Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Here’s the thing…

I really dislike our President. I think he’s done terrible and awful things. I think that the things he has allowed to transpire on his watch -- and the way he has chosen to mislead much of the ignorant masses – is despicable. I do really believe these things.

At the same time I’m getting pretty sick of the knee-jerk reactions I’m seeing happen time and time again from Liberal groups. I mean, many of them are just as guilty as the Conservative groups out there when it comes to twisting statistics or phrases to their purpose. Now I get that both sides feel they need to do this because if one or the other actually decided to take the high road and operate purely from within the realm of fact the other side would most assuredly take advantage and slander away to their little heart’s content. Notice I didn’t say one or the other was more likely to do it? That’s because both Liberals and Conservatives are equally as guilty of taking advantage of the ignorance – or just plain ill-informed due to laziness – of the masses.

This really started to irk me when I was getting e-mails from Move On and its ilk just after the President nominated John Roberts for the Supreme Court. He was lambasted as a baby killer, gay basher and chauvinist pig. I mean, c’mon…at that point there wasn’t enough of a paper trail on any of those counts to really make those claims! So I grew annoyed. Yesterday I get the below e-mail, that I think has been going around, and I almost started to smack my computer screen. I have left it intact, spelling mistakes and all.

where's our president?

he's in san diego giving a speach... comparing pearl harbor with iraq... meanwhile our gulf coast is blown out.... why wasn't his presence felt on sunday? why is he reacting now? he knew it was a cat 5 hur? he has failed the good people who are drowning right now! the million people who left New Orleans have nothing to come back to.... and he reacts now?

a good leader is proactive!
there was no question what was going to happen early monday morning.... our government has failed the people.

i guess gas prices will just sky rocket now.... the oil companies will get another tax break.. more than last month...

i'm sickened by mr bush...

Now the above is just plain stupid. First of all, Bush declared the area to be hit by Katrina as a disaster area before it even touched the shores. Last I checked he was also looking into releasing oil from our strategic reserves in order to off-set and productivity loss due to the hurricane. But that’s not even really the fucking point. For one, we pay less for our gasoline than almost anyone else on the fucking planet! Do I like paying three bucks a gallon when I commute almost fifty miles a day? Hell no! Would I be happier if I was paying the same as they do everywhere else and had to plug seven bucks a gallon in to my tank at each fill up? HELL NO!? Do I think Bush can actually do a single goddamned thing about rising gas prices? No again.

Okay, I’m getting off track here. The gas problem isn’t Bush’s fault, at least not in my book. It’s the fault of lazy Americans who keep voting representatives in who cut deals with auto makers and oil companies and refineries and so on and so on. I think Bush has demonstrated pretty obviously that he doesn’t even have any real sway with his daddy’s best buddies the Saudis anymore. But like I said, I’m getting off track.

Liberals. That’s where I was. Yes, I can’t stand where my country is standing right now in regards to the rest of the planet. I think our leadership is not just flawed but dangerous. I can’t even really fathom what motivates people to act the way that they do. I do know that to emulate them is not the way to beat them. Knee jerk reactions based on faulty facts and fractured reasoning only serve to make Liberals look like assholes while Conservatives keep a united front and continue to act holier than thou. So yeah, criticize our President, his cronies and the mess that they’ve gotten the U.S.A. into but for goodness sake please make sure your arguments are based on solid fact because an irrefutable front has a much better chance of causing a simply united front to come crumbling down in a pile of contradictions and faulty reasoning.

Okay, where the hell did all that come from? I need something to help clear my head after all, here...yeah, this'll do quite nicely...

Ahhhhh....Kelllllllly. Much better.

P.S. I totally stole those photos from here. Love that site.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


So I finally got a chance to see Million Dollar Baby last weekend and I think it would have been a much more effective film had a certain big fat Chicago film critic kept his big fat mouth shut. It reminded me of when I was waiting to see The Sixth Sense and I was incredibly careful to avoid any and all articles about the film because I knew there was a twist…and then two people were talking about the film while I was bartending one night and gave the whole thing away. I couldn’t very well leap across the bar and scream, “Shut up shut up!” and the bar was really small so that movie was pretty much ruined for me. The thing is, you could still really enjoy The Sixth Sense even if you knew there was a twist. With Million Dollar Baby all you can do is sit there and go, “When does it happen? When does it happen? When does it happen? When does- Oh. Ow.” You know what I mean?

Now I’m not saying criticism shouldn’t explore the deeper issues behind events that occur in moves. Criticism should. I also realize that in order to do so those events are going to have to be discussed. One could argue that, though I’m skirting the issue of what actually happens in either Million Dollar Baby or The Sixth Sense (or any of a great number of films), this piece is a further investigation rather than an initial criticism. Initial criticism (i.e. those Friday morning newspaper reviews or the weekend showbiz shows and their ilk) should give the broadest of overviews and maybe a touch of personal commentary that either recommends or lambasts the film in question. Simple enough, no? I bring this up because there is always that reviewer that wants to seem more “in the know” and ends up tipping off some point about the movie that is better left to the potential audience’s unadulterated initial experience.

