Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just how nerdy are we?

We're both reading books from the 'Song of Ice and Fire' series at bedtime. Side by side. She's reading book two, 'A Clash of Kings.' I'm reading book one, 'A Game of Thrones.'

(I've actually already listened to the audio book versions of all four of the current books in the series (Roy Dotrice is an awesome audio book reader, wut wut!), but Sarah's been enjoying them so much I've decided to start from the beginning and read the print versions as well)

At the end of the day, it's nice to lay next to each other, reading our nerdy books. Although it's distracting when Sarah holds her giant 'Clash of Kings' paperback in the air and says, "Hey, let's make our books kiss."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Some stories about neighbors:

1. Mom: [via e-mail] "My neighborhood children are much nicer than yours. The little girl from next door rang the doorbell at 8:45 am one day this week to tell me that she learned how to ride her bike without training wheels. I made a big deal of this and told her that I'd have to watch her ride later that day when I was outside. A few minutes later she was ringing the doorbell, got on her bike which was laying in her driveway, and showed me how well she could ride in a circle even."

2. Nick: [also via e-mail] "Katie got an email from our new neighbor who just moved in this week. At the bottom of the email was a link to her MySpace page. Apparently she is the lead singer of a Pink Floyd cover band, and her boyfriend (husband?) who is moving in as well, is the drummer. I've been blasting The Great Gig in the Sky to make her feel comfortable, and I plan on telling her that I used to be in a Floyd band called Floydian Slip. I may need you guys to pose as the rest of the band."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Went over to Alex's place for a small 30th birthday gathering. Beers, burgers, cake and Settlers of Catan. If, like me, you've never played Settlers of Catan before, just know that it is a complicated board game (although not quite as complicated as Sheephead).

Meanwhile in the background, Megan tried to clean her ring in the sink.

Megan: I got frosting in my ring. [laughing] I can't get it out.

They had both recently returned from a trip to San Francisco, for Alex's brother's wedding.

Alex: My Best Man speech brought the house down. I talked about how we had these dogs when we were kids, and they were the kind of dogs that could hurt themselves if they separated too early during sex. So one of my most disturbing memories from childhood, is seeing my parents holding the dogs together while they were, you know. Then I told my brother's wife to watch out, because my parents are really anxious to have grandchildren. BOOM! The whole place goes crazy. Good speech.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

About a week ago, Meador took the NCLEX, the "test that determines whether or not I am competent enough to take care of your loved ones."

Meador: [via email] That test was one of the single worst experiences of my life. I sincerely think I may have failed. I kind of want to hurt myself right now.
Nick: Don't hurt yourself, Meador! You're clearly not ready to take care of your injuries. I'm sure you aced it. You remember what you told me - people who thought they did great, failed, people who thought they bombed it, nailed it. You're in!

Nick was right. He passed.

Me: Do you know how much you passed by? Did you get a percentage or anything?
Meador: No. It just said, "Pass." I don't know what it would have said otherwise. "Fail." "Did Not Pass." "Try Again."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sarah was hanging out in the air-conditioned front room, watching TV, and I was in the computer room ("sick bay"). I thought I heard my name so I walked over to the couch.

Me: Did you say something?
Sarah: What?
Me: Did you say, "Arnie, I need you"?
Sarah: I didn't say anything.
Me: Did someone on the TV say, "Arnie I need you"?
Sarah: No.
Me: Hmm. I could swear I heard that.

I went back into the computer room. Half a minute later, we blew a fuse. The whole apartment went dark. For two seconds, there was complete silence, no air conditioner, no TV. Then Sarah yelled, "Arnie, I need you!"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Watch out ladies. Someone just bought a nose and ear hair trimmer.

(hint: me)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A long day of window unit procuring/installing. It didn't help that we were overheated and hadn't slept in a few days, so we weren't in the best state of mind.

Sarah hunted online for deals during the day, somehow getting into an e-mail fight with a guy from Craigslist.

Sarah: I am willing to take one for $40 and I can pick it up tonight. Thanks!
Craigslist Dude: I got 16 calls about them for 80. Four people are coming tonight to fight over them. How hot are you?
Sarah: Dude, gross.
Craigslist Dude: Half of the asking price during a heat wave? Give me a break!
Sarah: Sexual innuendos in an email chain about an air conditioner with a stranger? Go fuck yourself!
Craigslist Dude: I meant hot as in temperature now go fuck your mother and enjoy the heat wave Biotch!

