February thru December 2011 - Highs Highs Highs

Last night my friend Mick and I tried to walk into a White Castle.
We are in Louisville visiting our girlfriends.
It was around midnight.
The dining area of the White Castle was closed, but the drive-thru was open.
So we stood in line at the drive thru between a Dodge Neon and a sports car with a bra.
There's a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode about this.
In the episode, Larry is refused service at a Jack-In-The-Box because he is not in a vehicle.
In 1994, I also tried this tactic at a Del Taco in Palm Desert, California.
I was denied tacos for the same reasons.
Knowing this, we decided to stand in line anyway.
After all it was January.

The drive-thru speaker box ignored our salutations.
Meanwhile, another man and woman on foot stood in line behind the car with the bra.
We tried a few more hellos to no avail, and decided to just order at the window.
The Dodge Neon's order was taking forever.
The driver had turned off the engine.
The car with the bra drove up to our heels.
"Did you place your order?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said. "Maybe you guys aren't heavy enough."
I took the compliment.

Our fellow drive-thru pedestrians were also having trouble at the speaker box.
"Did you order?" they asked us.
"No we're going to try the window," we explained as the Neon pulled away.
"Let's be nice," I suggested to Mick, who took the lead.
The teller was laid back.
"I'm not supposed to take walk up orders, but what do you guys need?"
Mick turned on his native Kentucky charm for the White Castle teller.
We needed a crave case.
That's 30 sliders in a box.
A coffin of grey steamed "meat".
We were bringing them back to Freddie's, a bar that never closes.
That's where our friends and girlfriends were.
"You need 30 burgers?"
He paused for dramatic effect.
(The White Castle was on Broadway)
Mick handed him a 20 and we stepped aside.
It was 12:15.
"Did you get to order?" our fellow drive-thru pedestrians probed.
"They'll do it reluctantly," said Mick.
The car with the bra got his food and split.
Thanks to our heroic efforts, our fellow pedestrians were also able to order their food.
They paid and stood a safe distance from us.
A car full of well-dressed, middle-aged black women pulled up.
They pointed at us and laughed.
We began laughing, too.
A woman in the backseat rolled down her window.
"What are you laughing at?!" she joked.
"What are you laughing at?!" we retorted.
The car let out a collective howl and the woman rolled up the window.
Our fellow drive-thru pedestrians were laughing, too.
A woman in the front seat rolled down her window.
"Why didn't you order inside?"
We explained that the inside was closed.
"We had to go through the drive-thru as civilians," I said.
The car laughed again and rolled up the window.
Our fellow pedestrians were now laughing at us.
"Are you guys high?" they asked.
"No, we're drunk."
They seemed disappointed.

A long line had formed.
While the women waited for extra straws and condiments, they continued to roll down their windows to laugh at us.
It was 12:20.
It was cold.
Mick and I were being heckled at a White Castle drive-thru in Louisville, Kentucky.
Like a couple of lost dunk tank clowns.

The women got their extras and one of them waved goodbye.
Our fellow drive-thru pedestrians got their food and wished us luck.
"I can't feel my feet," said Mick.
It was 12:30.
We had been standing outside for half and hour.
Mick's girlfriend Jennifer texted.
"Are you guys okay?"
Lauren texted me, too, but I didn't know that.

Finally, the big bag of boxed "meat" was ready.
Mick awkwardly retrieved it while pinned between the drive-thru window and a mini-van of humorless passengers.
We shivered through the ten minute walk back to Freddie's.
Our girlfriends were happy to see us because we weren't dead.
"That was a long trip to the ATM," Jennifer pointed out.
Oh yeah.
Mick and I had made the decision to get White Castle en route from the ATM, and hadn't bothered to tell anyone else.
"But we got White Castle!" I said Santa Clumsily.
Jennifer is a vegetarian.
Lauren is not, but thinks White Castle tastes like dead buttholes.
My words, not hers.
"Did you get my text?" Lauren asked.
"No," I said.
I checked my phone to see that Lauren had in fact texted me.
"Oh," I noticed.
"Are you okay?" it said.
"Yes, we're okay," I said live and in person. "We got White Castle!"
Someone played crickets on the jukebox.

Only a handful of our friends had lingered.
Mick and I wolfed down a few sliders.
John joined us.
Steve considered, but only ate the pickles that I had removed from my sliders.
"I can't do it," he said, and left soon after.
We ended up giving half the sliders to the bartender.
"I'm sure somebody'll eat these."

The jukebox returned to bad music.
Glee Journey and Will Smith's daughter.
Knob Creek helped burn the White Castle off of my esophagus.
Things are bound to get better.

Verdict for the Rest of 2011: Win

January 2011 - New Lows

January has been an exploration of self-loathing and discovering new lows.
Lauren is in Louisville for a month.
She's staying in a suffocating apartment with windows that look directly into its suffocating Siamese twin.
Without a vehicle, she is anchored in Louisville's ghostly downtown.
It's snowing and cold and no one wants to leave their suffocating apartments.

I'm unemployed or freelance or whatever the fuck you want to call it.
I didn't qualify for the dole.
So for all of January I've stayed inside our own suffocating apartment trying not to spend money.
There hasn't been any work in the world of fucking production bullshit.

Once a week I work at the bar.
I make about $32.
Last week a drunk girl tried to steal one of the ceramic pigs from the bar.
I had to wrestle it out of her drunk-powered clutches.
That was the most honorable thing I've done all month.

The Nurse Novels played Subterranean.
We had to make $300 from the door in order to make any money.
It's a shitty sleazy deal, but we wanted to play a show.
The door generated $304.
I handed out $1 bills to the other three bands.
It was hilariously depressing.
Today I had to cancel our show for next week.
I finally got some work.
But one of the days I'm working is the day of the show.
And right now work trumps artistic aspirations.

