Sunday, August 9, 2020

Star Guard Academy: Digital LARP camp for kids starts August 17!

 A friend of mine sent this over, and it looks awesome!  

It's a LARP Camp that is played online (digitally) and has counselors acting as NPC's and moderators.

In case you don't know what a larp is, 
it stands for live action role-playing game.  The players (or campers!) physically portray their characters and pursue goals within a fictional setting represented while interacting with each other in character. It's kind of like a moderated form of make-believe with rules, or Dungeons and Dragons without rolling dice. 

The Players unlock plot, interact with camp counselors who act as different characters in the narrative, and work together to defend the galaxy.

We just enrolled my son in this camp.  Tickets are on sale through tomorrow if you are interested in enrolling your child.

Along the way I found out about the Other Worlds Theatre company, and I have to say, I have no idea why I didn't know about them before.  They seem 100% up my alley, and fairly close to my house.  

Otherworld Theatre Company was founded in June 2012 with the mission to bring a theatrical experience to the science fiction and fantasy genre. Their work celebrates the depth of human imagination by engaging our spectators with high quality storytelling. 

They have a number of shows and events that seem fantastic, in addition to the summer camp.  They have LARPs for adults (which are usually played in person, and with COVID, it's possible that those will be played online as well)- as well as (during non-COVID times) plays, events, colloquys, and all other sorts of mashups of theatre and science fiction.  It sounds like great fun, and I definitely want to keep these guys on my radar!

Their first full length production (which is available on Youtube for free until August 14) is a show called Of Dice and Men.  It's a play about gamers and Dungeons and Dragons, and during the show the game comes to life.  

Here's the synopsis (please note that it is suggested 14+ because of strong language throughout. Viewer discretion is advised.)

Few dungeon masters can make the game come to life better than John Francis. Dwarves, Mages and Barbarians jump right off of their character sheets whenever he sits down at the gaming table of frisky suburbanite parents, Linda and Brandon. John Francis’ best friends, sailor-mouthed John Alex and thoughtful jock Jason, bring roguish swagger and knightly nobility to the game. And the object of John Francis’ affection, the feisty Tara, provides all the Half Elven Double Princess backstory they could ever need. 

But when Jason enlists to go to Iraq and with the relationship with Tara going nowhere, it may be time for John Francis to hang up his twenty sided dice and take a job on the other side of the country. However, John Francis is about to discover that leaving will prove tougher than the Tomb of Horrors. A blisteringly funny and heartwarming comedy about gamers, for a general theatre audience.

Here's the video (which may or may not disappear after August 14)

You can find out more about Other World Theatre Company on their website and on their Youtube Channel:

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Switch: Take what you are doing in the real world and bring it online.

I'm going to brag a bit on my wife, Stephanie Schwab, right now, who has a great course that she is teaching coming up in a couple of weeks.
 The course is called Switch, and it's a 3-week jumpstart into changing your business from an offline business to an online business.

If you don't know my wife, she's a great person (hey, I married her) but even if she weren't my wife, I'd be recommending her.

Here's Why She's So Great To Teach This Class!

She's an ace digital marketer. She's worked in all phases of marketing, got into digital marketing almost right at the beginning, and this is totally her niche. For the past few years, she's been teaching digital marketing at a number of universities, including Loyola University Chicago, the New School in NY (where she was one of the first all-digital instructors) and at, a high tech digital university in Barcelona and Bangkok, where she is the Director of their Digital Marketing program. She also is the CEO of her own digital marketing agency, Crackerjack Marketing

The thing about her (and this is less of a brag and more straight up facts) is that she's really good at seeing and explaining the next steps that you should be taking for your business. She's quick-witted, sees your possibilities, and knows her stuff when it comes to marketing. She's also really good at creating a collaborative classroom, where all of the students form a cohort and help each other out, and that’s exactly what she’s done with Switch!


 In 3 weeks, you will take what you are currently doing off-line, and figure out (with her help) how to transform it into an online offering: a digital course, a paid webinar, an online workshop, or some other kind of online offering, and it will be strong enough that you will be able to charge money for it.

The course is three weeks long, and each week follows a similar format.

On Monday, the class goes over the plan of what you need to be working on that week, reviews the principles of the work to be done that week, and sets a plan for how to do the work.

On Wednesday, there's a Q and A with the class where you can ask any questions you have about what to do next, and talk about any problems you might be encountering.

