Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Com Ed Scammer Apologizes

Clovis got a call from an automated attendant saying "This is an apology call from Com Ed. We have overcharged you....". When the rep came on the line to get Clovis' information, Clovis insisted that the rep issue the apology that he was promised. Once the rep apologized, Clovis was triumphant and the rep ended the call.

Monday, July 29, 2019

I Hosted A Jazz Concert

Fresh off of my run as the co-star of a two-person musical, I got a call from a concert organizer asking me if I had any interest in doing a Jazz benefit. For a very brief moment, I thought that I was being asked to sing. But, no, despite my recent good reviews as a singer, the organizer was interested in me being the M.C. for the show. I was told that it was a two-night featuring three different singers backed by two different backup bands. All I would have to do is give some opening remarks, say a few words during intermission, and then wrap up with remarks before the big finale. There would be a rehearsal the night before the first show, so I figured I'd be given more specific instructions and an at least an outline covering the main points the organizer wanted me to hit during my remarks. Instead, I was just put through a mic check and told "just be you".

The Friday night run-through of the show was, for me, mediocre. I had no set list, very little information on the musicians and singers involved, and no outline on specific points to hit aside from the occasional verbal notes from the organizer. I was asked to fill ten minutes before introducing the first act, but struggled to fill five. Originally, the organizer didn't want me to introduce the individual acts, but that was quickly determined to be the wrong move, as the audience got confused over who was on stage. Things got better after intermission because I started talking to the artists and asked them pointed questions about themselves and the songs they were performing, just so I could have something to talk about on stage.

Ultimately, I wasn't satisfied with my performance during the Friday night show, so I spent much of Saturday morning thinking about how to improve my performance. What I came up with is

How To Be A Good M.C. :

1) Be Prepared: You don't have to write down everything you want to say, but it's a good idea to at least have a written outline. For example, my outline for the opening remarks went as follows:

  • Welcome
  • Introduce Myself
  • Anecdote about being asked to host
  • A very brief history of Jazz
  • List performers
  • Anecdote about first performer
  • Introduce first performer

2) Do A Runthrough: Even if you know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it, it will help to do an actual run-through of your remarks to see how they sound. Written remarks on paper can come off very differently in delivery, so it will help to practice your remarks. Even better if you can do it as part of a full event rehearsal. 

3) Realize That You Are NOT The Star: The purpose of an M.C. is to get the crowd warmed up and guide the direction of the show The M.C. sets the tone and is there to make the main stars of the show look good. The M.C. is not in the business of self promotion

4) Lay Off The Jokes: Funny anecdotes related to the event are fine, but try to refrain from telling actual jokes with punchlines. There's nothing worse than trying to recover from a joke that bombed.

5) Get To Know Your Performers: They will be a source of material for you to draw your remarks from. I asked one of the performers about the songs she chose and she told me that she had written them all herself and had written a particular one at the age of 12. That made for a good story and I used it when introducing one of her sets.

6) Be Positive: Even if you don't like the event that you're promoting, you're still being brought in to build the audience's enthusiasm for it. When an act finished up their set, I made sure to say something good about their performance and asked the audience to applaud by saying something like "Let's hear it for them? Weren't they great?"

So, with the above directives in mind, I had a much better show on Saturday than I did on Friday. Even thought it was a small and tough crowd, I managed to get them fired up for the show, and, by the end of the night, they were clamoring for an encore rather than running for their cars.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Energy Scammer Won't Say My Name

"Kevin", a rep from an energy savings company called Switch Energy called me looking to get me to switch from ComED in order to save on my energy bill. He asked me to get my current electric bill while he held the line. I said "Hold The Line. Love isn't always on time!" in reference to the Toto song. "Kevin" asked me how my name appears on my bill, and I told him that my name appears to be printed. When he asked my name, I told him that my first name was Heywood and my last name was Jablowme. That didn't seem to phase him until I asked him to say my name back to me.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Marlins at White Sox 7/22

Every year, the Mac siblings all try to get together for a White Sox game. Usually, there's at least one sibling missing for whatever reason. This year, it was looking like all five of us were going to be able to make it. But, alas, my sister had her jaw shattered and two of my brothers were delayed due to a Metra incident. It seems that the Mac siblings simply can't all be in the same place at the same time, lest cosmic destruction and galactic chaos ensue. So, it was just me, one Mac brother, and three of the Mac kids who all filled in at the last minute. For two of those kids, tonight's Marlins at White Sox game was their first ever MLB game. 

