Sunday, May 03, 2015

By the Book

Since our little Aubrey has taken to eating books off of the bottom shelf, we decided to prune our collection a little bit this weekend. (Some people say that you want your pets to change their behavior to conform to your needs, but in my experience it is definitely the other way around.) This was in part a terrible idea, because driving anywhere in Lakeview on a gorgeous May Saturday when there is both a Cubs game and some sort of kite festival (not making this up) is about the stupidest thing a person can do. It took about an hour, round trip, and that includes the time I saved by simply dropping the books inside the front door of the Brown Elephant without so much as a hello. (If they try to track me down I will simply deny everything. Including climate change.) But it was also kind of fun, because it allowed me to learn that Ian owned Nicole Richie's book. Of course, it also allowed Ian to learn that I not only owned Lauren Conrad's fiction debut, L.A. Candy, but also did not wish to part with it at this time. As I told him, I'm not looking to be a hero here. I'm just trying to keep my dog from choking on Ian's lightly-used kabbalah manual.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Deep Thoughts

I sometimes wonder if the existence of the Internet has entirely destroyed my productivity. Not just because I can check email every five minutes to see if I got a notice that I won the HGTV Dream Home sweepstakes (no luck yet), or even because I can look for breaking entertainment news with a similar frequency (if Hilary Duff has done something, I want to know about it, damn it). No, the issue I've noticed lately is that there is no thought so idle that I cannot follow up on it with a google search. Suddenly remember the name of that girl who ate candy for lunch every day in junior high? Might as well check to see what she's up to now. Having difficulties remembering the entire plot to RENT? Easy enough to look it up and even find some unflattering photos of Idina Menzel as part of the deal. Wondering why that girl from the Tomorrowland trailer looks kind of familiar? IMDB can tell you she starred in the Lifetime original film "Triple Dog" in 2010.

I guess the good news is that all of this can be accomplished pretty quickly. But that's also part of the bad news, because it definitely makes a lot of sketchy topics seem worth looking into.

I bet they don't have this problem in North Korea.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


I went back to my undergrad for a bit on Friday. They had asked me to make a speech for Honors Day, and for reasons that I can't explain (I like making speeches, maybe?), I agreed. So I spent about seven hours in the car to speak for ten minutes and spend about another forty-five minutes judging poster presentations I was in no way qualified to judge. Well, I guess I was qualified, since the judging criteria were all about style points, but I understood very little of the substance, which dealt with biology and nursing. I did understand nearly all of the prepositions involved, however. And I'm very good at smiling and asking "do you have any ideas for future research in this area?" A winning combination.

Anyway, it is always weird to go back to campus. Or perhaps I should say it is usually weird, because for the first few years after I graduated I still knew people there and it was no big deal. But now I just feel this strange sense of remove from everything that's going on while I'm there. They tore down a bunch of the crappy old houses where we always used to have parties. They built a new science building and turned the old one into a building for the school of business; I have no idea what they did with all of the creepy stuffed birds. They added crosswalks with flashing lights. It's not that it's better or worse; it's just not my place any more. And I am, of course, fifteen years older. That probably can't help.

I don't know, it's probably good for the past to remain the past. At least that's what I picked up from Back to the Future. Not to mention Back to the Future: Part III.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

On the Aisle (Seat)

I forgot to mention that my recent international flights gave me the opportunity to catch up on the recent cinema. Also to eat freeze dried beef, but that's another story. Here are my thoughts on a few no-longer-current releases:

St. Vincent -- Every bit a manipulative as I feared it would be, but I still fell for it. It was nice to see Melissa McCarthy in non-caricature mode, and Naomi Watts' accent had to be seen to be believed. Bill Murray is well recognized as a national treasure, so I need not say any more.

The Imitation Game -- Somehow I thought there would be more to this. Very straightforward, old fashioned storytelling. It was kind of like The King's Speech but with homosexuality in place of the stuttering. And human beings in place of Helena Bonham Carter.

