Thursday, January 31, 2019


Well, here’s why it won’t flush, ma’am: The chain came loose ...


Do you remember on Tuesday night I complained about the unflattering light in my gym (but really only because one of the round ceiling lights ended up in my stealthfie so I just riffed on it from there)?


Literally as we speak—exactly 48 hours after my post—there’s a crew of workers here TAKING DOWN THE RELENTLESSLY GLARING ROUND LIGHT FIXTURES AND PUTTING UP BRIGHT SHINY NEW BUT STILL RELENTLESSLY GLARING RECTANGULAR ONES. (Which, imho, still aren’t doing anyone’s complexion any favors, but it’s nothing a few layers of diffusing gauze and about 50 strategically placed bergamot candles couldn’t fix. Ahem.)


I SHIT YOU NOT. Here are the old round ones waiting by the door:

Yes. It's THAT cold here in Iowa.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

To impeach or not

Read the article HERE.

I took advantage of my suddenly commitment-free evening to clear out some articles I’d saved to read for a wintry day. This one is epic in scope—block out A LOT of time to read and fully absorb what it says—but it’s a fascinating primer/refresher on the contextual and procedural mechanics of impeachment and how they’ve played out historically to act as potential case law today.

I didn’t realize the Constitution’s complete listing of impeachable offenses is just “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes & Misdemeanors”—which, as you might imagine, leaves itself open for a frustratingly vast ocean of interpretation. I’m also embarrassed to admit I didn’t realize that impeachment is just the indictment half (coming from the House) of the proceedings, which continue with a hearing in the Senate and culminate in removal from office if there’s a guilty verdict. (Also: Of the country’s three impeachment attempts to date—Andrew Johnson, Nixon and Clinton—none resulted in formal removal from office; Nixon resigned before the House vote and Johnson and Clinton weren’t found guilty by the Senate.)

According to this article, trump is beyond the point of needing to be removed from office but so far may not have done enough that can measurably be considered “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes & Misdemeanors”—at least not enough worth formally opening up the Pandora’s box of impeachment hearings. I don’t know anything about the author so I can’t account/discount for political bias, but I feel immensely more informed on the foundational elements of impeachment from reading it.

As an additional primer/refresher, the article’s contextual sidebars on the Andrew Johnson impeachment after the Civil War—along with a bit of Wikipedia reading on my own—gave me a more nuanced (and more chronological) understanding of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Plessy v. Ferguson, and the “separate but equal” doctrines that extended to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This is a fascinating—albeit long—read, and I encourage you to block out some time to really digest it if you’re at all curious/unclear about the prospect of facing our country’s fourth attempt at impeachment.

This is NOT, for the record, how I feel about going out in the snow today

This happy (relatively) warm-weather memory popped up in my Facebook memories today

(The Chicago Marathon is in October, so I have no idea why I initially posted this memory in January. Perhaps because it warmed my heart.) I still have this shirt, but I have no idea when or where I'd wear it again. I tried to give it to my nephew and niece to sleep in when they were kids, but they WEREN'T HAVING IT. Draw your boundaries where you can, I guess. Just don't expect me to ever call you Jake and cheer you on, you two ...

Clearance-Price Deodorant: A Review

As a longtime wearer of Cool Wave flavored Gillette Endurance 48 Hours of Protection Clear Gel, I was apprehensive about trying Undefeated flavored Gillette Scent Xtend Technology when I saw it wearing a clearance sticker at Target, but 75¢ SAVINGS, PEOPLE!

My verdict: It smells pretty much the same, except with generic-truck-stop-bathroom-cleanser topnotes. As far as efficacy: It’s too cold here to test its performance in a truly sweaty context, but using the word Undefeated in the world of sweaty, grungy odors probably should have been focus-grouped just a LITTLE bit more.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Lighthearted watching on a polar-grade winter’s night

Dear LORD this man is grotesque. And punchable.

An open letter to the impending polar vortex

The insouciant, relentless glare from insolently shrill industrial lighting DOES NOBODY ANY FAVORS as we conscientiously work up one last pump at the gym so we look totally swole when they eventually find our protein-shake-clutching corpses in the Midwestern tundra. I’m wearing NOTICE! ME! ORANGE! so I’m found first and I get the best slide-out tray in the morgue cooler.

