Thursday, November 29, 2007

ChicagoRound: Water Tower

Chicago's iconic Water Tower on North Michigan Avenue was one of a handful of downtown buildings to survive the 1871 Chicago fire. It originally housed a 138-foot standpipe to equalize water pressure coming from Lake Michigan. The tower was connected to a tunnel leading the then-revolutionary length of two miles into the lake to ensure water coming into the city was uncontaminated by sewage and runoff. The standpipe was removed in 1911 when it was rendered obsolete by the installation of rotary pumps.

The soaring Water Tower and the turreted Pumping Station across the street were modeled by architect William W. Boyington on a medieval castle and constructed of Joliet limestone between 1897 and 1869 in what's called the castellated Gothic style. The two buildings have stood for over a century as symbols of Chicago's resilience after the fire. The ornate tower offers a striking counterpoint to the modern consumer architecture around it, and it looks especially stunning at night:


The Pumping Station is still in use today, though it also houses a visitor welcome center, the Lookingglass Theatre and a Hot Tix office. The Water Tower is now home to a rotating gallery of photographs, and it holds court over a small fountained plaza in a manicured park on the west side of Michigan Avenue. In the winter, the city hangs canopies of lights over the walkways in the park. We took a stroll under the canopies last night after our annual pilgrimage to hear the always-spectacular Chanticleer kick off the holiday season in the Gothic splendor of nearby Fourth Presbyterian Church.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas amid the chaos

I know: A real gay would do some basic housekeeping QC before taking a picture of his tree and posting it on his blog. He'd also hunt a little harder to find his real camera instead of using his blurry camera phone. But I live to do things only halfway, so if you want holiday perfection maybe you should go hang out with Mitt Romney and his 100%-not-homosexual family. I'm kidding! Come back! Mitt probably gives boring presents like flip-flops (ahem) anyway.

So this is the fiancé's and my first Christmas together in our combined household. Which means it's the first commingling of our Christmas crap. And even though we'd just gotten back from vacation and our dining room is torn up and the fiancé's brother is living with us and my folks are coming in a week and there was no food in the house, I decided we needed a little Christmas and I insisted on hauling out all our holly and singing along with my Messiah CD as I strung lights and created artful arrangements of fancy ribbons and sparkly glass balls this weekend. Just like most guys did.

You can't tell because of the dark ... and the camera phone ... and my uncontrollable DTs ... but this tree is brimming with golds and burgundies to complement the chocolatey beiges of our living room. We still need to find a tree skirt and a suitable topper—and we're not convinced this is the best tree location—but I think Our Very First Tree turned out to be pretty lovely. That's Christopher Meloni on the TV, just moments after he discovered he was suffering from temporary blindness after a violent blow to the head. I sacrificed quality Christopher-and-Jake time to photograph my decorations for you people. The TV is in the picture because I wanted a wide shot of the room to show you the Ralph Lauren Suede wall color and the fancy decorations on the table in the little sunroom, but my damn DTs have reduced everything to a dull blur. If you embiggen the picture, you can see the Mickey Mouse Christmas stockings we just bought hanging on the backs of the sunroom chairs. The darker chairs are from the dining room. They're crammed along the walls of the sunroom because the dining room is under construction. Still. As you can see here:

I had a little four-foot tree left over from my Shoebox Manor days, so we put it up in our always-under-construction dining room after spending most of the day installing those goddamn wall mouldings. Which turned out to look pretty freakin' cool. We still have weeks of painting and glazing ahead of us, which is why the room looks like a home-improvement store. But I wanted some goddamn Christmas cheer amid all the clutter so I put up my little tree even as the paint on the windowsill behind it was still emitting fresh-paint fumes. The tree is resplendent in silvers and blues to complement the room's color scheme and to remove every shred of doubt the neighbors may have as to just how gay those two tall guys across the courtyard really are.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

How to be a bad Disney guest:

