Google Romance

First, there was Google. Then, there was Google Mail. Then, Google Images/Video/Maps.

Now, there’s Google Romance. If you’re single, this is way, way better than eHarmony, and no annoying ads on late-night TV. They seem to have coordinated with local radio stations, such as Chicago’s WXRT, for this promotion. Isn’t it romantic?

Although, it’s a shame that today is the Final Saturday Flashback for WXRT. We’re in the last hour now, so we’re listening to songs from 1978 that Ruined The Nation: Boogie Oogie Oogie and so forth.

Happy Birthday To Steve

We went to Bob Chinn‘s yesterday to help Steve celebrate a birthday. It was a typicaly Bob Chinny experrience: waitstaff in Hawaiian aloha shirts with tropical fish, a huge dining room with the handwashing stations everywhere that were supposed to look like barrels of Myers’ Rum (an ingredient in the famous Bob Chinn Mai Tai) and bits of crab shell and aerosolized drawn butter floating in a fine mist over our heads.

A word not often heard at Bob Chinn’s was used: “traife.” Well, most of us were not concerned with that, and we tried to keep the spray and stray bits from hitting the people to whom it mattered.

A large birthday cake came out with a boatload of candles, and we all sang very heartily. A few minutes later, a young man and woman at a nearby table got engaged, and there was applause from all over the restaurant. The food was good, except that David’s first choice wasn’t as good as he thought it would be, and it was cheerfully accepted by the waiter and replaced with something David liked much better.

Also typical for Bob Chinn’s. The menu is so comprehensive and contains so many little asides that it’s hard to wade through it, so the waiter gave us a crash course in the history of Bob Chinn’s, walked us through the menu, and the only omission was a graded test at the end. Sadly, David missed the caveat about the Jonah stone crabs he ordered – the waiter didn’t recommend them very highly. That’s okay, there was a lot to absorb (fine mist and all).

It was a very successful and fun evening, and then we washed every exposed surface on our bodies. Which is also a typical end to a Bob Chinn’s Crab House experience.

Ricky Gervais’ Big Chance Missed

Golden Globe winner Ricky Gervais missed his chance today to connect with American public radio listeners.

Yes, when Whad’Ya Know? called, Mr Gervais was not at home to Mr. Feldman. So they called some guy whose diner they ate at when they did a road show in the area.

It’s a live radio show, and Michael was justifiably disappointed, noting that for once they had managed to book an actual celebrity, instead of some guy that wrote an obscure but quirky book.

Oh, wait! As I’m listening in the second hour, they’ve gotten ahold of Ricky Gervais… no. Actually, they’ve reached an artist named Jerry from Michigan, who makes sculptures of diners. This is more like it. He owns “Rosie’s Diner.”

Gee, for an artist, he sure has a craptacular website, but maybe that’s deliberate. Art should always disturb.

Now he’s talking to some guy in the audience who’s a Transylvanian Unitarian minister, but there’s a Hungarian blogging connection.

Ricky, all this could have been yours.


What’s Up With Lin?

WXRT Radio Chicago – On-Air Personality Bios – Lin Brehmer

On my way in this morning, I was listening to Lin Brehmer on WXRT and caught the tail end of his show. For some reason, Terri Hemmert was attempting to lure him back into the studio from the window ledge. All very funny, but there was an undercurrent of something that sounded like Management was screwing around with the talent. I have no idea if this was just silly morning schtick, or if Lin’s been let go, because I missed all but the last 5 minutes.

The “bumper” song to end Lin’s shift and begin Terri’s was Moby’s Spiders:

We just had to ask
Maybe some one out of heaven
Would hear us down here

We couldn’t bear to stand
How the people leave us waiting
For something up there

Oh, why did you leave?
Why won’t you come?
And save us again?

Come back to us spiders
Come uncrush my hands
Let peace and beauty reign
And bring us love again, like you can

So, if anyone knows what was really going on – radio gag or radio guy gagged – please let me know.

Minnesota Hot Dish

Minnesota Public Radio’s Fitzgerald Theater: A Prairie Home Companion Movie

I thought David was kidding the other morning when he told me about this. It was on one of the NPR weekend news shows – I must have been completely unconscious, or perhaps I was downstairs indulging in Honey Nut Cheerios and fooling around with the iPod. IN any case, the thought of a movie about PHC, set backstage at the (fictitious) last broadcast, directed by (this is not fictitious) Robert Altman is just sixty-seven kinds of surreal.

Woody Harrelson is in it. Why?
Meryl Streep is in it. Why?
Lily Tomlin is in it. Not so much why, somehow.
Virginia Madsen is in it. She’s come a long way since Highlander II.

According to the Fitzgerald Theater link, the movie has wrapped, but there’s plenty of Minnesota hot dish still going around – much of it concerning the massive amounts of sushi ordered and consumed by various cast members.

Apparently there’s some sort of wacky conflict introduced into the plot, with a conglomerate shutting the production down (oooh, those evil corporate bastids!). Apparently the tension induced by putting on a more or less “live” radio show, keeping musicians and on-air talent wrangled and ready to to, and dealing with unexpected glitches isn’t enough for Hollywood. Not to mention the “face made for radio” issues – although I am a big admirer of Garrison Keillor’s, he’s not exactly box office material.