Let us never forget the collective indignities of sleep apnea, ulnar neuropathy and that wallpaper border

Throwback Tuesday: Jake and the Dreamettes Edition

Little-known fact: I toured extensively in the '70s backed up by my sassy sister and our groovy grandmothers. My sister eventually got promoted to take my place when we streamlined our look, but we made up for any awkwardness on our farewell reunion tour.

The bad news:

I've been lying to all our Full Monty audiences. I have not at any time during our rehearsals or run been fully naked; I've been wearing stitches in my head for the last 12 days. I've also had a band-aid on my ripped fingernail since Wednesday, but in comparison that barely qualifies as unsexy so stop whining and demanding refunds on your tickets.
The good news: I JUST GOT MY STITCHES OUT! (Also, the lab results showed the cysts were benign, but they're by nature benign and the lab work was just a precaution in case they were an abomination of nature like those damn gays.) Anyway, my stitches-less scalp and I are finally going MEGA FULL MONTY this weekend!

The bad news: The cute dude in the doctor's waiting room never once said hi or gave me butterfly kisses. Probably because I didn't put any product in my hair this morning because of my stitch-ectomy so my hair is doomed to be man-repellent-level floofy all day.

The good news: The temperatures here have yet to drop to sub-arctic levels, so nobody's cysts or stitches have frozen off for free yet--which would be totally unfair to me. But the snow has drifted a foot above the bottom of my office window (and I'm on the 94th floor, which makes it borderline alarming) and my skin is itchy to the bone, so once the temperatures drop I think it's safe to say that winter is finally here.

Throwback Tuesday: Close Shave Edition

I'm in The Full Monty now ... then 9 to 5 ... then my 15th year in Cedar Rapids' annual Follies song-and-dance extravaganza. I've spread myself a bit too thin this spring as far as rehearsal availability goes though, so I'll be a pit singer in this year's Follies--where I won't have to wear costumes, worry about my hair or even shave. But Facebook just reminded me there was a time when I not only had to worry about shaving for the show BUT I HAD TO DO IT ONSTAGE. I can't quite remember why, though.

An ode to a visit from the polar vortex

Little Mary donned her skates
Upon the ice so frisk.
Wasn’t she a silly lass
Her little *?

Monday, January 28, 2019

Wha? It’s 9:54 pm and I STILL HAVE PANTS ON!

This is very, very weird.

#SparksOfJoy: A weekly post about something that makes me happy

Singin' in the Rain: Ridiculously implausible; impeccably danced; gloriously over the top; flawlessly cast; and never doomed to become old, tired or boring, this movie stars some of my favorite triple-threat actors--Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds, with an honorable mention for the delightfully silly Jean Hagen--and fills me with inequitable amounts of giggly joy from the oversaturated colors of the opening credits to the curiously unflattering but undoubtedly loving billboard profiles in the closing shot. Its songs “Moses,” “Good Morning” and, of course, “Singin’ in the Rain” are absolute master classes in tap concept and technique (though not in making sure the actors never show the camera that their shoes have no taps on them as they collapse in the inevitable pile of giggles at the end of a song). And if any actor can completely repurpose and thus save a failing movie via a pep talk and a frankly weird proposal for a lanky, absurdist-conceptual dance sequence, it’s Gene Kelly. (Also: Please notice my epic restraint in never mentioning how the movie’s costumes hugged his perfectly round butt.)

So apparently I’ve consistently been pretty naked on stage every January since time immemorial

because Facebook just gave me THIS memory from seven years ago when I tapped to “Rubber Ducky” in a flesh-colored speedo covered in soap-suds-colored tulle with a bunch of equally almost-naked tappers wearing rubber-duckie butts:
Pro tip: Never tap in the presence of bubbles ... unless you want to put yourself at risk for slipping during your Maxie Fords, breaking every bone in your body and ending up in the ER wearing nothing but soap-suds-colored tulle.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

When you FINALLY put away the Christmas decorations in your bedroom and bring out your regular decorations and rediscover that you’re a bit of a Francophile

Also: Covet my freshly polished, super-awesome bookshelf built from remnant wood by my homebuilder great-grandfather!

