Sunday, November 23, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
This evening I went to my gym for only the second time. It's a quick four block walk in the 20 degree wind to a brand new gym where they hand out apples. The treadmills are brand new and have television screens, so I schlupped my buns for thirty enjoyable minutes while enjoying an episode of 30 Rock. I love the year 2008.
After coming home from the gym, I turned on my keyboard. I've been paralyzed with this one big band-y song that I have in my head but not within my musical skills, so I haven't tried recording anything recently. "New York in Springtime" is my Chinese Democracy. To develop my skills, I pulled out my Scott Joplin piano rags book. That shit is fucking impossible but so fun to attempt.
F / F#dim7 / C / A7 / F#dim7(b5) or Am6 / G6 with a passing tone or G7(13) / G7 / CLet's just look at one small example of why ragtime is such complex and appealing music to listen to. Now, I don't know if you know any music theory. I don't know too much myself. You don't really need to know music theory to know that F#dim7 is a ridiculous chord as written out. But it is not a ridiculous chord to play, because it's just four minor thirds stacked on top of one another! It has three dissonant notes and two tritones - but get this - they all resolve on the C chord. The F# resolves up to G, the A resolves down to G, and the D# resolves to E. What this means is you have incredible tension (a feeling that two notes really should not be played together, like the first notes of "Chopsticks") followed by a perfect resolution to the root C chord. Maybe this means nothing to you in writing, but if you listen to it, you'll feel as WOWZA as I do. It's very relieving, like sneezing or coming.
My beloved put his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
That's really what it looks like when I leave my workplace. When I leave late I get this entire scene to myself. Obama's offices are just to the left of the Flamingo so the whole post office (the big glass box in the picture above) is barricaded off now. And then I get a chilly bike ride through mostly quiet streets, and my nose runs and I get home sweaty and thirsty and in fifteen minutes and I make my balaclava even more vagina-smelling in the process. No matter how objectively unpleasant the smell may be, I love it nonetheless.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I think I've mentioned it before but I'll just say it again. So I used to be pretty devoutly Jehovah's Witness, when I was much, much younger. They roped my parents when they first moved to America, and I got stuck attending weekly Kingdom Hall sessions and having a Japanese-American woman named Bernice come to my house every Wednesday after school to eat strawberry-flavored snack wafers and teach me and a dull girl named April Lopez lessons out of the New World Translation of the Bible. That's the Jehovah's Witness version of the Bible, though I haven't paid close enough attention to figure out how that's different from the NRSV. I didn't like our sessions because all we did was read passages aloud, and April read very slowly, and I was impatient. April was a very girly little nine year-old. When Bernice said things like, "What's a different word for 'mankind' that doesn't talk only about men?" April would blanch, and then a minute later say, "Ummmm...'peoplekind'?" with an upturning inflection. And I would sigh heavily and say, "Humankind." I was a little tomboy bitch.
The Jehovah's Witnesses produce books for teens and preteens, since the New World Translation is a little opaque. My house was filled with these embossed hardcovers, and I was a hungry young reader so I read all of them. My favorite was a palm-sized sky blue book called "Young People Ask," which was designed for a teen audience. It introduced me to such concepts as homosexuality (illustrated by two topless men wearing Chippendales bowties embracing) and masturbation (illustrated by a teen boy kneeling at his bedside in prayer, asking Jehovah for the strength to resist the solitary vice). The chapter on the latter was so euphemistic that I could not divine what the vice entailed and for years afterward thought that "masturbation" was just a Jehovah's Witness's way of saying "selfishness." Resist selfishness: who could argue with that?
Anyway, happening upon the Jehovah's Witness's tattoo advice brought me back to those simpler days. I particularly liked the photographs accompanying the article.
This photograph says: if you get a tattoo, you not only have terrifyingly bad style (and a future filled with muscle shirts, eyeliner, crumpled felt trilbies) but you are also a gaywad and you like feeling a man's bristles against the sensitive part of your flabby shoulder.
This photograph says: "[Bananarchist], your cruel thin mother and Margaret Cho will revile you for the black blob you injudiciously decided to tattoo on the back of your hand. And then you will soak your shoulder pads with tears."
This article moved me closer to getting an American flag tattoo on my hand.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Worst. Federal. Employee. Ever.
