Monday, October 05, 2015

You Can't Go Home Again

Can we all agree that I need to learn how to say no to things? Over the past few years, I have ended up agreeing to pay my own way to Europe to help with a moot court team at a law school I never went to, to drive several hundred miles to give a five minute speech about being an honors student fifteen years ago, and to appear in several amateur theatricals written by and for middle aged lawyers. Do I really have that much spare time on my hands? I know the answer to that is no, because the unwatched Lifetime movies are piling up on my DVR. So I guess I just have severe psychological problems?

As a continuation of the important case study, I agreed to chair my fifteen-year college reunion this weekend. This despite the fact that I did not particularly want to attend my fifteen-year college reunion this weekend. It's not that I don't like strolling down that particular memory lane (though memory lane in Decatur is in kind of a bad neighborhood), it's just that I have already strolled it quite a few times recently. Like two years ago. And last April. But somehow I found myself getting up at 6 AM on a Saturday to drive down and pose for a photo with former classmates who I by and large do not speak to any more. And to eat catered chicken with representatives of the class of 1915 or something. I did get a nice commemorative plaque and a bag of popcorn, however, so it wasn't a complete wash.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Back in Time

So it must be admitted at this point that I am watching season three of Felicity for some reason. Well, "watching" is probably not the right term, as I am doing other things while it is on in the background. And as far as the reason, does one really need a reason to revisit the early zeros? Chunky sweaters, sensitive singer-songwriters with acoustic guitars, hyperarticulate white people -- it's all fairly amazing.

Something must be said, of course, about the hair. She really did look like a chia pet when she cut it short. But Wikipedia tells me that people are wrong to blame the drop in ratings on her hair: the ratings drop actually occurred earlier when it moved from Tuesdays to Sundays. Still, it didn't look good. And the mannish outfits didn't help.

The University of New York seems like a pretty great fictional college, actually. The professors don't mind listening to students whine endlessly, probably because they have sick offices with giant windows. The student body is filled with diverse obsessives of every race and creed. And the student apartments are gigantic, though you can't ignore the chance that you'd be forced to live with Megan.

The most amazing thing to me is that I can remember the critics totally loving this shit at the time. Like, there was awards talk. TV has come a long way since then. Although strangely, Julianna Margulies is still on it.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday, Sunday

It probably says something about the way my Sunday is going that I was actually kind of sad just now when the Shark Vacuum infomercial ended. I guess I'm just a sucker for people discovering a lower-cost, high-suction option for all of their pet hair removal needs. Also the background music is really catchy -- it sounds a bit like the very end of the Beverly Hills, 90210 theme on repeat.

It was an early Sunday, as Ian was running the half marathon and I had to drive down to pick him up. Yes, I am complaining not about the exertion involved in running a half marathon, but that involved in driving a car to the location of a half marathon. I was also involved in the carbo loading the night before and the brunching afterwards. It is quite grueling, obviously, but someone has to do it.

I guess my real problem is that I am heading into month three of my allergy season and I neglected to take my meth precursor this morning. And so I feel as though I am sanding two by fours with my face. (I can't take the pill in the afternoon or I will be up all night flitting around the apartment like a tiny hummingbird.) I don't know exactly what it is I am allergic to, but at this point I would not object to the eradication of every form of plant material in the greater Cook County area. Except for, like, wheat, because I'm pretty fond of carbs.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Broken Promises

Well, I said I'd be blogging my Amtrak on Sunday, and I totally lied. But to be fair, Amtrak lied, too. I couldn't get the wireless to work at all on the way back. But it was way worse for me than it was for you, believe me. I couldn't even play candy crush. And I had already read most of my New Yorkers, so I was stuck reading the truly skipable parts. We're talking the Night Life section here, people. When am I ever going to take in a cabaret in the Village?

Anyway, I did make it back, and then I pretty much left again right away. Oral argument in beautiful McHenry County. My destination was fifty-eight miles away and it took me an hour and a half to get there thanks to morning rush traffic. On the plus side, that gave me plenty of time to skip over George Michael's "Careless Whisper" on my iPhone repeatedly. How do these things get on my iPhone? I blame Obama, of course.

But McHenry County has now been made safe for electronic harassment statutes, and so I can rest easy in Chicago for a while. At least until next weekend, when I head to Decatur for my fifteen-year college reunion. Has it really been fifteen years already? It feels like just yesterday, but that's probably because I now watch Dawson's Creek every morning while I get ready for work. God, those sexy teens had such important problems.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Amazing News

The Amtrak from Chicago to Quincy now has free wireless. So I can actually liveblog the stampede for stale Fritos and tiny bottles of Chardonnay as it happens. I can give you the "you are there" feeling with regard to the screaming children running up and down the aisles and rubbing sticky hands on things. I'm not sure I can effectively convey the condescending sarcasm of the Amtrak employee repeatedly reprimanding passengers for standing in the not-at-all-line-like formation that the previous Amtrak employee carefully placed them in, but that's really on me, not the technology.

