October 23 - Engaged! (Donuts!)

Once upon a time, Lauren and I worked as comedy performers on a cruise ship.
On the 4th of July in 2008, we had the strange fortune of being at the northernmost tip of continental Europe.
Nordkapp, Norway.
It was cold up there.
We saw an actual reindeer.
We built inukshuks like the tourists do.
We drank hot cocoa like the Vikings invented.
It was a grey, grey, stupidly nice Independence Day in The Land of The Midnight Sun.
So at a gift shop in the oily port town of Honningsvag, I bought a postcard.
The postcard featured two trolls.
A boy troll presenting a diamond ring to a girl troll.
I bought it for Lauren.
In a few weeks, I would be leaving the ship.
Lauren would be staying on for another four months.
We didn't know what we were going to do.
All I knew is that I wanted to see her again.
I thought she might feel the same way.
So on my last day on the ship, I gave her the postcard.
Though the card contained goofy trolls, they could not offset the heaviness created by the presence of the diamond ring.
We hadn't even said "I love you" yet.
So on the back of the card I wrote:

Don't worry. It's not an engagement ring. It's a DONUT!

Kind of dumb.
But so is love sometimes.
We ended up each fitting an "I love you" into our big goodbye that day.

I brought the troll postcard with me to Door County.
My plan:
• Go to a donut shop
• Present Lauren with a donut and the postcard
• Say "Don't worry. It's not a donut. It's an engagement RING!"

The old switcheroo!

The only problem was I couldn't find a fucking donut shop in Door County.
There were some bakeries and coffee shops and this sort of thing.
But no donut shops.

So at the motel I grabbed a couple of plain dunking donuts from the continental breakfast station.
I wrapped them in a few napkins and shoved them in my bag.
These would be the back up donuts.
Lauren made coffee.
We enjoyed a brief, spartan breakfast in the vintage kitchen.

Washington Island was the destination for today.
I scrambled my brain like eggs (not included in a continental breakfast) for an alternative plan to the donut shop.
While racing up the peninsula to catch the 10 o'clock ferry to Washington Island, I came up with this:
• Find scenic bluff on Washington Island
• Have donut picnic from back of van overlooking scenic bluff
• Present troll postcard, "Don't worry", etc.

Ah, but we missed the 10 o'clock ferry.
So we grabbed coffee at the one coffee shop within ten miles of the ferry.
They had pastries and crullers and muffins.
Some things that resembled donuts.
I looked around.
The cashier girl seemed spacey and nervous.
Like she was on shrooms.
I looked around some more.
A child's playpen, all messy and shitty.
A big smelly dog.
A hippie guy rambling on about hippie nothing.
I think Aerosmith was yelling quietly on the radio.
I was not going to ask Lauren to fucking marry me in this UFO of boneheads.
We got our coffee to go.

The caffeine enhanced my jittery madness.
I appeared generally stressed.
Lots of quick nervous movements.
A pressing feeling of sands sifting impatiently though the hour glass.
We drove up to the ticket booth for the ferry.
$11.50 each.
Not bad.
The nice man in the booth informed us that the van needed to pay, too.
So to get to Washington Island it would cost us $50.
That suddenly seemed ridiculous.
So we left the van behind.
And with the van went my alternative plan.

The ferry was a magical ride to a magical place,
Our senses came alive, we felt the wind in our face,
It was a fun ride to great moments and memories,
The Washington Island Ferry-ee!

I had moved the ring from my bag to my person.
Specifically, the left pocket of my jacket.
I played with its velvety velourness while the ferry crossed Death's Door.
And looked for scenic bluffs.
A fellow passenger talked at us about life because she thought we were in our twenties. Her husband had been laid off from his job and was now working at McDonald's. She talked about hardships and struggles and the economy and job security.
All I could think about was that I was about to propose to Lauren and that this was it and oh no I still don't know how or when.
So far I hadn't seen any scenic bluffs.

It was a crisp, grey day.
The port of the island looked drab and flat.
We walked on its industrial non-beach.
That fringey coffee shop was looking better than ever.

The donuts were in my bag.
The troll postcard was in an inside pocket.
My hands were in my pockets, guarding the ring.
To my horror, Lauren reached into my left pocket to hold my hand.
I thought I felt her fingers brush against the plushy ring box.
Would I be forced to propose to her right then and there, on a dull patch of damp concrete for a handful of distracted drivers and nose-in-map tourists?
I reflexively boxed her hand out of my pocket.
It was of course very weird.
I gave Lauren a brainless smile and held her hand in the outdoors, far away from my jacket pocket.
She didn't seem too fazed by my psychotic quirks.
Momentarily relieved, I scanned the gloomy shoreline for any sign of romance.
I swore I heard the island laughing at me.

We decided to rent bikes.
At the visitor's center a woman showed us a map.
"Are there any scenic bluffs?" I asked.
"Umm," she stalled and vaguely pointed at a blotch of nondescript green on the map.
"Maybe over here?"
What a shit fire.
What was I gonna do?
Hopelessness poked its head into the frame.
My sweating ears heard her pointing out other landmarks.
"Ostrich farm", "stave church", "restaurant"...
Wait a minute.
Stave church?
You mean those tall, black, wooden Norwegian churches that look like Viking vessels?

In July of 2008, Lauren and I had the strange fortune of being in Bergen, Norway for a few hours.
We visited the Fantoft stave church.
It loomed large.
And pointy.
And black.
It was originally built around 1150.
But in 1992, a black metal kid burnt it down to the ground.
Undeterred, the town soon reconstructed it.
Later we listened to some black metal.
Those Darkthrone boys.
We weren't so into it.
But the spookiness of the stave church stuck with us and remained one of our favorite memories of Norway.

That was it!
I would propose to her at the stave church.
With that postcard from Norway.
And the donuts.
It actually made sense!

The bike ride was now fun.
We spun stressless through the damp Wisconsin woods.

Hmm though.
Now we were hungry.
And this bike ride was long.
And it just started to rain.
The thought of proposing while we were cranky hungry and wet would appeal to no one.
And donuts would guarantee a low blood sugar coma crash.
So I announced a plan.
Lauren does like donuts.
But she must have wondered why I was so obsessed with them on this trip.
"OKAY!" she said, now soaked.

It was beating down hard by the time we pulled up to Nelsen's Hall.
Built in 1899, it has housed a tavern, restaurant, movie theater, dentist's office, pharmacy, ice cream parlour, and The Bitters End Motel.
Inside it was brown, cozy, and dry.
We sat at the bar.
The bartender asked if we'd like to join The Bitters Club.
We said okay!
A shot of bitters happened.
Then we signed a book and were given membership cards.
Lifetime members to the bitter end.

Outside it still rained and rained.
We ate lunch.
It continued to rain.
We ordered a round of drinks.
Still it rained.
One more round of drinks.
One more round of rain.
I told Lauren I was determined to see the stave church, even if it meant getting drenched.
She swallowed and nodded supportively.
And finished her bloody mary.
We asked the bartender if they had any garbage bags to use as a raincoat for Lauren.
A jacket that had been in the lost and found for a year was offered.
It was a huge Chevy raincoat.
I was wearing a GM jacket.
Automotively eerie!

