Thursday, July 31, 2008

The yearly cabin trip at Blueberry Island.

Me: I think all my pictures are going to come out looking exactly like my pictures last year.
Trupe: That's the beauty of it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I've been trying to cancel my gym membership for over a month now. Because the WiiFit is going to make me thin, right? Right?

The drawn-out process of cancellation documents not being sent to me, phone calls not returned, and late-fees added to my bill has moved beyond "they're incompetent" to "they're shady."

Me: [trying to be polite on the phone] Look, I know it's not your fault personally, but when I was looking to join a gym everyone told me, "Don't join Ballys. Ballys is totally corrupt. It's almost impossible to cancel your membership." So I joined Crunch. And all of this... forgive me... bullshit... seems like exactly the kind of stuff people say about Ballys.
Crunch Customer Service Operator: Sir... we're owned by Ballys.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Went to see an advance screening of 'Hamlet 2' with Jordan and Steve. It was followed by a Q and A with the lead, Steve Coogan. Steve Coogan is a star in England, but is only really beginning to break through over here. Jordan and Steve are huge fans of his. I'm a pretty big fan myself.

Before the screening Jordan and Steve debated various questions they could ask during the Q and A, trying to craft superior Steve Coogan questions.

Jordan: It has to have the right balance. Knowledgeable, but not presumptuous.
Steve: And we're seeing the movie beforehand so its probably good to work that in somehow.

The screening was packed, but we quickly realized that bad seats for the movie (front row) equals great seats for the Q and A (FRONT ROW!). And so, the three of us, slightly headache-y from watching the movie at an awkward angle, were front row center when Coogan came out.

Jordan asked his question. "How do you go about creating your characters, like Alan Partridge and Saxondale?" Coogan talked at length about how he's drawn to characters that almost challenge you to like them.

A guy close behind us asked the next question and from the second he opened his mouth, from the smug look of self-satisfaction on his face, I could tell it was going to be long on obscure reference, short on actual question. I don't remember what he asked, but the not-so-subtle subtext was, "I know you, I know your work, I am the superior fan, I am proving myself to you." Literally no one in the audience responded to his references. I don't think even Jordan and Steve got them. Coogan smiled politely and said something like, "I'm not going to answer that, but I appreciate the depth of your research."

I didn't really intend to ask a question. As I've said before, I've sort of shied away from engaging celebrities over the last few years. But there was a strange lull during the Q and A, no one ready with a question, and I was right there in front, so I shot my hand up.

'Hamlet 2' by the way, is basically about a failed actor who gives up and goes "where dreams go to die"... Tucson, Arizona. He teaches drama to high school students there. Mostly badly. I thought about saying, "I taught high school drama in Arizona. I went there briefly, leaving my dreams behind," but instead just stuttered out something about whether he knew when more of his British television work would make it to DVD over here.

After a few more questions, the Q and A ended. Jordan had his camera ready. "I'm going to try to get a picture. Or at least shake his hand." But Coogan was out of there too quickly.

The three of us skulked around the theater for a while afterward, Jordan and Steve trying to... almost profile Coogan. "So the screening's over... where would he go from here?" When we went into the bathroom I saw them nervously darting their eyes under the stall doors to see if they would recognize Coogan's legs there. He was clearly gone, though, and the three of us joked about how ridiculous we were being.

Since it was raining outside, Jordan and I decided to grab a drink at the bowling alley attached to the theater. Steve had to get home so he took off. As he walked away we needled him a little by saying, "We're probably going to run into Steve Coogan in the bar."

And then we did.

Or... we saw him.

Jordan: He's here. He is here. Should we just go up to him? Do we sit at the bar and wait?

Coogan seemed deep in conversation (or interview) with someone so we sat and the bar and subtly (I hope) kept our eye on him.

Jordan: This is weird right? We're essentially stalking him now. But we're not really stalking him. What do you do? What's respectful and what's just wimping out?

We half joked, half seriously talked about this for a while.

