Friday, February 29, 2008

Looking for Poetry on the Ground

I am notoriously curious. It is in my nature. As a kid, I would always get in trouble for running ahead of everyone or wandering off. Especially at shopping malls and amusement parks. I would be a modern day parent's nightmare. I would be stuffed with Ritalin and strapped into a harness and leash. Thank God people didn't know how to properly raise kids when I was growing up.

I still have the same pull towards exploration. When traveling, I will always make time, usually early in the morning, to walk around the neighborhood. And no matter where I am, I always check out the sidewalk or the floor. I find some interesting things this way; a twenty dollar bill, a grocery list, a business card for stump grinding, and just a few days ago, a poem.

What's interesting about this poem is that someone didn't lose it. They left it to be found. I was in the alcove of a coffee shop when I saw an envelope on top of a stack of outdated free newspapers. Handwritten on the envelope, half printed, half cursive, was...

Fourteen: one free poem

And here it is (click to enlarge)....

Is it a good poem or not? I'll leave that up to you. I like the last line. Go ahead an e-mail M. L. Lachney while I look around for another poem on the ground.


"Impeach Bush Now"
Google hits: 50,300
(up 200 from Wednesday)

Tuesday, March 4th - get your voice heard by creating a worldwide Cyber Shout. Post on your blog, message boards, comment sections, wherever you can, "Impeach Bush Now!"

What's interesting that I hadn't noticed before is how many videos pop up when you search "impeach Bush now." Didn't get your morning cup of coffee? Fear not, here's rebel comic George Carlin to wake your ass up.


RoboWriters. Saturday. 1pm - 3pm. Gorilla Tango. 1919 N. Milwaukee near Western. $5. Be there. Foo'.


Yesterday, I asked...

"Police officers in Vancouver, Washington engaged in a chase with Stephen Ray Castor who was driving a what?"

75% said, or at least hoped, it was "Segway"
- "Try to block him off! Lean, dammit, lean like the wind!"

25% said "Unicycle"
But really it was the juggling while intoxicated that raised the police's ire.

No one thought it was a "Golf Cart"

And no one picked the right answer, either. "Lawn Mower"

According to The Columbian, Stephen Ray Castor, 53, allegedly broke a window of a man’s home in the 700 block of West 27th Street with a lawn chair, then led police on a 3-mph pursuit in a riding lawn mower about 5 p.m. Monday. It was a dangerous low-speed chase. The police were finally able to apprehend Castor by, well, walking up to him and grabbing him. Whew!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Urine Trouble


"Impeach Bush Now"
Google hits: 50,300
(up 200 from yesterday)

Tuesday, March 4th - get your voice heard by creating a worldwide Cyber Shout. Post on your blog, message boards, comment sections, wherever you can, "Impeach Bush Now!"

Here's a fun website that popped up on my "impeach Bush now"search...The White House Gift Shop. I love that this place exists. they have some very funny products.


Yesterday, I asked...

"A theater company in Royal Oak, Michigan is raising funds for its upcoming production of 'Urinetown' by selling what?"

75% said "Urinal Cakes Made of Real Cake"
- ironically, those are called Ding Dongs.

25% said "Water Bottles"
- Useful going in and coming out.

No one said "Depends Undergarments"

Nor did any get the right answer, "Toilet Seats"

According to The Detroit Free Press, the bathroom puns are, well, flowing freely in Royal Oak at the town’s community theater group. Stagecrafters plans to auction toilet seats ornately decorated by professional artists to raise funds for their production of Urinetown. The decorated seats carry such names as “Royal Flush,” for one with playing cards mounted on its seat and a faux jeweled crown on the lid; “Bottom of the 9th” for another that features baseball motifs, including Detroit Tiger stripes; and “What Will You Spell This Time?” for a seat and lid covered in computer circuitry and keyboard keys.

I wonder if there's one for critics... "Great. More crap."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


You may recall last October when I moved that I ran into some issues with Comcast. Basically, unbeknownst to me, instead of transferring the service, they canceled it and started a new account. So, for almost a full week, I was without Internet and without a clue as to what caused it. Friends who sent me e-mails reported them bouncing back. This came at a time I had sent out some resumes and writing samples and was also prepping for a corporate gig. Horrible timing. It sucked. It took going through their website and chatting with a techie to figure out what had happened. He quickly re-established my e-mail accounts. My biggest complaint was having a problem and not being able to get someone to tell me what was going on immediately. Then I got a huge bill for almost $400 filled with a lot of start-up costs. I spoke with a billing rep - the easiest way to talk to a human being on the phone at Comcast is when money is involved - and, you know what? They were great. They were personable, friendly, acknowledged the mistake, apologized and then knocked the size of the bill down farther than I expected.

That was last October. On Saturday evening, I had an incoming call from Philadelphia. If I don't recognize the number and am not expecting a call, I let it go to voice-mail. It was a vp from Comcast calling to apologize for my problem with Comcast and assured me someone locally would be contacting me about resolving it. After I listened to it, he called back and I picked up. He had realized that my complaint was from 2007. He was super nice and gave me his contact info and let me know if I ever had a problem with Comcast to give him a call.

Here's what's happening. Comcast now has people surfing the blogosphere looking for posts where people complain about the cable giant. They were a little late on my October complaints, but I have to give them credit. They realize there's a problem with people not getting the service they need and they are responding to it in a very personal way. As much as I want to paint huge corporations as evil necessities, they are, ultimately, made up of people. People who might actually care about their job and care about you.

This, of course, goes against my cynical nature and I really want to throw in a "that's what an evil corporation would want you to think" safety net for my ego. I'll refrain, for now. If only I could make them get rid of those annoying commercials where they dub in snippets of songs for dialogue.


