Tuesday, May 31, 2011


We have a new episode up of our comedic variety show podcast, Inside the Barrel. In this episode we interview funny gals Ever Mainard and Rasa Gierstikas of The Shit Show, a kickass stand-up open mic here in Chicago. We also feature the band Lola Balatro! We tackle some slightly economic and educational issues in some of our sketches. But why listen to me yak about it, listen to it! -> ITB S2 E8.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lake House by the Shoddy Seaport

I dreamt the other night that my girlfriend and I were at a point we were looking to raise a family, and so, we were looking at houses. I looked at one incredible gem of property set on a lake. Three stories plus a basement, which was part underground, part ground level due to an incline. There was a little bar/cafe on the ground level section which we could either utilize for our own pleasure or rent out to another business, although the owner of the property looking to lease it forewarned that no business would stick there so might as well enjoy it for our own. His asking price was $1899 a month! A steal for this, dare I say it again, gem of property, right on the waterfront with a dock and boat ramp! The owner, a middle aged bespectacled man with thinning grey hair warned me of "the haunt." This he mumbled, and when I asked him to clarify he cleared his throat and said "a demon." Which wasn't too surprising because now my dream had shifted the surrounding neighbor to an abandoned seaport.

We leased the property anyway and had one hell of an adventure trying to calm down a boy's demonic spirit throwing a temper tantrum. A phantom roller coaster erected itself as a vapor around our property. We had to chase his apparition around its twists and turns.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

2 Year Anniversary for a little know book - Whiskey Pike!

Today is the 2 year anniversary of my book Whiskey Pike: A Bedtime Story for the Drinking Mankind. I would be more than honored if you took a swig of whiskey today and placed an order for your own copy of this bedtime storybook (for adults) for your bed stand.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Maybe that Creep's the Most Hated Man on the Bus?

On the bus ride home, I had my big headphones on, so I couldn't quite hear the commotion, but I noticed a lady raise her arms like "what the fuck" and glare in the direction of the back of the bus. It looked like those pointed daggers emanating from her eyes were ripping right through a man with black mustache, trench coat, and private eye hat on. He wasn't paying any attention to her and I couldn't tell if it was a shameful avoidance or if he was just not involved in the young lady's angst. He did look like a creep, and I thought maybe he had done something creepy to her, because the lady said "why would you do that?" Still he wasn't responding to her. "You're the most hated man on this bus," she continued. Room opened up at the rear and I moved back to make room at the front. I drifted away from the odd, indistinct confrontation going on. But I thought about it a little more while I was at the back of the bus, only because it was so mysterious, and the young lady had a lot of anger in her at something, and I really was curious what the fuck that creepy, mustachioed, trench coated fellow had done to her. Then I thought maybe he had done nothing at all and the young lady was directing her distaste toward the rear exit. Maybe somebody had pushed the flappy doors when a stop wasn't requested and the doors released, causing the doors to beep an error and remain ajar, preventing the bus from resuming motion until fixed. This would cause a delay in motion. Now, I didn't see this happen, but it made sense in my head as a possibility for pissing this young lady off, because I have seen things like this happen before. An oblivious person pushes against the rear door when the green light above is not lit (meaning go ahead and push) delaying anxious commuters from getting home and eating supper and finally unwinding from a dulling day at the office. If this is the case, I can kind of understand her utterance of "you're the most hated man on this bus," because, well, I think I've thought that before in such a scenario. A motherfucker just wants to get home. And anyone getting in the way of said operation is a bit of an enemy. And that poor creep, for a second there I saw the worst in him.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Blackest of Clouds

I find I probably feel the most relaxed when weather is ominous. This morning some dark thunderclouds rolled and walking into work with rain percolating more aggressively with each step, clutching and protecting my travel mug of coffee, I suddenly felt very excited for the day. I've always loved those days of summer, when you sit at the beach all day, beautiful sunny blue sky, not even a cloud for awhile, and a dark black cumulonimbus comes plowing from the horizon and you hurriedly gather your towels and beach toys to get out from it's wrath in the nick of time. It's beautiful.

