Friday, September 28, 2012


Have you been listening to the Thursday Evening Movie Club podcast?  We have had some truly wonderful and hilarious episodes.  Even the ones that are filled with arguing have been really fun to record and listen to.  Here are some recent ones that you should download or listen to.

This one we did just last week with my friend from Clinton High School, Cindy Moore.
The movie we recorded was Rocky.
Here's the iTunes link.
Or, you can listen to it directly here.

Here are the episodes for A Night at the Opera.
iTunes link.
Listen to it on your computer here.

Here's The Godfather, Part II.
iTunes link.
Web browser link

All the President's Men.
iTunes link.
Web browser link.

iTunes link.
Web browser link.  

iTunes link.
Web Browser link.  

To Kill A Mockingbird.
iTunes Link.
Web Browser link.  

Give a listen, won't you.  They're all pretty fun.  It's just a bunch of ordinary people sitting around talking about the movie's on the AFI List of the 100 Greatest movies ever made.  We're not experts or movie reviewers, we're just improvisors and regular people eating, laughing and fighting over movies.  

Once you listen, feel free to send us e-mails at  It would be great too, if you could give us a review or click the stars to rate each episode on the web browser.  If you listen on iTunes, a star review for the whole podcast would be greatly appreciated.  We love doing the show and we're very proud of it.  We're going to continue doing it when we leave to work on the cruise ship.  We have almost 45 episodes recorded!  We're almost halfway through the list.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Brett's Race...

I posted this earlier, but it didn't go through for some reason.

 On Friday, Jeannie and I went downstate to see my parents and family for one final time.
 That's right, we're going back on a boat.  We leave on Sunday.  More on that later.

It was fun to spend some time with my folks.  It was brief, but it was a nice visit.

On Saturday, we went out to the suburbs to celebrate Brett's birthday by racing around on high powered Go Karts at the Chicago Indoor Racing Track.
 Jason wore goggles, but he didn't need them.  We had helmets and racing suits.

Jeannie tried to kiss me with her helmet on.

Lots of fun.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Several years ago, I created and produced a show at IO called the IFL (Improv Fantasy League).  It was a fantasy league for improvisors.

I was thinking about it the past few days because my old friend Todd Schanbacher wrote me a few years ago and asked if he could do the IFL in Austin.  While we were  down there a couple weeks ago, I saw advertisements for their show and it made me nostalgic for our IFL in Chicago.

I came up with the idea because I thought it would be fun for people with all different kids of experience to play with each other.

The show was based on Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football.  There were 8 teams and 8 owners.  There had to be a mix of older players, newer players and students.  There were a lot of rules and and a lot of specifications for drafting people to be on a team.  So many rules, that I'm not going to go into it.

The show was super fun.  There were 8 teams, I believe.  Each of the "owners" of the teams went crazy publicizing their teams and devising group outings for the players to get to know each other.  I remember Peter Gwinn was the first owner to have a group outing for his team and he rented a limo and had it drive his team around the city for a couple of hours.

It was great.

I was the commissioner of the league and I put out a twice weekly newsletter on the IO website to garner publicity.  The big coup though, was getting brilliant graphic designer, Dave Gilley to do our posters.  We talked about what we wanted for the posters and I told Dave that I didn't want just one poster for the IFL, I wanted tons of posters for the IFL.  I wanted people to want to see the posters.  If they were excited to see all the posters, that might translate to their enthusiasm of seeing the show.

We did two seasons of the IFL, so Dave did two different thematic ideas for the posters.  They're both phenomenal.  Dave really is a genius.  Here are the posters.

 Season 2!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jeannie Cahill Griggs...

Well, today was a very significant day.

Jeannie changed her name.

Most married women, if they're going to change their last name, do it fairly soon after they get their wedding certificate.

Well, Jeannie had a bigger issue.  She wanted to change her first name along with her last name.

Most people don't know this, but Jeannie's real first name is Frances.  For her entire life though, she's only used name the name Jeannie.  That's caused quite a bit of confusion everywhere she's gone.  When I first met Jeannie, she told me a story about how on her first day of school she got to kindergarten and each student had their name on a leaf on the back door.  Little 5 year old Jeannie took the Frances leaf down and hid it in her desk.  She wasn't Frances.  She was Jeannie.

On the ships it's caused huge confusion.  The personnel departments and officers really have put us through some headaches with the name situation.  To complicate it even more, Jeannie's middle name is Jeanne.

Jeannie's wanted to change her name for a long time, but decided to do it at the same time she changed her last name.  The problem was that the process is pretty long and complicated.  We had to do it when we had a significant time off our jobs working on a cruise ship.  The entire procedure took 3 months.

This afternoon, we went down to the Daley Center and went before a judge to officially have it changed.  Here's the last photo of Frances.

Here's the first photo of Jeannie.
 She was very relieved to have it finally over.

We now are going through the process of getting every thing in her life completely changed.  New bank, new passport, new SSN.  Everything.

To celebrate, I took Jeannie out to dinner for sushi.

