Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sarah’s team, Stottlemeyer, was one of the seven teams cut with the arrival of the new schedule. Tonight was their last show. Yesterday Stonelake (far left) had a Stottlemeyer Going Away Party. People took pictures and got drunk and came up with weird ideas for things they could (but wouldn’t) do for the last show (like lying down dead on the stage at the end and refusing to get up).

Stonelake: Hey, hey... all I know is, we have to have an awesome show tomorrow!

I missed the show because of Whirled News but I met up with the team at a nearby bar afterwards. Some people did shots, some cried. Mostly they hung out like a group of people that truly enjoyed each other’s company.

Hedges (bottom) and I had been through this before when Otis was cut.

Hedges: You know, I was put on Otis and then two years later we get cut. Stottlemeyer asks me to perform with them and a year later I get them cut too. My power to get teams cut is growing.
Me: I don’t think that’s true. Maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe you kept those teams going longer than they would have otherwise.

The hardest part about one of these nights is that some people have been placed on new teams (Sarah has), and some haven’t. One cut performer, who I’ve known for a long long time, said to me, “I’m thinking about learning to play the guitar.”

Friday, May 30, 2008

Charna, the owner of iO, is a dedicated dog lover, doing a lot of charity work for animal rights. And her own dogs, Mia (pictured) and Chief, can often be seen around the theater.

In fact, you'll usually see them before you ever see her, like familiars heralding her arrival. "Charna's in the building."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Young is going to miss Whirled News this weekend because he's going to be MC-ing at a friend's wedding.

Young: The ceremony's half Christian half Indian, so I have to explain a lot of what's happening.

The groom is going to ride in on a horse (traditionally its supposed to be an elephant but a horse will do in a pinch). Everyone has to take off their shoes and then their shoes get stolen and they have to haggle to get their shoes back.

Young: It actually sounds like its going to be pretty fun. And then a bunch of boring Christian stuff will happen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Flipping through the channels I came across an episode of 'Ninja Warrior' a Japanese game show that involves ridiculously over-the-top physical challenges. Something like 30 athletes entered the first round. Three made it to the second round.

What caught my eye was that the job listed for one of those three was "comedian" (one of the others was a professional trampolinist).

Young: What if everyone at iO had to try to get through that obstacle course.

Out of curiosity, I found the guy's website,

"The next performance of Mighty Muscle (Nakayama Kinnikun), Japanese record-holding athlete and A-list comedian from Osaka, Japan, will be performing 'Muscle Comedy 2,' a bodybuilding, weightlifting, superpowered muscle comedy extravaganza!"

Sounds intense.

One of his event posters has him yelling, via word balloon, "Please stretch your abdomen well in order to ensure maximum volume of laughter during the performance!!"

He also has a photoblog. I can't read it, because it's in Japanese, but I wonder if it's just like my own blog, if I posted more pictures of myself shirtless in front of a McDonalds. Just two dudes working their way through the comedy world.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The parking lot at work has been redone. New blacktop, fresh new parking spot lines.

The placement, though, could use some work. Um... how are people supposed to get out?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sarah spent the weekend in Wisconsin with some friends. They visited Brat Fest and she brought me back this foam bratwurst as a souvenir.

Sarah: I think it sort of looks like a piece of tiger poop.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A while back I was checking something on the (fancy new) iO webpage and saw that the calendar was being updated right that moment. I'd hit refresh and a couple new shows would appear, hit refresh again and more would pop up. It was funny to know that at that moment someone was typing the new schedule in, date by date.

There was an eerie part to it too, because as shows were appearing, teams were disappearing. That's what happens with new schedules, teams get cut.

The schedule I saw updating in real time was only a two week extension. This usually means there's going to be a big shake-up, or there was going to be a shake-up but then things change at the last minute. Rumors swirl, people whisper "bloodbath" and everyone waits for official word.

Well, it's out now and there are actually an awful lot of teams cut. And a lot of performers cut (not placed on new teams). In theory this makes good sense, the team roster has bloated out of control and cuts can be a good thing, like pruning a tree. Of course, its easier to say that when you're not one of the fallen branches.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Shot another video today at Alex and Megan's condo. This one involves Alex playing a father and Young playing a son. We decided to keep the make-up simple, just spraying Alex's hair gray and giving him a mustache.

