Sunday, June 03, 2018

The Godfather, Parts I & II

I was called into service again as a godfather, this time for my niece. As an officially documented Catholic, I tend to be in demand for these services; unless you can produce proof of Confirmation, you get shunted off to Christian Witness status pretty fast. This time, I had to show up half an hour early for a practice session, which largely consisted of a sassy woman named Etta warning me that I'd better damned well answer yes when they asked me if I was ready to sponsor this child in the Catholic faith. I really do find it difficult to believe they have a real problem with people answering no with any frequency, but maybe that's just me. Maybe there are people who like to get dressed up and sit through a full mass just to fuck with them.

Anyway, the baptism went off without a hitch, unless you count my nephew basically trying to bathe himself in the baptismal fount. Or babbling to himself throughout the service. Or tossing a T Rex figurine across the church. Fortunately, he's still at an age where he can get by with pretty much anything. But I try to play one round of Candy Crush during the Nicene Creed and suddenly I'm blacklisted.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Protect & Serve

Last week we went to brunch at the place we're pretty sure gave us the norovirus a year and a half ago, and the service was pretty much as one might expect. Our waitress kicked things off by taking half of our order and then interrupting us to tell us she needed to get her notepad, because our orders were "getting complicated." (There were three of us, all ordering standard menu items.) Then, after we had been waiting about twenty minutes for our food, she cruised by to tell us that "it wasn't her fault" because she "definitely put our appetizer in so it would come out first," but "the kitchen had been really screwed up lately" and all the food would come at once. 

Things from there were fairly uneventful until we had some empty plates, which she instructed us to help her clear. As in, she commanded us to stack the plates for her and pass them over, even going so far as to tell us we were "doing it wrong" and complain about how "you would think she could get some help." Then, when I gave her my credit card to pay, she shouted across the restaurant to ask me if she could also use her Banana Republic card to pay for things outside of Banana Republic. I did not venture a guess, though I wished her well. 

Our journey together ended when she told us to have a good night, and then spent five minutes explaining that she doesn't usually work days because they're really only open during the day on Saturdays and Sundays, and she usually doesn't work then, unless someone asks her to switch shifts, which she really doesn't like to do because... and you get the idea.

I'm not kidding when I say that this whole experience genuinely made my week.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Postcard From the Edge

So I had a little bit of a near death experience this week. I've been dog sitting for my sister, and the dogs decided to team up on me during one particularly rainy trip to their bathroom. While I was trying to pick up poop without dropping the umbrella or either leash, Aubrey gave a particularly fierce yank on her lead, causing it to pop out of my hand, leaving me only with the plastic thing that holds her poop bags. She immediately darted out into traffic, at which point I basically threw myself in front of a car so I could stomp on her leash and keep her from getting any further. Thank God this was unusually slow moving traffic for my neighborhood and I did not end up doing a header off a windshield; I just got screamed at, which probably would have happened anyway, frankly. We all got very wet, though, a result the dogs somehow seemed to blame me for as the night progressed.

Other than that, it was a perfectly fine week. Ian was in Boston for work, which did make me go a little crazy and talk to the dogs more than is socially acceptable, but I largely kept it together. I also somehow got our TV kicked off our internet, which shockingly depleted my YouTube options, but that's a small quibble. Ian got back last night, such that I was able to go see my friend's community theater production of Chicago, ironically enough in the suburbs, which allowed my friends and I to take the Metra and drink canned rose. Oh, and tonight we discovered that we can now get tapas delivered. So things are looking up. Though I'm definitely watching out for additional canine murder plots.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Child's Play

I went to the park with my sister and her family this morning. This was, of course, a three hour process. When I arrived, they were still in the staging process, which involves a lot of bargaining and bribery. It takes approximately as long to get these children in clothes as I imagine it takes Reba McEntire to get through hair and makeup. My nephew told me that there was a tickle monster in the house, though I saw no sign of Harvey Weinstein anywhere. Then he told me my sister was the tickle monster. Then he told me he himself was the tickle monster. I'm not totally sure where he was going with this, but I'm guessing we're supposed to conclude there's a little bit of tickle monster in all of us?

Anyway, once we got out the door, we had to walk to the park, except that my nephew decided he wanted to be carried. And he's thirty-seven pounds now, so I made it about two blocks. Then he kept dashing ahead of us, always towards traffic of course, such that I had to run and scoop him up. Finally, he decided to lie face down on the sidewalk to protest the fact that we wouldn't let him kick his soccer ball at random passersby. I felt as though we were on the Oregon Trail, or at least the Apple IIe version where everyone keeps getting cholera and dying.

