30 October 2005

The one where I don't mention the White Sox

1. What is a bigger pet peeve for you:  someone trying to talk on a cell phone during a movie, a baby crying in a restaurant, a dog barking on your street, or music played loud enough to rattle windows. Let's do a little process of elimination here: if a baby is crying in a restaurant, it's most likely not the fault of the baby, so I can't get annoyed by that.  I could get annoyed if the parent(s) are ignoring the baby, though; dogs bark all the time, and like the crying baby, it's not their fault, it's the way they are wired.  if it goes on too long, I'm annoyed at the owner; since I am guilty every once in a while of playing music loud enough to rattle windows, I don't get annoyed by it (though if I was annoying someone, I'd hope they'd let me know); it's NEVER right to use a cell phone inside a movie theater.  Luckily, I've never had to deal with that, but if I did, I'd have no problem taking the cell phone and making sure it had a very intimate conversation with its owner's pancreas.

2. What is your favorite cologne or perfume that you wear most often?  Which one is the one you like the scent of, but don't wear often or at all? I'm not a cologne kind of guy.  I have a bottle somewhere that my wife gave me a while ago that I sometimes remember to put a little on if we are going somewhere, but I don't even know what it is called.  I prefer "Eau de Moi" and fortunately, I have a failrly pleasant "natural" smell.  You'll just have to take my word on that.  Somehow I think that is just fine with you.

3. In your opinion, what is the best way to tell someone you value how much they mean to you?  Who cares?  How can I concentrate on this when "Vampire Bats" is on CBS in just five short hours! Has there ever been a cooler concept for a made-for-tv movie?  I predict that in the aftermath of this stunning piece of television, the Emmy award will be re-named the "Vampire Bat."  OK, if my arm is twisted: I don't think there is an answer for this because there are different levels of caring for people.  I think actions speak louder than words, though.  And what says "I love you" more than forcing someone to watch two hours of bats attacking people?  It's realism at it's finest.  I am tingling with anticipation.  Christmas comes early this year.

4. Earlier this week, I posted a personality quiz:   If you haven't taken it, please do; if you already have, how accurate were the results compared with your true personality. Nailed it.  I'm middle of the road, not too abrasive, not too challenged.  Modest, too.

5. When was the last time you feel you got as much sleep as you really needed in a single night? I fell asleep last night at midnight (after the time change) and woke up at 10 AM, so I think that qualifies as getting enough sleep.  Man, I love Sunday sometimes.  Remind me of this entry when the first bambino comes along and I have to get up 37 times per night. 

6. If a stranger walked up to you and handed you a briefcase with enough money to pay off every debt you had down to the penny, do you think you could start from then on living debt-free?  At least for a while, but I am more intrigued to know why a complete stranger is giving me money.  Why do I have the feeling that the same person is going to return to my home at some point looking for an internal organ or two?  Another point: what fun is living debt-free?  As someone who has had plenty of debt at times, and at other times been debt-free, I can tell you that life is much more exhilirating when you owe money to other entities.  It's certainly incentive to get up everyday and make something out of your life.  Of course, if it's a vampire bat handing me that briefcase of money...

28 October 2005

Today's lesson

I can't resist posting this.  It's just too funny.  Plus, the tune is catchy.  It'll stay with you for at least the next few hours.

How to become a Republican.

27 October 2005

What it feels like to be a Cubs fan tonight

Because, you know, it's all about me...

I'm actually happy that this is over.  What can I do besides look to the south and tip my cap?  The White Sox had an incredible season, and were absolutely dominant during the post-season.  They will be talking about this team's performance for a long time, as well they should.  Going back to the last five games of the regular season, the Sox were 16-1 in their last seventeen games.

Unbelievable.  They deserved to win.  Their fans never even had time to get nervous about them not winning.  They were never in danger of being eliminated.  Only one word describes it: dominant.

And I'm happy for people I know that are as passionate about the Sox as I am about the Cubs.  I am thinking about a few people who I worked with at one time or another who were die hard Sox fans, that I have lost touch with through the years.  I'm thinking about my cousin, another big fan, who's wife gave birth to their first child, a son, just after this season started.  I hope that he was watching the end of the game tonight with his baby boy sitting on his lap.  I am thinking of everyone who waited years and years to see this day come, but didn't live to see it, and the folks they left behind, who have reason to be just a little more happy now than the rest of the fans do.

OK, so the sappy stuff (which was sincere) is out of the way.  I'm glad that it's over.  I've eaten my heart out so many times in the last two weeks-just ripped open my chest, snatched it out, and snarfed it down.  Then wait an hour or so for it to regenerate, and do it all over again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  It was not supposed to be like this.

Quick history lesson: since I have been alive, the Cubs and the Sox have been in the playoffs an equal amount of times (four).  The results for each, before this year, have been eerily similar, sort of a "can you top this."  To wit:

Example #1
1983: Sox win the AL West, win the first game of the American League Championship Series against Baltimore, then lose three straight.  Can you top this?

1984: Cubs win the NL East, win the first two games of the NLCS, then lose three straight to San Diego.  

Verdict: Cubs top Sox, by one game.

Example #2
1989: Cubs win NL East, first trip to the playoffs since the league championship series expands to seven games.  Lose NLCS to San Francisco, 4-1.  Can you top this?

1993: Sox win AL West, first trip to playoffs since league series expands to seven games.  Lose ALCS to Toronto, 4-2.

Verdict: Sox top Cubs, by one game.

Example #3
1998: Cubs win NL Wild Card, first playoff appearance since playoffs expanded to four teams per league.  Lose first round series to Atlanta, 3-0.  Top this?

2000: Sox win AL Central, first playoff appearance since expanded playoffs.  Lose first round series to Seattle, 3-0.

Verdict: A wash, both teams swept, though Sox did win division while Cubs got in as Wild Card.

Example #4
2003: Cubs win NL Central.  Win first playoff series in my lifetime over Atlanta, 3-2.  Take 3-1 lead over Florida before losing last three games, and series, 4-3.  Team five outs away from going to World Series before it all goes horribly wrong.  Can the Sox top this?

