Sunday, November 30, 2003

Home

The holiday trip to Iowa was great -- throat-aching, snot-dripping cold notwithstanding. We played tons of canasta, bonded with the niece and nephew, ate like fiends, and sneaked away in twos and threes to discuss Christmas gift ideas. We even ordered my favorite Cedar Rapids pizza Saturday night and gorged ourselves like Rush Limbaugh in an opium den.

I also managed to make a Home Depot run with Jeff and Matt to get all the stuff I needed to move three light switches to make room for my fabulous new wall hanging. And when I finally lugged all my new electrical stuff, patch kits and borrowed tools home today, I called the antiques dealer to make the formal purchase ... and the hanging had sold yesterday. Shit shit shit shit shit.

Oh, well. I guess that just means more shopping ...

Friday, November 28, 2003

Braving the crowds

So normally I'd avoid all shopping districts like the plague they are on the day after Thanksgiving -- but I decided today that it might be a fun way to run into friends while I'm home for the holidays.

I was only marginally right. Jenny and I ran into two friends today -- one I didn't care to see all that much and one I'd seen just a few weeks earlier. But we did get some Christmas shopping out of the way. Which is always nice.

And we've been playing canasta like fiends since we put the kids to bed yesterday. Steve and I beat Mom and Jenny last night amid mountains of cookies and assorted leftovers, and today I kicked the pants off Steve and Jenny in a long three-handed game. I rock.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thanksgiving in Iowa

So dinner today was fabulous, and we had more than the whole family here: Mom, Dad, my sister, her husband, my adorable niece and nephew, Dad's sister Nancy visiting from Denver, and our family friend Gingie. And now everyone is safe and healthy and happy ... and incredibly full.

And my cold feels like it's on its way out. I feel so blessed today I could just pee.

The drive home last night was almost uneventful. The traffic reports had been grim all day, and I kept hanging out at work waiting for the all-clear that never came. I finally took off at 7:00 (mostly because the garage closes at 7:00 and I'd probably lose my car for the whole holiday weekend if I didn't leave before then) -- and I was pleased to discover that the roads were reasonably empty and miraculously fast-paced.

So I just sailed along, driving responsibly (as always) and listening to all my favorite CDs (but not singing along as is my usual custom because my damn throat still hurt) ... when suddenly -- in lowly Clarence, Iowa -- my rearview mirrors were filled with the flashing lights of a self-righteous small-town cop.

Now, I haven't had a speeding ticket since I was in college (in the late 1980s, for those of you keeping score at home), and I haven't had an accident since probably 1993, so I figured my nearly spotless record would speak volumes for my character -- especially when I found out I was going a measly 38 in a 30-mph zone -- and I'd get off with just a friendly warning.

And I was right. So not only was the cop reasonable and polite and properly deferential to such a model citizen as I, but he was also pretty hot. After checking all my paperwork, he told me to drive carefully and wished me a safe journey home. I tried my best to convey thanks and see what happens when you're a good citizen 99.99% of the time? and I'm single and you have my name and address, you handsome copper you all in one smile as I drove off.

I don't know if he got all that, but I did make it home safely. Just like he told me to do.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Ugh

Somewhere between getting on the train downtown last night and getting off of it in my 'hood, I managed to develop a cold. It's just a sore-throat-general-malaise kind of thing, but it's decidedly not what I need before a 5-hour drive tonight and an extended holiday visit with the family.

In any case, I'll be relaxing in Iowa with the world's cutest niece and nephew for the next few days. I may or may not update the blog while I'm there. And you'll just have to find a way to soldier on through the uncertainty.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

So yesterday was another 11-hour day at work

And it was colder than shit in Chicago. So when I got home all freezing and exhausted late last night, I decided to make some broccoli and cheddar soup from a gourmet mix I got at my friendly neighborhood Jewel. Nothing like the wholesome goodness of soup to fix what ails you, right?

Apparently not until after you've cleaned up the gloppy mess that happens when the soup suddenly boils over onto the stovetop, the counter, the front of the oven and half the kitchen floor. ACK!