The Nurse Novels are dissolving.
It's too bad.
I thought we were a better band than Sandwich Shop.
The songs were better.
Our musicianship had improved.
But I didn't have the energy to get anyone to care.
I spent all that on Sandwich Shop.

So I sit at home.
With Lauren gone, it means a tremendous increase in masturbation.
It feels good.
And then it ends.
And it feels empty.
And I lie there for a while.
Until it dries.
When it's dry it means less materials used cleaning up.
Keep reading.

Over the course of the month, I drank all the bourbon that we had in the liquor cabinet.
So yesterday I bought a bottle of wine.
Yellow Tail is perpetually on sale.
So I got that.
A constantly full glass sat on my nightstand while I instant-watched Office reruns again on Netflix.
I nodded off around 10pm with the lights on and my laptop open.
At 6am I woke up.
The glass was still full from the night before.
I hate to see anything go to waste.
So I decided to finish the glass.
I watched more Office episodes for the fourth time.
I tried watching a documentary about parking lot attendants.
But it was awful.
Self-proclaimed freaks who stayed in a college town too long showing off about how wacky and iconoclastic they are.
Isn't that pretty much what this blog is?
I began to hate myself some more.
And the only way to combat it was to love myself.
Buzzed on sunrise wine, I began to jack off once again.
While reaching for a hotel container of lotion on the nightstand, I accidentally knocked over the glass of wine.
The glass shattered and wine splashed onto the walls.
It stained an enormous Beatles book.
It spilled all over several unframed pictures of Lauren.
Oh no, oh no.
I hobbled in only a hoody to the bathroom.
While getting a handful of toilet paper, I saw my image in the mirror.
My dirty wayward greying hair.
The tape on my glasses.
My chapped lips, stained purple.
A limpening penis shamefully pointing south.
It was 8am.

It would be fun to kill myself.
So these days would end.
I could stop being a failure.
You know what I mean?

But that wouldn't be much fun for anyone else.
Like Lauren.
Or my family.
Or anyone that has given me encouragement about whatever it is I do.

So I won't kill myself.
But I don't know what else there is to do this month.

Verdict: Loss

The Night The Music Got Killed

My friend Ray Mees' show opens tonight at The Annoyance.
It's about Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, but mostly about The Big Bopper and how he drove Buddy and Ritchie to kill him with his annoying fucking novelty songs.

I did the music for the show with some help from Tom & Thea of The Nurse Novels.
Look for lots of one minute imitations of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, The Everly Brothers, Bobby Darin, and fellow air crash perishee Patsy Cline.

It runs until February 17.
Check it out.

November 9 - An Orangic Day

I was the first to arrive at Stage 2.
A dark pungent odor permeated.
It smelled like old flies.
Sven walked in.
He grimaced and gagged and handed me $150.
"Get some candles."

A supermarket serving the upper Midwest and Mid-Atlantic was having a commercial.
It would shoot tomorrow.
They had shipped over a dozen of their own turkeys.
The turkeys had all gone bad.
So the mystery stench was rotten meat.

I bought $100 worth of organic, gluten-free, cage-free, free-range, locally grown, homeopathic, organtic, environmentally ouchless EcoCandles from Whole Foods.
Those three candles did the trick.
The rotten meat now smelled healthy, the way rotten meat used to smell.
The candles also:
• rescued six kakapos from the endangered species list
• saved a rain forest in Papua New Guinea
• cleaned four pelicans from the BP oil spill
This gave us all peace of mind as we watched Cabrini Green's final demolition from the safety of our condo balcony.

The rest of the day was spent helping the food stylists prepare twelve new turkeys for tomorrow's shoot.
These turkeys were purchased at a local supermarket in town.
But do not tell the clients about this.
In fact, get rid of all materials that bear the logo of the local supermarket.

Each turkey was placed into a plastic tub filled with water.
Then I dumped the tub's salmonella water in the parking lot.
It was a really nice day.
Sunny and mild.
It was so nice, we decided to eat lunch outside.
Right by the puddles of salmonella.
Nobody noticed it smelling like salmonella.
It was like the day was organic.
And we were cage free.
Like a condo.

Verdict: Win

November 8 - It's A Nice Day To Start Again

My mom called.
She just wanted to ask me a question.
Were we planning on having a Wiccan wedding?
I laughed.
But she was being serious.
I sighed.
No, Mom.
We're not having a Wiccan wedding.

Verdict: Loss

November 7 - Penis-Chins & The Laws Of Unconditional Love

Lauren and I met my mom for dinner and a show.
We went to Twin Anchors in Old Town.
Sinatra used to swing there, Charley.
It was the end, a real gasser.
Platinum pussycats and ripe tomatoes.
Though the twirls said it wasn't their bag.
Dig that sign: NO DANCING.
"We're Scramsville. I think it's going to rain in this clam-bake."
Those dames were nowhere, Sam.
A couple of hacked off mish-mashes.
I didn't like their clyde.
Send a hunker for some gasoline.

Lauren showed my mom the ring.
For a brief moment I was an adult in her eyes.
Over barbeque, we told her the engagement story.
Mom wanted to talk about the wedding.
And our plans.

All we knew was this:
October 2011
Door County
Stave church

Mom explained to us that we were going to need things like a marriage license, and witnesses, and files and documents and-
I told her that we knew this already.
Mom wanted me to be stressed out about it.
So for her sake, I decided that now would be the best time to start getting stressed out about what is traditionally supposed to be the happiest day of my life.