So then I started wondering if this sort of boundary should apply to music criticism as well since many of us who write about music receive albums through the mail months before the rest of the general public. I mean, is it possible to give away the plot of a Kanye West disc or the newest Nada Surf?¹ I suppose that any criticism is going to detract from the potential audiences’ chance at a pure, open and honest experience with the album/film/TV show/play/book/etc. in question. For that reason it’s obviously the choice of the review’s reader/listener on whether they want to muddy the waters with someone else’s critical opinion in the first place. And I think that’s absolutely fine. What bugs me is when a critic uses a pulpit to divulge too much about an upcoming release with the end result intended to glorify them or put them ahead of the pack in some way or another. That’s a fucking abuse of power in my book.

¹For the record the Kanye album is more bland than the hype would lead you to believe but the Nada Surf disc is just a solid little fucker deserving of all the accolades sure to come rushing its way. See? It’s not like I gave away everything about the discs, right?

Monday, August 29, 2005

Man, camping takes a lot out of me. One notable I should mention, though, was the trail ride Photogal and I took on Saturday. It's been well over 20 years since I was last on the back of a horse so I was a just a wee bit nervous. It was just my luck that I got a horse that decided to be a brat and stop every couple of minutes to snack on some fallen crab apples or long grass leaving me to ineffectually pull at the reins and feebly kick my boots at his side. If I hadn't been so scared it probably would have been hilarious.

But, like I said, I'm beat. Therefore I shall dub this "cute picture Monday" and share a photo sent to me by my little brother as a commentary on my driving...

Friday, August 26, 2005


How did they know I was trying to quit smoking?!
Cupcakes and Camping.

You know, I thought I had put in my time this year but apparently I was wrong. I am referring to the fact that I believed I had logged on the prerequisite hours for being “outdoorsy” this summer though an early season camp out, mid-season canoeing and various BBQs held over the last few months. Well, I was wrong. Photogal and the Mad Moldovan decided a month or two ago that they wanted to go camping again and made reservations without really consulting me.

I’m a good camper. I’m the one who sets everything up, starts the fire, blah blah blah. The thing is I don’t really enjoy camping. I think I did it so much as a child – and it was usually within the domain of some sort of Scouting event so it always seemed more like work than relaxation – that it has lost its allure. Some folks like the break from city life and while I do enjoy the scenery of the great outdoors I’m not one of those folks needing a pastoral vacation.

However Photogal and the Mad Moldovan love it and I love them so I bite my tongue and go along for the ride. As a matter of fact I usually wouldn’t even make a peep about this trip if it weren’t for one main reason.

This weekend is the weekend of the Cupcakes reunion show.

Now, I’ve been psyched about this show for a looooong time. It’s been rumored for months and months and months, and when Preston told me last June that it would in fact be happening I marked down the date on my calendar. I saw the Cupcakes a few times back in the day and enjoyed them but was never blown away. Over time though I’ve absorbed their one album and have grown to love the band’s music with a passion and realize that they were way ahead of their time. My time too, since I guess I just hadn’t acclimated to their sound back then. I think it’s because Stephen Street produced their first (and, well, only) disc so I was expecting something that sounded more like Blur and the fact that they were the furthest thing from that expectation may have provided a mental block for a while. The point is I was really lookig forward to seeing them now that i feel I can really appreciate what it was they were doing.


Long story shot: I’m missing the reunion show and I’m none too pleased. Will I suck it up and try to enjoy our outdoor sojourn for what it is? Sure. Will I gripe and mope and piss off Photogal? Not on your life? Will I probably regret missing the Cupcakes? Undoubtedly.

Oh well. At least the place we’re camping looks pretty cool, and we’ve never been there before so I’ll have a chance to explore something new. That’s always a positive thing.

ADDENDUM: Photogal feels I'm being unfair and misrepresenting the situation at hand. Her recollection is that the camping plans were made before the date of the show was set and I'm just being a whiney baby. She may well be correct about the dates and I'm willing to concede that. But I'm also going to lay claim to the right of being a whiney baby since I'm missing the show regardless.

Don't cry for me Argentina.

Geez, I’m not leaving you with those as my last thoughts before the weekend. Hmmm…what can I do to break through that depressive melange above? I know! I’ll talk about stuff that rocked my world this week! With bullet points! Like a PowerPoint presentation!

  • First off The Flaming Lips video collection V.O.I.D. is a must have for every single human being on the planet. See what music videos should look like. Quirky, fun, disturbing and, at times, wistful. The band’s output may have leveled off in recent years but this is a reminder of just how far they leaped stylistically over the last decade or so.

  • I discovered this disc by Editors and I’m loving it. It sort of sounds like (A&R folks must’ve pitched it thusly) Interpol meets the Killers. That is to say Joy Division without the pathos. Now I love pathos just as much as the next guy who grew up on that whole Factory scene and bought 12 inch imports and all that, but I do also love a good hook. Editors is the Frankenstein monster to stitch all that together.

  • The Transporter. It’s basically Leon: The Professional with a happy ending and sex with the young charge, but the fight scenes were pretty kick-ass.

So see, I can be positive today as well. Okay, turn off your computer, get out of here and go have some fun.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

It's just common sense folks.

It is impossible to drink a gallon of milk within an hour and expect to keep it down. The human body simply can’t handle that much lactic acid in that short a period of time.

All together now, "Ewwwwww...gross!"
A puzzler.