I think the "relaxing element" comes from both a perk in adrenaline, the caveman in us becomes alive, senses more astute than the normal hour as the elements are banging away, and the subconscious possibility that this earthshaking storm could be the end of the times, or least a destructive barrier in the day's agenda. This sort of washes away worries for me. A sense that whatever I have been sweating out in my mind, has little power over anything, compared with what is physically going on around me.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Diarrhea of Writing

I came across this clip of Chuck Palahniuk talking about writer's constipation which enjoyed listening to and identified with. I do love those moments of writing when you burst down to your laptop or a pad of paper and do just have to fucking write.

One of the first vivid experiences I had with that involved this old piece of spontaneous prose (http://theigloooven.blogspot.com/2008/02/lagoon-of-serious-dementia.html). I was suddenly compelled to get off the bus early, because I had language popping up in my head that I just just had to write down. So I found the only free piece of paper I had in my bag, a Chinese take out menu, and started scribbling on it against a newspaper box. This language was coming out of nowhere, as though my subconscious possessed me, came pouring out like diarrhea. That's when I knew I wanted to explore this writer thing more.

Sorry, Wrong Rapture!

I'm pretty excited that I survived the rapture yesterday, or more accurately that the rapture did not happen after all. I quite forgot about it to tell the truth, but 5pm rolled around with no hiccups. This is the second time that Pastor Harold Camping of Family Radio Worldwide has predicted wrong. He originally spoke of the rapture taking place Sept. 6th 2005, but when that did not pan out he claimed he miscalculated, and then recalculated.

I'm curious though, how would any congregation trust a Pastor's word again after two wrong passionate predictions? I mean, yeah he goofed up about his prediction of the coming of the end of the world, had his people amped up and full of conviction about this happening. What a goddamn let down!

I had started reading The God Complex by Richard Dawkins around this time last year. It was thought provoking to say the least, and I only made it half way through before I had to take a break for several reasons. It certainly put the existence of God into question, as well as the spirit, and I found that I'm happier when I maintain a slight feeling of mysticism in my life, helps soften depression, anxiety, stress, for me at least. Especially at the time I was transitioning to a sales job, hearing no every day, pondering if there is no God was not what I needed at the time. I was also reading this book on the bus, and many people would try and get into religious conversations with me at 7:30 in the morning when they looked over and saw me reading it. Also not the time of day where I'm open to talking about God and heaven with strangers.

But religion, to some degree or another, does ultimately make a lot of people wrong. We'll find out some day in more specifics that many aspects of belief were actually wrong, and the wrong convictions triggered behaviors in some that were very wrong. Not just predictions about the end of the world, but persecutions both on small personal scales and massive warmonger scales.

Here is a short improvised film we did at Wood Sugars a few months back in which rapture is mentioned. Do enjoy!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Turban Tan copies

I got some extra copies of my book Turban Tan for anyone willing to write me an amazon review or such. Hit me up at jeffphillips.thirdleave [at] gmail dot com if you're interested!

Negative Norm

I realize I tend to see the worst in things, under some circumstances. I was just taking a wizz. Above the toilet on a little mirrored edge my girlfriend had her blow dryer resting. It seemed a little too close to the edge, still plugged in. What if it fell into the toilet and the electricity traveled back up my pee stream and gave me a jolt down under?

I wouldn't be writing this.

But I am thankful that gravity wasn't too thirsty to pull that beast down before I noticed.

I will think positively on that.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Tripping Point

Some say language developed after ancient, pre-historic tribes in Siberia took magic mushrooms. Can we in turn also trace the development of currency to this trippy incident? Territorial behavior is inherent in most if not all animals, but when we could start saying "mine" and drawing up contracts, the imaginary agreement on the value of ownership took on more weight. As words become symbols of cognitive gems, so does the coin become a bragging right - points of having.

That strange trip could have gone differently of course. It could have frozen man, in psychological stone, ice, shifting away that desire to share and to communicate a sudden and boundless vision...that in this sad turn, doesn't ripple. They grow apathetic, giving away all they got to the wolves because the coldness of the cerebral image makes them want to wither and have nothing to do with life, nothing worth holding onto.

