Laugh with a Discount! Come See “Witch, Please!”

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Only two more shows left! As “Witch, Please,” moves into our third (!) performance, we’re celebrating fall, Halloween and humor with a huge $4 discount on tickets! Just enter code “MAGIC” when you purchase tickets online.

So if you’re in Chicago or Chicago adjacent, have a sense of humor that needs a little tickle, possibly want a drink (there’s booze) and maaaayyyybbeee a little Halloween candy in honor of the season, come join us Saturday at 7 pm at Donny’s Skybox Theater in the Second City Training Center.

Did I mention there are amazing props made by yours truly? Who doesn’t love a good prop!

Don’t forget, enter “MAGIC” to get $4 off of the ticket price! Hope to see you there.

In or near Chicago in October? Come see “Me Inside Me Presents: Witch, Please,” on October 1, 8, 22 and 29 at Donny’s Skybox Theater at 7 pm. Tickets available at SecondCity.com.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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TV Talk, British Edition: Miranda

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Oh, British television. How I love my British TV, from comedies to cop dramas.

So many cop dramas.

But Miranda is not one of them. Nope, Miranda — a sitcom written by and featuring the hilarious Miranda Hart — encompasses so much of what I love about British television.

Let’s start with the writer-driven material. Very little of what we have on television here comes from the minds of the people who star in it, and while Hart didn’t completely produce the show herself, it feels like she might have. Which only adds to the sense that the Miranda on the show would genuinely be a friend if only she didn’t only exist for half-hour bursts. When actors create their own characters, it leads to a different kind of depth.

And a different kind of performer on TV.

Here, all nearly all actors, but particularly women, must be smoothed to a near-Photoshop perfection, whether on or off-camera. Women must conform to certain standards, unless cast specifically because they don’t, making that a vital aspect of the character.

Here, the fear of deviating from established beauty norms radiates from the screen. Often casting makes female characters intended to reject beauty norms laughable, such as the young Hayden Panettiere as a nerd on Malcolm in the Middle.

But not in the UK. No one but Miranda Hart could have brought the character of Miranda to life. And there, she was given the freedom to do it.

Yet this show isn’t a statement, it’s thirty minutes of laugh-out-loud moments where we can recognize ourselves, our own human awkwardness, the funny side of how we relate to others and the world around us. Miranda is a cozy blanket of humor, kind and inclusive; it’s that warm glow from a window on the street, coming from a room where we’re all invited.

All seasons of Miranda are available to to stream on Hulu. But I warn you, take it slowly. You’ll miss her when it’s over.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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Celebrity Cars, Filters and Photography

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Ting! Used a sparkle filter for this picture of Greased Lightning from…well…Grease.

Pictures today! For Father’s Day (a belated happy one to all the dads out there!) I went with my parents to the Volo Auto Museum. About an hour outside of Chicago, it’s packed with all kinds of cars, from early ones to classics to props from movies. There’s also an antiques mall, with one building that is said to be haunted.

If you’re in the market for a classic car, there are rooms of them, gorgeously restored, for sale.

I went with my trusty SLR, and armed with a new small point-and-shoot I got because it can take underwater pictures.

I’ll need that for a trip I’ll be taking, but we’ll chat about that another day.

A blast was had with the point-and-shoot, as it offers a range of filters. It’s like on-board Photoshop. It has its limitations — as far as that type of camera goes, it wasn’t a really expensive one, and I’m not completely thrilled with the sharpness in the lighting conditions, but cars were the perfect subject matter to test some of the more playful features.

So here are the pictures from what I will call my little camera. (it is VERY little). And off we go!

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Here’s that star effect again…TING!

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This filter makes everything black & white but one color.

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The filter here intensifies the colors…I love the lurid car poster feel.

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This one is supposed to make it look as though it’s a miniature. What do you think?

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Same filter as the red, but with yellow.

 

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I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts!

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As you can see, the Flux Capacitor is in full-working condition.

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And from my “real” camera:

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I found this locomotive…ON WHEELS…just as the museum was closing.

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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Chicago, Get your Neurotrash Tickets!!

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Tomorrow night, “Neurotrash” rises again for week 2! So, Chicago, if you enjoy hilarious pokes at everything from love to birth control to technology to beloved childhood television series, come join us at Donny’s Skybox Theater in the Second City Training Center at 10 p.m. Saturday night!

You can drink during the show, so there’s that, too. Tickets are $13, unless you are a student, then they are $11, and if you are a Second City Training Center Student, they’re just $7.

And did I mention the drinks?! Also the props are incredible.

Yes, I made the props.

Come join us! It’s a fun night.

In or near Chicago? Check out our sketch comedy revue, Me Inside Me Presents: “Neurotrash.” Saturdays at 10 pm, May 7, 14, 21 & 28 in Donny’s Skybox Theater. Tickets $13; Students $11 SCTC Students: $7  Click here for tickets.

Want to know what happens to Jane Storegoer before everyone else? Sign up for my spamless newsletter, and get new episodes in your inbox on Fridays!

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 

Show opens tomorrow so enjoy some pictures!

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As promised, I went out with my camera yesterday, and it was gorgeous. Cold, though, and eventually I got hungry, so I had to call it, but there was just so much to photograph. It’s cloudy today, but I’d love to get back out there. We’ll see.

Anyway, with our sketch comedy revue Me Inside Me Presents: “Neurotrash” opening tomorrow night, I’m going to conserve my energy and  share some photos. Enjoy!

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No idea what this bird is, got a super-fast grab shot. It was pretty large. For Illinois.

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Apparently this nest belongs to a pair of hawks, and there are chicks in it! I saw no evidence of that, though.