And once I got that mess cleaned up and I was pouring what was left of the soup into my bowl, a little glop of it splashed up and hit the back of my finger, raising a goose-egg-size blister that makes its presence known every time I tie my shoes, backslap my bitch or try to use a writing implement.

So much for soup's mystical curative powers.

Anyway, I finally had my bowl of warm cheesy goodness, and I plopped down in front of the TV to flip channels and eventually land on the train wreck they call Average Joe. And of course, I was immediately hooked. Our intrepid heroine was wise to cut the creepy Hispanic guy -- especially since he sobbed like a schoolgirl at the news. But if I were she, I would have definitely spent more time with the dreamy-yet-slightly-immature Evan Marriott lookalike. Woof!

Sunday, November 23, 2003

My second emissions test and my third famous person!

Saturday was a big day for me. It started at the Illinois emissions testing facility, where my (sometimes) trusty old Neon passed with flying colors. The last time I took my car in for the tests, I think it took almost three hours from getting in line to receiving my diploma. So this year, armed with tons of reading material and a fully charged phone battery so I could fill my time productively, the testing process took little over 10 minutes. I used the bonus time to take my car in for an oil change before next week's Thanksgiving road trip to Iowa.

But you're not reading this post to hear about my auto maintenance; you want to hear about all the rich and famous people I've been rubbing elbows with.

But first, I need to mention that the chorus sang an hour of Christmas carols at the kickoff of the Michigan Avenue holiday parade this afternoon. We had no sound system, and we were sandwiched between a marching band and a small brass choir. So nobody could hear us. And it was kind of cold. And we could barely hear each other -- so it was probably for the best that nobody on the sidewalks could hear us either. I guess participation in this festival was a Big Deal. I'm looking at it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience -- because I'll never do it again.

So on to the famous people. Here's the rundown of my famous run-ins so far:
1) Whoopi Goldberg at a ribbon-cutting for some children's outreach facility in inner-city L.A. about 10 years ago. I was there with a friend who worked at the facility, and I got my picture with Whoopi to prove it.

1.5) Scott Weiland, the drug-addled lead singer for the Stone Temple Pilots, on the treadmill next to me at Crunch gym about three years ago. He gets only half a listing because I didn't know who he was at the time, and to this day I still don't care.

2) Jason Priestly at the Chicago premier of his new movie, Die, Mommie, Die, a couple months ago. The director stood up before the movie to thank us all for coming, and he pointed out the still-hunky Jason, who was standing in the back of the theater. I almost swooned.

3) Megan Mullally singing at a fund-raiser concert for the Northlight Theatre tonight in Skokie. She sang wonderfully, and the high-price tickets included the opportunity to meet her at a reception afterward. Unfortunately, the reception was mobbed by theater volunteers, and I never got a chance to get close to her. But I made a point of getting close enough that I could see her face and say we shared the same public space -- if only for a fleeting moment.

Now it's late and I'm tired and I'm off to bed.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Bob and Jake's Great Theater Adventure continues!

Tonight we saw a pretty amazing production of The Lion in Winter with a pretty first-rate cast. The production is all but literally in the round; the set is a large X in the middle of a square room with chunks of seats in each corner -- so we as audience members can watch the show AND the rest of the audience at the same time.

And therein lay the problem tonight. You see, a good three fourths of our audience comprised a busload of kids from a Catholic high school from the burbs. And while The Lion in Winter isn't racy by any means, it shows adults kissing -- Henry II gets affectionate with his mistress Alais, and he gets downright smoochy with his wife Eleanor. Which is apparently waaaaaay too cringe-inducing for children raised in the make-believe world of Catholic school to watch. And then when Prince Richard and King Philip share a kiss, fuggetabout it -- the Pope's blessed children giggled and snorted like they were at a goddamn Ace Ventura movie.

I almost pinned the kids' teacher to the wall after the show and told him on no uncertain terms that he was henceforth allowed to bring his kidlets to nothing more representative of the real world than Cats, but I figured the insult would be lost on him. I mean, really -- it's one thing to subscribe to a mythology that insists the entire world is heterosexual and homogeneous and oblivious to your enduring immaturity in the privacy of your own church or school or home, but to bring children indoctrinated in such nonsense out into the real world where they can embarrass themselves and irritate everyone around them is both rude and ignorant. And if this were truly an educational outing, you'd think any teacher smarter than a size seven soap dish would read the play first and either warn the kids that it didn't march in lockstep with the narrow-minded viewpoints of the almighty Church -- or just keep the kids home where they could watch videos about ... oh, I don't know ... supernatural beings who walk on water or Davey and Goliath or goddamn bunnies frolicking in a fucking meadow.

