Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Broken Tooth

In case you are still wondering how I chipped my tooth this weekend, I did it playing basketball. I got talked into playing in a three-on-three tournament that I didn't want to play in. We won the first game and were playing a bunch of punk kids in the second game, when one of them tried to back me down in the post and I stood my ground. He then dipped his shoulder into me and then cracked me under the chin with his forearm on his way up with his "shot". My teeth cracked together, I bit my tongue and promptly spit pieces of tooth and blood into my hand. When I turned around to look at him, four more zits had appeared on his face.

I subbed out and spent the next ten minutes or so spitting blood in the grass. By the time I was ready to return to the game, one of the guys on my team was backing him down as the punk kid jammed his forearm in his back. My guy then spun with his elbows up and popped him in the mouth and he got to spit blood for a little while. Unfortunately, we did not win the game so we went home and got drunk.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I'm back...

I'm back from my Memorial Day weekend vacation and I'm already not looking forward to going to work tomorrow. When I have more energy I will regale you with tales from the weekend - like how I managed to chip a tooth. For now, I'll just let you imagine your own scenarios. They're probably better than the true story, anyway.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Father Ted

Today is Father Theodore Hesburgh's 90th birthday. Father Ted, as he is affectionately known, was the President of the University of Notre Dame for 35 of the most important years of the University's history (1952-1987). He's basically responsible for making Notre Dame what it is today - one of the greatest universities in the nation.

He's served popes and presidents and was a major advocate for the civil rights movement in the 50's and 60's. He's a great man who has done great things. If you want to learn more about his remarkable life, I recommend reading his autobiography God, Country, Notre Dame.

Check out these articles commemorating Fr. Hesburgh on his birthday:
Chicago Tribune Article
Notre Dame Magazine Article

Happy Birthday, Father Ted and thank you for all you've done to make this world a better place.

Off the Grid

In a couple of hours I'll be getting out of Chicago in the hopes of enjoying some nice weather and relaxation in Michigan City. The weather forecast looks a little rainy, but I'm sure we'll make the best of it.

Regardless, I'll be without Internet access. Try not to miss me too much.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's Not His Fault

Another frivolous lawsuit.

Your son gets wasted, hops into is SUV, crashes into the back of a parked tow truck and dies, but it's not his fault? Is that what you're saying? Because it sure sounds like that's what you're saying.

Bullshit.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

American Idol

American Idol can eat a dirty fucking asshole.

Dee came home tonight and wanted to watch American Idol. I wanted to watch Lost. However, I decided to let her watch American Idol not knowing that it was a two-hour stroke-fest where they invite everyone who's ever done anything to perform songs that they didn't write. Dee fast-forwarded through some of it but watched a good deal of it as I cleaned up around the house. As it got near the end she decided to forward through so that she could see the results. Unfortunately, our Tivo stopped recording at the two hour mark - you know, when the show was supposed to end - and they hadn't yet announced the results. So Dee sat there wading through all the AI pomp and bullshit and didn't even get to see what she tuned in for. This show is notorious for running late and they kept it up through the finale.

So Dee and I had to sit through AI jerking itself off to NOT EVEN SEE THE REASON WE RECORDED THE SHOW. Fuck that. Now it's ten o'clock and Dee didn't get to see her results and I didn't get to see a lick of Lost. Thanks for a waste of an evening.

P.S. - I really hope that Internet surfing youngsters see this post and all of its "adult" language and make life hell for their parents. Fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck. FUCK.





Also, FUCK.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jerkology Rehearsal

Monday means Jerkology rehearsal. For the first time in three weeks, we had the entire cast at rehearsal and everyone even showed up on time. Since we finally had everyone for the first time since everyone had to be off-book, I wanted to take this opportunity to work intently on the opening and closing scenes.

We started with the opener. We had blocked this out in our partial cast rehearsals, but had never run it from top to bottom with the entire cast. I reminded them of the blocking and we gave it a shot. Everyone knew their lines and remembered their dance steps. We had a few specifics that we needed to work out, but everyone was pretty on the ball from the very beginning. We ran the scene about four times before I felt like everyone was comfortable.

On to the closer. We had never even gone over this scene in a rehearsal before. I was sure we would spend the rest of the rehearsal getting this scene figured out. I had been doing research on how to block the scene to make it as authentic as possible, however I wasn't exactly sure how the specifics would work. I broke the scene down into its different parts and explained to them what I was looking for. We then worked together to figure out the details. It came together very nicely and everyone had their parts nailed. I was impressed how eager they were to do this scene and really try to run the whole thing all the way through. By about the third full run through they had it nailed - and we had time to spare.

