Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Holiday Train

Here comes Santa Claus
Here comes Santa Claus
On the holiday train!
We’re going to have the chance to ride the holiday train again!
See inside the people singing singing
All is merry and bright!
Everyone’s waited almost a year for the holiday train tonight!

You better not board!
You better not try!
You better not advance!
I’m telling you why:
Santa’s elves are blocking the doors!

O Holiday Train, O Holiday Train
You left us on the platform
You teased us with your Christmas lights
You led us on with pretty sights
How sad you scorned us and took flight
We would have liked to board you.

O Holy Shit
The children are all cryyying
And the parents, they are all pisssed off
Long did they wait
Their smartphones the train scryyyying
They let three trains go by there at the stop

These three days that I have let pass
Thinking of the blog post I’d craft
Merry Christmas, Chicago Transit!

Youuuu can kiss my asssss!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Reader and Writing

November 1, 2013

Tony Adler
The Chicago Reader
350 North Orleans Street
Chicago, IL 60654

Mr Adler:

I'm not sure what your formal training has been as a writer.  Based on your Chicago Reader profile, you previously worked "mostly as a journalist and critic," and "published some more poetry [and] wrote a few plays."  I suspect that these claims are false, not only because they are so vague, but also because in the same profile, you profess to be Walt Whitman.  I'd like to write you off as a mischievous and bungling liar.

I'm confused, though, because in your recent review of the Neo-Futurists' The Sovereign Statement, you correctly use the word "comprise," which is uncommon at best.  You are generally able to punctuate and spell*, and you have chosen a word or two that I had to look up in the dictionary.  Also, the Chicago Reader hired you in the first place, so you must have done something correctly.^  Right?

I'll have to put assumptions aside and stick exclusively to the matter at hand.  That may require me to treat you as either less or more of a critical thinker than you actually are, so please forgive any condescension or, as the case may be, jargon that exceeds your intellectual grasp.  Should I ever come across your actual credentials somewhere, I will adjust the tone of this blog post accordingly.

Mr. Adler**, I am not one to compare myself to other men in terms of size; in this case, though, I must do so, if only to make you aware of how massive a man you are.  My blog has fifteen "like"-rs, and to my knowledge, none of them live in Chicago.  The Reader, on the other hand, claims a readership of 450,000.  That means that what you write reaches a full sixth of the population of this, the third largest city in the US.  (That number does not account for the 800,000 weekly page views the Reader also receives.)  Consequently,  what I write here--no matter how thoughtful, careless, idiotic, whimsical, or meticulous--will not be widely read, but what you write . . . Mr Adler**, you must support your opinions!  If you're going to make a bold and slanderous (and punny) claim like "Too much chaos makes The Sovereign Statement go wrong," you must be prepared to back it up with facts from The Sovereign Statement.

I'm not referring to facts that you've made up.  Shall I list some?  There are five bureaucrats, not four, stamping passports when you enter the theater.  Those bureaucrats are not sitting on a bench, but rather behind a counter.  (I don't understand why you wouldn't have the word "counter" in your demonstratively large active vocabulary.)  Also, there are more than two options available as names for our new Neo-Futurist nation.  (You might have noticed us selecting from a stack of playing cards?)  None of these options are "Neofuturella."  Perhaps you had a naked Jane Fonda on the brain?  Were you daydreaming?  Finally, a flag is never actually designed.  It's possible that with this image floating in front of your mind, you missed the subtle expository clues indicating that the whole flag design was a ruse.  I can only guess.

Let's put aside those fairly obvious factual errors in your 800 word article^^ and instead turn our attention to your tone.  Your use of hyperbole is INCREDIBLE!  UNBELIEVABLE!  PREPOSTEROUS!  Mr. Adler**, if Bilal Dardai wanted to make his point about all nations being invented "as ridiculously as possible," he might have entered the stage on a tricycle while farting into a tuna can.  He might have descended from the ceiling in a loin cloth, leashed and collared, pirouetting upside down with a cut-out of the former USSR in his jaws.  Instead, he penned a thoughtfully-constructed theater piece making use of motifs found in such political conspiracy films as JFK and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy--examples of a genre with which you are clearly unfamiliar, given your (hyperbolic) description of Dardai as "melancholy" in the first scene.  Mr Adler**, do you know what "melancholy" means?  Van Gogh was melancholy; Bilal is Pakistani.  Is that the word you were looking for?

In any case, he was wearing a trench coat.  Maybe that made him seem sad to you.  Excuse me: "melancholy."

At this point, Mr Adler**, I will cease to critique your critique.*** It is, after all, very unlikely that my fifteen "like"-rs will pay these words much heed, much less that the father of free verse himself will cast his eyes upon it.  However, I will not cease to critique you.  What you've written, Mr Adler**, is not a review, but slander, and sloppy slander at that.  While you've provided almost as many accurate details about the play as you have inaccurate ones, you haven't provided a single detail to rhetorically support your chosen headline.  I wish you had been more responsible not only to the Jeff-recommended work being done in our theater, but to the art of journalism itself.

Maybe you should try again, this time with less Jane Fonda sideboob and more intelligent insight.  If you're wondering what I mean, have a look at these articles by these responsible journalists, who had legitimate criticisms of the show but were still keen enough to provide relevant details to support their opinions.

Yes, Mr Adler**.  This entry is an invitation.  Come see the play.  (I would write, "Come see the play again," but that might be giving you too much credit.)  I'll give you one of my comps, if you want.  Then, have a drink with us afterward and explain with specificity what you haven't even started to address in your review.

Where did the play confuse itself?

Or did it simply confuse you?

* These qualities may say more about Microsoft Word than about you.
^ This assumption may also be a poor one.
** Whitman?
^^ That's 1 factual error for every 160 words!
*** Except to compliment your comma splice in the article's penultimate sentence.  Well done, sir.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Price of Admittance

The door slams behind you, and when you turn sharply at the noise, you see that there is no door and never was.  

You find yourself in a tiny room with a few other nondescript people, all looking as quizzically as you are at two monitors on the walls.  On one monitor you see your former friends and allies, those who did not dare venture through with you into the Magic Theater.*  On the other is a play you've never seen before but have heard great things about.  An older balding man in a great suit pontificates alongside an elfin Condi Rice type.  There is no sound coming from the monitors, and you can't hear what anyone is saying, but you're pretty sure you can read the words "Trick or Treat" on the lips of those you left behind.  