We got on our bikes.
This was it.
I was actually going to goddamn do this.
We rode through the rain for a mile or so.
It really was a dreary one.
We pulled off the road and rode over a small stone bridge.
There it was.
The stave church.
It loomed as large as the one we saw in Norway.
It was incredible.
Agh, but a tour group was all over the place.
We poked around among the crowd of Badger clad tourists.
I got nervous again.
C'mon, c'mon.
Scram already.
They eventually vanished, albeit slowly.
Now we had the whole stave to ourselves.

I found a little nook on the porch of the church.
I pulled out the troll postcard.
"Remember this?" I asked.
Lauren was surprised and intrigued.
I realized the donuts were still in my bag inside the church.
Too late now.
I made the executive decision to abort the whole dumb donut thing.

And I got down on a knee.
And I included her middle name.
And I asked her if she would marry me.

She said yes.
It worked!

Another couple approached the church.
"WE JUST GOT ENGAGED!" Lauren yelled at them.
They were polite and took our picture.

We rode bikes in the rain.
"WE JUST GOT ENGAGED!" Lauren yelled at me.

Back at Nelsen's Hall, I opened the door for my fiancé.
"WE JUST GOT ENGAGED!" Lauren yelled at everyone.
"SO DID WE!" yelled another gal.
Yes, another couple had gotten engaged that day on the island.
They had found a scenic stretch of beach!
Everyone bought us rounds.
We told our tales.
It was fun.

We returned our bikes in the neverending rain.
"WE JUST GOT ENGAGED!" Lauren yelled at the rental bike lady.
She didn't charge us.
So far, being engaged meant lots of free stuff on Washington Island.

We called our families.
Lauren's made celebratory noises along the lines of "woo hoo".
My mom thought I was playing a prank on her.
But she seemed happy, albeit shocked.

We had dinner at the restaurant that had been featured in Bon AppetĂ­t.
Lamb shanks, lemon risotto, white asparagus salad, Chilean pork.
The waitress did pronounce chipotle "chipolte".
But hey.
We're getting married.
Pronounce it however you want.

Lauren really liked the ring.
She used words like "perfect".
It ended up being perfect.
A truly perfect day.

Verdict: Win

October 22 - Peninsula Peregrinations

We sipped tea on the breezy balcony.
October was happening.
Lauren wore a down vest over her spotted robe.
She told me to turn off the production library music I had chosen as the soundtrack for the morning.
"Listen," she said.
All you could hear was the wind and the trees.
The nonsense of the stupid city was far away in its loud annoying importance.

For breakfast The Inn offered cherry stuffed french toast.
Good Morning America had declared it the winner of their best breakfast challenge.
If it was good enough for Joan Lunden and David Hartman, then it was good enough for us.

Back in the room Lauren flipped through a Bon Appetit while I researched places to ask her to marry me.
I still didn't know when or where or how I was going to do it.
The ring sat tucked away in a side pocket of my messenger bag.
I decided that tomorrow would be the day to do it.
So I had the "when" narrowed down.
And that I would do it on or near Washington Island.
There's the "where" sorta.
But how? Still didn't know.
I was having a hard time finding a donut shop in Door County.
More on that later.
Based on a letter in Bon Appetit, Lauren found us a restaurant for tomorrow.
I made a reservation.

We took an autumn drive through Peninsula Park.
It's a good park.
We caught the caboose of foliage.
Played in the leaves.
Ogled a lighthouse.
Climbed a 76-foot wooden tower on a 180-foot bluff.
The water looked Tahoe blue, like blue jeans.
We listened to the Kinks.
We took lots of pictures.
Just to prove that it really existed.

We poked around the peninsula some more.
Goofed with gourds.
Stopped for a beer at a Scandinavian pub.

Our second night's stay was in Sturgeon Bay.
The Holiday Music Motel.
Vintage furnishings, Elvis gold records on the wall, live music.
It was much easier for me to get it up here.
I didn't feel grandma's eyes watching us through the peepholes in the floral wallpaper.

The evening involved a haunted trolley tour.
We convened at a winery.
October did a decent impression of November.
The fat white moon made crisp shadows while we waited for the trolley.
A large group of annoying people cut in line.
Their children sang Christmas carols.
Fuckin' dopes.
Lauren cut in front of the annoying people and nabbed the bench by the driver.

The driver spoke in rich radio tones.
His cadence was cartoonish and ghoulish.
He wore a cape.
The trolley stopped at various haunts on the peninsula.
Harbors, lighthouses.
Lots of shipwreck tales.
He told us about a little girl that had died on Christmas Eve, and how the family displayed her corpse in their window beside the Christmas tree.
Many of his tales were of the odd and sad variety.
To counter this, he conducted sing-alongs of "The Theme from The Addams Family" and "Purple People Eater".
He took us to an old house and let us roam around in the dark.
Lauren said she felt someone reach into her pocket.
But no one was around.
I told Lauren that I love that she has an imagination.
Finally, the trolley took us to a graveyard out in the woods.
We saw the headstones for many of the characters in tonight's tales.
Our guide accidentally kicked over a small tombstone.
It felt kooky to dawdle around a remote graveyard in the wilderness underneath a full moon.
We relaxed back at the rock and roll motel.
Well, Lauren did.
I sat abuzz with thought.
Tomorrow was happening soon.
And I still didn't have a specific plan.
Where were all the donut shops in Door County?

Verdict: Win

October 21 - Don't Worry B&B Happy

My inner clock is that of a stubborn work mule.
I went to bed at 3.
I got up at 8.
Lauren continued to sleep.
I tiptoed around the house, packing, showering.
Lauren had to remain asleep until the jeweler opened.
Luckily, her inner clock is that of a gentle understanding kitten.
So when 10 rolled around, I was ready to jump out the door.
"I'm going to run some errands!"
I probably showed too much enthusiasm for running vague errands.
But Lauren was a bit foggy still, and surveyed the bedroom like a groggy owl.
"..okay come back.."

I put some gas in the van and filled the slow leak tire with air.
Then I went to the jeweler.
The ring looked great.
"Nice choice," said the golden voiced jeweler man.
"You did a good job," reinforced the nice jeweler lady.
So now it was time to settle up.
Only I didn't know that it was time to do that right now.
"Oh," I said very, very smoothly. "Um," very smoothly, "were we going to do a layaway on this?"
The nice jeweler lady had to explain the concept of layaway to me.
It turns out that layaway is not credit.
With layaway, you make little payments on the thing you want, and when you pay for all of it, then you can take it home.
Just like they did in 1987.
"Oh," I said less smoothly, and gave her my debit card.
My smirk of shame and I waited while the card was swiped.
The bank wouldn't authorize such a large purchase.
So I walked to the bank and made a few cash withdrawals.
I thanked God, Jesus and Moses (not Holli, Joanie and Sven) who had hired me as a PA in August and September.
If I were still messengering I would not have had the funds to pay for the ring.
And I don't want to think anymore about that.

