Thursday, October 30, 2003

Well, we're movin' on up!

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Judge Elliott has left the building.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 25, 2003

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

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

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

Friday, October 24, 2003

They had me at "whom."

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Rats! I mean Lions!

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 20, 2003

It's gorgeous out

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

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

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

Sunday, October 19, 2003

A shot in the dark

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

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

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

$620 TIMES TWO!

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 18, 2003

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

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

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

Friday, October 17, 2003

The post about the play about the baby

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

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

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

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

Monday, October 13, 2003

Jake's Celebrity Weekend!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 11, 2003

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

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

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

Bob and Jake and Romeo and Juliet

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 10, 2003

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 09, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10,000 Mile Checkup

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

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

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

Monday, October 06, 2003

Learn from my experience.

Never organize your photo albums while watching Fear Factor.

The old boy's still got it.

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

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

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

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Four Fags at Six Flags

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Big Fag Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 03, 2003

Last night started with a fabulous dinner with Matthew from the chorus, then we retired to his equally fabulous Gold Cost condo for a couple hours of conversation over sparkling water and designer chocolates. Mmm!

I got home late and slept until 11—so it's a good thing I took today as a comp today as payback for some long-ass hours I put in at work a few weeks ago. It's rainy and cold and generally crappy outside today, which makes it an ideal day to stay in and valiantly struggle to organize five years' worth of photos and clippings and reviews into the pile of photo albums that have been gathering dust in the corner since I moved here.

You'd be amazed how many pictures of cats I found. I haven't had a cat in three years.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

VERY garlic-y pizza (which is a good thing) and a Queer Eye rerun last night with Paul and his roommates Brandon and Mike, who popped in and out as we sat enthralled for like the seventh time by the gay magic of Butch's transformation.

This afternoon I go in for a preliminary evaluation to see if I'm a good candidate for LASIK surgery—even though paying for it is really just a pipe dream. Maybe I could have a bake sale.