Indiana Jones and His Miserable Failures

In this month of June, 2012, I happened to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark twice. Once, on TV and again at the Music Box Theater (it was digitally remastered.) Mulling the film over I discovered that Indiana Jones is a miserable failure. A handsome, charming, kick-ass failure.

Let’s take a look at his “accomplishments.” We see him lose that hard-fought for idol to Belloq and the Hovitos. Later, we see an entire class of coeds swooning as he discusses the dangers of folklore and superstition. While, seemingly cute at first, it seems suspicious later in view of his relationship with Marion.

Hired by the US Army, he goes to Nepal to speak with Abner Ravenwood. He only finds Abner’s daughter (Abner is dead) and she is pissed. (In 1981, my mom’s rave review of this movie was “Oh, it’s great… this girl sees her ex and she punches him right in the face!”) Based on their conversation we can decipher that when Indiana was a student (27 years old) he had a relationship with the then 16 year-old Marion. She says plaintively, “I was child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it.” Gross.

But enough about that stuff…

  • The Nazis have only one side of the headpiece. As Indiana and Sallah say at the same time, “They’re digging in the wrong place!” So, Indiana shows them the right place. Without his help, the Nazis might never have found the Ark. Certainly not within their timetable.
  • After escaping the Well of Souls, Indiana and Marion destroy the plane that was supposed to take the Ark to Berlin. Imagine if they didn’t… and Belloq opened it “in Berlin, for the Furher…” Boom. End of World War 2 as the Nazi high command has their faces melted off.
  • Does Indiana Jones believe the Ark has supernatural powers? Does he want to stop the Nazis at any cost? Who knows? But when he has the bazooka aimed right at it, he allows himself to be talked out of destroying it. “Hey, 20 guys with machine guns holding my girlfriend hostage! I have one giant bullet! What’s that? Oh, nevermind.”

So, if Indiana Jones was never involved in this plot  A) the Nazis might never find the Ark of the Covenant, and B)if they did find it, they would have opened it in Berlin, killing Hitler. Thanks for nothing, Professor Jones!

I still love Raiders, but man, all these things really bothered me. Also, that island is a Nazi base… how did Indiana & Marion (with the Ark!) escape it?



A Proposal for Our Female Friends

It is with great worry and concern that I am bombarded with the complaints and alarms of my female friends. You cannot help but see the general female populace is in an uproar both on the television and with their personal headlines via the Facebook and Twitter social media services. These feminine people are distracted from their lives and livelihoods and forced to contemplate their very womanhood and state of being.

I think everyone can agree that this seemingly sudden and vicious attack on the less-masculine sex is both a deplorable state of affairs and affair of state and that person who could bring about a decided end to such a dilemma would be deserving of their own statue or, at the very least, their own BRAVO reality show.

I’m a great student of history and it is my intention to address the problems of reproductive rights, equal pay, body issues, equal rights, violence against women, sexism, and What To do When He Gives You The Silent Treatment. Being a scholar and a man I am an expert in all of those issues. Resolving the ones I specified easily solves any other issues. Indeed, by solving the Woman Problem, (by Thinking Outside About the Box) I have solved the Gordian Knot.

In the United States, there are approximately 143 million women, which is a ratio of 1.1 women to 1.0 men. If, instead of political parties we were having a cocktail party this would be a much-desired gender split.

Some of you may know of my recent trip to London and my studies there have assured me that women need to get pregnant in order to have a full and satisfied life.

I suggest that females under the age of 30 get pregnant as soon as possible. What good is a “Right” if you don’t exercise it as much as possible? Not only do I personally own several Brugger & Thomet MP9 tactical machine pistols, I also refuse to quarter troops in my home. Only when seen as an active exerciser of a specific Right can one be taken seriously as an advocate of said Right. With most of our larger, and therefore better, companies hosting a generous maternity leave (coupled with short-term disability leave which is what pregnancy is, after all) getting pregnant while employed should have nothing but productive and pleasant consequences. As for body issues, who doesn’t love a pregnant woman? The glow, the promise of new life, the pleasant plumpness. If all girls under 30 under take this proposal then it will be a great equalizer in regards to body shapes and weight. Of course, once a woman is pregnant she is sacrosanct. I can not think of a single instance where there was a verbal insult, much less physical violence(!) against a pregnant woman. Just look at a crowded city bus- the social pressure to give your seat to a young woman with child is immense… now consider this on a national level… imagine the picturesque scene when all of America metaphorically stands up so all our pregnant women can comfortably sit down and be quiet. With an entire generation of pregnant women, the issues of sexism fade away as concerns of business, legislation and empowerment are supplanted by thoughts of sitting, lactation and if “Madison” is still a popular girls name.

There will, of course, be those girls who will attempt to opt out of this generous proposal. I suggest centers where these recalcitrant ladies are wooed and seduced by many of today’s popular male celebrities. Surely these comfortable, lush surroundings can be sponsored by our more far-seeing wine and chocolate companies. These virtual nirvanas of reproduction could also serve wonderfully as re-education centers for the homosexually wayward. Those women who are physically unable to conceive a child can offer many other services to their nation at large; mid-wives, scullery, extra organs for the rich, etc.

There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! too frequent among us! sacrificing the poor innocent babes I doubt more to avoid the shame, which would no longer exist in this nation of conception.

As an additional benefit, all pregnant women would be found instantly hilarious. Even if the baby-addled thoughts were to be nonsensical, who among us wouldn’t cheerfully LOL?