It was our long awaited vacation.
Four days in Wisconsin.
A tour of Door County.
First stop: Fish Creek

We had reservations at the White Gull Inn, a B&B where we enjoyed a fish boil back in June.
B&B's are funny.
They look like your grandmother's dream doll house.
Frilly wallpaper, flouncy doilies.
Froofy potpourri.
Even the fireplace was a bit castrated, but it worked.
And so did the balcony.
We excitedly relaxed.
It was happening!

I didn't know how or when I was going to propose.
But it wouldn't be here or now.
We had just gotten here.
Besides, the environs were making it difficult for me to get it up.

Verdict: Win

Ray's Tap Plug

Uh oh.
I'm working again.
12-16 hour days.
For a week and a half.
That means this will get delayed again.
Who cares?
Ha ha!

In the meantime I wrote a piece for the Ray's Tap Reading Series.
This Saturday's program is entitled Gripes To Mike Royko.

About 5 years ago, a very good trash picker, the mother of my friend Josh Bartholomew found a box of papers in the trash of the Royko home in Winnetka. Mike Royko died in 1997 but it took a few years, I guess, for his wife to throw this box out. Judy Royko donated his letters etc... to the Newberry Library years earlier but I guess this stuff did not make the cut. What was inside?

Photos, notes, letters, legal documents and als
o a collection of letters/postcards responding to a call for his readers to send in their gripes. Royko wanted people to write in and complain about what bothers them about the world. And they did in something Royko called the Gripes of Wrath. And we have them all. (1/100th of them!) People complaining about driving in grocery store parking lots, too many pickles in a pickle jar, loud gum chewing, ethnic names, Don Zimmer, rap music, gays and more.

Please join us on December 11th for a larger than normal Ray's show. Our writers and artists are going to be digging into these gripes to create original stories etc...


Jill Summers, Matt Test, Dave Snyder, Tim Racine, Tony Mendoza, Josh Dumas, Natalie Edwards, Fred Sasaki, Mason Johnson, Daniel Shapiro, Margaret Chapman and Mark Chrisler.

Also featuring music by Alan Scalpone of the Bitter Tears.
Poster by Susie Kirkwood

So come on out, it's free.
Saturday, December 11 at 9pm.
Ray's Tap is located at 3047 N Kimball.

October 20 - A Failure's Caper

Tomorrow Lauren and I head to Door County.
Our long-awaited happening is finally vacation.
Tee hee 'cuz I have plans for the trip that Lauren doesn't know about.

You see.
Back in July we were stuck in traffic by Soldier Field and decided it would be a good time to talk about marriage.
We discovered that we were both up for mortal foreverness.
I told Lauren though that I felt I needed to be a success before I could officially ask for her hand.
She thought this was stupid.
But she didn't use that word.
Instead she used the word "well" as its own whole sentence.
In her following sentence I learned that she would prefer to be married sooner than later.
It made sense.
I'll never be a success.
This is a good thing.
It means I'll always have some sort of goal.
If I were a success, I would have nothing to do.
I would become depressed.
Like those spacemen when they came back from the moon.
Talk about bummed out cosmonauts.
How do you top that?
With a twist of lime, I guess.
I don't need a case of the moonman's glum.

Anyway, I'm going to ask Lauren to marry me this weekend.
Probably on Saturday.
I don't know where or how yet.
I've been researching a few donut shops in the area.
More on that later.

Good news though.
The jeweler called to tell me the ring was ready.
But I had to wait until Lauren left the apartment to get it.
Around 6pm she did.
I moseyed over to the jeweler only to discover that on Wednesdays they close at 5:30.


So tomorrow I have to figure out a way to sneak out of the house without Lauren around 10am right before the vacation begins to get this goddamn (beautiful) fucking (wonderful) engagement (engagement) ring.
This ought to be fun.

Verdict: Loss


I've lost the moment.
Detached from my own daily life.
Writing down ho hum notes for a future entry removed of the feelings from that day.

Today I was going to write about a dead night at the bar five weeks ago.
I was going to describe the bar.
But I lost my notes.

It's okay.
I'm working there tonight.
It'll be dead again and I can take more notes.

One more month left in this year.
But two for me.
I should be thankful.
I get an extra month.
Even though that month is just a rerun.

It's 8pm.
Time to get out of my pajamas and go to work.

October 19 - Professional Basement Acting

Today the Bitter Tears met to rehearse our play.
Unlike other thespians I've worked with, The Bitter Tears rehearse in costume.
It means we are more professional!

Verdict: Win

October 18 - Like

Today I did nothing.
Oh wait.
I take that back.

I liked a bunch of new things on Facebook.
Let's take a look at what I like:

• Omar Little
• Pittsburgh, PA
• Single-speed bicycle
• Gene's Sausage
Klondike Kat
Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales
• Chris Elliot
• BMX Action
• Birds
• French horn
• Donatella Arpaia
• Homies
• Rodd Keith
• Song Poems
• '85 Bears
• Carlton Fisk
• Shelley Duvall
That's The Way It Is
• Hipsters who hate other hipsters for being hipsters
• Ms. Pac-Man
• Excitebike
• Dave Dudley
• Dragon's Lair
• Hobos
• Roadside America
• Al Jaffee
• Atari 2600
• Peanuts
• Lane Bryant
• Slingerland Drums
• Willips Brighton
• The Tamale Guy
Soul Train
• The Young & The Restless
• Celebrity The Game
• Ray Bradbury
• Alan Lomax
• Barney Rubble
• Gail Simmons
• Robin Baumgarten
• Yoko Ono
• Run DMC
• Pussy Galore
• garagehangover
• Theremin
A Confederacy of Dunces
• Paul Shaffer
The Bad News Bears
• Simon Cowell
• The Hondells
• Richard Scarry
• Wade Boggs
• Todd Solonz
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
• The Trashwomen
• John Steinbeck
• Gumby
• Hal Blaine
• The Late Night Thrill-Cam
Forensic Files
• Harvey Pekar
• 93.7 KCLB
• Rick Saucedo
• Glenn Danzig
• Ernie Kovacs
• Farfisa

Verdict: Loss

October 17 - The Day The Music Got Killed Got Pitched

My friend Ray asked me to create music for an Annoyance show he's putting up in December.
It's called The Day The Music Got Killed.

Here was his pitch:

The Big Bopper has run out of money and new ideas for novelty songs and his agent who is sick of listening to his horrible ideas and his wife set him up on a musical tour to get him out of town so the agent can screw the Bopper's wife. The Bopper meets Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens who immediately hate him. They all sing some songs and wind up on an airplane with a pilot high out of his mind on benzadrine. The Bopper drives everybody increasingly nuts with his terrible ideas for how to add the same three novelty ideas (ie, the witch doctor, the purple people eater and the man from mars) into endless redundant scenarios. At some point Ritchie Valens can't take it anymore and he grabs the control stick and makes the plane crash. But they don't die right away, horribly mangled and dying in the snow the Bopper refuses to die and has to fight off a dying Ritchie Valens who has a piece of metal stuck through his torso. Buddy Holly grabs a pistol from the dead pilot's jacket and shoots the Bopper in the head, then drops dead. This was the day the music got killed.

