Tuesday, March 26, 2013

ON AN ON is All the Rage

This incredible cover of one of my favorite Hot Chip songs blew my mind.  The always savvy Katie Roach said that their album is amazing, as well.

She has never steered me wrong.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Star Trek Trailer: Hit or Miss?

Just watched the latest trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness and I can't decide whether I think it's going to be awesome or terrible.  The Starfleet officer in her underwear doesn't make me feel better.

What do you think?

Sad Songs are All the Rage

I have a penchant for sad songs.  I can't really explain why, I would just rather listen to someone singing about heartbreak than celebrating the fact that it's Friday.

As a special treat for you Ragers, I have compiled a list of my top 10 sad songs (in no particular order).

1 - Don't Give Up, Peter Gabriel featuring Kate Bush

I was first exposed to "Don't Give Up" through the Sinead O'Connor version in the 90s.  I was up late at night, playing Zelda on Nintendo and listening to CFNY (102.1).  They were taking requests and a guy called in who sounded profoundly - profoundly - depressed.  Though this version isn't the one he requested, it's my favorite. (fun fact: This was also the night that I heard Zombie by the Cranberries for the first time).

2 - No Children, The Mountain Goats

This song is not only in my sad songs top 10 but also tops my list of breakup songs (coming at a later date).  Back when people still burned CDs for other people, this was always the final track on any mix I created for the lovelorn and recently jilted.

3 - Independence Day, Ani DiFranco

I have loved this song since the very first time I heard it.  Another breakup mix favorite, this song functions on a completely different level.  Like most of Ani's songs, the lyrics are pure poetry, and incredibly evocative.

4 - Last Day of our Acquaintance, Sinead O'Connor

Over the years, I have rediscovered this song many times, and every time I have a slightly different perspective on the unravelling and dissolution of a relationship.  The song progresses from whisper quiet and slowly builds, which i've always felt was a representation of the build up to signing the final divorce papers.  The line I find most heartbreaking is "You used to hold my hand when the plane took off" - I'm not even sure why.

5 - Dogs and Thunder, Weeping Tile

Sung by the incomparable Sarah Harmer, this song is about losing a beloved pet. Enough said.

6 - Rooftop, Melissa McClelland

You may have heard this song in episodes of Grey's Anatomy or Degrassi TNG, but please don't hold that against Melissa McClelland.  This song has such a specific time and place.  I can picture the rooftop, the neighborhood, the weather and (in my case) the Chicago skyline in the distance.

7 - Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd

This song has been covered, remixed and sampled in dozens and dozens of different versions.  This simple acoustic version, By David Gilmour, is my absolute favorite.  His voice as he ages does more justice to songs like this.

8 - Soothe, Smashing Pumpkins

My all time favorite Smashing Pumpkins song, (off of my favorite album, Pisces Iscariot).  Just Billy, a guitar, and the rumble of Chicago city buses rolling by. Perfection. (Soothe comprises the first 3 minutes of the video, it was the best version I could find)

9 - Rule Nor Reason, Billy Bragg

This song is haunting.  In particular the line "We're both going to have to accept  that this might be as good as it gets." He also manages to name check the Queen and Shirley Bassey. Well played, Mr Bragg. Well played.

10 - I can't make you love me, Bonnie Raitt

I know the cheese factor is high with this song, but I love it.  I remember having a teenaged epiphany, late at night, as I listened to the lyrics.  I won't go into detail, because it's ultimately silly, like most teenaged drama.  Suffice it to say that the song has a special place in my heart.

What are your favorite sad songs???

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

School of Thrones: Summer is Coming

This parody of Game of Thrones is really, really charming.

Check it out.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bubbles are All the Rage

As a crazy SNL enthusiast, I thought this past Saturday's show was the best in a long, long time.

Check out my favorite skit of the night.  Three days later and I'm still laughing.

Smash is Giving me a Rash

I have a special place in my heart for the train wreck that is Smash.

I have seen every single episode, sometimes only to scream at the TV and heap hate on Ellis (the most pointless and awful sociopathic villain to ever appear on the small screen).

