Category: Travel


A few points to remember as you’re riding the CTA trains in Chicago (we Chicagoans call it “the el”):

1. Don’t worry so much about getting ready for your stop. Standing near the door for your whole ride just puts you in the way of other people trying to use the doors. Similarly, preparing yourself for the next stop well beforehand by forcing a tiny path through the rest of us (packed like sardines) is equally curious and irritating. Seriously, chillax! I have never seen anyone miss their stop because they didn’t get out in time.

2. Use your inside voice. When you’re in a group on the el, people aren’t amused by you unless they have nothing better to do. Same thing goes for cell phone convos. No one cares! In fact, they’d rather you shut your gab-hole so they can read their books. Red line riders are sometimes exempt from this rule, because the train itself can’t be bothered to stay quiet.

3. Seats have borders, too. When you’re lucky enough to score one of those not-quite ergonomic seats on the el, you get all the space within the confines of those nifty lines that border its fuzzy blue (or brown) surface. In other words, no one should cross borders with their giant elbows as they read the paper or text their (probably equally self-entitled) friend.

4. Check your scent. Everyone knows that voices carry – but breath travels, too. Carry a pack of gum with you for those post-coffee mornings.

I know I’ve missed a few – feel free to let me know your El-iquette additions.

Santa Express

Santa Express!

I got to ride the elusive Santa Express yesterday afternoon. I’d only heard about it before. It carried candy-toting elves, played holiday music, and was filled with fake ads – for North Star Bucks and such – and holiday jokes. Where do gingerbread men sleep? Under cookie sheets.

I talked to Luke Wilson

I was recently revisiting the funniness of this recent trip Jed and I took to LA. We’d won a trip for the premiere of “Old School”, courtesy of Rolling Rock. I’d entered the contest online a couple of days before they called and informed me I was the winner. The trip was about a week later (during the week), so I think they’d called other people first who couldn’t make it on such short notice. Luckily, Jed and I were both footloose and fancyfree and unemployed!

Overall, the trip was really cool. At the premiere after-party, I talked to Luke Wilson about both of us being from Texas. He was very dry and non-smiley. And I think I bored him– I guess he had to go do some celebrity thing because he left the conversation pretty quick.

I had a weird connection to the director, though, so I talked to him a couple of times. See, I helped out this little production company called Wiggle Puppy Productions last Summer. I designed a press pack for their recently finished feature called “Urban Ground Squirrels.” It’s a trippy film- check out their website here.

Anyway, the principals at Wiggle Puppy are huge Phish fans, and the director of “Old School” also did a Phish documentary, Bittersweet Motel, a few years back. Well, they had filmed Sara (the producer) dancing around with a red balloon of some kind of drug (I’m totally not the person to ask for further info.) And apparently that’s considered the “thesis shot” of the film. So, at the premiere after-party, I walked up to this director (Todd Phillips) and said “I know that girl you filmed with the red balloon”, etc. and he said, “I’m totally in love with that girl.”

The funniest part was telling Todd about Sara getting drawn into the Simpsons: on the episode with Phish, there’s a pan across an audience. It stops on this girl with the same long (I mean down-to-your-butt long) blonde hair and the same clothes, dancing around with a red balloon. Todd was thrilled to find that out!

It was one of those funny conversations you have to write down just after it happens. And I did. It’s pretty much covered in the paraphrasing, though.

•••Here’s a silly little list of people we saw that night, in order of appearance:

Jesse Bradford: main guy in Swimfan and Clockstoppers, love interest from Bring It On. He had bad hair that night.

Owen Wilson: he was across the aisle from us in Mann’s Chinese Theater! I heard him laugh at his bro’s jokes!

Danny Masterson: Hyde in That 70’s Show

Wilmer Valderrama: Fes in That 70’s Show

that blonde chick from That 80’s Show

Topher Grace: Eric from That 70’s Show

Will Ferrell: I said four words to him on his way to the bathroom!!

Luke Wilson: see above story (I like Owen better)

Andy Dick

Andy Richter (I)

Todd Phillips, director

Jeremy Piven: I used to have a crush on him, but he’s so short!

Stephen Dorff

Jack Osbourne: big fluffy hair; I’m sure that was fun for the guy behind him in the theater

Ellen Pompeo: love interest in Old School, otherwise I wouldn’t know her name. She’s Renee Zellwegger-ish.

Melissa Joan Hart: from TV’s Sabrina, the Teenage Witch! AKA the show that’s not as good as Buffy.

Jed and I also “talked” to the guys from that 70’s Show, minus Topher. Jed and I were on a couch, and those guys had to walk between us and the coffee table in front of us. They said, “Excuse us” and “Thank you” and were very polite for young celebrity punks.

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