We went to see Lauren perform on the Second City Mainstage in Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies.
She was going in for our friend Allison Bills.
Lauren's a pro.
She always is.
She killed it.
During intermission, I showed my mom a photo of the stave church in Door County.
Then my friend Joe approached me about a video project he was working on.
A lampoon of the improv scene in Chicago.
He asked if I would like to play the leader of a Wiccan improv troupe.
I laughed and said it sounded fun.
My mom took mental notes.

The improv set was ba-luuue.
Feces and fucking were discussed.
Bestiality was touched upon.
Plus a tour de force about a man with a penis on his chin.
The penis-chin was masturbated frequently by the cast, and sung about.
Lauren did her best to lay low during this.
Oddly, I didn't hear my mom laugh too much during the set.
Afterward, Julie the musical director apologized to my mom for the blueness of the set.
My mom thanked her for apologizing.

Mom still loves us.
She may not get who we are.
Getting married in a big black evil knife.
She might think we're still children.
Laughing at penis-chins.
But the laws in her head say she is required to love us.
And she obeys the law.

Verdict: Win

November 6 - Friendly

The Paper Machete Choristers returned to the stage today.
The stage being a corner of a bar.
Sam, John, the two Dans and I sang and snapped to "And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine" while Chris riffed over it.
"And the cabbage wasn't hay...it was sauerkraut!"

I am a fan and supporter of this program.
It's dangerous though.
It's in a bar.
Often times by the end of it I'm a bit loaded.
Though I prefer the term friendly.

Most attendees to the Machete tend to split immediately after the show.
Not me.
I stick around.
Because it's in a bar.
And I'm feeling friendly.

Chris, also feeling friendly, asked me if I would like to read next week.
I happily agreed.
I'm glad he was feeling friendly enough to give me another shot after my disastrous debut this summer.

Chris left, but I stuck around the bar even longer.
To research the news with all the friends I didn't know.
Apparently some nuns auctioned off a Honus Wagner tobacco card.
I decided to write about that.

I came home around 8 to an empty apartment.
Lauren was understudying on the Second City Mainstage.
All that friendliness had exhausted me.
I don't remember falling asleep.
But I immediately did.
Around 2, Lauren came home.
She bounced around the apartment in her jacket.
She giggled and wilted.
And sprang.
Apparently, she was feeling very friendly.
By then I wasn't feeling as friendly, but acknowledged her laughter with some of my own.

I wonder if this is how Steve & Eydie do it.

Verdict: Win

November 5 - Revisiting My Childhood Obsession with Late Night with David Letterman

Today I watched a tape of Kamarr the Discount Magician from the old Letterman show.

I guess you should know this about me:
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Late Night with David Letterman.
It began in the summer of 1986 when I asked my dad what was on after Johnny Carson.
It was like asking what planet came after Pluto.
The vast unknown.
My dad liked Letterman so he let me stay up to watch it.
I was eleven.
And was immediately hooked.
I watched Dave drop turkeys off of the five-story tower in New Rochelle, goof and flirt with Riquette and her international beauty secrets, make fun of GE, and banter with Paul Shaffer about how the show wasn't going very well and how cranky he was as a host.
I enjoyed the first segment comedy pieces the most.
Dumb Ads, Small Town News, Supermarket Finds, Dave's Record Collection, New Gift Items, The Super Slo-Mo Experiments.
I taped these segments every night on our then-new VCR.
When the new school year started, my parents miraculously still let me stay up to watch the show.
As long as I kept my grades up.
And so I did.
That year I dressed like David Letterman for Halloween.
I couldn't get my hair like his, but who could.
I taped pictures of Dave to my school desk.
The margins of my notes were crammed with doodles of Dave and Paul.
I wrote letters to 30 Rockefeller Plaza - Room 1410W, hoping they'd be read on Viewer Mail.
They never were.
But I swear that one of my letters was actually shown on the show.
In the fall of 1986, I mailed a letter to Late Night.
As a gag, I taped it up heavily, like a mummy.
This would get their attention, I thought.
That Thursday during Viewer Mail, Dave visited with Flunky, the Late Night Viewer Mail Clown.
Flunky was writer Jeff Martin, chain-smoking in a purple and yellow onesy and full clown make-up, pre-dating Krusty by a few years.
Dave asked Flunky how to get a letter read on the show.
Flunky suggested including a nude Polaroid.
Then he said he was looking for a letter that was easy to open.
He held up an envelope covered in tape.
"This one's all taped up. Forget it."
I was very certain that that was the letter I had sent them that week.

I could go on and on about my peculiar preteen devotion to David Letterman.
So I will.

In 1987 my Mom scored a giant Philco TV box from Fretter.
We covered it in dark brown wood grain contact paper.
This became my David Letterman desk.
I set it up in my room with two patio chairs.
I took down the curtains behind the desk.
Instead of a fake skyline of New York behind a fake set of windows, my backdrop was a real suburban townhome community behind a real window.
I kept the Late Night set in my room until one creepy night.

The phone rang.
It was a guy from Denver who said he was conducting a survey.
If I answered his questions I would get $50.
I was still eleven, and $50 sounded great.
His questions started off routine.
Age, height, weight.
Then he began asking me more personal questions.
Questions about erections.
It was weird, but I was focused on that $50.
$50 could get another set piece for my David Letterman village.
So I moved the phone call to my room.
"Who are you talking to?" my parents asked.
"It's a survey," I quipped as I galloped upstairs with dollar signs in my eyes.
I sat in the host chair overlooking the communal backyard, and continued answering questions about erections with the man from Denver.
He asked me how big my erections got.
I didn't know yet.
I hadn't started measuring.
He asked me if I played with myself.
I actually hadn't started doing that either.
I watched Late Night.
That's what I did.
He asked me to put my thumb in my mouth and talk.
So I tried that out.
$50, $50.
It felt weird.
He wanted me to talk some more.
I took my thumb out of my mouth and talked like it was still in there.
"Wha' 'bou' da fiffy dowwuhs?" I asked.
My dad picked up the downstairs phone.
"Who are you talking to?" he demanded.
The man from "Denver" hung up.
There would be no $50.
I felt beyond stupid.
My parents raced upstairs to find me sitting ashamed in my David Letterman chair.
They immediately hung the curtains back up.
I kept telling them it was for $50.
I felt beyond stupid.
There was nothing else that could be done.
I don't remember who was the guest or what the comedy segment was that night on Late Night.
I felt beyond stupid.

