Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy #Hallowmeme!

Today in Stupid: Whatever. And fuck off.

So stop your whiny, pants-wetting, transparently manufactured shock and quit already. If it took you until well after you started working for Fox News to realize that "Fox feels like an extension of the Trump White House" and suddenly get "embarrassed" to work there, you're somehow actually stupider than you look on TV. You know damn well what kind of hyper-partisan lies the Fox crap machine splats all over the globe on an hourly basis, and that's exactly why you started working there in the first place. So why are you GIVING INTERVIEWS TO CNN -- the primary network you and your dotard scream ad nauseam is nothing but "FAKE NEWS!" -- now that your integrity diaper needs changing? Save your amateur I'm-so-shocked dramatics for your toxically ignorant viewers.

1 day until #Hallowmeme

(By "1 day" I mean "Halloween doesn't technically start until tonight." I also mean "I counted wrong when I started this countdown and just figured it out now.")

Black. On Halloween. Groundbreaking.

But I’m on Day Two of using my new SPF 30 anti-blemish French moisturizer that promises to reduce the appearance (but apparently not the existence) of fine lines and wrinkles. Do I look like a pale Millennial who knows how to pronounce Châteauneuf-du-Pape yet?

Monday, October 30, 2017

I just laughed WAY too hard at this

2 days until #Hallowmeme

Who’s gonna man the fort now?

Is Vidkun Quisling available? Check with his people — he may still be hiding out in a Nazi bunker, but he’d be a BRILLIANT fit for this arrogantly corrupt, catastrophically imploding administration-in-name-only.

Happy 78th birthday to my dad!

Happy 78th birthday to my dad, who taught me how to throw a football (sorry that pastime didn’t stick) and cheat at cribbage (or that one) and swear more creatively than the other kids on the playground (that TOTALLY did), showed me how to drive a stick shift even on a steep hill, instilled in me a fascination with history, bought me My First Toolbox™ when I bought my first house, embraced me wholly as his gay son in an era when other dads would treat homosexuality as a family shame, dutifully cheered me on whether I was in a boring show or running a boring race, patiently and determinedly worked to help bring me back from and daily manage the unfathomable depths of bipolar depression — often just by telling me he was glad I’m here — and accepted his blindness from macular degeneration with grace and humor and dignity. He continues to set a daily example of kindness and altruism that inspires me to try to be loving and decent and fair in every situation I encounter. I'm guessing you're probably having this read to you, Dad, so tell Mom to say this part with dramatic emphasis: I love you!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

I probably lost them both at Habsburg

But they wouldn’t get it even if I showed them a family tree. Or a suspiciously similar jawline.


When you casually wipe off ONE LITTLE SMUDGE from the side of your car and it suddenly spreads into a tidalwave of smeary grime that you’ll now clearly be wiping off and evening out until 12 years after you die.

Sunday Funday!

I’m excavating my massive storage locker hoping to find two very small things. Even the hallway portends an epic hunt. But at least I remembered my fucking key today.



3 days until #Hallowmeme

What will tomorrow bring, the pundits query ...

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

5 days until #Hallowmeme

Mike Pence sure is a greedy bottom

First he says he wants all his gays “hung” and now he’s selfishly trying to eliminate all the bottom competition.

It’s beginning to fit a lot like Christmas!

I just got fitted for a custom costume piece for a small-group number I’m singing in the Orchestra Iowa holiday concert.

Halloween? Thanksgiving? You’re just in my way now.

Flashback Friday: Wiggles and Kisses Edition

Costume planning tip: If you and your friends decide to go as The Wiggles, make sure you go to parties where Kiss will be in attendance, because it's always so hard to get everyone in the same place for a family picture.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

What I learned tonight:

