Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Outsized" Expectations

A recent poll conducted by the Associated Press/Yahoo News suggests that we Americans have some pretty tall orders for the next President.

Apparently, we expect the next leader of the now-only-semi-free-world to balance the budget, lower taxes, reduce the price of gas and fix what's wrong with the environment. Who'da thunk? The President, responsible for making the country better? Perish the thought! (I have to wonder why the article is accompanied by a picture of Mitt Romney--is the Associated Press trying to tell us something? If so, I refuse to listen.)

The article calls these "outsized expectations." I think perhaps that's only because after eight years of incompetent leadership, the pundits and watchdogs have had to adjust their expectations downwards. Well, I look at it differently. Try this one on: we're payin' for it--we better damned well get our value. We sure as hell haven't been lately.

For those who take the view that it's unrealistic to expect a single person to fix every one of the crises facing our country (and indeed, our world), well, that's what the cabinet is for--the President has people to help him with this. Would any of us have thought it "outsized" at the time of GWB's so-called election to imagine that he could undo the many decades of social achievements, budget surpluses and advantages that America had worked so hard to get? I certainly would have. Who could have imagined one man could leave a trail of destruction so long and a swathe of disappointment so wide? So, you see, he did at least exceed our expectations in one area!

But he didn't do it alone. He had a cadre of carefully selected Greedbots seated at his table in the underground lair, each one responsible for ravaging a separate sector of American life. Let's see, we had Tom DeLay cracking the whip down in Texas, all redrawing those voting districts and shit so that minorities would have less electoral standing (and standing on a stack of phone books the whole time--that's gotta be hard!); we had Katherine Harris who, when she wasn't reapplying her Battered Hooker #5 purple eye shadow, was working behind the scenes down in Florida to make sure those disputed ballots got shuffled through; Brother Jeb helping her out (hey--its GOOD to have family in the house!); Dick Cheney gunning his big corporation's engines to "rebuild" the war zones after they got torn up (and conveniently stepping down in the midst of it all so there could be no legal question of conflict of interest); Antonin Scalia and various sundry family friends who got pasted into the Supreme Court to ensure that their conservative social policies would once again (and for the first time since about 1965) become reality, suspending our lives once again into that delusional halcyon sitcom where every woman stays at home wearing shirtwaist dresses and finger wave perms (or is punished by laughable wages and sexual harrassment that's more and more difficult to prove), only men and women live together with benefit of marriage and punishing the single folks with killer taxes, thereby forcing the issue of marriage (so we can all suppress our natures, contributing to ever-increasing resentment which eventually erupts into violence or divorce anyway), and birth control education is discouraged in school, thereby insuring a spate of unplanned children are born to parents who aren't always prepared to raise them (and a dearth of adoptive parents who can care for them).

But hey--those are the liberals' problems, aren't they? Let them worry about it! Life on the Right is one long party--it's a big ol' hoedown complete with roasted pig, Laura's fried chicken, devilled eggs, corn squeezin's and Toby Keith concerts. Those goldurned liberal heathens! If they'd live like the Bible said, everything'd be just fine and dandy!

(Never mind that if the conservatives lived like the Bible said, we'd have fewer business interests controlling the government right now, since the Bible does after all instruct us to show good stewardship of the earth--I can't imagine God dancing for joy at how his children are treating his creation--in fact, I imagine there's a big-ass paddle up there waiting to be used on some wayward neo-con hineys.)

So, to sum it all up, let's BE "outsized" in our expectations. We've had outsized damage done to us for the last better part of a decade (or should I say "longer part of a decade"--it sure hasn't been better). It's only right that we should expect our next leader to start selecting his or her team to put this shit right. And please: do you really think that these candidates don't know what they're facing? If they're smart, they've had ideas for years now. They wouldn't be running if they didn't.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Hello, Mrs. Kettle? This is Mrs. Pot..."

Brattleboro, Vermont's Select Board has voted for a measure to support the arrest of Bush and Cheney for Constitutional violations...and conservatives across the nation show their true colors.

Angry Bush supporters have called and e-mailed threatening never to visit Vermont again (AUTHOR'S NOTE: aaaand the bad news is...?). One guy in Minnesota, calling the townsfolk a bunch of "whack jobs," actually suggested that terrorists should attack Brattleboro next, chop off the heads of the three Select Board members who voted for the measure and show that on the internet.

And he's calling WHOM whack jobs?

(On a side note, I'm sorry, isn't Minnesota supposed to be the smartest state in the country? I guess there are exceptions to every rule.)

