Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Rounds

Allow me to guide you on a tour of my daily web surfing.

I almost always start here on MySpace.
Check to see if anything's changed (it usually hasn't).
After I've read my the blogs posted by my "friends" and check out any new pictures, I'm off to my band of the moment's page and listen to the same four songs for free as I try to hold out on buying an album. Currently it's Grand National

I'll leave this window open and listen to the music as I continue The Rounds.

Next up, checking out the Springfield Isotopes (my fantasy baseball team).
These guys may not be familiar to you, but I follow their lives as closely as a new Father-to-be watches his newlywed's growing belly:

Off to Lebowskifest! Check what's newly posted on the message boards, maybe post a bit myself, see if they've released this year's Official Fest T-Shirt yet.

I've put IMDB back into the rotation lately.

Which usually reminds me which movies to add to my Net Flix queue, so I stop there next.

And then I visit the worst site of them all (as far as wasted time is concerned)
What I do there deserves it's own blog post.

Sadly, I like to also visit YouTube (which seems to get worse and worse every day)

Then it's back around the loop again.
Change the band on MySpace from Grand National to My Morning Jacket.

Take a closer look at this guy's stats (I think I need to drop him)

More posts to read on the boards.

Back to IMDB, the most useless of my re-visits... But I can't miss another famous death the way I did a few days ago:

Which reminds me to add this movie to my queue:

Oh, you know you gotta check this page again.

Then back again to the web's caboose: YouTube (Nothing else in the top two pages is worth your time to embed - trust me)

And my third lap begins with writing this blog, and the research needed to find it's pictures.
I'll probably keep running laps until I get too fatigued and go to bed.
Good night,

Post Scripts: Honorable mentions to sites I frequent a ton (but not usually daily)
Slate for current events
Stereogum for music radar

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"How's the hunt?"

Writer's note: I sincerely thank anybody who will take the time to read this post. May I warn you that it will be a boring recap of my weekend. There may be some insight into my psyche, but I'm not making any promises... No offense will be taken if you stop reading now.... Thanks.

This week I worked an extra hour Monday through Thursday. Although I usually work more than 40 hours a week, this "extra" effort was with the sole intention of taking advantage of my employer's "summer hours" benefit (Between Memorial Day and Labor Day if you work 40 hours in a week by noon on Friday you can take Friday afternoon off).

I had scheduled the sixth of my six private golf lessons for 3:30 Friday afternoon. Not wanting to go home before doubling-back to Glenview I stayed in the office an extra two plus hours.

-not doing any work mind you-
I used the hours to put the finishing touches on my latest gaming operation:

It's a very successful pool. Well beyond expectations such a niche sport would offer.

(no further comment on my last golf lesson necessary, it was rather non important)

Friday evening was reserved in my social calendar for the Taste of Des Plaines.
Sadly, I only saw two people wearing these shirts:

However, the night was a great success (for me).
I met a stranger off the Internet.
Now this will be shock to most who know me: this was with ZERO romantic context. Yes, I have been known to meet many strange women under romantic contexts initially introduced via the World Wide Web.
No, not this time.
This was a married man met under the context of a shared interest: The Big Lebowski.
(May I go on record that I believe meeting a married man who happens to love a movie I also love to be infinitely more odd and creepy than my misguided pursuits for love.

Regardless, the man I met (along with his wife) may join me for my trek to Louisville next month for Lebowski Fest. It's going to be a tough solo journey, which makes anybody I can meet before hand a bonus. I'll probably feel more comfortable going to the official "meet-up" next Saturday knowing he'll be there too.

But he left soon (THANKFULLY) as other people I knew had arrived to the TASTE.
His (the stranger) departure may have been influenced by a rapid fire quote session from a movie he may not have been as familiar with (Michael Mann's LA crime saga masterpiece Heat).

So with the stranger out of the picture, I joined my crew of Des Plaines diehards. I need to make special mention that I would know none of these people without MySister. The following is a circle of friends who have all known MySister before me, and I was able to hijack my way into their friendship:

Brian / Deke (allowed spellings also include DiC) / Billy
his girlfriend (and also my next door neighbor) Rebecca
along with her husband (and one of the people that taught me poker) John (pictured here)

and HERBO!

This is Herbo:

"Herbo" is actually named Shawn. However, when I met him my sophomore year at Marquette (his freshman year), he was introduced to me as Herbo.
When Herbo bicycled up to me at the TASTE, I called out to my old acquaintance "HERBO."