Repeated audience distractions notwithstanding, we really enjoyed the show, and we capped off our evening with drinks at both Sidetrack and the new Caribou on Halsted before heading home to crash.
AMEN

I love being gay

I really do. Yesterday, after yet another horrifyingly stressful 11 hours at work, I headed over to Matthew's house for a just-us-girls spa night. It was Matthew's idea, and I had NO idea what to expect. I was thinking cheap mud masks and those strips that pull gunk out of your nose pores and maybe some scented lotion on our elbows -- all available in the discount aisle at our friendly neighborhood Walgreen's.

But Matthew is a certifiable spaholic, and he has a cupboard just bursting with high-end spa products. And it doesn't stop there -- he also has electrical contraptions and special teas and even heated lava rocks. So our evening played out thusly:

1) Shower and don loose pajama bottoms
2) 15 minutes on a chi machine shaking my legs back and forth, loosening my joints, settling my bowels and giving me a funky endorphin rush when it ended
3) Five-step chemical face peel followed by delicate little pats of eye cream
4) Foot soaking in pans filled with lava rocks, boiling water and some menthol-scented additive
5) Yummy tea
6) Foot spritzer and lotion
7) Chinese takeout and a weepy chick flick

And the whole treatment worked miracles on my tired old self -- even though I'm still kind of emotionally drained from my workweek, my skin looks fabulous!

I'd never seen An Affair to Remember, though, and I wasn't too impressed. When it wasn't giving us endless Meaningful Glances, it was trotting out little Negro children to entertain us with their Amazing Negro Dancing Abilities. Add not one but TWO dumped fiancees who are kind-hearted and understanding and supportive -- and throw in such oversensitivity to the handicapped as to render them unmentionable in polite society -- and you get an understanding of my disapproval. To top it off, Deborah Kerr's extensive couture is anything but fabulous -- though she's almost as beautiful as Cary Grant's grandmother's scenic Italian villa.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

A pirate walks into a bar

The bartender says, "Hey, pirate! You've got a steering wheel sticking out of your fly."

The pirate says, "Aargh! It's drivin' me nuts!"

* * * * *
ADDENDUM: Bill threw a hissy fit when he saw I posted this joke as if it were mine. So let me set the record straight (as it were): I got this joke from BILL. He likes pirates.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

So show tunes was fun last night

I hung out with some chorus boys, ran into friends ... and even met up with a hot (and intelligent and literate and did I mention hot?) man I only kind of know (so far, at least) -- and we have a DATE tomorrow night! More to come ...

Tonight was the first new episode of Queer Eye in goodness knows how long -- and Dan, Matthew, Paul and Phil came over to watch with me. Now I'm watching the Nightline coverage of today's Massachusetts Supreme Court gay marriage decision. And wondering how big it might backfire on us in the hands of politically connected religion addicts.

Monday, November 17, 2003

When Step Groove goes bad

So Anders and I decided to take a step aerobics class after work tonight. And though I haven't taken a class in a couple years, I've logged more hours in aerobics classes over my life than most Republicans have spent convincing themselves that "hate the sin, love the sinner" is a logical way to think. So I was kind of excited to get back into the groove, as it were.

By the time Anders and I got there, the class was so full there were only a couple spots left for our step benches: way in the front or way in the back. I was tempted to take a prominent spot in the front because, hey, I've taken tons of classes before. And hey, I'm a dancer. Hell -- right now, I'm a choreographer. I can rock no matter where I stand in class. Right?

For some reason, we decided to stay in the back. And about five minutes into class, I was profoundly thankful. First of all, it's a pretty advanced class, so the combinations came at us quickly and complicatedly. And second, the class is full of regulars who already know the combinations -- or at least the instructor's basic vocabulary.

