Rush Limbaugh! The Musical played according to plan sort of. It’s still quite fun to see which lines resonate with the audience and which don’t. It’s never been the same show twice. Only two more left in this run. As Chris Elliot said in the final episode of The Fugitive Guy, “I’ll miss the checks.”
I met Tom and Thea at Greg’s for the final day of recording and mixing of The Nurse Novels debut single. Each song features a guest: Alan played accordion on “War,” Heinz from Civil Servant added pedal steel to “Sea Day,” and Greg joined Alan, providing brass and woodwinds for “Make Me Cry Tonight.”
We mixed until 1am. I think we’ve got a really good first record.
Lower North-South Wacker is under construction and has become a peaceful little ghost town. I thought it would be hell, but now you’ve got the whole thing to yourself, and you can make those U-turns without the fear of nudging your nose out into 50mph oncoming traffic. Let’s hope it stays under construction forever.
My friend Chris asked me to be in his film. Today was the first day of shooting.
I’ve known Chris since the late 90’s when we worked together as tour guides for the Chicago Trolley Company. In 2000, he persuaded me to pick up playing the drums again, something I had abandoned for sketch comedy. When The Annoyance closed for what would turn out to be six years, I eventually gave in and we formed a band with the unfortunate moniker Los Shut Up.
We started out playing dumps like The Big Horse, The Underground Lounge and Phyllis’. One mismatched bill had us following local metal powerhouse Yakuza. They played for over an hour on a Wednesday to a raucous group of fans who banged their heads, while our four friends waited patiently until midnight to hear our gropes at quirky broken indie rock. At one point in the set, I introduced one of our songs in a metal bear voice, which lead to one of the Yakuza guys charging the stage. Thankfully, two out of three of the people that stuck around held him back, and I was saved a lesson in brutality and ultimate evil.
Eventually Los Shut Up played places like Empty Bottle and Schuba’s, once opening for Neil Hamburger. Our stage show was goofy, and we incorporated comedy into the act. Chris pitched a tent on stage and emerged from it like a pigeon. I made a dummy of Jay Leno and smashed his face with a snow shovel filled with Doritos, covering the stage in tortilla chips. Joanna put on a long white wig and portrayed “Old Hickory,” Andrew Jackson. Yeah, I don’t know what we were.
Sometimes Chris’ quirks would drive me crazy. At our rehearsal space, he stored his guitar in a garbage can neck-first. One time we got pulled over in his crazy, cluttered van. The cops called it a dumpster on wheels. And I will still never forget (read: forgive) when Chris couldn’t afford to buy guitar strings because he had spent all his money ordering Beavis and Butthead DVDs off of the television. By 2004, Los Shut Up was no more.
But it was Chris who gave me the confidence, permission and license to write music. Any other band at the time would be wary of letting the drummer contribute songs. Los Shut Up wasn’t. So at 25 I taught myself piano chords on looknohands.com, and began writing little songs like “1993” and “Nothing.” I still write songs and I have Chris to thank for that.
Filming commenced in the back room of a bar on Damen. A small crew of three unpacked the brand new equipment and set up the shot. They were taking things out of boxes and their shipping contents! After some glitches (no headphones for the boom operator, the owner of the bar is kind of a dick, why are there guys loudly sawing bricks right now?) we got down several takes from several angles.
The character is Sandy. He’s kind of a douche. I think my performance was competent. I don’t particularly enjoy being on camera. It puts me in my head. Two more days of shooting.
My plan was to see Nicole’s band Unicycle Loves You. They played a free show at The Cubby Bear, opening for The Raveonettes. I even RSVP’ed to the Red Eye using the subject line “Bud Light.” Unfortunately, the cheese from my sandwich gave me a six hour spell of nausea, and being in Wrigleyville with a piercing bellyache wasn’t part of the plan.
So I stayed in and watched Coal Miner’s Daughter. This might be the best biopic I have ever seen, unless you count Mommie Dearest. As soon as it was over I phoned a Hollywood producer.
For the second morning in a row, I awoke on the couch, my eyes sticky and blurry from having left in my contacts. My neck felt like it had a screwdriver lodged in it.
Another slow day at work. A ten foot tall canvas of a Disney poster went to a frame shop in Highland Park. That was about it. Oh yeah, while doing a bank deposit for a client I overstuffed the transaction capsule and accidentally clogged the suction tube machine. It shut down the only lane of teller traffic. Whoops.
At home I made steak tacos. My caramelized peppers were more along the lines of charred grasshoppers.
While working on a demo, a mouse appeared in the kitchen. I stopped working on music.
Lauren and I were going to watch American Idol together on Skype, but the timing didn’t work out. Siobhan did a great job of singing, but challenged the judges’ observations for the third week in a row. Now it’s become a pattern, and it seems like she’s not listening to constructive criticism. Bummer. I tried to vote for her anyway, but the lines were busy.
An email told me that a Bitter Tears gig in Brussels has been cancelled.
Around 11 I gave up and found a real life bed.
Luckily work was slow. I snuck home at 3pm and watched The T.A.M.I. Show, with one eye on a legendary James Brown performance, the hook-handed drumming of The Barbarians, and the cutting up of hosts Jan and Dean, while the other eye watched my eyelid.
Foggy, I rode my bike to class. It would be an early night: teach and go home for some much needed rest. While locking my bike I saw my friend Mick, founder of The Annoyance. Why was he here on a Monday? The one day the theater is dark? Apparently a kickoff party for the Chicago Improv Festival was happening tonight at The Annoyance. It would not be an early night.
I got surly in class, making generous use of the word “fuck” as an adjective. I do like my class, but sometimes group mind goofiness drives me a little crazy.
After that the students and I made merry at the theater and the CIF festivities. Apparently Tim Meadows was there. For many years he lived on a planet called Saturday Night Live. I mostly hung out at the bar and chatted with my class. Since I had left all my IDs and moneys at home, the students purchased my drinks, obligating me to talk about improv. But we also got to talk about travel, and the Beatle tribute band show I’m directing this summer.
I didn’t get any rest but being at an improv party was like being asleep.