2005: Well, we all know what happened here.

I expected to write "Sox win division, win first playoff series in my lifetime, win ALCS to become first Chicago team to make WS in my lifetime, lose WS.  Making the WS topped the Cubs playoff experience of 2003."

But the Sox had to go and win it.  The unspoken Holy Grail in Chicago baseball was this question: which team would win a World Series first?  Coming into this season, the teams had combined to go championship-less for 185 years.

185 years.  That's why it was unspoken.

I heard a Sox fan on the radio say this today: "I don't know what will be sweeter-seeing the Sox win the World Series, or knowing that they did it before the Cubs."

He's right, as much as I hate to admit it.  Prior to this season, every time the Sox were eliminated, their fans breathed a little sigh of relief when the Cubs were eliminated as well.  And every time the Cubs fell short, their fans rested a little easier knowing that the Sox came up short as well.

And now that is over.  The Sox made it there first.  It's like landing on the moon, getting out of the capsule, and seeing Neil Armstrong there with a "Welcome to the Neighborhood" cake.

The sun will come up tomorrow.  I was not hoping that the Sox were going to lose the World Series, nor was I hoping they would win.  I was just trying to ignore it.  When I was downtown today on my way to school, I just kept telling myself the same thing: I just want it to be over.  Let 'em win, and let's get on with our lives.  When the Cubs finally do win a World Series, I can promise you that the last thing on my mind will be the White Sox.

I need to deal with my envy.  It's going to take a long time.  I can't believe that a Chicago baseball team has won a World Series.  And I REALLY can't believe that the team that finally won a World Series was not the Cubs.  I want what every Sox fan has tonight, the right to say "At least I was alive to see it."  Man, do I want it.  I can't believe I have to wait God knows how long to get it.  I was on the train home tonight, when the game was about ninety minutes old, thinking how different I would be acting if it were the Cubs one game away from winning it all.

I have already determined what is going on here, why this happened.  Baseball, in it's infinite wisdom, is taking care of its longest-suffering fans.  But in a cruel twist of irony, they have decided to do it in reverse order.  Again, to wit:

2004: Boston Red Sox end 86 year championship drought, win first title since 1918

2005: Chicago White Sox end 88 year drought, win first title since 1917

Those are (um, well, WERE) the third and second longest winless streaks in the game.


2006: Chicago Cubs end longest championship drought in history, 98 years, win first World Series since 1908.

How else am I supposed to get to sleep tonight?

By the way, even though the Sox were first to win a World Series, I don't think the "can you top this" game is over yet.  There's one last scenario where I think the Cubs can top the White Sox.  I won't say what it is, because it's out there.  Way out there.  But it could happen.  I'll leave you with one hint:


25 October 2005

Monday, Monday

Tonight was when I realized that I may have my priorities on backwards.

I've been a grad student now for a little less than two months.  I am taking three classes, nine total credit hours.  If I did that as an undergrad, it would have been a cakewalk.  When I was talking to my advisor before registering for this semester, I mentioned that I thought I could handle twelve hours.

She begged me not to.  When I asked why, she just said that I should take three classes to begin with, and if I felt I should have gone with four, to do so in the spring.

Verdict?  I'm taking three classes next semester.  If I had registered for four classes this term, I'd be taking three right now.  I under estimated the amount of work each class would require.  I am not complaining.

Monday night I have a fiction workshop.  I have to read stories by the other people in my class and prepare comments on them, and work on my own submissions.  By the time the semester is done, I will have submitted about 75 pages to the class.  Given the process of writing and revising, 75 final pages is really more like 200, because things wind up being redone over and over.  Wednesday night I have a production class for the university's literary journal, which, while extremely interesting, has been a time killer too.  First, we had to handle the reams of submissions that we received during the three month window we were calling for entries.  It's a small journal.  However, the number of submissions were huge.  The ten of us working in this were happy and relieved when we finished reading everything and made our selections.

And then the actual production began.  And continues.  It's a ton of work.  Again, no complaints.

My degree requires that I take at least three literary classes, and this is where the joy of being a graduate student comes in.  The pickings in the schedule of courses for fall were slim, and I wound up enrolling in a course on Irish Women's literature, emphasizing "the politics of gender."  I love Ireland.  I've been there many times, and I have read many works from authors there.  I thought I caught a break here, and that I would have some type of advantage in taking this class.

Um, no.

Write, write, and write some more.  Then write more.  Uh huh, now write more.  Every Monday night I am up late, trying to find the right choice of words that will accurately portray my understanding of what we will be discussing in class Tuesday afternoon.  I just finished tomorrow's assignment, and this is easily the earliest I have finished since the semester began.  It is not for lack of effort that I am usually toiling late into the dark.  I've been ahead of myself in terms of reading, which has not been that much of a challenge, to be honest.

But the writing?  Yeah, I think I have to write some more.

This class requires a research essay as its final project.  The essay has to be 25-35 pages.  I should have started it in 1975, because I see the December 13 deadline and wonder how exactly I am going to complete this properly.

Anyway, as I was writing tonight about how women in Northern Ireland have a history of being defined by men (please, it's not my opinion, it's what is in the writing), I found myself unable to concentrate at times, because I was letting my creative part of my mind wander over here and think about what I should be including in this blog.  This happens more and more, especially at times when it would be best if my mind just shut down and stayed on course, or when I am trying to fall asleep.

This blog has no deadlines.  But without this blog, I wouldn't be in the place that I am now, setting a course for making a career out of my writing.  This blog gave me the confidence to realize that what has always been my hobby should instead become my livelihood.

So I worry about it from time to time, that I am not paying enough attention to it.  It's what I would think a parent would feel towards their oldest child when other ones come along. 

At some point, I have to write a book length thesis if I wish to complete my MFA.  That no longer seems like such a huge challenge anymore.  I am sure that once I set my mind to it, I will do it, and do it well.  And when I do, this little part of my world will deserve as much credit for it as any level of instruction I could ever receive.

