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
• VHS
• 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!"
C'mon

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
Oops
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?"
Sure.
I slept in the cab.

Sunrise
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.

Tattoo
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!"
Cool.
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.

Relax
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?"
3'x4'.
"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."
"...THEY DON'T...FOAM CORE...NO...NOT...CAN'T...WON'T...NOT...NO...NEVER..."
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.
Y'know.
Like a vagrant.

Zorked
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.
Or.
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.
Eww.
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.
Ugh.
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.
"Goddammit!"
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."

Jerzy
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.
"What?"
"I said, are you turning around yet?"
Am I turning around yet?
No.
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."
Ohhhh.
Okay.
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."
Wow.
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?
No.
Did I design the new Rose Bowl float for The American Institute of Philanthropy?
No.
Did I inspire millions of people to lose weight through exercise and a sensible, healthy diet?
No.
Did I jump over fourteen school buses on a flaming dirt bike?
No.
Did I catch Osama bin Laden?
No.

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.
"GET ME A BEER!!"
"'EY! THEY GOT A JOOTBOX!"
The first one took a piss.
The other one ordered two fancy beers.
"WHAT IZ THIS?"
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

.....

....

...

..whoiy..


..


...azhaizhah..

..

.whu..

..mambluh...


..m?


..


4:30..


..pm.

...

..

where am I?

...

..

oh..

..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...

..whoa..

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...


..

ugh..


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

...


....

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


..


huh.


i left the stereo on again..


..the receiver...


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



..

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



...Thank you...



..ugh..


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- ..."
Cellphones.
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!
They
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.
IT DOESN'T GET BETTER
IF YOU DON'T COME OUT.

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.

HARDEST WORKING
MAN IN
NO – BUSINESS

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.
Mmmmm.
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?"
"Sure!"
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.
"...BIGGER, LONGER, AND HARDER ERECTIONS..."
Nobody even noticed.
It went on.
"...MORE EXPLOSIVE ORGASMS..."

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.
"...NATURAL HERBAL INGREDIENTS TO PROVIDE REAL PENIS ENLARGEMENT."
She insisted I go home.
I didn't want to leave her alone with that slutty infomercial.
"...A HARDER, LARGER PENIS..."
But I guess I had to.
And so I kissed her good night.
"...THAT PROMOTES SEMEN HEALTH..."

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.
Y'know.
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.
Shitfart.
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.
She nailed the role of SCARECROW WITH CHRONIC BACK PAIN.

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
_________
SMOKE
SPOTLIGHT
SOUND SYSTEM


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?
Lauren!

Caught!
Red-handed!
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)

October 2 - Social Networking Saved My Engagement!

The jeweler needed to know Lauren's ring size.
I didn't know it.
The jeweler suggested I bring in some of her rings.
"Do you know on which fingers she wears these rings?"
Ooh.
No.

Oh.
Umm.
Facebook might.

Fucking Facebook.
That thing.
That vain void.
That waste of time.
That stupid stupid thing.

But hold on.

I've booked shows using Facebook.
I've promoted myself using Facebook.
I've learned things while using Facebook.
And I've shared completely useless information.
On Facebook.

September 24:

...saw a taping of The Price Is Right in 1994. The sliding doors that reveal the big prizes were really loud. I wore a Blues Explosion T-shirt. My then-girlfriend would soon shave her head, disappear to New Mexico for a shaman, and release me from our relationship in a letter. The woman in line behind us won a brand new car.


September 28:

Dumb Ads vs. Small Town News


And from today:

...found a staple in his mouth from snacking.


Ugh.
Why do I do this?
But as easy as it is to hate Facebook, it does serve a purpose.

Today I looked at over 200 of Lauren's Facebook photos.
About nine of them featured her fingers with rings.
I was able to identify the rings I would be taking in to the jeweler.

Facebook sized my girlfriend's engagement ring.
Facebook saved my life.
Facebook is God.

I wonder what God's status updates are like.
Why won't he friend me?

I returned to my favorite alibi, Gene's Sausage.
I brought home an assortment of bratwursts and a bottle of curry ketchup.
I almost got some HP Sauce.
But I'll save that for the next time I visit the jeweler.

Unless there's a way for Facebook to do that for me, too.

