More Apes Press!

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Jason Heidemann of the Chicago Tribune included Impress These Apes in his column this week about the loss of Robin Williams. 

Excerpt here:

Standup Scene: Take a risk in honor of Robin Williams

By Jason Heidemann, Special to the Tribune

AUGUST 20, 2014, 1:10 PM

I was on my way to see a comedy show last week when I learned of the death of Robin Williams. You can say many things about the standup of Williams. His style was manic, intelligent, at times deeply personal and almost always highly physical. He was a comic bull in a china shop. He was political, a great impressionist

and a master ad libber. But what I'll miss most are the risks he took onstage. "You're only given a little spark of madness," he once said. "You mustn't lose it."

Williams was fearless. I think about this going into tonight's "Impress These Apes" challenge.

"Apes" is an eight-week show in the form of a talent competition judged by a panel of hyper-intelligent apes from the future (played by comedians). The annual two-month event happens Mondays at ComedySportz in Lakeview and is the brainchild of Blewt! Productions, the folks behind the Chicago-based game show competition "Don't Spit the Water."

Each week, the contestants are tasked with a challenge they must perform in front of a live audience and tonight their task is to perform a five-minute standup routine with a twist -- each has been assigned their own heckler whose job it is to derail their set. Talk about needing to be fearless. Comedian Shannon Noll is a comic who I last saw at the Laugh Factory's queer-themed "Chigayco" show. When comedian Tiffany Puterbaugh starts lobbing slurs her way, Noll handles them admirably. "I hate cross dressing children," shouts Puterbaugh in attempt to mangle a joke about a food truck with the words 'children crossing' written on the side of it.

Without missing a beat, a whip-smart Noll acidly replies, "Oh my God, you would've hated me as a kid."

The highlight is a ferocious Amy Sumpter who admirably beats back heckler Ramona Mourir by totally engaging her while still making direct eye contact with her audience. "I was scared out of my mind," Sumpter says later. "I found out about Robin Williams right before I left for the show [and] was super sad. But then I had a moment where I thought, 'what would Robin do? He would kick ass.' So that is how I decided I would handle my heckler."

Full Story:


Saturday, August 23rd
Donations Accepted
Green Bean Day School
2214 N Elston

Taught by Eric Sarb

This B-boy/B-girl workshop will begin with a brief historical introduction to the dance form that became known as breakdancing from it's inception to its contemporary status. The workshop will cover the fundamentals of breaking and no prior experience in dance or breakdance is required. Donation based, anything is appreciated but not required, the more the merrier!
Eric Sarb has been breaking for 7 years and started with Michigan State University's breakdance club, and has competed in battles in Michigan, Illinois, and South Korea.

This is not the World's Largest Penny.

This is.

This bear was eating a Chicago style hot dog.

*My awesome Wiskullsin shirt by "some dudes in Milwaukee" purchased on Madeline Island. Love it.

Point to LaPointe

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On Saturday, August 2, Fuzzy and I swam 2.1 miles to an island in Lake Superior in Northern Wisconsin.

It was one of the most incredible things I've ever done.

We were concerned about the water temperature and the air temperature, and how are we going to know where to go and how will they get our stuff to the island etc etc. It turns out that it was all pointless worry, because everything was PERFECT.

When we got to Bayfield Friday evening, looking out at the tiny island across the water was super daunting. But we dipped our toes in, and the water was remarkably warm. What a relief! Packet pick-up was easy peasy and we got really great hooded sweatshirts with our registration fee. In the info packet, however, I saw the following, which made me a little uneasy (see highlight):

We had dinner with our friends Amy Jo and Colleen and their 2 daughters, then headed to the hotel to prep for the next morning. We stayed about a half hour away from the swim start, so that gave us time to wake up, eat a bit of food and mentally prep for the task at hand.

I always talk about big events like this--it is so easy to get nervous or intimiated, but the truth of the matter is, if you are a non-competitor like me (I am just trying to DO it, not to win), then all you are going to do is just get in the water and swim. No biggie. I had one wave of nerves beforehand, but mostly was just excited. The water temperature was 66 degrees, and the high that day was going to be mid-80s. The crazy thing was that Thursday, when we checked the weather, the high was supposed to be mid-60s. It was a fluke that it was so warm, and I am so relieved that it was.

The population of Bayfield, WI is 450. This year, there were 450 swimmers in the event. Everyone was so nice and friendly, and when I thanked a volunteer for having water before the start, they thanked me for thanking them. So precious.

The men started first, at 7:20. They got lined up at the buoys, I kissed Fuzzy and wished him luck, and off they went! It was neat seeing them take off into open water and to travel a great distance in such a short time. The women's wave was to start about 6 or 8 minutes later--I actually can't remember. I seeded myself to the back of the pack--I didn't want to be a bumper to all the fast swimmers--and had a lovely conversation with 2 other women who we all figured out had the same general pace time. Then we were off!