"Bait-and-Switch," or, "Shakespeare Was Right About Lawyers"

Attorney General (like the Surgeon General, only a big, fat liar) Michael Mukasey has gone back on his word and refused to rule on waterboarding, despite his pre-confirmation promise to investigate this practice.

What's that sudden intake of breath we hear? Is it a gasp of shock and surprise?

Or a colossal yawn, as we recognize the broken promises of YET ANOTHER of Bush's chosen ones...?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Arrivederci Rudy...

The world heaves a sigh of relief as Giuliani drops out of the race. The Presidential one, that is...he's been out of the human race for decades now.

(Yeah, I know it was easy...but when the fish are moving that slow in the barrel...)

Come On Bitches, Play Nice!

Hillary and Obama aren't speaking.

Apparently, they came within a foot of each other (which in itself, must have been a frightening thing for onlookers to behold) at last night's State of the Union Address. Even Ted Kennedy, who had endorsed Obama, reached out to shake Hillary's hand, and from the picture accompanying this article, she seemed happy to see him.

But there ain't enough bones left in the jar for the top two dogs to share.

This race will tear the Democrats apart. And that mustn't happen. I've heard arguments that the palpable hostility between Clinton and Obama is a sign of how passionate and committed they both are, how badly they want it and how deeply they feel, and that to stay more low-key (like Edwards) is a "cop-out," a sign of dispassion and apathy, but I'm sorry, I can't buy into that.

Surely, the people at the front of this race must realize how much is at stake here--what big changes we can make if we have the right leader, the limitless achievements that can we can bring about by cooperating. It's so much bigger, even, than either of them individually. If they were really so "passionate" about change (as they purport to be), then they should be able to put their megalomania aside for the time it takes to win this thing.

If they even can't do that, is there any reason why we should have confidence in either one of them?

Monday, January 28, 2008

With "Friends" Like These

OK, girls you can stop now. I mean it. Enough is enough.

I'm frequently bombarded with "friend requests" on MySpace from people I don't know. And that's OK with me, because it's a chance to forge a bond with someone I haven't met yet, but who perhaps knows a mutual friend, sees that I'm interested in music, or we have a common interest, etc.

But then, there are the ones I've come to refer to as "hoochie-mama calls."

Now, these are the majority of the ones I receive, and usually they're from some girl named "Kaitlin," "Evie," "Bertha" or "Queenie," always featuring some girl in a bikini with her boobs popping out or wearing a seductive (well, to some people I suppose) pout, with her finger in her mouth, or sucking on one strand of hair. But I got this one today from some creature named "Heloise," and it's just the limit:

Friend Request

I don't think there's anything on earth less likely to make me want to get to know this person better. How do such people find me?? No shit, I really want to know! They certainly can't be doing profile searches, because if they had, they'd see that my particular muffin is not buttered on their side. My profile pretty clearly states that I'm a 'mo. How many times must I say it?

So, "Heloise," here's a "helpful hint" for you, and please pass it along to all of your addle-brained girlfriends, too: don't waste your time. Their are millions of socially alienated college guys you could be scamming, and they might be desperate or horny enough to take the bait. And another thing--I don't want to "click here" to see your surgically-enhanced naughty pics. If I were interested in plastic, I could inflate my own playmate.

Thanks a heap anyway.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Ledger Will Be Balanced (But Not Fair)...

Yes, everyone's talking about Heath Ledger's death now...of course we are. It was sudden and tragic.

But the tragedy of his sudden death is now starting to become overshadowed by the controversy being manufactured by the Westboro Baptist "Church," those quasi-evolved nutjobs in Kansas who have evidently learned to work their fax machine and sent out the media release stating that they plan to picket Ledger's funeral, thereby turning a tragedy into a circus.

What kind of people (and I use the term very loosely) are these? What kind of Christians? To give you the idea of their depravity, you really need to see them in action (if you can stomach their appearance, and I will grant you, it's not easy). Still photos just won't do (although they're quite frightening enough).

Here's a clip from an interview a few years back on Fox News when the "church" decided to picket the funeral of a soldier killed in Iraq. Fox News' Julie Banderas interviews Shirley Phelps-Roper, the daughter of Fred Phelps (and apparently, Salacious Crumb to his Jabba the Hutt). In true Fox News fashion, the interview quickly degenerates into a shouting match:

Commenters on YouTube seemed to regard Ms. Banderas as some sort of personal hero. To me, she looks and sounds like a darker-haired version of Nancy Grace (and we all know how charming and credible she is) interviewing Linda Kasabian or something.