We took a little time to run a scene that I had yet to see all the way through with the full cast and they struggled a bit, but it was because they were laughing so hard at each other. I told them to tone down some of the funny so they could get through all the lines. They did.

Once again, the cast did great work and have made my job easy so far. Next Monday we don't have rehearsal due to Memorial Day. However, we do have our tech rehearsal next Thursday where we will do our first full run-through.


Jerkology
Thursdays @ 11pm - June 14-28, July 12-26
Stage Left Theater
$8 - BYOB

Good Point...

Minutes later Clinton Portis received a phone call from Michael Vick saying, "Not helping, man."

Portis on dog fighting
.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Afternoon Snack

Dear Mr. Nature Unsalted Energizer Mix (No Cholesterol),
Thank you for residing in the "Healthy Snacks" section of my office floor's vending machine - slot F6 to be exact. Your $.60 price is well worth the delightful mix of almonds, raisins, peanuts, sunflower seeds and dates. You provide a healthier alternative to the candy bars and chips that the rest of the vending machine offers and you are just as satisfying. The nuts provide needed protein and satisfy my need to crunch while the dates and raisins provide just a touch of sweetness that sates my sweet tooth. Mr. Nature Unsalted Energizer Mix (No Cholesterol), you may just be the perfect vending machine snack. May your coils be frequently replenished, for I plan to eat you again soon.

Yours sincerely,
Jeff

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Spiderman 3

Last night Dee and I went to see Spider-Man 3. Wow. All I can say is wow. It was spectacularly disappointing. They just tried to do too much. Three villains is way too many. Plus, it spent time dealing with the whole Peter-Harry-MJ-Gwen Stacey plot line. All told, we spent the entire time jumping between about seventeen different stories and never really got to explore any of them. On top of all of that, we were forced to sit through a bad rip-off of Saturday Night Fever when Peter Parker first contracts the Venom symbiote. It may have been one of the worst movie sequences I have been forced to sit through.

The final battle between Spider-Man and the bad guys is even disappointing. It feels like the writers backed themselves into a corner and wrote a quick fight scene where Spider-Man gets lucky enough to win (sort of). Great work, guys. After two solid, entertaining movies, you turned out this piece of crap and let us all down.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Old Man and the Improv

For the first time in a few weeks, I was required to attend pH rehearsal. So I went. We spent the rehearsal deconstructing our show pHamily. It was the first time I'd improvised in about a month or so.

I've been only performing on Friday nights (by my own choice) and if you read this consistently you know that I've only been scheduled for pHreedom Idol for the past few weeks. That means that I've been playing the same character every week - the Simon character - on pHreedom Idol. While it is technically improvising, it's not really stretching my boundaries. I feel like I haven't really been a part of a real improv show in a very long time.

Last night, I was excited to improvise in rehearsal. We talked a little bit about the show - our likes and dislikes - and then worked on things to overcome those issues. I got up to do a few scenes and felt like I had completely lost any improv skill that I once had. I used to have so much fun playing characters and now I have so much trouble just trying to find a character to play. I ended up basically playing myself in all of the scenes. Even then, I didn't play myself well.

Here's the problem. I'm not sure that I care. I've had so much fun writing and directing Jerkology that I don't know if I want to really be an improviser anymore. I have so much more energy and enthusiasm for writing and directing than I do for improvising right now. Maybe this is something that will pass, but right now it's how I feel.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerkology Rehearsal

Once again we managed to have another Jerkology rehearsal and once again we had someone missing. Marty wasn't able to make it to rehearsal because he had some family stuff that he needed to attend to. It was frustrating that he wasn't there, but not the end of the world. We needed to run through all of the Aaron scenes we didn't get to do last week when he wasn't there.

At the beginning of rehearsal we focused on the longer scenes and everyone was pretty close to being off-book. In fact, Jason was completely off-book and had nearly all of his stuff down cold - even his monologue, which I think is the hardest of all the monologues. Tristan is very, very close as well. She only messed up on a scene where she basically says the same thing over and over but never in the same place in relation to the other character's lines. I'm willing to cut her some slack there. Aaron was a little further from being completely off-book than Tristan or Jason, but he's not so far off that I'm overly worried about him learning his lines.