A man in a not-as-good suit sorts tarot cards on a table in front of you, a table that barely fits in the diminutive back room.  Surrounding him are exactly enough chairs for the lot of you.  He beckons you to sit.  You do.  He plays.  He sorts.  Eventually, he speaks.

"You're wondering what you're doing here.  Good.  That was the intention."

He flips a card.  Judgement.

"Your friends have been led astray . . ."

Friends?  You don't remember ever having referred to any of them as "friends."

He flips a card.  The Fool.  

". . . by candy."

Candy.  Is that what this was all about?  You can't seem to remember what goes on outside this room, or how you got in here.^

The man eyes you skeptically as if reading your mind, then turns his attention to the monitor, observing your friends as they move about, ignorant of their role in this heightening drama.  From somewhere in the room, a potentially-Jeff-Award-winning sound slithers into the atmosphere.  

The dealer flips another card.  Death.  

"It's all right," he coos in response to your poorly-muffled expression of terror.  "They don't die.  They'll just never know what it is to be . . ."

He trails off, but the final word of the sentence is clear.  Here.  They will never know THIS.  They will never experience this . . . 

He flips a card, completing your thought.  The World. 

'Is this game rigged?' you wonder.

"Listen to me," says the card player with sudden seriousness.  "All of you."

You lean in.  He flips a card.  Temperance.  

"Tonight . . ."

The word hangs in the air as he flips The Hanged Man.

" . . . you have an opportunity.  You can waste it . . ."

He flips The Fool.  Again.

" . . . or you can seize it."

He flips Strength.  

'What does he mean?' you wonder.  Again, he reads your mind.

"What is the price of admittance?" he asks, selecting you from among the group, scrying the reflection in your retina.

There is a long pause.  Finally, you answer.  "I don't know."

The dealer waits.  You look side to side, but realize that your companions are gone.  You look to the monitors.  On one, the scene between the older man and the powerful woman is playing in slow motion.  On the other, the masses have multiplied.  There must be thousands of them, millions maybe, clammering about in a cacophonous silence.

"I don't know," you repeat.

The man flips another card, the last in his deck.  The Hermit.

"Then you will never know," he sighs.  "You will miss it.  For candy."

For candy?

He flips another card, the last in his deck.  The Moon.

"You have a rare opportunity," the dealer says, no longer paying you heed, but rather staring at a face-down card, the last in his deck.  "One that will happen but twice more, for there is no show on November 7."

November 7?  What does that have to do with it?

"And then there's Thanksgiving, and it will be all done."

He flips another card, the last in his deck.  The Turkey.

The Turkey?  You don't remember there being a Turkey in a --

"Don't be . . ." he says.

You look back at the card.  The Turkey is gone.  The card is The Fool.  

"For if you are . . . then we won't . . ."

The price of admittance.  You still can't figure it out.  The phrase means something, something extraordinary.  You can't shake the feeling that you are being presented with an incredible opportunity.  

Was it written on the sign above the door?  You close your eyes and picture it. 

"Tonight at the Magic Theater*: For Madmen Only!"

No.  The memory doesn't say anything about the price of admittance.  

You open your eyes.  The room is gone.  You're somewhere else.  But where?  You know this place, but you just can't . . .

Overwhelmed with existential horror, you open your mouth to scream; nothing comes out.  You cough.  You choke.  You reach your fist into your mouth, clawing with your pinkie at the back of your throat.  It catches something, something fragile and artificial.

You remove your fist.  Wrapped around your pinkie is a soggy slip of paper.  You look down to read it and can barely make out the text.  

Something bumps you.  You look up to meet the eyes of dozens of your former friends.  They're flowing into the room--the room!  You are in a room!  You know this room.  

. . .

You know this room.  

Your friends' mouths begin to open and close.  The "Tr" sounds are evident on their lips, but their voices have been stolen.  They hold out bags to you.  They're wearing costumes.  Emperors, Heirophants, Lovers.  

'No,' you want to say to them.  'No, that is not the only way to spend this evening.  This is not the only way to live!'  Your voice is lost in the enduring weight of their collective silence.  

You look back down at the paper in your hand.  The text, it's becoming clearer.  It's written in yellow.  Where have you seen yellow writing before?  

The bodies of your former friends thump intermittently against you as they amble aimlessly, following one another, following the crowd.  

The price of admittance.  What is the price of admittance?  

A sickening thought occurs to you.  What if this moment, this pinprick in time, is your final opportunity to act in accordance with your own true self, to break free from a tide of cultural zombies?  What if, should you fail in solving this riddle, you will never recognize a true individual impulse again, one that comes from your own inner self, one guided by your full being and not the opinions and habits of others?  Furthermore, what if there are others relying on you, poor, talented actors who need you in the audience tonight?

Desperate, you take one final look at the text.  

Yellow writing.  Code.  

Of course.

What is the price of admittance?  

4D#(3C  4B%5B3**

* Theatre?
^ If you want to remember how you got in here, scroll up, or click "Back" on your web browser.
** Scroll to the bottom of the article to learn the price of admittance, or crack the code.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I once was in a show called MOSAIC.  It existed in "real life."  For tonight, it's going to exist online.

Pretend you're sitting in a theatre, watching this script come to life.


LYNN:   Does anyone here work at the Smithsonian?  The Lincoln Memorial?  The Washington Monument?  The Statue of Liberty?  A National Park?  In the lower levels of the FBI, the CIA, the IRS, the EPA, the Justice Department, Homeland Security, FEMA?  (the list can grow)

                 (If no one does, then JOSH MICHEL is brought on stage and 
                   sat in a chair CS.  If anyone does, they are brought on stage

LYNN: Well, Josh, looks like it's you.  Have a seat.  