On Saturday, there's a work review meeting, where you share with the class what you've been doing, get feedback, from the group, and make adjustments.

There's work to do in between those times to get to the next level. Stephanie estimates 3-5 hours a week additional, more if you need more. Of course, it depends on where you are in your business, how digital-ready your materials are, how comfortable you are with technology, etc.

If you miss a class, the videos are available for review, and everybody in the class gets one free 30 minute consulting call with Stephanie.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

We interrupt this period of radio silence with...

An old photo of Reagan eating ice cream, courtesy of
the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
It's National Ice Cream Day!

It was Ronald Reagan, in the hot summer days of 1984, that first declared July to be National Ice Cream Month and that the third Sunday in July would be National Ice Cream Day.

 (At the same time, Ollie North was protecting Nicaraugan drug smugglers to prop up Noriega and the Contras, and lie to the American people and congress about it with Reagan's full consent. But I digress.) 

 Let's move on to something more relevant! Ice Cream!

Ice Cream Day Deals and Contests

Here are some places to get deals on ice cream today. Offers can vary and most times are offered while supplies last. Also, please note that some of these deals require you to download an app or be signed up for emails. Because of COVID, please check your local supplier before venturing out, as local franchisees could have modified this information. This list first appeared in USA Today.

7-Eleven: Free Slurpee Day aka 7-Eleven Day 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19, but members of the 7Rewards loyalty program can still get a free medium Slurpee through July 31 at participating locations. Learn more about the offer, which has a limit of one per account, at

Baskin-Robbins: Get a free regular scoop on DoorDash orders $15 or more with promo code BASKINSCOOP. Also pay no delivery fees of orders $15 or more through July 31, no promo code needed.

Blue Bunny: The ice cream brand has launched a Ticket Exchange and says it is "delivering some sweet perks and frozen treats to fans who faced canceled or postponed events, trips and other experiences this summer." Through Sept. 2, enter for a chance to win hundreds of prizes at and all participants will get a coupon for a discounted Blue Bunny Load’d treat.

Bruster’s Real Ice Cream: Get double Sweet Rewards points through Sunday. Register for the Sweet Rewards loyalty program at

Burger King: Find several offers on the BK app including two Oreo cookie shakes for $5. Learn more at

Carvel: Get $1 off any size soft serve cup or cone of Vanilla Bourbon Toffee Sunday. This deal is available "in-shoppe only" and no coupon is needed, the company announced on Twitter.

Casper's Ice Cream: The ice cream company who owns FatBoy, vegan friendly Jolly Llama and Churn Baby says the brands will have their biggest social giveaways through the brand's Instagram accounts. To enter, you'll need to submit a video on Instagram either on your feed or story and tag at least one of the accounts (Churn Baby, Jolly Llama or FatBoy) with a video of them screaming for ice cream. They will also need to use the hashtag #iscream4icecreamCB/FB/JL (the end portion of the hashtag depends on the account). The contest ends July 27 and one winner will be selected per brand and will win a year's worth of free ice cream.

Checkers: Get free fries for joining the chain's text messaging program. Text SNACK to 88001 to sign up or sign up online at

Coconut Bliss: The brand is launching its special Insider’s Program in July and will be offering their fans the chance to win a year’s worth of free ice cream in honor of National Ice Cream Day. The company says it will share more information on its Instagram page.

Cold Stone Creamery: Through July 23, get a buy-one-get-one free Creation when you purchase a Creation online with a promo code. To get this deal, place an order online, log into your My Cold Stone Club Rewards account at check out and enter the code ICECREAM. Sign up to be a member at

Coolhaus: Get free Coolhaus ice cream at Publix with a digital coupon, while supplies last. Find Publix digital coupons at and select the offer. Must have a Club Publix account to activate the coupon, which has a maximum value of $5.99. Only one coupon per Club Publix card account. Coupon expires on August 1.

Cumberland Farms: Text the word SCOOPS to 64827 to receive $1 off any pint of Ultimate Scoops Sunday through Tuesday, July 21. Existing members of the text database will automatically receive the coupon Sunday.

Dairy Queen: Get a $1 off Dipped Cones Sunday through the chain's mobile app Sunday. The deal excludes kids cones.

Dickey's Barbecue Pit: Get a free ice cream cone with purchase of any entrée Sunday.