Hillary Clinton says you should vote for her over Barack Obama because she won't need to consult an instruction manual when it comes to foreign policy. To me, that's not an asset. If there is a foreign policy manual in Washington, it, like many instruction manuals, is indecipherable and outdated. It needs to be thrown out. If she knows foreign policy so well its because she knows how its been done, not how it could be done. I think Obama will throw the instruction manual away and take the opportunity to write a new one.


"Impeach Bush Now" Google hits: 50,100 (up 500 from yesterday)

Tuesday, March 4th - get your voice heard by creating a worldwide Cyber Shout. Post on your blog, message boards, comment sections, wherever you can, "Impeach Bush Now!"

Heck, even has a community tagged "Impeach Bush Now."


Yesterday, I asked...

"Neil Jorgensen was fired from the Riverside Casino in Iowa for repeatedly asking for what?"

33% said "A new uniform"
- Nope. His vest with casino-approved flair was in fine working order.

33% said "Free booze"
- More of a political cry, really. He was hoping to liberate alcohol from its bottles.

No one thought it was "A raise"
- It just caused some confusion at the poker tables, is all.

34% got it right with "A prostitute"

According to The Des Moines Register, at a benefits hearing, Neil Jorgensen, 62, who worked at the Riverside Casino south of Iowa City, said he should not have been fired for demanding that his co-workers provide him with prostitutes because the casino promotes Las Vegas-style gaming. He was fired after he was given a $100 Riverside gift certificate and a free night's stay at the casino hotel in recognition of a year's employment with the company. "I went to Ruthie's, the nice steakhouse within the casino, and I had a cosmopolitan or two and a bottle of wine and a really good dinner." He said he went to his hotel room about midnight and an hour later, he said, he called the managers "and asked for a hooker." After the managers refused to help procure a prostitute for him, Jorgensen called someone at the adjacent resort and made the same request. The casino's human resources director, Tim Donovan, testified that hotel workers were then sent to Jorgensen's room to insist that he stop calling for prostitutes. "When the hotel supervisor knocked on the door, Mr. Jorgensen answered the door in the nude," Donovan testified. Jorgensen was fired the next day.

Clearly, the problem isn't that he asked for a prostitute. It's that he blew his $100 gift certificate on cosmos, wine and steak and had nothing left over. He should have just skipped dinner and used his money on a $100 hand job from Gert in the employee cafeteria.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Love A Parody


As many of you know, I'm not a big fan of the use of TV parody in sketch revues. Mostly because they aren't done very well. They rely heavily on familiarity with the source material and don't say much more than "hey, look how stupid this is!" That's not much of a revelation for most of what's on television. I also feel that parody works best in its own medium.

The assignment this week is to write a TV parody for the stage and do it well.

How do you do that?

Imitate it well.

Know your source material well. Pick as your target programs or commercials that you know well, either because you love them, they are a guilty pleasure for you, or they bug you so much you know every detail because watching the show is like watching a train wreck. Know the elements that uniquely make your subject the subject. And be specific. Don't go for making fun of all reality TV shows. There's a huge difference between Supernanny and Survivor. Even shows that seem similar, like the NBC evening news and ABC evening news, have distinctions. And as you pick your target, keep in mind that serious programs are easier to parody than comedies. Dumb comedies are already dumb and its hard to come up with a viable angle that isn't just as dumb. Or dumb enough. Shows that take themselves seriously are already asking for it. Write you scene almost as if you were writing an episode of the show itself.

Also key for this to be successful is casting. You need actors who can emulate the originals without any "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" going on about their performances. They need to take it as seriously as if they were in the real deal.

Exaggerate it.

Once you know what makes a show unique, exaggerate the hell out of it. Even if the TV pitchman announcer is already over-the-top, make him more over-the-top.

Change one thing about the source material and exploit it.

Most successful parodies only change one thing about the original. Many writers try to pack in as many funny ha-ha's as they can, thus diluting the impact of their parody. There's a very funny "24" parody making the rounds. It's a good example of imitate, exaggerate and change one thing. They technically imitate the style of the show well and the actors do a good job of playing it straight with "24" intensity and the one thing they changed? Instead of taking place in the present, it takes place in 1994. I won't ruin any of the gags for you, but imagine high-tech "24" saddled with mid-90's technology and how it would affect Jack Bauer trying to save the world.


"Impeach Bush Now" Google hits: 49,600 (up 1,900 since yesterday)

Tuesday, March 4th - get your voice heard by creating a worldwide Cyber Shout. Post on your blog, message boards, comment sections, wherever you can, "Impeach Bush Now!"

Playing off the Bush administration use of Iraqi Deck of Death playing cards, satirist Jerry Vasilatos has created a deck of
cards called Royal Flush: Impeach Bush Now. According to the creator each card depicts a reason why he feels President George W. Bush should be removed from office via impeachment. You can read more about it HERE.


Yesterday, I asked...

"In order to 'feng shui' their store, one thing owners of a California McDonald's did was what?"

60% said "Start to individually arrange french fries in their boxes"
- Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the grease. Am I right?

10% said "Made Ronald barefoot"
- Apparently, that's a health code violation, even for clowns and statues.

Nobody said "Paint clouds on the walls"

And 30% got it right with "Add leather chairs"

According to the AP, the only familiar signs at the McDonald's in this Hacienda Heights, California community are the golden arches, the drive-through and the menu. Gone are the plastic furniture, Ronald McDonald and the red and yellow palette that has defined the world's largest hamburger chain. Leather seats, earth tones, bamboo plants and water trickling down glass panels have taken their place. The makeover is part of the attempt by McDonald's Corp. in recent years to remodel hundreds of its restaurants to attract more patrons with unique decor and amenities that might entice them stay awhile and to return.

