I am fascinated by things that perpetuate their own stereotypes. No matter how many cliche stand-up bits are done about how slow the DMV is, if you go there, you realize that absolutely nothing has been done about it. They seem to delight in it. One time an old lady behind the counter looked at me sadly as if to say, "Yep. They're right about us."

I have not been to the DMV recently, but I did try to buy something from a vending machine. Honestly people. It's 2005. Has no one invented a better snack delivery mechanism than the rotating spiral coil?! For every stupid commercial that has some dude put in his last quarter only to have his snack fail to drop, there are probably 100 incidents of this actually happening. Today at the rest stop, I bit the bullet and put in another 75 cents, because two bags of Sour Patch Kids > one.

I realize now that this statement is inherently true. Two is obviously greater than one. I would therefore argue that two bags are, in fact, better than one.

On an unrelated note that will likely have great impact on this blog, one of my presents this year was a digital camera. Here, look how sexy it is.

Yes, I actually stood it on my guitar case in front of a mirror and used the timer function to make it take a self-portrait. And it's so modest, it didn't even put itself in focus. It instead made the artistic choice to put the focus on the TV, lamp, and Harry Potter figurine. It even reversed the Jimmy Eat World poster. How artsy.

Anyway, now that I don't have to worry about film, I'm free to sit in my car before my haircut appointment and take silly self-portraits. For example:

Check out my sweet new Seth Cohen sweater. Thanks Josh and Allyn.

And my fantastic Picassa software (thanks again, Google!) lets me crop and edit and do all kinds of things to turn my shots into emo MySpace photos. For example...

Oh...so emo.

Wait, no. I meant...

Yeah. So anyway, look for more stupid pictures of my apartment, roommate, cat, and pretty much anything I think of.

I'm off to Portland tomorrow for a wedding (maybe that would be a good thing to take pictures of. Hm.) so I'll check you in the New Year! Hope everyone has a safe and totally killer New Year's.

Preview of upcoming attractions:

This is Layla, my...second cousin? Whatever, she's first in the hearts of her countrymen. And she was hilarious at Christmas this year. I have more pictures of shenanigans and plenty of darned things she, being a kid, said. Prime example: the sole point of taking this picture was so she could do what she's doing to Lumpy's trunk. That's the focus point. Why? Because she's four, and it's hysterical.


Shalom, Tobit!

My ComedySportz student show was this Sunday - thanks to all who made the trip to see it. You guys rule. It was a pretty fun show to play in and I think that made it fun to watch, so I hope you enjoyed it. Don't worry, anyone who is mad that they missed it - there will be more and perhaps then we will do a better job of making up awkward white-boy rap.

Speaking of which, I think rapping about the Chronicles of Narnia is pretty funny too, everybody. I do.

To the guy who started talking to Andy, Keri and I as we crossed Clark St: were you quoting scripture? It kind of sounded like it, but then you started saying some really weird stuff about leaves that were the color of watermelons, and I don't think they had watermelons in biblical times. They're a modern day invention, creepy man. Maybe you were quoting from Tobit. There are bits in that "lost book" about killing dragons.

Big thanks to the squadron of Santas on bicycles who passed Marshall Fields on Saturday. You guys were great. SUPER big thanks to the guy at the back of a pack who was dressed as a dreidel. You have balls, my friend. Balls and a great dreidel costume.


The Apartment of Awesome

Life is never boring in this apartment. Of this I am certain. Living with improvisers is a unique experience. When I tell people I live with comedians, they immediately think that it must be the most hilarious place ever. Josh especially has in his head this idea of one person coming into the kitchen to make breakfast, then a second enters and immediately feels like they have to make breakfast in a funnier way, and it escalates until people are just doing pratfalls all over the place.

This is generally not the case.

However, we do have some fun times. And since the makeup of the place is changing slightly (we just had our subletter move out, which leaves Tara, Jon, Niles the Cat and me), I thought this might be a good time to summarize recent adventures.
  • On Sunday, Niles ate about 3/4 of a turkey burger I had thawing in the sink. It was in a Ziploc bag (open, admittedly), but apparently, this will not stop an aggressive cat from obtaining his treasure. He appeared to be a tad lethargic and in mild discomfort afterwards, but nothing more came of it. I thought Tara might be upset, but she rationalized it by saying, and I quote, "Well, tigers eat raw meat."

  • A new cell phone purchase by Tara led to a group discussion and Show & Tell of ringtones. Many were utterly ridiculous, including T-Mobile's "Ta-Da," which is simply a tone repeated twice. It is the least Ta-Da-ish sound ever. But taking the trophy had to be Jon's "Fab Farm," which, and I am not making this up, features a rooster clucking in a funky beat.

  • I was a little worried about living with a cat because I've had allergic reactions to them in the past, but I think I've acclimated. Niles hardly ever makes me sneezy anymore, but if he ever gets his claws in me, my skin gets kind of red and burny. I prefer to think of Niles as having poison-tipped claws. It's much cooler that way.

  • If he ever discovers you did stand-up, Jon will pester you to do your act. If you refuse, he will start performing the most generic and stereotypical stand-up bits you've ever heard. And he will continue doing so for 10 minutes.

  • This made Tara think about getting back into stand-up, but only for one bit - honest comedy. In doing this honest comedy, she would constantly correct herself and explain various comedy techniques as she used them. "So I was driving down I-80 to get to Des Moines today...actually, I flew into town. I only say that to make myself seem like I know the area, thereby making you think I'm approachable and more like one of you, rather than some outsider. Anyway, I was driving..." Just like that, but for THE ENTIRE SET. Come on, you know that would be a funny bit.

  • The other night, Tara, Jon and I stayed up way too late singing TV theme songs in the living room. Why? No reason, except to discover that Tara does a killer impression of Louie the Lightning Bug (who sounds a lot like the guy who sang "Conjunction Junction." She can do that too. It's hilarious.)
In short, thanks for being awesome, apartment. And don't forget to be cool with cords, my friends. You got to be cool with cords!

P.S. Anyone been watching Comedy Central recently? They're doing a series of station promos about an elf who's interning with Santa. Playing the part of the elf is none other than Mr. Kyle Cease. I opened for him at Drake. Remember that?


A History of Awesome

I am not a violent person by nature.

I am, however, a violent person by imagination.

This makes very little sense. Allow me to explain. I have never been in a real fight in my life. Josh and I always wrestled quite a bit, but it never really came to blows. And I am, by nature, a very meek, peaceful, conflict-avoiding person. But in my head, I am quite often pretty vicious.

I'm not exactly sure when it started, but it normally pops up when I'm walking through crowded spaces like airports or the dining hall back at Drake. I'll just be walking along, minding my own business, then all of a sudden, in my mind I'll clothesline someone or tip their tray up so their food gets all over their shirt.

Some of you may be reeling from this. Let me reassure you by saying that it is never done maliciously. It is always done hilariously.

There's something kind of funny about imagined violence, in the sense that it's almost cartoonish and the person never gets hurt. That's the kind of violence that happens in my mind, say when I imagine that I just did a 360 with my rolling luggage and hurled it, a la an Olympic hammer throw, into the face of that guy in the green shirt.

It strikes me that no matter how I try to explain this, I come off looking like a sociopath. So allow me to say that I got Josh to start doing it too. So now we mostly do it to each other and enjoy announcing that fact. We'll just be walking along in some city and you'll hear, "Hey Tim, I just pushed you over the side of the bridge." Sometimes Josh will get so excited about it, he'll just start laughing and bouncing around in his seat and say, "You'll never guess what I just did to you!"

