Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Years Eve Parties (Josh Vaughn)

Whaddup, Bros!? That’s right! Josh Vaughn is Back!

It’s been a busy fall and winter, ya’ll. Beer pong tournaments, fantasy football, Bears, Hawks, and a promotion at work. You are now in the presence of the assistant VP of development of Branch Network Communication. Executive bathroom keys, yo.

So Eric and Andy have been missing me. (I knew they rolled like that.) So I’m back to give you the lowdown on what I have become an expert on: New Year’s Eve. NYE is one of the best times to party, hook up, get drunk, crash in the hotel, or somehow get home (wherever that is that night), and then brunch it up on Bowl Game New Year’s Day.

As a member of the scene, I can tell you that NYE in Chicago is the shit! And it’s EVEN better this year because it lands on a Friday, which means you’ve got an extra day to recover.

Things get crazy in this town. It’s like Halloween without the slutty costumes. Everyone knows the deal, and shit gets real. Everybody is out til sunrise, in the streets, the clubs, the trains, the party wagons, and the stretch Hummers. They are out in Viagra Triangle, Wrigleyville, River North, and Downtown. In the hotel lobby, or up in the room.

So let me give ten things to remember when you plan out the best way to hang on NYE. Keep these in mind, because they come from experience, bruh. You gotta be smart, bros. It’s like in my favorite movie, “Boiler Room,” you know, with Vin Diesel, and Affleck. Plan well, and you can get away with a lot.

  1. Spend AT LEAST 10 hours looking for an outfit this week You have one opportunity to make a statement to all the tail out there: I am starting this year with you. Find something that fits you well, preferably a darker color in order to keep the spills from passing Jaeger Bombs from showing up. Money is no object on this. It’s an investment in your sex life.
  2. Drink water every day I can’t tell you enough how much this has affected my staying power. Once you’re in the club, the club takes over, so have your body prepared. It’s also not a bad idea to hit the gym a little harder this week. You feel better about hitting up the open bar more often than usual.
  3. Day of: Pregame like a mother#%&* It will save you time and money, when you have a few shots before you leave the house, like when you’re getting dressed. If you’re going to dinner, you won’t be gulping down wine or whatever. And around 1, when you’re hitting that ATM, it will be for $100 instead of $200
  4. Have a decent dinner I’m not saying steak and lobster, but something substantial. Something that will keep you til around 3am. You know you’re going to the Golden Apple to rally a little bit, but you want to start up strong. You’re gonna dance, high five, and get out of cabs a lot, so be prepared. Speaking of…
  5. Be prepared, Last Boy Scout Bro’s, you know what I mean. Condoms, gum, lighter, cigs, cash for a cab, charged cell, toothpicks, and whatever specialty items I can’t mention here. (Yeah, boyyeee.)
  6. Pick a destination. Where do you wanna be for midnight? Around your bros, or a bunch of chicks? In the club or at someone’s condo? You don’t wanna end up in a line outside English, freezing. So plan ahead.
  7. Have an escape plan. You also don’t want to get trapped there, either. Head to another club, someone’s crib, whatever. You got places to be, bruh.
  8. Be cool to the hotdog guy…..nuff said.
  9. Help your neighbor The girl you help find her shoes is the girl you get to show that one thing you do. Or the guy that has a fight with his lady, gets to be relived of his duty when you save her.
  10. Vitamins and Aspirin Take 2 of each, and call it a night.

Have a good one, bros, and I’ll be at RiNo, Level, and Mcfaddens. Cheers!

-Josh Vaughn

Toronto, Mississippi -Mary Arrchie (Theatre review MICHAEL DICE)

Carlo Lorenzo Garcia is the man of the moment. That familiar tinted impression, with sly grin and cool hat, is over-saturating the intrawebs at a meteoric rate, sending news of this man’s good will into the stratosphere.

In all of his charity, written about at great length in TimeOut, HuffPo, and the facebook, the guy couldn’t muster up a comp for his old college buddy. Yeah, Garcia is all class. Let me tell you all a little something about Carlo Garcia. Anybody ever owe you money? Better yet, anybody ever call you in a bind at 4:52 in the morning, needs you to dig a hole at a construction site in Batavia, no questions, never speak of this again? Yeah, neither has Carlo. In fact I can’t think of a time the guy’s said ‘no’ to me.

Undeterred, I still managed to gain admittance to the Mary Arrchie Theatre Company’s closing night of “Toronto, Mississippi.” Carlo and the kids have seemingly taken over the reins of Arrchie upon a Rich Cotovsky sabbatical to DC, and their first offering post-“Cherrywood” is a quiet, subtle Canadian snowball of a play.

I saw my first Arrchie production, “The Petrified Forrest,” way back in 1995, and as they celebrate their 25th Anniversary, this splendid storefront gem of a theatre keeps dripping great work out of the rusty faucets of their homey Angel Island space.

Garcia and MATC Literary Manager Shannon Clausen seem to have a knack for digging up little jewels to showcase the acting chops of company member Daniel Behrendt. And what a f***ing surprise, Behrendt is once-again effortlessly brilliant. What a jerk.

