Friday, December 25, 2009

Essential X-mas Music The Rest

Apologies for phoning it in, I just go so busy. Here's the last 8 tracks for the essential x-mas music mix. I hope it brightens your holiday season.

18. Blue Christmas- Elvis Presley
19. Run, Run, Rudolph- Chuck Berry
20. It's Christmas All Over Again- Tom Petty
21. Swiss Colony Beef Log- Eric Cartmen
22. Linus and Lucy- Vince Guaraldi
23. Christmas- The Who
24. Santa Baby- Madonna
25. Christmas Time In Hell- Satan (from the South Park x-mas)

Happy holidays to all. I hope you enjoyed this little list, despite my flaking on it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 17

"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" by The Pretenders

In the interest of full disclosure: this is actually my second favorite version of this song. I include it over my favorite because it will be easier to put on a cd (for those of you actually making a Ryan McGillen Essential Christmas Music Mix)

My favorite version is this one. It's been mentioned previously in this blog.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 16

"I Won't Be Home For Christmas" by Blink 182.

A funny thing occurred to me the other day. I remember in high school/early college there was a trend of "punks" in my scene (as I'm sure there was in yours) would criticize Blink 182. "Sellout!" they would cry because they had gotten popular to the point where they had to play larger venues in order to service their audience. Most of these people loved pop punk bands like Screeching Weasel and The Descendants (both bands that heavily influenced Blink) but claimed to hate Blink.

Cut to those same people in 2009. Most of them are 25-30 years old. Lots of things have changed. Including the fact that they are now comfortable enough to admit they like Blink. Everyone likes Blink. Everyone. (no need to comment just to tell me you don't, i know it's a broad generalization).

Anyhow, hearing this song always makes me think of my first band ever, Kindergarden Diplomacy. The band included John McCabe, Leann Banks, Kevin Branoff, and myself. We'd play the silly songs that I wrote about a girl I worked with at Meijer who had a mullet or having carnal relations with farm animals. We would have band practice at John's house, using his other bands (much nicer) equipment. Afterwards, they would come and practice and since the holidays were approaching, they would cover this song.

Simpler times, those were.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 15

"The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth" by Bing Crosby and David Bowie

You learn something new every day.

We all know the tale of the retooling of this song because Bowie did not believe that his part was right for his voice. It's been told to death.

But today, I learned that one month after recording this song with Bowie, Bing Crosby died of a heart attack. That's my pop culture nugget for today. I'm sure it'll pop up in some improv show I do somewhere down the line. They all do.

Essential X-mas Music Track 14

"Happy X-mas (War Is Over)" by John Lennon.

I don't have to tell you that John Lennon is a genius. I don't have to tell you that this song, originally intended to be a protest song for the Vietnam War, is now a staple of any non-crazy person's holiday playlist.

You knew all of that.

Unfortunately, that's all there is to this song. It's simply amazing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Tracks 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13

So I'm cheating because I fell behind. Things got busy for me at work and at life and I simply had no spare time to do this. I'm giving you 4 songs that I didn't really have a whole lot to say about in list format. Two of them are the promised repeats from earlier entries.

#9 All I Want For Christmas Is You - My Chemical Romance

#10 Jingle Bell Rock - Hall and Oates

#11 Christmas Time in Hollis Queens - Run DMC

#12 Santa Baby - Cynthia Basinet (Thanks to WTD Records for the correction)

#13 Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys

Sorry to not go the extra mile on this one. I'll try to keep up for the rest of the season

Thursday, December 10, 2009

According to the ingredients on the container, somewhere in the world there is pudding that just grows out of the earth.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 8

"Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)" by The Darkness

This song has absolutely everything that says "Christmas Song" to me. Bell tolls, sleigh bells, a childrens choir, ripping glam metal guitars, and a glorious falsetto singer.

I remember when my friend Mike first introduced me to The Darkness. He showed me the video for their big hit "I Believe In A Thing Called Love". I chuckled at the band, firing lasers from their guitars at space octopi, shredding through 80's metal guitar solos, and wearing spandex cat suits. At the end of the video, Mike turned to me and said "The best part is, these dudes are totally serious. It seems like they are being ironic, but they are totally serious about the music they play."


I know I've been a little video happy on the blog these past few days, but whatever. I would like you to just get an idea how good this song is, since it's one of the one's you might not have heard. Also, you can get an idea of how glorious The Darkness truly is. Big ups to the guitar solo that I like to call, Two Guys One Guitar.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 7

"All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey

Judge all you want. It might be one of the best pop songs of the last 20 years.

When Kristen and I were first dating, she made me watch "Love, Actually". I didn't care for it. I debated with her about the superficiality of a marriage between two characters who didn't speak each others language (if you've never spoken to someone, your entire affection is based on their looks. What if that person turns out to be a Klan member or something?) But there is one thing that makes the movie tolerable.