                 (LYNN cues the TECH PERSON to start playing ridiculous 
                  game show music composed by MELISSA CARUBIA.
                  MIKE brings a white board on stage and writes this:  )

                                         "__ __ __ - __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __"

                (LYNN hosts a game of high energy, up-tempo hangman.
                She gets letter guesses from audience members -- the more
                reluctant, the better.  Other ensemble members overenjoy
                the game and remind everyone that it's just a game, and that
                it's fun.  Every time a letter is wrong, this happens, in order:)

1. JOSH (or audience member's) right wrist is tied to the chair.
2. JOSH (or A.M's) left wrist is tied to the chair
3. JOSH (or AM's) right leg is tied to the chair.
4. JOSH (or AM's) left leg is tied to the chair.
5. JOSH (or AM) is blindfolded.
6. A weak, thin noose is brought on stage and draped around JOSH (or AM's) neck.  

                (If the game of hangman gets to that point without success,
                 there is a big buzzer and everyone hangs their head.  JOSH
                 stays in the chair the rest of the show and when he has a line in
                 a piece, he's just missing.  The AM must by law be freed.)

                (If the game is won, then the game is won.  The answer 
                 SPOILER ALERT is "Non-Essential.)


PS To learn about more things that only exist online, like micronations, come to this!

Friday, August 23, 2013

For Your Eyes Only


3A@3C@  %4C  2D3A*5C  %  3A*1D@  #15C*%5B@3  #1A  4D#(3C  2D#3C2B

#5B@  1C3C#3(25C%#5B  4C5C*1A1A  %4C  %5B  5C3A@  2B5B#2D

5C2D#  5B@2D4C  #1A  5B*5C%#5B*3B  *5B5C3A@4B  1A3C#4B  5C3A@  5B@2D  *4C4C#2%*5C@

5C3A3C@@  2#4B1C*3C%3C#5B  5C#  %5B2@1C5C%#5B  *5C  2B#5B*2B4C

1A#(3C 1C#4C4C%13B@  *4C4C*4C4C%5B*5C%#5B  3B%5B@  1(5C  5B#  *4C4C*4C4C%5B*5C%#5B

2D%3B3  2*3C3 *5B3  1B*22B  4B*2B@  1C*%3C  *5B3  1C3B*4D  2B%5B2A

4B(23A  2D%3@  @4D@3  23A*5C5C@3C  %5B  3C@4C5C*(3C*5B5C4C  14D  2D&5B3#2D4C

*2D*%5C%5B2A  #1A1A%2%*3B  2#3C3C@4C1C#5B3@5B2@  1A3C#4B  4D#(3C  2A3B#1D@3  3A@*1D4D  3A*5B3  1C3C%#3C  5C#  3C#4D*3B  1A3B(4C3A  5C(@4C3*4D

wild card
2D%3B3  2*3C3

Thursday, August 15, 2013

It's a Test


They don't advertise for drummers in the newspaper.  That was my profession.  Ex-drummer.  

Next subject: Sheep, Electric.  Performance, live.  File section: Den Theater.

(ELECTRIC SHEEP enters.)          

Come in.  Sit down.

Care if I "bah?"  I'm kind of nervous when I take tests.  Zap!

Reaction time is a factor in this, so please pay attention.  Now, answer as quickly as you can.

Bah.  Zap!

One.  Three.  Three.  Three.  North Milwaukee Avenue. 

That's the theater.


Where I'll be performing.  Bah.  Zap!

Nice place?

There's a fireplace.  That part of the test?

Just warming you up.  You're in the audience, waiting to watch the show . . .

Is this the test now?

Yes.  You're in the audience, waiting to watch the show --


Yes.  You're the show.

Bah.  Zap!  I'm watching myself?

It's completely hypothetical.  Tell me in single words only the good things that come to mind as you're watching yourself.



Let me tell you about myself.

Bah.  Zap.

(Together, they climb into a car and ride through an idyllic landscape.)        

I don't know why he spared my life.  Maybe he knew that he would only live for one weekend, not even until Labor Day.  And all he wanted was the same answers the rest of us want.  When is it?  Where is it?  How do I get tickets before its termination date?



Next subject: Sheep, Electric.  Performance, live.  File section: Den Theater.

(ELECTRIC SHEEP enters.)          

Come in.  Sit down.

Care if I "bah?"  I'm kind of nervous when I take tests.  Zap!

Reaction time is a factor in this, so please pay attention.  Now, answer as quickly as you can.

Bah.  Zap!

One.  Three.  Three.  Three.  North Milwaukee Avenue.

That's the theater.


Where I'll be performing.  Bah.  Zap!

Nice place?

There's a fireplace.  That part of the test?

Just warming you up.  You're in the audience, waiting to watch the show . . .

Is this the test now?

Yes.  You're in the audience, waiting to watch the show --


Yes.  You're the show.

Bah.  Zap!  I'm watching myself?

It's completely hypothetical.  Tell me in single words only the good things that come to mind as you're watching yourself.



Let me tell you about myself.
(What happens next is uncertain.)          



Available in full here.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013



Allowing your mind to wander while riding a bicycle, despite the obvious dangers of doing so--what with the cars and the pedestrians and the stop signs and there only being two wheels and all hence the name--is a fairly common practice around the 5300 block of the Onion City (1), where pedaling passionately while letting one's mind wander, which let's face it is about as pondersome as anyone bothers to get most days these days, is usually accompanied by helmet-less and headphone-not-less bobbing and weaving such that the pedaling and the pondering, being a function one of the other and not an inverse one at that, coalesce to evoke a milieu of  general distaste and discomfort not only for the biwheeled but for the bipeds who encounter them whether on foot or headphoning, cell phoning, or pondering themselves behind the 14" diameter wheel of a much larger vehicle, one having in almost all civilian instances twice as many ground-touching wheels(2) as the foot powered wheel rotators prove are necessary.  For a head prone to overanalysis--one that tends to find meaning in every single event, no matter how minute or coincidental, and that has on more than one occasion turned e.g. a shared experience into a literary symbol or (more broadly) a passing fancy into fallacious epiphany--thrust moreso toward solicitude by the aggregate events of Y.H.D.A.V.L.L., this head itself helmeted and devoid of phone, head- or hand, but in unfamiliar territory, at least in regard to living situation, for such a head in such a state the expanse of time and attention dedicated to such reflection works out, mathematically speaking, to 99.4 percent on the dime, the fraction of time represented by the remaining percentage points being more or less accounted for by only the most critical and periodic blips of alertness necessary to focus on route- and life-saving maneuvers.  Yet somehow in this thorough dedication to so-called pondering this particularly meaning-seeking cyclist manages never in all of the complex but wildly accessible neuronic cavities to come across the advice he got when he was but first touching the fragile paper skin of this my kind of town: "You've got to discipline yourself to talk out of the part of you that loves the thing, loves what you're working on.  Maybe just plain loves.(3)"