Behrendt, Garcia, and I have a lot in common. All three of us are in mixed relationships, all three of us were at the Arrchie last night, and all three of us graduated from Illinois State University. In fact, Garcia and Behrendt have been tearing it up on stage right in front of my face since 2002 when I first saw them as Tom and Huck in “Big River.” Yeah… they can sing and dance, too… One day, DB, you’re gonna be not so great and believe you me, I’m gonna be there to see it! (UPDATE on waiting for Dan to fail: During intermission, Dan’s lovely girlfriend, talented actress Sadieh Rifai, informed me of his secret acting Achilles heel and you can bet I’ll be slipping a certain genre of script under Ms. Clausen’s pillow. Oh, hey Carlo… yeah… I know I’m in your bedroom… It’s all a dream. Go back to bed. )

I asked Shannon about any weaknesses in Carlo’s game and she replied “Who are you again?”

Back to the play. It’s Conners-meets-Huxtables is this family drama by Canadian playwright Joan MacLeod, as the Arrchie brings this hodge-podge of a family’s story to life with a set plucked straight from “Rosanne” and a sweater collection right out of Bill Cosby’s wardrobe.

The play follows Jhana, a mentally handicapped 18-year old girl, cared for by her mother Maddie, and her virgin-till-27-Canadian poet boarder Bill, played with striking honesty by Behrendt. Jhana longs for visits from her Elvis-impersonator father, while Bill kinda longs for her and her mother…

As with any Arrchie show, the gang brought the goods in abundance. Bill Anderson’s living-room set was lovely and sentimental in a 1987 sort of way. I love nothing more in theatre than a set that shows hints of familiar worlds beyond the front door and around the kitchen corner. And I must say, I’ve never seen the Arrchie look so clean. Surely another patented drunken orgy will fix that by year’s end.

The acting was tight as ever. In full disclosure, I must confess that Dan Behrendt is my favorite actor in Chicago, and I should know. We shared wife beaters, nudity, a moldy bathtub, and stage time with Lindsey Barlag over the summer. This performance was more of the usual brilliance from Dan. Share some of that talent with the rest of us, guy!

Eve Rydberg was simply fantastic as Jhana in one of the best performances I’ve seen this year. Rydberg was honest, creative, and disciplined in her performance, in no way Juliette Lewis-ing her portrayal of a special-needs character.

Garcia’s direction was filled with creative staging and surprise picture frames, both figuratively and literally.

All of this is irrelevant. “Toronto, Mississippi” has now closed and you will all have to wait till the spring for another Arrchie offering. (Geoff Button, anyone?)

Ever the do-gooder, Carlo is off to build a school in Mexico while the rest of us freeze and engage in Hallmark induced gift giving rituals. I knew you were on to something, Garcia Carlo.

So let’s all raise our eggnog and toast the Arrchie gang for 25 years of awesome theatre, and to Mr. Garcia, who has been on a goodwill tear this year. Safe travels and God Speed, old friend.

Toronto, Mississippi- A

Daniel Behrendt’s Performance, originally reviewed by Pitchfork- 7.8

Daniel Behrendt’s Performance, reviewed in Pitchfork’s Anniversary Re-Issue- 10.0

- Michael Dice

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"The Year Without a Santa Claus" or What is Your Problem THIS time, Fat Ass?!

Happy Holidays Gentle Reader –

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas (Love to my Jew Friends!) and that Santa brought you all sorts of wonderful and magical things. But I doubt it. Because if there is one thing Santa loves more than delivering presents, it’s finding some random ass thing that will PREVENT him from delivering presents.

In this Installment of Santa Claus: Douchebag we turn our focus to The Year Without a Santa Claus. Original Air Date –December 10th 1974.

Santa starts complaining about some aches and pains and says he has a “cold.” So they decide to call in a Doctor. Now this doctor is an elf. So unless Santa is running some sort Diplomas for Cash Third-World Med School, I have serious doubts about his qualifications.

In the entirety of ALL the North Pole – one Elf – PRECISELY ONE - says that no one cares about Xmas anymore. And even though every other living creature within sight is busily working away on toys - Dr. House says that no one believes Christmas matters any more. Santa IMMEDIATELY says – you know, you are right, and decides that it’s time he takes a holiday.

It should go without saying that the man works precisely ONE DAY A YEAR. I have never ever seen Santa actually build a toy. And yes you can see that maybe he is exhausted from sitting around all day WATCHING YOU TAKE A SHOWER, but if that is the case then HE KNOWS the majority of the world is absolutely EXCITED about Christmas. If that doesn’t sound like someone who is trying to get out of a job, I don’t know what does.

Since it seems Santa only needs the amount of evidence provided to a Tea Bagger, he crawls immediately into bed and calls off Christmas. Somehow the press catches wind of it (Santa calls them directly) and they go nuts.

The Headlines read: “Santa Says – Too Tired!” That’s a good message for the kiddies. Clean your room. Can’t. Too tired. If you don’t clean your room, Santa won’t bring you any presents. He’s not bringing them anyway, you know why? TOO TIRED.

And “Not Coming”! Says Claus. Which sounds more like a prostate problem.

The first song is The Year Without a Santa Claus and in the lyrics they say “The children they cried, they thought Santa had died!” So you know Fox News got their hands in there somewhere.

Mrs. Claus (no longer the Hot Ginger she was, in fact she looks a lot more like Tanta Kringle than anyone else. Hmmmm.)

Mrs. Claus Pre Wedding:

Tanta Kringle

Mrs. Claus Today

Now – at best, Santa has a mother fixation and forces his wife to dress up like his adopted mother. At worst, he murdered his Hot Ginger Wife and is now shacked up in a godless semi-incestuous relationship with his adopted mother. At the very very worst – he is banging Barbara Bush.