1. Walk through a crowded park while looking over your shoulder.
2. Drive your little scooter through a crowded park while looking over your shoulder.
3. Moan Oh, Man! in a loud, creepy voice as you stand elbow-to-elbow at a bank of urinals.
4. Wear a T-shirt that says Female Body Inspector
5. Scream like you’re being raped by a gorilla in the middle of a ride you’re supposed to enjoy quietly and respectfully as though you grew up in a world not marred by penetrative gorilla sex.
6. Bring children. I mean seriously. Who brings children to Disney World?
7. Spend five days at four Disney theme parks and take pictures of only three things.
8. Honestly need to be given these instructions in the bathroom:
When you wish upon a star
Disney is amazing at creating ambience. Everywhere you go you hear sounds that enhance your visual surroundings: banjos in Frontierland, fake crickets at the Wilderness Lodge, screaming children in line at the Snow White ride. But Disney doesn’t stop there! They also pump smells into certain rides to give you Total Sensory Overload™. For instance, the dancing “Be Our Guest” pastries in Mickey’s PhilharMagic ride smell like apple pie. The stinkbug in the “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” 4-D movie squirts what I hope is just synthetic eau de stinkbug in your face. The orange groves you sail over in Soarin’ smell like oranges and the feet of the people hanging one tier above you with their legs dangling in your face. Even Mission: Space has a distinct smell. The claustrophobic little space pods that take you to Mars (but never take you back to Earth, but maybe that’s Disney’s way of managing holiday crowds) smell like farts.

Be our guest
You get valuable perks when you stay at a Disney resort: Fast, efficient bus service everywhere you go on the property. Mickey-themed soap in your room and Goofy sightings in your lobby. Walking access to a private Epcot entrance if you’re staying at the Beach Club Resort. And the parks stay open late just for you—the Magic Kingdom was open until 3:00 am for us resort dwellers one of the first nights of our vacation. And in the wee-hour absence of common folk, the wait times on popular rides drops from 75 minutes to 10. Except for the Peter Pan ride, which always has hour-long waits. That ride will never grow up. We spent our late-night park time running among the three mountains: Space, Splash and Big Thunder. And for a thrilling six-ride run, the line gods always deposited us in the front seat. Which clearly means Walt likes us best.

Speaking of Mickey-themed soap…
I love the art direction on this label. Sorry the pic turned out so blurry:
It’s a big world
While holiday crowds (including all those rude little bastards who obviously grew up in freakin’ gorilla caves) are never the best way to take in a park with any hope of efficiency, we were sometimes unable to enjoy the parks for an entirely different reason: We’d hear on one of Disney’s self-promo TV spots, for instance, that it would take 70 years to sleep in every guest room on Disney property and we’d suddenly lose ourselves in the mental gymnastics required to comprehend the ramifications of that number. How many bars of Mickey-themed soap do they have to keep on hand to stock 25,550 rooms? How big a building do they need to store it all? How many miles of wiring does it take to light everything in the parks and resorts and access roads and parking lots? How many toilets do they have? How many people does it take to set up all the fireworks displays every day? We produced X number of dirty napkins or wet towels or poops each day, so how does Disney accommodate the X hundred thousand daily guests who eat and dry off and poop on their property? Of the hundreds of park employees we see every day, how many do we not see who assemble our sandwiches and purify our water and keep our roller coasters from crashing and make sure the audio-animatronic chickens at the end of the Splash Mountain ride keep lifting their skirts in time to “Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah” so we can catch a glimpse of feather pie before the ride ends?

Speaking of wiring…
Cinderella’s castle in the Magic Kingdom is currently draped in billions of tiny lights that glow and twinkle and change color. The effect is quite spectacular, even in a blurry camera phone picture:
Hi-ho! Hi-ho!
We experienced a spate of broken rides this trip: Splash Mountain’s audio-animatronics did indeed crash just as we were about to claim one of our front seats, and we waited a good 20 minutes for the ride employees to get all the bunnies hopping and the chickens lifting their skirts again before we gave up and rode the front seat of some other ride. The sound dropped out halfway through Ellen’s Energy Adventure and we had to abandon the ride and come back later. And the tumble monkeys—four hunky little gymnasts in orange Spandex monkey suits in the “Festival of the Lion King” show—mysteriously ran off the stage in the middle of their performance and the tech crew had to come on and awkwardly strike their set for them. Only three tumble monkeys came out for the finale, so I assume that one of them got hurt. And that the show doesn’t keep a stock of standby tumble monkeys waiting in the wings. Maybe because they’re too busy counting all that soap.