For those of you who haven't seen this week's episode yet, get on it, we need to deconstruct the madness. 

This season is off to a better start, with a few exceptions.  The new Karen (Katharine McPhee) love interest Jimmy Collins (played by a dead-eyed Jeremy Jordan) has absolutely no discernible spark and his overly dramatic, out of all proportion, reactions to...EVERYTHING have grown pretty boring.  So many eye rolls.

On the whole, I am very happy with the season, and the direction they are taking, although sticking Ivy (Megan Hilty) into a different show and having her randomly run into Karen is stretching itself pretty thin.  Also Ivy's whole plot line is (to put it in rage-a-holic fashion) yawn, yawn, yawn.

Eileen (Angelica Houston), who spent last season tossing multiple drinks into her estranged husband's face has had a sudden change of heart (pod person?) and is agreeing with the schmuck on almost everything. Where's Cher when you need a good "snap out of it" slap.

Do you think the show is on the right track, or about to go off the rails?  Please let me know in the comments below.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A "Higher Call"

Since I was a very young child, I have embraced some superstitions and ignored others.  When walking to school I would make sure never to step on a crack.  In high school I wouldn't let anyone light a cigarette from a candle, lest a sailor drown at sea.  There were also superstitions I created for myself.

When one of your loved ones serves in the military, there is a nagging, constant worry that's difficult to describe.  You know that someone you care about is thousands of miles away, and that they are putting themselves in harms way. Deliberately in harms way.

For years, my own anxieties about my older brother's military career led to many, many arguments about his chosen profession.  I would encourage him to move into the private sector.  I would lecture.  I would scream.  I was relentless.  I couldn't understand his motivation. I wasn't willing to listen to his reasons.  To his talk of "Honor".

When he was first deployed, I stopped speaking his name.  For some reason, I thought that if I said his name aloud, I was putting him in danger.  I would avoid discussing him.  In a way, it was like he was already gone.

When I first moved to Chicago, people thought that Ianovitch (my younger brother) was the only brother I had.

Whenever deployed in Afghanistan, despite the fact that he remained mostly in the green zone, I avoided reading articles about wounded soldiers, or those who were killed - convinced I would read his name. The increasing frequency of rocket-propelled grenade attacks within the green zone was nearly intolerable.

I guess what bothered me most was that, it seemed to me, the groups who were launching these attacks were determined to hurt, maim and/or kill as many people as possible.  They didn't look at any of these men as fathers, brothers, husbands, but only as intruders, enemies, a cancer.

I read an article this morning, about an event that took place in 1943, that was so beautiful, so transformative, that I had to write this all down immediately.  I think it's best that I don't tell you anything about the article - I invite you to read it for yourselves.

As his 20 years in the military draws to a close I can say with complete honesty, I am very proud of Drew.  And always have been.  He answered a higher call.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Farmhouse Friday

Had the rare opportunity to have lunch with the amazing Praterlicious (aka Melis) today.  We decided to split the difference between our respective offices and meet at Farmhouse.

The food was delicious, and the company (it goes without saying) was superb.

We started with the house made sodas - I had the root beer, Melis had the pear spice.  They were both refreshing without the cloying sweetness of mass-produced soda.  The perfect palette cleanser.

For starters we shared an order of beer batter friend cheese curds (a bit bland for my taste) and house cured beef jerky with farmhouse roasted nuts (pictured).

For our mains, Melis had the classic grass fed burger and I settled on the short rib sloppy joe.  The food arrived promptly and both of us enjoyed them very much. I substituted the tavern cut fries for the house made chips - they were decent but not fantastic.

Overall, I would definitely recommend a visit to Farmhouse.  The location is convenient, the decor is in keeping with the theme and the food is sourced locally and/or from the mid-west whenever possible.  The beer list is very impressive and I will definitely go back when I have some time to linger over the many draft beers.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Shakespeare is All the Rage

"Much Ado About Nothing" is one of my favorite Shakespearean comedies.  I fell in love, years ago, with the Kenneth Branagh adaptation and have watched it dozens of times.