We did eventually make it to the park, where Jack immediately zeroed in on the most dangerous, age-inappropriate play equipment he could find. We met my friend Liz and her family there, so we could have three children attempting to harm themselves. (Well, two. My niece is just two months, so mainly she just sleeps and screams at people, sort of the way I imagine Liza Minnelli's house.) There were bubbles, and there were snacks, so I'd say it was a highly successful event. Though I don't know, of course; I don't get invited to a wide range of toddler socials.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

What He's Written Will Be A Window Into His Madness

As Chicago wraps up its fifth straight month of winter, it's just barely possible I'm losing my mind a little bit. I find myself fantasizing about building a big old bonfire out of my sweaters, and I'm way too excited thinking about the day I can finally uncover all of the roof furniture and, you know, sit outside. Also, my mood swings precipitously based on whether the sun is out or not; one cloudy day last week I may or may not have been on the verge of tears because my email folders were acting weird. Life can be a series of horrific setbacks, you know?

I am feeling good about a few things, however. BeyoncĂ© at Coachella was every bit as great as advertised, even I did have to enlist Trump's Russian election team to find it online. I'm also enjoying Janelle Monae's slow rollout of both her new album and her lesbianism; I do feel that the grapefruit is an underused symbol for a vagina. Oh, and Westworld comes back tomorrow night, so I have a good ten weeks of obsessing and internet sleuthing to look forward to. And, if history is any indication, a lot of gratuitous nudity. 

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Picture Pages

I thought I'd share just a few pictures from my trip, primarily because it's easier than thinking of something else to write about. So lucky you.

This is the castle in Bratislava. They've done a nice job fixing it up, though I can't help but wonder what Tarek & Christina from Flip or Flop could have done with it. It's just crying out for some laminate flooring.

This is the grand staircase in the castle. It is actually pretty grand. I mean, not grand enough to make a person actually want to climb stairs or anything, but somehow they haven't gotten around to installing a chair lift.

In Vienna we visited this amazing house that was built by the famous architect Otto Wagner and then rehabbed by the artist Ernst Fuchs. There were mosaics everywhere, though oddly no kitchen that I ever saw. Maybe the original owner was undead and felt no need to eat.

What, do you NOT have a gilded statute of a naked lady on your front porch? I'm actually kind of embarrassed for you.

We also went to the Museum of Illusions in Vienna, which is basically designed as a place to take Instagram photos. Your move, Guggenheim.

This is supposed to look like Ian is tiny or sitting in a giant chair, but it looks more like someone put the chair together wrong. User error.

I loved this sign from the Klimt villa, presumably not created by Klimt himself. Certainly no one would want to risk attack by a square dog.

These signs on the subway are also kind of great. I especially like that the man holding the child  has a kicky little moustache and soulpatch. I imagine something like the plot of Three Men and a Baby.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

European Vacation

I just got back from my annual trip to Vienna with my law students. It's always a weird blend of sightseeing, helping people make oral arguments about bizarre made up factual scenarios, and waking up to a deluge of emails from a workplace that is seven hours behind me, but I enjoy it. It helps when, like this year, my students have basic life skills and therefore aren't emailing me to get directions from their hotels to the competition or asking me for wakeup calls. It's also nice that Austrian wine seems to be about twice the strength of your typical wine, at least if my level of buzz is any gauge, and I think we know that it is. It's just science, really.

This year got off to a not-so-great start thanks to Austrian Airlines, which cancelled my direct flight from Chicago to Vienna and did not bother to tell me, meaning that I only discovered that they had tried to re-book me on a flight getting in almost two days later when I went to check the flight status online before I left for the airport. After much telephonic shouting, I was booked on a flight arriving a mere eight hours later, but with a middle seat and a healthy layover in Frankfurt. It is truly not easy to sleep when you are wedged in between a giant fat man and a hyperactive German preteen for nine hours over the Atlantic. On the plus side, I finally saw The Shape of Water. Turns out United edits out the masturbation, btw and spoiler alert.

One I arrived, however, the highlights were plentiful. There was an amazing Keith Haring show playing at the Albertina, and the German tabloids were running ridiculous stories about Heidi Klum. We visited an old flak tower from WWII that has been turned into a surprisingly freewheeling aquarium, and discovered that Murder, She Wrote is called something that loosely translates to "Murder is Her Hobby." My students did not win, but that meant they got a couple of free days in Vienna, and I fit in a side trip to Bratislava, where the train station is kind of scary but the Old Town looks like something out of Beauty & the Beast (2017). 

