Friday, December 14, 2018

Walls work! (Not.)

I came across a press release from the Department of Homeland Security a few days ago that was posted on December 12. It was astoundingly poorly written, and completely different in tone than other press releases on their website. It is filled with misinformation and outright lies. For instance did you know a "violent mob of 1,000 people stormed our Southern border" just last Sunday? Yeah, neither did I. Because it didn't happen.

It looks like they went in and fixed some of the worst grammar mistakes today, but luckily for you I took a screenshot of the original. You can see it here, and just click on it to magnify it so you can read it.

Our taxpayer dollars at work, people. Government agencies should be printing false propaganda to further one madman's obsession.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

I think I have the plague.

Anyone else out there have a nagging cough / cold that sticks around for weeks and just won't go away? What makes it even more fun? I work over 60 stories up in the Sears Tower, and that means the elevator rides are super fun because my ears won't pop due to congestion.

O.K., time for more TheraFlu.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Go, go Carly!

I'm not generally a fan of vertical video, but I'm certainly a fan of this one!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

In an era of too many reboots, 'Get Shorty' actually deserved to be reimagined.

I stumbled across the TV series version of Get Shorty last night, something I didn't even know existed, and decided to give it a try. And now I'm hooked. I've never read the book, so the '90s movie with John Travolta is the only version I know. The two share similar backstories—mob guy breaks into the movie biz—but they couldn't be more different.

While Travolta's Chili Palmer was all smiles and grace (with a touch of menace), while on TV Chris O'Dowd is Miles Daly, a more sullen menace who is sick of the crime world. Ray Romano is also excellent as a down on his luck film producer who teams up with Miles. But you probably already knew that since the series was just renewed for its third season! I am so behind on this one.

Anyway, if you're as out of the loop as me, and want a darkly comic (and sometimes scarily violent) TV series to binge, fire up the Netflix and sink in.

Monday, December 10, 2018

You know, for kids!

It was kind of an up and down weekend for me, but it ended well with a fundraiser last night that was also one of my favorite shows of the year. I was even home by a reasonable time! The evening really made me appreciate the friends I still have and I managed to keep out of trouble (not always the easiest thing to coat Liar’s Club).

I shot video of the show last year, but last night the phone stayed in my pocket and I just took in the music and enjoyed the show. Going to concerts still occasionally feels like “work” but this was just pure pleasure.

Friday, December 07, 2018


Action packed weekend! Parties! Shows! Old friends! New friends! Birthdays! Tree trimming! Yowza!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

I spent a lot of time trying to think of a funny headline to go along with the band name "Ruler" but they were all lame so just read this and listen to some killer tunes.

Let’s dig into some more ridiculously hook-filled rock and/or roll today, shall we? Seattle’s Ruler is let by Matt Batey, and he’s clearly a man who never met a hook he didn’t like.

His debut, Winning Star Champion came out earlier this year but only reached my ears last month ahead of a scheduled show at Scubas in December (which has sadly since been canceled). I know I could’ve used it’s buoyant tunes this summer, but I’m still grateful to have them in my ears to melt the wintry Chicago assault with their sunshine pop.

Did I say sunshine? Please note that while the music is all blasting primary colors the lyrics carry a deeper reverberation, highlighting the daily struggle of just getting through it all. Hell, the opening track is titled “Petrified” and track two has the chorus “‘Cuz I’m the winning star champion of fucking up!” This ain’t self-loathing though, it’s self-acceptance. Maybe that’s why it resonates so deeply with me?

Give it a spin. And if you like it, buy it! And if you don’t have any money, you can download this Gin Blossoms cover the band did for free.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Jeff Whalen unleashes his bubbleglam on the world. Rejoice!

Do you remember Tsar? Probably not. They had a brief but super promising career in then early aughts where all signs pointed to massive stardom. But, like many other bands, it simply wasn’t to be. I sometimes wonder how different things would be for the power-pop giants had they debuted a few years later. The blogosphere would have tripped over itself with praise.*

Well, the band (sort of) has a second chance! Tsar’s singer and primary songwriter Jeff Whalen has a new solo album 10 More Rock Super Hits. And it is FIRE. It is big, over-the-top, absolutely gloriously glittering power-pop. One might say it’s a collection of super rock hits.**

Whalen describes his music as bubbleglam, and I have to admit I’m a little jealous I didn’t come up with that first, since it perfectly describes his joyously stomping style of songwriting. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit its presence has actually saved me from a December that has been a little emotionally challenging. I am only sad it doesn’t get a full, public release until February, because this is joy I wish I could share with you this holiday season.