Photogal's sister used to be in the Peace Core Corps and then she worked for U.S.Aid for a few years. When she moved back to the states with the Mad Moldovan she began working for a bank. However this banking job keeps sending her all over the world on assignments. Right now she's in Nairobi for six months. This is all very suspicious if you ask me. Whenever I'm at her place I keep checking the walls for a secret compartment holding her guns, parachute and night-vision goggles. Maybe I should ask Karl Rove if she's in the C.I.A.

That's not the point of this piece though. She actually was just back in town for a few days for her green card interview with her husband and they passed 9 duh - with flying colors. (Colors. Get it? Green card...) Anyway I just wanted to say congratulations to both of them.

Now it's back to Nairobi for Photogal's sister to continue "banking." where did I leave Rove's cell number?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A funny thing happened to me on the way
to writing a review the other day.

So I previewed Eiesly's show at Double Door last week for Chicagoist and then found myself reviewing it the next day since my preview apparently had a few folks up in arms demanding a follow-up. Fair enough. I expect fans to get a little upset when you don't say 100% nice things about a band they love. I mean, I can get the same way from time to time. Someone close to the band even contacted me to chat about my thoughts and I can appreciate that as well.

I bet you think I'm edging into a negative commentary just about now, don't you? Like I'm gonna pull back the drapes with a bog ol' "Gotcha!" to folks who disagree with me, right?

Well I'm not.

I've been writing about music for a really, really long time. I've been writing about music for so long that, at my age, it's slightly embarrassing I don't have a staff job at a major newspaper or magazine. One reason I think that I don't is that I truly believe music criticism needs to come from some balanced place between historical knowledge and honest emotional response. By trying to achieve balance between these two extremes I can usually come out with a piece or opinion that I really believe is well balanced and helpful. I believe that if people are going to take their time to read what you think then your opinion better be based in something stronger than a momentary whim.

So when I wrote about Eisley part of me wanted to gush because they really do seem like kids wowed by the opportunity they're been given and that pure enthusiasm in infectious and refreshing. Their songs do belie their years and do deserve notice. At the same time the critic in me has years and years of music and other bands to compare them to and that has to be mentioned as well. In that particular pantheon they are less immediately impressive. Again, fair enough. They are young and they do it all themselves and they are still growing into their own as songwritiers so this is not particularly surprising. The point is that they have a lot going for them and just because I don't think they're quite deserving of all the praise they've accumulated thus far, that doesn't mean I don't think the day is not too far off where that praise will be well deserved.

What am I getting at? Why am I writing this?

I'm not sure but I think it has to do with the fact that a writer wants to be understood. When the things I write get taken the wrong way -- which often happens when people focus only on aspects of a piece they want to focus on -- it upsets me and frustrates me. I don't think many folks understand what goes into actual music criticism. There are attitudes that separate folks that view this genre as actual "criticism" rather than simple "opinion pieces" and I'm not sure the average reader knows (or really cares about) those differences.

I'm getting off track again.

The whole basis for this meandering chat we're having is that apparently music criticism sometimes can get under people's skin and upset them. Fans, bands, clubs...they're all vulnerable to this response. I think that if they knew what a critic -- an honest and ethical critic -- goes through when writing a review they might get a little less upset about the results. No one is trying to hurt anyone's feelings, that's for sure.

There's a reason that Chicago bands know better than to ask my opinion of what they're doing unless they're prepared for an absolutely honest response. Suffice to say that when I'm negative about something I can be just as strong in my opinion when I'm face to face with a close friend as I am typing away on a keyboard preparing something for a faceless existence in print or on-line. I try to be as honest and fair and balanced as I can be no matter who is involved.

And that's all I can really do.

You too can be a critic!

C'mon down to innjoy tonight and you can turn the tables on me and criticize my song selection when Rudy and I spin from 9pm until 2am. Cheap eats, drink specials and scantily clad cage dancers will be there to greet you at the door. Okay, the cage dancer is actually just Rudy in his underwear and he'll only be at the door during my sets since I refuse to be seen in public in a speedo yet.

There'll be lots of new music played by such hip up and coming little known groups as Franz Ferdinand, The Twilight Singers, Nighmare Of You, Editors, Rogue Wave, Sigur Rós, Broken Social Scene, Morningwood, Big Star, Bloc Party, Diamond Nights, blah dee dee blah de blah, etcetera etcetera.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Photogal and I went to see the Body Worlds exhibit yesterday and if you live in Chicago I highly recommend that you catch it before they wrap it up and move on early next month. I also recommend buying your tickets on-line in advance and for as early in the day as possible. We went about an hour before the actual museum even opened and it was already pretty crowded. I probably would have gone insane had we gone later in the day.

There's not much I can really put into words to describe the experience since you kind of have to see the whole thing for yourself to really get the whole experience. I will say that the woman with the eight month fetus and the skinned horse were personal highlights of mine. There are also a few examples of circulatory systems removed and isolated with the end result looking like a beautiful and heart-achingly delicate fine red mist. I also appreciated the subtle humor inherent in some of the poses (like the gentleman holding his own pancreas or the "winged man" with the white hat) since I think that showed that the exhibitors expected a certain amount of sophistication from the viewers instead of pandering to the lowest common denominator.