Before we go all "Yay Julie!" and "Way to go, sister!," let's remember that this is the ONLY time Fox News has ever attacked a right-wing Christian. And that the only reason that they goaded her into appearing on this show is that the church was picketing a soldier's funeral. Do you really think they give a shit about gay issues?

As Mrs. Slocombe would say, "Not bloody likely."

This interview aired about two years ago, at the time of that funeral. Since then, business continues as usual at Fox News. This is the same network that carries Bill O'Reilly and allows him to make claims at least as spurious and outrageous as this product of incest every single night. The same network that features Ann Coulter on a regular basis, and allows her to spew her venom without rebuke. And does it all to make money.

Since it makes them money, it serves their ends, so their righteous Bible-quoting rings very hollow here. Bringing SP-R on the show was like shooting fish in a barrel. She doesn't serve their ends, after all--what do they have to lose?

Well, we gays do not serve their ends either. So just remember, in the eyes of Fox News, we're the same as the Phelps family.

NOW do you get how insane all these people are??

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Truly Julie

I don't really care that much about the Oscars this year, frankly. Especially since the writers' strike all but ensures that there will be no ceremony this year anyway (as much as I sympathize with the Writers' Guild, the intractibility of Hollywood on this issue only reminds me what kind of an establishment they're working in--frankly, they'd all be better off writing brochures and sales presentations for a marketing company like I used to).

But there is one factor that makes me wish and hope that this mess would get settled. And that's Julie Christie.

She's nominated this year for Best Actress for her work in "Away From Her," but she's always been a huge favorite of mine. I watched a copy of "Darling" my mom had taped when I was in high school, and I was completely blown away at how, even with the "mod" style of filmmaking in the mid-60s (not a lot of incidental music, short edited sequences), she was able to bring out the complexity of her amoral, opportunistic character, and still manage to get us somewhat on her side. Things just HAPPENED to her and she went along--she was so matter-of-fact about it that you almost didn't notice that she broke up a marriage, had an abortion and slept around all over Europe--things that were all very taboo for 1965! (And the moment where Dirk Bogarde calls her a whore and she immediately grabs money from his hand and runs through the station yelling "A Pound's No' Enough!" in a Cockney accent just to embarrass and humiliate him and herself was either inspired acting on her part, or inspired directing from John Schlesinger. Either way, it was brilliant.)

She always chooses good scripts and doesn't just do any old crap--which is why we don't often see her, since she's not 25 anymore and things don't just get tossed to her; and the ones that do must live up to her requirements, which is not easy.

It would also be nice if Sarah Polley takes home a statue for her screenplay, which is also nominated. (I remember her from the "Avonlea" and "Ramona" series back in the late 80s and 90s, when she was a small kid--she's grown into quite a mature young lady!)

In other categories, I'm pulling for Cate Blanchett as Best Supporting Actress for "I'm Not There," but I'm pretty lukewarm over the other categories. I don't care who gets Best Picture--it's the individual achievements that stick out most in my mind. A curious note, however: in a Yahoo article discussing the big Oscar "snubs" this year, I noticed the accompanying photo of Angelina Jolie:

and saw a Valerie Harper waiting to happen:

I can see her future even now...let's hope Sandy Duncan makes a good mother to her children.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Crap Fountain of Misfortune...

Today has been the pissiest of days for me...EVERYTHING is setting me off, and I don't know why. Maybe it's the energy.

We were off work yesterday (thank GOD, because that makes one less day towards the weekend THIS week), and I spent the day cleaning my kitchen (as much as I could), rearranging stuff and watching "Isis" on DVD. At first I was appalled at the bad acting I neglected to notice as a child, but then realized that it was never about the acting anyway. It was about the kickass amulet on her headband. And now, it's all about a certain Mr. Brian Cutler...SHIT, he was hot.

I also listened to some of the Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have a Dream Speech" which they played on NPR. Probably the most brilliant and comprehensive speech on contemporary society I've ever heard. Ever. He doesn't just give it to the racists--he gives it to greedy capitalists, corporate heads, and even the rest of us for allowing it all to happen. This speech really had it all. No wonder the white establishment was so threatened by him. He had a marvelous social conscience.

Nice to know we've made such strides against greed and corruption in the last 40 years, isn't it?

So today, back to work, a mountain of paperwork...

And craziness.

Heath Ledger has been found dead in his apartment by his masseuse. The housekeeper who let her in thought he was just sleeping, but not so...I'm really upset by this. I don't give a shit that he was cute, I'm upset because he was such a young guy with his whole life ahead of him and had a new baby. What a terrible waste, and how awful to think of the poor kid growing up without a father.

And now for the petty...