But anyway – “Mrs. Claus” at first lights on the idea that all she needs to do is dress up like Santa and deliver the presents herself. In fact she says ANYONE could be Santa Claus. She engages in some cosplay and contemplates taking over the job.

Mrs. Claus contemplates smothering Santa and taking over the whole works.

She is interrupted in her reverie by Jingle and Jangle, the two most special needs elves in the North Pole. It makes sense seeing as how they only started out with only one “family” of elves and now there are hundreds of them running around. That inbreeding is a bitch.

The two believe her to actually be Santa until she turns around and they realize it is her. At which point she promptly folds like a cheap suit and gives up her plan to murder Santa. She decides she needs to get rid of the witnesses and send Jingle and Jangle on a fool’s errand to find people who still believe in Santa and to a lesser extent, Christmas. All they have to do is find proof that ONE PERSON cares.

Santa eventually wakes up and ‘Mrs. Claus’ (BTW he calls her Ma, even though they have no children. Just saying) and she immediately lays in with the passive aggressive behavior, letting it “slip” what Jingle and Jangle are up to, even though they just left five minutes ago.

Santa’s response? “You sent those retards out to die? On a baby reindeer?”

It seems as if there are two beings known as the Miser Brothers. Like, well known. Like, REALLY well known. And Mrs. Claus sent Jingle and Jangle out there without warning them because it slipped her mind. Now if I knew for a fact that two murderous brothers lived on the end of my street and I happened to send some special needs kids to the convenience store to get me some smokes, I would have to be somewhat culpable in whatever grisly fate they fell to. I mean, fool me once…

This motivates Santa to put on his everyday traveling ware (which highly resembles that of your upscale pimp) hops on another reindeer, Dasher, and goes off in search of Jingle and Jangle who have all of a ten minute head start. So now “Mrs. Claus” has sent Santa, two elves and two reindeer off to die.

There is the Snow Miser who controls the Northern Part of the world keeping everything cold and the Heat Miser who keeps the Southern Part warm and free of snow.

Couple things. I was unaware that the world lacked a Southern Hemisphere and was just hanging in space like an overturned grapefruit thrown to the floor in a drunken rage. And the Claus’s talk about Heat Miser like he is a right bastard for keeping the snow out of the south. Tell that to the retirees in Florida.

Jingle and Jangle manage to get by them and where do they choose to go? Southtown USA. They are immediately accosted by the local constabulary who;

a.) Has apparently never seen a deer before and

b.) cites them for wearing funny looking clothes on a Sunday.

Ah the South; the last bastion for Reasonable Thought in America.

Of course – Jingle and Jangle fit right in since after getting a ticket for going the wrong way on a one way street and wearing funny clothes, they decide that Southtown must hate Reindeers. You know. The same way terrorists hate our freedom. They immediately decide to disguise Vixen as a dog. By putting their sock on her antlers. She is immediately attacked by an old lady’s cat.

Santa – who is now only about two minutes behind them runs into the cop who gave them the ticket and asks after them. The cop tells Santa that they broke the law, they got a ticket and they have to face the Judge. Santa’s response is typical of his entire career of flagrantly disobeying the law, “well not much Christmas spirit there.”

Sure I cut off that dude’s head and I’m keeping it in my freezer. But it’s Christmas. WHERE IS YOUR CHRISTMAS SPIRIT?!?!

Jingle, Jangle and Vixen now treed by the cat, contemplate giving up, which seems to be the mainstay of the Clause Organization. Too hard? Fucking quit. They eventually figure out maybe accosting random ADULTS may not be the best course so maybe they should talk to some CHILDREN. You know. The ones that SANTA ACTUALLY DELIVERS THE TOYS TO.

Oh by the way, Vixen is totally dying from the heat. Now if reindeers are susceptible to DEATH by WARMTH after only several hours of exposure, I think there is a flaw in the system.

So Jingle and Jangle decide to talk to a group of MIDDLE SCHOOL CHILDREN THAT ARE TALLER THAN THEM and ask how they feel about Santa.

Their response – Santa is not coming. All the papers say so. Besides believing in him is for little children.

Ok. Back the fuck up. That kind of logic is the shit you tell robots to make their head explode on Star Trek.

Santa – whom all the papers SAY IS REAL is not coming this year. We believe he is not coming because the papers say so. But believing in him is for kids.

All children between twelve and eighteen are assholes.

At this point, a Ginger (evil) boy lets Vixen get taken by the dog catcher before he says anything. This boy, Ignatius Thistlewhite, bears more than a passing resemblance to Santa.


Young Santa

So it’s no surprise when he comes home and Santa is waiting outside his house. I get the feeling Santa has been here plenty of times before. I would be surprised if Mrs. Thistlewhite received a check every month from KK Inc. for hush money.

Santa approaches the boy, under a fake name, the cleverly chosen “Klaus” and enlists his help. But not before Mrs. Thistlewhite invites Santa in to “give him something for that cold.”

By the way, Mr. Thistlewhite has jet black hair and looks nothing like his son.

Upon seeing that Mr. Thistlewhite is home, Santa starts stammering and sweating like a whore in church.

Ignatius once again says he doesn’t believe in Santa and asks his father if he does. Mr. Thistlewhite holds Santa in his icy stare and says, “Why yes I believe I do.”

Ignatius then turns to Santa and asks the same question. To which Santa takes a moment to answer in the affirmative and sing a song about himself. What a dick. It’s like he wanted to be the first rap star who only can sing about how badass he is. The main difference is that THERE ARE ALREADY 8,000 SONGS ABOUT HIM ALREADY. And he still has to sing about himself. NOT CHRISTMAS. Himself. Jag Bag.