Side Note:.  Listen, I'm not one to complain about the ineptitude of people or make a general sweeping comment about an entire faction of people..., but...holy smokes....the entire Cook County clerk system and Office of Records is a mess.  Seriously, the whole place is a farce.  This process took 3 months and every time we went in there, they lost, mis-filed something or completely wrote down totally wrong information.  We went in today for Jeannie's scheduled court date (which was scheduled 2 months ago).  The judge's first question question was "Is there a reason you didn't come to your original court date last month?"  Jeannie looked at me and I shook my head.  Jeannie showed the judge the note she was given by the Cook County Clerk's Office which stated her court date was today.  The judge looked at Jeannie's note and said, "I'm glad you have this.  For some reason, they gave you this but entered you into the official dockets for a month ago.  It's not your fault so we'll go ahead and hear your case today."

I mean, seriously.  Cook County, get it together.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Half Marathon...

Jeannie and I did the Chicago Half Marathon yesterday.

We did it last year and finished at 2:10:10.  It was an exact 10 minute average pace.  We were a little surprised by that.  We were hoping for a 10 minute pace, but thought it might be a little more realistic to finish with a 10:30 or 11 minute pace.

This year, I wasn't as optimistic.  For most of the year (even while on the boats and in Europe), I've been running around 28 to 32 miles a week.  My pace time has improved a lot.

However, I had to take 3 weeks off from running after I had my Lasik Surgery.  In those 3 weeks, I ate like a madman and gained a little bit of weight.  Gaining weight and not running, totally screwed up my running rhythm.  My pace and times have been all over the place.

Going into yesterdays race, I would have been happy finishing with an 11 minute pace.

Meanwhile, Jeannie has been training like a madwoman.  She was determined to finish with a better time than we had last year.

The race got off with a rocky start.  We woke up at 4:30 and went to the Belmont train station where a shuttle bus was supposed to pick up and take runners to the starting line.  Last year, we took the Millennium Park Shuttle and it got us to the starting line a full hour before the race started.  We were excited that they had a shuttle this year that was picking up so close to our apartment.  There were supposed to be 18 buses there picking people up.  There were only 4.  It was kind of a big mess.  We had to wait for those 4 buses to go all the way down to 63rd street, then return to come back and pick the rest of us up.

Once we finally got picked up, we could hear everyone arguing on the bus's walkie-talkie's about how the bus company hadn't sent the buses they had promised.  I didn't think it was a big deal.  Until...

We arrived to the starting line right after they signaled for the race to start.  Ugh.

We didn't miss the race or anything because it always take about 10 minutes for our corral to get up to the starting line.  Still, it's not exactly the way you want to start a race.  You usually want a few minutes to stretch, relax and get into a mindset that you're about to run 13.1 miles.

I didn't even have my headphones on or iPhone ready.  I had to quickly, get my phone in in my running   belt, situate my earphones, turn on my running app, stretch, tie my shoes and run.  It was hectic.

But then we ran.

Jeannie ran way too fast at the start, but I didn't want to slow her down because I knew she was amped up and wanted to improv her time.  She wasn't going so fast that she was going to blow out, so I just followed her pace for the first 6 miles.  We settled in and were clipping along at a 9:24 pace.  That's a pretty comfortable pace for me, so after mile 6, I set the pace at that and Jeannie followed along.  Since my break from the Lasik surgery, once I hit mile 10, my pace normally drops by a lot.  Yesterday, right after we hit mile 10, we coasted down a little hill and that gave me the energy to keep our speed up.

We never went slower than 9:40 for the whole race and the only time that happened was because we stopped for water.  And, we only stopped for water twice.  Our fastest mile was 9:04.  Officially, we finished the race at 2:04:58.  My GPS running app said we finished at 2:03:20.  I'll take either.

It was a good run and we were both really happy that we cut our time.

The biggest change though has been in our recovery.  Last year after the race, it took 2 or 3 days to bounce back.  Yesterday, after watching the Bears destroy the Colts, I took a nap and woke up and was feeling fine.  

I think that's due to the fact that we've continued running past the half-marathon.  In 2011, we were already running, but we increased our mileage to train for the half-marathon.  After it was over, we kind of continued running as if we were still training.  We never ran less than 6 miles and once a week, we'd do a long distance run of 8 or 10 or 12 miles.

So, we'll keep that up and throw in a new challenge.  I'm not interested in upping the ante to a marathon distance yet, but my friends who do marathons all do training distances of 15 and 18 miles.  One of those distances might be on my horizon.  We'll see.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


We're in Gruene (pronounced Green), Texas.

It's a historic little town full of little shops, restaurants and antique stores.

They even have a dance hall.

It's legit. It's not one they put up for tourists. It's been here since the cowboy days. We sat in there and listened to music for awhile.

We're staying at the Gruene Mansion Inn.

We're in one of the cabins facing the Guadalupe River.

Our room is in the upper loft.

It's a quaint, little relaxing town.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone