I'm out like the dudes in the Pride Parade

Okay, I wasn't going to mention it because it's kind of old news, but I just happened to allude to it in the subject, so I'll bring it up. I went to the Chicago Gay Pride Parade on Sunday. Here's what I have to say about it.


I know I say that about a lot of things, but this is the most deserving "wow" situation EVER. It was a spectacle, to be sure. I saw a quite a few drag queens, some scantily-clad gay men, and oh yes, dykes on bikes. (Seriously, that's what the lesbian motorcycle group called themselves.) So it was quite an experience, to say the least.

After that, I continued in my great tour of Chicago culture by going to Taste of Chicago. Lots of great food there, but the most noteworthy thing I consumed was a cup of frozen grapes. Seriously, who knew a cup of grapes stored in a freezer could be so great? Not me.

But the thing I liked most was the entertainment. And not the big-time entertainment on the stages. I love the street entertainment like the psychic readings and the slight-of-hand magician and the really cool dude who covered himself with metallic silver paint and did the Robot for hours. Man, if you cover yourself in metallic silver paint, you better have the Robot to back it up. And he did.

But my absolute favorite had to be the Native American musician. He was playing the pan pipe (which I assume is a Native American instrument, even though I have always associated it with wood nymphs) and he was actually quite good. The trouble came with his song selection. He wasn't playing traditional native songs. He was playing pop songs arranged for the pan pipe. I heard him play (with backing track and all) Amazing Grace and Hey Jude. Well, we've done it. We have succeeded in completely appropriating Native American culture. Yay America!

Anyway, I go to Cornerstone Music Festival tomorrow and will be back in the big city on Tuesday. Pray for not-rain and have a great Fourth of July!


A new rule almost as important as "no cherry bombs"

I'd like to declare a new world-wide, all-reaching, no exceptions law. I really think that the creators of DVD commentary tracks should have to watch the thing they're going to comment on the entire way through before the recording takes place. But they should be alone, so they don't waste any good banter on the first run-through. Maybe they take notes on stuff they WANT to talk about in the real thing.

Then, when we finally get to the real thing, it'll be almost constant, interesting, funny banter between whoever is recording. The thing I am trying to avoid in declaring this law are long, awkward silences on DVD commentary tracks. Seriously, even on the Family Guy commentary tracks, there are long periods of time when the people are just kicking back and watching their creation. And that's sad, because those are funny cats and they only have 22 minutes to fill. But it's so pointless, because I JUST WATCHED THE EPISODE! If I wanted to watch the episode again, I WOULD WATCH THE EPISODE AGAIN! BUT I DON'T! I WANT TO HEAR YOU TALK!! SO TALK!!!

Sorry, just had to get that off my chest. Probably not a big deal anyway...


Props to my bros in Philly

Just wanted to give a quick shout-out to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. On Friday, they struck down an effort by the FCC to make sweeping changes in media ownership rules. The FCC wanted to go even further with media deregulation and let companies go nuts with consolidiation. I guess that Clear Channel hasn't proven enough that this is a very bad thing.

So props to you, 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia!! Keep fighting the good fight!


Turns out I go to a lot of movies if I have the chance

Here's my rock-solid recommendation for the week: all Christians should go see the movie Saved! Also, all non-Christians should go see the movie Saved! In fact, everyone should go see the movie Saved! (The exclamation point is part of the movie's title. I wasn't THAT excited about the first three sentences of this entry.)

The movie...excuse me, the film (ooh, see what I did there? That's a callback. It's a comedy term, don't worry about it.) was a pretty scathing satire of contemporary Christian culture. But here's the thing: was it anti-Christian or even making fun of Christianity? No. It did, however, make fun of a lot of the stupid things people (especially Christians) do in the name of God and their religion. I think this is a wonderful thing to do and should take place more often, just so people can take stock of their actions and see just how ridiculous they are.

But this is a fairly challenging film and from the outside can seem quite controversial, so what happens? BOYCOTT!! Yay! Many Christian groups are up in arms over this film, some even claiming that it is being marketed to teens in order to turn them away from their faith. Here's my favorite part about uproars like this: the vast majority of people who are getting upset about it haven't even seen it. I love when people feel like they possess such a finely tuned moral barometer than they can judge a piece of work without even seeing it. Why, it's a modern-day miracle!