I'm just fucking CRANKY today. I've actually snapped a few times, and I'm not sorry. In fact, I feel better, mainly because it's not directed at anyone personally, so nobody gets offended. They're just rants on stupid systems that no longer work that we seem to hang onto like a dissolving family car that no longer runs--it's preaching to the choir, really.

But there are some things that are personal that drive me insane. Without going into details about the cause, let me just say that if you WANT me to do 15 things at once, DO NOT keep coming over to my desk to ask me stupid fucking pointless questions...chances are I've answered the sons-of-bitches before, so there's no need to keep asking them. Someday, I WILL dump coffee over your head. Also, since you are in a directorial capacity, it might behoove you to at least ACT like you're not always panicking and flipping out. Is that so much to ask? Well, if so, do it anyway--Lord knows I get more asked of ME and I always deliver.

So suck it up, Soupy.

Tonight I will be going to T's in Andersonville to join my friend Stephen and his gang in celebrating his real birthday and have a few drinks. Or perhaps a few dozen.

It depends on my fucking mood. Let's hope it clears up...if not, I hope T's accepts credit cards. I'm not sure I have enough cash in the bank to wash THIS crabby away...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Bitch Gets Hitched

Bush twin and former celebrity drunk Jenna Bush is getting married! And now apparently, the details are published. (I can't offer you a recap of this article, because I'm just not interested enough to read it...but someone else might be!)

And Now We Know The Color of CRAZY, Too...!

This has made the rounds of almost every blog that I've read lately, but this truly needs to be seen to be believed. Honestly.

To begin with, a disclaimer: I've never been a Tom Cruise fan. Never. Can't stand the little midget, never could. That used to put me solidly in the minority of the population who slobbered over his picture, and flocked to theatres in their millions to see his two stock facial expressions ("determined" and "glazed"--he could never quite pull off "sincere"--that was too much like "glazed") in every movie from "Risky Business" to "Jerry Maguire" to "Vanilla Sky" (which was at least ambitious enough to fuck his face up, albeit with make-up, to create a third stock expression: "scarred").

I used to think that it was my imagination when I accidentally caught parts of his movies on TBS or AMC and saw the eyes of a cult member staring out of the screen; my imagination that he was, in fact, insane. Then he publicly joined the Church of Scientology, an outfit that makes the Catholic Church seem positively humble by comparison.

Then a few other things happened: first, he went through the process of auditioning wives--several declined, which made me think there's less to Hollywood's Most Popular Dwarf than meets the eye (if, in fact, he COULD meet our eye). I mean, if he was such a catch, why wouldn't ANY woman jump at the chance to bind themselves to him in holey moley holy matrimony? Or at least kneel for the privilege? But no, many chose not to. When he finally DID find someone, she was so much his junior that he clearly was looking for a brood-mare as much as a wife and even her family was horrified. Then came that Oprah/couch thing, which I still can't quite figure out.

Then the baby was born with its father's same glazed expression. Then Isaac Hayes (Chef from "South Park") had a convenient stroke when he was pressed for answers as to why he was so offended by "South Park's" swipe at Scientology (when he'd never minded their lampooning of other religions).

And now this video, which is apparently some sort of recruiting video for Scientology. I thought it was a joke at first--most of us did. But apparently not.

This guy's crackers. And arrogant to boot. And now we belongs to a whole rich cult full of arrogant crackers. If there are spaceships coming, I hope we get a separate one--I don't want to ride with him and John Travolta, especially if the bathroom doors don't lock.

UPDATE: Well, it appears that the video has been removed from the blogosphere due to a copyright claim by the Church of Scientology International.

Sure. A copyright claim. That's the reason.

Oh, well, we'll have to make do with this report from Keith Olbermann, which refers to Cruise as the "Goebbels of Scientology:"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gov. Blah-go Ready to Approve Transit Plan

As happy as I am that Governor Zhivago Blagojevich is getting ready to approve the funding bill for CTA (and believe me, I was having nightmares about this and even getting ready to look for scooters to ride to work), I rolled my eyes way back in their sockets when I read about his little appearance at a South Side Baptist Church, during which he fired back at Mayor Daley for criticizing his "senior citizens ride for free" proposal.

"Looks like the Mayor needs to come to the House of Hope and get a little hope," Blah-go said in a cynically-rehearsed play on words which he knew would have the desired effect on a bunch of Baptist holy rollers.

Later, in an effort to get these frothing snakehandlers even more firmly on his side, he said, "Let me hear from you if you think giving your grandma a free ride on the bus is a good idea" (I'm paraphrasing on the exact wording, but "grandma" and "free ride" are verbatim). Again, cynical staff members had clearly briefed him on the audience's guaranteed reaction as cries of "Amen" filled the air.

