Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Luck Of the Irish

It is St. Patrick's Day. Or, rather, it is the weekend prior to St. Patrick's Day, which has been designated by bar owners as unofficial St. Pat's so that people can spend lots of money getting wasted at their establishments and then stumble out to block my access to the Taco Bell drive through and vomit on my front lawn. When I was heading out the gym at 8:30 yesterday morning I already saw clumps of butterfaces and buthishairgreases dressed head to toe in Kelly green headed for the revelry. Now, I am all for day drinking, but drinking before the last hour of the Today show has even finished somehow seems wrong. Unless you're Kathie Lee, of course. That shit has been grandfathered in.

Anyway, all of this fills me with righteous rage. It should not take me half an hour to drive the ten blocks from my mother's place to my own simply because booze buses and trolleys are blocking the intersections. People should not return to their homes at 1 AM and blast Three Doors Down's Kryptonite at a volume level more appropriate for the rapture. Also, there should not be public fingerbanging. I just consider these to be basic aspects of living in a society.

Of course, there was a time when I was part of the fingerbanging masses. But it never involved actual fingerbanging so much as getting drunk on green beer and playing Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" so as to blow people's minds. I never even wore a shirt announcing that my dick was Dublin. Has my entire life been a waste? I guess we'll leave it to the scholars to decide.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I Have Some Things To Say About Murder, She Wrote

Sorry to be so cutting edge and contemporary on you all, but the fact of the matter is that I have some things to say about Murder, She Wrote.

I've been watching the shit out of it lately, largely thanks to the largesse of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and it seems designed almost entirely to fuel the fantasy lives of nosy old women. J.B. Fletcher sticks her nose into just about every place it doesn't belong, and people just tell her how delightful she is. Sure, every once in a while some big city cop doesn't cotton to her tampering with evidence or badgering a witness, but even those sticks in the mud always come around when she has one of her trademark random epiphanies induced by someone's offhand comment about boxcars or the price of peanuts. It's porn for the elderly.

And the guest stars, oh the guest stars! Courtney Cox makes an appearance, I believe as one of Jessica's nieces. She has like ten thousand nieces and nephews, including the recurring character of Grady, an adult man so naïve and ridiculous that it's surprising he hasn't managed to accidentally strangle himself with his pants or something. She finally gets him married off, though, and to money to boot.

Oh, but I was talking about guest stars. Bryan Cranston is there, in a tennis-themed episode entitled "Menace, Anyone?" no less. Neil Patrick Harris has a touching role as a spunky teen who wants to be a writer like Jessica but naturally ends up being accused of murder. This must have been the moment when he knew he was gay. Julianna Margulies plays a stone cold bitch, as usual, and Cynthia Nixon plays someone with weird mouse teeth. Tom Selleck also appears, but that was the Magnum, P.I. crossover, so it doesn't really count.

A lot of times when Jessica confronts someone about being the real killer they try to kill her. She's always ready for them, though, with the local constabulary eavesdropping from the next room. She doesn't really even seem phased by it, at this point.

It's really tragic that they only made about ten thousand episodes of it. Though I'm glad the proposed Octavia Spencer reboot didn't pan out. I just don't think she can pull off the appropriate amount of bitchface.

Friday, March 06, 2015


February is a wonderful month to be a state employee, because we get not only President's Day but also Lincoln's birthday off. Combine that with the snow day we got the first week of the month and the sick day I took last week, and you have four straight weeks where I only worked four days.

Which brings us to March. I worked every day this week and I am out of practice. It probably didn't help that I spent a good portion of that week trying to transcribe a video interview of a four-year-old child abuse victim, but still. And we have a total of no days off coming up this month. This is where the city employees really shine -- Casimir Pulaski is, pardon the expression, the tits!

Oh, and the weather in March? Fucking terrible. Slightly better than February, but twice as dispiriting because you feel like winter should just fucking be over already. I know this because I've heard many highly informative and entertaining conversations about the weather in the elevator at work.

So I guess it's a good thing that I've planned my vacation for March. We're going to Spain for a week later this month. (Prospective robbers: please note that we've got a crack housesitter lined up and the alarm will be fully armed.) We've never been, it looks amazing, and it's supposed to be sixty degrees there. I see very few drawbacks.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Current Events

Some stuff has happened.

The Oscars, for instance. Wealthy white people sat in a room and gave each other little gold statues. Lady Gaga sang The Sound of Music for some reason, and there was extended business involving Octavia Spencer. People screamed "who are you wearing?" at strangers without being jailed. Neil Patrick Harris took his inoffensive blandness all the way to eleven.

Former Roommate Liz skyped in from Maine for the occasion. Fun fact: they do have television in Maine. But not God. Jokes were made about people's apparel. Oddly enough, Maine's version of the Oscars seemed to be a few seconds ahead of ours. Which of course makes one wonder if they faked the whole thing on a soundstage somewhere. I refuse to believe that Eddie Redmayne is an actual person.

