Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Updates Galore: What's being seen, heard and read

First and least importantly, I got a hair cut.

I really should have written something soon after posting the maniacal hair picture. That's been at the top of this place for way too long.

Last night I watched the film Once.

Do yourself a favor and rent this movie. Watch it with open ears. It reminded me of the simplicity of Waitress which allows for any complexity to appear in your mind. this film stripped bare leaving just the characters for you to witness.

The names of these characters as they appear in the credits are "guy" and "girl."

The movie feels like a documentary. Long shots with a small camera and an overall feeling of naturalness.

More importantly, the music is amazing. How did it affect me? I instantly ran to MySpace to search out its music. I pieced it all together through three sites:
Official Movie MySpace Page
Official Soundtrack MySpace Page
Official Swell Season MySpace Page

I don't want to say too much about Once. It will make you either a)hop a plane for Dublin; b)pick up a guitar (even if you don't know how to play); c)start writing music; d) all of the above.

Today I went to Barnes & Noble with a $10 gift card burning a hole in my pocket. The DVD was $30! (A little steep, even for the B&N game). This movie has since rocketed up to my 1 wish list for a birthday gift.

I didn't use the card for a book, because MySister thankfully got me what book I wanted for Christmas:

Really looking forward to 2008. More on that later.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hair, Hope and a Hat

We all enjoy the simple things in life.
I'm planning on experiencing one soon.
Most people don't like getting their hair cut.
Fear of a bad 'do,
Awkward barbers,
The overall inconvenience it may cause in one's schedule.

But I like it, and I really need it.

Ya know it's bad when I have to lean back Fat Joe Style to get all follicles in frame.
Most know that I sometimes play a very odd Samson flavored game of chicken with my hair.
One part denial,
Two parts frugality,
Fill the glass with an overall surrender to its mass.

I usually play cards wearing a visor, and if I can get an out of control head-mane thrusting to the heavens as I play, all the better.
I like to present the appearance of an out of control player, which can hide my new conservative strategy.

I had seven coworkers over to my Condo on Friday for a night of cards. I've been wanting a Work-themed poker tournament for over a year.
It was successful,
The place was clean,
Pizza was enjoyed,
There will be more to come.

Also on the horizon: a potential work snow day, which has happened before.
A link to an older post

The word came down to us from Mount HR just before 4 o'clock. It was to alert us that we MIGHT have the building closed tomorrow. But that is not the part of that announcement that made me happy. The actual mass e-mail was titled, "Dress Down Day." The following is an exact quote - may God have mercy on my copy and pasting soul:

"Due to this possibility we have relaxed the normal casual dress policy to include jeans and other appropriate weather wear."

Although one day too late if you ask me, I had to have my dress pants ice bathed this morning as I scraped days of ice onto them from my windshield, it's still great news. I joked to my coworkers that I have the ultimate in appropriate weather wear. It's a hat given to me two Christmases ago:

I love wearing this hat.
Nobody loves being seen with me while wearing it.
It causes a scene.
The size of it, especially when raised six feet and three inches above the ground, has it's own inertia.
It gets noticed, it is a big deal.

That hat is one of the few articles of clothing/attire that is post worthy. I've wanted to share this hat with the world - and am using tomorrow's dress down day as my opportunity.

Wearing this hat has also made it impossible for me to have any order to my hair during the workday. Already a mess to begin with, the hat does as good a job restoring order as an overextended military presence in an unwanted foreign land.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I want Keri Russell to make me a pie.

The following is my review of the 2007 movie Waitress.
Please note that I am, and have been, a fan of Keri Russell (the leading actress of Waitress) since we were both Freshman.

Now I understand that Keri wasn't really a freshman, but the character she played on the underrated TV series Felicity was trying to adjust to college life at the the same time as I.
I've been in awe of her for over 9 years now.

The following are mini-reviews of Waitress, which I all believe to be correct.

*Keri Russell plays a waitress who loves to make pies. She is a quirky character working with more quirky waitresses. They also love to make pies, but all know they can't make them half as good. They struggle with their lives, customers, and finding the next great pie recipe. Although set in contemporary times, this is a throwback story to a classic era of Americana.

*Keri Russell plays a waitress who is only at peace when making pies. However, she doesn't let that get in her way of her life - which is filled with zany southern characters including a new to town doctor, a older horny waitress, and even Andy Griffith (who plays a grumpy old man customer who also owns a pie diner). Although with its serious moments, this is a charming comedy that will make you want to eat a pie.

*Keri Russell plays a waitress at a crossroads. One of the darkest character studies you'll see, don't let the warm lighting and southern hospitality fool you. Domestic violence takes on a new shape in Jeremy Sisto, who will make you think his character may be more common than we want to believe in America. With every moment the of the story's progression, you will hate him more and more. Although rated PG-13, this is a movie that sheds painful light on what it feels like to be poor, trapped, pregnant, scared and with perpetually diminishing hope.

*Keri Russell plays a waitress who takes a bold stance. Yes, she is pregnant - but no - she is not happy about it. As one who refuses to blindly accept a new pregnancy as the greatest thing that could ever happen, she is not afraid to admit or view her sudden immanent fear of her future. Reaching out to cope in ways she's always have (making pies) and ways she never thought she could (falling in love with her doctor), she ultimately finds her path. A path that that includes pies and redemption.

Waitress is one of the best made movies I have seen in a while. My high acclaim for it lies completely (well, the non-Russell crush aspects) in its ability to have the amount of depth to make all four views of the film exist in my mind. If only one of these views were true, I may have pressed "eject" well before the end credits.

I don't think this is a movie everyone will enjoy. Obviously, most will write this off as a part of my Keri Russell is amazing agenda, and not have anywhere near the deep view of the story. But give it a chance. It's worth seeing.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Rhymes with Laid: Paying for it with not just money, but pride.

Every weekend I "pick up the place" to make sure it's "guy clean" for all my friends for Sunday Bear game viewings. Sadly, I've come to the terms that "picking up the place" will never get it "clean." I honestly don't believe I'm a slob, and hope my friends don't consider my place "dirty." Hopefully, my friends are secure enough in my feelings to tell me if it was the case. Although, I can see how something simple as, "Dude, your floor is real dusty" will be difficult to say without appearing as an insulting guest or a dainty fancy boy.

My Mom was over at my condo about a month ago. She was visibly uncomfortable - Actually leaving while saying, "I'm going to leave now so you have more time to clean." The last few times that I've been at my Parents Place (where the floorboards are only something to literally look down at) my Mom has continued her cleaning-based inquisition. Going as far as to state the overall value of the property is at stake.

This somewhat humors my Father. My reactions, his wife's campaign and potentially the spark of memories of his bachelor past.

A growing number of coworkers have been wanting me to host a card night. I've been keeping them at bay because of my recently attacked confidence over this entire issue.

Earlier today (actually yesterday as I write this after 2 am the next day - this is just one issue in a large litany of insomnia-causing ordeals) I called the calvary.

Well, Maid Brigade to be exact:
These people look legit, and also damn expensive. Might as well get it done right. I don't care as much that I know I'm paying extra for bullshit reasons such as that they're green clean certified. I just feel shame in that there's me, without pets, without anybody else, without even a kitchen large enough to cook in (let alone get dirty) calling for help.

Look how freakin' peaceful this lady looks! I want to attain this level of self-actualization though a clean condo.

When quoting me today, they wanted to know if I wanted a one-time, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly rate quote. They wanted to schedule their SECOND trip out.

Whoa buddy, slow your roll Paid Maid Brigade - let's see how this thing works out. Just want it clean for the holiday season so I can have some family friends over for dinner and co-workers for cards. If the Rotary Club starts renting out my living room I'll get back to you.

Lord save me, you're obviously not cleaning.

Monday, November 26, 2007

So what have I been doing for more than three weeks (since my last post)?
I've been making some bad decisions, regretting actions, contemplating my life (and where it's going).
Toss in a battle with the cold bug and a legitimate inflamed disc in my back - not the best month.

But this evening I was met by news that literally threw me into such a great mood I didn't know how to react.

Lebowski Fest, for the first time, is coming to Chicago. It will mark the official 10 year release of the film.

For as long as I've known about Lebowski Fest (5+ years) I've been wanting to go to it. And for various reasons I was ready for this year to be my first. This was going to entail a trip to Louisville, which of course has been trumped by today's news.

Also, as long as I'm on the topic, let me go on the record saying that I saw The Big Lebowski in the theatre. Not many people can claim that. However, I ride no high horse on that fact - I love the new-cult status.

Get out your ACHIEVER shirt!

Take'er easy... if ya can.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Latest Stranger to Earn my Envy

There is a bad movie called The Fountain.
However, there is a wonderfully brilliant song playing throughout it's climax.
I instantly bought the song, and soon became rather obsessed.
This may not be news to you.