He doesn't pedal all that fast.  Still, given his high lost-in-thought to moment ratio and that peculiar familiar-process / disappearing-hours time dynamic that even still doesn't make complete sense to physicists and psychologists alike, time folds ("passes") and Berwyn ends at the elevated Metra tracks that lead both north and south but definitely to less populated areas.  Unlike with the urban elevated trains, the concrete that supports the Metra tracks is solid, a Great Wall marking the Ravenswood corridor and separating, e.g. this cyclist from his temporary home four blocks away if not for said construction.  The tunnel running through them is covered in graffiti he won't later remember but that will nevertheless strike him in the moment as significant.  He wore headphones while cycling for a month or so of Y.V. but stopped after two acquaintances lost their lives in bike accidents.  In a textbook example of hypocrisy, he thinks it would make him happier to bike with headphones on and gets noticeably tense and irritated when he passes another cyclist doing the same.  This epiphany did not occur to him during this particular absent minded cycling bout, nor has it ever.  He isn't unhappy.  The first seven months of this new year (4) seem from his perspective on that saddle--left toe on the asphalt for stationary balance, right on the corresponding pedal as a reminder of momentum, helmet a little too loose, eyes focused on the tunnel--very promising indeed.  He didn't know there was a tunnel here.  It was constructed before he was born.  He takes its presence, especially the fact that it seemed to open (5) just as he was regretting his choice of route and knowing just knowing he would have to pedal an extra mile south then later north again to get around the monstrous suburbanite-shuffling luxury train, as a sign, almost a God and the Bible and Burning Bush, just for him, divine will, someone is listening, knock and the door will be opened kind of thing.  Pass!  For an urban area, the Ravenswood corridor strikes him as remarkably still at night, excepting the rabbits which really do breed, he thinks, as described in the idiom.  There's no one behind him or ahead of him, nor is there anyone in the tunnel, nor does he encounter another human soul in the remaining four blocks between tunnel and temporary home.  After he takes the dog out and closes the door, he rests peacefully, wrapped in warm imaginings on an air-conditioned couch that struck him yesterday as too cold but now just right, likewise on a too hot just right beach a week in the future and without sand in irritating places, likewise on a bike trip to Calumet Fisheries, likewise devouring a hamburger and a book, likewise on a flat stage before 150 seats, likewise in a country where no one speaks English and "they don't even want to," surrounded now by a sense that the young couple and baby he draws into the house next door are as real in every sense as he narrates to himself, believing now in better days and for once having some sense of what the hell people mean when they say that.


(1) A reference not only to the little-known origin of the name "Chicago," but also to the recent relocation of the well-known comical rag.  Also, no one but John refers to "Chicago" as "The Onion City," and even he only in this blog entry. 

(2) Notable exception:  the short-lived and ill-designed Hyundai Uni

(4) During the pre-tunnel trip, his mind doing most of the cycling, the operating reserve of his cerebral wind turbine was able to all-but-casually label his first year in Chicago the Year of Volunteerism, a period stretching from August 1, 2011 (a) to the obvious and marked by a rampant willingness to give away his time with the unspoken expectation of future rewards and followed by a period of an equally obvious duration with equally obvious bookends he would now call, he decided, the Year of Harsh Disappointment and Valuable Life Lessons.  
                         a The literal  first month of his time in the Windy City--July--was a period characterized by 
                           back-in-Boston absenteeism, settling in, and a general lack of real focus on starting over
                           and was stricken from his mind's record.  Call it playing God, but where better to play God
                           than in one's own mind, a place where one simply has to have dominion, if  anywhere.

(5) a Red Sea kind of thing

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I'm Not Here; I Didn't Write This

They have a rule in the blog business: write in the thing at least twice a week.  If you're giving it any less TLC, then you're doing yourself a disservice.  Let's see if I'm doing myself a disservice:

(I'm doing myself a disservice.)

Look at that!  (Or, for updated entry counts, just look to the right of this very entry!)  In the first three-and-a-half months of this blog's existence, I wrote in it an average of 1.6 times per week.  In 2013, that number has dwindled to 1.5 times per month.  Not only that, I've now resorted to writing in my blog about how I don't write in my blog!**

"Like"-rs and non-"like"-rs*, if you are still here, your moment has come.  Let me help you help me be helped by you letting me help you help me be helped by you. Help.

What I mean to say is: something has to change, and you get to change it.  I am selling advertising space in my blog.  If you would like to take advantage, I will charge you a very reasonable fee, and in turn, you will help me churn out a higher number of blog entries per month.  Don't turn your back on this deal!^

I feel like there should be more to say about this offer . . .

. . .

. . .



* non-"like"-rs, why were you here in the first place?

^ Seriously, because if the people let me down, I'm going to have to sacrifice this last little bastion of the internet to the PR powers that be (i.e., let these frustrating little video ads take over here like they have everywhere else.)

** Actually, there are quite a lot of exciting entries to come, so don't give up just yet.  I haven't!

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Well, will you look at this.

In case you didn't notice the little yellow link on the word "this" or the big red headline of the corresponding article, I will rewrite it here:



Julia Langbein, I bite my thumb at you, madame.  Your admiration of the Back Room Shakespeare Project is perhaps well-deserved, but wherefore the abatement in your article?  Let me shove thy nose in it:

"Average pay for a principal at one of the big theaters like Steppenwolf or the Goodman—and very few people get these roles—is about $800/week.  So if you are always working at the top of your game all year round in Chicago you top out at just over $40,000^, and that's if you are playing the plummest role 52 weeks of the year."

Well, Madame Langbein, let me retort as quickly and simply as I can (for I must shortly surrender this library computer):

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.  Are you familiar with this expression? I can't remember where it came from, but you, my dear, should heed its warning.  You see, there is a powerful play going on, and we (the actors among actors) have made you an unwitting fool!  "Nobody Gets Famous in Chicago."  Please.  Who told you that?  Why, the actors themselves, of course!  And why?