The funny thing is that although much of the film is religious satire, the message in the end is one of the most uplifting things I've seen in a while. Plus, there are quite a few funny bits in it. And it stars Macaulay Culkin. What more could you want? So go see Saved! Think about it, wrestle with it, debate it, and pray about it. Just don't condemn it without seeing it.

Because I will slap you.

P.S. Memo to all youth pastors: please stop trying to talk like the kids in your youth group. The moment you say something like "JC is in the house!" or "Who's down with G-O-D?", whatever coolness might have lingered in the phrase is instantly sapped by the fact that you said it. Seriously, stop trying so hard. Just be good examples and good leaders. Or I'll slap you.


Coming soon to a blog near you...

I think I like trailers for movies more than the movies themselves. (You may refer to them as previews. I call them trailers because I am, in fact, a bigger dork then you. Also, when you want to be smart you should refer to movies as "films". Trust me, you sound much smarter that way. That's the main thing I learned in film class.)

But seriously, aren't trailers great? It's pretty much the entire plot and emotional theme of the movie in a convenient 3 minute package. It's beautiful. And sometimes, the trailers are more moving than the actual film. I definitely got a little misty-eyed at the trailer for the new Harry Potter film (that Expecto Patronum charm really nailed it), but definitely never got there during the film. Maybe because every emotionally powerful moment was glossed over by the stupid Spanish director. Oye.

But the bad thing is that I watch a ton of movie trailers online, so when I go to the theater, it's like I'm challenging them to show me something I haven't seen. And they very rarely rise to the challenge. I saw both The Terminal and Dodgeball this weekend (I love my new $4.50 theater). There were a couple trailers before Dodgeball that I hadn't seen, but they were both incredibly stupid (in keeping with Dodgeball's primary audience). Nothing against Dodgeball, but most people who went to see Dodgeball probably like really stupid movies. They are the people who think White Chicks is pure genius. Honestly, how the S did that movie get made?

Anyway, both selections this weekend were very satisfying. The Terminal was good, definitely not Spielberg's strongest work. Even Catch Me If You Can was a better recent film of his, but it was still good and Tom Hanks is amazing as always. And Dodgeball is a lot of "people getting hit with stuff" humor but has enough Vince Vaughn humor and charisma to pull it out of the ditch reserved for really stupid films. It also features some of the greatest cameos in recent memory and an amazing ending line. I don't want to ruin anything, but I'll say this - movies rated PG-13 only get one F-bomb in the entire movie. And Dodgeball makes the most of theirs.

It's fun to see where PG-13 movies use their F-bomb. Check it out the next time you watch one. Aside from Dodgeball, Bruce Almighty strikes me as another PG-13 that makes the most of their one use. Isn't that weird? You can yell it as loud and as long as you want, but if you only use it once, it can still be a PG-13. Murmur it twice and it's automatically an R. Anyway, that's enough rambling about movies.

I could probably get a PG rating for this blog. Vince Vaughn, in his swingers role, would say that that's bad. "I want you to be the blog in the R-rated movie..."


I know what I am not.

One day in my Nazi class, my professor said something really interesting and almost revelatory. (Okay, so the class was actually called Nazi and Resistance Culture but it's a lot more fun to say it was Nazi class.) She said, "We define ourselves by what we are NOT." A very revealing statement, I thought. No one really knows exactly who they ARE, but they know what they're NOT. "I'm not a jock, I'm not a bad person, I'm not a walrus, blah blah blah."

Well, I discovered what I'm not. Or at least what my blog is not.

I give you exhibit A: the blog (actually, blogs. I don't know why you need more than one.) of Sara. Sara's age is not listed, but she is obviously a teenager. She is a student in Vancouver, Washington. She obviously suffers from some sort of acute mental confusion, because Vancouver is in Canada. However, this is only the beginning of her problems.

Sara's interests include ice-cream, boys, the color pink, mini-skirts, shopping, parties, and (I am not making this up) bugging ugly people.