Which brings me to Lennon Aldort.
I don't know this kid, and don't really want to meet him.
But he's a talent. He's a kid that just set up his camera and went to work:

Sunday, October 28, 2007


As probably only a few of you know, I was in a tuxedo for the majority of Saturday October 13, 2007.
This does not happen often. I'm well known for my love of causal clothing, and the mother of the groom (for which I wore said Tuxedo) was on record years ago saying that I wouldn't be able to stand up in the wedding due to my aversion to formality.

She underestimated my level of friendship. I consider Tamara and Skip two of my closest friends.
I would have worn a halloween costume if they have asked.
(Bonus Halloween note: I have worn exactly one Halloween costume in the last 15 years, going to exactly one costume party - and it was on the insistence of these two)

Unfortunately for my handful of readers, my propensity for getting into story making adventures did not yield any out of the ordinary (and thus blog worthy) results. All I have to show are pictures of me in a tuxedo. (Yes, there were emotional moments occurring in my psyche, but I will spare outsiders of overtly sappy love of love viewpoints here)

It was a rather large wedding party.
Five people stood up on each side with a sixth junior groomsman and junior bridesmaid.

Very soon after the "rosters" were established, and I realized who I would be escorting up and down various aisles and in and out of vehicles and banquet halls - I thanked Skip.

Here are a couple more shots of the two of us. The only word in my vocabulary to describe the amount of pictures she took is "copious."

Very few moments have the ability to render me speechless. I'm usually able to blunt out at least a bad pun... But Saturday October 13, 2007 was one of those days. I was honored to be involved.

Once again, congratulations Skip & Tamara:

Monday, October 22, 2007

My most anticipated album in years

Please, somebody tell me if they have successfully downloaded the new Radiohead album! The site is asking for damn Euros and I don't know what to do. I want to pay for this album, these guys are in my top five of all time favorite bands - I just have so little confidence because Radiohead is anti-iTunes and I want them on my iPod.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

More disconnected thoughts from the sleepless

Finally acquired the new Kanye album from a coworkin' friend - now I'm really looking forward to my return to live Hip-Hop this Halloween at the House of Blues (Lupe Fiasco)

Mr. Thomas Brady, the quarterback of the New England Football Patriots - please continue your excellence - my fantasy (football team) is coming true.

This Saturday I will be in a tuxedo for only the third time of my life. Skip, you're worth it.

I was invited to go out to a couple gay bars last Saturday. Decided to play poker instead (no pun intended).

For the first time in my life, the hours between 8 am and 5 pm seem to be in better order than anytime after 5 pm. I do not like that fact.

A little over a week ago a friend asked, "did she have a ring on her finger." I didn't know the answer. I used to be pretty much on top of that - what does it say about me that I'm not even taking the effort to check anymore? (assuming it's there either in reality or in theory)

Very recently I was asked "Do you still play basketball?" I had to pause. "It's not a tough question." was the follow up comment. No it's not, but why am I making it tough? Sure, I used the whole face-breaking incident as a fall back excuse, but that's not it

Every other commercial is for a film I really want to see.

I may soon set a record: most money spent at Costco without showing (let alone owning) a Costco Membership card.

Explaining what I do for a living is difficult to say in under 7 minutes. That has to be boring to all else but me.

Yes the Bears won, but let's still start talkin' Bulls.

Nothing made me happier last month that listening to my Father's stories from his first visit to Ireland - this is saying a lot because September was very good to me. In fact, September 2006 was the best month of my life ever, and Sept 07 was a very nice follow up act.

Even if you understand - you may not comprehend.

Nip/Tuck is commin' back... It's gonna be worse than ever before (and that means I'll only want to watch it more)

Friday Night Lights is already back... It's going to continue to be as good as it was (and that means nobody will want to watch it)

I think Rexy will be Sexy elsewhere very soon. And I hope he leaves. Chicago was so poor to him, and yet I still believe in him... He deserves better - and I will continue to root for him.

Eddy Curry got hurt today. I care less about that individual.

In the beginnings of a major upset to my popular opinion - I am starting to wonder if raising a daughter would be an easier proposition than a son. This is classic beyond issue worrying.

3 AM Eternal, as I look at the clock right now, only makes me think of one thing.... not the amount of time I have left to rest... I can only think of the classic late 80s track by The KLF. Paging Mr. iTunes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Word of the day

quix·ot·ic [kwik-sot-ik]
1. (sometimes initial capital letter) resembling or befitting Don Quixote.
2. extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; visionary, impractical, or impracticable.
3. impulsive and often rashly unpredictable.
Also, quix·ot·i·cal.

[Origin: 1805–15; (Don) Quixote + -ic]

—Related forms
quix·ot·i·cal·ly, adverb

—Synonyms 2. fanciful, fantastic, imaginary.
—Antonyms 2. realistic, practical.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

College Football Coaches Speak Out

When Bo Schembechler died ESPN ran an AMAZING clip of a speech he made about TEAM.

Sadly, I've been searching YouTube ever since, but have not found this clip.

Please watch these two clips you tide you over.

One is from this year, the other is from last year.

Let the record show that I am in total agreement with both coaches.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ties & Ocean

Me and a coworker were picked to go on a business trip a few weeks ago. The destination was Southern California. A very strict dress code of a White Shirt and Tie was required. Having had to overdress on business trips before, it was nothing new to me. However, my coworker was not as happy with the idea. This picture, was my coworker's idea. Personally, the strict dress code of our host made it very easy to pack. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed our act of deviance before our flight left.

Monday, September 17, 2007

It doesn’t have to be good to be a classic (repost from 2/2/06)

Due to the constant onslaught of friend requests from webcam girls on MySpace, I don't check my "Friend Requests" frequently. Which is why now, past 2 am in my insomniac daze, I am so happy to have added one of my dearest friends Kat(i)e. Her and I were raised in the backyards of Prospect Heights, and she is EASILY the longest non-family member I know.

Obviously, she has been instantly vaulted to Top 8 status.

Apologies to jenN, no offense. The sad thing is that jenN is an avid reader of this unassuming blog and I'm sorry to deal her another crushing loss. Speaking of which, she may not care because she has to come to grips with her beloved Saints starting the year with two losses. It just keeps piling on, doesn't it?

Regardless, the latest addition of Kat(i)e warrants a re-posting - originally posted on Feb. 2, 2006:

Old Fashioned Hamburgers

I was in a Kat(i)e & Dave's wedding party. It was the first wedding in which I had a role. I was an usher.

After we had been verbally assaulted by a very authoritative photographer, "I NEED ALL THE TUXEDOS UP HERE… NOW… OKAY, MOVE – ALL COUSINS UP HERE NOW…" the wedding party crammed into a stretch Lincoln Navigator to take a few outdoor pictures in downtown Arlington Heights near a huge Christmas tree…. Me and a few others wanted to get some photos near a gigantic mechanical perpetually spinning 20 foot tall dradle – but the photographer was NOT in a joking mood.

We were on our way to the reception when I realize that everybody is starving. All of the women have been on some kind of pseudo-dress-fitting-fast and haven't had anything to eat all day… All the men in the limo kept asking each other what time dinner is going to start…. I saw this as an opportunity.

Knowing the route to the reception, I told the driver to stop at Wendy's – me and the brother of the bride get out and walk into a half-filled Wendy's in full tuxedo galore. We get an odd look and I say, "I'll have fifteen cheeseburgers and fifteen fries." The Wendy's girl shoots me a puzzled look and chuckles. I slap a Ulysses (that's a $50 bill for the uninformed) and say smiling, "make it happen."

Ten minuets later I return victoriously to the stretch Navigator limo to a very happy and no longer in jeopardy of passing out from starvation

Soon I hope to get to see the DVD of the event. I missed nearly all of the toasts because I was in charge of getting all the gifts up to the parents' suite and the money envelopes into the safety deposit box…. I wish the videoographer had the ability to splice in Wendy's security camera footage.


Kat(i)e and Dave recently bought their first home in Mundelein. Ironically, it is less than 1,000 yards from Skip and Tamara's first home: a couple who will be married in less than one month. Skip and Tamara's wedding will be the second ceremony in which I have been honored to play a part, this time as a groomsman.

Friday, September 14, 2007

This is why I love living in the early 21st Century

A friend, that is also my coworker, said this to me today:
It seems finding great, new and original music is getting easier every day.

I am in total agreement.
Bands can be creative, act differently and try ideas that can be as far away from the mainstream as they choose. MySpace is making up for is Dateline NBC fodder in my mind for its accessibility to new music.


Broken Social Scene is going to be playing at the Metro in early November. Please contact me if you are interested in going! Meanwhile, here is another new talent: Feist

Thursday, September 6, 2007

No Final Table This Year (No success at Green Tie)

Tonight was the second annual Poker Tournament for the Green Tie Ball.
I did not make the Final Table.
I won every single pot I entered, except my last.

Why did I lose? Many reasons:
-nobody called my continuation bets
-maybe I didn't play enough hands
-time eventually run out on me

At least I made it to the break. That was two hours into the tournament. By the time we started again we were left with 6 tables and 55 players total. Blinds were at 1000 - 2000 and I had 12,000. (Starting chips was 10,000)

In the first hand from the break a large stack made a standard raised and everybody folded.

