Friday, March 28, 2008

Cubs...

It's my first Cubs post of the year.

They're on my mind because my tickets came in the mail yesterday. I bought tickets to several games this year and they just arrived.

They're also on my mind because my Sports Illustrated arrived on Wednesday and they picked the Cubs to go to the World Series. Watching ESPN last night, their baseball expert also picked the Cubs to win the National League Pennant.

I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I truly believe this is the year that the Cubs will win it all, but I don't know if I like that the "experts" are picking them too. I'm afraid all of that positive attention might jinx them. But hey, what am I saying? They've had nothing but negative attention for the past 100 years so we might as well try the positive side for awhile.

***

I went to see "Run, Fatboy, Run" today.

When I went up to pay for my ticket, I mistakenly said, "Run, Fatty, Run".

The guy behind the ticket counter said, "Uh, hmm...let's see...hmm. I'm sorry. I'm not sure...we don't have a movie with that title showing here...I'm sorry."

Confused, I got out of line and went back to look at the marquee. I was sure I was at the right theater. I saw the sign and saw that I had said Fatty instead of Fatboy.

I got back in line...my blood boiling.

When I got up to the ticket counter, I said nothing. I simply stared at the guy at the ticket counter.

"What movie would you like to see this afternoon," he cheerily asked.

I said nothing and handed him my debit card. After a few seconds, he cleared his throat and attempted to explain why he was such a jerk. "Oh, I guess, "Run, Fatboy, Run" is the movie you wanted to see. When you said, 'Run, Fatty, Run' I assumed it was a different movie."

"Really?" I replied.

"Um hmm," he said. "I just didn't put it together that "Run, FATBOY, Run" was the movie you wanted to see."

"Because 'Fatty' is so different from 'Fatboy'?" I said dryly.

"It really is, isn't it?" he said as he handed me my ticket.

I asked, "So if I came in and asked to see 'Their Will be Blood' and mistakenly said 'there' in the possessive instead of as an adverb, you would have told me that movie wasn't showing here?"

"Exactly," he said without listening to what I'd just said.

I stared at him a few seconds longer and when in to see my movie.

Turns out, "Run, Fatboy, Run" is an awful, terrible, crappy movie.

It was so bad that I walked out after 20 minutes. Luckily, the usher pointed out that Stephen Chow's "CJ7" had just started and I should go see that.

It was a great suggestion.

"CJ7" was awesome.

It was on the list of movies that I wanted to see. I just stupidly choose "Run, Fatty, Run" instead.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Addison Holes...

Remember this hole...
Well, that hole turned into this Friday night:
It quickly began flooding Addison Street and they had to shut down the street. That's not all they shut down. For 8 hours the water to my apartment was shut down as they tried to repair the hole in the pipes.

Once they finished, they poured some asphalt over the hole and figured that would fix the problem. Of course it didn't.

Today, it looks like this: The asphalt is so soft that it's created a dent in the road. Cars are blowing tires whenever they bounce in and out of that hole. Anytime a bus or truck goes by, they hit it so hard that it shakes all of our apartment buildings.

Amazingly, they did such a shoddy job of repairing the hole that it's damaging the pipes up and down the street.

This afternoon they've brought out signs and barricades and are preparing to shut down the street again to fix the mess they made when they fixed the original problem.

Let's hope they do a better job this time.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Birthdays and Easter treats...

Saturday Jeannie and I traveled downtown to attend Greg Cross' birthday bash. He lives in Printer's Row so we had to take a cab to get there.

Actually....

We had to take 2 cabs to get there. The first one we got out of after 5 blocks because the cab driver smelled so badly of B.O. I've never gotten out of a cab before because of a reason like that, but it had to be done. It was one of the worst smells I've ever been subjected to.

Our second cab driver picked us up and jumped on Lake Shore Drive and promptly passed gas. Yep. He farted. It was the most malodorous trip I've ever taken.

Once at the party, it was great. Our friends from Basic 8 were there and several people from the Project Writing class showed up as well.
The next afternoon we went to Kara's apartment and enjoyed a nice Easter meal. There was all kinds of great food there. The highlight of the meal was Brian Finlay's famous Jello-Pretzel desert.
It was a very nice relaxing weekend.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hello Spring...

With all the sunny weather lately here in Chicago, we got a little complacent and thought Spring was around the corner.

Not so, says Winter.
So far, 350 flights have been canceled at O'Hare. Thankfully, I'm not flying this week.

