Thursday, May 31, 2007

Night Into Morning

Two completely unrelated things happened last night.

There was a blackout in my neighborhood. (Extreme North part of Rogers Park, right on the Lake.) About 11:35, just getting ready to hit the hay, as Olbermann wasn't on Wednesday, when everything went down. Bam. At first I thought "Great, a blown fuse at 11:30," and about two seconds later I noticed all was dark. Real dark. Like country dark. Because there was no light source coming into the apartment from anywhere. Mackie was probably a little freaked too, because there's always a courtyard lamp or the back porch or something. But no, no lights nowhere, nohow.

Then my courtyard half-sprang to life with people all doing the same thing I did: Fwipping up the shades and looking outside to see if it was that bad. I was the first one to actually stick my head out a window, and I could see some orange flickers in some windows, which were obviously candles being lit, and a couple of blue glows, which must have been the cell phone nation lighting up. Sirens started going off and I thought, well, good, someone's on it. One of the neighbors (I don't know who, because I could barely see, for reals) asked "Is it the whole block?" and I said back "I think so." Brilliant, yes? Anyway, I decided to go out and check. I put on shorts and a baseball jersey and flip-flopped out the back door with my own blue glow lighting the way. Flip-flop out onto the sidewalk, to the corner, with several other people all doing the same thing, milling around and looking down Sheridan road towards the nursing homes,which is where all the fire trucks were going. Good, I thought, my fucking fridge can wait a while; if the respirators are off that shit needs to be checked. The street lights were on on the east side of Sheridan, but only one work light or two was on in Loyola Park. A guy from the neighborhood got out of a taxi on Sheridan and looked a little freaked. I complimented him on his timing as he walked by.

I decided to walk down the block to see if the L platform lights were on (yes) and if traffic lights were on (Morse, three blocks south). The neighborhood west of the tracks was dark too, so I called my brother, who lives about 12 blocks south of me, to see if he was in the dark. Nope, just our tiny grid. I walked back to Sheridan Road, where every car was very gingerly pulling up to corners. Better than not, I guess. A few police cars prowled by, again, better than not, I guess. I thought of two more things: One, if this continues through the night, it could seriously be a sex offender's playground, what with a lot of clueless people groping around in pitch dark. And two, as I watched a 147 bus go by, at that moment I could have done anything. I had my wallet, keys, and a phone; I could have gotten on a bus and ridden all night if I had wanted to, just to get away from what was surely going to be an increasingly airless and hot apartment without the benefit of a fan. (Being a grownup is fun! And different!)

My brother and I debated whether it was a rolling blackout or a power surge or what; I concluded the area was too small for it to be a rolling blackout. After about fifteen minutes I hung up with him and set the alarm on my cell phone just in case. I was lying there in the dark, starting to sweat up, whistling for Mackie to come and keep me company, but he didn't seem to care at that moment, because he knew I wasn't going to feed him. Then I thought about unplugging all the electricals that were on when the lights went out, just to avoid the "Whaa?" that would happen at 2:30 when everything bonked back up. So I went to the wall and felt along for the first plug, and literally as I unplugged a lamp, the courtyard lamps came on. I was momentarily freaked, then I put two and two together. And my fan was the first thing I turned back on. At about 12:25. Not even an hour. What an adventure. Not.

Oh, the other thing?

The Cubs suck. Still early, yeah yeah, but seriously, I think we were sold a bill with this one. All those naysayers over the winter I think are right. Especially when MARK DE ROSA talks about all the "talent" oozing from every pore of the lineup. Sheesh. Obviously, they're in a bad place right now, and I don't think they'll end up as totallly suck as last year, and I overreact almost automatically when this happens, but man, they look like freeze-dried dick lately. The only thing that looks like anything right now is the starting rotation, which, I will say till my Irish-American ass is blue, is NOT of primary importance in Wrigley. I mean, it's nice to have, but even Fergie Jenkins gave up homers at home. (Greg Maddux, too.) He just never walked anybody.

And speaking of walks, what do you suppose Soriano is doing with his money? I hope he's planning on earning it sometime soon, and perhaps he could buy a spine to stick back there and say "You know, coach, as fast as I am, I can't steal first. Let me bat ANYWHERE but leadoff. Because I'm a free-swinging home run hitter who doesn't walk a lot." Rickey Henderson this guy is not. For one thing, Henderson knew the strike zone and made pitchers fear him because of it, which is why he often walked, and often homered from the one spot. Soriano? Lots of homers, not so many walkies. Sixty-seven is his all-time high, last year at Washington. That's a leadoff guy?