Also: My beanbag juggling cows have started yet another year (decade?) being shelf decorations instead of teaching me how to juggle.


• My supposed-to-be-awesome new T-shirt has an owl saying WHOM on the chest, but the printing and the shirt are almost the same color so you can’t even see the graphics and I’m too lazy to mail it back so I’m now the proud owner of a $20 new gray T-shirt with a hidden pronornithology pun on it.
• It has an owl! Whom says WHOM!
• Oops.
• WHO says WHOM.
• Stupid owl.
• Our tech-week/opening-weekend marathon is over, and I’m already missing the show and the people and the mysterious drafty feeling I have during the bows.
• But I accidentally called my wife the wrong name today on stage.
• So maybe it’s time for a little break.
• We also had a catcaller in the audience today who yelled something about our “winkies.”
• It was probably one of those stupid owls.
• We have only six more times to bring this wonderful show to life.
• That’s 12 if you count in buttcheeks though.
• When I got home just now, Dad was listening to country gospel music on Alexa.
• Where did I go wrong when I raised him?
• The music was probably sung by owls.
• I unceremoniously and no doubt rudely told Alexa to play classical music instead.
• Not like those damn owls.
• And their damn pronouns.

This is the exact spot where I stand on our scorched-earth-industrial-unemployment set when the last of my Salacious Security Guard vestments get thrown to the heavens

The effect is a lot more impressive (or not) with costumes (or not) and lights (or not) and orchestra (DEFINITELY! BECAUSE OUR ORCHESTRA ROCKS!).


Two years ago I was a pretty big mess:

I was spiraling up and down from the ramp-up and withdrawal effects of a changing cocktail of bipolar meds, my face was lacerated and I was enduring the pain of a concussion from a blackout and a full-body crash to a tile floor caused by a med that thankfully would become my lifeline and savior, and my mom was blaming autocorrect for turning “row” into “rowboat” in a post about my having a relative six good days in a rowboat. (Damn. It just happened to me too.)

But I’m now up to two good years in a rowboat, and I’m so thankful that I’ve been exposing myself daily to hundreds of people. Plus I still call dibs on “Six Good Days in a Rowboat” for my memoirs.

Hmmm. Apparently six years ago today I was stripping onstage in a show.

But back then I was a schoolteacher whose clothes got ripped off by a drag queen. Now I’m a security guard who rips off my own clothes. SO IT’S TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

It takes an awful lot of clothing to be a singing stripper

Also: There are grown, functioning adults in our dressing room who just asked each other in a fog of cultural bewilderment if the song “Footloose” was written for the movie Footloose or afterward in some kind of ride-the-post-Footloose-movie-pop-culture-wave frenzy. And I am apparently THE ONLY PERSON IN THE ENTIRE DRESSING ROOM WHO’D LIVED THROUGH THE ‘80s AND FOUGHT IN ITS HARDSCRABBLE BEMOMJEANED TRENCHES AND ACTUALLY SAW FOOTLOOSE IN THE THEATERS WHO COULD UNLOCK THE MYSTERIES OF THE MEDIEVAL PAST AND ANSWER THEIR QUESTION.

(Answer: The song was written for the movie. DUH.)

Also: Kevin Bacon as Ren McCormack. Or just guys named Ren in general. Sigh.

I want to wash my hands, my face and hair with snow

I awoke from my restorative nap having dreamt that I was allowed to take three final selfies against three backgrounds of my choice in the prison ballroom before being incarcerated.

Then I woke up and shoveled the driveway and took a selfie against this six-foot mountain of snow that the street plows made across from our house.

The only difference is I didn’t get to wear a sexy orange jumpsuit.

Legalize post-natal abortion!