[hangs head in shame]
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I met some characters too. Not characters in the play, but characters in the Beverly Cleary "Gosh, he's such a character!" sense of the word. I stuffed programs sitting next to a funny young man with an angular face who wore a suit. He told me he worked in a spy store. I said, What the hell is a spy store? He said, Think of something a spy would have, and we sell it there. I said, Shoes with daggers that come out of them. He said, Well no, we're a kid-friendly store. Turns out he was talking about the "Boring Store," which is a place about a five-minute walk from my house. It's the storefront for 826 Valencia's Chicago off-shoot. This young man, Patrick, said he tutored kids in creative writing and was applying to graduate programs in creative writing himself. He also said he moved to Chicago from Indiana to try to be an improv actor. He wasn't obnoxious like the improv actor who subletted a room from AS - that guy just got stoned and drunk with his 22 year-old friends every night to prepare for "psychadelic improv" and would do things like fall asleep sitting upright on the couch with his mouth wide open, cradling a two-thirds empty jug of Western Beef brand whole milk. Patrick was friendly and funny, and he tore tickets while I passed out programs and said, "Watch your step! Enjoy the show." over and over again. He had funny mannerisms that endeared him to people. I studied them. He said, "Howdy!" really loudly when taking their tickets and gesticulated in slapstick ways (e.g. he flicked the ticket with an exaggerated motion of his index finger when telling patrons where their seats were located)and most people walked away from him with a smile. We sat together during the show, and then I left during the post-show Q&A and I'll never see him again, but it was nice to have made his acquaintance.
Throughout the show, a man seated in the aisle seat of the back row - therefore, the seat closest to the position from which I was handing out programs - kept making eye contact with me and smiling. I smiled the smile of a diligent usher back at him. At intermission, he stopped me and said, "Do I know you?" I said I didn't think so. He said, "Are you an actor?" I said, "No, I'm a lawyer, which is pretty close." (I am repeating it on my blog because I thought I was pretty clever for saying that.) He said, "You have such a nice voice!" I said, "Well, I'm sick," and then returned to my seat. (I am sick. I have a flu or a cold or something. My voice is hoarse and low(er) right now.) The man was probably fifty and was trying to con me. After the show we chatted some more. He demanded to know my occupation and my educational pedigree. Eyebrows were raised at the latter. Then he handed me his business card, said he was a voiceover and stage actor, and invited me to a screening of an MFA thesis short in which he played the starring role. I demurred. When I got home, I looked at his website. He is indeed a voiceover and stage actor. I'll never see him again, but it was nice to have made his acquaintance.
Ah, more of the same. These days I have been thinking lots and lots and lots about my crushing loneliness. And this is not a call for compassion, since I don't feel too terrible about the crushing loneliness. I am treating it as an experience, which is how I get through everything, because experiences are always good to have. Also, I am not alone in my crushing loneliness, as almost all of my close law school friends have scattered themselves far away from one another and feel, I think, as bereft as I do, except for RA who could not give a toot because she is warm and happy in sunny Chiang Mai, God bless her. One side effect of the crushing loneliness I've already written plenty about: feeling happy about making even passing connections with people. I met Patrick and Mike, and then I biked home in a rainstorm somewhat happy to have some more weird people to think about to fill my night.
Another side effect of my crushing loneliness is my renewed readiness for adventure. It seems to me that if I have the opportunity (and the funds) to have an adventure, I would have only regret if I did not seize that opportunity. So I had the opportunity to visit my Bavarian man this winter, and I just bought myself an extremely, extremely expensive ticket from Chicago to Munich that lands on Christmas day at 9:40 a.m. He is spending Christmas day with his sister's family, which means I will be wandering around Munich by myself on Christmas from 9:40 a.m. until 8 p.m. after not sleeping on a ten-hour flight. It's either going to be a nadir or an epiphany, or just really boring. As an angry preteen, I fantasized about spending Christmas alone - Home Alone really resonated with me for this reason. In this fantasy, I would sit on a bus bench in a drizzle and would watch the shapes of lonely people emerge and recede into the fog. And then one of those shapes would become Eddie Vedder, and he would be mysteriously stuck waiting for the same suburban bus as me, on Christmas, and we would fall in love, and it would be passionate and epic and obscured by sheets of rain. You think I'm joking, but this was my actual fantasy. Anyway, I get to live it in about six weeks in Munich, except with Harry instead of Eddie. Which is a little petrifying, but it's not like I can think of anything better to do. Harry, the Bavarian, is 36, a civil engineer in the medieval town of Regensburg, a post-hippie, a Jimi Hendrix fan, an avid bike-commuter/-tourer, and a Luddite in the extreme. He smelled so bad after his bike rides that I could not stand to be near him when we traveled together in Ireland. On my last full day in Ireland, in Letterfrack, it rained most of the day but cleared up for a sunset that was a majestic sweep of purple and pink across the western sky. Harry paused us where we were and stared at the sun - straight at the orange sliver of the sun - five long minutes until it dropped below the trees. I chastised him for the sake of his retinas, but that's just what he liked to do. I am excited to be going to Germany.