It really is amazing how much more the actors bring to the scenes once they are free of their scripts. They really have done a great job bringing the characters to life and really milking the laughs out of the scenes as much as possible.

Next week - if we have everyone - we'll work hard on blocking out the opening and closing scenes and then run through some of the longer stuff if we have time. I've finally finished picking the music for pre-show and the segues between the scenes and Jason helped me edit a sound track for the closer. Now that the music is set, I'll get the tech guy in (Chris) and have him run the sound with us soon. The next big task is to complete the prop list and start collecting the props for all the scenes and then place an order for the special shirts we will have made for the show.


Jerkology
Thursdays @ 11pm - June 14-28, July 12-26
Stage Left Theater
$8 - BYOB

Monday, May 14, 2007

My First Guitar Hero Experience

On Saturday, Dee and I were invited to a Guitar Hero party. Basically, our friends John and Tristan were having a party that centered around people coming over to play Guitar Hero. Most people even dressed like rock stars for the occasion. I did not. Neither did Dee. That's probably because we had never played Guitar Hero before.

For those of you who don't know, Guitar Hero is a video game where you use a guitar-shaped controller to play songs to win the audience's favor and score points. If you have two guitars, you can have a rock face-off or even play a song together. As it turns out, the game is pretty damn fun. Dee loved it so much that we went on Sunday to by the game and an extra guitar.

Once we got it home, we played a few songs and even set about unlocking the rest of the songs in the game. We haven't yet earned them all, but we made some good progress and managed to unlock a few of our favorites.

If you haven't played yet, I highly recommend it.

pHreedom Idol

pHreedom Idol rolled again on Friday night. This time we had a decent size audience and we were able to have the show. This week Jason (the director) decided that the judges would sit on stage during the entire performance instead of in the audience where we usually were located. He made it clear that it wasn't a permanent move and that he wanted to change things up to see how it worked. I was fine with the change even though I preferred to be seated among the audience. I figured it would probably feel the same and allow the audience to see us better while we gave our critiques.

I thought it worked well for the beginning portion of the show when we do our little banter with the host, but once the performances started it felt odd. While the singers were performing I was constantly worrying about taking focus from them with any movements or facial expressions after I noticed that the audience was looking to us a lot to see what our reactions were while the singers were performing. It put me in my head a little bit and made it a little tougher for me to give interesting and funny feedback.

Even though I felt a little uncomfortable, the show as a whole was pretty good. I thought the performances were possibly the best they've been so far. Everyone had a lot of fun and got a lot of laughs by really playing up their characters. The judging was a little stilted and not quite as hilarious as it has been in the past few shows, but it wasn't a total loss, either. The audience seemed to really enjoy the show and that's what matters.

If we pick up the pace and energy, I think we'll have a fantastic show next week.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Randy Moss

I know I'm late to the party on this whole Randy Moss thing, but I just want to add my two cents.

For those of you who don't know, Randy Moss was recently traded from the Raiders to the Patriots. You probably remember Moss best from the years when he was with the Vikings and was putting up huge numbers with Daunte Culpepper. He also had some off-field problems with drugs and trying to run over traffic cops with his SUV. Then he famously declared that he takes plays off when he knows he's not getting the ball. You know, that Randy Moss. The point is that he's another T.O.

For the past few seasons, Moss has been with the Raiders - one of the worst teams in football right now - and dogging it the entire time. His numbers have been way down - partially because he never had a quarterback that could get him the ball and partially because he'd pretty much quit because he wants out of Oakland. Suddenly, the Patriots swoop in and steal him for next to nothing. Everyone freaks out.

The press immediately jumps on the angle that the Patriots can no longer claim that they are running a first-class operation. Suddenly, they're just like anyone else and will compromise their integrity to win at all costs. Like they weren't doing that before. In response to the media's claims, the Patriot fans claim that the media created this image of the Patriots and now they are tearing down the organization for a label that they attached. The media, specifically Michael Silver of SI.com, then digs up this quote from Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots: "This business is not unlike our other businesses: You try to get good people, people who share your values. When we hire people, the most important thing is loyalty, integrity and character. No. 2 with us is work ethic. And No. 3 is brains. But if you don't have Nos. 1 and 2, No. 3 doesn't matter." Fantastic.

