Thursday, June 27, 2013

2 Months!

How can I keep letting all this time pass between entries!?! It's not like I don't have news. I do. I have plenty of stuff going on. Let's break it down by category!


  • No full time job yet. I've had some really great interviews and right now have a few possibilities on the horizon so I'm feeling quite optimistic. It's a weird feeling for me. I catch myself having positive thoughts and catching myself off guard. 
  • I'm actually making some money as an actor. I've been working doing sporadic voice-over work for a company called 9-Ball Radio. It's not steady work, but it helps me to feel like I'm contributing. Plus it's fun. 
  • I'm also participating in a service called Mturk through Essentially, you do something called HITs (Human Intelligence Tests). They are various surveys and studies for universities, people who want help transcribing their web videos or podcasts, and people trying to improve their SEO. You get paid anywhere from 2 cents to a couple of bucks for tasks. I don't make real money at it. I keep it all in Amazon credit. This helps me so that when I get that urge to buy a new board or video game or something, I have all this Amazon credit saved up.

  • Life is pretty good. 
  • I'm spending more time with friends. This is something I was longing for and part of the drive behind moving. It's great to have people getting in contact with you because they want to spend time in your company, not because they want you to come see their show. I missed that. I'm so happy I can be here for the important things now. It's Dale's (one of my bestest friends) birthday tomorrow and even though I was able to be here last year, this year I get to go not because of happenstance but because we're going out to dinner a mile from my house. That makes me really happy. 
  • The wife and I are enjoying something new in our lives. Alone time. Our apartment is huge. She's in the living room right now watching Law and Order: SVU and I'm back in our office (I say our office because I spend a majority of my time here but she has a desk back here too) writing this. We don't dislike spending time with each other. We're big fans. But it's nice to have separate spaces to go when we just want to be alone. 
  • In general, the wife and I are having a good time. We're trying to try new things. I've been pushing to go out for some pub trivia and try to make it a regular thing but so far she's been too tired. She's working hard at her new job, so she gets a pass. 
  • We're cooking more. By we, I mean me. I love to cook and I want to learn to be really good at it. I'm getting much better. I'm trying new recipes and they are (for the most part) coming out great. We bought cast iron pans and I've been seasoning them and I finally made a grilled cheese in one today. It tasted just fine, but looked so perfect. I was really proud. Tonight I'm making pork chops with a bit of a Mexican twist and some Cous Cous.
  •  I didn't think I'd ever improvise again. At least not in a professional setting. Low and behold, first performance related thing I do when I move back is audition for the brand new (Opening in September) Comedysportz Detroit. Comedysportz was something I always loved to watch and wanted to get into in Chicago but I never got past the auditions. I'm so pleased to be a part of this company. There's varying levels of experience so it's fun to watch everyone learning and getting better together. I occasionally get concerned about how things are going to go. I've been worried about what elements of the Comedysportz experience that I loved in Chicago might not get used in Detroit. But that's OK. I have to remember that I'm one small part of the equation. I'll give my thoughts, we'll work together as a group and it's going to be fantastic. I've yet to get much non-rehearsal chance to hang out with the gang, but I know we will eventually. There's some people in the group I think I'll really be great friends with (including two people from Wayne that I was already friends with!). 
  • Nothing much coming out of me on the writing front. I'm trying to think of ideas for a new play, but nothing jumps out at me. 
Now here comes the part where I say I'm really going to try to blog more. Will I actually do it? You be the judge. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What do you do all day?

I've been unemployed for a month now. I'm trying to limit the whining because I knew this was happening. I made the choice to be unemployed. I made the choice to move to a new state which would necessitate a new job. I have to say, I'm very, very happy in my new environment. Most of the time, I'm much less stressed and I'm spending a lot more time laughing and being social.

But there's still the day time. The time when people go to work. The time when those of us who aren't currently working look out the window and wish we were. It's an odd feeling. I don't look out an office window and dream that I'm doing what I really want to be doing. I just dream of having an office window to look out of and dream about doing what I really want to be doing.