I'd rather not end on that humiliating and admittedly uncomfortable read.
So let's keep going.

I wasn't going to let some successful pedophile ruin my Late Night fun.
So a few weeks later, I moved the Letterman set down to our unfinished basement.
It was roomier there, like a real set.
My friend Matt had a video camera.
On institute days we made our own Letterman shows.
I was Dave.
Matt was an off-camera Paul and played our guest Marv Albert.
We shot suction cup darts at the camera.
We made a confetti cannon using a blow dryer and a poster tube.
We threw things out of his second story bedroom window.
Inspired by the Sky-Cam, Thrill-Cam and Monkey-Cam, we created the Skate-Cam, Bike-Cam, Oven-Cam, Record Player-Cam (which went up to 78), Fridge-Cam, and the gross and misguided Spit-Cam.

I will say, this is probably one of the happiest times in my life.
Soon I would be 12.
And then 13.
And then it would all be over.

I don't know if it's cool to watch an old grainy VHS tape of Kamarr the Discount Magician when I'm 35 and unemployed.
But at least nobody got orally auto-raped over the phone.
That I know of.

Here's some more Letterman fun:

Verdict: Win

Don Kirshner - The Paper Machete

Hey Don Kirshner died this week.
I'll be reading about it at The Paper Machete this Saturday.
It's free as usual and always and forever.

Man, 2010 is dragging.

Nurse Novels Tonight at Subterranean

Here are some new songs we will bring to your heart tonight:
Carnie's Gone
Money Man

And some old songs for your liver:
Sea Day
My Fucken Family

Tonight, January 18, 2011
2011 W North Ave
Doors 7:30pm
Music 8pm

November 4 - Nurse Novels Live & Unlogged

Not too long ago, John from The Bitter Tears gave me a CD-R.
It was a recording of the first Nurse Novels show.
We played at Quenchers back in March.
According to the blog post for that day, "it was a great night".
According to the recording from that night, it was not.
I cringed a lot while skimming through its portions.
Under-rehearsed, no set list, no sound check.
I ejected it dejected.

So tonight we returned to Quenchers.
It was a better night.
People liked our banter.
Thea and I do this "fun" thing where we kind of bicker at each other.
I'll say something like, "This song is about a guy who feels guilty about breaking up and thinks it's his fault, but really it's not his fault."
Then she'll shake her head and say something like, "No, it was his fault."
Or she'll stand in front of me while I'm telling a story (because I am Ray Davies), and I'll say, "Hey! You're blocking my story!"
And she'll say something like, "Oh, I didn't know this was story time."
Stuff like that.

See, we used to date.
Like five years ago.
It didn't end very well.
I think she even kept a blog about it.
It's taken about four years for us to be cool again.
Still, old petty nonsense likes to creep in now and then.
That and musical codependence.

So yeah we had fun about that.
Like I said I think it was a better night.
I hope nobody recorded it.

Verdict: Win

November 3 - Work In Progress

A line had formed outside the unemployment office.
The weather was being grey and grimy.
I joined the line.
We all waited for the office to open.
Some people made universal jokes that aren't really funny.
You know, jokes about coffee or whatever.
Prodding you into conversation.
I did my best to not be an asshole.
Nodding, half-smiling, yeahing.
One guy started boasting about his time in the service.
He was in his forties maybe.
A kid in his early twenties played his lapdog.
"Did you ever have to use your gun?"
"Oh sure!"
The boastful man elaborated on his gunsmanship.
He spoke fondly of all the kills he created.
I can't remember if he said he knew Rambo.
Or maybe they were just Facebook friends.
For entertainment, we all watched the security guard scream at people who dared to park in the parking lot of the unemployment office.
He seemed to really hate his job.
A human NO PARKING sign.
I suppose they could just get an actual NO PARKING sign.
And then the man wouldn't be so miserable.
But he'd be unemployed.
And that would mean more paperwork.
And unfavorable statistics.
Best to just leave things be.

The doors finally opened and we all shuffled in.
This time my number was 13.
By the time I sat down and opened my book, they had called my number.
A fast-talking man ushered me to a nice, distracted woman at a shabby desk.
The fluorescent light accentuated her guidance counselor wrinkles.
She handed me some appeal forms and told me to keep filing.
"There's nothing wrong with switching careers," she encouraged.

Ironically, I did work tonight.
With Kim at the bar.
But it was dead.
We closed early.
I think I made $28.

After hours, Kim told me the story of the bar.
It is owned by two brothers.
Their parents originally owned it.
They all lived in a house next door.
One night while the father was bartending, a man robbed the bar.
He shot the father.
His son watched through a peephole on the back door.
He was in his early teens.
The father died.

They continued on, staying in the house next door.
When the mother passed on years later, they sold the house.
It was torn down and replaced it with condos.
The brother who didn't witness his father's murder moved away.
He works at the bar once or twice a week.
The brother who watched his father get shot and killed lives in the room above the bar.
I've never met him.
But he's always there.
Six nights a week an old high school friend of theirs comes in, usually carrying a plastic bag of take out.
He never drinks or hangs out.
He goes directly to the back room and plays video games in solitude.
Six nights a week he sleeps there.
I guess that's why it's called an inn.