Simple.  It's a necessary piece of our throughline.  In other words, we fabricated it.  We created it through decades of our willingness to work for free, through moon after moon of compromise, through carefully training ourselves to see our work as just a hobby and allowing ourselves to be rankled accordingly.  Now, by not valuing our own art, we have almost managed to reach bottom.  Which is exactly where we want to be

Unclear?  Let me elaborate.  

We (the actors among the actors) aren't being held down at all; rather, like one angling his legs before a great leap, we are flexing, preparing for the great heights of the big time!  The grumbling you are hearing is the precursor to a storm, madame, and what a great thunder will sound when we finally explode upward, shattering the glass ceiling of not just Chicago theatre^^^, but theatre everywhere, and raining change upon the masses!  

But in order for that crackle to satisfy completely, we must allow that rondure of adversity to germinate.  We must assure that when we choose to leap, we will make not only a great noise, but the greatest noise ever heard.  We're not after a whimper here, Madame.  We're after a BANG!

So the next time an actor claims to you that he should be paid more, assume he is giving you lip service.  Remind him that he's part of a greater play, and that he isn't the lead this time.  Remind him of the value of humility.  Remind him to genuflect, that his craft is a form of worship*, and that one day the meek will inherit the earth**.  Then, ask him to put his money where his mouth is.  

. . .

By the way, I will be memorizing this entry in its entirety and performing it (for free^^) in Lincoln Park on Monday, July 29.  Please come so I can pay my rent.  (For updates, join my "like"-rs.  Anon!)

^ 1099 income, which means your take home is something more like $32,000
^^ I will accept donations
^^^ which, as somehow reclaiming our status in the world, we are tedious about spelling with a pretetious "-re"
* Average minister's salary in the US: $86,500
** BANG!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Boston Calling

A man can’t spend ten years in a place without becoming at least a little attached to it.  Accordingly, I’ll admit to a fondness for New England.  I’ll own up to a modicum of excitement at Pippin winning a Tony.  I’ll concede that getting fan mail* from a “like”-r^ who was at the beautiful Turtle Pond on a recent afternoon stirred up some nostalgia.  I’ll even say truthfully that I occasionally respond to conflict here in Chicago with a Southie-style, Red-Sox fan, townie machismo. 

About that last point . . .

New England, please put aside your competitive spirit.  I have left you behind, and there is no longer any need to aggrandize yourself for my affection.  You needn’t send your Bruins to Chicago to try to defeat my new suitor.  And you needn’t try to recruit me back by writing plays about yourself and having them produced in Chicago, then casting me in them.  And don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about!  (He says with that same machismo!)  Look right here in the stage directions of this play I just got cast in:


Detritus of city, perhaps Boston

“Perhaps” Boston?  Perhaps?  (Machismo!)  Let’s read further into the play’s opening notes:

Whoopie pies: these treats are a New England phenomenon

Oh!  This play has whoopie pies in it, a “New England phenomenon.”  Perhaps this play, then, takes place in New England?  Perhaps by “perhaps Boston” the playwright meant “definitely Boston?”  Or was she perhaps thinking of some other New England City?**

And what is this my character says to the other character here on page 4?

“You have a PhD from fucking Brandeis?”

Ah.  Brandeis.  You mean the school outside of Boston!?!?!?!?

Boy, I am Southie-mad.  And maybe that’s your game, Boston.  Maybe you are trying to make me lose my focus here.  Maybe you are hoping that I’ve grown weak in this place, what with all the hot dogs, deep dish pizza, affordable rent, and street signs.  Maybe you think you can seduce me back to a simpler time by sending this little play on a covert mission. 

Well, it won’t work.  First of all, this play is only ten minutes long.  Second of all, this play only runs for one nightThird, overtime.  Fourth, no matter how exhausted I may be here . . . well, maybe your play puts it best.  What is this line my character has here on page 7?

That’s not how we play it in Chicago. 

Sorry, Boston.  Close.  Try again next time. 

* A text
^ friend
** Don’t kid yourself, Providence.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stumbling Commentary

Hey!  Check it out!

:01 Is that guy fighting in a Nintendo shirt?

:03 Ah?

:04 Ah?

:06 Ah?

:07 Ah!

:09  Wait.  How did he hurt his leg?

:12 Fighting wenches!

:17 Ah?


:38 Guy in a fashionable hat

:48 Ah.


:53 All for one and one for all.^

:55 The plug.


^ No, but seriously, did you see us all get up at the same time in the same way?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Character Work: Royalty

We got the call in early May. 

"I'd like to offer you a part in Theatre-Hikes."

Grand!  We like theatre.  We like hiking.  We auditioned for Theatre-Hikes.  We were prepared for a call or an email from Theatre-Hikes.  We weren't prepared for what came next in the conversation.

"I'd like you to play the king."

We're sorry?

"I'd like you to play the king."

"Are We old enough to play the king?"

"Actually, you're a little old to play the king."

Ah, right.  We had forgotten.  King Louis XIII was in his early twenties when The Three Musketeers took place.*  We are a little old to play the king. 

We are also a little inexperienced to play the king.  We have never been royalty before.  Does anyone out there know what it's like?  Anyone?^

While We await your replies (which makes Us very impatient, by the way), We would like to establish a few ground rules for this blog that will help Us assume Our new role.  It takes a lot of practice to be a king, and We won't get enough in rehearsal alone.  We also can't go around acting like royalty in Our everyday life, so it's going to have to happen here.  This is the place We get closest to royalty anyway. 


The rules:

1) Until the end of June, when the show opens, all inquiries submitted to this blog should be addressed to "Your Highness," "Sire," or "Your Majesty." 

2) We need one of you "like"-rs to respond to this entry as if you were a Cardinal.  In return, We will exile you.

3) For Our next entry, We will be hosting a royal ball.  All "like"-rs in attendance should wear their finest necklaces on their throats and sharpest swords on their belts.  Also, please learn to dance "The Merlaison."

4) Somebody teach Us how to do a French accent.

5) Serfs!