The Playland has also been replaced with a Zen meditation garden and instead of Happy Meals they have Content Meals.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar, Oscar, Oscar

Watched the Oscars from start to finish last night for the first time in a long time. I usually end up forgetting about the Oscars and committing myself to something else and then either catching just the last half hour or reading about it the next day. I love movies, but I don't feel the urge to rush out and see everything, even if I'm pretty sure it's good. I know I will eventually see it somewhere down the line.

Last night seemed like a powerhouse of movies with some amazing actors all around. There were only three films I was familiar with; Ratatouille, No Country For Old Men and Sweeney Todd. Ratatouille and NCFOM fared very well. Sweeney Todd was criminally overlooked and, as I recall, only got one award for art direction. When I get around to seeing Juno and Atonement, I better leave the theater with a good understanding why they were up for Best Picture over Tim Burton's masterpiece.

The commercials, however, reminded me of the Super Bowl. I don't recall the commercials ever having such a huge part of the evening before. There were three different contests going on; one for Dove where viewers were asked to vote between a sucky DIY Dove commercial and a slightly not-as-sucky DIY Dove commercial, something from Diet Coke where you had to go to their website to be entered into a contest to win Heidi Klum's dress - an idea I would find more interesting if Heidi Klum were not aware of it and it was for whatever she happened to be wearing at the time contest officials corner her and show her the fine print in her cola contract, and I don't remember the third contest at all. It seems odd to me to have sponsors showing commercials that encourage you to move away from the television to participate in their contests.

Most appalling were the Diet Coke commercials. They kept touting ad naseum how they are raising awareness about women's heart disease. Yet they never said anything about women's heart disease! Not one fact, not one educational nugget, not one piece of advice to reduce the chances. All they did was raise awareness that Diet Coke is aware of women's heart disease. And given the sodium and caffeine content of Diet Coke, this is sort of like Marlboro Lights trying to raise awareness of lung and mouth cancer.


"Impeach Bush Now" Google hits: 47, 700 (up one thousand since Friday)

Tuesday, March 4th - get your voice heard by creating a worldwide Cyber Shout. Post on your blog, message boards, comment sections, wherever you can, "Impeach Bush Now!"

Here is a great grassroots website called Impeach Bush. It has lots of information on the how and why to impeach George Bush. It has a lot of information about events and petitions around the country. It even tracks how often "impeach Bush" is mentioned in the blogosphere.


Friday, I asked...

"To further study motion sickness, German researchers put 72 small fish in what?"

62% said "A washing machine"
- They actually were large fish at the start of the experiment, but they shrank.

14% said "A teacup ride"
- And after the German researchers studied the effects of fish vomit on their shoes.

12% said "A blender"
- No, that was for the the small fish smoothies they made to celebrate the experiment.

12% got it right with "Space"

According to the AP, seventy-two small fish were briefly launched into space by researchers last Thursday, hoping their swimming patterns would shed some light on motion sickness. The thumbnail-sized fish were filmed as they swam around weightlessly in small aquariums during the unmanned space flight. The scientists said the fish landed safely and appeared to be in good condition. Other fish left behind have viewed the videos and believe the whole thing was faked.

Friday, February 22, 2008


It looks like I won't be making it to Improvised Shakespeare tonight. If you haven't seen it, though, do. I think it's the best improv show in town.


Robowriters is starting to get some buzz. After almost a year, I made a flyer and this week, The Reader plugged us in their "Heads Up" comedy listings. I have intentionally kept RoboWriters to word-of-mouth and a few e-mail, message board campaigns because I didn't want the number of people attending to get out of control. That hasn't been a problem. We've had decent turnouts and definitely fun times, but we have never reached our cut off point. There's room for more, if that has ever been a concern for you attending.

The Reader plug should generate some interest, but I'm also a little concerned about a misconception. Here's the mention...

Joe Janes, a local comedian and playwright who's written for Saturday Night Live and teaches at Columbia College and Second City, is also the artistic director of Robot vs. Dinosaur, which has produced the weekly writing workshop RoboWriters since last May. (Scroll to the bottom of Janes's blog,, for an archive of homework assignments.) Writers of all levels of experience are welcome; space is limited to 15 and the first 10 are guaranteed a reading of their work and feedback. arrow 1-3 PM, Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee, 773-531-1792 or, $5. --Ryan Hubbard

Ryan rocks. He's a big supporter of sketch comedy and improv. Everything's accurate, but I don't tell people I've written for SNL. I tell people I wrote for Weekend Update. For two years, I wrote freelance for Weekend Update. For two years, whenever the show was in production, I faxed in at least five news items by 5pm on Friday afternoon. The first year I did it, there was around 30 of us freelancers. The second time, there was 60. Competition's pretty fierce among the SNL staff writers to get material on the air. Try being a faceless, nameless e-mail address where the only thing speaking up for you are the words on a piece of paper. Actually, maybe SNL should try doing that.


Tonight I will be making one of my rare appearances with the brilliant cast of The Improvised Shakespeare Company. 8pm. iO. The Del Close Theater.


"Impeach Bush Now" Google hits - 46,400

Tuesday, March 4th - get your voice heard by creating a worldwide Cyber Shout. Post on your blog, on message boards, comment sections, where ever you can, "Impeach Bush Now!"

Here's a page from Serendipty, chock full of articles about impeaching mssrs Bush and Cheney. Great resource.

The BS News Quiz of the Day

When the hell did I ask this? Last Friday?

"Jerry Keene of West Virginia was identified as the robber of a convenience store in spite of his attempt to disguise himself by doing what?"

27% said "Squinching up his face"
- And then he threatened to take the clerk's nose using nothing but his thumb and forefinger.

27% said "Pulling his turtleneck up over his head"
- Police then found him because he was the only man with a loosey turtleneck collar.