My main concerns with the swim were temperature (which wasn't an issue), food (I tried to force as many calories in as I could), having to pee during the swim, and mental. I ran some power songs through my head to keep any negative thoughts at bay. It was so neat taking off and just swimming into the unknown. As Fuzzy said in his blog post, we usually swim in a part of Lake Michigan that is walled in by concrete on one side. Swimming out to Madeline Island was just so neat and freeing--I knew the general direction we were going, but not exactly where.

Ok, so real talk here. About 20 minutes into the swim, I felt a nagging feeling. I had to pee. And when you have to pee and you have nowhere to pee, it is really hard to think about anything else. I tried not to think about it, but I knew I still had over an hour of swimming. It was going to be rough. I swam for a bit more and tried to think of a plan. I have no qualms about peeing in lakes and rivers--my last few years of triathlons and water sports have gotten me over that issue. But I usually have to go where no one is around and sort of focus, you know? So my plan was to swim to a support kayaker, and ask if I could hold onto their kayak for a second to relieve myself in my wetsuit. At just about that time, I had an issue with my right earplug, so I stopped for a second to adjust. Another woman swam by and asked if I was ok--at this point, I was mostly swimming alone, as the fasties were far ahead already--I told her I was fine, thanked her, and she kept going. Just then--the pee started--and I think I peed for about a solid minute. What a relief! Literally! Plus, the warmth of the pee felt great! (I always think of my friend Andrea's dad. He was a surfer, and once she told me that he said the first thing he would do was pee in his wetsuit so he would stay warm. I love it.) Off I went, and the swim went way better. I peed 4 more times after that, during the swim. I joked with Fuzzy after that I was "soaked in urine" but I periodically tried to flush out my wetsuit with lake water.

Ok, so enough about pee.

The swim was transcendant. I did a lot of thinking--I decided to accept a gig I was on the fence about, among other things--and I ran a long list of songs in my head to keep my brain going. I will post those later.

They had told us that there would be a bouy at every 1/3 mile, and a big one at the mile marker. I only saw 4 on my swim, though. At about what I am assuming was my halfway point I saw the smoke signal on the shoreline that they had mentioned before we took off. It gave me a second wind! Now I knew exactly where I was going, and I reoriented myself off that smoke.

Since I was near the back of the pack, it was rare that I saw other swimmers. Towards the end of it, I passed a pink cap (woman) and a green cap (man). I was thinking it could be Fuzzy, but the swimmer breathed on the left, and Fuzzy breathes on the right. As I approached the shore, I saw the finish line and kicked it into high gear.  Before I finished, however, I stopped and turned around--I wanted to soak in just how far I had come and enjoy the moment of being almost done.  A kayaker helped steer me toward the chute, and then when I started to stand up, volunteers said "swim to the orange!" So I kept going till I saw a series of orange sandbags that served as a walkway. I stood up--and immediately lost my strength and footing and stumbled. Two volunteers took my arms and guided me out of the water, up the stairs to the pier, and over the timing mat. I was grinning from ear to ear--I was deliriously happy!!  The announcer called my name "Erica Gerdeees from Chicago!" I stopped for a second, caught my breath, then looked out over the water at how far I had come. I climbed the steps to the yard where we were (a family volunteers their yard each year) and started to peel off my wetsuit. I looked around for Fuzzy, but didn't see him, so I went to get some water and some fruit that was for the swim participants. I wandered for a second, and wondered if he was at the gear check. Just then, I heard the announcer say "Fuzzy Gerdeeees from Chicago!" and I rushed over to the pier. There was Fuzzy! He looked great!

There aren't a lot of photos from this event, FYI, cause we know...swimming.

But here is a view of the lake from the finish line, with the approximate start noted by the arrow.

I was super weepy after and felt like a million bucks. I was and am SO proud of the major accomplishment that we did! It had been such a daunting event in the future, and suddenly, it was behind us. We picked up our gear, changed clothes and checked our times. I finished in my goal time, at 1:30! Fuzzy rocked it, and clocked in at 1:44. Full results are here.


When you think about it, it is really amazing. I have to give Fuzzy all the credit--without him, I never would have gotten into running, swimming, triathlons or any of that. It's because of his determination to do things he has never done and his constant desire to challenge and better himself that I do anything at all. He is such an inspiration to me, and I admire him more than anything.

Plus, he is so super cute.

Afterwards, we met up with our friends and ate what was probably one of the best breakfasts I've ever had in my life. It was just a sausage egg and cheese sandwich on an english muffin with coffee and some of Fuzzy's Hamm's, but DAMN it was amazing. So delish.

Colleen, Amy Jo, Juniper, Maize and Bart (a friend of Amy Jo and Colleen's who finished 34th overall) all headed back to the mainland, but Fuzzy and I stayed on the island to explore. We looked at all the little art galleries and shops and made a couple of purchases. It was so fun. When it was time to head back on the ferry, I was really overwhelmed by just how far we had gone. The ferry ride took about 25 minutes. And we swam that.

Beautiful Lake Superior.