Perhaps the Powers that Be are unclear on the concept of what a leadoff hitter should be doing. But of course, nobody else on this team seems to know how to draw a walk either, so it's kind of a moot point, offensively. I quite honestly don't know what it is about Wrigley Field that turns the Cubs offense every year into a bunch of stammering, drooling, cross-eyed idiots, but there it is. Part of it is Hendry's fault for putting together a lineup that isn't built to win at Wrigley, i.e., take advantage of the power alleys and the deep outfield corners as well as the wind and the lack of foul territory and the seemingly short fences. No, somebody out there thought they should just build a team of bangers, cause, you know, Wrigley, homers, crowds, beer, blah de fucking blah. That shit. So everyone looks like Dave Kingman up there, and if you don't think so, watch Cliff Floyd's and Derrek Lee's at-bats in the ninth on Tuesday. Ridiculous. Said it before, blah blah, the Cubs have to lead the league in runs scored to win big, as they did in 84 and 89. both those years, the team ERA was literally middle-of-the-road. In 03, of course the offense wasn't so much, but the pitching was truly exceptional, and the division was bad. Anyone see that scenario unfolding this year? So far, yes, the pitching is good and the division is weak as hell. But I know that's not a recipe for winning in that ballpark. Which is why this team will lose.

Make me a liar, fellas.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Do You Remember?

What I said a couple of weekends ago about Bobby Howry?

Well, play that shit again.With knobs on, as they say. And of course the Chicago media wouldn't ask the tough question, mainly "Why do these guys still have Major League jobs?" It's all "one-run losses" bullshit. And of course Piniella talks about how good he feels with the result. Shit, I can say "what are yu gonna do, motherfucker. Give me a job.

Here's what you do: Offload Howry, and cut off the fingers on Ohman's non-pitching hand. Then let him count his fucking money.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On the Way Down

It's games like tonight's that make me wonder how the Cubs EVER win a fucking game. No offense, untimely pitching. No pitching, unnecessary offense.

West Coast nightmare. Beginning of the end, O Best Beloved. Just like last year.

Somebody make me a liar.

Monday, May 21, 2007

'Irrelevant,' meet 'Asshole'

Spokespersons for President George W. Bush responded to criticisms made over the weekend by former President Jimmy Carter, in which Nobel Prize-winner Carter attacked Bush and British Prime MinisterTony Blair for their failed policies via the war in Iraq.

Carter could not be reached for comment Monday, as he was probably in New Orleans, rebuilding houses that were destroyed two years ago by a hurricane that the Bush administration saw coming and in whose aftermath it did nothing to alleviate.

UPDATE: Apparently, Carter was available for comment. And kind of a pussy, too.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Go See 'Gidget'

I wouldn't call this an unqualified rave, and of course I work at City Lit a lot, but I recommend their current production of Gidget absolutely. Mainly for one of the best performances I've seen this year.

It's based on the novel of the same name by Federick Kohner, about his daughter Kathy, the surf-obsessed girl who courted the surfer-boy gods down on the shore with food until they took her in as one of their own, christening her "Gidget," as in "girl midget." It's adapted by City Lit Artistic Director (and one of the most absolute men of the theatre I know) Terry McCabe and Marissa McKown and directed by McKown. Rather sluggishly, it turns out. There's not much going on physically, and of course the sensation of surfing is impossible to duplicate onstage(even with hydraulic surfboards, as in 2005's terminally stupid Broadway jukebox crapfest Good Vibrations.). But this is one of the better staging concepts in the show, actually. The actors in the ensemble (everyone but Gidget and the Great Kahoona doubles as a "kid" and as an "adult," more on that later), dressed neutrally, bear the surfers aloft in a nakedly theatrical but nonetheless effective image, equating the elation of surfing with the highs of flight.