So for about 15 minutes I kept up. And then my brain reached critical absorption. And then my crappy new deodorant gave out. So for the last 35 minutes or so I was that stinky clueless guy who just takes up valuable space on the gym floor.

But a little humiliation now and then can keep you grounded. I am, however, going to head to Sidetrack tonight so I can belt out show tunes loudly and clearly so everyone can admire how I know all the words. And most of the harmonies.

So the weekend guests have come and gone

And I'm exhausted.

The Producers was fun on Friday night, but not as amazing as I'd expected. And our last-minute seats were in the very back row of the upper balcony -- where you just can't look rich and connected no matter how much DKNY you have on.

Saturday was all about shopping and eating, and I waddled home at the end of the day with three new shirts, two new pair of shoes and a new pair of jeans. The jeans are those intentionally-dirty-looking things I've been hating since they first started appearing on hipsters half my age a couple years ago. And suddenly I'm wearing them. (But they look fabulous with my new Skechers!) I'm such a goddamn lemming.

After shopping all day Saturday with Mom, Kay and Mary, I abandoned them at 6 to entertain my metrosexual cousin Chris, who was in town for a conference. We shopped on north Michigan Avenue for a while and then headed up to Boystown for a fabulous dinner among the cultural cognoscenti at Ping Pong. He had an early flight home the next morning, so after dropping him off at his hotel I headed over to a fabulous little cocktail soiree at Matthew's Gold Coast condo. And by the time I tumbled into bed, I was one tired puppy.

Sunday morning Mom, Kay, Mary and I had brunch with Pat, Dana and Rob -- even more Iowa-based friends who were visiting Chicago this weekend. After a couple hours of catching up, everyone hit the road for home and I hit the laundry room and choreographed some more disco to teach at chorus rehearsal last night.

Now I'm at work avoiding my professional obligations and looking all trendy and shit in my new threads. Dig me!

Friday, November 14, 2003

Be Our Guest

I'm home today cleaning and organizing and porn-hiding in anticipation of a weekend visit from my mom and two of her friends. My cousin Chris from Denver is here this weekend for a conference as well, so tonight the five of us are having dinner at Mom's favorite Chicago restaurant and then we're taking in a bird's-eye-view of The Producers.

Stay tuned for a full report of our adventures.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Bob and Jake's Big Theater Adventure Continues

Tonight we saw an amazing production of The Taming of the Shrew at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. I'm not sure I've ever read or seen Shrew all the way through -- though I (no doubt shittily) played Petruchio in the seduction scene in a Shakespeare showcase waaaaaay back in high school.

The production at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre moves the play from Renaissance Padua to rich-people-in-the-1960s Padua, and the transition works really well -- including some chronological shifting of scenes, the addition of some mood-setting original music and a complete rewrite of a monologue to involve a description of Petruchio as a bad-boy biker. It doesn't hurt that the set, costumes, musicians and cast are first-rate.

Best of all, the actor playing Petruchio is a complete hottie AND he frequently bares a lot of skin and even gets completely wet in one scene. Bonus! True to form, I fell in love with him -- and we will continue to court until I fall in love with the next sexually confident, beautifully sculpted naked man in the next play I see.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

My precious little niece turned two today

I wish I could have been with my family for her birthday party. Apparently she wore a black velvet outfit I bought for her last winter -- but I'm not a very observant uncle, so it didn't fit her until this year. I tried to make plans to drive out to Iowa to be there, but scheduling was difficult -- and I'll be there in a few weeks for Thanksgiving anyway. I can't wait!

While she's certainly not conversational, she's a good mimic -- and, with a little prompting, she was able to say "thank you" and "outfit" and "I love you" to me on the phone this evening. I was grinning so loud she could probably hear it.

Anyway, it's hard to imagine there are children in this world who are more loved than my niece and nephew. Those lucky little kids have the constant attention of a patient stay-at-home mommy, grandparents who would do anything for them (and who live only four blocks away, so they're often called upon to do that anything) and an extended-family network of love that stretches from the Pacific to Lake Michigan.

Ugh

I got to work through my lunch workout and through a chorus rehearsal last night. So I went to bed feeling a little fat and irritable.