I also wasn’t prepared for just how much we all look like a mess of tasty steaks underneath our flesh. I’ve always known that the particular cuts of animal meat I really enjoy are in fact nothing more that roasted muscles but it was a little disorienting to realize that we’re made up of essentially the same stuff. Pretty cool, huh?

Friday, August 19, 2005

What does this say about me?

Photogal just called me up to ask if I knew where she could find naked pix of Jude law on-line. I was all like, "Why would I know that sort of thing?!" and she was all like, "Because you do."

And she was right, I did know! I know way too much useless crap.
Tankboy enters the modern age.

I still am not completely sure what the hell a feed is but now I have one. And that means you can finally subscribe to my site! You can do so by clicking here. Or by clicking the link over there to the left, just under the handsome cartoon of yours truly. Apparently this move will make me much, much cooler and it will make my tech-geek friends very happy. Enjoy little tech-geek friends. I have also added "Trackbacks" even though I have no idea what those are. I enjoy being slightly clueless occasionally as it reminds me that I am indeed still somewhat human and fallible. Seriously. Okay, now what else do I have to do to catch up with modern times? Is this it? (Yes, I’m punning now, shut up.) Let me know via e-mail or in the comments.

In other tech-geek news I’m still trying for that free iPod. Lots of people have signed up but no one seems to have actually completed any of the trial offers. Not even my mom?! C’mon and save my shoulders from having to lug cases and cases of CDs around every time I DJ. If I had another iPod all I’d need would be another set of connector cables and I could DJ for hours with nothing more than two sleek little cases. I would be the envy of tech-geeks everywhere!

Man am I in a chipper mood this morning or what?

Speaking of mornings, it wasn’t much more than a year ago that I was still not a morning person. For the last thirty-two years I have not been a morning person. Hated that whole getting up early thing. Couldn’t stand it. I was always late for class / work / furtive sexual trysts before class / lunch and there just was nothing I cold do about it. I just did not function well before, oh say, noon. A little after my dad died though I decided it was time to get serious about getting back in shape. I had gone from rangy rock and/or roller to thritysomething schlub and I could feel the chances for me regaining that youthful frame slipping away. I had been going to the gym for almost a year already when I came to this decision, but my workout schedule would fluctuate between rabidly regular and slothfully haphazard so the results weren’t really all that consistent.

Well, now it’s been a year and I can safely say the framework has developed nicely. The whole time I’ve done nothing about diet or anything like that but I’ve decided that since I recently quit smoking I may as well go whole hog and keep an eye on what I eat as well.

Man this is some exciting reading, isn’t it? Sorry to bore you, I’m almost done.

Anyway, all that I’m saying is that now that I’ve got the undercarriage all built up and rarin’ to go I think it’s time to pay more attention to the rest of it. Then I can be one of those shirtless dudes walking down the sidewalk at a street festival. Wouldn’t that be cool?

No, of course it wouldn’t. I promise you I would never do that. I just wanted to make sure you were reading. Ha! So where was I? Oh yeah, we started off on this tangent whilst discussing the strangeness of me now being a morning person.

Blam it on the gym, I think that's what I was getting at. Eh, who cares? It's Friday so I'm getting the hell out of here! Toodles.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Step #12867 of the evolution of a man.

I was a bad ex-boyfriend when I was younger. Lousy. Borderline psychotic. Really unpleasant. You know that scene in High Fidelity where our hero is standing in the rain calling his ex and trying to talk to her while she's having dinner with her new boyfriend? It was that sort of thing. I couldn't figure out why someone wouldn't want me, but my actions would do nothing else but insure that someone really really wouldn't want me. I was tortured by rejection and thought it seemed only fair that my rejecter deserved to feel at least a portion of the pain I was feeling. I wasn't a stalker or anything -- nothing that insane -- but I did definitely spiral down the hole of the dramatically over-traumatized artist. In retrospect I just hadn't developed the coping mechanisms in order to deal with a break-up but that still doesn't excuse the trauma endured by all parties involved.

The irony was that many of my exes were incredibly tolerant of my behavior and I think it was partially because of this that my breakups were so traumatic. On the one hand kudos to them for still feeling enough affection for me that they wanted to maintain some sort of relationship even if it wasn't a romantic one. On the other hand boo to them for putting up with my idiocy for as long as they did. The end result was usually -- and I think this was probably best for all parties involved -- that my exes loathed me for a time.

The ultimate irony is that after a certain period of time I became a really great ex-boyfriend. As time passed I would understand that a break-up wasn't grounded in any kind of malevolence but was instead actually a starting point for a different kind of growth. The end of a certain kind of relationship didn't have to mean the end all interaction with someone, it just meant a redefinition of the terms defining your interaction. I’m now friends with almost all my exes (and not in a High Fidelity "crisis of existence, what are they doing now" sort of way but instead in a warm and fuzzy "didn't we share something special at one point" sort of way) and I'm glad for that. There's only one ex that still won't speak to me but she moved far away after we broke up so I never really had a chance to make amends. Remember, I was a lousy ex.