That one thing is the performance, by a group of Jr. High tweens at the end of this song. It's so good. Worth sitting through the whole two hours.

Heads Up: This song will appear on this list again!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 6

"Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano.

I first heard this song being played while Big Bird and a young girl figure skate in the Sesame Street Christmas special "Christmas Eve of Sesame Street". If you haven't seen it, I recommend checking it out. It's on youtube.

The other memory that sticks out from the special was the storyline of Bert and Ernie (which is actually an old story). Neither Bert nor Ernie have the money to buy gifts for each other this year (because neither one has jobs, because they are apparently 12-14 year old kids who live together). So Bert sells his paper clip collection in order to get Ernie a soap dish for Rubber Ducky. Of course, what Bert doesn't know is that Ernie sold Rubber Ducky to get a cigar box (?) for Bert's paper clip collection. With both of them dismayed, the now deceased Mr. Hooper, touched by the boys Christmas spirit, shows up to return both boys possessions to them. Then this heartwarming scene occurs. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 5

"Christmas Vacation" by Mavis Maples.

I'm not a big laugh out loud alone type person. Normally, if I'm with a whole group of people, and something is funny, I laugh harder that when I'm alone or even with Kristen.

This weekend, while lazing around watching TV, I came across National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Those who know me know that this is my favorite Christmas movie of all time. It's also one of the few movies that, even though I've seen it a trillion times, I still will laugh out loud at. I couldn't even pick a favorite line in that movie if I had to. But the best character in the movie is Aunt Bethany. I never knew that the actress (Mae Questel) was also the voice of Betty Boop. Here's a montage for you.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 4

"Please Come Home For Christmas" was originally written by Charles Brown. It's been covered by about a million people. The Eagles, Willie Nelson,and Jon Bon Jovi (and a few others) actually charted with their covers. I listened to a couple of versions of this song to pick my favorite. I finally settled on Aaron Neville's version because I like the added brass section. I'm pretty sure this is also the version used in Home Alone.

I'm glad to say that I've never had to spend a Christmas away from home. I missed Thanksgiving the first year that I lived in Chicago because I was working at Rainforest Cafe and that's apparently the busiest night of the year. I didn't even get off in time to go to Aunt Peggy's house, which I understand was a blessing in disguise because Uncle Tim and his brood were all there, suffering from some sort of plague. I would have liked to be with my family, eating piles of stuffing and home baked rolls. Never again though. Even if I have to fly home Christmas eve and return on the 26th, I'll never miss another Christmas or Thanksgiving if I can help it.

Also, props to Aaron Neville for not getting whatever that is on his eyebrow taken care of. Not like he has millions of dollars or anything.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Essential Christmas Music- Track 3

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" is a really strange song. It's even odder when it's performed by the Jackson 5. See if you can follow me here.

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" is widely accepted as a wholesome Christmas song. It's sang sweetly by child pop stars and apple cheeked children the world over. But this is not a wholesome song.

This is a song about a young child witnessing his mother in the arms of another man. A child, who's innocence gets lost and is forced to grow up real quick. "Do I do the right thing and tell my dad, thereby destroying my parents marriage and forcing me to grow up a child of divorce or do I keep this secret forever, knowing that every Christmas eve, my mom will be cheating on my dad."

Now let's look at this song applying what we know about the Jackson family. There is no winner in this tale. Throughout the song, Michael is insisting that he caught his mother kissing Santa Clause. He didn't seem to have much trouble making his decision. In the middle of the song Michael says "I really did see mommy kissing Santa Clause and I'm going to tell my dad." Just so we're clear, he's going to tell this man.

We all know about Joe Jackson's legendary temper and his abusive relationship with his children. Is there any reason not to assume that when he learns of Catherine's infidelity he's not going to beat the ever loving crap out of her. I think not. I mean, look at him. Or on the flip side, let's say Joe confronts Catherine and, stoic as always, she tells him that Michael was probably just dreaming or something. Joe, enraged that his child would lie to him about something so serious, beats Michael within an inch of his life.

This is a really tragic song. Way more than "Christmas Shoes" (that will be the only time that song is mentioned in this list).

On a complete sidenote, the song ends with Michael continuing to insist to his brothers about what they saw. The rest of the brothers are mad because he's keeping them awake with his story. And then we hear one of the brothers yell "Germaine, you're taking all the covers! My toes are cold!" 5 brothers, ranging in age from roughly 8 to 17 are all sharing a bed?!? Weird. Besides, the Jackson family had buckets of money once they exploited their children. No way they are all in one bed.