More tales to come, I am certain.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

I Was Totally Going to Write About Something Else, But...

...these random images that are apparently in my "Google archive," whatever that is, cannot be ignored.

How terribly ominous! It seems like maybe a pigeon was murdered, but I have no recollection of that happening, much less photographing it. And frankly it makes me think less of myself.

Is this some sort of astrological thing? Religious? Whatever it is, sign me up, because these guys clearly know how to party.

I feel like this might be racist? It's so hard to tell with clip art these days.

This I do remember. I decided to fill a tiny cubs hat with beer for some reason. I have no regrets.

This is my photo from the law school directory. What marvelous bangs and sideburns I had! I am sure this look will come back, if indeed it was ever present in the first place.

This is a shot from my improve comedy days. I assume I am asking the audience for the name of a profession and a location that will fit on the stage. We'll somehow segue that into something vaguely sexist and/or homophobic, I assure you.

Who doesn't have a photo of Kerplunk in their archive? Communists, that's who.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Weeknd

I'm doing a March Madness bracket with some of my work friends this year. Which in essence means that I am just giving them money, because I have no chance of winning. As in I just logged in to fill out my bracket and was informed that the teams for the tournament haven't even been picked yet. Maybe I should have known that? I also didn't know that I apparently created an ESPN.com account in 2005. It's so nice to be reunited with it, though, I can't even tell you.

I'm also like legitimately going out this evening for the first time in a while. I mean, we've been to dinner and people's houses and such, but this is two actual parties in a row, neither of which is likely to involve board games. And my plan is to get a bit sloppy, though hopefully not to the point of drunk dialing my boss, which is something that one of my friends actually did by accident once. Thank God her boss was Linsday Lohan, so nobody thought anything of it. Not actually.

Springing forward should be the best! Truly, though, it's so nice to have two weekends a year where people talk about their clocks. The recognition is frankly long overdue.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Baby, Boom

What crazy weekend! And not in the sense of doing tequila shooters off of someone's backside. My sister had her baby, which meant that Ian and I were on call to watch my nephew. But since the labor went on over the course of several days, we were on call, then off call, then on call, then off call, then on call again. Originally we thought we'd be over there Friday night, but then were dismissed, so we ended up going to the grocery store and eating one of the Blue Aprons we forgot were coming instead. Then we were supposed to be there early Saturday morning, but we were literally in the car about to leave when the call came telling us we had another 12-hour reprieve. (Although we did get the very important task of taking my sister a phone charger, which we discharged with aplomb, or what passes for it at 6:15 in the morning.) Finally, though, we were thrown into action about ten minutes after finishing Dunkirk, which is obviously the perfect motion picture to pair with some obstetrics and gynecology. And we spent about sixteen hours babysitting, though to be fair about half of those were sleeping. And now we have a new niece, and everyone is happy, healthy, and very tired. Though my nephew did explain that HE is the baby. We've all been there, friend.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Massage Envy

Every year, Ian gets me a gift certificate to a massage place for my birthday. It's a really thoughtful gift, as I enjoy getting massages but rarely actually get motivated to schedule them. And since I am terrible at relaxing, it's nice to be forced to lie in a darkened room where I can't check my email or text messages for a while. I've actually even fallen asleep during the massage a few times. And if I can pass out without the aid of alcohol when I'm nude in a small room with a stranger who is in an excellent position to strangle me if he so desires, that's really saying something. 

I do have some small quibbles with some massage "techniques," however. First, telling a person over and over again that they need to relax has never, ever caused that person to actually do so. I personally tense up to the approximate rigidity of a two by four when I hear that. Second, your assignment is massage; any comments about, say, my diet, my medications, or my overall lifestyle are outside the scope of that. Third, I do not think elbows should enter the massage equation. They are universally pointy. And finally, I can tell time. If you want to rip me off by ending early, that's your prerogative, but don't act like I'm not going to notice. 

Anyway, that's a lot of thoughts about something fairly unimportant. Next time I'll write up a thorough plan for passing comprehensive immigration reform, I promise. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Fun & Games

The Olympics are here again, which I love because now I can indulge both jingoism and my love of dramatic personal backstories. It may well be that people who are not naturalized U.S. citizens have some sort of athletic ability, but I don't need to know about it, and NBC is certainly not going to let me. But they will make sure I'm aware of every asthma attack, cold and distant parent, and third grade election loss of each and every American headed to South Korea for the games. It's perfect, because I'm a busy man, and don't have time to make my rooting decisions based on a nuanced understanding of facts and circumstances. Show me a flag and I'm all set.