While the neighborhood around it has changed, this bar has remained the same.
It's one of the last few relics of Old Chicago in Wicker Park.
Or Real Chicago if you prefer.
There's still a bullet hole in the door.
It's not on any of the jokey gangster tours.
Maybe because this bullet hole actually means something.

I can't live off of $28 per week.
And I'm not sure if the bar can live off of closing early all the time.
But I like it there.

Verdict: Win

November 2 - D'oh(le)

Discouraged by yesterday's visit to the actual unemployment office, today I tried to contact them on the phone.
Yes, on the phone.
What on earth was I thinking?
After several thousands of minutes of automated redirecting, I was ultimately transferred to a voicemail mailbox.
The mailbox was full.
It was around 10am, which meant that going to the office would take the rest of the day.
I decided to remain unemployed without insurance for another day.

Verdict: Loss

November 1 - Push Pull

A letter arrived in the mail.
It was from Illinois the state.
They said I was ineligible for unemployment.
I disagreed.
So after a few hundred hours on the internet, I finally found an actual street address for the office of unemployment.

I went down there.
And I stood in line.
And waited.
There are two types of people in an unemployment line.
Quiet ones and loud ones.
The loud ones yell a lot using their buttholes.
I mean mouths.
The quiet ones have nothing else to do but listen.
While waiting in line, one guy got into an argument with a security guard about a door.
He yelled with his butthole that the door should be a PULL door.
The security guard yelled that it was a PUSH door.
They both had loud buttholes.
Mouths, mouths.
Anyway, the quiet ones listened.
And looked.
There was nothing else to do.

A tired looking man stood at the end of the line.
You tell him your story, he gives you a number.
Everyone within earshot listens to your story.
There is nothing else to do.
I told him my story.
He gave me a number.
He told me to have a seat.

The seating area was like a laundromat of broken dreams.
People waiting complacently for their failure to finish drying.
The number counter said 69.
I would be here for a while.
It was surprising to see how many people didn't bring anything to read.
Like me.
So I stared at nothing like you do on public transportation.
Meanwhile a loud guy started talking at a quiet woman.
He was bronze and windburnt like Gordon Ramsey on a gummy penny.
She was an Asian woman with nothing else to do.
He talked at her about her Asianness.
He tried to guess which type of Asian she was.
Korean she said.
He started talking about Korean food.
Then Chinese food.
And the differences.
He recited the Chinese words he knew.
She said Korean was different.
He asked her to speak Korean.
She obliged.
He listened and made comparisons with his butthole.
I mean mouth.
Then he started talking about acting.
He had worked on an independent film and-
Oh no.
Now it was like being at an audition.
Which was even worse than unemployment.
The number counter said 71.
I left.
And would remain unemployed without insurance for another day.

Verdict: Loss

October 31 - The Thirty-First Of October

Here's a Halloween-styled joke for you:
What do you get when you goose a ghost?
A handful of sheet.

Today The Nurse Novels had band practice.
We did not dress up.
Therefore we practiced naked.
It's our stand against Halloween.

Back at home nobody came by the apartment to trick or to treat.
We'll have 100 Grand bars until Christmas.

Verdict: Win

October 30 - The Magic Skull

Tonight was the opening and closing for The Bitter Tears original theatrical production of The Magic Skull.

Around noon, we convened in a basement for tech rehearsal.
Holli acted as stage manager with a laptop and sound cues of various origin.
It felt weird to run through the show without drinking.

At 3pm I joined in a chorus for The Paper Machete.
Myself, John from My My My, Dan the details writer at Groupon, and newly transplanted Alabama-transplant Sam provided a chorus for host Christopher Piatt's version of "Her Tears Flowed Like Wine".

For dress rehearsal, The Bitter Tears reconvened at Saki, a record store run by Carrot Top Records, located in the lungs of Chicago's Logan Square.
Again, it just didn't feel right to perform theater without drinking.
So we obtained drinks.

Meanwhile, Bob Dey's Tank Engine Man took the stage and took it well.
They began with a goofy seance that summoned the ghost of ELO to play their instruments for them.
"Or Can," someone also said.
I do like when bands like melody.
And when the ghosts they summon like melody, too.

Then it was time for the world premiere of The Magic Skull: A Play In Three Acts.
Everyone had enough drinking to get into their actor zone.
Holli ran sound while I ran the lights.
The light board consisted of four light switches on the wall.
The kind you might find in every home in the world.
Then it was act three, my grand return to the stage.
In a record store.

I felt the lights.
I felt the liquor.
I felt the magic.
I fucked up my song.
But only my fellow actors noticed.
We received a standing ovation because there were no chairs.
It felt good to be great again.

In all sincerity,
my amazing readers, my adoring fans, my Mendozkateers:
There's No Business Like Show Business.
Thank You Very Much.
God Bless The United States Of America.
And May Gold Bless You The Way He Has Blessed Me.

Here is saki's review of the show.
Here is my review of the show.
Here is the show.

Verdict: Win

Nurse Novels Get Out Of The House

Louisville was snowing and I was broke.
Somehow I succeeded in being unproductive.
But we found Colonel Sanders grave.
So there's that.

My stay-at-home band The Nurse Novels will be leaving the house this week.

Saturday, January 15, 2011
We will provide music and smiles for The Paper Machete.
It's a salon in a saloon.
An original song written specially for the show will be performed.
By us.

The Paper Machete
4644 N Lincoln, Chicago

"What about Tuesday, January 18, 2011?" you might ask.
You would ask that.

Next Tuesday we are playing a show inside of a rock club.
Somebody named the club Subterranean.
We will be playing on the second floor, which is technically superterranean.
It looks to be an interesting bill.