So what is my take on this? I love it. I love the whole situation. I love actually reading a story that condemns the Patriots for a move they've made. Until this Randy Moss thing, those stories were very hard to come by. In fact, most writers spent half of their articles sucking the Patriots' dick. You can't imagine (or maybe you can) how tired I was of hearing about how great the Patriots are. It's good to hear something different for once.

I love indignant Patriots fans writing pissed off emails to the various news outlets about how the media is mistreating their poor little Patriots. Really? See the above paragraph. Have you read any articles about the Patriots in the last six years? Shut the fuck up. I love that Patriots fans are pissed at all. Your team has had one hell of a run for the past six years (and it doesn't look like it's over yet) and you have one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Relax.

I also enjoy the fact that Patriots fans have to try to defend this move. They cite the genius of Bill Belicheck and Scott Pioli and the job they did with Corey Dillon - another bad apple type player. They write about how veteran leaders like Tom Brady and Tedy Bruschi will show Randy what it means to play like a champion. Maybe this all will be true, but you can't tell me that they wouldn't be trashing the hell out of any other team that made the same move. Priceless.

My favorite little bit that's come out of the whole thing is the fact that Tom Brady played a huge role in getting Moss in New England. He had been texting Moss and communicating with Patriots' management about getting him on the team. Hilarious. The Golden Boy of the Pats franchise and one of the NFL's darlings is actively recruiting one of the most disliked characters in the game. It's just too good. Imagine if Peyton Manning starting pushing to get T.O. in Indianapolis. How quickly would he get completely trashed by everyone?

Worst case scenario: Moss plays like a stud again and the Pats win another Super Bowl.
Next to worse case scenario: Moss sucks and the Pats win another Super Bowl.
Best case scenario: Moss sucks and the Pats lose to the Colts in the AFC Championship game again.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

1-800-flowers.com

On Monday I ordered flowers for Dee from 1-800-flowers.com. I scheduled them to arrive at her office today. I ordered her a bouquet of pink roses and calla lilies. She received a bouquet of flowers, but it was not roses and calla lilies. It was a bouquet of different colored roses instead.

This is the third time I've ordered her flowers from flowers.com and this is the third time they've messed them up. Sure, Dee has loved the flowers each time, but that's not the point. I repeatedly order specific bouquets for Dee because I know what kind of flowers she likes and I want to get them for her. However, they keep sending the wrong thing.

After I finish getting my money back from them, I will never use them again. I'd appreciate it if you'd do the same.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Jerkology Rehearsal

Tonight was the rehearsal where the cast had to do the scenes for the first time without scripts. I was looking forward to seeing how far along everyone was. I expected everyone to be close, but I certainly knew there would be a few mistakes. The idea was that everyone would have made their best effort to try to learn the scenes. Much to my delight, everyone that I saw did make that effort and they even exceeded my expectations. Unfortunately, one of the cast members was unexpectedly missing. He got stuck at work and couldn't get away.

We started rehearsal by working on the opening scene without our missing cast member because he called me and said that he would be a little late. We ran through it for Marty's benefit since he hadn't yet seen how we blocked it. It went pretty well and we focused on a few particulars of the dance. I was impressed at how well everyone was moving in the dance (it's not easy, by the way) and everyone was pretty together. By the time the show rolls around, I think it will be pretty tight.

We then moved on to running the scenes that the missing cast member wasn't in, which meant that Marty and Jason got to do their tongue-twister scene. This is one of the most challenging scenes to memorize, but these guys had it down. They missed a few words and lines here and there, but they nailed it for the most part. Since this was their first time off-book, I was very impressed and have no worries that they will have this cold by the time the show rolls around. They also ran their other two person scene which is a little more on the improvised side and really played it very well and added a lot to it. This was the scene that we had completely changed from a series of short blackouts to a full-on scene. Since it is partially improvised, I expect it to evolve even more as they perform it.

I had Marty get up and run his two solo scenes and he nailed them. He brought a really great character to his blackout and took his time with the monologue and had some great ideas to make the performance of it even better. I re-wrote his monologue after hearing it in the read through and trimmed it down and now he's done a great job of making it understandable and easy for the audience to follow. His take on this monologue gave us all some ideas for how the rest of the cast can read their monologues to make them a little more performance-y.

I jumped in and read the parts I will be playing in the show on June 21st (one of the cast members will be away) even though I wasn't off-book like the rest of the cast. Had I planned to do that, I would have had my lines memorized but I didn't think it would be necessary. Those scenes were fun to do even though it feels a little weird to perform in the sketches you have written.