18% said "Covering his face with his hands"
- Which only works if you are trying to rob a two-year-old.

27% got it right with "Putting underwear on his head"

According to The Charleston Gazette, McDowell County sheriff's Chief Deputy Mark Shelton says Jerry Keene entered a convenience store, concealing his face with the underwear, allegedly showed a gun and demanded money. Shelton says witnesses identified the suspect, despite the disguise. Hopefully, Mr.Keene has learned his lesson. Switch from thongs to boxers.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Birds

Yesterday was a rough, long day here in San Antonio. A good chunk of the day was devoted to playing a game that I created that mixed trivia questions about products with trivia about things you should have learned in school and done in a style similar to "Are You Smarter Than A 5th grader" mixed in with Field Day type of activities. It had a lot going on and a lot of details to juggle. It went well, though. We didn't get through everything I prepared, but we all had a good time - including me. By the time the sessions ended, I was exhausted and didn't want to go to the evening event.

The evening event was at a place called the Buckhorn Saloon. A fun and disturbing place. Every animal that can be conceiveably stuffed and mounted was on display. The giraffe head mounted on the wall - full length neck included - was freaky. There was also a walrus head which just didn't seem right. It was like an ancient nature museum if P.T. Barnum were to build it. There was even a section for stuffed two-headed calves and such. I cannot think of any animal not represented. They even had shrunken human heads.

Aside from the vacant dead animal eyes staring at me all night, the food was terrific. They were very accommodating to my vegetarian needs. Afterwards, they gave us all poker chips and we got to play different games (for no money, boo!). It gave me a chance to practice Texas Hold'em which turned out to be a lot of fun.

This morning I was burning to get out of this hotel and go for a walk. When I walked out of the hotel, I heard birds. Tons of them. I looked up and every tree had every branch populated with blackbirds. It sounded just like the Hitchcock film, a screechy, scratchy noise. I walked slowly avoid both being pooped on or eaten.

I explored the Riverwalk a bit and found a small artists community called La Vallita. It was too early to check out any shops, but it had a very nice southwest feel to it, including a small chapel.

Even though I have spent most of my time in the hotel, I feel like I have a taste of San Antonio. In spite of the cold weather in Chicago right now, I can't wait to get home.

Monday, February 18, 2008


I am sitting in the back of a conference room at a Hyatt in San Antonio as I write this. I am listening to a dapper guy talk about being a better salesperson. The weather has sweetened up around here. Sunny and in the upper 60's and I'll be stuck inside most of the day. I like San Antonio, it's a mix of rich American history and the Wisonsin Dells. Right across from the Alamo is a Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. And who in their right mind would come to San Antonio and eat at The Rainforest cafe? Or Fudduckers, for that matter. Only in America.


I am sitting in the back of a conference room at a Hyatt in San Antonio as I write this. I am listening to a dapper guy talk about being a better salesperson. The weather has sweetened up around here. Sunny and in the upper 60's and I'll be stuck inside most of the day. I like San Antonio, it's a mix of rich American history and the Wisonsin Dells. Right across from the Alamo is a Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. And who in their right mind would come to San Antonio and eat at The Rainforest Cafe? Or Fudduckers, for that matter. Only in America.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

No Cartoons

I'm in San Antonio, right now. Like my trip to Orlando a month ago, the weather here is cold and rainy. I've been here three-and-a-half hours and I have already heard "Guantanamero" six times, twice performed live, and ate some really horrible Mexican food at a place the cab driver swore wasn't touristy. It was.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The BS News Quiz of the Day

Yesterday, I asked...

"Because of Alaskan State Trooper Howard Peterson's recent experience, Anchorage may want to consider road signs that say what?"

8% said "Speed Humpback"
- Oh, no! I just lost my hubcap hitting that blow hole!

8% said "Bear to Your Right"
- Ah, another Kodiak moment.

No one fell for "Dangerous Wolves Ahead"

84% got it right with "Beware of Falling Moose"

According to The Associated Press, Alaska State Troopers see plenty of hazards, but Trooper Howard Peterson was nearly felled by a new one: falling moose. Peterson was driving Feb. 2 on the Seward Highway south of Anchorage when something big and black fell out of the sky about 20 feet in front of his patrol car. Drivers often see Dall sheep on the cliffs but rarely moose. Peterson estimates the animal fell 150 feet or more.

So, they think it was an accident. I have a different theory.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The BS News Quiz of the Day

Yesterday, I asked...

"Retired teacher John Corcoran recently revealed that he taught high school for 17 years without what?"

10% said "A degree"
- Who needs a degree to teach? Enforce that rule and you'll lose 90% of the improv teachers out there.

No one thought it was "A classroom" or "His pants"
- That would be a gym teacher.

A whopping 90% said "Being able to read or write"

According to San Diego's 10 News, John Corcoran graduated from college and taught high school for 17 years without being able to read, write or spell. He said his teachers moved him up from grade to grade. He cheated his way through high school, receiving his diploma in June 1956. He stole tests and persuaded friends to complete his assignments. Corcoran earned an athletic scholarship to Texas Western College. He said his cheating intensified, claiming he cheated in every class. In 1961, Corcoran graduated with a bachelor's degree in education. He then went on to become a teacher, relying on teacher's assistants for help and oral lesson plans.

Well, this new century has been a real eye-opener for me. Is there any way to un-learn reading and writing? I might be more successful. Hell, I could be president.


Every morning, in preparation for this part of my post, I do a search for the phrase "Impeach Bush Now." It brings up 43,200 hits. A lot more that I expected for such an exact phrase, but not enough. On March 4th, I want that number to top one million.

