Who? What?

“Living and ceasing to live are imaginary solutions.
Existence is elsewhere.”


I live in Chicago. I’m gay. My favorite film is True Stories. I write about movies. A lot. In addition to writing about them here you’ll also find my stuff at Chicagoist (RIP). I have also written for publications such as Reel Chicago and the Chicago Reader. I’m a regular contributor to CINE-FILE.

My book Queue Tips: Discovering Your Next Great Movie was published by Huron Street Press in 2012. Pause of the Clock, a feature film I wrote and directed, premiered at the Denver Film Festival in 2015. My second film, Roy’s World: Barry Gifford’s Chicago, premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in February 2020, and is now available to stream (here’s a partial list of places to watch it).

Want to drop me a line? randomcha(at)gmail(dot)com.

I like books. I like cocktails. I like music.


1975: born on August 22nd at St. Rose Memorial Hospital, Denver

1977: my parents divorce; my mother remarries

1978: we move to Albuquerque

1979: my brother is born

1983: we move to Arvada, Colorado

1984: transfer into a pilot program for gifted & talented children called CHIPS at Sierra Elementary School

1987: diagnosed with a brain tumor, which is successfully removed in a 12-hour operation at Children’s Hospital, Denver; start seventh grade at Drake Junior High

1988: write/direct first video narrative, The Man Who Knew Too Much

1989: write/direct first feature-length video, Desperation

1990: start ninth grade at Arvada West High

1991: appear onstage in Ah! Wilderness, Eugene O’Neill’s worst play

1992: lose virginity; write/direct video adaptation of  The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco

1993: graduate valedictorian without a scholarship; start at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

1994: move into my first apartment, with roommate Dylan Lorenz; transfer to Columbia College, Chicago; begin work on a 16mm feature film, Pause of the Clock

1995: begin coming out to friends and family; perform lead role in experimental feature Narrow, directed by Tchavdar Gueorguiev

1996: write travel-memoir Scenery

1997: graduate without a major from Columbia College; spend 6 weeks living in London

1998: begin working as a barista at Intelligentsia Coffee

1999: move to L.A. to edit the documentary Kosher Messiah, only to realize I hate L.A.; move back to Chicago six months later

2000: meet Andy in a gay.com chatroom; we both break up with our current boyfriends to be together; start blogging

2001: on 9/11 we see Laurie Anderson in concert at Park West in Chicago

2002: Andy and I move in together; I quit Intelligentsia and flounder for several months before finding work at a non-profit

2003: my book 100 Spinning Plates is published, article about it appears in the Chicago Reader

2004: buy Andy an iPod for Xmas

2005: buy myself an iPod; sell 100SP at Renegade Craft Fair

2006: read in Portland, Oregon in support of 100SP; finish draft of new novel, Tiny Apocalypse; begin contributing DVD reviews to brianbacklash and film/TV posts to Chicagoist

2007: writing, watching movies, perfecting my mixology skills; visit London; cover the Chicago International Film Festival for Chicagoist; begin 3 Things About 500 Movies project; sell out first edition of 100 Spinning Plates

2008: interview Bob Balaban, Barry Gifford for Chicagoist; quit non-profit job for a position at the ALA; visit NYC; begin contributing to CINE-FILE

2009: continue various film writing; interview Nathan Rabin, Wallace Shawn; dining guide to Chicago appears in American Libraries; get a guided tour of Chicago from Barry Gifford; begin working at ALA Editions; see Grace Jones at the Hollywood Bowl and Leonard Cohen in Chicago; tour North Shore distillery

2010: interview Christian Friedel, Eva Marie Saint, Gabe Klinger; become a member of the Queer Film Society; serve as features/documentaries programmer for the 29th Reeling Film Festival; write introduction to the young adult edition of Sad Stories of the Death of Kings, by Barry Gifford

2011: interview Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Alan Arkin, Marty Rubin, Jeffrey Brown, Jason Adasiewicz; introduce a screening of Cold Turkey at Doc Films the night before the Groundhog Day Blizzard; profile the demise of Chicago’s Trader Vic’s; travel to San Diego, New Orleans, Portland

2012: travel to Dallas, Philadelphia, Dublin, Paris, New York, San Francisco; interview Greg Allen, Tippi Hedren, Andrew Davis; Queue Tips: Discovering Your Next Great Movie is published; appear on WTTW-TV’s Chicago Tonight

2013: book events at the Chicago Public Library and the ALA Annual Conference & Exhibitions; relaunch postproduction on Pause of the Clock; take part in a “tiki symposium” for the podcast Sky Full of Bacon; interview Leonard Maltin

2014: DJ for Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean book party at Three Dots and a Dash; serve as a juror for the 2014 Student Academy Awards; “Nightcap,” an excerpt from Tiny Apocalypse, appears in issue no. 5 of Graze magazine; travel to Las Vegas; move from Lakeview to Andersonville

2015: launch successful Kickstarter to finish Pause of the Clock, which premieres at the 38th Denver Film Festival; interview Wyndham Wallace, J.R. Jones; edit “Fridays with Roy,” a ten week series of stories by Barry Gifford; appear as a guest on the podcasts These Things Matter and the White City Cinema Radio Hour

2016: interview Brad Bischoff, Don Klugman, Paul McGee; begin working on Roy’s World, a documentary; marry Andy on August 19; Pause of the Clock has its Chicago premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center on October 3

2017: co-produce the recording sessions for the soundtrack of Roy’s World at Electrical Audio in Chicago;  create five Twin Peaks-inspired cocktails, which ends up being my last post for Chicagoist before Joe Ricketts pulls the plug; Roy’s World is awarded a grant from the City of Chicago; coordinate an event at Constellation featuring a reading from Barry Gifford alongside a concert by Jason Adasiewicz

2018: begin editing Roy’s World in February

2019: travel to Seattle, Honolulu, Toronto, San Francisco, Washington, DC and Denver; my cocktail Nesmith Carioca is added to Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s Total Tiki app; complete Roy’s World in September

2020: Roy’s World world premieres at the Glasgow Film Festival on February 28 and goes on to screen at several other festivals; collaborate with David Boykin on a short film for the Chicago Film Archives Media Mixer; complete first draft of Last-Minute Christmas Shopping, a romance novel

2021: Roy’s World is awarded Best Illinois Feature at the Beloit International Film Festival; my husband and I buy our first home

2022: serve as a member of the Documentary Feature Jury for Reeling: The 40th Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival; Roy’s World makes its streaming debut on Fandor and becomes available on various other platforms

6 Responses to Who? What?

  1. robchristopher says:

    Sorry that I missed you …


  2. Carrie says:

    Your site is different; I like it!


  3. Melissa says:

    I found you! I lived on the 8th floor @ the SAIC dorm in 1993. You wrote me a poem, that I still have!!! My name is Melissa 🙂


  4. Abbie says:

    On page 18 of your book, “QUEUE TIPS”, you metioned a “Lady Rowlands” in your cast listing of the film, “A Woman under the Influence” and I am wondering who this “Lady Rowlands” is, please.


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