I was on such a high the rest of the day and weekend, and it was such a great experience, I would do it again in a heartbeat. The more we talked to locals, however, the more we learned just what a fluke the beautiful weather was, so maybe it is good to just end on a high note and keep the good memories. :)

Official Results:
Overall Place: 365 out of 412
Place in Gender: 162 of 182
Place in Age Group (30-39): 52 of 54

Here are some of my power songs that got me through the swim (in this order):
You Should Know Better--Robyn
Pretty Noose--Soundgarden
Bang Bang--K'Naan
That's What's Up--Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

And a final parting shot:

Here are 2 examples. I know there are more out there.

(pic from 2011)

(pic from the other night.)

Summer Phishing!*

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A few weekends ago, I got to rock out 2 nights in a row with Rebecca at the 2014 Summer Phish tour! These were concerts 6 & 7 for me! With the release of their new album, Fuego, it was especially exciting to hear those songs for the first time! We had a total blast, and tour has become a highlight of my summers--something to look forward to! Here are some pics from the weekend!

We are classy dames.

I love Rebecca's tradition of taking your photo with your concert ticket!

We're actors. We know how to face the product.

Sunset with skyline. Can't beat it!

The next day, we "shared a Coke" with KOKO! Couldn't find a Megan, so "Friends" had to do.

Sunday, we found my friend and fellow Modet dancer Amy (right) and her friend Diva, which we were NOT able to do the night before. We also sadly weren't able to find Claire and Tracy Saturday night, but we tried. That's what counts.

We also found our friend Lauren! It was so fun to hang with everyone!

It was a great weekend. The music is incredible and the people are all so nice. Phish shows are all about love and friendship, and it's such a positive place to be. And getting to rock out with your best friend is the best thing ever!

Thanks, Rebecca! Already looking forward to next time!

*I hope this title doesn't get me lots of spam & scams.

Big Swim

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Our big swim is Saturday! It's a 2.1 mile swim to an island in Lake Superior. It'll be awesome but cold. We head up tomorrow and come back Sunday. I am currently trying to decide between having my full range of motion in the water and being cold by swimming without gloves or booties, or sacrificing some of my swim power to stay warmer and conserve heat and keep my hands and feet covered. I will likely make the decision that morning. Either way, I am excited, and SUPER excited for it to be done soon. I love swimming, but this summer has been so nutty, juggling the training with everything else (ahem meat hand) has been a bit challenging.

I'll report in after! Wish us luck!

8 Years!

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Holy Moly!

Has it been 8 years already?

It's been the best 8 years, cause I've been with Fuzzy, the most amazing man on the planet.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

Soundgarden and NIN

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Last week started my 3 week party summer week, and it has been EPIC. I went to 2 Phish shows last weekend, and last night was Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails. Tonight and tomorrow night, I have 2 bachelorette parties, then Tuesday is mine and Fuzzy's 8 year wedding anniversary. The 2 mile Lake Superior swim is next weekend. Plus, we are doing Apes Monday nights and I am still in Rack of Khan rehearsals. Non-stop rocking.

The show last night was interesting--Soundgarden and NIN are co-headling this tour, so they are each playing an hour 20 minute set. It was fun to look at folks before the show to see where their alliance was--were they in a Soundgarden or a NIN Tshirt? I was of course proudly rocking my Soundgarden tank top. Soundgarden went first, and it was still daylight outside. The crowd wasn't into it, and the light made the screens hard to see. They played a lot of tracks from Badmotorfinger and Superunknown, and only 1 from Down on the Upside. Matt Cameron wasn't there, and while it was a good show, it wasn't GREAT. But I will take a less-than-great Soundgarden show over no Soundgarden show, and Megan and I had a great time rocking out.

Me and Megan

Cassie and Miranda


Sea of black tshirts and hoodies. I felt at home.

Jesus Christ Pose

The Day I Tried to Live. Holy crap, watching that again makes me so happy.

My bro gave me a hard time for wearing a Soundgarden shirt to a Soundgarden concert, but Chris Cornell did it, too, so...

Then NIN started. And holy moly, was it awesome.

Like, REALLY awesome.

It was a high energy rocking show with amazing lights and great audio and it just ROCKED. I've always liked Nine Inch Nails, but now I think I LOVE them.

FUN FACT! Both Soundgarden and NIN had songs covered by Johnny Cash.
FUN FACT #2: For Rack of Khan, I almost made the LoCuteUs/Picard/Borg number to Rusty Cage (I'm gonna break my rusty cage and run) but instead decided on Head Like a Hole (I'd rather die than give you control.)

It was a fun night out with good music and good friends! And then hours and hours in the car on the way home, which I will blame on the Beyonce/Jay-Z concert and construction.

More Impress These Apes Press!

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More press for Apes! This time from The Real Chicago. Enjoy!

Keep reading! The next most recent entry was Full Chicago Tribune Review for "Impress These Apes!" or you can visit the Archives

Erica Reid

Erica Reid headshot by Elizabeth McQuern


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