Time may be up for TimeOut Chicago

I have some bones to pick with TimeOut Chicago. None of it has to do with the reporting, which I find to be top-notch (especially the theatre coverage)

A couple of years ago, I bought a copy of the fairly new TOC on the newstand. I was lured in by their sexy color pages, and their EXPANSIVE theatre coverage. At least one major article a week to lead off the section, plus a ton of reviews, and some pretty comprehensive listings. Plus, those sexy color pictures of shows either being reviewed or already in performance. What's not to love?

So I subscribed. And I LOVED it. I relished getting that copy a full 24 hours before other people. Whether it was a friends show I was anxious to see the review on, or one I was working on, it was nice to know I had a mini-insider pass to see what was thumbs up/down first. Plus the rest of coverage is great - specials on Chicago neighborhoods, new restaurants, new movies, books, music...Every Wednesday after getting home from work I would devour the copy from cover to cover.

Since becoming a subscriber I've had 2 big moments of pause.

First, about 2 years ago, they were running a special for NEW subscribers. $9.99 for the year, sign up now, limited time offer. I went to renew my subscription not long after that.... still the usual $19.99 (which yes, is a BIG savings from the newstand --- but there's something to be said for trying to maintain your current subscribers, you know?). Well, I wanted to support the one publication that I thought was giving the most comprehensive theatre coverage, and so I bit my tongue at the time and paid my $19.99. And since that time, I've renewed at that price again. Yep, no specials for the long time valued customer.... oh well what can you do?

The second....
This one is tough because it's a BIG direct crticism of my favorite section - theatre.
It's not content, word count, or coverage...
It's the exclusivity I used to enjoy by BEING a subscriber that is now gone.
Every Monday, when I hear that the latest reviews are up at TOC.com, a small dagger pierces my heart. And the daggers pierce again on Wednesday, when I get home, pick up my new copy of TOC, and I know that THOUSANDS of people were able to read those reviews before I did, and they were able to do it for FREE.

TOC, I love you, and I love your coverage.
And Mr. Vire, sir, you know that I think you (and Chris before you) do a BANG UP job of getting the maelstrom that is Chicago Theatre tamed once a week so that it's pleasant to the eyes.

However, when my current subscription runs out, I won't be renewing.
Why pay 20 bucks for what others can get for free?

I agree that online content is the wave of the future, and is a completely necessary item. I'm not looking for that feature to be taken away by any means. But making your content available to non-paying customers before the paying ones is seriously a slap in the face. Why can't the online reviews be posted at midnight on Wednesday? or first thing Thursday morning to conincide with the copies being on the newstand?


Saying Goodbye to The Lion

"...the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die..."

- Senator Edward M. Kennedy
August 12, 1980,
Democratic National Convention

****and as a side note, Massachusetts is now in your hands Senator Kerry. Try not to fuck it up.


Just hanging...

If my commute to work is timed correctly, there's a guy I pass by about 2 or 3 times a week. As I walk east on Grand from the red line station, I invariably will run into him as he walks west on Grand to wherever he's going. He's a husky guy, wears glasses, looks to be in that late 20's early 30's range, always has the ear buds in.

My favorite thing? The way he holds his cigarette in his mouth. No, it's not sexy, by any means, it's just....different.

He holds it in the corner of his mouth, always on the left side and it just....hangs there....

A lot like this, except his is lit:

I've never seen him inhale, or for that matter EXHALE smoke.... so is it just for looks? Is his a private detective, or a gumshoe reporter from the 30's? Does he watch too much Mad Men?

I'm telling you, this guy intrigues the shit outta me.

I think I may need some new hobbies.



I work in a minefield. Seriously.

Anyone trying to lose weight or change their eating habits that works in an office can completely understand where I'm coming from.

There's always someone buying bagels, or bringing in homemade something-something that just has a big EAT ME sign on it.

Well, my work has those things plus a seperate special layer of suck. I work in a hotel - there's food EVERYWHERE. Not as bad as a restaurant, to be sure, but it's on level of stinky.

Earlier this week, the skinniest girl in my office had a craving for Lemon Bars the night before. She made a whole batch, had a few, and then brought the rest in - to sit on the table that is 5 feet from my desk. Today, Sales brought in bagels - not just bagels, but the Cosi "squa-gel" (square bagels), of which the Asiago Bagel is my personal favorite. I abstained. Then later, the catering staff sent out an email to my floor titled "Meeting notes & FUDGE!". Someone just got back from a trip and brought back a big box of fudge. Once again, I abstain. Lunch today? Leftovers from a meeting, eaten standing up in a back hallway. Mashed potatoes? yes I love you, but I'm going to have the chicken instead. Bit size fruit tarts? No thanks, I'll have some slices of cantalope.

And you should see the looks on peoples faces! So dissapointed the fat girl doesn't want their fudge! Sorry dude, trying to live a better life, one day at a time. And one abstained land-mine at a time.