I just can’t wait to be queen
While we toured a cool exhibit on Walt Disney’s early years at Disney-MGM Studios, a wispy little park employee named Shaq repeatedly (and clumsily) propositioned us. We put up with it for a while because there’s this Year of a Million Dreams promotion going on where random employees can give random guests fabulous prizes like gift cards and free FastPasses and even a night’s stay in Cinderella’s freakin’ castle. So we were both hoping this dude’s come-ons would pay off in tiaras and sparkly bedsheets (just not with him in them). But he was working us solely for something decidedly not sanctioned by the Disney marketing department. Which was primarily inappropriate because Shaq was working us while he was working as an employee of Disney. Where nobody has sex ever!™ But it was just as inappropriate because he did it in front of the fiancé’s developmentally disabled brother, who lives with us and who was on our vacation with us. And while he understands that we’re gay, we’re not sure he understands much of anything about sex. And the last place he needs to learn about it is from a clumsy little Disney employee.

We almost came home with a new son
As we were taking in a character breakfast buffet one morning, we saw a painfully shy little boy returning from the buffet with his little muffin and his little bowl of fruit. He walked up to the empty table next to us only to discover that it was not, as he was expecting, his family’s table. He craned his little neck looking around for his family, faint traces of panic beginning to show on his little face. But he didn’t see them anywhere. He looked back at the empty table, hoping to find some clue to let him know he was indeed in the right place. But he didn’t find anything. He looked around at the people at neighboring tables, but he didn’t recognize anyone. He looked back at the table again, this time lifting one of the placemats as if perhaps he’d find his mouse ears or his mother’s purse or his little sister hiding underneath. The look of worry on his face was priceless, and we were just about to get up and see if we could help him find his family—or adopt him if they had indeed abandoned him—when he grabbed a waitress, who took him off to what we hope was a successful family reunion in the correct seating section.

My money is still wet
We rode the Kali River Rapids—which drips with as much ambience as it does water—twice in a row Wednesday morning. We got so soaked that the leg bands in my underpants were still moist—and my underpants area was more than a little chafey—when I crawled into bed that night. And yesterday when I reached in my wallet to pay for lunch at the airport, I pulled out a $20 that I could have easily wrung water out of. The Sbarro clerk, for the record, didn’t flinch when she touched it.

Disney DILFs
There was a dearth. It was a disappointment. But otherwise the trip was spectacular and the weather was ideal and Pirates of the Caribbean has been perfectly updated to include some of the characters in the movie franchise and the Haunted Mansion has been filled with even more cool stuff to look at and we were able to eat pretty healthily every time we got hungry and we’re already planning our return trip in 2009. Because we are Disney dorks. And this time we’re staying in the damn castle.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Christina, bring me the Internets!

While googling Brenda Frazier earlier this week—so as to better understand the life of Carlotta Campion—I stumbled on the most fabulous treasure trove of all things Joan Crawford:

The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia

Now, I don't really consider myself to be one of Joan Crawford's fans. To my knowledge, the only movie I've seen her in is The Women, in which I thought 1) she was waaaaay too old to play Crystal Allen and 2) she looked kind of like a witch. And while I'm sure the Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest is built on a bit of theatrical exaggeration, I have absolutely zero tolerance for emotional and physical abuse, so I'm inclined to think Christina's portrayal of her mother didn't occur in a vacuum.

But! The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia is virtual crack, sucking up every free moment of my (and maybe my employer's but you didn't hear it from me) time this week with photos and timelines and exhausting research and fascinating trivia about the growth and decline of Hollywood through everyone and everything remotely associated with Joan Crawford.

For instance: Did you know that there were two Christopher Crawfords? It's true! Joan adopted the first one from some deranged woman who eventually demanded him back so she could abuse him for a year and then adopt him out to someone else. Then when Joan adopted the second boy she named Christopher, the deranged woman—forgetting she'd already reclaimed and re-adopted-out her son—broke into Joan's house to demand her kid back a second time.

Also! Everyone knows Joan's real name was Lucille LeSueur and that "Joan Crawford" came from MGM/Movie Weekly magazine's 1925 naming contest staged as a publicity stunt to launch her career. At least you all should have known that. Well, The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia has the rest of the story: "Joan Arden" was really the winning name in that fabled contest, but three people had submitted it and MGM didn't want to pony up $1,000 each to all three winners. So they went with their second choice, which—as we all know—was submitted by only one person: a Mrs. Louise Artisdale of 149 Dartmouth St., Rochester, New York.

One more: Joan was a slut. The woman who so devotedly put together The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia clearly loves Joan Crawford (and clearly hates Christina for suggesting even for a second that Joan wasn't a saint), but she makes no bones about the innumerable affairs Joan had (and even allegedly had) with both men and women all over Hollywood.