So what do I do all day? I really, really try to treat unemployment like a job. I still get out of bed by 7:30 and take a shower. I put on clothes (albeit not the clothes I'd wear to a job). I still eat breakfast and drink coffee. At 9 AM, I go back to the office. I sit at my desk. I check Craigslist, Indeed, SimplyHired, Careerbuilder, and Monster for any jobs that might interest me and that I might be qualified for and I apply for them. By then, it's 9:15-9:30. It won't help to check all those boards again for at least a few hours.

So I take surveys for $1.50-$3.00 in Amazon credit. I mute promotional videos and let them play in the background for Amazon credit. I hope to earn enough in 3-4 weeks to buy myself a new board game or video game or something. Just so I don't have to spend money on it.

I read articles about how to improve my job search. How to improve my skills.

I try to better myself. I'm exercising. Not as much as I should or could be, but much more than I used to. I'm trying to learn computer programming languages. I feel like I'm going too fast seeing as I've been at it a month and I'm on my third language. I'm sure when I go to do a practical application, I won't have much in the way of retention. We shall see.

Believe me, though, when I say I have no regrets. I really do like living here. I like having friends over for dinner and board games. I like seeing my family/in-laws on a regular basis. I like knowing the support is there. I like that day to day life is a lot easier. I love that my wife is working in the field she wants to work in and that she's far exceeding the expectations we both had one month in. Things can only keep going up.

I just wish I could find work. It's only been a month and I know I shouldn't get discouraged. I know there are a lot of people out there who are unemployed not by choice but by circumstances outside their control. I know there are people who have been looking for a lot longer than I have. I know that I could walk across the street to the McDonalds and probably get a job there, but we're not to that point yet. I know that I'm being looked out for. I know that job will come. I just have to keep moving. At least I'm not spending my days playing video games and watching movies.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The First Week Back

We've been moved into our new home in Michigan for about a week now. I thought it would probably be a good time for an update.

Our first full day in Michigan couldn't even really be counted. Since our car was at the wife's grandparent's house, just waiting it's sweet, sweet registration, we spent Easter Sunday out there with them and spent the night. It was pretty great to be visiting family and know that when it was all over we could (sort of) go home. I say sort of because we were going to be camping out at the in-laws house for the first night so that we could get the car registered. It was still a very enjoyable night.

Monday we woke up and went straight to the Secretary of State. It was a relatively painless process. The only real kick in the nuts was that I didn't know I needed my birth certificate to get a new driver's license. Oh well, it'll get done eventually.

We saddled up our new car and headed back to our apartment. By the way, this joint is gigantic. We've been living in shoe boxes for the past 4 years, but you could easily fit our last apartment into this place 3 times over. We're still adjusting to not being able to see the TV in the living room from virtually every other part of the apartment. It's weird to yell to each other "Can you bring me this?" and for the other to respond "Sure. Where are you?"

One thing I'm having no problem adjusting to is the new social life. We've been meeting for drinks, having lunches, going to Tigers games and just hanging out. It's been pretty amazing. It's also been pretty expensive. The wife got a part-time trainers job, which I'm very proud of her for, but until we're both employed, we definitely need to start watching it a little better. I'm sure we'll start inviting people over to our place for movie nights and such, which will save us some money.

Other than that, it's just been unpacking, job hunting, more unpacking, and just trying to decide how I want to better myself. I'm going to start taking some free online coding classes soon to learn some computer programming languages and just play around with it a little bit. I think web design could be a fun little side hobby for me. I'm also going to start noodling with my guitar a little bit more. Who knows, maybe inspiration will strike and I'll get the band back together. My brother's been bugging me about it since we decided to move back. All I know is that I'm feeling the desire to be creative again which is really making me feel great.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"42" Review

I love baseball. It's probably the only true "symbol" of America that I embrace with my whole heart. Even if I can't spit back stats or know enough about which players will make my fantasy team stronger, nothing makes me happier than sitting in a ball park.

One of the things I really love about baseball is it's storied history. One of the most important moments in that history and in the history of America in general is the story of Jackie Robinson, the first black Major League player. When I would see trailers for this movie, I would get so pumped. The use of the Jay-Z song Brooklyn (Go Hard) in the trailer was especially effective. I just couldn't wait to see this movie.