When we finally did get a unit for the bedroom (with more to come for the rest of the apartment), it was my job to put it in the window. Easy, right? But all our windows are extra wide, far too wide for the side curtains that come with a window unit (it's almost as if the apartment was designed to have central air). After extensive struggling, I had to settle for the (hopefully temporary) solution of cardboard and duct tape to trap the cool air.

Sarah: [sadly] Our cardboard and duct tape home.
Me: We'll figure out something. Make it look nicer. I might get a sharpie and write, "Never forget."

Our bedroom is cool now, though, and we slept like the dead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Central air mystery solved. It's not broken... it doesn't exist. We have central heat and a panel that controls central heat and could hypothetically control central air, if we had central air... but we don't.

We thought we did. That's why we gave away our window units when we moved into this place. But we don't. We were led to believe that we would, but it doesn't say anything about it our lease, so... we're screwed. We have to go out and buy several new window units.

But last night was one of those sweltering hot, we-just-have-to-figure-out-what-will-get-us-through-the-night kind of nights. The best we could come up with was using two small fans that Sarah had used as white noise machines, placed on the window sill. We scooted the bed over, and placed our heads directly under each tiny fan, making due with what minimal coolness they could muster.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Maybe it's the heat, maybe it's just that I've been busy, but I've been falling pretty far behind in updating my blog.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hanging out in front of ComedySportz with Hansen and Meador before our People in Your Neighborhood show.

Meador recently began the interviewing process, applying for nursing jobs.

Hansen: Any offers yet?
Meador: No, but it's too early to hear anything. Hopefully sometime this week.
Hansen: When you go into hospitals you should run past the interview room and immediately start saving lives.
Meador: Illegal, but a good idea.
Hansen: "I don't like your methods, but I respect your results!"

Saturday, June 20, 2009

TBS is sponsoring a big city-wide comedy festival in Chicago this weekend. Just For Laughs. Whirled News Tonight was lucky enough to be one of the local shows to be included in the festival. Sort of. Really, we just did our regular show in our regular spot at our regular time, but tonight there were Just For Laughs banners on the stage and special Just For Laughs napkins at the bar. Otherwise it was pretty much the same.

Backstage there were signs letting people know what kind of laminated passes could get different participants (Artist, Guest, Media) into what venues and parties. As far as I know we didn't get any passes.

Haskins, an original Whirled News cast member, was back in town from LA for the festival and performed with us during our show. Backstage we joked that we were doing the show, "just for laughs."

Me: Should we discourage the audience from reacting in any way besides pure laughter?

We were included in a lot of the festival's promotional material, though, so if you read any pamphlets this week, you may have heard of us. Free publicity.

Friday, June 19, 2009

For those wondering, the spur-of-the-moment surprise-flight-to-London proposal to his girlfriend by Chris from work was a success.

From his office-wide e-mail:

"Things all worked out. But I promise it wasn't smooth.

"Some highlights:

"1. It turns out there are two hotels with the same name in the region
where the wedding was being held. I picked the wrong one.

"2. When I eventually found Nimi on Sunday, she didn't recognize me.

"3. On multiple occasions, my ethnicity resulted in my being mistaken for catering staff."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The central air control panel is a little complicated, so it took me a while to figure out that the problem wasn't so much me being confused by the control panel as the fact that the central air itself doesn't seem to be working.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm not sure how the conversation got here, but...

Sarah: Do you know my middle name?
Me: Uh...
Sarah: You don't?
Me: Marie.
Sarah: No.
Me: Anne.
Sarah: You don't know my middle name?
Me: You don't know mine.
Sarah: Paul.
Me: Elizabeth? Anne?
Sarah: It starts with a C.
Me: Cathrine.
Sarah: No.
Me: Christine?
Sarah: Yes. It's Christine.
Me: [to myself] Christine. Christine.
Sarah: This is equally sad and funny.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Back in April I wrote about the large group of kids that hangs out next door, "I don't mind the screaming so much, kids gotta play."

I've changed my mind.

They are always out there. Nearly a dozen of them. They're usually situated all over the apartment complex, separate groups hanging out on each level of the back porch, like it's the needlessly elaborate set of a terrible Broadway musical where everyone screams all the time.

The noise wouldn't be so bad, if they weren't constantly yelling such foul things at each other. They're obsessed with calling each other "fagots." It would be impossible for me to exaggerate how much they yell that word.

10 Year Old Kid Playing Soccer: If you got hit in the nuts you would be hurtin' and... Hey! If you got hit in the nuts you'd be hurtin' and... have AIDS!