The second hand, in which I was on the button, the same large stack makes the same standard raise and the small blind shoves all in. The large stack calls. The shover shows the Ace of Hearts and the King of Diamonds. The large stack shows Ace of Diamonds and the 10 of diamonds. The AK was a 68.06% favorite, but loses as the large stack rivered a 10 high straight.

Someone raised the 3rd hand to 4,000 when I was in the big blind. Having Ace-9 unsuited I decide to fold my hand and pick a better spot. The large stack again calls. The hand is checked down and when they both reveal their hands, I see that I would have lost.

In the next hand, only the button limped.
From the small blind, I rose All-In.
The Big Blind, who is the same large stack, folds.
The button (a mid-forties woman) thinks a while, and finally calls the 8,000 more (she only had me covered by 4,000)

I show King of Clubs and Jack of Hearts.
She shows the Queen of Clubs and the Jack of Clubs.
According to the Card Player Odds Calculator, I am all in as a 69.54% favorite (2.51% chance to tie).

This was great news to me.

The flop was 6 of clubs, 6 of diamonds, 10 of clubs.
With her now on a flush draw, she improves, but I am still in the lead and a 56.46% favorite to win the hand.

The turn is a 3 of clubs. She hits her flush and takes a commanding 84.09% chance to win.

That leaves me with 15.91% chance of getting a club on the river to catch a higher flush.

The River brought a 9 of hearts, and I was eliminated.

Looking back, I'm surprised how little emotion I displayed. I shook her hand, calmly walked away, and reconstructed the hand in my mind. Half of that was shock, the other half is that I can not fault myself for having all the chips in with the better hand.

I expect to see pictures of me with my Lucky Charms watch and Wynn Visor to hit the Internet soon. Another cool pick of me in a tournament will be my only victory.

The first place winner from last year was the FIRST person eliminated. That was earth-shatteringly shocking to me.
The fourth place finisher from last year was busted before level two (less than 20 minutes)
The second place finisher from last year was not in attendance.
I thought I saw Richard Roeper (last year's 6th place finisher), but he must've been bounced EARLY.
And me, last year's 3rd place finisher, finished somewhere in the low 50s out of a much smaller than last year's tournament size of just over 100.

There's a long time for me to rethink every single hand I played.
Good Night Green Tie Ball, I'll try it again next year.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Another Original Short Story (AGAIN - FICTION)

I can not sleep tonight.
In my insomnia, I thought up another FICTION piece. Sadly, it is also romantic in nature. Worse, it's also long winded.
They had first met each other at the Engagement Party. He had worked with the groom-to-be for going on six years, while she was a neighbor and childhood friend of the bride-to-be.

Most of the party was family, or those close enough to the couple to be actively involved in the wedding. They finally started talking a few hours into the party, when the game he was concentrating on ended and she had a well timed beverage refill.

She had noticed him because of his detachment. Sure, she also noticed his physical appeal, but it was how he had an aura of indifference. There was a slight twinge of envy, she was becoming exhausted by feigning interest at wedding details and nearby pregnancies. She kept an eye on him, nobody in her current talking circle realized when she left. Thankfully, nobody gave her an order. She wasn't planning on returning to that conversation.

They found sanctuary from the love circus of a background in each other's company. He wanted to ask for her number. She wanted him to ask for her number too, but neither wanted to back down off their current countenance of shared nuptial annoyance.
Three months later, at the wedding, he looked for her. She was not there.

The coworker table was positioned closest to the bar, and at the back of the reception hall. It was perfect for his coworkers, who didn't know the groom as well, but capitalized on the potential of an open bar. His coworkers were quite gregarious, quite entertaining, quite-

He noticed her as she turned away from the bar holding a bright drink in conical glass. He lost his train of thought and now began looking over to her vicinity every two to four minutes. Neither knew the similarity inherit in him now waiting for her to go back to the bar to reconnect.

In the middle of her country line dance, she only briefly considered if it was rude to leave him back at the bar as she ran to be one of the first dancers. Quickly, she rationalized her decision because she was there to dance and have fun. Besides, the hard to get angle always works and she wanted to make sure he watched her out on the floor. Having him hold her drink guaranteed that much.
Neither the wedding party, all the coworkers, or anybody left in attendance under 35 wanted to stop drinking merely because it was now midnight. The groom proudly announced they picked this location for the bar across the parking lot. A parking lot that also shared a hotel that many of the aforementioned attendees had rooms booked.

Less than an hour into the new venue, their conversation stalled. They probably won't see each other again. Unless they meet again at a first birthday party of the new couple (but both secretly believed the holy union wouldn't last long enough for that)?

He was becoming overwhelmed by his crush. He had thought about her for nearly three months, wanting this moment - but he was lost in her green eyes.

She wanted to kiss him, but not there - she believed in meaningful first kisses. Standing that close, using the music volume as the excuse, was a great compromise. The silence made her notice things she wasn't before - that her favorite heels were exactly one inch less than their height difference and that his palm fit her shoulder perfectly. It also strengthened her first impressions - that he looked at her eyes and that every word he said felt heavy.

"What now?" is something she meant to just say to herself, but had zero doubt or regret that it was said out loud.

He replied, "I don't know... but... You have a beautiful soul..."
She was speechless, he did not seem like someone to her that would use a line like that.
He continued, "I've been wanting to say something for months now, to you, I didn't know what... I want to know more about you. I couldn't explain your beauty - and my feelings about you to myself, but I'm sure people that know you understand-"

Out of the corner of his eye he realized multiple pairs of eyes from the coworker group had noticed this. Thankfully they couldn't hear, but that could also mean much worse. This sudden fear of Monday morning gossip had jarred him his tunnel vision.

She did not appreciate the distraction. Now feeling stronger about him, but conflicted, she dragged him out of the bar - to the adjacent hotel.
He was glad that his coworkers were still in the bar when he returned. He was welcomed with a chorus of cheers and many probing questions. He was not in the mood for any discussion.

What he said was all true. They talked. He got her phone number. He regrets that he should've done more. A few coworkers didn't respond well to the story, borderline upset that he didn't "hit that." Some coworkers were more sensitive, and after a few atta-boys continued back on their path.

It was in the cab ride home, that he took out the card in his pocket that had her phone number. He kept thinking about one of the last things he said to her. "If we do this now, this will be it... I don't want this to be it... I want more."

The most depressing thing for him: this is what he wanted... This is what he planned. A no risk win-win situation in which he appears romantic, coworkers have an improved but respectable opinion about him, and that he can live with himself that he seized an opportunity with someone who he has been thinking about for a long time.

She was beautiful, He was in her hotel room, they were both on the bed and he walked away. "How do you walk back to that?" he thought. The questions continued well past the tipping of the cab driver and settling under the covers. Questions of rejection and pessimism that was the romantic paralysis that has come to define his later young adult life.

A life seemingly opposite one of his favorite quotes by John Lennon, who said, "Life is what happens when you're making plans."

No, sadly, he was making plans instead of living life.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Is Tom Brady A Nasty Boy?

First things first, I absolutely love this YouTube clip of (Retired) Senator Larry Craig.

So what does Tom Brady have to do with it?

Tom Brady is a ladies man:

He knocked up his Hollywood actress girlfriend shortly before leaving her:

To date a Brazilian Supermodel:

Who was quickly (and untruthfully) rumored to also be pregnant:

Tom Brady is potent.

Most importantly, Tom Brady was my second round pick in my fantasy football league and is the man charged with the task of leading my team to the playoffs and a championship.

So is does this forgive him from being bad to bridget Moynihan?
Or naughty with Giselle Bundchen?

Those answers are no.

But, I don't want him to be bad this season - and I sure as hell don't want him to be naughty and get his ass suspended.

I want Tom Brady to be Nasty on the defenses he goes up against. I want him to know that I hope he's more potent now than ever when it comes to performing on the football field.

The National Football League begins on Thursday. Will you be Bad, Naughty or Nasty?

Sunday, August 26, 2007


This is a picture of Russell "Stringer" Bell from the HBO drama The Wire.

This is a show about The Game, it's players, and the Baltimore PO-lice assigned to the fight. It's about characters acting realistically, not as how television producers would want them to act. That last point, is not an easy one to accept.

String is my favorite character of the show. He is a unique entity that is in no doubt a stone cold bad man, but he is a renaissance man of sorts. He became my favorite character when he would conduct meetings with his lower level drug dealers and runners according to Robert's Rules of Order.

But you do not root for Stringer Bell. You do not want to see him to succeed.

This is the where The Wire separates itself from The Sopranos.

People watch Tony Soprano and want to BE him. They want to be alongside him at the Bada Bing (but more likely want to be at his VIP parties). People watch that show and root against the police. There is no "rooting" in The Wire. It's not a high school football game.

Watch this show. Get yourself a ticket to the front lines of the War in Baltimore and just watch and absorb. One bit of advice - find a friend (if you can) who owns the DVDs... The worst aspect of the show is how HBO packaged its seasons... Watching it off Net Flix or some other rental property will be an absolute tease.