A third side effect of my crushing loneliness is that I am taking more pleasure at the economy of being alone. For example, I like to make a pot of gruel at the beginning of each week and store it in individual serving containers and slowly spoon my way through the gruel throughout the week. My co-workers make fun of me ("Gruel again?" they say, as they head out to pick up Potbelly sandwiches for lunch), but I like knowing that each meal costs me about $1.20, and I have plenty of patience for eating the same thing every single day. Gruel, by the way, is usually chili or pea soup or lentils or some other healthy legume boiled to mush. I am absolutely certain that the eight-pack of paper towels I bought in September will last me until next September. My things are compact and tidy. I know the image of an old single granny pushing around her cart filled with single-serving meals is just about the most pathetic thing one can conjure, but I am not that old yet, and it's not that pathetic yet. Check in next year.
Other news: I got an Ambien prescription and, despite my distrust of psychotropic medications, am taking the first one tonight. My band is playing its first show on Saturday at a punk club in Logan Square and I have been practicing all week for it. I have some misgivings, but I have learned that it is best to keep negativity off this blog; so I will rant to you next time I see you about the disconnect between appearance and reality vis-a-vis Salacious Crumb. A case I am assigned to is on trial right now, and it is making me think that employment discrimination law is just about the dumbest, fakest shit ever. Was he fired because he was white? Or was he fired because all his employees didn't trust him [because he was white]? One is permitted if what is in the parentheses is silently understood, the other is not. Is one outcome any better than the other? The weather was up last week, then way way down, and has stabilized this week at cold and wet. A black man is president, I bought a space heater, and my mother writes to say that my dog is too stupid to move from the lawn when it rains.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
If you know Will, you should send him an email complimenting him on his amazing Barry White voice because he's a perfectionist and never thinks he does good enough.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I got to thinking that this is what moral certainty must feel like. Let me explain how I got to this line of thought. I sit in the part of the office where the receptionist would go if the judge had a receptionist. Part of my job is letting people in when they buzz the chambers doorbell. There is tight security around here, especially these days since I work in Federal Plaza and Prezelect Obama's transition offices are in the Dirksen Building across the street - DHS SUVs are parked along every inch of the curbside across the street. Security is tight inside my building, too. A couple of years ago, a white supremacist murdered an N.D. Ill. judge's husband and mother in the judge's house; a few years before that two marshals were shot and killed inside the courthouse by a criminal defendant attempting to escape at the end of his trial. From my desk, I monitor three surveillance cameras.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
- If the workweek is spent being deductive, be inductive on the weekends.
- Gaze upon a large body of water at least once a day.
- Have the courtesy to sweep your pubic hairs off a public toilet seat.
Don't worry, this song is not about you, it's about the other you. I've gotten into the habit of writing songs in ten minutes, not rethinking the cliches in the lyrics, and then recording them without giving much thought to the instrumentation. Great way to write music! At least I figured out how to record vocals in stereo. I'm still soliciting suggestions for song topics since I'm sick of writing love songs.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
We got to make this land a better landthan the world in which we live.And we got to help each man be a better manwith the kindness that we give.
Across the metropolis, the sweeping presidential victory of Chicagoan Obama was being celebrated as a moment of intense parochial pride and opportunity for a city that historically—and quite literally—has been at the crossroads of our ever-evolving nation.
Chicago becomes an instant international showcase as the architects of the next American agenda gather here over the coming months to build their new administration. The worldwide attention could enhance the city's prestige and influence and even give a boost to its 2016 Olympic bid.
For example, television clips showing George W. Bush entering and exiting the rear doors of his limos indicate that the windows are at least 5 inches thick, nearly twice the depth of what was used on presidential limousines in the 1980s and ’90s.
While I do not know what type of weapons such thick windows are designed to guard against, a half-inch of transparent armor is enough to stop a .44 Magnum round at point-blank range; at a thickness of 1.25 to 1.5 inches, the same material can withstand higher-velocity bullets fired from military assault rifles. Were an attack to occur, the ballistic forces of bullets fired into the windows would be absorbed within a succession of glass and plastic layers, after which a flexible inner coating known as an antispall shield would keep glass from entering the passenger compartment.