****

Bud, Jeannie's brother was here in Chicago for his Spring Break. On Tuesday, he, Jeannie, our friend Anne and I went to see The Blue Man Group.
If you have family in town, this is the best show in town to go see. It's family friendly and very fun.

****
Last week my brother Jacob competed in the Central Illinois Spelling Bee championship. He didn't win, but did very, very well.
He even got a trophy.
We were very proud.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

St. Patrick's Day...

I am not a fan of St. Patrick's Day here in Chicago. This year, it was stretched out over 9 days. The South Side Parade was on Sunday the 9th.

The 9th!?!

I don't get that at all. Why do it 8 days before the actual event. Do we celebrate Christmas 2 Sundays before the actual date so that it doesn't disrupt the work week?

The Chicago City parade was this past Saturday and the normal festivities were celebrated yesterday. So, that's 3 crazy, drunken days stretched over 2 weeks. It just makes sense to have them happen on 1 or 2 days instead of dragging them out.

And, that's not to say that I don't like St. Patrick's Day. I do, in fact, love it. I love walking around the city and seeing everyone dressed in green. I love knowing that somewhere in Chicago Kevin Fleming and his brother Steven are roaming the streets wearing Clan Aran Sweaters, picking fights and singing Irish diddies. I relish in the fact that Padraic Connelly is somewhere eating corn beef and hash and watching his worn out DVD's of "Waking Ned" and "The Departed".

In fact, I love St. Patrick's Day so much that we had a St. Patrick's Day party last night. Well, actually, Jeannie had the party. I just hosted and bought all the food and drinks for it.

Everyone showed up around 8:00pm and milled about as my Ipod played music from The Cranberries, U2, The Corrs and John Lennon.

After that, we played a marathon game of Celebrity. (To be honest, Jeannie's main interest in having people come over was to play Celebrity. She hadn't realized that the night also happened to be St. Patrick's Day until much later." She's really pretty obsessed with the game of Celebrity right now.

For those of you who haven't played Celebrity before, here are the rules.

In between rounds 2 and 3, I brought out a St. Patrick's Day surprise.

A couple years ago I asked my parents for an Ice Cream Maker for my birthday. My parents have been making home made ice cream for years and I wanted to be able to do it too. My mom also has a recipe for the ice cream that I've never been able to find anywhere else. I've been dying to finally use my ice cream maker and after 2 years, I was finally able to do it.

To add to the excitement and festivities, I bought some food coloring and died the ice cream green.

It game out great. The only problem was that I made it too late in the day so it hadn't hardened by the time I served it. It was frozen, but it was a little mushy.

Everyone seemed to like it. The only one who didn't finish hers was Becca.

We finished round 3 and the team of Molly Wilbanks, Mel Evans, Jeannie Cahill and Jeff Griggs trounced the other competitors.

I really thought the team of Brian Finley, Curt Foxworth, Bud Cahill and Louie Saunders would have fared better, but they really choked in the final round.

The team of Becca Lulinski, Crissy Swinko, Guillermo Lugo and Pat Tracy did very, very well considering that it was the first time most of them had every played the game before.

It was a great, great time.

It was so much fun that Celebrity and Home Made Ice Cream might just have to be a monthly event.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Brighton, MI...

It was 53 degrees in Central Michigan, but there was still snow everywhere.

Look at this snow mountain in the parking lot at the Target.
You could ski down this thing.

In the bathroom of the hotel we were staying in, there was this sign next to the shower.
Showering shouldn't be this difficult. All you should have to do is turn it on and the water flows out.

Not so in Brighton.
The outer knob controls the water pressure while that inner dial controls the heat of the water.

At 7am, that's way too difficult of a thing to figure out.

The most notable thing about Brighton was that it was the end of a very, very, very long week.

In 9 days, I had:
  • flown in 5 airplanes
  • stayed in 4 different hotels
  • flown 2277 miles
  • driven 3 rental cars
  • eaten 12 meals at restaurants
  • 3 meals from room service
  • 2 meals in airports
  • witnessed the collapse of 1 New York Governor
  • ate 3 New York hot dogs
  • ate 1 slice of New York Pizza
  • acted like a 10 year old and immaturely tripped a 55 year old businessman
  • regretted none of it

Actually, I had some chilli in Long Island that stayed in my system for 3 days. I regretted that a lot. You can ask Mike, he'll vouch for that. I complained about it for days.