George Bush getting an ice cream cone and giving an
unfortunately Hitlerian salute.
DoorDash: The on-demand delivery company has several deals at convenience retailers through Sunday with code ICECREAM5OFF. Participating retailers include: CVS, Walgreens, 7-Eleven, Wawa, Casey's, Hasty Market, Circle K, Everyday Essentials Corner Store, GetGo, Speedway, Market On Demand, Royal Farms, Holiday Stationstore, Fast Mart, ExtraMile, Fresh Thyme and Smart & Final.

Fresh Market: The grocery store chain has select varieties of Graeter’s Ice Cream on sale for $4.99 and pints of Coolhaus are on sale for two for $8.

Friendly's: In celebration of its 85th birthday and National Ice Cream Day, Friendly's is offering 85 cent cones Saturday and Sunday to members of its BFF club. Sign up for the club at

Godiva: All soft serve and sundaes will be buy-one-get-one half off Sunday, the company posted on Twitter.

Good Humor: In honor of Good Humor’s 100th anniversary this year, the brand says it released limited edition anniversary packaging for its Strawberry Shortcake Frozen Dessert Bars. Each package features a coupon valued at $2 that can be redeemed on any one Good Humor six-count or four-count product, the company told USA TODAY.

goPuff: Get two select pints of ice cream for $6 Sunday.

Häagen-Dazs: The ice cream company is launching the “Fantasy Flavor Scoop Off,” an imaginative flavor idea contest. One winner will get 24 coupons for a year's worth of free ice cream. To enter, follow Häagen-Dazs on Instagram and look for its contest announcement post Sunday.

Insomnia Cookies: Get a buy-one-get-one free deal on the chain's new Monster’wiches Sunday. The company said in a tweet that its Cookie'wich is buy-one-get-one free Saturday and Sunday.

McDonald's: Find deals on McDonald's app. Also, each Friday through Sept. 27, get a free medium fries each Friday on mobile orders with a minimum $1 purchase when using an app offer.

My/Mo: To celebrate National Ice Cream Month and National Ice Cream Day, My/Mo is giving away 100,000 mochi balls with its "first ever Chompionship Games – a virtual competition for ice cream lovers everywhere to play for their own free box of My/Mo." Learn more at

Pressed Juicery: Get 50% off Freeze and Frozen mini cups Sunday.

Sensodyne: The sensitive toothpaste brand has a giveaway on Twitter noon ET Sunday in select parts of the country. To participate, tweet #SensodyneSundae, plus #giveaway and include the ice cream emoji, for a chance to win one free pint of ice cream, Sensodyne Rapid Relief toothpaste and more, while supplies last. The contest's participating cities include New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia. See the rules here.

Snickers: Through Monday, July 20, enter for a chance to win a box of Snickers Peanut Brownie from the first batch. Reply to social posts about what you're willing to do for the new candy. Learn more and see the contest rules here.

So Delicious: On Sunday, the company is giving 50 fans the chance to win free customized pints of the dairy-free frozen dessert. The brand will share recipes on its Instagram account and 50 fans who comment on their favorite recipe that day and mention a friend they’d like to share it with will be randomly selected to receive two free personalized pints. Find the contest rules at

Sonic Drive-In: Download the Sonic app for deals at

The Ice Cream Shop: Get free delivery through Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash and Grubhub Sunday. Promo code ICECREAMNOW is needed on Postmates orders.

Wendy's: The fast food chain has various deals on its app and website. Download the app at

White Castle: Find coupons, including a free drink with no required purchase, at

Whole Foods Market: Amazon Prime members get 35% off all ice cream and frozen treats through Tuesday at Whole Foods. Also look for rebates on the Ibotta app from Bubbies for its mochi ice cream and other brands.

Yogurtland: Real Rewards members get double the points Sunday for every takeout order. Sign up at

More deals: Locally owned businesses and regional chains also may have specials for National Ice Cream Day. One of the easiest ways to find out is to check restaurants' social media channels.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Losing Weight In Quarantine.

Today is exactly 8 months since I decided to start exercising every day.  I started on Sept 11, 2019 and I haven't let up since, so that makes 243 days in a row!  Which is pretty, pretty good, if I do say so myself.  You can read more about my motivations and my first 180 days here.