Whalen has only released one track publicly (“Jendy!,” above) so you’ll just have to take my word on the other 9 super rock hits. You can set yourself up to be one of the first to hear the album over at Whalen’s PledgeMusic page.

O.K., I’m off to play the album yet again!

*Technically they did release albums later in the decade, but that prime moment had passed by then. At least in my opinion.

**Truth in advertising!

Monday, December 03, 2018

Chicagoist delves into the deep mysteries of the Alderman.

Looks like the gears over at Chicagoist are grinding again! Chance the Rapper debuted "Chicagoist TV" over the weekend. And no, I don't know any behind the scenes knowledge of this, but I'm plesased to see he's starting to produce content under the Chicagoist moniker.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Relearning how to enjoy some of the core pleasures in my life.

I’m still having a hard time writing. Personal writing that is.* I think it’s just after months of emotional depletion, it’s going to take a while for the juices to fill up and start flowing again. In fact one of the most insidious things about the last year was the robbing my ability to both write personally and enjoy music. Two of the things that form the core of my being gradually went grayer and grayer. I mean, I’ve been able to do both things, but it takes more out of me than it used to. I have to work harder to emotionally connect to either one. Especially personal and music writing, which is distressing since those were things I could do immediately and effortlessly.**

But it is coming back. Throughout the past couple of months I did write down topics I wanted to talk about, and just never got around to. Don’t worry, it’s mostly fun stuff! Bands, recommendations, and funny memories. Of course there are also notes I completely don’t understand what I was trying to say—one is “Human Switchboard”?—but I keep them just in case they spark again.

So I guess you could say I’m priming the pump to take advantage of what I feel is an impending wave of output. And hopefully that output won’t contain too many terribly mixed metaphors like the previous sentence.

As always, if you’re still here and still reading, know that I appreciate you greatly.

*Work writing has never been better. But I use a different part of my brain (and soul) for that stuff.

**Some might say it’s a good thing I pulled back on the personal writing, and I’m inclined to agree with them. So maybe there’s a silver lining in there after all!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Regaining nocturnal normalcy.

Clearly Pickle the Kitten has no problem relaxing.
I am exhausted! Last night I was asleep at 9 p.m.! What the what?!

After months of living a largely nocturnal existence of watching TV until 3 or 4 a.m., I’ve found my world turned upside down!* Clearly the main reason this is happening is because I have a job again, and am keeping normal hours.  But the other big reason is a major reduction in stress. Many of the things that plagued me over the last 12 months have been resolved and my life has slowed to a relatively normal place again. The hamster wheel in my head is no longer spinning into a blur and keeping me awake with dread.

It’s a nice feeling.

I still feel a certain melancholy—12 months ago this was not the life I thought I would be living—but it’s more of a calm contemplative state. It’s the kind of thing that allowed me to actually get 8 hours of sleep last night!**

I never thought I’d be so boring I’d be excited about sleep.

The one part of the routine I’m still working out is the gym. My new job wants me in the office earlier than most of my other jobs, so I’m still trying to figure out the right timing so I can hit the gym before work. I haven’t quite perfected that yet, which means I’ve been working out in the evening instead. I prefer the morning because a workout really gets me revved up and ready for the day. It just puts me in a positive mood, and I like bringing that optimistic halo into the office with me. I’ll get it figured out though.

Don’t worry, I haven’t lost all my edge. But I've sure learned to appreciate not being on edge all the time.

*Actually, it wasn’t so much nocturnal as it was not marked by any kind of routine. I was still up early in the morning, going to the gym, and staying busy throughout the day. I simply just wasn’t sleeping much at all.

**Altogether. I do still find myself waking up at 2 or 3 a.m. pretty frequently and watch TV for an hour to lull myself back to sleep. Yes, I know that’s not the healthiest habit, and I’m trying to wean myself off it, but for now it does the trick.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Winter jam.

