Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Commence Whoopin' It Up!

Just a helpful reminder to clear your calendar, maybe even buy your tickets early. We're gearing up for weekend two of The Greatest Stories Never Told...TOLD! TimeOut Chicago has a great feature where you can check out the restaurants in the area for a late lunch before the show or an early dinner after. The cool thing about being done by 5:30pm and out of the theater by 6pm is that it gives us at least eight hours at the bar before last call. That's Sluefoot Sue (Kate Lambert) and Pecos Bill (Mike Johnson) sharing a canteen full of whiskey and nails.


Yesterday, I asked...

"A top Iranian judiciary official has warned against the destructive cultural and social consequences of importing what to their country?"

30% said "iPhones"
- It's not so much the phone as it is the long term binding service contract with AT&T that the Iranian government finds immoral.

20% said "American Idol"
- No, they're cool with it. The mosh pit reminds them of their funeral processions.

Nobody said "Miller Light"

50% got it right with "Barbie Dolls"

According to The Associated Press, a top Iranian judiciary official warned Monday against the "destructive" cultural and social consequences of importing Barbie Dolls and other Western toys. Prosecutor General Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi said in an official letter to Vice President Parviz Davoudi that the Western toys was a "danger" that needed to be stopped.

"The irregular importation of such toys, which unfortunately arrive through unofficial sources and smuggling, is destructive culturally and a social danger," Najafabadi said in his letter.

This has been an on-going battle, by the way.
In 1996, the head of a government-backed children's agency called Barbie a "Trojan horse" sneaking in Western influences such as makeup and revealing clothes. Barbie is sold wearing swimsuits and miniskirts in a society where women must wear head scarves in public and men and women are not allowed to swim together.

Mattel really needs to hop on this. Burka Barbie, anyone?

Here she is with her friends Skipper and Krissy all ready for a fun day at the beach.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Needs A Job

Okay, folks. You know I love to teach and I would hate to leave it. I will probably always do it in some form. And as much as I enjoy the freelance projects, it's time to get a job. A job job. One with a salary and benefits. I need a reliable base salary and I need health insurance. (I looked up quotes yesterday and any decent health insurance is going to cost me at least $300 a month.)

Ideally, I'll get a job at a company I already enjoy and think is cool. Someplace that I can invest in and grow. In that job, I'll be able to use my writing skills and humor, but I'm open to anything. If you work someplace you think is cool and there's a job opening, let me know. I'm fun to have around. I'm on time. I clean up well. I like to do a good job. I'll show up at company events. Leave you presents on your desk. Like a cat leaves a dead mouse on the doorstep kind of present, but with candy.

I'll probably steal office supplies, but consider that a contribution to the arts.


Yesterday, I asked...

"Florida lawmakers are in the process of possibly passing a bill that prevents drivers in that state from displaying what?"

37% said "Replicas of Human Genitalia"
- As long as they are built to scale and educational, they are okay with this.

25% said "Guns"
- Are you kidding? This is Florida. Even the hearses have gun racks.

13% said "Religious Icons"
- They don't care, just as long as it's Christian.

25% got it right with "Ornamental Bull Testicles"

According to The Associated Press, metal replicas of bull testicles have become trendy bumper ornaments in some parts of the Sunshine State, but state Sen. Carey Baker is campaigning to ban the orbs. A similar bill in Virginia, aimed at rubber trailer hitch replicas of human genitalia, died in committee this year.

This is, again, a case of the government treating the symptom and not looking for a cure. A question to ask is, "Who the hell wants to have metal bull balls or rubber weenies on their trucks?" Trucks are supposed to compensate for having a small penis and, with the exception of the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, not actually look like one.

The product line is called Bumper Nuts. And they come in all sorts of colors. Not sure why anyone would want to go with blue. Michigan fan?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Told 'em Good!

The Greatest Stories Never Told...TOLD!, opened last weekend at Gorilla Tango and things went exceptionally well. Chris Othic did an excellent job of prepping the cast of experienced improvisers and actors and packing such a big show into such a tiny space. Counter to my usual approach to a sketch revue, we are loaded up to the gills with props and costumes and set pieces. We even have a tree on stage (courtesy of Nat Topping and foam core board.) This is a very brave ensemble that tackled some difficult pieces to stage, including my take on The Legend of Pecos Bill. I'm very happy with how they figured out how to have Slue Foot Sue bounce so high her head hits the moon. We'll have a review or two coming out this week. I'll let you know if the authorities agree with my take on our production. (The cast from left to right: Mike Johnson, Tim Huerlin, Geoff Crump, Greg Wendling, Kate Lambert, Nat Topping and Jill Fenstermaker.)

METALUNA AND THE AMAZING SCIENCE OF THE MIND REVUE cast! Jen did a great job assembling some fine actors. Some of worked with before, some I'm excited to be working with for the first time, and some who were in the first production with me. Can't wait to get started on this.

