Wednesday, December 31, 2003

I'm back from an awesome holiday week with the family. But it's good to be home.

And I've been busy since I've been back:
- I painted my front hall. (Well -- ALMOST painted. I got everything done but the closet door and then I ran out of paint. And the paint store is closed today and tomorrow. And the accent color I bought is waaaaaay too dark, so I have to buy something lighter when I'm there. But I'm almost done with this project. Right?)
- Before I painted, I installed dimmer switches on a bunch of lights. I was going to move three of the lights to the back of the wall they currently occupy, but the switch box I bought was deeper than the wall -- and when I got all the electrical stuff torn apart, moving everything looked like waaaaay more work than I cared to undertake.
- Paul and a friend from SF came over this afternoon to watch my new Pirates of the Caribbean DVD, but the special features menu was fucked up so we could watch only the movie. What's the point of having a DVD if you can't watch the bloopers and the deleted scenes?
- I've covered my condo with rarely-worn clothes in an attempt to decide what stays and what goes. It's hard to part with my children, but I refuse to let my stuff occupy more room than I get to live in.

Now I'm off to a housewarming/NYE party at Terry and Kent's. See you next year!

Monday, December 29, 2003

Guys' Day Out

The nephew and I spent our first afternoon together today. And we packed in a lot of fun: Smiley-face pancakes at Village Inn, paint samples from Shirwin-Williams (a stop that was more for me than for him), sticker shopping at Michael's and a (very cheap) matinee of Brother Bear.

He's such a good little kid, and playing Uncle Jake all day gave me such a profound sense of happiness. But when he's all strapped in the back seat of my car and we're driving around town, suddenly every other driver on the road is a blazing maniac and I'm a white-knuckled little old lady.

A kid's love and trust can sometimes be exhausting.

If I didn't get up to pee once in a while ...

... you'd never know I was alive. Yesterday I sat through a weepy WWII Esther Williams/Van Johnson flick on cable with my dad, The Haunted Mansion with Jeff and three hours of Trading Spaces with my mom.

I did, however, get off my flabby white ass long enough to run three miles in Iowa's unusually balmy December weather. I ran through my old paper-route neighborhood and admired all the magnificent houses I was too young to appreciate when I was younger. And I took four laps around the track at my high school, but nobody came out to cheer me on or welcome me home. Sigh.

Today we're enjoying the rule of It Always Happens in Threes: Mom and Dad blew a fuse or something that affected a large portion of the house, the brakes went out in Dad's van, and my sister and her husband woke up to water dripping from their kitchen ceiling.

It looks like my work here is done. They'll be glad to have me gone when I head back to Chicago tomorrow.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Another day at the mall.

Mom, the sister, the kids and I hit the sprawling Coral Ridge Mall today to redeem gift cards, take advantage of after-Christmas sales, entertain the kids and mock Midwestern hairstyles. And I came to the realization that, aside from a new dining room table, there's really nothing else in the world I need to buy.

Except a baseball cap with ear flaps on clearance at The Gap. Just $3.99.

Tonight we continue Conspicuous Consumption Tour 2003 at our friendly neighborhood Outback Steakhouse, where a big poochy tummy and a flabby white ass wait excitedly to come home with me.

In the mean time, you get to hear how cute the niece is. She's just two -- and just learning to say meaningful words. She's taken to calling me "Uppa Jake," and she likes it when I swing her "uppa down."

I know. Isn't she just brilliant? Couldn't you just die?

Friday, December 26, 2003

The after-Christmas mob never really materialized here. Mom, the sister and I hit Lindale Mall this morning to take advantage of all the sales, and we left with armloads of stuff and absolutely zero crowd frustration.

And now I have all my 2004 calendars and next year's Christmas cards -- all at half price. Woo-hoo.

Best of all, I ran into some long-lost friends and got caught up on gossip from my old job and from my old theater company.

Now it's off to play Uncle Jake and eat all the Christmas leftovers before they go bad. Not a bad life...

Thursday, December 25, 2003

A bellyfull of Christmas cheer.

I made it home safely, and we had a wonderful Christmas eve/day as a family -- it was filled with our traditional Norwegian dinner (and traditional Norwegian dinner leftovers the next day), lots of music, lots of canasta, some snuggly naps and two very excited children.

The little doctor outfit I got the nephew and the Disney Princesses dress-up set I got the niece went over extremely well, and I got a pretty nifty-ass mixer for my already-packed kitchen. (Someday I may even learn to cook.) Tomorrow we'll hit all the after-Christmas sales in the hopes of scoring bargains -- and of running into people I haven't seen in ages.

Now it's time to put the kids to bed and play even more canasta. Pardon my smiley emoticon, but it's been a very merry Christmas indeed. :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

All packed and ready to go.

I'm off for a four-hour drive and a six-day holiday visit with the family. I didn't get all my presents wrapped and I have no idea how my plants will survive for a week in this dry weather, but I'm sure the holidays will be spectacular nonetheless.

Stay tuned for detailed reports of all the cute things my niece and nephew do, every game of canasta we play, and all the friends I see while I'm home.

Have a great Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2003

So the first day in the new office went well.

I scored a couch and a refrigerator from the leftover-furniture pile, so my new home away from home is looking more and more like a home. Which might not be so bad when I'm stuck at the office working advertising magic until late in the evening.

So far my only complaint here is all the ambient noise. There are no completely enclosed offices and there is a manifest dearth of carpeting—so conversations and ringing phones and high heels on cement floors and slamming drawers and music all waft around the building in a cacophony of distraction.

But the space is too cool, the neighborhood is very downtown Chicago, I'm now a block away from my favorite fast food and my commute is waaaay more convenient, so I'm pretty psyched about working here.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

It's hard to believe it's been 15 years since Miriam was murdered

I still remember December 21, 1988, with amazing clarity. Dad had picked me up from college and we'd had a nice chat on the drive home. It was a cold, crisp day, so we were surprised to see Mom standing in the driveway without her coat when we pulled up. As we got closer, we realized she was sobbing. A month earlier, she'd had a mastectomy, and she was in the beginning of many rounds of chemotherapy for her breast cancer, so I assumed she'd gotten horrible news about a biopsy or something. I raced to her to hug her, and through her sobs, all she could utter was, "Miriam's plane went down."

Miriam was a friend of mine who had just finished a semester in London under the auspices of Syracuse University. I'd been out to visit her for a week over Thanksgiving, and we'd had an awesome time touring museums, seeing shows and exploring the city together. I hadn't realized she was flying home that day, and I was surprised to find out Mom knew not only her flying schedule but the plane she was on.

We went inside and turned on CNN—which was in its infancy—to watch the first grainy images of the wreckage of Pan Am flight 103, which had just hours earlier come crashing down in fiery pieces over Lockerbie, Scotland. And over the next few weeks and months as the evidence pointing to a terrorist bomb emerged in the media, I numbly started experiencing the bizarre dichotomy of a personal tragedy playing itself out on the world stage.

In the years since, I've befriended Miriam's parents and friends, and I've written many pieces about my perspective on the bombing that were published in newspapers and scholarly journals and read on NPR. And I've found myself at times emotionally hardened against horrible tragedies and at other times bursting into tears over Kodak commercials.

It continues to be an emotional ride, but I've gradually stopped treating the anniversary of Miriam's murder with solemn reverence. In fact, I spent six hours today unpacking and organizing my new office in our cool new downtown building. Then I spent the evening folding, stuffing and stamping 200 Christmas letters. And for the first time since the bombing, I didn't call or email Miriam's family on the anniversary. I didn't even watch the news for any special 15-years-ago-today coverage.

Am I forgetting her? Am I "moving on"? Am I growing callous? There still isn't a week that goes by where I don't think about her repeatedly, so I'm pretty sure I'm not letting her memory fade -- but I've grown comfortable enough with the loss that I'm clearly not overcome by it every year on the winter solstice. And I guess I'm OK with that.
My feet hurt all the way up into my womanly parts.

So last night's Christmas-drag-mandatory birthday party was a blast -- once I finally picked an outfit. I'd previously purchased this plum evening-length thing with a clingy metallic bodice, but it wasn't fabulous enough. Then during yesterday's errands I stumbled upon the perfect top: a clingy winter-white fake-cashmere sweater with fake marabou around the neck and wrists -- the perfect foundation for the woman who has no clue what her clothes say about her. I also got some kick-ass heels at DSW: black suede with demure straps and wicked Cruella points. Keith lent me a saucy black skirt and I added a hideous glass-grapes-with-angel-head ornament on a chain and a poinsettia napkin in my wig, and Heidi Holes was all set to spread Christmas cheer as only she can.

So about 12 of us tottered into Pepper Lounge in our heels and fake bosoms last night and just took over the place. It's funny how everyone wants to chat you up when you look like a tragic hooker with a bad case of linebacker shoulders. And after much eating and drinking and picture taking, some of us tottered off to Sidetrack to show off our finery, and we all eventually crashed at Keith's to de-drag and rub our tired feet.

Who knew Heidi and I would have so much fun? Who knew heels that look so fierce could make your feet hurt like they've never hurt before?

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Unexpected fun

I was supposed to see Urinetown with Richard last night, but he got the flu and had to cancel. I mentioned my suddenly free evening to Kelly at work, and before I knew it, she and Marty and I were embarking on an evening of adventure. Check out all we did:

1) Madly finish packing everything in our offices
2) Stop at Marty's so he could walk Lola, his beautiful greyhound
3) Have pizza and salad at Piece
4) Giggle our way through Elf, a silly, dorky, rather predictable but endlessly funny holiday classic-in-the-making
5) Stumble upon a FREE indoor parking lot in Lakeview (woo-hoo!)
6) Meet up with Anders, Chris, JP, Carl, Jimmy et al. at a funky little Lakeview straight bar
7) Crawl up a block to another straight bar curiously packed with homos
8) Collapse in bed around 1:00

Now I have a mountain of last-minute holiday errands to accomplish today before I get ready for a double birthday party for Jim and Jeff tonight. The mandatory dress code is holiday drag, and I don't have a thing to wear.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Moving Day.