Me: You look exactly like somebody. I can't put my finger on it. A Turner Classic Movie host or... something... Leonard Maltin? Someone in an infomercial maybe?
Megan: Oh my God, Alex, you look exactly like your dad! I never realized it until you put that mustache on.
Alex: "Hey little lady, I think I know what my son sees in you. Come here."
Megan: Stop!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Most shows downstairs at iO end with a game of Freeze. All the teams performing that night retake the stage to play the quick little short form game.

Some performers like it, some hate it. I think it's a nice way to end a show, but I'm not a big fan of doing it.

In theory, all the performers are supposed to line up along the back of the stage during the game. That way they're right there, and after yelling "freeze," they can dive right into a scene. Most performers, though, lurk along the sides. Hell, here's Shotts, so far from the stage he's literally in the back hallway.

For some, this is a way of hiding out during the game and not participating. Others, I think, like to dramatically emerge from the shadows with their funny scene idea, like a sniper that no one knows is there until its too late.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The longer I do improv the more I see people I know, or people I've preformed with on TV or in the media. It's gotten to the point that it happens at least once a week.

Years back I did a series of shows in Arizona, called The Secret Show. There was less of an audience for improv there than there is in Chicago, so we'd try to put up "event" shows. A band, a weird opening act, and a couple sets of improv. The opening act for our first show was a guy who had trained a rat to ride on a cat's back while the cat rode on a dog's back. They didn't do any tricks or anything, just stood there, stacked on top of each other. Their owner wore a purple gorilla costume and yelled into a megaphone about how we should all get along. It was a big hit.

Today I saw a video of the guy and his pets had made it to the front page of (and Boint Boing too).

Mark: [via e-mail] Sad that the mouse is "Mousy" and the cat is "Kitty" but the dog is "Booger." What a bastard. We made you, homeless guy!

I remember being excited at first about booking these weird acts. We had an educational science group called 'the Physics Fun Bus, and a girl who bellydanced while her mother played the oboe (they weren't an act, we just talked them into doing it). It turned into a lot of work pretty fast, though. We were too nervous to contact local jump roping competitors and a senior citizen dance troupe, the Hot Flashes, turned us down.

In the end it all seemed like a big hassle. I was relieved to get back to Chicago where all I needed for an improv show was a couple chairs (and the chairs are optional).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In the back corner of the Del Close Theater at iO, there's a shrine to Del, who is widely considered the father of longform improv. He was in the Compass Players, the Committee and was very influential in the early days of Second City (and Saturday Night Live for that matter). iO was founded as a place for him to teach. When his name is brought up, the word "guru" gets thrown around unironically.

The shrine includes pictures and toys, his ashes, and a little holder where people leave cigarettes for his ghost (and where other people steal cigarettes when they run out of smokes).

One of his dying wishes was to have his head cut off and his skull given to the Goodman so he could appear in productions of 'Hamlet' after his death. Months later Charna donated his skull to the theater as part of a big ceremony with references to Del being a "fellow of infinite jest."

A pretty good theater story.

Jon Favreau (who studied under Del briefly) wanted to use the skull in the doctor's office in his movie, 'Elf.' I remember reading that logistically they couldn't get it in time and I remember thinking that it was a shame.

And, of course, it later came out in late 2006 that the skull at the Goodman wasn't Del's skull at all. You can't just have someone's head cut off and their skull donated. It's not that simple. There are, you know, laws. As Charna finally admitted in the New Yorker, "I told the pathologists, ‘I will give you Del’s body, and it’s a great body, because you can study the effects of smoking, alcohol, cocaine, and heroin on the brain. All I need is the skull.’ They thought about it, and then said, ‘There’s a fine line between research and art, and we’re concerned about our funding.’"

So his full body was cremated. Charna bought a different skull from an anatomical chart company, pulled out most of the teeth ("We left the ones in the back, because it turns out that pulling teeth is like pulling teeth") and temporarily passed it off as Del's to the Chicago theater world.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This photo, taken back in November, is from the iO photo archive, taken (and sent to me) by iO's official photographer, Angela Manginelli. I forgot how crazy my hair and beard got.

The photo archive is a savvy investment for the theater. If one of its hundreds of performers eventually stumble into some kind of success, their picture can easily go up on the wall along with the other beloved and/or famous alumni.

I don't have many illusions about becoming famous, but this might be a good picture to go up on the wall if I do. It reminds me a little of some of the older pictures on the walls at Second City, everyone with beards and mustaches and unkempt hair. Back before the metrosexualization of professional comedy.

This picture might look better in black and white. If nothing else it would hide the fact that my pants don't quite match my jacket.