When the massive injury on your left shin keeps you up all night in pain

PLUS in the middle of the night your right calf decides to get an epic charley horse (WTF? WHAT NON-PREGNANT PERSON GETS A CHARLEY HORSE?) and you’re so tired and sore in the morning that you cancel your lunch plans to try to get some sleep snuggled up on the couch and there’s fluffy snow outside your windows and Alexa is playing Beethoven’s ninth symphony and your mom makes your favorite bran muffins, THAT STILL DOESN’T CHANGE THE FACT THAT YOU’RE MISERABLE WITH A SUGAR HANGOVER FROM EATING A DOZEN CHOCOLATE-CHIP COOKIES AT LAST NIGHT’S CAST PARTY.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Opening night!

So. Many. Snaps.

Opening night pump! Because these show tunes aren’t gonna flex themselves!

It turns out a poorly timed leg day—desperate vanity dictates that I probably should have cycled into a chest day on opening night—is especially unproductive the day after shredding a bacon-size piece of flesh off my shin. But it’s too late now, and my man-fleshy butt is off to the theater for its official show-tune debut.

And to all of you gym members too dumb to notice that I’ve been taking stealth selfies every time I work out: AT LEAST LOOK UP AND NOTICE MY SHIRT!

So. Much. Winning.

Come see our big-ass show!

When Theatre Cedar Rapids staged its 2018-2019 season announcement late last winter, I wasn’t able to attend the gala event for some reason. But my drive home that night took me down First Avenue past the theater, where the upcoming shows were excitedly scrolling across the marquee … and my heart almost skipped a beat when I saw The Full Monty flash by.

Those of you who’ve endured my effusive gushing about this show know that I have adored The Full Monty since I first saw the Broadway tour when I lived in Chicago more than 15 years ago. I was dating a guy who knew someone in the cast, and he got us house seats for four performances while it was in town. (Odd fun fact: The castmember played the character who strips at the opening of the show, and the first time we saw the show was on his birthday … so I have the odd distinction of being able to say I’ve eaten cake with a Broadway stripper in his dressing room. Which is not a metaphor for anything.)

Since then I’ve memorized every word and every note and every moment of the cast recording and I’ve fallen in love with the endless creative brilliance of David Yazbek, who has also written music and lyrics for equally awesome musicals based on the movies Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (I got to see the original Broadway production and have equal reverence for its cast recording as well) and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (I was in New York when it opened, but I crappily couldn’t get tickets to see it). And he just won the Tony Award for The Band’s Visit, if you need any more impetus to love his Full Monty score as much as I do.

Being in this show was on an ephemeral bucket list of things I was sure I’d never get the chance to do. Being cast in this show and then rehearsing it over the last two months have put me on a high I’m not even close to coming down from. I’m over the freaking moon (which I guess could be a butt metaphor if you’re so immature that you’d actually go there) to actually get to sing this score with a full orchestra and play one of the goofy, earnest Hot Metal guys along with the five other goofy, earnest actors who eventually strip with me. The six of us have gone from shyly showing our ankles in front of each other at our months-ago photo shoot to walking around butt-ass naked in a fully lit rehearsal room this week as we fine-tuned the timing of our G-string removal. And it’s been a supremely joyous journey to get here.

I can’t remember the last time I was this full-immersive thrilled to be a part of a show and to help bring it to life in front of three weekends of audiences. Aside from the brilliant music and lyrics, the story is funny and sharply written, the characters are nuanced and messy and interesting and fun, and the story is at once joyous and heartbreaking and ridiculous and endlessly entertaining.

And after all the excitement and waiting and rehearsing that started last winter when I first saw The Full Monty scroll across the marquee screen as I sat at a red light on First Avenue, WE’RE FINALLY OPENING TONIGHT. And you have only nine opportunities to see us. So get your tickets now and COME LOOK AT MY BUTT. (That’s also not a metaphor for anything.)

10 things I remember about my Grandma Stigers

1. She made peach preserves in enormous glass jars every year to share with everyone in the family. Each jar had a cinnamon stick in it, which I thought was weird as a kid because cinnamon of course doesn't go with peaches but that never stopped me from piling indulgent amounts of the preserves on everything I could think of.

2. When her daughter--a young mother--lost her husband to cancer, my grandparents renovated their basement to give her and her kids a free, safe place to live so they could care for them until they recovered and got back on their feet.

3. She put up with my dad--who even by his own accounts was a handful and a seeker of trouble and somebody I probably wouldn't have liked if we'd been peers--and turned him into the father I love and respect and look up to today.