Then in response Mr. Thistlewhite takes his own verse.

I believe in Santa Claus
But there was a time
I thought I had grown too old
For such a childish rhyme
He became a dream to me
Till one Christmas night
Someone stood beside my bed
With a beard of white
"So you're too old for Santa Claus"?
He said with a smile
Then you're too old for all the things
That make a life worth while
For what is happiness but dreams
and do they all come true
Look at me and tell me, son
What is real to you?

Obviously spoken as Santa had Mrs. Thistlewhite bent over the bed, impregnating her with his bastard spawn. Shaking with rage, Mr. Thistlewhite finishes the song with a newly invigorated Santa.

Ignatius finally spills about Vixen and the elves. And Santa – no longer giving a fuck – hops on Dasher and takes off into the sky in broad daylight. After several minutes of deliberating, Ignatius finally pieces together the Klaus/Claus riddle and figures out that it was actually Santa. Yep. Ignatius sure sounds like a Claus to me.

So Mr. Thistlewhite sends his son – a douchey teenager - to talk to the Mayor about letting Vixen go rather than go himself – an actual tax paying adult who can obviously pay the fine. He obviously hates the boy as much as he does Santa and will take every opportunity to set him up to fail.

Jingle and Jangle had the same stupid idea and are having the appropriate amount of luck when the Mayor throws out his terms. Snow in Southtown. Or the Reindeer dies.

He also says that if they can accomplish this, they will also give Santa an official National Holiday this year. You know. The guy who works ONE DAY A YEAR.

Then the Mayor – WHO DIDN’T BELIEVE THEY WERE ELVES IN THE FIRST PLACE – sings a song about how it is going to snow in Dixie. So if he believes that this is a certainty, then he must believe they are REALLY ELVES – so why doesn’t he let the DYING BABY REINDEER GO. Ah, The South.

At this point – Santa has bailed Vixen out of the pound and is taking her back to the North Pole. Done. That simple.

Why he didn’t just break her out of jail like he normally does is one of the continuity errors that drive me nuts. Like R2-D2. In the prequels – he can fly. I can think of HUNDREDS OF TIMES that would have come in useful in the original trilogy. Listen fuckers – when you are telling a story you got to stick to the rules. Otherwise you are just pissing all over your material. Fuck you too George Lucas.

Of course Santa doesn’t bother to tell Jingle and Jangle about this latest development. So they are still locked into their Faustian bargain with the Mayor of Southtown. So they call “Mrs. Claus” and she, the elves and Ignatius go to visit the murderous bastard Snow Miser.

Who actually turns out to like Santa quite a bit. Read into that what you will. They ask him to snow in Southtown and he says no can do because Southtown is in Heat Miser’s territory. Which they knew. And now they are just wasting time. Once again – IT’S THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS when Santa pulled this shit.

So it’s off to the Heat Miser who looks like Jack Weston and naturally hates Santa and his natural association with winter. He agrees to allow it to snow in Southtown if they let it be warm in the North Pole. Which leads to global warming and melting of the ice caps. And thousands and thousands of deaths.

At this point it wouldn’t surprise me if Santa held stock in BP as well.

So now we have the need for North and South to come to a reasonable and meaningful compromise which of course they are completely unable to do.

‘Mrs. Claus’ decides to drag Mother Nature into it. It’s sort of like that Simpsons where they have to keep bringing in new predators to catch the old ones. How will we get rid of the snakes? That’s what the Gorillas are for. She lays the smack down HURLING LIGHTNING BOLTS and forces them both to compromise.

Santa meanwhile has brought Vixen back to the North Pole and even though he has been gallivanting all over the world, he decides HE STILL CAN’T DO HIS FUCKING JOB.

The snow falls in Southtown and Santa is given a DAY OFF, which he decides to USE ON THE ONE DAY HE WORKS ALL YEAR. So the children of the world decide to make their own gifts and SEND THEM TO SANTA.


So apparently Santa felt the need to push is idolatry into actual TRIBUTE AND SACRIFICE.

Santa then finds a letter saying “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you.” Precisely one letter. That has no connection to any of the other bargains, deals and sacrifices made to please his whiny selfish ass.

Santa’s ego finally stroked to his satisfaction – he starts yelling at all the inbred elves to start working again. He sheds his veil of secrecy in a move akin to whipping his cock out and banging it on the dining room table – and lands in the middle of Southtown. What an ass.

Mr. Thistlewhite takes his own life.

A+ for teaching children if you whine loud enough, you too can be a self indulgent ass and be rewarded for it.


-Chris Hainsworth

Monday, December 27, 2010

Santa Claus: Douchebag (Guest Reviewer Chris Hainsworth)

Happy Holidays Gentle Readers.

As December crushes us with sub-zero temperatures and the media blitzes us with constant reminders of the inadequacies of our lives, it’s time we reflect on what the season is really about.

Santa. And what a terrible example he sets for all of us by being a giant Douchebag.

As evidence, I present his various portrayals throughout the Rankin-Bass oeuvre.

Maybe it’s not all his fault. Let’s take a look back at his Origin Story –

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town – Original Air Date 12/14/70. That’s 40 years ago bitches.