Monday, May 19, 2008

This may be my favorite name for a business establishment in Chicago. Executive Tans. Those words just don't seem to belong together. Do people waltz into a tanning salon with a top hat and cane? Is this where Rich Uncle Pennybags goes to get some color?

I laugh every time I pass this place.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Steve and Jordan are doing a two man sketch show at iO that is getting glowing reviews, and rightfully so. I saw it a few weeks back and it was easily one of the best things I'd seen in a very long time. I'd even go so far as to call it inspiring. The kind of show that makes you(/me) want to do more and better.

Still... I couldn't resist teasing Steve a bit about how fawning the TimeOut review (in the Theater section, not just the Comedy section) was.

Me: The praise is all deserved, but there was one line that struck me as kind of over-the-top.
Steve: What line? Here, I have it in my bag. Was it the part in bold?
Me: [reading] No... uh... oh... this part. "It's the two brief, unsettling monologues that elevate the show to (even past?) the level of a theatrical event." Past theatrical event? What does that even mean? It's more than theater itself?
Steve: [chuckling] Yeah... it's very likely the best review I'll ever get in my life.

Unfortunately, it hasn't helped attendance much.

Steve: When these reviews came out we thought, "Here we go." But the next day there were still only 40 people in the audience. Fridays at 10:30 is just a tough slot.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Glynn (right) continues to do the thankless job of recording all of our Whirled News shows and posting them online as a weekly podcast. We're not sure if anyone out there is bothering to listen to them, but it's nice to have them there.

(I've actually stopped listening to them myself because I've decided I hate the sound of my own voice.)

We've recently started recording a brief commentary at the end, where we take a few minutes to talk about what we thought of the first act. Again, it may not be that interesting to anyone, but it's fun to do. We talked at length about a scene from tonight's show that I think is a good example of everyone finding their own game to play in a scene in a way that is complimentary and not a big mess.

[Warning: I am now going to over-explain an improv scene, something that can really only result in being boring.]

It started with an initiation from Steve that he was a lawyer defending Shane and I in a court case and that we were going to be judged by "a jury of impressionist painters." "It's going to be Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso, and... another guy."

This led Shane to immediately jump on a game for himself which was... knowing more about art than Steve. "I don't mean to tell you how to do your job as a lawyer, but strictly speaking I've always thought of Picasso as more of a modernist. I was expecting more of a Manet or perhaps a Seurat, as long as you consider pointillism as within the realm of impressionism."

Now, I know a passable amount about art history, but I'm not going to be able to keep up with Shane in this game, so I pick my own game which is... play dumb. More specifically, play a dumb guy trying to hide the fact that he's dumb. So, Shane rattles off a string of art facts and I simply respond with an emphatic, "Ah-greed!" Figuratively winking at the audience a little.

At this point Padraic (left) enters announcing that Frank Caliendo and Dana Carvey have been added to the jury. So now he has his own game, which is periodically entering with different plays on the word "impressionist." "Good news! We just got three new people on the jury that put their hands in plaster!"

I proclaim, "I would like to go on record as being confident that there will be no more kinds of impressionists," and Padraic immediately enters saying, "Guys, you'll be amazed! We just got people added to the jury who are easily astounded by what they see and hear."

Big applause.

Steve: [during the post-show commentary] That is actually one of the never ending joys of playing with this cast. I'm going to put out a half- or even quarter-baked premise, dip my foot into referencing impressionism, and watch someone else knock that out of the park. I felt such a childish thrill when Arnie was like, "And I bet there won't be another one," and my internal monologue was like, "I bet there won't be either... but what if there was?!"
Eddie: Arnie, did you think he had another one?
Me: Uh... it was kind of a win-win for me.
Padraic: Yeah, for you.
Me: Either I'm setting Padraic up really well, like I'm supposed to as an improviser, or I'm being a dick, but winning.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Today we posted our last Daily Dis or Dat on the You Don't Know Jack site. Starting next week, instead of doing a full game on Mondays and a Dis or Dat the other four days, we're going to put up two full games a week.

Reactions in the message board were generally positive. People seem excited about getting to play two games a week, but many were sad to hear the Dailies were going away.

One person wrote, "Huh, May seems to be the bringer of bad news for me this year... First two friends from school die, then my World of Warcraft guild dies, and now daily DoDs?"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I lucked into some free tickets to a live recording of a local public radio show, 'Sound Opinions', which included a live performance by Death Cab for Cutie. So, I ended up, in the middle of the day, in the third row in an intimate little auditorium in the Chicago Cultural Center, watching the band play and be interviewed. Really... more being interviewed than playing, they only did five songs, but the interview was pretty interesting and lively.

