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Monday, December 8, 2008

The Top Five Things of 2008

In response to a friend, who recently posted a list of the Top Five Things of 2008 over at

5. Grand Theft Auto IV

Earlier this year Rockstar games released what would be the fastest selling and most critically acclaimed video game ever. I blogged about it shortly thereafter. With a sophisticated narrative and depth of realism only hinted at in few games before it, GTA IV skyrocketed the bar of quality for not just gaming, but for the entirety of any piece of plastic daring enough to call itself home entertainment.

Don't let anyone tell you that video games are child's play. With gross revenues approaching the billions, games like GTA IV have catapulted the electronic gaming industry into realms of profitability that now dwarf Hollywood returns. Amidst the doom and gloom reports of a devastating economic recession, the video game industry, propelled by creative masterpieces such as GTA IV, stands amongst few others that are showing no sign of weakness.

4. McCain losing the election

Much can be said about the pure victory of Obama winning the election. How the stars aligned one night in November for history to be made, for a new epoch of American politics and society to take its first wobbly steps towards the light. Having myself put in footwork for the Obama campaign, walking the mean streets of Hammond, IN for change, this victory has tremendous personal value.

We can't overlook however, the very real possibility that our country was headed for four more years of the backwards, bible-thumping, one-sided political ideology of the Republican nominees.

Roe v. Wade? Stem-cell research? In a few years, these things would not have existed in this country if McCain's campaign had won. America saved itself from another four years of the war-mongering Republican hate machine. Even worse to consider was the possibility of Sarah Palin as president. McCain lost the election, and this was very important for the future of our country.

3. Kanye West

While the personal tragedies of public figures such as Jennifer Hudson and Heath Ledger grabbed the biggest headlines this year, Kanye West's journey through loss deserves its own mention. Having lost his mother late last year and a fiancee earlier this year, Kanye persisted in his quest to make his music on his own terms. While he can be faulted for just a smidgeon of hubris, Mr. West has remained extremely prolific this year, releasing a deeply personal album while still dominating worldwide charts through other efforts. Having witnessed him live in concert this summer at Chicago's Lollapalooza music festival, it's safe to say that this man is a staggeringly talented artist, and the fact that he can continue to produce despite all of his recent struggles lends further belief that he is on the fast track towards becoming the greatest artist of his generation.

2. Facebook

Ahh, Facebook. Earlier this year, when I received a Facebook friend request from my mom, I finally understood what millions and millions of people understood for so long; Your mom is on Facebook. Started in 2004 by some genius Harvard kid a few years my senior, Facebook slowly infiltrated its way into college campus across the nation, eventually becoming the most popular social networking site in the world, eclipsing in April 2008.

Is the sky the limit? Offers upwards of $2 billion have been reported in acquisition talks. Facebook themselves think they're worth more, if not at least as much as Viacom's MTV brand. According to a research study, Facebook was named the second most popular thing among undergraduates nationwide, tied with beer and only ranked lower than the iPod. Tied with beer? Facebook is definitely one of the biggest things this year.

1. Obama wins the presidential election

Even if the only good thing I could say about this situation would be that the Future First Lady and I went to the same Chicago magnet high school, I would still be happy. As a person of color, though, I see this victory as a huge step forward in national race relations. People of color can be people of power. This is a message that my grandfather, a Mexican immigrant chasing the American dream, would hesitate to tell my father. My grandfather, who struggled to provide for his family in the same ill-fated South Chicago steel mills that Obama would repeatedly refer to throughout his campaign, probably had moments of doubts when it came to the American dream.

With Obama's win this year, I'm leaving aside my grandfather's doubts and confidently moving into the future as a man of family. I wont hesitate when it comes to tell my children (and grandchildren?) that with enough hard work and studying they can reach their dreams, that as people of color they can still be people of power. Because of this, because there are now millions more with this same sense of restored and renewed hope, Obama winning the presidential election is the most important event of this year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Chicago GQ's City of the Year 2008

GQ says that Chicago is the city of the year for 2008.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Last Thursday I woke up in the middle of the night with this searing pain in my chest. I was struggling to breathe as I stumbled my way into the bathroom. The pain was so severe and my breath so labored that for a few moments I wondered if I might be having a heart attack.

Curled up along the bathroom floor, I was trying to guess if this was going to be my Heath Ledger moment. Couldn't be, he took a lot more meds than I do. Could this be from all the partying I did in college? Maybe, but I haven't done any binge-drinking in like four, FIVE days maybe.

After a few minutes of dry-heaving I took some pepto bismol and Pepcid AC and eventually found my way back to bed, where my wife comforted me to sleep.

As I laid there contemplating the fragility of life, I thought about one of my best friends and former bandmates, Eddie. We played together in a rock band throughout high school and after college, friends and brothers for more than a decade. We shared a lot of time making music together, him on drums and me on guitar. We used to spend hours at a time talking about our secrets and dreams.

I thought about him because he passed away earlier this year as a result of his long struggle with addiction.