• Our pal Transmontane from the PRF will open the evening with his guitar and his mouth.
• Followed by Thea's bluegrass band. Last year they provided the music for The New Colony Theater's production of That Sordid Little Story. Right now they are tentatively calling themselves The Family Gun.
• Then Elvisbride will take the stage. Like Thea's bluegrass outfit, Elvisbride says:
"We are a band that was a play and is now a band"
This septet of thespian gypsies features our very own Tom Vale on drums.
• Nurse Novels close the evening.
Half of the band is moving in a couple of months.
We only have a few more shows left.

So please come.
This is me promoting it.

The Nurse Novels
The Family Gun

Tuesday, January 18, 2011 8pm
2011 W North Ave

October 29 - Stupid Fiancé Tricks

Lauren's fingers are not much thicker than her finger bones.
Her phalanges if you will.
But no thank you.
I won't.
"Phalanges" sounds too much like "phallus angina".
Or "Challenger phallus".
Or "phailure vagina".
So finger bones.

The diamonder and Facebook and I estimated her ring size at 4 ½.
This is the size of a diminutive witch's finger.
But we were wrong.
She's like a 3 ⅞.
The size of a diminutive witch's assistant's finger.
So the ring's been with the diamondist all week getting shrunken down.
Yesterday I received word that it was ready.

I got home around 8am from the overnight snowboarding shoot.
The diamond shop would open at 10:30.
I woke up Lauren.
We watched the season finale of Project Runway.
I drank a bottle of wine.
I yelled at the television.
The results were not to my liking.
But the wine helped put things in perspective.
".. • ¡MONDooo! 〪〫• .. Gʁet©hen ¿! 〪•〬 ♫ Andyyy♪☕.."

Lauren drove her dumb fiancé to the diamond mart.
The sun was being all gay and shiny.
Like it doesn't get enough attention already.
He squinted and scowled.
It was a Friday mid-day in Lincoln Square.
The professional mommies prowled Lincoln Avenue with their strollers.
Lauren's dumb fiancé yelled about them.
"Look at meee! I married a lawyer and we had sex! Congratulations to meee!!"
He riffed on the fumes of this bit.
Lauren pointed out that some of their friends were "these people".
"Yeah, but they're not like that!" he countered.
He knew he was being a jerk but was too loaded to figure out how to stop being one.

Lauren and her dumb fiancé entered the diamonderia.
He left his sunglasses on.
His cheap women's supermarket sunglasses.
He grinned a bunch.
His lips were stained purple.
He wobbled.
This was not the same man who had purchased the ring.

Lauren was happy to get it back.
It almost fit.
Still a little too loose.
Maybe she's a 2⅚.
The size of a diminutive witch's ventriloquist doll's finger.

Oh no.
Maybe that's what Lauren will do.
Make a ventriloquist doll of me.
And use it to punish me when I get drunk like this.
She'll chase me around the apartment with it, having it point out my faults and failures, maniacally humming Jan & Dean songs, hatching little ventriloquist doll babies with little strollers to push around Lincoln Square, and then a 40 foot tall ventriloquist doll version of me will drunkenly mock me from a UFO shaped like an $8 bottle of wine, which will hover above and piss red on me until I drown, and...

sleep for 16 hours.

Verdict: Loss

October 28 - Night Of The Living Snowboarders Seen Through The Eyes Of A Washed Up Has-Been Who Never Was A Been

It would be an overnight shoot.
Kind of like a sleepover.
Or what was that movie where the kids stayed overnight at a museum?
The Mummy's Nightmare or some shit.
So it's like The Mummy's Nightmare, only it's at a sporting goods store.
That and you can't actually sleep.
It's not like a real sleepover or anything.
Besides, I don't think those museum kids got any sleep running from all those mummies and shit.
And what would be the point of filming a commercial if everyone was asleep?
What did I just say?
Let me repeat what I wrote and see.
What would be the point of filming a commercial...
...if everyone was asleep.
Let me try that again.
What would be the point...
...of filming a commerical...
It's somewhere over here in this part of the sentence.
It feels like there's some sort of deeper meaning.
Hold on, just let me repeat this part again...
...what would be the point of filming a commercial...
There's gotta be something there.
I just can't figure out what it is.

The assistant director that I had worked with in pre-production had left and replaced himself with another guy.
And he selected another PA to be his go-to guy.
So I spent most of the night wandering around aimlessly looking for something or nothing to do.
With an errant tennis ball, I wedged the loading dock door open to keep the alarm from going off.
That killed 4 seconds.
I opened a jar for the craft services lady.
She commented on how messily I had opened it.
Those two events consumed 17 seconds.
Mostly I hung around production, in hopes they would send me on a run.
There was a long shot that a printer ink cartridge would be needed.
I spent close to an hour calling all of the Walgreens and Meijers and Targets and Walmarts in the area, looking for this rare cartridge.
No one had it.
But I felt almost useful for close to an hour.

When useless, I bullshat with Holli and Reid and Karisa.
A regular from the bar whose name I can never remember was also on this job.
I had many connections here from my actual life.
But it all felt generally uncomfortable.

The snowboarders were young and laughy.
I guess that's what they do for a living.
It didn't make sense to me.
Nothing did.
They sent me out for coffee.
That made sense.
Two vanilla coolatas.
That did not make sense.
I got the two vanilla coolatas.
Nobody drank them.
Nothing made sense.
Hitler, 9/11, and Will Smith made more sense than this.

No, I'm wrong.
Snowboarding is totally fresh.
Same with sporting goods products.
And vanilla coolatas.

Verdict: Loss


As you can see, it's The Year 2011.
One of those science fictional years no one writes about.