(It should be noted at this point that when presented with a potential victim holding a lunch tray, Josh will always hit straight down, whereas I will hit up on the tray. He says his way doesn't give them a chance to recover. I wonder what this difference says about us, developmentally. Someone should write a paper.*)

Anyway, today I was walking out of Jewel with a milk jug in my hand. It was a full gallon, so it had some heft to it. I used it to hit a dude in the face, then launched it over the fence and it landed right on a girl's head.**

It was all cartoony, people. And all hilarious.

*I find that I end most of my psuedo-intellectual thoughts like this. It's kind of my "Well, we all have stories" for intellectual things. And by "someone," I never mean me. My paper-writing days are over, thank you.

**She crumpled to the ground, but only saw stars and cartoon birds. No permanent damage. Cartoon violence, guys. I'm not evil, I promise.

P.S. Somewhere in this great world, Jacob Eyers senses a disturbance in the Force. He then immediately experiences an overwhelming desire to move to the West Coast and follow this tour from beginning to end. Man, who remembers the Crouching Fish, Hidden Finger tour? I do.


Bus-ted in Croatia

Okay, so I know I haven't posted for over a week, but I seriously have a legitimate excuse this time. Last week, about this time, I started getting some weird system slowdown and lockups. Then on Thursday, after running some diagnostics, my laptop absolutely refused to boot up at all and instead gave me a really pretty blue screen that said "Unmountable boot sector." The next day I took it to Best Buy (because it was still under the service plan, sucka) and my suspicions were confirmed: the hard drive had committed hari-kari.

Got it replaced at no charge and was presented with a completely fresh system. I've spent the last few days trying to get it back up to snuff. Fortunately, this happened to Josh in the spring, which freaked me out enough to make me buy an external hard drive, so I didn't lose anything TOO vital. (All episodes of Firefly are safe, thank God.) But it's a hassle getting everything back the way I like it, especially with a network that's still super-sketchy.

So I didn't post because my computer was broke! There! Does that satisfy you?! Freaking jackals.

I'll tell a fun story to make up for it. It even involves a movie moment. How's that?

Tonight I took a trip downtown to the Chicago Cultural Center, because I need some freaking culture in my life, that's for sure. I saw on the front page of the Chicago Reader that there was going to be an academic panel discussion on "The Simpsons: Cultural Criticism and America's Favorite TV Family." Sounded kind of fun and I couldn't think of any better way to honor the day of The Meez's birth, so I tromped down there.

What the Chicago Cultural Center failed to take into account is that a listing on the front page of the Reader might increase your audience to something quite a bit larger than a normal academic lecture might bring in. By the time I got there (admittedly a little late), the room was overflowing. People were sitting on the floor, for goodness sakes. I realized there was no way I was going to experience any significant part of this lecture.

Altogether now...


But fear not, loyal readers. This story has a happy ending. Allow me to briefly describe the architecture of the Chicago Cultural Center. It's um...really really pretty and cool. Arches and domes everywhere, big stone staircases, just general awesomeness.

So I'm on the first floor, bummed about screwing up the cool lecture, when all of a sudden I hear something heavenly floating down from above. This is the movie moment, when I slightly cock my head and think "Where's that music coming from? It's...it's beautiful!"

I walk up three flights of stairs and come upon the atrium pictured in the second image I linked to up there. There, doing their sound-check for a concert later that evening, is...get this...an all-male acapella group from Croatia. Their name is Klapa Sinj, and they are amazing. About twelve of them there, I think. The basses rattled your skull and the counter-tenors lifted your soul into the dome of the atrium, which, by the way, had amazing acoustics. Basically, Mrs. Bear would have peed her pants if she had been there. So I grabbed some quick dinner and came back in time for a fantastic concert.

Chicago Cultural Center...if you're a place where a guy can completely fail to go to the free event he intended and still find a free event that is possibly even cooler, than you're all right with me.

P.S. I know, that movie moment would have been much better if I had met my soulmate at the concert or maybe just gotten really good at chess all of a sudden, but I take what I can get.

P.P.S. I only reference chess because I recently watched Searching for Bobby Fischer. That's a great movie that, for no good reason, has a ridiculous all-star cast. Joe Mantegna and Joan Allen are the parents, Ben Kingsley and Laurence Fishburne are the chess mentors, William H. Macy is a chess dad that shows up a couple times, Laura Linney is a teacher who has ONE SCENE, and Tony Shalhoub is a random guy at the chess club who says maybe three lines. Explain that.


Give thanks for lessons

Man, who posts over Thanksgiving break (or the two following days)? Not this guy!

I had a lovely time back in the field of Spring for a few days. Now that I'm back in Chicago and had some time to reflect on things, I've realized that, as with most of my vacations and breaks, I learned some valuable lessons. So, without further adieu, I present:

Things I learned over Thanksgiving Break:
  • I really have no right to call it "Thanksgiving Break." Oh really Tim? A break from what? Improv classes and a spotty wireless network? Yeah, rough life you got there. You need a break.

  • Sears is super flaky when it comes to hiring tall people to do promotions. The day after I said I couldn't work on Thanksgiving morning, I got an e-mail that said Sears canceled again, but those people who signed up to work would get $75 just for saying they would. DARN YOU, SEARS!!

  • Scott may completely fail to give blood once, but will pull himself together enough to get it right the second time. (This time, despite his head start, I definitely won. And don't buy his crap about inside vs. outside veins. I kicked his butt while he was flirting with the old nurse.)

  • Playing Loaded Questions with your gramma is hilarious.

  • Playing Imaginiff with Allyn's gramma is equally hilarious. I'm tempted to reveal some of her more surprising answers here, but they would probably just blow your mind.

  • You know, I'm just going to make a blanket statement and say that playing any board game with relatives, especially when there are multiple generations represented, is going to be pretty hilarious.

  • You may think you know my cousin Barry, but you have no idea. First I learn that the guy writes poetry, and last week, I learned he likes to "get jiggy with his bad self" when he hears rap music. Who knew? Not me.

  • Allyn being competitive is funny. Allyn trying (unsucessfully) to dial down her competitiveness is funnier.

  • Trying to find the pieces of the 30-year-old electric knife in the Ryder household is an epic task akin to assembling the Tri-force. The thing probably only sees use once a year and in the interim, gets disassembled to its various components, which are then stored in completely different and non-adjacent drawers. Josh and I are convinced that the only thing that keeps this thing from rusting away to nothing is the turkey grease gleaned from its previous use.

  • Guitar Hero with Josh and Rob is the most fun I've had playing video games in a long time. Thanks a lot, Guitar Hero. I've never wanted a PS2 more because of you. I'm well aware that I'd probably have to buy a new TV just to connect you (the greatest TV of all TVs, currently in my possession, is from the 70's and has not one, but two dials for the channel selection), but I don't care. Come on, high-paying job! Where are you when I need you?

  • "It's punk rock. How hard can it be?" are famous last words when attempting "I Wanna Be Sedated" on Expert level. I saw probably 12 bars of the song and didn't hit a single correct note before being booed off the stage.

  • There are some super-dedicated fans of The Office out there. Thanks to sites like Northern Attack, I learned that not only does Dwight have his own blog, but Pam, Ryan, Toby, Kevin, and Angela are all on MySpace. I'm now seriously considering joining MySpace just so I can be friends of fictional characters on my favorite TV show, because...come on. That's awesome.

  • The Ryder family Christmas tree expedition, despite being moved to a new location, still follows pretty much the same formula. That's comforting, in a way.
It's also just comforting to be home for a few days. Thanks to friends and family for all the good times. Coming up next...adventures in...temping?