Naturally, I said yes.

Verdict: Win

October 16 - New Numbers

Today the Nurse Novels got together to go over new songs.

Tom and I wrote a song called "Emptiness In Yes".
It's about saying yes to everything people offer you and waking up ten years later just scattered, unfocused and in the same place.

We played one of Thea's newer songs called "Money Man".
It seems to be about Lincoln Park trixies.

She added banjo to a country song about infidelity I've had laying around for a while.
It's called "Waterbed".
Here are the lyrics:

The weeds are creepin' through the concrete
Next to the banquet hall
He shields her with his wife's umbrella
Against a motel wall
They strip down in a hurry
Everything except his watch
The grunts come in a flurry
She's sort of soft to the touch
But not so much

That's the touch of the waterbed
It's a nice little waterbed
Poor used little waterbed
He's got that same waterbed

She waits in a jumbo roadhouse
Way in another town
Her husband hates her drinkin'
So she pounds another Moosehead down
Her old flame isn't showin'
Now she interrupts a game of darts
"Hey fellas, it sure is snowin'.
Can you jump me, boys?
I need a start."
"Our van
Yeah, it starts!"

That van has a waterbed
It's a nice little waterbed
Poor used little waterbed
She's got that same waterbed

The sitter's at the end of her liquor raid
Two dollars per hour
That's a pittance
Not a pay

Passed out on the waterbed
You're on the waterbed
Face down on the waterbed
That's a nice little waterbed
Her folks have that waterbed
That's a popular waterbed

Verdict: Win

October 15 - Rael

Early Morning Cold Taxi
Two hours of sleep again.
At 6 my phone rang.
"Can you be here sooner?"
I slept in the cab.

Our first shot was at the Planetarium.
But we were early.
It was locked.
We ate breakfast sandwiches in the cold wind.

I Can See For Miles
We got in.
We set up.
Veruca observed that I was dragging a bit.
I agreed with her about this.
A news anchor stood near a telescope.
"I am Chicago."

Great Shakes
The next shot was out in Villa Park.
Chaz gave me the location.
"Oh, by the old Ovaltine Factory."
I said this to prove something.
Maybe I was trying to create the position of a locations PA.

I know Villa Park.
My preschool was there.
Later, in high school I would explore the Ovaltine Factory.
It was abandoned.
Always fascinated by broken forgotten places, I took pictures through the broken windows of the Satanic graffiti.
Burnouts were said to go there to sacrifice animals or whatever.
It was like Norway, but without the beauty of Norway.

We filmed a woman who owned a tattoo parlour.
It was a lovely day for a tattoo.
I sat on lock-up by the front door.
A woman in her 60's approached me.
She dressed like an early 90's suburban punk.
Her voice was not unlike Emo Phillips.
"I like your goatee."
She said I looked like Johnny Depp.
She said she was looking for a boyfriend.
She told me her age.
"Don't you think it's sad that I haven't found anyone?"
I told her I thought it was cool.
Thankfully a guy with a dog came by and she flirted with him in her tragic dark way.

Silas Stingy
At lunch I was told that I would be driving the crew around to get B-roll.
"Where should we go? Where's Chaz?"
The table laughed.
"You're Chaz!"
My dream job came true.
But wait.
I was still getting paid the same rate as a PA.

Sodding About
So I drove them around.
Newberry Park, Old Town, The Noble Horse Theater Stable, the Brown Line tracks along Orleans, The Kinzie Bridge, and Navy Pier.
The DP Adam was most impressed with the Kinzie Bridge.
And least impressed with Navy Pier.

I took the van back to Movie Movies.
The guy that runs it lives there with his wife.
They were a kooky scattered mismatch of a couple.
He showed me all the damage we had done to his shabby gear.
I donated our left over craft service stuff to soften the blow.
He asked for my phone number.
Veruca and the gang invited me out for a nice expensive dinner.
Fatigue prevailed.
The weird couple gave me a ride to the bus stop.
I hailed a cab home.
I had burgers and Lauren.

Verdict: Win

October 14 - Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby

Jerzy Drives 'Em Wild
Jerzy drove the passenger van with the people.
I drove the dream van with the equipment.
We were going to the NBC Tower.
"Do you know how to get to the dock?" I asked Jerzy.
Jerzy doesn't live in Chicago.
He lives ten miles from Wisconsin.
The dock for the NBC Tower is not easy to locate.
It's on Lower North Water Street.
Most locals don't know this street.
If you type "NBC Tower" into a GPS it will not take you to this street.
"Yeah, I know where it is," he said.
So Jerzy led the caravan.
And immediately missed the first turn that will take you to the dock.
So now he was driving the producer, the director, and the crew into the complicated mess of Lower Columbus and Lower Wacker on the other side of the river.
They were lost.
My phone rang.
"We are on....South Water Street and...."
I had to navigate them out of there with my batlike mind radar.
They finally arrived and poured out of the van in a pissy state.
Jerzy was pissed off, too.
He was mad at them for being pissed off at him.
Words like "fuck" and "limey" travelled past his pissy lips.
"Maybe we all just need some breakfast" I speculated.
"No, I already ate."

Rooftop Snickers
Veruca sent Jerzy on some errands.
Meanwhile the rest of us went on the roof of the NBC Tower.
It was a lovely, breezy day providing bright views of the Tribune Tower and The Wrigley Building.
In all my years inside of these silly buildings, I had never been on top of one until today.
I should have been more marveled.
But I'm afraid of heights.

The weatherman arrived.
We were going to film him doing real people activities.
Like hanging out on the roof of a skyscraper.
"This is my first time up here."
Between takes a few folks sat on the ledge of the forty story structure.
People began making jokes about falling off and plummeting to their death.
"Just make sure you get good footage on the way down."
They teetered with laughter on the ledge.
I had to walk away.
"Hey Tony, can you help with this bounce?"
Uh, sure.
The breeze was making it difficult for one of the C-stands to hold a big reflective 4'x4' square of styrofoam.
So I was called in to hold it by the ledge.
I braced myself against the cement and closed my eyes.
The weatherman continued with the humor jokes.
"Don't go parasailing," he chuckled.
I wanted to shit all of my pants.
But I was being professional.
A professional pants-shitter.
They got their shot.
Time to go.

TCB: Weatherman-Style
The weatherman held court while we waited for the freight elevator down.
It was like hanging out with Elvis.
He controlled the topics and everyone reacted on cue.
"We" talked about home entertainment systems, the record industry, 3D movies.
He impressed me when he name dropped ? and The Mysterians.
I wanted to explore that topic some more but within three seconds it had already changed.
Though I did get in a reference to View-Masters, which prompted him to talk about his hometown in Oregon where View-Masters were manufactured.
I ate a pretend peanut butter and banana sandwich and shut up.

