Friday, January 29, 2010

Song of the Week 1/29/10

As a former smoker, current drinker, etc., I'm not exactly the model fan of a straight edge hardcore band. But man, Minor Threat is so good.

Of all the Minor Threat songs I like, I think "Good Guys Don't Wear White" is my favorite. Probably because it's the most poppy of all of their songs.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Goals Check In Week #3

1. Lose 70 lbs.
1a. Work out a minimum of 4 days a week, but shooting for 5

- Well I got up to 3 days a week this week again. We're getting closer, but haven't hit that 4 days a week goal. I only lost 1 lb this week, putting me at 7 total lbs. I say only, but I need to remember that any weight loss is a positive.

2. Read 40 books

- I'm in the middle of my second book. It's a very interesting and funny look at Puritan life called "The Wordy Shipmates" by Sarah Vowell.

9. Be a better friend.

- I've got a lot of insecurities. When I am joking around about things with friends, it comes off as passive aggressive. All of these things are becoming a point of worry in my head as far as how I'm percieved by others. I'm going to work on going with the flow and enjoying the time I spend with the people I'm spending time with rather than worrying about the whereabouts of the people I'm not with.

12. Try some other new food every month

- Had a fail on this this week. I had the opportunity to try many different wild game burgers inexpensively this weekend. Kangaroo, Ostrich, Buffalo, and Wild Boar all would have been a great first "new food." But we didn't do it. Next time I go to the Hop Haus, I'll be trying the Kangaroo burger for sure.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I had rehearsal tonight.

As I mentioned yesterday, reaction is an essential component to good improv, especially when performing The Harold. In the Harold, we'll meet some characters in the first beat. For the rest of the show, it is the job of the team to make that character react emotionally. This is done by giving the character what they want, taking it away, etc. In order to do this, the players need to know what's important to the character and what's going to "make their head pop" as Shotts (our coach) likes to say.

I have a lot of trouble with this. I know, both from experience and from witnessing it watching others, that a big reaction to the important things in a scene will elicit laughs. It will give my fellow players something to do with me during the rest of the show. It will make my job as an improvisor easier. Yet I still can't seem to do it. That's not entirely true.

I did a scene tonight where I finally was able to react (with minimal goading from Shotts) emotionally to my scene partner. That's only part of the climb over my "mountain" though. It was still really hard for me. I was very "in my head" which is a term that improvisors use to say that they are thinking too much and not letting the scene go where it wants to. I just have to keep working at it though and one day I'll get there.

We have a show tomorrow. Shotts' always tells us that shows are the time to forget what we've been working on and have fun. But I always want to do good work, so usually I'm just trying to strike a balance between focusing on what I'm working on and just playing with my friends.

Last night we were on the bus when I pointed out to Kristen that the man across the aisle from where we were sitting had a dog with him. She loves dogs. She love dogs so much that when the person sitting across from us (next to the dog guy) got up, she moved away from me, and for the rest of our 10 minute ride, sat, exactly as you see here, and just stared at the dog.

He was pretty cute, I must admit.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Of course I'm going to weigh in.

How brilliant is that video? There are other versions of this Hitler thing (the second best one is about Lost. Just go to youtube and search "Hitler" and "LOST". You're welcome), but this one is so good and definitely true.

I'm on Team CoCo. I'm watching him right now. I don't have to say anything more about how stupid NBC is being because it's all been said.

I'm not going to boycott NBC, because 30 Rock and The Office are brilliant and I'm spineless. But, any chance I had of making time for the Tonight Show before bed has gone out the window. Fuck Jay Leno.

Goals Check In Week #2

1. Lose 70 lbs. That's less than 2 lbs a week, but more than 1.
1a. Work out a minimum of 4 days a week, but shooting for 5.

- We're now down 6 lbs from my starting weight for 2010. I worked out three days this week. Still not there, but getting closer. I'm considering joining the same gym as Kristen because she thinks it might help me work out more. The problem lies a couple of things. First of all, the Y is right down the street from where my team rehearses. That's pretty much the only night where I HAVE to go to the gym (any other night I could work out at home if I want to). So I think switching to Bally's, I would have some problems making the trek. So that's in the research phase right now.