The office is moving today (and all weekend) into a kick-ass new space four blocks north of where we've been for the past three years (and we'll be waaaay closer to shopping, transportation, more shopping and the newest franchise of my favorite fast food emporium). Woo-hoo!

So today is all about checking off our lasts:

- Last status meeting in our ugly conference room
- Last look at our spectacular views of the Wrigley Building, the Jewelers' Building, the western skyline and the the northern neighborhood where we're about to move
- Last pee in the short urinal
- Last whiff of the scary old fridge in the kitchen
- Last workout at the tired old gym across the street
- Last 25-cent soda from the cheap machine that unfortunately isn't coming with us

Fortunately, the only thing that will change about my commute is the considerably shorter walk between the EL and the office.

And speaking of the EL, I had another one of those almost moments on it this morning. I got on and immediately locked eyes with this really handsome guy -- the kind whose effortless beauty comes from good genes, a good fitness ethic and what appeared (in a romantic-first-impression kind of way) to be a genuinely good soul. He was in his early 40s with short salt-and-pepper hair, an earnest smile and an obvious mutual interest in me.

Of course, I did what any moron would do and I sat directly in front of him so we couldn't make eye contact or strike up a conversation or anything else you'd expect a single person with common sense to do in that situation. When he finally got up to get off the train, our eyes locked no fewer than 10 times, and he even stood on the platform as the train pulled away so we could smile at each other once more through the window.

But then again, there really is no graceful way for two people to subtly strike up a conversation on a crowded commuter train without a roomful of people listening in on your little mating ritual.

And besides, he was smaller than I am, so we couldn't share clothes. It would never have worked out.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

After another long day at work yesterday, I strolled my way up Michigan Avenue -- picking up last-minute gifts along the way -- toward Matthew's fabulous Gold Coast condo for a nice little holiday get-together. As usual, he'd decorated to the nines and the food was delicious.

And we watched my all-time favorite Christmas movie -- though the more I see it, the more hokey it becomes. It's filled with implausible plot holes, egregious continuity errors and some of Irving Berlin's weirdest songs. Dean Jagger (who plays the general), despite his impressive resume and many awards, gives one of the worst performances in the history of cheesy cinema. And Vera-Ellen, bless her heart, is all grotesque and misshapen -- imdb.com says all her high-necked costumes were designed by the incomparable Edith Head "to cover her neck, which was aged beyond her years due to her eating disorder, anorexia."

But Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby sound spectacular together, the candy-colored sets and costumes are always a delight to see, the dancing boys are all hot, and Mary Wickes still makes me laugh Christmas after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

200!

Bill and I benched 200 pounds today -- probably for the first time since I moved to Chicago.

Granted, I got only one unassisted rep, but I was able to squeeze out two more with Bill's help. Can't you just smell the testosterone?

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

If it's Monday it must be show tunes.

I met up with some chorus boys last night at Sidetrack for boywatching and show tune singing. The place was PACKED too -- mostly with straight women who are so achingly trendy they hang out at gay bars on Monday nights.

There was also this guy named Todd there. Todd goes to my gym, attends circuit events religiously, dresses like a fashion victim and shows far more interest in social climbing with the circuit set than in spending any time with me. So last night he sloshes up to me and declares through his alcoholic fog that he's "alwaysh had a crush on" me.

Now, for us teetotalers there's nothing more romantic than a drunken declaration of love -- especially from a drug user who all but ignores you when he's sober. I wasn't sure how to respond, so I asked him if that wasn't just the liquor talking -- which was obviously the wrong reception for the heroic bravery he and his Miller Lite had summoned up all the courage to show me. He mumbled something unintelligible and stumbled off in a mix of confusion and indignation, leaving me alone to ponder the cruelty of a god who would allow Madonna to be cast in the Evita movie.

And I have a feeling this is really gonna hurt my chances when I try to pledge his fraternity. Assuming he remembers any of it when he sobers up.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Bill and I had noticed that our daily workouts were getting kind of dull and uninspiring -- and that our waistlines are getting kind of flabby and unappetizing. So today was the first day of our new and improved workout schedule -- now with cardio!

We spent today's workout sweating and gasping on the elliptical and treadmill machines, and my legs are already wobbly -- and my thighs are already feeling sexier. We should be hot in no time!

Sunday, December 14, 2003

I got three standing ovations this weekend.
What did you accomplish?

The show's over, and now I can focus all my attention on my damn Christmas letter. Just as soon as I get my laundry done.

Mom and Dad drove in to see the show yesterday, and on their way to my house from the theater last night they got run into the median by a bad bus driver. They ended up blowing a tire -- and then they discovered their spare was flat as well. Whee. It was midnight by the time we realized our little saga wouldn't get resolved until morning, so I decided to forgo the cast party last night and get some sleep.

Then Dad and I got up at some ungodly hour this morning to meet the AAA guy who towed him to the Sears tire center -- but we were first in line and Sears even opened early, so we got all fixed up and Mom and Dad left for home by noon with four new tires safely gripping the road underneath them. And while we were at Sears today, I got my tires rotated -- so I'm done worrying about them for another 7,000 miles.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

So opening night went well.

Our audience cheered and clapped in all the right places, we had only minor mishaps involving fallen headdresses and weird lighting cues -- and, best of all -- we sold out! In fact, we more than sold out; we had to sell the box seats at the sides of the theater to accommodate the overflow, and we reportedly turned away more than 100 people. Woo-hoo! I hope they'll come back today for our 5:00 and 8:30 shows, which are on the verge of selling out themselves...

Now Mom and Dad are on their way in for a show-seeing visit and I'm madly scrambling to find the carpet under the mounds of stuff that has piled up in the last few weeks. ACK!

Friday, December 12, 2003

Opening night

Last night's dress rehearsal went fabulously well -- which, depending on the superstition you subscribe to, means:

1) We'll have a horrible opening night.
2) We'll have a fabulous opening night.
3) It doesn't matter -- superstition is for the weak.

I took the day off and spent it sleeping, cleaning, catching up on old Chicago Tribunes, watching The Ellen Degeneres Show and working on my Christmas letter.

Now I'm off to entertain the masses. And in this show I'm dancing in drag, jitterbugging in a muscle shirt and even singing a bit of a solo. There's still time to get your tickets -- it would be a shame if you missed it all ...

Thursday, December 11, 2003

LASIK CLUSTERFUCK

So I left the house this morning in plenty of time to get to my LASIK appointment, but an odd convergence of weirdness and stupidity prevented me from getting there:

1) When I entered my Zip code in the LASIK doctor's Web site, I was taken directly to a page with a poorly-labeled map and what turned out to be unhelpful directions to a faraway branch that isn't even open yet. (Go ahead -- enter 60640 on the home page and the "locations" page and see for yourself. I'm not sure that the city of Riverwoods even exists.)

2) The AAA map in my glove compartment kind-of matched up with the map from the Web site, but the 94/294 intersection that both maps promised would be there simply doesn't exist.

3) The informational signs on 94 (also called The Edens just to further confuse those of us prone to be lost) are few and faaaaaar between.

So $1.00 in tolls, a quarter of a tank of gas and a wasted morning later, I still haven't had my eye appointment. Grrrrrrrr.
Tech week

Not a lot to report this week -- spacing rehearsal at the theater on Tuesday, tech rehearsal last night, dress rehearsal tonight. The show is going extremely well, and we should be awesome by the time we open on Friday.

At least we'd better be awesome -- a good 20 of my co-workers are coming during the run of the show.

Speaking of work, I had to miss our company Christmas party last night -- for the second year in a row -- because of rehearsal. But we had a company meeting yesterday afternoon, and -- again for the second year in a row -- we were named Agency of the Year in our conglomerate's worldwide network. And that position on the food chain earned us each $100 in cash.

Today I'm off to my second preliminary LASIK checkup -- this time at a much cheaper doctor in the suburbs. The doctor in downtown Chicago was gonna ask $5,000 for the procedure, and the suburban guy wants only $3,000. Both doctors have operated (successfully) on my friends, and I figure the long-ass commute is worth saving a good $2,000 -- especially since I'm going to London and Paris in the fall!

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Dabbling in the occult

Dan, Nick and I -- on the recommendation of a friend of Dan's -- went to a psychic last night. And he was amazing.

But first, I have to report that on the way there, I did the stupidest thing any reasonably sober Chicagoan can do: I managed to get on the Purple Line train going in the wrong direction. No big deal, I can hear you saying. Just get off at the next stop and get on the Purple Line train heading in the direction you want to go.

Well, yes. That's what I eventually did. Except I had to wait half an hour to change trains because the Purple Line runs express to Evanston if you get on the northbound train at Belmont instead of the southbound, which takes you to the Loop in about five short stops.

Anyway, after reading a complete issue of Newsweek, I eventually changed trains and made it to the Loop and joined Dan and Nick for our evening of black magic. And our psychic was awesome -- he just started talking as soon as he shook our hands, blurting out highly accurate statements and questions and predictions at rapid-fire pace. He nailed a ton of secrets all three of us were carrying, and we all left more than impressed.