Foxcatcher -- Okay, I was pretty bored. Good performances, fascinating story, but lots of talking. And not talking. Also, not sure what I was supposed to take away from it. Other than Channing Tatum in a singlet.

Whiplash -- I thought I would hate this, but it was pretty good. Completely implausible and kind of painful to watch at points, but entertaining. I do want to stress that I still find Miles Teller fleshy and weird, however.

Obviously, an excellent use of my time. Next up: my key learnings from the Sky Mall catalogue.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dog Days

Here are some images of Miss Aubrey. She definitely knows how to work it for the camera.

Here she is meeting our incumbent animal, Boo. Wariness personified. (Dogsonified?)

Enjoying the sun at my mom's apartment, immediately after refusing to walk and making me carry her for a block because she didn't like the fact that someone was hammering.

Watchdog. Not sure what she's watching. Mainly Hallmark Channel.

She is still trying to solve the mystery of who broke into our house and ate these books.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

In Other News...

We have a new dog. Her name is Aubrey. We did not give her that name; she is a rescue. Not that there's anything wrong with the name. I was actually kind of relieved to not have the responsibility of giving another living creature a name.

The process to get a rescue is kind of insane. We had to do an application, a phone interview, and a home visit. A woman brought her beagle to roam around our home and make sure it wasn't fatal to animals. And she asked us questions like "So, uh, do you have a backup plan for that trash there?"

I mean, what, like to eat it?

Fortunately we were cleared. And then they told us they didn't have any dogs available that matched our profile. So we cheated on them with another rescue organization that actually allowed us to leave the adoption event with Aubrey in tow. Like, we went out to Orland Park not owning a dog and came back owning one. Sudden. But great!
Miss Aubrey was very reserved and fearful for like a week and then all of the sudden had tons of energy and wanted to chew on things all the time. I have a lamp that is no more thanks to Ms. Aubrey. And she pooped on one of my flip flops. They were pretty old flip flops, though.

She is a sweetheart! She loves to cuddle and nap together. And she likes other dogs. I genuinely believe if she had been the candidate against Rahm, it would have been a real horse race. Or dog race, whatever. We have a new dog!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Barcelona Photos, Part 4

I think this will be it? Yeah, probably.

This is the Catalan Art Museum. What is Catalan art, you may ask? I've been there and I'm still not sure I know. Pretty ballin', though. 

This part of the museum used to be an ice rink. Now it seems to be used mainly to hold piano recitals. Good trade.

This is the market, which apparently is swarming with people at all times. Lots and lots of raw meat available, if that's your thing.

We accidentally spent twenty Euro at this candy stand. I have no regrets.

Just your basic painting as big as a room, that's all. I'm sure this random guy is super happy to be in my photo, as he has long harbored ambitions to be the next Linda Evangelista.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Barcelona Photos, Part 3

The saga continues.

More Gaudi. This is inside Casa Batllo. I included that guy taking a picture in my picture on purpose because I'm really meta.

This is the exterior of La Pedrera. Those wrought iron balconies are super cute, sure, but they're murder to get your sweater snagged on.

Part of Park Guell. A Top Model final runway was actually filmed in this park, which makes it all kinds of historic. It's how Caridee English became the single biggest name in fashion.

The front entryway at La Pedrera. Which is beautiful but sort of impractical, if you ask me.

This is the attic at La Pedrera. It has that "geometry lesson" feeling that's so popular these days.

This is the exterior of Casa Batllo. Logically it probably would have come first, but blogger seems to have its own ideas about the order of things. Who am I to judge?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Barcelona Photos, Part 2

And so it goes. Sagrada Familia gets its own day. I mean, just look at it.

They estimate that it will be under construction for several more decades. Which is nothing compared to road work in Chicago.

We got to go up in one of the towers, which was a terrible idea since I am mildly afraid of heights. Overall worth the panicked grabbing of railings, however.