* Oh, by the way, the Theatre-Hikes show We auditioned for was The Three Musketeers
^ In Our heart, We know that Prince William reads this blog.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dramatic Pause

It's been almost 18 months since I did something unconventional, risky, even a little taboo and became a part of American Eagle productions.  In that time, I've gotten five times as famous.  First, I doubled my fame by taking on the role of Zuckerman / Little Lamb in Charlotte's Web.   Then, I added the role of "Dwarf" in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and "Mr Harper" in Tom Sawyer, thereby quadrupling my original level of fame.  Finally, beginning this past February, I took on a fifth role--that of "Mr Van Daan" in The Diary of Anne Frank.^ 

Today was my fourth performance as Mr Van Daan, and there was much to be decided.  Would I live up to the high standards I set in my previous three performances?  Would I change young minds? Would I remember my lines after six weeks of not doing the show, two weeks of which were spent cramming a foreign language into my head in a tropical paradise

The crowd waited in eager anticipation as I entered, fifth in a line of five, and began my slow progress toward the front of the stage.**  Each actor ahead of me spoke a line--a date in history, followed by a restriction on Jewish freedoms that was enacted that day--then moved away to another part of the stage.  "Thursday, August 8th, nineteen-hundred-and-forty.  As of today, it is required that all persons of Jewish ancestry must wear and openly display a yellow star at all times."  The actor dashed away.  I took a step forward.

"Wednesday, January 3rd, nineteen-hundred-and-forty-one.  It is forbidden that Jews own, operate or ride any bicycles, cars or other motor driven vehicles."  The actor goes; I step forward.

"Monday, March 31st, nineteen-hundred-and-forty-one.  Jews will no longer be allowed to ride trams."  Again. 

"Friday, June 10th, nineteen-hundred-and-forty-one.  No Jew may sit, stop or stand outdoors after eight o’clock in the evening."  The actor steps away.  I'm at the front of the stage.  I speak.

"Tuesday, October 15th, nine-hundred-and-forty-one."  

Wait.  Did I just say "Nine-hundred-and-forty-one?

I listen for giggles.  Silence.  Maybe not.  Maybe I said it correctly.  Can I take that again?  More silence.

"Jews must go to Jewish schools."  No.  That's not right.  That's the next line.  

More silence.  The anticipation around my much-anticipated debut is increasing.  The tension thickens on the stage and in the house.  I know the next line.  It's just . . . well, you know how in dreams sometimes you can read a sign, and you know you know what it says, but you can't actually read it?   It was like that.  The sign was right in front of my face.  There were just so many other words there, too.

Como estas?  When are my netflix discs coming?  How am I going to avoid tripping over those loose planks backstage?  I think Anne would have been a Belieber.

I come back to my senses.  I hear some words come out of my mouth. "Jews may only shop in stores that bear the sign 'Jewish Store,' and then only between three o'clock and five o'clock in the afternoon."  Dramatic pause complete, the play continues.  Everything goes perfectly.  Perfectly.  The crowd is so impressed with us that they can't help but talk amongst themselves about how impressed they are.  At the end, we ask for questions.  There's only one, put forward by the kid who is clearly the most ostracized student in school. 

We say goodbye.  We change clothes.  The man who plays Mr Frank looks at me and says, "You had a brain fart up there!" 

I shake my head.  I can't think of anything to say in response.  Until now. 


* Look hard for him in the book.  He's there.  You just don't see him.  Read it again.  No?  Try again.  No?  You must be dumb.   

^ That's "On Fronk" in our Dutch-accurate version of the show. 

** Downstage.  It's called "downstage." 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Calling: I Saved the Mayor

You might remember a few weeks ago.  If not, you should see a neurologist.

Let me be more specific.  You probably remember that a few weeks back, I was pushed to the brink of insanity by the state of the world in Chicago.  I was sick; I hurt my back; someone was exploiting my blog.  In a fit of melancholy and typos, I retreated the States in favor of the rural territory of Costa Rica.  Everything got better. 

On the pacific coast of Costa Rica, it's 90 degrees on a regular basis.  The beaches look like there should be dinosaurs, and you can see the moon during the day.  Within a matter of hours there, my cold went away, my back healed, and my frustration with the English language was averted. 

Unfortunately, I had a return ticket, and after two glorious weeks of healing, I came back to the frozen Midwest.  Since arriving back in Chicago, I've experienced a snowstorm, a broken bicycle, a ripped winter coat, and a nose that is gleefully running again.  More importantly, things just haven't been the same around these parts.  I've felt aimless and wandery, moreso than before.  The culture that raised me feels aggressive and busy.  Even the old sporting matches which I once enjoyed haven't held their usual vigor.  A question I can't answer is following me around like someone else's younger sister that I don't want to babysit, pinching me repeatedly and whining, "Why?  Why did you come back?" 

My only answer has been, "I have no idea, but there must be a purpose." 


Why, because I need money of course!


Because I had a return ticket?


Because I have a career here?


I . . . don't . . . know.

And then it happened.  Last night, I worked a fundraising event for Redmoon called Spectacle Lunatique.  My duty?  Serve champagne.  More specifically, I was to stand with a tray of glasses in front of this contraption, which was outfitted with a giant decorative chandelier and a silks artist.  Whenever someone at the party made a $500 donation, we would drive over to them, and the silks artist would descend with a bottle of champagne, pouring from above to fill the glasses on my tray so I could hand them to the elite.

Serving champagne is not the meaning I have found again in Chicago.

The champagne chandelier was popular.  One might call it uberpopular.  At regular intervals, we were pouring so much champagne that we needed to lower the chandelier and refill it with full bottles of priceless bubbly.  This operation required that we clear an area in the room of drunk, ignorant bystanders so as not to crush the skulls of valuable donors as a 7,000 pound chandelier descended in near-free-fall toward their heads*

The point?

At approximately 9:11 CST^, Mayor Rahm Emanuel arrived at the party, choosing for his entrance the door in closest proximity to the champagne chandelier, which at that very moment we were lowering to refill with priceless French wine.  As the chandelier barreled toward the floor, the mayor walked closer and closer, never once looking up to see the life-threatening peril he was shuffling straight into.  Security did nothing.  Bystanders did nothing.  Finally, I (and I alone) threw aside my tray of glasses, tackled the mayor out of the way of the chandelier, dragged him to safety, and lay on top of him on the floor, gently stroking his aging locks and softly humming Phantom of the Opera to comfort him. 