So! As we-all are enjoying ourselves this week in Disney World, you-all can spend your NoFo time combing through The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia. But don't say I didn't warn you about its addictiveness.

And don't forget to come back here when you're done.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sometimes when you're sick ...

... a giant pile of fat and salt and carbonated chemicals presented in unattractively branded packaging is far more delicious than a box of antihistamines and a bottle of NyQuil.

Packing for a week at Disney World

• Sunscreen
• Backup sunscreen
• Sunglasses
• Backup sunglasses
• Camera
• Batteries
• Backup batteries
• Shorts with lots of pockets
• Credit cards
• Backup credit cards
• Mouse ears
• Oversized yellow shoes
• Red shorts with giant white buttons
• And extra pockets
• Cold medicine
• Zinc lozenges
• Vicks VapoRub
• Kleenex
• Backup Kleenex
Sigh.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Partying, shopping, traveling

Partying
We survived my niece's birthday party over the weekend, but not before 18 little six-year-olds discovered that the goofy uncle and his equally goofy … um … friend could be used as emergency jungle gyms. We'd all been dancing around the living room like fools when my niece grabbed my hands and we started spazzing around like goofy uncles and six-year-old nieces are supposed to do when they dance together. But suddenly everyone wanted to spaz around with the goofy uncle. And spazzing somehow morphed into throwing children in the air. And before I knew it, the kids had formed a line in front me (and the fiancé, who gamely threw himself into the ring as well), all not-so-patiently waiting for their turns to be thrown in the air. From the looks on their faces, some of these kids had never been thrown in the air by a goofy uncle and his … um … friend before. And the fiancé and I needed the exercise anyway, so everyone came out of the party with giant smiles, new experiences and/or bigger deltoids.

Shopping
Since no trip to Cedar Rapids is complete without a shopping excursion where parking is plentiful and merchandise is actually displayed on the proper shelves, we also made a pilgrimage to our friendly neighborhood strip mall, where we eventually stumbled back to the car with new shoes, new jeans, new shirts, and even a stainless steel toaster and crock pot to replace the hideously-not-stainless-steel toaster and crock pot that have been ruining our otherwise-completely-stainless-steel kitchen experience since the day we bought our condo. And all of it was on sale.

Traveling
We also budgeted a little extra time on our trip home for me to stop and take pictures of some of the landmarks I pass every time I drive between Cedar Rapids and Chicago. Since all I had was my camera phone, I didn't entertain any fantasies that I'd be taking pictures that were by any stretch of the imagination "artistic," so I physically stopped the car only once on my junior photojournalist travelogue. But I did slow down on occasion. And all because I wanted to share my experience with you people. Please enjoy:

There is a stretch of Highway 30 just east of the Wapsipinicon River that cuts straight and true through a thicket of woods. Driving through it can be a magical experience in winter when the trees are covered in snow or frost. And even in the fall when the trees are just brown and boring, the visual effect can be stunning. Except when it's recorded on a camera phone through a windshield hurtling through space at 55 mph. I had always assumed this section was straight and brush-free to maintain compliance with that fabled law requiring that one of every five miles of interstate must be built straight and flat so it can be used to land airplanes in emergencies. But a quick google search for this law shows it's just an urban legend.

Travel about an hour farther east on Highway 30 (near the exit signs for DeWitt) and you'll find yourself in an entirely different kind of forest—one made of paperboard trees and pine-scented chemicals. Because DeWitt is not only the eponymous home of the wacky brunette from Three's Company (at least it should be), but it's also home to one of the manufacturing plants for the world-famous Little Trees® brand car fresheners. Which, of course, were invented in Watertown, NY, by the Car-Freshner Corporation way back in 1952.

There's this bluff along Highway 30 in Morrison, IL, that's home to some beautiful old mansions. I imagine that in their day they looked down over vast expanses of pristine land, but now the lots across the street from them are packed with 1950s-style bungalows, many in states of obvious neglect. This handsome quasi-Beaux-Arts manse has been a favorite of mine since I first started driving through Morrison 15 years ago, though I know nothing about it. I've done some creative googling and I still can't find anything to share with you. But I sure know it's pretty.