Me: Uh... you know that guy who asked those really terrible nerdy questions during the Q and A?
Jordan: Oh no. He's here? He's here too?
Me: I'm pretty sure he's sitting right over there.
Jordan: [laughing] Oh no. We're him. We ARE that guy. You try to tell yourself you're cool. You're a fan but you know the right level. You can do it the right way. But nope, nope. We're that guy. We're just really that guy.

Eventually Coogan stood up and joined a group of people who had been sitting nearby (friends? assistants?) and they all walked out together. We didn't approach them, just watched them go.

We had a few more drinks and joked about how stupid, but also genuinely exciting the whole thing had been.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Some of us at work recently did a little project to make spine health funny. No easy task. You can see the video here. (I didn't really do much for this beyond the brainstorming stage, but it's worth checking out)

Today, as a thank you, the client sent us a giant box filled with popcorn. Here's Steveo and the box. When we finish it (if we ever finish it), maybe we should set the box next to the giant teeth upstairs.

According to Allard, the slow economy has hit the Giant Novelty Food Industry especially hard.

Allard: I have a friend who makes giant pez dispencers. His business has trickled down to nothing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My yearly cabin trip to Blueberry Island with some friends is coming up next weekend. In anticipation, Nick has been e-mailing out a picture a day from last year's trip.

This is the first picture Nick sent. It's our "into town" outing to see 'Transformers' which Young adamantly didn't want to see.

Meanwhile, Martin's busy pre-wedding schedule has now led to him not being able to come on the trip this year. Diplomat Motel let him leave quietly. The rest of us... not so much.

Nick: [via e-mail] Martin, I thought we made it clear that WE are your family now. And that Blueberry Island is the only property that you NEED to vacation at in the summer.
Young: Nick, if you love something, set it free. Martin, lick my hairy balls.
Trupe: I hope you drown and a little child sees it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Eckart is part of iO's Harold Commission, a group of volunteers who, along with Charna, more or less decide what teams stay on the schedule and in what form.

Eckart: I'm a softy. Some people always want to cut teams and I'm one who always wants to save them. Or, "Hey, let's switch some people around instead of cutting them." I mean, yeah, sometimes teams do need to be cut but it's tough. Every new schedule I kind of feel like the end of 'Schindler's List.' "This watch... this watch could have been another Harold team."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Martin's last show with Diplomat Motel. The usual reasons. He's busy, getting married, some show/team had to go, and Diplomat is it.

He didn't want to make a big deal out of it, so we didn't.

Cesar: Should we introduce ourselves as the Martin Motel or something like that? In honor of Martin?
Martin: Let's just be the Diplomat Motel. Diplomat Motel is the team I joined and it's the name we should have when I leave.

Martin also hosted the night. In this picture I think he's trying his best to explain to the newcomers in the audience how exactly a Harold works.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The proposed Whirled New Tonight election season sketch show is coming along very slowly.

As Chin, our director, wrote on his blog, "The cast of WNT is amazingly talented and as such each and every person is insanely scheduled. Add to that scheduling complication two new babies and a brand new pug puppy, and we’re losing cast members like an Agatha Christie novel."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Back in Chicago.

Young tried to go see Dark Knight last Friday when it opened. He bought his tickets several days in advance. When he arrived at the theater, though, the entire place was shut down. No screenings of anything due to a freak fire.

Everyone that hears this story makes the same joke. "It was the Joker!"

[When I asked Young if he'd mind if I took his picture with a Batman figure for this blog, he paused for a long moment, thinking, then said, "Which one?" He ended up going with Christian Bale Batman.]

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The new cottage is almost unrecognizable as what it once was. It's sad that those rooms that we spent so much time in every summer as kids are gone now. But there's no denying how much nicer and more comfortable the place is now. More inviting (the doors are still open to all family members). And, to be honest, as a kid the old cottage frightened me sometimes, especially the upstairs bedrooms. It's funny how an overheard fan and a new set of pillows make you feel more protected from the woods outside.

Also, as the long weekend went on I found more little reminders of the old cottage. Fish on the wall. Old nature paintings my dad's uncle Ralphie had done. This painting here is from the actual wall of the old cottage. Paint on wall. A lot of care went into preserving it during the renovation process. A cottage by a stream. In the bottom left corner, mostly hidden now by the new leather sofa, Ralphie painted the words, "This is where I go to find myself."