1. Those clothing anti-theft devices that say they’re full of dye aren’t lying.
2. Those clothing anti-theft devices that are full of dye can crack open right in the clothing-anti-theft-device removers that the clerks use at checkout.
3. They’re designed to explode when they crack.
4. (The devices, not the clerks.)
5. When they explode, the dye goes everywhere.
6. Everywhere.
7. The dye is blood-curdling red.
8. When a clerk splatters herself with exploded blood-curdling red dye all over her hands and her face and her front, she will apologize profusely to you.
9. You will not know how to respond to these incongruous apologies as this situation is chronically unaddressed in shopping-etiquette manuals.
10. But you’ll have to say SOMETHING in response to all that warrantless apologizing.
11. Even though you know absolutely zero injuries were sustained in the exploding-dye incident, your response instinct will be to say one thing and one thing only.
12. That one thing will be “I’m just glad you’re not hurt.”
13. This will serve only to make the situation somehow worse.
14. But it doesn’t end there.
15. Because when you leave the store with your purchases that WEREN’T ruined with blood-curdling red dye, you will also compulsively say “I hope you feel better.”

6 days until #Hallowmeme

Nobody thought it would be one of the kids

Nobody probably thought the Boat Crew would last this long, actually.

When four young couples from the same Cedar Rapids Lutheran church rented a houseboat and sailed up and down the Mississippi River for a long weekend in the summer of 1971, nobody probably even thought it was more than a one-time vacation.

But the couples invited more couples and did it again the next summer, and the next. Over time, a few couples came and went, but the tradition lived on summer after summer. Eventually a core group of seven couples emerged, and the Boat Crew was established … and a vital extended family was born.

Unofficially (or officially, depending on your personal opinion) the group’s name was the Mississippi River Marching and Drinking Society. But “Boat Crew” was easier to say. And less complicated to explain to the couples’ children, who were all about the age of the Boat Crew tradition itself.

As lives and careers evolved, many of the couples moved away … but everyone came back summer after summer for what had become an annual gathering of Boat Crew family with bonds as strong as any biological family.

And that family bond extended beyond the relationship between the seven couples; their children often spent the Boat Crew weekends together in one couple’s house, under the probably exhausted watch of two or three weekend-long babysitters.

Naturally, the kids developed a family bond as strong as their parents’. They were unofficial siblings in an extended family network, and they felt confident in the parental love they received from every member of the Boat Crew.

As the summers passed, the Boat Crew bond continued to grow and strengthen, especially over a developing collection of in-jokes, funny stories and traditions that became almost sacred. The most prominent tradition was Joy. It started when one couple brought a large white flag emblazoned with the word Joy in bright colors and displayed it on the ship’s mast. The flag appeared every summer, and eventually it inspired the regular exchanging of Joy-festooned knickknacks, shirts, Christmas ornaments (all collectively over the years described as "Joy shit") and even one summer little bottles of Joy dishwashing soap.

Music – an integral part of the Lutheran church where they all met – was just as important to the Boat Crew. The group contained many talented singers, and as they gathered under the stars with a guitar and a couple bottles of wine each summer, they sang hymns and folk songs and show tunes and whatever else they could think of. Their unofficial anthem was “Beautiful Savior,” which they sang together – in full, glorious harmony – on every gathering.

As the kids grew over the next four decades, the Boat Crew also started convening off-season for confirmations and graduations and weddings and grandchildren and the occasional family tragedy … and the inevitable deaths of the Boat Crew couples’ elderly parents.

And through it all, the Boat Crew became a bit of a statistical anomaly: seven couples who lived into their 50s and 60s and 70s … and stayed friends … and stayed married … and stayed alive.

As they started to retire from their jobs and prioritize grandparent obligations over Boat Crew gatherings, the group wasn’t always able to find a summer weekend that all seven couples could attend. And the “boat” part of Boat Crew became a bit of an anachronism; the summer reunions were happening now in Bed and Breakfasts overlooking the Mississippi instead of boats on the Mississippi.

And as they started to navigate the medical infirmities and physical indignities that come with age, the Boat Crew members started to contemplate their own mortality. Never ones to face life with fear or even reverence, they were realistic that eventually they were going to start dying … and they were not above having betting pools over who would go first.

But it never occurred to anyone that the first to die might not be one of the adults.

Robbie (who as an adult called himself Robert but I’d known him since we were toddlers and I could never think of him as anyone but Robbie) was 42, pretty much right in the middle of the range of ages of the Boat Crew kids. He started getting sick six years ago last summer, but he didn’t think it was much to worry about: just some lower back pain, fatigue and abdominal discomfort. But then the guy behind the Chicago neighborhood deli counter where he went every day told him he looked yellow. And he became constipated. And on a trip home to see his parents in Iowa, he decided to see a doctor.