I wondered if I would've seen him again if I died just then. Is there a drumset where he is? Is there a guitar and a microphone? Are we sinners allowed to make music after we die? If so, can we just keep playing and playing until we're good enough?

Until we can make it big, man. Until we grow wings and start floating. We're going to make it all the way, man. We're going to be so big. We'll make it to heaven. You'll see, man. I'll be there soon and then we can start jamming, Eddie. We will play the greatest songs and everyone will love us and remember us. Someday we will make it big. We will pay for all of our lies and sins and selfishness with glorious, soulful, beautiful music-making. Redemption. Salvation. We'll keep practicing and playing until we're good enough. I'll be there soon, man, and we can start jamming again, just like old times. We'll play until we make it all the way to heaven.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend Recap

Friday night went out with the guys. The wifey and her female cohort watching the special edition DVD release of Sex and the City. I tried to make it through that movie once before and passed out somewhere in the middle. Last remember something about a male unit.

Lots of drinky drinky in the hood. Cherishing time left there because we will soon be moving into another, less socioeconomically advantaged one by the New Year. Plenty of holiday cheers and beers with friends. Collapsed into bed with the wife at the end of the night.

Choosing wedding photos the next morning. OMG; there were literally thousands to pick from. definitely not my favorite part of the whole experience. but afterwards the wifey bought me an awesome early bday and xmas gift! lots of sleep after our excursion; maybe 14-15 hours altogether throughout the day and into Sunday.

Sunday! I took our plus-size puggle to the dog park for some much needed aerobic activity. We both had a great time, as I got to use my new gift on her. Two birds, one canon rebel xsi dslr.

Later a thanksgiving get-together for friends. Lots of fun and food and rock band 2 going on.

Long, fun weekend.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This is not another Great Depression

Article from on how our current economic woes don't compare to the Great Depression.

Instead of workers with 5 o'clock shadows asking, "Brother, can you spare a dime?" we have clean-shaven financial-services executives asking congressmen if they can spare $100 billion.... The world of 1929-33 was one that lacked shock absorbers such as Social Security and deposit insurance to insulate people from economic disaster.... A final difference: After the 1929 crash, the nation had to wait more than three years for a president who simply wasn't up to the job to leave the scene. This time, we've got to wait only two more months.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

NYT shows some Chicago love

Article from the New York Times on the effect Obama has had on Chicago, and on the city's continuing rise.

The wake of Mr. Obama’s victory offers a window into the two-fold psyche of the city: It is a big enough metropolis not to be easily fazed by events, though the fabric of the community is stitched just tight enough to burst in a rare moment of giddiness.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bring Holly back to The Office!

Article on how great Holly was for this season's NBC show, The Office. I think that she and Michael Scott made a great couple, and the season would've been deprived of something special if it wasn't for her appearance. Hopefully she comes back in some sort of plot twist. In the meanwhile, "Let's Get Ethical, Ethical":

Monday, November 17, 2008's Top 10 Amazing Animal Videos

The Top 10 Amazing Animal Videos, from

Michelle vs. Sarah

Sarah Palin has a nice pair of legs.

But Michelle Obama got back. From

Barack's better half not only has stature but is statuesque. She has corruscating intelligence, beauty, style and -- drumroll, please -- a butt. (Yes, you read that right: I'm going to talk about the first lady's butt.)

And later:
... Will the black aesthetic take over the White House, as many whites openly fear? As that Republican sexpot might say, you betcha.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Two birds, one phone call

I'm notorious for being very difficult when it comes to maintaining a constant line of communication with my mom. She leaves like four or five texts and voicemails before I finally make the time to call her back. I figure I'm married, I live in my own apartment, and I subscribe to the Playboy en Espanol channel, why should I have to check in with my mom every week ... or month?

With the holidays coming up, though, I felt that now would be a good time to reach out again, especially because I wasn't looking forward to the "Why haven't you called me in a month?" guilt-trip in front of the rest of my extended family.

Our phone conversation, as I reluctantly anticipated, got off to a rocky start, with her offering me some unsolicited life advice within the first five minutes. I held my breath and struggled to bite my tongue in response, leaving empty silences in response to her suggestions on how to take care of my own business.

Eventually our conversation turned to 18th century Irish satire. She's working on her Bachelor's in Nursing and one of her gen eds is a literature class which moves through all the dusty chestnuts like Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal."

If, unlike most, you actually paid attention during your literature class, you'll remember that a Modest Proposal is a satirical essay suggesting that the poor people of 18th century Ireland should eat their babies. This would solve the dual problems of starvation and over-population. Two birds, one baby.

As an assignment for her class, my mom had to write an essay in a similar vein to "A Modest Proposal," but adapted for modern times.

So we started brainstorming over the phone. I suggested something along the lines of having all of the most violent murderers in the world be forced to fight our wars for us, thereby eliminating the problem of the huge tax burden caused by overcrowded prisons and an outstretched military organization.