The cast for Metaluna and the Amazing Science of the Mind Revue is:

Haliday/Mrs. Holder – Mary Jo Bolduc
Dr. Carlton Twist – Michael Brownlee
Tristan Hannock – Dave Dasmalchian
Rupert Carol Oakes – Regan Davis
Marlena – Lisa Fairman
Mayor Armitage Shanks – Don Hall
Baden Baden – Joe Janes
Tiger – Michael Johnson
Irene HannockRebecca Langguth
Freud/Uncle Louie – Dennis Newport
Nattie Shanks – Erin Orr
Balthazaar – Jeff Shivar
Antoine – Joel Vining

The run of this show is: July 17th - August 16th, Thursday - Sunday, at The Red Orchid Theater on Wells Street.


On Friday, I asked...

"Considered to be NBC's top choice to replace Conan O'Brien when Conan takes over for Leno is whom?"

6% said "Tina Fey"
- Probably not. She's a little busy right now.

6% said "Ryan Seacrest"
- Nope. They actually went with someone with a personality.

No one, rightfully, thought it was "Pauly Shore"

88% got it right with "Jimmy Fallon"

According to The Associated Press, for months, Fallon has been widely considered the top choice to succeed O'Brien when he steps down next year. Last week, published reports said Fallon has signed, or soon will sign, a deal with NBC.

I have my doubts about Jimmy Fallon as a host...or actor...or sketch comedian...but you have to give Lorne Michaels credits. Lorne also produces Late Night and when Conan started, he gave him plenty of time to get good at the job, sticking with him when many critics were begging for the plug to be pulled. However, Lorne seems to be the only person in the world who thinks Jimmy Fallon has any talent. Being cute, which Fallon is very good at, isn't a talent, it's a skill. Like giving blowjobs to producers. Something else he must be good at to justify his career.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Greatest Stories Never Told...TOLD!

Yesterday was one of those days where I had to be somewhere early and didn't end up near a computer again until 2pm. My humble apologies to my countless readers (well, countless because my mind wanders) who checked in to Bite and Smile and got bupkiss.

One thing I did yesterday morning was help out at an 826 workshop. We were working with a class of fifth graders from an elementary school on the south side. In this workshop, we all got to work with a small group of kids and write a story together. They wrote, I typed and nudged them along. I had three girls who wanted to tell a mushy love story about Johnny and Akeelma who met in pre-school and are still together! It was called Johnny and Alkeema's Pre-School Kiss. It had a bit of a Romeo and Juliet thing going on. Johnny and Akeelma fell in love, but were torn apart by Johnny's mother who was big and mean. It didn't work out for Johnny and Akeelma until five years later when Johnny's mother went down to Florida to fight all the alligators for money and the young lovers could spend some time together without fear. Sigh...very romantic. I love working with kids and these three young ladies were throwing in everything they could into the story. If we had another day and unlimited space for their book, we would have had the full Johnny/Akeelma biography.


Because of RvD's opening production of The Greatest Stories Never Told...TOLD! we are cancelling robowriters for April 26th and May 3rd. We will return on the 10th. Come see our show. It's a lot of fun and there are worse things you could do with ten bucks.


On Wednesday, I asked...

"A lab technician in Aurangabad, India is under arrest for stealing and trying to sell what?"

54% said "A Bollywood actor's mole"
- The are crazier than we are when it comes to celebrity. It's always a good thing when you can point to someone worse than you on something.

9% said "Placebos"
- And someone bought them with counterfeit money.

9% said "Drug-laced rabbits"
- What's up, Doc? No. Really. What's up? Got anything? Help me out here.

24% got it right with "Sperm"

According to The Associated Press, a laboratory technician who allegedly tried to make a quick buck by stealing samples from the Indian sperm bank where he worked has been arrested after a doctor tipped off police, authorities said Tuesday. The employee allegedly stole the sperm from a sperm bank in the western city of Aurangabad, and tried to sell 101 vials of it to a doctor in Mumbai for about $625. The doctor declined and called police. Infertility expert Dr. Aniruddha Malpani described the alleged theft as "bizarre" because vials that are not properly labeled would be "worse than useless." "Anyone would have a hard time selling sperm vials. They must be stored in a liquid nitrogen container. It doesn't make any sense," Malpani said.

This is why I keep my sperm labeled and on ice. Look for it on eBay. This stuff is just too good to keep to myself.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Listen to Your Scene

Currently, I am teaching an outstanding Writing I class on Tuesday nights at Second City. Last night, the in-coming assignment was a Moral Dilemma scene. A Moral Dilemma scene is where you paint your main character into a corner where in order to get what they want, they'll have to do something immoral like lie, cheat or steal. The classic example is finding a wallet full of money. Do you try to find the owner or pocket the money? Now, that in and of itself, is not such an interesting situation. However, if your main character is about to be evicted and has been reduced to eating free condiments out of foil packets for sustenance, then it gets a little better. If he knows the wallet was dropped by a little old man on his way to the pharmacy or the bank and it's someone he knows, then things perk up a bit. If the money is a substantial amount, enough to cover his debts and a little extra, we also raise the stakes. There may be another angle of adding that the main character is in Jesuit school or something, but that may be one thing too many. It's a good exercise for practicing heightening your scenes and seeing how much you can believably build the dilemma and while having the audience be able to relate to it.