It's 2:19am specifically.
Another slow night at the bar.
Kim closed it up early.
I rode my bike home.
I'm determined to combat this softness that's been squatting on me lately.
I don't think unemployment is my thing.
Especially when I'm not getting unemployment checks.

Another biker and I kept leap frogging up Damen.
He had a Dynamex messenger bag.
We ended up conversing for a few miles.
It seems he had to quit messengering, too.
He's rickshawing these days.
I guess we're all figuring it out.

I leave for Louisville later "today".
Lauren's out there with Second City for a month.
Basically they come to your town and make fun of it.
It's a good gig.
It'll be champagne to get out of here for a few days.
I had hoped to lay low and catch up on this back logged loser diary.
But who knows.
Maybe it'll just be an endless stream of bourbon, Slint and hot browns.
I don't even like Slint.

October 27 - Of No Use

The van is beginning to show its age.
It runs a little louder.
It's lost its pickup.
The A/C doesn't work.
The power steering also hasn't worked in years.
And there's still a huge bashed-in dent on the tailgate.
One morning in 2007 I awoke to discover that dent.
Some overnight hit & run.
I looked into fixing this stuff.
If I ever run into an extra several thousand dollars, I will.

Today when I picked up the executive producer the sliding door wouldn't close.
I had to get out and shove it shut.
He pretended like it was okay and I pretended to be embarrassed about it.

When I dropped them off, I made a nutty maneuver around some construction horses by the hotel lobby, instead of sitting in ten more minutes of traffic.
The director made a comment about the maneuver.
"Is that how you got that dent in the back?" he poked.
"No, I woke up to that," I said.
He made a joke about me living in the van.
It got a big laugh.
I had to eat that one.
It was well-timed.

Back at the office, I handed the production coordinator the detailed floor plan I had drawn for the day of the shoot, as per the assistant director's instructions.
It looked tidy and organized and well thought out.
She made a face.
A snobby valley girl "okayyy?" face.
"Okayy?" she eye-rolled, and set it very aside.
She was right.
I am a fucking idiot for even trying.

On the call sheet, I saw my friend Karisa listed as talent on the job.
Karisa took my class at Annoyance a couple of years ago.
I cast her in Death Roast, a show I Barbara Streisanded at The Annoyance.
She was also a contestant this year on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
Oh good.
She'll get to see what I've been up to lately.
Getting coffee.
Cleaning tables.
Handling garbage.

Today was the pre-production meeting.
It seems like everyone hates these.
Basically, the ad agency people and the clients meet with the producers and the director to discuss the commercial.
The producer has to make everyone happy.
This means I have to buy the good napkins at Whole Foods.
So I did.
I bought the good napkins and the good cheeses and brought them to the sporting goods store.

I don't think the producer likes me.
For some reason I'm not doing anything right.
Here's the thing.
I am doing it right.
I'm just not doing it with the eagerness of a 23 year old who lives to work in the industry.

After I set up the good cheeses and the good napkins, she cordially booted me out of the pre-production meeting.
I sat on a bench and wrote like a 14 year old who lives to stay 14 when he's 35.

God I feel awake. The bad awake.
The coffee-induced anxiety + mild nervous
butterflies in the stomach kind of awake.
I've been shuttling the director + executive
producer. T
It's windier than hell - 50 mph winds -
too windy to roll down the windows.
So they baked in the sun magnified thru
through the van windows. No A/C.
The passenger side door doesnt work.
These people expect the best.
When it's not the best, it's quiet.
Lots of quirks.
Dont buy water made by Coke or Pepsi.
Must eat at Panera Bread Co.
I got lost yesterday with people following
"Where did you take us?" she asked.
The producer.
I cant tell if she likes me or hates me.
Probably both. F I used to have a higher
vertical leap.

People make jokes about me sleeping
in the van.
The half-truth hurts.
I miss being able to nap on the job.
I'm just sitting here outside on a
lacquered lump of log outside the
conference room where 15 people
have gathered to talk about negotiate
this commercial.
Tonight I have to man the door at the
BAR. I wish I werent broke again.

I can't believe they're playing "29 Palms"
on the radio. I heard obscure Byrds
here yesterday. Oh + "Boom Boom" by...

I clearly had nothing to say.
So I went to the bathroom.
The producer texted me.

Verdict: Loss

October 26 - Of Use

It rained in lumps and punches.
The wind bullied our ugly city.
Everyone was late.
Holli took shelter in my van.
She and I would be working on another job together.
A commercial about snowboarding and sporting goods.

Today I helped with the location scout.
I met the producer, the director, and some other people at a sporting goods store in the suburbs.
While there, I saw Reid.
He was on this job, too.

Because I declared that I'm an excellent locations PA, everyone followed me to the Panera Bread Co for lunch.
Good thing I got lost.
It started with a no left turn sign out of the mall next to Woodfield Mall.
It continued when I lost my bearings because everything around Woodfield Mall looks exactly the same.
At the Panera, the producer made fun of me about it and had me order her an Arnold Palmer.
Good thing I didn't look up what that was on my smart phone.
Thankfully the girl behind the counter seemed know.
Half iced tea, half lemonade.
Now I can say that I'm an excellent drink orders PA.

I picked up the gaffer from the airport.
His handshake felt like a rope.
He smoked Marlboros.
He was from New Orleans.
His accent and pleasant demeanor made it feel like vacation.

The assistant director told me how things would work on the day of the shoot.
"We'll put a small craft services here. We'll pull out these racks and set up the D-chairs for our video village. Make sure this aisle is clear..."
I wrote it all down and turned it into a floor plan.
Look at me!
Of use!

Then it was time for Bitter Tears play practice.
While there, I saw Reid.
He was in this show, too.
We drank to help us with our acting and our lines.