This blog will always be my first born.

23 October 2005

The one where I ignore the baseball result from tonight

Yes, I survived the dentist, but I will be very, very friendly with them by the time next summer rolls around.  Being Irish sucks sometimes!

1. How many products throughout your home are labelled "antibacterial." Just the handsoaps at the sink, and a bottle of purell that we have in the kitchen.  Can you even buy liquid soap anymore that is not antibacterial?  The whole thing is probably a rip-of anyway, and it's not going to save us in a decade or so, when bacteria will just ring your doorball, then engulf you like an amoeba does when you open the door.  Good luck with that.

2. As a general rule, and assuming any required knocking on wood, how often do you get anything more serious than a sniffle or mild cold? I get a knock-down-please-kill-me-now case of the flu about every five years.  I can tell you exactly when the last encounter was: February 2002, the second week of the Salt Lake City Olympics.  You know how NBC likes to brag that they show 3000 hours of Olympic coverage per week?  I can verify that they did so then.  I saw sports that I didn't even know existed, though I was sufferng from a 104 degree fever for a few days.  I was so miserable that I even watched all the ice skating, and if you say that I got chills when Sarah Hughes won the gold, I will remind you that I had a fever of 206 that night.  Thank God for those Olympics though.  I would have gone insane without them.

3. John Scalzi ran
this story about research that suggests the increased use of "antibacterial" products aren't necessary for people who are generally healthy, and might be causing the creation of "superbugs" that are resistant to antibiotics.  Are you more likely to avoid these products after reading about studies like this? Is this before or after we all die of bird flu?  I see a day when the most dangerous place to be is in a hospital.  Who knows what type of paramecium will be lurking in the ER soon.  I do't really worry about the antibacterial stuff.  I do my best to avoid situations where I can get sick.  The most important thing is to not touch anything on your face until you wash your hands.  Now that I am on public transportation three days a week, I have to keep reminding myself that.

Man, what a boring answer.

4. Take this
quiz:  Will you pass the U.S. Citizenship Test? I got 10 of 10.  I think I could have passed this test in kindergarten.  I've always been a little odd.

5. Now that the gas prices have dropped just a little (but nowhere near enough), what's the most you've paid for a gallon of gas so far? I think 3.50 right after Katrina.  Pump up those gas prices, baby.  America needs to get used to the idea of making choices.  I have sympathies for people who have to drive great distances for their job, but I still see a ton of cars on the road that aren't very practical for the times we live in.  Ah, now I'm preaching...

Psychfun:   What was your favorite cereal as a kid?  When was the last time you had a bowl of it? I had two favorites; one was called "Kaboom!" and was some type of cereal with marshmallows in it.  I remember a clown on the cover.  I haven't seen it since I was 8.  The other was "Boo Berry", which I loved because I love blueberries.  It was one of the trio of monster cereals (Count Chocula and Frankenberry were the others).  While I have seen the other two at times, I haven't seen Boo Berry in about 20 years.  I'd kill for a bowl of it right now.

22 October 2005

Yes, I swear I floss

Disclaimer: I have a dentist appointment in about ten hours.  I hate going to the dentist.  I'd rather be forced to sit through the Republican National Convention gavel-to-gavel.  Yes, my fear of modern dentistry is that extreme.  Apologies in advance if I seem a bit all over the place...

1. The nominations are out...and this journal got one, for "best kept secret."  I've been doing this since January 2004, and I am happy to remove the stealth from it.  And a big thanks to Jennifer (she of multiple deserved nominations, by the way), who threw my name out there first.  I appreciate it!

2. An open letter to my nephew: OK, so the Cardinals didn't make the World Series.  I think the sun still came up today.  You're 19, and I love you as much as I will love my own children, but you have no idea what true baseball suffering is.  I've got twice the baggage you have, pal, and until you've lived at least half of your life in desperation thinking that there is NO WAY that your team is going to go a FULL CENTURY without winning the World Series, I ain't got much sympathy.  Ironic, isn't it, that if you hadn't switched allegiances seven years ago you'd be basking in the glow of the White Sox, and driving me even more insane in the process.  The Cardinals haven't won the World Series since 1982?  In the words of the immortal Sam Kinnison, "You've got off light!!!"

3. I've been having a discussion with a few fellow grad students about the misinterpretation of the lyrics to an old song that make it seem like someone is taking indecent liberties with a farm animal.  It's gone on way too long, but one thing I have discovered is that if a state doesn't have a law on its books outlawing this type of thing (and I guess only 30 or so do), it's all the Democrats fault.  I wish this was part of the gag, but sadly, it's a serious "opinion".  Liberals-we stand for inconceivably high taxes, therapy for terrorists, and the right to get it on with Mr. Ed.

4. I was eating lunch at a restaurant yesterday when I had to use the men's room, and well, who was it and how did he/she decided that urinals should be filled with ice?  I hadn't seen this for a while but I have to say I find it fascinating.  Did I miss a report somewhere about the tendency of porcelain affixed to a wall to spontaneously combust?  How would you like to be one of these ice cubes?  You get poured into a machine, freeze your butt off, but once you realize that you're being made into ice, there has to be a little anticipatory excitement.  Will I be part of a cocktail?  Maybe a superstar athlete will toss me into a Ziploc bag and use me to help them recover from an injury!  So may possibilities...wait!  I think this is it, I'm being scooped out of the machine into a bucket...Yes!  Now we're in some room, and I'm being poured into a container.  What's this pink disc in here with us that smells like detergent?  What's this guy doing moving closer to us, I don't see a glass in his hand.  Hey, he's unzipping...what the?  Oh God!  It's all over me!  I'm melting...

What a way to go.  But at least it had nothing to do with a horse...

16 October 2005

This is the way the world ends

It's killing me.  I shouldn't have to see this.  There is only so much that I can take.

(Sigh)  (And that's 2 out of the last 3 entries that I have used the parenthetical sigh-time to shelve it for another year or two)

The White Sox (White Sox!) are in the World Series.

