Thanksgiving, et. al.

Well, I hadn't planned on it, but I made my way down to South Carolina for Thanksgiving after all. It wasn't under the happiest of circumstances, so the whole trip was painted with a tinge of sadness, but my family is nothing if not 'game'. We roll with punches pretty well. Even punches straight to the jaw when we weren't paying attention.

I got my brakes fixed Monday and hit the road around two. The drive itself was more taxing than usual. My sleep from the night before lacked in quantity and quality. I listened to a couple of books on tape, ate at a Waffle House, and caught a few hours of snooze time at a rest stop in Tennessee. That all helped.

I pulled into my Mom's driveway around 7 am on Tuesday. Everyone was still in bed, but, as I found out later, had barely slept since Sunday. Everyone, that is, except for my sister-in-law Amber and this kid:

(That picture is NOT of Amber and Bailey. That's my brother Sam. He just has Farrah hair.) She made the long drive kind of ok. Over the next few days I ate, drank, laughed, and cried, all in complete and total excess. It was a sort of extra-gluttonous Thanksgiving.

We didn't do the traditional dinner at Grandmama's house like we usually do. It was too weird. There was one of those guestbooks on a stand in the entryway and people kept coming over and bringing food. Nothing says 'condolences' like pie says 'condolences'.

To be totally honest, my brothers and I kinda stuck around my mom's place to avoid the funereal feel of my Grandma's. Mom, Grandmama, and Uncle Harry all lived within about ten or fifteen minutes of eachother. We'd go and hang out with the larger family for a while, but then we'd have to come home, play with a baby and deep-fry turkey.

We fried two of them. We had a pot of 350 degree peanut oil on a cooker in our back yard, and cooked a couple of those suckers after we injected them with creole spice and cajun butter and rubbed them down with spices. It was our first and second tries, and we already have plans to do at least 3 for Christmas.

The funeral itself was on Friday. Gun salute. Bugle call. People were pretty stoic until then. We all kinda lost it when the rifles started going off and they folded up the flag. Even my Grandma. And she's made of die-cast metal.

I drove back up on Saturday. I went through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It was an extra 45 minutes to go that way, but when you're driving for 15 or 16 hours, that's a drop in the bucket. A few years ago we all took a trip to the Smokies with Uncle Harry and his daughter Jessica. It was on that trip that I fell in love with the mountains, and it was that love for the mountains that took me to App State, where I fell in love with improv, which brought me to Chicago. The trip to the Smokies was my Uncle Harry's idea.



I'm back from SC. I have lots to talk about, but no time to talk about it. I plan to post a full update tomorrow. Until then, enjoy this picture, which I like to call "Spaghetti Aftermath".


Uncle Harry.

I got a call last night from my brother letting me know that our Uncle Harry had passed away in his sleep. I'm heading down to South Carolina right now to be with my family. Uncle Harry was my mom's brother, and the second-youngest of nine. He was a career Army NCO who retired a couple of years ago. He was a bedrock-solid guy who never let my brothers or me get away with doing one bit less than our very best. He was 48 years old.

I don't really know what to say right now, and feel strange posting this on my blog. I guess not every post can be about what I did with my weekend or things that make me angry or how I feel about pudding.

I've got a 14 hour drive ahead of me. I just thought you guys would like to know what's up.

And for the record, I adore pudding. (Jokes? At a time like this? I hope Uncle Harry would find that funny. I generally hope Uncle Harry would approve of most things I have done and continue to do.)



Today is my brother Sam's birthday. He's 22. He's the second youngest of the Young boys (Jason 30, Me 24, Sam 22, Tommy 19). He's a music-lover, a smartass, a deep-down softie, a mathematical/scientific genius, a loyal friend,the self-proclaimed "Raddest Dude Alive", a kickass bass player, a hothead, and a generally great guy.

Sam and I were really close growing up, and grew apart a little after I went off to college. This summer, however, he moved up to Chicago with me, and for just under a month we lived together and drank lots of beer and worked together at a deli. It was a blast. We'd drink beer and watch Entourage. He got to see what this whole improv thing is about. It was some of the most fun I've had in Chicago.

I'm looking forward to seeing him and the rest of the family when I am home for Christmas.



Up in Chicago, I am about 850 miles from my family. We're a pretty tight family. Mom, Dad, my brothers Sam and Tommy, my sister-in-law Amber and my niece Bailey all live within a few miles of one another. Both of my remaining grandparents live there, too. Most of my aunts and uncles live in the Southeast as well. I am the lone midwesterner. However, the closest thing I have to a family is Cowlick.