As I was saying yesterday about Santa Clause is Coming to Town, this will not be the Jackson's only appearance on this list. They'll be back.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Does Boxing still exist as a sport?

I have a lot of great memories revolving around boxing. When I was a kid, the Easter Bunny brought me and my brother boxing gloves one year. My dad took this as an opportunity to pit my brother and I against each other in boxing matches. I recall a time when I actually bloodied my brother's nose. We would also take some pretty dramatic dives when we wanted to go play Sega.

We also used to go to Fight Night at the Palace of Auburn Hills once every couple of months. The place would be absolutely packed with dudes in hilariously tasteless pimp suits. It was an absolutely blast.

Then there were the pay per view parties (alliteration FTW) where we would go to Tony Peter's house to watch George Foreman come out of retirement and fight Evander "Real Deal" Hollifield. Just as much of a blast. Not as many pimps.

So I'm just wondering, is there boxing anymore on the level that there used to be with Foreman and Hollifield and Tyson or has boxing be completely replaced by Mixed Martial Arts and UFC. Cause really, ugh.

Boxing is the sweet science. UFC, on the other hand, is a breeding ground for rapists and murders. No offense. (I realize the incongruence of saying UFC is for rapists when Mike Tyson, one of the most famous boxers in history, not only raped a girl, but also ate a man's ear.)

Essential Christmas Music- Track 2

My dear friend Joey feels roughly the same way I do about Christmas music. I think it comes with working or having worked in retail. It's all you hear from 2 months.

One night we got to talking about Christmas music and I brought up Bruce Springsteen's rendition of "Santa Clause is Coming to Town". Joey's response to me was "Generally, I'm pretty indifferent to Christmas and not much of a fan of Christmas music, but if I'm flipping through the radio, the first time I catch that song, I get really into Christmas and it usually sticks with me through the season."

So that's track 2. As a sneak preview of things to come, this is one of 2 songs that will appear on this list again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Essential X-mas song #1

Most people who know me know that I don't especially like Christmas music. For awhile, I had the same stance on Christmas music that I had on country. "I hate it all." But just like country offering Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, there are exceptions. Amazingly, there are approximately 25 Christmas songs I legitimately love. Everyday, from now until Christmas, I'm going to reveal another one. That way on Christmas, loyal reader, you'll have yourself a nice Christmas mix to play while you eat your goose and roast chestnuts.

Track #1

"Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues. There are some who would argue that this is not a Christmas song. But considering it all takes place in the 24 period between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I think it counts. Besides, the word "Christmas" is used a ton of times.

"Fairytale of New York" is a song about a drunk man reminiscing about past Christmases while sleeping off a bender in the NYPD "drunk tank". The rest of the song is sort of a call and response between the narrator and an old love (Kristie MacColl) about their relationship (destroyed by booze) and the Christmas Eve they spent in New York. It's hard to tell if the characters are pining for what they once had or if they are in the middle of a fight. They are both pretty brutal to each other at time. "You're a bum, you're a punk, you're an old slut on junk" "You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot. Happy Christmas, you arse, I pray God it's our last." But I like to look at this as the drunken Irish version of playful ribbing with someone you love. For all it's heartbreak, I find this song incredibly romantic.

Friday, November 27, 2009

That's a truly beautiful sight.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Best Song of All Time of the Week-Thanksgiving Edition

No, this song doesn't have any relation to Thanksgiving. Yes, many of my readers who are Beatles fans will call this sacrilege.

This week's Best Song of All Time of the Week is "It Won't Be Long" which was originally recorded by the Beatles. I'm not awarding the honor to the Fab Four though. I'm awarding the honor to Evan Rachel Wood and her performance in Across the Universe. The girl absolutely belts.

Last night, my brother and I were discussing favorite Beatles songs and I've come to the realization that I can't pick just one. It's impossible. I've decided to organize my favorites into 3 or 4 categories. Pop (Do You Want To Know A Secret), Ballad (Across the Universe), Blues (Yer Blues), and Rock (Helter Skelter).

What are your favorites?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I was walking home from work the other day when I saw this sign. I can't recall for sure if I had mentioned this before, but A CONEY ISLAND IS OPENING IN CHICAGO.

For you who don't know, a Coney Island is a Detroit-centric item. Essentially, it is a all beef hot dog, on a steamed bun, with a chili sauce, yellow onions, and mustard. Technically, I've never had a coney because I don't eat onions or mustard, but I tell you, my fellow Chicagoans, that when this place opens, you need to make sure you get in and experience greatness.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Best Song of All Time of the Week 11/19/09

Today's winner is "Jealous Guy" by John Lennon.

This is one of those songs I want to sing everytime I get into a fight with Kristen, after it's over, as my side of the apology. The only problem is I'm not really a jealous guy. Other lyrics usually apply to any fight in any relationship though.