Verdict: Win

October 1 - Connection

I worked at the bar last night.
It was annoying.
Six aging frat fucks were drinking a twelve pack of Sam Adams on the sidewalk in front of the bar.
I went out to shoo them away.
"Hey guys, you can't drink in front the bar."
They were loud and fat.
"WELL, THEN WE'LL DRINK AT YOUR BAR!!!"
So they all proceeded to pile into the bar with their Sam Adams in hand.
"Hold on, guys. You can't bring that in here."
"WHADDAYA MEAN?!"
Really?
"You can't bring in outside drinks to a bar."
They thought I was being a Nazi.
One of them tried to get past me.
I had to physically stand in front of him.
"You can't bring that in here."
"WELL, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH IT?!"
I pointed to the end of the block.
He pfft'ed and chugged his Sam Adams a few yards off the property.
One of his friends chimed in.
"They're just trying to have fun."
Yes.
You're right.
I'm the asshole.
Their ID's said they were all from Arizona.
"Where's your gun?" I joked.
They didn't think this was funny.
"I'm just trying to have fun."

All night they kept attempting to sneak beer out onto the street.
Sometimes they were successful.
Usually while I was reading.
Brian became annoyed with me.
"Tony, you gotta look up sometimes!"
I wished I cared.
"Next time," I said unconvincingly.
After a hideous dance flabfest, they finally left.
In the aftermath, I discovered a bunch of bottles on the sidewalk.
Brian said they were "special needs".
So that was annoying.

I got home around 3am.
I woke up at 5am.
Today I was PAing on an insurance commercial.
Sven and Ned from the hockey shoot put me on it.
Thankfully it was mellow.
I mostly sat groggily outside the studio door and made sure no one opened it.

While feigning alertness, an email popped up on my phone.
It was from my friend Sandy.
I hadn't heard from her in thirteen years.
Crazy!

Sandy and I were close friends in high school.
She accompanied me on many of my aimless drives.
Sometimes we drove to forest preserves.
Sometimes we drove to the city.
She indulged me in whatever musical obsession was going on at the time.
Beatles, Who, Stones, Doors, Danzig, Misfits, Elvis, Black Flag, Beastie Boys, Animals, Beatles, Who, Floyd, Misfits, Danzig, Elvis...
I remember she didn't like "Return of the Fly" by The Misfits.
She said it didn't have a good beat.
I tried to convince her to like the song by singing along with it in my little indoors-Danzig head voice, and soon learned this tactic had the opposite effect.
I do remember she liked "Connection" from the Stones' Between The Buttons cassette.
She sang along to the chorus.

Sometimes we hung out and made our own goofy music.
She had just acquired a guitar and learned the Peter Gunn riff.
So we recorded some songs for her sister Carrie.

Oh I should mention.
I was in love with Carrie.
Or as close to what you think love is when you're 15-17.
I chased after her in my dumb weird way the moment she walked into biology class on the first day of sophomore year.
I wrote her notes.
I drew her cartoons.
I did everything but ask her out on a date.
Because I knew the answer would be no.
And it would put an end to the chase.
And hanging out.
And all hope.
15!

For her 16th birthday I tossed a bunch of watermelons off of my garage roof onto a birthday cake while a boombox played a tape of me singing an off-key "Happy Birthday".
Carrie found it peculiarly flattering, but ultimately wasn't wooed.
But they both seemed to accept my dorky, harmless quirks.
I just mostly ended up hanging out with Sandy.

We lost touch around the time I got involved with improv and she got involved with Spain.
Over the years I would occasionally search for her online.
But to no avail.

So when her email popped up today, it woke me up.
She said she had found me through this blog, and offered encouraging words about my writing.
I replied back.

I look forward to catching up with her.
After all, I've gone through a lot of changes.
Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, Who, Beatles, Elvis, Danzig, Misfits...

Verdict: Win

September 30 - Village Colorless Preservation Society

I returned to the jeweler.
They had acquired some diamonds for me to sample.
Oddly there were no goons or henchmen in villain masks present.

The jeweler arranged them on black velvet.
There they were.
Shining at me like pound puppies.
One fat cushion cut.
A long marquise cut that looked like a football on a diet.
Some winking princesses.
Of the eight assembled diamonds, I picked three for callbacks.
Some lovely oval cuts.

We held them with tweezers.
We studied them with a monocle.
We compared them on the Gemological Institute of America diamond clarity grading scale.
From FL (Flawless) to I (Included).
We compared them on a color chart.
From D (Colorless) to M (Faint Yellow).
It took me a minute to figure out that colorless was good.
Unless you wanted a champagne diamond.
I learned a lot.
Though I kept calling refers to points as "counts".
Because it listed its carats as "cts".

I narrowed it down to two oval cut diamonds.
Under the monocle, the jeweler tried to point out their individual microscopic flaws.
I couldn't spot them but pretended I kind of did.

