Why Chicago IS Star Wars

Lucas-Death-Star-Chicago-skyline-2Chicago will soon be the home of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts! It will be a 17(!) acre facility on the lakefront and what better city for it to be in than CHICAGO?! Chicago is the perfect city for this interactive education installation and blah blah blah here’s a hilarious list:


City is plagued by evil droids with weird names like Parking Meter and Street Corner Surveillance Camera.

Last September my taun-taun froze before I reached the first marker.

Homeless people ride in your redline car to hide their numbers (but not their smell.)

One is a racially segregated mess of violence and the other is Star Wars.

o-CHICAGO-PARKING-ALDERMEN-facebook“That’s no museum; that’s a tourist trap.” The innocent people in the movies had to deal with an evil empire building a giant, unnecessary, expensive monstrosity.

Combined Potholes > Sarlacc Pit.

Plenty of concern and speculation over who will lead the franchise next.

Wrigleyville on a hot summer day during a doubleheader: You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Evil leader is missing upper appendage but is dangerous none-the-less.

When you tell this city that you love it; by recycling, volunteering, paying taxes and moving ALLL the way into the car, it responds, like a jerk, “I know” and raises your taxes, drops 20 degrees in 4 hours, and sneaks a pound of cheese into your pizza.


You've failed me for the last time, Alderman...

You’ve failed me for the last time, Alderman…


I Am a Collectible

Two of the times people reminisce the most are birthdays and moving. I did both in one month so I’ve been waxing nostalgic for the past few weeks. (And besides poetic, why don’t we “wax” anything else?)

I found some fun things amongst the extraneous boxes of JasonChinmemorabilia (it’s like the last shot of Raiders in here). I’m exactly middle-age now and never has this been more apt. My generation straddles the analog and digital ages; I have vinyl, cassettes, mini-disks, CDs, flashdrives and tiny MP3 players. At one point I was working at a place where I got film and developing for free so I have tons of photos (actual physical photos) from that period of my life. That period lasted for many years. In fact I just discovered some wonderful photos of Halloween shows from the past… Once I get a desk, I’ll hook up my scanner and get them online. I don’t know why she swallowed that fly.

Ages ago, I was the coach for Deep Schwa. I had coached them for maybe more than a decade when I decided to hang it up (the cast had been solid/stable for years and in fact, now is almost completely different from the people I had coached… Craig Uhlir IMG_0743would move to Las Vegas for a few years and then return. Same for Jeff Griggs (he went on many a SC boat.) So, we had a nice little get together at Buca de Beppo on Clark Street (since defunct). They all chipped in and had Dave Gilley (who was a performer at iO at the time) whip up my very own personal action figure! Check it out!

That background behind the figure is an exact replica of what the iO cabaret looked like. It was like we were sponsored by Warner Brothers cartoons. And… yes, the hair is accurate.

At the time, I was doing a Halloween show and the delightful Piero Procaccini was playing Fred, from the Scooby-Doo show. (Check out his old, forgotten blog here.) Wigs were not working out with Piero’s lustrous and thick ebony hair. So, we made a deal- he would bleach his hair IF I did as well. So, one night after rehearsal (and in those days, rehearsal could begin at 10pm) we stayed and the wonderful Erica Reid bleached our heads!

It was not fun. I hated it but anything for the show. Here’s what I looked like… (please forgive some of the photos… they’re pics I took with my phone… like I mentioned before, I don’t have a desk so my computer stuff is not hooked up… I should uh probably buy a desk soon. I love desks.)



My hair grows really fast (and I heal quite quickly as well)- I’m the Low-Rent Wolverine. I have to admit, I think I look cute in that pic. And thinner. Sigh. Trust me, age and sadness add the pounds.

I have no idea what year this is… I think 99? Maybe?

When my desk is set up I’ll scan some more ridiculous things but this is me with what many assumed were my frosted hair tips. Sadly, this is far from the worst hair I’ve ever had.

Also, I love Halloween shows. I want to do more.


IMG_0744 IMG_0745 IMG_0746

Ten Most Used Villain Quotes

I love the villains of the piece; your Lecters, your Vaders, your Belloqs. They’re always the most fun part of the movie, definitely the person you want to be, uh, before they’re thrown into a pit of lava or killed by their own men or disintegrated by their own invention… Most tend to be a bit on the loquacious side, so here are some of the lines they use the most:

And what have we here…

1399313915_rodartestarwars5dressesPerhaps I’ll visit him/her/them after I kill you!

You’ll pay for that!

Kill him!

Goodbye/Farewell, (protagonist’s name).

(as villain is revealed to be a close friend) Didn’t I tell you to trust no one?

When this counter hits zero…

Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the film adaptation of Diamonds Are ForeverPlease, enjoy. (villain eats fancy dinner with protagonist)

We’re not so different, you and I.

There’s supposed to be ten, but there’s only nine! How villainous!!




Season Cliffhanger! Who Will Live? Who Will Die!?

Who shot JR? Who shot Mr. Burns? The wedding massacre from Dynasty. Buffy is dead. Picard is Borged. Big season finales with character changes and a shuffling of the status quo.

IMG_0381I feel like this summer is the big season finale for my life. Not only have I moved to a new neighborhood which changes my entire outlook and life, but so many of my friends have moved (or even bought houses!) recently. And, just like a television series, the iO Theater is moving to a bigger facility which completely changes my life as well.

So, what will happen next season? New friends, new shows, new plot twists. As with all shows that kind of relaunch, there’s a certain risk involved. Do you meddle with proven qualities and stand where you are or do you roll the dice and hope for evolution? We have to evolve. We have to invite and welcome change.