TV Guido

Loyal readers may remember my excitement over possibly landing the near-mythical "Sears gig." (Remember that? Three posts ago? Thanks for sticking around, loyal reader.) Well, disappointingly, they scheduled the promo for Thanksgiving morning to coincide with the parade and I will certainly not stick around Chi-town on Thanksgiving just to pass out Sears coupon books and be pimped for my height. No sir.

But since I went out for that open call, I've been added to the distribution list of the company that staffs all of these crazy things. And on Thursday, I actually participated. I chose a great day, as Thursday was one of the coldest days of the season so far, so what better day to stand on street corners and pass out stuff?

It was a TV Guide promotion, so we were passing out 3-D glasses for Monday's special 3-D episode of Medium, as well as coupons for TV Guide subscriptions. Not surprisingly, people were much more interested in the glasses.

I was paired up with a very cool girl named Lyndsay (yes, that's how she spells her name. I checked.) who, coincidentally (not really) is also an improviser, so we had a pretty decent time trying to stay warm. She at least made things fun and helped the day go by faster. It's funny the things that come out of your mouth when you say the same things over and over for hours. And also when your mouth gets frozen shut.

Things we were supposed to say:
  • The New TV Guide is big - get 4 free issues with your trial subscription!
  • Your 3-D glasses for a special episode of NBC's Medium - a special gift from the new BIG TV Guide!
Things we actually said:

Lyndsay: Hey! Watch TV!

Tim: Get your 3-D glasses here! Only with them will Emmy-winner Patricia Arquette actually show some depth! Ha ha! Get it?!

L: Psychic investigations in the third dimension! See what she sees! (to Tim) That's ghosts, right? (to universe at large) See ghosts in 3-D!

T: Get four frissues of the new BIG TV Guide!
L: Frissues?
T: Yeah, that's a new combo term I just invented. Means "free issues." Get four frissues here!

Creepy guy with food on his face: Hey, are you an actor?
Lyndsay: Uh...yes.
Guy: Gotcha!

(This worried us for a little while because we were warned that the client would be sneakily auditing us and trying to catch us saying things that weren't in our script. But then we just decided it was a creepy guy with food on his face.)

Business guy: Oh, I love that show. It's so great to have a show with a female lead that's not some dumb model.
L: Yeah, she's a great psychic lady.

L: Get your three free-D glasses here!
T: You know, that's not technically wrong.

At least two old people berated us for the changes in the new TV Guide, because people who pass out stuff on the street corner obviously have a direct conduit to the decision-makers. But, just in case there are any TV Guide higher-ups reading this, you need to put things in Central Time Zone, because people here haven't learned how to subtract an hour. Also, something about cooking shows and movies from 6 AM to noon. There, now get on it! The public has spoken!


Harry Potter and more awkward bathrooms scenes with Myrtle

Tara snuck her way into the router today and played with some settings. Now, not only are we connecting to a network known as "3406, y'all," but we are also actually connecting to a network. It's quite the revolutionary concept. Ah, Comcast...how quickly I've come to despise you.

I was quite jealous to hear of the Springfield foursome's great times at the midnight showing of Harry Potter. I did not go to a midnight showing because I was
wiped out from standing outside on the streets of Chicago in the blistering cold handing out 3D glasses for the better part of 7 hours. More on that tomorrow.

I decided to catch a matinee this afternoon, because I really don't do anything during the day and thought it would be less crazy. I drove to the theater because it had been a while since I'd taken the Stallion out (the clock was still wrong, for heaven's sakes). Travel time kind of screwed up my chance at the 3:30 (since when does a 3:30 Friday showing sell out? Geez.), but luckily the theater was showing the movie basically every hour. But the 4:30 showing meant one thing.

School's out.

Normally, a kid-filled audience would be very upsetting, but, lacking nearby dedicated geek friends, I was more than happy to share the experience with dedicated kid friends. The PG-13 rating ensured that there would be very few
little kids, and so therefore I enjoyed a pretty silent and cry-free audience*. Besides, it's good to see things through the eyes of a child every now and again. Every New Day and all that.

The movie was, as many of you know by now, awesome. The kids are growing up and growing with their roles pretty nicely. Overall, very enjoyable. In the interest of sharing and conversing and whatnot, I had some questions and comments.

-Did Cho have an Irish accent in the book? If she didn't, she should have. I could have listened to her talk the whole movie. Pity she didn't have more lines. "Careful of the steps, Harry. It's a bit oicy at the top." Sigh...

- Did the students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang go to school during the year or did they just get the year off? They obviously didn't mix into the Hogwarts classes, but a year seems like a long time to be going to class on a ship/in a carraige. Did they have some empty classes in Hogwarts or what? This may be a middling issue, but I feel education is the key to the future.

- Finally, I decided that watching Harry Potter movies without reading the books is equivalent to watching
Serenity without having ever watched Firefly. Taken on their own, they are enjoyable cinematic experiences, but have nowhere near the emotional resonance. It's just so much more meaningful to know the backstory and the depth of everything - like why it was so hard for Neville to see the Cruciatus curse. (Which they changed, didn't they? It was Bellatrix Lestrange that performed it on his parents, not Barty Crouch, Jr.**)

Anyway, it was great, even the super awkward scenes with overzealous female ghosts. Naughty bits, indeed.

*Except for that little bit that I cried. But that was silent and if there had been a nice girl with me, she would have thought it was sweet.

**Is this post geeky enough yet?***

***No. No, it's not.


Vaguely upsetting

Sorry for the lack of posting lately, but Comcast went completely bonkers over the weekend and my Internet has been fluctuating between middling and non-existent ever since. (I blame Scott's arrival to Chicago.) Believe me, I'd love to post about all of our wacky adventures. I'd also love to BitTorrent my stories, but the only thing working at the moment is wishful thinking.

Also, the Sears gig has been postponed until further notice. Sears is still shooting for sometime this month, but don't hold your breath.

Finally, it's cold and rainy in Chicago. Possible snow today.

I'm not going to say it's depressing, but let's just say I'm really looking forward to Goblet of Fire, for escapism if nothing else.


I hope I get it. Oh God, I hope I get it.

So...I'm pretty tall. Many of you are well aware of this. I've been that way for some time, and while it is occasionally an inconvenience or an irritant, I've made my peace with it.

Yet as I move into this strange world of improv and auditions and whatnot, I'm aware that my above-average height will probably knock me out of the running for a few things. I'm fully prepared to hear "You're absolutely hilarious and fantastic, but you're just too tall," quite a bit (probably without the first bit most often).

So imagine my surprise when my first potential gig demands it.

One of my roommates makes a little money doing promotions for companies. A lot of actors and improvisers in the city make money by passing out samples of FUZE or painting their faces blue and talking on cell phones in the El (I'm not making that up). This is the "guerrilla" or "encounter" marketing you hear about from time to time.

So my roommate told me about an upcoming promotion for Sears that required really tall people. Apparently, Sears was looking for about four people who are 6'5" or taller to pass stuff out downtown. The hook is that we're really big, but we're passing out really little coupon books, but at the same time, encouraging people to wish BIG and get ready for a BIG holiday. Get it? Yeah, I don't either.

So I went in for an "open call" last night that pretty much consisted of a brief interview and then getting measured and having my picture taken. The gig is next week, so I'll let you know what happens.

But now I can say things like, "Oh, I hope I get that Sears gig." Which I think is hilarious.


He's not heavy, he's my brother

Holy crap, it's my brother's birthday! He turns 25 today, so in honor of his quarter-life crisis (and possibly to exacerbate it), here's a bunch of pictures that make him look like a dork!

(Loyal readers may remember that I did this for Raph on his birthday, thus making it a time-honored tradition. Because I've done it twice now.)

