Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I'm pretty sure he wrote the "Rocket Man" part though

That stupid shit sounds like the stuff he usually coughs up when he's struggling to coin a viral catchphrase in a desperate attempt to distract the world population from his glaring imbecility.

So how does this work?

Do I pick one from each column or do I get to mix and match any three like on the Denny's value menu? Or is this one of those brain teasers where I have to re-organize the list so the first letter of every line spells a common phrase or a popular song title? Or maybe I have to clear the board -- which automatically disqualifies me because I refuse to be yoga pants as a matter of principle. They should really pass out leaflets with the rules spelled out clearly or nobody's going to play ... which means nobody will ever win Eternal Damnation.

#NotVeryIntelligentlyDesigned

Lots of vowels, yo

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Flashback Sunday: Exhibition Edition

A year ago tonight I was sitting with thousands of my closest friends on the vast lawn of the Brucemore mansion historical site listening to the final summer outdoor concert of the mighty Orchestra Iowa. The concert is cleverly called Brucemorchestra, and it's an epic, pull-out-the-stops evening of glorious music and literally glowing civic pride.

Last year's concert finished with Modest Mussorgsky's mighty "Pictures at an Exhibition," which wavers over the years on and off top 10 favorite orchestral works. It was originally written just for piano in 1874 as a musical narrative of -- you guessed it -- pictures at an art exhibition. The work comprises a series of short pieces that musically describe the separate works of art in the exhibition, and they're all connected by endless variations on a theme called "Promenade" ... which is basically just music to accompany you as you walk from picture to picture.

There are probably 40 orchestral arrangements of this piano work that have been scored in the century-plus time since it was written. Impressionist Maurice Ravel's gloriously brass-heavy version written in 1922 is arguably the most popular, and not only is it my favorite but it was the version Orchestra Iowa played a year ago on the Brucemore lawn.

And if that weren't enough to make me geek out like a giddy schoolboy at orchestra prom, the director told us all to light up our phones and wave them rock-concert-style during the epic (and earth-shakingly brass-heavy) last mini-movement celebrating the dramatic picture of the Great Gate of Kiev. Which as you might guess put me on ridiculous-joy overload as the brass thundered through us to rattle our bones and the gleeful audience alternated between waving our phones and taking pictures of the glorious spectacle and I pretty much experienced the Rapture. (And you know what? Kirk Cameron wasn't there. And neither was Donald Trump.)

And now it's safe to say "Pictures at an Exhibition" is solidly back in my top 10 favorite orchestral works. And I probably need to charge my phone again.

Don't say that. ... It's *whom.*

There is a moment near the end of "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?" -- Edward Albee's 2002 play exploring the outer limits of love, fidelity, morality and tolerance -- where the emotional crisis at the center of the narrative boils over into such catastrophic levels of heartache and rage and such Greek-tragedy levels of destruction and retribution that the first time I saw it -- and the second time and the third time and the fourth time -- the audience collectively gasped to the point of almost screaming and then sat rigidly and almost palpably silent until well after the the final stage light had extinguished and the last emotionally drained actor had silently moved into position for the company bow.

It's one of my two favorite -- if there even exists a favorite-not favorite continuum of cataclysmic emotional destruction -- moments in modern theater ... the other being the last three seconds of David Mamet's "Oleanna" before the stage becomes abruptly, dreadfully dark.

Though he's largely a genre unto himself, it's difficult to pigeonhole Edward Albee as a playwright. He wrote or adapted about 30 works that embodied movements like Theatre of the Absurd and brought popular works of fiction like "The Ballad of the Sad Café" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" to the stage and screen.
My favorite Albee works -- "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (embodied in the above photo by the incomparable Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor playing the American-experiment patriarch and matriarch George and Martha), "The Play About the Baby" and "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?" -- all share the format of four characters on stage and one character who may or may not exist offstage. It's an intriguing conceit, and one that keeps bringing me back to these three plays for my own contemplation. In an odd double standard, though, I can't stand reading them; the characters for me seem to have no depth on the page but they grant a glorious latitude for actors to make fascinating choices as they flesh them out.

I'm a day late in this tribute, but yesterday was the first anniversary of Edward Albee's death. I'm not one to be sad when famous people I've never met pass away -- and having seen only six of his works (that I can remember) I'm certainly no slavish Albee devotee -- but I'm profoundly thankful for the emotional rollercoasters he's put me on over the years ... and for the body of work he's left that I can continue to explore in my own way in my own time. I have a couple favorite quotes I'd love to mention here in closing, but they're all potential spoilers. So I'll just lift a glass of bergen to his memory.

Ice Berg! Straight ahead!

Why do classical music stations always have to play dreary neo-expressionistic fantasias on atonal ennui and post-apocalyptic existentialism on Sunday afternoons?