4. She loved to sing. Oh, how she loved to sing. Her rich contralto filled her church when she sang hymns and filled her home whenever we gathered around her piano or the gorgeous antique pump organ she had that was never in tune and virtually impossible to play but it never mattered because she was so full of joy from singing.

5. Her hair was so gray that it went beyond silver into the realm of misty purple-blue. And she had a wardrobe of purple clip-on earrings that always matched her hair perfectly.

6. She and my grandfather had a little black mutt named Rags, who was sweet and attentive and docile but always kinda smelled like he needed a bath.

7. She loved to make ceramics for people and she actually had a kiln in her basement. She'd paint and glaze each piece, etch her name and the year on the bottom, and fire up beautiful ornaments and decorations that I'm sure still grace the homes of friends and extended family from coast to coast.

8. She had a dishwasher that rolled around the kitchen and connected to the sink faucet with a hose. This really has nothing to do with her as a person, but when you're a kid and your grandmother has a dishwasher that rolls around the kitchen and connects to the sink faucet with a hose, that makes her pretty darn interesting.

9. She was unfortunately enthusiastic about thumping us kids on the head with her finger or some other small weapon--both as punishment and for her own entertainment. She called herself Granny Great-Thump. We called her Granny Great-Rump.

10. She and my grandfather had an enclosed back porch that ran nearly the entire length of their house, with enough room for a long table and plenty of chairs for feeding a steady parade of family and friends. They even had tiny paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, which I always thought made the place extra-festive.

Grandma died 20 years ago today, after living trapped in the aftermath of a stroke for many months. She lived exponentially farther away from me than my other grandmother when I was a kid, so I didn't see her as often and I never really felt like I knew her. But she influenced my dad to be the kind, loving, decent, respected man he is, and I hope to think he's influenced me to be the same. So she lives on in our hearts and in our family and in yet another generation as my niece and nephew carry on the examples of kindness and love and decency that she lived.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

When you jam a snap under your fingernail as you grab the sides of your tearaway stripper pants and then shred every inch of flesh from your shin tripping over a heavy wooden chair in a blackout, you at the very least have two solid reasons to involuntarily yell FUCK! onstage

This is now my favorite Stable Genius takedown of all time.

Does the world really need 13” of receipt for a 24” level, Home Depot?

I used to write a four-page, single-spaced, 10-point Garamond (because it’s narrower than Times New Roman so I could squeeze in more words) Christmas letter and mail it to 300+ of my closest friends and relatives

I also used to spend November through January under a crushing blanket of self-imposed stress. And crippled by paper cuts and the costs of printing and stamps.

Now I pace myself by blathering daily on social media instead. Merry Christmas to me!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

I made a meme!

I loathe this lying, belligerent, clumsily manipulative, passive-aggressive, hypocritical shithole woman SO MUCH


How fitting that the memory of my TCR shirtless debut pops up during production week for my TCR more-than-shirtless debut

Back then, you had to buy tickets in person or over the phone. Now you just go to
THROWBACK THURSDAY: Whorehouse Edition

What's so funny about this picture? Let me count:
1. I'm playing a football player.
2. I'm playing a football player who utilizes the services of female prostitutes.
3. I'm shirtless on stage for the first time in my life. I know it's hard to believe there was once a time where me taking my shirt off on stage was a novelty, but you have to start somewhere. And I started in 1998, rompin' and stompin' with the Aggie Boys in Theatre Cedar Rapids' The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. This show also predates all my big tattoos, so I look like a pristine little infant in this picture. A pristine little infant who dances around shirtless and goes to whorehouses.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Our show has a brightly labeled, basketweave-molded, flat-bottomed-for-stability tabletop thong bucket

Does YOUR show have a brightly labeled, basketweave-molded, flat-bottomed-for-stability tabletop thong bucket? No. No, your show does NOT have a brightly labeled, basketweave-molded, flat-bottomed-for-stability tabletop thong bucket. We totally win.

I’m trying to decide if it’s wise to work out right before our production-week rehearsals

On the one hand, I’ll instantly look 97 if I miss just one workout. On the other hand, my pre-workout shake—like ALL pre-workout shakes—can make me what we will politely call did-you-know-that-bathroom-in-Spanish-is-baño?-y.