Here's Josh in fierce competition with a girl that is much younger than he. If you can't tell, they're trying to hold a quarter between two spoons while squatting with their arms straight out. This is just the kind of thing that happens at church camp. Another thing you might not be able to tell is that he's losing. In fact, that's a big Josh characteristic: frequently loses tests of strength to junior high girls.

I know I've posted this picture before, but I think it's just about the coolest picture even taken. Not just of Josh, but of anyone. Ever. For the story behind the shot, go here.

I don't know who that girl is, but this is an important picture because it represents the Josh Ryder picture-posing philosophy: "Even if everyone else around is smiling nicely, I'm making a silly face." I often hypothesize that this has something to do with how much he sucked as a baby. (Seriously, he was born way premature and things were looking bad for a bit. But he turned out okay and now we just gloss it over by joking that he really sucked as a baby.)

This is an important picture because it illustrates an important attribute of both Josh and Scott. Scott likes to be really creepy in pictures and Josh sweats. A lot. Even if it's not warm. Seriously, it's gross.

This is...oh wait, this is just me stealing a bike. My bad.

I think Josh was going for a Ty Pennington/Randall from Clerks look here, but mostly he just looks like a tool. (This is how we show affection, I swear.)

There's that girl again...weird. Here's Josh in a really sweet car giving English people the bird. Take that, English people!!

So yeah...there it is. Hope you liked your present, brother. This is it. It's all you're getting. So happy birthday! Everybody, go to Josh's blog and tell him happy birthday. He deals with 6th graders all day. He could use the encouragement.

P.S. I highly recommend watching tonight's episode of MADE on MTV at 9:00. It features an extremely ridiculous girl who doesn't know what she wants to be, so she comes to ComedySportz. Seriously. Ridiculous.


"Wow, what kind of drinks do you serve in this place?"

I just had a great weekend with the visiting Josh & Allyn.

During that time, Niles the Cat got sick and not only pooped on the living room floor but also had some weird hairball vomit stuff go on in the kitchen.

Earlier today, my improv class was incredibly tedious and frustrating.

I just got back from seeing MxPx and Relient K, another show I was much too old for.

However, these are all topics for another day.

I simply cannot go another minute without sharing this amazing discovery. It seems the FOX Broadcasting Company, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to do battle with ABC's surprise summer hit "Dancing With the Stars," with their own amazing creation...

...wait for it...

"Skating with Celebrities," airing in Winter of 2006.

Not only will "celebrities" be paired with former Olympic figure skaters to compete in what I'm sure will be fairly atrocious pairs skating competitions, one of the pairs is none other than two-time Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan and...

...wait for it again...

Dave Coulier.

Immediately following the premiere, I predict the universe will explode for your enjoyment.


Another improviser in Chicago? Good, we were lacking for them.

It strikes me that I've yet to speak of my improv classes here in Chicago, which is odd as improv is a pretty big reason why I'm here in the first place. I've taking two classes right now:

Second City - Level A: This is the quintessential "So You Want to Improvise" class. There's lots of silly mirroring exercises and much discussion of the principles of improv without actually doing much of it. Not in scenic format, anyway. I just had my third of eight classes a few days ago (this one is on Sunday afternoons) and toward the end of class we did our first real improvised scenes. This is awesome for someone who's never improvised before and is scared to death of it (as some members of my class are, and they're adorable), but a little basic for someone like me who's been improvising for a while. So I scheduled an audition for the Conservatory Program to see if I can get into that. Many of my improviser friends recommended I do this, since it saves time and money, so I thought I'd give it a shot. The teacher is great, though and the class is fun. Just a little slow for my tastes.

ComedySportz - 202: I took 101 last summer during my internship, so I get to rock out in 202 now, which is all scenic improvisation. This class is much more to my liking - no more babying you onto stage, just get out there and let's start making stuff up. My teacher is awesome and my classmates are pretty fun, so we have a good time, doing lots of different character and emotion exercises and learning great ComedySportz games. The best part is that we get a real show at the end of our class, and somehow it worked out that we get the whole show to ourselves (normally, you have to split it with another class). At least that's what they said one week. We'll see. Looks like it's scheduled for Dec. 18 at 4:00 pm, for those of you interested.

Anyway, I have a homework assignment this week. I have to come up with 10 foolproof scene initiations. These are lines of dialogue that set up a scene and give your scene partners some idea who you are, who they are, where you are, and what's going on. Not all of those conditions need to be satisfied in one line - that would be unwieldy and unnatural, but it's get at least a couple of those in there. Something like:

"Okay everybody, listen up! If you all listen to me, you're going to walk out of here a million dollars richer!"


"Your mother and I are very confused, sweetheart. You say it was your teddy bear that killed all those people?"

See! Instant hilarity! Because little girls pinning violent crimes on their stuffed animals = funny! HA HA HA!! ZZZZZzzzzzzz. (I'm stealing bits from Tara now. Take that, Tara.)

Now I'm not asking you to help me do my work. That would be cheating and all of mine would be better than yours anyway. (Need I remind you of the bit with the teddy bear? Eh? EH?!) But I thought it would be fun to open it up to the people at large. So come on, comic geniuses. Hit me with some funny. I know you don't have anything better to do.



Holy crap, Rob. Prussian Blue is like an alternate-reality version of Smoosh. An alternate-reality in which they are brought up by really creepy pro-white people.

So...Halloween, right?


Halloween on Clark Street is lots of fun, because there are lots of bars and silly drunk people in costume. The best line of the weekend was reported to me by Tara, who said she heard some guy yell, "Hey Miller Light Can! Miller Light Can, you dropped your wallet!"

I was helping ComedySportz give away fliers and mini-frisbees on Sunday to little kids in costume. Over on Southport, the merchant corridor gives away candy and tells kids to come by. It was great, because little kids in costume are hilarious.

I decided that day that if I ever have kids, I'm going to dress them up in costume as often as possible. I don't care if it's not Halloween or even anywhere close, some days I'll just say, "Guess what, little guy? Today's a costume day! Go pick one out from your closet!"

Then my kid will be the weird costume kid at school. I'll probably wreck his life, but it's not wrong if it's hilarious.

Cool observed costumes, anyone? Discuss!


Two shows in two days (plus some spit)

Thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone. It was a pretty darn good one. Slept late then headed with Tara to ComedySportz for pizza and cake with my C-Spo office buddies. Always a laugh riot with that bunch, let me tell you. A restful afternoon was then followed by the Nickel Creek concert.

And what a concert it was.

The Vic is a great venue - large floor space and HUGE balcony with great sight lines. Tara and I got there right when the show was supposed to start and we wanted to have seats (we're old), so we had to go pretty high up. But we could still see all the action and everything sounded great. Kudos to you, The Vic, for being a classy old theater that's still rockin' it.

The string of fantastic (and fantastically weird) opening acts continued in this show with The Ditty Bops. They were a female duo that played very folksy, circus-y, "Triplets of Belleville"-y music. I say circus-y, mostly because the show pretty much had its own sideshow. There was this one dude whose only apparent job was to be weird. He started the show on stilts, then wore a tux to very formally play the windchimes, did a bit where he stomped out as a one-man band, juggled, and engaged in fake swordplay with one of the girls. Undescribably weird and inexplicably amusing.

Then came Nickel Creek. And wow - what amazing musicians these three are. The amount of time they've put into their art to have such absolute mastery over their instruments just blows my mind. And not only did they provide amazing renditions of their own songs (often with extended endings and instrumental jam sessions that frequently tore the house down) they covered Radiohead's "Nice Dream" and Britney Spears' "Toxic" (and it was 100 times better.) Just a fantastic show. I am far from a county or bluegrass fan, but this is one of those groups I recommend to anyone who enjoys music. Period.