And what a game it was. To begin with, this was the first game at Comisky Park (screw you Guaranteed Rate Field) to use extended netting which is becoming the norm for MLB ballparks. It seems that, due to modern day performance enhancements, foul balls are causing more injuries to fans that in previous years. Since this was a Monday night inter-league game against an unimpressive foe, attendance was on the low side at about 14,500. This meant that lines at the concessions and the washrooms were almost non-existent. Our little group also got featured on the Jumbotron for about 15 seconds. What a thrill that was. 

The White Sox destroyed the Marlins 9-1. The White Sox homered four times during this game thanks to Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada, James McCann and Ryan Goins. It was looking a little hairy for him towards the end, but Ivan Nova pitched a complete game and, of course, was given the win. This makes the White Sox undefeated with their new extended netting. This is what Sox fans needed to see: The White Sox defeating a clearly inferior opponent. Now, let's get some momentum going. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Telemarketer Loses His Script

I have no idea what this guy was trying to sell because he flubbed his script the second I answered. When I asked him why he was calling he asked me what services I provide. I told him that for $100, I would shave his head, and for $105, I would give him the Kojak special where I would shove the scissors up his nose afterwards. I asked the rep again what he wanted. I could hear him laugh a bit nervously. He said he was going to come find me. I told him that I am a long way from India and he said he lived next to my apartment.

"I don't live in an apartment, dipshit!", I said.

"Do you live in a house?", he asked.

"Well, gee, if I don't live in an apartment, then what do I live in? I thought you lived right next to me!".

When I told him that it was the lamest telemarketer call I had ever gotten, the rep said I could ask him any question I wanted. I asked him why he was originally calling and what he was selling. The rep said he was just calling random people in order to ask random questions. I said that I could hear people in the background so it was obvious that he was in a calling center. The rep said that it was his father and brother talking. "Yeah, they are saying how disappointed they are in you!", I said.

The rep eventually asked me what advice I had for him and I tossed out some random thoughts and insults. I advised him to get a job where he wasn't scamming people. I even told him that he could write a book afterwards about his journey from telemarketing scammer to contributing member of society.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I Met With A Casting Director

I went on an audition recently for a small TV show that is being filmed in Chicago. It was a very small role and I had been recommended to the casting director by a fellow community theater actor. I had no delusions of being discovered or becoming famous due to this, but, work is work, so I spent a few days getting some headshots together along with a sizzle reel before meeting with this lady. I did my audition and sat down with her to get her thoughts.

"You're good", she said. "You're even a natural. You say you've had no formal training?"

"None", I answered. "Aside from having been cast as a tree in 'You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown' in first grade and being constantly ordered to stand still".

"I can tell that you're undisciplined, and that's the problem. Had you ever considered acting classes?". The casting director went on about honing my skills and offered to refer me to an acting coach who charges a reasonable fee. I instantly suspected that I was being directed to this acting coach so that the casting director would get a kickback for referring me. Or maybe I'm just an overly-suspicious bastard.

"That just isn't for me. I like acting, and I'm dedicated, but I'm not going to shell out money so that someone can tell me not to put my hands on my hips or shoot rubber bands at me every time I step off my mark".

"Do you like breakfast?", she asked.

"Of course", I said.

"So, you like bacon, eggs, sausage, those sort of things. You get up in the morning, and if the mood strikes you, you eat breakfast. When you're full, you push yourself away from the table and go on with your day. So many people are looking for the quick path to fame. You say you're dedicated, but you really just enjoy the meal. The chicken and the pig, they are the ones who are dedicated".

"The chicken and the pig have no choice. They HAVE to be part of the meal", I offered.

"Exactly", she said smugly. "A dedicated actor has no choice. It's a calling. They HAVE to act. That's dedication".