"Yeah," my mom said, "And then we can put the murderers on an island and then they could eat each other."

I paused for a moment to reflect on the absurdity of this. Every now and then she'll either say something so totally wacky and unexpected that I'll have to repeat it to myself in order to grasp comedic brilliance behind her words.

We can put the murderers on an island and then they could eat each other

Other times she completely reworks the fundamentals of English sentence structure and correct word choice to utter something so very baffling, yet so very her own. And it's always so hilarious because she's never trying to be funny when she says it.

She's priceless, really.

After we hung up I was really glad that I called her. I should probably do it more often.

2 minute Scarface

A two minute version of "Scarface" featuring only the word "fuck":

Friday, October 31, 2008

Quaterly Review

The past few months have made up a very eventful summer.

In August I went to Lollapalooza and was front row for Rage Against The Machine. Got tossed around and listened to Zach moan about crowd safety. The next day I saw Kanye West. He sang a tribute about the south side, and I wonder now if he ever saw horrible things like the Hudson tragedy during his life there.

After Lolla, the next weekend in fact, I celebrated my bachelor party with a few friends in Vegas.

The weekend after that I was married to the sexiest girl in the whole wide world.

Our wedding was great, and our honeymoon was even greater. We spent a few days in the colonial city of Cuzco, Peru before taking a 4 day hike through the Inca Trail to reach Macchu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas.

A few weeks after we were married I received a job offer in the computer field and accepted. And with all this - a wife, a career change, and part-time grad school responsibilities, i've neglected some of my healthier recreational activities, like blogging. Lately, though, i've been so inspired by recent events (ie Obama being elected president) that I'm making the time to step aside and reflect. The mountains of dishes and piles of laundry can wait.

Friday, August 1, 2008

lolla thoughts

Mosquito bites, sunburn, sweaty stinky people, dehydration, and breaking the seal... These are all common things to be concerned about when you're deep inside the crowd of a long rock concert.

But now I have to add another concern to that list: my shorts. Just after my fiancee dropped me off outside of grant park, I tried to tighten the built-in belt on my shorts and pulled too hard and snapped off the belt. Now my shorts don't have the traction that they had around my hips before I left the house.

This concerns me because something just like this happened at last year's cafe tacuba concert. I was in the front row at the metro, bouncing up and down and ebbing and flowing with the crowd and the music when I felt a snap at the front my shorts. My shorts button popped off. This was near the end of the show, the best part really, and I didn't want to worry too much about it. But then I felt my shorts starting to slip down my legs. I pressed my groin against the front barrier in the hopes of lodging my shorts up against it, but there was this very active young man smashed behind me, and he was bouncing up and down against me and my shorts, slamming my junk even harder into the barrier, and pulling my shorts down with him.

Nothing against homoeroticism, but let's just say that I was very relieved once the last note played and I could reach down to recover my dignity.

So I'm hoping that tomorrow night the same thing doesn't happen all over. Just glad that I left some extra rope in my camping bag to take with me for tomorrow's festivities.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Back to Reality

A few weeks ago, before we left for our trip, I blogged about the glory of leaving behind the trappings of the city, of getting away from things like heavy-walking upstairs neighbors and obnoxious parking tickets. Well, the gods of everything ironic decided to greet me with this in my mailbox upon our return:

Yes, that is a picture of my subcompact 4-cylinder MPG king blowing a red light at a busy intersection in Chicago, courtesy of the City of Chicago Department of Revenue. These cameras are installed all over the city, and I wasn't really surprised that I finally got caught doing this. I remember that at this moment in time I was running super-late for an appointment and, besides failing to stop a red light (and besides going 50 MPH in a 30 MPH speed zone), I was also probably commiting a small variety of other driving infractions, such as texting while driving while eating a McDonald's Chicken Snack Wrap.

So you see it's a good thing i'm back, because without drivers like me, the city just wouldn't be such an exciting place to live

Camping in Michigan

Yesterday Ivette and I returned from a four day long camping adventure into the wilderness of an island just off the coast of northern Michigan, part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Campground. Armed with a backpacks full of camping gear, we made the six hour drive from Chicago to arrive just in time for a two hour long ferry ride from Michigan.

Once on the island we made another two mile hike to our campsite. We thought we had everything we needed -including bug spray- until we received the welcoming parade from the vampiric island mosquitoes that must have developed a genetic resistance to any human efforts to thwart their relentless thirst for blood. These mosquitoes were so huge and overfed that they probably had other little mosquitoes biting into them for their blood. OMG - the mosquitoes. Let's just say that I can't type this blog entry for more than ten consecutive seconds without stopping to scratch any number of ungodly mosquito bites located on some ridiculous part of my body.

Overall, though, living in the wild for two nights and three days was totally worth it. We scored a campsite on a secluded area on a sand dune that had exclusive access to the lakefront. We saw birds, snakes, toads, crabs, chipmunks, giant cedars, shipwrecks and one man who made a 2.2 mile hike through the wilderness in socks and sandals. SOCKS AND SANDALS. THROUGH THE WILDERNESS.