I think we managed to be productive even though we were missing a cast member. I continue to be impressed with the performances that this group keeps putting out there. There's no question that they play a large part in taking Jerkology from a funny show to a really funny show.

Now we just need everyone to show up.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

1...2...3...4...5...6...7

Today at 34 minutes after noon, the time and date will be: 12:34 5/6/7. Look at it, count it out. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Take note. You'll have to wait 100 years for this to happen again.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

pHreedom Idol

Last night we were all set to do another episode of pHreedom Idol as we usually do on Friday nights. Unfortunately, we did not have enough audience members to have the show. Usually when we have canceled show, someone will sit in the light booth and play good music and a dance party will break out. This time, nobody was up in the booth but someone had left the iPod on shuffle so random songs were playing and people were just hanging out. Then Working for the Weekend by Loverboy started playing. Suddenly, the cast of Sick/Personal Day (a sketch show I was in) was on stage performing our dance from that show. Many of the new cast members had never seen it before and were quite amused. It was fun to do the dance again and it got me excited to see how the Jerkology dance turns out - and if it is as well liked.

Off to shred important documents.

Friday, May 04, 2007

In Case You Forgot...

The Indianapolis Colts are still the Super Bowl Champs. The Cleveland Browns may have had one hell of a draft, and the New England Patriots may have had a really good offseason, but the Colts currently have possession of the Lombardi Trophy. You know, the trophy they give out to the winners of the Super Bowl.

Just thought you could use a reminder.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Idiot Box: The Office

I know I'm not the only one who says this, but The Office is the funniest show on television. Hands down. I will not argue about this. While other TV shows spend their time rehashing the jokes that have been played out on sitcoms for years, The Office manages to find a whole new set of jokes that no one has seen before. The genius of the show is that they've been able to effectively attack and make fun of our PC society. If we didn't live in a PC world this show could not exist. In fact, it wouldn't have been successful before 20 years ago, and I think that is a sign of its greatness. A great television comedy should be funny in the time that it exists and find its comedy from the morals and values of the time that it exists in. The Office does that like no other show on television.

All hail Michael Scott.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Second Hand

The Illinois State Legislature just passed a bill that will ban smoking in bars, restaurants, and other public places. If the Governor signs it, then it will become law and the ban will go into effect on January 1, 2008. Fantastic. Great move. Fuck the smokers. Seriously, I have no sympathy for those idiots who are slowly trying to kill themselves. Now they won't be able to take me down in the process.

Now that Illinois has taken a step towards solving the second-hand smoke problem, they need to get to work on the other second-hand vapors problem. Specifically, the second-hand deodorant and Tinactin aerosols. There are few things I hate more than walking through someone's cloud of deodorant while I'm trying to get ready before or after my workout. Even worse than that is the guy who has a can-a-day Tinactin habit in my gym. He sprays his feet until they are coated with the white spray and creates a cloud that floats throughout the entire locker room area. I don't want to taste and smell - not to mention smell like - some dude's foot spray. I understand that you don't want to get Athlete's Foot, but there are other ways to take care of it. Buy some five dollar shower sandals, or spray about 1/16 of the spray on your feet and don't pollute my freaking air.

When am I going to be able to breathe free?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Rehearsal Update...

As usual, we had another Jerkology rehearsal last night. We were one person short as Marty had other obligations to attend to. I knew well beforehand so I was able to plan for his absence.

We started by working on the dance. We worked out the lead-in and the scene around it and then ran through the dance itself. Since we hadn't worked on it in a couple weeks, there were a few kinks to work out. Everyone remembered it for the most part and they were doing a pretty good job with the moves - which aren't all very easy. I'll be interested to see how it goes once Marty is back into the fold.

After the dance we went through the rest of the three person scenes that didn't involve Marty. Everyone pretty much nailed them and Jason was pretty close to being off book on a few of his. I thought Aaron did a great job with really amping up the energy on his scenes. I think that's because he's starting to get comfortable with the parts and really play with them. Tristan nailed her monologue and I think that she really gets it. It was fun to watch them play in these scenes and really have fun with the parts. If nothing else, I want these performers to really have fun doing this show. I think that energy will carry over to audience and that can only hope the show.

Next week everyone is supposed to be off-book. It will be good to see how these guys play the scenes without the weight of the scripts in their hands.