Monday, June 30, 2008

Memory Loss Is Made Of These...

John Lennon had his "lost weekend," and now I've had mine!

Well, not quite, but after all the times I've been told to "get lost," this occasional brought me close!

A tolerable time was had by most at "Aaron's Big One," my first annual birthday bash, on Friday night at The Spot in Uptown. Lots of folks had scheduling conflicts, or had to come late, but since my drinks were on the house until 10:00, if you weren't there, I probably imagined you were. So cheers!

Here are a few photo highlights from the evening (courtesy of David Cerda, who had the camera):

Aaron & Cheryl

Me with my friend Cheryl Snodgrass, who, besides being a partner in The Spot, is also a supertalented actress and director, who most recently directed "Die! Mommie Die!" for Hell in a Handbag at the Bailiwick. She was first seen by Handbag audiences in 2006's "Caged Dames" as Bigger Lorraine Delvecchio, and showed off her marvelous pipes again as eccentric ornithologist Mrs. Bundy in 2007's "The Birds."

Davy Derek Ed Stephen

L. to R.: Stephen Rader, Derek Czaplewski, David Cerda (a/k/a Davy Joans) and Ed Jones (a/k/a Ed Joans as Carol Ann). David and Ed had just come from seeing Blondie at Lincoln Park Zoo (where it's reported they've taken up residence next to the McCormick Meerkat Enclosure) and, alas, were apparently unsucessful in dragging Debbie Harry to the party. Unless she was the one dancing on the bar. But no, I think that was a lawyer...

Davy Ed Brian BonD

Brian, Cheryl's business partner, who kindly kept us supplied with chicken strips and mini tacos during our revelries, mugs in behind David and Ed. Sorry bois, he's straight AND married...

Aaron Coldcocked

The moment I know all of you have waited for--and the opportunity you've all dreamed of! Don't tell me you haven't! I didn't feel a thing the next day...

David captured photos of the bar-dancing lawyer, but I won't subject you to those. I was quite frightened that she would step on my drink! And then sue me for getting her shoes wet...

Besides those picture above, we also had Gary Airedale of the Flesh Hungry Dog Show, fellow handbagger Annie and her boyfriend Jarod, Richard "Madge Weinstein" Bluestein, and Steve Hickson of A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Co. and his boyfriend Paul.

Despite the "no presents" edict, I did get a few treasures from my well-wishers: a DVD datadisc of music from Gary and a copy of David Sedaris' new book "When You Are Engulfed In Flames" from Stephen. (Thanks again, Stephen! So far, I love it...his story about what he got from the second-hand trousers was particularly entertaining.)

Thanks to all for your well wishes...I'm looking forward to a good decade (hell, it can't be any worse than the LAST one ;-)), and am grateful for all the Omega oil which has kept me from looking as old as my five years of heavy alcohol consumption dictates that I should by now...


The Joans head into the studio on Sunday, July 6 to begin recording their debut CD. I'm excited...

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Smile From God

Smile from God

I got this picture in my e-mail from my Aunt Fay this morning. It made ME smile, too. Some things are more than a coincidence, I think.

It's called "A Smile From God." (By way of John Lennon, apparently...)

The world sucks, and sometimes we just need a reminder that somebody is up there watching over us and smiling. (If we could just smile at each OTHER more, we'd be in better shape, I think.)


Also, I kept forgetting to blog about it this week, but tonight is my (belated) 40th birthday party at The Spot in Uptown. I didn't have everyone's e-mail address, so I only sent the Evite to the people whose addresses I had (and I mean, right on hand, because I knew I had little time to plan this thing and I sent that baby in a hurry! This means that I missed some really important people, so I've tried to send it to them as I've remembered, though I've learned lots of folks will be out of town.)

But if you ARE in town, feel free to drop by between 8:00PM and whenever and lift a glass with me...mention that you're with me, and your cover is FREE, and my party gets a discount of $3 beers, $4 well drinks and $5 premium-brand cocktails all night. I'll also have some appetizers for those of you who get the alcoholic munchies...

The Spot is located at 4437 N. Broadway (just north of Montrose) in Chicago...

Monday, June 23, 2008

An Anti-Obama Attack Book? (Ooh, I'm SHAKIN'...)

We're now informed that the same group of loonies who attacked John Kerry in 2004 plan to release a book on the "real" Barack Obama which promises to "blow the lid off" him.

Wow. I can hardly stand the suspense. I love a good fabrication.