What was interesting last night is how many scenes demonstrated the need for the writer to listen. On a very literal level, I mean actually read your scene out loud and listen to it. By doing that, you are likely to catch anything from syntax errors to repetitiveness to phrases that just don't roll off the tongue very well. On an internal level, listen to your characters and the scene itself. What are the characters trying to tell you? What do they want? What does the scene want? Sometimes a scene wants to go in a direction different from where the writer is taking it. Usually it's buried in an aside or shown through another character whose more interesting than the main character. In one scene last night, there was a character who lied about romantically seeing the bosses daughter - the bosses fifteen year old daughter, he finds out - to deflect attention from what he was really hiding. His lie, in my opinion, was more interesting than the truth and very scene worthy.

Listen to your scenes!


Yesterday, I asked...

"Pastor Roger Byrd of the Jonesville Church of God is stirring controversy since he posted which message on the sign of his church?"

50% said "God hates fags, women and Muslims"
- I think God hates God and has self-esteem issues.
9% said "Hillary, Bill, do they both wear the pants in the family?"
- Clearly, they both do. But underneath, Bill wears boxers and Hillary wears a strap-on.
9% said "John McCain and George Bush have kissed. Gay?"
- Gay for war. They love war so much, why don't they marry it?
27% got it right with "Obama, Osama, humm, are they brothers?"

According to WYFF Channel 4, Pastor Roger Byrd of Jonesville, S.C, said that he just wanted to get people thinking. So last Thursday, he put a new message on the sign at the Jonesville Church of God. It reads: "Obama, Osama, humm, are they brothers?"Byrd said that the message wasn't meant to be racial or political.

Not racial or political? Then what is it? An ice-breaker? Forget that he's a Christian church leader trying to link a presidential candidate to a notorious terrorist. Let's just look at his logic. Because of a one consonant difference, there's a possibility Obama and Osama are brothers? First off, Obama is his last name. Osama is the other guy's first name. Hmm, I wonder if Julia Roberts and Robert Deniro are brother and sister? Unless one was named Osama Obama or the other Barack Bin-Laden, then I am pretty sure they are not brothers.

I wonder if Roger Byrd is any relation to Jolly Roger? Doesn't matter any more. He took the sign down yesterday due to the national outcry over his stupidity.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'm One!

Today marks the official one year anniversary of Bite and Smile. Wheeeeeeee!!!!

I average 50 visitors a day. It can spike dramatically, usually after I have reviewed a show. In spite of the Google ads, I make no money from this. I think to make money off those ads, one needs to pull in a thousand or more visitors a day. Since I'm not talking about Paris Hilton or featuring cute pictures of animals with witty captions, this is unlikely to happen any time soon. I do it because I love it. I love the challenge. And, as a writer, it helps me keep my chops up - productively and satirically. Thanks to everyone who commented last Friday on what they liked about Bite and Smile. I appreciate your input and encouragement.

I thought I would mark the occasion by honoring other blogs of note. Starting and sustaining this blog has opened me up to a world of bloggers. A world once derided by me. Oh, sure, the Internet is clogged with bloggers wasting volumes of cyber-space blabbing about the antics of their cats or children or how they hate their job and how they are just one quick trip away from the sporting goods department at Wal-Mart to being a disgruntled employee who makes the news. But I have discovered a few that rise above the din and I look forward to checking in on them.

These are blogs I visit daily. At least Monday through Friday. I find them funny, smart, educational and often inspiring.

An Angry White Guy in Chicago (Don Hall) - The grandpappy of them all in my book. The one that got me writing this blog. He has also been my most ardent supporter.

By Ken Levine - Ken is a veteran comedy writer in LA. His social commentary is often brilliant, but I really love reading about his experiences working on Cheers and MASH.

Clever Title (Nat Topping) - Nat is one of the funniest writers out there. I admire his work and hope my writing grows up to be like his some day. His whacked imagination, turn of phrase and aspirations for presidency brighten my day.

Jane in Progress (Jane Espenson) - Jane is one of my favorite genre TV writers, most notably from the Joss Whedon stable, currently working on Battlestar Galactica. Her insights are valuable and she has a soft, mentoring approach that makes me feel like she genuinely wants me to do well, even though she doesn't know who the hell I am!

The Rob Kozlowski Chicago Theater and Vinatge Film Medicine Show (title subject to change as he seems to change it every week now) - Rob is a fellow teacher at Columbia and Second City. He really has his pulse on Chicago theater, from the little guys to the big guys, and he's always rooting for the best and throws rocks at the worst.