My life has always been pretty great (to the point of being boring), so the stuff he said about me was a lot less juicy than what Dan and Nick got. And he went so fast that I still can't remember everything he said, but here's what I got written down (conveniently categorized for your reading pleasure):

Obvious generalities and/or easy guesses
- I'm German
- I'm Norwegian
- I grew up Lutheran
- I look like my dad (which isn't all that true; I look more like my mom)
- I'm in my mid-30s
- I have a friend named Dave
- I have a Jewish friend
- I had a grandparent die of heart problems
- There's a woman at my office who likes me

Amazing facts he knew all by himself
- I'm a writer
- I'm in advertising
- My mom is a long-term cancer survivor
- My dad has had back surgery
- My mom is 62 and my niece is 2
- My family is in Iowa
- Someone in my family used to live in Ohio
- I had a long-term relationship that ended amicably
- My mom was really pretty when she was young, and she's still quite attractive
- My family doesn't have many issues with my sexuality, and my dad is the coolest about it
- My sister's husband treats her well
- My sister is really pretty when she dresses up, but she usually dresses casually
- My sister was a teacher until she had her kids
- My sister's name is Jenny
- My boss and I are good friends
- I have many really great friends who openly express an interest in dating me, but I'm not romantically interested in them
- I have a friend named Scott who is really attractive and we flirt openly with each other, but we have never acted on our mutual interest
- I'm going to Europe in the fall
- Dan and Nick are going to Europe as well, but not with me
- I've known Dan longer than I've known Nick
- I have an easy time meeting people (which is actually not very true at all -- I'm pathologically shy, but once I do meet people I have an easy time making friends)

Yet-to-be-proven-true predictions
- I'll never have a weight problem (Nick got this same prediction, but Dan -- put down that doughnut! -- didn't)
- I will do very well in my career and make a lot of money
- I will live a long life
- My niece will be into ballet and my nephew will be into soccer
- My mom's cancer won't come back
- I'll start a long-term monogamous relationship within the year
- My trip to Europe will go very well

Things I figured he'd pick up on but he didn't
- I've lost five friends in violent ways -- including a terrorist murder
- I'm not religious and my family is -- which is probably our only conflict

Random things that may or may not be true
- My mom has a friend with MS
- My mom has a friend in Boston

I'm still absorbing everything he told me, but I was certifiably amazed at the experience -- and we can't wait to go back in a few months to see what else there is to learn!

Sunday, December 07, 2003

WHEW.

So I'd planned to celebrate surviving the just-completed week from hell with a long morning snooze on Saturday, but I was mysteriously up and at 'em by 7:00. And since I'd already written off the day as a work day, I decided to get to work putting up my tree instead. It's a modest little four-footer, and it's now loaded with lights and sitting in front of the window just glowing the holy fuck out of Christmas.

Matt had volunteered to be a lingerie model for our saucy "Walkin' 'Round in Women's Underwear" number for this weekend's chorus concert, and I'd told him I'd help him pick out something fun on Saturday afternoon at the local Boystown drag emporium. Now normally you're among friends when you prance around in lacy things or totter around in heels at this place, but there was some Boystown holiday street fair going on Saturday, and the store was crawling with funky Lincoln Park chicks and their visibly uncomfortable boyfriends. Curious stares notwithstanding, Matt left with a lovely lavender bustier/panty/fishnet set -- and I managed to snag a plum evening gown, black velvet wrap and beaded clutch from the clearance rack ... in case I get invited to an all-drag Nobel Prize reception or something. (You never know.)

Later that night I had my choice of parties to attend: a surprise birthday dinner thrown by my friend Bill, a tree-trimming get-together at a co-worker's new place or the annual Girls' Weekend in Chicago dinner I've attended since I moved here. Since the girls' weekend involved some dear family friends, I opted to join them again. The girls are Gingie (a friend of my parents' whom I've known practically all my life), her sister Janie from Nashville, and Janie's two Nashville friends Nancy and Bunny. The five of us ate at the trendy d.kelly in the west Loop and then headed over to join their Chicago friend Fern in the elegant Drake Hotel for drinks in its holiday-festooned lobby.

Who knew I'd keep having fun with them year after year -- just me and five Women of a Certain Age? Next year they're all coming a day earlier so I can take them to Boystown for some drag shopping and trendy Boystown dining.

Now it's Sunday morning, and I'm nursing a bad headache and preparing for today's 8-hour chorus rehearsal.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Another long-ass day at work.

We're working on a HUGE new-business pitch, which we assumed would suck up every last waking minute all week and this weekend too -- but I convinced everyone to stay late Friday night and see if we couldn't just get the fucker done and off our plates. And we did it! Woo-hoo!

Afterward, Dave and I celebrated over trashy but delicious mall food at one of my favorite suburban restaurant chains that just opened up a franchise a mere five blocks from the office. Mmmmm!

Now it's late and I'm exhausted and I'm going to bed. It's just another typically wild Friday night in the endless party that is my life.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Day Nine

The cold still lingers -- even though we're well into National Handwashing Awareness Week. But I feel much better than I've felt in a long time, thanks for asking.

Last night I had the gall to sneak out of work early -- 7 pm -- to run two choreography rehearsals for next week's chorus concert. My disco elves are about 95% ready to perform (a few more run-throughs and they should be ready to shake their elfin booties in front of a paying audience). And my dancing rolls of wrapping paper kicked ass learning their entire song and committing it to memory in an hour and a half.

I'm so proud of all my anthropomorphic wards. Next show I hope to graduate to choreographing for actual humans.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

The two best things about being sick: Nyquil and Vicks VapoRub. I've been chugging the former and slathering the latter for seven nights now, though, and it's starting to get old. I'm feeling definitely better, but I'm not all there just yet. And I have to be well by tomorrow; I have only one helping of Nyquil left, and I'll be damned if I have to buy another bottle of the stuff. 'Cause if I do, the cold wins.

And if living with the eterna-cold weren't bad enough, work has been crazy busy as well. I did manage to sneak away from the cubicle last night in time for an amazing Chanticleer Christmas concert with Matthew. If I were a groupie of any musical group, it would Chanticleer -- I think I've seen them in concert about 15 times now. And I have a secret plan involving them: Get transferred to our office in San Francisco (Chanticleer's home city), and once I'm all moved in without incurring any moving costs, quit my job and get hired to sing and tour with the best men's chorus in the world. How cool would that be?

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Home

The holiday trip to Iowa was great -- throat-aching, snot-dripping cold notwithstanding. We played tons of canasta, bonded with the niece and nephew, ate like fiends, and sneaked away in twos and threes to discuss Christmas gift ideas. We even ordered my favorite Cedar Rapids pizza Saturday night and gorged ourselves like Rush Limbaugh in an opium den.

I also managed to make a Home Depot run with Jeff and Matt to get all the stuff I needed to move three light switches to make room for my fabulous new wall hanging. And when I finally lugged all my new electrical stuff, patch kits and borrowed tools home today, I called the antiques dealer to make the formal purchase ... and the hanging had sold yesterday. Shit shit shit shit shit.

Oh, well. I guess that just means more shopping ...

Friday, November 28, 2003

Braving the crowds

So normally I'd avoid all shopping districts like the plague they are on the day after Thanksgiving -- but I decided today that it might be a fun way to run into friends while I'm home for the holidays.

I was only marginally right. Jenny and I ran into two friends today -- one I didn't care to see all that much and one I'd seen just a few weeks earlier. But we did get some Christmas shopping out of the way. Which is always nice.

And we've been playing canasta like fiends since we put the kids to bed yesterday. Steve and I beat Mom and Jenny last night amid mountains of cookies and assorted leftovers, and today I kicked the pants off Steve and Jenny in a long three-handed game. I rock.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thanksgiving in Iowa

So dinner today was fabulous, and we had more than the whole family here: Mom, Dad, my sister, her husband, my adorable niece and nephew, Dad's sister Nancy visiting from Denver, and our family friend Gingie. And now everyone is safe and healthy and happy ... and incredibly full.

And my cold feels like it's on its way out. I feel so blessed today I could just pee.

The drive home last night was almost uneventful. The traffic reports had been grim all day, and I kept hanging out at work waiting for the all-clear that never came. I finally took off at 7:00 (mostly because the garage closes at 7:00 and I'd probably lose my car for the whole holiday weekend if I didn't leave before then) -- and I was pleased to discover that the roads were reasonably empty and miraculously fast-paced.

So I just sailed along, driving responsibly (as always) and listening to all my favorite CDs (but not singing along as is my usual custom because my damn throat still hurt) ... when suddenly -- in lowly Clarence, Iowa -- my rearview mirrors were filled with the flashing lights of a self-righteous small-town cop.

Now, I haven't had a speeding ticket since I was in college (in the late 1980s, for those of you keeping score at home), and I haven't had an accident since probably 1993, so I figured my nearly spotless record would speak volumes for my character -- especially when I found out I was going a measly 38 in a 30-mph zone -- and I'd get off with just a friendly warning.

And I was right. So not only was the cop reasonable and polite and properly deferential to such a model citizen as I, but he was also pretty hot. After checking all my paperwork, he told me to drive carefully and wished me a safe journey home. I tried my best to convey thanks and see what happens when you're a good citizen 99.99% of the time? and I'm single and you have my name and address, you handsome copper you all in one smile as I drove off.

I don't know if he got all that, but I did make it home safely. Just like he told me to do.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Ugh

Somewhere between getting on the train downtown last night and getting off of it in my 'hood, I managed to develop a cold. It's just a sore-throat-general-malaise kind of thing, but it's decidedly not what I need before a 5-hour drive tonight and an extended holiday visit with the family.