And that’s where he found out.

Colon cancer.

Stage 4.

Colon cancer patients at stage 4 have an 8-15% chance of being alive five years after diagnosis. And Robbie, forever the optimist, dove right into surgery and chemotherapy while his parents took care of him in their home.

But it quickly became obvious that he was losing the battle. And as he eventually slipped into a coma, his parents – buoyed by the love and calls and texts and emails of Boat Crew members across the country – kept a vigil by his bed.

And six weeks after his diagnosis – six weeks after driving himself and his two cats seven hours from Chicago to his parents’ house, five weeks after walking into the doctor’s office with what he thought were just stomach pains, three weeks after cheering on friends in the Chicago Marathon via Facebook – Robbie drew his last breath, sending waves of shock and devastation throughout his extended Boat Crew family.

Robbie’s father had died of cancer 40 years earlier, before the Boat Crew had been officially established. His widowed mother and the man who eventually became her next husband had been regular Boat Crew members from nearly the beginning.

While she was still single, though, she and Robbie had taken vacations with our family a number of times, often to Adventureland amusement park in Des Moines, Iowa, and once on a Bicentennial road trip to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and to Washington, D.C., to see pretty much everything else associated with America’s birth.

Robbie and I went to different high schools and colleges, but we eventually both found our ways to Chicago. We kept seeing each other at Boat Crew gatherings, but we’d slowly drifted apart … as had many of the Boat Crew kids as we scattered about the country and built our own families.

Robbie’s parents and mine, of course, had stayed fast Boat Crew friends. And when Robbie was facing the first weeks of his cancer treatments, my parents made a trip to Des Moines to stay with them.

Robbie died six years ago today. Even though I knew it was inevitable, I was more choked up than I’d expected to be when I got the call. We hadn’t seen each other in probably five years. And I knew that he was no longer suffering through an excruciating illness. But his death – especially as a Boat Crew kid and not an adult – was a shock to all of us … and no doubt an indescribable devastation to his parents. And though nobody in the extended Boat Crew family has died since Robbie did, we are all tacitly preparing ourselves for the next passing.

But for the first time in many years, the entire Boat Crew – along with a handful of Boat Crew kids – dropped everything in their lives and appeared at the funeral. Forever part of the family, we walked in with Robbie’s parents and biological family members and were seated right behind them. And when the congregation sang “Beautiful Savior,” the Boat Crew’s beautiful harmonies rose above the music as if to lift Robbie to whatever awaited him in the afterlife and remind him of the loving extended family he’d been a part of on earth.

His parents asked me to be one of his pall bearers, which I accepted as an honor. Escorting a lifelong friend to his grave is overwhelming – especially when we’re both so young – but I felt giving him a solemn, respectful final journey was the best gift I could give him. He was family, after all.

A Men Venn!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It’s getting cold out

I’d better wear my cozy robe. Of many colors. Many PASTEL colors.


I miss the guileless insouciance of our younger days at Crochet Camp where we’d while away our afternoons sitting back-to-back against a sturdy sapling in our geo-patterned macramé leotards with nothing to do but contemplate our place in the natural beauty around us, our heads as cocked as our emerging youth and the lives awaiting us as hard as the tree keeping us upright. I look back fondly on those warm-but-not-too-warm-for-macramé summer days and wonder what our younger, less-constrained-by-the-simple-gifts-of-natural-fibers-and-neutral-colors selves would think of us now. But we can’t go back. We can never go back.

7 days until #Hallowmeme!

Leg day!

270 lbs x 25 reps x 4 sets + 4 (four!) totally hot, totally not-even-noticing straight guys RIGHT NEARBY = 1 totally self-indulgent, strugglingly squished, undoubtedly dangerous leg-press selfie

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I’m gettin’ belted

ROUND 1: The two tiny anchor screws suddenly come loose and fall out of the buckle of my favorite (because it reverses from a handsome gray to a versatile black) belt within a few days of each other.