We hiked and climbed and did lots of sunbathing and made friends with this international group of UIUC PhD students and professors around a campfire. The topic eventually turned to telling college stories.

I got to tell the one about our upstairs fratboy neighbors who decided that it would be a brilliant idea to dump one of their wasted roommates into our unlocked apartment below, considering that our apartment was pretty much identical in layout to theirs. This all happened while my roommates and I were sleeping, and when I woke up I looked down to find a strange man laying face down on my bedroom floor. We both looked at each other and said, "Dude," and then he got up and left my room to use our bathroom. He then proceeded to grab a blanket from somewhere and moved to the couch in the living room and passed out again, tucked away comfortably in his blanket. I woke him up again by slapping his head around a few times. He finally got the point and left.

Pictures from our trip. More info on Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The War at Home

I'd hate to blog about work. First of all, I could would most definitely lose my job because I work in research, and in research things like confidentiality and non-disclosure are imperative. Secondly, if there's one thing I've learned from my favoritest blogger of all time, it's that somehow your boss will find your blog and read about all the shit you talk behind her back. Then she will fire you. So instead I will start blogging about work and then I will shift to a political rhetoric that will probably inspire few and maybe upset others.

All that I can responsibly let out of my bloggy heart is that this previous work week has been the work week from hell. While I know that everyone has this thought at least several times a year (some of them have it every week), I'd like to think that i'm exceptional because my job puts me in some very exceptional situations, far beyond office banalities like the annoying eating habits of co-workers or the stapler that always seems to go missing from your desk.

Allow me to articulate. For the past three years, i've been working in the social service/research sector, travelling deep inside the roughest neighborhoods in Chicago and spending many hours every week in the very homes of not only the victims of some of the most heinous crimes ever imaginable, but also with the perpetrators of those crimes. I've done this because I think it is important to do.

So i've seen some shit, to put it colloquially. Shit that you don't really talk about at a cocktail party. Everything from heroin being injected into veins, to being accosted by prostitutes and drug dealers, and even to boobs popping out of tank tops (topic for a later blog). These are only some of my light-hearted experiences. Far worse are the things that no one wants to read, experiences composed of words that are too harsh too see even while shielded by the dull plasticity of a computer monitor.

While some war veterans and soldiers will speak of losing comrades in the course of war, dying and fighting for ideas like "freedom" and "justice" in the name of their country, I ask them to put down their arms and look no further than down a few blocks from their road - because there's a war much closer to home. You don't need to travel thousands of miles to find conflict. Not too far away from you there's an innocent woman being brutalized by an abusive husband, or a four year old discovering their mother dead on the couch, overdosed on heroin. It happens everyday. I know this because i've seen it with my own eyes.

I hope that this coming election brings about not only a change in leadership, but also a change in nationwide mentality. Our leadership needs to shift its thinking away from the "Overzealous World Police" ideology to a more "Gentle caretakers of our nation" approach. This is one of the discriminating qualities in the Republican/Democratic political dichotomy. In fact, I think this rotating power sharing is critical to the health of our nation. I won't deny the Republican war machine the progress they have made in Afghanistan, or even their success in toppling the Hussein regime, but now it's time for them to step-off.

Time for our leader Obama to take the reigns and bring it all closer to home. Time for us to refocus on the issues down the block. It's time to divert the money for the Republican War on Drug program away from the propaganda and increasingly large prison sentences to programs that actually work, like drug-treatment clinics and community health centers.

I've been fighting this societal war with a paltry few other brave souls, souls that don't receive nearly half the glorification or honor that they deserve. Fearless men that ruthlessly destroy other men have received some of the greatest honor in our country, and in many ways, this honor is justifiable. But what about our unarmed soldiers? What about our dedicated educators and responsible parents, what about anyone else that has tended to the actual well-being of the youth of our home country? It's time for their memorial, time for their purple hearts. It's time for us to focus on the war at home.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I was just at the drugstore standing in line behind a grown man who was buying the latest issue of Penthouse magazine. That's cool - who hasn't run to the corner in order to flip through a few pages of a soft-core porno mag on a late Tuesday afternoon?

What stood out to me about this whole situation was that his 3 to 4 year old daughter was bouncing around right next to him in line. "Daddy can you buy me that candy?" I mean, no big deal, right? He's an adult and has every right to buy that magazine. Where's the harm? His daughter would remain completely oblivious to the magazine and probably wouldn't even get curious considering it's plastic covering.

But DUDE, Penthouse?!

I remember first discovering Penthouse (along with other chestnuts like Hustler, Playboy, and Juggs) while exploring the area surrounding an abandoned factory near my neighborhood in the far south side of Chicago. This was about just under 20 summers ago and I was in the beginning of the peach fuzz and stifling B.O. era. Some neighborhood friends and I found what was literally a huge garbage bag filled with abandoned porno mags in the overgrown trees and bushes surrounding the factory. We proceeded to return to the secret spot almost daily with excuses for our parents involving something with baseball or lightning bugs. Upon each return, the pile-o-porn seemed to grow smaller and smaller.