I wonder if he launched into a spicy version of "The Old Landmark," complete with dancing in the aisles, a la "The Blues Brothers."

I'm all for giving seniors a break on transit. But they're already getting one now, and this will place a further tax burden on us, and while .25% may not seem like much now, you can add it to the further tax increases that Little Caesar Tod Stroger will undoubtedly be piling on us later in the year.

I'm sure he didn't mention that part at the House of Hope, though. Just like he didn't mention how he snuck this little proviso in without any prior discussion with legislators after he vetoed their previous version, and made it a condition for accepting the new bill. Rep. Julie Hamos of Evanston said (I'm paraphrasing again), "None of the lawmakers like it very much, but they have no choice but to accept it if they want to avert service cuts and fare hikes."

So. Blah-go is an arm-twister who holds communities hostage to get his way.

I'm surprised he and Boss Daley don't get along better.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Quote Of The Week

From a mass e-mail from the Democratic National Committee, signed by Paul Begala:

"Watching President Bush try to complete a sentence is like watching a fat drunk try to cross an icy road."

I SO wish I'd come up with it first--you know I do!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Glenn Beck's Pain in the Ass...

Conservative radio host Glenn Beck has found out that health care crises aren't funny when they happen to you.

The blowhard commentator had entered a hospital a few weeks ago for what he thought was an outpatient procedure to correct hemorrhoids. (Yes, you read correctly.) However, complications from the surgery sent him back to the hospital for several days and he discovered that not everybody in the world is going to kiss Glenn Beck's healing ass.

He recounts how his wife was "struggling to carry him in," and that the triage nurse did nothing to help--"standing, drumming his fingers against the doorway, as if to say 'let's get on with it.'"

First of all--your wife had to carry you??! You gotta be fuckin' kiddin' me! Second of all, your reputation no doubt precedes you--several people probably knew who you were and weren't inclined to give you special treatment. So you felt neglected. Well-SURPRISE!-most patients these days do.

Beck says that this incident hasn't changed his opposition to the proposal for universal health care. He says we don't need the government to step in and fix things, we need to hire more compassionate people to do the caregiving.

That sounds very well and good, Glenn--but since we can't trust people to BE compassionate and to behave the way common decency supposes them to, we have to put rules in place to make sure they do so, or at least penalize them for not doing so. That's called--you guessed it--government. I guess civics lessons must have taken a back seat when you were playing with that ham radio as a teenager.

About his ordeal, Beck says that the drugs made him feel so suicidal that "if someone had come into my room with a loaded gun, I'd have ended it."

Um--oh, it's too easy. I'm not even going to say it...

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Sacrifices We Make

Apparently, Rudy Giuliani's senior campaign staffers are giving up their paychecks so that he'll have enough money to win. Mike DuHaine, his senior campaign managers says that his staff wants to to everything they can to "make sure Rudy wins."

Gonna take more than that, Mikey.

He also stressed that this sacrifice was voluntary and nobody was forced to give up their wages. Yeah. Right. "Voluntary" as in "you don't have to, but we strongly encourage you to and will subtly ostracize you until you agree."

Oh, well, it's good practice for them--if Rudy were to be elected, they'd be doing without a paycheck for a lot longer, as would the rest of us.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rooms With No Fumes

January 1 marked the beginning of a state-wide smoking ban on all indoor spaces in Illinois, which is the latest state to pass such an ordinance. Not just in restaurants and hotels, but also in bars. You know, bars? Where ADULTS used to go and engage in ADULT behavior? Yeah, there I understand that people are concerned about second-hand smoke, but why the fuck would such people hang out in bars?

Oh, that's right, we forgot--because non-smokers demanded THEIR right to trawl for booty in dark rooms with spooge-covered walls, too, so they could find a complete stranger with whom to engage in risky sex, in a healthy environment free of second-hand smoke (and so that, when they got them home in the harsh light, they wouldn't have the added indignity of clothes that smell). Our bad!

So how's the new law going for me, you ask?

Bea Arthur

Thanks for asking. But seriously, folks...

Not that I mind going outside every hour or so (after breathing in so much of the cheap-ass Stud-For-Hire cologne some of these guys wear, a cigarette break actually seems like a healthier alternative every hour or so, ironically), but I do wonder how it will affect the balance of the clientele in various establishments? For example, now that the last vestige of "regular guy-ness" is gone from the "regular guy" bars, I suppose all the insufferable, yibbering drama queens will be streaming into the places where I used to seek refuge from them, with their inane chatter, calling each other "bitch" and "mary," and insisting on playing Madonna and Britney Spears on the jukebox.