That sort of rhetorical nonsense is difficult to argue against, especially if you're trying to keep within the analogy. The best I could come up with was: "Dedication is a blind submission to fate and contains no indication of ability. The pig is dedicated, but that dedication isn't a guarantee to be delicious simply because it gave its life up for breakfast. The egg isn't guaranteed to not be rotten simply because it was called to the frying pan. I admit that I can't give you that level of dedication. But, what I can give you is devotion. I'll be enthusiastic in eating whatever is put on my plate. Given the choice, I prefer my eggs scrambled , I love eggs benedict and I hate sunny-side-up. But you can cook the eggs however you want to cook them.Use traditional or turkey bacon. Serve me sausage as links or patties. You can even include stuff I can't stomach such as tomatoes and ham. Whatever is on my plate, I will eat it as if it's the best meal I have ever had, and I will always be full".

After relating this story to some of my acting colleagues, the general agreement was that I've tanked any hope of getting "professional" work in the area. And I honestly don't care. Maybe I do lack dedication. But, on the other hand, I also am not looking for instant success or even the kind of success that comes after paying my "dues". I just want to work. But I want to work on my own terms. If that's incompatible with 99% of the available work out there, then so be it. I'll hang around and wait for when the 1% becomes available.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Loan Depot Not Home Depot

A telemarketer from Loan Depot called and once I got past the automated attendant, I pretended that I thought he was from Home Depot. I asked him where my ladder was and he said it was on the delivery truck. Once I purposely got his name wrong, he decided to hang up.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Tigers At White Sox 7/3/19 Afternoon Game

We saw the Chicago White Sox take on and win (7-5) against the Detroit Tigers this afternoon at Comisky Park (GuaranteedRate Field). This was a make up-game that had to be re-scheduled. This Tigers at White Sox game was originally supposed to occur back in May, but Mother Nature was not having it and sent one last gasp of cold weather to Chicago in the form of an ice storm. The weather for this afternoon's game, however, was perfect. It was a bright, sunny, warm day and we had great seats just a few rows behind home plate.

This game saw the Major League debut of White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease. His first inning didn't go so well considering that he walked three batters in a row, loading the bases and then gave up a hit to Harold Castro who singled to center field and drove a run in. If Cease had been rattled, then he hit it well because, even after that gaffe he still seemed cool as a cucumber. With his first Major League Baseball inning under his belt, Cease got settled and pitched a great game, ending up with the win. Food for thought: Dylan Cease now has 1 more career regular season win at Guaranteed Rate Field than Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish has regular season wins at Wrigley Field. Just sayin!

Aside from the great seats and the dollar hot-dogs one other highlight of the game for us was the Jose Abreu bobblehead promotion. Abreu seemed to benefit from the bobblehead boost and had a pretty damn good game this afternoon getting two hits and one run off of four at-bats and having only one strike-out.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Nexgrill 5-Burner Propane Gas Grill

As part of my Summer patio construction project, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a propane grill well before the stone for the patio has been laid down. I settled on the Nexgrill 5-Burner Propane Gas Grill in Stainless Steel with Side Burner and Black Cabinet. First off, it's clearly not a Weber grill, so I am not expecting a top quality product. It doesn't feel as solidly built as the equivalent Weber, but I don't need a tank in order to grill a few burgers and brats. That being said, the Nexgrill 5-Burner grill is well engineered and reinforced. All of the burners function as needed and heat at an even rate. The burners are angled higher in the front for faster and hotter cooking at the front and lower heat at the back. The side burner is a nice feature and it's perfect for using a cast-iron skillet to fry chicken or to use it for cooking lobster tails in a pot while grilling steak on the primary burners.

I purchased the Nexgrill 5-Burner grill on sale from Home Depot for $149. It usually runs $199. You have the option of having the good folks at Home Depot assemble it for you at no extra cost, but, if you do decide to assemble it yourself, it's not too terribly difficult. It took me about 90 minutes on my own.

For some extra protection from the weather, I also purchased the Nexgrill 52 in. Grill Cover for $25.

The Nexgrill doesn't come with a propane gauge, but Nexgrill does make a propane tank gauge that sells for about $15 at Home Depot. It makes a handy addition to the grill 

The only things missing from the Nexgrill 5-Burner grill are tool hooks. I've got you covered there. Check out the Yukon Glory YG-779 4Pc Magnetic Grilling Tool Set.

Nexgrill 5 Burner Grill with the Yukon Glory YG-779 Magnetic Grilling Tool Set