Monday, April 30, 2007

In what little free time he has between being a lawyer and being a father, Hansen likes to beta test on-line video game worlds (MMORPGs).

Hansen: I like to beta test them so I can play for free. I wouldn't pay to play them.

Last night at Martin's birthday party he was telling me about testing an on-line Star Wars game a few years back.

Hansen: Everyone can't be a Jedi, obviously, so I tried to figure out what the shittiest job was I could get in the game world. A couple people were already exotic dancers, which was what I wanted to be.
Me: Exotic dancers.
Hansen: Yeah. Players come and watch you dance and it restores their health. You know, like what really happens when you watch exotic dancing.

So, since no one else in the game was doing it, Hansen became an on-line hair stylist for Star Wars characters.

Hansen: If you want to change your character's hair you have to go to a barber. People were actually really happy that I started doing it. But it was so boring. Eventually, I went to where characters post bounties on other characters, looking for characters they want to kill. I realized I'd seen a lot of these people because I'd cut their hair. So, I just started informing on my clients. I'd contact the people looking for them and say, "Hey, I just cut their hair. We chatted. They said that this was where they were headed. And this is what their hair looks like now."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Went to see the 1900s tape an appearance on the public access dance show "Chic-A-Go-Go!" I'd never seen it before but it apparently has quite a cult following. Kids, old people, hipsters in weird costumes, all dancing in front of a brightly colored painting of the Chicago city-scape. Bands come on and lip sync to their songs. A rat puppet tells knock knock jokes. An asian woman with some pretty intense arm tattoos hosts.

The 1900s decided to go with a camping theme. They brought a tent and a fake campfire. Jeanine almost wore a bear costume but her bear costume connection fell through at the last minute.

Nick and Katie brought their daughter, Jane, who danced and danced as they taped three straight episodes. I even danced a little myself.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

1. Dad's night.

The first basketball team my dad coached in Hometown, Ohio ('85-'86 season) was inducted into the county hall of fame. All but two of his players came back for the awards banquet.

Mom: [via e-mail] Lots of funny stories after the banquet. I forgot they used to call Dad "the Terminator." We didn't get home until 12:30.

2. My night.

Chicago Improv Festival after-party at iO. Sarah and I were already in the area, and we were, as Sarah put it, "one beer curious" so we stopped by.

Obligatory name dropping: 3/4 of the Upright Citizen's brigade. A couple SNL cast members. A couple MadTV cast members. In other words, the usual suspects.

I find myself at a party like this about twice a year. I never talk to anyone famous, but it's fun to talk to people I do know and occasionally look over and see, oh, so-and-so is over there.

The after-party turned into a secret after-after party and we somehow stayed out until 5 am.

I bet Dad's night was better.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The cruise Steve is performing on has finished its Caribbean leg and is now on a 15 day trip across the ocean to begin the European leg.

Here's a picture his girlfriend, KRich (Second City Performer), sent me of the two of them at the top of Paradise Point in St. Thomas. In the background is their ship, the Norwegian Jewel.

Steve: [via e-mail] We'll only do four shows in the span of 15 days. I think the peculiar low of this job is the price of getting to make money doing so little work but the work itself is fun and you'd like to do more of it. It's unbelievable how easy it is to be lazy, even with so much free time. It lets you know that all the things you put off in your normal life and say to yourself you don't do because you're just too busy are often things you would put off anyway.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

My brain is overstuffed with facts.

The electric chair was invented by a dentist.
Koalas have fingerprints.
Thomas Edison claimed to be afraid of the dark.
Henry Kissinger is an honorary Harlem Globetrotter.

Also, someone came to this site by doing a yahoo search for the phrase, "Can a 12 year old work at Dollar Tree?" My blog was the first search result, but none of the links seem to answer the question.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Two weekends ago, when Allie and my parents were in town for a volleyball tournament, Sherry was visiting as well. She seemed happy and let me know that she's moving to Chicago in May.

Me: We should get together. At least once a month, let's have lunch at least.
Sherry: Yeah. That would be great.