I'm not exactly sure what has kept me on track and motivated, when in previous times I've gone 3 days or so before finding an excuse to quit.  At this point, I feel like I've incorporated this exercise into my life, I know it's what I need to do, and I feel compelled to keep on going on, even when I don't want to.  oh my gosh, I have a habit!

Of course, diet is part of that (or really probably most of the weight loss).  I'm doing Intermittent Fasting (approximately 12 hours or more everyday from 9 pm to 9 am, I don't eat.)  When I do eat, I write everything down, and stay under the suggestion that LoseIt (the App) gives me.  And it's been working!

I didn't really take process photos along the way, but I managed to cobble together these three photographs in the same shirt  and pants (and now will continue to take these pictures once a month or so)

As you can see, I've lost approximately 73 lbs since I started 8 months ago in September.   That's 9 lbs per month! A little over 2 lbs a week.  Which means I'm right on track!

More importantly,  I've lost almost 20 lbs since March, (we locked down on March 13, so it's been 8 weeks in quarantine!)

Obviously, before quarantine, when I was swimming a mile twice a week, going to the gym to use their machines, and in general switching it up, I had much more variety in my exercise diet.  Now, I'm primarily doing a 30 minute + workout on my recumbent bike.  But because I want to get stronger and more flexible, about 35 days ago I started doing television yoga.

Yoga With Adriene is on Amazon Prime
I did yoga 30 years ago as part of my acting training, and have been doing it on and off (mostly off) for the last 20 years.  After trying a number of different practitioners, I settled on Yoga With Adriene's Amazon Prime Series True.  It's a 30 day series of approximately 25 minutes each day.  Sometimes longer, sometimes less. 

I like her style, which is a little quirky and a little goofy, but also heartfelt.  She went a little fast for me, which I think is better than too slow.

I stuck with it, and everything up until the 30th day was great.  On the last day, Adriene said something which was both great and terrible.  She was-- now that you have practiced for 30 days, you have, whether you like it or not,a yoga practice. Today, I'm going to let go of the mic and we will practice together.

Which sounds great as an idea, and certainly honors the people that know what they are doing, but that ain't me!  I had no idea what was next or what we should be doing.  I'm still at the point where I need somebody to tell me "Push into the knife point of your foot."  "Don't forget to breathe"  "Let go of your tension."  Not having a teacher was pretty difficult.

I'm not ready to be responsible for my own yoga practice!  I am now doing a 14 day spinal reset, and after that I think I will do Adriene's first 29 days.  Whether or not I do the 30th day remains to be seen.

And hopefully I'll be 8.3 lbs less next month!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Edgewater Chamber hosts Virtual Business Conference

I've posted about this before, but I'm a board member of our local Chamber of Commerce. 

With all that is going on with COVID-19, I'm happy to say that the Chamber is hosting an educational forum for local businesses on how to meet the challenges brought to the forefront by the pandemic.

RESCHEDULED!:  Due to a technical glitch in the presenting software, this has been rescheduled to Thursday May 28.  

Same bat time, Same bat place.  Different bat day! 

(A reference to the original Batman, starring Adam West?  Okay, Boomer!)

It's going to happen on Thursday May 28 from 9 am-3 pm.  And my wife Stephanie Schwab (who as many of you might know, is a super-dynamite marketer and thought leader in digital marketing) is going to be speaking at one of the forums. 

(She's also going to be teaching separately a class on how to switch your business from offline to online and go from stuck to productive in 3 short weeks)  
SWITCH: Go from stuck and overwhelmed to bringing in online revenue - in just three short weeks!)

But enough spousal promotion (for now)

At the Edgewater Essentials Virtual Forum, there will be 5 education sessions with more than 15 presenters, and topics ranging from managing your online presence to how to protect your business and its employees, to how to establish healthy routines.   I've included the schedule below.

There will also be chat and networking rooms, so that registrants can expand their professional circles, collaborate with others, and provide (and receive) personal support.

And at 12 pm, you can attend our annual business meeting, and find out about what's going on with the Chamber, about our recent merger with the Edgewater Development Corporation, and how our new 3-year plan can help our community.

Attendees will be able to diversify their skills through these presentations, facilitated discussions, workshops, networking opportunities, and other virtual activities, all from the privacy of their own home.

This event is meant to be a springboard for the community to share experiences and interact with like-minded business owners and professionals. Everyone is welcome to participate, even people who are not yet members of the Chamber.   Attendees can join for one session or stay on for the full schedule of events featured in the day-long program free of charge.