In the interest of full disclosure, I missed the first ten minutes of the movie due to a combination of getting lost (I just moved to a new city) and long lines at the concession stand. Here's the plot recap from when I sat down. The movie follows Jackie Robinson on his journey from the Negro Leagues to playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. It's a pretty simple plot. He's a black guy and white guys don't like that he plays baseball. The end.

Let me cut to the chase. As much as it hurts me to say it, you should wait to see this movie. You should wait until it's on DVD or at the very least, in a second run theater. Sadly, it's just not very good. There are some excellent performances. Chad Boseman as Jackie Robinson had a quiet power about him that was really effective. Nicole Beharie as Rachel Robinson, Jackie's endlessly supportive wife, also turns in a really great performance. However, my favorite performance came from John C. McGinley as Red Barber, the voice of the Dodgers. He's got so many great 40's expressions that are almost throwaway lines, but will make you chuckle if you catch them.

That's one thing that really surprised me about this movie. It's really pretty funny. Watching Jackie rile up his opposition is as humorous as it is inspiring. But in the end, it's really, really hokey and heavy handed. There are a couple of lines that sound like they should've ended with "Everyone caught up now?" for how expository they are.

The big disappointment for me was Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, the owner of the Dodgers. He was almost like a cartoon character. The same could be sad for Johnny C's announcer character, but it works for him. I never met Branch Rickey or even saw him interviewed, but I thought that Ford put way to much jowl in his character. I don't know if that sentence makes sense necessarily so to clarify, basically it sounds like he's shaking his cheeks back and forth the whole time he's talking.

I think baseball fans will enjoy this movie for it's chronicling of the time when Jackie Robinson forced the baseball world to move forward. It definitely makes you love baseball. But as far as biopics go, it's very middle of the road. It's got all the biopic and sports movie cliches, even the slow motion shot of the 3rd base coach swinging his arm in a circle during the home run. You don't need to signal him home, it's a home run!

Verdict: Rent this movie one day. I suppose you could do worse.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Farewell

I’ve made no secret of my loss of love with Chicago. Chicago has been home for me and my wife for 5 years now. When we moved here, I was a wide-eyed 20 something, fresh out of college and ready for a new adventure with a girl I loved. It was going to be scary, but I was happy to have someone hold my hand while jumping off a cliff. We came here with two paltry savings accounts and made it happen. It was pretty great for a while.
But as most people who live in a major metropolitan area can tell you, city life is a bear. It’s very taxing mentally, physically, and emotionally.
I think Chicagoans are nicer than New Yorkers in my limited experience, however, I’ve recently been espousing that Chicagoans exist in these little moveable bubbles that surround them in a one foot radius in all directions. “It’s totally fine for me to motor down the street staring at my phone. I’m the only one here.” “I didn’t push anyone out of the way to get the last seat on the train, it’s just me here.” “Of course I can play music from the speakers of my phone on the Red line at rush hour, it’s just me here and earphones hurt my inner ear.” That's probably people in every major city, but I can only speak to Chicago.
No one likes to grocery shop. Actually, I really used to love grocery shopping. But the idea of carrying the groceries that I just way over paid for 4 blocks in the snow really snuffs out the luster of walking up and down the aisles planning a delicious meal. It becomes the worst torture…and you have to do it all the time.
Don't even get me started on relying on public transportation. It's a really great thing that every single city should invest in, but I can't live that lifestyle anymore.
But these are the trades you make to have some of the best restaurants in the world, some of the coolest and most interesting theatre and comedy, and never having a lack of something to do. It’s all great too. Don’t get me wrong. There just comes a time where you don’t want to make those trades anymore. You don’t even go to most of the fun things this place has to offer because regular life has sapped all your energy.
Over the years, I grew weary. By year three, shortly after getting engaged, I was just done with it. It was starting to click that our primary activities out of work, which was going to dinner and a movie, could be done anywhere. Why were we living this stressful lifestyle when we could have the same life minus many stressors, many expenses, and with the addition of a great network of family and some of the closest friends people could ask for.
Basically, I still love Chicago, but I hate living here. I really can’t wait to visit.
There’s a host of things I’ll miss and in the interest of keeping this post from being all shitting on the place that I’ve called home for almost 6 years, I’d like to talk about some of them.
I’ll miss the friends I've made. They may be few, but they are definitely some of the finest and most fun people I've met. I wouldn't trade them for anything.
I’ll miss Chalk the Block. I didn’t even think about it until walking to work this morning, but there’s this great group of people (I don’t even know who they are) who write inspiring messages on the sidewalk leading up to train stations. They pop up at my stop every few weeks and they really do perk me up on the way to work.