I, of course, first heard this song when it was used in the touching montage of mean things that Mikey does to his new baby sister Julie in Look Who's Talking Too, right before baby Mikey (inner monologue by Bruce Willis) kisses his sister good night. I didn't even know who John Lennon was then, and I was like "That's such a good song". I was probably 6 or 7.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I think I've said this before, but Guthrie's is my favorite bar in all of Chicago. It's just great. Good music, board games, and really cheap drinks. I wish I lived next door, I'd go there every night.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Best Song of All Time of the Week 11/12/09

This week's winner is "Nothing Came Out" by the Moldy Peaches. You know them from the movie "Juno".

I love this song very much. Especially the raw recording. There is a great moment where a telephone rings in the background and Kimya Dawson, who is singing, laughs a little bit.

It's also a really sad song. I feel like there are times where Kimya is choked up or even crying in the recording.

Check this song out!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I am not against the idea of a convenience fee for online purchasing anymore than I'm against paying a shipping charge. I wouldn't doubt that Ticketmaster incurs costs that they need to recover when they operate a large and widely used website, which requires constant updates and a 'round the clock development team to keep it running. I understand all of that. I appreciate the option to not have to leave my house to buy tickets and I would expect to pay a little extra for the convenience.

What I'm not ok with is not having the choice.

To set the stage, Weezer is coming to town. Chicago is one of like 8 cities they are playing on this short little jaunt across America. Granted, their new album is pretty mediocre, but they are still one of my all time favorite bands (probably second only to the great Elvis Costello). So of course, I'm going to go. Plus, it's one of the few bands Kristen actually likes enough to go see live, so any chance I can get to share a concert with her, I'm going to take.

Yesterday, I call the Aragon Ballroom box office. I ask my standard questions (do you accept credit cards, what kind of extra fees do you impose, etc.) and then finally ask "Do you still have tickets for the Weezer show on December 1st?" "Oh, those tickets can only be purchased by Ticketmaster, we aren't authorized to sell them."


I no longer have the option to purchase tickets straight from a venue and avoid the outrageous convenience fees. I don't want this convenience, therefore I don't want to pay for it. It's not inconvenient for me to go to the box office, it's 15 minutes from my house. Dejected, I go to the TM website and put in the order, just to see. All told, after the convenience fee, the venue fee, and the tax, the tickets are about 20 bucks more than they should be. Outrageous, but still, I can manage. I click through to the final step. And another fee of $5.60 has been added to my order. An order processing fee. To me, this seems like it should be something covered by the other 8 dollar convenience fee. The service TM is providing is to take, process, and deliver on my tickets. Can you imagine going to McDonald's, ordering a Big Mac, and then they set it in front of you, in a glass case, but in order to unlock said case, an extra 3 dollars is required? You would freak out!

Beyond that, when you go to the delivery options for your tickets, there are 6 or 7 choices. Very speeds of mail delivery, at various costs. A mail option for anytime up to 48 hours before your event, which is free. And something that I could not believe.

The option to print your own ticket, FOR 2 DOLLARS AND 50 CENTS A TICKET!! To use your own ink, paper, and printer! They send you an e-mail, with your printable tickets, and you print it. And they make $2.50 a ticket.

Listen, I need the 4 of you that read this blog to all tell your friends that we need to fight against Ticketmaster and their unfair ways. I'm not in any way looking to deny them the right to charge convenience fees to those who want the convenience. But they must provide an option, on every show, of a way to get tickets without those fees for those willing to suffer the inconvenience of something like riding a El train 10 minutes and walking two blocks to pay with cold hard cash.

In summation, as a total pussy, I'll be paying all of these fees and going to the concert. But, I'm going to write a strongly worded letter to Ticketmaster, for them to throw in a big pile and then respond with a form letter. That'll show them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Our fridge has not been as cold as we'd like it to be this past week. We called our landlord, who doesn't speak much English, but through her thick accent and broken grammar (and a Google search on common fridge problems) I was able to figure out that she wanted us to try cleaning the coils. This is apparently something you need to do every 6-12 months. As you can see above, it had been way longer than that since they had been cleaned.

You need a vacuum with a hose to properly clean these bad boys, but we, of course, don't have one. Kristen, playing the McGuyver part, fashioned this thing with a Swiffer, a hair tie, and a tape measure.

Our milk was colder this morning, so I guess it worked.

Best Song Of All Time Of The Week 11/5/09

Kristen has started reading my blog. Her first remark was "Man, that song of the week thing makes you look pretty gay." She's right I suppose. I mean past winners have been Mariah Carey, Erasure, and Michael Jackson. This week's winner is known for their theatrical shows, but I don't think they skew towards the homosexual audience.