Point is, all of our greed and backstabbing and talking obnoxiously out turn, is perhaps a more colorful course of events. Keeps you on your trippy toes.

The brain is like a wreck-less object in space. It's starts things that don't stop. Things so simple as moving from point A to point B, but is melting to become point Y and then some other point of a letter we're still working on conjuring up.

Gonna Save My Money Someday for Fine Eats

Last night we had dinner plans - my girlfriend's best friend's birthday dinner. So after work, and as the fog was rolling in as thick misty chunks at street level, we went up to Andersonville in Chicago and met up with her at a boutique where she was doing some birthday shopping prior to dinner festivities. A few other female friends of her's were there. My girlfriend asked her if her boyfriend was meeting us "here" or at the restaurant. She replied with neither, he was at home...we very quickly realized that it was supposed to be a "girls" night out, my girlfriend had only skimmed the invite and mentioned to me to plan on it for Thursday thinking it was a group outing. They were nice enough to let me tag along to eat, which was great as I was mighty hungry only having a light lunch. I did feel like a party crasher, and felt bad for impeding on girl's night, but it also would have been awkward bailing on the outing. An odd thing to socially navigate.

We ate at a place called "In Fine Spirits." It was a bit pricey for my income level, luckily someone in our party had a Groupon they happily pitched in which shaved a chunk off the bill. I had the Mushroom Crepe, with Gruyere and maple. Tasty and crafty piece of food, but a little steep in cost and not filling by any means, I'm hoping the ingredients were organic as f*ck and at least heart healthy beyond belief. I washed it down with a Founders Red's Rye Ale which was smooth and hoppy. The girls were all mighty pleased with their cocktails, and had I $14 extra I would have ordered one of them myself, instead I stuck to one of the Red's Rye for $5, the cheapest thing on the drink menu, which for the beer was pretty reasonable, comparable to other bars. Anyway, In Fine Spirits is a place I would love to frequent if I had a bit of wealth going on, that way I could order two food items and multiple drinks without incurring debt. I do love places with cocktails crafted in a uniquely balanced way, as though it's liquid art, ready to vanish in an esophagus, like the Whistler in Logan Square.

At one point I had to run out to the car to re-feed the meter. I almost got hit by a car as I crossed a side street, as the car was seemingly wishing to blow through a stop sign. That's what I did yesterday to get my heart rate going. I didn't bring my phone out with me so had my hip been busted the other members of would have waited awhile before finding out. Note to self: learn girlfriend's phone number by heart in case absence of speed dial and absent minded driver.

When we got home we pigged out on Rahm-en Noodles, slices of cheese, and left over biscuits.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Person in the Proverbial Pizza Box

Today we have a new mayor in the City of Chicago. I thought I'd sound off on this briefly. I'm excited to see a new era in this city. Despite the good things Mayor Daley did for Chicago, I'm sure as this would be with anyone, after 22 years in one position you start go past the border of expertise and into the land of complacency. Rahm Emanuel has a lot of spunk which is utilized beneficially in the right direction. I'm no expert in municipal politics, but change can never be fully put in the basket of one individual. As we've seen with the narrow sighted expectation of all who voted for Barack Obama that suddenly the USA would be fixed in all its economic, health, and energy issues. A politician is not a messiah. A politician is merely one leader is an intricate network of agendas, and checks and balances. I suppose change begins by taking matters into one's own hands, starting at the level of city block. As JFK said "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Solutions are not of the magic wand origin. Solutions come from public sweat.

Something Rahm said in his inauguration speech struck me as something I liked. He will not accept "we've never done that before" as an excuse not to make a change. Politics has stagnated greatly by cookie cutter party approaches. We have municipal, state and national problems that will never budge towards solution if applied with only "tried and true" ideas. Time to think outside the rotting pizza box. Of course, things need to fought out, that's democracy, questioning propositions is a good thing. But I think it's time that new questions and new intellectual fights are instigated.