Her music tastes include Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, No Doubt, Pink, Jewel, Hilary Duff (on occasions), Christina (sic) Aguliera, and Avril (sic) Lavinge. (That (sic) means she spelled it wrong and I just copied it down. It's there to tell you that she's the dumb one, not me.)

Here is a sample post from Sara's blogs:

Rachel Brachel & Athena... has no nickname...

They R SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOo nice! HOLE-E-CRAP!! I found out bad news about my little brother... I wrote Rachel a letter & then today, (Tuesday), they bought me like THE WHOLE VENDING MACHINE!!! LOL!!

I gtg bother ryan with all my candy & fun stuff!!


Wow. I am not Sara. My blog is not Sara's blog. What are you not? More importantly, who are you?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go bug some ugly people.


Skinny Puppy

Speaking of people who don't know when they're being stereotypical, last night I was walking to a theater to watch my boss in an improv show. On my way, I passed a venue where there was a concert about to start. At least, I assume it was about to start because there was a large crowd of people milling around outside. Maybe the opening band was so bad that people just preferred to be outside, but I doubt it. The reason I doubt it was that the headliner was SKINNY PUPPY, legendary gothic rock band. And the kind of people who go to see Skinny Puppy are not the kind of people who mill around because the opener is bad. Even if listening to the opener is like torture, they would stay because THEY ENJOY TORTURE!

So there was a disproportionate number of goth kids hanging around. Everywhere you look, there's mesh and eyelashes and leather and buckles and metal studs and fishnet stockings and everything is BLACK AS THE NIGHT OF YOUR DEATH. It was pretty creepy. This story doesn't really have an ending. I just saw a bunch of goth kids and they made me laugh because, for a bunch of non-conformists, they all looked the same to me.

Only I didn't tell them that. Because then they would all conform to the idea of beating the crap out of me.


Weekend Update with Tina Fey...and ME!!

So I haven't posted for a few days. Sorry about that. Either I haven't found the time or I haven't been inspired, but it just didn't happen. I guess no one has been rapping at me out of apartment windows lately. Nevertheless, I shall now attempt to talk about the weekend's events.

I caught the MTV Movie Awards on Thursday, mainly to see host Lindsay Lohan. I was pretty upset, because the first 45 minutes or so were screwed up because the stupid tornado warnings outmuscled the audio of the broadcast. Honestly, what's more important, the fact that a tornado may be coming or a performance by the Beastie Boys? Geez cable company, they haven't released a record in 4 years. Let's get our priorities straight. But I don't know why I was mad, because MTV replays the awards about a hundred times, including right after the first time ends, so I saw the whole thing eventually. Lindsay did a pretty good job hosting. She's also way too hot to not be legal. There, I said it.

I found a great movie theater after work on Friday that's just a few El stops north of me. First run movies only $4.50 (yay for student discounts). Guaranteed cheapest movies in Chicago. Not the highest technical specs of any theater I've been to, but well worth the price of admission. I was wicked glad I found it. I saw Shrek 2 on Friday and Harry Potter on Sunday afternoon. Shrek 2 was hilarious. Harry Potter was okay. Some fun stuff, but uneven at parts. I've determined that the best things about the Harry Potter movies is that they really make me want to read the books again. But it is really great watching the actors grow up and grow into their roles. And I'm sure I'll catch flack for this, but I'll say it anyway: Emma Watson (who plays Hermione) is going to be way cute when she's older. Do you see that? WHEN SHE'S OLDER!! Oh geez, I have a problem...

Lots of improv this weekend. The drunkfest also known as Improv Open Mike was just that this Friday. Not as super-gay as the week before, but there were some guys there who were just blitzed out of their skulls. They had NO idea what was going on. I don't mind when people drink and have a good time, but there's a threshold that you pass where you go from "having a good time" to "preventing other people from having a good time" and I can't stand when people aren't responsible enough to know where that threshold is.