In any case, I'll be relaxing in Iowa with the world's cutest niece and nephew for the next few days. I may or may not update the blog while I'm there. And you'll just have to find a way to soldier on through the uncertainty.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

So yesterday was another 11-hour day at work

And it was colder than shit in Chicago. So when I got home all freezing and exhausted late last night, I decided to make some broccoli and cheddar soup from a gourmet mix I got at my friendly neighborhood Jewel. Nothing like the wholesome goodness of soup to fix what ails you, right?

Apparently not until after you've cleaned up the gloppy mess that happens when the soup suddenly boils over onto the stovetop, the counter, the front of the oven and half the kitchen floor. ACK!

And once I got that mess cleaned up and I was pouring what was left of the soup into my bowl, a little glop of it splashed up and hit the back of my finger, raising a goose-egg-size blister that makes its presence known every time I tie my shoes, backslap my bitch or try to use a writing implement.

So much for soup's mystical curative powers.

Anyway, I finally had my bowl of warm cheesy goodness, and I plopped down in front of the TV to flip channels and eventually land on the train wreck they call Average Joe. And of course, I was immediately hooked. Our intrepid heroine was wise to cut the creepy Hispanic guy -- especially since he sobbed like a schoolgirl at the news. But if I were she, I would have definitely spent more time with the dreamy-yet-slightly-immature Evan Marriott lookalike. Woof!

Sunday, November 23, 2003

My second emissions test and my third famous person!

Saturday was a big day for me. It started at the Illinois emissions testing facility, where my (sometimes) trusty old Neon passed with flying colors. The last time I took my car in for the tests, I think it took almost three hours from getting in line to receiving my diploma. So this year, armed with tons of reading material and a fully charged phone battery so I could fill my time productively, the testing process took little over 10 minutes. I used the bonus time to take my car in for an oil change before next week's Thanksgiving road trip to Iowa.

But you're not reading this post to hear about my auto maintenance; you want to hear about all the rich and famous people I've been rubbing elbows with.

But first, I need to mention that the chorus sang an hour of Christmas carols at the kickoff of the Michigan Avenue holiday parade this afternoon. We had no sound system, and we were sandwiched between a marching band and a small brass choir. So nobody could hear us. And it was kind of cold. And we could barely hear each other -- so it was probably for the best that nobody on the sidewalks could hear us either. I guess participation in this festival was a Big Deal. I'm looking at it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience -- because I'll never do it again.

So on to the famous people. Here's the rundown of my famous run-ins so far:
1) Whoopi Goldberg at a ribbon-cutting for some children's outreach facility in inner-city L.A. about 10 years ago. I was there with a friend who worked at the facility, and I got my picture with Whoopi to prove it.

1.5) Scott Weiland, the drug-addled lead singer for the Stone Temple Pilots, on the treadmill next to me at Crunch gym about three years ago. He gets only half a listing because I didn't know who he was at the time, and to this day I still don't care.

2) Jason Priestly at the Chicago premier of his new movie, Die, Mommie, Die, a couple months ago. The director stood up before the movie to thank us all for coming, and he pointed out the still-hunky Jason, who was standing in the back of the theater. I almost swooned.

3) Megan Mullally singing at a fund-raiser concert for the Northlight Theatre tonight in Skokie. She sang wonderfully, and the high-price tickets included the opportunity to meet her at a reception afterward. Unfortunately, the reception was mobbed by theater volunteers, and I never got a chance to get close to her. But I made a point of getting close enough that I could see her face and say we shared the same public space -- if only for a fleeting moment.

Now it's late and I'm tired and I'm off to bed.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Bob and Jake's Great Theater Adventure continues!

Tonight we saw a pretty amazing production of The Lion in Winter with a pretty first-rate cast. The production is all but literally in the round; the set is a large X in the middle of a square room with chunks of seats in each corner -- so we as audience members can watch the show AND the rest of the audience at the same time.

And therein lay the problem tonight. You see, a good three fourths of our audience comprised a busload of kids from a Catholic high school from the burbs. And while The Lion in Winter isn't racy by any means, it shows adults kissing -- Henry II gets affectionate with his mistress Alais, and he gets downright smoochy with his wife Eleanor. Which is apparently waaaaaay too cringe-inducing for children raised in the make-believe world of Catholic school to watch. And then when Prince Richard and King Philip share a kiss, fuggetabout it -- the Pope's blessed children giggled and snorted like they were at a goddamn Ace Ventura movie.

I almost pinned the kids' teacher to the wall after the show and told him on no uncertain terms that he was henceforth allowed to bring his kidlets to nothing more representative of the real world than Cats, but I figured the insult would be lost on him. I mean, really -- it's one thing to subscribe to a mythology that insists the entire world is heterosexual and homogeneous and oblivious to your enduring immaturity in the privacy of your own church or school or home, but to bring children indoctrinated in such nonsense out into the real world where they can embarrass themselves and irritate everyone around them is both rude and ignorant. And if this were truly an educational outing, you'd think any teacher smarter than a size seven soap dish would read the play first and either warn the kids that it didn't march in lockstep with the narrow-minded viewpoints of the almighty Church -- or just keep the kids home where they could watch videos about ... oh, I don't know ... supernatural beings who walk on water or Davey and Goliath or goddamn bunnies frolicking in a fucking meadow.

Repeated audience distractions notwithstanding, we really enjoyed the show, and we capped off our evening with drinks at both Sidetrack and the new Caribou on Halsted before heading home to crash.
AMEN

I love being gay

I really do. Yesterday, after yet another horrifyingly stressful 11 hours at work, I headed over to Matthew's house for a just-us-girls spa night. It was Matthew's idea, and I had NO idea what to expect. I was thinking cheap mud masks and those strips that pull gunk out of your nose pores and maybe some scented lotion on our elbows -- all available in the discount aisle at our friendly neighborhood Walgreen's.

But Matthew is a certifiable spaholic, and he has a cupboard just bursting with high-end spa products. And it doesn't stop there -- he also has electrical contraptions and special teas and even heated lava rocks. So our evening played out thusly:

1) Shower and don loose pajama bottoms
2) 15 minutes on a chi machine shaking my legs back and forth, loosening my joints, settling my bowels and giving me a funky endorphin rush when it ended
3) Five-step chemical face peel followed by delicate little pats of eye cream
4) Foot soaking in pans filled with lava rocks, boiling water and some menthol-scented additive
5) Yummy tea
6) Foot spritzer and lotion
7) Chinese takeout and a weepy chick flick

And the whole treatment worked miracles on my tired old self -- even though I'm still kind of emotionally drained from my workweek, my skin looks fabulous!

I'd never seen An Affair to Remember, though, and I wasn't too impressed. When it wasn't giving us endless Meaningful Glances, it was trotting out little Negro children to entertain us with their Amazing Negro Dancing Abilities. Add not one but TWO dumped fiancees who are kind-hearted and understanding and supportive -- and throw in such oversensitivity to the handicapped as to render them unmentionable in polite society -- and you get an understanding of my disapproval. To top it off, Deborah Kerr's extensive couture is anything but fabulous -- though she's almost as beautiful as Cary Grant's grandmother's scenic Italian villa.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

A pirate walks into a bar

The bartender says, "Hey, pirate! You've got a steering wheel sticking out of your fly."

The pirate says, "Aargh! It's drivin' me nuts!"

* * * * *
ADDENDUM: Bill threw a hissy fit when he saw I posted this joke as if it were mine. So let me set the record straight (as it were): I got this joke from BILL. He likes pirates.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

So show tunes was fun last night

I hung out with some chorus boys, ran into friends ... and even met up with a hot (and intelligent and literate and did I mention hot?) man I only kind of know (so far, at least) -- and we have a DATE tomorrow night! More to come ...

Tonight was the first new episode of Queer Eye in goodness knows how long -- and Dan, Matthew, Paul and Phil came over to watch with me. Now I'm watching the Nightline coverage of today's Massachusetts Supreme Court gay marriage decision. And wondering how big it might backfire on us in the hands of politically connected religion addicts.

Monday, November 17, 2003

When Step Groove goes bad

So Anders and I decided to take a step aerobics class after work tonight. And though I haven't taken a class in a couple years, I've logged more hours in aerobics classes over my life than most Republicans have spent convincing themselves that "hate the sin, love the sinner" is a logical way to think. So I was kind of excited to get back into the groove, as it were.

By the time Anders and I got there, the class was so full there were only a couple spots left for our step benches: way in the front or way in the back. I was tempted to take a prominent spot in the front because, hey, I've taken tons of classes before. And hey, I'm a dancer. Hell -- right now, I'm a choreographer. I can rock no matter where I stand in class. Right?

For some reason, we decided to stay in the back. And about five minutes into class, I was profoundly thankful. First of all, it's a pretty advanced class, so the combinations came at us quickly and complicatedly. And second, the class is full of regulars who already know the combinations -- or at least the instructor's basic vocabulary.

So for about 15 minutes I kept up. And then my brain reached critical absorption. And then my crappy new deodorant gave out. So for the last 35 minutes or so I was that stinky clueless guy who just takes up valuable space on the gym floor.

But a little humiliation now and then can keep you grounded. I am, however, going to head to Sidetrack tonight so I can belt out show tunes loudly and clearly so everyone can admire how I know all the words. And most of the harmonies.

So the weekend guests have come and gone

And I'm exhausted.

The Producers was fun on Friday night, but not as amazing as I'd expected. And our last-minute seats were in the very back row of the upper balcony -- where you just can't look rich and connected no matter how much DKNY you have on.

Saturday was all about shopping and eating, and I waddled home at the end of the day with three new shirts, two new pair of shoes and a new pair of jeans. The jeans are those intentionally-dirty-looking things I've been hating since they first started appearing on hipsters half my age a couple years ago. And suddenly I'm wearing them. (But they look fabulous with my new Skechers!) I'm such a goddamn lemming.