This week's winner is "The Rake's Song" by The Decemberists.

Apparently this band has been around for a while. Apparently a lot of my friends love this band. Apparently none of them feel that it was important to hand me a cd and say "HEY! YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS!" I guess that just shows that I don't have any friends.

To be fair, one friend did try. He gave me a mix CD that apparently had a Decemberists song on it. The only problem, he provided me no track listing and until now, I never figured out which song it was.

In an effort to be a better friend to my readers than my friends have been to me I will say this. YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO THE DECEMBERISTS! ALOT!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Another installment of "Things I Never Thought I'd Say"

I finished a 5k on Sunday. I was only walking, but 5,000 miles is still a long way.

Who am I kidding? 3.1 miles was a long way. But for someone who used to drive up to the corner for milk, this is a big accomplishment. I was pretty proud of myself.

I was even more proud of Kristen. She ran a 15k. RAN! 9.2 MILES! This one took alot out of her so no celebration breakfast after, but we're going to Tweet this Sunday instead.

I had my beefs with this 5k though. Mainly the people who put the race on. It's called the "Hot Chocolate Run". It's sponsored by Hershey and after the race everyone gets hot chocolate and fondue and stuff. I was told by some friends who are runners that it's a really popular race because of the goodie bag. That's the main reason people pay money to run in circles is for the goodie bags. Otherwise, shit, just go run around Montrose Harbor and time yourself for free.

So our goodie bag was purported to have a windbreaker (not my style, but I knew that) and a pretty nice moisture wicking winter hat. The hat I actually wanted. When we got to the packet pickup/expo thing, I got my goodie bag, looked in and saw a cap. A stupid brown cap with the logo of a running store on it. I was pretty upset about it. I consoled myself at thoughts of really good hot chocolate (those who have been to the Hershey store downtown know what I expected).

So after the race, we get our hot chocolate. Actually, I should clarify. We get our water mixed with brown chalk. The line for the fondue was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long, so we just high tailed it. Kristen did win a pretty nice pair of Nike flip flops at their tent though.

All in all, I was glad I did it. But I actually lost no weight in the training process. I think my mind said "You're working out a lot more often" so in turn, I was eating more. But, walking doesn't burn as many calories as biking like I normally do at the gym, so I stayed the same weight (actually fluctuated 2 lbs up and down) for 6 weeks. It's my hope that now that I'm done I can get back to my old routine and start losing weight again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Best Song of All Time of the Week 10/29/09

This week's Best Song of All Time of the Week is Liberian Girl by Michael Jackson.

I'm not going to talk about rekindling my love for MJ after his recent death. I'd rather share with you a recent conversation I had with Kristen.

We dogsat for our friend Liz last weekend and, while I love her to death, she spoils those dogs. We received our e-mail of instructions, which was 4 GODDAMN PAGES LONG. Not necessarily a big deal, but it caused me to recall my childhood, when my parents had babysitters for us.

"My parents never left this many instructions for our babysitters. It was basically like 'We rented Michael Jackson's Moonwalker...again. Just put it in, they'll watch it 4 or 5 times. There's money for pizza. Bye' "

The only time when this changed was when we got a Sega Genesis. Then it was "We rented Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. Just put it in and they'll play all night. There's money for pizza. Bye."

We're going to see the MJ documentary "This Is It" on Saturday. I'm really excited.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hey Science! It's ok to rename things!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Best Song of All Time of the Week 10/22/09

No story this week. Squeeze is awesome, the end.

Friday, October 16, 2009

When I was a Sophmore in high school, I used to hang out at this coffee shop called the Wired Frog. Once and a while I would see this improv group called Mr Roger's Sweatship (featuring my now good friend Joe Krause). They would do short form improv games, which I'd never seen before. I lost my damn mind for these guys, following them to 90% of their gigs, trying to learn the games by screwing around with them in my friend Marissa's front yard. (mind you I'm in high school. No wonder it took so long to kiss a girl).

A few years later, I'm in college studying acting. Being a bigger fellow, the roles weren't as plentiful for me. But, in my sophmore year, I discover that we have an improv troupe and that they are also offering a one time improv class with someone from the Detroit Second City tour co. This is where I discover iO and long form improv. Our text book was Truth in Comedy.

That summer my friend and future room mate, Mike Targus, goes to Chicago for the Summer Intensive at iO. I travel out there to see his final show, finally entering this "temple" of improv, as I believed it to be at the time. One day, I told him later, I'm going to be a performer here.

2 years ago I moved to Chicago and I started classes at iO about six months later. I've now finished and yesterday got word that I was being asked to join their newest Harold team. I did it. I'm a performer at iO. Who knows for how long, but I can't wait.