Which significantly shocked John.
Turn out, John's younger brother (who has passed away earlier this year ) was the one who coined the "Herbo" nickname after a man who both John and his brother met one year in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

This instance of me calling out "Herbo" (when he had no prior knowledge that I had known Herbo previously) had visibly shocked him. It was an odd legacy of his late brother that he did not expect. It made me feel slightly poignant... all I could muster was corny "small world" sentiment.

Taste of Des Plaines was a success due to the people who showed up, as the above tale demonstrates. Sadly, that was all the Taste was good for. I didn't go to the rain soaked Saturday events, and the better food that I, and others, sampled was actually from Mount Prospect (not Des Plaines!).


Saturday's activities were dominated by golf.
I spent over 5 hours with two of my good friends.
We went to Indian Boundary (one of the Forest Preserve courses).
My friend Stefan shot a career best.
My friend Brian shot his last round on his first set of clubs (he's awaiting the delivery of his new set)
And I - I shaved another 20+ strokes off my score (and there's a LOT of room for further improvement).

The notable story from the round of golf isn't golf related. In fact, it's not really a story but an isolated comment.

Somewhere on the back 9 Brian asked me:
"How's the hunt?"
I've really only heard this question in reference to job hunting. Being happily employed, I was confused and asked for further clarification of what he was asking.

(He was asking about my quest for love)

I politely told him I was taking some time off from dating.
Which is true.
Honestly, I can't afford to take up golf and start shelling out first date money.

But the term "hunt" has really itched my sub-conscience ever since...
Others have accused me as being a serial dater.
Many have wondered if I enjoy "the pursuit" more than any discovery.
Everybody has failed to realize that I am a horrible suitor with enough excess baggage to cripple a prop-jet and lack the needed class/finesse/"game"/and overall suave that is needed in fostering and maintaining a meaningful romantic relationship. Although I am (by all reviews, acquaintances and encounters of my past would verify) a nice guy - there are elements of immaturity and selfishness that seem paramount in my difficulties.

A recently married friend, by the name of Ryan, has recently declared that I have an overtly romantic view of the institution of Marriage. I hope this is the reason for my unsuccessful hunt. Both for the reasons that the perfect girl has yet to prove Ryan wrong - or me wrong.


Sunday was a very relaxing day spent mostly with my parents. They allowed me to use their laundry faculties and their couch as I convinced them to turn off Cable Politics for some good old fashioned Euro 2008 (as previously mentioned VERY PREVIOUSLY).

My dad cooked hamburgers outside on the grill. I drank milk. My Mom lectured me that I need to use sunscreen when I golf. We talked about Fathers Day next weekend. All in all, you could hire a painter to commemorate the event. The scene I'd want illustrated: Yours truly figuring out the speed dial functionality on their cordless phone and programming in all six total numbers of MySister and I.

Finally, tonight I finally made a decision on my "AT HOME" Net Flix options.
On May 7th the following movies arrived at my residence:

Tonight I watched The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
And, upon the recommendation of my friend Stefan, "tagged and bagged" Starting Out in the Evening.

FYI: "Tagged and Bagged" is the returning a Net Flix film UNWATCHED. Two out of the last four movies I have received have met this fate (the other one was Lions for Lambs.


And that's my unabridged weekend. Both what I did and what I thought. If you're still with me... wow...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cut Copy

I want to make this quick... Something to get that last post pushed down... These guys, Cut Copy, aren't yet at "Band of the Moment" status. However, I'm excited about seeing them at this year's Pitchfork Festival. I doubt the crowd I'll see them with will be as excited as the people in the below video.

(Oh, and bonus note: I first found these guys from the iTunes free Discovery Download single of the week - Well done Apple)

Cut Copy - Live on rove from ewan macloud on Vimeo.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Encompassed in Yellow Tape: Questions from a Crime Scene

I need to finally address this

A 21 year old (man? kid? gang banger?) was stabbed less than 25 yards from my condo.
Stabbed... Twice in the chest... To death...

I have a real hard time calling the deceased a man. He's 8 years younger than I. But I can't call him a kid. He was done with school and starting his adult life.

The presumption he was a "long time" gang member doesn't necessarily make it easier on me. Sadly, it doesn't make it tougher.
The fact that he was stabbed, and not shot, has given me a completely screwed up sense of safety. The other fact that a kid younger that the deceased also aides to my ungrounded sense of security.

Honestly, this hasn't changed my life. This hasn't changed my willingness to walk to my friend's place, or Potbelly's, or the train station.