At the end, the hosts realized they needed to record some fake song introductions "in the space" so they could be edited in later, to smoothly transition from interview segment to music segment.

So, everyone would go quiet and one of the hosts would pause to collect themselves and then say into the mic, "Hey guys, why don't you play another song." Then everyone would laugh and the band would tease them.

Ben Gibbard: [laughing] That was so unconvincing. You couldn't have sounded less like you wanted to hear us play a song.
Chris Walla: Garrison Keillor is going to issue you a radio ticket.

Walla, by the way, at one point early on made a throw-away comment about not really liking comedy, and then went on to crack more jokes than anyone else.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More improv lessons on MTV's 'The Real World'. There was no iO West in last week's show (at least as far as I could tell while fast forwarding through it) but this week the cast had their second class, which was basically a quick montage of, again, solid advice from Charna. "Improv is writing on your feet." "Make characters really you with some extra added information." "When someone's trying to enlighten you or teach, do your best to catch on quickly." Also... if you need to go to rehab, go to rehab.

I'm kind of fascinated by the idea of people trying to figure out improv from these short clips and sound bites.

Again, the cast went to see a show at the theater and again MTV showed about two seconds of it. A blip. Like an establishing shot, or that part in a movie where someone is half-watching TV late at night in a hotel room, and the camera cuts to the TV for a second to show an old fashioned cartoon. Like that.

This week's blip was an improv team on stage slow motion fighting.

I could complain that they're not really, you know, showing improv... but they kind of are. You go to some improv shows... you're going to see some slow motion fighting.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

During the wedding reception on Saturday, Sarah and I snuck upstairs to take a look at some of the Swedish American Museum's exhibits.

There were a lot of very unhappy looking mannequins. Is it possible to have a camera near mannequins and not take wacky pictures? No, it is not.

Looking at this picture now, I notice there are dozens of little name plates on the wall. I hope they are names of contributers to the museum and not people who died in some horrible swedish tragedy that I was too busy taking funny pictures to learn about.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Not feeling great.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day.

First I called Mom. She was finishing up dealing with the stuff we'd removed from the farmhouse. She sent Grandma her 'Last Supper' painting and tried to bring her the box of her old jewelry.

Mom: She liked the painting but didn't want the other stuff. She said to set aside some jewelry for her... to wear whenever she dies. The rest she told us to sell. The girls tried a jeweler which wouldn't take any of it, and a pawn shop would buy just one of the pieces for $17. All that jewelry she was certain was so valuable. I think when I get old I'll just burn all my stuff.

Next I called Grandma. We talked a little about the farmhouse drama. She was upset that Kenny's daughter had supposedly burned all the beds. "Those beds were in good shape. I put a slip cover over all of them." Who knows. Some of the those beds had to be pretty old.

I told her that everything I would have wanted was already missing from the house. But I did stumble across my birth announcement, the card my parents sent my grandparents when I was born. It was the one thing I took with me. I'm not sure what to do with it, if anything.

I tried changing the subject to happier things.

Me: I went to a wedding last night.
Grandma: A wedding?
Me: Some friends of mine got married.
Grandma: President Bush's daughter got married last night. Did you know about that?
Me: Yeah. I don't think I'd go to that wedding.
Grandma: Oh?
Me: I'm not a big fan of President Bush.
Grandma: Well, maybe that's why you weren't invited.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The improv wedding season begins. Tonight was the wedding of Shad and Hawley.

The guest list was a who's who of improvisers I like and respect. Sitting in the church, looking around, it was nice to see so many familiar faces in an unfamiliar context. Many of them I'd never seen outside of a theater or bar... or in sunlight. I felt a warm sense of community, a feeling I've rarely felt in churches, and don't always feel in theaters if I'm being honest.

The reception was at the Swedish American Museum, a place, like KunkleCo, where many improvisers have worked part-time over the years.

Shad: [giving a speech at the reception] I remember the first time I met Hawley. It was at iO, before a James Jackson show, and she was talking to someone at the back wall by the bar... a spot, I've read, we're not allowed to congregate around anymore because we distract the patrons. [pause for laughs] I introduced myself and we talked a bit. Then James Jackson was introduced by the host, and she said, "I have to go," and ran on stage. But as she ran on stage she looked back at me. People always tell stories about when they knew. Now, I didn't KNOW then... [more laughs] but I did know that she looked back at me.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sometimes I feel compelled to try to better explain what long form improv is in this blog. Or how it works. Or what it's like. But it would probably just start to sound boring and technical, and even then, it's hard to get a sense of it without seeing it.