Here's my favorite 'graph from the story:

"Conservative journalist David Freddoso’s 'The Case Against Barack Obama' will offer 'a comprehensive, factual look at Obama,' according to Regnery Publishing president and publisher Marjory Ross."

"Comprehensive and factual." Rrrrrrriiiiight.

Why can't Marjory Ross just be happy living off of her "Happy Days" royalties, anyway?

(What was that? Oh...I see...never mind.)

Apparently, these folks don't realize how they poison the well of their own credibility by choosing a combative title making a case "against" someone. It will no doubt sell more copies than human cadaver five-dollar hooker conservative "columnist" Ann Coulter's "Treason." And I hope she chokes on that.

Isn't it amazing how these conservative journalists are experts on everything? Wow. They told us everything about John Kerry, and now they're going to tell us everything about Barack Obama.

It's too bad they couldn't have told us everything about George Bush and Dick Cheney way back when. It might have saved us eight years of embarrassment and wasted resources.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lordy, Lordy


It's arrived...the day I never thought I'd see. The day I become OLD...

I am officially 40 years old today.

Considering everything that's happened this year, I should be really depressed today, but strangely I'm not. I feel sort of peaceful and resigned, as if I'd just entered the dentist's office for five root canals, but was told I'd be getting some REALLY great drugs for it.

Also, I've been really busy lately, with a conference at work coming up tomorrow and Saturday, The Joans and fun stuff like that. I spent a few days early this week in Peoria helping my aunt and uncle clean out my mom's old storage unit. I came back with a car full of shit sentimental treasures, including some silver flatware (that she bought and never used!), a silver tea service (that she bought and never used!), some crystal goblets (that she bought and never used!) and some beautiful old blue and white china (you guessed it). I'll post pictures of these things tomorrow or Saturday after the conference...

I also managed to save some of my old vinyl record albums. Anyone have a turntable? I don't...

Oh well, back to work now. More later!

Friday, June 13, 2008

The High(ish) Road

A few weeks back, I mentioned the post left in the funeral home's online guest book from one of mom's childhood "friends," Bonnie. In case you don't recall my rant, Bonnie was the one who'd had a marriage annulled (after two kids) decades ago so that she could marry another man who also had HIS marriage annulled (after FOUR kids), and was "sorry" that there was to be no Catholic funeral for Mom.

I thought and thought about how to respond (since her comment was inappropriate and really seemed to call for a response). I pondered sending a thank-you card with a simple note that Mom didn't want a Catholic funeral and was put off by the hypocrisy of the church's preaching salvation and arrogance while granting expensive favors like annulments.

But in the end, I decided that that would be over her head (Mom always said Bon-Bon wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer), and opted to respond on the message board with a kind thank-you to everyone where they could ALL could see it. So a few days later, I posted this:

Take That

Her comment deserved to be treated as an embarrassing afterthought, and I'm all about just desserts. Mom would've loved it. And I didn't have to blow a 42-cent stamp on a moron!

I love it when things turn out thrifty AND fair...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Repukingbuking Bush

Supreme Court gives Bush the smackdown on Guantanamo. Again.

(Except for Scalia, who reacts predictably as an insecure, megalomaniacal and probably impotent 72-year-old would, trotting out that tired old "more dead Americans" line that always seems to rally Republican supporters. But never convince INTELLIGENT people.)

I wonder how posteriors posterity will judge this Administration...?

Monday, June 09, 2008

It Took a Disaster to Get Us Off That Stage...

Saturday, The Joans traveled to lovely Milwaukee, WI to perform at the Pridefest. The sound was terrific, they had a nice little drum kit and our set went very well.

Until the tornado sirens went off.

Fortunately, we were near the end of our set, and only had "Mad At The Dirt" and "The Boys And The Booze" left to go. Still, I would have LOVED to play "Mad At The Dirt" on that stage with that sound system! The monitors were FABULOUS. No feedback on outdoor stages!

I took along my little pocket digital video camera to record some behind-the-scenes stuff, starting with the trip there. (There will be video of the performance itself a little later, once it's all assembled, etc.)

