Sunday, May 11, 2008

A miscellany of coolth

With Kup gone and the INC. column a distant memory, today I'm doing my part to report on various cool things that have come to my attention.

1. Robin Williams, in town to tape an episode of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," made unannounced late-night standup appearances last weekend at the Lakeshore Theater and Town Hall Pub.

Big stars playing small rooms to the happy surprise of whoever happens to be there: to me, that's cool.

2. Rising local comedian Hannibal Buress killed with some new material at the Red Line Tap, part of Schadenfreude's Rent Party Tour. Before he went on, he quietly showed me a nice feature the Chicago Tribune had written about him the day before (good for you, Hannibal). I agree with the Trib: he's cool.

3. What Hannibal was too modest to mention, but I heard elsewhere, was that Robin Williams had handpicked him to open at the Lakeshore later that night. How cool is that? It's the latest feather in the cap of an outstanding young talent who'll appear on Comedy Central's "Live at Gotham" on July 25.

4. Speaking of the omnipresent Schadenfreude, they're the writing team behind a new sketch comedy TV show entitled "IL-Informed." It's by, for and about Chicagoans: our headlines, neighborhoods, politics and foibles. Think "The Daily Show" meets "SNL" shot by a "Chicago Tonight" crew.

Like Schadenfreude's radio program and umpteen stage shows before it, "IL-Informed" is smart, topical and funny (and need I add cool?). WTTW has been airing the pilot this week and is looking for a corporate sponsor to underwrite more episodes. Are you listening, Accenture? Motorola? United? McDonalds? Somebody step up, they won't bite your hand... that hard.

5. Happy Mother's Day to my mom. She is extremely cool.

6. A law school friend of mine, Assistant U.S. Atty. Reid Schar, will deliver the federal government's closing argument tomorrow morning in the ongoing showcase corruption trial of financier Tony Rezko. That is a cool assignment for a tough-as-nails prosecutor. Go get 'em, Reid.

7. Some cool baseballiana:
  • Albert Pujols has reached base in every one of the St. Louis Cardinals' 36 games this season.

  • The Arizona Diamondbacks' Brandon Webb has won all eight of his starts this season. Not surprisingly, he was named the National League Pitcher of the Month for April. (The Cubs don't have to face him this weekend, but to get the sweep today they have to beat Randy Johnson.)

  • Yet another Cubbiversary: on May 9, 1993, 15 years ago Friday, Cubs first baseman Mark Grace hit for the cycle at Wrigley Field. He got his home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but it was not enough to prevent a one-run loss.

  • Speaking of the cycle, current Cub Daryle Ward, whose RBI pinch single tied yesterday's game in the seventh, is part of the only father-son combination in major league history to hit for the cycle. He did it in 2004 and his father, Gary Ward, did it in 1980. As a trivia geek of long standing, I find this cool.

  • Ward the Younger is also the only player to hit a ball into the Allegheny River on the fly from Pittsburgh's PNC Park during a regulation game.
8. Someone I know very well has won a total of $843 in his last three trips to the poker table. Although this required the despicable practice of gambling, and there was plenty of luck involved, it's still kinda cool.

9. My brother Ari Bass and his girlfriend, Sarah Ingram, have both begun volunteering their time to mentor young people for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Chicago. Because of its social contribution, this one is particularly cool.

10. What cool list would be complete without a mention of Fonzie punching the jukebox at Al's Diner to play a song? Not too recent, perhaps, and somewhat quaint by today's standards, but in its time it defined cool.

11. You. For reading Ben Bass and Beyond, you are cool.

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