After shopping all day Saturday with Mom, Kay and Mary, I abandoned them at 6 to entertain my metrosexual cousin Chris, who was in town for a conference. We shopped on north Michigan Avenue for a while and then headed up to Boystown for a fabulous dinner among the cultural cognoscenti at Ping Pong. He had an early flight home the next morning, so after dropping him off at his hotel I headed over to a fabulous little cocktail soiree at Matthew's Gold Coast condo. And by the time I tumbled into bed, I was one tired puppy.

Sunday morning Mom, Kay, Mary and I had brunch with Pat, Dana and Rob -- even more Iowa-based friends who were visiting Chicago this weekend. After a couple hours of catching up, everyone hit the road for home and I hit the laundry room and choreographed some more disco to teach at chorus rehearsal last night.

Now I'm at work avoiding my professional obligations and looking all trendy and shit in my new threads. Dig me!

Friday, November 14, 2003

Be Our Guest

I'm home today cleaning and organizing and porn-hiding in anticipation of a weekend visit from my mom and two of her friends. My cousin Chris from Denver is here this weekend for a conference as well, so tonight the five of us are having dinner at Mom's favorite Chicago restaurant and then we're taking in a bird's-eye-view of The Producers.

Stay tuned for a full report of our adventures.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Bob and Jake's Big Theater Adventure Continues

Tonight we saw an amazing production of The Taming of the Shrew at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. I'm not sure I've ever read or seen Shrew all the way through -- though I (no doubt shittily) played Petruchio in the seduction scene in a Shakespeare showcase waaaaaay back in high school.

The production at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre moves the play from Renaissance Padua to rich-people-in-the-1960s Padua, and the transition works really well -- including some chronological shifting of scenes, the addition of some mood-setting original music and a complete rewrite of a monologue to involve a description of Petruchio as a bad-boy biker. It doesn't hurt that the set, costumes, musicians and cast are first-rate.

Best of all, the actor playing Petruchio is a complete hottie AND he frequently bares a lot of skin and even gets completely wet in one scene. Bonus! True to form, I fell in love with him -- and we will continue to court until I fall in love with the next sexually confident, beautifully sculpted naked man in the next play I see.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

My precious little niece turned two today

I wish I could have been with my family for her birthday party. Apparently she wore a black velvet outfit I bought for her last winter -- but I'm not a very observant uncle, so it didn't fit her until this year. I tried to make plans to drive out to Iowa to be there, but scheduling was difficult -- and I'll be there in a few weeks for Thanksgiving anyway. I can't wait!

While she's certainly not conversational, she's a good mimic -- and, with a little prompting, she was able to say "thank you" and "outfit" and "I love you" to me on the phone this evening. I was grinning so loud she could probably hear it.

Anyway, it's hard to imagine there are children in this world who are more loved than my niece and nephew. Those lucky little kids have the constant attention of a patient stay-at-home mommy, grandparents who would do anything for them (and who live only four blocks away, so they're often called upon to do that anything) and an extended-family network of love that stretches from the Pacific to Lake Michigan.

Ugh

I got to work through my lunch workout and through a chorus rehearsal last night. So I went to bed feeling a little fat and irritable.

But not before I ordered a fabulous new tissue dispenser for my bathroom. Now all I have left to do for my bathroom makeover is:

> pick a paint color (or two)
> paint
> pick a new sink, faucet and vanity
> install the new sink, faucet and vanity
> pick a new mirrored medicine cabinet
> install the new mirrored medicine cabinet
> pick cool new indirect lighting
> install my cool new indirect lighting
> pick new towel bars
> install new towel bars
> have my "do not flush toilet while train is in station" sign framed
> hang my newly framed "do not flush toilet while train is in station" sign

and then I'm all done!

Monday, November 10, 2003

Oh, Dear LORD

Out-of-the-box clich├ęs have hit such a low they're now occupying the ocean floor.

I have never seen a conch shell shit an entire eagle before, though. That was kinda patriotic.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

A weekend at Shangri-Lodge

We're back. And we had a BLAST. Some highlights:

Friday

We get to the cabin around 8:00 after stocking up on groceries at our friendly neighborhood Jewel. The cabin is small but cheerfully decorated in early antlers -- all macho and hunter-like but with a fabulous gay flair.

After unpacking and shooting the breeze for a while, we order a $25 pizza (who knew pizza was more expensive outside the city?) and play two games of Cranium. Nick and I beat Dan and Phil both times -- even though I can't draw a toupee with my eyes closed and Nick can't remember the name of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

Saturday

Day one of sleeping in. Breakfast of fried egg sandwiches and juice. Then a nice drive into Lake Geneva for some touristy shopping and chocolate eating. Urp. After coming home to clean up, we meet up with Dan and Mark at their MASSIVE and totally cool new lodge (which would make a great setting for a wilderness-themed circuit party). We arrive just in time to catch the total lunar eclipse from their back yard, and then we head out for an awesome dinner (boeuf au poivre ... mmm). Then back to the lodge for hot tubbing, cat-petting and gossip. Very fun night.

Sunday

Day two of sleeping in. I could get used to this. Another breakfast of fried egg sandwiches -- this time with the sausage and bacon we forgot to make on Saturday. Then Dan beats my ass at Scrabble on the sun porch while Nick and Phil take a walk around the lake. At 2:00 we meet up with the Dan-and-Mark Dan for some antiquing in nearby scenic Woodstock. I almost buy a totally cool 27"x72" Bacchus lithograph-looking print for my front hall, but when I get home I find out it won't fit where I want to put it unless I move three light switches. Damn. And I was all ready to fork over my $250. I have to see how complicated the switch-moving would be ...

Now I'm home with a fat-distended belly and smoky everything 'cause it's leaf-burning season in Wonder Lake. And we can't wait to go back!

Friday, November 07, 2003

Dinner with Matthew last night. (For those of you keeping score, that's two delicious Chipotle dinners in a row.) I was all set to branch out and order something other than what I've always eaten every time I've been to a Chipotle, but I couldn't bear the thought of not having yet another barbacoa burrito made to my specifications (black beans, green salsa with a bit of tomato, yes to the optional sour cream and cheese). And if those giant burritos didn't make us fat enough, we stopped by a cute little patisserie around the corner afterward and stuffed our guts with French pastries. Mmmm!

Then I waddled home to finish folding last weekend's laundry in front of I Love the '80s Strikes Back and pack for my manly weekend with Dan, Nick and Phil. We'll be camping out for three days in a well-appointed "cabin" in some vaguely woodsy area somewhere northwest of the city.

The road trip begins at 5:30 tonight. You're in charge while we're gone.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Three things to report.

1) No cavities. I had a dentist appointment after work. Now my teeth are shiny clean and my conscience is clear for yet another six months.

2) Deep discount Kenneth Cole. My dentist's office is in Watertower Place, so after my checkup I headed down a floor to the Marshall Field's men's department for a quick look-see. And I stumbled home with two kick-ass shirts: a $56 muscle-hugging ribbed camp shirt marked down to $6.97 and one of those gay-ass patterned dress shirts marked down from $69 to $8.97. I don't understand the precise calibrations that brought about the 97-cent suffixes on those prices, but now I can look like a status-whore fag boy without compromising my party-drug budget.

3) Wet brakes. After a November day filled with downright tropical weather, the heavens opened up while I was shopping. And when my bus reached the Foster tunnel under Lake Shore Drive, we encountered a pretty impressive flood. The cars that made it to the bottom of the exit ramp were crossing the lagoon via the sidewalk, and when our bus decided to forge ahead in the street -- amid the raucous cheers of the passengers (whose lives are obviously devoid of any legitimate excitement) -- water came gushing in under the doors. And the bus' brakes were still making ungodly groaning noises when I got off three stops later.

But I made it home safely. And after almost three hours of
I Love the '80s Strikes Back, I'm ready for bed.
Yawn.

Last night was going to be a quiet little evening at home ... until Matt called and invited me to join him for show tunes at Sidetrack. Of course I said yes. And of course, once we got there we ran into a bunch of guys from the chorus. So for four hours we sang with the wild abandon of queens who know all the words -- and all the harmonies -- to all the show tunes ever written.

But I didn't get to bed until after 1:00. And now I smell like a goddamned ashtray.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Night of a thousand birthdays

Last night after the chorus birthday party gig, I headed home, changed into something a little more sexy than my overstarched dress shirt, packed my car with leather drag (just in case -- I've been in a leather-bar mood lately and I haven't been to any of Chicago's fine leather establishments in at least a year) and headed to a double birthday party for Patrick and Matthew. Since the party was on All Saints' Day, it had a St. Patrick and St. Matthew theme, complete with ultra-rich angel food and devil's food cake.

But by the time the party wound down, I was too tired to go stand around in a bar -- and my cake-distended belly wouldn't have looked good poking through the front of my leather vest anyway -- so I skipped the Cell Block and the Eagle (though the Eagle was just around the corner from the party).

I got home late enough that I ended up sleeping until NOON. And I spent the afternoon doing six loads of laundry and choreographing "Don't Leave Me This Way" for the chorus Christmas show. (We'll have a drag Mrs. Claus and 10 gay elves singing it to Santa. Just like at the first Christmas.) The combination ended up looking pretty awesome, though it was pretty hard -- but my elves learned the whole dance break in one hour of rehearsal tonight.

Now I'm all sweaty and gross and I'm faced with the prospect of sullying my fresh clean sheets. And I think the sheets are gonna lose.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

ROSS: Sylvia is ... a goat. Who you're fucking!

MARTIN: Please, don't say that. [beat] [beat] [beat] Whom.

