Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Jellyvision softball team decided to have lunch at What's the Beef, because that's where they ate two weeks ago when they won. The superstitions have begun.

Michelle: I wore the same socks.

Due to rain, their game against the undefeated team Cleats First was canceled.

Poland: Well, I consider that a victory.
Meyer: We didn't lose!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The educational project I worked on during my first year at Jellyvision (and what I was finishing up during the beginning of this blog) has won a BESSIE award. What is a BESSIE award, you ask. I'm not entirely sure. Some kind of educational software award.

The press release describes the program as "flawless," and cites its "unusually comprehensive and compelling content."

The actual award goes to the company that hired us (and due to corporate restructuring was unable to hire us to do more). Still, it's nice to hear our work was well-received.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The weekly pictures from Chic-A-Go-Go are probably getting old, but the last of our three episodes aired tonight. Most of the children and dancers left by the third episode so it was just us and a handful of crazies.

You can see a lot of Sarah and I dancing in this episode. I'm not much of a dancer so I rotate repeatedly through my "I'm dancing" bits. Robot arms. Pointing. Running in place. Super excited for a second. Half-hearted roof raising.

Mostly the camera seemed to catch me in the moments between dancing, when I was looking around as if to say, "Now what? Still? I'm still dancing? Okay..... uh... comical moonwalk, maybe?"

Here's my most natural moment during the show, taking a picture.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day. Apparently this is the day everyone goes to the movies. Sarah and I went to see '28 Weeks Later' with Nick and Katie. At the theater, I ran into seven improvisers in three different groupings.

While still on the way there Nick sent me a text. "We have seats. Cochran is behind us."

Cochran (Content Producer) is an improviser who works with Trupe.

Nick: It's weird. I was typing the text to you, writing 'Cochran is behind us' and the T9, the predictive text, wrote out dead instead of behind. It said, 'Cochran is dead.' Creepy.

Here's a picture of Cochran, alive, after the movie.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

1. James Jackson (those of us that were in town anyway) competed against Uncle Pecos in the iO Cagematch of the Fallen Teams last night. Beforehand we had someone take our picture. A victory shot and a defeat shot. One of each, just in case.

We won with 63 votes to 19. It's a good thing too, because we look much better in the victory shot. Morose slouching does not become us.

2. The Jellyvision softball team did not do quite so well against Joe's Achilles (the only team with a worse record).

Me: How was the game?
Meyer: We were like that other team that played against you in the Cagematch.
Allard: It was bad.
Meyer: At first there were only four of them, not enough to play. And it was really windy. Sand was flying everywhere. Then, at the last minute, the rest of their team appeared through the cloud of sand and demolished us.
Allard: It was like Iraq.

Win or lose, Steve-o's e-mail recaps of the games are usually upbeat and detailed. This one wasn't. "Jellyvision very bad. Score two runs. Lose 14 to 2. Lots of dust. Hurt eyes. Next week will try again."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Job # 9: Creative Writing T.A.

While going to grad school, I taught introductory creative writing classes to college students. It was easy, but low-paying work.

I remember, once after class, walking back to the parking garage with a non-traditional student from my class, a retired businessman. He was maybe a retired CEO. I'm probably exaggerating his success in my memory, but he'd done very well for himself.

"I've tackled the world of business," he'd said on the first day of class, "and now that I have time I want to try to tackle the world of the arts." A statement like that tends to set off warning signals, but he was a good guy, smart and respectful. He brought a knowledge of the world to the class without the resistance to learning new things that can sometimes plagues older students. He took the assignments more seriously than the other students, and, frankly, sometimes more seriously than I did.

He seemed to think I had some secret knowledge to impart, but really I was just a kid who went to grad school right out of college because I didn't know what else to do. And I was about to graduate grad school with the same amount of directionlessness. It was odd that as a grad student I was already more cynical about the "world of art" than a businessman in his 60s.

We got to the parking lot and saw that our cars were parked next to each other. His was a BMW and mine was a Taurus with no air conditioning and no door handles on the driver's side because someone had ripped them off outside a bar one night and I didn't have enough money to fix them.

So, there we stood, between our cars, him next to his driver's side door, and me by the passenger side of mine. "I really admire what you can do," he said, stepping into his car.

"Thanks," I replied, and crawled into my car through the passenger door, scooching awkwardly over to get behind the wheel.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A bunch of us went to see a sketch show at the high school where Nick teaches. A few of his seniors put it together as an independent study with Nick. It was funny, not just high school funny, but filled with some genuinely great and even kind of sophisticated moments.