I also had election duty. Precincts were visited, votes were cast. (Not votes plural by me, thank you very much. I limit myself to one.) The far north side was very lucky to have me. Bonus? We found a shopping plaza with a Five Guys and a Chipotle. And an Olive Garden, if we want to get crazy. Democracy has never seemed so plausible.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


I just spent half an hour waiting for a bus on Clark street. And there was a Mardi Gras themed bar crawl going on, so the street was full of drunk people in purple who apparently felt the need to try to engage strangers in conversation. And it was cold. Not as horrifically cold as the rest of this week, but I refuse to feel lucky for non-deadly temperatures. I went through all the stages of cold: denial, uncontrollable shivering, ineffectual attempts at creating a windbreak, rage. I have never been so happy to be sitting in that little seat in the accordion part of the bus that twists when the bus turns and gives you motion sickness. Most of my days involve some degree of nausea, so I really don't consider it a big deal.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Field Report

I took my mom to the Field Museum last week. I had the day off for Lincoln's Birthday, which I used to celebrate by sleeping until noon and watching Designing Women on cable, but now I use to entertain my mom. It was this or looking for Castle reruns on cable with her, and I must say I chose wisely. The Field Museum is a great place to see mummies or dinosaurs through crowds of unruly children who are trying to rub something sticky on you. And because I was with my mother this time, I actually made the effort to read all of the explanatory materials rather than just eyeballing some ancient corpses and running to get a Diet Coke so as to avoid giving in to my urge to punt a toddler. Did you know that dinosaurs were on Earth for more than 160 million years? Because I do now. That's almost as long as Catherine Zeta-Jones has been thirty.

We also checked out some of the less flashy, toddler-encrusted exhibits like the Hall of Gems and the Hall of Jades, which I was only mildly disappointed to discover was not a room devoted to America's Next Top Model legend Jade. We even went through the bird collection and shit there are a ton of different kinds of birds, all of which are apparently suitable for stuffing and mounting. I really liked the colorful Latin American birds, even though it made me feel somewhat racist.

The one thing I really can't understand, though, is how science has not yet found a way to make the Field Museum not smell like formaldehyde. I sense a naming opportunity for Febreeze here.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Mad World

I realize I'm more than a little late to the party on this one, but I've been watching Mad Men with my mother lately. Yes, while everyone else in 2007 was busy buying skinny ties at Banana Republic and taking Facebook quizzes to find out whether they're a Joan, I was working compulsively and missed out. Chances are I was reading other people's emails by the thousands and checking little boxes to indicate they were not relevant. Or maybe I was just drunk, who knows. But the point is, I'm only now finding out what everyone else knew long ago: Don Draper is a brilliant but troubled man.

Honestly it seemed kind of slow to me in the beginning and I wasn't super into it. There was too much adultery and a lot of the sixties stuff seemed a little fussy and self conscious to me. But as I got deeper into it, and especially in season three, I started to really like it. It's consistently surprising without being aggressively shocking, and the characters are all so complex and interesting. Even the characters I really like -- Peggy, natch -- have weird flaws and do things that make it harder to like them. I also like the fact that so much happens off screen; it's fun to piece together what happened in between episodes or seasons rather than have it spoon fed. Although I do also enjoy a good spoon feeding.

I also definitely recommend it for parental viewing, if you can get past all of the sexing. It gives you lots of conversation topics, like "were people really as irritating as Betty back then?" and "was that really what it was like when (spoiler alert) Marilyn Monroe died?" The hours fly by.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Another Year...

Yesterday was my birthday. As the years have gone by, my birthday celebrations have gotten less and less elaborate. Well, maybe it's not a strict linear progression; I can recall one birthday during law school when I celebrated by buying myself a bag of M&Ms from the vending machine in the cafeteria. It wasn't the merriest of places. But I certainly haven't had any keg parties (or for that matter roller rink parties) within recent memory. This year I ordered in with the family and watched my DVR of Parks & Rec from last night. Oh, and I went to work. That always makes for a stunning celebration.

Actually, the past two years some of my coworkers have gotten together and thrown a little office party for my birthday, by which I mean we have sat in the conference room on our hallway and awkwardly eaten cake. They also hung a sign that says happy birthday over the door to my office. (I am actually happy just to have a door; this is not as common as one might think in my workplace.) But this year everyone forgot! Which is actually a pretty big relief. I am running out of PG anecdotes to share.

Monday, February 02, 2015

P.S. The Whitney Movie Was All Kinds of Terrible

Approximately eighteen inches of snow later, I've been housebound for long enough to watch almost everything on my DVR. My office was closed today, which was nice, because I'm sure the commute downtown would have been a disaster. I traveled as far as Belmont yesterday to visit my mom and nearly became a Jack London character. I actually had to stop at a Walgreen's halfway there to warm up, which resulted in me buying a tube of Cheeseburger Pringles because I felt bad about just wandering around until my hands had unfrozen. They were legitimately delicious, though.