Monday, July 21, 2008

For Sherry's birthday we decided to visit a nearby Wisconsin casino, or as some of my uncles call it, "Going to the Indians."

Sherry won about $140. Dad won about $50. Sarah lost $35. And I lost $40.

As we were leaving an elderly couple was walking in from the parking lot.

Old Woman: Are they giving away money in there? Ha ha.
Dad: Well... I don't know about that...
Old Woman: I think I have my answer. Ha.
Dad: Most of us did alright. Pretty good.
Old Man: Ha. How does it feel to be crooks?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sarah drove up from Chicago to join us at the cottage.

At night we went out into the pitch dark to look up at the sky.

Sarah: STARS!

It was nice, but also a little scary. We're both city folk and frightened by the sounds of the woods. At one point my stomach rumbled and Sarah jumped, thinking for a moment there was a wild animal behind us, ready to attack.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A pontoon ride around the lake.

Dad: Over there's where my brother Pat almost drowned. He was maybe six or eight. They pulled him out and he wasn't breathing. My Dad and my Uncle tried the old Navy resuscitation method, where you just pull their arms up and back behind them. A woman stopped her car on the road and said, "It's no use. That boy's dead." I'll never forget that. Finally someone said, "They're saying now you're supposed to try to blow in their mouth." Most people didn't know about CPR back then. Eventually they got him to throw up and start breathing.

I've heard this story dozens of time but it always spooks me out. Sherry and I have always been swimming pool kids, more than a little nervous about natural bodies of water.

Dad: After we got back to Ohio, my first day back, I was at the swimming pool and they dragged a dead kid off the bottom. I'll tell ya... put me off swimming for a while.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wisconsin. Dad and Sherry decided to take a trip up to my grandparents old cottage in Shantytown. They stopped in Chicago and picked me up along the way.

Dad pointed out various historic family sites along the road on the way up. He always tells the same stories and we always enjoy them. "Your grandfather was stationed there before shipping out to the Pacific. He met your grandmother here and when he came back from the war, they got married."

You can chart at least three generations of family history along that drive to the cottage. Grandma Dottie grew up in Shantytown. After getting married, her and Paul and their (eventually) nine sons would vacation up there every summer. "Somehow we all fit in the station wagon with our luggage towed behind us. I remember the first time we saw a McDonalds. That was something."

As my Dad and his eight brothers grew up they started taking their own new families up to that same cottage every summer. Every weekend another group, or a couple groups at the same time. A new generation of road stories.

Sherry: I remember how exciting it always was to see the fast food places that were right ON the overpass, hanging over the highway. That seemed like the most exciting thing in the world.

Grandma Dottie passed away, and Grandpa Paul is too old to spend much time in Wisconsin, let alone a remote cottage. One of the son's took it over and decided to fix it up. This is the first time I've seen the renovations.

Dad: It's not exactly a cottage anymore is it?
Sherry: It's at least three times bigger than it used to me.

If you look at the picture, the farthest to the left house-shaped lump is what the cottage used to be. Now there's a garage and five bedrooms. My aunt Ginny who lives down the road said, "We don't call it the cottage anymore. We call it the palace."

My cousin, Brad, is at the cottage this weekend working on some of the final touches.

Brad: Two years ago when we were getting ready to start building we brought out a surveyor to make sure just where the land starts and ends. [waving his arm in front of the porch] It ended here. The whole cottage was built on someone else's land.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Warming up before a Diplomat Motel show.

While we were all talking, someone in the group (I think maybe it was Tristan) lifted up their pant leg for some reason. Without discussing it or drawing much attention to it, by the end of warming up we had all pulled one leg up.

There are endless different warming-up exercises. Some are vocal. Some are very physical. Some are just excuses to stand around and take turns making each other laugh.