What of those ladies stuck in that unfortunate age known as “over 30?” These women are wonderful examples for our younger, more fertile, more important girls. These women should be used as tradition dictates; as teachers and living bearers of knowledge. The skills and talents of sewing, cooking and even general housekeeping should not be lost in this age of iPads and telecommunication. If there’s dust under the coffee table there’s no app for that! Our more veteran women can interview the younger generation so that information and wisdom can be more effectively passed down. It gladdens my heart to see Guru Oprah Winfrey immortalizing the philosophies and sage advice of the Kardashian clan.

Also, with today’s medicine more of our women can be made pregnant as they age. In this age of miracle births our scientists are limited only by their imaginations!

So, to solve the myriad of conundrums facing our female friends the answer is simple; get pregnant. In fact, get pregnant the “Chicago Way”- early and often.

I profess, with all sincerity, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this program other than the public good of my country and the future of mankind. I pray this program is Swiftly implemented.


How a Computer Brought Me to Improv

I’ve been teaching and performing longform improvisation in Chicago for the past seventeen years and it all happened because of the Amiga computer.

(*warning* nothing below has been fact or proof checked)

Never heard of the Amiga computer? I don’t blame you. It’s a brand of computer from Commodore and only sold about six million units within the US (it was much more popular overseas.) It came out in the late 80s and utilized a very interesting graphics interface and processors. It was really quite amazing at the time and super cheap for nerds like me.  I really don’t remember how I ended up buying an Amiga500, but I loved that machine. I was working at New York’s first Blockbuster Video and a customer came in with an Amiga button. We struck up a conversation and within a year or two I was A) his roommate, and B) the manager of the world’s only Amiga-only store in Manhattan.

My roommate, Aaron, was the friend of a guy who owned the store in Midtown. We all hung out and as I had a great deal of retail experience I ended up over there.

Running THE Nerd of nerd stores was fascinating. Strange and talented people ended up congregating there. I remember these kids (in their teens or early 20s) who were all members of 2600, a hacker group that would meet in New York once a month. Some of them ended up on the cover of Time Magazine in an article about young hackers. One of the kids (a big fan of this college basketball player named Michael Jordan) was able to take a handheld phone dialer and re-program it so it emitted a tone that told payphones that $50 had been entered. He had a nice little business making those.

The owner had a framed $100 bill on the wall behind the register. One morning I noticed that it had been replaced by a $1 bill! As the employees came in I had a meeting and informed them that my brother was on the way to the store with my fingerprint kit and unless the culprit confessed I would have them identified and arrested. One hour later, the criminal came to me and confessed. I fired him. And laughed. Fingerprint kit? Two months later, the same person used us as a reference.

There was (and still is, I imagine) a special effect house located in Manhattan and they called for an in-house Amiga demonstration. They were famous and I was dying to go and get a tour of the facility. I’m not a computer genius, but I could do a demonstration easily, but I decided to let my friend/employee Peter go do the demo. Let’s flash forward from then and Peter has worked on more than 20 movies and most recently was the Digital Effects Supervisor for “Tron: Legacy.” All from giving an Amiga demonstration. I wonder if he still has an Amiga.

One day, at an Amiga convention, I was loudly selling/riffing on some terrible software that we were desperate to unload. I mean, these were terrible titles. The owner of MicroPACE, the worlds only Amiga-only international distributorship was impressed and asked to meet me. MicroPACE was located in Champaign, IL and they eventually flew me out to interview for a marketing position. It was a fascinating trip. I had only lived in New York; Champaign was the smallest town I had ever been in- I thought it’d be interesting. They offered and I accepted and I became Director of Marketing for MicroPACE Distributors. That was 1991. I think.

I was with MicroPACE for about two years. Got a drivers license for the first time. Got real ugly laid-off. Worked at a radio station. Worked at Blockbuster (again!) Eventually moved up to Chicago, but I really don’t know if I would have ended up here save for two reasons: John Mulhern and Living in Champaign.

John, a friend from New York, knew all about Second City and moved to Illinois to pursue classes there. He ended up at ImprovOlympic as well and I began to travel up to Chicago (about 2 hours north) to watch shows and sets. The Second City Mainstage was “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been Mellow?” The improv sets were daunting. I mean, the cast was Steven Carell, Stephen Colbert, Dave Razowsky, Fran Adams, Ruth Rudnick, Jackie Hoffman and Scott Allman. Not only was it some of the first professional improv I had ever seen, it was THOSE GUYS. They were amazing. John keep urging me to move to Chicago, but I was so intimidated that I keep hemming and hawing.

Finally, I came up to Chicago to watch a student show day. In those days it was a full Sunday… from 9am to 9pm… ALL THE CLASSES did a show in the etc. I packed a lunch and watched them all. Then I went home and began to pack.

So, almost two decades later.

Thank you, John Mulhern. I miss you terribly and wish you were here in Chicago.

Thank you, Champaign. What a weird place you are.


Thank you, Amiga Computers.

Maybe I’m Amazed.

Today is Paul McCartney’s 70th birthday. Here’s a personal story of how the song “Maybe I’m Amazed” is part of my life.

We were in love, or so we told each other. We were not together for various reasons and it made us sad. This song meant a great deal to us- we were both amazed that we had finally met and were amazed that our feelings were returned. We both thought we were “out of our league.” She had to travel and while she was away I was admitted into the hospital. I wasn’t in pain, but no one could decipher my illness. Alone, lonely, and perhaps a bit frightened, I lay in my hospital bed listening to music and this song came on. I didn’t call her to tell her about my sickness- she’d be back and I’d be home- why worry her? It was late at night and in the middle of the song she called- she was just thinking about me; how was I doing? I said I was fine, how was the trip?

We’re not together and I haven’t spoken to her for years. I miss her sometimes and hope she’s okay. For awhile this song made me too sad, but now I can listen to it again. It’s a nice song.