I pretty much have a big crush on Sara, the fiddle player from Nickel Creek. (Yeah, I love a girl who plays fiddle.) So when they mentioned they love Intelligensia, a indie coffehouse here in Chi-town, I swing by there today, half just to see what the fuss was about and half just hoping to run into them. They weren't there, but apparently the place has a quota of one rock star at all times, because who should be hanging around but Jon Foreman of Switchfoot. I overheard him talking about Nickel Creel and told him I was at the concert last night. He then complimented my Sleeping at Last hoodie, I said I was a big fan of his, and we parted ways. So let it be known: Intelligensia is THE place for random rock star run-ins in the city of Chi-town.

At this moment, there are people gathering here at the apartment for the oddest reason. Joey Bland, an improviser here and Tara's good friend was on Jeopardy a while back and his episode aired today. A bunch of ComedySportzers gathered at 3:00 this afternoon to watch, but it was pre-empted by the WHITE SOX'S PLANE LANDING. Most pointless coverage ever. We cursed the network endlessly. Many even called the local affiliate to complain. After some time, we were informed that the episode would air at 1:40 am. So what do improvisers with no day jobs do? Gather at 11:30 for another watching party. It's exciting.

Anyway, tonight was concert central in Chi-town. Ben Folds was at the Chicago Theater downtown, Eisley and Switchfoot were at The Vic, but what did I do? I went to Beat Kitchen to see three pop-punk bands and The Rocket Summer. (I've seen Ben before, when he came to Drake. Plus, his tickets were expensive. Switchfoot just plain sold out.) And while The Rocket Summer was much better than Mattie gave them credit for, one thing made me very uncomfortable.

I was much too old for this show. And also much too male.

Seriously, the crowd was me and about 85 high school girls.

I know what you're saying - ideal situation for me, right? I should be in heaven. But I just felt creepy. I could have guessed that The R.S.' audience would skew young, but never did I think I'd be walking into a bona-fide teeny-bopper pop-punk event of "the scene." You should have heard the high-pitched crowd singalongs. Ugh. Just makes me feel dirty. I need to listen to my new Decemberists albums to feel better.

This is a long post, but I can't leave without a random Chicago story. There was a gross dirty guy on the bus I took to Beat Kitchen. At one point, he covered his mouth and spit on the floor of the bus. I'm gagging just thinking about it. I just find it funny that he's gross enough to spit on the bus, yet courteous enough to cover his mouth.

People, huh? They're the worst.


You say it's my birthday

Yeah, so it's my birthday today. I'm 23 la dee da. Very exciting.

Mom and dad tell me that 23 is not that old, but I certainly feel like it's a "not-so-much-a-kid-anymore" age. Especially with Amanda getting engaged and Gwen Dickey being pregnant (seriously, what's up with that?)

But hey, Nickel Creek tonight! Do grown-ups go see progressive bluegrass bands?

Actually, they probably do. In fact, Mom says she wishes she was going.

Well, feel free to tell me what you got me in the comments.


The old haunts

I noticed recently that there are not one, but two reggae clubs within a few blocks of my apartment. I pass one of them, Exedus II, every time I walk to IO. I don't know where the first Exedus is, but wherever it is, I assume it was forced out of somewhere else to get there. Too bad I'm not into reggae clubs. I'd be in heaven. Reggae heaven.

It is a widely known fact among those that know me that I am a pretty big wuss when it comes to scary things. Blame it on Mom for not letting Josh and I play with guns, blame it on Mom for not letting Josh and I play football, or blame it on Mom for not letting Josh and I run away from that killer clown, but no matter where you place the blame, I am not one of those people that enjoys the sensation of being scared.

And now Halloween is upon us and scary things are everywhere. Tara was telling me about her experiences in the haunted corn maze the other night and I mentioned how much I hate those kind of things. She took some sort of perverse delight in my discomfort and latched onto the idea of going to a haunted house. A professional one. In fact, this one. Statesville Haunted Prison.

People, I couldn't even make it through the flash intro to the website. That chainsaw-wielding clown running down the red-checkered hallway* with the strobe light gave me the jibblies like you can't imagine.

Seriously, I can't deal with haunted things. I couldn't even handle the neighborhood haunted house that the Bears used to do at their house every year. Heck, I didn't even want to do the one at the Groppel's Halloween party**, and that pretty much consisted of walking down a dark hallway with fog and putting your hands in a bowl of peeled grapes.

But this is a professional haunted house and Tara's all, "We should probably go," and I'm like, "No, 'cause I'll probably die," and then Statesville Haunted Prison will forever bill themselves as the place so scary, it killed a guy***.

Comment fodder: Haunted house experiences, good and bad.

*However, "Red-Checkered Rundown" is a great name for either a ska band or an improv troupe.

**Am I imagining this? I'm pretty sure the Groppels were involved somehow, but that makes no sense. Shouldn't they have hated Halloween? Jerseyville people, back me up here.

***Best tagline for a haunted house ever.


Decembers in October

I recovered enough from my case of the bird flu to go to a show at The Metro last night. Every day that goes by, I realize just what a great location I'm in. The fact that I can walk 10-15 minutes up Clark St. and be at one of the best music venues in town is super sweet.

Boy, Chicago sure is different than Jerseyville, huh? Am I right or am I right? Hey-oh!

Sidenote: Speaking of my location, I met the proprietors of Swan Cleaners (directly beneath my apartment, for those of you with short memories) and had them clean my new Salvation Army suit jacket. Definitely Asian and definitely the nicest couple ever. Mr. Wu even knocked a quarter off the price for me. (At least I think he did. When I went to pick it up, he said, "Okay, one jacket - $4.75...ah, $4.50. Maybe he just forgot or something. I like to think he gave me a break 'cause we're buds.) And he always smiles and waves when I walk by. It's awesome.

Anyway, let's talk about the show. The opener was Cass McCombs. As you might guess from their worthless incomprehensible shell of a website, they are awful. Three people, sitting down, playing sugary-soft NPR folk music. Maybe in another venue, they would be better, but last night about four songs into their set, I said, "Hey, remember when people were listening to you? Remember that? That was great." If you're playing The Metro and you're getting drowned out by conversation, you need to stop.

But The Decemberists? Wow. Amazing. Just a fantastically musical, fantastically weird show. It was pretty difficult to put into words, so I'll just say this. On their last song, the rhythm guitarist (dressed in Soviet Union army uniform, complete with hat) and the drummer (eerily reminiscent of Mr. Fester, the old A/V teacher at my high school) paraded through the crowd, one with bass drum, one with monkey cymbals, both with long, black Rasputin beards.

It was that kind of show.

Next week promises shows that will be much less silly, but most likely as good. Nickel Creek on Wednesday and Eisley/Switchfoot on Thursday, both at The Vic, which is literally three blocks south. Love it.

Comment fodder: weirdest concert you've ever seen. Ready...go!

P.S. And I'm not even sure this one qualified as the weirdest concert I've ever seen. Remind me sometime to tell you about the time I saw the Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players. Yowza.


Shoulder pains

Thanks for the well-wishes, everyone. Don't panic, I feel much better today. I just caught a rather nasty head cold that sapped me of all desire to exist. I hope I never say the words, "Ugh, I don't have the energy to e-mail" ever again.

As I was driving to Osco Drug today to pick up a box of Kleenex (because God knows I went through the 75 in my first box in the last three days), I noticed another interesting Chicago driving phenomenon that I wanted to comment on.