  • strange adventures in exotic lands!
  • supporting characters become full cast members
  • broader, more accessible comedy mixed with weirder, more niche larfs
  • exciting super famous cameos
  • thrill to the exciting new sets and costume design
  • more acting! more writing!
  • delicious foodstuffs
  • and more sex.




All we have to avoid is the dreaded mid-series cliche of adding a kid. Or Ted McGinley.

The Truth in The Dream

Last night, I was doing lights for The Incident, the Harold team I coach, at the iO Theater. Traditionally, the improvisers do a Dream before the last team of the night. It consists of an audience member being interviewed and then the improvisers perform a dreams-2“dream-like” riff on the subjects fears, hopes and details of their day. It’s a fun bit of audience interaction. Sometimes, however, like last night, it doesn’t go as planned.

The audience member said that he had killed a hooker the night before (which, you know, is pure hilarity.) The host and the improvisers tried to course-correct and tell him to just tell the truth about his day, but sometimes people feel like they have to be funny on stage. It just wasn’t going well. When asked “What time do you get off?” he replied, “Oh, I get off all the time.” I (and the audience) had had enough so I pulled the lights and cranked the music super loud (it was “Turned Down for What.”) and the final team (The Ruckus) just danced for a good minute. That was awesome.

I was pretty blasé about it all… I’ve seen too many Dreams gone wrong and I’ve been thinking about some of them. Here are some of my best/worst Dream memories:

When I was hosting and interviewing a young lady, I asked if she had a significant other. Julia Wolov from Deep Schwa exclaimed, “God, Jason, stop hitting on her!” I turned to tell Julia to shut up and when I turned back to the interviewee, she (the audience member) grabbed me, dipped me and kissed me long and hard. That was a funny Dream.


sandman_dreamslibrary2I was interviewing an uncooperative, has-to-be-funny audience member when suddenly a voice rang out, “This guy’s no good, Jason. Let’s get another person up here.” It was Charna (the theater owner) and she was right. Switched out interviewees and everyone was much happier. Lesson learned.


Once a young lady was being interviewed and she said she spent most of day drinking and screwing her boyfriend. She was mad at the US Army for taking him away (he was returning to duty). Eventually, we discover that A) she’s only 19, B) she met him last week. Her future plans? To move to LA and start her porn career. The ensuing scenes were actually quite brutally honest and honestly brutal. So much so that she and her friends left.


So long ago… iO student Mary Archbold was the audience volunteer. My teammate Pat Shay was dating her. The host asked her to describe her boyfriend. She pointed at Pat and said dreamily, “Beautiful. He’s very beautiful.” Years later, I would be the Best Man at their wedding and today (2014) they have two children.


There was a large group of intellectually disabled adults and one of them volunteered to be the Dreamer. As they were being interviewed, it was Paul Grondy who began whispering to everyone on stage, “He’s a superhero.” and we did The Dream where the subject was the greatest person in the world- always there to help and be a great friend. It’s my favorite version of the Dream ever.


We used our powers to lift up and inspire instead of ridicule and criticize. That Dream was pure wonder and imagination and I’m glad to have been a part of it. I think, sometimes in the fast-tag-out version we do, we forget that these are all real people being portrayed.


The Dream, sometimes, can be just that.. made of Dreams.

Alright, Youse Mugs!

How do you measure a life? Moving from one place to another is a good way to take stock (literally) of your past, present and future. When I started to pack up my stuff for my recent move, I thought “maybe I should get rid of some of these mugs” but as I looked at them I realized that each and every one of them represented an important chapter of my life. Here are some of my mugs and what they represent (in no order whatsoever.)


Years ago, back in NYC, I was the manager of the world’s only Amiga computer-only retail store. I eventually moved to Champaign, IL to work for the world’s only Amiga computer-only distributor as the marketing director. As such, I was in charge of running our computer show presence. This one was at the Queen Mary in Pasadena. It was a great 4 day weekend for me. I think that was 1993.


In 2004, I was Charna Halpern’s “+1” to the world premiere of the movie Anchorman. It was at Gruman’s Chinese Theater (I don’t think they call it that anymore). Watching the movie with the entire crew and cast was simply amazing but the party afterwards was even better. Met a bunch of seemingly random celebrities, but best of all was meeting (again, but first since he became famous) Adam McCay, who said, “Hey, Jason! Thanks for coming out for the movie!” What a super nice guy.


MIX 94.5! A better mix of the 70s, the 80s, and… today. While I was in Champaign, IL, I became a DJ at this radio station (WLRW). Since there was a Jason already, I became known as the Sandman. As with most pop music stations, they were a few years late on trends.. so this was a hyper color mug. It was blue and then changed to red when a hot beverage was pouring into it. It got stuck at red.


AHIMA, the American Health Information Management Association. One of the best jobs I ever had. I was a temp and I had to enter about a 1000 info sheets every day. I kinda set my own hours (7am) and left around 3pm when I entered about 1000 forms. I listened to the Howard Stern show and entered data. My boss, Susan was awesome. Years, later we would end up as neighbors. She didn’t remember me until i showed her my mug!


My sister gave me this mug for a Batman themed birthday I had when I was, uh, in high school. I like it a lot


I love Cheers. Always have. The lovely John P. Glynn & Brooke Becker were in Boston this year and bought me this wonderful souvenir! It’s my newest mug and I love it.



In 1987, my family went to Disney World. I got to stay at the house by myself. It was awesome. They brought me back this stein with Goofy on it. Why? Because that’s the Disney character they associate with me the most.


Earlier this year, my friend Caroline Sabourin was in Chicago for some improv intensives. She had to stay with me for a few days and for a thank you she got me this Star Trek Classic mug. The other side has the schematics of the Enterprise.















These are my mugs! Come over and we’ll have some tea! Oh, I love teas. Or whiskey. It’s fun to drink booze from a mug. I don’t know why, but it is.