Update: A reader named Doug has this fabulously helpful background to share: Here's what I know about it...It was built by Leander Smith around 1976. Mr. Smith was born in 1819 and graduated from Dartmouth in 1842. He married Dolly Allen in 1855, and was elected to the state legislature in 1862-64. He was also a city councilman and established a banking company named, Smith, Root, and Company, later renamed the first National Bank

I'm assuming these little silos off I-88 were designed to hold corn or grain or something agricultural. But I think they look like breasts. There, I said it.

Nothing says "your long drive home is almost over" (also: "only about 30 more minutes until you can pee") quite like the Sears Tower waving up at you over the Eisenhower Expressway.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

LiveBlogging: My niece's birthday party

My niece is six this weekend. We're in Iowa helping her celebrate. There are 18 kids at the house. The fiance and I are having our tubes tied the moment everyone leaves.

Everyone's outside playing a rousing game of Scream At The Top Of Your Lungs or some such warm-childhood-memory-building activity at the moment. Uncle Jake is hiding in the computer room until they can find him.

My sister has thrown together a fun-filled celebration, children notwithstanding. There's a table where kids can decorate their own mugs. There's a room where everyone can dance to my niece's favorite tunes (which mysteriously include Dancing Queen, Y.M.C.A. and We are the Champions). And there's a cupcake-decorating station. Which I was put in charge of. And to help the kids get their creative energies flowing, I've been decorating cupcakes along with them. And I have to say I think I have a lucrative future in the field of cupcakery:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

ChicagoRound: AMA Building

Kenzo Tange's AMA Building (squatting in the center of this picture, as seen from my office window) imbues Mies Van Der Rohe's austere International Style with shimmery excitement and bold charisma. Constructed in 1990, the 30-story tower is clad in alternating stripes of pale stone and silvery glass that can sparkle in the sun or disappear into the surrounding blue of the sky, depending on your viewing angle. To underscore its rapport with the heavens, it features a four-story hole that fuses the actual sky with its striped reflection.

The building would have a standard rectangular footprint were it not for the slice missing from its southwest corner that leaves a sharp angle pointing vaguely northwest. A 20-story tower pointing the other way was planned for the lot just to the south of the building, but it never got built. Instead, there's a lovely urban park featuring terraced fountains sitting in its place, and it stretches around to fill the slice in the footprint with a pedestrian plaza and a triangular fountain. Unfortunately, the park space is being torn apart to make room for a hotel/condo complex, and the last time I walked by it was surrounded in fencing as its trees were being dug up and hauled away in trucks.

Here's a better picture of AMA Building that I stole from wikipedia since my camera takes crappy pictures through smudgy office windows half a mile away:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Jake Regrets: Theater in the '80s

Summer 1987: Raise a Ruckus
Sheriff Sam's Saloon, Adventureland, Des Moines, Iowa

Ain't no time to sit and brood! Raise a ruckus tonight!
Those stirring words launched six sweaty, high-kicking shows a day, seven days a week at Adventureland's orange-and-creamsicle-hued Sheriff Sam's Saloon in the summers of 1986 and 1987. And for the vast majority of the performances, I was shaking my bony ass right up there on the stage, squished into my slim-hipped, high-waisted jeans held firmly at my ribcage by a snappy pair of suspenders. I have no idea how I still have working testicles 20 years after I last peeled myself out of that costume, but I carry with me to this day the ugly personal truth I learned that summer: I look really, really, really bad in orange. And I was half of the orange couple that summer (the others being red, yellow and pink … and thank goodness I wasn't the poor guy in pink), so millions of audience members and seven other cast members are still working to focus their eyes after watching me flail around on stage in a blur of jangly elbows and knees, marzipan skin, and orangy orange-orange plaid.



January 1988: Disney audition roadtrip
Somewhere in Oklahoma
Katie and Mike (the Raise a Ruckus pink couple) and I decided that our C-level amusement park experience in Iowa was just the stepping stone we needed to launch ourselves into our collective dream job: dancing at Disney World! We somehow missed the audition in nearby Chicago, so we piled our poor college selves into Mike's beat-up old jalopy one cold weekend morning and road-tripped to the next nearest city on the audition tour: Dallas (or Ft. Worth or some other city in that general area). We got there, we had pretty decent auditions, we all got damn close to making the final cut, someone stole my Les Miz button off my dance bag while I was on stage, and then we piled in the car and headed home. But not before stopping at a cheap motel for the night, where we recorded for all posterity just why I didn't find a husband until I was 39 years old. Where should we start?