I have to read that line again...


God, this is just not right.

The way I see it, I have two choices here.  I can stab my eyeballs with a fork for the rest of the night, or I can accept it, which is the only way of realistically move on.

Which is worse-envy or jealousy?  Time for a side trip to Dictionary.com


"1. A feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another.
2. The object of such feeling:
Their new pool made them the envy of their neighbors."


1: showing extreme cupidity; painfully desirous of another's advantages; "he was never covetous before he met her"; "jealous of his success and covetous of his possessions"; "envious of their art collection" [syn: covetous, envious] 2: suspicious or unduly suspicious or fearful of being displaced by a rival; "a jealous lover" [syn: green-eyed, overjealous]

I have always thought the difference between the two is substantial.  To envy someone is to want what they have, but to be jealous of someone takes it a step further; not only do you want what they have, but you will go to great lengths to take it from them.

So which am I tonight?

If you are not a devoted fan of a particular sports team, you probably think I am nuts.  But for those of you who do understand what it is like to develop a passion for a certain organization and to have it thrive inside of you even as you age into adulthood, where the cynicism of sports as a business eats away at you, you know how it is.  It becomes a part of you.

I have said it many times in the pages of this journal-the only other constant in my 38 years of life besides my family is the Chicago Cubs.  I have been a baseball fan since I was four.  I can't possibly tell you how much of my life I have devoted to watching, reading and discussing the Cubs.  It's an obscene amount of time. No doubt, there are tons of other things I could have done with that time, which is now gone forever.

I live for Cubs baseball.  I may not be the biggest fan, but I am in the top ten.  Rip me all you want about losing, curses, going to Wrigley Field to be seen instead of watching a game, blah, blah, blah.  It doesn't apply to me.  I am above all that.  I know the game, and I want to see it played well.

Which is pretty much what has been going on all year on the south side of Chicago.  And I can't get into it.  I just can't.  For so many reasons.  I can't watch the Sox on TV because they have the worst announcer in the history of media.  I could stand listening to a screeching donkey do play by play over this guy.  I prefer National League baseball.  I can't stand the man who owns the White Sox, the man who conspired to shut the game down in 1994, when his team had its greatest chance of ending the season as World Series champions.  Think about that: the team you live and die for gets robbed of the one time you can see it win it all, because the owner is part of a group of obscenely rich old man who don't like the economics of the game.  The canceled the World Series that year.  If I were a Sox fan, I would not have been after 1994.

I want what every passionate, knowledgeable White Sox fan has tonight, the feeling of putting their head on their pillow knowing that their team is finally going to the World Series. I want it so bad that my head hurts.  The worst thing about being a Cubs fan is that point in the season where you realize that this will not be the year, that the wait for a World Series will continue.  More times than often in my life, the moment comes rather early in the season.  This year, it came around the end of July.  When it comes late, or very late, as it did in 2003, well, nothing is more cruel.

It sucks, if I may be frank.  It sucked on July 31 of this year to have to say "Man, I have to wait until October 2006 at the earliest to see the Cubs in the World Series."  Do you know how long that is?  There are times that I think that I can't take it anymore.

Do you know anyone who is 97 years old?  Personally, I don't.  I think the oldest people I know are in their mid 80's.  If you know someone who is 97, that person was born in 1908, which just happens to be last year that the Cubs won a World Series.  97 freakin' years. 

The day is approaching where there will not be a single person alive anymore who was the last time the Cubs won it all.

OK, how about 60?  That's 1945.  I know plenty of people who were alive then.  That's actually the last time the Cubs made it as far as the World Series.  I'm 38.  There's 22 years in between.

Back to my envy: when is it going to be my turn, dammit?  Last year Boston (86 years between championships), this year (perhaps) the White Sox (last championship in 1917); when does the largest of them all finally get snapped?

Is it going in reverse?  86 years last year, 88 this year, 98 next?

I'm not jealous, because that would imply that I want the Sox to lose.  I couldn't care less.  I should be happy.  There's going to be World Series baseball in Chicago for the first time in my life. 

But they are going to play it on the wrong side of town.

My shortcomings are my own problem.  Let the White Sox win.  I will put my fingers in my ears and ignore the selected followers of that team that are on cloud nine tonight more so because the White Sox made it to a World Series before the Cubs did.  I know that there are a ton of legitimate White Sox fans in the city.  I also know that there are a lot of Sox fans praying that they win the title solely so they can rub it into the faces of people like me.

I know tons of Cubs fans.  I haven't heard from one about how much they want the Sox to lose.  Most of them don't really care.  Once the Cubs are done, there isn't much reason to be concerned.

And let's not even talk about the possibility that the Sox opponent in the World Series will be St. Louis.

OK, I'm done.  It is so.  The White Sox are in theWorld Series, they have an excellent shot at winning it, and there is nothing to do except accept it.  I wish I could put my allegiances aside and head out to a bar somewhere and woop it up once the World Series begins.  But I can't.  I have my loyalties.  I will eat my heart out this week and next.  And I can't wait until it is over.

The worst part of all this?  Easy, thinking about how close the Cubs came two years ago.  How messed up it was that they were that close, and how quickly it all went away.  There's been far too much blame placed upon someone who was not even wearing a uniform for their demise, which has always been ridiculous.  The team blew it.  That was the hardest acceptance of the "Oh God, I have to wait until at least next October?" ever.  I'm getting physically ill just thinking about it.  And I will again in the future, until it finally happens, until I see the Cubs in the World Series.

Or until I die.

The one where I ask more questions than I answer

1. Who was the last person you sent flowers to?  Who was the last person to send you flowers? I can't remember.  I think I have only sent flowers to someone maybe five times ever.  The last time has got to be at least five years ago.  No one has ever sent me flowers.  I've been sent flour, but that was a disaster that I would rather not discuss.

2. What is your favorite single piece of furniture in your home and why? We have a king size bed.  Might as well be a cloud.  You ever see the cartoon with the dog that floats in the air every time someone gives him a dog biscuit?  That's me when I go to bed.  Every night.