Afterwards, while (I assume) the high schoolers went off to do some celebratory post-show partying, we adults went out for dinner and some beers, ending up in a bar that was too crowded and too loud, feeling generally old. Most of us called it an early night.

I have a couple shows of my own this weekend, and afterwards I plan to do some post-show partying myself, and feel younger rather than older than I am.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The James Jackson Cagematch is this weekend.

I was at iO and saw that someone had written "James Jackson" and "JJ" all over one of the posters for the team we'll be competing against. I felt bad about it, so I took the poster down and threw it away. Then I realized I'd just thrown away one of their posters, an action that could be considered equally dickish.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The 1900's episode of Chic-A-Go-Go aired. You can occasionally just barely glimpse Sarah and I hanging out in the back of the crowd. Mostly my head is cut off because I'm too tall. Once you see me hitching my pants up, another time I'm scratching my stomach for an unnecessarily long time.

Finally, near the end of the show, you get a clear shot of Sarah, (a pregnant) Katie and I, as we do a slow motion run during the El Train Line segment.

Young: [laughing] Are you pretending to wipe sweat off your brow? You're an idiot!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My 30G iPod is packed with music, but lately I've just been listening to talking: podcasts of 'This American Life' and a 36 hour audio book entitled 'A Game of Thrones.' I even tried listening to an interview with Stephen Wright while working out (slowly).

This week, though, I've gone back to listening to music on my drive to and from work. Elvis Costello. Magnetic Fields. Pixies. And yes... Toto.

It's making me happier.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Did a little spring cleaning of my messy desk. Here's a 'The Things They Carried'-esque list of all the things cluttering my work area.

empty bowl
glass of water
empty diet dr pepper can and empty diet coke can
box of kleenex
USA Today section from December listing people who died in 2006
small screw
pamphlet for Engineers Without Borders
an invitation to Mary's one woman show last December
Pockets menu from that one time I went there with Shane
yellow notebook paper with words, "Arnie's Keys For Sarah" written in giant letters
unopened 'Night of the Comet' DVD
an old Rolling Stone magazine
unopened extra Men of Mortuaries calendar
Jellyvision benefits folder
copy of the Performer Agreement for Kyle's in a Coma.
empty Amazon box
mysterious key
huge stack of old printouts, most of them for projects that are already long finished or ended
three crayons
tape dispenser
weird little keychain Allard brought back from Thailand
empty Best Buy bag
Microsoft Office Word 2003 box
Microsoft Office Standard 2007
three pens, a highlighter and a sharpie
an unopened Idaho Spud candy bar given to me (months ago) by a client from Idaho
instructions on how to play a Nose Flute
four notebooks full of scribbled notes
Langley School Music Project CD
16 reference books
various confusing old Post-It notes (one simply reads, "forethought")

Sunday, May 20, 2007

"I don't wanna work in a building downtown."

Went with Martin, Meador and Young to see the Arcade Fire play at the Chicago Theater. It was the first time any of us had been inside the old theater which is huge and very ornate.

Martin: [pointing to one of the paintings over the stage] That's Apollo, the god of art.
Meador: How about that one over there?
Martin: That one's Hera, queen of the gods and... goddess of art.
Me: Wait, they can't all be patron gods of art.
Martin: Yes they can. They all are.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Meador has officially been accepted to nursing school.

Meador: I was beginning to sweat it there near the end.

In order to prepare, he came over and played 'Trauma Center,' a surgery game, on the Wii.

Young: Meador! You're supposed to use antibiotic gel before you start cutting into the body!
Meador: I didn't know!
Young: Am I going to have to follow you around when you're a nurse?

Meador received a C ranking on his first simulated surgery.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Jellyvision won its first softball game last night, against the High Elbows.

Here's an excerpt from Steve-o's weekly e-mail recap:

"Little did R. Kelly know on that fateful day, when, with the hand of God helping him hold his pen, he wrote that classic song called 'I Believe I Can Fly,' that his work would mean so much to a ragtag group of men and women from a little town called Chicago, where R. Kelly also had sex with an underage girl and filmed it. Last night, the Jellyvision softball team flew. After who knows how many seasons of winless softball, the team finally won a game. Final score: 10-6. They believed they could see it, so they knew they could do it, and if they believed it, there would be nothing to it."