How much is a pair of noise-cancelling headphones? (And don't tell me they're less than an oxygen tank, smartasses--I know from the nursing home those things can be had for under $150--I KNOW the headphones are more than that!)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

For Everything Else, There's the Expense Account

One drive to the suburbs for a lunch meeting with two passengers: $16.00 for parking, $2.40 in tolls

Gas for the drive (approximately 2 gallons at $3.35 each): $6.70

Forgetting I had Marianne Faithfull's Broken English CD in when I started the car, hearing her shout "why'd ya let her suck your cock" and seeing my two female passengers NOT EVEN BAT AN EYE:


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

And I Thought I Was Crazy for Saving Plastic Shopping Bags

I'm a hoarder by nature. It's just one of the things I do. I suppose that it's learned behavior, both by watching my mom's habits (as we discovered when we helped her move out of her house a few years ago), and also because I'm sort of "out there on my own," and I never know when I might need to keep something back for a rainy day. I know that there are some things worth saving, too.

But I had to admit that this was a new one on me:

Stem Cell Save

I got this message from Usually, they only send me messages offering listings for dream beachfront property in Florida, Malibu and Sydney Australia. (Me? Living on a beach?? That would be a joke, don't you think?) But apparently, they've recently branched out into biotechnology. Who knew?

The offer on the lower right intrigued me as well. How much does one have to pay for really good cord blood these days? Is it more expensive than pomegranate juice? Because that's some pricey shit!

Finally, what sort of container would be required to store such things? Does Joke-Of-The-Day sell those too? The message didn't say...maybe I could just use Tupperware.

What a shame I didn't save that damned umbilical's the only memento from my infancy that isn't in a box somewhere.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Rudolph: A Backstage Video Blog

Peter Mavrik of Radio Peter (and fellow cast member of the recently-closed "Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer") posted this video blog this morning chronicling the last performance. See us all in our backstage attire! (Except me--I already had the damned suit on.)

I was thoroughly sick of being Santa by this time (GOD, he was hateful!), and you could see it in my reaction here. (It was meant in humor, but I was completely worn out by this time--plus we had set strike to do right afterwards, and I had a drive and gig to look forward to the next day). I didn't have the same last-day-choke-up that I got last year when it was over, probably because of all that's been going on.

Around 8 minutes in, you can see the result of my first makeup-buying expedition. This can be a disaster if you don't know which shade to buy (just FYI, never go for the "caramel" or even "light tan" varieties--if you have my coloring, stick to the ones with names like "arctic chill," "frosty," "winter pale" or "mortician's delight").

Anyway, enjoy! Thanks, Peter...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Of Oaks and Acorns...A Very Joans New Years!

New Years Eve was a busy day! After helping David and Ed unload the set for "Rudolph," The Joans traveled (in separate cars, of course--can you imagine us in the same vehicle for over an hour??) to Three Oaks, Michigan and the Acorn Theatre.

Acorn Theatre 1108(1)
The lovely Acorn. The snow is covering the sign, but this is what it looks like from the outside. The owners bought the building in 2001 and remodeled it and it's been operating as a theatre since 2003. It's a gorgeous place worth checking out!

We were a little nervous about how we'd go over in a small town like Three Oaks, but this is not your typical conservative close-minded small town--the people we met were very relaxed and friendly. All the young guys are cute and hot. Everyone knows each other by first name. It reminded me a lot of the town I grew up in, except it's a little smaller (about 1,500 as opposed to my hometown's 6,000) and more artistic.

The owners of the Acorn, Kim Clark and David Fink, are very accomplished folks--Kim teaches screenwriting at DePaul University and has taught for Second City and David is on the board of the Chicago Improv Festival--so when they asked us to perform at their New Years Eve party, we were thrilled and flattered and jumped at the opportunity.

After I got on the road, I noticed my head congestion getting worse from the cold I'd picked up near the end of the "Rudolph" run. I'd brought coffee with me and kept chugging it to stay warm (I hadn't had the foresight to add a little slug of something to "punch it up," and anyway, I was driving--who do you think I am, W.C. Fields?). I got there around 3:30 Eastern Time (which is the time displayed in my mom's car, because she never set the clock back for daylight savings last year) and set up for sound check.