Jerzy Shore Can't See Foam
During lunch Jerzy and I were supposed to purchase foam core.
But we could not leave the dream van unattended.
We had 30 minutes.
I came up with a plan:

• Jerzy parks his van by the office supply store.
• Jerzy purchases foam core from the office supply store.
• I pick up Jerzy with the foam core.
• One of us stays with the dream van while the other orders lunch.

It was a good plan.
I came up with it because I was hungry.

I tried to communicate the plan to Jerzy.
He decided that getting foam core was going to be very difficult.
"What kind of foam core?"
Regular foam core.
"What size?"
"If I'm parking the van, how are we going to transport it?"
I'll pick you up.
"Not with this wind. This isn't going to work."
He was fixating on ridiculous hypothetical problems and answering questions with questions about other unrelated problematic topics.
It seemed Jerzy was still pissed off at Veruca.
I guess he thought she should have enjoyed his earlier choice to get everyone lost and start the day behind schedule.
I told him we just needed to get the foam core.
Jerzy went in protest.
Fifteen minutes passed.
While impatiently waiting, I got a call from him.
He was inside the store.
It was a bad connection.
"....they don't....foam core...no....not....can't....won't....not....no....never...."
"Jerzy, you're breaking up."
I hung up.
I parked by a Subway.
Jerzy found me.
He had the foam core.
"Oh good, you got the foam core."
Jerzy went on to talk about how it could have been done better and how Veruca and all these New York people and Columbia kids don't know how to do things and he went on and on.
We had five minutes left for lunch.
"I need to eat!" I interrupted.
"Oh, I already ate," Jerzy said.

It May Not Be News, But It Is Work
We filmed one of the news anchors at The Cultural Center.
She's been on Chicago TV's since my sophomore year in high school.
Right around the time when the nightly news got prettier and smilier.
We made eye contact under the Tiffany glass dome.
She waved and smiled.
That smile was work.
She was working.
"I am a journalist."

Theater Of The Organ
Due to a lack of deep dish pizza, today we had the energy for a third location.
The Portage Theater in Portage Park.
It's old.
It's huge.
It's great.
They play mostly kooky movies.
It attracts a lot of sci-fi/horror mouth breather types.
As a former indoors kid, I could relate to these sweatpantsed misfit boobs.

We filmed the theater's organist.
He played the big red crazy organ.
I smiled like a pale dork with a terrible complexion.

We had to move quickly.
A marathon of slasher flicks was coming.
The Portage Theater was becoming haunted.
The lobby filled with blood-rubbed outcasts getting into character.
Test screams danced with an endless loop of the Halloween theme.
I think it's in 5/4.
People dressed as nerds and weirdos were lining up outside.
A morbidly obese man in a Bears jersey lurked the halls.
His stench was more powerful than the popcorn.
If only it were just a costume.

My grip knowledge had expanded.
I put Shimaras on Jokers.
I put egg crates on Kenos.
I put 'em on 4 foot.
I Hollywooded with a 3'x2' flag.
"By the end of this shoot you'll be union," said Adam.

Naps Are For Cats
We were done by 7pm.
I had to be at the bar in three hours.
I drove the dream van to the parking lot.
I rode my bike to the restaurant where Lauren works.
Lauren served me pizza and beer.
I wanted to take a quick nap before working the bar.
Luckily, our friend Jessica lives in the apartment above the restaurant.
Unluckily, she was out of town.
So I just slept on her back porch for all of ten minutes.
Like a vagrant.

I was zonked.
So zonked I was Zorked.
Everyone at the bar looked like a grue.
To cope, I played the Andrew Sisters on the jukebox.
"Rum and Cocaaah Cola..."
A couple of older dudes got bittersweet drunk and played "Fooled Around and Fell In Love" by Elvin Bishop.
I liked it.
Then they got up and played it again.
I liked it again.
I guess I was pretty tired.
I watched a girl put on a bunch of Kinks songs.
I felt her boyfriend watching me watch her.
I like the Kinks.
Suck it, guy.
Before I got a chance to play Elvin Bishop again, a woman enthusiastically can-canned to "Lake Shore Drive" by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah.
Workin' for the yonkee dolluuuhhhhh...

Verdict: Win

October 13 - I Am Chicago

A Pot of Mold at the End of a Stainbow
I pushed open the back door with my bike.
A big dumb thunder rumbled.

I rode down Clark in the pouring rain.
It came down in layers like thick paint.
I wondered how many pounds of rain it was.

A dry parking lot customer stared at me.
Water dripped from my nose.
He smiled.
Water dripped from my eyelashes.
He snickered.
Water dripped from my goat beard.
He asked me why I was taking shelter in the parking lot when I was already so wet.
He was trying to tell me that I was stupid.

I hate people.
I hate feeling socially obligated to explain my actions to ignorant strangers with preconceived ideas.

"I'm picking up a vehicle," I said with my mouth.
"You nosy fucking idiot," I said with my eyes.
"Oh," he said and quickly turned away.
"Sigh," I said with my sigh.

The rain and my hatred of people really did a number on my look today.
In the rear view mirror my haircut resembled Hitler's.
Somebody purchase my art!

Chinese Handcuffs
I drove the dream van to the Chinese American Museum.
Jerzy and I assembled and arranged the lights.
A Joker and a Kino.
I was gripping!
The sound guy handed me a slate.
"Do you want to slate?"
"Sure," I said.
A young guy in a fedora stepped in.
"Actually, that's my job."
"Don't take food out of his mouth," Jerzy said to me loudly and admonishingly.
And annoyingly.

A presumably Chinese woman stood in front of the camera and repeated things the director wanted her to say.
"I am Chicago."
"I am not running for mayor."
"I am a living -"
She wasn't comfortable saying the last one, but the director coaxed her into it.
"I am a living doll."
Her coworkers laughed.

Smooth Jizz
Next stop was a recording studio.
While Jerzy and I set up C-stands and wrangled stingers, he ragged on graduates of Columbia College.
"I hate Columbia kids."
A majority of the crew was comprised of Columbia kids.
He complained about Columbia kids to the VTR girl, who was clearly a graduate of Columbia.
Jerzy was getting on my nerves, but was teaching me a lot.

A large black man in a zoot suit relaxed in front of the camera.
"I am Chicago."
"I am not running for mayor."
"I am the soul of Chicago."

They shot some footage of him singing along to his smooth jazz R&B CD single.
Adam the DP described it as "waiting room" music.
Despite this, he had a firm handshake.

Look At Me, I'm Trying
Meanwhile, city hall told us we could not film there tomorrow.
I gave a list of possible alternatives to Chaz the location scout.
The Monadnock Building, The Cultural Center, The Marquette Building, The Rookery Building...
He said they were already looking into the Cultural Center, but that the Rookery was a good idea.

Veruca the producer ordered deep dish pizza for lunch.
Over the meal I tried to tell her about snout-to-tail dining at London's St. John.
Y'know, 'cuz she's from London and I've been to London and I'm not just some directionless PA I'm a smart talented person and a perhaps decent writer and maybe the funniest person in this room but no one will ever know that and...
She didn't care.
I was trying too hard.
I hate when I still do that.