When she was getting ready to leave I asked her if it would be alright if I took her picture. She said no, even more adamantly than usual.

Sherry: Not after all those mean things you wrote about me in your blog last time.
Me: Really? They weren't meant to be mean.
Sherry: No. No pictures. You had your chance and you blew it.
Me: I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings, but I am really excited about you moving here.
Sherry: Me too.

I went through a similar thing with Mom during my last blog (the breakup one). When she discovered it existed she was not happy and refused to let me take her picture for quite a while. Over time, she's come around, and I know she enjoys reading it.

As Sherry gathered up her things, Mom whispered to me, "If you turned off your flash maybe you could quick get a picture of her without her knowing."

I didn't, though, because I don't want to make her more angry. Then again, here I am, a little over a week later, writing about it anyway.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Today, as part of a non-Jack work project, Chris had to watch the movie 'Big Mamma's House.'

H has officially moved to Nashville. They're not engaged, but still together.

Chris: I miss her. I don't sleep well. We talk all the time. She likes it a lot. She's about to make a lot more money than me. I'm visiting her in a week. Do I move to Nashville?
Me: Did 'Big Mamma's House' help?
Chris: Well, the lightning bug speech taught me that you can't try and grab at things real fast... because then you'll never catch them. Sometimes, you just have to wait... and then... they come... to you. [pause] And right then is when I screw the jar lid shut and keep H forever.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Young has an iPod Mini now (not pictured).

Young: It's saving my life at work. I can just listen to it and shut everyone out.

Meanwhile, I've started a podcast. It's mostly just a bunch of dumb audio bits edited together (most of them recorded with people who have appeared on this blog). It's called Premisey. I'd like to do one a month, but no promises.

You can listen to it here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hedges came down to North Carolina with us despite having eye surgery a week ago. Detached retina. He explained the operation, but once he got to the part about how they pulled the eyeball completely out of the socket... I stopped listening.

After the surgery, there was a fanny pack waiting for him. Inside were various types of medical eye drops (steroids) and special sunglasses.

Me: So you have a doctor-prescribed fanny pack?
Hedges: Even if I wanted to wear it, it doesn't fit around my waist.

The doctor cleared him to fly for this trip, but Hedges wasn't sure if he should perform in our Otis show or not. The doctor had advised him to avoid activities that would elevate his heart rate. He ended up improvising in the show anyway, and is doing just fine.

Hedges: Thank God for health insurance.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pool party at Joe's parents' house. His parents (nurse and geneticist/soybean breeder) are out of town so they're letting us stay at their place while we're in North Carolina.

Even while absent, they are wonderful hosts, having left a giant spiral cut ham on the counter for us to eat.

Three live chickens wander around in the backyard.

Marc: Do they have names?
Joe: They're just collectively the Dixie Chicks. They don't have individual names. I don't think my parents know anything about the Dixie Chicks besides that they hate Bush.

I have learned a few things about chickens this weekend. They don't need roosters to lay eggs. A rooster is needed to fertilize the eggs, but a chicken will lay an egg a day whether they are fertilized or not. Also, chickens lay eggs out of the same hole they poop through.

Joe: My mother doesn't eat the eggs. She knows where they come from. But she will eat other eggs, which is kind of funny.

Friday, April 20, 2007

North Carolina.

Otis isn't performing at iO anymore, but that doesn't mean we're not performing at all. We're one of several Chicago groups invited down to Raleigh to perform at the Comedy Worx theater this weekend. Ironically, Comedy Worx is also iO South, part of the ever-growing iO empire. So, I guess we are still peforming at iO, sort of.

Here's some of Otis, out front. Marc, Duffy (Unemployed), Hedges (Warehouse Manager) and Joe.