3. You are given the chance to model clothing in a catalog.  What type of clothing would you most want to model and why? I cannot think of any circumstance where I would want to model for a catalog.  I can't even think of a good smart ass response for this.  I am truly stumped.  Wait, of course, what am I thinking?  The answer is so obvious: Victoria's Secret.  Yeah, I've got a secret, and it's name is NOT Victoria!

4. Take this quiz:  What is your "power color?" Lime green.  I think I mistakenly took the "what type of sherbert are you" quiz instead.  How is lime green a "power color"?  Are there other shades of green that are also considered powerful?  Why can't I be hunter green, dark and mysterious?  Or kelly green, drunk and Irish?  Are there 64 types of power colors?  Can I buy them all together in a box that has its own sharpener somewhere? 

5. What product are you mostly likely to buy in bulk?  Have you figured out whether you actually are saving money by doing so? I don't buy things in bulk, but my wife does sometimes.  The last thing she bought in bulk that I use is a bottle of vitamins.  They came in a bottle of 500, and they are the size of walnuts, so it's a large bottle.  But back to the end of my last response: I think the sharpener on the back of the 64 count crayola crayon is the single most UNDER RATED technological advancement in the history of mankind.  Who didn't get a kick out of sharpening crayons?  And what happened to the shavings?  It's like they got sucked into some black hole.  All matter that has formed in the universe since 1970 has been composed entirely of crayon shavings.  Cosmologists across the land, rejoice!  The secret to the universe is...colored wax.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #75 from Mortimer:  Now that winter is approaching, what is your ultimate comfort food? What guilty pleasure do you eat that is sinfully not good for you but, you can't get enough? Geez, after reading this question, I don't think I enjoy food enough.  I get the feeling that I should be filling up a giant vat with some type of food, then leaping in and spending the winter eating my way out of it.  Hmm, winter approaching, and I still haven't filled up any tree stumps with walnuts yet.  I don't think I have any comfort foods, certainly none that I feel guilty about eating, though wouldn't it be amusing if eating too much of a food made you drunk like liquor does?  Can you imagine the hangover you'd get from two pints of Cherry Garcia?  And I feel that before I end this I should explain that I would want to model for a "Victoria's Secret" catalog not because I look good in lingerie, but because we should all simply AIM HIGH.

13 October 2005

I've been a bad, bad boy

Yes, my fellow Americans, I have come out of the proverbial opinion closet.  I have linked to one side of the political discourse.

I wasn't always like this.  I used to be respectful, courteous, open-minded.  Now, I have just lost my way.  How?  How did I manage to let myself become like this?

You may have noticed that I recently enabled the "favorite sites" sidebar on this blog, and that it is filled with assorted political web sites.  I did this because, well, I'm sick of the whole thing.

Anyone who has read more than an entry or two here knows which way I lean politically, especially since March 2003.  However, I am not a die-hard Democrat.  There's a lot about the party that I am not happy with, and I don't agree with everything they stand for either.  I like to consider myself a moderate.  Hell, I'd like to consider myself an independent, but I think that might be stretching it a bit.

I do know, however, that there is no way I will ever consider myself a Republican.  Simply writing that word gives me the willies.  Fortunately for myself, the one or two issues that I tend to think conservatively on (mostly fiscal responsibility) are no longer important issues to the GOP.  I have to admit that I did not think I would ever see the day when it was the Republicans who felt the answer to every problem was to toss money at it. 

Deficits?  What deficits?  I don't have to show you any stinkin' deficits!

Now, my biggest fault in any circle (not just political) is that I tend to spend way too much time on keeping informed.  This means that I read a lot of newspapers and magazines, and I watch for too many news programs for my own good.  Recently I have also been visiting too many right-leaning blogs.  In a never-ending search to know just how the other half thinks, I have OD'd on, well, crap.

If I were to sub-title this explanation, it would be:

"I Fought the Armand, and the Armand Won"

Lest I continue to be labeled as a trouble maker, I would like to make it clear that indeed, I like Armand.  Really, I do.  I think he writes well.  He expresses his opinion and he sticks to it.  And the man can argue like there is no tomorrow.  I was not aware of who he was until his unfortunate encounter with the TOS police this past summer, but I caught up with him in a hurry.  I got the impression that he welcomed and encouraged debate in his comments.  And I think I was very, very wrong about that.

I'm not going to turn this into an Armand bash-fest.  Let's just say that he and I do not see eye to eye on much.  Recently, he wrote an entry about the mayor of New Orleans and his idea to build casinos in his Katrina-devastated town.  Armand wasn't in favor of it.  I happened to read the article about Nagin before I read Armand's entry, and I felt that he left out an intricate part of Nagin's words, and probably did so to make his point stronger.  When I left a comment about that, it unleashed a back and forth between us, and that has happened probably ten times or so previously.

I can get a little rough around the edges when trying to make a point.  But then, so can Armand.  So we go 'round.  And around.  And around.  He doesn't bend.  Ever.  The man can argue until your head spins.

But it's his blog, and he is entitled to do that.  However, I am starting to question whether it is my right to persistently "bug" him about his opinions (note that I said "opinion" and not "fact."  That, I feel, is the gist of where any and all problems arise).  It probably isn't.  I don't know how tolerant I would be of someone constantly coming over here and disagreeing with what I have written.

So I think that I am done speaking up over at Armand's.  I will still visit, and visit often, and probably feel my blood pressure spike now and then, but I should leave the dude alone.  His blog is not about me.  He's never said anything to me about that, never commented on anything outside whatever the issue was, and I have no idea if he even cares about it.

I have left a lasting impression over there, though.  During one of our debates, my head exploded.  I had to stop, find the million little pieces, and put them all back together.  Afterwards, my head still hurt.  My next comment to him simply said that I was done talking about the issue, because debating with him was dangerous to my health.  I also said "debating with you is like trying to fend off a rhino with a whiffle bat."