Fanatical Apathy (Adam Felber)
- Adam is a busy guy. He and his wife just had a baby and he writes for Real Time with Bill Maher and he shows up in Chicago from time to time to be a panelist on Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!. Because of his schedule, his frequency of posting can ebb and flow, but it usually is worth the wait. He has a sharp, satirical wit that schools me in ways to skewer targets beyond the usual kneejerk "Bush really sucks."

Liberty Valence - a subplot - (Thea Lux)
- Thea is one of my favorite persons on the planet. Period. She is also one of the most creative and talented. Actress, musician, composer, artist, writer and I'm sure there's a worthy "etc" to add that I am missing. Her blog has a way of digging into those daily moments we all experience, often hysterical and often touching.

The Graffiti Table (Paul Custodio and Pete Ficht) - Pete and Paul are friends of mine from the college days. Paul is a copywriter for an advertising company in Spokane, Washington and Pete is a web designer in Portland, Oregon. Pete is also a talented musician and the guy you want to talk to if you want to know what tunes you should be listening to. Paul is also an actor and has a very sardonic sense of humor. They have a lot to say about the current state of the world and about what its like to be in your 40's against your will.

There are many other blogs that I peek in on every week. They are all listed on the left. I don't put any links there that I don't check out myself. There's also a few that I haven't added yet, but hope to soon.

Thanks for reading my blog over the past year. Whether you came here intentionally or accidentally wound up here because you did a search for "nice labia." I don't know that actual stats, but that's probably the number one search after "joe janes blog" that gets people here!

Have a nice labia!


Yesterday, I asked...

"Russian Yuri Lyalin was just trying to sleep off a night of drinking when his wife woke him and told him what?"

33% said "We divorced three years ago. Go home."
- Nope. But if he keeps coming to bed like he did, a divorce is coming soon.

17% said "Your snoring just woke Putin."
- If you disturbed Putin, you'd probably be awakened with a judo punch to the throat before your wife could say anything.

No one said "Your make-up is smearing the pillow."

50% said "You have a knife sticking out of your back."

According to BBC News, Yuri Lyalin, 53, took a bus home, ate breakfast and apparently slept like a baby before his spouse noticed a handle sticking out of his back. He was rushed to casualty but doctors found no vital organs damaged. Mr Lyalin shrugged the episode off but the drinking partner who stabbed him faces trial, Russian media report. "We were drinking and what doesn't happen when you're drunk?" he was quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda as saying.

Finally, someone with a healthy attitude toward drinking. And stabbing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hyde and Go Seek


Clay Continent
Adapted and Directed by Bob Fisher
The Mammals
The Peter Jones Gallery
1806 West Cuyler, 2nd Floor
Two shows left - April 25 & 26
1-866-593-4614 for reservations

For the record, I know the actors and the director of this show very well. Have worked with them all before. Know 'em, love 'em, want to give birth to their babies.

Now the review.

Clay Continent is a riff on the classic Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Most adaptations of classic stories typically do one of two things; they either take the adaptation too literally making a rather ham-fisted affair or they abandon the story entirely and just use the concept and character names - most adaptations of Frankenstein and Dracula follow the second tactic. Clay Continent, thankfully, doesn't fit comfortably in either category. It focuses on the three main characters; Jekyll, Hyde and Utterson.

Utterson? Who the hell is Utterson? In the novella, Utterson is Jekyll's lawyer and friend. If, like me, you are more familiar with the countless TV and film adaptations of the story, you have never heard of Utterson. Even though the Stevenson story is told from his perspective, the character is often cut to focus on Jekyll/Hyde and the impact his duality has on his love life.

In Clay Continent, Bob Fisher has stripped away the story to focus on the turmoil the three central characters are going through. There is no narrative. The characters speak lines collaged from several different works. They often speak simultaneously creating an orchestrated effect. They move in and out of each other's spaces as their pain ebbs and flows. The actors all wear microphones, amplifying their heavy breathing and speaking and heightening the nightmarish quality of the piece. The performances are full of life. Don Hall (Utterson), Jen Ellison (Jekyll) and Dave Goss (Hyde) each crawl, eek, or barrel across the stage fully committed to their characters. Hyde is the only character to address the audience, which is disconcerting since he is one messed up bastard. He is not the devilish Hyde we know from films. No cape, cane or top hat. He is hunched over, snarling, and he does mean things to cats.

While I admire the staging of the piece - it is also very strikingly visual - and I appreciate it digging into the subtext of the story, I found it alienating. The characters are so wrapped up in what they are doing, there doesn't seem to be any effort to include the audience. It goes on in spite of us. And the characters are all at such a heightened state, there's also no opportunity to connect or relate to any of them. I feel that Utterson, being the most grounded of the three, should be the person I most associate with and perhaps even root for, but there are no moments that allow for that. I think it's a very basic element of theater to engage the audience and that didn't appear to be one of their goals. It's interesting, but I wouldn't recommend it for date night.


