Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Today I was in a couple of banks. Now I am scared. At the first one, I told the teller I needed to stop payment on a check. She asked me for my account number. I handed her my checkbook. She looked at it, looked at me, and asked me whether the account number was on the check. Uh-oh.

From there I went to a bank that had a sign that said "Teller has no cash." Well, we have a problem then, because I generally don't go to the bank except, you know, for money. In fact, my recollection is that I left them money last time I was there, so unless they spent that, they should have *some* cash. Anyway, it turns out the entire place is a big ATM. They type your transaction in, then walk over to the Cash Dispenser and get your money, which they hand to you. Crazy.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Check out the sister page here.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


By the way, I apparently have FIFTY gmail invites I can distribute. Comment if you want one.

L and I had an IM discussion about the Green at Grant Park. It is minigolf in Chicago, but it is real putting greens, not a Yogi Bear Mini Golf kind of deal. We brainstormed about changing it to reflect the city better. A truncated version of our conversation is set forth below (with L's permission). Feel free to add your own ideas.

WAYLA says:
It's a Thursday at the minigolf course at Grant Park. http://www.thegreenonline.com/
L says:
ack i was thinking windmills and castles --- it's putting greens!
WAYLA says:
It is where we had lunch yesterday. It is really cool. I watched these Golf Studs putt right off the putt putt green one after another. There was a sand trap!
L says:
did you see the drawing of the course? impressive
L says:
the pics make it look nice
L says:
it's just not as casual as I thought
WAYLA says:
I think it is particularly excellent because it is putt putt, but some of the players try to be PLAYAS.
L says:
I think that is what they intended -- playas to come play and work on their game when they can't get to a big course
WAYLA says:
No, they want the tourists to have fun too. The staff is all unbearably perky 20 year olds in tank tops and the cut out by the men's toilet is the Three Stooges golfing.
L says:
that's a cool idea
L says:
no sure, i can see tourists there too -- and the spot looks gorgeous ---
WAYLA says:
Decent food too.
L says:
but I wanted miniatures of sears tower to putt through, and a spinning navy pier ferris wheel to mess with my timing, and a north beach sand trap, and an el train cruising around, etc
L says:
they should have hired me
WAYLA says:
And a South Side open air heroin market to shoot through.
WAYLA says:
They should have hired us as a team.
L says:
I was thinking they could have some of the young summer help attack putters with furniture on the south side green
WAYLA says:
That would be excellent. And while you are trying to putt, have someone trying to sell you "overstock" speakers they are not allowed to take back to the warehouse.
L says:
When you need a break during the course, someone will stroll up and say they also have some steaks in their van that they can't return
WAYLA says:
Or have a dude selling corn slathered in mayo, and frozen fruit juice in Spanish
L says:
L says:
if you lose a ball and need to get a new one, a guy with a ‘stache first gets you to register to vote or join a union before you can get a new ball
WAYLA says:
The 19th hole attraction that you putt through to see if you get a free game is a stinky urinating homeless guy who lunges at you as you approach.
L says:
to keep the number of free games down, you have to avoid the piss guy and try to concentrate while hearing the same three measures of a song being blared out badly on a broken sax by another homeless guy and his band of street kids beating on plastic buckets
L says:
oooh! and we could do weather at different holes!
L says:
really cold, really hot
L says:
to mix it up, we could change the enviro on some holes
L says:
like "garbage strike in late July" on hole 7
WAYLA says:
We could change the environment in two ways. Weather, and then influxes of yuppies, or white flight. Maybe while you're playing the hole...
L says:
yes! you have to put between two SUVs and a bimbo with a SUV stroller
L says:
or your hole has potholes everywhere and needs new street lamps --- you need to chat up the alderman and precinct capt to be able to get a green to put on
WAYLA says:
As you are playing the hole, building value in your score, BAM! white flight. The hole has moved and your value is gone!
L says:
but your stated prop taxes didn't change before the payment due date -- more $ if want to keep playing
L says:
or, they just take the hole away while you're playing and build an airport
WAYLA says:
Or, you play and play and play, then all of a sudden, all of the white people on the course get to play through and you get pushed to a shitty hole.
L says:
and then they close the school and church on your hole
L says:
we could keep it simple -- you start playing, then on hole two you have to buy a city sticker for your putter
WAYLA says:
Wait until we get to the local parking permit.
L says:
then later the city comes and inspects your ball (I said ball)
L says:
oops, your ball is not up to code, so you have to work on it
L says:
oops! you didn't get a permit from the city to work on your ball
L says:
off to the side could be cooling centers for putters who get fined off the course
L says:
to keep it from being too nuts, one of the holes could be a street fest--- very Chicago, good music, great food, good times
L says:
oh, but you can't putt b/c the hole is closed for the fest, and a beer will cost you $10
L says:
how about a hole with pretty old chicago buildings
L says:
it looks simple enough...
L says:
and then the terra cotta starts falling
L says:
if you survive that, you have to watch out for high rise windows being blown out
L says:
you get your map of the course, and then you find out that there is a street name, and then there is an honorary street name
WAYLA says:
We have not even discussed the Boystown and Andersonville holes.
L says:
Gay pride hole!