The performances, unfortunately, are a bit of a mixed bag. Sabrina Kramnich is the class of the evening as Gidget. She narrates the story, and has roughly more of the evening than Hamlet, so the show is obviously going to rest on her five-foot tall frame, and she acquits herself extremely well, as both the gawky fan-girl at the beginning and the emergent young woman who is finally liberated by her endless summer. Eric Hoffmann looks like Adonis and has the easy-going swagger befitting the Great Kahoona, and also reveals some simple, effective vulnerability later. Most of the rest of the cast are just past college-aged, with the advantages (lively and convincing as the "teens") and disadvantages (less imposing as the older "authority" figures, particularly Dan Kennedy's not-potent-enough Dad) inherent. But see the show for Kramnich's performance; she doesn't ring a false note, and more people ought to see it.

Gidget, playing at City Lit Theatre, now thru 6/3. Fri-Sat at 8, Sun at 3. 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago. 773-293-3682.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Get 'Im, Boy!

So, when this happened, did anybody think Ozzie was just lacing into Mike North for pretending to give a God damn about baseball?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The "Fuck You" Bandwagon is Growing!

For fuck's sake. Get your seats now.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fun Convergences of Art and Life

The Tony nominations came out today, and when Jerry Falwell saw that Legally Blonde had been passed over for Mary Poppins in the Best Musical category, he dropped dead of a heart attack.

In other Tony-related news, America's Sweetheart Kristin Chenoweth was denied a Tony nomination for her no-doubt-well-sung and scrinchy-faced performance in The Apple Tree. Sources close to the pint-sized tornado quote her as saying "If I ever find Sorkin, he's a dead motherfucker."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Fuck You, Bobby Howry

Did you forget how to record an out, asshole?
Or did you place a side bet during the rain delay? "How soon can I fuck up Will Ohman's day?"
I've seen worse pitching performnces. Maybe. But I don't think I've ever been so insulted watching someone in a Major League uniform pitch, and by "pitch" I mean "roll a fucking penny up to the wall." Because that's what your fucking pitches looked like.
Asshole. Way to pick up the offense.
And thanks for coming straight out of the motherfucking bullpen with four straight motherfucking balls for a motherfucking walk. If I were Lou Piniella I would have yanked you right there, then had you killed.
Asshole. Play baseball tomorow, why don't you.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Stay Thursday, My Friends.

Can't help it. I enjoy that one. He's a cross between Hemingway and Castro. (via YouTube, of course.)

I also love the understatedness of the Comcast Spider-Man ad. It should be creepy but it's not. It makes me laugh every time I watch it. (ibid with the YouTube and all.)

Anyway, Thursday. Tonight. Bulls. Pistons. Game. Three. Zero hour approaches. How many times will we hear "must-win" tonight, even though it technically isn't, of course? There's a drinking game for you. I guess in basketball reality it pretty much is a must-win, especially if they get blown out like in the first two games. In that case, they can get a book of stamps, a padded Manila envelope, and just mail that shit in. But man, the Bulls sucked balls in those first two games, innit? Not to give them offense, but they couldn't give us offense, only a little defense, and it was all turnovers, all the time. (Nice if you work in a bakery, I guess. Not for sports, though.)

Enough. Flush the negative energy and just hold serve. Then, if that happens, Scott Skiles can figure out how they evened out and go from there.

Stay Thursday, my friends.

UPDATE: Aaaaah, fuck it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

We're Finally on our Own

It happened 37 years ago today. National guradsmen opened fire on protesting students on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio and by the time the smoke had cleared, four students were dead.

I would say something platitudinous about how that sort of thing won't happen again, but then again:

Virginia Tech + what happened in MacArthur Park this week x what happened elsewhere in LA yesterday, with Iraq as X xY= Sure, it could happen again.

But one thing probably won't happen again: we won't get a song like "Ohio."

In the aftermath, Neil Young and the other members of C,S,N&Y came out of the woods with song in hand, and what a song. In my mind, the angriest pop song ever recorded, and with pretty good reason: The Summer of Love haze had lifted from everyone's eyes by that time, the decade had turned, and there was the US, still locked into a stupid war a world away. And now the "Tin soldiers" are here, doing Nixon's bidding on campus, when "We're finally" supposed to be "on our own."

This litle nugget from YouTube does a pretty good job with the scattershot-chronology of the lyric to "Ohio," but it's the famous image the filmmaker weds to the line "What if you knew her and/Found her dead on the ground" that gets me. I bet you can't watch it and not get pissed off. At least a little.