Anyway, Whitney. I have a feeling that the movie was made with heavy input by Bobby Brown, because the Bobby character was actually in more scenes than the Whitney character. And they made him out to be the victim: she introduced him to drugs, she was physically violent towards him, she ruined his career by forcing him to be a stay at home dad. Also the movie was followed by an exclusive interview with Bobby Brown, which must have seemed kind of redundant for those who actually watched it. I was rooting for Yaya Decosta as Whitney because she's a Top Model alum, but it turned out that she didn't even do her own singing, even though there were more musical numbers than a '90s Disney cartoon. Also, Angela Bassett was the director? Is there maybe more than one Angela Bassett, and this one is a functionally illiterate deaf woman from Tulsa?

Back to work tomorrow, I guess. Why oh why won't anyone pay me to stay home all the time?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Like Sands Through the Hourglass...

Do you ever have periods of your life where there's just so much to do and everything is just moving so fast that suddenly it's a whole new month and you didn't even realize it? And for some reason you have thirteen unwatched episodes of Revenge and the Whitney Houston Lifetime movie on your DVR? Also you haven't taken the Christmas tree down and it's almost President's Day? That sort of thing (if not that exact thing, as Christmas comes only once a year, despite the contrary legislation I have repeatedly lobbied for) seems to happen to me all the time now. It's weird but okay, I guess.

I've been doing a lot of writing. Mainly stupid sketch and musical stuff, and quite unlikely to be excerpted by Reader's Digest any time soon. But it's kind of fun (rhyming Lupita Nyongo in a song is likely to remain one of the highlights of my life) and probably more useful than, say, watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (OMG, what is the deal with Kim?). I'm still quite confident that I will one day win the Man Booker Prize, so long as they expand their eligibility guidelines a bit to include skits written for meetings of the organized bar. Keep sending those request letters, people.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kulchur Korner

I finally saw 12 Years a Slave. And by "saw," I mean "read the plot synopsis online and then watched from the kitchen with one hand over my eyes whenever something really brutal was happening." There was a bit more whipping and raping and slashing than in, say, 13 Going on 30. It was pretty hard to watch, but I think probably one of the only accurate depictions of slavery for that reason. The acting was good, and I really enjoy saying Lupita Nyongo. There was a bit too much of the calming imagery of nature for my taste, but it did serve as a nice palate cleanser. And I totally forgot Brad Pitt was in it, even after I saw him, because good lord did he look rough. Is Angelina depriving him of exfoliating cream? Anyway, I finally saw last year's Best Picture. Just in time to not have seen whatever ends up winning this year.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Remember the Maine

Did I mention that my friend and former roommate Liz is moving to Maine? She was sort of a character on this thing for a while, back when I was still posting on the reg. She's the one who dressed up like a slutty pilgrim with me, somehow got fleas in my guest bedroom, explored the Dells, etc. Her husband is from Maine and they own a house out there; they've been renting it out as a vacation place, resulting in many fun calls from women named Padmini about low water pressure at four in the morning. And now they're going to give it a try for a while. Hopefully the toilets work better for them.

It's of course quite weird to think that the won't be around much after more than a decade of misadventures together. Who will blindly approve of my questionable fashion choices or gather anecdotes about the various extramarital affairs of our law school classmates? Certainly not Lupita Nyongo, I'll tell you that.

My approach to it so far has just been to remain in denial. That's certainly worked with global warming, so I have very high hopes.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm Full of Cliffhangers These Days

So I did come back to Chicago from Quincy and I am still alive. Mom actually drove part of the way back, something she had been nervous about doing. She's going through this interesting process of relearning to do things that dad had generally done: freeway driving, yard work, paying bills. It's like having a sixty-five-year-old child. She's a genuinely gifted child, though. Kept it at seventy the whole time she was driving and even managed some aggressive passing. We're working up to the middle finger; it's some pretty advanced citizenship.

Since getting back I've kind of been playing catchup. For instance, the Christmas tree still needed to come down. And the wreath to come off our front door. I'm pretty sure our neighbors were starting to think the place was abandoned. Also the DVR was, and is, way overloaded. As it turns out, 12 Years a Slave isn't exactly the kind of thing you pop on for a casual, fun night at home. Although I have thought up some pretty great drinking games to go with it.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Change of Venue

In Quincy with my mom for the long weekend. Because nothing honors Dr. King like fighting mold, emptying mouse traps, and eating at salad bars. We've been spending a lot of time here lately; I guess I would consider us bicoastal, if the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan are both coasts. It's tough work being a landowner.

Mom actually has a studio up in Chicago now as well as the house in Quincy, did I mention that? Well, two houses, since she never sold my grandmother's. Which is why there is mold now, and why we are desperately packing and cleaning things in preparation to put it on the market. I would love to get some of those HGTV bitches on it, but it seems like they're mainly in Canada. I'm liberal and cold, does that count?

We've also been tackling my dad's office, or offices I guess, which have been consolidated into my mom's office, so there is literally stuff covering every surface. Turns out my dad saved everything that anyone ever put on paper for any reason. There are file folders that have a single, unfilled form in them. There are memos from the 1970s. There are printouts of late '90s websites. So yeah, there's a whole lot of recycling going on.

Oddly enough, it's not a bad way to spend a weekend. Beats a night out in Wrigleyville, at least.

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