Tuesday, March 4th - get your voice heard by creating a worldwide Cyber Shout. Post on your blog, where ever you can, "Impeach Bush Now!" Here is a great website called After Downing Street. It has the latest news from Washington, including an update on the move to impeach Cheney. It even has an Impeachment Resource Center!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The BS News Quiz of the Day

Yesterday, I asked...

"Some stores in London have come under fire for trying to drive away kids from their businesses using what?"

57% said "Barry Manilow Music"
- That would keep out more than young kids. The military should consider using it to flush out terrorists holed up in caves. "Copacabana" blaring at high volume? Makes my ears bleed just thinking about it.

14% said "Strict Dress Codes"
- No shirts, no shoes, no taste, no service.

No one fell for "Crabby Old Lady Greeters"
- Which, come to think of it, would attract youngsters just for the torment factor. A much more effective repellent would be old ladies happy to see them who want to pinch their cheeks and wipe their faces with spitty used tissues.

28% got it right with "High-frequency Noise"

According to the AP, England's commissioner for children and a civil liberties group joined in on a campaign Tuesday to ban high-frequency devices intended to drive misbehaving children away from shops and other areas. The so-called "Mosquito" device emits high-frequency noise which is audible — and annoying — to young ears, but generally not heard by people over 20. Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, supported the campaign. "Imagine the outcry if a device was introduced that caused blanket discomfort to people of one race or gender, rather than to our kids," Chakrabarti said. "The 'Mosquito' has no place in a country that values its children and seeks to instill them with dignity and respect." In that case, sign America up for it, please. We'll place them at the borders.


Yesterday, I posted a link to At their site, you can sign a petition and they will send an e-mail message from you to your state's reps in Washington. I received a form letter from Senator Dick Durbin. A form letter that addresses impeachment. That fact that his office went to the trouble to create a form letter around this issue tells me that this is an issue he gets asked about ...a lot. Without getting into details, he says he is troubled by many of the actions of this administration and will keep my views in mind as fact-finding continues. Basically, he's telling me Dick's not going to do dick. Someone else will have to spearhead it. So far, the only one who has had the cajones is Dennis Kucinich who introduced legislation to impeach Cheney. He did that awhile back and it has been bogged down in committees.

Congress isn't getting our message.

Tuesday, March 4th - get your voice heard by creating a worldwide Cyber Shout. Post on your blog, where ever you can, "Impeach Bush Now!" Do you think Bush should be impeached? If you still need convincing, here's a well thought out article entitled "Impeach Bush Now" written in 2005 (!) by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The BS News Quiz of the Day

My schedule is crazy busy this week, so I'll likely just be updating the news quiz until I get back from San Antonio next Wednesday. - the management)

Yesterday, I asked...

"Animal rights advocates are opposed to Kentucky legislation that would make fried chicken what?"

21% said "mandatory in school cafeterias"
- Well, the batter does contain all the essential sodium and saturated fat a young body needs to grow (wide).

16% said "more prominent on the food pyramid"
- Look out legumes. The Colonel has got your number.

8% said "tax deductible"
- In Kentucky, that would be like taking the tax off of cigarettes and booze. They'd go broke.

55% got it dead right with "Kentucky's official picnic food"

According to The Associated Press, animals rights advocates are squawking (their words, not mine!) at a measure that would make fried chicken Kentucky's official picnic food. It gets worse. Not just any ol' fried chicken, but Kentucky Fried Chicken. According to State Rep. Charles Siler, the late colonel's fried chicken deserves the title because of the worldwide attention and economic benefit it has brought to the state. Hmmm, government product placement? People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals bristles at the idea. The animal rights group claims that the chickens KFC serves are abused, even tortured. Claims? Yes, I'm sure it's just a theory. Inside the processing plants, the chickens can be seen walking around in swimsuits, drinking pina coladas, hanging out by the deep fryer hot tub. I don't see what the big deal is. It's nothing compared to what Frankfurt, Kentucky has already done to their downtown area. Here's an areal view...


Tuesday, March 4th - get your voice heard by creating a worldwide Cyber Shout. Post on your blog, where ever you can, "Impeach Bush Now!" Do you think Bush should be impeached? Here's a petition you can sign at

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's Show Time!

Roy Scheider Passes On

Roy Scheider passed away yesterday in Little Rock, Arkansas at the age of 75. Doctors did not disclose the cause of death. I suspect it was acute boredom. I've been to Little Rock, Arkansas. Scheider is best known for playing Sheriff Brody in Jaws. I love Jaws, but to me, his best roles were in The French Connection in a supporting role and in one of my favorite movies, All That Jazz. All That Jazz is a semi-biographical film written and directed by Bob Fosse. Richard Dreyfuss was set to star in it, but he and Bob had "creative differences." And in spite of butting heads with Fosse, Dreyfuss did the cool thing of recommending someone he thought was better suited for the role, his friend Roy. And he was right. Scheider is perfect in that film. All That Jazz reminds you of all the stuff you love about theatre and it also reminds you of all the crazy stuff that gets packaged along with it.


Write a fairy tale. A previous assignment was to use a fairy tale as a starting point, either continuing the story or placing it in a different context. The assignment here is to write your own. Think about what some of the common elements of a fairy tale are - under dog that rises to the occasion or a victim that needs to be rescued, magic, monsters, witches, trolls, etc - and write your own. Place it in whatever time period you like.


Look for some changes to the BS website. We here at corporate headquarters have been having multiple meetings trying to balance a heavy writing and teaching schedule with blogging. This week, I am in the final race to prep everything for a corporate event in San Antonio. This means the only updates this week will probably be The News Quiz.


On Friday, I asked...

"The Grease Ball, Tommy Sneakers, Nike and One Eye are all nicknames for members of what?"

22% said "1928 Washington Senators"
- Are we talking baseball players or politicians? These nicknames are too polite for politicians.