Cowlick is the improv troupe that I got involved with a month after I moved up to Chicago. Man, what a great bunch. This picture was taken at a comedy festival in Chapel Hill, NC last February. With the exception of Sarah, who has moved to Boston, the group is still kicking. We rehearsed last night, which has been a relatively rare occasion recently. We're all so damned busy.

"Doing what?", you may ask. Well (clockwise from top-left), BJ has a wife, multiple homes, several real-estate jobs, and an enormous dog. Mary Beth works and spends time being adorable. Martin has school and work and lady-juggling to deal with. Sarah lives in Boston. Knauf is a man-about-town in the cafe/bistro circle and a semi-pro dancer. Scotty has a demanding job and a serious girlfriend. I do little. Shelby has a million projects, work, school, and a big, tall lover.

It's a whirlwind. Still, everytime we get together, I remember why I love these people so damned much. I also realize why it's sometimes tough for me to feel plugged-in to new groups that I become a part of up here. Right out of the gate I found a family-away-from-family. Hard to top that.



Yesterday, my car hit 100,000 miles.

My car could have driven around the Earth at the equator and not reached 100,000 miles. My car could have driven about 2/5 of the way to the moon and not hit 100,000 miles. In fact, if I were to grab a brand new car directly off of the assembly line and try to make its miles match my car's miles, I'd have to do nothing but drive for the next 75 days, and that's assuming I never stop and maintain an average speed of 55mph.

This is no huge deal. I guess odometers roll to six digits every day. I got the car in April, though, and put 14,000 of those miles on since then. That's a lot of driving. My family should move closer.

For those keeping track, though, KNOW that I saw my odo at 99,997 and proceeded to ignore traffic and wait for that puppy to roll over. I'm that kind of safe driver.

My old car had 200,000 miles on her before she fell apart. Poor car.

Here's a shot of that ol' beauty. I don't have any pictures of my new car. I don't know why I have pictures of this ol junker, either. Still, the way I figure it, you travel 200,000 miles and I'll put you in my blog, too.


Geez Louise.

It has been one serious weekend. Let's do the rundown:

High points: Kickass bluegrass show at the House of Blues.
Carrie and Chris's really nice wedding.
Doing my part in the creation of Zoran's latest epic film.
Having a Chicago-style pie with Jarman during his Albuquerque-Raleigh layover.
The discovery of Cajun Fried Potato Salad at Fatty's in Dekalb, IL.

Low points: The cold.
Rain storms.
Getting caught in both, simultaneously, without and umbrella or raincoat.
Finding that my car had been towed after walking through items A and B.
45 minute crosstown bus rides to retrieve aforementioned car.
$125 tow fees.

The upshot is that all of the low points occurred within about 4 hours. The rest of the weekend more than compensated.

And since in all the excitement, I failed to snap a single picture, you all get to look at a picture of me breakdancing. That should make your high point list.



My very first niece is walking. Look out, world.

Also, it's bittersweet concert day for me. I get to see Old Crow Medicine Show tonight at the House of Blues. That's exciting.

Also, Robert Randolph and the Family Band is playing a free, private show in the building I am currently temping in. One of the best slide steel players out there, and I'm covering phones while everyone else goes. A lot of them don't even know the band or seem to care about the show. Curses.



As we speak, I am sitting at the executive floor reception desk at a huge ad agency. Everyone on this floor has an assistant, so my job is to just sit here and screw around on the internet waiting for calls.

Not unlike what I'd be doing if I were at home right now.

It reminds me of my old insurance job, except for that the people are prettier. Oh, and all of the personal assistants look scared.



So I have a little bit of a problem. I'm kind of a roadtrip junkie. Everytime I get a little bit antsy, I think long and hard about throwing a tent in the back of my car and driving until it's warm enough outside to use it. Part of it has to do with being far from my family, and part of it has to do with honestly enjoying the trip. Under the right conditions, I have been known to tackle 15 hour non-stop drives all by myself. As long as I can pull some pitstops for caffeine fixes and have a good book on CD, the miles fly by.

I go more often than I should. I have to constantly think of reasons not to. I need to work. I have rehearsals. Gas is expensive. I just bought groceries.

Plus everytime I start waxing poetic about the road, I feel like i'm writing a sequel to Easy Rider. Wait, i'm not that good a writer. Smokey and the Bandit.


Go. Fight.

So I'm a long way from Appalachian State, but I still have a pretty large share of that ol' Mountaineer Pride. If you're one of the approximately 295,000,000 Americans who don't pay attention to college football played in a stadium that holds less than 80,000 people, you probably don't follow Div 1-AA ball. That's your loss. The level of competition is super high, with amazing ball being played all over the country. At the same time, the games are personal and relatively cozy without hoards of fairweather fans clogging the stands. The players seem to be in it for love of school and the game, as the chances of getting snatched up by the NFL is somewhat lower. It's just good ball played for fun by talented athletes.