Meanwhile, we did 3 presentations that went very well. In fact, the presentations on Wednesday and Friday were the best we've ever done them.

I also get to spend a lot of time with my good friend Mike Loeffelholz. We probably spent more time together these last 9 days than we have in the past 3 years. It was great.

Now I'm back in Chicago and am very tired.

It was a very satisfying, but long 9 days.

Oh yeah. I also came home with a bit of a cold.

I might not leave my house for a couple of days.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Detroit...

I tripped a man yesterday.

On purpose.

Not hard enough to make him fall.

But hard enough to send a message.

The message was that he was a rude, self centered butthole.

Here's what happened:

Thursday morning, Mike and I drove up to Central Park and then down to Battery Park. I've never been to Central Park so it was nice to drive around through it.

We went down to Battery Park and parked our car to walk around. We drove into the parking garage and immediately a guy began yelling at us. He stood at the back of our car and slammed his hand on the trunk. "C'mon! C'mon, open it up! OPEN IT UP!" he yelled at us.

I was pretty annoyed. I saw him walk by me when I drove down the ramp, but I had no idea I was supposed to stop and let him check the trunk. He slammed the trunk down and returned to smoking his cigarette.

He was not the man I tripped.

We drove down to the bottom of the parking garage and followed the arrows on the ground toward the parking attendants. I could see one of the attendants walking toward us so I stopped the car and got out.

"GET BACK IN YOUR CAR!" he yelled at us. "CAN'T YOU SEE I'M MOTIONING FOR YOU TO PULL FORWARD!"

No, I couldn't. He was wearing all black with black gloves. In the dimly lit garage all I could see was a shadowy figure moving toward me. I could not see that he was motioning for me to move forward. In fact, I couldn't even tell if he had any hands at all.

I moved forward and he began yelling again. "GO BACK! GO BACK! CAN'T YOU SEE THAT I'M MOTIONING FOR YOU TO GO BACK!"

I shut off the car, got out and did something I never do...I yelled back.

I yelled that with the fluorescent lights, I could barely see him at all.

"You can't see this," he yelled incredulously as he waved his hands around.

"No," I said.

"You need to get your eyes checked then, Bub," he cracked.

I mumbled, "I did. Last Monday, you jerk. It was on my blog."

I did not trip that man.

Mike and I walked over to Battery Park and strained our eyes to to see the Statue of Liberty. We wanted to take the Ferry to see her, but we didn't have time. Instead we walked over to the old fort on Battery Park and Mike bought a T-shirt for his wife.
After that, we walked over to a deli to get a slice of pizza. Inside it was chaos. Everywhere we went we were being yelled at. It wasn't agitated yelling. It just seemed to be yelling for yelling's sake.

"WHAT DO YOU WANT TO EAT!"
"WHAT DO YOU WANT ON THAT PIZZA! WHAT DO YOU WANT ON THAT PIZZA!"
"EXCUSE ME. CAN YOU PLEASE MOVE OUT OF MY WAY! I WANT TO ORDER!"
"SIR, STEP OVER! STEP OVER! STEP OVER!"
"COME OVER HERE AND PAY! OVER HERE! OVER HERE! OVER HERE!!!"

It was maddening.

However, I did not trip anyone in that deli.

We ate our pizza drove to the airport. It was very good pizza, by the way.

We boarded our plane and flew to Detroit. It was a very tiny plane. There were only 17 rows and 3 seats in a row. On the left side of the plane was 1 seat. On the right side there were 2 seats. This is important because I'm about to trip someone.

I was on the right side so I had a seat by myself.

As the plane was being taxied to the terminal, the flight attendant made her usual announcement reminding everyone to keep their seat belts fastened and to stay seated until the captain turned off the seat belt light.

Before we had come to a stop and before the seat belt light had been turned on, the man next to me, jumped out of his seat and rushed into the aisle. He furiously opened up the overhead compartment and pulled down his belongings.

He then stood in the aisle and blocked everyone from getting their belongings. Twice, I asked politely if I could reach up and get my things but he turned his head and pretended not to hear me.

To make matters worse, he put his computer bag over his shoulder and slammed me in the face...continuously.

He was so worried that someone might get in front of him to deboard the plane before him that he put his arm on the seat in front of me and the seat behind him so he could block anyone from getting into the overhead compartment.

He'd actually got up so quickly that he had trapped my leg in between the seat and his leg.

