Monday, October 31, 2005

The End Of The Windy City...On To The Indy City

So with great sadness, our time in Crystal Lake came to an end - which meant our time in Chicago came to an end! I am going out on a limb by speaking for everyone here when I say that we were 1. happy to be able to spend a lot of great time doing some fun things in Chicago; and 2. very sad to leave! (If I misspoke for anyone, never you fear...I'll hear from them!)
But before we get to our departure, let me tell you a little bit about our last few days in Chicago.
Let me ALSO just tell you that across the board, our Crystal Lake audiences were...well...were not like the other audiences we have had, for the most part. All 3 days of shows - all 6 of the audiences we performed for were just...not "THERE". (Remember - we have gone over the specifics of being 'there' previously...they were actually IN the audience...just not very GIVING.)

So here is the OUTSIDE of the Raue Center in Crystal Lake - complete with WILLY WONKA billing on the sign!

These pictures are looking from the STAGE out to the AUDIENCE. Please notice a few things: the ceiling has normal lights and then fiber-optic lights, that appear to be STARS in the sky. In the sky of what? Of this little Spanish-influenced village that is the inside of the theater. You see that right - tiled roof and stucco...very...interesting....

Just more shots. Standing in the back of the Orchestra - showing you the 2 views of the Village...very cute. But strange.

And finally, shots from the Balcony level...looking to the stage. Again, very CHARMING...just STRANGE. But, it was a great space to perform.

Jackie makes a small fans wish come true after the show with a simple Golden Ticket. I mean, look how HAPPY this little girl is. Wait...

Friday after our shows, we all had our own plans going on in the city - and we were all planning on seeing some different shows and doing different things. I headed into the city right after our shows with Todd and Tara and just hustled around Michigan Avenue - taking pictures, shopping and walking. I really love just walking around the different cities that we are in. And Friday was especially fun to be in downtown Chicago, because it was the day the White Sox had their big ticker-tape parade. It actually finished up right before I got into town, but as I walked around, you could see everyone walking around with their Sox clothes and signs and penants and hats and coats - and TONS of ticker-tape all over the streets! It was a very exciting time to be in Chicago!

Just a collection of shots from my walk around Chicago on Friday. Chicago buildings sure love their big clocks on them!

A Halloween display I came across downtown in Chicago. Very fun little place.

I met up with Chris and Eric for a quick dinner at Giordano's - it really was so good the first day, I wanted to come back for more pizza - and then said good bye to them as I headed off to the Goodman Theatre (check them out HERE) to see "PURLIE". It is a revival of 1970's musical - and I loved it! It turned out to be a very fun, light show - and an EXTREMELY talented cast! There was so much ENERGY in the whole show. I'm very glad I saw it. I was ALSO very happy I saw it because it had to close on Sunday - so it was the very end. LOVED IT! Since everyone was on their own events, I ended up catching the train back to Crystal Lake myself, and loved the ride back. I listened to music and read my new book ('A Million Little Pieces' - I'm not normally an Oprah Book Club Fan -but I really REALLY loved this book.)
Saturday was an...INTERESTING day. There is no real way to pinpoint it - but it was just weird. Our audiences were strange...they were public performances and both groups were just "THERE". HAHAHAHAHA. That explanation is getting old. After the shows, a group was planning to head into the city - and a few of us decided to stay back and get ready to leave the next day. Elisa and I went to eat at Bennigans (a new cheesecake report below) while the city-goers got their stuff together. After dinner, we took them to the train station.

As well intentioned as Bennigans is with this Creme Brulee's a FLOP in the Cheesecake Hunt! This un-treat scores a low 4 on the M.A.S.E. And - um - could someone get some whip cream that isn't flat? Gross.

Then, Chris Schardin, Torg, Todd, Andrew and I headed out to a Halloween Party that someone at the theater had invited us to. On a day that everything just seemed a bit odd/off, this party turned out to be the ICING on that Weird Cake. First of all, I think it's safe to say that it was just under ONE MILLION MILES AWAY. None of us were too sure what to expect, but the further we got away from civilization, I was SURE to expect death, of some sort.

WHO could this be? It's PUPPETMASTER CHRIS! He got into the Halloween spirit for the party in BFE. He was so believeable, he even scared Todd as he got in the van - because Todd was like "WHO is this dude getting in the van!?"