The thing that struck me about Penthouse was its no-limit depiction of a wide assortment of sexual activities, especially when compared with other brands of adult magazines. In their 80s era, Penthouse really pushed the limits of obscenity. R. Kelly, if he really was in that video, probably drew some inspiration from a Penthouse mag. Flipping through Playboy was like seeing a quick boob shot in a PG-13 rated movie - mildly exciting yet too impermanent to be explicit. With Penthouse, though, I saw things that I probably should have waited years to see, things that continued to confuse me for much longer than that secret porn stash in the factory bushes lasted.

That's why I asked myself, "Why couldn't he wait to buy that Penthouse?" What is he potentially exposing his daughter to? I guess I take some solace in finding out that Penthouse has toned things down over the years, that now it's situated somewhere in between Playboy and Hustler in terms of explicitness. Anyways, that little girl was not my daughter and she didn't appear to be in any immediate risk of harm. In fact, she was completely oblivious to situation. Dad bought her a big, red, inflatable beach ball with pictures of princesses and unicorns on it, and she happily bounced her way out of the store.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Celine Dion vs. Tim Russert vs. Bo Diddley

This weekend I had dinner with a group to celebrate a friend's birthday. Most of the people there were unfamiliar with each other save for the birthday girl. For some ungodly reason, the topic of Celine Dion came up in conversation. Not knowing everyone's particular taste, I bit my tongue. I wanted to say something like, "Celine Dion has bigger testicles than a silverback gorilla" but no, I held back ... because sure enough, there was a person at our table who admitted to paying $300 to see her live in Vegas.

Aside from this shameful confession, I was more shocked to learn that one of the people at our table had no clue who she was. He said he honestly had no idea. I quickly Googled her image and showed it to him on my blackberry - nothing. For fuck's sake, a farmboy somewhere in the mountainous island of Phuket, Thailand knows who Celine Dion is. He's wearing a t-shirt of her right now as he returns from the ten-mile hike to the watering hole.

As incredulous as I was that night, I must have seemed the same way when I heard about this Tim Russert guy passing away. While his image is recognizable, I was unaware of who he was and neither did I realize the importance of his passing. Didn't he have something to do with potatoes, I thought? "No, he was more than potatoes," all the major national media outlets scolded me, "so much more than potatoes..."

Whatevs. While i'll take Bo Diddley back over you Timmy Boy, there's still something I want you to know. If it ever comes between me saving either you or Celine Dion from falling off of a deadly cliff, you can count on me. While my weight-lifting abilities (ie squats and dead-lifts and such) are probably more suitable for saving Celine, I'll just have to work out that much harder. I'll do it for you, Tim Russert. You can count on me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

City Doldrums

I really need to get out of this city.

Living in the heart of Chicago for the past three years now, I've been reluctantly mastering the Art of Asshole. By Art of the Asshole I mean the ability to abandon almost any shred of human decency or respect for others.

Stolen car radios, regular graffiti clinics on your building, wallet-emptying parking tickets and vehicle stickers, crazy drivers, bicycle riders getting killed by motorists, and ridiculous murder rates are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the soul-sucking aspects of being in the middle of it all.

Whereas a few years ago in the halcyon days of my former college-town habitat I might kindly step aside and let an elderly person take the last spot on a crowded bus, now I find myself nearly shoving grandma aside and down into a bottomless sewer ditch in order to save that last inch of space for myself, being all like "This is MySpace, grandma!" as she goes hurtling down into the darkness below.

Thusly, it's time for a change of scenery.

In a few weeks my fiancee and I will be backcountry camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, Michigan. We will be boarding a ferry near the northernmost point of the Michigan peninsula and from there we'll sail to a nearby island that is completely void of all of the wonderfully dehumanizing trappings of the big city. While I am slightly concerned about my ability to go several days without updating my facebook status, I take comfort in knowing that we'll be away from all the drudgery. Far away to a place where things like tripping over a homeless person camouflaged into the sidewalk or street cleaning parking violations have no chance of ruining your day.

While we won't have a car, electricity, a cabin or bathroom facilities on our tiny island, we will have necessities like sleeping bags and a tent and a water boiler and some space food. We'll spend a pair of nights there before the six hour drive back to the city. Just enough time to begin to yearn again for the accoutrements of civilization, for the real necessities like DVR, wireless internet, drive-thru Starbucks, and facebook status updates.

posts from the past

Tonight i've posted about 50 more entries from my old online journals. This is part of my continuing effort to sweep up and organize the dusty pieces of my old blogs in order to retain some sense of cohesion to my identity, or who I understand myself to be. And this existential rambling that i'm doing right now is precisely the reason why i've been avoiding this task.

Looking back, I've learned that blogging while under the influence does absolutely nothing for my sentence completion abilities. Also re-lived one of several college bar fight stories. I don't think I know anyone that went to college and does not have one bar fight story.