I like Rahm's spunk. He might be known to a degree as an outspoken, vulgar loud mouth, but I'd also rather not see a soft spoken, doughy fella in the role of mayor of the 3rd largest city in America. For better or worse, now we get to see his true character on a local level. We'll see how this city may or may not shake a tad differently. I make no predictions. To rehash my pizza box metaphor, it's nice switch up where you get your pizza from every now and then and see how it digests. The risk of living.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I was flipping through the television and came across one of those auction hunter shows, where they bid for an abandoned storage unit and its contents and then collect the items to resell. In this one I caught a piece of, they had found an old old Victrola with an original Thomas Edison seal on it. They put together, tested it out, and it played! Roughly a hundred years old, and they flipped an old switch on it, to find that it still worked.

Over a year ago I saw the Titanic exhibit at the Museum of Science Minnesota in Minneapolis. An expansive display of old artifacts retrieved from the wrecked ship looked pristine, solid. Toothbrushes, shoe polish containers. Fairly intact. And I was struck with how solid things appeared to be built back in the "old days" (minus the Titanic). In our current times things seem so cheap. My iPod from three years ago hardly works, nor does my old stereo system from 10 years ago. Yet a Victrola from the early 1900s long sitting in a dusty unheated storage room still operates.

It makes sense though. The businessmen who orchestrated the commercial work of engineers soon learned that it's good business to build things NOT to last. Keeps the customers coming back for another round.

On another note, Friday night I watched The Shining on VHS. I reckoned to myself for a moment how much I enjoyed the look and feel of an old VHS movie on an old TV. There is a grainy murkiness that in a way makes it all the more dream like. The fading of the quality is both distancing and narcotic for me. And the images start to sink in further to my subconscious in a trance-like manner. I sort of now prefer an old degraded VHS movie watching experience to a Blu Ray display on an HDTV. On such a high tech flicker the picture is almost too crisp for nostalgia to lurk. But the way they make things now, I'm curious to check out the picture quality on one of those flatscreen TVs in 15 years.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Trece de Viernes

I made beer battered onion rings and mushrooms for dinner. Cutting the onions was much fiercer a battle than expected. I teared up like a tragic player, and the old eyes stung sharply! At one point I had to close my eyes and had difficulty opening them. They were stung shut! I went on cutting in blindness. I can feel my way around. Kinesthetically, I'm astute. I had to take a break, splash my eyes with cool water, which almost worsened it momentarily. Then I pulled out an old pair of swimming goggles from under the bathroom sink and resumed chopping that fat, organic white onion. I'm a culinary pansy.

These were delicious. I popped open a Labatt's Blue this morning and let it sit out all day to flatten. It served its purpose well.

As a prelude into Friday the 13th I had a wicked dream which combined two of my favorite interests; ghosts and brewing. I dreamt I owned a lot of land in the woods in which I set out to till the soil and grow barley and hops. Soon I learned this land was haunted. I forget the cerebral flicker of details but I learned the history of the accumulation of ghosts through old maps of a failed, small town bus system. An old man, not quite a shaman, or perhaps a shaman well hidden in modern garb, introduced me to a thick mud out in the woods. There was a spread of white fungus, doing its thing within the dark brown, thickened soil. He taught me to eat it. It tasted like a brownie! It had hallucinogenic properties which were supposed to heighten my awareness of these bus inflicted ghosts. Unfortunately it didn't do the trick for me. The old man told me I needed to eat more. So I did. I only felt full. Then I was suddenly on a business trip in the Wisconsin Dells and drove past outdoor hotel pools, shallow ones for the kids. Little babies were swimming around with baby dolphins under fountains. It was more like wiggling and worming than swimming. It looked a bit grotesque.