There was some math and science to consider.
VVS2 vs. VVS 1.
G vs. H.
42 vs. 48.
And then the layman's angle to finish.
Is it a good size?
Does it sparkle?
Will she like it?

Ultimately, I picked the best diamond.
I went over budget.
By over twice as much.
But hey.
They offered layaway.
So I had plenty of time to pay it off.

The last time I had heard the term "layaway" was at a Service Merchandise in 1987.
I equated it with "credit".
The two terms are not interchangeable.

But I didn't know any of this yet.
So...

Verdict: Win

September 29 - Illinoy Truffle

Lauren and I went on a day date to the Morton Arboretum.
Turns out the place was huge.
We enjoyed relaxed goofings in a statue garden.

Then we stumbled upon some scarecrows.
They were made by brownies or something.
Some of them were fun.


Most of them were odd.

Only one of them was gory.

One in particular was alarming.
Poor Super Daisy.

Super Daisy's plight made us hungry.
At lunch Lauren asked me what I had planned for tomorrow.
Tomorrow was the appointment to look at engagement ring diamonds.

For the record, I cannot lie.
Also, I like big butts.
And I cannot lie.
I like big butts and I cannot lie.

"I'm going out in the afternoon," I hazily gestured.
"Where are you going?"
Umm.
"I'm just gonna go out."
Oh oh.
I started to smile uncontrollably.
Like a five year old with a secret.
I covered it with a weird mug shot smirk.
Lauren got weirded out.
"Oh no. What's going on? Is it bad?"
"No no!"
I had to think quick.
"I was just planning on doing some birthday shopping, that's all."
Lauren's birthday is in November.
Thankfully, it fell vaguely within the same season we were almost in.
Somehow she bought it.
And I changed the subject as quickly as I could.
"So, remember that one Whitesnake video..."

Then we went to Margie's Candies.
It's an olde tyme ice cream shoppe.
The Beatles ate there last week.
Or maybe it was 1965.
We got hot fudge sundaes and split a vanilla malted.
Just like in the lyrics of "Helter Skelter".

With a hay bale's worth of melting dairy in our bellies, I fought us through rush hour traffic.
Swerving and swearing.
"YOU FUCKING FUCK! UGH! I HATE ALL HUMANS!!"
I was displaying great date behavior.
Though Lauren did concede that most people were being assholes.
Speeding up to not let you change lanes.
Cutting you off.
Holding up traffic to text.
"Everyone's working against each other," she remarked.
Her calm observation of the simple facts helped tame my hate.

By the time we got to Second City I had cooled off enough to give her a real kiss.
She went off to teach comedy writing and I went home to write comedy.

Verdict: Win

September 28 - Any Pain, Any Sore, Any Hair

Sore!
Sore!!
Yesterday's nine hour lunchless 12,000 square ft. paint job made me sore.

I got an oil change.
I cleaned the van.
I got a haircut.
It went well.
I finally got the same barber who gave me that wicked Gene Vincent rockabilly cut last year.
In the middle of the haircut a guy from the street came in and bought a vacuum cleaner.

Sore from errands, I worked on music.
A song about a bunch of jerks at a Houston Oilers bar.
It's a silly throwaway.

Sore from making trite music, I watched Ice Road Truckers.
Coarse kooks with thick brogues hauling heavy loads over the ice before spring returns the road to a lake.
It made me want to visit the end of the world.

Sore from ill-informed romantic ideas about The Arctic, I went to bed.

Verdict: Win

September 27 - Paint It White

Today I painted the floor at Essanay.
Stage 1.
6,000 square feet.
I had a partner.
A Swedish guy.
Ulf.

The floor was black.
They wanted it white.
We started around 9am.
Ulf and I painted in silence.
A guy came in with a boom box.
He turned on B96.
I caught up on pop.
It's the same.

It was 1pm.
It looked like we were going to have to do two coats.
An old guy came in.
"No! No! No!"
He showed us how to paint.
"You make a 'W'!"
I had been painting "X"'s.
Okay.
So a "W".
Fine.
For the rest of the day I alternated between pretending I was in The Warriors and The Wolverines.









Ulf changed the radio station.
"I hate that Euro disco shit."
Oh.
So we had been listening to B96 for hours and we both hated it.
He put on the oldies.
He wanted to hear some Neil Diamond.
Around 5pm they eventually played some.
"Sweet Caroline" of course.
Thankfully Ulf didn't do that obnoxious "so good so good" thing.
I fucking hate that so much.

We had been painting nonstop.
There had been no lunch.
The white paint was dizzying.
It sat in my periphery.
Like being inside an egg.
Mmm, eggs.