What the fuck, people? We had fifty people who reserved an audition slot. We scheduled people at ten minute intervals to make sure we ran on time. We had 21 people not show up! How fricking unprofessional is that? I have never run into that before in any set of auditions ever. We think what happened is that people may have freaked out at the last minute. People were told to do two minutes of whatever they wanted to do. We saw some great stuff, though. Some traditional monologues, some anecdotes, a woman juggled a sword, one auditionee didn't show up in person, but sent a package containing a flip book of his face and a cassette tape of him singing a song. We had a lot of great people show up, so I'm not worried about casting the show. But when 21 people don't show, that's a lot of unnecessary down time forced upon the playwright and director. Even more frustrating was when no one bothered to show up in the last hour on Saturday. At Columbia College, if a student signs up for an audition and doesn't show up, they are blackballed from auditioning for the rest of the semester. You can bet WNEP is going to keep track. If we can't count on you to show up to a confirmed scheduled audition, we can't count on you to be in a show.


Last week we didn't have one and we don't have one this week. Next week may be in question, too, as we have tech all day Saturday for our new show. But keep checking in. We will get back in the groove on these. In the meantime, I recommend doing a rewrite of a piece you haven't looked at in some time.


Friday, I asked...

"A structure built for the 1958 World's Fair in Belgium celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was built to resemble what?"

18% said "Elvis's guitar"
- No. (I got nothing here.)

9% said "Dwight D. Eisenhower"
- Perfect with Ike's forehead.A predecessor of the geodesic dome.

No one said "A Chevy"
72% got it right with "An atom"

According to The Associated Press, Belgium last week celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Atomium, an oddity of modern architecture touted as the "most astonishing building in the world." Built for the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels, the Atomium is a towering structure made up of nine giant aluminum-clad spheres linked with steel tubes. The sci-fi design represents an iron atom magnified 165 billion times.

Dammit! We were supposed to be wearing tunics and living in these structures by the year 2,000. Dude, where's my flying car?

Friday, April 18, 2008

One Year

According to my site meter, I have been keeping track of visitors to Bite and Smile since April 24, 2007. Before I even discovered what a site meter was and that I could get one for free, I had been posting since April 22, 2007.

Over the year, having a blog has sharpened my writing skills. I move more quickly and am generally satisfied with my product. This has been helpful to me when working freelance under a deadline. In the quest for generating daily material, it has made me more aware of the world news. This has also made me more cynical. A part of that is acquiring a healthy dose of skepticism. Another part of that is just plain thinking humanity has been fucked over by greed and there's no turning back. Trying to make funny out of that has been a challenge.

It also has me questioning the value of entertainment. Why do we do this? Who are we helping? How are we helping? Should we really be trying to take people's minds off of reality, whatever that is? Isn't that as much of a distraction as a bunch of flag pin-less people talking about Obama's lack of a flag pin? Am I being a part of the problem?

I mulled over the possibility of doing a blog for quite some time. My biggest fear was that I wouldn't have anything interesting to say. That also became the reason to do it. If I don't have at least one interesting thing to say every day, that's pathetic. By the very nature of being human, I should be able to come up with one goofy nugget a day that people can relate to.

So, after a year, what I really want to know is, who are you and why do you read this thing? What would you like to see more of? How has this been helpful to you? Going into my second year, I want to make sure I am providing as best I can what you, friendly readers, are looking for. Let me know what's on your mind about Biting and Smiling.


Best deal in the city. Constructive, honest feedback from experienced sketch comedy writers for only five bucks. At Gorilla Tango, 1919 North Milwaukee, at 1pm.


Yesterday, I asked...

"Yale art major Aliza Shvarts has outraged many of her fellow art students because her senior project features her what?"

50% said "stool samples"
- I made art with that when I was two.

34% said "collection of pap smears"
- Nature's little Rorschach test.

No one said "breast milk"

16% got it right with "forced miscarriages"

According to The Yale Daily News, beginning next Tuesday, Art major Aliza Shvarts will be displaying a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself "as often as possible" while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process. The goal in creating the art exhibition, Shvarts said, was to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body.

The display of Schvarts' project will feature a large cube suspended from the ceiling. Schvarts will wrap hundreds of feet of plastic sheeting around this cube; lined between layers of the sheeting will be the blood from Schvarts' self-induced miscarriages mixed with Vaseline in order to prevent the blood from drying and to extend the blood throughout the plastic sheeting.

Schvarts will then project recorded videos onto the four sides of the cube. These videos, captured on a VHS camcorder, will show her experiencing miscarriages in her bathrooom tub, she said. Similar videos will be projected onto the walls of the room.

On the floor under her exhibit will be Don Hall's collection of mason jars filled with his own poop. Each one signed and autographed and for sale.


HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Yale University art student duped the student newspaper with a story about inducing repeated abortions on herself and using the blood for her senior art project, the school said Thursday.

The story about Aliza Shvarts' project, published Thursday in the Yale Daily News, swept across blogs and media outlets - including the Drudge Report, Fox News and The Washington Post - before Yale issued a statement saying it investigated and found it all to be a hoax that was Shvarts' idea of elaborate "performance art."