Registration is free, and all of the conferences will be recorded, so all registrants will be able to view all of the sessions, even if they can't attend all of them.

Register online for free tickets to the Edgewater Essentials Virtual Forum.


9:00 AM Managing Your Online Presence  

10:00 AM Establishing A Healthy Routine

11:00 AM Spinning Straw Into Gold: Email Marketing
11:30 AM Moving Forward Together: Breakout /Networking Sessions
12:30 PM Edgewater Chamber Business Meeting

1:00 PM Putting Your Best Face Forward

2:00 PM Pivoting Your Business

2:30 PM Incubate Your Brand

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Jet's Pizza has a Buy One, Give One Offer that shows they get it.

This is the logo from the Jet's Website.
I was introduced to Jet's pizza when we got to Chicago. There wasn't one near me at the time, but we went to three birthday parties in a row where Jet's was featured. What I like about it is that it is square, like the Pizza of my Providence, RI based youth. It's not the same (no offense, Jets, but what can compare to Caserta's?) but it's close. And in deep-dish obsessed Chicago, it's a welcome relief from not even close to NY Style and the Sausage and Cheese Bombs that are deep dish.

There's now a couple of Jet's Pizzas closer to us, and although I'm not eating much pizza lately (Hello, trying to keep the weight off), it's comforting to know that they are there.

I also really like how they've stepped up during the Corona Crisis. Last month they donated over 1000 pizzas to charitable organizations. This month, they are allowing their customers to help in the fight.
Photo from the Jet's Pizza Facebook page.

For every large, regularly priced pizza purchased from select Jet’s Pizza’s Chicago locations on Mondays and Tuesdays through the end of May, using code FRONTLINE, the local stores will donate a pizza to a Chicago organization helping to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Benefiting organizations include Rush University Medical Center, University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago, Illinois Masonic Hospital, Roseland Hospital, Ingalls Hospital, Common Pantry, Metropolitan Family Services, One Patient – Global Health Initiative, Catholic Charities and more.
Photo from the Jet's Pizza website.

Participating Jet’s Pizza Chicago locations include stores in Irving Park, Lakeview, Logan Square, River North, South Loop, West Loop and Wicker Park/Buck Town. To participate, guests may place their order for contactless delivery or curbside pickup online or over the phone.

So remember:  Mondays and Tuesdays, use code FRONTLINE.  And get those essential workers some essential dinner.

For more information, visit and follow Jet’s Pizza® on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Poorly Worded Math Question

This homeschooling/remote learning thing is kind of getting to me.

My son is now in remote learning mode, which means I have to go over all of his work to make sure he's done it.  He's in fifth grade, but his class is doing sixth grade math.  They are using Big Ideas Math.

He recently had this question on his homework.

This is the last problem on the page.  The previous problems are all straight calculations   (of which he got 3 wrong)

He came up with 96, by figuring the surface area of each triangular side.

(6*5)/2 =15 

There are 4 sides so he multiplied by 4 to get 60.

He then added the bottom rectangle. 


For a total of 96.


I thought clearly this was a trap question because it says the TOP of the lantern.  Therefore the answer should be 60, because the bottom is not part of the top of the lantern.  I was captain of the math team in high school and varsity all three years, state champions all three years, and this is just the kind of gotcha moment that math teachers and tests love.

I wanted him to redo the question- and the other three problems he got wrong.  (And to top it off, despite my admonitions, he didn't show his work)

He insisted that he was right, and bet me that if it was, he wouldn't have to redo it or the other three problems.

I took the bet, confident that I was correct.

I looked up the answer online and it lists the answer as 96.


Am I crazy?  (Don't answer that!)  

This can't possibly be right.  The bottom is not part of the top.


 I don't want to be a math teacher unless I get to write the problems.

Come on COVID-19.  Go away!

So l lost this bet.  But am I wrong? Based on the question, shouldn't the answer be 60?

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Donald Trump Passover

I wish I had written this.  Instead, I am sending it around and posting it in all of its apocryphal glory.

It's clearly not true, but it has truthiness written all over it.