Anyway, after IOM, the people who volunteer stick around for something called Bit Club. It's a means of decompressing and producing something quality after the depressing idiocy we've just witnessed. It was my second experiment in long-form improv and it felt really good. Strong characters, fun scenes, a dash of absurdity, and a great ending that brought things full circle. It really opened my eyes to why people get so excited about this thing called long-form. Plus, my boss Matt, who teaches improv and runs IOM, said I was really strong, so that made me feel good.

On Saturday, I went to both ComedySportz show because we were taping them for use in promotional materials. I was just the all-purpose gofer guy, helping with the taping, getting people to sign release forms, stuff like that. But for the most part, I got to sit around and watch some great improv. And great it was. A hand-picked cast that was well-balanced, fantastic audience volunteers, and a veteran ref made for an awesome couple of shows. After that, I figured I was already there, so I stuck around for the midnight show: The Hot Karl. It's no-holds-barred improv, often quite dirty and disgusting but just as often witty and strong. So I'm quickly becoming a ComedySportz groupie.

Sunday morning I actually made myself get up to go to church. I went to a United Methodist Church that is a couple blocks from me. And wow. Definitely the most progressive church I've ever been to. They have advertisements around that talk about how they embrace diversity and their sign outside proclaims that they are a "reconciliation congregation". And they're not kidding. I definitely sat in a row with a few gay men (which I'm okay with. They were nice guys and sang really well) and the preacher's sermon asked the question "Why Are Some Children Homeless?" The preacher also said that he felt most of America had developed collective amnesia in the last week and cited some statistics on what happened to poverty in the 80's. That was a shocker. All in all, the church was super-liberal, which was actually kind of cool. I'll go back. Yay for new experiences.

And today was a lazy day, aside from a little rollerblading and improv class. Tonight we explored environment - things like visualizing where you are, object work, stuff like that. A lot of pantomime. It was pretty fun and I felt okay about it. But afterwards, as I was walking home, I just felt kind of down. Maybe it's because I didn't do as well as I thought I should have, maybe I feel like I'm not really improving, I don't know... But tomorrow's another day and there are groceries to buy.

Sorry this post was so long, but I had to catch up. I'll try and be more faithful in the future. But who can say. If Best Buy ever gets off their butts and gets me my computer game that's on backorder, that will sap up all my time and no one will ever hear from me again. So until then...


Ask your doctor about Zantofantamegaplexidontis

Drug commercials on TV really creep me out. Seriously, it was bad enough when it was just stuff for heartburn and toe fungus, but they've really gotten out of hand. Every other commercial is "Ask your doctor about Pephedril" or "Maybe the purple pill is right for you" and half the time they don't even say what it's for! It's just a bunch of spinny happy people and pills flying around in a tripped-out fantasy world. And they make you think that Pephedril is the greatest thing in the entire world when it's really just a treatment for sickle cell or malaria or something stupid that no one gets.

But the absolute worst - the ones that make me cringe and change the channel if I even catch a glimpse of them: penis pills. It started with Viagra, which was bad enough: Creepy old Bob Dole talking about Viagra helping his marraige. That's really not something I'm comfortable hearing about. But now we have a whole slew of them - there's Cialis, with its masterful slogan of "If a relaxing moment turns into the right moment, will you be ready?" and its warnings of erections that last over three hours needing medical attention. There's whatever impotence drug Mike Ditka is lending his name to, telling people to "get back in the game." What game? What the crap are you talking about? If you're peddling a pill for impotence, just say that this pill can help with impotence! Don't make a clumsy, unspecific metaphor out of it.

And of course, the creepiest of all penis pill commercials: Enzyte, the only prescription drug for natural male enhancement. Did you know that Enzyte hasn't even been approved by the FDA? It's in the small print at the end of the commercial, but by that time, you're already hypnotized into submission by the crazy stylized music and acting. So beware: it may seem all official, but mark my words: One day you start taking Enzyte and the next thing you know, you have a giant thumb. That's all I'm saying.

Ask your doctor to see if this blog entry is right for you.


Mondays are great.

I don't see why everyone hates Mondays so much. They seem fine to me. Of course, I didn't have to work today, but I hardly see what that has to do with it.