We finally made it to the location, walked up to the house and saw a nice, big open bonfire burning in the back. So we went back, and pretty much EVERYONE was standing around talking and drinking and laughing. And EVERYONE (except Torg, Todd and myself) was in costume. WELL - come to find out that this was a group of theater folks and their friends - and it doesn't stop there. It turns out that a large portion of them were theater-Rennaissance Festival people. (AND they had just come from a large R. Festival earlier that For those of you who can't translate what that means, let me spell it out to you in the words of our esteemed stage-manager, Elisa. "They are high school theatre people. The kind who are weird just because they think they are supposed to be." They were like those high school theatre people who have grown up to be EXACTLY like they were in high school. You want examples? I have them. I'm sitting on a log, around the fire, just talking to Torg, and I hear plastic CLINKING behind me. Thinking it to be a strange sound, I turn around, and five feet from me, 2 people are engaged in a LIGHT SABRE FIGHT. TRUTH. They were all glowing and and lit. (And I am pretty sure one of the people I see fighting in the shadows is the girl who has elf ears and some kind of renaissance dress on....) So I turn around, keep talking to Torg, and 10 minutes later, I hear MORE racket behind me, so I turn around and there are 2 sets of LIGHT SABRE FIGHTS going now. WOW.

The LIGHT SABRE ACTION shots from the Canon Elph.

And then I turned on the FLASH! (And the fighters were NOT happy! HAHAHAHA!) Priate Hooker (mentioned in next story) is on the right.

Later on sitting by the fire, I was still talking to Torg, watching things burn, and I noticed Todd was sitting on the ground talking to a fairly intoxicated French Maid. (There is always one, right?) The French Maid had a friend come up behind her (A Pirate Hooker) and start talking, and the Pirate Hooker said, (in reference to the music playing in the garage/dance floor), "This music is a lot of crazy rave-like-techno music." (And it was.) And the French Maid's reaction was VERBATIM as follows: "I don't care what they put on that stereo. I could Irish Step Dance to ANY of it." (NOT A JOKE.) To which the Pirate Hooker responds, without missing a beat: "Do it." And the French Maid says, "Let's GO!" They both head into the garage/dance floor, remove their shoes and start to Irish Step Dance to some techno-remix thumping in the background. Sadly, it was too dark for my video function to work on my camera. But know that somewhere in rural Illinois, on a Saturday night, I was treated to a taste of Irish Step Dancing...and my life became a little more complete.

So...I spent so much time staring at the fire, I thought you should all see it. And take a look at the PARTY-GOERS standing around the fire. It was a RAGER!

Chris (a.k.a. EAGLE), Todd, Andrew and Torg chillin' at the random party.

Look who ELSE was at the Party? A Willy Wonka guy. A magical photo op, for sure.

How many party houses have Port-a-Potties in their backyard? And seriously - WHERE does one get one? Is this a stolen crapper? So many questions!

Oh - and the other part I forgot to mention was when the host of the party came up and thanked us for coming - and told us that the tents pitched in the yard (I had noticed them - and thought them odd) were for drug useage. The BIG TENT was for the hard drugs....and the SMALL TENT was for the softer drugs. I almost asked which TENT I would go to for the Advil I needed because of the headache the party was causing, but I didn't think it would be kind. So I took the Advil when we got back to our hotel.

These are my NOT VERY GOOD copies of a 'Blair Witch Project' moment...when I realized how SCARY this party really is turning out to be.

Anyway! It was QUITE the party....and ending to our Chicago time!
Sunday, we lost Chris and Eric, because they headed to DC for a couple of days since we had time off. The rest of us packed up the van and trucks and headed to Indianapolis for a VERY uneventful drive. 4 hours - piece of CAKE! But we DO miss Chris and Eric...and have been in touch with them...they are fine in DC.
Today was our DAY OFF here in Indianapolis...and most of us slept in - relaxed - just had a nice day off. We ended up going into downtown Indy - and going to a mall to do some shopping. It turned out to be a pretty bland mall - but I did buy a couple of winter hats at American Eagle Outfitters. I also walked around downtown a bit. It's a nice downtown - seems to be a lot of restaurants, shops and stuff around. We'll see what fun we can find later this week.

Sights, no sounds, from downtown Indy. L: The Capital Building. R: The Indiana Soldier's Memorial in downtown Indy.

Just a couple of statues downtown that entertained me. L: Crazy bears on a lamp post at the Soldier's Memorial. R: Some funny frogs in a fountain at the Mall downtown Indy.