If you go to Armand's blog, you'll see he now refers to himself as "you're friendly seeing-eyed rhino..."; the man evidently has a sense of humor.  I think that is hysterically funny, both in how it sounds and in the realization that I am somewhat responsible for that moniker.

Back to reality...I can't take all the right-wing stuff coming at us from all over the place anymore.  It's ridiculous.  I am particularly tired of being told that I hate George W. Bush.  I don't hate him.  I hate that he is president.  I hate what he has done since he has been in office.  And, most of all, I hate what he has made America into.  He is supremely unqualified.  No amount of jargon from television, print or the blogosphere is going to change my mind on that.  The happiest day of my life will be when he is finally out of office.

But I digress.  I think I am going to lay off the rants on the political side for a bit, and just let those of you who want to experience it seek it out.  That's why I put those web sites in my sidebar.  "Newshounds" dissects just about everything that appears on Fox News, and is quite informative.  "Crooks and Liars" does a good job of analyzing television news shows.  "Media Matters" does that as well as radio.  I'm not a huge fan of "The Huffington Post" so far and as such that may go.  It's a little too left.  Andrew Sullivan is about as liberal as I am conservative, but he has a gift in that he is able to honestly analyze his own party and is not afraid to call it out.  I disagree him sometimes, but he is as good as it gets.  "The Blue Voice" is a group of people who cut their blog teeth on AOL and got together to counter "The Red Voice," and you can imagine what that is.

I think "be very afraid" is a good way of thinking as you venture over to "The Red Voice".  If you so desire, you can find a plethora of other conservative sights there as well.  Don't say I didn't warn you though.

I'm all for debate.  I'd be happy to link to sites that debunked liberal television and radio IF THERE WERE ANY OF THE FREAKIN' THINGS ANYWHERE!!!  Sorry, I got a little intense there.  We are bombarded it seems 24/7 by the Limbaugh-O'Reilly-Hannity brigade, and I'm a little sick of it. 

So, in closing, I guess I have chosen my side of the fence.  And at the very least, I invite you to see what it is like over here. 

Despite what the louder people say, dissent is healthy.  Dissent is normal, and most importantly, dissent is patriotic.

08 October 2005

And so it goes...

1. What's your favorite brand and flavor of ice cream when you go grocery shopping?  Is there any of it in your freezer right now? That's tough.  I loves me ice cream.  I'll have to say Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia, though I'm just as able to pick up a Hagen Daz Rum Raisin instead.  There is none of either in my freezer now.  In fact, it's been a while since I had any of either.  What the hell is wrong with me?

2. When was the last time you ate a fresh fruit as a snack rather than something not "diet friendly?" Just yesterday when I had some pineapple, though I must admit I am not much for fruit.  I've tried, but it either makes my teeth hurt or tastes so sour that it takes a week for me to get my lips back out of my gums.

3. Take this quiz:  What language should you learn? Swedish.  Ironically, I can speak a little Swedish.  For example: "Lus hjound de klemellen en kjodtosalaft" which means "The dog swims in the potato salad" and "Kjold ug mesot gote zwir bregen sjell" which means "please give me back my lingerie before I alert the authorites"; and finally: "Ahl friest kjolsef megurin o sets tal kjwos neivt?" And that means "Is that a bunch of lingonberries in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

4. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #72 from Cdmmw2:  If you could relive one moment of your life and watch it (like a movie) but not interfere, what would it be? Probably the first time I won a little league baseball game with a walk-off hit.  I was 12, it was against the Dodgers, one out, runner on second.  I swung at the first pitch and missed horribly.  I nailed the second pitch over the left fielders head.  Game over.  Understand, I hit the ball to the outfield about as often as a full solar eclipse.

5. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #73 from Debbie:  What was something you were afraid of as a child?  Did you overcome the fear? I was terrified of spiders as a kid, and while I am no longer paralyzed by them, if I come upon one when I am not expecting it, my blood pressure will spike.  And if it is bigger than a quarter, I soil myself.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #74 from Anna:   If someone were to open your refrigerator right now, what item would it embarrass you most for them to find? I would be much more embarrassed by the sparse selection than anything you would find in there.

Memo to the South Side

It happened again tonight.  I was watching the news.  Top story: White Sox complete a three game sweep of the Red Sox with a 5-3 win at Fenway earlier today.  So do they show highlights?  No.  Interview any of the players?  No.  The first thing they do is go to a reporter camped out at a sports bar to get "the local fans reaction."

Yeah, because we need to see folks who have been drinking since noon talk about a game they can barely remember, rather than see how the game was won.

Hey, any Chicago baseball triumph is reason enough to celebrate.  I am not begrudging anyone for having a few when your team is winning.

So after the obligatory shots of the crowd jumping, screaming, hooting and hollering after the game, they get around to talking to some of the crowd.

And what's the first thing out of the mouth of the first person?

"Take that, Cubs fans."


Why?  Why can't Sox fans get past their hatred of the Cubs?  Memo to Joe Sox Fan: you just won a playoff series for the FIRST TIME SINCE 1917.  The first thing that comes to your mind is to say something bad about the Cubs?

Two years ago, when the Cubs beat the Braves in the first round, how long do you think it took me to say "take that, Sox fans!"?

(The answer is two years, obviously, and I was only doing it for effect).

Now, I'm sure that there exists a Sox fan or two somewhere in the metropolitan area that isn't thinking about the Cubs tonight.  I don't mean to label all Sox fans, but this is ridiculous.  Every year, I hear the same thing:

(When the Cubs sell out every game, while the Sox struggle to fill half the park): "Nobody goes to Wrigley to watch the game, they go to hook up and be seen."


"Cub fans like to go and watch them lose, Sox fans only go to the park when the team is winning." (though that would not explain the crappy attendance their this year)

Then there's the media bias, because the Cubs are owned by the Tribune Company, which owns WGN, which has broadcast Cubs games for the past billion years.  Never mind that the Sox are also on WGN as much as the Cubs.  This year, all 162 games for each team were on TV somewhere, except one.  And if you don't think the Sox are getting media attention, you haven't picked up a newspaper here for most of the summer.