So far it's been a good little festival with fun shows and great crowds. Everything seems well organized, despite the fact that earlier this week a city truck lost control and slammed through the front wall of the theater. Then the city tried to close the theater down for... well... having a giant hole in it's front wall, despite the fact that that hole was the city's fault. Luckily, a temporary wall and front door were put up and shows, as they say, went on.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

As a regular Tums user, now that they've gone beyond "Ultra" to "Ultra 1000" I'm curious to see what's next. "Ultra 1000Plus"?

Or, maybe I should just finally get around to using my fancy new health insurance and see a doctor.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Me: Are you going to wear pajama pants to work?
Sarah: Yes. It's okay. No one will see me. And the couple that owns the place wear pajamas. They work in pjs all the time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lunch with Jeanine. Her band, the 1900s, was just announced as being on the line-up for this summer's Lollapalooza.

Jeanine: It's exciting, but the next four months are going to be crazy. There's so much to do and no guarantee that it'll amount to anything. With all this publicity coming up, we've been told we have to be careful about our "public image." What image we put across this summer is what the band will be identified as. Like, forever. It's ridiculous.

Meanwhile she has $16 in her bank account and is contemplating moving into a new apartment where she'd have to share a bedroom to make ends meet.

Jeanine: I can't really afford to go on tour, but I can't not go on tour right now. I guess I'll just have to downsize my life more.

Afterwards I took this picture.

Me: How's this? You okay with this picture?
Jeanine: Sure. I don't care.
Me: Your public image! You have to be thinking about your public image!
Jeanine: Oh shit!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Meador's back from chaperoning a high school trip to Costa Rica.

While there he sent an e-mail listing some of the things he'd done on the trip. "Kayaked in a volcanic lake. Played soccer against Quaker mountain children. Rode a zipline 260 feet above the forest floor for 0.5 km. Found out that I am a millionaire in Costa Rican colones. Picked a cashew off a tree. Stared a howler monkey in the face. Swam in a waterfall. Clandestinely looked at boobs at the beach. Drank Imperial, the official beer of Costa Rica. Dipped my toes in the Pacific. Almost held a tarantula. Lounged in a hot springs. Respected crocodiles. Farted in a mountain stream. Searched a sleazy surfer town for two escaped students. Awkwardly cock-blocked the tour guide as he made advances on a female chaperon."

Meador: Have you ever been to the tropics?
Me: No.
Meador: I loved it. I looked around and thought, I could live here. After I become a nurse, I could do a traveling nurse stint there. It was great.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Allie's volleyball team placed 4th out of 22 in the tournament. It was fun to see her play, something I haven't seen in years.

I asked her what a regular day as a college volleyball player is like.

Allie: 8 to 9:30, weights. 9:30 to 11, class. 11 to 12, rehab or treatment. You're always hurting somewhere. [Allie was wearing a back brace during the tournament, and apparently wears it most of the time when she's not playing too, something I find a little unsettling] 12 to 1, lunch. 1 to 1:30, watch game film with coaches. 1:30 to 3, class. 3 to 6:45, practice. 7 to 8, dinner/nutritionist meeting. 8 to 9, tutoring. 9 to 11:30, homework. Maybe watch a TV show if you're lucky. 12, bed.

The whole thing is hard for me to wrap my mind around, so different from my own college experience.

Allie: It's the best and worst thing in my life all at the same time. It kind of consumes you. It's the way I define myself and has been for a long time, now. I'm not quite sure what will happen when I'm done. Who I will be, I guess.

She's just finishing up her sophomore year.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Evan was taking care of his brother's puppy last week, and brought it in to the office. Lucky is a cute dog, a pug/beagle mix, and it was fun to have a dog around the office again.

On Friday (the 13th), I noticed something under my desk. What is that? A pen cap? I reached down and picked it up for closer inspection. It was a turd. A tiny, hard, day-old dog turd, in the last place I would ever expect to find one: my hand.

I let out a long sigh, and announced to the office, "Hey guys... I'm holding poop right now."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Allie's volleyball team has a tournament in the Chicago suburbs this weekend, so I drove out there to see her and my parents.