12% said "Sha Na Na"
- No, but I could understand why members of Sha Na Na would want to use aliases.

No One went for "The Original Little Rascals"

66% got it right with "Gambino Crime Family"

According to The Smoking Gun, dozens of reputed Gambino crime family members and associates were named today in a racketeering indictment charging the New York-based Mafia family with most of the felonies covered in the United States Code (murder, narcotics distribution, robbery, extortion, loansharking, securities fraud, labor schemes, etc.). The charged hoodlums include "The Greaseball," "Bobby the Jew," "Tommy Sneakers," and "Mike the Electrician." Some arrestees, like Gambino captain Leonard DiMaria, even have multiple nicknames. DiMaria, the indictment notes, is known alternately as "L," "Lenny," "The Conductor," "Nike," "Uncle," and "Fatso." I've got a feeling "Fatso" wasn't his idea.

"Hey, call me 'The Conductor,' you know, like the leader of an orchestra."

"Sure thing, Fatso, whatever you say."

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saturday Morning Cartoons!

Men in Black, The Series (1997-2001)

"The Big Bad Bug Syndrome" (1998)

During the '90's, Saturday morning cartoons were edged off the networks and replaced by morning news. For a short time, they made their home on Sunday mornings. The WB had my favorite line-up. You could watch Superman/Batman Adventures, Batman Beyond and Men in Black: The Series. All top quality animation and a fine alternative to going to church. Where the others live on in syndication and on DVD, with ocassional new material going to DVD, Men in Black seems to have disappeared.

Based on the first MIB film and borrowing from the original comic book, the series continued the adventures of J, K and agent Elle. And it did it well. Stories were smart and funny and often took unexpected twists. Where the film series went off the rails with over-the-top special effects and a weak story in their sequel, the animated series was very consistent. Barry Sonnenfeld could have kept the film series going if he had taken a few cues from these guys.

"The Big Bad Bug Syndrome" is a continuation of the film storyline. As far as I can tell, all the MIB film actors stayed away from the animated version, except for Vincent D'Onofrio who voices "Edwin" in this.
The Queen of the Bugs puts out a bounty on the MIB agent responsible for the demise of dearly-departed Edgar. Now Elle must escape from some nasty Bugs - including Edgar's brother, Edwin - looking to collect the reward.

You can see Part II by clicking HERE.


Back and ready for action. New place, new time. Saturdays at Gorilla Tango, 1919 North Milwaukee (near Western) from 1pm to 3pm. $5. Bring in scenes. Have them read.


Tuesday, March 4th - get your voice heard by creating a worldwide Cyber Shout. Post on your blog, where ever you can, "Impeach Bush Now!"

Friday, February 8, 2008

There's Something Happening Hair

Disappointed, America. I am very disappointed. What's happened to you? Are we changing the criteria for which we evaluate our presidential candidates?

Historically speaking, we have always voted for the fella with the best hair. I am puzzled (and still very much disappointed) at Mitt Romney and John Edwards dropping out of the race. The two candidates with the best headlocks possibly ever. Edwards was criticized for getting $400 haircuts, but dammit, you can't deny that you didn't see every dollar right there on his scalp.

It was no surprise when Rudy Giulliani - whose name I won't even look up to see if I am spelling right - dropped out. He never should have dropped his comb over look from his pre-9/11 days. It was working for him. It was keeping the terrorists at bay. Terrorists respect hair coverage. That's why they wear turbans and such. To cover their bald shame. And speaking of 9/11, did Rudy really think evoking the tragedy of 9/11 would make us stop thinking about the tragedy of his chrome trailer hitch head? What was he thinking? The only president with less hair was Ford, and guess what, he wasn't elected! And he lost to Carter, one of the best collections of follicles ever in the White House.

I know, I know...what about Eisenhower, Mr. Smarty-Pants? Eisenhower was a general first and, thanks mostly to George S. Patton, we expect and prefer our generals to be bald.

Think about it. The only advantage George W. Bush had over John Kerry and Al Gore is that he had, and has, better hair. Clinton's sassy salt-and-pepper look certainly was no match for Bush, Sr's walking Brylcream ad. Bush, Sr was up against Dukakis, who suffered from a similar hair condition as Kerry known as "hair helmet." Too much of a good thing.

Nixon won running against McGovern and Hubert Humphrey - both bald guys and one of them named Hubert!

But what about Reagan, you ask? I'll tell you about Reagan, Sir! He was older than God and his hair was all slick and raveny.

By now, it has probably crossed your mind that "Hey, Joe. Don't you have male pattern baldness?" If the pattern of which you speak is "gone," than yes. I am. Which makes me all the more qualified to speak and it is the number one factor that keeps me from running for office myself. Number one! Money is second. Third is that overly documented, well publicized week I spent doing blow and bonking hookers and farm animals in Tiajuana.

But with Edwards and Romney gone, how are we supposed to judge our candidates? Look at McCain, Huckabee, Obama and Clinton. Nothing special going on there. Maybe they'll bring hats back in fashion. I'd like to vote for the candidate with the spiffiest chapeau.

Romney and Edwards aren't fools, though. They are clearly positioning themselves for vice-president positions. When Americans come to their senses and stop judging their candidates on issues and character, they'll be back in 2012 with their hair stylists in tow.


On Tuesday, March 4th bloggers and fans of bloggers around the world are invited to do a Cyber Shout - "Impeach Bush Now!" Post it wherever you can. Still not sure if you should hop on this bandwagon? There's actually an "Impeach Bush" website. And it's a ""! Check it out and then make some noise with us.


Back and ready for action. New place, new time. Gorilla Tango, 1919 North Milwaukee (near Western) from 1pm to 3pm. $5. Bring in scenes. Have them read. Do a little dance. Make a little love.


Yesterday, I asked...