I have heard many, many, many times that Cubs fans really don't care about the team winning, so long as they have a good time at the game.  Until he was traded away after last year, the version I heard of this was "You don't care if they won or lose, as long as Sosa hits a home run."

Well, most of the Sox fans I know seem to fall under the same trap: they don't really seem to care if they win or lose, so long as the Cubs lose.

Again, I am sure that I have mislabeled some of the Sox fans in this town.  It just seems like every one of them is an anti-Cubs fan first, and a Sox fan second.

I have stated previously that as a Cubs fan, I couldn't care less what the Sox do, except for the six games they play against the Cubs every season.  As far as I am concerned, the Sox can go 156-6, so long as the six losses are to the Cubs.

I don't hate the White Sox.  I don't really know any Cubs fans that do.  I don't CARE about the Sox.  I think of them as just another team in the league.  Well, with exceptions.  If the World Series comes down to the Sox and St. Louis, who do you think I will want to win?  As a Cubs fan, I cannot possibly root for St. Louis.  How could I live with myself?  It would be like Reagan defecting to the USSR in the mid 1980's.

The Minnesota Twins are the White Sox main rivals.  Ask an average Sox fan who they would root for if the Cubs were playing the Twins in the World Series.  I bet more than 2/3 would say "Go Twinkies!"

Now, should any Sox fan happen to read this and accuse me of sour grapes, I'd say you're wrong.  I am not jealous of you.  To imply jealousy would mean that I would not want them to win it all simply out of spite.

I am, however, completely, insanely and totally envious.  I want what you have, the experience of thinking that this is it, finally, the year that the team is going to do it.  This is the year that a Chicago team wins the World Series.

Of course I am!  My life will not be complete until I see the Cubs and "World Series Champions" on a T-shirt somewhere.  I have lost sleep over the fact that I may die before this happens.

I used to think that the most impossible thing in my life was for me to get married someday.  I was wrong about that.  Now my greatest fear is that I will never get to see the Cubs win it all.  Sox fans have that dream in the palm of their hand right now, and it is getting closer to the point where they can actually smell it, and they can envision tasting it.

Whether they will get to taste it or not remains to be seen, but for the love of God, can you just enjoy this while it lasts?  Take it from me, it can go away as fast as it arrives.  Ask me how confident I was in 2003 when the Cubs needed to win only one of three possible games left against the Marlins to make the World Series.  I was one confident puppy.  Four days later, I was one shattered puppy; a million little pieces.  I am still finding them in the oddest places.

Should the White Sox lose either in the ALCS or the World Series, I will not climb to the highest point in the area and mock them.  Hell, if they lose to the Yankees or the afore mentioned Cardinals, I will be disappointed.

However, there are other teams out there in the playoffs that I might be compelled to root for should they go up against the Sox.  Atlanta and Houston are teams I wouldn't mind see winning.  That's not a slam against the Sox.  In my mind, the Sox are just another team along with the Braves and the Astros.  Both Atlanta and Houston have more players on their teams that I respect and admire more than I do the White Sox.

It's not about rooting against.  It's about rooting for.

Here's what I don't understand about all this: if you took two guys into a room, locked them in it and then informed them that one was a die hard Sox fan, and another a die hard Cubs fan, they'd probably argue for a while.  But if you took both of those guys and sat them together at Soldier Field to watch the Bears against anybody, they's high five each other whenever the Bears did something good, or their opponent screwed up.

It's about Chicago.

So if at the end of the month the White Sox are popping champagne, I will at least be resigned to the fact that for once in my time on the Earth, I saw a team from Chicago win a baseball title.  Think about this: how many people do you know who were born in 1917 and are still alive?  How about 1908?

The Sox haven't won a WS since '17.  The Cubs since '08.  Personally, I don't know anyone who was alive then.  That's a COMBINED 183 YEARS of BASEBALL INEPTITUDE.  It's a miracle that any of us even leave our houses.

If the Sox win, I don't begrudge their fans anything.  I will be envious as all hell, but that does not mean I wish they didn't win.  So please,enough about the Cubs.  They are not relevant to the success or demise of this team anymore.  You had your shot at them.  You beat them three times, and they beat you three times.  If the Sox win, I may be the first to congratulate them.

Unless I see or hear someone make a reference to the Cubs within 48 hours of winning.  Then all bets are off.

Please, don't make me look more of a fool than I already am.

07 October 2005

Just hanging out along the wall

Let's say that I have been invited to a party.  It really doesn't matter how many people are going to be there, odds are I'm going to end up in the same place: hanging out along a wall or something, observing, talking to a few people I know, and just watching what's going on around me.

In the past, I would have said that it was solely due to shyness, but that isn't true anymore.  I reached a point in my life somewhere in the last decade where I don't really care what anyone thinks about me anymore.  Now, I just feel more comfortable being low key, letting other people control the flow.

That's kind of how I am around here, I think.  There is this community that has been created on AOL since they started the journals in the summer of 2003.  Some of them are the life of the party.  Others are invited, but never show up.  Some came and left early.  And some of us just sort of hang out in the background.

No complaints about any of that.  When I first started listing other journals on the front page of mine, my only rule was that it had to be interesting.  But I realize that it's an expression of my opinion as well.  Everyone's other journals list is; I am fully aware of who has my journal listed on theirs.

Last year, when my journal was barely crawling, they had a round of awards, voted on by people in the AOL community.  I didn't vote.  I didn't feel like I had been around enough to honestly interpret and grade the journals nominated.  But I thought it was an excellent idea.  The most important thing about these journals is the writing, and paying tribute to some of the exceptional writing that went on around here seemed like a good thing to do.

Well, I was wrong.  Turns out it was a great thing to do.  And it's happening again soon.

I admit sometimes that I feel frustration when I write something that I think is pretty good, yet I don't get any comments about it.  I realize that non-AOL readers cannot leave comments, and most of the people I know who read this are not AOL members.