I understand most people out there are not as addicted to me when they find quality television. Watching a full season per weekend is asking too much of the general population... But that's how I roll.

I do not know when Season 5 of this show will start. More importantly, I don't know when Season 4 will be released on DVD. All I know is that I'm gonna hustle to watch Season 4 in any way I know how to be current when new episodes hit the air.

Loyal readers know that the last two posts have included mentions of my friend's recently published short story. It is this same friend who was nice enough to loan me Seasons One, Two and Three of The Wire. This post is dedicated to the friend who directed me to this great show.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Flashback Into My 1998 Romances

In August of 1998 I left rural Prospect Heights to the urban setting of Milwaukee to pursue higher education. Marquette University invited its incoming freshman to campus nearly a week before classes begin for Freshman Orientation. This involved a battery of events ranging in various ice breaking formats.

One of the earlier events was bowling at the nearby university-owned "sports bar." Yes, MU owns a sports bar on campus and yes, there is one of the crappiest non-manual scoring bowling lanes in the nation in its basement. I was randomly assigned to a foursome that included "Europa." (Name changed to protect her innocence)

Before the night had ended I developed the first (sadly of many) crushes during my tenure at Marquette.

I signed up to go to a nearby mini-golf / batting cages place for the next night's activity. When I saw Europa in the Union minutes before she was about to depart to go see the IMAX movie, I instantly changed my mind. The IMAX movie was a refreshing 15 or so walk down Wisconsin Avenue to the Science Museum. I also remembered that I sat next to Europa in the movie theatre. I had no clue what we were going to do after the movie, but I was certainly looking forward to it.

Before we left the IMAX, Europa had to use the ladies room. I waited outside. Also waiting outside, for her friend in the same ladies room, was "Grim." (name also changed to protect her innocence)

One thing led to another and all I can tell you is that I left the museum with Grim and her friend. I can not tell you why I stone cold left Europa in the ladies room because I will never know myself. I still wonder what Europa felt walking out to see me gone, and that will also remain a mystery.

My crush on Grim was more solid than my crush on Europa. While the Europa crush was based in her physical beauty, Grim's ability to quote The Simpsons made me putty in her hands. My loss of self control around her resulted in many regrettable actions.

Allow me to pause this story for a quick flashback of the current culture in August 1998. For some reason, swing music became the cool thing. Dorm rooms were playing music by The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Cherry Poppin' Daddies and Mighty Blue Kings. Students were renting every available copy of Swing Kids (on VHS back in that era) and dancing like Japan had just surrendered.


When Grim asked me to be her partner in a Swing Dancing class I accepted.

MySister loves to dance. As does my Father. I, not so much. It breaks MySister's heart, to see me not dance at family weddings. However, MySister has recently succumbed to the understanding that only a romantic interest will ever get me to dance.

I went to about three Swing Dancing lessons with Grim. Today I saw the below clip on YouTube, which looked nothing like our class in Brooks Hall:

The Swing Dancing lessons with Grim ended when she told me she didn't want to get into a relationship so early into her time at college. I also heard from her lips a line said to me for the first time in my life: "I don't want to ruin our friendship." Little did I know that would be a track stuck on repeat for most of the girls in my life... A track said out of a mutual deception, irony, torture and manipulation.

My actual friendship ended with Grim after two distinct phone conversations:
1) Grim calling me very excited about this boy she had a huge crush on and wanted to date. A boy in the Navy ROTC program and hoped he'd invite her to some dress-up-in-formal-whites-like-the-end-of-Top-Gun-and-dance Dance.
2) Grim calling me in tears because this very same Officer But Not A Gentleman wanted to dance out of his Formal Whites back at his dorm room.
Still, Grim did not see me as a legitimate romantic possibility. I stopped talking to her and pretty much stopped acknowledging her presence.

Speaking of not acknowledging one's presence:
In October my friend Stefan (who is not only still my good friend but also someone who's first short story should be bought and read by you) and I were riding down from our 11th floor dorm rooms to the cafeteria. The elevator stopped on one of the girl floors and the two of us were joined by Europa herself.

Europa began to put on a little elevator exhibition for Stefan and I. She leaned against the Elevator wall and gave her most sultry, Elizabeth Shue worthy, look while slowly inching up the bottom of her tank top to reveal a navel piercing. As the elevator continued its descent, she began playing with her navel piercing while continuing her "look what you left in the ladies room of the science museum you heartless pig" stare.

The doors opened on the ground floor. I bolted out of the chamber as fast as humanly possible. Stefan stopped me to ask, "WHAT?!....Was that?!" My telling of the story to Stefan occurred in near real time as my memory began flooding.

My path crossed again with Europa in the winter of my senior year. We both worked at the same campus job and had some nice conversations. All with my mind blackened my this freshman year atrocity. Finally, I confessed my sins and apologized to Europa. She had no recollection of the ladies room incident or the elevator show. This made her laugh hysterically and embarrassed me more.

I'm happy to say that I went on a few dates with Europa after that - none of them ending with me leaving her in the ladies room. The short courtship ended amicably. We actually continued to be friends because our "first date" was to go see the first Lord of the Rings movie, and in an odd sense of tradition the two of us watched the other two movies of the trilogy together in the theaters (even if I was already graduated and she was still in Wisconsin).

Today Europa is far away in Europe, living her dream of making-it in a culture more cosmopolitan and enlightened than our barbaric America. Grim remains far off my radar. In fact, is been years since I have even thought about her.

Moral of this story: Beware of YouTube - you never know what memories it can trigger.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


This afternoon I watched the Emilo Estevez written and directed film Bobby.
During this movie, I has an important (to me) realization:

Lawrence Fishbourne is the most underrated actor working today.

I used to hold William H. Macy to this acclaim. Macy is in Bobby too as a matter of fact. But Macy, although still great, is no longer underrated. Macy gets big roles and big nominations.

What I like about Fishbourne can best be summed up on two small but distinct roles.

His role in Bobby (which made the movie for me) and his role in Mystic River. [My friend Stefan was first to discover his brilliance in that Clint Eastwood film, you all need to head over to his blog and download his first published short story. If you think what I write has any meat - let me tell you that his is all muscle.]

"Fish" shows such an incredible amount of depth in the characters he plays. Depth that makes you want to know more about the characters he portrays - but not in an "I wish they'd make a spinoff movie around him." No, more in a "I want to have a meaningful conversation with that man and attempt to soak up the wisdom."

I also give Fish a lot of credit for taking these small roles. Lord knows he doesn't have to ever work again post Matrix. He could also be big-headed enough to only accept top billing roles.

Mr. Fishbourne, we first saw you when you were a nobody on Martin Sheen's boat in apocalypse Now. Now we've seen you give a highlight to his son's good and honest effort to make a film about Robert Francis Kennedy. In the meantime you've brought high quality in an unprecedented range from Cowboy Curtis in Pee-Wee's Playhouse to Jason "Furious" Styles in Boyz n the Hood.

Nobody may ever salute you for what you bring to your craft, but I will.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


"I need my angst. Keeps me sharp (snaps fingers), on the edge (snaps fingers), where I gotta be (snaps fingers)."

Al Pacino said that in Heat (directed by Michael Mann).

Speaking of Heat, it just became August 3.
I have not turned on the A/C yet this summer.

I'm sitting here, under the ceiling fan at full speed.
Next to the oscillating fan.
Thinking of my past.

Growing up in an air conditionless house in Prospect Heights, Illinois.

My parents don't live there anymore either. They live in a temperature controlled town house paradise near Lake Arlington. My mom rarely turns on the A/C.
To the chagrin of my Father.
To the amusement of her children.

She (my Mom) has called me out that I'm just like her - not turning on the A/C.
It's not because I'm cheap.
Well, I can't deny that its a function in a much more complex equation.

Heat was billed as a Los Angeles Crime Saga.
I'm billing this post as a TQ sleep deprived melodrama.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rest in Peace V600 (2004-2007)

So I had to put down my Motorola V600:

It took me a long time to finally fold to this culture's mobile phone obsession.
I was well past my 25th birthday when the final rationalization (needing it to use a non work phone for job searching) tipped the balance.

I really liked my cell phone. I liked its ultra-non-annoying ring tone and the fact it could fit into the watch pocket of my jeans. This watch-pocket trait was key - it snuffed out any other cell phone thoughts.

Last week I was only able to hear phone calls when it was in speaker mode - a virtual death sentence.

Stupidly long blog story short: I have a new cell phone

Thankfully, it fits in my watch pocket too.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Part 2 of the June 15th post

On June 15 I posted the below clip from The Office on this blog:

Since June 15 I have been up for two promotions at work and had my yearly review. To get myself in a good mindset for these three events, I will admit to listening to choice "pump up" music on my iPod.

I can now report that only one went well. The other two went as about as good as I can expect while the other went worse than I expected.