I don't know how Peter Bjorn And John do it, but their latest album Darker Days manages to sound like winter while allowing a few slivers of sunlight to break through. And it's those beams that keep the music from being desolate or depressing. Even when the lyrics are morose, there's an odd sense of hope that still manages to bubble up.

I've been listening to it a lot.

Monday, November 26, 2018

What a rollercoaster couple of days!

Last week just before the holiday the woman I was seeing and I parted ways (totally amicably). Wednesday I visited an old friend in the ‘burbs and experienced the insanity that is a night out in the town I graduated high school from on the night commonly known as “Blackout Wednesday.” Thanksgiving was a lovely family affair, but I got so stuffed I was incapable of leaving the house later that night for a concert I had planned on attending. Friday I saw The Struts at House of Blues and I’m glad I did because I went to see them Saturday as well and lasted 4 songs because I was so sick. Like, one of the worst two-day bugs I’ve had in a long time—can’t keep anything down, knocked me flat on my back sick. Which means I spent all Sunday on my couch watching streaming shows and napping since there was no way I was calling in sick after only 2 weeks at my new job and I had to get well ASAP! That also meant it wasn’t until this morning I realized we’d had a snow storm yesterday since I hadn’t opened the blinds, aside from one point earlier in the day when it was clear Pickle the Kitten wanted to get a peek outside for herself. And when I walked out my front door this morning I discovered the storm had been so so strong it split off huge portions of a neighbor’s tree across the street, damaging a few cars that were parked nearby.

Today everything seems pretty back to normal. So far.

Friday, November 23, 2018

I dunno why but this song just makes me happy.

Agree? Disagree?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

One year later.

This is a tough time for me. This time last year my marriage was imploding. I was basically living in our basement when we should have been celebrating our first holiday season in our first house. Instead I was being self-centered with no clue of what was coming around the corner. I wasn’t even allowed to attend our first Thanksgiving and had to spend the day and evening in the suburbs until the festivities at our home had drawn to a close.  If I could go back in time I would have slapped myself silly and told myself to wise up and realize just how good my life actually was.

Instead I kept barreling down the path of alienating my wife, and less than a month later I’d get the email from her that divorce papers were on the way.

I should have done more to fight for my marriage when it was still salvageable, but of course I didn’t realize how bad things were until it was too late and there was no solution left for us, other than painfully moving on to separate lives. Make no mistake, divorce is a two-way street, but I take full responsibility for my half of the equation.

While this time is tough, I’m also grateful that we both made it through what was truly a hellish year. I’m happy that my ex has found happiness and stability through friends and relationships both old and new, and I’ve been striving to do the same thing. I also hope that through all of this I’ve managed to become more self-aware, so that I don’t repeat the mistakes of my past. There simply isn’t enough time in my life left for me to do that again, and I’d rather focus on making myself a better person and the world around me a better place.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Cool housewarming gift.

Maybe I should have a housewarming party so I can get more awesome stuff like this? If you don't understand the poster, dig through my stuff and divine what one of my top movies of all time is. Then you'll get it.

Monday, November 19, 2018


I know everyone likes to complain about their jobs, but after being unemployed for almost six months I've learned to love employment. While my job search never slackened, as the months went on I could feel all the structure in my life dissipate. You'd think with all that free time I'd be a raging party monster, or be ripping through stalled projects I never had the time for before. But instead I ended up just watching a lot of Netflix and rarely going out. Aside for festivals and the odd concert here or there, I was a pretty big homebody. I know; super exciting.

Since getting a job offer a few weeks ago my productivity has skyrocketed. It's funny how having less free time means I'm actually getting more accomplished! My stress levels have dropped and I've noticed I'm sleeping much better now. The last few months I've been plagued with insomnia, much of it caused by the hamster wheel of my thoughts that wouldn't stop spinning. Nowadays, if I'm not out, I'm in bed around 10. What the—?! Who is this guys! I love it.

This also means I'm able to be more supportive of the people around me. And I really enjoy being available in that capacity too.

So, appreciate the structure in your own life. You might not know it, but with that structure you're able to accomplish a lot more than you realize.