I had to do it. I had to see The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? again before it closed at the Goodman. Such an amazing play. Such an amazing cast. Such an amazing use of the English language.

Kelly and Joanne from work came with me this time. And afterward, we discussed the show and indulged in steamy office gossip as we marinated in the pesto-drenched atmosphere of the neighborhood Corner Bakery. After that I met up with a good chunk of the chorus to sing a command performance for the 90th birthday of the aunt of one of our major donors. We rocked. The elegant University Club on Michigan Avenue rocked. And one of the hunky gay (and no doubt wealthy) partygoers even deigned to smile at me. Rock on!
So Halloween was fun. It started first thing in the morning when I put on my sexy new cowboy hat and tottered off to work in my seldom-worn boots with my little pan of brownies decorated to look like a graveyard. Our office Halloween party started around 1:00 and included a good five hours of eating, drinking and -- yes -- karaoke. (You haven't lived as a homosexual until you've belted "Stand By Your Man" in a cowboy outfit in front of a conference room packed with inebriated co-workers.)

After work, Dan, Nick, Phil (as Wolverine -- the only other one of us not too chicken to dress up) and I met up for pizza and headed to Boystown to watch the parade. Unfortunately (fortunately?) the crowd was too thick to see anything so we headed into Sidetrack where it was warmer -- and there was a constant loop of gay boys parading around the bar in their Halloween finery. While we were standing around gawking, I managed to start talking with Neil, a guy I've been wanting to meet for a good three years. Fresh out of a relationship, he was amicable and chatty enough that I thought we'd get to know each other a lot more before sunrise. He even volunteered that he was going commando -- a fact I assume is usually mentioned only in the context of a gay seduction. Turns out, though, that he was only making conversation.

Sigh.

But after three otherwise wasted hours, he did give me a ride home. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Well, we're movin' on up!

We're merging with a sister (more like distant cousin, actually) agency in a few weeks, and since we're moving into their space, we had a party there last night to check it out. And it's friggin' COOL. There are almost no parallel lines in the entire place, it's decorated in a riot of colors and textures and shapes, there are just-for-atmosphere video monitors embedded in all the walls, there are tons of interesting places to go and brainstorm -- and the center of the building features this huge nuclear-reactor-shaped cone thing that spans three floors and houses all the vending machines, microwaves and eating areas. And there's a massive staircase winding around it. And there's this funky bridge that stretches next to it to connect office areas. Dude, it's gonna be awesome -- like working on a Hollywood set for a movie taking place in a kick-ass advertising agency.

The location couldn't be cooler either -- it's three blocks closer to the train, it's in the middle of a retail/restaurant district, it's two blocks from Michigan Avenue and it's in the same building as a trendy gym. Woo-hoo!

The only downside: There were NO hot guys at the party last night. Which -- I know -- doesn't mean there are no hot guys working there. There could have been a hot-guys-only offsite meeting last night or something. But the dark cloud of reality says the eye candy potential doesn't look so good. (For the record, there were about four cute-ish guys; but the cutest of them was wearing a wedding ring and some godawful Dockers-type getup. The horror!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Museums and stuff

Debating American Modernism: Stieglitz, Duchamp and the New York Avant-Garde at the Terra Museum last night with Bob and Alex.

I've lived here more than three years now and I'd never visited the Terra -- but I was impressed. It's an interesting space, and the two current exhibits are both thorough and thoughtful in their presentation (one unfortunate misplaced modifier calling Duchamp "an aspiring actress" notwithstanding). I've never been too excited about Dada, but the Terra exhibit (which features Duchamp's famous "readymade" urinal) does an impressive job trumpeting its merits. I was more impressed with the machine-age-inspired works in the collection, but then I've always been a sucker for the sleek and the heroic in Deco-era art and architecture.

There's also one unexpected thing I learned from the exhibit: Duchamp was kind of hot.

The other current exhibit is Leaving for the Country: George Bellows at Woodstock, and we entered it from the boring end. His endlessly bucolic landscapes and portraits got us all but running through the exhibit, but we stopped cold when we encountered his compelling "dynamic composition" portraits overflowing with imagery and allegory and just plain beauty. And just beyond these portraits hang the stylized boxing-ring lithographs that so heavily influenced Regionalism and the works of Grant Wood, whom I have studied exhaustively from grade school on -- seeing as how I grew up in the town where he worked and I went to the school where he taught. It was an unexpected surprise to stumble on these works face-to-face after having seen them only in books, and it made our evening o' culture especially memorable.

After the museum, we retired to Bob's atelier for pasta and delicious homemade sauce and admiring comments about his shiny new kitchen appliances. And, as always, Bob and Alex filled the evening with great stories about their international travels and interesting gossip about hot Chicago boys.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Judge Elliott has left the building.

Matt and I did a murder-mystery dinner last night. It was a pre-packaged program where everyone attending was assigned to be either a suspect, a witness or a detective as we all worked to figure out who whacked 1940s mob boss Don Leonardo Linguini. I was Judge Elliott Witheringlare, Sr., "the finest judge that money can buy" and a victim of blackmail at the hands of Don Leonardo's mistress.

The evening had all the promise of being a totally cool event, but it just didn't work out that way. Everyone in the room got a HUGE character fact sheet beforehand with way too much info to memorize. All the suspects had frustratingly similar names like Frank "The Enforcer" Linguini and Carl "The Killer" Linguini, which made it difficult to keep all the characters straight in your head. We were encouraged to show up in 1940s or even character-specific clothes -- which many did, but one freak-ass family showed up in store-bought Halloween costumes including Scooby-Doo, Spongebob Squarepants and Harry Potter. There was a really good but really loud jazz combo drowning us out as we worked the room trying to chat (yell, really) with other people to get clues and piece together the mystery. The whole event took place in a private party space in a cheesy Italian restaurant with all the charm and ambiance of a 1960s hospital waiting room. And the food was horrible.

There were some funny elements, though. Since characters were assigned randomly to people as they registered to attend, we ended up with people of all ages and races playing brothers. Matt, who is black, was a Mexican drug lord. One guy's elderly aunt was played by a pretty young thing whom he described as "hot" to the whole room when he was being interviewed. And pretty much every man involved in the mystery was having an affair with the Canary sisters, and the two women assigned to play these paragons of moral turpitude were really good sports about being the butt of every slut joke known to man.

Matt was able to figure out which (Name) "The (Nickname)" Linguini was the killer, but I was totally clueless. But since Matt was checking out the event as a possible company outing, his office paid for the whole evening -- so my pathetic inability to follow along didn't cost me a dime.

Something odd struck me, though, as we were leaving: If we were both accused of a real murder that took place last night, would the jury find our ironic murder-mystery dinner alibi plausible?

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Dan and I have been on a nodding friendship in the chorus for a long time, but last week we started chatting and we discovered that with my four years singing and dancing in theme park shows and his veritable career on that circuit, we knew a ton of people in common.

So we made a date last night to compare stories, share photo albums, eat pizza, dish about people and gab well into the morning.

The most interesting revelation: I had a summer fling with a guy in 1988, and Dan ended up dating him for six years. The funniest: The creepy old producer of my shows -- whose tattooed-on eyeliner made him look mildly odd when I worked for him in the 1980s -- has become a plastic-surgery addict who now apparently looks like a freakish cartoon of his former self.

Friday, October 24, 2003

They had me at "whom."

Bob and I took in the second half of the Albee festival last night at the Goodman. The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? is Albee's latest work -- and, ironically, his most accessible. While his earlier plays work so hard to achieve his signature level of absurdity and abstraction, The Goat is remarkably straightforward ... albeit straightforwardly absurd. It involves the destruction of an otherwise happy family when the husband and father admits to carrying on a love affair with a goat, and Albee's deft handling of such a bizarre premise makes it easy for audiences to divorce themselves from its manifest absurdity and more acutely examine the underlying dynamics of love, betrayal, anger and friendship.

True to form, Albee fills the script with enough cultural and historical imagery to make any humanities teacher scurry to an encyclopedia, and he has a grand old time playing with language. His characters here, moreso than usual, are scholars and dilettantes, and their deft wordplay offers even deeper layers of enjoyment and enrichment as the story plays out. One of the great ironic juxtapositions in the play's construction is the raucous humor the wordplay provides over the epic Greek tragedy playing out in the character's lives -- especially with the wife. In my favorite scene, as she's struggling to come to terms with her husband's revelation, she keeps stumbling over the appropriate pronouns to use in reference to her sudden rival, the goat: she? it? her? It's impossible to do the scene justice here, but it's safe to say I've never laughed so hard over the word whom in my entire life.

The Goodman production is excellent, with special notice going to the actress playing the wife and mother. Her fall from upscale wife to destroyed cuckold is the stuff of Greek tragedy -- and her performance is nothing short of spectacular.

Bob and I started our evening at a rather forlorn little hotel restaurant with an ambitious menu, decent food and a pretty cool view of the Chicago River. But it was waaaaay more expensive than the online review led us to believe.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Rats! I mean Lions!

I haven't seen J., the dreamy dance captain who's in town for the national tour of The Lion King, since that fateful day two months ago when he confessed his romantic interest in me and then told me he had a boyfriend.

So guess who shows up at the gym today, looking all sexy and being all touchy-feely friendly? Sigh. Apparently the boyfriend thing is still going well for him. And apparently he's still very happy to see me. And apparently I'm still a little bit crushed by all of this.

On the flip side, he said he could get me house seats for a Lion King performance. (Now all I need is a date who can understand that my heart lies with the lithe dancer in the porcupine suit on the stage.) And he said he wants to come see the chorus show I'm helping choreograph.