The Beginning –

First of all – Santa was an orphan that appeared mysteriously out of nowhere. And worse – a Ginger. All Ginger Males are evil. Fact. Just as all Ginger Females are Hot. The only thing identifying him – A TAG – with the word Claus on it.

Abandoned on the steps of the Sombertown’s Ruler, Burgermeister Meisterburger, much as Damien was foisted of on American Diplomat Gregory Peck – Burgermeister Meisterburger rejects Satan’s Plan (Satan – Santa, so obvious) and sends the deadly Ginger off to the Orphan Asylum.

En Route – the sled is “magically” (read Satanically) blown away and found by the animals of the forest. His pagan minions deliver him to a “family” of elves. No one bothers to explain the nature of this family or how they are related to each other. There are five male elves that all look to be about 1,000 years old and one female elf that goes by the name Tanta Kringle that is twice their size who lives with them.

This bizarre sex cult seems to have a toy fetish as all they do all day is make toys and then throw them into a pile out back. It seems once they were Toy Makers to the King and seem incapable of letting it go. They could just give the toys away but they seem physically incapable of delivering the toys after all the sex and there is a Winter Warlock between them and they place where they were presumably once employed. Oh and TOYS ARE FUCKING ILLEGAL IN SOMBERTOWN.

So this sexual fetishist contraband manufacturing cult names him Kris and raises him to be one of them; including giving him one of their sex slave uniforms and roping him into their contraband manufacturing.

Upon coming of age, “Kris” announces “Time to take the toys to Sombertown.” Coincidentally, this is a euphemism for sex my wife does not appreciate.

As he trespasses across the land of the Winter Warlock he comes across a penguin that is in entirely the wrong hemisphere. He names his new familiar ‘Topper’ and befriends it as people do with creatures who are obviously too stupid to live. The Warlock shows up and through a clever plot of RUNNING AWAY, “Kris” and Topper escape and finally make it to Sombertown.

Upon arriving he runs into a couple of kids and has the following exchange –

SC – What you doing?

Kids – Laundry

SC – That’s fucking stupid. Why aren’t you playing?

Kids – Nothing to play with.

SC – Listen up, you whiny little cunts. I don’t want to hear anymore of your fucking bitching. I was raised by a fetishist sex cult – so shut the fuck up or I won’t give you any of this high grade stash I’m transporting illegally.

Or something to that effect. As he starts handing out his contraband (first one is for free) the local (hot Ginger female) school teacher Jessica, steps in to try and SAVE THE CHILDREN FROM FUCKING JAIL only to be felled by Kris as he gives her a “China Doll,” (read Heroin), and seduces her over to his illegal ways.

So since all the children know toys are illegal, they do the only sensible thing and start playing with them IMMEDIATELY in the FUCKING STREET.

Naturally Johnny Law shows up for the smack down and Kris does the only honorable thing to date by taking the heat for it. But first he tries to get Meisterburger hooked as well by giving him a Yo-Yo but fails and is run out of town.

As he is going back to the sex cult, along the exact same route he took to Sombertown, the one where he was originally hassled by the Winter Warlock, and surprise surprise – he gets captured by – wait for it – the Winter Warlock.

Ah – but this time, much like with the hot Ginger female school teacher, Kris pushes a toy Choo-Choo on Winter Warlock (that’s his name it turns out, not a title) and Warlock is immediately powerless and addicted.

In fact, Warlock or “Winter” as he wished to now be called – shows Kris how to do some Magic by using his Crystal (i.e. Meth) Snowball to spy on people. Kris sees that Jessica is looking for him and she tells him the stupid children of Sombertown got all of their cleverly concealed (i.e. NOT AT ALL) contraband confiscated and destroyed so of course the only option is to bring more toys.

So the Kringles relocate their production facility and stash house on to the now completely weakened Winter’s land to ease the delivery route. And Kris has his newly minted HO (HO HO) Jessica tell all the children that if they want a special “present,” they should leave their doors open that night, so that he can GIVE it to them.

Once again – the MENSA candidates that make up the township begin the day by PLAYING WITH THEM ON THE FUCKING STREET. And shock – they are all confiscated and burned again.

So now Burgermeister is not fucking around. ANYONE FOUND WITH A TOY ANYWHERE IN THEIR HOME WILL BE IMPRISONED. Kris gets around this by turning the citizenry’s children into mules and having them hide the toys in their stockings. So they can then take them out into THE FUCKING STREET AND PLAY WITH THEM IN PUBLIC AGAIN.


Finally – due to the near constant pants shitting stupidity of the folks of Sombertown – Kris is finally arrested, along with the sex cult, the Winter junky and the Penguin. They manage to make their escape by feeding “magic seed corn” to some unsuspecting reindeer that are then able to “fly.”

Now officially on the lam, Kris finally decides it’s time to wear a disguise. How does he accomplish this? By growing a fucking beard. You’re the only 6’4” Ginger in this part of the world. How you going to disguise yourself? BY GROWING MORE RED HAIR.

You gonna change your outfit? Nope. Just growing the beard. Oh and I’ll change my name to Claus. That ought to throw them off.

Hey – are you that 6’4” red head who goes around delivering illegal presents named Kringle? Nope. My name is Claus. And I have a beard.

They also decide to relocate their base of operations. TO THE NORTH FRICKING POLE. The same group of people who couldn’t push a full sleigh down a mountain are now relocating to the NORTH POLE.

How does the war against toys finally finish up? Eventually – GENERATIONS LATER – the Burgermeister’s finally die out – without apparently having learned neither the meaning of Christmas nor having been overthrown.