Read the rest of the ASSOCIATED PRESS story HERE.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Re-establishing A Groove

Thursday morning and I am doing laundry and blogging. The laundry room in our apartment building sucks. It is dimly lit, only has two washers and two dryers that sort of work, and there's the added un-attraction of having to hang with a neighbor who may (or may not) be doing their laundry at the same time. SO, I am at a laundromat a short block away. I never knew the name of it until a month or two ago because it didn't have a sign. The fancy new sign says it is called Brendel's and is a European style laundry. They play Telemundo on the television and all their signs are bi-lingual, so I guess that's what they mean by European. They also have a card you can get stamped every time you use the triple load machines. 14 washes, and they give you three bucks. Fortunately, I have a thing for triple load washes and have made back nine dollars since using their services. I did just discover that they have free wi-fi, which is now a benchmark for whether or not I like a place. Or person. If you have free wi-fi, I like you.


Robot vs. Dinosaur Presents
The Greatest Stories Never Told . . . TOLD!

Chicago, IL (April 2008): Robot vs. Dinosaur presents the world premier of their sketch comedy show, The Greatest Stories Never Told . . . TOLD! beginning April 26 through May 11, Saturdays and Sundays at 4 pm, at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago 60647. Tickets are $10; to purchase tickets call 773-598-4549 or visit The Greatest Stories Never Told . . . TOLD! is a whimsical look at stories of adventure, tall tales and fairy tales, blended together seamlessly into a unique piece that is a hybrid of sketch comedy and storytelling.

Three story lines are interwoven through the show as well as an eclectic mix of comic scenes that combined make for a multi-layered, engaging and fun theatrical experience. Audiences won’t have time to blink as stories and scenes move from one fantastic world to the next, giving this show a more unified feel than a typical sketch comedy revue.

“We’re trying to create a new kind of show here,” says director Chris Othic, a five-year veteran of the Chicago comedy scene. “We tried to focus on story telling as a medium for our comedy writing. It’s still sketch comedy, but we’ve written some fairly complex, narrative scenes and focused on the staging so that it feels a little more like a play. It’s an interesting mix and I think audiences will love it.”

“A large chunk of our material was performed in the 2007 Chicago Sketchfest, and we got a lot of positive feed back afterward,” Othic said. “We’ve expanded on that material and we’re really looking forward to bringing something new to the sketch comedy scene.”

I wrote one of the Tall Tales pieces and have stuck my nose in about everything, so come see my piece and the tip of my nose. There's a lot of good stuff in this. Solid writing and solid performances.


WNEP Theater announces auditions for Metaluna and the Amazing Science of the Mind Revue, by Joe Janes and directed by Jen Ellison. Metaluna will be produced at A Red Orchid Theatre, July 17 - August 16. Auditions will take place April 19 & 20, 10am - 4pm at the Peter Jones Gallery ( 1806 W. Cuyler, 2nd Floor). Please prepare 2 minutes of anything: Magic tricks, cooking tips, personal stories, a monologue, etc. To schedule an audition time, please send an email to You may also schedule an audition by calling 773/552-3133 on April 8th, 12pm - 5pm (Calls at any other time will not be accepted.) Walk-ins are welcome, though we cannot guarantee a time for you.


Yesterday, while sitting near the bar in Orlando, I asked...

"Kidegaarden, a nursing home in Denmark, provides a service some people in that country are protesting. It is what?"

16% said "VIP express line in the cafeteria"
- Yah. Think it through. Do you really want to be first in line for creamed corn?

8% said "Geriatric beauty contests"
- The swimsuit contest would be frightening enough. I would be more annoyed that the answer to the "How do you solve the world's problem?" questions would all be "What? Speak up!"

No one went for "Conjugal visits with spouses"
- Create your own mental image for that one.

75% got it right with "Arranging prostitutes"

According to, when a male resident at Kildegaarden nursing home in Denmark made an indecent sexual proposal to a member of the staff, the home's director, Inger Marie Kristensen, told a nurse to telephone for a prostitute. ``There was a considerable change in his demeanor after the escort girl had paid him a visit,'' Kristensen said in an interview. ``We do this for our clients just as we offer them other services that they need as human beings.'' That, my friends, is a case of people dealing with people like they were, well, people. I wonder if Medicare covers a good crank yanking.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Orlando in Bloom


Sorry I have been absent from my bloggerly duties. Schedule and lack of free wi-fi are the culprits. I am in Orlando sort of working on a huge expo. I say "sort of" because the bulk of my work was done before I left and the only on-site thing I had to do live was Sunday afternoon. So, it's been more like a mini paid vacation. Julie was able to take a few days off and came down with me. She flies back this morning and I fly back this evening.

Here are a few things I have learned on this trip...

- No matter when I come to Orlando, it is either rainy or cold. They have had record lows at night here and it's been in the 60's during the day. Not pool weather at all.