Donald Trump's Remarks at a Passover Seder

Welcome to this very special dinner. Tonight is when Jews observe Passover, otherwise known as the Festival of Lights, the celebration of the Jewish New Year that started when the Hebrews left Egypt. Though I am not Jewish, I actually know more about Judaism than almost anyone. My daughter Ivanka’s in-laws, the Kushner’s, who are super-Jewish, told me that they are amazed at how much I know, that I even know more than their Rabbi, which is saying something.
To begin with, let’s all put on these little beanies, which are called “chutzpahs”, and are worn to remind the Jews that when they were slaves in Egypt, they couldn’t afford proper hats, not even brims on hats. Now, of course, they can afford hats and lots more, but no one really wears hats anymore, so it doesn’t matter. 
We eat tonight from a Cedar plate, which apparently in ancient times was made out of wood, from the famous Cedars of Lebanon. Today, of course, we eat off fine china, just like the incredibly gorgeous plate ware that you will find at all Trump hotels and resorts. And why do we have to call it china? Let’s give it a better name – like “America”.

On the Cedar plate are all sorts of strange things. There is a bone, to remind us that if God had not given us bones, we would just be flopping around like jellyfish. There is a bowl of salt water, and some greens you dip in the saltwater, to remind us that life is best when you have greens by salt water, just like the golf course at my fabulous Mar A Lago. There is some horseradish, but somehow there is no prime rib to put it on, which I don’t get. There is a hard-boiled egg, to remind us of the chickens that the Jews had to leave behind when they left Egypt. Which was really tough, because they couldn’t make chicken soup, which as you know is a basic part of the Jewish diet and kept the Jews healthy during their servitude in Egypt. 
The plate also has giant crackers called “matzah”. “Matzah”. Funny word. Anyway, God told the Jews they had to leave Egypt so fast they couldn’t take time to make proper bread, so all they could prepare were these big crackers, which was a problem, because once they were out in the desert bouncing around on their camels the crackers broke up into crumbs. There is also some chopped up apples and nuts mixed with wine that you can spread on your crackers, to remind you that the Jews were slaves and did not have any proper desserts like crème brulee or Key Lime pie, so had to settle for not so tasty apple and nut mush. 
Moses was the guy who worked with God to get the Jews out of Egypt. They say he was a Jew, but he was raised by Egyptians, and there was no birth certificate. There’s some cockamamie story about being put in basket and dropped in the river, where he was found by some Egyptian princess, but who would believe such a fairy tale? Where is the proof that Moses was a Jew? It’s fake news.
In any event, Moses goes to Pharaoh, and asks him to let the Jews leave Egypt. And Pharaoh is going to grant the request when God HARDENS HIS HEART! How unfair is that? Pharaoh – who otherwise seems to be a great, great guy, who kept unemployment low -- gets a bad rap, but it’s really GOD who is keeping the Jews in Egypt! And then the lamestream media goes and makes Pharaoh the villain and God the hero. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
So God sends plagues to torment the Egyptians. Like pestilence and boils. Those I get. But frogs? Yeah, he sends frogs. What kind of plague is that? I’ll tell you this, we wouldn’t be sheltering at home right now if there were lots of frogs hopping around, would we? In the end, God kills all the first-born Egyptians, but the Jews are spared because they take hydroxychloroquine. So definitely, at that point, God is winning bigly. Also, it’s worth noting that the service involves washing hands at the table, to remind us that even back then the Jews knew that washing hands was important to avoid getting plagues.
After the tenth plague, the Jews are allowed to leave Egypt – which was huge -- but they get to the Red Sea, which they can’t get across because everyone knows Jews are lousy sailors. So Moses parts the Sea, and the Jews cross over, and on the way they gather food from the muddy bed of the Red Sea, in the form of a very terrible tasting fish called “gefilte” which we eat tonight to remind us of how lousy the food was that the Jews had to consume. At that point, just when the Jews think they have it made, Pharaoh changes his mind and comes after them, but God and Moses stop parting the sea and the Pharaoh’s army gets drowned, which is why the Arabs and the Israelis don’t like each other to this very day. The Jews then give thanks to God, who rewards them by letting them wander aimlessly through the desert for 40 years, corresponding to the 40 days of Lent when Catholics stop eating good food like the Jews were forced to do in the desert. 