Some guys came in to check out our work.
I was far away in the corner.
Ulf and the guys just stared at me.
I put my roller down and waved at them.
"YOU'RE DOIN' A GREAT JOB, DUDE!"
"cool."

We finished.
My black shoes were dotted with white paint.
My only pair of shoes.
Time to go.

Lauren made delicious chili.
I devoured it in time for Monday Night Football.
Bears vs. Packers.
It was an exciting game.
I yelled at the TV with blue collar rage.
"MURDER THOSE FUCKS!!"
"CUT OFF HIS FUCKIN' DICK!!"
"YANK HIS ARM OUT OF ITS SOCKET!!!"
"FUCK HIS SISTER IN THE FACE!!"
"SHIT IN HIS MOUTH!!!"

That paint hate had to go somewhere.

Verdict: Win

September 26 - Bringing It All Back Brown

A big brown breakfast.
Brown brats.
Brown potatoes.
Brown toast.
Brown coffee.
Brown coma.

Actually just a regular coma.
"Brown coma" sounds like I shit myself.

Although I do have a little joke I do with Lauren.
It goes like this:

TONY: How did you sleep?
LAUREN: Like a baby.
TONY: So you shit your pants?

I am always on!
I am a non-stop laugh cannon!
I swear, sometimes I am Robin Williams.
When it comes to zingers, I am an expert marksmen.
If hilarity were a virus, our apartment would be quarantined!
Often I laugh myself right to sleep.

I woke up around 4pm.
I changed my underpants and went out.
(Hilarious immediate callback to the shitting pants joke.)

It was Joanna's birthday.
Ten years ago, Joanna and I used to date.
She was also in my old band.
Now she draws.

A group of us met up at a pizza parlour.
Tom and Thea from Nurse Novels were there, so it was a Sandwich Shop reunion of sorts.
I mentioned that I had begun shopping for an engagement ring.
Suddenly, I was a hero.
People displayed excitement.
They asked questions.
I provided hilarious answers.
They responded with non-stop laughter.
Brown laughter.

Do you get it?
They shit themselves.
I brought it all back to shitting.

Thank you.
Thank you very much.

(Comedy genius.)

Verdict: Win

September 25 - Demons To Diamonds

While Lauren was in class, I rode my bike to Lincoln Square.
There was an "apple fest" or some crap going on.
Kids were everywhere.
And worse, their parents.
I was on their turf.
It sucked.
I locked my bike to a neglected dog and ducked into a jeweler.
They had rings.
The engagement kind.
Oh oh.
I was making a concerted effort toward becoming an adult man.

The jeweler was cool and understood that I knew nothing about rubies or diamonds or adulthood.
She showed me different kinds of diamond cuts.
Round, Princess, Marquise, Pear, Asscher, Cushion, Emerald, Oval.
I liked them.
They all looked very diamondy.

I decided on a band.
A thin "o" bejazzled with goofy sparkles.
It seemed like Lauren.

Vvrip!
Just like that.
I made an appointment for next week to view some diamonds.
"Are you nervous?"
About going back out into that child infested suburb in the city?
Yes.

In case Lauren beat me home, I created an alibi.
Breakfast brats and a couple of plastic 40's of Russian beer.
And that was the rest of my day.

Not exactly racing toward adulthood, but a bit closer than I was when I woke up.

Verdict: Win

September 24 - C'mon, Mom

A pounding on the van window startled me awake.
It was my mom.
I was in her driveway.

I had agreed to take her to the hospital today.
At 7am.
It was 6am.
I had left the bar around 3am and pulled into the driveway at 4am.
I didn't want to wake her up.
So I just slept in the back of the van.

"Okay," I waved.
While I pushed myself up into a new strange day I heard my mom talking to some people.
She was telling one of them to stop filming her with their camera.
I wobbly surfaced from the van.
A group of preteen girls were standing at the end of our dead end street.
I squinted in their direction and headed inside.

"You know if a policeman saw you, you'd be arrested for vagrancy," she scolded.
"I didn't want to wake you up."

My mom's throat was having a little surgery.
Without looking, she handed me a succession of papers.
Insurance forms, notarized legal documents, her will.
"Mom, isn't this a routine procedure?"
She kept going.
She seemed very excited for me.
I would get both the house and the car.
Her voice hopped.
"It only has 38,000 miles on it!"
She continued handing me papers.
Her morbidness was going to make us late.
"Mom, we gotta go."

It was a grey morning.
We were both crabby.
My mom drove us to the hospital like a maniac.
Everyone was her enemy.
Including me it seemed.
"Are you nervous about the operation?"
"No."
Well, I don't know then.