Anyway, if you DO follow D 1-AA, you might be aware that the ASU Mountaineers are now 9-1 and ranked #1 in the entire Division. They put up 42 points this weekend. That's the 6th time this season they've scored over 40. They're now assured at least a share of the conference title, and have a strong shot at a 1 seed in the D 1-AA playoffs. (Playoffs! What fun! Beats the hell out of bowl games.)

Anyway. Many don't care. I'm excited.

Special Bonus Edition

Hey gang.

This weekend has been pretty busy, so I lapsed on bloggin. Cardinal sin. It's like working out. You start skipping a day here, a day there, and before you know it, you can't lift a bagel without getting winded. And then the bagel makes you fatter. Vicious cycle.

Plus I slept all day, so I'm wired even though I have an interview in the morning.

Therefore, I bring you an extra special bonus edition of the ol' bloggity blog, cleverly titled 'Special Bonus Edition'.

Part One: Job.

So Friday I took a step towards having a little more cash in hand as the holidays approach, and bills assure me that they take no holiday. I interviewed with a temp agency. My regular gigs pay the bills, but I have some free time and should be using it to get myself financially stable instead of using it to watch Judge Dredd. Again.
Straight temp work. They call in the late afternoon/ early morning hours and offer you short-term work and you accept or decline. The folks seemed nice enough, and apparently there's no taboo against saying no to a bad assignment. I'm not bad at the corporate thing. As my picture may indicate, however, it's not my favorite lifestyle...

I have an interview with another staffing firm tomorrow. No matter what, it'll just be temp work. None of this temp-to-hire crap. If I wanted a permanent, full-time crap job, i'd interview for one directly.

Part Two: Weekend

We had a ProNounced show at the Cornservatory. My roommate Andrea played. Jason Deux was there, along with the Beckmans and Shelby (who are all members of the usual ProNounced crowd). It was fun.
ProNounced is a group of ASU alumni who perform irregularly. That is, schedule-wise. Irregulary schedule-wise. Our performances aren't abnormal. Well, maybe somewhat.

Afterwards, we went to our favorite dive bar, Gio's, and sang karaoke. I opened the night with Wilson Phillips' "Hold On" and it was only uphill from there. I have a karaoke groupie, by the way. She really likes my signature number, which can only be described as the most stirring rendition of Enrique Iglesias's "Hero" that has ever been witnessed. I'll stop singing that one when it stops being awesome.

Beers were had. White Castle was eaten. We kept the party going until at least 5. That means that today, all I did was sleep, eat a sandwich and some Advil, watch TV and paint Care Bears watercolors.

For real.

Later I dropped by Charley's where I walked in on a majorly sweet game of 'Celebrities'. I got to see some great people, but had to leave to make a late-night rehearsal at Second City. After rehearsal, however, came back to Charley's and learned some sweet breakdancing moves from Charley's roommate Bobby. Want to see a slide show of the most awesome cartwheel in the world? Scroll down fast and it's like a movie.

It ain't easy being a b-boy. I need to get into better shape. Then I want to become a break dancer. Then I want to go camping. That's my to-do list. Hence my aversion to corporate America.

I'm so counterculture it hurts. Or maybe that's the muscle I pulled doing that sweet cartwheel. Which I totally did.



My financial status, as told through photographs of babies.

Today I got paid:

Then I spent a shocking amount of that newly earned money paying bills:

Man, a fresh paycheck has a way cuter metaphorical baby.


Taking your licks.

Monster Plantation rehearsed last night. We rehearse at the National Pastime Theatre, which is a really cool space. It's an old speakeasy, and there are more than a few stories about strange noises and sightings in the place, which is undeniably creepy and cool. The stage is set up for their current production, and as you can see, that makes the place even more eerie.

Parking is tough in the neighborhood, and public transportation is less-than-ideal, so there is a lot of lateness on our part. Our coach came up with a system for taking care of this. For every minute late we are, we have to do a push-up. Needless to say, I have done my share. On the other hand, I am terrible at working out and terrible at being on time, so maybe this is my key to fitness. If all of my employers and coaches instituted this policy, I'd be a beast of muscular glory. Or just prompt.



Halloween in 4th grade: Dress in costume. Trick or treat. Watch scary movies and eat candy until you feel like barfing.

Halloween as an adult: Dress in costume on the weekend before Halloween. Skip the middle man and buy the candy yourself. Watch scary movies and eat candy and drink beer until you feel like barfing.

Zoran had us over tonight for his annual Halloween bad movie festival. The titles included The Nun, Candy Stripers, and Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys. Work's had me a little stressed out the last few days, so this was a welcome diversion.