Here we are leaving Chicago:

The road out of town

As it turned out, the exit we were to take to get to the festival grounds was closed and there was a strange detour through downtown Milwaukee. But finally, we drew near:

Our destination

Finally, after we had ironed out some parking issues, we were shown backstage, where we staged our equipment, surveyed our surroundings and made chit-chat. Plus, Gary flips through a Pridefest magazine and finds some familiar faces, while I try to get a peek at the drum kit setup:


One of the things I remembered about performing at the Pridefest a few years ago was the really nice crafts table with the sandwiches, fruit, coffee, etc. This time, however, the arrangements appeared to be a little more exclusive:

Private food

Although we mere plebeans weren't allowed to eat from Natasha's personal crafts table, we did find our dressing room to be comfy and cozy:

Dressing room

Then we began the process of donning costumes, makeup, etc. (hey, Joans don't just HAPPEN--they're meticulously chiseled--by an abstract artist, apparently!). And Taylor has bought a cool vintage suit:

New duds

Then, at 3:49 P.M., we made our way to the stage for sound check and at 4:00 P.M., we kicked off our set. (As I mentioned, we don't have video of the set yet, but we did have a videographer there who will be editing together the set.) I was really happy with the way we sounded and the monitor levels were perfect, so we could hear ourselves and each other perfectly. I loved the kick drum pedal, too--I need to get one just like it!

At 4:45 P.M., as we were in the middle of "This Is Your Life," I heard a strange overtone which I took to be Ed Joans's keyboard. I thought, "This is different--he's added something to the song." The note stayed steady, however, and then I thought maybe one of his keys was sticking (though they've never done that before). After about a minute, the stage manager came out and signalled to us to stop: what I'd taken for a keyboard overtone was apparently a tornado siren.


We were instructed to take our equipment down (we didn't have all that much since they had a great backline) and go to our dressing room, closing the door and staying away from the windows (an interesting challenge, given the prominence of the window in our small dressing room).

All in all, it wasn't too bad, since we'd made it through most of our set by then. We had to stay backstage for over an hour while the storm went over (the tornado never got that close to us. We just caught the surrounding storm, which was quite bad enough). In these post-show afterglow moments, Jennifer Joans gave us a tip on dressing-room etiquette, and Gary Joans hatched a nefarious plot to do away with us all:


Eventually, we made our way out into the hallway where Natasha Bedingfield's craft table items had been subsequently marked suitable for the masses. So I ate of Natasha's nuts and drank of Natasha's water (boy was I thirsty!). Since we were in a confined space, members of Natasha's entourage (although not Natasha herself) were forced to speak with us. They were actually quite nice! One of them referred to the siren as an "air raid siren," which I thought was cute (he was from England, where they don't get tornados once an hour like we do in the Midwest, though, so that's probably what the sirens ARE for there).

We got on the road shortly after 6:00 and made our way slowly and wetly home (it was pouring). We stopped in Racine for food along the way, so we didn't get back home until about 10:00. I don't have any video of the drive home because it was too dark anyway, plus my camera was in my bag by then and I wasn't going to fish it out. But trust me, it happened, it really did!

All in all, it was a fun trip and we're glad we did it. The Pridefest people were smiling as they watched us and we had an enthusiastic audience, which Davy and Jennifer Joans successfully whipped into a rabid frenzy. If we hadn't had to leave the stage in a hurry from the tornado, we'd have had to do it to keep from being torn limb from limb by hungry zombies! Seriously, though, they had a lot of fun. Especially when they really heavy rains came and people started streaking. We could hear the screaming and cheering from backstage.

Let's do it again next year!

Friday, June 06, 2008


I wasn't quite ready to see this in my e-mail the other day:

Birthday Reminder!

Mom's birthday would have been Tuesday. It wasn't really a surprise, since it's still so recent, and we're all still in the midst of things, so to speak. When she passed, I knew that it was only a few weeks from her birthday, so it feels like one more detail that we need to take care of as we finalize a person's affairs, rather than the "slap in the face" it would have felt like if she had passed six months ago and I was suddenly reminded just now.

Also, our birthdays were pretty close together (mine's nine days later), so often I felt the two sort of blended together. Summer's been such a busy time for me over the last 10 years that birthdays often became a secondary consideration. That's not to say that I forgot them--we always called each other and sent cards (usually e-mail cards!), and I usually came down to visit on a weekend that was between the two dates. But it wasn't like the birthdays were the only things going on in our lives.

Still, it was kind of weird opening an e-mail that reminded me of something that I've grown to take for granted over the years: "Your mother's birthday is coming up--better buy a present!" And suddenly realizing there's no present to buy this year.

But this is all part of the transition, which I will eventually get used to...