2. Read 40 books. That's less than 1 book a week but more than I currently read.

- Finished my first book of 2010. Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginides. I highly recommend it. It was great.

4. Continue to stick to my budget.

- Spent way too much money this weekend, I definitely will be overspending this month.

8. Become a better improviser.

- I'm having problems conquering what I've come to call my "Everest". It's emotionally reacting to my scene partner. It's more difficult than it sounds and I'll tell you why. I'm not an outwardly emotional person. I don't think most of us react the way we really want to in life. In improv, one of the goals is to play real. Don't try to be funny, just play heightened versions of yourself. I have to work on the "heightened" part.

9. Be a better friend.

- I went to a show with some Detroit friends last night. I, in a round about way, told them that I understand their busy lives and feel bad for any previous guilt trips I laid on them about us never hanging out. When we can find the time, we'll get together.

10. Learn a new recipe a month.

- I'm going to go through some cookbooks this week and see what I want to try this month.

13. Find a new job.

- I've pretty much settled on only looking for law firm jobs until I'm done with school. I e-mailed the paralegal office about scheduling an interview for an internship with the Dean. Sometimes, I'm told, those internships lead to jobs.

14. Overcome my awkwardness in social situations.

- I went to a party this weekend for my friend Mark's birthday. I talked to a lot of people I didn't know too well. The only downside was, I spent the whole party following one of the three people I actually knew around. So I still had a crutch.

14a. Make a new friend.

- This doesn't count I'm sure, but I'm going to a concert with Mark and this dude named Linus. We did some e-mail bits in planning the concert out, but didn't really know each other. We met at the party. I added him on Facebook. Does that count?

15. Participate in the mini sprint Chicago Triathalon in August.

- I'm in research mode for this. There is a couple of options. I'm leaning towards doing the "super sprint" but it almost sounds too easy. The main reason I'm doing it is because it's the cheapest options. All the other races cost over 100 bucks to enter.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Song of the week (sorry I missed last week)

"Jackie Wilson Said" by Van Morrison

I am astounded every time I see a picture or live performance from Van Morrison. HE'S WHITE! He sings with such soul and just sounds black to me. Kind of the way Green Day always sounded British.

When we were kids, my dad had this mix tape he would always play in the car. It featured a bunch of James Brown, some Cheech and Chong tracks, and then the songs my brother and I chose as our "favorites" when we were probably 6 and 3 respectively.

He chose "Highway Star" by Deep Purple. I chose "Domino" by Van Morrison.

Ever since, I've always been a sucker for songs with a ton of brass in them.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Goals Check In

1. Lose 70 lbs. That's less than 2 lbs a week, but more than 1.
1a. Work out a minimum of 4 days a week, but shooting for 5.

- So I only worked out 2 days this week. It was my first week back, and a busy one at that. Stay tuned for more excuses as the year goes on. But, I did lose 4 lbs this week.

2. Read 40 books. That's less than 1 book a week but more than I currently read.

- I'm probably cheating here too. I'm almost done with my first book, but I started it in the middle of December. Backgammon on my phone and podcasts are my main weakness.

5. Live more life.

- I drank beer from a giant glass boot this weekend.

6. Let Kristen know how much I love her everyday.

- She loved this. I just say "Number 6" to her and she knows what I mean.

8. Become a better improviser.

- Had my first show with my iO team and it was a ton of fun. I don't know that I was technically proficient, but I got a lot of compliments.

13. Find a new job.

- I'm up in the air on this one. I've seen some jobs I might be great for. One of them leaves me in the same 1099 tax situation, but would be double the money I'm making now. The problem is this. I've never worked for a law firm before and would like to do an internship with one before I get out of school. So the question in my head lately has been "Do I only look for law firm work, thus negating the need for an internship, or do I look for anything and worry about getting a paralegal job the next time I find myself in need of work.

14. Overcome my awkwardness in social situations.

- I talked to someone I don't know real, real well, but well enough (my team's coach's girlfriend) for almost three minutes without looking at my cellphone as a defense mechanism. The conversation was still awkward for me.