I went rollerblading today for the first time in forever. I thought my muscles might be suffering atrophy in my office environment. So I went rollerblading along the lake. I told myself it was for exercise, but really I was just hoping to run into Tina Fey (I heard she likes to ride her bike along the lake path.) It would be great. I'd say hi and then she would say hi. I'd tell her how much I liked Mean Girls and she would say thanks and then ask if I wanted to be her coanchor on Weekend Update. And then, just maybe, she'd lean in real close and...whoa, tiger. That's enough. Anyway, I saw a skate park.

My improv class was fun tonight. We had our regular teacher back and a couple new students, who were both really good. They both recently moved to Chicago to do improv and one even played with The Groundlings (LA's version of Second City). A little intimidating, but fun. It's good to work with people who are better than you. Tonight was character night, so some of the things I got to do were: telling the story of Adam and Eve in gibberish, 6 characters in 60 seconds, spontaneously inventing a character that was then asked questions (he was an old coal miner from West Virginia), and being a writer from Locomotive Entrepreneur magazine (that one was a suggestion from the audience.) A good time was had by all and I got some nice feedback, so that's always good.

Now it's time to prepare for another week of work. Well, a week minus the Monday, of course.


Talking heads

I would just like to take this opportunity to congratulate VH1 on what a fine television channel they have become. It wasn't more than a few years ago that VH1 was a cess pool of over-the-hill rockers, terrible music, and craptacular programming. It was MTV for old people. I don't know what it was, but right around the time of "I Love the 80's", things turned around.

Now, they are a consistently high-quality, entertaining network. And it's due to one thing: their talking heads. They have understood the incredible power of funny people bantering. Mo Rocca, Michael Ian Black, Hal Sparks, Rachel Harris...C-listers at best, but they have single-handedly carved out a niche for an entire network. It's pure genius.

And it's only going to get better. "I Love the 90's" comes out in July. Many naysayers say it's just too soon to sarcastically comment on the 90's, but I have faith in the talking heads of VH1. I forget why, but one of those guys jokingly said that VH1 would soon be making "I Love Clip Shows" in which Michael Ian Black would banter ABOUT Mo Rocca. He was joking, but I would totally watch.

Banter, my friends. It's the wave of the future.

P.S. Did you know Mo Rocca and I are friends? He came to campus last year for a speaking engagement and I got to interview him on the campus radio station. He was hilarious and, after that interview, I am convinced that he is the smartest man alive. He used the word "endomorph" like it was nothing. I just had trouble spelling "endomorph".

Push-button age

So I unintentionally got sucked into a Road Rules marathon this weekend. I swear I don't mean to do these things - they just happen. It's the weirdest thing...I pride myself on being out of the mainstream. I like indie bands, indie films, and other things that most people don't know about, but I watch the absolute stupidest TV and I can't stop. I am aware that Everwood is not the highest quality show on television, but I just love it so much. Gilmore Girls, The O.C., I can't get enough of sappy teenage-geared dramas. It's pretty sick.

Anyway, I was watching Road Rules and someone said they enjoyed "pushing people's buttons." This was just before they got their butt kicked for pushing the wrong buttons on a volatile person. Now, not only is that a ridiculous phrase (it's not as bad as "hits the spot" but it's close), but it's a ridonkulous attitude. Saying that you enjoy pushing people's buttons is pretty much equivalent to saying you enjoy provoking people. Why would you do that? Would you poke a rhino with a electrical prod and then say you were just pushing his buttons? NO! But you would get a rhino horn through the chest, which is about what happened with this guy. So learn a lesson from him. Don't "push people's buttons."

However, I do need to push some buttons right now. But they're on the remote control. There's a rerun of The O.C. on.

What a weekend.

Sometimes I think I'm the laziest man alive. Honestly, apart from staying up WAY past midnight on Friday/Saturday, I really haven't done a whole lot. My biggest accomplishments have been beating Max Payne, making Velveeta shells and cheese, and getting dressed, though not necessarily in that order. But come on, I actually used the stove to make those shells and cheese! Can I get some credit for that? Oh, I also walked a block and half to the grocery store and picked up some things. That's right, I went grocery shopping. I'm so flipping domestic. I have yet to work up the courage to cook something on the George Foreman, but m working on it.