Sometimes an exercise will become popular and suddenly every team is doing it. For a few weeks everyone seemed to be warming up with a game called Fred Schneider. You all stand in a circle and sing, "Hey, Fred Schneider, what are you doing?" Then each person takes a turn responding in their best Fred Schneider from 'Love Shack' voice, yelling something comically mundane like, "DELETING SHOWS FROM MY TIVO.... I'M NEVER GONNA WATCH."

Fun warm-ups spread pretty fast. One week someone says, "Let's try this new one I heard about, Fred Schneider." The next week you notice all the teams in the alley behind iO are doing it. (I guess they spread far and wide. A few weeks back when I read that list of jokes on an LA message board about the SUV crashing into iO West, one of them was, "Hey Fred Schneider, what are you doing?") Then, just as quickly, everyone stops, because, you know, everyone's doing it.

I think the best warm-ups, though, are the ones that just sort of happen and have no rules. Like the pants leg thing.

In that spirit, I've invented a new warm-up game. Actually it's more of a game to lay on top of other games.

Months ago, before a show, one of the members of Diplomat Motel said, "Before we warm up, I have to leave right after the show... I've got a date.... And if it goes as well as the last date... I think I'm going to do a little making out tonight!" We all responded with catcalls and general way-to-gos! Then during our warm-up, everything ended up being about that cast members up-coming make-out session. As if their good news was the suggestion for our warm-up.

So here's my new exercise. It's called Good News. Before you warm up, someone announce some good news. "Hey, good news everybody..." It can be real. It can be made up. Incorporate the news into whatever regular warm-up you do, celebrating that good news. There are no rules beyond that. Make it up together as you go.

Let me know how it works out.

[Warning: I'm not responsible for this leading to you having a shitty show. But I will take some credit for good shows. ]

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Feeling a bit burnt out lately. On work. On performing. On this blog.

Luckily I have a couple nice little vacations coming up. The first is this weekend with my Dad and one of my sisters. I'm really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I almost forgot I wanted to post this picture from the ComedySportz Award Banquet after-party.

Martin: I didn't win any award. I wasn't nominated in any category. But I accepted an award for [someone who wasn't there] and walked around with it all night aggressively and dickishly showing it off like it was mine.

I had a nice time at the banquet but since then I figured out why I (as far as I could tell) was the only non-ComedySportz-performing significant-other that showed up. I found out that Sarah had to pay $40 so that I could come along. Youch.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Glynn records the first act of the Whirled News show (most) every week and then posts them online as a podcast. He uses this Olympus recorder.

Somehow, though, between the show this Saturday and getting home, he lost the recorder.

Glynn: I called the bar, called the CTA and even put a reward ad on the lost-and-found section of Craigslist but, so far, no response. I'd like to at least blame a late night of boozing but this particular night I was home in bed by 12:30. Chin has been really cool about the whole thing and I'm sure it's no huge blow to the cast, but I've felt like a huge jerk about it since Saturday.

So, somewhere out there, a handheld recorder is floating around holding the only file of what will from now on be known as "Whirled News: The Lost Episode."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sarah and I went to to birthday BBQ for several improvisers last night.

We ended up playing several rounds of a game where two golf balls attached by rope are thrown at a three rung PVC pipe stand. I played it last summer during a cabin trip. We didn't know what it was called then so we gave it various different testicle-themed names like Dangle Balls, Sling Sacs and Drape Nuts. Everyone at tonight's party called it Donkey Balls.

Twice the balls got stuck up in a tree.

By the time we got tired of Donkey Balls, we joined a group of people sitting around a picnic table playing a game where you'd combine the plots of two movies and everyone would have to guess the overlapping title. For example, "Hey, have any of you seen the movie where the elephant keeps thinking it can hear the sound of a tiny Indiana high school basketball team?" And the answer would be, "Horton Hears a Hoosiers."

[This is actually very similar to a game concept (and short lived TV game show) that Jellyvision developed years and years ago called SMUSH]

This may seem like a painfully nerdy thing to do, but drinking some beers and making pop culture wordplay jokes sounds pretty great to me.

Here are a few more:

"Hey, does anyone remember that Stephen King novel where a bunch of guys go camping and an alien crawls up their butts, taking over their minds making them wear hunting caps and think everyone around them are 'phonies'?"