It's bittersweet though, because some very good friends of mine, people I love to play with and who really deserve to be on a team, did not make the cut. I don't know what to say to them. I equate it to being starving and having someone come up and tell you to stick with it, chin up, and keep trying until you get your food, all while eating ice cream in front of them.

To my new team, I'm so excited to get to work. To my friends who didn't make it, really, keep at it, you're incredibly talented, and you'll get yours soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Best Song of All Time of the Week 10/15/09

This week's winner is "A Little Respect" by Erasure.

This song holds many special places in my heart. I first became aware of it when watching what would become my favorite television show "Scrubs". The second episode "My Virus" features every single character having the song stuck in their head, because it spreads like a virus.

Then for our first Christmas, Kristen got me "The Innocents" as part of my gift. What had first been one of those hipster "ironic" appreciations for Erasure had become full blown love. I wore that album out (not literally because it was a CD).

My last band, The Bad Chemicals, even did a really fun cover of "A Little Respect" which quick became a fan favorite. I loved playing that cover more than I did some of our own songs. As we started writing more songs, covers got phased out though. It was too high for me to sing anyway.

Someone I know has had sex with Andy Bell of Erasure.

So as you can see, lots of personal attachment to this song.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The new terminal at the Detroit airport is really nice. I never flew out of it before. It was nice to actually be able to go to a restaurant while waiting for my flight, even if it was a Ruby Tuesday.

While walking around the airport, I thought "wow, they even have a fancy house of mirrors". I later found out it's just a room with dimmed lights and comfy chairs where you can sit down and examine your life.

Monday, October 12, 2009

This weekend Kristen and I went home to Detroit for my grandfather's 90th birthday party.

I have to ask myself what my mom was thinking when she made her wine choice for the party.

It was really great to see all my friends (some of whom sacrificed major sleep to fit me into their schedules) but more importantly to see family that I rarely get to see (Mary Lou and Jerry, Russ and Jen, etc.) It was great for Kristen to get to meet those people she hadn't met as well.

The harsh reality of the weekend set in that my gran is not doing so well. I can't/don't want to elaborate beyond that, but she's not as sharp as she used to be that's for sure. Keep her in your thoughts for me.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Best Song of All Time of the Week 10/8/09

So it's become a bit of a trend on this blog for me to introduce a "feature" and then almost immediately neglect it completely. This one was no different. But, I really do like this feature, so I'm going to set a calendar reminder in my Google calendar to do it every week.

I'm not really sure I have anything to say about these songs. I don't remember what I had to say about Mariah. It's just a great damn song. What I do find interesting, as a tidbit, is that it was the first pop song to use the word "God" in the title. People found that really daring and controversial. If you look the song up in Wikipedia, there's pages of stuff about the composition and recording and it's all really interesting.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

On Sunday I did my last show at iO with my dear friends the Cordoroy Whales. They have one show left while I am out of town and I hope they knock it out of the park.

For those of you not acclimated to the Chicago Improv scene, I wanted to share something my friend wrote where he puts the relatively common experience of the new improvisor in Chicago in the terms of basketball. This is taken from his blog, but I can't find the address right now. When I do, he'll be linked because he's awesome. I present to you:

"Improvising A Full Court Press"

When pursuing leisure activities one has to consider several things. Do I have the time? Do I enjoy doing them? What am I getting out of it? I have been running these and many questions like them through my head the last few weeks. I partake in a certain activity that is a bit like rec league basketball only with more smokers. I am nearing the end of our season as it were and I am thinking that it may be time to hang up my sneakers and find a new game to play. I still love the watching the game but I have come to the realization that I may not be good enough to play at the level I want. How did this hoop dream start?

I started playing in the rec league because I was new in town and had always loved basketball. Sure, I had played a few pick up games from time to time growing up but never really in anything organized. At first I loved it. I was learning how to shoot and pass from some of the best people in town. I found out that over the course of the next year my progress would be monitored and if I was lucky at the end of it I might be asked to join one of the local minor league teams. At the start of the season this seemed so far away that it was something I couldn't comprehend. I would hear other people in the league talk about playing on T.V. someday. I would always laugh it off and tell them to worry about just going to class that week.

A few weeks in some of the other new kids asked me to join their team and I couldn't believe my luck. We had a great coach and had a great time together trying to figure out how to play. I was the worst player on the team but they kept me around anyways. In practice and games I would always find new ways to screw up as I stumbled up and down the court. I went to class and rehearsal every week. I tried to see as many games as I could and really dove into this whole world with as much time and passion as I could muster. During the winter I would bundle up and spend two hours a night watching all the better players scrimmage always with the hope that someday I would get to play in their game. I devoured every book and interview I could about the game hoping that each one would provide new insight into the process.