Oddly enough I think the switch occurred when I moved away from Normal, Illinois and back to Chicago. Maybe that was the point that I was allowed to begin emotionally maturing after spending five years in a virtual vacuum where the only thing that grew was my intelligence and my ego. Over the last decade or so I've had a number of girlfriends and most of those break-ups were downright civil with no drama on either party's end. Photogal and I broke up twice in that time and the main problems we encountered were essentially based in the doubt that we should have broken up in the first place. That was certainly emotionally draining but it was nothing like the blind lashing out that characterized the ordeals suffered by my exes in my youth.

Come to think of it, time-wise, I've now spent more time being a good ex than a bad ex. I was only a real pain in the ass for a handful of years and I'm sure part of it had to do with the folly of youth and that sort of thing. I probably would have been a much better ex if I had been dumber and less capable of being as manipulative than i was but I guess we'll never know.

I'm not exactly sure what the point of this whole piece is though. It's early in the AM and for some reason this was the first thing that popped into my head so I'm going to guess it has something to do with the need to publicly confess to previous bad behavior and show some self-awareness and a bit of remorse. If I could go back with the knowledge I have now of course I would spare everyone involved the headaches that ensued but I can't help but wonder if the absence of those headaches would have prevented us all from becoming the cool cool cats that we are today.

Who knows? The only thing that's certain is that I'm no longer -- and never again shall be -- a bad ex-boyfriend. So you can all relax now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In response to a sinful and baldly greedy move.

Dear Robert Rodriguez,

I’m a little pissed.

As we all know I love the Sin City comics and I gushed all over your cinematic adaptation of those books. We also know I’ve been looking forward to the release of the DVD version of Sin City so I could watch it over and over and over again and eat lots of microwave popcorn instead of paying exorbitant prices for refreshments in a movie theater. What had me most excited about the DVD, though, were the extras sure to be included. I knew you had been envisioning the DVD release while shooting the film so I knew all of the extra goodies were already mapped out or in the can prior to the film’s theatrical release. You knew how grown-up fans thought and you were ready to keep us happy.

And then I get the DVD version yesterday and discover all it has is one lame “making of” featurette that probably ran on a dozen entertainment channels a gajillion times already. What the fuck?

And then it hit me. Dimension Films’ marketing department must have kidnapped you and stopped you from giving the fans what they want. Obviously the studio wants our money three times (once in the theater, once for yesterday’s release) and the third way to shaft us is by releasing the souped-up version of the DVD right before the holidays…in three months or so. Fuckers.

But then it hit me again. There’s no way someone could force you to do something you didn’t want to do! A kidnapping was out of the question since, judging by your films, you are such the bad-ass that no jail (or boardroom) can hold you. You quit the fucking Director’s Guild because they wouldn’t go along with you ferchissakes! So what the fuck, man?

What the fuck?


P.S. I gotta admit though, that I dug the tiny little poster cards given away with the DVD when I bought it at Circuit City yesterday.

P.P.S. Some of my rage will be assuaged if you can work out some scheme whereby DVDs purchased now can be traded in for a discount on the deluxe screw-the-consumers-who-are-actually-fans editions that will be coming out in the next few months.

P.P.P.S. Yes, I did read this "explaination" but dude, that is such a fucking lame excuse.

While I'm being cranky...

I had a lot of fun last night spinning with Rudy up until the last twenty minutes or so. A note to the ladies: I don't care how hot you are, or if you're a lipstick lesbian and your girlfriend just dumped you and you want to tear shit up due to that fact, or if you're out with your lipstick lesbian friend trying to tear shit up to help her forget she was dumped...if I don't have any Abba I can't play any Abba! If I could make it appear out of thin air I would because no one likes seeing two girls dance together more than I. Honest. But insulting my music collection because I don't have any fucking Abba will not help push your other requests to the front of the queue.


Lest you think I'm nothing but cranky today...

This stat for my site made me smile yesterday:

So would that be a numerical palindrome? Or would that just be sophomoric?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I'm having trouble staying on message.

Okay, it’s been three weeks since Rudy and I spun together at innjoy so I’m predicating tonight should be a tidy bit of fun. I actually predict that so much fun will be had that I won’t even notice I’m not smoking and sober. It’ll be pretty cool. I also have a truckload of new and exciting music to play so that should be pretty fun too. Also fun? Sin City and old videos from Guns N’ Roses and Love & Rockets. Fun!

It’s early. I’m not pulling out a thesaurus. So you get “fun” used a million kajillion times. Sorry.

You know what else is fun? Waltham. They’re this band from Massachusetts that sounds like a cross between Weezer and .38 Special. Or something like that. The point is that they write these massively crunchy and catchy pop ditties and they’ve been providing the soundtrack for my workouts and my commute for the last week ever since their latest disc popped up in the mail for me. To be fair, the new disc is basically the third version of the same album they’ve been re-recording and re-releasing for the past couple of years, which would lead one to believe that the song pool may not exactlyt be bottomless when it comes to these guys, but with songs this fun who really cares. If you buy the new disc from Newbury Comics on-line it comes with a cool bonus EP with a few songs that are actually better than the new album tracks.

You know what’s not fun. Waltham never tours outside the East Coast. Gyp! I would totally set them up with a killer bill if they ever made it to Chicago. Hey Waltham…come to Chicago! Think they heard me? Probably not. Oh well, Kip (the man responsible for introducing me to these popsters) is heading out East to see them play so maybe he will (again) pass on the message. We’ll see.