This morning on my way to work I crossed the path of a penny on the ground, heads side up! I reckoned this should be good luck on this Friday the 13th of May! Yet when I got to work I found both toilets in the men's to not have been flushed the previous evening. I did a good deed and flushed both. But the bowl was stained so I went up to the fifth floor bathroom and there was a gross something floating in the bowl there too. And cocky was I from the weather this week that I wore a short sleeved polo shirt and no coat. When I stepped out for lunch, a cold front had swept in and dropped the air temperature about twenty degrees. I think that penny is laughing at me. Day was redeemed when beer battered onion rings and mushrooms entered my belly. Now I'm going to ring in the "holiday" watching Kubrick's The Shining with my cat. On Halloween after drinking it up with pumpkin ale I wound the night down with The Shining. My cat watched it intently! His eyes were glued! He wants to see it again!

Friends or Benefits

This a short sketch video I'm in over at Wood Sugars. We did a bunch of these as part of the "Friends or Benefits" series. Be sure to browse our channel for more of them. I had a blast. I was originally just helping with sound on this project but had a last minute idea for a character I wanted to try. These type of short short movies takes me back...growing up, what my friends and I did for fun was make movies. Just make them up as we went along. As a grown man, that sort of thing is still a blast.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I just sneezed all of a sudden and sprayed snot all over my laptop. I think I got it all cleaned up but I still feel dirty now typing away here. Sometimes I hate sneezing. I know they say that to feel a sneeze is to feel 1/10th of an orgasm, or 1/100th of an orgasm, some stat like that. (I'm curious how this is measured. Do they set people up neuro-sensors and record their brain waves while having sex as a control experiment? Then wave pepper up their noses to compare?) I feel more irritation than anything when I sneeze. Particularly, after eating a granola or cereal bar. I think I'm allergic to something in them. I sneeze harshly after the first couple of bites. Yet I keep eating them because they are a convenient form of breakfast in a go-go-go society. Store brands make me sneeze most viciously and it's painful when I get granola chunks flung up my nasal passage. So I steer away from generic granola bars. I'm a granola bar snob. Or granola bar snot, if I may work in a pun.

I'm thinking on the correlation maybe, of this sudden sneeze spasm. I am sitting here drinking cold water and hot coffee simultaneously. Work day appropriate double fisting. Perhaps the alternating temperatures are doing weird things to my interior systems. After all, alternating from cold air conditioning and hot muggy outdoors does odd things to my body, like summer colds. But I like drinking a lot of coffee. And I like drinking a lot of water. I drink too much of each. I am a liquid fiend. I'm also curious on the psychology of this. Like a fixation. I always like to be drinking something. I get this way with beer too, I like to keep going. Not necessarily in an alcoholic way. I'm less interested in the buzz or the inebriation then I am in the taste and flow. What would Freud say about me?

I also tend to write a lot of stories about liquids. Last night at our monthly dystopian reading series I read a short story of mine about indie craft soda pop making scenesters. I had a lot of fun reading/writing this one. Add it to the collection of other liquid oriented tales; Church Decaf, Whiskey Pike, Tea Man, Steep!, Sake Date in a Mustard Field, Nagasaki Lagoon. Etc. Maybe I'll put together a liquid themed story collection. Or just submit them around like random corks riding the ocean waves. [Insert poetic conclusion]

Bottoms up.
I feel sneeze coming o-n-

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I will be both reading a short story and performing sketch comedy with my group Wood Sugars tonight at this thing!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Kentucky Derby for Beer Bucks

Last night I dreamt I was at work. Making sales from a large office set up like stadium seating, an exaggerated lecture hall configuration. The whole thing flowed like a bizarre game. Make a sale, pop a crumbled piece of paper into a basket at the front of the room. Make it in there. Then wiggle out from the seat and slide down to the next row via a dry slip and slide aisle. This continued until finally one made it out of the front row, towards the door, and on our way home. Pretty symbolic of life, of careers if you ask me. I continued to wiggle on my belly along the median of Lake Shore Drive on a slimy slip and slide all of the way home, while shifting slivers of paper out from my pockets, leaving them behind to the drift of cars to my sides.