Tonight, a group of us went to ROCK BOTTOM BREWERY for dinner - and to celebrate Halloween. Rock Bottom turned out to be a big hit with everyone, I think. We had a great server! (If you are ever in the Indy area, and go to the Rock Bottom in College Park, ask for LYDIA. She will serve you up RIGHT!) You will all be happy to know that we tried a new cheesecake tonight...and it was.....well, look below!

THIS is the cheesecake that scores a 9.5 on the MASE! AMAZING! The Triple Chocolate Stout Cheesecake. Light...deliscious...unbelieveable. Learn more about Rock Bottom and the cheesecake by clicking HERE.

L: Jackie celebrates her Green Tea - and the honey AND lemons that Lydia brought her. R: Torg, Andrew and Chris show off their Hoosier Stout beer pints that they got with the Halloween Beer Deal!

Turns out we were all so tuckered out from RELAXING all day that everyone opted out of going downtown for Halloween fun tonight. I spent the evening talking to family out West - getting candy reports from some of my nieces and nephews - and just hanging out! (And of COURSE catching up the blog....for those avid readers out there!)
So that about catches you up! I can't blieve it's almost November! Time is now rolling right along - and before we know it, the first half of this experience is going to be DONE! Crazy to think about - but true.
But we still have a LOT of crazy adventures to experience and cities to report on - so let's not get ahead of ourselves!
Until next time....remember that no matter what they put on the stereo, YOU can Irish Step Dance to it, too!


So these are 2 of the winter hats that I bought at American Eagle Outfitters in the Indy Mall yesterday. BUT - faithful blog readers - DO NOT be decieved. These 2 SEEMINGLY different hats are actually ONE! That's right! Thanks to the magic of the REVERSIBLE HAT!

See what I mean? ONE HAT - 2 sides - IMAGINE the possibilities!

And here is the OTHER hat I bought. Sadly, it is not reversible. But I like it nonetheless!

Friday, October 28, 2005

More Chi-Town Fun... there wasn't much to report. We did 2 shows for the children of Crystal Lake - and I'm going to be honest with you...they were boring. They just weren't THERE. I mean, the busses brought them and physically, they were THERE...but they just weren't 'THERE'.
Anyway - we did our shows...and then we each headed into the city to do our own things. I went and met up with my friends, Carolyn and Jeff Donarski - and their 2 daughters, Abby and Lilly (who is like 2 months old.) Carolyn and I worked at The Kennedy Center together - and they are both from this area...and moved back here about a year ago. We went to Harry Caray's and it was great to see them and to catch up with them. After we ate and talked, they went home and Chris and I met up and walked around a bit before catching the train back.
You will be HAPPY to know that I lucked out and got a ticket to see PURLIE (a musical) at the Goodman Theatre tomorrow night! It has been sold out all week - but when I decided to stop by this afternoon, they said they had ONE ticket for tomorrow. GOOD FORTUNE, Blog Readers.
Below - please find some additional CHICAGO PICS that I didn't fit on to yesterday's HUGE blog - or that I took today and wanted to share.
2 more shows tomorrow...and then we're all of to the city again!
Have a GREAT Friday...or whatever day it is you read this.
Word - G

More PICTURE FUN inthe bean-cloud-reflection thing in Millennium Park. We're insane.

This is 'La Grande Jatte' - and although the picture is a little blurry (I must've been NERVOUS to be so close to the masterpiece), it still captures the size of the picture and how cool it is. And seeing it up close is way cool. I don't think that woman on the left really appreciates what she is seeing. So I pushed her out of the way.

So yeah - this is my new favorite painting. 'Paris Street; Rainy Day 1877' Artist: Um...can't spell his name right now....

A little Pollock (Left) and a little Rothko (Right).

Andrew...passed out on the train home. He little to drink this night.

So this is the restaurant in front of our hotel...known for it's CUSTARDS! And they let you know everyday what TODAY'S FLAVOR is going to be. UNFORTUNATELY, the day I walked by, Today's Flavors consisted of what you see above. The first one, ok. The other in my custard, sir.

Just a couple of shots of the famed CHICAGO THEATRE - right here in Chicago, Illinois. Who knew? It's a cool I snapped some shots. I'm IMPULSIVE like that.

Chris got excited about holding the world in his hands when we saw this as we walked through the city tonight. And so we took a picture - and ended up meeting a homeless minister who was hanging out near the globe. Luckily we met him, because he had a couple of very important messages for us: 1. remember to keep smiling; and 2. spare a homeless minister some food. We obliged him with 1 of the 2 - because smiling is cheap, easy and free and because we didn't have any food and needed to catch our train. But tangent aside - here is Chris holding up the world.