And Kris aka Santa Claus eventually is unable to keep up with demand, and tells all those bitches that that he ain’t coming but once a year and then proceeds to try and get out of that obligation every single Christmas after that. But that is another story.

Santa’s Crimes – Possession of a controlled substance, Distribution of a controlled substance, Trespassing, Escaping From Prison, Breaking and Entering, Contributing to the delinquency of minors, Sedition, Obstruction of Justice, Resisting Arrest, Evading Prosecution, Illegal Surveillance, Animal Endangerment, and quite possibly Pedophilia – this is the song he sings to the Girls and Boys of Sombertown –

Oh, what a good girl
Oh, what a good boy
Oh what a big smile
All because of a toy!

If you sit on my lap today
A kiss a toy is the price you'll pay
When you tell what you wish for --
In a whisper
Be prepared to pay.

If you sit on my lap today
A kiss a toy is the price you'll pay
When you sit on my left knee
Don't be stingy
Be prepared to pay.

If whenever you take
You give a little back
Then whoever you love
Will give a little love back
So give a little love
Get a little love back
Don't you have a little love
That you want to get back

If you sit on his lap today
A kiss a toy is the price you'll pay
When you sit on his left knee
Don't be stingy
Be prepared to pay.

Now if you sit on my lap today
A kiss a toy is the price you'll pay!

Douchebag Rating –

A+ if you are really into being a douchebag

-Chris Hainsworth

Monday, December 20, 2010

Striking 12- Boho Theatre (Guest reviewer Dyan Flores)

I know you're dubious. You're thinking, "Who the hell is Dyan Flores and what gives her the right to review Striking Twelve, Boho Theatre's latest production?" I don't blame you for thinking this. You're weary of an outsider coming and sullying the hallowed ground of theatrical criticism that is "Eric and Andy's Reviews You Can Iews." Well you can calm down, because I have a degree in dramatic literature, theatre history, and the cinema from New York F-ing University. You know who else went to NYFU? Tony Kushner. Also, Haley Joel Osment. None of this matters when I'm temping or doing psych studies for cash at UIC, but here, on this site, it's important.

So...Striking 12...The show took place in a theater in Rogers Park that was very very warm. In the summer this would have been super obnoxious, but it was much appreciated because it was maybe 15 degrees outside. Guess who sat in the row in front of me...Chris Jones! He's the theatre critic for the Chicago Tribune. He once described an actor as having a pleasantly scrunched-up face. Naturally I wanted to lean over his shoulder and observe him in action as he took notes during the show, but a man and a woman in sequins arrived late and I had to scoot down a seat. That annoyed me, but because I am a professional, I did not let that resentment color my perception of the show.

I think the form of a compliment sandwich will best serve this review, so to start, the fact that the actors also sang and played their own instruments was impressive. That conceit isn't all that unusual these days, but it's still really kick-ass when done well. Towards the top of the show the performers played/sang/acted this song about New Years Eve in 7/4 time, which knocked my socks off. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT IS?!?! I can't even chew gum and cross the street at the same time, so the fact that they did this and did this well is rad.

I hope that last paragraph will sufficiently ease us all into the unpleasant middle of the compliment sandwich. At times the sound was kind of meh. Sorry, someone had to say it. The performers were crooning and emoting and playing their little hearts out, but it was occasionally overwhelming for the small space. Even with mics, there were spots where it was difficult to hear what was going on. Striking Twelve mixes a modern New Years tale with the story of the little match girl, so while the plot was simple enough to follow, you unfortunately missed out on some of the clever lyrics and underscored dialogue.

How did I know that the lyrics and underscored dialogue were clever if I couldn't hear them all? (Here comes the second piece of compliment bread on our sandwich...) I assumed they were, based on the parts of the book and lyrics that I could hear. Starting with the overture and throughout the show the cast made a lot of self-referential jokes which landed quite well with the audience. Sometimes you can come off as a real asshole if you're too self-referential in a show, but the book was smart and the performers were likable enough that it worked. Speaking of the likable performers, one of them (Mallory Nees) played the guitar, bass, and concertina, and she had on a super cute outfit. She also had a great singing voice and seemed like the kind of person I'd be friends with in real life.

Chris Jones said this was a musical for people who hate holiday musicals, but I think there's enough gooey holiday sentiment for even the "White Christmas" and "Holiday Inn" loving crowd. If you like toasty theaters and musicals that both entertain and warm the heart, this one fits the bill. Trust me, I have a degree from NYFU and an obscene amount of student loan debt to back me up.


-Dyan Flores

Interview EXCLUSIVE Tom and Tim Bambara (Joe Tansino)

This interview came out after the closing of Tamales, but be sure to check out Tom and Tim Bambara in many more future productions!

I sat down for an interview with brothers Tom and Tim Bambara, the creative force behind the hilarious sketch comedy show ¡Tamales! – currently showing in the bar at Strawdog Theater. ¡Tamales! ends this weekend, so catch it while you still can!

Joe Tansino: Have you guys been drinking?

Tom Bambara: My roommate bought Gluten-Free Beer. It's kind of emasculating.

Tim Bambara: We were definitely drinking when we decided to produce tamales.

JT: Tell me about Tamales.

Tim: Tom and I decided to put on a ruckus buddy comedy about three friends in search of the infamous 'tamale guy' of Chicago. We were actually working on another show, The Rise of Emperor Eric, this summer and we were celebrating with a post show drink with our graphic designer. Thus...the birth of Tamales! Tom had a rough idea of what he wanted the script to be and in a few lunch conversations we figured out that the 3 main characters had to go on a quest. Also, they would each have to face a challenge to overcome.