I was so agitated and tired of people being rude to me that I turned my leg slightly and set it in between his legs.

As the flight attendant instructed us to disembark, he took a step and tripped into the aisle. His computer bag fell off his shoulder and he caught himself against the seats in front of him. He looked around to see what he had stumbled on, but I had long ago pulled my leg back inside the aisle.

I am not proud that I tripped him, but I felt somewhat triumphant.

I didn't want him to fall or even to stumble.

I just wanted him to trip a little bit.

I was tired of people being rude to me.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

From Long Island back to New York...

Tuesday night, we ate on the Nautical Mile in Long Island.
Our hotel was in Uniondale on Long Island, so it wasn't too far away.

We did our presentation in front of 400 people and it went very, very well. It was probably the best we had ever done it.

After that, Mike and I dropped our traveling companions off at the airport and headed downtown to stay in Manhattan for the evening. We're staying at the Marriott Marquis, which is right in the middle of Times Square.

After we got settled in, we went downstairs to Hot Tix to buys tickets to see a Broadway show. They're doing construction at the little intersection where Hot Tix is normally located so it's now doing business right there at the base of our hotel, which is convenient.

We ended up getting half price tickets to see "August Osage County" from the Steppenwolf Theater Company. I know, I know.

It's pretty ridiculous that I traveled all the way to New York to see a show that I could have seen in Chicago six months ago, but I screwed up and never saw it Steppenwolf in Chicago. So, I thought, I'd better spend the extra money and see it on Broadway.

I normally would have stood firm and would have gone to see something else, but this show has been getting incredible, phenomenal reviews. The buzz is that they're going to win the Tony Award for this show.

And now, I see why. It truly is the best show I've ever seen. I thought it was amazing. I was really blown away.

Afterward, Mike and I walked around downtown awhile. Mike hasn't been here since 1994. It's changed a lot since then. Back then, the streets were lined with porn stores and strip clubs. Guliani cleaned it up and now, it's much safer and more lively.
So, we wandered around a saw a few things.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Coney Island...

Mike and I drove down to Coney Island this morning before our rehearsal for our presentation.

It's one of those places that I've always heard about and always wanted to see. It didn't matter that the Cyclone Roller Coaster was closed down or that it was only 43 degrees. I just wanted to go down there and take it all in.

We walked around and looked at the different attractions and sauntered over to the boardwalk. The boardwalk seemed so familiar to me. I've seen it soooo many times in movies and TV shows over the year. Movies and TV Shows like "Big", "Brighton Beach Memoirs", "Seinfeld", "Sopranos", "Annie Hall", "A.I." and the great film, "Lords of Flatbush" starring Perry King, Sylvester Stallone and Henry Winkler.

We also stopped by Nathan's and ate a couple of hot dogs. I'm pretty partial to Chicago hot dogs, but those Coney Island Dogs were awfully good.
I like Nathan's because it's home to the annual hot dog eating contest that's held every year on the 4th of July.

It was all a lot of fun.

Someday, hopefully, I'll come back when it's warm and ride that roller coaster.

Monday, March 10, 2008

New York...

I'm in town to do a presentation, but I flew in a little early so I could meet with my literary agent.

In fact, I got up at 4am so that I could fly stand-by on the 6am flight. Thankfully, I got on the flight without any trouble. It would have sucked if I'd gotten up at 4am and wasn't able to get on that early flight.
My agents office is on 42nd Street so I drove to the Times Square area to meet up with him. Along the way, I "allegedly" made an illegal right turn and was pulled over by the NYPD. I had no idea what they were talking about and since I was from out of town, they let me go with a slap on the wrist.

I overpaid for parking ($30 for 2 hours) and went to my agent's office. I was way too early for our meeting so I walked around to waste some time. Along the way I saw a bunch of bees promoting "The Bee Movie" being released on DVD.
It was pretty cold so I stepped into the Toys R Us to stay warm. I've never been in there before and it's pretty cool. They have a gigantic T-Rex from Jurassic Park in there. They also have a Ferris Wheel inside. I also stopped by and took photos of Bryant Park. Anyone who watches Project Runway knows why this is important. After lollygagging around for awhile I went over for my meeting. It's kind of strange, Steve's been my agent for almost 3 years and I talk to him on a regular basis, but we have never met face to face. It was weird saying "nice to finally meet you" when I feel like we've known each other for a really long time.