We made our way through our two sets by 6:00, then broke for dinner. Kim and David ordered pizza for the band and staff, and Taylor and Davy Joans went with me to the pharmacy to get some DayQuil and a bottle of spicy bloody mary mix that caught my eye (no, I didn't drink any of it there). We went back to the theatre and I went to my room (there are sleeping quarters IN the theatre--did we mention that? Yeah--this place pretty much has it all) and downed about a third of the DayQuil. It really did help the congestion pretty quickly, and since it's a "non-drowsy" formula, I got that nice warm feeling without the dizziness that accompanies most over-the-counter cold medicines.

After some pizza, I went upstairs to shower and change. Feeling somewhat encouraged that my clothes still fit me (I put back on about 10-15 pounds over this holiday, so New Years is coming none too soon!), I went downstairs to wait in my and George's room. George and I chatted for a bit. Somehow we got on the topic of Priscilla Presley and her age (I'd estimated 59 or 60, but since looking it up afterwards, saw that it's 62) and George showed me his song charts. He writes his charts the same way I do for the songs I write.

David Fink introduced us just after 9:00 PM and we launched into "I Feel Joan," a Donna Summer cover that we adapted for our introduction. Here's a version captured a month or so ago at our Red Line gig:

This time, we had the advantage of special effects: the Acorn has a raising platform that lowers to the stage, and Davy Joans made his entrance down the platform. It was hard to tell if the audience was impressed or just freaked out, but it seemed to be a positive mixture of both.

The first set went really well, despite a few lyrical goofs and getting slightly lost on one of the new songs and covers. I was really happy with my playing (I think maybe the DayQuil helped) and the sound was great. Those of us who "infume" went outside for a quick ciggie and noticed that it was snowing pretty steadily.

The second set went even better than the first set and all of our really fun songs and covers (including "New Toy," "The Morning After" and "Mad At The Dirt") were in that group. After we wrapped up, I went to the bar to order the drink special of the evening, the "wire hanger:" Pepsi, vodka and lime juice. Once the crowd were out of their seats, it was easy to see how many folks there actually were.

Near midnight, we went back onstage for the countdown and to perform our version of Auld Lang Syne. Not one to miss out on the champaggers, I had my toast ready:

Aaron Champaggers
What does the expression say to you? To me, it says, "take the damn picture already, I want to get this down my neck!"

Sadly, George was not as cooperative when I tried to take his picture, despite my calling his name three--count them, three--times:

George Joans Acorn Side

After our Auld Lang Syne butchery--er, I mean, cover--the folks up front asked us to play "Trog" one more time and we willingly obliged. It was a party, after all, and it was time to dance! The video screens on the side and on the stage were set for videos and I went back to the room to change back into my regular clothes and have another ciggie outside. It was still snowing.

Afterwards, I came back inside and put the drums in their zipper bags. I decided to leave them there until morning when it stopped snowing. The party went on until about 2:00 AM and folks started making their way home. We stuck around (we were staying there, after all) and enjoyed a few more drinks and watched the videos from the theatre seats:

Group L to R Seat
From L. to R.: Acorn co-owner David Fink; Davy Joans (Cerda); myself; Ed Joans (Jones); George Joans (Spataro); and Jennifer Joans (Connelly). Taylor Joans (Ross) had already retired to bed by this time. He knows when to quit. We do not!

It was the first time I'd sung along to Laura Branigan songs in over 20 years.

George and I slept in the same bed fully clothed (he was chilly and I was trying to shake this damn cold), and around 7:00 AM or so, I heard him get up and go. I dozed back off and probably woke up around 9:00. I decided to take the now-crated drums to the car and discovered, when I opened the door, that it was still snowing.

The others came down around this time and David took everyone out for breakfast to Bailey's cafe, which he and Kim own. The decor is really tasteful, the breakfasts are yummy, and the staff are friendly (and they seem to work in many different places around town).

We hit the road around noon, after a slight drama with Jennifer Joans locking her keys inside the car with the engine running. Since it was still snowing, we had to drive extra slow, so the trip home took about three hours instead of 90 minutes (including the wait at the Skyway toll plaza, which was down to two lanes, taking about 25 minutes to get through).

I dropped my drums off at Taylor's and was home again...sick from work for the next two days (including today) from the damn cold--the congestion has worsened a bit. I'm out of DayQuil, too, so I'll have to venture outside to the 7-11 at some point this afternoon (when the temp reaches 20 degrees) for more of that and some detergent (it's laundry night).

Some things don't change, even in the New Year! Ah well, until next time, enjoy a few more pics from New Years Eve:

Jen Tiara
Bess Myerson accepts her crown as Miss America 1945. Oh wait, it's Jennifer Joans in the fancy new headgear she got for her second set costume.