Tom: The whole thing was really just a way for us to take all of the positive experiences of Emperor Eric, focus them, and make them funnier by adding a few extra comedy all stars.

JT: It occurred to me while watching your show that there might be more than one guy selling tamales late night in bars in Chicago.

Tom: There are 2 main ones, but this has been a business in Chicago since like 1992.

Tim: Claudio and Julio - our cast member Mojo (Fernando Albiar) actually talked to Julio a few weeks ago about his back story.

JT: I just assumed it was one dude. Like how Santa can be on TV and in a local department store at the same time.

Tom: Hahaha, it's a lot like Santa. But in doing the research, Claudio, who is portrayed as the "good" Tamale guy, is the guy who has been doing it the longest of all of them. However, there was a guy who sold them before him. So it's kind of like a Jedi Master - Padawan kind of thing. Claudio was the Obi-Wan of Julio.

JT: How long did you guys spend researching this tamale mythology?

Tim: We went to the Long Room a lot this summer and kind of created it on our own

Tom: Well...a lot of it is actual stuff. What's really funny is if you just spend some time on google, you're going to come back with some ridiculous stuff.

JT: When I googled "Tamale Chicago" I discovered that the Tamale guy has over 200 reviews on Yelp.

Tom: Yep! He's on Yelp, he's on Metromix. He's legitimately on Twitter. As soon as I learned that people track him on Twitter, it was a goldmine for the plot of our show.

JT: So there is actually a Twitter tracker for the Tamale guy. How do you know that the Tamale guy you're tracking is the “good” Tamale guy?

Tim: Red Cooler :)

JT: Some of your cast members get really sick from eating "bad" tamales. Have you ever gotten sick eating a tamale?

Tom: No. Plot device. It would go nowhere if they just ate the Tamales from the one guy, and the play ended. It'd be like Juno taking a morning after pill. No plot.

JT: Do the Tamale guys know about the show?

Tom: question.

JT: I can't see how they'd be offended, it's free publicity.

Tom: For real! It's a celebration of them and their craft, and is only better for business.

JT: Except for the diarrhea thing.

Tom: I'd like to say that our fine Mojo improvised that aspect of the show...nary a word is written about diarrhea in the script.

Tim: I think I directed the cast to poop their pants a bit..

JT: Let's talk about the cast.

Tim: Well, we have Don M.I.M.I. Mundo (played by Tom) and his sidekick Rodrigo (played by our friend and guitarist James Manno)

Tom: Yeah, Manny is baller. He knows it too...maybe he doesn't. Whatever, he's baller. The roles were tailored for each actor. I had an idea of everyone's strengths and we really adapted the script to work with each of them pretty well. Mike [Cherry] only started doing his "Hipster" character two nights before we opened. It's one of the funnier things in the show. But before that, we both worked on the Stand-Up he does together. And Krista [Kauss], with her dancing...we made sure it was stuff she was going to knock out of the park. And Tom-Tom [Tom Daily] would only sing Seal. Nothing else.

Tim: Mike wanted to do something outside the box so we let him roll with it...I think it turned out pretty funny.

JT: Maybe I'm reading way too much into the show, but I saw it as a quest not just for tamales, but for identity. These characters are searching for the identity of the "good" tamale guy, but they're also exploring their own identities in a big city that is full of awful, just terrible people.

Tim: That's exactly it Joe.

Tom: I completely agree. It's a personal quest for each of them, in a lot of ways. Bea has to dance her way to glory. Mac has to tackle and conquer the open mic standups. Tom-Tom has to woo the heart of a pretty "deaf" girl with music. All in the sake of finding their identities.

JT: Speaking of the standup, can we talk for a minute about the comedienne Connie Howe that Mac challenges?

Tom: Connie Howe is based off of a stand-up comedienne that I've seen a few times. Well, she does the raunchiest, dirtiest stuff, and it's always really uncomfortable. I had an idea to write this person into the show. And I wanted my friend Lauren Maul to play her. So when I approached Lauren, she was thunderstruck. Lauren does a lot of character driven stand-up, and a character she just created was "Connie Howe" based off of this old lady comedienne she had done a show with. After doing a little elimination and youtubing, we realized that we were talking about the exact same person. So we both independently came up with this spoof, so the marriage of our material was inevitable. I love working with Lauren, and she hits a home run every single time she does Connie. That being said...Meredith Stepien...who filled in this weekend was like Kobe Bryant subbing in for Michael Jordan. One was the original, but I think it could be debated for a while who did it better. Both are awesome in my book.

JT: Is Lauren Maul your future ex-wife, Tom?

Tom: Hahaha, no. That's Denise Donovan, who played "Daphne." She's actually my current ex-wife.

JT: And was also hilarious.

Tom: Denise is amazing because she just will inherently entertain you through regular conversations. Denise's bit in the show was just something she did in a cab ride for me. And I was laughing so hard I cried. At this point I've seen her do it about 50 times, and I die every time she does it . . . but anyway, that's what was so fun about writing this script. I just literally plugged in the talents of my friends, and it always worked.

Tim: Her fam is awesome too - they all came down from Detroit on the megabus to see the last show.