Less amazing news, I think, is that I decided to schedule myself for a Quincy visit for the weekend occurring but one day after my drive to Springfield and back for an Illinois Supreme Court argument. And but two weekends before my drive to Decatur for a college reunion I am coordinating but so far not attracting any of my actual friends to. So basically I'm scoring a hat trick on small Illinois towns with nice people and high numbers of buffet restaurants per capita. Sports analogy!

Anyway, I am actually kind of looking forward to a potentially restful weekend. I may do some light lifting for my mother, but aside from that my plans are basically not much. Until I get back on this fabulous Amtrak on Sunday night. Get ready for some excitement!!!!

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Word From Our Sponsors

As a general matter, I don't see many commercials, since we watch almost everything on DVR. So people will make reference to, for instance, Jan the Toyotathon Lady, and I have no idea what they are talking about. I actually think the people making these references have far more reason to feel bat about this than I do, but regardless, I'm not exactly current.

(I do know who Flo from the Progressive commercials is, though. And let me just say that if an asteroid were to strike her dead, I wouldn't exactly have to wear black for a year in mourning.)

The really strange thing, though, is that I'm intensely familiar with the type of commercials that air on the Hallmark and Lifetime networks, since I tend to have them on in the background while I'm doing other things. So if you want to know about a mini catheter, adult incontinence products, or how to get life insurance to cover your funeral costs without a medical exam, I'm your man.

Oh, and that extended Nutrisystem commercial with Marie Osmond? The one where they bring out a "regular person" to talk with Marie out how losing weight has impacted her self esteem and how she still likes cookies? Pretty much know that one by heart.

I'm not sure that I really have a point here, but if there is one, it's pretty much that I'm wasting my life.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Hey, Neighbor!

So we were awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of someone banging on something repeatedly. I thought maybe someone had gotten crafty at 4 AM and was hammering. Or that the concert at Wrigley had really devolved. But then that sound stopped and instead I heard the sound of things hitting the railings of the back decks repeatedly. At which point I looked outside and saw a man dressed only in boxer briefs using a broom to fling trash at the first floor deck. As I did not recognize him, I thought it best not to engage. And indeed all noise ceased shortly thereafter.

Today I came to find out that this near-nude individual was in fact a new neighbor. Our downstairs neighbor (the one with the pot and the super loud bass) had taken in a new roommate, who promptly locked himself out in the middle of the night and decided trash flinging was the means of his salvation. And when that failed, he broke the lock on the door from the garage into the building. So yeah, now we're down one door, but at least we have a nice collection of trash on our back decks.

It occurs to me that moving might not be the worst idea ever. Wrigleyville was super fun when I was 27, but it turns out I'm not 27 any more. I blame science, frankly.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

This Is Entirely Normal

And it doesn't mean that I am at all crazy that I am having an active freak out because my phone for some reason won't let me access my games right now. I have been getting an error message for like an hour and half. And this may have caused some acerbic commenting on my part. Slash low level shouting.

It's not that I'm obsessed, really. It's just that I hate it when things don't work. I even googled the error message I'm getting to see if anyone had any useful tips for resolving it. Strangely, pbjman53's comments failed to get to the heart of the problem. Nor did trying to earn cash from my home seem like an appropriate solution.

I know that I should just walk away and do something else for a while. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, I should be outside playing with my friends and all that. And yet, I can't focus on anything else. Not even the Hallmark movie with the ungainly woman who bonds with a little girl over the fact that they both have deceased parents. And no one calls the police. What is this world coming to?

Monday, September 07, 2015


This is the first Labor Day weekend in like a decade that I've spent in Chicago. When my dad was still with us, I used to always go down to Quincy for the weekend, where we would celebrate by walking dogs and half-watching Mythbusters marathons. Last year, we went to Minnesota for our amazing state fair experience, the heartburn from which I am still experiencing today. But this year we decided to focus the weekend on eating and drinking more than any human could reasonably be expected to survive, so basically it's just like any other weekend but with an extra day. It's been fairly amazing.

Friday we hung out with my mom and finished season six of Mad Men, so we are finally current with the pop cultural world of 2013. Spoiler alert: it turns out that Don Draper really is a brilliant but troubled man. Saturday we went to the dog beach, or rather the dog went to the dog beach and we watched. She was very excited about how this opened up the possibility of playing with aquatic trash as well as land-based trash. That night we went to our friends' place and watched a movie in their back yard. The back yard part ended up being better than the movie part, but the vodka part was the best of all. Yesterday we went to a friend's barbeque, where I ate the larger part of an entire container of taco dip. And today we went to brunch at my sister's place, an affair dominated by the dog trying to put her face in my mother's soup.