I’ll miss the Lakefront on my wife’s behalf. I didn’t spend nearly as much time there as she does, but it was nice in the summer to know that we could walk 10 minutes to the beach. I know she'll miss it too and I hope that running on Belle Isle from time to time will act as a suitable replacement.
I’ll miss baseball at Wrigley Field. Cubs fans, as a species, are the vilest of people. But enjoying the one sport I actively enjoy within the walls of such a historical place is always cool. It can't beat Tigers games though. To quote Marcellus Wallace, "Not by a damn sight."
I didn’t take advantage of the theatre scene as much as I could, but I’ll still miss knowing it’s there. I’ll miss knowing I could go to Second City if I took out a small loan for tickets. I’ll miss knowing that I could go see some great comedy. I’ll miss knowing for sure that comedians will come to town if they are out on tour.
I’ll miss Tedino’s pizza. I’ll miss El Mariachi. I’ll miss Do-Rite Donuts and Dinkle’s Bakery. I’ll just miss eating.
In closing, I want to thank Chicago for the 5 years. I’ve become who I am. My wife and I took our baby relationship and grew it into a marriage here. I couldn’t have done it all without Chicago. But it’s time for a new version of the life I left and the life I loved. Life 2.0. An improved life, where I get to share the new things I've learned with other people. A life where my wife and I can really explore our passions. It’s time to get involved with the community that I was too scared to embrace 5 years ago. It’s time to move where I’ll matter. It’s time to contribute. I’ll never regret moving to Chicago. It gave me the tools I needed to make this leap. And I’ll always be grateful for the wife who will be holding my hand when we jump and the friends and family who will extend their arms to catch us. You can’t find that stuff just anywhere.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Separating the Artist From The Art

In the last few days, there’s been quite a dust-up in the world of comic book fans regarding DC Comics hiring Orson Scott Card to write a new digital Superman comic. Full disclosure: I’ve heard of the Ender’s Game series but Orson Scott Card was completely unknown to me until yesterday.

Evan Dorkin, a hilarious writer best known for the comic book Milk and Cheese, went on a Twitter tirade about Card and his public anti-gay stance. From Card’s Wikipedia page:

Card has publicly declared his disapproval of homosexuality and of gay marriage. In 1990, Card called for laws that ban gay sex to "remain on the books... to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society". He no longer advocates this, however, and argues that the 1990 stance must be seen in the context of the times (such laws were still deemed constitutional at the time) and the conservative Mormon audience to whom his essay was addressed.[31] In 2009, Card became a member of the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that seeks to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage.[32]

Card has voiced his opinion that paraphilia and homosexuality are sometimes linked. In a 2004 essay entitled "Homosexual 'Marriage' and Civilization", Card wrote:

The dark secret of homosexual society—the one that dares not speak its name—is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally.[33]

Additionally, in Card's novella Hamlet's Father, which re-imagines the backstory of Shakespeare's play Hamlet, some claim that Card directly links the king's pedophilia with homosexuality. The novella prompted public outcry and its publishers were inundated with complaints.[16] The trade journal Publisher's Weekly criticized Card's "flimsy novella" and stated that the main purpose of it was to attempt to link homosexuality to pedophilia.[34] Card responded to the claim:

...[T]here is no link whatsoever between homosexuality and pedophilia in this book. Hamlet's father, in the book, is a pedophile, period. I don't show him being even slightly attracted to adults of either sex. It is the reviewer, not me, who has asserted this link, which I would not and did not make.[17]

The thing I’m grappling with is the separation of art from the artist. Should we be judging a creator by their political or social opinions or should we be judging the work? It’s hard for me not to be a hypocrite while working out how I feel on this because I’ve come down on both sides depending on the situation.