The songs on the iPod have not changed... but the reason why I listen to them has.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In response to my cousin's blog (nonsense begets more)

This post will make zero sense... Although reading my cousin's blog may shed some light, the following will continue to make zero sense:

purple monkey dishwasher (yes, that's plagiarism)
back and forth opposites
Mercy Masochism
Mr. Harmony Monologue
Exit to
You Sunk My Scategories
Hidden Nipple Autopsy
The Fat Chicks of Bill's Beard
Loverboy versus Workweek (Stuggle for Paradise)
Napoleon's Visible Thumb
Bonus Right
On the Eve
The Prefix (Etc... Etc... Etc...)
George Mason and the Secret Police of Hidden Torment
Awkward Handshakes (non HJ variety)
Exile of Treasure Island (Win 2 Wynn)
Strawberry Regret Paradise
The holy trinity of JilliA, LiS And VanesS...N.A.A.
Dr. Wow Pilgramage
I know what you said to me
Britney Spears Spin Cycle
Leisurely Making Love with Magic

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Original Short Story (It's fiction, but "untitled")

The Saturday started out for him the way most have in the past eight months... Deciding to not leave his bed, but reach over to the iMac to bump it out of its sleep. Overnight the new political gabfest podcast from had downloaded, which allowed him to spend his first half hour of consciousness lackadaisically attempting to keep current with the presidential race more than a year in the future. However, this was not a normal Saturday. He could not waste another hour listening to the new This American Life podcast. No, today was a day stuff had to get done - he had a schedule to carry out.

Finding the first pair of pants he found, black nylon Adidas warmups, he set out for the one errand that was necessary in the day's venture: getting cash. Soon after returning, post shower, he'd continue his pre-first date tradition of cutting himself shaving. It's been years since he stopped questioning himself, "Why must I find a way to bleed before every first date?" His life was, by all normal accounts, a good one - definitely not one that would allow such a karma correcting ritual with such cold consistency.

He had plenty of time before the Metra arrived at the Des Plaines station, but he still walked brisk-fully. He walked quick not due to any pre-first date nerves, but more to keep the walk on the beat of the most recently downloaded song on his iPod ("Stronger" by Kanye West). The train arrived about nine minutes after he arrived at the station (the time was approximated due to the next two songs by Daft Punk and Broken Social Scene concluding on his "Misc. Crap" playlist).

"$5 for a weekend Metra pass - best deal in the area." he thought once boarded. "If only dating made as much fiscal sense?" he cynically continued in his inner monologue. As Chicago approached on the horizon, he felt his nerves begin to awaken. For someone who thinks as much as he, such jitters were an certain eventuality. This was not a foreign situation, of course, and the antidote was ready. He found "Star Guitar" by Chemical Brothers and jacked up the volume. Quite possibly the greatest tune to ever provide a soundtrack for a ride on the rail.

They had agreed to meet at Citizen Bar on Erie, just west of Orleans. It was about a ten blocks away from the downtown Metra station, but also close to multiple eL lines to make it easy for her as well. Arriving more than a half hour early, he was able to insure that a nice outdoor table would open up before she arrived.

Nothing can describe when someone only seen in JPEGS and GIFS is first seen in fading sunlight and warming street lights. Somehow 10% of doubt tries to keep a too trusting mind in check. A mind that has already made the rationalization to meet a digital personality met over the Internet. After an awkward handshake, one that all but announces to the entire establishment in total that a FIRST DATE IS IN PROGRESS small talk ensues.

Sadly, he realizes that the first date has morphed into a relationship interview. Although able to field pointed questions with wit and antidotal humor it is clear that the woman on the other side of the table is an end goal dater. He's been in this situation before, actually finds it refreshing. She knows what she wants, and doesn't want to wait until too much time is invested before key concepts are discussed. However, these key concepts are not mutually held as key. He pays for the drinks. He hugs her goodnight. Assembles the remainder of his post first date dignity and heads back to the train station on Madison.

As the Chicago River first comes into his view, the track "Special" by Mew begins. It's a rather soulful song that usually leads to more inner monologue critiques on life when listened. But he is not in a mood to dissect the failed first date. The night is still young. It can still be saved. Besides, as "okay" as the date was - it was without a spark... More importantly, it was without a story. "This night can only be saved by a story." This is what prompts him to start walking east.

It only took him a half block to decide his destination. Has it really been over five years since last eating at the original "Billy Goat Tavern" on lower Wacker Drive? (just below the Wrigley Building) By the time he was walking down the steps, minutes before his Double Cheezeborger is ordered his mood has taken a significant turn for the better. This turn of mood was mainly due to "Young Folks" hitting its peak in his ears. It made him keep one earbud in his ear, allowing the song to continue, as his order was placed.

The Billy Goat was packed that night. He had to go to the bar to find an empty stool. And one that was next to a group of 3 or 5 girls. It was unclear where one group of girlfriends began and the other one ended.

The girl to his immediate left was very attractive. The friend to her immediate left was in the middle of a very large social argument. If he was eavesdropping, he'd know what the fight was about - but the scraps were loud enough to make him turn off his iPod. The argument might provide more entertainment that Peter, Bjorn and John. One particular comment was louder than the others. The comment was about how a certain actor on Grey's Anatomy had many many children with his wife, and this was troublesome to the debater. This comment made him smile, and made the girl to his immediate left turn away from her girlfriends. Her expression was a mix of embarrassment and pride. One of "can't believe they are this passionate about this topic" and "so happy they have opinions and express them."

And this is when he decided to do something he's wanted to do for months. Not being one to use pick-up lines - in fact being one who abhorred them - he was going to use a line on this woman next to him. This was after two things in his mind became clear. One, the ring on her finger had the heart pointed away from her (thus, she was single). And two, if he didn't say something to her right then and there he'd lose his best chance at a night saving story.

He decided to say the first line from the song that was the cause for his current good mood. For those not familiar with the first line from "Young Folks" by Peter, Bjorn & John it goes like this:

"If I told you things I did before, told you how I used to be, would you go along with someone like me?"

Her initial shock scared the shit out of him. He was about to abandoned the double cheezeborger he traversed the hot evening for until she cracked a small smile.

He decided to quickly save face nonetheless, "You see, I just walked away from a first date - and these two minutes sitting next to you and your friends - overhearing your fight - made me wish I was here the entire time... So pardon the pick up line."

The two had a brief post game wrap-up of the failed first date. She concluded that he thinks too much. Places weight on issues of no substance or consequence. Finally, she asks where he found such a person.


Her instant laugh clued into the fact that she knew the punch-line before the setup. Turns out she posted an ad not too long ago. She confessed that her unique hook was to ask for stories from her suitors on how they would first meet.

"Wait, you think I think too much? Isn't that subconsciously planning many dates that will never happen?" he said in his most polite tone. "The whole metaphysics behind it bar it from happening. If you know of something, it ceases to be spontaneous, isn't that what girls like you want anyways?"

"Girls like me?"

He stammers.... Well, that's my problem. I speak before I think. Too much of that honesty mumbo jumbo... "Do you think before you speak?" she questions. "Well, for as much as I think, one would suggest I do - but evidence proves the contrary.... I'm actually more put-together when I write... I enjoy writing... It's my calming hobby."

The two of them continued in discussions about philosophy and modern young adult life. He loved how far it felt from the kind of "relationship interview" he experienced earlier in the night. The talk continued well after his double cheezeborger was eaten. It also lasted longer than the (still not completely understood) debate with her friends had ended and they had noticed their friend had seemingly exited their conversation in favor of one with a stranger sitting with only himself and his iPod.

When the two of them discovered that the girlfriends had begun eavesdropping on the conversation that had now overtaken theirs in noteworthiness, he introduced himself to everyone. Everyone seemed cordial.

"Well, I better start walking back to my train. But I really liked talking with you... It's almost the top of the hour, did you want to continue talking and see the water canon go off by the NBC Tower? Kinda touristy, but still a nice backdrop for a conversation - care to join me?"

Monday, July 16, 2007

A shameful visit to the iTunes Music Store

I think I've been buying music at the Apple iTunes Music Store for close to four years now.

There have been a few regrettable purchases. A few shameful ones too.

I've had a friend look through my iPod and say, "So you bought Rock Your Body by Justin Timberlake?" That is tough to explain - it was used in the background of a Bally's commercial and I found it catchy. Sue me. However, Justin is a legit musical talent with some major muscle (figuratively I'm speaking: The Neptunes) behind his sound.

So what was the most recent shameful purchase?
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have purchased my first song by one Miss Britney Spears.

It was for a mixtape I made for a recent coworker's birthday. But sadly, I admit that I've liked this song for a while - and the mixtape was just the easy excuse to finally click BUY SONG.

Obviously, the music video for this track made it easier to foster an affinity for the tune:

About a year ago a girl I was "courting" asked me one of those great first date questions: "What's the last song you downloaded?" Fearing that I might be asked that soon - I quickly bought the new Kanye West song "Stronger" ("Stronger" also happens to be the name of a Spears song I also like). "Stronger" by Kanye West samples a great song by one of my favorite artists: Daft Punk. I approve.

