Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Making a Ritual of Dispelling Despair in Entertaining Ways

I haven't procrastinated nearly as much as I suspected today. Sure, I've only submitted only one resume by quarter of 3, and I've taken a walk and am now writing on the blog. And that's after waking up at 9. Even worse: I have a temp assignment tomorrow and Friday, and tomorrow night, I get to see Children of Men for free.

I haven't spent hours sorting through e-mails like I did last night. Part of that even involved a couple stories in my inbox from Dargonzine. Then I watched a couple episodes of that new TBS show, My Boys.

Last night, I believe I had something of a valid excuse for procrastinating on the job search. I took the bus up north for a job interview at an insurance agency. They gave me a pretty good response, an hour and a half interview, a wink from one of the people at the end of the interview and being told straight out that I interviewed well. This position has potential, if they offer it to me.

Only downside to it: The potential of it moving out to a suburb in about a year. If we still had the car, I wouldn't see it as a problem. Now, though, without a permanent car, it could create some issues. I guess I'll simply have to wait until they call me back for another interview to talk about it and let them know my concerns. Having the job move out to a suburb and not having transportation to reach it would suck as it goes for not getting a good paying job.

Even if that eventually works out, though, I shouldn't stop working on the job search now. From my understanding, it works like writing. After submitting a piece of work, you can celebrate a little that night or get a reward. Once it gets out of the system, though, don't sit on your laurels. Start working on the next piece. In this case, a cover letter and resume. I would just rather get on with the writing. . ..

Before I get on with it, though, a little bit of substance in today's entry:

USING RITUAL AND TRADITION TO BRING UP KIDS AND KEEP THE FAMILY TOGETHER

UU World -- New Family Traditions: Creating rituals with and for children by Meg Cox

THAT NEW TV SHOW, MY BOYS

Pretty entertaining show about a tomboyish woman and her group of guy friends in Chicago. It comes down to the typical sitcom without a laugh track, but the fiancee and I have gotten to enjoy it, especially since she can appreciate the viewpoint of the tomboy.

My only criticism, which I think they may have addressed: too many local references to Chicago. Not a bad thing for a show broadcast just to people in Chicago, but I wonder how people outside of the city will react. Nonetheless, I can't remember a sitcom set in Chicago since Perfect Strangers. Way to go, Chicago!

FRIDAY NIGHT FUN, PART I: ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY CREATIVE WRITING READING

The fiancee, a friend, an acquaintence and I had a busy Friday night. It all started out at a cafe west of downtown, at a reading for Roosevelt University creative writing grad students. I wish I remembered the name of the cafe and the neighborhood everything happened, but as the fiancee often says, I've got a memory like swiss cheese.

Her little quip reminds me of something I've thought about today, though. When going on these entertainment and cultural excursions, I should really take along a notepad. I can write down neighborhoods, cafe names, movie names, actor names, my reactions, etc. etc. And with that information, I can write better reviews and criticisms.

The reading passed relatively pleasant. In whole, I think it only took an hour or an hour and half for everyone to read their pieces. With my memory, I can't remember all of them or everyone's names. The fiancee could probably help me. Overall, though, I can't say any of the pieces read were horrible. I would rate the majority of the pieces as good to very good.

I had a problem with a lot of the poetry. The reader lost me in it, from the images to the rhythm. I could only really get into the quirky ones. I don't know how much of it has to do with me or just poetry, in general, though. Thinking back now, I wish I remembered a couple of them, too, because I think a couple ended up pretty clever. Darn this swiss cheese brain!

The prose pieces come back to me better. The fiancee read her story about getting into a biking accident on the way to have lunch with a crush at the time. Another one I remember focused on a funny incident that her FBI father had while on a stake out. A good one had something to do with this guy's extreme dislike of dogs, which had a well executed focus on the topic and pleasantly tense narrative.

One of them really struck out to me, though (sorry, fiancee). It had a pretty homosexual erotic viewpoint, but. . .it could've come from a heterosexual viewpoint, too. The best part, the eroticism didn't come from any drastic descriptions, actions or even nudity. Everyone remained fully clothed and involved hardly any interaction between any characters. In fact, that's what made it great, as it focused more on temptation and the consequences of falling for that temptation.

