Tuesday, November 13, 2018

If a super-jazzy, super-jingly, super-challenging musical score about elves doesn't make your holidays brighter ...

if hearing a chorus of otherwise super-manly basses squeak out repeated high A's doesn't dog-whistle you ... if watching my freakishly talented friend D.J. totally ROCK IT as the charming, guileless, fearlessly ridiculous Buddy the Elf doesn't elicit even a wan smile from your stony comportment ... if your cold, dead heart prevents you from understanding my subtly nuanced performance of Doug the Christmas Cop breaking up a sweaty Santa fight ... you AT LEAST owe it to yourself to come see Elf the Musical just to hear the 90-year-old Barton organ fill Theatre Cedar Rapids with glorious Christmas carols before each Friday and Saturday performance.

The organ is a hidden gem in the heart of the city, and it is truly a treat to get to hear it on the occasions that it gets played. And just look at the organ console: IT'S BLACK VELVET! WITH RHINESTONES!

Don't make me call you out as a cotton-headed ninny-muggins. Get your tickets at https://www.theatrecr.org/event/elf-the-musical/2018-11-16/

By the way ...

Monday, November 12, 2018

Remember when Ann had an epic meltdown because she got stuck sitting in coach?

It’s clear what’s still up HER orifice ...

That. Little. Outfit.

Happy 17th birthday to my delightful niece, who has grown from being a squirmy toddler who refused to be snuggled to an adorable little girl who charmed everyone into giving her cookies and hosted clown- and cheerleader-themed birthday parties to an inquisitive student who’s rocked at basketball and tennis and cello and show choir and debate to a kind, talented, brilliant young woman whose passions for academics and social justice (and I suppose I should mention the Dodgers) inspire all of us to be better people.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

I lost almost the entire day today sleeping off what seems to be a low-grade-but-nonetheless-still-exhausting cold

but I thankfully woke up in time to make it to my niece’s birthday dinner tonight. Then I think I finally got my dad’s birthday Alexa set up, even though I accidentally called it Siri twice and ended up having conversations with two disembodied robot women at once—JUST LIKE MY LOVE LIFE—but even though I couldn’t get Alexa to find 91.7 fm classical radio, it IS somehow playing classical music from somewhere that’s probably costing $7.99 a minute right now, and I’m going to try to knock out one more chapter of this fabulously gay book that I started reading in August because why read a book quickly when you can stretch it out over multiple sessions of Congress?


My grandpa Lawrence Arthur—who joined my grandpa Arthur LeRoy to be the inspiration for my middle name—served in World War I with his three brothers Ole, Gustav and Robert. They build bridges in Russia, built hospitals in France and served stateside when the war ended.
Grandpa Arthur LeRoy was a veterinarian during World War II who was promoted to battlefield surgeon on the front lines in the Philippines and Okinawa.
My dad was in the Army at the very early days of the Vietnam War, serving in Thailand and the Philippines triangulating radio signals to find their broadcast locations. I unfortunately can’t find a photo of him in uniform.

11:00 today—the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month—marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, when the Allies signed the armistice with Germany, and the United States 11th Field Artillery Regiment fired the symbolic closing shot of the war.

I can't even begin to describe how much respect and appreciation I have for my veteran forebears, along with all of our country’s active duty and veteran military personnel. Past and present, they live vastly different lives when they're worlds away from us and once they return and live among us as well. The anguish they feel when they're waiting to be deployed. The abject terror they live with every day when they're on the front lines. The thought that the friendships they build can be ripped from them in one explosion, one hail of gunfire, one sunken ship, one innocent step on a land mine. The survivor's guilt when they return home but their friends and comrades-in-arms don't. But all their work, their sacrifices, their days of boredom and nights of fear continue to keep all of us back home safe from what they lived and continue to live with for months and years at a time.

I'm humbled by their selfless sacrifices and their service. I'm proud to have so many veteran relatives and friends to be proud of. And in awe of. And thankful for.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Tech rehearsal for Elf the Musical!