"What was the name of that movie where the fish loses his son and while looking for him becomes a successful jazz trumpeter? I think it was directed by Spike Lee."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Whirled News members (and I'm guessing several other performers) had to fill out extra paperwork and bring in a passport or social security card and ID if they make any independent contractor money through iO.

Apparently it's a new Homeland Security thing.

Chin: It would be a brilliant plot for some terrorists to disguise themselves as a traveling improv comedy troupe.

Friday, July 11, 2008

After my Diplomat Motel show I went out for some drinks with Sarah and Meador.

Meador: I cleaned my first calostomy bag today. It was the worst thing I've ever smelled in my life. And I keep smelling it now, everywhere.

Sarah and I talked Meador into staying out and having a few more beers than he'd originally intended. Part of the deal was that we'd go to this underground bar called the Dugout, that none of us had been to before.

Meador: I've always been curious to go in there.
Me: It's really because its right next to the L isn't it?
Meador: Was it that obvious?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dad: [via e-mail] That article has caused quite a stir here. Lots of back tracking and claims of being misquoted. The Courier called it a hatchet job.

Against my better judgement I’ve been reading the Letters to the Editor section (and on-line comments) of Hometown Ohio/Flag City/Findlay’s paper since the Washington Post Article. I e-mailed Mom to let her know I’d written and submitted my own Letter to the Editor (something I’ve never done before).

Mom: [via e-mail] Should I pack my bags and be ready to leave once it hits print?!?!?

It hit print today. Here’s what I wrote:

“I read the (June 30) Washington Post article that used Findlay as a microcosm of an issue that is affecting the whole nation. I can see how some would be upset. Findlay does come off looking uninformed and quick to believe the worst of people who don't live the same lives they do.

“I was curious to see if responses from the people of Findlay would rise to the challenge of giving a better view of the town. While there have been level-headed responses on both sides, sadly, most of what I read made Findlay look just as bad as anything in the original article. (To be fair, some of this was on the Internet, which brings out the worst in people).

“For me, the subtlety of the problem is best illustrated by Scott Rothey's letter to the editor. He complains about ‘out-of-towners’ chastising Findlay, taking umbrage at them making false assumptions about his town. Then he writes, ‘These letters simply reflect the attitudes of angry, educated but benighted Americans who cling to their chardonnay and brie, read their Marx and Hegel, but don't particularly like people who don't think or act like them.’ Hmm. So, basically he's making sweeping generalizations about out-of-towners that are as cartoonishly ridiculous as the Larry the Cable Guy image he worries the rest of the country is placing on him.

“And that's, unfortunately, where we are right now in this country. One side calling the other ‘backwards.’ The other side yelling back ‘elitist.’ And both are equally wrong (or is it equally right?).

“Politics aside, inviting Obama to speak is the right gesture to show the world that Findlay is willing to listen and not just shake its head and scream, ‘Nuh-uh!’”

[A quick aside… a few Findlay residents, along with the mayor, drafted a letter formally inviting Senator Obama to visit Findlay. Now back to what I wrote…]

“Rothey ends his letter by responding to the question, ‘Are the people of Findlay this stupid?’ He answers, ‘No.’ My answer would be the same as my answer for any town or city. Only some of us are stupid. And some of us are working on it.

“By the way, I skimmed Marx and Hegel in college, prefer beer to chardonnay and I don't have brie that often but greatly enjoy it when I do. Seriously, it's delicious. Try some brie.”

Mom: [via e-mail] Dad thought that your Letter to the Editor was good. Sherry & Julie don't know why you wrote it. I haven't heard from Allie. I thought it was funny. I went to mass at Carey and even though I shouldn't have, I thought about your letter and how people like [list of some of my old teachers] probably really enjoyed it. I also thought about how Grandma Dottie would have liked it, and how grateful I am that you are like her. . . open-minded, willing to give your opinion even if others may disagree. I thanked God for a son that is intelligent and has made my life interesting and that has a great sense of humor and is an independent thinker.