I’ve been listening to “Prairie Home” almost since the very beginning – they started in 1974, and I was listening regularly by about 1980 or earlier. It freaks me out that it’s been on the air (with a break or two) for 30 years. Whenever this movie comes out, I guess we’re going to HAVE to see it just to find out what the hell the deal is (also, to possibly see “Bertha’s Kitty Boutique”).

Fantastic 4our

Okay, we’re off to the movies to see Fantastic Four. The trailers look good, so I hope it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a nice day today, but a little hot for working outside, so the cool dark interior of the local multiplex is for us.

UPDATE: Hey, not bad! That turned out to be a pretty good entry in the “comix-to-flix” genre. At least I remembered more about their backstory than I did with some of the other movies (I didn’t know who the hell DareDevil was, for instance). I always like Johnny Storm and that “flame on” bit, too.

Rah, Rah Shakespeare, Hike Hike Hike!

Saturday dawned warm, hazy, and humid, but off to the Morton Arboretum we went to see a performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. If you’re not familiar with this play, it’s the one where girl meets boy, boy likes girl, boy runs off into exile into the woods, girl runs off into exile into the woods but dresses as a boy, boy meets “boy” and is tricked into “pretending” he’s wooing the girl so that he can be cured. Sundry rustic bumpkins and foppish courtiers intrude, and we get the famous “All the world’s a stage” speech from one of them. Girl dressed as “boy” makes a lot of silly demands of boy in the interests of comedy, trickery, and stringing the action along until all possible couples romping in the forest can be gathered in one place for the big reveal/wedding scene. Wacky Elizabethan hijinks ensue. And “curtain,” if there were one, but there’s not, so instead it’s and “treebranch.”

I enjoyed it very much, as it had elements of street theatre and absurd little touches like girls dressed as Elizabethan fools/refereees with starter whistles and silly hats. For stagecraft they had a collection of props and signs to indicate time of day packed into an oversize garden cart, which was also useful for transporting characters who were supposedly faint from hunger. There weren’t enough actors for all the characters, so everyone doubled or tripled up and there were a lot of quick costume changes.

There were about 11 “scene changes,” which meant we’d be whistled up from our “seats” by the referee girls and led off into another part of the woodlands. The locations often took advantage of natural and artificial features; for example one location had us all sitting on the steps above the vista showing the “4 Columns,” which made a good backdrop for something set at the tyrannical usurping duke’s palace.

Our theatre-hiking party consisted of myself, my husband David, and our friends Steve and Ruth. We all had folding camp chairs, thanks to Steve’s generosity a couple of years back, but this was the first chance we actually had to use ours. Otherwise, we would have been sitting on the ground or standing.

Fortunately, there was a breeze in most locations, so the temperature and humidity were bearable until the last scene or two. It was very well organized, with several volunteers who operated as “whippers-in” who would signal at each location that everyone had arrived. We heard later that they shortened the route and changed locations so as to maximize shade and minimize distance between scenes. Usually the actors would exit one scene and have time to get to the next one ahead of us, but sometimes an actor would finish a scene, pack up their props and costumes, and walk along with us. Where possible they took advantage of the terrain and shrubbery to screen their entrances.

One location was especially woodsy – for the scene where Rosalind, dressed as a boy, discovers the love poems that Orlando has hung on the trees, we arrived at a breezy glade to find scrolls hung all around. The wind blew and the branches moved and the poems flew like Tibetan prayer flags of all different sizes. The same location had something that was labled as a “dream oak” and the hike leader remarked that it would be a good reason to put on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The rainclouds held off and the temperature and humidity didn’t spike until the last 2 locations. The four of us often found ourselves separated by circumstance and there wasn’t a lot of time to talk between scenes, because we were all concientiously trying to minimize the amount of visiting while breaking down or setting up our camp chairs (there were about 40 people, so delays could have been considerable).

We weren’t able to go for a “hyrbrid rally” drive around both loops because the other side of the arboretum was closing for a members’ bike ride, so when the play concluded with all the couples married off (except for poor Jacques) and the exiled duke reinstated and the haughty brother reconciled to Orlando, we wandered back to the visitor’s center for something cool to drink or eat and then took off.

I’ll add that the Morton Arboretum’s Gingko Cafe has an outstanding menu with fantastic salads and hot and cold entrees. They rent it out for receptions – they were setting up for a wedding reception when we came back, and it’s a gorgeous room when it’s set up for a nice sit-down meal. It would be incredible in the autumn.

Also, before Steve and Ruth arrived, we had some time to kill, so we checked out the new maze next to the visitor’s center. It’s mostly geared for kids, but it was fun for us too as there was a treasure hunt aspect with 7 different “rooms” to find and mark off with hole-punches. It’ll be better next year after a season’s growth, but it was a relaxing way to spend the time.

In the fall, there’ll be a production of “Sleepy Hollow” that we’ll try to see – David can’t wait to see how they’ll pull off the Headless Horseman bit.