Here's the Kanye Video... Not as pretty as Britney but a better beat:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Slow Your Roll

Real quick...
I was over at my parents house today. Told my mom that I'm taking the summer off reading... She really didn't register my comment with anything more than a sigh...

Then she slap closes a book.
She says it's the 15th finished book since school got out. I asked her if she read Kite Runner and she said that was "read a while ago, last month I think."

Summer's not two months old yet! Maybe I best get back on my reading horse. Now if I was retired maybe I could read a book every two days like my Mom.

Apple of the day to my Mom.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Isolated Vegas Tale

All-right, so I'm about two hours into a six hour session of $2-$4 Limit Texas Hold'em at Mandalay Bay when Dawn joins the table (sitting to my immediate left). Dawn is a sexy woman from New York. What makes her sexy isn't just her above average attractiveness, but her knowledge of poker. During one of the first hands that we were involved in - she really started giving me a stare down.

"Looking for tells." she says. I couldn't help but smile. I say back, "This has nothing to do with my hand, just appreciate the attention."

After the second time Dawn said, "I'm too old for you." I decided to call her on it. I thought she was bluffing. First off all, let me say that I was in no way "hitting" on lovely Dawn. I was making very small conversation. Secondly, let it be known that one of my associates - the best man of the bachelor party - was laying it on a little thick. Although I'd like to say that she enjoyed talking to me - that she wanted me to get her drink - I was really just a better resort than the drunk guy on her other side who couldn't stop texting a "not my girlfriend."

I told her that I had no clue how old she was, but I have a rule about not dating anybody older than MySister. She asked how old she was - and said that she was older than her. That was shocking. She looked a solid six years younger. She also confided that she couldn't date anybody younger than her younger brother - and when it was known that I was younger than her brother, we had a small bond. Sure she had a boyfriend, and yeah I wasn't going to guide her back up to my room: but our little back and forth created a nice foundation of a conversation that lasted the reminder of our time together at our table. (Bonus note: the Best Man decided to quickly ask if Dawn has had any plastic surgery after her age was disclosed.)

But this tale is not about Dawn, or me, or even the drunken Best Man. This tale is about hearing words from her that I haven't heard spoken to me in over a year. Maybe even over two years - it's been so long (such a wonderful vacation) that I have forgotten the last instance.

Oh, and all this happened when I was IN A HAND and she was NOT!

This is what she says, "You know who you look like?"
I instantly look away and try to hold my laughter. The poker face is gone - so I just start betting strong. I actually won that hand as she replies to my non verbal reaction, "Oh, so you know... what's his name?"

Ladies and Gentleman, let's remind the world that I have a shockingly similar facial feature of F-List Hollywood Celebrity Matthew Lillard.

These people, those that love to mention this out of nowhere. Mention this likeness - never know the actor's name. And they never have a follow up comment. It's a very vanilla comment to hear. Is it a compliment? Do I say thank you? Of course, I just respond with the usual, "You know we have the same birthday?" (which is true)

That usually only freaks them out more - don't ask me why I continue to encourage all this.

So the past one or two years - while Lillard's career has hit the crapper - I've been somewhat free of this comparison. Luckily there isn't another Scream or Scooby Doo movie on the horizon for me to worry about.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Scott Baio is 45... And Single

Just watched a 45 second mini-preview on VH-1 of a new show titled Scott Baio is 45... And Single.

Yeah, I plan on watching this show. What really looks good is that his "life coach" makes him go back to his ex-girlfriends to apologize/find out what he did wrong.

This is why I want to watch the show.

His ex-girlfriends are a who's who of 80s sit com infamy. Not to mention he's got at least two Baywatch alumni under his belt. One former star of (I think Growing Pains) says to him point blank, "You're the reason why I got an AIDS test."

That's good television.
It's also fake television.
Yet, remains watchable television.

So that's my "bad tv" fix for the rest of the summer. It fills the void created when Real World: Las Vegas Reunited ends this week. Don't fret everybody - I'm more than filling my "good tv" gap this summer...

After having The Wire Season One on loan for close to four months - I blew threw the entire five disc series in under 24 hours (would've been quicker if not for the sleep break that was necessary). Soon the same friend will loan me Season Two - but there's no time to wait: Rome Season One is "at home" from Net Flix.

As far as reading is concerned - I'm taking the summer off. The podcast book club of The Emperor's Children did not justify its massive read. I guess that pile of upper crust crap is supposed to be a satire? No, let me use the term they used, "A Comedy of Manners." Uh, no people - that's just a pile of horseshit. Mindless and pointless - not thought provoking with a purpose. The really odd thing about the podcast - the panel kept finding gaping holes in the plots and characters! This is after and before proclaiming that this book isn't just good, but great enough to waste an hour of my time on a flight to Las Vegas.

I have three books on loan from the local library - but after investing the last two months of my reading life into an epic disappointment - I just want to take some time off and watch Scott Baio try to find himself.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Last 7 Days in My [Un]eventful Life

NOTE: I've been running around a ton lately - I need to blog better and describe some of the below events in more detail... thanks for your patience.

Wednesday: I met Skip, Tamara, Matt & Rickey in Mundelein to go bowl. Lakeside Lanes is only 25 cents a game (after $6 cover) Wednesday nights. Bowling is one of those leisure activities I enjoy, wish I could get really good at, but don't want to invest the time and money needed. Also, bowling is one of those classically great social activities - if I get super-serious at it I think it would lose most of its appeal.

Thursday: Oh, a story that must be said face-to-face...

Friday: Successfully entered my 5th Poker Circle. This circle is based in Mundelin - Dave's house specifically. Dave is a MASTER golfer and he's got the great competitive spirit to become a good card player. Ultra low stakes, and only five handed, my personal growth in this circle will have to wait until they get up to speed. I should also hesitate to call it a 5th Circle when the 2nd Circle hasn't met in over a year and the 4th circle (although formed) has yet to meet due to the fact that Circle Four's Members have 8 children under the age of five combined.

Saturday: Dave (different one) and Deanna's wedding. The Notre Dame Victory March was the song used for the first dance of Groom and Mother-of-the-Groom. Instead of dancing they just went around High-5ing the entire reception. Although months ago I wasn't exactly looking forward to spending time with mutual friends met in high school - the night was a blast hanging out again with Dave's college friends (who I met at the Milwaukee Summerfest Bachelor Party).

Sunday: Finally turned on the Air Conditioning. Sadly, I considered that a "moment" in my adult life. Treated myself to a Movie Marathon of Harsh Times (bad), Reno 911 Miami (worse) and Bourne Identity (still good).

Monday: GREEN TIE BALL POKER TOURNAMENT ANNOUNCED! I register less than four hours after I get the e-mail. This is the huge event that I took 3rd place in last year. Anything but a final table will be viewed as a disappointment to yours truly. Also, decided to watch The Bourne Supremacy on DVD.

Tuesday: After working late, I treated myself to The Bourne Ultimatum. Although I like going to the theatre alone, cell phones and young groups continually make Net Flix look better. I also bought tickets to go see Bloc Party live. This is the first "actual concert" (no street festivals, no Summerfest, no "cousin's playing") in a looooong time. Really looking forward to it.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Done and Done

Zero pictures were taken in Las Vegas.
I am still exploring methods to "document" the experience.
While the first four Vegas trips were truly episodic with definitive arcs... This one is unique for how it was just one long voyage, but acting in two different dimensions.

There was the "bachelor party" in which I was in the presence of both of the people who made the trip and the "vision quest" which consisted of the significant amount of time spent on my own. There were also times spent with each other person without the other - but in those are experiences that can not be captured effectively through a label (In the same notion that a ghost can not appear on film).

The entire week was a voyage into witnessing excess, enduring preservation and looking for specs of truth in hot sand.

All I know for sure are the following facts:
I landed in Las Vegas at 12:00 AM Tuesday July 3.
The plane departed Las Vegas at 5 PM Thursday July 5.
For the 65 hours total in Las Vegas, I slept for 11 hours.

I did the math...
12-3: Mandalay Bay
3-5: Transformers
5-7: MGM Grand
7-9: Paris
9-11: MGM Grand
11-4: Mandalay Bay
5-7 : SLEEP
7-9: Mandalay Bay
9-3: Caesar's Palace
3-6: Mandalay Bay
6-9: SLEEP
9-2: Treasure Island
2-3: Mandalay Bay
3-5: Treasure Island
5-7: Hofbrauhaus
7-3: Mandalay Bay
3-4: Wynn Las Vegas
4-6: Live Free or Die Hard
6-7: Mandalay Bay
7-11: SLEEP
11-3: Mandalay Bay
3-5: Airport

For the most part, that's accurate...

I plan on giving a more detail than anybody cares about my personal vision quest. The "bachelor party" is currently being adapted into a fictional parable.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Summerfest with a Bachelor [Party]

This is my friend David:

He will be marrying his girlfriend of eight years this August. I met Dave the summer before my freshman year in high school.

For his bachelor party, he wanted to spend the day in one of his favorite cities: Milwaukee. Don't ask my why he holds Milwaukee in such high regard - he went to college in suburban Elmhurst, IL and has no allegiance to any sports team from the town... but he does like Summerfest.