Yesterday was the Kentucky Derby! I'm not usually intense about sports but Animal Kingdom's sprint to the finish stirred my blood. It was a neat turn of events for that team of horse, jockey, trainer, owner. I thought about my Dad quite a bit yesterday (he passed away from a battle with cancer in 2002). He had fervently made his way to the Kentucky Derby for many (30 some?) years to partake in the debauchery of the infield. He began his venture there in his early college days by hitchhiking down there, clothes in a brown grocery bag. I've often heard stories from him while listening to ball games on the radio during a hot summer night's ride in the car, and recently my Mother found a folder of his writings - memoirs of his experiences at the Derby. These are quite educational. My coworker Andrew actually went to the Derby this weekend. I've been meaning to make my way down there one of these days, carry on my father's tradition. Maybe next year I'll finally do it. Andrew offered to place a bet for me. I passed on the offer as I'm not necessarily in the financial position to be betting on horses.

But the urge did come to me. When I was 8 at we lived in Pittsburgh my Dad would often take us to a "Downs" outside the city and place bets for us. This was something I got quite into, and overly passionate about. When my horse did not do well, I'd be in angry tears. I liked winning some dollars and the fast paced announcement of the hard trotting positions. So this weekend I devised a betting system with my girlfriend. We'd each write down our picks for places 1, 2, 3. We'd compare our first place picks with the final results, whoever finished best, got 3 points. We'd do the same for our second place picks for 2 points. And the same for third for 1 point. Whoever had the most points got to drag the other to Binny's and choose up to $20 of liquor. Despite my best pick placing 8th (Stay Thirsty, I picked in homage to my hero, the Most Interesting Man in the World) I won! So next weekend I will be redeeming for some tasty craft beers. Or maybe some Mint Juleps to keep the taste in my mouth.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A scene with Bluetooth Man

The following is a scene which took place on the corner of Cornelia/Broadway in Chicago.

A car parks at the side of the road. Two men and a young woman exit the car. The two men are both wearing Cubs hats. One of them is younger, he has a Bluetooth in his ear. The other is older, could be his father. A third man struggles to get out of the back seat. The Bluetooth Man goes to pay the parking meter. The older man paces in the quiet street. He might be slightly intoxicated. No traffic passes.

BLUETOOTH MAN: Jim! Get out of the road!
JIM: What?
BLUETOOTH MAN: You're stumbling in the road.
WOMAN: Do you want some money for parking?
BLUETOOTH MAN: No. I think I can afford three dollars.

The man in the backseat finally gets out. He limps. The woman helps him close the door.

BLUETOOTH MAN: Jim! Stop walking around in the road!
LIMPER: What's he doing?
BLUETOOTH MAN: He's stumbling around in the street! (Chuckles)
JIM: Oh well.

The Bluetooth Man places the parking slip in the window. All of them walk away from the car, j-walking at the lead of the Bluetooth Man.

I felt I had to write this. The demeanor of the Bluetooth Man was beyond douche bag. I hope that it is apparent in the behavior exchange above.

Repost or Die (this is just a title, don't take seriously)

I always have a tough time when I see those types of messages, either e-mailed as a forward or posted on a status that mention something along the lines of "you must repost or you will get bad luck for such and such years." My rational thought process lets me know it is bullshit, it is imaginary consequences for something to go viral for inane, anonymous motivations. But still, fear gets stirred in me for the moment, especially when it points to bad luck with money. Living paycheck to paycheck, that, well, freaks me out, just thinking about it. I'm susceptible to some degree of superstition. Growing up I did some small boat sailing, and I found in races, when the wind would lull, if I spat over the side of the boat in odd numbers, for instance, if I spat 3 times, I'd get a little gust of wind, a boost of momentum. And as I kept this up, I won races! So, if spit helped me win sailing regattas, perhaps there is substance in a goofy chain letter. What if there is a curse involved? I think, is it worth risking, shan't I just repost it for good measure? But when I get ultra rational and metaphysical, I think on the fact that most "curses" are brought on through calling up the help of spirits or demons. And when it comes down to it, to incant a curse through facebook or an AOL message...I'm pretty certain spirits and demons do not pay attention to any shit that goes down on the internet. Beelzebub does not have a facebook account. So I am probably pretty safe for not reposting that status I saw about Chinese money luck.