So I guess some things happened this weekend. Smarty Jones failed to win the Triple Crown. I swear, I'm just going to stop listening to the horse racing hype. It seems like every few years people get all excited about a horse possibly winning the Triple Crown and it never happens. It's such a letdown. It's just...these horses...they fill me *sniffle* so full of hope...that the impossible can be achieved...and then *choke* when they don't...ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS ARE CRUSHED LIKE AN ANT BENEATH THE GIANT ELEPHANT-LIKE FOOT OF THE UNIVERSE...whoa. Pull it together, man. It's just a stupid horse.

Avenue Q was the big winner at the Tony Awards. I was happy about that, even though I haven't seen it. Honestly, I don't see how I could not like it. It's funny, off-beat, and has full puppet nudity. So good for them and good for Broadway for rewarding originality. Although the true story of the Wicked Witch of the West seemed pretty original too, but lost out on a lot of things. My roommate was upset, as were many of the attendees at the Tony Award watching party he was at. Bet you can't imagine what that crowd was like...

Lastly, and most sadly, I would be remiss if I did not mention the passing of former president Ronald Reagan. Say what you want about his policies, he was an honorable man and the first president I remember, so he'll hold a special place in my memory.

There's no closing joke here.



Have you ever been to an improv open mike at midnight on a Friday where the audience is invited to come play improvisation games on stage? Have you ever been to one where said audience is about 75% flamingly gay and about 90% is drunk? After tonight, I can answer yes to both of those questions. And it was quite the experience. I can now also say that I've done long-form improv. But that's another story. And right now, it's 4:44, the sun is coming up, and I'm going to bed.


ADD Blogging

I think I need some sort of cat scratching post. No, that makes no sense, because I need something to scratch my back, not something that I can sharpen my claws on. Yeah, bits of my back are coming off in flakes and it's really itchy. I need some sort of tree with rough bark that I can rub my back on like some sort of cartoon dog. That's something cartoon dogs do, right?

I saw The Format, The Jealous Sound, and Spitalfield tonight. I didn't even stay for the headliner, Piebald. That's how indie I am. Anyway, it was an awesome show. The Format is like auditory crack, I really can't stop listening to them. I am completely and totally addicted. You should check out their CD, Interventions and Lullabies. You will become a junkie, I promise.

Do you think people know when they're being stereotypical? Do you think they realize when they're perfectly fitting a archetype? And can I please get some bonus points for using the word archetype? But seriously, I've just started thinking about this in the past couple weeks. I guess I live close to Boytown, because recently, I heard one of the most stereotypical gay voices I've ever heard. And oddly enough, it was in the PC Games section of Best Buy. He was saying things like, "Oh wait, is this multiplayer?" and "God, I'm such an impulse buyer" in the most stereotypically gay voice possible. Now, I have nothing against gay people, but if there was a caricature of an overly gay man on SNL, he probably wouldn't even have sounded this gay. And I just wonder if he knows that. Maybe he's pioneering a new archetype: the gay gamer. I can see it now: a year from now there will be gay elves overrunning D & D groups everywhere.

So the moral here is, be whatever you want to be, just don't be stereotypical. Now if you'll excuse me, my faded jeans, black T-shirt, black wristband, and I are going to go cry to some Dashboard Confessional.

And also, I'm going to pick some dead skin off my back.


I am important enough to know about.

So I've come to the realization that the mere possession of a blog is kind of a pompous act. The idea that my thoughts are important enough to be published so that anyone with Internet access can read them is pretty flippin' cocky. But the very moment I realized that, I not only got over it but also simultaneously decided that you should know more about me. So I updated my profile. I am a modest fellow, if nothing else.

As a result, you can now learn more about me by checking out my profile. I wasn't satisfied with just listing things, so of course I had to attempt to make it entertaining. It's sad, really. I can rarely be completely serious. I am blessed/cursed with an inherent need to entertain. But don't despair, dear blog reader. That will only benefit you in the long run, because I'm positive that you're already as dedicated to this endeavor as I am.

Also, for those of you who were concerned, I have now entered the itching/peeling stage of my sunburn. Don't worry, it's my favorite stage.