Also, at this stage of the service, we now spin a top, called a dreidel, which has letters on each of its four sides standing for “a great miracle happened here” to remind us of the miracle of the sea parting. And let me just say, if Pharaoh had built himself a big, beautiful wall instead of relying on the Red Sea to keep people from crossing the border, the Jews would probably still be slaves in Egypt. 
On Passover, there are four sons. One evil, one simple, one wise, and one who doesn’t yet know how to ask. Sort of like Eric, Donald, Jr., Jared and Barron. They ask four questions. I won’t bother with that, because the questions are probably stupid and just asked to try and make me look bad.
You get to drink several glasses of wine tonight, but unfortunately, it’s some horrible kosher stuff that no one would drink if they didn’t have to do so for the holiday. And you have to leave a glass of wine for an invisible man to drink, who never comes, by the way, and the wine goes to waste.
We could also sing some songs. Or not. I haven’t decided yet, it could go either way. There’s one about a baby goat. And one about the invisible man. But believe me, they are not so great. 
There’s lots of praising God, and his mighty hand and outstretched arm, as if we didn’t all know that God is very strong and tough, like me. Very strong and tough. But do you see anyone praising my mighty hand and outstretched arm? Or the fire and fury I can unleash? No. So wrong. So wrong. 
Now we reach the end of the Passover service, and anyone who wants to can search for a broken piece of matzah I hid. And if you find it, I’ll give you a dollar, which is all that’s allowed, because even on a holiday you can’t get Jews to part with more than a dollar.

 Well, that’s Passover. Now let’s finish so we can order in a decent meal. Hallelujah!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Twelve Years of Wedded Bliss!

Our wedding invitation, designed by Erminio Pinque.
Today is our anniversary of marriage.

12 years ago today, my wife and I rented out a former dance hall in Yonkers, gathered 150 of our closest friends, family members, and co-workers, went under the chuppa, got our rings out of a crackerjack box, and then we said "I do."   

I then crushed glass with my feet, in an ancient Jewish tradition.  (It's also a joke that this is the last time a man can put his foot down in the marriage!) 

 There was klezmer music, and food and wine flowed and so did some harder libations.   We had cake, and we invited people to come up and entertain us, which they did.

If you weren't there, you can still read about it, because the NYT was kind enough to write a feature article about it.

This is the start of the NYT feature article about our wedding.  READ THE REST

You can also see what we thought the day after the wedding, because the NYT also sent a videographer to do a little story.  (Sometimes, having a flea circus can be a positive!)

I'd be lying if I were saying it has been all bliss.  There's been plenty of dark moments, and frustrations, and moments of feeling terrible, and a fair amount of yelling on both of our sides.  But there's also been laughter, and engagement, and games, and fun, and moments of beautiful and strong connection and intimacy.

No one is perfect, least of all me.  I told my wife when we started that I didn't expect to have a 100% happiness level.   But I am very clear that there is no one else I'd rather be a partner with, and that somehow we can and will work through any and all hiccups, disagreements, and discouraging spells. 

It seems all a blur, being married, like it is both an immutable fact of life that has always been, and simultaneously like it just happened yesterday.  I'm guessing that 12 years from now I will feel similarly.  I sure hope so.
Now.  (Actually, last year.  We haven't been wearing fancy clothes lately.)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Virtual Vaudeville This Saturday: Featuring The Acme Flea Circus!

I'm very pleased to announce that I'm getting into the remote performing craze.

This Saturday, from 3 pm to 9 pm (Chicago time), I and 8 other performers are creating a "Virtual Vaudeville" show that will feature 6 hours of continuous entertainment from some of the top vaudeville and variety artists in the country.

The show will take place on Instagram Live on the account phonographdjmac.

You can find out more about it on the following facebook event:

Over the course of the 6 hours, each performer will do a show or piece of their show at least 3 times.

UPDATE:  I will be on at 3:50 pm, 5:50 pm, and 7:50 pm.  All times CST.  Tune in a little before that to make sure to catch the whole flea circus act. 

Viewing is free, but we are asking for donations that will be split equally with all of the performers.

In addition to my show, the performers include some of the best in the business, including:

The performers of the first Virtual Vaudeville (Listed below top left to right, middle left to right, bottom left to right.)

I've seen and worked with a few of these people before, and they are great.  And what I've seen from the other performers shows that they will also be a lot of fun.

I've got a few technical issues to solve, like where in my relatively crowded apartment I'm going to perform the show, and whether or not I have enough lighting for it, and how I'm going to adapt my heavily audience-involved show happen without being able to see the audience!

 All solvable and all worth the challenge.

 I look forward to you seeing me (and the fleas!) and my friends on Saturday!