ROUND 2: The ultra-patient, ultra-helpful man at Ace Hardware spends more than 15 minutes trying every tiny screw in every drawer of the vast hardware aisle looking for replacement screws that have the right gauge, thread size and length before declaring that my only option appears to be industrial-strength adhesive.

ROUND 3: I squeeze gooey globs of Liquid Nails into the buckle, push the strap in, carefully wipe off the bit that squishes out, and lock it all in a vice for 36 hours to set and dry.

ROUND 4: While getting dressed at the gym yesterday, I confidently and a little bit excitedly thread one end of my newly repaired favorite belt through one — ONE! — belt loop ... and the buckle promptly falls off the other end.

ROUND 5: I celebrate an impromptu Show Your Co-Workers Your Underpants Day at work for the next eight hours.

ROUND 6: In — of course — bright red underpants.

Jake’s favorite belt: 6
Jake: 0

8 days until #Hallowmeme!

New! Headshots!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Good night

Sleep well.
Dream big.

Well, sheet

Bitch Kitty has an almost otherworldly knowledge of that perfect confluence of opportunities where she can simultaneously hide under a pile of fresh-from-the-dryer sheets and completely grind to a halt all attempts to make a bed.

One Haircut, No Longer a Guvnor

Goodbye, Stanley Stubbers. Hello, buzzcut sidewalls that don’t show so damn much gray.

9 days until #Hallowmeme!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The end of every show brings with it a certain sense of loss:

You miss the people you worked with, you miss the experiences of learning and creating and performing you shared, you miss the thrill of being on stage doing something you love and hopefully something you’re proud of ... and you plain-old miss having something to DO with your free time.

One Man, Two Guvnors was the fourth in a string of shows I’ve LOVED being a part of this year. And now it’s over. The set and costumes and props have been struck, the huggy goodbyes have been shared among the cast and crew and director, the small mountains of socks and T-shirts and other potential necessities I always keep backstage are being washed as we speak, and my Google calendar already says HAIRCUT! at 5:30 tomorrow. I’m lucky in that I went right to another audition tonight to keep my theater-magic momentum going and I start this week on a massive pro bono book-editing project I’ve taken on, so I won’t have the letdown I could. But I already miss the inspiredly wacky people I’ve spent almost every night for the last eight weeks with and I especially miss the upper-class British twit Stanley Stubbers, who gave me my first and no doubt last opportunity to say “I bunked on physics and spent my lessons in the radiation cupboard trying to make my penis glow” every night on stage with a straight face staring into the eyes of a dangerously funny actor who constantly had me THIS CLOSE to cracking up no matter which of us said what. And that last sentence pretty much sums up everything I love about being in a constant parade of shows. So I’m going to bed a little sad about everything I’m going to miss about the whole experience of this show but more than thrilled that I’m lucky enough to have so much to miss. Good night!

Memorize me a little

One Man, Two Guvnors is over, the set is struck, the celebratory pizza is on its way ... all that’s left is to delete my lines that I recorded on my phone. Except for the Bobby monologue — it’s for tonight’s Revival There Company Ragtime/Bridges of Madison County/Sunday in the Park with George repertory season audition and I might save it for future reference. Even though I’ve totally aged out of the Bobby zone. But I’m still thankful for being alive.

One last show, still two guvnors, a cast of insanely delightful people

10 days until #Hallowmeme!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Is it too late for his parents to get an abortion?

Hopelessly shattered by Saturday night

A Little Night Music > "A Weekend in the Country" > the French horn obbligato at 6:06 > everything you ever need to know about Sondheim

Revival Theatre Company repertory season auditions are tomorrow!

I'm thinking of wearing brocade and crewel.

Quads and color coordination

When some douchebag leaves all the weights loaded on the leg press but you realize they're the weights you're going to use anyway so it saves you all the effort of loading them.
Also: When you realize you managed to dress so matchy-matchy that your shirt exactly matches your shoes and your shorts exactly match your soles but fortunately there are only two hot guys in the gym who will be scared away by your adorable outfit (and your towering haven't-showered-yet bouffant) instead of the usual six.