Thursday after 2pm. I ran some errands, but made sure I was home in time for that "after 2pm" delivery.

They had come early.

I called DHL and requested that they hold the package on Friday so that I could pick it up from their Service Center. I didn't want to sit around all day waiting for the package.

On Friday, I rented a ZipCar and went to the DHL Service Center. Upon my arrival the attendant at the "Help" desk informed me that the driver hadn't paid attention to the message to keep it at the Service Center and had put it on his truck for delivery.

I was furious. But, I kept my cool.

More than anything, I was angry that I just spent $25 on renting the Zipcar to go all the way out to West Cermak to pick up the package.

The attendant assured me that the driver would deliver the package to me at 5pm at my home.

I went home and waited. 5:00 rolled around and no sign of the package. I called DHL and they said the package would be coming and someone would call when they were near my home.

By 7:45 no package had arrived. I had a lot of materials to print up for my Project Writing Class so I needed that printer to get to me before noon on Saturday.

I called DHL. They said that they driver had been reprimanded for taking the package out of the service center and instead of delivering to my home at 5:00pm, he had taken it back to the Service Center.

I was fuming. I asked how this had happened and the operator said, "Just between you and me, they're a bunch of morons in the Chicago office."

The operator assured me that the printer would be delivered by noon on Saturday.

I didn't believe her.

I went to Kinkos and spent $30 to print off all the materials I needed for class.

Of course, on Saturday the printer never came. I called DHL several times and they assured me that I would get the package Monday morning. To make sure there was no mistakes, I called the Chicago Service Center. They guaranteed that the package would be delivered to me by noon on Monday.

There was no way I was going to leave the apartment until the package arrived. I didn't even want to take a shower because I was worried they would buzz me while I was in a lather/rinse cycle.

I sat down at my computer, opened up the file for the new book I'm writing and began working on it. 4 hours and 10 pages later, still no package.

I called DHL. They informed that, for some reason, none of the morning drivers had put the package on their truck. They guaranteed that I would have the package by 5pm because they made sure the afternoon drivers had picked it up.

I sat back down at the computer and started writing again. Another 4 hours and another 10 pages later, still no package.

It was now 6pm. I called DHL and yelled my head off. The Chicago Service Center attendant apologized and assured me that the night driver would be bringing me my package before 9:30pm. "If it doesn't come to you tonight, you can come down here tomorrow and slap me across the face," the attendent told me.

Well, it's Tuesday morning and I'm showered and dressed and ready to do some slapping.

I called the DHL Chicago Service Center a few minutes ago to let them know that I was coming down to slap everyone in their office. They apologized that the package wasn't delivered last night. They're not sure what happened, but they "promised, promised, promised" it would be delivered to me before noon.

After I hung up with them, I called the company where I bought the printer and filed a complaint. I then called the headquarters to DHL and filed a complaint with them.

A few minutes later, one of the DHL operators who I had spoken to last night called to fill me in on what was going on with my package. She had called the supervisor of the Chicago Service Center and he admitted to her that they had lost my package and no one had seen it since Thursday when they had originally attempted to deliver it.

There are 2 reasons they keep telling me that it will be delivered within a few hours.
  1. They believe the package is still on one of the driver's truck and he just hasn't gotten around to delivering it yet. It could possibly be buried under a bunch of other packages and every morning he just keeps putting more packages on it without realizing it's there.
  2. The second reason they keep telling me it will be delivered within a few hours is because it buys them time to try and find it.

I am livid.

I asked how long it would take for me them to declare it an offically "lost" package and she said 14 days.

Once it's declared a "lost" package, a new order will be submitted to the company from where I bought the printer and they will send it out for delivery.

Of course, that delivery will be by....

....DHL.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Snow...

Last night Jeannie and I ventured out to go do an Aphasia show at IO. The snow was coming down pretty hard.
This is not how Jeannie normally looks during the snow. She only looks like this because she felt like we were doing a photo shoot. Normally, she's very angry and upset at the snow.
I guess the trick is that I need to take her picture the entire walk home.

This morning the snow was crazy.

It's not the worst snow storm I've been in since I've been in Chicago, but it's certainly in the top ten. The worst storm I've been in was in '99. We had something like 24 inches in 24 hours. And, it just kept coming. It snowed so much it buried my Ford Ranger pick up truck. Crazy.

I'm able to keep track of how much snow has accumulated because there's a ledge on the North side of my apartment that's collecting the snow.
So, as of this morning at 8:30am, the snow next to my plant has reached 9 inches.