Aaron Taylor Gary
Aaron Joans, Taylor Joans and Gary Airedale are ready for the New Year--and the New Beer!

Carol Ann Beer
Don't mess with Carol Ann when it's time for cocktails.

David Arms Up
Davy Joans is either doing "The Trog," or was just surprised in the lavatory.

Aaron Joans Peace
Aaron Joans wishes peace for all in the coming year. He hopes to get a piece, too.

Carol Ann She-Devil
When she's not playing keyboard, Carol Ann is auditioning for the stage version of "She-Devil."

Acorn Theatre 1108(2)
One more view of the outside of the Acorn Theatre: all is quiet on New Year's Day (except for Jen's swearing when she locked her keys in the car).

Thanks again, David and Kim! I loved the Acorn. Can't wait to go back again some time!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Rudolph Has Left The Building...

...and he took all his set pieces with him!

This weekend was the closing weekend of "Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer" at the Bailiwick. It was sort of sad to see it end, but also a great relief, as I mentioned in my last entry. It was a crazy, precarious holiday season, but everything worked out OK. (I think I've officially used up all my good karma now--I'll have to work overtime to earn some more for this year!)

I did bring the suit home and it's hanging in my closet now, shedding a false flower smell to all my sheets from the Febreeze.

Since I had my camera with me on closing night, I snapped a few backstage photos just for YOU...

On the left, the brilliant Elizabeth Lesinski (Mrs. Claus) and on the right, Lori Lee (Yukon Cornelia). Lori brought the house down with her entrance just about every night. (Whipping a stuffed hand puppet and yelling "Muuuuush! Muuuuuush!")

Steve Lehman (Mr. Donner, Rudolph's father) enjoys a quick, healthful, crunchy snack to perk him up before going onstage.

Steve also played King Moonracer, the leader of the Island of Misfit Toys. The Tina Turner wig was a nice addition this year. Last year, he had a whole lion's head made of plushy acrylic and foam, AND the crown perched on top of that. This was much faster and more efficient--plus it gave him a cool new look, like King Moonracer meets Bon Jovi or something.

From left--Corey Mills as Rudolph, Steve Lehman as Mr. Donner, Ed Jones as Connie Vixen (one of two roles he played) and Annie Gloyn as Clarice, Rudolph's punk-rock-wannabe girlfriend.

Mike Miller played Coach Comet (pedophile and father of Rudolph's love interest Clarice) and the square-wheeled choo-choo train on the Island of Misfit Toys. Some people just WON'T cooperate when you ask them to smile!

Ed Jones as the Abominable Drag Beast. Besides playing Connie Vixen, he's also Carol Ann, our keyboardist for The Joans. Busy, busy...and in the spring, you can see him playing an actual man in Hell in a Handbag's production of Charles Busch's "Die Mommie Die!" He'll be getting something shoved up his ass, if that's any incentive to come and see the show...

Robert Bouwman of Corn Productions as Sam the Snowman. I first saw him three years ago when Corn mounted "The Bad Seed" and our own David Cerda/Davy Joans played Miss Fern. I was blown away by Robert, who played Rhoda and Todd Schaner, who played Mrs. Penmark. I'd never worked with them before though, so this production was especially fun for me. Robert was LOTS of fun to work with and is a very generous spirit. He throws a hell of a party, too! I took this picture near the dressing room door next to the black curtain, so that's why the background is so dark. Very dramatic, though, don't you think?

Dan Hickey (R.) as Herbie the "not-gay-enough elf" gets a tonsil examination from the made-over Mrs. Claus (Elizabeth Lesinksi). You just can't trust some people, can you? Hmmph!

After the show Sunday night, we took the set down and painted the stage walls, stairs and floor, packed up the costumes and loaded the lot into the rented van to take to the storage space in Andersonville. The whole process took about two hours-not bad, really.

HOWEVER, when we GOT to the storage space, we discovered that we do NOT have 24-hour access to our unit. And it was after business hours. So David had to keep the van an extra day and he and Ed and I came back Monday morning at 10:00 to unload the props/costumes into the shed. As I stepped past the cart, piled high with the Christmastown trees made of paneling, I stumbled and stepped on the side of one, taking a large chunk off. During the unloading process, we discovered that the paneling trees are quite brittle. But we saved what we could and kept all of the lumber, so perhaps that can be used again...

We got all the stuff loaded into the stall in under an hour, then it was on to run some last-minute errands and back home to do some last minute packing and hit the road for Three Oaks, Michigan, where The Joans spent a fun-filled New Years Eve.

Pictures of that tomorrow!