The meeting went very well. We discussed what I've been working on and worked on a strategy for the upcoming couple of months. I'm coming back to New York in June, so I'll stop by with a new manuscript on my next meeting.

After that, I headed across the river and checked in at my hotel. Right next to us is the Nassau Arena and there were tons of people milling around. I thought there was a hockey game going on tonight, but I soon discovered that Bruce Springsteen is doing a concert next door. Curt Foxworth would be so pleased to know that I was so very close to New Jersey royalty.

After checking in I drove down to JFK airport and picked up the rest of my traveling party. I was originally supposed to arrive at the same time they did, but had come in early for my meeting.

It wasn't until then that I realized I was tired. I really got a lot done today.

Del Awards...

The Del Awards were this evening. It's a fun little awards show that a group of people put together to honor and poke fun of each other.


There were lots of laughs, lots sarcastic jabs, lots of well dressed people and there was even a weird moment when a theater owner made up her own award and presented it to someone.


I was the video producer for the show. Here are the videos I made for the show.


This was the Green Room Awards. Similar to the Oscar's Technical Awards, the Green Room Awards honor those awards that aren't important enough to make it on the regular broadcast.



Sports Action Team was invited to do the Dance of the Fallen Teams, an honorarium to all the teams that have been cut from the IO schedule in the past year. This was their dance.



The next 3 videos are examples of what my book Guru would look like if it was produced on a small budget and starred members of the local improv community.





Saturday, March 8, 2008

Savannah...

It snowed Thursday in Dallas, which stranded the rest of my traveling party and left me in Savannah all alone.

My friend Mike was stuck on the runway for 4 hours as they tried to de-ice it's plane so it could fly to Georgia. They originally were supposed to arrive at 4:15pm. They didn't touch down in Savannah until 11:45!

I picked them up from the airport and took them back to the hotel.

On Friday after our presentation, I drove Mike around and showed him everything I'd learned on the previous days tour. I felt like a trolley driver all over again.

We had lunch on River Street and stopped into a candy store where they were making salt water taffy. Mike's standing beneath the conveyor belt that delivers the taffy right to the bin from the machine. We grabbed several handfuls of the warm taffy to take home.

I really like Savannah.

I grabbed the book "Midnight in the Garden of Good Evil" in the airport and read half of it on the plane ride home. Now, I've become even more fascinated by the city. I wish I had read the book before I had got there because I think I would have appreciated the trip even more.

There's just something about those Southern towns, you know?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Savannah...

I took a super-early flight to Savannah this morning.

Upon arriving to this historic little town I would like to declare that it has the most charming airport I've ever seen. Look at this. Adorable.

The rest of my traveling party is getting here later in the afternoon, but this is one of those cities that I've always wanted to visit so I came down early to look around at the sites.

I even (gulp) took a trolley tour.

Here's the thing. When I first moved to Chicago, I gave trolley tours through the downtown of Chicago. I would drive those stupid trolleys through bumper to bumper traffic in the loop and down the Magnificent Mile every day from 7am to 6pm for 4 years. Making up stories about the city the whole way.

I told myself I'd never set foot on another trolley again.

Today, I went back on my promise to myself and toured all around Savannah, Georgia.

Savannah's very interesting. The downtown is built around these park areas called "Squares". Every few blocks there's a square dedicated to a famous person from Georgia's history. You travel a couple more blocks and there's another. Then another. Then another. Then another.
This square is where Forrest Gump sat as he waited for the bus to take him to Jennie's house.

The same could be said for churches. It seems like there's a church every few feet.

The area I was really interested in was River Street. When I was younger my parents became engrossed in the novels written by Eugenia Price. She wrote a trilogy about a family on St. Simon's Island that we all read.

She also wrote a series about Savannah. I read one of the books in those series titled....wait for it...."Savannah".

I remember River Street very clearly from that novel and was very interested in seeing it. Amazingly, it's exactly as I had pictured it. Cobblestoned streets and all! While it's very clean and safe, it doesn't take much to imagine it back in the 1800's. You could definitely see it as a seedy wharf area where all the boats docked to ship cotten all around the world.
After that I drove out to see Fort Jackson. I didn't have time to go inside. Maybe I'll go tomorrow after my presentation.
When I was in New Orleans, I had a lot of great suggestions from people about places to eat there. If you've been to Savannah and have any suggestions of great places to eat. I'd love to hear them.