I remember being in grad school and my sketch group, Comedy Corner, tried to figure out how to do a Harold ('the signature form of the Improv Olympic theater") by reading iO's offiical book, 'Truth in Comedy.'

Here's how the book explains performing a Harold. "Teams begin by asking for a suggestion form the audience. They then personalize the suggestion and develop an attitude, which is expressed through the opening game (which can take many different forms). After the opening, the players begin the first round by improvising scenes (three seems to be the standard number). These are followed by a game, and then the scenes return for further development. Another game follows, and the scenes are brought back for a third time, though not all scenes will return. The Harold can end with any one of the scenes, or with another game."

The book goes into more detail, but I remember being in Arizona, reading these passages, knowing there was something there, but also feeling like I wasn't entirely getting it. "Games? What kind of games? So, we do a couple scenes and then start a game of Party Quirks?" As confused as it made me, it also got me excited. "I think this is what I'm looking for."

And it's hard to beat that title. 'Truth in Comedy.' Even with the cringe-inducingly wacky comedy font that title is great.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Diplomat Motel show. One of the other teams performing tonight was Hot Pocket, which includes several people who I used to be on Otis with (Marc, Joe, Gandy).

Meador: Why is Otis here?
Me: They're on Hot Pocket.
Meador: Oh.
Young: What if it was just everyone on Otis deciding to start a new team without Arnie? They'd be called Post-is.

With each new theater schedule, teams get new performer IDs, colored cards with Del Close's face on the front. A new color for each schedule.

Marc was handing new IDs out to everyone on Hot Pocket. I asked him and Joe to pose for a picture with their IDs.

Marc: Down here? You want 'em down here?
Me: No...
Joe: By our dicks? You want 'em down by our dicks?
Me: No... hold them up... never mind.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I have a bad habit of coming up with elaborate (and technical) projects and then abandoning them, unfinished, when a new idea plops into my brain.

My sketch comedy podcast, Premisey, has pretty much fallen by the wayside, but now I'm experimenting with doing some straight forward conversational podcasting. Just gathering funny friends together and recording a conversation. Probably a bad idea.

Meador and Hansen came over tonight to record a test run. If I ever get around to editing it down (as funny as parts of it are, it definitely needs editing down) and posting it on the internet, you'll be able to hear Meador talk about nursing school and having to talk a patient into letting him bathe them, and Hansen talk about the time he made up a fake life for himself so he could work at a Babbages software store.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Daily Dis or Dats for the You Don't Know Jack site usually have a photo joke at the beginning. So, most days we have a photo joke brainstorm in the afternoon.

Recently I wrote a Dis or Dat about William Shatner's new autobiography (the game was Star Trek movie, Journey album or Both). During the brainstorm we quickly came up with the idea that we wanted the picture to be of a funny fake title for the book. But we spent a long time debating what the best title would be.

"Shat on Shat"

"I, Shat, Myself"

We finally settled on "I, Shat: On Myself"

So... that's what I do for a living.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Sunday, May 4, 2008

I've lost sleep over the last few years, staring at the ceiling, constructing cruelly concise things I'd like to say to my Uncle Kenny. But when I saw him, briefly, this weekend, I chose to mostly say nothing.

He went largely unseen during the day, finally creeping out of the barn with a case of MGD.

Kenny: Beer?
Arnie: No thanks. It's a little early for me.
Kenny: Early? It must be five o'clock somewhere.

In truth, it wasn't unreasonably early for a beer but I went inside.

I think my mom was nervous about dealing with Kenny the Bully, but I didn't want to see Kenny the Glad Hander. I would have rather seen the Bully. I had things to say to the Bully.

I watched out the window as he showed a chicken to my nephews. I remembered being a kid and how he would butcher rabbits in front of us and laugh at how unsettled it made us. Normal farm stuff, I guess, but even as a kid, it seemed to me like a show of superiority.

A while back, Mom told Sherry and I that she remembered once when she was little, Kenny cut a live bird's chest open so he could see its heart beat.

Me: Yikes. That's something a serial killer would do.
Sherry: That's the first sign.
Mom: Don't say that. Now I'll have nightmares of Kenny as a serial killer.