The operation went without incident.
The goofy gas seemed to mellow out my mom.
For as long as goofy gas lasts.

Over lunch we talked.
She mentioned postponing her train trip out west.
"Mom, you've been talking about this trip for years. Why don't you just do it?"
"BECAUSE I HAVE ALL THESE HOSPITAL BILLS!!"
"MOM, YOU'RE HEALTHY!!"

I told her I wish she would stop fixating on death and focus on living.
She keeps talking about how she's going to die soon.
She's not.
She needs to live.
I wish I could convey this to her without it becoming a fucking argument.

Verdict: Loss

September 23 - Cosmo Lauren

So what's Lauren up to?
She's been using her acting skills at the hospital.
Medical students have to correctly diagnose her based on the symptoms assigned to her.
Yes, like the Seinfeld episode.
It's one of the rare instances where acting is actually doing something useful for mankind.

Today she played Doris, a 48 year old pack-a-day smoker with an obstructed bowel.
A bit of a stretch, but hey.
Lauren's a pro.

Apparently, this strange world has its own subculture.
Many of the other actors there were regulars.
A few them made catty criticisms about the aspiring doctors.
"Can you believe he didn't even ask me about my eating habits?"
They all cackled.
Lauren moved further away from them.
These people are going to be doctors!
What the fuck are you doing?

I worked at the bar tonight.
Here's what I wrote:

My triumphant return as a doorman.
Kim & Brian both texted me to make sure I was still working there.
"Just stay alert at the door."
It's a dead night tonight w/ Kim.
Nothing spectacular happened –
A stumbling drunk man in his late 40s labored through the door + asked me if I liked Shakespeare or mumble.
He repeated it.
"I dont know."
He was here for about 5 minutes, bought me + Kim beers, left the change from a $20, and split.
Kim explained that he comes in here about every 2 weeks after getting overly refreshed at all the Polish bars – talks a bunch + then tips beyond generously.
One time he tipped Brian $80.
Brian refused it + put it in an envelope for him to get when he was sober.
A month went by, + he returned, still insisting that was for Brian.
Recently he tipped Kim $40.
"You need a new bike."
She didn't. She has four bikes.
"Well then you want a new Bike."
He thanked me for Being nice to him – though really I was just dead + unemotional toward him.

Verdict: Win

September 22 - Stupor Bowl XVI

I filed for unemployment.
Then Lauren put me to work.
I built two new black nightstands.
She made a dish called Hunter's Chicken.

Then I met my Sad On Vacation pals Sam and Andrew at Carol's Pub.
It's a hillbilly bar in Uptown.
Some white trash hoosiers played competent country tunes.
Sam and Andrew got silly.
I got completely shit-faced.
Around 2am I clumbered home.
I was in a talkative mood.
I talked mostly about 1982 Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson.
I was also in a bitative mood.
So I bit Lauren a bunch.
Then I fell off of the bed.

I am officially unemployed!

Verdict: Win

September 21 - Dole Bananas

Today Mike and Holli dropped by.
Holli lent me her "unemployment computer".
It's a PC.
In Illinois you can't file for unemployment on a Mac.
It keeps all those brainy eggheads off the dole.
All those poindexters with their pocket protectors.
There's plenty of work for all those pencil-necked geeks.
Ever heard of Rent-A-Nerd?

So after we all got loaded on Irish whisky while the laundry waited impatiently in the other apartment complex basement, I was going to file for unemployment.

Verdict: Win

Paper Machete Plug

Today I'm reading an original humor piece at The Paper Machete.
It's about baseball cards.

Also I'll be drumming for Lauren's Andrews Sisters vocal group The Dryells.

The Paper Machete
Saturday, November 13 - 3pm
Ricochet's
4644 N Lincoln - Chicago
Free

September 20 - Dear Lauren

Dear Lauren,

Where are you?
Oh no.
Now I'm home.
But you're not here.
Are you at work?
I don't even know.
I hope so.

That stupid movie gave us a big disconnect.
It was like touring Europe.
If Europe was an endless stream of maggots.
Maggots that captured and devoured your sex organs.
And then someone put on a Matchbox 20 album.

But now I'm back.
I'll probably be around more than you want.
All I want to do is sleep.
And lie down.
And do nothing.
Even though I just came back from doing three whole weeks of nothing.

All I did today was watch The Beatles.
I put them in a machine.
And they sang for me.
I love The Beatles.

Y'know...

...(I love you)

See you when I get home.
I hope.

tony

Verdict: Loss