But not before I ordered a fabulous new tissue dispenser for my bathroom. Now all I have left to do for my bathroom makeover is:

> pick a paint color (or two)
> paint
> pick a new sink, faucet and vanity
> install the new sink, faucet and vanity
> pick a new mirrored medicine cabinet
> install the new mirrored medicine cabinet
> pick cool new indirect lighting
> install my cool new indirect lighting
> pick new towel bars
> install new towel bars
> have my "do not flush toilet while train is in station" sign framed
> hang my newly framed "do not flush toilet while train is in station" sign

and then I'm all done!

Monday, November 10, 2003

Oh, Dear LORD

Out-of-the-box clich├ęs have hit such a low they're now occupying the ocean floor.

I have never seen a conch shell shit an entire eagle before, though. That was kinda patriotic.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

A weekend at Shangri-Lodge

We're back. And we had a BLAST. Some highlights:

Friday

We get to the cabin around 8:00 after stocking up on groceries at our friendly neighborhood Jewel. The cabin is small but cheerfully decorated in early antlers -- all macho and hunter-like but with a fabulous gay flair.

After unpacking and shooting the breeze for a while, we order a $25 pizza (who knew pizza was more expensive outside the city?) and play two games of Cranium. Nick and I beat Dan and Phil both times -- even though I can't draw a toupee with my eyes closed and Nick can't remember the name of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

Saturday

Day one of sleeping in. Breakfast of fried egg sandwiches and juice. Then a nice drive into Lake Geneva for some touristy shopping and chocolate eating. Urp. After coming home to clean up, we meet up with Dan and Mark at their MASSIVE and totally cool new lodge (which would make a great setting for a wilderness-themed circuit party). We arrive just in time to catch the total lunar eclipse from their back yard, and then we head out for an awesome dinner (boeuf au poivre ... mmm). Then back to the lodge for hot tubbing, cat-petting and gossip. Very fun night.

Sunday

Day two of sleeping in. I could get used to this. Another breakfast of fried egg sandwiches -- this time with the sausage and bacon we forgot to make on Saturday. Then Dan beats my ass at Scrabble on the sun porch while Nick and Phil take a walk around the lake. At 2:00 we meet up with the Dan-and-Mark Dan for some antiquing in nearby scenic Woodstock. I almost buy a totally cool 27"x72" Bacchus lithograph-looking print for my front hall, but when I get home I find out it won't fit where I want to put it unless I move three light switches. Damn. And I was all ready to fork over my $250. I have to see how complicated the switch-moving would be ...

Now I'm home with a fat-distended belly and smoky everything 'cause it's leaf-burning season in Wonder Lake. And we can't wait to go back!

Friday, November 07, 2003

Dinner with Matthew last night. (For those of you keeping score, that's two delicious Chipotle dinners in a row.) I was all set to branch out and order something other than what I've always eaten every time I've been to a Chipotle, but I couldn't bear the thought of not having yet another barbacoa burrito made to my specifications (black beans, green salsa with a bit of tomato, yes to the optional sour cream and cheese). And if those giant burritos didn't make us fat enough, we stopped by a cute little patisserie around the corner afterward and stuffed our guts with French pastries. Mmmm!

Then I waddled home to finish folding last weekend's laundry in front of I Love the '80s Strikes Back and pack for my manly weekend with Dan, Nick and Phil. We'll be camping out for three days in a well-appointed "cabin" in some vaguely woodsy area somewhere northwest of the city.

The road trip begins at 5:30 tonight. You're in charge while we're gone.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Three things to report.

1) No cavities. I had a dentist appointment after work. Now my teeth are shiny clean and my conscience is clear for yet another six months.

2) Deep discount Kenneth Cole. My dentist's office is in Watertower Place, so after my checkup I headed down a floor to the Marshall Field's men's department for a quick look-see. And I stumbled home with two kick-ass shirts: a $56 muscle-hugging ribbed camp shirt marked down to $6.97 and one of those gay-ass patterned dress shirts marked down from $69 to $8.97. I don't understand the precise calibrations that brought about the 97-cent suffixes on those prices, but now I can look like a status-whore fag boy without compromising my party-drug budget.