Verdict: Win

October 25 - Dragon's Lure

From 1983-85, and from 1985-present, my favorite video game has been Dragon's Lair.
For the record, video games haven't been a very big part of my life.
I've owned an Atari 2600 and a Nintendo.
In early 1990, someone broke into our home and stole the Nintendo.
It put an end to my interest in video games.

I would like to take this time to thank that burglar (still at large).
He helped me avoid one form of arrested development.
If only he had also stolen my interest in performing.

Dragon's Lair ruled.
It was that cartoon game.
Disney ex-pat Don Bluth did it.
Ricky Stratton had one on Silver Spoons.
They also had one at the 7-Eleven on Addison Road.
If I had 50 cents, that's where I'd be.
The premise:
Dirk the Daring infiltrates a castle of giddy goons, enchanted anvils, anonymous tentacles, giant colored bowling balls, soda-flavored whirlpools, thorns, poisons, skulls, The Lizard King...
Obviously I could keep going on.
...all to save a cleavagey princess seen briefly in the game's "attract mode".
From a magazine I learned a few moves and got pretty good at it.
But I never mastered it.
Nor did I ever see anyone master it.
So I never saw the princess' boobs or anything.

But now we have the internet.
And you can experience everything that's ever been done or seen without having to leave your couch.
So I googlepediatubed Dragon's Lair and watched it played to perfection.
It was great.
Except you don't ever get to see the princess' boobs, man.

Then I remembered Leisure Suit Larry.
That's a game where you have sex with a prostitute or something.
I never owned it or even saw it.
But I watched it played to perfection thanks to the internet.
In this game you do get to see boobs.
They're very sexy, if you're into right angles.

I did some more research.
I had always heard about a game called Custer's Revenge.
This is a game where you are a cowboy whose goal is to rape a Native American woman tied to a stake.
Your penis is about 3 blips long.
It's horrible and stupid and wrong and hilarious.

Somehow it got worse.
Using the internet, I started to discover old games I had never heard of.
X-Man (Pac-Man that fucks).
Bachelorette Party (Breakout with ricocheting gonads).
Gigolo (Burgertime sorta..with male prostitution).
And then there's Burning Desire.
In this game you are a nude rescue worker dangling from a helicopter, trying to save a nude woman held captive by flames and cannibals. Using your enormous, also dangling penis, you put out the flames. While the cannibals throw squares at you, the nude woman holds onto your enormous, dangling penis with her mouth and you get points.

I kept going.
But why?
Why did I keep going?

There once was a game called Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em.
Here we go:
In Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em, you control a pair of women whose sole purpose in life is to wait at the bottom of a building for the man on the roof to masturbate his yellowish semen down to their awaiting appetites.
Basically, it's Kaboom! with...ugh. I dunno.

It's Kaboom! with cum.
There I said it.

Now one might argue that this game is horribly sexist.
But the fine folks at Mystique protected themselves by creating double-sided cartridges.
On one side you have Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em.
On the other side it's Philly Flasher.
Philly Flasher reverses the genders!
In this game, you control two male convicts who wait at the bottom of their prison yard to orally catch the breast milk of a witch(!). When the jailbirds have reached their daily allotment of haggy necro-calcium, they masturbate to completion and you score points.
So there.
That's not sexist at all!

I looked around the couch.
It was nighttime already.
I had made a screenshot from Custer's Revenge my new screen saver.
And I became one of three people on Facebook to "like" Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em.

If only that burglar had also stolen my brain's 3-blip penis.

Verdict: Loss

October 24 - Take Our Time And Meander

People in love can be annoying.
Like cigars and deliberate flatulence.
Stinking up the room with self-absorbed, self-important pooky pooky dookie.

That being said, being in love is fun.
You're allowed to laugh and smile more than the usual amount.
You spend money on things like fun and adventure.
You get naked a bunch.
I will do my best to remain jaded and grumpy about it.

So we woke up engaged.
Our first morning as fiancés.
All vibrant and tippy toes.
We had breakfast in bed.
Yesterday's unused donuts.
But still technically breakfast in bed.
And technically crumby.
Another rainy gloomy day.
I'm glad I found a woman who appreciates this weather as much as I do.
We took a Sunday drive.
That ring beamed like a beacon through the frowny fog of autumn.
For lunch we stumbled upon a place in the middle of nowhere.
The PC Junction.
I don't know why it's called that.
Maybe they don't let you misuse the word "oriental".
The PC Junction is a railroad themed family restaurant.
There were kids there.
And booze for mom and dad.
Plus live poultry by the Galaga machine.
Food and drink were served on a working Lionel train.
It was a real hoot.

Today we also went searching for a keepsake.
On the cold marshiness of Kangaroo Lake sat a clock shop.
It was basically an old widower's cottage.
He didn't hear the screen door slap shut.
But his dog did, and didn't seem much to care.
A cramped room overflowed with used mugs and schooners.
There were a few of those big glass boots you see at German bierstubes.
We looked at cuckoo clocks.
Some of them would definitely not be seen at the PC Junction.
The clocks that weren't offensive were plastic and cheap.
The surprised old widower hobbled over to us.
He walked like a cough.
An old hound himself.
His sad finger nudged time ahead, awakening a battery-operated bird.
It sounded like a Mattel Electronics cuckoo clock.
He hobbled back to his chair and watched football with his dog.
I considered purchasing a clock out of charity.
But it wouldn't remind us of the weekend we got engaged.
It would remind us of the sad old widowed man and his lumbering mutt.
He didn't hear the screen door slap shut.

Our meandering drive continued.
We procrastinated down the peninsula.
Winding curves, a hamburger, and Atom Heart Mother made Lauren queasy.
We stopped briefly at a boat slip to get our bearings.
Lauren pointed out an inukshuk.
I guess it was the weekend's way of saying adios.

Verdict: Win