Limited to 50 automated posts by blogger, it's going to take a while to upload the over 800 entries I have made while blogging throughout this decade. And considering all of editing that takes place (did I really need to write about that dream with James Brown and bag of potato chips?) this task is going to be spread out over the next few days, or weeks!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Looking back, but moving forward

Today I finished another marathon quarter-year of full-time jobbing while part-time Mastering. I feel relieved. Now that this school quarter is successfully completed, I can focus more of my time towards our upcoming wedding.

There's tons of stuff to do: from the mailing of the invitations, to the hiring of the limo, to the the finalizing of details for Vegas. I could go on and on, but I will save that for later blogs, don't worry.

On another note I've also found some time to upload most of my blog entries from late 2003 to early 2004. Nothing quite like looking back on an era filled with the struggles of a failing relationship. I think I knew then that there was something meaningful somewhere within the turbulence of that whole situation, and that's why I refused to stop blogging.

Of course part of this mission meant relentlessly writing about my dreams, which, I've learned by now, is interesting for no one else to read but the person who writes them. I've censored most of the entries involving dream space drivel, I included the one which had a description of a sandwich I had (in real life) after a workout at the gym. It was a:

Grilled salmon sandwhich topped with alfalfa sprouts and alio cucumber sauce and small heart shaped leaves of green romaine lettuce sprinkled with slivers of swiss cheese all over a warm, toasted buttery slice of sourdough bread.

Monday, June 2, 2008

erykah badu show

This past weekend my fiancee and I went to see Erykah Badu and the Roots perform at the legendary Chicago Theater. It was a great show. During the between song banter, Erykah explained that the theme of the tour was centered around the concept of vortex.

She said that there were natural vortices all over the planet, and that they were usually located directly underneath or above a black hole in space. She said that these natural vortices were evidenced by the strange magnetic forces around the area and also by the way the roots of trees and plants tended to spiral downward.

Always the skeptic, but also wondering if this concept was the center of the strange natural forces in the TV show Lost, I googled this idea. Wikipedia explains that hurricanes, torandoes, smoke rings, and sunspots were all instances of a vertex. The vortex concept was also offered as an explanation of why your shower-curtain gets blown inward with a running shower.

I found examples of natural creatures using vertices to their advantage. Hawks glide updwards on a doughnutile ring of upside down vortex created by the sun heating the ground below (explained more in the link). Spiders shoot a string of web into this upside-down vortex and go flying for miles. Charles Darwin noticed a large mass of them hovering down 60 miles off of the coast of South America.

I could find no examples of the twisting roots that Badu was talking about, although altogether I think the concept is very interesting.

Here is a video I recorded of Erykah singing "Green Eyes" from the 2000 release Mama's Gun:

Diary of an angry white woman

This is a video of a Long Island school teacher who was thrown out of a rules committee meeting for the Democratic primary. It's pretty obvious from this video that she is upset by the current political situation.

youtube user rochha responds:

Its bitches like her you just want to hit in the head with a sledgehammer and bludgeon her to death.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

New My Morning Jacket

I first saw MMJ opening for Pearl Jam back in '07. Holy fuck. Since then i've seen them several other times in Chicago and have never been disappointed. Their last album, 'Z' was near perfect. This gives their latest album, Evil Urges, a lot to live up to. Based on preliminary listens, they seem capable of redefining their masterpiece album with this latest release.

Here is "I'm Amazed," the radio single from the album which is due next week.

Bringin the Weez

Weezer is one of those bands that have wrapped themselves so heavily in this post-ironic rock band shroud that by now their music seems pure and honest. This song, I am the Greatest Man that Ever Lived, which comes from their upcoming red album, is probably one of their most ambitious since their Pinkerton days. Self-references and spoken word narrative notwithstanding, this piece actually deserves more than one listen.

Thanks to casTRO.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

grilling fever

This memorial day weekend I'll be joining my fellow countrymen in the great tradition of outdoor grilling. Not only will I be visiting friends to feast all weekend, but we are planning a cook-out of our own on Monday.

Currently on the menu are pulled pork tostadas topped with guacamole as appetizers. I'll be slow-cooking 4 pounds of pork shoulder roast on the grill and then serving the pulled pork on sturdy Milagro tortilla chips, the perennial favorite when it comes to great taste and crunch in a chip. These 100 or so teasers will be topped with my fiancee's famous guacamole.

For our main course we will be serving your standard hot dog and hamburgers fare. Last weekend we experimented with bison burgers and that seemed to go well, so I might toss a few of those back on the grill. Regardless I'll be sure to use 80 per cent lean ground chuck. Chicago hot dogs will be available as well, with all of the necessary ingredients, including vienna beef hot dogs, poppyseed buns, short peppers, mustard, sliced onions, sliced tomato, pickle spears, and celery salt.