When I heard that Joss Whedon, as a reward to himself after shooting wrapped on The Avengers, had quietly shot his own version - casting almost exclusively friends/veterans from his previous television shows - I was over the moon.

Today, we get our first look at the trailer and my excitement has only increased. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Fighting Scalping is All the Rage.

Email from my friend HB:

Sick of not being able to purchase a ticket to a concert or an event before the scalpers do? And then having to pay quadruple the price??

Me too!!!

Stub hub tried to sell me a ticket for $250,000 to Pearl Jam this morning. So I got angry and started a petition.

It takes 2 minutes… so please sign if you agree, and share if you feel like it.

Yeah I know this isn't work related, so thanks for your time and attention. I know you're busy folks.

No Pearl Jam jokes please. They were very big when I was in high school. 

Carry on.


Going Solo

In the time since Joey B and I have parted ways (romantically) I have rediscovered all the reasons why I love being single.  I enjoy doing what I want, when I want.  I enjoy not being accountable for how I spend my time. I enjoy not having to compete for the remote/DVR.

I understand that these reasons are fundamentally selfish, and maybe don't paint me in the best possible light, but I'm trying to make a point here. The truth is that 95% of the time I love being single, and am not in any hurry to change my relationship status.  The other 5% of the time, however, is getting rough.

I miss having a default plus one for weddings, functions, happenings and hootenannies. I miss impromptu dinners and lunches at new restaurants.  I miss having someone to mock the crazy Drag Race queens with.

Even when I was single, in the past, I always had Ianovitch or TwoPaul as my wing man - or Janie, or Kumar or Joe O.  The reality is that, being single in your mid-30s is very, very different than being single in your mid-20s, in that the number of single versus committed people in my life have reversed polarities.

Although I know a large number of people, and am very lucky to have many close friends, I have always focused most of my downtime on one or two "besties" who I do almost everything with.  Unfortunately none of them live in Chicago.

Also, most people don't have huge amount of unstructured time - another luxury of ones mid-20s. When Mitt-man lived with me in Chicago, part-time, it was like rediscovering the old days - minus playing Pokemon Puzzle for hours at a time.  We were more likely to have a beer or two on the deck.

I guess the bottom line is that, on rare occasions, I get lonely.  This is very new for me, and an embarrassing confession - even if it's only 5% of the time.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Let's Have a Kiki...

This Sunday the About Face Theatre Associate Board (including me), are hosting a Kiki at Sofo Tap (4923 N Clark St) at 2pm.

A portion of the proceeds from every drink sold will benefit the Youth Theatre program, which is a cause very near and dear to my heart.  If you're in the Chicago area, and want to hang with some really, really incredible people, then get your asses to Andersonville and we'll have a Sunday Funday you'll never forget.

Check out the instructional video below, so you'll be prepared - it's going to be a wonderful Kiki.

INVITATION: https://www.facebook.com/events/300010530128621/

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Super Smash Kittens

This is even better than laser cats.  Yes, you heard me - LASER CATS!

Monday, March 4, 2013


A new extended trailer for Game of Thrones' latest season has been released!  Check it out.  I am almost embarrassingly excited.  There may have been some hand waving and a chair-dance.

The Best Shows You Aren't Watching

There are some really, REALLY, incredible shows on TV right now.  Some seem to be everywhere, and constantly talked about, but we've lost some amazing, ground-breaking, hilarious shows already this season (ahem, Don't Trust the B_ in Apartment 23) so i'm going to provide you with a list of some awesome shows that you probably aren't watching - but should be.

Have I ever steered you wrong?


Originally billed as a Friends for the second decade of the 21st century, this show has evolved into a sharp, quick and surprisingly heart-warming ensemble comedy.  Ostensibly based in Chicago (ignore the Hollywood hills outside of Brad & Jane's apartment) the show really does capture the inter-connectedness (read: codependence) of many a group of late twenty-somethings roaming the streets of Chicago.