I'm not in a gang.
I'm almost 30.
I don't wear expensive shoes, or anything of value that would make me a "target."
I don't bother any kids, they don't bother me.
I don't take a thought about what they may be doing or talking about on their stoop next door - I highly suspect they given a half thought to me in my Corolla driving by them.

A neighbor of mine used the term "ashamed."
Ashamed to be living here
Ashamed his friends know that a murder, not just a death, occured here

I don't feel shame.
And not really any fear.
But I'm angry.

Angry that I've been proven wrong somehow.

A long time ago (it now seems) my friend drove over here and drove home. A friend who lives close enough for me to walk. I teased him the first time he drove over. He reasoned that he didn't want to walk that path at night.

Does the death of Israel Morales make him right?
Does the death of Israel Morales make me some kind of macho / testosterone fueled nimrod for continuing to take no pause?
Should I have known better and should I know better now?

I can't say my neighborhood is safe to anybody without a footnote or asterisk. It is now basically meaningless that the police station headquarters is 6 blocks away. The next 50 to 1,000 times someone asks me, "How's your neighborhood." I will hesitate before speaking.

I'll have to wait until I stop running through these recent facts to spun a spinned response. Wait to let the items at the tip of my brain fall back into silence.

All these are indirect consequences. All my emotions are based on perceptions of others. Safety of my friends, Property value to prospective buyers, Rumors.

Maybe it would be different if I didn't wear headphones to bed that night?
What if I had heard the "altercation" at 2 am, as the Des Plaines Police Detectives described it to me at 8 am the next morning. How about the fact that I was already awake when the detectives conducted their initial canvas. The random knock at the door surely would have scared me - but nope, I was awake.

I was mildly, only mildly, inconvenienced getting my car outside the yellow tape perimeter. Even less trouble sneaking my car around the poorly guarded "barricade" in my alley to my parking spot.

This is the closest I've ever come to a violent act, and all I can feel is a twinge of inconvenience in my Saturday errands? Am I that cold?

Last Sunday, I sat on my balcony, in the near dusk light listening to my iPod as I looked at the candlelight vigil held my his family struggling to figure it out. I attempted to figure me out... figure what to say...

That's over a week ago now, and I'm still at a loss of emotion. I don't know what it means... This (writing) certainly hasn't helped... This has only chronicled my questions - not answered any.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Will the 3rd Time Be The Charm?

(big, very large, deep breath)

It's that time again Ladies and Gentlemen...
For the third straight year I'll be competing in "a charity" poker event connected with the Green Tie Ball.

The first attempt was successful (to put it extremely lightly as chronicled in my September 2006 blog post), but last year's attempt was much less enjoyable.

This is happening much earlier in the year than I was expecting. Usually the preliminary event is held just shy of a fortnight before the Green Tie Ball (which is in late September). But the organizers of the Green Tie Ball are having more pre-event fundraisers - and you can't blame them for it based on the huge success of this poker event. The other events aren't poker related, but Chicago Gateway Green (the organizers) are scheduling the poker event first because its the most established (IMO).

The shakedown is Wednesday June 11. I've got one week to boil the nerves out of my system. Thankfully, by then I'll be armed with the new My Morning Jacket album Evil Urges:

(Head's Up! Most of the new album is available to listen to RIGHT NOW on their MySpace page as an "exclusive")

Yeah, I'm on record as stating that The Chicago Gateway Green is the worst charity ever. Yes, I even said they were worse than P.E.T.A. to a coworker a few days ago. Sadly, it probably plays a role why not too many people will be at this tournament. It doesn't get a lot of exposure and the earlier date may also keep the competing field small. All this works in my favor of course.

I truly believe I'm playing the best poker of my life right now. Two months ago I had a setback at an Elks Lodge tournament that really made me put my mindset into focus. Since that collapse in which I roller-coasted my chip stack wildly and KNOWING I was tilting but still played crap hands, I've regrouped. Never before have I been this patient and had control of pot size in hands that I play. Luck is becoming less and less of a factor every time I play... But that's a war no poker player can avoid a casualty. It's been the cause of my tournament life the last two attempts at this charade.

(another large, deep breath)
Sometimes I want to run over the table next Wednesday in true madman fashion. Raising everything and putting full scale pressure on anybody who thinks about getting to a pot with me. Sometimes I think I just have to hope the hands come quicker than last year.

Just get me to the final table - I'll make my own luck and get to Vegas for the 2009 Main Event.