- Why is it that I don't care what I'm reading about, so long as it is analyzed through an Obama-lens? Sports, for example. White Sox thrilled about a fan in the White House. Obama drafts a fantasy football team two weeks ago with an ESPN reporter, bromance ensues.
He looked at me like I'd stuck my elbow in his soup. "Man, this is more important than politics!" he insisted. "This is football!"
Obamapalooza was a memorable experience for anyone who attended, but it's even more memorable for attendees Erin and Mawi Asgedom. The couple were watching President Elect Obama speak when Erin went into labor. She said, "Before we went, we realized that our contractions were about seven minutes apart. We decided to take the risk and witness something that was very historic." The couple left and walk nearly a mile to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where Erin was admitted and gave birth to a healthy Sawyer Tewolde Asgedom. Father Mawi, an immigrant from Ethiopia, said, "I feel like I've had the best 12 hours one can have. I got to witness a momentous moment in the history of democracy, Barack Obama, and then now I have my son here, who can be anyone he wants to be."- Inappropriate Hottie Rundown of Obama's potential cabinet.
Janet Napolitano - Attorney General? Another butch attorney general named Janet? Waco us up, we must be dreaming! Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is one Italian Stallion we'd like to ride into the Tucson sunset. Like her democratic AG predecessor, Napolitano has the rugged good looks of a lady who isn't afraid to sick the ATF on your ass if she wants to get a look at your concealed weapon stash, if you know what we mean (we mean genitals). Points off for having a name that puts that "Joey" song back in our heads. 2.7 out of 4 Ed Meeses.
The resolution on my monitor looks a little funky but you can still see the continuation of the clean, clear Barack Obama school of design - Prairie School of Graphic Design?? The page is modular and predictable. The banner at the top has not only the title and Presidential seal but also a simple way to sign up to get email updates from the Administration-elect (almost wrote "campaign" there). The rest of the page is a 70-30 split between two columns: squibs on the left, links on the right. The eye is drawn where it should be drawn - to the substantive information in the wider column. The second article asks for suggestions from citizens on how to improve government - a nice gesture and WTF it's new America with a corporate identity! The blue background on this page is a deeper hue than the campaign website, for solemnity, I guess. The designers seem to have abandoned the "change" font (Gotham) for the more a more Presidential serifed font that I don't recognize but I guess is the official font of the President since whitehouse.gov looks the same. I'm not a fan of the crimson box that is currently at the top of the page, though. This is not the most gorgeous or innovative website but I am impressed that (1) there is a website at all (Transparency in government! What a nice change.) and (2) that it conveys lots of information without being too cumbersome. I have done drank the Kool-Aid.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
ALAIN T. 05.11.08 | 12:01
I wrote this morning the symbolism of American films disasters or pdt U.S. was black and that he saved humanity!! for once the reality joined fiction. The joy flaps are still present among some players in the world, pity for them! black to white house!! democracy bravo!Michel J 05.11.08 | 12:00
I'm not sure the Republicans are so unhappy with their defeat: they will not manage a crisis is happening. You said cynical?FRED LABABSA 05.11.08 | 12:00
I love American People I love this new worldMr. 05.11.08 | 11:59
God that our beloved France seems small, dull and narrow, if chick going in momentum and hope ...Janice 05.11.08 | 11:59
I am delighted! America is again a source of inspiration for the rest of the world - Obama shows us that barriers and prejudices can be overcome with intelligence, courage and will.The American people have believed in the possibility of change, and the dream becomes reality. What a great leap for mankind towards tolerance and acceptance of difference!Mary Levene 05.11.08 | 11:59
What a great day! I feel I am American today. Let's hope this election is not just Hollywood shit and that this man stay alive ... My two main fears need responses. For now I just enjoy the day ... Barack Cheers!Enjoy 05.11.08 | 11:58
Unquestionably a step forward for the world. It is a mixed at the head of a country with a colonial and racist past. Do not listen to these depressed that you would say it is too dark or too pacifist. Except obscurantism, this day will be in all county school books in all countries for centuries to come.Gui Gui-05.11.08 | 11:58
And it heal lepers in imposing their hands until it is? The frieze on the mièvrerie anyway, Obama is not the Messiah!Jean-Pierre 05.11.08 | 11:57
OBAMA bears the hope of the world, and all peuples.Son election gives me a lot of emotion.It will take at President OBAMA lot of courage, perseverance given the immensity of the task ahead. I hope I can say in some time: What a wonderful word!Michel KOCH 05.11.08 | 11:57