- I loved Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We got the express passes, which ROCK. Express passes allow you to jump ahead in line. We got free passes and were able to get express passes for only another $25. Well worth it. It made seeing both parks more doable. It also pointed up the similarities of all the thrill rides (Spider-man and The Mummy are must sees. Or must-dos.) By mid-afternoon, we were a little burnt out on the thrill rides. If you want the Universal thrill ride experience, for $25, I will strap you in a chair, spray water in your face, blow on your neck, and knock your chair around.Every thrill ride featured water and whiplash.

- No matter how old you are, you can still enjoy the hell out of whatever you are doing. I met Ken Schmidt who helped turn Harley-Davidson around in the 80's. The dude must be around 60, looked great, and loves motorcycles. It was infectious. I've never been a bike fan, but am more likely to become one after meeting this guy. And last night, REO Speedwagon played at the closing event. These guys haven't had a hit in two decades, but you could tell they really were jamming and enjoying themselves. I had a good time at the concert. i actually called friends and held up the cellphone towards the stage to catch the music. It probably sounded like I was calling them from underwater.

- It's okay for men to get pedicures.


Last Friday, I asked...

"The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Speech gave a 'Lifetime Muzzle' award to whom?"

28% said "FEMA for staging a fake news conference"
- Not so much a press conference as an infomercial for FEMA.

7% said "Cop who complained about a woman yelling at her toilet"
- He was really more concerned about the potential abuse than the overheard profanity.

No one thought it was "The NY DMV for wanting a 'GETOSAMA' vanity plate back"

A whopping 64% got it right with "The FCC for applying inconsistent and arbitrary standards of indecency"

According to Reuters, The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression gave their annual "muzzle" awards to violators including police who charged a woman for swearing at her overflowing toilet, and a motor vehicles department that deemed a "GETOSAMA" license plate offensive. And it gave a "Lifetime Muzzle" to the Federal Communications Commission for years of applying what it said were inconsistent or arbitrary standards of indecency on the airwaves. Fucking assholes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

For the record...

Chinos - are pants made from a tough cotton cloth, like khakis.

Khakis - see chinos

Dungarees - are pants or overalls made of blue denim

Blue Jeans or Jeans - also pants made of denim

In referring to trousers, you may also consider these words:
bloomers, breeches, britches, chaps, cords, corduroys, denims, knickers, pantaloons, rompers, slacks.

Oh, and George W. Bush is the worst. president. ever. What's sad and infuriating is that he is so dense and filled with denial that I don't think he gets that or will ever get that. And the democrats aren't stopping him and our soldiers are dying for a war that the majority of us do not, and never did, support. Every day,
five U.S. soldiers in Iraq try to kill themselves. But Bush says we (meaning "he") must win this war that is now in its sixth year. I love this country, but do we have to be such douche bags to the rest of the world. And do we have to be dumping trillions of dollars into an unnecessary war while our own infrastructure and middle class economy crumble?

And, by the way, I prefer Levis. Classic. Straight cut. Let them fade the old-fashioned way. by washing 'em.


Working on a scene? Want some honest and constructive feedback? Want to work on a scene, but don't know what to write? Come to Robowriters, my friend. Saturdays at 1pm at Gorilla Tango, 1919 North Milwaukee. $5. Good times.


My sister is having a birthday today. She is the oldest of four siblings and the only girl. We made her life hell.


Yesterday, I wrote...

"A species of frog has been discovered in Thailand and is unique for not having what?"

42% said "Sex organs"
- Nope. Froggy's still got his junk.

42% said
- And if the junk wasn't working, he's still got his tongue.

Nobody said
"The ability to sing "The Michigan Rag""

16% got it right with "Lungs"

According to the
Associated Press, Thai scientists say a frog has been found in a remote part of Indonesia that has no lungs and breathes through its skin, a discovery that researchers said Thursday could provide insight into what drives evolution in certain species. They are described as "..."flat and have eyes that float above the water. They have skin flaps coming off their arms and legs." I think they just described my Aunt Lucy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Pizza puffs creep me out.


Yesterday, I asked...

"In an effort to preserve the rainforest, the government of Brazil announced it will begin producing what?"

62% said "Rainforest Hunting Parties"
- Why hunt when you can just raze?

12% said "Rainforest Jerky"
- Mmmm, teriyaki toucan.

No one went for "Rainforest Granola"

26% got it right with "Rainforest Condoms"

According to BBC News, the Brazilian government has begun producing condoms using rubber from trees in the Amazon. The health ministry says the move will help preserve the largest rainforest in the world. The new state-run factory is in the north-western state of Acre, and will initially produce 100 million condoms a year, which will be known by the name Natex.

Natex? Come on Brazil! Sexy it up a bit. How about Monkey Love Glove? The Boa Constrictor? Sloth Cloth?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Trek This Way

I don't consider myself a Trekkie, but I probably know too much about Star Trek to effectively shoot down the accusation. Did you know Mr. Spock's first name is Roger? That Kirk had a lovechild with an alien waitress on Nimbus 3 and that child grew up to be gassy brown cloud that tried to eat the universe? That the voice of the computer on the Enterprise isn't a computer at all, but actually the voice of an actress? Yes. I know these things.