The hair: Sun-In is a friend to nobody. Least of all a dark-haired scarecrow with ghostly skin.

The shirt: I was a Manhattan Transfer freak in the '80s. And not just because I thought Alan Paul was totally dreamy. I saw them in concert only once, and I came home with a pale neon pink (because confident men wore pale neon pink in the '80s) batwing sweatshirt emblazoned with that forced-perspective tuxedo image from their eponymous 1975 album. In teal. And since there wasn't a natural fiber in it, the thing never faded!

The jeans: Reverse tie-dye! With bleach! At wacky angles! Like what a bar mitzvah clown might wear! In prison!

The curtains: Totally not my fault. We were poor college kids in a cheap Oklahoma motel room on a roadtrip to Disney rejection. What the hell do you want from us? Toile?



1989ish: Kennedy Center lobby
Intermission, Tyne Daly's tour of Gypsy
Nothing says I sit down to pee quite as efficiently as a bow tie. I taught myself to tie a bow tie when I was in high school, while all the other kids were doing more useful things like—oh, I don't know—hanging out with each other and forming meaningful friendships. I thought my little Madras plaid bow tie made me look so cool that I went out and bought a bunch more bow ties in all kinds of colors and patterns. Which makes this plaid one kind of a gateway bow tie. One reason I was so good at tying bow ties was those glasses. Their lenses were so expansively huge—like the Hubble telescope!—that I barely had to bend my neck to look down and see what I was doing. Big glasses + small bow tie = man who goes to the theater with his mom. Every time.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

6 moulding frames. 48 cuts. 2 thumbs.

Whose brilliant idea was it to measure, miter, cut, sand, paint and attach moulding frames to our dining room walls? I mean seriously. The process is about as fun as making sweet bacon-scented monkey love to Fred Phelps.

We made our final decorating decisions and did our measuring and bought all our mouldings last weekend. And yesterday and today—it took two days because after I got halfway done yesterday I needed some serious private time away from that goddamn miter box—I got all the re-measuring, re-re-measuring, cutting, sanding, cleanup and final thumb-counting done. (I finished with two thumbs. And though my fingers survived all that sawing intact, I got a nasty paper cut ripping subscription cards out of a magazine about an hour later. Stupid subscription cards.)

Here's what the project looks like as of today (and as seen through the lens of my camera that doesn't seem to think it needs to use its auto flash in a semi-dark room):


Now all that's left is the easy part: painting, repainting, leveling, liquid nailing, actual nailing, caulking, and touching up both the white moulding paint and the blue wall paint.

And then gettin' myself all sexy for Fred.

Friday, November 02, 2007

ChicagoRound: Do Not Parking

A homemade sign on a LaSalle Boulevard condo construction site south of North Avenue, in the Old Town neighborhood.

Old Town, just northwest of Chicago's tony Gold Cost neighborhood, was almost completely consumed in the 1871 Chicago fire. It was rebuilt in the Victorian style that was prevalent at the time, and the neighborhood housed some prominent artist colonies in the 1930s. After the neighborhood's so-called "white flight" to the suburbs in the 1950s, it became home to counterculture hippies in the 1960s. Then the gays moved in. And you know what happens once the gays move in: The trendy straight people follow, property values soar and the neighborhood goes into a constant state of renovation. Old Town today is packed with grand old homes, ’60s eyesores and trendy boutiques … along with a few remnants of its counterculture past like The Second City improv/comedy revue, which has occupied a space at North and Wells since 1967.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Movin' movin' movin' right to the top!

This is probably going to hurt.

I just registered for Hustle up the Hancock, a race up 94 flights of stairs to raise money for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. And it sounds like fun. I think.

I mean, seriously. How hard can it be?


I even committed to be a team captain, so I've dragged my friends Yuri and Catherine into the challenge with me. Best of all, the team name Social Climbers hadn't been taken yet. I know! Can you believe it?

So between now and February 24 (the morning of the Oscars), I'll be taking the stairs instead of the elevator in the name of training. And my quads should look awesome when I get up on the stage to accept my awards from Jon Stewart that night.

And since you-all were so generous in helping me raise $3,001 for the AIDS Marathon, I'm hoping you can help my team raise a mere $1,200 for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (formerly the American Lung Association), which works to fight lung diseases including cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other medical consequences of smoking and pollution.

It's easy to sponsor us! Just click HERE