It really has been a whirlwind weekend. So much so that I'm actually kind of ready to get back into my routine. I'm sure I'll be equally ready for next weekend, though, don't worry.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Show Me State
We just finished watching Show Me a Hero on HBO, and it was pretty amazing. I've never really watched too many miniseries, unless you count the fake ones like American Horror Story, but I was drawn to this one by the involvement of David Simon. As you've probably noticed, I am one of those people who will back you into a corner at a party and tell you all about how great The Wire is. Plus the reviews were good, and in my experience critics are never wrong about anything.
I have to admit that it started out a bit slow for me and I had trouble getting used to the fact that I actually had to pay attention at first. I'm pretty accustomed to being able to eat a sandwich, work on my computer, and knit a fantastic sweater while watching television. But as it went on, I got really hooked. The performances are all pretty strong and there are probably a dozen compelling little stories that weave together to create the narrative. Yes, there is an Angsty White Guy that sort of serves as the central character, but they've made him so flawed and complex that he's fascinating, and all of the other characters get their due as well. By the last two (of six) installments, I was actually becoming somewhat emotional, and not just because I'm on Zyrtec-D right now, which totally messes with my brain. 
Anyway, if you're looking for something to watch, it's good and not a major investment of time. Which is vital, because god knows we are all very busy and important these days. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

This Actually Happened

Yesterday we drove for about an hour (each way) to attend a festival for beagles and their owners. In the rain. I can't really explain what motivated this behavior, other than to say that we keep thinking that socializing our little lady more will make her somewhat less crazy. That did not exactly work out, as we got not one but two hostile rug pees upon our return to Chicago.

I will admit that I found the presence of so many beagles to be somewhat amazing, however. They are cute and generally quite friendly, such that I had many approach me and ask to be petted. (I will enjoy the muddy paw prints on my pants for many days to come.) And they gamboled about and played with one another, whilst our little social defective sniffed around pensively and shrunk from any form of contact. Plus there was a fantastic gift bag -- it was just like the Emmys, but more prestigious.

Anyway, I have devolved into madness. And probably will again next year. Frankly, I enjoy the dysfunction.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Best Part

I forgot to mention that my next door neighbors threw a giant party in their backyard last weekend. Featuring very loud Mariachi music. Until very early Sunday morning. I know this because I kept waking up every fifteen minutes or so to think "wow, I can't believe this is still going on," followed by "wow, I can't believe I somehow fell asleep with this really loud music," and then "get your ass back to sleep before you ruin it." I get pretty philosophical at three in the morning, obviously.

So of course we called the police, and of course no one came. I know that noise complaints aren't exactly at the top of the Crimestoppers list in a city with hundreds of murders each year, but I did sort of think an outdoor hootenanny (or the Spanish language equivalent) in the dead of night smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood with the most complainers per capita might draw some attention. Heck, in the era of Trump, I thought there might even be calls for deportation.

But no. Obama's America, people. The good folks of the world can't even watch a Murder, She Wrote marathon without being assaulted by a Spanish-language version of "Problem."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

On the House

So there was a Full House Lifetime movie this weekend. In the grand tradition of Lifetime movies, it was fairly disappointing.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that I don't think I've ever seen a full episode of Full House. Nor do I have any desire to. But the minute I saw all the terrible wigs and inexplicable accents that were to be involved in this particular production, I knew I had to see it. And yes, no one involved managed to look anything like the original actors. The John Stamos was particularly egregious; he would have been a better fit for John Edwards.

The really weird thing to me was that they basically made the movie the story of Bob Saget. As though Bob Saget were still a thing in 2015. They dramatized his inner turmoil, springing from the fact that he did not view Full House as living up to his incredible artistic standards. Which, based on this movie, seemed to demand more dick jokes. I guess the good news is that in the end Bob Saget made peace with Full House and made a lovely speech at Candace Cameron's wedding. Or so I'm told; I fell asleep before that happened.

Anyway, this happened. And the world is better for it. Or maybe not. Let's just hope Jodie Sweetin got a check out of this, because the last I heard of her she was fighting her ex-husband for custody of a 2002 Toyota Sienna and a Kohl's credit card.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Gone Baptizin'

My nephew was baptized yesterday. But you probably already know that, because the media coverage has been so intense. Perhaps it has something to do with our decision to make Ben Affleck's nanny his godmother, who can say? But I have to say, it was nice to be featured in Star magazine's Normal/Not Normal column for once.

Anyway, the young man was honored to become a part of the One True Church. The celebration involved a full Catholic mass (as so many good parties do), a little bit of water and a little bit of oil (but boy, those two did NOT mix), and a nice dinner at a reasonably-priced family restaurant. The guest of honor went off menu for a bottle of breast milk. It was all a fine time.

I am one of the godfathers, so I am responsible for the little scamp's spiritual upbringing, a role to which I am of course uniquely suited. I've been brushing up on the old testament, which is why I no longer wear clothing woven from more than one kind of cloth and spend most of my time stoning adulterers. So far, however, all I had to do is stand there. Oh, and anoint him with oil. Which clearly I would have been doing anyway.

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