Okay, time to pop in some Waltham, chug some coffee and sweat to the modern day classics.

And now for something completely different.

Happy First Birthday to my little nephew Alex! Yippee!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Have a pancake.

Friday was a blast even if it ended in a bit of a haze. I’d been a social hermit all last week so last Firday I decided it was time to get out for a while. Photogal started the evening off with me but drifted home relatively early. That meant she missed my rendition of “Debaser” with the Live band Karaoke cats. By the way, I forgot how much fun it is to front a live band. I also forgot that I can fit the whole head of a microphone in my mouth and still continue to scream. We ended up at the Evil E which was notable primarily due to the occurrence of some dude getting thrown out because he was hassling me. The notable part is due to my not provoking the guy in the first place and even giving him a second chance as IU saved him from getting immediately thrown out since I was willing to listen to his friends who were apologizing profusely for his drunken baboon-like behavior. I suppose I was willing to give the guy a free pass since I was a) in such a jolly mood and b) in the past have also been guilty of drunken baboon-like behavior. In the end though the staff of the bar overruled me and he had to go.

Saturday’s highlights were a walk in Wicker Park with the pooches whereupon Lucy the Dog tried to take on a pit bull and a lovely party held by some friends in Oak Park that was much less drunken but no less fun than the previous evening’s festivities.

And, my friends Joe and Jen will be pleased to learn, in between these various events and activities I was able to squeeze in an initial viewing of the entire Wonderfalls series. It was a cute little show and quirky and sarcastic enough to hold my interest even if it did wander into the romantic malaise that seems to afflict the latter sections of any season of a show that is delightfully original at the beginning. Why do writers, once the original premise has worn off, insist on mining the exact same veins for storylines no matter what the show? Also, why would the network cancel a show this good after only four episodes (or ‘sodes?) I mean you certainly can’t blame it on any of the clichés adopted later in the season since those clichés never even got a chance to air! Mind boggling.

Speaking of inventive TV and mind boggling decisions…why the hell is Fox moving Arrested Development to Monday nights at 7pm (Central) ?! Are they trying to kill the show? I’m never home from work by 7pm on a Monday so I’m particularly pissed but in the grander scheme of things why would they move it off a night (like Sunday) where the show at least has a chance since it was surrounded by like-minded comedy series?

Friday, August 12, 2005

I am the picture of piety.

Get it? To the right I’m a picture. I’m in Papal robes thus making me pious? Therefore I’m the picture of piety? I swear, sometimes my genius is wasted on you people.

Anyway, Decadence Man was a cartoon version of me from, oh 1995-1996 or so. My sidekick was Gutterboy (embodied in person and in ink by my good friend Mark Harmon…no, not that Mark Harmon) and we had all sorts of crazy adventures involving Bombay Sapphire Gin, cigarettes and women. And that time I took over the Papacy. We had stickers all over Chicago (many of which were wiped out when Danny’s was renovated and began its decline into sucktitude) and general fun was had by all who encountered the cartoon duo and their real-life counterparts. It was some of our real life antics that captured the fancy of a young female rock and/or roll loving photographer who, for better or for worse, has found herself tangled up in my orbit for the last decade or so.

Anyway, enjoy this illustration from one of my little black sketchbooks (feel free to click it to view it as a larger hi-res picture) and enjoy your weekend. I’m off to work early so I can get the hell out of there and start enjoying my own weekend just as soon as possible!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A little known fact about me.

I wasn't always a writer. Okay, I was in one way or another, but up until the early '90s I considered myself to be more of a visual artist. I was a fine arts major (double majoring in English and minoring in Philosophy and Acting...I know I know, shoot me now) but had been actually making money slumming around and cartooning for various newspapers over the years. It wasn't until 1993 or 1994 that I moved away from the visual arts and decided to concentrate more on the written word. There was, of course, a woman involved and I thank her to this day that she steered me in the direction more literary. Anyway, I thought it might be fun to share an occasional selection from my vast collection of sketchbooks from time to time, and today seemed like as good a time to start as any. Feel free to click on either of the below images to see them in a much larger hi-res format.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I am having One Of Those Days™.

I must've massively fucked up the karma train because things just keep spiraling from bad to worse to pitch-fucking-black.

My bank just charged me $150 in overdraft fees because the deposit I paid on the keg we used for last weekend's BBQ was credited to my account two days later than I thought it would. My bank won't refund the fees since it's not a banking error. The place I got the keg won't refund the fees since refunds can "take up to 5 business days to post to your account" (though apparently charges that they profit from post to your account about 0.5 seconds after they're entered.) What's the word for wanting to scream and cry while feeling like someone is threading a thick steel bar inbetween your shoulder blades? Lemm go find a's gotta be in there somewhere.

I hate faceless banking.
Speak before you think.

Early morning cold taxi, and I think that was a song by the Who but I can’t really remember the lyrics. However it kind of reminds me, the title does, of coming out of someone’s apartment in your early twenties at seven or eight in the morning and squinting and feeling your contacts crusted and wondering just what the hell went on the previous evening. That’s not something I’ve really experienced in a while but for some reason that song came up on the ol’ iPod (tankPOD) the other day and that sort of memory came flooding back. The funny thing is that I had forgotten that remembrance of a memory until just this second when I sat down at the keyboard half-asleep and started typing away. I reckon this type-before-you-think thing may help snap me out of the literary funk of the past two days. Not that I’m apologizing for the funk per se (who used per se when they’re half-asleep you moron?) but I don’t think it’s particularly healthy to wallow. Wallow. Swallow. I’m thirsty. Coffee. Yeah. Cereal and coffee. Now I can’t even think about typing, all I can think about is breakfast so goodbye I’m eating.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sorry, I’m just not feeling it today.