Reality TV
After pizza, we were all too fat to go to the third location.
Instead a small crew was dispatched to film the gaunt homeless girl they had seen earlier by the expressway.
They brought our left over pizza as a payment.
But the gaunt girl had vanished.
So the other homeless folks by the expressway enjoyed deep dish pizza.
Too bad they weren't as gaunt.
I mean filmworthy.

Verdict: Win

October 12 - Veruca's Salt

Van Dammit
This week I'm PAing for Veruca Zapp.
She is a funny bird from London by way of New York.

Veruca had me pick up a big passenger van from Movie Movies.
A harried guy named Bevan answered the door.
He looked at me with closed eyes.
A perpetually nervous blink.
"That van's not ready!"
He threw up his hands.
He sighed.
He paced.
"I thought you were picking up the equipment van. That one's ready!"
He directed his stress toward me.
I stayed calm.
Because I didn't care.

We walked over to the passenger van.
The driver's side was caved in from some sort of collision.
An incredibly patchy gloop of unpainted bondo had been carelessly smeared into the valley.
The van was ugly.
I called Veruca just to let her know.
"Oh deauh!"
She seemed annoyed.
"Sew it's all oogly, is it?"
But she quickly got over it.
"Bevan hates me 'cos I keep chaingin' stoof up on 'im."

The PA I would be working with was Jerzy.
"So are you a whore, too?" he asked.
He was in his 40's.
We talked shop in the van.
He mostly worked as a grip.
But things were slow.
He gave me advice.
I listened and nodded and drove.

Show Fur
At the hotel, we picked up Veruca, the DP Adam, and the location scout Chaz.
"To city hall," Chaz instructed.
All I knew is that we were scouting locations today.
For what or whom or why I didn't know.
"To the planetarium!"
My years and years of driving trolleys, bike messengering and vehicular messengering paid off.
I took the shortest yet most scenic routes.
I know this city like a frogman knows the bends.
Painfully well.

Chaz boasted hyperbolically to Veruca and Adam about spots to eat in Chicago.
The words "the best" were used 314 times.
Veruca wanted deep dish pizza.
Deep dish pizza is not the best.
But it's what people think of when they think Chicago.
Al Capone eating deep dish pizza while the Blues Brothers play "Sweet Home Chicago".
What about our more recent accomplishments?
Like Michael Jordan.
Or the '85 Bears.

"To the Stevenson Expressway!"
As we drove, the mystery of what we were doing slowly unravelled.
We were going to film promos for the local news anchors.
They would be captured doing real people activities.
Like hanging out on the expressway.
Trying to secure a spot to shoot on the Stevenson was hard.
We found a few overpasses but they were occupied by homeless guys and merchants.
I pointed to a guy with a cooler.
"This spot has its own craft service."
It got a laugh.

Real Creme
It was time for lunch.
Now Veruca wanted hot dogs.
She explained that in London, crews don't get a big lunch.
They have tea and crumpets.
Jerzy seemed to take this personally.
"Fuck that," he would later say.
He didn't like England.
While in line at the drive-thru, Veruca had lots of questions about hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches and Italian sausage sandwiches.
"It ain't no tea and crumpets," Jerzy said.
"Jehzy, have you eveh had a propuh croompet? Have you eveh had reaol creme? Doan't put it down if you doan't knoaw whut yeh tauking about."
Jerzy ordered a combo.

The Dream Van
Then Jerzy, Adam and I went down to Movie Movies to pick up the equipment van.
Bevan opened up a gate in the alley.
It was an old cargo van from a few decades prior.
It had a tall, bubbled roof.
It looked like the vans I used to make with a Little Van Goes kit.
I was going to get to drive it.
Dreams do come true.

Jerzy's Communication Techniques
While driving the dream van, Jerzy called me.
"Are you turning around yet?"
Hi Jerzy.
"I said, are you turning around yet?"
Am I turning around yet?
He wanted me to turn around.
Why, I didn't know.
Was something wrong with the van?
Did some equipment fall onto the street?
Is the dream van really a nightmare van?
I countered his question with a question that I had quickly prepared.
"What do you mean?"
"You left your bag behind."
So he was calling to tell me that I had left my bag behind.
But the order in which he revealed this information was fun.
He didn't say, "Hey Tony, it's Jerzy. You left your bag behind."
Instead, he skipped salutations altogether for a sentence designed to put me in a state of panic.
"Are you turning around yet?"
You see, Jerzy had some information for me.
But he wanted to see me dance for it.
Too bad I'm not much of a dancer.
In theory I should have promptly answered his query about turning around.
It's a simple yes or no question.
But his fun method merely caused confusion, and ultimately led to more time being consumed.
"Okay, thanks, Jerzy. I'm turning around then."
That was a lot of fun.
Look at all that time we spent on that fun game.
I wonder if Jerzy used to work for the city.

Where Do Vans Dream?
I had to find somewhere to park the dream van.
It couldn't live on the street overnight, full of shabby but expensive rented gear.
But its sexy bubbled roof made it too tall for the indoor parking garages.
Veruca wanted the van to be near where I live.
There were no secure overnight parking garages near where I live.
I called Holli, who referred me to a stage lot on the west side.
But they were closed.
I called Veruca.
"Maybe I can park the van by me and just unload the gear into my apartment."
"Toany, the van must stay in a secu(r)e pahking loat. Eet must!"

I pulled over to think.
I was in the Gold Coast.
On my left was an outdoor parking garage.
That was it.
I would just ride my bike here tomorrow.

Real Cream
I got home in time for another fabulous Lauren-made dinner.
Roasted red pepper soup with corn cilantro cream.
It was real cream.

Verdict: Win

October 11 - Definitely A Win

I didn't take any notes for today.
My email activity consists of one lone message to my mom about collecting Jewel stamps for free cookware.

What else did I do?
Did I teach inner city youth about the power of knowledge?
Did I design the new Rose Bowl float for The American Institute of Philanthropy?
Did I inspire millions of people to lose weight through exercise and a sensible, healthy diet?
Did I jump over fourteen school buses on a flaming dirt bike?
Did I catch Osama bin Laden?

Did I steal music online?
Did I waste time on Facebook?
Did I watch mindless television?
Did I masturbate?
Did I take a nap?
Did I email my mom about collecting Jewel stamps for free cookware?

I don't know.

Verdict: Loss

October 10 - Backyardashians

Tonight Mike and Holli hosted a backyard feast for Dan and myself.
It was like a Grundler Bend hotel room reunion.
Only it was outdoors.
And after 8am.

We ate and drank well and goofy.
Oktoberfest sausages over a fire pit.
Paul Newman (the actor) wine.
We talked shop.
And how dumb the world is.
The others could articulate it better than I could.

They do have a lovely home.

Verdict: Win

October 9 - Leave No Grat Behind

Tonight I worked the door at the bar.
My first Saturday night.
It was packed.
Lots of ID's from 88 and 89.
Lots of rock show wristbands.