It's about the writing anyway.  This journal, started in January 2004, was the thing that got me into the habit of finally, finally writing on a regular basis.  I tried for so long to find a way to become a dedicated writer, someone who sat down just about everyday and wrote.  It didn't matter about what, just that I was writing.

I know I've wrote plenty of crap on these pages.  But I also know that on occasion I have written stuff that I did not think I was capable of.

So where am I going with this?

Well, a few days ago I was browsing around a journal created for others to stop by and mention some of the journals they read and which category they think they should be nominated for, and I saw that Jennifer had mentioned me for "Best Kept Secret."

Wow.  How nice of her.  I was blown away by that.

I have already noticed a slight increase in the number of daily visitors I have since then.  That is the best thing about all this, the chance to get more people reading the words that I write.  Don't get me wrong, it would be cool to be recognized by the others here as an exceptional writer, but I already feel that I am.

I love doing this.  I love it so much, I've gone back to school to further advance whatever talent I may have and find a way to make a living out of it.

But yeah, I'm feeling a little greedy lately.  I want more readers.

There's room for plenty of more people up against the wall.  And it's close to the keg. 

03 October 2005

Your joke of the day

Sent to me by my brother:


Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing.  He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed in an accident". "OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"  His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands.  Finally, the President looks up and asks...



"How many is a Brazillion ??"

01 October 2005

Mozart six

Before I answer this week's questions, I want to say thank you to Patrick for coming up with them every week.  It gives me ideas of what to write about, and Lord knows I always need those. 

1. How many AOL J-landers have you actually met in person?  None, though his eminence John Scalzi is currently at a book convention about a mile from my house.

2. How many photos that you have taken yourself are hanging on display in your home in a size of 8x10 or larger?  (The print, not the frame!) None.  I sense a pattern to this week's responses.

3. How far do you live from your job? What job?  I go to school instead.  I live about ten miles from campus What is your commute time like? I drive fifteen minutes to the train and then spend 30 minutes on said train. Has the distance prompted you to consider alternative transportation because of gas prices? Gas prices are only the thrid biggest reason I don't drive.  First is how much it would cost me to park downtown (truly obnoxious-probably $30 for two hours), and second is traffic.  I'd have to leave an hour earlier than I already do if I drove.

4. Take this
quiz:   What decade does your personality live in?  1980's, which I suppose is not a surprise because I was 13-22 during that time, and that is when the base of my personality formed.  Just don't make me go back to my hair, please.  Or the first car I drove.

Kris:  What is the funniest, most original Halloween costume you've ever seen?  One year afriend of mine dressed in gray sweat pants and shirt, put a big piece of cardboard shaped like a table on his head, and went as a piece of gum stuck under a table. 

Courtenay: What is your favorite paragraph in a literary work?  This might be a thought, or a message, or a descriptive passage which has remained in your consciousness throughout the years.  Be sure to post the name of the book and author.  The last line of "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway.

"Yes, isn't it pretty to think so?"

Chicago-pen physics (and more)

I haven't done one of these in a long, long time, but I can't pass up a chance to revel in the spotlight, since I have spent my entire life in Chicago (well, except for four years of college).

This won't be a listing of where to go and what to see.  Mrs. L has taken care of that.  May I suggest she embarks on a career as a travel writer?  Very nice work.

I admit I am a suburbanite.  I've never lived in the city, but I worked in it for more than ten years, and I'm not just talking about downtown (though I did work there for a bit).  I've worked in a whole bunch of neighborhoods in the city, and I can't think of a better lesson in the way of learning how people are different, and how to get along with everyone.

I recently went back to school to get my Master's degree, and the campus is a building on Michigan Avenue.  Everyday I walk through the loop, and every class I look out the window and see Lake Michigan.  You won't find a better looking city, in my highly biased opinion.

But we are supposed to be talking about memories, here a few of mine:

1. Listening to my father's stories of growing up in an Irish household with five siblings and a police officer father in a neighborhood that doesn't exist anymore.

2. I'll always remember where I was when Al Gore finally conceded the 2000 election: stuck on an expressway, taking four hours to go what usually took half an hour, due to the breakdown of basic driving habits the population becomes afflicted with whenever it snows (the don't all have to be pleasant memories).  The only thing I can truly say I hate about this town is TRAFFIC.

3. Flying into O'Hare and trying to figure out from which direction we are approaching based on where you see the landmarks.

4. Elmhurst-a great place to grow up, though I didn't realized it as much until I left it, but then being able to buy my first home there (which I no longer live in).  There could be a lot worse places to spend the rest of my days in.

5. The two hundred or so times I have visited Wrigley Field.  Some good, some bad, all worth it.

Here's an obscure Wrigley memory for you: in 1977, when I was ten, my mother, brother, sister and I went to a game with my aunt and uncle.  We had seats in the first row of the upper deck, down the left field line.  It was a hot summer day, the Cubs were playing the Phillies, and they clobbered them.  I think the final score was 11-4.  I was into keeping score back then, so I asked my mother if I she would buy me a scorecard.  As we got to our seats, I realized that I forgot to get a pencil from the guy selling them.  I wanted to go back, but Mom told me not to worry.  She pulled out a silver cross pen from her purse and said I could use it.  She said that it was my father's and that I needed to be careful with it.  I didn't want to use it, but she insisted, saying that it was silly for me to go all the way back down just for a pencil.

So I kept score with the pen, and as I said, things were going well.  It was late in the game when something exciting happened, though I can't remember exactly what.  I do remember standing up to cheer, and watching the pen fall out of my hand.  We were sitting in the front row of the upper deck, so the pen had a long journey down to the seats below.  I can still recall how it seemed to descend in slow motion, laughing at me and my clumsiness all the way down.

Until it smacked a bald dude right on the top of his melon, dead center.  I remember him flinching, looking up and moving on.  I was amazed.  I thought it was going to puncture his skull.  I was pretty upset about losing the pen, especially since the game was almost over, but my mother told me not to worry about it.  We have laughed about the pen game many times since then.

But it had to have left a mark.