Tom: Oh my God I forgot to praise CHRISTIAN! Dude, that dance. Denise and Krista worked on that with him. Christian is so awesome in this. But I think what really got us out of a lot of hot water was finding Mojo (Fernando Albiar). If we had a Gringo playing the Tamale guy, it wouldn't have gone over so well. Plus, Mojo can improvise in Spanish, which is one of the more incredible talents you can have in this city. Some of his improvisations, I can't describe it.

JT: So what's next for Bambro productions?

Tom: Bootleg! Tim wants to do a prohibition era comedy. So I'm going to watch some more Boardwalk Empire, a little Untouchables, and a lot of the "Beer Baron" episode of the Simpsons

Tim: Tom's gotta write it first though

Tom: We may remount Tamales in a different location. Personally, I'm launching a late night talk show which is going to be my main focus. But I have a good feeling I'll be putting my portly and effulgent ass on display with my brother directing sometime in June.

Tim: I'm going to go work with the theatre company I'm in, Tympanic, and then get together with Tom again in a few months.

JT: One last question: Which do you prefer: puerco, pollo, or queso?

Tom: I always bet on puerco.

Tim: Puerco!

-Joe Tansino

Friday, December 17, 2010

Jenny & Jenni- The Factory Theater (theatre review)

As a reviewer, sometimes I like to take my friends to see plays with me. This time, I took Michael Dailey, Tom Hickey and Anita Deely. They LOVE Factory Theater productions, so I was sure we’d have a good time.

First we went out to dinner at Chief O’Neill’s restaurant and drinkery. The reason we went to this Irish teach was because it was the only place close and also they gave us 2 for 1 appetizers and entrees because we had tickets to the show. The following is a conversation we had following the performance and after we went back to the Irish place for deserts.

Tom: That was a good show. I particularly liked the actor who played... what was the main character’s name again?

Andy: I can’t remember. Something like...Susan.

Tom: Right. Well, whoever played her friend was amazing.

Andy: At first I wasn’t sure what was happening, because there was a voice over and this one guy was dressed like a Mexican. He was all telling these other kids about Spanish, and then they tried to beat him up! But it turned out it was a girl instead! The play Jenny & Jenni at the omnipresent Factory Theater is about 2 girls who were always picked on and so they decide to get even by being even nerdier and doing exercises that are usually good for old men. They do little circles with their arms and then they do some, like, cheerleader moves, but not as good as cheerleaders. Tom, what did you have for dinner again?

Mike: I really wish I could have read the play beforehand. The language was difficult to understand. Was this play in Spanish?

Anita: Tom is having steak. You never have steak, do you Tom? When was the last time you had a steak?

Tom: Actually, last night I...

Anita: Don’t ruin it!

Mike: So guys, during the play did you try to keep an open mind about the choices the director had made about the production while evaluating their effectiveness? I was going to, but I forgot.

Andy: I paid attention and here is what I have to say about it-

Mike: Is there anything better then sausages piled high atop a mountain of mashed potatoes?

Anita: Yes there is!

Mike: Covered in gravy?

Anita: Nope, nothing better.

Andy: GUYS! Let’s focus on the play we saw! Now what was everyone’s favorite moment?
My favorite moment was when the girls were in trouble and hooked on drugs and then a dragon came out. That dragon symbolizes being in trouble with drugs.

Mike: Oh! I thought the dragon symbolized ‘working out’. I still have nightmares about that dragon.

Andy: You see, there’s this lady named Lola who is really mean to the girls, even though she has everything. She is very successful and handsome and has rich parents that love her, so why is she so mean to the nerds?

Mike: I guess, deep down, she still doesn’t love herself. In spite of money and the love of her parents, she is sad inside. You ever notice that in fake world (TV,movies and plays) it always sucks to be rich and have non-divorced, loving parents?

Andy: Yeah, I have. I think that’s a device that writers use to show that someone can just be inherently evil. They used to do it a lot with Princes and Queens.

Mike: Yeah, one thing fake world has taught us is that the more troubled your fake life is, the more interesting you will be. And happy! Yay divorce and poverty!!

Anita: I liked when the play got all Scottish, all of a sudden.

Andy: Oh yeah. There was this actor in the play named Wm. Bullion, and I have to tell you that I think he is great. He has been good in everything I have seen him in, so far.

Mike: Matt Engle really rocked that wig too. He is one of Chicago’s premiere wig actors. Did he have a wig in Ren Faire? If he did, I bet he rocked that shit.

Andy: I think the real beauty here was the direction. The script was funny, but Laura McKenzie really took the reins of that bitch and jazzercized it to health.

Mike: Agreed Andy. This thing moved. Oh man. Speaking of moving quickly. Mashed potatoes. Sausages. Gravy. Will you all excuse me for a moment. Need to go to the little boys room.

The conversation went on like this for hours and hours until we finally had to go home, but here’s the basic rundown of what you need to know for the show this weekend:

1.Shannon O’Neill wrote a good script that is just right for the Factory. If you aren’t a Factory fan then you should probably go see something else like “The Sing Off” on NBC.

2.Christine Jennings shoves her lovability down your throat and you will leave with a new fave on the stage.

3.What really makes this play good is the direction.

4.The Factory is the only theatre company in town making loud, bawdy, original comedies. They aren’t based on the music of someone, or stolen from a movie, they are original and they really tell a story that, when you dig deep down, says something universal for us all.

Jenny & Jenni says: “Love yourself regardless of your imperfections, because you are great.” That’s something we all need to hear sometimes.


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach, Tom Hickey, Anita Deely, Michael Dailey