To help combat this, I have a "bag of tricks". Nothing sexy, but some acceptable salty or sweet snacks. Better for me, low in calories and fat, high in fiber.

Someone has chips, or pretzels? I assault you with my WASABI PEAS! or I can also bombard you with my MINI RICE CAKES!!!!!

someone have a candy bar or something sweet? I pelt you with my PITTED DATES!!! or my HANDFUL of CRAISINS!!!!!

But the biggest lifesaver.... it's filling....it's sweet...it's HIGH in fiber (9g) and it's my favorite flavor in the whole world.... CARAMEL.

Dude, the Fiber One Oats & Caramel bar..... I love you man, you save my life almost every day.


"I'm yours...."

I think the barometer of how good a couple you are is how WELL one of you can hold out the camera and take a GOOD shot of the 2 of you as a couple. (Nothing worse than asking someone else"could you take our picture?", I mean, any old schlub can do THAT)
If you can't hack a good picture of the 2 of you on your own, it's not meant to be.
That being said, I think me and my partner in crime for the last 8 years do a pretty fucking awesome job of taking pics together (Although to be be fair, Sara does the picture taking - but its a logistical thing, the girl's almost 5'10" for cripes sake!)
Anyway, I guess what I'm TRYING to say is, I love you sweetie! Happy Anniversay!
Meeting you a little over 8 years ago was the best thing that's ever happened to me. No one makes me laugh more and there's no one I'd rather be with.

Jason Mraz might say it best, though:
"Well open up your mind and see like me...
open up your plans and damn you're free ...
look into your heart and you'll find love love love love ...
listen to the music at the moment people dance and sing with me ...
We're just one big family...
And it's our godforsaken right to be loved loved loved loved loved"

(...and now some examples of how much we belong together)

(Brownlee /Morris Wedding, June 2008)

(Beach Preserve area at Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach, CA - Feb 2008)

(Boat Tour of Lake Eustis in Tavares, FL - Feb 2009)

(On Liberty Island, NYC - July 2009)

(Top of the Empire State Building, NYC- July 2009)

(Weekend getaway to Saugatuck, MI - Nov 2007*)

(*that last one is the best, and one of my favorites... I can't remember whose idea it was to look at each other...but it was a great one)


My kingdom for the snooze button

Dennis has a great story today about trying to relate a story to his dad... and then waking up.
Love the story.

It reminded me of the time I had the most vivid dream about my dad. I was walking down the street somewhere, don't remember exactly where, and a ways off I spot my dad! He sees me to, and he waves me over. We hug, I'm sure I'm crying, and he tells me he's so sorry that he's been away so long. He explained that he'd been in the witness protection program, and that they'd had to fake his death, yadda yadda yadda. We sit and have coffee and I start chatting about all the tings he's "missed", only to find out that he's been keeping regular tabs on me and has been following all that me, Danny, Sean & Heather have done. (This was before Sean passed away, too). When I say it was vivid, I mean I could hear his VOICE, I could see the twinkle in his eye, he even smelled like him! (weird, but true) We were having the best time - laughing and joking and telling stories...it was all going so great!
(beep, beep, beep, beep, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP....)
That was the sound of my alarm going off - I shut it off, looked around, realized that it had all been a dream - and my heart just broke. It almost felt as if he'd died all over again. I cried and cried. It was awful.
This may sound weird, but I wonder if it sort of explains my fascination with the TV show "In Plain Sight", which is all about the witness protection program....


some of my favorite peeps

me and Erin Orr

Me and Emily Gann

Me and my big bro, Danny (we're a little drunk here)

Me & my cuz, Martin

(I couln't decide which pic I liked more....)

Nick Keenan, Dan Granata & Me
(about 3 minutes before "Devils Don't Forget" began)


I was going through some pics and came across this one, which I love.

This was taken last summer, during rehearsals for "Metaluna".

It's all our shoes outside the rehearsal room - I can't describe why I love it, but I do.

(photo by Michael Brownlee)

Well, this should help the weight loss...

Friday when I got home from work, I felt kind of sick to my stomach, and kind of crampy.

The feeling continued throughout Saturday, reprived a little on Sunday, and then hit me again hard this morning. Now, I pulled myself together long enough to brave the CTA to get to work. I'd been through this situation before, but it was in the OPPOSITE direction - ridiculously clenching while running from the train to your house PRAYING you'll make it to the bathroom on time. Today it was the other way....

I was on the platform at Jarvis, watching as the train approached, and a wave of nausea (and a little bit of light-head-ed-ness) hit me like a ton of bricks. I actually had to hold on to something.

I popped a piece of gum, hoping some saliva in my mouth as well some fresh spearmint flavor would douse that nausea. It did. Thank god.

I made it to work, I punched in and promptly found a bathroom.
I feel a little better now (albeit a bit cleansed), so here's hoping.

If I don't feel better by noon I'm out of here.