Others may remember it differently.  They may not have even noticed my heroic act, or they may recollect it as a gentle vocal urging toward the mayor as the chandelier descended slowly and safely a few feet away from him.  However, history, dear "like"-rs, is written by the victors. 

For the first time in weeks, I count myself among them.  


* You know, more or less. 
^ Coincidence?

Saturday, February 9, 2013


It started with a sniffle.  A sniffle became a post-nasal drip.  A post-nasal drip became a 102 degree fever.  A 102 degree fever turned into a sinus infection.  All this amidst single degree high temperatures outside. 

Don't worry, "like"-rs.  I'm still here.  I stood my ground.  I got past it.  In fact, I went out and played some basketball (in a gym).  I felt better.  In fact, I felt great.

Then, I had a little soreness.  A little soreness became more soreness.  More soreness became an inability to sit up.  An inability to sit up became a Saturday in bed.

Don't worry, "like"-rs.  I'm still here.  I stood . . . well, I stood.  And that was enough.  In fact, through it all, I kept right on working.  I read my entire book out loud and recorded it with my computer.  Then, I played it back.

'A little wordy,' I thought.  Then, 'a little wordy' became 'a lot wordy.'  'A lot wordy,' became 'a little sleepy.'  'A little sleepy' became me falling asleep at the screen.

Don't worry, "like"-rs.  The book will be good.  The book will be fine.  You won't fall asleep at the screen.  It's just going to take some time.  It's going to take some patience.  Some . . . more . . . patience.  Some . . .


I'm sorry.  Something just happened that is . . . just  . . . too . . . much.  On my way to write this blog entry, which was to be titled, "I Will Never Give Up," I typoed "" as ""  I was redirected to some sort of commerce site.  DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?  SOMEONE IS EXPLOITING MY WORDS FOR COMMERCIAL GAIN!  Okay, now I'm running out of patience.  I just . . . I  . . .

Okay.  Breathe.  There must be a perfectly reasonable response to this.

I know!  I'll leave the country.  (No!  Don't try to talk me out of it!  It's as good as done.)

Now I just have to figure out where I'm going to go. 

Somewhere where my words don't matter . . .

. . . where they don't even speak this language . . .

. . . where it's warm . . .

. . . where I can rest my back . . .

. . . where there is basically no commercialism . . .

Is such a place possilbe?

AGHAGHGAHAGAHG!  That's it.  One more typo, and I'm getting on the first flgiht out of here. 

. . .

. . .

Ay.  Me rindo. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Am Your Girlfriend

Do you read this blog regularly?  No?  Ah.  Okay.  One more question.

Have you ever read this blog?  No?  Ah.  Okay.  One more question.  No, really.  Last one. Stop it!  You're cute.

Do you understand how blogs work?  No?  Perfect.  No more questions, your Sexiness.  Yeah, I spelled that with a capital "S."  Wanna kiss? 

In case you haven't met me, I am your girlfriend.  The reason I call this blog "I will be famous soon" is because you are so big and famous.  No!  You are!  Stop it.  You're cute.  And sexy.  Very, very sexy.  And when we get together, because we are made from the same unicorn horn and it is destined to be so, I will be famous, too. 

But I didn't name the blog "I will be famous, too" did I?  No.  I named it "I will be famous soon."  Soon.  SOON.  

What's the rush?  Oh, well, nothing.  No.  I really don't want to say.  No.  Stop it.  You're cute.  Wait.  Let me show you a picture of me that my friend took.  Here:

Wait.  Close your eyes.  Okay.  Here it comes.  Here:

Stop it!  You're cute.  Okay, for real this time.  Here:

I know.  I get that all the time.  But we're not even related.  What?  The reason I need to be with you and get famous soon?  Oh, shucks.  I don't want to . . . okay.  You talked me into it.  Sexy. 

The reason I need to get famous soon is that I am dying.  Of . . . rickets.  Yes.  Rickets.  I don't normally tell people I have rickets on the first date--what?  Why, of course it's a date, silly!  You were thinking the same thing but didn't want to say so?  Well, I guess I'm just the blunt type.  The sassy, forward, knows what she wants, hot as hell, blunt type. 

Oh God.  I can feel myself falling for you.  I am really in trouble.  Really, really in trouble.  brb.

. . .

. . .

Sorry.  I had pain in my spine, pelvis, and legs.  No, no.  I'm fine.  I'll be  . . . fine.  As long as I have you.

As long as I have you.

BTW, what time is your game today?  As long as my breastbone projection isn't acting up, I will try to drive up.  Yes!  I will!  Stop it.  You're cute.  You are.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