When Chik-Fil-A’s anti gay stance become a foreground issue, I stopped eating there full stop. I’d been to Chik-Fil-A a couple of times and I’ll be honest, it was one of the best Chicken Sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Since there was only one location in the Chicago area, it wasn’t a huge deal for me to stop eating there, since I rarely did before. I was glad to not give any more of my money directly to an anti-gay company.

When Papa John’s CEO said that Obamacare would cause them to have to raise pizza prices and cut back on hours (both things which turned out to be pretty much untrue) I said, “I’m never going there again.” and save for one night when the wife and I were drunk, starving, and Papa John’s was on our corner, I haven’t.

I can’t say if these are fair comparisons, since these are business that make contributions to organizations and clearly the person at the helm could be making contributions to organizations I don’t want to support. I just wanted to provide some examples of boycotts I’ve made so you know how liberal I am. It’s a qualifier so that I can say this.

I’m not sure that I feel a real correlation between a creators political or social stance and their creations. I stopped eating at these restaurants not because I felt that their politics affected their product, but because I didn’t want my money funneled into places I didn’t agree with. But does the same go for creative pursuits?

I think Ted Nugent is an ignorant gun nut blowhard. But god damn, “Stranglehold” is a great song. Meatloaf stood next to Mitt Romney and butchered America The Beautiful. But are you going to tell me that makes you like “Bat Out of Hell” any less? I’m more or less of the mind that as long as the message of the art doesn’t reflect these views, then why boycott it?
All that said, I’m not going to stop reading DC Comics. There’s really nothing in this world that can come between me and Batman. However, I did sign a petition that’s being sent to DC to not hire Card to do this run. Now, I don’t read digital comics, so it doesn’t really affect me one way or another. I don’t think DC is going to be sending a portion of their profits to anti-gay groups. I signed the petition because I want to say that I don’t like Card’s message. But, if I was a reader of digital comics and his run on Superman was good, I can’t say his anti-gay stance would keep me from enjoying it.

I’m just not sure.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The People That Are Going To Hell

I hate a lot of people. Hate’s a strong word and I probably shouldn't use it. Let’s see, how about this. I have a powerful disdain for a lot of people. I wasn't always this way. For the longest time I was Mr. Friendly. I liked everyone. I believe that living in the Big City has really crushed my tolerance for people, so much to the point that I've started keeping a list in my head. I call it “The People That Are Going To Hell”, which is in reference to the great Vandals song.

Here’s the people that are currently on the list.

1. People who play their music through speakers on public transportation. Double hell for people who have headphones in, but their music is clearly audible. Triple hell if they are listening to Dubstep.
2. Upstairs Neighbors of all kinds
3. Co-workers that don’t make a new pot of coffee when one is empty (I’m looking at you Carol!)
4. People who talk entirely too loud in public.
5. People who litter. This goes double for people that leave uneaten food on public transportation. Triple if that food is any sort of Indian food or hot wings.
6. The Chicago Transit Authority (with the exception of that one train conductor says friendly things like “Go get em” at every stop during morning rush hour).

This list is a living thing and people may get added at anytime. However, once you’re on it, you’re on it for good, so watch your step!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Where I’ve Been and Some Reflections On 30

Warning: this is super, duper long. It’s 4 months worth of stuff. What do you people want from me?!

Hey there blog. It’s been so long. You’re….looking well. 10,959 hits. Man, some things never change.

It’s been ever so long since I last talked to you folks. I think it’s primarily because I’ve convinced myself that everything I have to say is being more eloquently said somewhere else. I just need to keep reminding myself that my mom, my wife, and 2 friends are the only people reading and they’ll like me no matter what. Besides, who cares if it’s good. It’s a blog. I don’t even have advertising. Just write.

Let me update you on what’s been going on in my world since we last spoke.