[Redacted]

I got this shirt as swag from a stock photo vendor years and years ago when I was working at my Chicago ad agency. It's edgy-weirdy on the front but it says something sexy-inappropriatey on the back and since I never go anyplace edgy-weirdy I never felt comfortable wearing it.

Until! I stumbled on it while I was looking for a gym shirt this morning and realized that since nobody talks to me at the gym I really didn't care if they for some odd reason decided to read my back and get offended. And two cut-off sleeves later, here I am at the gym not-offending about 10 people who are not-looking at me. Everyone wins!

Also: I managed to find some new shoes in a color I didn't already have. Double win!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Leg Day rule #1: 

Always make sure the gym is completely empty before you take a potentially dangerous selfie.
(25 reps x 4 sets x 270 lbs, baby!)

Never skip leg day, bro.

Flashback Saturday: Accidentally Showing You My Underpants Edition

Two years ago today, I got FULL justification for the paralyzing fear of heights that I discussed on here JUST YESTERDAY. 

I was carefully priming (and do NOT get me started on the endless suckiness of working with oil-based primer) around a window on a medium-high ladder when a mild gust of wind almost grabbed my little Tupperware container of primer out of my hand and in the ensuing seconds of trying not to fall or spill primer or yell words that begin with F, I managed to fall, spill NO primer, drop more F-bombs than a first-time skydiver and rip a massive hole in my painting shorts, which must have shrunk in the dryer because they had gotten too tight in the waist anyway. Yeah. It must be the dryer. But back to me: I fell-jumped a good 8 feet, landed squarely on the little makeshift grave for Shadow, my nephew's first dog who was killed by a hit-and-run driver, and got an 8.7 from the judges because I didn't stick my landing. 

And I remain to this day shaken (not stirred) over one of my worst fears COMING TRUE, but I do remember my boys finding unexpected enjoyment from the very breezes that precipitated my fall.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sigh

There's no look of disappointment or disdain more emotionally crushing than the one Bitch Kitty makes when she hears the door open and runs to it to greet her favorite person and discovers it's just me.

Pre-work car selfie gymnastics

Snoopy shoes! Mickey ink! Cargo shorts! (Shut up.) But more importantly: Clean car -- I seem to have finally fully eradicated the effluvium of clumsiness lingering judgingly from the catastrophic Great Protein Shake Explosion of 2017. #Progress!

Flashback Friday: Hnnnnnn Hnnnnnn Edition

Five years ago this month I rappelled USING A ROPE NO BIGGER THAN MY COMMON SENSE down the side of the 31-story Wit Hotel in downtown Chicago because I HAVE NO IDEA WHY AND I WAS SO TERRIFIED THAT MY LEG WAS SHAKING LIKE ELVIS AT THE TOP AND IT WAS SO BAD THE RAPPELLING GUY ALMOST DIDN'T LET ME GO DOWN and the terror only increased as I descended so I never looked around to enjoy the view and I made a weird hnnnnnn hnnnnnn whimpering sound all the way down and even when I finally reached the sweet, sweet ground I was still so terrified and unnerved that I wend right to a restaurant and drank alcohol.

I'm pretty sure I'm not afraid of a lot of things. But I'm overwhelmingly sure I'm terrified of heights.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pretend this is an ascot

Preferably pretend it's an ascot of neatly four-in-handed silk tucked smartly into the '60s Carnaby Street authenticity that is the smartly tailored glen plaid jacket I'm not-pretend wearing in this picture. And then pretend I'm pictured here having high tea at Harrod's or lobbing withering insults at the downstairs help instead of struggling to find not-shadowy selfie light behind a set piece backstage at rehearsal. There! You now have a deeply nuanced understanding of the emotionally layered noblesse oblige my character brings to our show.

Speaking of our show, you should come see it -- if for no other reason than to find out if I pretend to wear pants.

Zip up your tickets here.

Pretty. Bad. Dudes.

This -- THIS! -- is the best childish, inarticulate, desperately vague justification our "modern day presidential" psychopathic failure of a president can cough up on today's flip-flop double-down assertion that peaceful anti-racist protesters are somehow responsible for the murder and destruction premeditatedly wrought by his racist followers who he emboldened and encouraged to slither out from under their fetid piles of shit.

Pretty. Bad. Dudes.

It's Donald Trump at his finest and most statesmanlike, ladies and gentlemen.

I bet none of my friends is brave enough to forward this

"Only 4% of people are able to ..." is 723% unmeasurable before, during or after sending a gif into cyberspace, and I think catastrophically less of anyone who posts or forwards anything with that preamble. There. I said it.

"It's the last day of the public radio fund drive."

The ten most beautiful words in the global English language past, present and future.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I'm cramming lines at the Always Screw Up Your Order McDonald's(R)

Which is exactly like Streep does it. Except without the cellulite and regret. And the screaming, unruly children. And the flies. How is this McDonald's allowed to stay open with all these flies and wrong orders and rabid children buried in the cellar? Potentially.