"Which celebrity does Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio want to recruit to help go after illegal aliens?"

28% said "Sylvester Stallone"
- How do you go after criminals who don't speak English? Send in someone who barely speaks it himself.

14% said "Clint Eastwood"
- Clint Eastwood may be old, but he's tough. I'm sure he can kick my ass. Hell, Clint Howard could kick my ass. But I think Clint Eastwood is too busy being, well, Clint Eastwood.

15% said "Sigourney Weaver"
- She only goes after illegal aliens that like to implant eggs in people's stomachs.

43% got it right with "Shaquille O'Neal"

According to The National Ledger, the Phoenix Suns have a new center in Shaquille O'Neal. Now the world famous "America's toughest sheriff" Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County Arizona wants to put Shaq to work when he is not running up and down the court from the Suns. The sheriff added, ``I'm glad he's coming out to my turf. I'm hoping we'll recruit him for our posse. Maybe we'll go after illegal immigrants and other crime." Posse? Who is this guy? Is he going after illegal aliens or injuns?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Puss Bag

It snowed like crazy yesterday. Walking to Columbia from the "L" in the morning was like walking into a snow blower. Except instead of blowing snow, it was blowing stinging crushed ice. By lunchtime, the ice pellets turned to big fluffy flakes and it looked like Chicago was in a snow globe set to vibrate. Columbia canceled their evening classes. Julie's work shortened their day and sent people home. Looked like it was going to be a snow day. Everyone was closing up shop, except for Second City.

I cut my Columbia classes early and headed home where I could watch the tundra forming outside from the comfort of my sofa. I had a seven o'clock class at Second City that I was sure would be canceled. Many of our students drive in from the suburbs. It's just too risky to hold classes. I kept checking the website and the outgoing message of the training center. Classes were NOT canceled, both reassured. This made me bitchy. I did not want to schlep back outside and make my cold, slushy way to Second City via a bus and an "L" just to have two or three students show up.

In Detroit, I was in charge of the Second City training center there. While at ComedySportz-Chicago, I was in charge of the training center here. The last thing I ever wanted to do was cancel classes. Aside from screwing with the momentum of a class, it fucks up the schedule. A year-long schedule can be packed tight with little margin for rescheduling. It's a headache. One part of me understood why Second City wasn't canceling classes. But the people not canceling the classes are not the people who have to teach them. And if only half the class or less shows up, you may as well have canceled it, because you'll have to go over the material again later. So, another part of me was very bitter and resentful about having to leave my sofa.

Second City has apparently made a deal with God, the devil or some Norse diety that controls the weather. The snow stopped shortly after 6pm and it all cleared up. Out of thirteen students, I had nine. Nine very dependable students who are really digging into their work. It was fun and inspiring. I'm glad I went. I'm glad those assholes didn't cancel classes.


On Tuesday, March 4th bloggers and fans of bloggers around the world are invited to do a Cyber Shout - "Impeach Bush Now!" Post it wherever you can. Still not sure if you should hop on this bandwagon? For Democracy has already written up articles of impeachment. Check it out and then make some noise with us, won't you?


Yesterday, I asked...

"Police in St. Augustine, Fla arrested a woman who had an unrestrained toddler in her back seat and seat belted in her front passenger seat was what?"

66% said "A dog"
- Even though Fido does love to ride shot gun, no.

16% said "A birthday cake"
- No, but I have seat belted a cake before. The toddler can fend for himself. That cake was expensive.

Nobody said "A blow-up doll"
-They only need to be seat belted when filled with helium.

18% nailed it with "A 24-pack of beer"

According to the AP , police arrested a motorist they say had a 24-pack of beer strapped in with a seat belt but had a 16-month-old girl unrestrained in the back seat with the toddler's mother. Tina D. Williams was pulled over in St. Augustine on Sunday for allegedly running a red light. A 24-pack of Busch beer was strapped in with the passenger-side seat belt, according to an arrest report. Williams was charged with driving under the influence, child abuse, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving without a license. Normally, I wouldn't have an issue with her choices here. But I do question the need to be so careful with Busch beer. Guinness I could understand. Busch beer? May as well drink carbonated formaldehyde.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Picking Winners

Hillary Clinton's campaign is really paving the way for a woman to take the White House. That's really a great thing and about 100 years overdue.

Barack Obama is doing the same thing for blacks, and people with silly sounding names, by going farther than any of his predecessors were able to go.

The question to ask yourself if you are a democrat, or leaning that way, is...

Do you really want this presidential lineage?


Does that really represent a change in Washington?



Looks like a change to me. More syllables, more vowels, more fun to say.

For republicans, I don't think McCain, Romney or Huckabee offer much that's different than what we've been putting up with the last seven years. Although, I do love the name Huckabee (it's believed to mean "crooked river."). Although "President Huckabee" sounds like a character on a kids show. "Oh, no! Our kitten is missing! Whatever will we do? I know, let's go see President Huckabee! He'll help us. Yay!"

But, mainly, I think Barack is just plain the most inspiring candidate out there. Smart. Eloquent. Charming. Authentic. I watched his speech last night. He actually made me feel like I mattered. That I was important and had a say in the direction America is going and in the quality of my life and country. That's pretty good, because I am one cynical motherfucker.


On Tuesday, March 4th bloggers and fans of bloggers around the world are invited to do a Cyber Shout - "Impeach Bush Now!" Post it wherever you can. Still not sure if you should hop on this bandwagon? Here's 935 reasons you might consider. Join us, won't you?


Yesterday, I asked...

"The US Centers for Disease Control believes a recent outbreak of paralysis at a Minnesota meat processing plant is being caused by what?"

37% said "Chicken Butts"
- Guess what? No.

23% said "Assorted Snouts"
- Nope. Eat all you want.