I’m still in a bit of a funk over the whole anniversary thing. I spent some time with my family last night but noticed I tried to steer all conversation as far away from the actual reason we were all together and the man we were remembering. In some (okay, many) ways I’m still no better at acknowledging or dealing with the loss of my dad than I was the afternoon I sat sobbing in a hospital conference room upon hearing he had just died. I don’t know if I’m avoiding it or if this is just the natural progression of emotions after a death but I do know it blows.

Usually DJing would cheer me up but I’ve elected to take this evening off¹ to spend with Photogal since that helps me feel safer. It also allows me to occupy myself with something other than thoughts of events that are now officially over a year old.

Okay, enough of me being a sad sack. It’s off to work I go. Though, strangely, I totally don’t want to work today. I don’t want to lay around the house either. What I really want to do is spend a couple of hours at the gym, thoroughly wearing myself out but at the same time feeling the blood course trough my veins and blast through my muscles all the while reminding myself that I, at least, am still wholly alive.

P.S. The picture in this post is my attempt to at least brighten up things around here a tad. Hope it worked.

¹That shouldn’t stop you from going out to innjoy and shaking it though, since Rudy is still spinning with his girlfriend Kelly and she tends to pull out some really groovy selections that would usually pass under the usual radar on Tuesdays. It’ll be loads of fun, trust me.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Has it already been a year?

Some days it feels like yesterday and some days it feels like he's been gone forever. I still haven't really adjusted. The thing I notice most is that I still feel a little off and unfocused and, even a year later, I'm not sure how to get back on track. I don't really feel like writing much about this today but I thought a few pictures would help me.

Check out that fashion sense. I picked this one because my dad's smile looks authentic, instead of posed or forced, and he seems really happy. He always did like big toys.

Maybe this isn't the most flattering picture ever but if you knew my dad you know how perfect this is. I mean, when was the man not drinking coffee?

And this is the way I think I really remember my dad the best. Surrounded by love. And he still is.

Friday, August 05, 2005

I want to rock and/or roll all night...

I'm going to guess this is a comp of press from each of the band's websites, but it does a nice job of describing tonight's show:

A tired cliché states "every rose has its thorn." With a combination of bitter sweet melodies, infectious rhythm and lyrics that sting with rip-your-heart-out reality, Rockit Girl's interpretation seems to be that every rose is a thorn. Chicago's Milk at Midnight is intense, intelligent, amusing and instantly likable. The Evil Queens have been compared to Quicksand, Kiss, Fu Manchu and Six Finger Satellite. Comparisons aside, people have one thing to say about The Evil Queens, "They rock." Opening is Corsaire, whose music is about love, death and
everything in between.

You don't want to miss that, now do you?
The deets:

Tonight at Subterranean
Tankboy Presents

Rockit Girl
Milk At Midnight
The Evil Queens

Doors: 8:30pm
Show: 9:30pm
$8 cover

Omigawd, this’s gonna be soooo much fun!

Quick recap.

Last night I got to the show late since most of my early evening was spent foraging about the city with Photogal for the proper foodstuffs to insure a successful BBQ tomorrow. I did manage to catch most of The Assembly's set and was, as always, knocked the fuck out. Gina smacked a VIP pass on my so -- even though I never took advantage of the VIP area -- I spent the evening strutting around with my chest puffed out trying to adopt the suitable air of great import. Truth be told, I was driving so I really couldn't partake of all the free booze she had flowing, but I was flattered. Also I was impressed by the choice of venue. The Darkroom's sound was surprisingly good and they've made a few minor alterations to be more band friendly. I may just have to start doing a few shows there myself!

The Ladies & Gentlemen put on, what was for them, a marathon set. I think the encore may have lasted longer than the original set-list! What would elicit such a response from a band that keeps its songs short, sweet and fabulous? Why, a roiling crowd that could easily be dubbed "Dance Attack 2005." Really, I haven't seen so much hip shaking at a rock and /or roll show since Elvis got out of the Army. It was terrific fun.

I did tense up at one point in the evening as this crowd of well-groomed and very out of place boys and girls started breaking out dance moves directly lifted from Pulp Fiction. At first I thought they were making fun of the band and I was going to have to intervene. Then I realized that they actually did really like the music, and that their dancing could be explained away by five little words; they were from the suburbs. Well kudos to you, little spastic suburbanites. As long as it comes from the soul there is no such thing as bad dancing.

Thursday, August 04, 2005



I had nothing to do with this awesome show (it's actually Gina's first impressive foray into independent promotion) but I can't recommend that you attend strongly enough. Tonight The Ladies & Gentlemen and The Assembly are playing at The Darkroom. These are currently two of my absolute favorite local groups. I have yet to meet anyone who hasn't liked The Ladies & Gentlemen's super catchy new-new-wave glam-pop once they've been exposed to it. Somebody give these guys a record deal and get them on the road so they can go about converting the nation's children into rock and/or roll dancers! Oh yeah, The Strategy Game is opening and they ain't too shabby either. I've only seen them a handful of times but the kids go ga-ga over these boys so they're definitely doing something very very right.