Gaudi invented all these new geometric forms for his design, like these branching columns. Which isn't really a big deal, since I invented sexting.

I love the stained glass, which is by the way unretouched in this photo. Like I even know how to do that, or anything.

This is the ceiling. Which you probably could have guessed. It doesn't look like, say, the mud room.

Did I mention it's tall? It gets tired of being asked how tall it is, though, so try to contain yourself.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Barcelona Photos, Part 1

Different city, same basic concept. I took a bunch of pictures of stuff and am now inflicting them on you.

This is the cathedral in the gothic quarter. They seem to have masses like all the time. It's all very holy.

This is the Columbus monument. He's still a really big deal there, like One Direction or something.

This is the courtyard of the cathedral. I don't have anything particularly witty to say about it, I just thought it was pretty.

The gothic quarter has all these crazy Roman ruins. Well, I'm sure they weren't crazy to the Romans, but that's how they come across when they're next to a Burger King.

They let you climb up on the roof of the cathedral for a nominal fee. And I'm pretty sure falling to your death is free.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Madrid Photos, Part 2
This is still happening. At least I'm not disappeared any more, right?

They let you climb up on their cathedral, where there are all these stressed out statues. This one just lost his iPhone, I think.

Goya is everywhere in Madrid. Well, not the actual Goya; he's still dead. I know because he's actually buried in this chapel he painted. I guess after all that work it kind of seemed like the thing to do.

This is the entryway of their history museum. I'm pretty sure I saw something like it on Love It or List It once.

There is no shortage of fountains, statutes, and the like. I think their economy is pretty much statute based.

Their archeology museum has lots of cool mosaics and other old things they dug up. Even they drew the line at digging up Meg Ryan, though.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Madrid Photos, Part 1
This may be excruciating, I don't know. If it is, you can always go watch Perez Hilton draw dicks on celebrity photos or something.
This is a Lichtenstein sculpture at the Reina Sofia museum. It's a great museum, even if you are completely sleep deprived. They've got Guernica and they're really insistent on people not photographing it. I think drawing it by hand would be okay, but who has the time?

This is a crystal palace in one of their parks. Not to be confused with the Golden Girls spinoff, Golden Palace. Though neither featured Bea Arthur.

This is a fresco in the royal palace. This is basically the only room of the palace they let you photograph. Which I don't really understand, because it's not like they left their porn out or anything.

Here we are on the balcony of the cathedral with the palace behind us. It's called the separation of church and state, people.

This is the Plaza Mayor. They used to have bullfights here. And inquisitions, I would guess, though they're not quite as anxious to talk about those.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

News & Views

We went to Spain. Madrid and Barcelona, specifically. It was pretty great. Fascinating history, beautiful architecture, lots of museums. Sangria. Cava. Paella. It was nice not to be in a country where the local cuisine drives me to eat at Burger King once a day. I mean, don't get me wrong, I still at ate Burger King, but only because I wanted to, not because I had no other options.

There is really so much to tell. I couldn't sleep on the plane on the way there and I ended up basically hallucinating from exhaustion our first day in Madrid. There must have been some sort of Spring break or something going on because there were groups of rampaging children at pretty much every cultural institution we visited. I got trapped in a bathroom stall in the Prado and the cleaning lady had to release me. I guess I'm not exactly starting with the highlights.

Madrid was cool and old with all sorts of quaint twisty streets, on many of which I was nearly run over. The parks were really nice and it was in the fifties or sixties each day. I give their palace a solid A minus. And the Barcelona was amazing. Just such a fun, relaxing place to be with so many interesting things to do. We basically stalked Antonio Gaudi, despite the fact that he's been dead for like a century. We got delightfully lost in the Gothic quarter and saw lots of Roman ruins, which are way better than our ruins stateside. We accidentally bought twenty euro worth of chocolate at the open air market.

Pictures to follow.

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.

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