It's like some horrible bizzaro production of RENT (starring children) over there.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Driving Sarah back from the airport yesterday, we got stuck in Bluesfest traffic, and as the car slowly creeped along, Sarah mentioned that she’d read a recent update on my blog.

Sarah: Your blog is… [starts laughing] boring.
Me: [laughing] It is boring, isn't it?
Sarah: So boring.

I’ve suspected this for a while. Maybe I’m burnt out. Maybe it’s the subject matter.

A few months back one of my bosses said pretty much the same thing.

Boss: Your new blog is boring. You should just go back to writing about the funny stuff that happens here at work. Funny stuff happens here. But, I’m sorry, your relationship is boring. Your blog is boring.

I may be one of the few bloggers in the world with a boss who wants me to write about work more.

Sarah has her own advice for what would make the blog better. “Write more about your feelings.” She may be right, despite the fact that “talking about your feelings” seems like a stereotypically girlfriendy solution.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The improv show I alluded to earlier, with a cast of my friends who semi-retried performer friends, has opened. Chicago's ComedySportz theater is experimenting with having Sunday night shows, and my show, The People in Your Neighborhood, is one of the three you can see for $5.

We've got a run through the summer, assuming the three Sunday night shows can bring in enough audience/money, which is a big if.

Tonight the first group had to cancel because no one showed up. Here we are standing around in the theater bar, waiting to see if anyone shows up for our show.

Nick: Are you guys bringing ANYBODY?
Trupe: Not tonight.
Nick: Guys, I brought our entire audience last week. I can't carry this entire run.
Hansen: I'll bring in a big group from my law firm, soon. We'll order a bunch of tickets in advance. How about you Meador, when are you bringing in some nurses?
Meador: I'll send out a plug tomorrow over email.
Nick: If we don't bring in people, we're going to get canceled.
Hansen: I guess I'm going to have to spend $500 at the bar tonight.

About ten people showed up. A light house, but enough to go on with the show. For now.

So here's my plug:

Come see The People in Your Neighborhood at the ComedySportz theater. Sundays. The night starts at 7, but our show is at 8. $5, three shows, come and go as you please. Buy drinks.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I found Sarah's glasses in the garage space I've started renting for my car. Rather, someone else found them and hung them from the garage door opener. But then I found them there.

So, I feel at least partially redeemed for the time I stepped on her old pair.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sarah is visiting a friend in Portland for the weekend. Before she left she said, "I hope you have lots of adventures while I'm gone."

Let the adventures begin!

Tonight I had some friends over and we drank beer and played video games.

My next door neighbors were having a big party and twice during the evening came over to let us know that we were welcome to come over and join the party if we were interested. We declined.

Nick: We should go over there in our different colored polo shirts and stand there like a mannequin family.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I flew back into Chicago yesterday while Sarah was taking her final class of her first semester of "taking some classes."

Sarah: I turned in my papers! Classes done. And I'm pretty sure I'm getting As.
Me: That's awesome. Maybe I should take a victory picture for my blog.
Sarah: [holding out right hand] No. But you can take a picture of the hand I wrote the papers with. Oh wait, I'm left handed. [switches to holding out left hand]
Me: You wrote them on a computer, right? So, really, you used both hands.
Sarah: Yes. [holds out both hands]

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dad took a morning away from fishing to drop me off at the airport.

Me: I'm really glad I made the trip this year.
Dad: Mark your calendar for next year.
Me: Okay.

We hugged and I headed towards the terminal.

Dad: And call your mother more often. She likes to know what you're up to.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fish fry.

My uncles have been going on this yearly fishing trip since nearly before I was born. There's always a big turnout. This year seven of Dad's eight brothers (Spiker Mike, Bob, Mono Jack, Paul Jr., Mudboat, Joe, Tommy Joe) showed up. A good number of my cousins (T-Bird, Redman, Banger, etc.) as well. Plus a few assorted friends and brother- or father-in-laws.

Everyone asked, "How long has it been since you've been up here, Arnie?" The general consensus is that it's been about 19 years.

Besides being big (in numerous ways) my extended family is very funny. Lots of laughing. They are funny is a different way than I am, though, sort of on a different frequency. Like a game of Sheephead, I haven't had the decades of experience at the table, gaining a feel for everyone's rhythms and tells. I mostly find myself quietly enjoying their company.

Second Cousin: You're probably getting a lot of material, huh? Come up here, hang out, get enough material for a whole year.
Me: That's why it's been so long since I've been back. It takes 19 years to run out of material.