I’m leaving the gym right now for thong rehearsal (yes—we strippers are literally having a rip-away thong rehearsal in the interest of establishing consistency in our stripping moves) so I’m about to find out how things ... come out.

In the mean time: I wore my NYC shirt today because The Full Monty takes place in Buffalo! Which totally made sense when I was getting dressed this morning!

#SparksOfJoy: A weekly post about something that makes me happy

A Chorus Line: I've had the privilege of being in this show--which captivated me so thoroughly and obsessively and cellularly as a teen--twice an an adult, and I still know and love and worship every note and every lyric and every line--except for the song "Nothing," which went from a revelatory teen favorite to a painful cliché to my adult ears … possibly because in both productions I did, Diana Morales sang it in a spotlight directly in front of me so I had to feign interest and enthusiasm while the rest of the cast got to take a zone-out break in the dark. The show initially captured my imagination and heart by articulating for me the struggles I was dreaming to share as I worked my way up the theater ladder to eventually land on a Broadway stage. Now I mostly just revel in the vocals and orchestrations--especially the wall-of-sound harmonies and contrapuntal melodies in the “One” closer. I make a point to see every production of A Chorus Line I come across, and every time I see it it's like a reunion of old friends … old friends who inevitably don champagne-colored costumes and form a line and kick gorgeously and enthusiastically and always dancing-as-one evenly into glorious infinity as the mirrors shimmer and the orchestra vamps and the lights slowly, slowly fade.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Goodbye for now, obscene amounts of Christmas crap!

I’ve finally gotten you culled and organized enough to pack you away with a passable amount of OCD compliance. I feel a nagging compulsion to buy all matching bins next year so you look less overwhelming when you’re put away again. But as an imagined need, that would be even more obscene. So I won’t even bring it up.

In the interest of establishing a universal standard of objectivity,

I’m in the process of developing and applying rigorous scientific methodologies to create measurable efficiencies in plotting my eternal existential frustration as I rank my gym husbands in order—most to least—of who makes me giggle like a lovestruck schoolgirl.

I currently have three gym husbands in the #1 ranking—the system is clearly not ready to be published to undergo scientific review—but ONE OF THEM IS HERE TODAY GIGGLE GIGGLE GUSH GUSH WILL U B MY BOYFRIEND CHECK ONE [ ] YES [ ] NO (PLEASE CHECK YES PLEASE CHECK YES PLEASE CHECK YES)!
In other news, I just super-setted 21’s palms-up and 21’s palms-down. BEHOLD MY BOSSY BADASS BOUNCIN’-BABY-LIKE BICEPS!

We sure have some creepy ornaments

And some breathtakingly-adorable-child-picture ornaments. And, curiously but still admittedly Christmasy, a shapely-woman-wearing-a-tasseled-hanging-hook-and-beveling-in-an-unmissably-red-dress ornament. And, for reasons known only to the tooth fairy, a wooden bunny ornament. A wooden Christmas bunny ornament.
But, of course, the only reason I'm making this post—aside from finally exposing the Christmas terrors of my haunted, haunted childhood wrought by our creepy pantsless flat-handed pantyhose-head child-eating demon elf ornaments—is to report that I have just now, almost in time for an Easter visit from a wooden Christmas bunny, completely denuded our Christmas tree.

Dude. I totally just said denuded.

Well, shit

Bitch Kitty is curled up as adorably as her cold, black heart—which is as cold and black as this winter midnight—will allow with a plush squeaky poop emoji dog toy propped in front of her to undermine the last moth-eaten shreds of her courtliness, elegance and dignity.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Harold Nichols is IN DA HOUSE

—well, in da dressing room—and READY FOR TECH REHEARSAL—well, just as soon as his pants get hemmed.

My blood starts pumpin'

I hate to brag, but eight years ago when I saw the 9 to 5 Broadway tour in Chicago, not only did Dolly Parton walk right by me in the lobby, but it was her birthday and I *personally* (well, along with 1,799 dear friends) sang “Happy Birthday” to her.