Best-case scenario: He sees how talented -- and datable -- I am, dumps his boyfriend, offers me a job in his show, and we dance off into the sunset together, hand-in-hand in our matching porcupine suits.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The chorus sang tonight at an induction ceremony for the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. The event was held in a smallish ballroom in the beautiful beaux-arts Chicago Cultural Center, which I've always wanted to check out. And I wasn't disappointed. What an amazing building!

Apparently the hall of fame thing tonight was a Big Deal. The press were there. The mayor was there. And so was Ian, a member of a tight-knit group of friends that adopted me when I moved here three years ago and apparently divorced me last year. I hadn't heard from or seen any of them since an awkward bump-into-on-the-sidewalk encounter early this spring -- so it was especially ironic that when I got home tonight there was a letter in my mailbox from my mortgage broker with a $50 gift card to thank me for referring Dan, another member of that group, to him.

Water under the bridge. I lose some friends I never really felt comfortable around, I get a $50 dinner courtesy of my mortgage broker, I get to sing in front of a roomful of homos. Everybody wins!

Anyway, in between Ian and Dan I got a surprise mini-date with the ultra-dreamy and always-fun Scott. He and I ended up standing next to each other on stage tonight, and after the concert we decided to hit the big sale at Field's -- where I got two kick-ass new shirts and a funky pair of jeans -- and then grab dinner at Potbelly's. Then we sat by each other on the train with our legs pressed tightly against each other. A quick peck on the lips at his stop, though, and it was all over. Sigh.

Now I just have to decide which shirt to wear to work tomorrow.

Monday, October 20, 2003

It's gorgeous out

Dan wanted to go blading along the lakefront after work, but it was almost dark -- and kinda windy -- by the time we got home. And neither of us had been on our blades all summer. So we wisely decided to take a long walk instead. We headed up to the Armory so Dan could get his meningitis inoculation, and we stopped for delicious Oreo McFlurries on the way.

After we said our goodbyes on this balmy October evening, I chatted with my folks for a half hour and then collapsed in front of the TV for a gory show about autopsies, then the news and then yet more ice cream and some mind-numbing Leno jokes.

Now I'm all fat and happy and ready for bed -- though I have visions of sawed-off ribcages and ladles of stomach contents and cross-sections of brains dancing through my head.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

A shot in the dark

There's been a minor outbreak of bacterial meningitis among gay men in Chicago this week. Six cases have been reported; three men have died. And apparently that's enough to get the Chicago Department of Public Health concerned -- it's set up free vaccination clinics all week in all the gay neighborhoods.

So tonight after rehearsal, at least a hundred of us from the chorus marched down to the Boystown location to be vaccinated. The line was out the door and down the block, but it moved pretty quickly -- and the volunteer staff was organized, friendly and efficient. A quick release form and a virtually painless shot later, I'm apparently protected for the next three years.

But I go to bed tonight grieving for the unnamed victims of this outbreak -- and for their families, who lost loved ones to a rapid, painful death.

$620 TIMES TWO!

Our office team walked this morning in the five-mile Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event that took us up and down the lakefront between the museum campus and Navy Pier. The day was gorgeous, and (last I heard) there were 40,000 people participating in the walk. I raised $620 in pledges from my family and friends -- which comes to a whopping $1,240 thanks to my company's dollar-for-dollar matching pledge. I don't know what our team raised in aggregate, but I'll let you know as soon as I hear our final numbers.

Part of the event involves a tribute wall you can decorate with pink ribbons customized with the names of people touched by breast cancer. I bought ribbons for my mom, both grandmas, my sister's mother-in-law, a dear family friend and all the women mentioned by the people who sponsored me. Both of my grandmothers survived their breast cancer and died of other causes, and everyone else in my life touched by breast cancer has beaten it. Mom is celebrating 15 cancer-free years this month!

After the walk I headed across town to Alcala's Western Wear to get a real cowboy hat. I've wanted one of my own since I wore a fabulous one in a show years ago, and a recent article in the Trib profiled a guy at Alcala's who is known for expertly sizing and shaping hats to fit every face and head perfectly. And the article was right. I bought a black wool Stetson that looks so kick-ass on me I want to sleep in it, and I bought an ultra-cheap straw beater hat I could maybe wear line dancing and not worry about losing it. So I'm now the proud gay owner of two authentic cowboy hats. And to celebrate getting both of them on sale, I stopped at my favorite Mexican restaurant for a tasty barbacoa burrito. Mmm!

And as I write this, I've learned that the giant spider outside my window doesn't like ladybugs. And that ladybugs can escape from spider webs.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Take every character cliche known to man, add the most predictable feel-good-movie-of-the-year plot, throw in a goofy premise that just might work and even have a couple characters learn a few Important Life Lessons along the way ... and what do you have? Only the funniest movie I've seen in a long time.

We had a writers' night out after work last night, and after yet another disappointing dinner at Heaven on Seven, we howled our way through the amazingly funny School of Rock. On paper, this movie should have ranked right up there on the funny scale with the Ernest franchise, but thanks to some really clever performances and some truly inventive jokes on top of the really tired old ones (like the effeminate little boy whose favorite singer is Liza Minnelli) School of Rock really works.

It probably didn't hurt that I was sitting next to Bill, whose laugh alone provides added value to the price of admission. And I just wouldn't be Jake if I didn't mention the amazing hotness of the actor playing Spider, the replacement guitarist who shows up when Jack Black's character gets voted out of his band. You'll understand when you see him in his all-hotpants-and-nipples Battle of the Bands outfit. Grrr.

Friday, October 17, 2003

The post about the play about the baby

So yesterday morning at 10:00 I found out I had to make a speech at our 4:00 staff meeting about a successful client presentation we'd just done. We call these monthly speeches our "creative showcase," and there's increasing pressure to make them, well, really creative. My first instinct was to write alternate lyrics to "We Will Rock You" and chant my presentation to a clapping-colleague drumbeat, but that seemed like a lot of work. My second plan was to write everything in a cheesy Dr. Seuss cadence -- and it actually turned out kinda cute. Observe:

Oh, we are the bankers
with a product that's slow.
It should be a winner
in our PORT-fo-li-O.


The poem was a hit when I showed it to the creative team a few hours before the staff meeting. And when I mentioned my earlier "We Will Rock You" idea, we discovered that Dr. Seuss and Queen's thump-thump-CLAP go surprisingly well together. (Go ahead -- try it.)

And this is how "We Will POP You" was born. (For those of you not in the biz, POP is short for Point of Purchase. We were showing the staff some POP signage and support materials we'd developed for a very happy client.) Everyone in the company seemed to love the song, but it didn't hurt that everyone was well-lubricated on champagne to celebrate the fact that we won two new clients in the last few weeks.

After work I met Bob for a great Star of Siam dinner. Then we headed to the Goodman Theatre for a fascinating production of The Play About the Baby, which is part of the Goodman's Edward Albee Festival.

I fell in love with Albee when I first read Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in college, and I've tried to read or see everything of his since then. He's such a master of language and of exploring reality (and imagined reality) through absurdity and logic. And beneath the highbrow facade of his work lies a wickedly twisted, angry mind. The Play About the Baby employs devices like the unnamed and ultimately destructive visitors from his The Lady from Dubuque and characters like the outwardly strong but inwardly helpless Honey (and the never-seen child) from Virginia Woolf, but it breaks new ground exploring the use of distraction (how close can you pay attention when a stunning naked man runs across the stage during the high point of a monologue?) in the search for truth.

Enough exegesis. The play is fascinating, engaging and pleasantly disturbing. And if you get nothing out of the play, the hot naked man (with his tiny little waist and his perfect nipples) is worth the price of admission alone. But isn't he always?

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

All-you-can-eat fish and chips tonight at Duke of Perth with Mike, Paul, Rich et al. I don't eat a lot of crappy food, so all that deep-fried fish is sitting in my gut making me feel sick as a dog right now. I think we'll have our next get-together somewhere that serves milk of magnesia.

After dinner I met up with Tim so we could start planning the branding and marketing (and naming) for his new salon. He likes the name Lather. I'll check on its availability tomorrow.

I got home in time to watch the last three innings of tonight's game -- you know: the game where the Cubs got their asses whupped and their World Series dreams killed. And if you think it was ironic that the Cubs were even in the National League Series, consider this: I actually sat at home and watched it.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Jake's Celebrity Weekend!

Yesterday it was my afternoon with the self-involved Calvin Klein underwear model. Tonight it was my evening with Jason Priestly at the gala premiere of his campy new movie, Die, Mommy, Die.

We got free tickets for the premiere last night at rehearsal -- and Jeff and I went because hey, free movie! I'd also heard Die, Mommy, Die is funny, and it really is. It's an intentionally (I hope) schlocky homage to overwrought 1960s family dramas complete with a scenery-chewing faded diva (in this case, a man in drag), hilariously bad dialogue and lots of convoluted plot twists. And -- BONUS! -- there's a ton of homoeroticism ... and two cute actors (Mr. Priestly included) and two mega-hunky extras who show more than a little skin.

We didn't realize Jason would be in attendance when we snatched up our free tickets, but there he was, standing all of his three feet tall at the back of the theater. And when the Q&A started after the movie, he was just as dumb as I'd imagined he'd be. (It didn't help that he was fed some stoopid questions by the audience, including the requisite gee-you-sure-are-brave-to-kiss-a-man from the requisite stoopid breeder who apparently didn't realize she was sitting in a room full of homos.)

And to be honest, I probably wouldn't have even recognized Jason (I call him Jason) if he sat next to me on the bus. He's pretty short and he had a lot of facial hair, so he just looked like a cute-ish scruffy guy. And his handlers whisked him away in a private car the moment the Q&A session was over, so I never got a chance to examine him up close.