The hotel lobby was full of volleyball parents discussing the minutia of their children's lives. Mom and another woman talked about what dorm Allie would be staying in next year and with whom, and who would be staying in the dorm room next to them, and who would be staying in the dorm room on the other side of them.

Me: Mom seems to know more about Allie's life than Allie does.
Dad: Yeah. But, you know... she's retired. All the kids are out of the house. It's something to do. These parents are nice people. This is modern parenting, I guess. You follow your children all over the place and sit around all day, waiting.
Me: Are the parents of your players the same way?
Dad: Oh yeah. Mostly. The mothers more than the fathers usually. But sometimes.

It's a short visit for my parents. They have to be back in Ohio by Sunday for Dad's end-of-the-season basketball banquet.

Dad: I'm darn tired. A season wears you out. And I'm getting old, it takes longer to bounce back. But... a couple nice sunny days, a couple trips to the golf course, that tends to help.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I know money, generally, is something that isn't talked about, more taboo than sex, but I'm just going to throw this out there.

Illinois Tax Owed: $1,423
Federal Tax Owed: $14,766

More than I'd hoped to pay, less than I'd feared. So, pretty much what I'd expected. And I'm prepared to pay it.

Still, sealing that envelope and dropping that envelope with that check into the mail... it's hard. It's like sending a love letter to someone you know doesn't love you back.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's still winter again again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The good news (according to Chris) is that Chris and his ex-girlfriend, H, are back together.

The bad news is that she is moving to Nashville next week.

Chris: I think I accidentally proposed last night.

Monday, April 09, 2007

My attempt to read 'Hard Times' via e-mail was a complete failure. But apparently it was made into a movie or miniseries or something in 1977.

So I've added 'Hard Times' to my Netflix queue. It currently resides at the very bottom, along with other movies that I will probably never actually see.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Waking up this morning, hearing from outside a friendly beep-beep of car horns every few seconds, I knew that, like last year, someone was dressed up like the Easter Bunny in front of the bar across the street.

Job #15: Promotional Work (cont.)

I've had to dress in costumes before for odd jobs, and frankly, it's not that bad. Some people may find it humiliating to dress in, say, a giant ear costume, but I think there are a lot of jobs that are a lot worse. Like, for instance, standing next to the person dressed as a giant ear. The person next to the giant ear has to hand out things, explain things, deal with problems. The giant ear just has to wave and be a giant ear. Children love the giant ear. Adults are at least bemused by the giant ear. The person standing next to the giant ear is probably trying to sell you something and should be distrusted. It's so much more fun to be the bait than the switch.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I asked Megan to send me a picture of her on the campus where she's gone back to school to get a second BA in elementary education.

Megan: On this particular day I was making that face because we were doing power point presentations on disabilities and a girl in my class did one on tourettes and MTV's True Life "I Have Tourettes" was her only academic source.

In the fall she's transferring to a different college to get a masters instead. According to her, this will end up a "wasted semester." I asked her if she was dating her college, what kind of boyfriend would it be.

Megan: The one I'm at right now would be the grungy broken down guy that you date because he seems interesting, but then you realize he's not going anywhere and his garage smells.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Tomorrow is Harry's birthday. Harry is the founder and CEO. Amanda sent Nate out to get cupcakes for the occasion.

Nate: I hate having to drive Amanda's car. It's terrifying. She hands over the keys and says, "You break it, you buy it."

The cupcakes were very good, with huge dollops of frosting.

Harry: These are for me? You didn't have to buy these for me.
Amanda: Well, I didn't buy them.
Harry: Oh, I bought them. I see.

Apparently, two years ago everyone got Harry a cake with a flowchart on it, designed in the style of the company's main programing tool.

Harry: It was really great. Somebody's probably got a picture of it somewhere.
Me: But if it had a flowchart on it, wouldn't pictures of your cake technically be considered classified proprietary information?
Harry: Yeah, I guess they would.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I met with a tax accountant yesterday.

He came recommended from my friend, Shad. I can't really do my regular occupation-in-parentheses bit with Shad, because he works about a dozen different jobs. (Performer/Teacher/Promotional Worker/Office Administrator/Maybach Chauffer) So, Shad's taxes are complicated, and I figured he'd know a good accountant.