I'll post pics of how everything turns out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Green Wedding

This summer my fiancée and I are planning to get married. Following a popular but very important trend, we have decided to have a green wedding. This means that we are taking any and every reasonable effort to help minimize the negative impact that our wedding has on the world climate. We know that in the big picture of things our wedding is really a tiny event of little circumstance to the global climate situation. But we are not trying to change the world all at once. We simply aim to generate discussion and provoke inspiration, to help inspire others to walk away from that night re-examining how they might go about living a greener lifestyle.

One initiative of our green wedding lies in our invitations. Working with a local stationary boutique, Anjenu, we have ordered our invitations to be handmade and derived from 100% recycled off-white wildflower paper. The ink used to print the invitations will be hand-pressed with soy ink, avoiding the use of harmful chemicals. The invitation itself contains implanted seeds that can be planted and grown in a household planter. They are being custom made from On The Earth, an earth friendly wedding invitation supplier.

We believe that the use of the eco-friendly invites will serve both an aesthetically pleasing invitation to our wedding as well as set the green, earth-friendly theme. More details on our initiatives to plan our green wedding to follow. For now, the picture below illustrates an approximation of what our invites will look like. You can make out the seeds implanted in the paper.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Starfruit Review

It seems that almost every week there is a new storefront popping up in our lovely neighborhood of East Village. Being as it was a nice day for a stroll, the significant other and I decided to stop into the newish Starfruit, a shoppe that serves a yogurt-like dairy product named kefir in smoothie or yogurt cup form. Kefir is a fermented milk drink that originated in the Caucasus region. It is reported to have health benefits relating to digestion.

With a nice, bright interior reminiscent of a candy store, Starfruit has a very light-hearted appeal as soon as you walk in. I had a small kefir strawberry-swirl yogurt cup topped with raspberries and tiny M&Ms - the subject of my banner picture above. By itself, I'd say the taste of kefir is somewhere between tofu and recycled newspaper. The toppings are really what complete the product offered by this storefront.

Despite the bright atmosphere, some of the staff suffers from the disaffected hipster attitude that plagues too many inhabitants of the Wicker Park area. Asking for a personal explanation of kefir from the guy serving us illustrates this syndrome. His version of a personal explanation was more like pointing to the signs all over the store with his eyes. Yeah, dumbass, I know how to read ... but if I'm going to pay five dollars for a teaspoon of fake yogurt I expect your ass to have some descriptive adjectives or a verb phrase or some shit for my ass AT LEAST. I take my over-priced yuppie food without the extra eye-rolls, thank you very much.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Web Zen

"Which are the advantages of having a blog?
There are many advantages If I have a blog. If I have blog independently , I can use it without any risk.

How do you intend to use your blog?
I intend to use my blog to learn web lessons through your web sites."

Random blog search.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Osama Bin Bloggin

I've been tweaking with the site a bit and moved things around. I've also discovered a nifty migration tool from previous livejournal and blogger blogs. Blogger only allows 50 posts per day, though, so it's going to take a while to upload my 530+ unique posts from the past 7 years.

Of course as I go through this process of housecleaning, there will be plenty of nostalgic "Oh-I-remember-when-I-wrote-about-that" moments along with plenty of "OMG-WTF-was-I-thinking-when-I-clicked-the-publish-button" moments to share.

And now, time for a blast from past:

Pope John Paul II (RIP) being attacked by a dove.

Bioshock Movie

Holy Crap. The writer and director for the movie based on the critically-acclaimed video game "Bioshock" have been selected.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

All of the Simpsons Couch Gags

The video below is a four minute compendium of the couch gags for all 19 seasons of The Simpsons.

A good way to kill 4 minutes at work.

Friday, May 2, 2008

GTA IV Review

In any class on the finer arts you'll come across this idea of verisimilitude. How a piece of art, or a work of literature begins to so closely approximate the reality it is describing that you can begin to experience it through the work itself, how a certain life begins to emerge from the work.

Any great masterpiece has this quality. In The Grapes of Wrath, the accents and voices of Steinbeck's characters become audible through his written word. A close listen to early Hendrix shows how he made his internal visual landscapes come alive through the manipulation of a six-string guitar. Picasso's Guernica enobdies the torture and anguish of innocent villagers being bombed by air raiders:

These and other great artists spent years mastering the technical details and conventions of their art form and, in their stokes of genius, they blew those conventions to pieces through amazingly creative and ground-breaking pieces of artistic perfection.

The designers of Grand Theft Auto IV have achieved this same extraordinary feat. They have mastered the techinical details of real-time interaction in a completely virtual environment. From the character modeling and realistic physics engine, to the voice-over acting and Hollywood caliber plot lines, this game is perfection on many levels. Considering the jaw-dropping level of detail - from the way the main character rotates the steering wheel hand-over-hand, to the voice-guided GPS system in yuppiemobile hybrids, and the way your car speakers buzz whenever you receive incoming phone calls (just like mine do!) - this game is also amazingly true to life, it is verisimiltudinous to the reality it approximates.