So there's a little update on the progress I've made toward some of those goals.

Should I make this a weekly thing?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Michigan Visit

I'll miss Detroit. I always do and I always will.

Let there be no confusion, I love my life in Chicago. As I continue to improve myself, my love of that life will continue to grow and blossom.

But Detroit is the home of my family. It's the home of my best friends. And it's a home to my former self.

Ok, enough deepness. Let's get on to the highlights of my visit.

I got to spend alot of time with people who I usually don't see. Usually my trips home are three or four days max. In that time, I have to spend quality time with my family, recharge my batteries, help my folks out around the house, and see all of my friends. Having 11 days at home made it a lot easier to see most of the people I wanted to see. Sure, some people just couldn't make the time, but whatever. One of my goals in self improvement is to be thankful for what I get rather than to bemoan what I didn't get.

The food! Oh the food! I went to El Charo's, I went to Jet's Pizza, I went to Loui's Pizza (which is a new favorite), I went to the local Denny's, I went to Sonic. I even saw my brother tackle a 1/2 pound Coney Dog.

While we're on food, Cakes and I even went to Tony's. Many of you have heard me regale you with tales of the legendary giant portions at Tony's. Well the above photo is the side of bacon that came with my 10 silver dollar pancakes. It weighs in at one pound. No I didn't finish it.

Yes it's nerdy. But I love to play Laser Tag when I'm home. It's something we used to do all the time in High School and College. We're real geeks about it too. Unlike most of the kids (yes, kids) there who are running around playing video games, my crew is over by the map they have on the wall, critique our position in the last game and attempting to develop a better strategy for our next game. That's the reason our team won by 20-30 thousand points each game.

There was also plenty of time to be with family and I even got to see Kristen a few times.

All in all, I consider this a successful visit. Time to start figuring out when my next will be. Perhaps Cakes' b-day, but I can't be sure.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Resolutions are stupid.

I'm not doing resolutions this year. Resolutions get broken. This year, I'm setting goals. Goals are something to achieve. The best thing about goals, is that you can fall short of them and it's not always failure. At work, I have a goal to set 4 appointments a month. Is the month a total loss if I only set three? Not at all, that's three opportunities that didn't exist before.

1. Lose 70 lbs. That's less than 2 lbs a week, but more than 1.
1a. Work out a minimum of 4 days a week, but shooting for 5.
2. Read 40 books. That's less than 1 book a week but more than I currently read.
3. Continue to pay down my debt.
4. Continue to stick to my budget.
5. Live more life.
6. Let Kristen know how much I love her everyday.
7. Learn a new skill.
8. Become a better improviser.
9. Be a better friend.
10. Learn a new recipe a month.
11. Try a vegetable every month.
12. Try some other new food every month (this one is negotiable, new foods aren't super easy to come by on a low income. For example, I've always wanted to try lobster, but it's too expensive to take the chance and I'm never in the position to try someone elses.)
13. Find a new job.
14. Overcome my awkwardness in social situations.
14a. Make a new friend.
15. Participate in the mini sprint Chicago Triathalon in August.

I'm hoping these goals can be a focus of this blog for the year. They pretty much make up my entire being, so why shouldn't they be the focus of the blog.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Song of the week (now on Fridays)

So I'm moving song of the week to Fridays. Currently, Friday is my day off, leaving less chance that I'll forget to write one. Is it coincidence that it just happens to be the first day of a new decade. Nope.

So here you go.

The first song of the week of 2010 is "Sleeping Aides and Razorblades" by the Exploding Hearts.

Oh, you've never heard of the Exploding Hearts. Many haven't. These poor kids from Oregon only got to record one album, Guitar Romantic. That album was 60th on Pitchfork's best albums of the decade. It's probably one of my most listened to albums of the last year.

The reason I say "these poor kids" is that while on tour, mere months after the album was released, their tour van flipped over and 3 of the 4 members of the band were killed. My good friend Joey, who gave me this album for my birthday a couple of years ago told me that it's bad luck for touring bands to listen to the Exploding Hearts while on tour.

If you like power pop/punk, listen to this album. If you want a copy, give me a blank cd and I'll make you one. You will love it.