I called the guy Shad recommended and he had me meet him over lunch in front of the LEGO store downtown. This seemed a little... odd, and gave me pause, but I went, and he seems to know what he's doing.

Accountant: One question is... your job description. You're a writer, but also you're a performer. Are you a writer who performs on the side? Your 1099s and W2s seem to say that. But talking to you, hearing about your jobs, I'm getting the picture that they're all more... connected.

It seems that a lot of what you can deduct depends on what the government perceives as your career or a career you're pursing. And after a certain number of years of not making enough money at something... you're not legitimately pursing that career anymore. In that way the government is like a parent who wishes you would be a little more realistic with your life.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Here's a picture of Allard and Chris' outside office from our Monday prank on Poland. It eventually turned into a prank on Allard and Chris.

We decided to see how long they would stay out there if they thought we were still setting everything up. Chris would text message me, asking for updates and I'd reply, "almost ready hopefully soon," or, "we r replacing a bad cord."

Poland never believed the bad cord excuse, but Chris did. Allard, I think, began to suspect that they were the suckers, but didn't want to ruin the (already done) prank on Poland.

After an hour I started to feel bad, and told them to come in. At least it was a nice day out.

Today, has not been a nice day. The weather is back down in the 30s.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Last night my new iO improv team, Diplomat Motel, took team pictures... outside the Diplomat Motel. The place seemed a little shady. I doubt many diplomats stay there, unless by diplomat you mean prostitute.

This is the team. Everyone was present except Meador, who is currently chaperoning a high school trip to Costa Rica.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Every year for April Fools Day (or the Friday or Monday before or after) Poland's TV and camera gets put someplace "funny." Last year he spent the day in the refrigerator. Supposedly the year before that he was in the bathroom.

The plan this year, was to put him in Krull, the office across the hall. Allard talk to them a week earlier, they agreed to do it. But then, today, at the last minute, they changed their minds and said they were too busy. (KRULL!!!!!!!)

So we were left to scramble for an idea in a short period of time. We decided to point his camera outside, across the street. Then we decided to use a couple chairs, a desk, a coat tree and a computer monitor to set a fake office up across the street. Chris and Allard volunteered to be the "outside office" workers. We rushed to get it all set up in ten minutes time.

And we got it ready just in time. Except that when Poland tried to call in, it didn't work. Something wasn't hooked up correctly. So we ran around trying to get it fixed, as Poland became more and more suspicious.

Poland: [via IM] You guys are moving the TV someplace wacky and you need to cover the moving time. Am I right?
Me: Adam is going to replace the cord. He seems to think the cord has gone bad. [this was actually true]
Poland: Bad cord, my ass. Either they're moving my TV to the basement, or the roof... not the bathroom again.... uh, sound booth? Of course, there's the kitchen. Dishwasher? Hello? Hmm.. this IM must have a bad cord too.

When we finally got it to work, it was a bit anti-climactic. Poland could see Chris and Allard across the street, but not well.

Poland: It just looks like a scene where something horrible is about to happen. It kind of seems like the April Fools joke is on them.
Me: They've been out there for a half an hour so far.
Poland: No one should say anything. See how long they last.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Spent several hours today getting all my tax paperwork and receipts in order. I'm going to have to make an appointment to see an accountant. My taxes have gotten too complicated.

As an independent contractor, no money was taken out of my pay for taxes over the last year. I maybe had a total of $100 taken out from some random acting work here and there. So, now, at tax time, I'll have to shell out a lot of money to the government. Plus, independent contractors are taxed a much higher percentage, as much as 30 to 40% if I remember correctly.

My taxes could very easily be in the five figures. Luckily I've set a lot of money aside, knowing this would happen. In fact, I've set aside an amount of money more or less equal to my entire income the first year I moved to Chicago back at the beginning of the decade. Then again, my first year in Chicago, I made very little money.

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