Mom was kind enough to take this picture of Dad reading the letter in today’s Courier.

Mom: Dad thought that it would be funny to act shocked for a couple of photos. I said wait until one of those are on the blog.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I've been hearing good things about Wii Fit, the exercise peripheral for the Nintendo Wii.

Allard at work claims to have lost 20 pounds using it, although I think that probably has more to do with his new aggressive diet.

Stonelake: I love mine. But I moved the board from the carpet to the floor and it made me gain a pound.

So I bought one. Now video games will make me fit!

As I've mentioned before, according to the BMI I'm officially obese. And Wii Fit agrees. My Mii (the little character that looks like you) was immediately turned into a little fat guy.

The game measured my (totally unscientific) Wii Fit Age and said I have the physical fitness of a man of... 73. Yikes! Then I realized I'd done the balance test wrong. I redid it and my "real" Wii Fit Age was 34. Only two years older than I am. Not bad. The next day I tried again, and my age was 30. I'm getting younger! At this rate I'll be a teenager soon.

My weight has been going down too. But here's the thing... I haven't done much of anything. I've used Wii Fit every day for the last few days but not for very long and not particularly aggressively. I set my weight loss goal to 5 pounds in two weeks and somehow lost that in three days. But... I don't really... buy it.

I'm not conspiracy minded, but if the makers of the game programmed it to register steady weight loss no matter what... well... they'd sell like hotcakes. Which is to say, they'd sell to a lot of fat people.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tonight I went with Sarah to the ComedySportz Award Banquet. Free food. Free booze. Lots of dressed up improvisers.

My favorite part of the evening was the slide show/power point presentation hosted by Prouty, Tara and Joey. Since I'm not a ComedySportz performer, I honestly only got about half the jokes, but the multi-media-ness was well done and those three always make me laugh.

I especially liked this (paraphrased) joke about the most popular beer at the ComedySportz bar, Fosters. "They say Fosters is Australian for beer, but I think it's Australian for I Just Did An 8 O'Clock Show And I'm Thinking About Missing My 10 O'Clock Playground Show To Sit Here And Use My Performer Discount To Drink These $3 Oil Drums Of Beer."

Monday, July 7, 2008

Writing trivia questions all day, I have to come up with a lot of names, some real, some made up. Occasionally, for my own amusement, I'll slip in names of people or places I know.

If you were to play the educational project I was working on before You Don't Know Jack, you might stumble across a children's story with a mention of a Mr. Hansen or a Mr. Meador.

In one of the recent You Don't Know Jack episodes, the audio for one of the wrong answers includes a long bit about the host, Cookie, trying to sell his dog on eBay. I named the dog Gatsby, after a dalmatian my family had (briefly) when I was younger.

And this question... I probably could have included a more widely known chain like, say, Chilli's, but I included Cheddar's because my dad likes that place so much.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I couldn't talk anyone into seeing 'Wanted' with me, so Sarah finally felt sorry enough for me to agree to go (compromise: we had to see 'Sex and the City' afterward).

Meador said he'd maybe go, but maybe usually means no.

I left him a voicemail this morning saying, "Meador. You've led an ordinary life up until this point, but I'm calling to tell you that you are really part of a secret society of assassins. It is up to you to decide whether to embrace this life or stay with the empty life you have. Your orientation film will be showing at the Evanston theater at 1:20."

Meador: Dammit, Arnie! I wasn't going to go, I have too much homework, but your voicemail got me. I think the fact that you called it an orientation film clinched it. Was that your Morgan Freeman voice?
Me: What? No.

The movie was good stupid fun.

Me: Meador, what if you got orders right now to kill Sarah and I?
Meador: I'd feel terrible about it, but I'd have to do it. The code is the code.
Sarah: Oh no.

We couldn't talk Meador into see 'Sex and the City' with us too. That movie was equally stupid and equally fun.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Before the Diplomat Motel show we were talking about googling our own names and what, if anything, we find.