And I got a big kick out of this when I found it on-line. Especially the saxophone player.

I used to have that album. The real deal on vinyl. Great ice-braker at parties. Well, ice-braker at the beginning of the party, great way to clear the place out at the end of the night.


Yesterday, I asked...

"The Wheeling Island Casino in West Virginia is getting with the times by giving away what?"

50% said "Health insurance"
- Nope. Too rich for their blood!

No one went for "Free mansion" or "Groceries for life"
- People bet against the house AND the groceries.

The other 50% got it right with "Tanker of gas"

According to the Associated Press, the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack is giving away a tanker of fuel. One lucky person will win about 9,000 gallons of gas or $15,000 in cash on April 18. And with the price of gasoline at a record $3.41 a gallon in the Mountain State, the petrol could be worth almost $31,000.

Sadly, you don't actually win a tanker, but gift cards for the 9,000 gallons of gas. I smell lawsuit. I would demand all the gas all at once and keep it in my driveway. Then I would sell gallons for a buck less than the gas station. Of course, I could just re-sell the gift cards, but I love the smell of gasoline and if I get bored, I can set it on fire. I am an American.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Make-A-Death Wish Foundation

This from the Columbia Chronicle...

"If gun dealer Eric Thompson had his way, college students would carry more than just books.

In his vision, the next college shooter is thwarted by a student armed with one of Thompson’s guns—averting a massacre, saving lives.

Thompson’s Internet-based business, TGSCOM Inc., sold weapons to the shooters at both Northern Illinois and Virginia Tech universities. First, he said, he felt grief for the victims. Then, a sense of resolve. Not to stop selling guns, but to advocate for guns on campus.

“The perfect situation is that nothing ever happens like that again,” Thompson said. “... But in a last-ditch scenario, you are able to protect yourself.”

Now he is partnering with Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a national group that next month will hold an “empty-holster” protest against university gun-free zones. Thompson will donate holsters to the group, adding a high-profile touch to a small but growing push for guns on campus.

Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, born after Virginia Tech, has grown to 22,000 members. And at least 14 states are considering legislation to allow concealed weapons."

You can read the rest of the article HERE.

This is, of course, a brilliant idea that I wholeheartedly, salivatingly endorse! You fight fire with fire. You stop violence with violence. And as this country has clearly demonstrated, you can only end war with more war. This is America, people! We have the right to bear arms and the right to education. Those are probably the only two left. Guns and ammo should be included with tuition.

And way to go, Mr. Thompson, on taking a bad situation and putting a smile on it. He has taken lemons and made bullets. And those bullets are for sale.

In Thompson and Concealed Carry's ideal state, mentally disturbed shooters would get a taste of their own lead-based medicine from students defending themselves. The only people who will get injured in this scenario are the ones who fail to duck in the crossfire. And, really, if you are not shooting back, you are a part of the problem.

What's even better, we can eliminate the loose canons before they even fire across our educational bow. We know the signs. Loner, video tapes himself a lot, wears black overcoats in the summer. Bad complexion. Never touched a woman's breast. Can be seen taking notes during Quinten Tarantino movies. You see one of them on their way to their "D and D" club, you are well within your right to pre-emptively defend yourself against that hormonal bomb.

I think we would also see a dramatic increase in the grade point average of college students. I know I will probably rate your work higher knowing that at any moment fifteen guns could be trained on my head. Date rapes would also go down in numbers as trips to the emergency room increase for a different kind of "painful discharge."

And thank God these students are organizing and protesting something really important to all of us. No point in protesting an illegal war. Those guys get to carry guns openly. I might join in on this protest, if only to get the free holster. I just don't like how my cellphone makes my front pocket bulge.

Of course, I would be remiss and a disappointment to Don Hall if I didn't tell Eric Thompson and Concealed Carry that they are a bunch of ignorant, volatile douchebags with the foresight and brains of a blind, rabid pit bull. If they have their way, they will cause many more unnecessary violent deaths than they prevent. I would like to shove their guns into their body's own backdoor holster. You may all, indeed, suck my balls.


Yesterday, I asked...

"The United Arab Emirates, as a part of the Mazayin Dhafa festival, will be hosting a beauty contest for what?"

8% said "Buildings"
- "And here we have the Ahmed Savings and Loan in a Giorgio Armani two-piece swimsuit..."

8% said "Automobiles"
- "Keeping the chic in sheik, is this shimmering stretch Hummer..."

8% said "Mansions"
- "Who knew Assam's east wing could play the flute so well?"

75% got it right with "Camels"

According to the BBC, ten thousand camels will be fluttering their long eyelashes in a unique international beauty pageant being held in the United Arab Emirates. The contest in Abu Dhabi is one of the richest and biggest events of its kind, with more than $9m (£4.5m; 5.8m euros) and 100 cars in prizes up for grabs. Organisers hope it will remind Emiratis of traditional desert values.

Traditional values. You know, like making your camel look pretty for money.