'Plaint of the Playwright

'Plaint of the Playwright

[ Tuesday, August 06, 2002 ]

Aw yeah.  We bad.

Yes, it's true.

This weekend I hung out with Russ and Wil.

See, Wil's birthday was just recently, and someone gave him tickets to a game at Wrigley Field. He's never been there before, so it's a big deal.

Russ lives near Chicago--and he's always trying to get me to come down there and visit, so they invite Betsy and I down there.

This has all been pulled together at the last possible second--and Russ, since he lives on the home court, as it were, is the guy pulling it together.

We take the long drive, meet up with Russ and his wife at Russ' townhouse, and then leave for Chicago to meet Wil and his wife, Anne, at the hotel they're staying.

After that, we take a cab to Fadó, an Irish pub where we we're seated almost immediately, the food's great, and we stay almost until one in the morning talking about nothing of import.

Twelve Random Observations From The Weekend.

1. Russ is bad with directions.
I make the deadly mistake of Not Going Before We Left, so as we're near the hotel, Betsy suggests that if we're close, I can get out, go there, and use the bathroom. Russ tells me, "One block down, half a block in."

So I jump out of the car, jaywalk across traffic (humming the Axel F theme), use the bathroom at the nearest hotel I can find, then discover that the hotel is actually five blocks down.

I arrive late, with everyone waiting for me, sweating Meat Loaf levels of sweat. Wil runs up to me, shaking my hand: "I have so been looking forward to this happening."

Me, too, I say, thinking how much he looks like the little box in the corner of his website.

He introduces me to his wife as "Bobby The Mat," a nickname my wife has never heard.

Then to Russ, I say: That was considerably more than one block, Russ.

He buys me a Coke, sheepishly.

2. Wil's the kind of person who gets really excited when a favorite song plays on the jukebox.
Wil and I talk about movies (he and I admit that we both actually liked "The Last Action Hero"), as all of a sudden, "Where Is My Mind," by The Pixies comes on.

This is actually kind of serendipitous--as Wil's blog used to be titled "Where Is My Mind?"

"The Pixies!" he yells.

"What?" Russ says, turning around--he's been talking to Anne.

"They're playing The Pixies!"

Russ laughs really hard: "You are such a dork."

Later on, when we're talking about writing, Wil and I both note that the song is "Beyond The Sea" by Bobby Darin.

Wil tells me that whenever he hears that song he thinks of a specific time in his life, when he knew everything was going to change.

I tell him that whenever I hear this song, it makes me think of the opening sequence I came up with for a movie based on the t.v. show "Crime Story."

Because all filmmakers have to remake a t.v. show at some point.

My choice is "Crime Story."

Turns out Wil's a fan, too.

3. Anne is pretty fucking funny, too.
We also learn that it's her who made Wil's hair pink in Python. Russ asks her, "did you notice that the pink actually continued to the skin on his neck, too?"

The rest of the "Python" conversation is not a matter of public record.

Russ and I were going to ask Wil to sign both our copies of Python, but Wil tells us: "There will be no copies of Python signed tonight."

4. Betsy, sadly, had to leave early.
Russ offers to have us over, again--but he also has three cats, and my wife, again, is very allergic.

After less than an hour in Russ' place, Betsy was already sniffling, so she knew she wouldn't be able to stay the night, but insisted that I should, since I've been looking forward to this for a long time.

She and I go out to wait for the cab that will take her to her car, and I thank her for bringing me down.

"Have fun," she tells me, as the cab pulls up.

God, I love her.

5. Russ has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do.
This is what Russ tells me when I say that before the night is over, we all may have to pull someone off of him.

Russ loves to instigate, push buttons, and generally be a ball buster.

Even with his wife.

Especially with his wife.

At one point, I turn to Wil and Anne and say, Have you noticed that I don't talk to my wife like this?

Don't nobody got no Mr. Roboto, indeed.

But it's a weird thing--no one gets mad at him for it, or anything. There's a moment of suprise, and then laughter.

Well, his wife does give him a look that says "Oh, Russ, but there's a good chance she's secretly amused, too.

6. Russ is a lot like Dr. Cox on the show "Scrubs."

The thing to get about Russ is that he's very much a motivator.

I don't mean that pejoratively. He says what's on his mind, and he doesn't hold back.

And at the end of the day, you know how you stand with Russ.

I like that.

At the same time, this is that guy who said to the waitress who served us, "by the way, ma'am, are you familiar with a little t.v. show called...'Star Trek?'"

"Stop," Wil warns.

Anne's laughing.

You are a tool, I say. Two and a half hour drive to see a tool.

He laughs and leaves it alone. We laugh, too.

Instead, we ask for some kind of desert.

"What do you want?" the waitress asks.

"Something chocolate," Wil says.

"Do you care what it is?"

"No," Russ says.

"You want me to surprise you?"

"Yeah," Anne says.

"Chocolate Surprise!" Wil yells.

She comes back with two candy bars.

One is called the "Yorkie Raisin."

7. The phrase "and then I jerked off" is a great ending to any story.
Russ tells us that he's terrible at ending stories, but a friend once told him that that's a good way to end if you don't have a conclusion and don't realize it until after you've started.

After I end a story with "and that's why they don't let me in the Safeway anymore," Wil and Anne laugh.

I tell them that my tactic is similar to Russ', in that I just save up random punchlines and spread them out in my conversations as I see fit.

Wil tells me that this reminds him of Ethan Phillips, who he's met at Star Trek conventions.

8. Ethan Phillips is actually really cool.
It's rare that I ever talk to someone who's been to a Star Trek convention as a guest and not as a paying customer or dealer. I don't want to geek out (and we're way past that anyway), but I'm curious, so we talk a little about what conventions are like from his end.

He tells me that none of the die hard Trek fans really seemed to "get Ethan," who has kind of a "borscht belt," or vaudvillian sense of humor.

I tell him that he seemed pretty cool when I saw him at his first New York convention.

This makes me realize something funny, that I don't say out loud.

Wil and I are about the same age. When we were both sixteen, I was paying fourteen bucks to see him talk about Star Trek.

My mini-geek-out subsides when Wil points out that Cake is playing.

9. None of us have ever met in real life before.
I had thought that Russ and Wil had met, but no.

This is our first time where we all met.

There's a good feeling as we walk up the stairs to check out the band. It feels like we've been hanging out together for years.

Of course that may be because I haven't had a cigaratte for a few hours, and finally get a chance to light up.

10. Wil and I both own Maine Coon Cats.

Actually, the cat is my mom's, I tell Wil.

Since we had to take him from a friend we gave him a whole new name and a whole new identity.

We named him Vito "The Cat" Manelli.

"This is a what, now?"

"Maine coon cats," Wil says, "they're awesome. They have ridiculously long hair, they're big. They're just as cool as cats, but nowhere near the arrogant bullshit that other cats will give you."

Basically, they're as close as cats ever get to being dogs.

"Sounds like Roughy," Russ says.

11. Chicago cabbies will totally sass back if you start with them.
On the cab ride back from Fadó, Russ is his typical brash self.

The cab driver cheerfully suggests that the rest of us "set him on fucking fire."

Russ laughs harder at this than anyone. He is nothing if not a good sport.

He does threaten to de-tip the guy, though.

He doesn't.

12. The Yorkie Raisin Candy Bar is "The Sweet Taste Of Football.
No word yet on which candy bar is "The Pungent Taste Of Field Hockey."

To be continued on UnrealisticExpectations.com...

One's a wise-ass.  One's a cynic.  Together...they fight crime.

posted by Rob on 4:38 PM | link



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