In all seriousness, though, I do enjoy the Olympics. I think it's mainly because by and large these are not sports or athletes we'll be seeing the other three years and 341 days of any given four-year period. I like relearning the rules of curling each time, only to have it gently lull me to sleep within twenty minutes. I'm genuinely blown away by the abilities of all the people on snowboards and skis who fly through the air, generally intentionally, in dozens of different ways, even if I somehow can't manage to bother to watch them any other time. And I love that sports that aren't just knocking into people or barging past them are actually getting a little bit of attention, even if I know it won't last. It's a nice change of pace.

Of course, I'll also be fine when it's over, because I manage to feel guilty about how much of it I'm missing, just as I do with just about everything. If only I could quit my job and just watch TV all the time. Said everyone always. Ah, what a land we live in.

Saturday, February 03, 2018


I was in Los Angeles for work all week. It's always weird being anywhere solely for work, because the character of a city seldom lies in its conference rooms and airport lounges. But I actually do enjoy those aspects of LA -- walking to work in 80 degree weather in January is fine by me, and unlike at, say, O'Hare, you won't find 15 people gathered around a single charging station. And my hotel room this time was straight up amazing, as the Intercontinental gave me a free upgrade to a huge suite with a giant, comfy leather couch and windows and balconies the whole way around. That must be how social media influencers feel all the time.

Anyway, I saw very little of LA, unless you count the "upscale" food court at the Westfield Century City mall, which has like two places you can get poke but not an actual sandwich shop. I did have one free night, which I decided to spend making a series of weird unforced errors. I saw that there was one museum that had evening hours, so I took a cab there, only to find that most of the exhibits were closed, such that I saw pretty much everything in 45 minutes. Then I decided to walk back to my hotel so I could "see more of the city," but somehow took a route that exposed me only to dingy-looking Indian restaurants and sad squat office buildings. Also I got a giant blister on my foot. So yeah, next time I'm just going to one of the Vanderpump restaurants, even if that will just mean me eating goat cheese balls by myself while checking my phone and wishing Ariana were there.

So I was gone and I'm back. Pretty impressive, right? 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Golden Grams

The Grammys are tonight. I'm not really planning to watch them, but I might, depending on what Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is serving up. I can't really be bothered to check. But I can be bothered to make some ironclad predictions based on my knowledge of roughly 1/3 of the nominees in any given category.

Record of the Year: Bing, the search engine that my computer keeps making my default over my intense objection, predicts this one will go to Despacito, and who am I to argue with that? I'm assuming this is an award for being a song that you can never, ever get out of your head, short of by, say, stabbing yourself with an icepick.

Album of the Year: I always forget how this one is different from Record of the Year, but I'm going with Lorde's Melodrama, because I thought her first album was hella boring, but that one song off this one was kind of my jam. And if you think my reasoning is any less sound than your average Grammy voter's, you're kidding yourself.

Song of the Year: Okay, wait. How is this different from the first two? Anyway, my pal Bing is going with something I've never heard of that's a 1-800 number, but I'm going to give it to Bruno Mars, because even thought I hate him for no real reason, I feel like he's going through something right now, based on the cover art.

Best New Artist: Can I just say Jessica Simpson? I know she's not nominated, but she could definitely use the career boost.

Best Pop Vocal Album: I legitimately want Kesha for this one, because even though she seems like that friend you realize you have nothing to talk to about when you're not drunk, I'm never mad when she shows up on my iTunes. I do want her to bring the dollar sign back, though.

Best Pop Performance: Anyone but Ed Sheeran. He's like if Troll dolls became sentient and oddly self satisfied.

Pop Duo/Group Performance: Good lord there are a lot of categories here. I'm going with Feel it Still by Portugal. The Man solely based on cover art.

Best R&B Song: Bing is giving it to Bruno Mars, and given how much Grammy voters seem to love non-threatening black people, I can't disagree.

Best R&B Performance: Bruno Mars again. Which is probably what people will be saying all night. Along with "wait, seriously, there are still more categories?"

Best R&B Album: Ok, really, Grammys, you need to get over yourself here. It's like you're trying to make sure everyone gets an award, except for like Snoop, since you've made your feelings about him clear. Enough with the categories already.

Tune in to the Grammys tonight on CBS! Or don't! I actually don't care at all either way!

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