Back in Jerseyville, there wasn't much traffic to speak of. But there was one habit of Jerseyville drivers that was sure to cause some sort of road rage. In Jerseyville, a city of two-lane roads, if someone wants to make a left turn, you're stuck waiting behind them until they make the turn. But Jerseyvillians (Jersey Villains?) are not that patient. They have places to go and cows to tip. So they pass on the right. On the shoulder. But only some people did it, and the cooler-than-thou crowd (i.e. me and mine) decried the practice as hickish and unclassy.

In Chicago, EVERYONE passes on the right. AT BUSY INTERSECTIONS. And if you, for some ungodly reason, do not follow suit, YOU GET HONKED AT.

Is this dangerous? Of course. Illegal? Probably. Common, accepted practice? Definitely.

It gets to the point that you want to make a left turn and the guy across from you does too, you can't just assume it's safe for both of you to go, because the crazy people will probably start passing on the right as soon as the light turns.

It strikes me that this is yet another piece of information that should have been imparted to me by my roommate. (Failure!)

P.S. Dinosaur Comics, how offensive!


Ow! They're pointy now!

To any inquiries regarding my current status, I direct you to the following explanatory film.

Thank you and good day.


Taxi 54, where are you? Wait, those are two different shows.

Chicago thought of the day: There should be a clearer distinction between taxis and cop cars. The first few times I was driving around the city, I thought, "Geez, I need to be careful. There are cops everywhere in this city."

Then I realized I was mistaking the little availability lights on top of taxis for the flashing lights on top of cop cars. I realize that they are very different in terms of what light they give off when activated, but at a glance, they have very similar structure.

You'll have to excuse me. I've had very little experience with taxis. I think there were about 5 in Des Moines and nonexistent in Springfield. In Jerseyville, for some strange reason, you could get a cab if you called for one. I always felt kind of bad for the kids who got picked up from school in a taxi. Who makes their kid call a taxi to get home, especially in grade school?

So, lesson of the day: taxis do not equal cop cars, although in Jerseyville both are useful for transporting kids to their homes.


I watch movies when I'm pondering life choices

Recommendation of the day: Thumbsucker. There's a great independent film theater about 8 blocks south of my apartment and tonight I made use of it to catch this little beauty. Coincidentally, the Chicago Film Festival is going on at theaters around the city (including the one I went to), yet I chose to see a non-festival film. How sad is it that I go to an indie film theater and end up seeing a movie that comparatively is considered mainstream.

It's worth it to see Vince Vaughn as a high school debate coach and Keanu Reeves as a hippie orthodontist. Keanu plays the same exact character as every other movie - he's just finally found a part where that character fits perfectly. It's great, and yet it will never happen again.


Well, that was easy.

So...guy from the PR firm in the 'burbs called back today and offered me a position. Pretty decent salary, benefits, all that stuff. Same crappy commute.


I really didn't expect them to make the decision this quickly and I really didn't think I'd have to make a decision this early in my Chicago journey. Geez people, I haven't even been here a week! I figured I'd at least have time to look around, talk to a bunch of people and see what's out there before I finally just gave up and got a job at Panera's like my brother dreams about.

But they want someone to start pretty much right away, so it's not like I can take two weeks to sniff around for something else. Maybe two days. I have to call back on Thursday and tell them either yes, no, or I need a couple more days.

Man, I'm so torn. If this place were located in the Loop, I'd jump all over it. And I don't want to take it just because it's the first offer I've received, but on the other hand, I don't have any other interviews, let alone any other offers. I swear, I'm running out of hands for opposite points of view to rest on. Just that freaking commute...


Anyway, other accomplishments today include buying and mounting a bulletin board and decorating my room with my supply of album covers. All the usual suspects from my dorm room: Benny Goodman, Best of Bill Cosby, The Association, Free to Be You and Me...all the heavy-hitters made the cut. That, my friends, was no quandary.

P.S. Hey, who's excited for Video Games Live? I am! Man, this'll get the kids to love the symphony for sure!


I have to get a jorb?

Right, so...job. Need one. Kind of a big "to do" now that I'm in Chicago, along with "learn to use buses" and "don't get mugged." And I'm working on it. I am. I'm working on finding work.

I had a job interview this morning at a PR firm out in the 'burbs. I got it through a professor's recommendation, so I was pleasantly surprised (especially when I set up the interview in the middle of a round of mini-golf). So it took about 50 minutes to drive out there and the traffic is fairly infuriating. (But between today and yesterday when I drove out there just so I knew where I was going, I knocked out a bunch of backlogged podcasts. That was nice.)

They made me take a writing test, which was fairly standard. I felt a little rusty since I hadn't written anything in AP format for a while (God knows I don't use anything approaching correct style on here), but it went pretty okay*. Then I talked to some nice, laid-back people about the company and about
myself. Then I drove home. All in all, I felt pretty good about it.

Okay, so let's take stock.

PROS: Good company, nice people, good benefits, will be able to make a solid contribution right off the bat, probably a decent salary.

CONS: THE COMMUTE SUCKS TO HIGH HEAVEN. It would be at least an hour and 40 minutes stuck in a car every day. I really would hate that. Mass transit isn't really an option because Metra doesn't stop anywhere convenient, so I'd be driving every day,
feeling guilty for using gas like crazy and polluting the air. I know that's a lot of pros to one con, but it's a big con. But who knows, maybe they didn't even like me and won't offer me anything. I've got some other decent leads, so we'll see.

On the plus side, my roommates and I were discussing the fine art of interviewing last night, specifically when asked about your biggest weakness. Everyone does the cliche (because their profs tell them to) and starts out talking about a weakness, but turning it around into a strength. I bet every other person answers, "Oh, I'm a terrible procrastinator, but I'm really good under pressure."

We were thinking about how hilarious it would be if someone really answered that honestly and horribly. Examples:

"Honestly ma'am, my biggest weakness is that I don't actually do any real work. I just appear to."

"My biggest weakness is the LADIES! WHOO!!"

"I am actually a huge racist."

So we're going on and on about this and they're daring me to actually say one if I get 20 minutes in and decide I really don't want the position. I'm scared to death because I'm the one who actually has to interview and I'm worried that this will be all I can think about. Fortunately, I managed to push those thoughts out of my head and talk in a rational manner.

Although I had a really great one about a weakness for Communism.

So honestly candidates, what is your biggest weakness? I look forward to reading your responses in the replies.

*Pretty okay: my new favorite phrase. Second favorite: Burnsauce. Thank you, Dinosaur Comics, for changing the way I speak.


Wicked awesome...wonder if anyone's made that joke before...yeah, probably.

Hey, I forgot to mention that I saw Wicked with my parents on Thursday night as a sort of last hurrah with everyone. (Yeah, I know, Rob. I've had about 8 last hurrahs. That's what happens when people like you. Give it a try sometime.)

Anyway, I saw Wicked and it was indeed wicked. Wicked...awesome! It starred none other than Ana Gasteyer (of SNL fame) as Elphaba, the so-called Wicked Witch of the West, which is a very challenging role, vocally speaking*. Now you know Ana has chops as music teacher Bobbi Moughan-Culp, but man, I never knew she could belt it like she did. That girl...she is making it work. How about it.

Speaking of people who are making it work...Wallace and Gromit. I found my favorite cheap movie theater today and saw their new movie for 5 bucks. Hilarious. I remember watching their short films on PBS many years ago and loving them. Imagine spending 5 years making a piece of art. Crazy...like a fox.

One of the things I was looking forward to doing in Chicago was finding a new comic book store, because I figure Chi-town had to have some pretty sweet ones. I was walking down Clark to say hi to my friends at C-Sportz yesterday...walked right by it. Chicago Comics. Best in the city. How about that. Went back today and bought a couple things.