It developed a character and drew out the whole implications of a couple minutes on the subway, rubbing a leg up against someone else. Falling for the temptation could bring on a little bit of fun, but it could also change the rest of this character's life. By falling for the temptation, the character could destroy a good, healthy and positive relationship, just for a couple minutes of fun.

And I don't even mind "spoiling" the story because even if you could find it, you would probably already know the resolution of the story. The plot doesn't necessarily have as much importance as the stream of conscious. The narrative execution of implications, temptation and emotions does the work of affecting the reader rather than the ignorance of plot points. Someone could probably read this piece multiple times within a few days and enjoy it anew every time. Personally, I hope this author gets this piece published somewhere.

FRIDAY NIGHT FUN, PART II: SECOND CITY -- TWO-THOUSAND AND SUX: THE YEAR IN REVUE

After the reading, a friend who showed up to support the fiancee invited us to go along with them to see Two-Thousand and Sex: The Year in Revue. The friend didn't like it so much. The fiancee and I have more charitable feelings about the sketch comedy. Some of it didn't really make us laugh, but some of it hit the funny bone fine.

As made apparent, the show takes the premise that 2006 sucked. Not much good came of it. Other than on a personal level, I would have to agree. They demonstrated it in a fun way by starting the whole set off with a 2005 New Year's Eve party. When the ball got to the bottom and they entered 2006, one of the actors came out, acting drunk, dressed in a diaper and with a 40 in hand. None of the guests really appreciated 2006, and he didn't act all that pleasant. He just kept listing off how much things would suck in 2006 while acting obnoxious.

From there, they had a flurry of sketches, only a few of which stuck with me. In one of them, we witnessed a group of fundamentalist Christians having a meeting. They wanted to start a campaign of suicidal bombing to stand up against the Muslim radicals. One of them had even try a bombing, but hadn't killed himself, so he was pretty screwed up.

The jokes didn't necessarily work well all the time in this skit, but I liked the satirical premise. It worked especially well with the passive aggressive attempts at getting out of doing a suicidal bombing that supposedly turned out unsuccessful. The funniest part came from a guy repeating that they should test more explosives on the screwed up guy to make sure they know how many explosives they need to do the job well.

Another sketch had America as the blond popular girl in high school hanging out with England, talking about world events. This one did a good job of caricaturing the different countries with high school caricature roles. Mexico acted as the unpopular guy who wanted to sit next to America at the lunch table. . .and I forget the rest.

One skit didn't do all that well, but it had to suck to have the punchline work. It started off talking about that race horse, the one that got attention a couple weeks or month ago. Then it just kind of dragged on from there to these toy horses running across the stage that just kept "tripping" on the race track. Another horse would just keep replacing the earlier one. I think they went through something like 10 of them. Then at the end they said something about "beating a dead horse." It sucked, but it had to suck to work. Is there a name for that kind of humor?

I only remember one other sketch after that one. It focused on declaring Pluto a dwarf planet. Like with the countries in the world, they gave the planets somewhat stereotypical personalities. They didn't fall into high school roles, though. I, frankly, forget what roles most of the planets fell into. . .except for Pluto, who turned out to be a punk ass street kid, which just cracked me up. The other planets worked well but only in relationship to Pluto, mostly. They had some other good instances of chemistry with the other planets, though. . .I just don't remember it well.

Then the whole thing ended with another New Year's Eve party, this one supposedly happening in a couple weeks. They kick out 2006, but then the ol' obnoxious guy comes back with a 2007 ribbon around him instead of a 2006 one. That's when everyone realizes that it's a different year, but the same old shit.

It cost $10 admission. They test out the majority of skits on this stage before they advance them onto the more professional stages. If these sketches move closer to the main stage, I hope they get revised a lot more. They just don't really work all that well, especially if you're going to pay more than $10.

For the audience, I don't advise making a night of going to this act. If you have nothing better to in the city of Chicago, though, and have the money to spare, you might as well go. It's better than nothing.

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