Woody: I think Steve-o is secretly a frustrated sportswriter.

The winning game ball spent the day sitting in a glove, perched atop a coat tree, in the middle of the office for everyone to see.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

For Evan's 31st birthday, we ate lunch in the Garden of Eternity, which is really just a couple picnic tables behind an italian beef place called What's the Beef.

Me: What is the afterlife was really just this place back here?
Evan: Sounds good to me. I'd love it. I mean, I guess after 300 years I'd get tired of What's the Beef's menu. "Could I get a salad or something?"

Evan is about half a year younger than me. Like most of the people that already worked here when I first came aboard, I've always assumed he was older than me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The first of three Chic-A-Go-Go shows we watched tape aired last night. Sarah and I mostly sat back behind the cameras and watched during this first one, but you can see Jeanine and Jane here during the El Train Line segment.

The show itself seems slightly more menacing when you watch it on TV.

The 1900s' episode airs next week.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another picture Lacy sent from backstage at her play. Ajax checks his e-mail.

Last night I had drinks with Lacy, Chris and Thea. Something must have been up with the burgers Lacy and I had, because we're both sick today.

Lacy: [via IM] the woman who plays Andromache in my show told me the best ever call-in-sick excuse. it's brilliant. no one will ever question it. "There is blood in my stool." then the follow up can either be a very serious "I'm going to be okay" or "I found out, it runs in my family!"

Monday, May 14, 2007

Job #13: Charter School Teacher (Cont.)

I helped a little with the student paper at the charter school where I taught. This is a picture of the head administrators column in the second issue of the paper. His first column had been about freedom of speech. "It requires conviction, courage and confrontation and if you don't use it, you will surely lose it." This second column was about smoking. At a full page, though, it included several unusual digressions. For instance, "Four years later (and I claim self defense) I ran away from home after knocking out my guardian and putting his wife in the hospital."

The issue never made it to the students. The head administrator deemed it inappropriate due to a Halloween picture of the male Media Arts teacher wearing a dress.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day.

I called Grandma. She seems to be doing the same, still not happy in the nursing home.

Grandma: There's nothing to do. You can't really talk to many people here. One of my old boyfriends is here. Sometimes I sit with him
Me: Oh? Someone you dated before… when you were younger?
Grandma: Yeah. He can't swallow or eat, so he has to have tubes down his throat.

She asked how my job is going.

Grandma: I'd like to read some of your writing sometime. I keep a bunch of your old writing here in a drawer.
Me: Well… it's on the internet. Do they… can you get the internet there? Do they have computers you can use?
Grandma: Huh?
Me: It's on… you can see it on a computer.
Grandma: Does your mom get it?
Me: Yeah.
Grandma: She hasn't sent me any of it.
Me: Well… you can't send it. You can't print it out. It's a game. You have to play it on a computer.
Grandma: Oh. I see. [beat] Are you still in movies?
Me: Movies?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The iO theater has a show called the Cagematch. Two improv teams perform and the audience votes one of the two back to compete the next week (or in some sort of tournament set-up). It's a fun gimmick as long as you don't take it too seriously.

They've recently decided to do The Cagematch of the Fallen Teams, a Cagematch only open to teams that have been cut from the iO schedule. A funny idea. My old team, James Jackson, decided to enter, mostly as an excuse to get us all together again to do a couple shows. We've even been seeded number one in the tournament, which is somewhat flattering, I guess, and in theory we should win our first match, since we compete against the lowest seeded team.

It doesn't really work that way, though. It's no secret that the key to winning the Cagematch is packing the house with people that are going to vote for you (it's a clever marketing tool for the theater). Teams and performers who've been around for a long time may or may not put on better shows than newer teams, but they'll almost certainly be less compelled to pester everyone they know to come see their shows. For instance, the number 2 seeded team has already lost to the number 15 seeded team.

To make matters worse, James Jackson's first match is on a holiday weekend. About 50% of us will be out of town due to various adult obligations.

Carrie: You guys have to win so we can all get together and perform in the second show!

I was in the bathroom at iO tonight and saw that the team we'll be competing against has made slick posters encouraging people to come and vote for them.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Nate graduates from college this weekend, so we had a cake at work.

Me: I didn't realize you were still in college. Do you need me to buy you beer?
Nate: I actually haven't taken a class in over a year.

Besides graduating, Nate is moving into an apartment by himself soon, instead of living with two other guys, one of which lived in his pantry.