Cheap movies and comic books**. I'm happy***.

*Vocally speaking is a hilarious phrase. I'm going to start a band and call it Vocally Speaking.

**Incidentally, I think "Cheap Movies and Comic Books" was the follow-up to Sunny Day Real Estate's "Guitars and Video Games." This has been your emo reference of the week.

***Also making me happy: the roommates hanging out in the kitchen last night and talking about everything from patent laws to loopholes in the gambling industry. This might not sounds hilarious, but it was. We also determined that the three best names for a new quick-dating service would be "This'll Do," "5 Minutes Won't Kill You," and "Drink 'til It Works." I'm telling you, we're like a thinktank in this apartment.


Tegan & cat

Holy crap, my brother started a blog? Awesome!

Sorry I didn't make a big fuss about your birthday, Joanna. Maybe if you got a Facebook account, Facebook could remind when it is coming up and I would not be such a loser. I do not see how either of us lose in that equation. Happy belated birthday. I miss you too.

I think I've discovered the reason people get pets, especially if they live alone. It's so they don't go completely crazy. People need something to talk to, and living alone makes you talk to yourself, which eventually makes you go bonkers. But if you have something to talk to (or at, really), then you go less bonkers.

At this point, I feel I should focus my thoughts by explaining that we have a cat in the apartment. His name is Niles and he is orange and ambitious. I talked to Niles today when it was just he and I in the apartment. Just little things like, "Hey, how's it going, buddy? Watch your paw there, I have to put the milk back. I'm leaving the room now, so I'll be turning out the light. Oh, that doesn't matter to you. You're a cat. You have nightvision or something."

Niles loves to come in my room. He loves to jump on my desk chair, although he is quickly learning that when he does that, the desk chair strangely begins to spin. He is nice to have around, but his fur does tend to get on things and he can make me a little sneezy, so I shut my door to keep him out. This morning, as I was waking up, the door opened and he jumped into bed and walked on my face to wish me a good morning.

I am convinced he has learned to operate a doorknob. This makes him as intelligent as a velociraptor. I am very worried.

I saw Tegan & Sara at the Metro tonight. They were outstanding and funny and Canadian lesbian twins. All of these adjectives describe them. I was most surprised by their opening act, Northern State, a hip-hop group of three indie-looking white female MCs. Most surprised, but not displeased. The Decemberists play there later this month and Mae plays at the House of Blues later this month as well.



Adventures in Chi-town

Turns out that leaving home is pretty hard when it's for real.

I've packed up my stuff and gone somewhere many times before, but it seemed so much more definite this time. So...final. Knowing that I'll probably never live in the same house as my parents again. It's weird. And it's tough. Suffice it to say that Mom and Dad weren't the only ones having trouble making it through the tradition Ryder family pre-move prayer circle.

But before I sound like a total wuss, let me say that Chicago is awesome. The place is rad, the roommates are cool, and it's freaking Chicago.

Tara D, the 'rents and I were eating dinner on the patio of a restaurant tonight and saw about 3 fire trucks go back and forth. Then, a guy stopped at a red light got out of his car, swatted something on his sunroof (bug getting in the way of his rays? It's nighttime, dude. Chill out.), and drove away.

I'm in Chicago. Let the adventures begin.


I no longer put the spring in Springfield

I always get nervous before a big change. Crazy, right? Well, this one is no different. I'm off to big things.

So long, Springpatch. A true patch of Spring you were.

"I drove to Chicago. All things go. All things go."
- Sufjan Stevens, "Chicago"


ONE MILLION (punches in the face)

Quick update on the Switchfoot album debacle: MTV is reporting that EMI CMG, who distributes Switchfoot albums to Christian retailers, is recalling all the discs because of a "manufacturing defect in the CDs' content-protection technology" that prevented users from burning copies of the CD or transferring tracks to a portable MP3 player.

Not sure I buy that it was a "defect." Seems like the program did exactly what they wanted it too. I bet there were many complaints from angry people and EMI quickly backtracked and apologized. So if I hadn't already figured it out, I could get a replacement. Fantastic. Take that, music industry!

Thanks to everyone who made my last weekend in Springfield so awesome. I found Serenity, lifted heavy things, dressed up and went to a silly gala where I was really hoping to start a fistfight, OC style, played some tennis, and lost at poker. Good times, everyone. Good times.

Now it's time to start seriously putting things in boxes. Two days and counting...


I will cry myself to sleep tonight

Holy crap, go see Serenity.

Do it. Do it right now. I don't care if you've never seen Firefly (the aforementioned TV series on which the movie is based), see it anyway. Josh never saw Firefly and enjoyed the movie a lot. It'll just mean you won't be quite as emotionally distraught when...bad things happen to characters.

Seriously. I am so upset right now, I can't even express it. And for a movie to resonate that emotionally...well, that's something.

But if I ever meet Joss Whedon, we are going to have words.

"I am a leaf on the wind. Watch me as I soar."

EDIT: I was vague on purpose, but in his comment, Scott gets specific and spoiler-y. So don't read it if you want to stay spoiler-free. It's okay, Scott. It's not your fault.


Two links, a story, and some Goldfish snacks

Check out this fascinating article about Conan O'Brien. Veddy interesting...

Also go look at the site of a NYC group called Improv Everywhere. They do really great "experiments" in the city that are really funny, but not at anyone's expense. They're not messing with people to be mean, they're just kind of messing with them to make them smile. I think it's nice and that Scott should move to NYC and join.

Speaking of Scott, he called me today and opened with the line, "Hey, want to save lives and read comic books?" This, surprisingly, is only the second weirdest opening line he's delivered this week. The weirdest was on Monday when he simply yelled "I LOVE YOU!" when I picked up. This was odd because I was in Barnes & Noble at the time and I think the people around me heard. Fortunately, I was in the graphic novel section and none of the nerds knew what those words mean.

Anyway, by "save lives," he actually meant donate blood, so we went to the Springfield Blood Center and did the fun interviewing routine. (Some of the questions on that interview I really feel are just for laughs - "Have you ever traveled to the moon or been paid to have sex with someone who HAS traveled to the moon?" is really not that far off from some of the questions on the interview.)

I assume I passed, because I was ushered into the blood-letting room and given a nice cushy chair to sit it. Let me tell you, the chairs in the blood center are a heck of a lot nicer than those ramshackle wicker things they have at your college or high school. Very nice. Scott (or "Harry," as he was addressed in the blood center) was given the seat next to me. We were both prepped, stuck, and then...the race was on.

15 seconds and a few squeezes later, Scott lost. Or possibly won. Depending on the rules.

It seems Scott is so AMAZINGLY strong that he managed to squeeze the needle right out of his arm. And once it's dislodged, they can't put it back. And they can't try again. So despite the fact that Scott gave about three tablespoons of blood, he was done for the day and in fact the next 56 days. That's how long he has to wait before attempting (and most likely COMPLETELY failing) to give blood again.

He waited and ate cookies he did not deserve while I completed my selfless humanitarian act. Honestly Scott, how do you sleep at night?


No seriously, they're space cowboys

Holy crap! A Smoosh video? How adorable!

Remember when my blog used to be filled with exciting things like church camp and island adventures? I remember those things too. Those were good days.

My blog is not very exciting at the moment because my life is not very exciting at the moment. Just a lot of mundane stuff you do before you move, I guess. My biggest accomplishments today were returning a library book and measuring a desk. I could tell you everything that happens in every day, like Kevin Smith apparently does now, but I doubt you would find posts about Eragon, NHL 2004, and Veronica Mars very exciting. (Although Veronica Mars is a great show. Both Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon say so.)