I'll admit that The Darkroom is kind of a weird place to see a show but considering how stratified Chicago's live venue's have been becoming lately I'm always interested in finding new and unusual places to book bands so I think it's ultra cool that Gina picked this one.

So let's see. Awesome show tonight at The Darkroom. Awesome show tomorrow night at SubT. Awesome BBQ at my place Saturday. Yes boys and girls, it's another full-on Weekend of Rock and/or Roll™ and it's kicking off early!

Witness the results of exposure to a full-on Weekend of Rock and/or Roll™.
It can turn even the biggest assclown into one cool dude.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Right on, Rick.

Right on.
A hoot.

Okay, my friend Scott has a brother who is travelling in Europe right now and is keeping a travel diary that is (so far) pretty fun to read. My favorite quote thus far?

Saw a girl with large breasts in a t-shirt that said "Look but don't touch." So I did. I don't always obey the dictates of random t-shirts but this seemed like an opportune time to do so.

You get the idea.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Further proof that dogs may, in fact, be better than most people.

Kudos to you, pooch, for placing number 72 out of 500 swimmers.

Kudos to you.
That which is rocking my world, yo.

The new Juliana Hatfield slays. I’ll expand on this one over at Guyville but let’s just say that I enjoy when “angry guitar Juliana” takes the place of “sensitive ballad Juliana.” The results are always much more interesting. Another plus? Almost all the songs are under three minutes long but none of ‘em sound too short. Awesome. I’d love to set up a record release party at innjoy around this disc but I have no idea who is doing her publicity anymore.

Oh well, at least I can play a few tracks of the upcoming album at innjoy tonight! I think I’ll also pull out some new stuff from the Dandy Warhols, stellstar*, My Morning (surprisingly awesome) Jacket, Nada Surf and the Super Furries. Damn! There’s quite a bit of fine music coming out over the next month or two isn’t there? Get a jump on the crowd and stop on by tonight for a sampling of the sounds from your future.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Anticipation pays off.

Jenny Evil is giving birth to baby Evil right now!

I hope she names him/her Slash.
In which I begin thinking I know what I'm going to
say...only to ultimately prove myself wrong.

So my friend Mark asked me a few weeks ago just why I do this whole on-line writing thing. He seemed most interested in how I decide what to reveal and what to keep hidden when I write this stuff. While lots of folks that write on-line have a readership that has never met them, or family that doesn’t know their site exists, I have to be sensitive to the fact that what I write does affect people. I once wrote about Photogal running around the house looking cute in her underwear – a topic I though was both complimentary and a little funny – and learned that Photogal did not in fact appreciate her dressing habits around the house being discussed in a rather public forum.

When my father was dying there were moments I really wanted to go off on him but I knew he was reading my site (I didn’t know he was printing out everything I wrote and carrying it around with him though) so I bit my tongue. Other times I have thoughts that I realize may do me some good to exorcise and write about but will also probably anger or hurt people that read this site.

So that’s kind of the crux of it, I guess. The way I decide about how far to go on a particular topic is directly tied in to the effect it will have on people involved with that topic. I don’t believe I should use this forum as a means to cause other people direct harm. This of course discounts bands or things I am looking at critically. For the most part, though, I don’t think my views actually have the power to harm people. I can honestly say I’ve never written a post, read it over and then deleted it. For that reason I’m also going to say that my inner censor tends to act instinctively and keeps most things that would be “inappropriate” for this forum at bay pretty effectively.

The more I type about this, the more I think about it and the more I think maybe my opening statements in this piece are a little off. I guess I really don’t know why I choose what I write about. At its base this site is pretty egomaniacal, if you really think about it, and therefore I am probably going to be alright with whatever stems from my work here. But that is a mindset common among just about every writer (otherwise why deem your work important enough to be read by others) or any artist, really. Hell, I once self-published a bunch of my journals¹ about twelve years ago and I’ve been doing this on-line thing in one form or another for over a decade and I think it’s safe to say that both exercises were borne out of my need to trumpet my views an flex my mental muscles in a public forum. So if I’m going to work from that viewpoint than what I do or do not include becomes more of an aesthetic argument, right? So if that’s the case then my inner censor isn’t really a censor at all but instead functions as an inner critic making decisions and culling and adding as the work as a whole demands.

Hmmm…that’s a pretty big leap don’t you think? But I think it works. And I like how I went from what I thought was my motivation in simple broad terms into an arena I had never really considered but probably actually spurs most of this site’s content. So does this make me a more or less likeable writer? And should I care? I mean obviously I care that people read what I write and obviously I are that people enjoy what they’re reading but do I really care if they like the guy who writes the things they enjoy reading? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

But at least now, thanks to Mark’s seemingly innocuous initial question, I have a better idea of why I do this in the first place.

¹For the record I think I only sold two copies of that journal and one of them was to an ex-girlfriend who just wanted to see what I wrote about her. Definitely not the smash bestseller I had been hoping for at the time.