As the season progressed I was still having fun with my team but the mandated classes became less interesting. Most of the classes involved listening to someone else try to explain how to play hoop and watching other people play while you sat out and waited your turn. Listening to someone explain how they shoot a three is like someone explaining how they fuck. Sure it's useful but eventually you just need to go out and do it. All I wanted to do was go out and play. Three-fourths of the way through the season I new most of the flaws in my game. All I could do was think about what I was doing wrong and I found myself freezing up during games. I had a hit a wall and wasn't getting any better.

All the while my team and I were picking up games at smaller parks and had a great time playing together. Then our forward moved. Shortly after one of our guards started playing baseball and couldn't spend as much time with us. Then our center had to move away as well. Next thing I knew we lost another guard. Everyone had a great reason to leave, after all it was just a rec team. One night I looked around and I was standing in the gym shooting free throws with strangers. I may have been helping my game but the reason I fell in love with the game in the first place was to play with my friends.

The more I learned about the game the less I seemed to like it. People started talking about being scouted and making teams. For some it was the only conversation they could have. My enthusiasm for the process was dwindling as the whole thing began to feel like an obligation. More and more of my time and money was being siphoned off as I felt like I was getting less and less enjoyment from playing. I began to blame the other players for shortfalls in my own game. I started skipping class and practice because I felt like it was a waste of time.

I find myself with two months left in the season. Most everyone else seems to be worried about what their uniform looks like or which scout is watching them. I look around and have never felt more disconnected from the game. With eight more games left all I want is to be done with things and move on to something else. I still love it but I don't know if it's the game for me.

Over the course of the season I have learned how to play the game competently at the most basic level that one can. I can run up and down the floor without tripping (most of the time). From time to time I close my eyes, hope for the best, and am able to score a basket. But looking back at the season I wonder if maybe, just maybe, I should have picked a different game.

Another installment of words I never thought I'd say.

I'm participating in a 5K. I'm not running, just walking, but still that's a big deal for me. Kristen is running in the race too, but in a 15K. The training so far has not been too tough. The problem I'm facing now is getting out of the "I'm working out more, I can eat more" mentality. But on November 1st, I'll be able to say I can walk 3.1 miles in a certain amount of time.

My long term goal is the triathalon, but we'll see how that goes.

Anyhow, Kristen wrote on our chalkboard painted wall, "We can do it! 5K+15K" I decided to make a little change.

Monday, October 5, 2009

For the last 3 hours of my work day, the sun is directly in my eyes. A novel and quite stylish solution came to me yesterday.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I went out with some friends to celebrate my friend Meagan's birthday on Saturday. I always feel stupid when I hang out with the people I called friends in Detroit. I know we're all busy, but I feel like my primary focus when talking to those people that I never get to see is "Why don't we ever hang out?" I feel like I should drop it and just be thankful for the time I do get to spend with my friends.

I'd be really sick of me if I were them.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I wish other people loved this city as much as I do.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Someone explain this to me. Just to make it clear, I was the only other person on the bus, so there were plenty of seats.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Best Song Of All Time Of The Week

Newest of the million features of this blog that I'll probably drop. This is the "Best Song of All Time of the Week". I've noticed I change the best "thing" of all time very frquently, so I figured it would be good to bestow the honor to a different song every week.

This weeks winner (make fun if you like): Fantasy by Mariah Carey.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I need your help!

Kristen and I went and saw Julie and Julia last night. I really enjoyed it. But it also made me realize, that I want to blog about something specific. I've tried to have numerous "theme blogs" like the top ten songs of that day, doing the reviews of the 75 albums a man should own, and I just never stuck with it.

I'm open to suggestions though! Hit me up out there if you can think of a great focus I could give to this blog. Beyond that, I'm just going to try to find something to write about everyday. At least that's a start.

This is the elevator at the Irving Park Brown Line by my office. And people say that city folk aren't helpful!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Blast From the Past

I was just listening to "Adam Raised of Cain" by the Boss and I was reminded of this book I read in elementary school. I found a copy on Amazon and I think it just might be worth the 3 dollars.

The plot is basically this prepubescent boy, in a single parent home, dealing with all of his issues by writing fan letters about them to Bruce Springsteen. I can't remember if the Boss ever writes back or if the kid ever even sends the letters. I just had a vision of Bruce, dictating a response to Max Weinberg, who is furiously typing in shorthand.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

It's Another Thing I Never Thought I'd Say

A couple of days ago I sent this e-mail to Kristen after leaving the gym.

"So I never thought I would say this but I kind of understood what people like about working out. Don't get me wrong, I still was counting the seconds until it was over, but my legs pumping and my face covered in sweat felt oddly enjoyable. Still if there was a pill I could take that would produce all the same effects as diet and excercise I would be first in line to buy it."