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I’ve got a ton more, which may get used at some point. It was a great day for shooting, the light was really warm.

And next time I see you, we’ll have had our first show! I’ll be giving you the details on Tuesday, because Monday is the next installment of The Continuing Story of Jane Storegoer and the Cone of Evil! Remember, if you sign up for the newsletter, you get the episode early. Happy weekend to all!

In or near Chicago? Check out our sketch comedy revue, Me Inside Me Presents: “Neurotrash.” Saturdays at 10 pm, May 7, 14, 21 & 28 in Donny’s Skybox Theater. Tickets $13; Students $11 SCTC Students: $7  Click here for tickets.

Want to know what happens to Jane Storegoer before everyone else? Sign up for my spamless newsletter, and get new episodes in your inbox on Fridays!

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Homework to Write? Photos to Blog!

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Well, it’s Wednesday again and I haven’t done my homework. Again. Not to be redundant or anything.

So instead of writing a full blog post, I’m going to post a few pictures. Why? I say why not! Also I need my words for the homework. You never know how many words you’re going to have.

I took these at Chicago’s gorgeous lake front last summer, which was, for some reason, black and white that day.

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 

Heston Blumenthal and the Nature of Art

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A friend sent me some YouTube clips of British chef Heston Blumenthal, and I can’t get the man out of my head. The first was of Blumenthal making look-alike tableware out of food, and the second, his tricking the guests with it. Here’s that second video:

Time could disappear and stomachs can churn as you go through the videos, one clip at a time, watching this man and his unique relationship with food. Not so much with the dessert, I’d be with him for the dessert; I mean things like the dormouse lollipops covered in white chocolate. No, really.

But it brings up the question that arises time and time again: what makes art?

No matter what you think of Heston Blumenthal as a preparer of food for consumption, he is, without question, an artist. He transforms his diners’ ideas of what constitutes food. He pushes the boundaries of what food can look like, how it can behave, what the experience of eating it can be.

Even from a distance of thousands of miles, without a hint of a taste or smell, he’s created an experience for me, the viewer, in watching his diners confront and interpret his food. Above all else, I think Blumenthal is a performance artist, using a process to provoke the emotions of his audience, which isn’t limited to those people eating his creations.

Is his style all flash and mirrors? Perhaps, but if it is, both the flash and mirror are completely edible.

Have a minute? Watch this video.

Rather read? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

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Finding Your Voice in a Surreal Way

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I saw the Magritte exhibit, Mystery of the Ordinary, at the Art Institute of Chicago last week. Rene Magritte,in case you don’t know, was a surrealist painter, known for works like The False Mirror:

which was at the exhibit, and Son of Man , which was not. What struck me about his work was the deliberate reuse of themes, again and again, from different angles, with different elements, as though he was trying to work out a puzzle.

It got me thinking about the work of writing, about how, time after time, we find the same things cropping up, unconscious seeds sprinkled through the body of a work. The things that you can set your spell check by when the time comes to edit.

Magritte took those things, the ones that seemed to stay foremost in his mind, and he played with them. He looked at them, really looked at them, deconstructed them and put them back.

In some ways, his early work–the focus of the exhibition–was a broad, fruitful practice for the pieces that would come later. It was a means of taking those elements that seem to creep into his work as a whole and taking ownership of them for subtle and complicated use later.

In that way, those repetitive stutters we all have in our writing might be more than something to search and destroy. Perhaps, as they were for Magritte, they’re our portal for a completely distinct perspective on the world. Maybe they form the cobblestone path to that elusive thing called voice..

Need a little mystery in your life? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed, or sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

T Holds the Truth

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Truth is a funny thing. We each have our own version of it, the one that plays from behind our own eyes. Even so, there are some things that objectively, fundamentally true: the Earth revolves around the sun; the tides come in and the tides go out; and gravity will always pull you down.

But there are universal truths beyond the physical world, universal human truths, and when we find them in the arts, they hit something in us, set off some kind of vibration, and we know. They come in any genre, they can strike us from the most unusual places, and discovering them is a revelation.

Yesterday I talked about the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” based on the novella by Stephen King. Within it, it carries a truth about real human connection, about friendship. “Orange is the New Black,” the hit Netflix series, reveals the truth of humanity in everyone, including the people we never much think about.

Literature hoards truths, whispers them to us as we turn the pages, real or virtual. We see not only who we are, but who others are as we cloak ourselves in their lives. Visual arts make us stop, make us consider, as they freeze the truth in a moment in time. It’s the truth in the isolation, the loneliness of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”  that has inspired so many parodies.

No matter what you write, or how you create, you must be honest at the core of your work. It’s that truth that resonates.

Have you found an unexpected truth in a book, a film or TV show, or art?

It’s true, Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities is free!

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Imagination Builds All

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Imagination is the world inside of ourselves, the one over which we have complete control. We can color the sky and the sea, the trees and the flowers. Any thing is impossible, if we choose it. Anything is impossible if we say it is so.

Internally, imagination is magical, but something happens when have the opportunity to share it. When something existed only within the confines of your skull, but you can take that vision and make it real for someone else, it’s a feeling unique to itself.

You don’t have to be a writer to share your imagination, there are countless ways to do it. Artists do it though visual media, through paint and sculpture and other materials, and I envy their ability to do it all so directly. I’ve often wished I could paint.

But so do people who build things with their hands, they take an image in their heads and turn it into something tangible. Knitters, crafters, inventors. Anyone who makes something from what never was.

Imagination is the seed of progress. It is the essential ingredient of new.

Download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities along with Her Cousin, Much Removed. They’re both free!

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