He's now officially the second really, really famous celebrity I've been really, really near to -- after my Whoopi Goldberg encounter in LA almost 10 years ago. So I'm getting more and more connected in Hollywood.

The day wasn't all peaches and beans, though. I went to my friendly neighborhood True Value Hardware this afternoon to return a dead phone battery I'd bought there six days ago. Unfortunately, this True Value has a five-day limit on its return policy. And besides, the woman behind the counter patiently explained to me, they couldn't take it back anyway because the package had been opened.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

I ran five miles this morning. And the only thing that hurt when I finished was my right calf -- so I'm cautiously thinking my hip injury is all healed. But -- for a beautiful Saturday morning -- the lakefront path was awfully empty. I find it hard to believe the entire Chicago running community is resting up for tomorrow's marathon. But I've never been much in tune with the group think that seems to influence the rest of the world.

I spent the afternoon downtown with Rad, a total cutie I met on the Atlantis Mediterranean cruise last fall. He's in town for a conference with some (hot!) colleagues. The five of us putzed around the North Michigan Avenue shopping area and then ate at some cheesy-ass diner that served the worst omelet I've ever choked down. Bleah.

Then it was off to a 10-year anniversary party for Sean and Christopher. Now I'm too tired to live.

Bob and Jake and Romeo and Juliet

Bob and I have acquired an expensive little habit: way-too-frequent dinner-and-theater outings. But they're fun! This season's crop of theater started last night with a spectacular Joffrey production of John Cranko's 1962 Romeo & Juliet set to Sergei Prokofiev's lush post-Romantic score.

I'm a huge Joffrey fan, but lately the company has seemed unpolished and downright wobbly in performance. In fact, I switched my ballet-company allegience to the Hubbard Street Dance Company after seeing its mind-blowing spring repertory concert this year, but after last night I'm squarely back in the Joffrey camp.

I had never seen Cranko's setting of R&J (actually, I don't even recall ever hearing Prokofiev's score) -- and I can't remember ever seeing the Joffrey perform in Chicago to a live orchestra -- so the evening was a pretty amazing experience. Cranko's narrative is strong and broad and manifests a deep understanding of both classical ballet's idealism and modern dance's iconoclasm. The Joffery's set for the production is magnificent -- and versatile enough to frame every scene in the ballet with just a few lighting and prop changes. And (I'm going to sound like a big old theater queen here) the sumptuous costumes -- especially at the Capulets' ball -- caused audible gasps in the audience.

And the dancing. Wow. It was exuberant, poignant, thoughtful, moving ... and still fresh and interesting 40 years after it was created. And I would be gravely remiss if I didn't make special mention of the ass on the dancer who played Mercutio. Sigh. It's enough to get me back on the squat rack at the gym.

To counterbalance the overpowering stench of homosexual rapture, the house manager gave Cubs/Marlins scores at both intermissions last night -- and since the Cubs spent their entire game kicking the Marlins' collective ass, everyone in our audience cheered. Quel butch!

Friday, October 10, 2003

They're he-e-e-e-re!

The city is suddenly crawling (limping?) with runners here for Sunday's Chicago Marathon. I can spot them a mile away -- with their gaunt eyes, hipless hips, expensive running shoes and lean, sexy legs.

While this was supposed to be my first marathon, I'm actually not upset I won't be running it. My summer-long training taught me a lot about myself, my limits and my capabilities. And one thing I learned is -- at least at the moment -- I really don't have the passion to go through with an entire marathon.

I'm thrilled to report, though, that my mysterious tendon injury is all healed and I'm running again completely pain-free (except my knees are a little sore). And I have every intention of running my first half-marathon next summer. And this time, I won't forget to stretch.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Fighting the benefits of yoga one suppressed giggle at a time.

Our yoga class always ends with the instructor sitting in front of us in the lotus position bathed messiah-like in a warm spotlight. We all take a moment to collectively ponder, and then he says namaste, we say it back and class is over.

Bill and I weren't sure what namaste means, so he looked it up and found this definition: "I honor the place in you where Spirit lives. I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, then we are One."

Of course, now Bill always says namaste, motherfucker--which undermines my well-earned Being One at the end of class.

Today, as the instructor was gently reminding us that yoga isn't a competition and that we should just hold our poses where they're comfortable and focus on our breathing, he said, "If you can't extend your leg all the way in this pose, it doesn't mean you're a bad person, and it doesn't mean you're bad at yoga."

I started laughing as I was struggling to straighten my front leg, hold my arms out like some injured heron, stare contemplatively at my chosen spot on the floor and float my other leg in its position of serenity.

I hear next week we'll start class with a midget joke.

10,000 Mile Checkup

It was slow at work yesterday, so I decided it was a good time to head to the doctor's for a look under the hood (as it were). Unfortunately, my doctor has gotten too popular, and it's always a bitch to get in with him.

Fortunately, I'd met a new-on-the-market doctor this summer who was conveniently located, intelligent, capable, in my insurance network, accepting new patients—and gay. So I paid him a visit yesterday afternoon, we dished for a while, and I walked out a quart low on blood and covered in band-aids. (And I got to pee in a cup!) I also got a flu shot while I was there, so in addition to my blood-loss-induced wooziness, I have that I-just-got-a-flu-shot malaise today.

Now I'm looking for some heavy machinery to operate.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Learn from my experience.

Never organize your photo albums while watching Fear Factor.

The old boy's still got it.

Though it jiggles in a few places he doesn't like.

I ran today for the first time since that fateful August day when I made it barely across the street before having to limp home to months of physical therapy. And I got in a full four miles tonight—which pleased me to no end. Thankfully, there was no sign of pain in the hip that has caused me so much trouble over the last two months ... but my knees sure weren't liking the workout.

I'm on a mission to get back to my fighting weight ASAP; Manuel is going to take some physique shots of me just as soon as my abs reappear. So I've been carb-free since 5:03.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Four Fags at Six Flags

Day two of Jake and Dan's Weekend of Fun found us at Six Flags with Matt and Steve. It was Matt's company's private corporate day at the park, so the lines were relatively short, and the day was packed with adventure. Our first adventure was the new Superman–Ultimate Flight—the roller coaster where you get strapped into your seat, the floor drops and you get rotated 90 degrees so you're stomach-down and ready to "fly" through the ride's many twists and turns. The ride is spectacular, but it broke while we were riding it. The breakage didn't affect our flying experience, but when we got back to the loading station we were left hanging (literally) face-down over the staging area for a good 20 minutes until the pokey ride engineers waddled up to fix it. And since it was kind of cold, I had a runny nose. So I left a bit of a puddle by the time we were rescued and able to stand vertically again.

We spent the rest of the day doing the usual amusement park stuff: riding all the cool roller coasters, eating really crappy food, scoping out the small handful of cute guys in the park and playing Whack-a-Mole. And I experienced my first bungee jump. Daredevil Dive, as it's called at Six Flags, isn't your typical bungee experience; you strap yourself into a body bag-type thing before you get hooked to the cord (saving a step later in the process should things go wrong) and—I guess we didn't learn our lesson on the Superman ride—you're suspended face-down before you're hoisted about a million miles in the air. Then you pull your own rip cord, plummet to almost certain death, and swing in the wind whooping and screaming like a big girl. (At least that's how I did it.) And since it was cold and windy and I was strapped to Dan as we jumped, I got major skydiving flashbacks through the whole experience. And now we're all psyched to jump again next year.

We left the park at 4 and raced back to Chicago so Matt and I could make it to rehearsal. We now have all the music for our Christmas show, and I got assigned to choreograph a tap number and a disco number (you know—like they did at the first Christmas). After rehearsal I hit Ping Pong with Shawn and Rich for some fabulous pan-Asian fare.

Then I had the brilliant idea to catch the Red Line home at the Addison stop. You know: The one right by Wrigley Field. On the night the Cubs beat the Braves in their first post-season NL Division Series win since 1908. So I got to cap off my day with a ride on the Drunken Fan Train. Woo-hoo!

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Big Fag Day

I got up at the ungodly weekend hour of 6:30 this morning to roadtrip with Dan to his old Indiana stomping grounds—and we spent eight full hours shivering our asses off together watching some amazing performances at the 2003 District Marching Band Festival. We both have long and distinguished high-school marching band careers; I played trombone and mallet percussion, and Dan played saxophone and eventually became his school's drum major (a title I never got to claim because I was "too valuable" as a musician, but I'm not bitter).

A few observations about marching bands, then vs. now:

1) I remember marching band being about pride in our skills and good-natured competition among our city's schools. Now it seems to be a blood sport.

2) Our drum majorettes wore cute little drum majorette outfits complete with epaulets and tasseled boots. Now the majorettes literally wear evening-length couture complete with opera gloves and velvet capes.

3) When I was in high school, the bands programmed their field shows around themes like famous musicals or Latin music. Now they do abstract "concept" shows inspired by obscure emotions and march to the 5/4 nightmares of Gustav Holst.

4) I don't remember our band parents being as rabid as the parents I saw today. (See observation #1.)

5) I also don't remember spending gazillions of dollars on props and set pieces and matching marimbas ... and all that couture. (See observation #2.)

Frozen extremities notwithstanding (does prolonged shivering count as cardio?), we had a great day, and I was repeatedly amazed by the talents (and manifest dedication) displayed by the musicians and color guard members we watched. Best of all, we spent the 2+ hour drive each way singing along with Bette, Barbra and a host of show-tune CDs.

We were going to cap off the day with Jake and Dan's Night of Raunchy Leather-Bar Hopping, but we're cold and tired—and we exchanged a ton of CDs we want to burn to our hard drives. (Barbra is being ripped as I type this.)