I went on a solo mission to go home for Thanksgiving. The wife decided to stay behind because she needed a break from travel (we’d been on out of state trips 3 times in the 6 weeks prior to Thanksgiving and would be going on another 3 weeks later for Christmas). But I knew that this would likely be the last Thanksgiving I’d have with my Grandad and that was important. It was strange to know that my wife was somewhere else while I was celebrating Thanksgiving with the rest of my family, but we made it through unscathed. It was a short, hurried trip, but it was still a good time.

Then we get to December. Gramps starts to take a turn for the worse. December was the month where the most used phrase was “It could be any day.” We worked with trying to figure out Christmas plans. I’m someone who always is made feel better by knowing my plan. I was driving my wife insane because I would say things like “Oh, if he passes on this day, then this, but if he goes on this day, then this.” I had a plan for basically every scenario. But the tough old guy stuck it out through Christmas. It made Christmas very interesting.

Gramps had home care during the day and in the evenings my mom would go over there, just in case he needed anything. Knowing that my mom would have to stay with him on Christmas Eve, we had to make some decisions. Would we go to Christmas with my dad’s side of the family as we usually do? The wife took charge and said “No one should be alone on Christmas Eve.” And helped us to organize a great Christmas Eve at Grandad’s house for my folks, my brother, his girlfriend, and us. It really was fun. My in-laws made some excellent deserts for us, we ate Slows BBQ, we opened some presents, and we watched the Christmas Story.

The next morning we woke up and I assumed the role of Chef so that my mom could relax while I prepared our traditional Christmas breakfast. I made sausage, biscuits, gravy, eggs, and bacon. After the feast we exchanged gifts and then the wife and I headed to my in-laws to start it all over again. We exchanged gifts with them, went to Grandma’s for dinner and games, and just enjoyed the day. I broke away later in the evening to head to Denny’s to continue a 10 year tradition with my friends of getting together at Denny’s to hang out. It’s the one time of year that pretty much everyone is together. My throat is always raw on the 26th from laughing so much. Despite all of the circumstances, it was one of the best Christmases on record.

Oh, we got another gift. I’m getting a sister-in-law. On Christmas, between hanging with his lady’s family and coming to Denny’s, my brother popped the question. His fiancĂ© is super cool and we’re stoked to have her. Plus I get to be a Best Man again, which means giving a speech, which means getting a microphone and having everyone pay attention to me for 2 minutes, which is like heroin.

So anyway, we go back to relatively normal life. We spent New Years Eve in the fashion that we, as people who don’t really like bars that much and have few friends in Chicago, would by playing the new board games that I got for Christmas, eating cheese and crackers and sausage balls, having a couple of drinks, and then going to see Django Unchained. It was an excellent evening.

Time continued to roll by and then on January 9th, Grandad passed away. My whole family was able to be with him and I was told it was very peaceful and was exactly the way he would’ve wanted to do it. We made our travel plans and headed back to Michigan.

Circumstances being what they were, it was still nice to be able to be with my family and spend the downtime reminiscing and laughing. It was an excellent funeral and my folks, brother, and fiancé took him down to Arkansas

I can’t find a more elegant way to say it, but we saw Book of Mormon somewhere in between there, and that was amazing. If it comes to your neck of the woods, just go. I know it’s a lot of money, but you’ll be glad you did.

The final big thing that happened occurred on January 29th. I turned 30 years old.

I haven’t quite decided how I feel about it. The side of my brain that looks at the surface of things says that not much has changed. I’m still just a working stiff trying to be the best husband and person I can be and keep a smile on my face as often as I can. As I look deeper though, I’m starting to feel anxious. I’m starting to feel like I need to be putting a bigger mark on the world. I need to be making something. Contributing. I just don’t feel like I’ve done enough of that. Perhaps that’s why I’m trying to get back to blogging. Just to put my little stamp on society.

All that said, the wife and I are working on a big project and we’ll be ready to announce it soon. I’m hoping that will be a major catalyst for some changes in my life. I think it will be something that makes me a lot happier a lot more of the time. I can’t wait until I can talk more about it. You just get ready. It's not a baby.

If I had a nickel for every time I said this, I’d be flying above you in my own floating city, but I really, really am going to try to get back to regular posts here. Stay tuned