PrideFest Milwaukee Logo

On a happier note, this weekend is Milwaukee Pridefest, and The Joans are playing tomorrow at 4:00PM on the Miller Lite Main Stage. If you're in the area, and feel like a fun live show, come check us out! Here are the details again:

DATE: June 7, 2008
TIME: 4:00PM

Henry W. Maier Festival Park
200 N. Harbor Drive
Milwaukee, WI

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Like Lucy and Ethel, Only Without the Chocolates...

Aaron GCFD
This photo was taken by Mary, one of my co-workers (from the Wheaton office) who had a camera phone. I don't always look so awful--I usually look worse! It was fun, though. Notice the dopey smile. She took a photo of each of us individually, and all of us were smiling. I won't put the other photos up, though, because my co-workers will fucking murder me...

Yesterday, I, along with seven of my co-workers, spent an afternoon volunteering at Greater Chicago Food Depository. Our Executive Secretary arranged a group service afternoon for the Admin staff. (Yes, I'm an Admin person--because heaven wasn't satisfied with giving me an ungainly appearance, it also arranged to saddle me with the self-loathing MotherKarma necessary to make one's living solving other people's self-induced problems).

But I digress. The afternoon was actually a lot of fun. We left the downtown office at 11:30 and a few folks rode in my car. It only takes a few minutes to get to the GCFD, because it's right off of the Pulaski exit on I-55. We had pizza and laughed about work (it's better than crying), and then several high school students arrived. (And I mean, 30 or so kids--we were a big group!)

I'd volunteered at the GCFD before, 3 years ago, right after they'd moved into the new facility. We did a whole day that time, and we spent the morning sorting bread (checking for loaves that were crushed or moldy and throwing them out) and loading it onto palettes for delivery, and the afternoon shoveling pasta into bins. I went home plenty sore, I can tell you.

This time, we worked on the emergency food box assembly line, taking items and inserting them precisely into boxes. And it had to be precise: there were about 20 items in each box and they had to be placed in just the right spot, or else the boxes couldn't be sealed and taped. So the supervisor (Keith) started off by walking down the line and demonstrating how each item should be placed, which took about 10 minutes. Then we were off and running.

Now, the food items ("product" as it's termed) comes directly from the food company warehouses, so all the cases are still wrapped in that thick plastic, which takes a few seconds to tear off and remove, so it became necessary during breaks in the assembly line to unwrap three or four cases at a time so I had the loose cans available to place in the boxes. There were a few folks on hand to help with this (when we got close to running out of something, we'd raise a hand and yell "PRODUCT!"), but it was clearly too much for our poor, beleaguered girl to do all on her own.

My product was canned beef stew, in 16-ounce cans, which are larger than soup cans, so there are fewer cans per case, which meant unwrapping and uncrating more often. And I got flashbacks of the "I Love Lucy" chocolate factory episode. Too bad I couldn't fit those cans down my shirt! And there were a LOT of cans moved. Let's just say that in the end, it didn't matter that I hadn't made it to the gym that morning...

We wrapped up (no pun intended) at 3:30 and started clearing up all of our plastic and cardboard detritus. Keith told us that we'd collectively assembled 653 Emergency Food Boxes. For about two hours' solid work, that wasn't bad, especially for a group our size.

Our volunteer coordinator, Jim, told us that GCFD relies on its volunteers to keep operating: they package so many thousands of meals per day that if they stopped getting volunteers, they'd effectively close down within a month. I heartily recommend volunteering for anybody who's looking for such an opportunity and who lives in Chicago.

After we finished, we drove back downtown, where I dropped off my co-workers and headed back north to get ready for Joans rehearsal with Ed Joans and Taylor Joans. I was completely whacked by then, and sadly, my energy went to hell after about an hour. I managed to do some drum-playing nonetheless...

I went home plenty sore, I can tell you!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Keeping Up With The Joans (June 3, 2008 Edition)

Joans Logo

This weekend, The Joans will be performing at Milwaukee Pridefest. This is very exciting for us, because it's a great place and a great time. I performed there with Flesh Hungry Dog a few years ago, and the sound guys are awesome and we have tons of space on the stage. We played on Sunday last time, but this time The Joans are playing on Saturday, so hopefully we'll get to see everyone in a festive mood on the upswing!

PrideFest Milwaukee Logo

The particulars are as follows:

Date: Saturday June 7
Time: 4:00 PM


Feel like a day trip? Drop in and say hi!!