Other reviews will tell you more about gameplay, multiplayer options, and how many hookers you get to bang. I'm here to say that yesterday when I was taking a cab to work and watching the motion-blur of the tree leaves and street lights pass me by, I remembered seeing the same things in the same way in a scene in GTA IV. The reality of the game was still with me, indelible like the Hendrix's tortured guitar tones. I knew then that this game has achieved the same life-emergent and immortal quality of so few masterpieces before it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Facebook vs. Myspace

This is a hilarious video that does a great job of framing a situation that anyone with more than one social networking profile will be all too familiar.

Thanks to Milt for the link

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Delightful song of the day

Dosh - If You Want To, You Have To

Dog falling asleep

This is going to be what I look like in class tonight:

Although this poor guy has it a lot worse as his nose was run over by a truck as a puppy and now he has trouble sleeping while laying down.

More cute animals falling asleep videos here.

New Coldplay Song

Visit the Coldplay website

For all the bantering Chris Martin has done regarding the new Coldplay album - how it's going to have a different sound and be a major departure from the rest of their ouvre - this song sounds like more of the same to me.

I mean sure, there's the distorted guitar, a rarity in their work, but besides that nothing really jumps out at me about this song. I was just hoping for something a little more unforgettable. Here's hoping that it's somewhere in the remainder of their upcoming release, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends.

She has a boyfriend

This one is for any guy that has heard the dreaded "I have a boyfriend" line when introducing yourself to a girl.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Batman Vs. Batman: Starring my fiancee

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor

Short clip comparing scenes the original and most recent Batman major motion picture. My fiancee is running around in the crowd scene in the new Batman movie, which comes around the 01:18 moment.


Morning news bits

Jimi Hendrix sex tape reported. (New York Times)

So now one of my childhood heroes is a cheater as well as a cheater? The kicker: Clemens was 28, she 15 when they first met.

Confessions of a coffee barista

Monday, April 28, 2008

Music Round-up

Time for a round-up of some good finds hitting the musical blogosphere lately.

Sterolab - Three Women
Stereolab returns! How can you beat sweetly singing female vocals backed by warm, warm horns and organs? Then sprinkle on a dash of the occasional xylophone fill .. and you can't beat it!

John Mckiel - War On You
Nice shoe-gazer rock for a chilly rainy night alone in late April. Think Pete Yorn mixed with ... no, just think Pete Yorn.

MONO4 - Break Time Works
Good for a midday caffeinated joyride. Or chugging through lots of numbers at work. Has a slightly electro feel along with a jumpy cowbell pop to it.

DINO 5 - What about 10?
Hip-hop for kids. Featuring members of the Jurassic 5 and Digable Planets.


The 10 Most Important Years in Video Game History

The Wired Blog points to this GameTrailer video re-capping the 10 most important years in video game history, and I think they're pretty spot-on. Regardless, any video with the Final Fantasy theme song in the background is worth posting on my blog.

The Onion: Nearly 80% of roommates got so drunk last night

Study: Nearly 80 Percent Of Roommates Got So Drunk Last Night

Five years at Big Ten University and I can say that this story hits the nail right on the head.

GTA IV Reviews

Grand Theft Auto IV, which is expected to make more than $440 million dollars on the week of its release alone, is also emerging as the highest critically-acclaimed video game ever made.

Team Xbox:
Is this our Citizen Kane moment?
Game Informer:
I now know how film critics felt after screening "The Godfather."... Grand Theft Auto IV doesn't just raise the bar for the storied franchise; it completely changes the
landscape of gaming.
It will take something miraculous to rob it of game of the year status.

We all knew GTA 4 would be a great game and sell millions of copies, but I didn't expect it to shame pretty much every other game I've played this generation.

The only thing you need to know is that you have to play this game. Period.

Springer to give NU Law School Speech Despite Protests

The Northwestern University Law School has approved Jerry Springer as the guest speaker for their 2008 Commencement on May 16th, according to the Chicago Tribune. There were some protests regarding this choice, but that was hardly unexpected as guests speakers at graduation are usually protested by one faction of students or the other.

Wonder what Milt thinks of all this

Wii're amazed

Johnny Lee is a researcher who has developed some neat new ways to utilize the Wiimote, the remote controller for the Nintendo Wii. This video demonstrates the use of the Wiimote as a sort of "marker" for a projected whiteboard, and also he shows how to use the Wiimote to create stunning 3-D environments on flatscreen surfaces.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Metallica changing tune

Metallica, who helped to bring down the first ever giant of online music sharing, Napster, seems to be rethinking their position on the matter.

Slashdot reports that the monsters of metal are considering a free online music distribution model ala Radiohead's and, more recently, Nine Inch Nails' release.

Only time will tell if this move will revitalize the band's flogging album sales, or if the irony of this situation will condemn this as nothing more than a musical middle-age crisis.


Going paintballing today. I spoke with my mom on the phone earlier and told her what I was up to. She said that I should wear a cup.