3) Wet brakes. After a November day filled with downright tropical weather, the heavens opened up while I was shopping. And when my bus reached the Foster tunnel under Lake Shore Drive, we encountered a pretty impressive flood. The cars that made it to the bottom of the exit ramp were crossing the lagoon via the sidewalk, and when our bus decided to forge ahead in the street -- amid the raucous cheers of the passengers (whose lives are obviously devoid of any legitimate excitement) -- water came gushing in under the doors. And the bus' brakes were still making ungodly groaning noises when I got off three stops later.

But I made it home safely. And after almost three hours of
I Love the '80s Strikes Back, I'm ready for bed.
Yawn.

Last night was going to be a quiet little evening at home ... until Matt called and invited me to join him for show tunes at Sidetrack. Of course I said yes. And of course, once we got there we ran into a bunch of guys from the chorus. So for four hours we sang with the wild abandon of queens who know all the words -- and all the harmonies -- to all the show tunes ever written.

But I didn't get to bed until after 1:00. And now I smell like a goddamned ashtray.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Night of a thousand birthdays

Last night after the chorus birthday party gig, I headed home, changed into something a little more sexy than my overstarched dress shirt, packed my car with leather drag (just in case -- I've been in a leather-bar mood lately and I haven't been to any of Chicago's fine leather establishments in at least a year) and headed to a double birthday party for Patrick and Matthew. Since the party was on All Saints' Day, it had a St. Patrick and St. Matthew theme, complete with ultra-rich angel food and devil's food cake.

But by the time the party wound down, I was too tired to go stand around in a bar -- and my cake-distended belly wouldn't have looked good poking through the front of my leather vest anyway -- so I skipped the Cell Block and the Eagle (though the Eagle was just around the corner from the party).

I got home late enough that I ended up sleeping until NOON. And I spent the afternoon doing six loads of laundry and choreographing "Don't Leave Me This Way" for the chorus Christmas show. (We'll have a drag Mrs. Claus and 10 gay elves singing it to Santa. Just like at the first Christmas.) The combination ended up looking pretty awesome, though it was pretty hard -- but my elves learned the whole dance break in one hour of rehearsal tonight.

Now I'm all sweaty and gross and I'm faced with the prospect of sullying my fresh clean sheets. And I think the sheets are gonna lose.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

ROSS: Sylvia is ... a goat. Who you're fucking!

MARTIN: Please, don't say that. [beat] [beat] [beat] Whom.

I had to do it. I had to see The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? again before it closed at the Goodman. Such an amazing play. Such an amazing cast. Such an amazing use of the English language.

Kelly and Joanne from work came with me this time. And afterward, we discussed the show and indulged in steamy office gossip as we marinated in the pesto-drenched atmosphere of the neighborhood Corner Bakery. After that I met up with a good chunk of the chorus to sing a command performance for the 90th birthday of the aunt of one of our major donors. We rocked. The elegant University Club on Michigan Avenue rocked. And one of the hunky gay (and no doubt wealthy) partygoers even deigned to smile at me. Rock on!
So Halloween was fun. It started first thing in the morning when I put on my sexy new cowboy hat and tottered off to work in my seldom-worn boots with my little pan of brownies decorated to look like a graveyard. Our office Halloween party started around 1:00 and included a good five hours of eating, drinking and -- yes -- karaoke. (You haven't lived as a homosexual until you've belted "Stand By Your Man" in a cowboy outfit in front of a conference room packed with inebriated co-workers.)

After work, Dan, Nick, Phil (as Wolverine -- the only other one of us not too chicken to dress up) and I met up for pizza and headed to Boystown to watch the parade. Unfortunately (fortunately?) the crowd was too thick to see anything so we headed into Sidetrack where it was warmer -- and there was a constant loop of gay boys parading around the bar in their Halloween finery. While we were standing around gawking, I managed to start talking with Neil, a guy I've been wanting to meet for a good three years. Fresh out of a relationship, he was amicable and chatty enough that I thought we'd get to know each other a lot more before sunrise. He even volunteered that he was going commando -- a fact I assume is usually mentioned only in the context of a gay seduction. Turns out, though, that he was only making conversation.

Sigh.

But after three otherwise wasted hours, he did give me a ride home. :)