Speaking of Joss Whedon, only two days until Serenity. I never understood what all the fuss about Firefly (the failed, nay, axe-murdered TV show on which the film is based) was about. Then I watched it. And it's really good. So that's something to look forward to. Me and my fellow geeks (read: Scott, Rob) are planning to catch the late show on Friday. Scott says that not only will he be watching all 14 episodes (including the 2-hour pilot) on Friday, he'll also be dressing up for the film. I hope he's kidding. On both counts. Actually, I hope he's not.

Okay, sorry I'm so boring that I'm telling you how excited I am to see a space western that comes out this week. Maybe tomorrow, if you're lucky, I'll tell you the story of the time my college roommate almost killed me with an apple. I think it deserves to be preserved.

Finally, I've been listening heavily to Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Ros recently. Do the meandering, instrumental songs that are sometimes sung in a made-up language (when there are words at all) reflect my current state of being? Discuss.


Mice are the highest, by the way. Read the book.

"It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars and so on -- whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man -- for precisely the same reasons.

Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending destruction of the planet Earth and had made many attempts to alert man to the danger; but most of their attempts were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs or whistle for titbits, so they eventually gave up and left Earth by their own means shortly before the Vogons arrived.

The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated double backward somersault through a hoop whilst whistling 'Star-Spangled Banner,' but in fact it was this: so long and thanks for all the fish."

- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The second-highest intelligent forms of life on this planet.

And we've turned them into armed assassins.


Well, guess that's the end of mankind.


The Art of Posing with Poseurs

Okay, enough about that crazy Raph character. His day is over. He can start his own blog if he likes the attention so much. Back to me.

Not too much going on here - just preparation for the big move and mundane things like getting my eyes checked. Incidentally, my eyesight is incredible. I actually have laser eyes. And I know what you're thinking.

So because I don't have much to talk about, it's time once again for a...


Actually, it's time for a random SERIES of pictures...of the day.

Back in the spring semester of my junior year, I was asked by a friend of mine to help him out with his final project for a class. In one of the journalism classes, the final project is to produce and film a TV show. They chose to do a late-night talk show in the style of The Tonight Show, et al, and asked me to be the host. So it came to be that I was involved in "The Great Late Show with Tim Ryder." Good thing they got me or the name would have made no sense. ZERO SENSE!

Part of the prep for the show was to get pictures of me that could be used to bump into and out of commercials. So I walked around Drake's campus with none other than Miss Keri Thompson, which was funny because we didn't really know each other at the time but are great friends now. We took quite a few pictures of me (58 in fact) doing many silly things on campus and they really turned out well. They're actually some of my favorite pictures of myself, and I generally don't like pictures of myself, so that's saying something.

Anyway, I recently unearthed the CD with these pics on it from my vault o' crap and thought I'd share some. I really was tempted to just post a ton of them, but I thought it would be better if I doled them out in series, just to stretch things out.

The first series is with some statues outside the Harmon Fine Arts Center, or FAC. (It's where all the music and theater nerds live.)

At first, the group and I were getting along great. I thought we meshed well and really sounded great together. I was going to name us "Tim and the Coppertops," because some of their heads were wearing through and maybe Duracell would sponsor us.

Then that stupid little boy kept losing his place in the music. Look at me trying to get him back on beat, but he's not paying attention. Look, he's not even LOOKING at the music. How unprofessional.

So I thought I'd switch gears and bring out the axe. (I'm totally rocking a G chord in this picture.)

I could totally wail with those guys. (I'm still rocking a G chord, you just can't tell.)

But then that stupid little girl told me I was out of tune.

So I broke my guitar over her head.

It was the big finale.

You can thank Keri for the great photography. And don't worry,
there are plenty more where those came from. Just wait until you see the series entitled "Variations on a Theme of Olmsted Furniture and Howard the D-Shoppe Guy."

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My good friend Raph turns 23 today. For some reason, the greatest gift I can think to give him is a post entirely dedicated to making him look like a goofball. He doesn't really need a post for that, of course, but I do what I can to remind the world that Raph is, in fact, a huge goofball.

This picture is almost as big an indictment of myself as it is of him, but it fits just the same. It's almost artsy (note the jacket half on - that's a social statement of some kind), but mostly just proves what happens when idiots get cameras.

One of the things we loved to do on our camping trips was to go take awesome action shots by the lake. With the waves crashing in the background, it just seemed appropriate to take pictures where we looked like wizards and the like. Here, Raph is imit
ating Mitsurugi, the character he always plays in Soul Caliber II. (I feel the need to remind you [and him] that this is also the character he completely failed to beat me with in the final match for Champion of the Universe.)

This is not Raph making a funny face. Raph always makes this face when posing for pictures. He honestly thinks it looks good.

And of course, who could forget...

The infamous "Raph stoned at graduation" picture? Man, I bet Gavin's speech was about ten times as funny for Raph that day.

Happy birthday, buddy.

Everyone feel free to share your favorite Raph story. Or just make one up.
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Two guys, two girls, and a dry cleaners?

Well, it took a System Restore and some third-party extraction software, but I figured it out. Switchfoot is on the iPod and the evil record companies have been held at bay for one day more. (And I agree, The Meez, it is quite good. So shut up and go listen to your Goldfinger, Jacob.)

Okay, on to happier topics. Let me tell you about my new apartment in Chicago.

Let's imagine, for the purposes of this exercise, that my life is a sitcom. The series focuses on a mildly sheltered Midwestern youth moving to the big city for the first time. He gets an apartment with a friend, not a wildly expansive Friends-like apartment, but one that's realistic to his recently graduated price range. This apartment (and the surrounding environment) has many wacky quirks that lend to sitcom hilarity. Can you picture it?

Okay, keep that picture in your mind. I'm not even joking you - that's my apartment. To a T! I'm going to live in a sitcom apartment.

Allow me to explain, in easy-to-understand list format:
  • The apartment is located above a dry cleaners. Our packages are delivered to the cleaners if no one is home. The owners are apparently very nice and will give you a discount once they get to know you. I do not know if the owners of the cleaners are Asian, but given that the name of the business is "Swan Cleaners," I like to think that they are. (Or that they are in the business of cleaning swans.) Unfortunately, we do not have to go through the cleaners to get to our apartment. That would be extra-special hilarious.

  • The apartment is literally RIGHT next to the El tracks. There is a bend in the tracks to avoid our building. I could probably reach out the window and touch the train as it passes, but that's just because my arms are 10 feet long. And you can hear it every time it goes by. Picture Brad Pitt and Gweneth Paltrow's apartment in Se7en, only the place doesn't shake as much and no one's head ends up in a box.

  • My room is not even close to being square. It is long and narrow and kind of curves around in a way that would give M.C. Escher a headache. In short, it resembles my own body. Also, there is a step-up closet. Yes, step-UP. I predict lots of head-hitting.

  • I have three roommates. Two are female comedians. I'm not even talking comedians like "Ha ha, they're so funny." I'm talking comedians like "Ha ha, they're so funny, they make a living being funny." (Regular blog visitors will know one of them as the infamous tara d.) I have another roommate (male) who I really don't know. He's the wildcard. Three's Company plus wildcard updated to 2005, anyone? I demand Don Knotts be our landlord.

  • Next to the cleaners on the ground floor is Stage Left Theatre, an alternative, kind of radical political theater that could provide many hilarious guest stars in the "crazy actor" mold.

  • It's just a few blocks south of Wrigley Field and right between two of the big improv theatres in the city, making the apartment pretty much the epicenter of hilarity and revelry for the entire city.
So there you have it. I'm moving in early next month and I'm super excited for the sitcom to start filming. Or if not sitcom, at least a reality show.