The first season was palatable (it appeared as a mid-season replacement)  but in the second season the show hit it's stride.  I often have to pause and/or rewind the show because I was laughing so loud I missed the two or three jokes that followed.

I heartily suggest you start at the beginning, to fall in love with the characters, but catch up as soon as possible.  Much like 30 Rock and Community, the show's ratings do not reflect it's high quality.


This FX series premiered a short while ago and I am already hooked.

Centering on an imbedded KGB couple who are posing as a typical American couple - owners of a local travel agency in the 1980s and living in the suburbs.  The couple - played with an impressive mix of affection and antagonism - by the likable Matthew Rhys and the delicious Keri Russell are raising two children (who are completely oblivious to their parents actual careers) while carrying out kidnappings, poisonings and various other espionage.

The writing is quick and the show manages to be highly suspenseful, without being overwhelming.  Russell (who can hold a close up better than any actress on TV) is the true believer, while Rhys doesn't mind life in America and even advocates flipping to the American's cause.  The fact that an FBI Officer, Stan Beeman (played by the always impressive Noah Emmerich) and his family just moved in across the street ratchets up the potential for drama.

The show balances the political atmosphere of the Cold War perfectly with the everyday issues that families face (kids growing up too fast, etc) and the examination of a marriage that is not what it seems in every way imaginable.

If this show doesn't get renewed for a second season I am holding you personally responsible.


I resisted the Mindy Project when it first premiered.  I have always found Mindy Khaling, Creator and Star, a little much.  In all honesty, the first couple of episodes proved that my initial instincts were correct.  Then something magical happened.  The show found it's pace, Khaling calmed down, and the show blossomed into an infinitely watchable and altogether charming examination of a driven overachiever who finds herself a partner in an obstetrics practice in Manhattan but without a meaningful romantic partnership.

The show also showcases the blurred lines between professional and personal relationships in the modern workforce.  Her professional partners Danny (the charming Chris Messina) and Jeremy (the pedestrian but very cute Ed Weeks) reflect two unique, and very different, states of male single life.

The supporting cast is outstanding, I have to give Khaling credit for choosing wisely and never being afraid to let others shine.  This show is my favorite new comedy of the year.  Hands down.


While not an "actual" TVshow (The Outs is a web-based mini-series) this engaging, moving and impressive show is the much, much better than anything I've seen on TV in a long time.

I have heard it described as a gay version of HBO's Girls and a Brooklyn based Will & Grace - both of which miss the mark by a long shot.  The show is an examination of modern friendships and romantic relationships that is impeccably  almost painfully, honest.  It doesn't pull any punches, and is funnier and much more engaging as a result.

The show was actually funded via a kickstarted campaign, so the lack of censorship and network oversight has resulted in a show that is frank, fresh and absolutely genius.  The best part is that you can watch all the episodes right here and now!  Enjoy!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Metropolitan Diary: Guns and the Pulpit


Dear Diary:
The pastor flings excited beads of sweat from his brow as he preaches to the packed pews of his Harlem congregation at First Corinthian Baptist Church. His enthusiasm echoes in a shared buzz of gratitude. We are happy to be alive. Happy to come together on this Sunday, a day unique to all those anteceding and all that will follow.
The change in mood is sudden. Spontaneous “Amens” and “Thank yous” ripple into silence. The pastor has posed a request: “I want all those who have lost a loved one from gun violence to walk to the front.”
Half the congregation rises from their pews and files toward the pulpit.
I stay seated. I am one of a handful of white faces scattered among the crowd. My friend hugs her 8-year-old son tightly. To her, he is the world. To the world, he is another young black male, teetering on the edge of morbid statistics. Today she avoids the long walk to the pulpit, but tomorrow holds no guarantees. His future and the future of this community are being decided in other parts of town.
I turn my head to the left. The pew stands completely empty. A moment before, those same seats were filled with flesh-and-blood people who have become eclipsed by data and information trends. I gaze across the barren sea of crushed red velvet with tightness in my chest. How will we find a unified decision when half of us are gone?