Summerfest is the largest musical festival in the world. Of the nine other people in this bachelor party (bringing it's total up to 11) about half of them asked if this claim was true. Now, I'm not an authority, but for a festival to run two weeks solid with more than 50 bands a day, but I'm confident in supporting Milwaukee's claim.

I had a great time on Saturday with this crew at Summerfest. It had been a solid five years since I was there last. One of the best places to get a cross section of humanity and a surefire surprise musical talent. The best part was that we didn't care who the "headliners" of that day were. The Fray and Goo Goo Dolls were inconsequential to our efforts. Instead we hung out mainly talking to bachelorette parties (we met five) and hanging out on the "lesser" stages.

Find of the night, this band: Filthy Children on MySpace

These guys were a funk band - with three horn players front and center (who all got bonus points for using the underrated COWBELL at different times) - and a groovealicious chick that liked to move.

During one song, that I thought was an instrumental (but just long lead-in) she coyly slipped backstage and reappeared in the crowd dancing with all of us before hopping back up in time for the first verse. Then they brought the house down with a cover of Dee Lite's "Groove is in the Heart" (Complete with slide whistle!)

When you see a band that effectively utilizes the cowbell and slide whistle you know you're in for a good time.

Special thanks to Dave - looking forward to the wedding... And thanks to the Chipotle sponsored "Rhythm Kitchen" at Summerfest 2007.
So now its Sunday night, I'm back in the condo preparing for the next Bachelor Party. But this one won't involve taking an Amtrak to Milwaukee, but a flight to Las Vegas. I'll be back in town late night Thursday, probably use Friday and Saturday to recover - hopefully able to share any postable stories on Sunday.

Have a good week everybody,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Band of the Moment: Mew

Vegas = Less than 5 Days by the time this is read

Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome the current band of the moment:
Straight from Denmark, I present Mew.
Mew "Special (LIVE)"

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Random Thoughts from an absent weekend

Vegas = 7 Days

I didn't really have a weekend.
There were a bunch of odd experiences that could have occurred in a vacuum for all I know.
It began when I had a half day at work on Friday and ended at some point in the commute to work this morning. The following is a small sample of the thoughts that crept into my mind:

Even if I lose these travelers checks – I won't be able to reclaim them while still in Las Vegas.
Please don't have this represent the amount I will lose, just the amount I'm prepared to lose.
Damn Rammys for tasty subs… I wish I can stay away from this place… Bad memories…
Does the fact that my barber instantly knows this haircut is meant for Las Vegas a good thing or a bad thing?
I have a 40% chance – at absolute best – of bowling tonight with my friend
The "3 at a time" is now giving me the lesser of three options question.
Eh, Breach wasn't that bad… enjoyable.
I have a 30% chance of my friend even calling me back.
For Your Consideration is bad – very bad – I can't even forgive them because of how good Best in Show was…
I'm dead tired – it's midnight on Friday – I've done nothing tonight… can building a poker chip art structure somehow validate my boredom?
11 hours of sleep will easily fuck my sleep pattern for Saturday.
Going outside to read The Emperor's Children is a great way to waste this day, and get something accomplished.
Not even an hour of reading makes me want to sleep, what was the NY Times thinking awarding this book such praise?
Great, a 4 hour nap on the heels of an 11 hour sleep – That all but assures I won't be sleeping tonight.
I have a 10% chance of bowling tonight with the same friend.
It's understandable… I should know better… To clear my schedule for a 40% chance, knowing it was at in my heart at best a quarter of that.
The mind to be more optimistic than the heart, an unsettling proposition.
9:30 pm, I can make my day's goal of hitting page 300.
Especially because it feels like 1 pm – I'm going to waste sometime and play a play chip poker tourney.
I feel more ready for the TI poker room than ever before.
2 am, knowing that I've hit the mark when the book as traction in my psyche… I can read this tonight.
4 am, Can I finish this?
6 am, a good stopping point in the book with only 20 pages left – what a poor structure of this book.. I don't even want to read those last 20 pages.
Nothing on TV – not yet…
Do I bother with those 20 pages at all? Can it wait til Tomorrow
7:30 am, I would really like to have thrown this book across the room after finishing the last page – but it's not my own copy.
A two hour nap before Mass will get me through the day.
2 pm, calling from my parents house – my friend picks up the phone.
Why do I wish he didn't answer – why did he pick up the call from a different ID – I know I'm over thinking this, but still
I'm sorry, you're sorry, we're all sorry… still
3 pm, laundry done, parents visit accomplished, dinner too far away. Stay in boredom watching Braveheart here or at least have my own boredom at the condo.
My mother asks me what the alternative is to not staying for dinner. I have no answer. Not for her, not even to myself… I just want to finish this weekend – have it done.
One last hope – a new Mexican restaurant near the DP Theatre… no takers – but I still go.
I'm the only one in the restaurant – aside from it's staff – my attempt to have something tangible in this weekend backfires… It feels less real than ever…
Walking back, Radiohead may not be the best choice…
iTunes radio station for more upbeat Trance… much better choice
More play chip poker.
1 am, still awake on a Sunday – relish it…
Next weekend will entail a deafening bachelor party at Milwaukee's Summerfest
Next week will entail a blinding bachelor party at Vegas' Strip
This weekend has been a perfect sensory depravation as a preparation
But did it exist?
2 am… present
The week truly begins when you first think of what clothes you decide to wear – clothes you don't want to wear – clothes you have to wear – to work.
I'm going to make it to work a little early, and not tired… The weekend did exist… and was good.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Taking my Father to a Concert

This is a picture of my father:

He is the younger brother of my Uncle Bill, who has written a few books:

(That's just a sampling - you can check out the whole bunch of them on Amazon including my favorite A Doubters Prayer Book that as it says in the dedication, "Dedicated to the Jesuits, who taught me how to doubt."
My Uncle Bill used to be a Jesuit. He is now married to my Aunt Roddy (who used to be a nun). Needless to say, I can write a very interesting blog about those two, and their great life of marring Lesbians in Vermont - but this isn't about them...

This post is about my Uncle Bill's son, my cousin, Neil Cleary - and how he gave a son a Father's Day gift:

Please take a moment (maybe after reading this) to check out his MySpace page:
Neil Cleary MySpace

It was through his page that I saw that he was coming to Chicago - to play at The Vic Theatre.

About 3 years ago Neil came through here to play... He had a set at a bar/club named Schubas. It's a hip place - ask any city cirl with a visible tattoo. Sadly, 3 years ago I was in the Prison of Hope known as my previous job, and I did not accompany my Father to the show. My Dad, a man who wakes up before 5 am, drove into the City alone to watch his nephew perform... He loved it. He loved being the Uncle.

I've felt bad about that night - not going - not having the family pride that my Dad exhibited. Being selfish for myself, wanting to sleep off one horrible day at work in preparation for the next...

Thankfully, I saw this show as a chance at redemption. Also, The Vic Theatre is a substantial venue... It was a great thing for Neil to be performing there and I really wanted to support it. My Dad was also exited and offered to not only go but pay. Even after I told him each ticket would be $28.

Through the magic of MySpace I contacted Neil, and he was able to put two tickets aside for us - this whole thing amazed my Father. Me finding out about the show, contacting Neil, and getting free tickets... It really doesn't take much to impress my Dad - the sheer quickness I was able to get the tickets out of the box office by pointing to our yet uncrossed names off the list wowed him.

The show was great. Yes, I may be biased, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. There's one particular song of his I really dig (you can find it on my profile currently), and I started singing along to it. I hope people around me heard/noticed me. Not only because they should know that its a song worth knowing, but that I was there to see this guy - not the guy closing for him.

Although I would like to believe that this is why people were looking at me, I know it is not. Flashback a few days earlier - when my Dad asked me for advice on what to wear. I won't bother typing what I said to him, only what he decided upon. He wore freshly polished brown leather loafers, navy blue dress pants with an ironed crease sharp enough to cut meat and a high quality polo shirt that was a gift from MySister. He was dressed to go to Church, not a concert. There were two aspects of my Father that set him apart:
1) He looked like he walked out of a Dockers Ad.
2) He had on the largest smile in the whole concert hall.

Back to what this post is somewhat about:

It didn't take me long to realize why my Dad was smiling. Soon, it became the same reason I was smiling. It wasn't just because we enjoyed the music (which we did), it was because what we witnessed. And it was amazingly beautiful.
We saw a man doing what he loved.
A man who wants to play music for a living.
All by himself on a stage and without fear or shyness, but of utter comfort and peace.
My Father and I were looking at a dream came true, Neil's dream.

I apologize to all my hardass readers. This is one of the more sappy posts in this blog's history. Fuck off, I mean it. Standing next to my Father watching my cousin was a special moment to me.

This is being posted on Father's Day on purpose. The round trip on the CTA conjured up some of my more classic childhood memories with my Father. Going downtown to shadow him for a day as he made sales calls or watching the Air & Water Show didn't seem as distant anymore.