While eating cake, conversation turned to the Jellyvision softball game the night before against the Homerun Homerun Hippos.

Woody: ... we lost. We were doing well, but then they scored three grand slam home runs in one inning. It was hard to come back from that.
Allard: After the game the Hippos told us that this was the first game they'd won in three years.
Evan: I love our team. I really think we're going to win one this season.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Steve-o and I went to the Borders near the office to get some new reference books. We checked out the children's section to see if there were any good books of simple facts there.

Steve-o: Look at this. This shelf here is the children's reference shelf. And from here down.... all pirates.

He was right.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Paging through my 'School Years' book, you can see exactly when I stopped playing sports. In the eighth grade the Sports section reads, "Basketball - City Champs; FCC Swim Team." In ninth grade the Clubs and Activities section spills over into Sports. By tenth grade Sports is blank. And in eleventh grade Sports is actually crossed out so no one will wrongly assume that there is anything athletic about representing Belgium in the Model United Nations.

I played a lot of sports growing up, but I was never aggressive enough to be any good. By high school I was perfectly happy to replace sports with Clubs and Activities.

Job #0.5: Basketball Camps

Still, I enjoyed working at Dad's basketball camps over the summer. I sold pizza, sodas and candy in the dorms. I ran various errands.

The only bad experience was the time I had to step in to referee a game. Due to a scheduling mix-up, I was the only person available. And I was in totally over my head. You need to be aggressive to be a ref too. "Oo... should I call that? Was that a foul? Too late. Okay, maybe I shouldn't call that foul to even things out. That was pretty obvious, though. Uh oh... too late again."

The only thing worse than having two teams of sixth graders yelling at you and giving you shit for the calls you make or don't make... is knowing in the back of your mind, that they're probably right.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Lacy, having an IM conversation with me, backstage during a show of "Troilus and Cressida."

Lacy: In the 3-hour show, I spend maybe 10 minutes on-stage. So there's a lot of downtime. It's two hours between my second scene and my third scene.

So, like most people at work, she spends a lot of time on-line. Only she does it in period costume and a "custom-made, hand-tied wig."

Monday, May 07, 2007

Someone pointed out that a movie called 'Hard Times' is playing on cable this month. I DVR-ed it.

Again, I never got through more than a couple chapters of the Dickens' book, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't about underground bare-knuckle street-fighting.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

I received this text as I was getting ready for bed, far too late to call the nursing home where my grandmother now lives.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sarah was finally able to move into her new apartment today, with her friend, Tim (SAT/ACT Teacher).

When she moved to Boston last fall, she sold her bed to her friend, Jana. Now in Chicago again, Sarah offered to buy the bed back.

Jana: You can have it. And I don't want any money. It's yours. I had sex on that bed anyway, so you shouldn't have to pay anything.

So, things are, slowly, getting back to normal.

Sarah: I've decided I'm going to find a career by the end of the summer. Something I could do for the next five years. So that gives me a couple months to figure it out.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Jellyvision softball team (part of it anyway), right before heading out to play their first game last night, against a team called G-Unit.

As Steve-o (shown here in the middle) wrote in an office-wide e-mail, "Jellyvision has a long and storied history as one of the worst softball teams known to co-ed recreational-level summer-league softball. Spanning certainly seven or eight seasons, it is believed that Jellyvision has actually won only one game, and it is disputed as to whether or not that game was won by forfeit of the opposing team."

When I came into the office today, I asked how the game went.

Allard: We're not terrible!
Henry: We tied. Then we played an extra inning and lost.
Allard: But that's as close to winning as you can get and still lose, right?
Henry: They scored six runs in the extra inning.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sometimes posts have to disappear.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Due to what I can only imagine is a Peapod error, we have a case of baby yogurt in the fridge at work.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

After the educational project came to an end last year, Josh left the client company and came to work with us as a salesperson. I think it's safe to say, the client company was more straight laced than Jellyvision. Case in point, the day I had to spend editing out all the farts and burps we'd put in the project.

Today, some of us took Josh out to lunch for his birthday. On the way back, Woody and Chris started yelling that they wanted to stop at a Radio Shack we'd just passed to buy a remote controlled dragonfly they'd seen on the internet. Amanda executed a dramatic U-turn and the dragonfly was purchased.

Woody: Ooo... the box says it's made with carbon fibers.
Amanda: Guys, Josh is used to working with ADULTS!
Josh: No. It's good. It's good.

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