Another cousin suggested I write a screenplay about the trip. "It could be 'National Lampoon's Fishing Vacation.'" There was a lot of agreement that this was a good idea.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hanging out at night in one of the cabins, drinking and watching some of my relatives play Sheephead, an obscure and complicated card game.

T-Bird: You figured this game out yet, Arnie?
Me: Give me a few years and I think I might start to get it.

Dad would mix me new drinks between hands.

Dad: I like to mix a little Canadian Club or Crown Royal, with just a splash of 7-Up, and then some water. That's the secret to not feeling so bad in the morning.

It wasn't until several drinks into the night that I realized he was getting the water directly from the sink.

Me: Dad, it says don't drink this water.
Dad: Eh. It's all part of the adventure.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Dad caught a huge Muskie. Well, big. A big Muskie. He didn't have a fishing license that included Muskies, though, so he threw it back. Still, he caught a big Muskie and that made him happy.

Later in the day I remembered that I had a camera in my pocket.

Dad: You should have taken a picture of that Muskie.
Me: I forgot I had it with me.

Instead I took this picture of a very small Blue Gill.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Pet names are nice. Babe, Sweetie, other more jokey or nonsensical nicknames. But eventually they take over completely and you realize you can't remember the last time you said your loved one's actual honest-to-goodness name. (I wrote that in second person as if to suggest it's a universal truth, but maybe it's just me)

Lately, I've been making an effort to call Sarah, well... "Sarah." And every time I say it she giggles like it's the most romantic thing I've ever said.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Our office Biggest Loser challenge is done. Innis (pictured) won first prize (some kind of portable classic NES game player). He lost 10.8 pounds in four weeks.

I came in sixth place, losing about 4.6 pounds. I was just glad that I didn't end up gaining weight.

There's been some talk of doing another month.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sarah and I did the long distance thing for about a year while she performed at a theater in Boston. Before she moved out there I gave her this big stuffed bear as a gift. "If you get lonely, you've got the bear."

Talking over the phone once, she said, "He's my you. I give him a kiss every night before I go to bed."

Now that we live in the same city, more than that, live in the same apartment, she doesn't sleep with the bear. He sits in the spare room on her old bed, on top of a pile of things we haven't figured out what to do with yet.

Me: Do you ever.. miss the bear?
Sarah: No. I've got you.

Now, I'm her me.

I feel sorry for the bear.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I'm flying to Canada on Sunday for the fishing trip with my Dad.

I've been thinking about it and it has been well over ten years since I've gone. I remember my last trip very vividly, and I must have been in junior high or early high school then.

I got really sick on the second day of the trip. Lots of vomiting. My uncles, most of whom are not exactly health care experts, had few ideas beyond, "Have you tried giving him 7Up?"

One of my uncles suggested I was constipated and gave me a laxative. So for the next day I was vomiting AND shitting.

At this point it was clear I needed to go to a hosptial. Or home. Or both. It was early in the week, though, a week they all looked forward to all year. No one wanted to leave.

"Luckily" some other guys at the fishing resort were heading back to Ohio and were willing to take me with them. To this day, I'm not really sure who these guys were or how they knew my dad and his brothers. I assume, they must have known them, though, right?

Regardless, dazed, I rode back to Ohio in the back of a van driven by two more-or-less strangers. My mom was not pleased.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A scream from the kitchen while I was working on the computer was not another mouse sighting or a cooking accident, but just Sarah finding the bag of M&Ms I'd hidden for her.

Sarah: When did you get these?
Me: I bought them with rat pellets. I figured I'd hide them until it seemed like you really needed them.
Sarah: So I found these right away.
Me: You found them right away.

Monday, June 1, 2009

One of my co-workers, Chris, decided last week that he was going to buy a last second plane ticket, fly to London and propose to his girlfriend who is over there to attend a wedding.

Chris: I bought a ticket last night. I'm flying out this afternoon. I'll get to London, figure out where the wedding is, walk in, surprise her, propose.

A good part of Thursday was spent discussing whether this was a good plan or not. It even came up during a conference call with a client. In this picture, Chris is talking to one of the clients that called him back after the meeting to offer her further thoughts on whether it's disrespectful to propose at a stranger's wedding.

One of the Bosses: Wow. I suppose it's a good sign that the client is invested in this trainwreck of a plan of yours, Chris.

The general consensus around the office was that, however romantic, the plan was a minefield of potential mishaps. But... a nonrefundable ticket was already purchased, so he flew off to London.

We haven't gotten many updates yet, but from the few we've spotted (Facebook: "Christopher is engaged"), it seems to have been a success.