I'm still not sure what it is people (myself included) enjoy about being sweaty and gross (see the unflattering picture above), but there is something satisfying about it. Not everyday, but some days. Still, I think I'll always be one of those people who has to force themselves to excercise

In other news, I need to shave.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Neglecting the Blog

Sorry to be gone for so long. This weekend Katie came to visit us and her, Kristen, and I joined our other friends in celebrating Keith's birthday. We celebrated by participating in my favorite activity, karaoke. But this has a slight twist. There are a few establishments in Chicago, known as Korean Karaoke bars. What this means is that you get your own room for your group, with couches, big screen tv's, wireless mics, and a karaoke system. You pay 35-40 bucks an hour, depending on the size of the room, as well as paying for your drinks/food (if you eat there, which I don't think anyone does) and for this extra cost, you can belt out Journey songs in the privacy of your friends and you never have to fight with anyone to sing, except for your friends. You are in control of the order of the songs, you just punch in your number and it keeps a running queue of songs. It's my favorite place in the world.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Yesterday, in my Legal Research and Writing class, we were learning how to use the two main online sources of legal research. On the Lexis application, there is a search engine for public records. I volunteered to let the teacher search my name. When he did, so much cool stuff came out. They knew that Kristen and I had some sort of relationship (since we share an address) and so many other neat little things. I also was able to see the name and social security number of the homeowner who was receiving the goods purchased with the credit cards opened in my name a few years ago.

In other school related news, I've gotten all my midterms back. I got the hat trick! 3 tests, 3 A's!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Entry I Never Thought I'd Write

I can’t believe I’m writing about this. I want to talk about Jon and Kate Plus 8.

The other day, Kristen and I were watching TV and we saw a commercial for Monday’s “Very Special Jon and Kate Plus 8”. The music was ominous, the photo’s showed Jon and Kate at a family event, standing at least 150 feet apart and not looking at each other and the voice over said “Jon and Kate have a life changing announcement”.

At first, I was hoping for some big twist, like they were having a sense of humor about the press they’d been getting. I hoped for Monday’s episode to be like “We’re getting another puppy!” But I’m no fool, I know what the announcement was going to be.

I told Kristen “As someone who watches this show, you’re responsible for this.”

Kristen: “How do you mean?”
Me: “If there was no market for this type of show, this situation would be slightly less likely. Everyone who watches this show and makes it marketable is partially responsible for their marriage ending.”
Kristen: “They were living in the Ronald McDonald house when they got the offer to do this show. This show gave them an opportunity to make the money to take better care of their kids”

A valid point. I’m at a crossroads with this. I guess I’m interested to know if it was worth it. Sure, there’s a chance this would’ve happened anyway. But was Kate playing up her bitchy ways for the camera. Was Jon’s midlife crisis magnified by his fame? These are things I’m really curious about.

I’ll admit, I’m no angel when it comes to getting sucked into reality TV. I love, love Top Chef. When Kristen watches Biggest Loser, I tend to get sucked in (not to the point where if I miss an episode I’m wandering the streets lost, but I’ll admit to keeping an eye on it.)

But if you ask me, Jon and Kate, like all reality TV, is exploitation. And because of that (at least partially) someone’s marriage is ruined. These 8 kids are going to watch their family fall apart, and America will be watching right along with them. I think that’s really sad.

The other thing that makes me really sad is that the advertising and marketing departments at TLC are all smiles about this. Their show has just become even bigger than it already had, because America is chomping at the bit to watch these people’s lives fall apart. I say to you, America, change the channel. Show TLC that we’re better than this! So them that this show is no longer about the “fun and wacky adventures of a family with 8 kids”, it’s now a sad and macabre tale and that we’re better than that!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm doing this from work for the first time. I sure hope I don't get fired.

Tonight is my first test. It's in my Basic Business Organizations and Contracts class. I studied last night while watching Desperado. Contracts are easy, Desperado is awesome!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I know you've all been wondering where I've been.

Well I've begun my new adventure studying the law. No, I'm not making my parents proud and going to law school. At least, not now, but probably not ever. I'm actually taking classes at Loyola to get my paralegal certification. It's a lot like being a lawyer, except less money, no being able to argue in court or give legal advice, and more job security.

Yesterday I registered for my last iO class. The next step after this class is to get on a team and never, ever get myself cut. Obviously, that's not the only reason I took the classes, but I've had so much fun there, I don't want to leave.

Other than that, not much has been going on. Kristen and I went to see Jenny Lewis last night and she was really great. Hopefully this can be the beginning of us going to more shows together, because I miss it alot.