Tristan: I was in some short comedy videos other people did and I was looking for them on YouTube so I searched for my name. The first thing that came up was a video about a guy in England I think who has the same name as me. The camera was pointed at a couch, you don't see anyone, but this voice, a woman or maybe a kid keeps saying, "Beware of Tristan ______. Tristan ______ is a pee-do-phile! Stay away from Tristan ______. Tristan ______ is a pee-do-phile!"
Me: Yikes.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Went to a barbecue on Megan and Alex's roof last night. The plan was to see the downtown fireworks from there, but sadly they were mostly obscured by buildings. We could see the top right corner of some of the explosions. And the reflections of lights off the clouds. And drifting firework smoke.

I didn't mind. The beers and burgers were entertainment enough.

And later we saw another rooftop party across the street that set off their own fairly impressive little fireworks show.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Young: The curse is broken.

Young's car didn't break down last night at the Navy Pier, hopefully signaling the end of the Road Show Car Curse.

Because it broke down last week at the Beverly Arts Center he wasn't able to go to the Wizard World Comic Book Convention (I ended up not going either). So, sadly, no new pictures of Young high fiving comic book characters.

Instead, enjoy this picture of him high fiving Brady in the Beverly Arts Center dressing room.

Brady: [via e-mail] I made the blog again! For a while, I thought, "If I ever make Arnie's blog, it'll be for cutting that dog's head off - Arnie loves that story!" Just to reiterate, I had nothing to do with the actual removal of the head.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Whirled News did a lucrative corporate show in a gigantic ballroom on the Navy Pier tonight. Supposedly an audience of about 700.

Sometimes you find yourself thinking, "These are the kind of shows we want to be doing. 700 people! This signifies success!"

The reality is, though, that intimate is always better. Especially since... there are always sound problems. Everywhere. It kind of boggles my mind. Maybe six wireless mics is beyond modern technology. It's hard enough to make a show work when there's a massive dance floor between you and the audience, but when the sound swings back and forth between startling feedback and so soft no one can hear... that makes it tough to put on a good show.

But we did some solid funny scenes, and when the audio was working the audience seemed into it. (According to Brady, my mic was the only one working 100% the whole time, so you know they got their money's worth)

Before the show we were told that the audience was unhappy that the charter bus had dropped them off too far away and they had to walk the entire length of the pier to get to the ballroom. "Maybe you can use that in the show."

Me: [whispering, about to go on stage] Should we place bets on who will be the first person to do a bus joke in the show?
Young: It's not going to be me. I know that.

Ten minutes into the show, Young charges into a scene proclaiming, "Mom, Dad, I was framed! There's no way I would drive a bus full of people to the Navy Pier but then drop them off too early and make them walk a mile to their ballroom event. I wouldn't do that!"

Huge roar of laughter. Massive.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My workweek started yesterday with an IM from Tom (who sits back to back with me in the office) with a link to a front page article from the Washington Post about Hometown, Ohio, where we both grew up.

I've always called it Hometown, Ohio in these blogs, but it has another more official nickname, Flag City USA. And I might as well just come out and give you its real name, Findlay.

The article, titled, 'In Flag City USA, False Obama Rumors Are Flying' focuses on one street in Findlay, and the various (admittedly older) residents who are quick to believe all the ridiculous rumors about Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama (that he's a Muslim for instance). Ohio is an important electoral state, and the name Flag City has a certain thematic resonance, so it's kind of a no-brainer to use it as a microcosm to address the national trend.

Speaking of no-brainers, the article is full of depressingly funny quotations like this one. "'I think Obama would be a disaster, and there's a lot of reasons,' said Pollard, explaining the rumors he had heard about the candidate from friends he goes camping with. 'I understand he's from Africa, and that the first thing he's going to do if he gets into office is bring his family over here, illegally. He's got that racist [pastor] who practically raised him, and then there's the Muslim thing. He's just not presidential material, if you ask me'."

If you haven't read the article already you can check it out here.

Me: I know it's a horrible idea, but I'm kind of tempted to write a letter to the editor of the Findlay Courier.
Tom: Yeah. I get that impulse sometimes, but then I think better of it. It's like getting into a debate with a bunch of fifth graders.