A couple of jarheads bumbled through the door.
Their military ID's looked like flattened grenades.
They were skunk drunk.
I didn't want to let them in.
But I felt I should support the troops.

They were yelling at each other.
The first one took a piss.
The other one ordered two fancy beers.
He wobbled on his barstool.
He wobbled through the crowd.
He wobbled at the jukebox.
It didn't read his fortune like he thought it would.

Meanwhile at the bar, his buddy took one sip of the fancy beer.
He examined the bottle.
He put it down.
Then he snuck past his buddy at the jukebox and took a phone call outside.
The jukebox hero scanned the room for his buddy.
His head was a broken binocular.
He started for the door with his beer.
"Hey, you can't bring that outside."
He rolled his eyes and placed it by the door.

His buddy was gone.
He opened the door from outside and crouched.
He paused to give me a piss guzzling grin.
Then he grabbed his beer and sprinted down the block after his buddy.
Leave no man behind.

Busy night.
At times we were over capacity.
But everyone played their role.
Brian and Kim served drinks.
The jukebox played music.
People danced, laughed, yelled, kissed.
Good busy.

We split the tips.
I had anticipated a decent reward for our decent night.
It ended up being what I would normally take home on a Thursday.

These hipster kids don't tip.
At first I thought it was because none of them have ever had to work an actual job before.
But maybe BrooklynVegan declared tipping as the new racism.

Verdict: Loss

October 8 - Interview With A Vampire
















where am I?




..i'm home right now...


..4:30 huh...


oh yeah.

i was supposed to call that guy...

..the production guy...

..about possible work...


so umm...

..i'll call him...


Hey, it's Tony...


this guy sounds intense...




why's he asking so many questions...


Well, I just finished working on an indie...

..what else...


Do you know Dan? Umm. I worked with him...



i didn't know this was going to be an interview...



whatever this is it's not going very well...



i left the stereo on again..

..the receiver...

...just sitting there sucking up money...


Okay, I'll call you on Monday then...

...Thank you...


that wasn't good.

i'm hungry

..i bet i'll forget to call him on monday...



Verdict: Loss

October 7 - The Hardest Working Man In No Business

The alarm went off around 5:45 am.
I reached across the bed for Lauren but she wasn't there.
Still at the hospital.
I hope.

It was dark and dumb.
I called Lauren on the way out the door.
She answered.
Oh good.
She's still alive then.
"..I'm ... -cab- ... - ... soon- ..."
They really are just truly amazing.
I can't wait until they figure out how to get one to work properly.

The History of Modern Communication
by Dr. Tony Mendoza
College Dropout

Before cellphones, telephone conversations were conducted on a contraption known as the telephone.
They were around the size of a comically large prop cellphone and came in a variety of colors.
The telephone we had in our home was yellow.
They stayed inside the home mostly.
What they lacked in portability they made up for in higher fidelity.
The sounds were warmer and clearer.
There was more bass.
You could discern a hard "c" from a "t".
And each vowel had its own unique sound.
When you talked on a telephone, it felt like you were communicating with someone who currently resided on the same planet as you.

Sometime around 9/11 someone invented all of the cellphones.
At first they were only used by assholes and important assholes.
But then it was decided that everyone should be an asshole.
"Cellphones are like assholes.
Everyone's got one."
- CrAZyBItCh, myspace 2005

When Osama bin Laden invented the cellphone, he eliminated all of the bass tones and raised the treble to its highest possible level.
Then he added quirks like random squelching and frequent disconnection.
Sentences spoken into cellphones have become vague puzzles of vowels and consonants that the recipient must decipher while driving or shopping or simultaneously listening to low quality mp3's.
When you talk on a cellphone, it feels like you are miscommunicating with a deaf, shitty astronaut that you may or may not know.

Take a listen to this conversation I heard recently on a bus.

CELLPHONE CONVERSATIONALIST: Wha? I can('t) hear you. You gotta speak up or sumpin'. I said WHA? I CAN('T) HEAR YOU! I CAN('T) HEAR YOU!!!

Now to be fair, this caller had her own personal issues with pronouncing "t"'s in the first place. But that's because she was an asshole.

Don't get me wrong.
Cellphones really are just truly amazing.
Tonight I'm going to watch dog pornography on the toilet while I take a shit and then post about it on Facebook.
All from my cellphone!

But ultimately, as a society we have sacrificed quality of life for convenience.

Verdict for Mankind: Loss

Anyway, we aborted our cellphone conversation.
Lauren thought she would see me briefly.
But I was already in the van.
As I pulled out of the parking space I saw her cab pull up in the distance of the rear view mirror.
So we missed each other.
The good news was that she's okay.
And that she'll be asleep for most of the day.

Luckily for me, today's commercial was for coffee.
My PA pal Ned referred to the shoot as a "tabletop".
"Is there any talent on this?" I asked.
Ned pointed to the coffee maker.
"That's the talent."

It was a little camera.
It used actual film.
The DP put it on a triangular spirograph of adjustable wheels.
"Let's brew it!" said the AD.
The art department pressed the brew button on the coffee maker.
The coffee maker was indeed talented.
The DP panned the camera on a steady arc.
I held its cable for the majority of the day.
And drank coffee like Dave Dudley.

Instead of lunch I went into a back room and napped under a pinball machine.
When the alarm went off I wolfed down a London broil as fast as I could.

The second half of the day dragged.
Coffee stopped working.
For both the shoot and me.
It just went on.
Brew after brew.
The clients hemmed and hawed.
Ultimately they wanted steam.
I wanted dream.
It had to end sometime.
But it never did.

Then it did.
When it did, everyone played ping pong.
I delivered the film to some surly film developers.
They hated film.
The medium had betrayed them.

Back on set it continued to take forever to get out of there.
More ping pong.
I tried to have a dialogue with a producer but it just turned into his monologue followed by a video resume on his laptop.
An endless stream of "cool"s and "that's awesome"s.

I gave Ned a ride home.
It was 8pm.
I was beyond exhausted.
I ate a burrito and lied down for twenty minutes.
Then it was time to go to work.
This time at the bar.

I wrote just to keep myself awake:

Sleep 10 minutes in van

Right now these three obnoxious guys
are making an unwanted racket.

"Oh bartender!
At first I didn't mind them.
But they've had 2 rounds + haven't tipped
Kim once. And they're scre
And they've screamed along to LA WOMAN
in its entirety. They're playing Tom Petty
sloppy pointless pool.
"Oh bartender" – they couldnt find the
cue ball. Kim found it for them.
One of them won the game.
They had a long fierce handshake.
Oh I get it.
They want to fuck each other but feel
like that isn't accepted by society.

Earlier tonight a Bohemian girl with a
burly figure retrieved a T-shirt from her
car – parked just outside the bar window.
She was chop topless.

Another What is it about these guys that's not
working? They seem to be funny – they're laughing –
they're having a good time. Maybe it's the violent
undertones – + the disregard for others –
I guess it comes down to the tip – they didnt tip.
They haven't earned the right to act like they own the place.