I’ve scored the trifecta of costume plots ... which is an over-fancy way of saying I have only three costumes ... which translates to a minimum of costume changes and a maximum of no-costume-change-panic.
From left to right:1. (on me) Jake the nameless New Yorker in a gray sweater and black coat
2. Jim the festive Greenway Press employee who’s now wearing a festive red sweater
3. Doug the cop WHO SAILS THROUGH THE ENTIRETY OF ACT II WITHOUT A SINGLE COSTUME CHANGE except, of course, for my standard-issue cop tap shoes for the big elf-hatted finale ... which, I suppose also means I have a hat change as well


Friday, November 09, 2018

Sitzprobe (noun)

1. A seated rehearsal that merges orchestra, vocals and body microphones for the first time in the production of a musical; 2. A vaguely naughty-sounding German word that though it may seem so at first reading doesn't really lend itself to clever sexual innuendo and don't even think you're going to come up with the elusive and brilliantly definitive "probe" joke because millions of very talented and clever and profoundly disturbed actors and singers before you have exhausted every last possibility a thousand times over; 3. THE COOLEST REHEARSAL OF EVERY SHOW OF YOUR LIFE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE; 4. I'm sportin’ my emergency new merlot-at-twilight-hued hoodie I just bought at Target because it’s damn cold today and I proudly but stupidly wore just my flimsy new Disney race shirt when I left the house this morning; 5. That has nothing to do with Sitzprobe but I didn't have any other place to fit it in today; 5. WE HAVE SUPER-NEW, SUPER-TECHY, SUPER-COOL, SUPER-LIGHTWEIGHT, SUPER-SLENDER, SUPER-SUPER NEW BODY MICS; 6. It’s too bad Andrew is always so boring and plain-looking:

I'm OK

I got 40 quarters last night to put in my super-masc quarter cup so I have them handy—and pretty—for our the honor-system pop fridge at work.

Also: We use the Chicago Manual of Style at Nordstrom, but I’m a lifelong AP Style guy so I brought in my AP Stylebook to keep it real. CMOS gives me the hives.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Crew View!

It’s our first run-through in front of our Elf crew ... and the first time Doug the Christmas Cop—who is basically the show’s Baroness Elsa Elberfeld character and therefore the emotional backbone of the narrative—takes a backstage selfie in his the-police-who-investigate-crime-but-not-the-district-attorneys-who-prosecute-the-offenders millinery:

I called fox to ask why my prediction came true that the caravan would instantly not matter the moment the polls closed

and the nice white lady on the phone said “insert desperate fake-news distraction here.”

Six *trained* off-duty police officers were at the bar and they couldn't stop the gunman

An armed police officer who was there expressly to stop the massacre was murdered by the gunman.
So please, everyone at fox news, demonstrate for the rest of us exactly how to charge an active shooter. You owe it to us.

We'll be waiting with our thoughts and prayers at the ready. Though I personally don't give a shit if anything happens to all of you.

13 dead, including a *trained* police officer

But please, tell us again how a bored rent-a-cop standing at the door would have hypothetically stopped this. Tell us again how arming every person in the bar with MORE GUNS! would have hypothetically stopped this. Tell us again how this is the wrong time for me or anyone to discuss how to actually stop this.

No wait. Just shut the fuck up.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

You know how there’s dumbass and there’s HOLY SHIT YOU’RE A DUMBASS?

I just waited patiently for my boarding group to be called and then waited patiently in line to board my flight, only to find out I WAS AT THE WRONG GATE. In my defense, our gates shared the same waiting area and were boarding at the same time. But still.

Also, this wins everything:


• Our Disney vacation is over
• I didn’t win the marathon
• Perhaps because there was only a half marathon
• Perhaps not
• But now we’ll never know
• Will we?
• No, we won’t
• Anyway ...
• Disney water
• It tastes like History and Safety First
• Turning it into ice and putting it in Diet Coke doesn’t help
• And it CERTAINLY doesn’t help the Diet Coke
• Speaking of ...
• A large cup of Disney History And Safety First ice with a splash of a Diet Coke costs less than $6
• But not much less
• Disney has stopped using lids on its fountain sodas
• Which is awesome from an environmental standpoint
• And I assume from a cost-overhead standpoint
• Plus an ordering-supplies-and-dealing with-invoices-and-delivering-stuff-to-all-the-restaurants standpoint
• But definitely not from a don’t-spill-your-tiny-splash-of-Diet-Coke-on-yourself-when-you-get-jostled-in-the-crowds standpoint
• Safety First!
• Anyway ...
• Runner dudes with muscularly lean, distractingly shapely calves
• Who didn’t ask me on dates
• Probably because they didn’t want to make things weird in front of their wives and kids
• I am developing a healthy animosity toward wives and kids
• People who wore their race medals to the parks
• Three days after their races
• Really?
• Was a full day of wearing a rigid, itchy ribbon around your neck with a heavy, clangy medal bouncing against your chest a productive enhancement to your sweaty Disney joy?
• Asking for a friend
• Also:
• Also!
• People who stopped in the middle of a crowd of moving people to do something vitally important like take a selfie or scratch an elbow or clap on 1 and 3 or whatever other pressing needs really stupid, rude people face in their center-of-the-universe days
• Grrrrrr
• I bought three race shirts and zero other souvenirs but I somehow couldn’t get my suitcase closed this morning
• My cargo shorts are out to get me
• Or perhaps they wanted to stay a few more days
• And I broke their eminently-practical-and-yet-appropriate-as-always-multiple-pocketed hearts
• Now I’M the bad guy
• Speaking of my eminently-practical-and-yet-appropriate-as-always-multiple-pocketed cargo shorts ...
• I finally stopped having little panic attacks every time I realized I couldn’t feel my car keys in my front right pocket
• When I get home tonight, I’m going to start having an unsightly key bulge in my front right pocket again
• And it might be uncomfortable since I’m not used to it anymore
• MY
• ?
• We got our bills from our Magic Bands that we wore all week to buy food and charge it to our room ...
• Ouch
• Not OUCH
• But still ouch
• (I’m talking about the final tally of charges and not the bands themselves; the bands were actually quite comfortable)
• Remember our fancy, four-princess dinner in Cinderella’s castle where we got to see the fireworks show outside the quatrefoil-gothic castle windows?
• We were told our dinner was vaguely “already taken care of” at the end
• We assumed that meant it had been automatically charged to our Magic Bands, so we blithely went on our merry way
• But ...
• There was no fancy-four-princess-dinner-in-Cinderella’s-quatrefoil-gothic-window-castle charge on our bills this morning
• Was it an oversight?
• A surprise Summer Of Running Away From Being 50 birthday gift?
• A random act of Disney benevolence?
• Pre-emptive compensation for not winning the marathon?
• Do we need to contact them to see which option it was?
• Not a complaint: Our entire Disney stay was a beautifully immersive experience of colors and ethnicities and accents and physical abilities and sexualities and gender fluidities and ages and family sizes
• Especially on It’s a Small World
• ESPECIALLY on It’s a Small World
• That ride gives me hives
• On my runner-chafed unmentionable locations
• Anyway ...
• We never encountered an instance of racism or xenophobia or hostility or even poorly hidden frustration over our differences
• During the entire week of our stay
• In fact, we all seemed to celebrate each other and gladly accommodate people in wheelchairs and families with excited kids so we could all enjoy our collective Disney experience together
• For a whole week
• Except, of course, for the people who stopped in the middle of a crowd of moving people to do something vitally important like take a selfie or scratch an elbow or clap on 1 and 3 or whatever other pressing needs really stupid, rude people face in their center-of-the-universe days
• Anyway ...
• We’re re-entering the ugly, not-Disney-égalité-fraternité world of our shithole president and his shithole orbit today
• I don’t know how all of you survived it over the last week
• But re-enter we must
• In a cloud of voter optimism and hope
• And three new race shirts that make my suitcase uncloseable
• My flight home is at 5:14 tonight
• Erik’s is at 2:31
• So we took the early Disney bus to the airport for him to catch his flight and for me to chill with a couple of books and a fully charged phone for a while
• I’m currently typing this as I sit in a comfy chair in front of the airport Chick-fil-A
• Speaking of non-Disney-égalité-fraternité
• Facebook keeps crashing on me, so I’m obsessively select-all-ing and copying this post after every other bullet I write on it here
• Just so I don’t lose this freaking endless list of rambling, mostly pointless litany-of-complaints line items
• Freezing and crashing apps are many-times-a-day occurrences on my iPhone X
• I am SOOOOOOO not impressed with the iPhone X
• Save your money and get an abacus and two cans with a string
• Much more reliable
• And affordable
• Anyway ...
• I had an awesome vacation with an awesome friend and an awesome surprise finish of a half marathon I’d fully expected to choke on and possibly even have to quit
• And now I’m chilling in a bustling airport seated near two hip and cool teenagers who are using hip-and-cool-teenager patois like brah to talk to each other and my boy to talk about their (presumably male) friends
• It’s both charming and amusing
• And I’m in a happy place, both in my head and in this airport
• Except the airport’s escalators look like they were installed in a columbarium
• Brah

We're all ...

red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and peach and ruby and olive and violet and fawn and lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve and cream and crimson and silver and rose and azure and lemon and russet and grey and purple and white and pink and orange VOTE BLUE!

Just as Benghazi and “her emails” instantly disappeared from every republican talking point the second after the 2016 election

—except, of course, in case of emergency distraction—the two-months-away caravan will suddenly be less important than Puerto Rican hurricane victims to them by the time the first returns roll in tonight. Vote.