With Barack Obama, Americans have opted for a young man, intelligent and dynamic, capable of directing their great country in the very serious crisis it is facing traverse.En, they had an old man, flanked colistière an unpredictable, and a legacy to assummer disastrous.Obama therefore wish good luck to him, his country and ours because we should not forget that the crisis we are facing, it is Bush that we owe very much.Joce_lyne 05.11.08 | 11:57
So many centuries have seen so many great civilizations / nations who, having dominated the world, collapsed in a "finger snap ".... The United States reacted in time. After the worst, they now have means to go better. They open on the outside on the world and the world will not change without them. Welcome back to the world! Democratia to welcome back!Congratulations!Cath 05.11.08 | 11:57
Yes it's true I am very happy too the outcome of elections States. I admit that the Americans give us this time a nice little moral lesson to us franchouillard pontificate. First human qualities and then the color of the skin. Now it remains to be seen saying "the dark side" even when it is young and seems nice but happens to be the height to carry out front a country like the USA especially with the current problems ... FORWARD.Reno 05.11.08 | 11:56
Yes! They can now needs President Obama is up to the hopes placed in him not only by the American people but also by much of the world. Good luck Mr. President! Yes you can!ANNE D. 05.11.08 | 11:56
... And more beautiful it is.Anwar Hachemane 05.11.08 | 11:55
A beautiful message of hope! Finally the United States began to marry their ideals with reality. It remains to be seen foreign policy of this administration. For fear of being disappointed, let us not be too enthusiastic! Time will tell if Hercules was reincarnated in Obama. We see only that America is more racist, look ... January 20! In the meantime, hope this new president will be in the image of our hopes. But first: Congratulations!RAPHAEL S. 05.11.08 | 11:54
Thank you America! Thank you to restore the U.S. image that we respect and love. And for us French is a fresh wind, which I hope it will accelerate the necessary changes to a country that recognizes and rewards the richness of its differences, to the highest level. I also appreciate the speech rallying beyond party (a small echo Bayrou?). ... Hope we can dream of.J. 05.11.08 | 11:53
One word: hugeCHRIF 05.11.08 | 11:53
After the Bush years, and a pleasant time to live and share with the whole American people.Finally a man who was elected for his skills and qualities as for his skin color. This is fun anyway.Fox lady 05.11.08 | 11:53
Congratulations to Barrack Obama! But although not Republican, I believe that those who sing today déchanterons tomorrow ... Huge job, Mr. President, if you want to do only the third of your promises ...BENOIT G. 05.11.08 | 11:52
bravo the world is black we are all black and full of hope for a world open to new colors
The man I bought this button from said that the buttons were free but mandatory tips were $5. His way, I guess, of "fooling" the Chicago police officers that stood about ten feet away from him. I think the police had other things they were worried about. I choose this button out of all the others because it was the only one that did not have offensively bad graphic design (i.e. Obama and Biden photoshopped badly in front of the White House, script fonts, ugh) and it is patterned after the Chicago Cubs logo (but that means that the button, unfortunately, claims victory for Cbama). I also picked up this doozy for five clams:
In the distance, I could hear the beat of some arrhythmic bongos. Many people were taking pictures, shouting to one another, acting giddy already. I really liked this banner:
Say it aloud - it has one more syllable than you'd think. There was a Metra stop right nearby, and people shouted as they emerged from the exit. Their shouts echoed in the stairwell.
I got there ninety minutes before the field opened up, so I found the back of the queue (two blocks away) and started waiting. I got stuck behind two very drunk identical twins who chain-smoked and solicited high fives from people walking by. It was sort of fun in a fratty way, even though they were at times obnoxious and I had to pretend to be texting so that the unbearded twin would not tell me anything more about his hard rock/funk band, Assimilation. Incidentally, all the text messaging made me feel so modern and American and awesome - I was doing a tit-for-tat exchange with friends: you give me updates from the polls, I give you updates from Grant Park - but once I got inside Grant Park my phone mysteriously stopped accepting texts and phone calls. I thought it was some sort of security conspiracy but apparently it was just AT&T's shittiness.
This was the crowd looking back on Balbo Drive. As far as the eye can see. There wasn't any dancing the street, like NG and OZ report happened in Oakland. There wasn't any more hysterical shouting, though a few "O-ba-ma!"s punctuated the air occasionally. It was near midnight, and we were simply exhausted and elated.