No one said "Cow Stomachs"
- But they thought "Chicken Butt" was viable.

40% got it right with "Pig Brains"

According to Medical News Today, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an update last week to its investigation of an outbreak of a paralysing condition that is affecting certain meat processing plant workers who use compressed air to remove the brains from the heads of pig carcases (anyone else have that on their resume?). The current thinking is that the meat workers are being exposed to splatter and aerosol droplets of pig brain tissue created by the compressed air blast, which liquefies the tissue before expelling it from the pig skull. Once inhaled, small particles of pig brain tissue are then attacked by the worker's immune system which uses antibodies that also attack the body's own almost identical human nerve tissue.

Almost identical human nerve tissue!?!

Maybe we weren't descended from apes.

Guess that makes this guy the missing link...

And judging from the background of the photo (courtesy of Cigar Afficianado), I guess pigs do fly. And smoke in non-smoking areas.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Actor's Role

Being part-time faculty at Columbia College, there aren't too many perks. So, you have to grab them where you can. One thing that's encouraged is to take your classes to theater productions and events that happen during your class time. Sometimes that's cool, sometimes it's grueling and, sometimes, like yesterday, it's a pleasure.

I got to sit in the same room with Olympia Dukakis, Nora Dunn, Carmen Roman and Kate Buddeke. Carmen and Kate are established veteran actresses on the Chicago scene. Olympia is in town directing Carmen in a play called Botanic Garden at Victory Gardens and Nora is directing Kate in Augusta at the American Theater Company. Albert Williams, arts editor of The Reader, organized the event. He noticed that two prominent ladies were in town directing two shows close to opening and rightly thought it would be a great idea to get them in a room together to see what they had to say. And he was right.

The most surprising thing they had to say was about the current state of theater across the country and how the actor has been reduced to just a prop. There's very little collaboration between actors and a few of them were even in shows where they were told not to talk to the director. Obviously, this is true about most film and television productions. They are huge machines with looming deadlines and expanding budgets. They need for you to come in with your lines down and to be able to hit your mark and deliver the goods. But in theater? I thought that was supposed to be different.

It's most prominent in New York on Broadway. Which does make sense. Most of the shows on Broadway are producer-driven and market-driven affairs. They are pre-produced to death and by the time the actor arrives for work, they really are reduced to "stand there and do this" type of direction. But they also found this at smaller theaters and at regional theaters across the country. That, I am sure, is a money thing. Theater companies have to figure out how to do the best job possible on the tightest budget. It's cost prohibitive to bring name actors in during the pre-production stage. Rehearsal periods are shortened to save bucks. Sets are built and dressed without the inclusion of an actor's input because that kind of luxury would take money. I'm not arguing against their point. I can just understand how it has become the way that it is.

The ladies were there to promote a culture where actors are allowed to do their jobs. Where they are allowed and encouraged to come in with thoughts and opinions about their characters and ideas about what works and what doesn't work about the story or the set.

Many directors would perceive this as trouble. No one wants to work with an actor who is difficult. As a writer and a director, I get concerned about an actor who wants to change the script. The script I'm already 100 percent happy with or I wouldn't be directing it. But most of the actors I have worked with are smart. Their ideas actually improve the story. As a writer, I also don't want an actor who wants to change everything, but I tend to know when something's not clicking and have had my butt saved on more than one occassion by an actor with a better idea.

I loved what Olympia, Nora, Kate and Carmen had to say. As a director, it's important to surround yourself with people - actors, designers and crew - who want to work together. Whose instincts you trust. Some artists will want to change things just to put their stamp on it. I think, to foster the culture the actresses want, it's up to the director to cast well. Or cast, period. Many directors don't get to cast their own shows.

Some tidbits from the discussion...

- Actors are collaborators in a show, not competitors. Olympia discussed a period in her development where she didn't care about the other actors. She was focused on having her moment on stage. The kind of moment that led to the next job. Her competitiveness worked career-wise, but she got to a point where she stopped caring about the work. As she put it, "If you're too busy trying to win, you forget to play."

- Take "Is this what you want?" out of your vocabulary. An actor's job isn't to be focused on giving the director what he or she wants, it's to serve the show.

- Take "That's not how I work" out of your vocabulary. It's limiting and isolating. Actors grow and change. How you work will change with it. Try new things. Experiment.

- As a director, you can be the top of the pyramid, which is the current model, or you can be the eye of a hurricane. The calm in the chaos and fury that pulls everything together.

Overall, I think Nora Dunn had the definitive statement on the whole process. "You're not there to please the audience, you're trying to engage them."


Go vote. It's not just the presidential primaries on the ballot. But in regards to the presidential primary, if you're not sure who to vote for, READ THIS from Adam Felber.


Sounds like the snowball is rolling on this. I have had people who are fans of this blog tell me they are going to do this and are spreading the word. Good job, everyone! On Tuesday, March 4th bloggers and fans of bloggers around the world are invited to do a Cyber Shout - "Impeach Bush Now!" Join us, won't you?


Yesterday, I asked...

"Legislators in Mississippi are introducing a bill that would make it illegal for restaurants to serve whom?"

50% said "Illegal Aliens"
- What? They can work there but not eat there?

10% said "Flag-wearing Confederates"
- The south shall rise, again. For seconds from the buffet.

No one said "Suspected Terrorists"

40% got it right with "Obese People"

According to The Smoking Gun, Mississippi legislators introduced a bill that would make it illegal for state-licensed restaurants to serve obese patrons. The bill, which is likely dead on arrival, proposes that the state's Department of Health establish weight criteria after consultation with Mississippi's Council on Obesity. It does not detail what penalties an eatery would face if its grub was served to someone with an excessive body mass index. I recommend they be forced to feed the patron until this happens...