I took this picture out the farmhouse window of Kenny and the chicken and a manure spattered dog.

Mom: Kenny tried talking to me. Tried to act all buddy buddy. He told me he'd named the chicken Doris. Real funny.
Me: Maybe it's not meant to be named after you. Maybe it's named after his wife.
Mom: I just came inside. I don't have to stand around and pretend his jokes are funny.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Despite the fact that we weren't sure there was much we genuinely wanted, the idea of going back into the farmhouse for the first time in years was kind of exciting. During the drive there we kept saying things like, "remember this" and "remember that." The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books in bookshelf upstairs. The giant 'Helen of Troy' hairdryer. An ancient exercise belt massager.

Julie: As a kid it was so fun to sneak through the house and see what was in all the drawers. I think I know where everything in that place is.

But when we got there everything was already packed up. Kenny's daughter, anxious to start moving in, had boxed "everything" up and moved all the dressers into one room. There was no way to know what was where, and more importantly... what was there at all.

Well... many things were obviously gone. Grandma's newest microwave was replaced with her older microwave. The beds were gone. A giant framed picture was gone.

Julie: Where are the TVs?
Kenny's Daughter: Oh... the one in the kitchen broke and the one in the living room they brought to Grandma in the nursing home.
Julie: She has a small TV in the nursing home. We just saw it. The one in the living room was big.
Kenny's Daughter: I don't know.

Most importantly, the little treasures, tiny things of no value that we may want for sentimental reasons would prove nearly impossible to find without digging through each and every box. A glow-in-the-dark Jesus on a cross. Two plush monkeys, that I used to play with when visiting my great grandfather in his nursing home, making them hug and unhug each other with their velcro arms. Were they still there at all?

Me: Uh... were there... in Grandma's dresser... she said there were a bunch of my old... things I'd written. Do you know where those are?
Kenny's Daughter: Not really.
Me: She said they were in the bottom drawer of her dresser. In her bedroom.
Kenny's Daughter: Didn't see them.
Me: There weren't any... papers in there?
Kenny's Daughter: Tissues, maybe.

The rooms looked empty and sad.

There was a pile of empty lock boxes and filing cabinets sitting on the basement floor.

Most of the boxes were in the front room but the fancy china was boxed up and placed way up in the attic. "I thought I was being helpful by boxing all this stuff up," my cousin said, "but maybe not."

Julie: I decided not to respond to that one.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Traveled to the nursing home to visit Grandma Anne along with Sherry, Julie, Matt (Julie's husband) and Ty and Will.

Grandma: Julie, you look like you've lost some weight.
Julie: [laughing] I don't think so.
Me: Every time I visit someone tells me I look like I've lost weight. I think we all just keep telling each other we've lost weight but none of us are.
Sherry: Matt lost a lot of weight.

Matt has been doing Weight Watchers, and supposedly most of the women in his program dislike him because he's losing weight so easily.

Grandma: I put on weight. It's all in my butt.
Matt: Like J-Lo?
Grandma: What?
Sherry: That's in style now. Big butts are in style now.
Grandma: Not for me.

We talked a little about our upcoming visit to the farmhouse. Grandma was adamant that we should take everything we should. "Everything in that house is supposed to go to your mother." We weren't sure there was much in that house any of us wanted, but we said we'd do our best.

For the last decade, nearly ever time I visit Grandma Anne she would mention that she has a dresser drawer full of my old stories and poems. "I've kept it all. In the bedroom. In the bottom drawer. You make sure to get that stuff. Those are your stories."

(Later, Julie laughed and said, "Of all the stuff in that house she was adamant about three things. Her jewlery. A painting of the last supper. And all those stories of yours. You can sure tell what's on the front of her mind. You can tell what she holds sacred.")

As usual, it was sad when we left. We walked to the front door past an old woman in a bedazzled jacket riding a motorized scooter, talking to a delivery man. "I've been here four years," she was saying. "Too long. My son's selling my house in Dayton. Breaks my heart. Breaks my heart."

Julie: Come on Will and Ty. Pretty soon we're going to go to Grandma's farmhouse. She has another house. I bet you always thought this was grandma's house.
Grandma: [to the boys] Grandma doesn't like this house.

We took turns hugging Grandma goodbye, as Ty spun in circles singing, "This is grandma's house. This is grandma's house. This is grandma's house."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dinner at Applebees in Hometown, Ohio.

Mom would rather not have her picture taken and Dad makes his comedy face. I guess that's where I get it.