Goodbye, Chicago Moon.

I prepare for my 22 hour flight. So long, America. I will miss you (and Halloween. and Thanksgiving. and Hanukkah!) Here are some goodbyes:

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Return to Down Under

It was only 4 years ago that my world, quite literally, changed.

This is me, in Canberra.

This is me, in Canberra.

At that point, I had been to Canada twice but I had never traveled off this continent. When the invitation came from Cindy Tonkin in Australia to visit Sydney to teach longform improvisation I was leery at first. What, leave America? Not only did I travel to Sydney and Canberra (the capital) to teach, I went to Cairns to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

Proud of my virgin passport I displayed it to the agent at the Australian border. “This is brand new! This your first time out of the states,” she asked. I nodded in the affirmative. “And you chose us?! Well, welcome then! Come on in!” and she smiled and stamped my passport. It was a great welcome to a great country.

Since then, I’ve been to the Philippines and England and now, I’m headed back over to Australia! Going to visit Sydney and Melbourne this time. I’m very excited… never been to Melbourne and I’ve heard so much about it.

I’ll be gone for more than a month and it’s a bit sad…. going to miss Halloween and Thanksgiving, but the fun of meeting new people interested in longform improvisation is so great I cannot resist it. It’s such an old, trite saying, but the more you travel the more you learn about home is so true. I have learned a great deal about the world and myself during my travels about the art of improvisation. In fact, it was during my sojourn to South Carolina to teach for ComedyWorx (two months!) was where I did most of my 123-nightmare-at-20000-feetwriting for “Longform Improvisation and the Art of Zen.” I have a writing project planned for this trip (deadline: 1/1/14!) and I hope to make a good run of it.

Chicagoans, please say fare well if you get a chance. Australians, I’m dead excited to reunite with friends and to make new ones! Creepy-little-goblins-that-eat-airplane-wings-that-I-know-exist-even-if-there’s-no-proof-except-in-my-onboard-nightmares, I will get you!

 

Hallow-weaned

Halloween has always been a special Holiday for me, and for my family. I guess I owe my love and devotion to Halloween to my parents.

I can remember a birthday party my parents held for me… I must have been 6, maybe 7.  They made the basement into a “haunted basement” and had different games (apples on a string? Is that a thing? Bobbing for apples. There were a lot of apple-based games.)

halloween-party-1939One time, another birthday party, we were having a “seance” when my father announced that he had to go to the store for more soda. In the pouring rain. Suddenly, during the most dramatic moment, there was giant slam on the window from a ghostly hand! My father, having missed all the screaming and running about, returned moments after the seance without the soda. It was my first case and I solved it using logic. I was very proud. I weren’t afraid of no ghosts.

The public library near my childhood home was a pretty good one. After I had read all the books in the childrens section I had to get a permission slip signed that allowed me to read the books on the “adult” side of the library. To this day, I know exactly where the books on the occult and supernatural were located. I read them all.

I want to believe, I guess.

Though I have explored, trespassed and invoked I have never seen any true evidence of supernatural or psychic occurrence. The closest I ever got was a psychic reading by Illinois medium, Greta Alexander. It was off-air at the radio station I worked at and she did a reading of me over the phone. It was surprisingly detailed and accurate. BUT, no ghosts, no cold spots, no unexplained, undersea sponge migrations. *sigh*

An obsession with horror movies led to a deep fascination with the paranormal. When the movie “Poltergeist” came out I read up on actual poltergeist reports. I remember sitting at my friends house as he and several others watched poltergeistme read the last chapter of “The Exorcist.” When I finished, I said, “Whew. Okay. Start it.” and we instantly watched the rented VHS tape of the movie. (it’s a good book by the way, but there’s a book based on the “actual” exorcism as well… the Robbie Mannheim case, IIRC.)

My Halloween love followed me to Chicago where I have produced/directed/wrote almost 15 different shows. With the talented folks of Our Feature Presentation, we’ve been doing an Improvised Horror movie for the past few years, but this year I decided to extend the SATURDAY/saturdays ethos and “crowdsourced” a show. It’s fun and on Thursdays right now!! Come see! It’s called “The Great and Scary Halloween Show!” And as always, free candy.

Years ago, I wrote/directed “Friday the Halloweenth: a 3D Horror Musical.” The amazing Steph McCullough musical directed and composed the songs (actually creating songs from my tortured lyrics.) The 3D aspect was when there was an onstage murder (or sex) blood and body parts flew into the audience. I really loved that show and I would like to remount it… Steph?

My biggest mistake (or weird foresight) was not writing or performing anything for Halloween myself this year. It feels weird, like I’m not doing anything. Coincidentally, I am heading over to Australia for the month of November. Initially it was just Sydney, but when they added Melbourne the trip was frontloaded (I thought we would add Melbourne at the end of Sydney, but Melbourne has an improv fest that I will attend)… so, bottomline, I leave America on October 30th. One day before Halloween. It will be the first time I will be out of the country on Halloween (not to mention THanksgiving)! Sad, but not so sad.. I love Australia and I love teaching improv. I’m lucky to combine the two.

Any way, I like Halloween.