For some reason these guys really like
"HANG ON SLOOPY." They're jumping + running
with the cues + having brief stick fights.
The guy w/ the crippling limp wa ssinging akey
in a low the lower regions of offkey.

They just asked me where they could score some blow
in this town. One of them tried to sneak a
beer on the way out.

Kim had to put her dog to sleep.


Verdict: Loss

October 6 - Blisscakes To Piss Aches

What do you do when you're unemployed and it's 10am?
Go out for brunch at m. henrietta!
Man, I ate a pile of blisscakes.
It tasted like spent money.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security called to interview me about my application for unemployment.
The interview went well.
I told the nice lady about my life.
Though I did leave out the part about the blisscakes.
She said everything seemed in order.
I would be receiving unemployment insurance.
Unless something went wrong.
In which case, she'd call me back.
So hooray!
To celebrate, I began to order more blisscakes.

But then the phone rang.
It was Sven the production coordinator.
"Can you work tomorrow?"
Oh no!
Now I'm employed.
I called up m. henrietta and told them to throw away the blisscakes I almost ordered.

In the evening Tom and I travelled down to Studio Greg Studios II for more Nurse Novels mixing.
Tonight we tackled "Little Boy".
I added smooshed Hammond organ glissandos to Tom and Thea's guitar and Korg splats.
We really liked how it turned out.

At midnight Lauren texted me.
She was heading to the emergency room.
Something about blood and urine.
Oh God.

I got there at 1am.
She was waiting.
I waited with her.
It was packed.
Everyone was tired.
Some were sleeping in chairs.
An informercial for male enhancement blared from the dumb TV.
Nobody even noticed.
It went on.

We waited for hours.
It was 3am.
I had to be at work in three hours.
Lauren told me to go home.
I stayed another 15 minutes.
She insisted I go home.
I didn't want to leave her alone with that slutty infomercial.
But I guess I had to.
And so I kissed her good night.

Verdict: Loss

October 5 - The Irish Rover

My friend Pat needed to use my van.
Pat is a Renaissance man.
He's a teacher/masseuse/carpenter/guitarist.
One of the goodest guys I know.

Pat and I used to be in an Irish Americana cover band.
We did pub songs and Johnny Cash rip-em-ups.
Plus the occasional Handsome Family tune.
Pat played guitar and mandolin.
I played a two piece drum kit.
Dan played upright bass.
And Marc played guitar and sang lead.
Marc was the true Irishman.
Born in Ireland.
The accent and everything.
Marc always referred to us as lads.
He gave our fun little combo credibility.

We were called Up Ya Boyo.
It's an Irish expression meaning "I'm drunk and yelling things".
Contrary to what you want it to mean, it does not mean "up your ass".
But thank you.

Every other Saturday night we'd do three sets at Shamrock O'Leprechaun's.
Layers of Guinness would smoothen our goosebumps.
Sometimes the drinks were free.
Sometimes they weren't.
Which was weird.
Nevertheless we'd rowdy up the room with "Sally Mac" and "Drunken Sailor".
For the rebels there was "The Foggy Dew" and "Rock On Rockall".
Then we'd play "Folsom Prison Blues" and "In The Air".
By 2am we were full of stout and loot.
It was a good time.

The last time we played was last Halloween.
You were supposed to go dressed as a song.
I had a hot dog costume laying around that I bought several years ago.
So I arrived as a hot dog.
Like the Elvis song.
Or the Led Zeppelin song.
Nobody knew those songs.
I hate dressing up for Halloween.
But that's another story.

The set was going well.
We had torn through "Whiskey In A Jar" and "Jolly Beggar".
Right before "Jumbo Breakfast" Pat's wife alerted us that cars were being towed from the lot.
The show must not go on.
I launched out of my hot dog costume and ran outside.
It was like The Blob, with people scurrying in all directions to save their cars from the clutches of the fatso tow truck cretins.
But my van was already in their possession.
So I skulked back to the bar.
Everyone had left to retrieve their cars.
There was no one to play for.
It was dumb.

Later, the owner of the bar reluctantly paid for my towing.
Marc had to talk him into it.
Some bills were tossed at me.
I reluctantly thanked him.
I don't know why he was shitty to me.
He shouldn't have ensured us it was safe to park there if it wasn't.

After that gig, Shamrock O'Leprechaun's mysteriously didn't want to have drummers playing in their bar anymore.
Soon after Marc became a father.
Dan moved to Los Angeles to play bass and write comedy for one of the man channels out there.
And so Up Ya Boyo was put into storage.
It's too bad.
I miss it.

In his spare time, Pat built a bar for a friend.
In my spare time, I watch The Flintstones.
In Russia, times spares YOU!

We hauled it out to the burbs in my van.
Pat paid me for my contribution to his small business.
And took me out for burgers at Moody's.

Right now I will take work wherever I can find it.
But it's best when it's with one of the goodest guys I know.

Verdict: Win

October 4 - Living Like Kings/Inbred Kings

It seemed Lauren's bad back bit was not a bit.
She walked around the apartment with a slow, cautious gait.
Like it was her first day as a scarecrow.

I gave her a ride to an audition.

So we went to the hospital.
They took her away.
In the meantime there was a TV and a fish tank.
I watched the fish.
They weren't very entertaining.
They didn't put too much detergent in the aquarium washing machine.
They didn't punch the jukebox with their fins to make it work.
They didn't hang out at a coffee shop with underwater slap bass intro music.
None of the fish were eliminated from contests.
None of the fish had catch phrases.
I don't even think they were real fish.

They gave Lauren some Elvis pills.
We went home, shot guns, played with our monkey, said our back-up singers smelled like catfish, and relaxed with a good nasal douche.
Then we died.

And scene.

The Bitter Tears met tonight at a watering hole off of the Metra tracks.
We discussed the play we have to write, produce and perform for Halloween.
Here are some notes from the first meeting:

Alan - hyper military 1-dimensional panting Rambo
Mike - Elizabeth Taylor - Joan Collin boozy floozer
John - professor w/ pants down
Reid - baby
Tony - Narrator? Dracula? Surfing son?
• human magic skull in couch cushion
• Honeymooners era skull
• talking skull
• skull should have a song
• tiny piano for skull
• skull needs bridge work
• magic power: 3 card monte
• disembowelment
• Harvard -
• Dracula can't kill himself but family can
• big suicide and evisceration at end
• Dracula made his $ off of intellectual property
Professor - Highlights, Ranger Rick, Boys Life, Encyclopedia Brown
Thesis: Camping
I have a doctorate in camping
Ann Rice

It looked to be a fun show.

Verdict: Win

October 3 - Baby Got Back Problems

Lauren threw her back out.
I don't know how.
But she did.

Conveniently, she threw her back out on our friend Jessica's moving day.
So she couldn't help Jess move.
But I sure could.
And I did.

As a thank you, Jessica took me out to eat.
We ate at a restaurant.
And lo and behold, who was our waitress?

Like O.J.!

Too hurt to help Jess move, huh?
But not hurt enough to wait tables!

Couldn't she do both things simultaneously like everybody else in the world?!

Verdict: Win (For Lauren)