My blog I am writing in my blog I am not going crazy in the cold it isn't cold it isn't Spanish Spanish Spanish all around me people from the republic I should capitalize that no I shouldn't maybe I'll go to Spain to Portugal Portugal is the Canada of Spain maybe I'll write a meaningful blog entry no one will ever read this seriously take it seriously blogging is fun blogging is worthwhile so much shit on the internet why don't I contribute a little more dogsitting this weekend feeling less and less famous by the day tell my autobiographer thats me tell my biographer thats probably going to be me too that this is the day I finally lost it this is the day I went insane this is the day it all went to hell the day proofreading went to hell hell?  that doesn't sound like a very pleasant place this is the day I got sick and my throat hurt and I spoke some Spanish Spanish?  Maybe I'll go to Spain.  When you put it all together what is that period doing there there is such a brave line between courage and insanity someone will go back and read this entry and think it's serious someone will worry about me not knowing i feel I need a disclaimor I am not actually insane I don't however know how to spell disclaimer correctly now I do dogsitting this weekend go to hell all going to hell going to spend some time with a dog locked inside with a dog a philosophical dog sitting on a philosophical dog this entry makes about as much sense as all the others except this entry, this entry is art because this is what all the freeflow poets do, they write they create art they create something special something in its own voice Sweet Charity they create Sweet Charity and the Mother F**cker with the Hat I spelled that sh*t wrong go back and fix it t-h-e-m-o-t-h-e-r-f-star-star-k-oops!  I used too many stars the first time.  It's her dream she says to play at the Steppenwolf it's my dream I say to perform somewhere else and every where everywhere every wear we reach and grasp I am not on drugs I am not drunk I am simply providing fodder for my (auto) (maybe) biography so all of you cynics when you find me at the top oh I am already there haven't you been watching the OMENS let's add a link there no I haven't forgotten about the omens there just hasn't been a lot happening recently and would anyone possibly dare read this?  I doubt it.  I doubt it.  Why are we watching so carefully?  Here's the part where I go back and put in a link.  PAUSE!  It's done.  It's done.  It's been since July since the tenth omen.  Wanna know everything that's happened since then in a big long spurt of happiness and truth?  I'll tell you but with as little punctuation as possible and maybe a few spelling errors because that's art that's ART and I'm writing a show with my friend Jake.  Jake is here.  Jake is talented.  Jake is my friend.  Jake and I are writing a show together but now I am avoiding punctuation.  Jake is not sick.  Jake is going on a date.  Jake is not me.  Jake is not my imaginary friend.  Jake is a real person.  Wait.  I forgot to link him.  PAUSE.  There.  Jake is linked.  WAIT.  That is not Jake.  That is another man with the same name.  Now I look even more like a raving maniac.  Here's a life lesson for you never care what other people think it's a mold it's a rust that attaches itself to your art the best advice I ever got about art was from David Foster Wallace (WHAT!?  Now I look even more raving and suicidal or something weird like that.  Don't worry, mom.  I am quite the opposite.)  Anyway the advice the advice the advice is to write from the part of you that loves a thing, not the part of you that wants to be loved.  See it?  See it?  Good.  Now you see the punctuation, too.  Like Robin Williams in Peter Pan, you see what you need to see just in time to see it and you can fly and rescue your children.  Who wrote THAT script?  Me.  No not me.  Guionista.  That's who. HERE.  Is this . . . is this my friend I'm not even sure.  I have to go back and link that PAUSE.  I'm amazed I can write this much go this long full of uninhibited thought without writing about yes indeed i didn't type it i didn't write about it how long do you think it took me to write this much in my blog probbly about 1 minutes no not 1 minutes 14 minutes no not 14 15 that's it i'll type it out fifteen minutes now the snot in my nose is beginning to unclog i feel like the ending of a staggering work of heartbreaking fiction you know what i mean maybe i will go start chicago 826 or something along those lines chicago 826.  yes sir.  chicago 826.  but it's not just here.  it's all over not just hear.  not an eye but an i not to but too but two i can do third grade math all this way into my life and i can do two things injest typhoid on an empty stomach and do third grade math.  and english.  oh and i know the word guionista, though i'm not sure i know how to spell it.  here are five ways to say even if in spanish incluso si aun que bien que por mas que and siquiera.  AMAZING.  Wait.  I need to go back and link something amazing.  See how order comes out of choas>?  I'm not ficing that.  Or that.  This is the life of the mind.  One second though.  I WILL link that for you.  I will write for you.  I will write from the part of me that wants to be loved.  But only for a moment, that.  for some reaosn the image linked above comes up when i google "something amazing" you can figure that out without quotation marks can't you i bet you could PAUSE ok no rule no gnu rule no new rule no punctuation that's almost oops a spanish word too putuacion means a test score did you know that no know no know no no know no know punctuation i worry that you worry about me when you read this but that is the joy of writing from the part of you that loves use zinc within like 24 hours of onset man otherwise that colds going to kick your ascot kick it hard will i continue should i continue with this stream of consciousness entry will it end when ive written for exaclty thirty minutes see here is an important statement about art never never never never never worry too much about creating something worthwhile every every every every every time you write write write right rite who the hell spell sit right spell sit write set did you know set has more definitions than any word in the english language i hope you read that if yooull yewl yule be playing any stump trivia in the near future or maybe in the nar past maybe they already used that question set did i ever go back and link up what needed to be linked  shit i just typed a quesiton mark dont worry i erased it but not now now this entry is blemished this entry is broken this entry is roto because never really it was broken from the beginning because in it is only the raw materials and here is my mind making something from nothign and hoping that your mind dear reader dear here come the quotation marks "like"r will do the same and that you will find some entertainment value in the nudity of this piece of these words of symboles letterspixel s pickles pickuls spread next to one another isnt that all this is oh thats so deep thats so art thats so meaningful i should eat a hot dog and go straight strait to bed thats the advice ive often been given i wsih i could type this quickly and fluently in spanish i have friends who work at groupon did you KNOW THAT did i ever pause did i ever go back did i ever correct will you like it if i just type and type nw you're thinking of this means nothing oops hes wasting my time but i know no one is reading this far nyway and if you are you cant possibly still hav any expectation whatsoever of it meaning anything have you followed this blog this far this long instead of just going out and watching daniel day leiws in lincoln now that is something people are raving about raiving a boot that is a complete process this the raw materials the waste matter the fecal matter they have no place in the artistic world they have no journey a journey begins with a single step i am better at spanish than i was seven years ago once id din't speak a wink  speak a wink is that the correct expresion i stopped using double letter sin english because they basically never appear in spanish maybe not at all im really not sure maybe only in anglicisms if thats the right word angel schisms i could use one of those right now but no im not sad i am not wrting this entry because i am sad or anything is wrong this entry is going out to the world because it is raw because it bounces cheerily back and forth over the line because every body poops everybody poos everybody poops everybody poos everybody poops everybody poos it straddles the line what a cliche expression between fecal matter and high art between a blog entry and a journel entry between entertainment well no it doesnt have mch to offer in the wy  of entertainme tunless yo are entertained deare 'like"r deer liker deer licker by typos.  by picels.  by the returna nd disappearance of punctuation.  puntuacion.  get it do you see it yet it is ever so clear and simple after a few drinks ever so clear but that is not what is going on this entry entree that is not there are no ddrinks drugs laughter food or snacks even i dont even have a snack or a fever i guessi just though i woul do this and here i am trying to write the part that loves but always always the part that wants to be loved will get in the way will play a part and maybe that is for the best four the best dont you think isnt that what happens next isnt that the next piece of the puzzle isnt that what it means ot be human?  to POOP?  I AM NOT LINKING ANYTHING TO THE WORD POOP.  PAUSE.  PAUSE.  PAUSE.  PAUSE.  PAUSE.  and thats where it ends.