And another great moment was when I left my Dad alone after Neil's set as I went down to talk to the Security Guards (I wanted to get the message backstage that Neil's family was present). I returned to where I told my Dad to stay put only to find him engaged in a conversation with two young women. These two young girls (really, they couldn't have been more than 22) were smiling politely at my Dad, nodding to the boastful Uncle. Not too long ago I would've become instantly outraged and embarrassed. Not anymore. I just stood next to him, laughing at his jokes, and wondering how I could ever be that good at anything.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Will Explain More Later

The past three days at work have been a rollercoaster.

I can't say anything now... All you need to know currently is that I've been listening to a lot of "You're The Best" by Joe Esposito (the Karate Kid Montage Song) and "Kick Start My Heart" by Mötley Crüe.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Whatcha Gonna Pick?

Tonight I ate the first Hot Pocket of my life.

Tonight I ate the last Hot Pocket of my life.

It was the same Hot Pocket.

How the hell is this damn food item still around? It's beyond gawdawful. Does that catchy jingle fool kids into eating this crap? Do parents realize how bad they taste?
I'm confused. Worse of all, I'm still hungry.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

GOAL: 20 days to END IT

I'm not against "dropping" a book.
I've done it a couple times last year.
But for some reason, I just can't drop this one:

I'm on page 98 of 431 at the time of this posting.
It needs to be FINISHED before I depart for Las Vegas in 3 weeks.

The book is not very entertaining. It's not very deep or with cause and merit. It's a bunch of ancillary characters with no apparent cohesion or motive.

Yeah, it's going to feel like high school again - reading for the sake of reading, reading because of a "have to" and not a "will to." Regardless, I want to finish it. I want to beat this book down so it can stop haunting me. I don't like having it over there - on my end table - with my bookmark embarrassingly so close to the front cover.

(I'm pausing right now - i'm in a staredown with this godamn literal fiction)
Your days are numbered. You will be finished with the zeal of a Mortal Kombat player.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Notes on the MTV Movie Awards

-It's refreshing to have a good start to one of these things. One without the cheesy montage featuring the host in many scenes of the "big" movies.

-Sarah Silverman makes a race joke: instant cut to Sam Jackson in the crowd. This is so typical, but BIG PROPS to Sarah Silverman for instantly calling out the director... (even if that was planned, it was good)

-Paris Hilton, why would you subject yourself to an event hosted by Sarah Silverman days before your incarceration?

-Although Silverman's jokes on Paris were very funny, it does not compare to how I laughed at the unanimous cheering and applause at the mention of Paris going to jail (then showing Hilton's reaction).

-Jack Nicolson realizes how B.S. this whole deal is... And he somehow makes it worse by thanking first, "the fighting troops and allies." Then he pauses to almost realize how insulting he just was, to thank first and foremost the soldiers for an award he wouldn't use to wipe his ass.

-"Wester's defines 'fight' as..." (Finally, proof that the award show banter writers have run out of ideas)

-"Brought to you by Vitamin Water, it works for 50 Cent."

-I take back what I said about the cheesy montage.

-GO AWAY Robin Williams, GO AWAY

-MTV now doing "scripted drama?" Uh, paging Laguna Beach producers?

Finally, this show had a "pre-game" that was basically a half hour commercial for Transformers. And in the show they give out the "Best Summer Movie You Haven't Seen Yet" to Transformers. There are so many things wrong with this award - just call it, "Movie that paid us the most money." I will be very surprised if MTV doesn't have a meaty product placement scene in the film.

(And after that award, I stopped watching the show - I had already seen Amy Winehouse's performance and lost the will I needed to continue watching)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Reunited, and it feels so good.

Seriously, I'm like as giddy as a school girl about to take part in a hopscotch tournament.

After living the first 18 years of my life without Cable Television, I was way behind the curve on the MTV Real World phenomena. In fact, my first memory of the Real World was in my freshman year of college - but it wasn't watching the show for the first time. Three "cast members" from the Seattle season sat up on a stage in the Union in a pseudo lecture / Q&A session.

I don't remember what they said, just the lunacy of the experience. Every other question was basically, "Now who hooked up? Really... Who hooked up?" However, there was one memorable moment when a "little person" attempted to ask a question. The Real Worlders kept asking the guy to stand up, which he was... Finally he climbed to stand on his chair to ask his question, "Did any of you guys make-out or what?"

I decided to start watching the show. The drunk driving filled Hawaii season was before the pre-Katrina New Orleans season. (That N.O. season produced a "Come on be my baby tonight..." bit that I still randomly laugh at today)

Then there was the Las Vegas season.
The season that confirmed what everybody suspected about MTV Real Worlders in addition to bringing it to unprecedented levels of debauchery, drunkenness, declothing and demagoguery.

I stopped watching The Real World shortly after that. The seasons that followed attempted to repeat the model of Guys Gone Wild that made the Vegas season successful. It became too tiring for me.

But now, five years later, MTV is bringing the Las Vegas cast pack to the Palms for two more weeks. I have never been this excited at the prospect of a reality show.

I especially want to see FRANK! MTV had a mini-marathon over Memorial Day of the Vegas season - and I was lucky to catch the premiere episode that featured Frank - on his first day - confessing that he was interested in Trichelle to Steven. That night Frank was literally caught in the middle between Trichelle and Steven. Frank leaned out of the way, looked to the camera, and pantomimed a self influenced pistol shot to the head. CLASSIC!

The season premiere of Real World Las Vegas: Reunited is this Wednesday. Can't wait to see Frank again!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

You Don't Know Jack, but I'll gladly introduce him to you...

24 debuted in the fall of 2001. You Know What delayed the pilot episode. I remember watching previews during the 7 game Arizona / New York World Series. Kiefer Sutherland leaning down to a seated Sarah Clarke while yelling, "WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR!?"

I don't remember where I was when the pilot episode aired. I was probably held captive in one of the many GROUP PROJECTS that was a standard in every class I took after my freshman year at Marquette University. Thankfully, my friend Stefan was also interested in the previews and taped the pilot. I was instantly hooked. After a few episodes, citing too much relevance on cell phones to support a plot, Stefan left me alone with my addiction. I couldn't find anybody else who was watching this show. It killed me every week not being able to discuss it.

I've been in a quest to make up for that ever since.

In the winter of early 2003 I was already out of school and knee deep in season two. I was at my friend Tom's townhouse with a couple of his friends - a married couple by the name of Bill & Sydney. A few weeks earlier I had lent Tom my season one DVDs and I had chosen this night to mildly interrogate into why he hasn't watched an episode yet. Well, there wasn't much on television that night - so I convinced Tom, Bill & Sydney to watch the first episode. We instantly watched the second episode and the third too... They were hooked.

Tom, Bill, Sydney and I watched the first season together - it was a great time, as we'd watch a full disc about every other weekend. By the time season 3 began in Fall 2003, we were able to finish my newly purchased season two DVDs just in time - right down the the ticking clock - pure 24 style.

I finally had what I wanted, a core group of 24 addicts to watch shows with me as they happened - with full e-mail forum discussions in the six long days between episodes.

While visiting my friends Skip & Tamara in Charleston, IL (they were students at Eastern Illinois University), I bought with me season one. They also became instantly hooked as their obsession began with an 8+ hour introductory marathon.

When the major plot bomb of that season dropped in episode 23 - Skip called me instantly (it was about 1:30 AM) speaking in tongues from the sheer awe.

This conversion occurred during the show's fourth season.

My life had a major change during season five - I got a better job. One of the better aspects of my new employment was that the company was exponentially larger. This made it easy to find a core 24 fan club among coworkers. And also easier to scout new converts.

Stephen & Maureen sat next to each other. I lent season one to Stephen, and ended up giving season two to him while passing the returned season one over to Maureen. They were both instant Bauer lovers and this round-robin cycle of CTU may be the most efficient DVD watching protocol in the medium's history... They were up to speed in time for the next new season

And currently, as the sixth season has just concluded - I am about to loan 24 season DVDs to Brian, my 8th recruit. I would have had 9, but my friend Paul doesn't live locally. If he did, I surely would make a stop near his house for my bandwagon tour.
However, I should note that Brian will not be loaned season six from me. Sadly, the show's sixth season was a catastrophe... I will not buy it, breaking my streak. But I still have 120 magnificent episodes ready to be lent out on a moments notice...

Only one catch: You have to tell me exactly where you are while borrowing them - because I want to know exactly what to discuss!

(I'd like to take moment for a personal message to my readers. If you have read this far - thank you very much. This is my 200th post on this blog and I'm very happy to see that it's traction is not in any jeopardy. While noticing this impending milepost a few weeks ago - I had planned on debuting a classic story from my youth that is THE most rarely told. However, when I take into account that I've been flowing well lately with subject matter - I'm going to take a pass. Also, I sadly relayed the unabridged version to somebody less than a month ago.... And in hindsight, that may not have been the best idea. And with that story, saying it once a year is far too frequent. If any of you even remember this cliffhanger that I foreshadowed about - again, I appreciate your focused reading.

Much obliged,