Obviously the discussion could not go anywhere good from where we had gotten ourselves, so we both went back to work.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


I am not a hockey fan. This is true mostly because the man that owns the team believes that if games are on free TV, fans will not come out to games. He has believed that for years. Thus, as a child I never watched hockey, and do not know the game. Just as an aside, the Cubs games were all on free TV through the 1990s, and they easily outdraw any other team in the city. Hmm. Maybe you build your brand on TV... Oh well.

The point is that I had to laugh when I saw that the Chicago Blackhawks, whose league locked their players out and did not play last year (and may not play next year) hired a new General Manager, who promptly fired the head coach. Said the new GM "I've thought about this long and hard for six weeks. This is not about the past, it's about the future." Future? The NHL has no future. They abandoned Canada for the Sunbelt. They never took the opportunity, in a league full of Europeans, to have a European division and play the Stanley Cup finals North American champion versus European champion. They paid players as if the sport actually generated revenue.

Wow. The NHL is *so* screwed up.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Someone at work showed me an ad in the Chicago Reader. The ad said:

Fist time customer discount. State-of-the-art equipment. All disposable apparatus. All major credit cards excepted. 773-583-2848. www.poopnow.com

I did not make any unintentional errors in that quotation. They have a "fist" time customer discount. They also except all major credit cards. So, if you are into this, (a) pray that the "fist" time discount is a typo, and (b) bring cash, just in case.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


This is it. The beginning and end, the Alpha and the Omega, the opening pitch and the bottom of the ninth inning of what I have to say about that freak's trial. Ready? The prosecutor was quoted in the LA Times today as saying "you don't look at the pedigree of your witnesses."

Actually, yes you do. Especially when she is one of the key pieces of your conspiracy case. Especially if she has a history of making false claims. Unbelievable. The funny thing is, the California bar is very difficult but the prosecutors all appear to be morons.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Usually my Sunday blogs are from the New York Times. Today the first two entries on Sunday are from the Sun-Times. The Sun-Times ran a story about the Windy City Rollers. The Rollers are a group of four roller derby squads that put on "bouts" at the Congress Hotel in Chicago. Fine. Good. Interesting. However, the motivation for the group, and the names they pick rock.

The Sun-Times article quotes one of the founders thus "'We've broken the limits,' said Gomez, 31. 'I'm a mother of two girls. When I had my daughters, I was worried about what it would be like for them to grow up as women, trying to balance the idea they may not get opportunities and be taken as seriously. This generation of women has completely disproven my thoughts.

'Now it is not a matter of whether opportunity is going to be a problem. It is how you get through that opportunity. How are you going to pass the boundaries, break all the rules and make your own way?'

That is the metaphor of women's roller derby."

WHAT? What the hell does wrestling on skates have to do with women getting opportunities. L always reminds me of the horrors the Suffragists went through to get the vote. I wonder if they would see their work in a Roller Derby bout. I am not guessing they would. Clowns.

Anyway, the women have roller derby names like Tequila Mockingbird, Juana Rumbel, Sister Sledgehammer, Varla Vendetta, The Crimson Crusher, Ana Mission, Val Capone, Athena Dacrime, J'Illegal, Anita Beer, Shirley Temple of Doom, and my favorite Broken Cherry. I did not make that last one up. Nothing says opportunity like naming yourself Broken Cherry.

They also have a backstory for each team. The Fury are "silent stalkers" who will "come and getcha when you're not looking." The Double Crossers are "female assassins. Every one of us has a weapon specialty." Didn't Uma Thurman play one of these characters in Pulp Fiction? The Hell's Belles are "'reform school' types who rebelled against reform school" while "the Manic Attackers do more than just rebel. They 'escaped' from asylums and are the craziest of the four squads."

I may have to go see a bout. Goofs.

Oh boy. Every so often it takes a newspaper article to remind how obscenely cool I really am. Today the Sun-Times had an article on old school beers that are making a big comeback. They talk about how "urban culture drivers" are showing that they are "beyond the mainstream" by drinking beers like Rheingold, Rainier, Pabst, and Leinenkugel. Now, Rheingold is only in New York, and Rainier is only in the Northwest. That leaves Pabst Blue Ribbon, hereinafter referred to as PBR, and Leinenkugel for the rest of us to evaluate on our hip scale.

PBR sucks. It will never make you hip to choke this swill down. You cannot make it cold enough to overcome the bitter nastiness. If you want a hip, old school beer, try a different Pabst product. Try Schlitz very cold. It tastes fine, and it comes in a nice heavy bottle that you could pound nails with. This last consideration is important because in the old school days, there were fights in bars, and bottles were weapons. Just something to think about, hipster. Another old school option is High Life. Granted, they have tried to position themselves with television commercials showing a Regular Guy watching a yuppie screw up and a tag line that always evokes the inherent competence that your grandpa had and that yuppies lack (whether it is parking a vehicle with a trailer or grilling). Still, High Life is old school. The chick sitting on the moon, the Champagne of Beers slogan. Straight up old school.

Then there is Leinenkugel. This is not old school. This is good beer. It is what L and I refer to as a throwback beer. However, unless you lived in central Wisconsin, your grandpa did not swill this. It never happened. If you are from the Chi-land, he drank Old Style. Maybe in Milwaukee it was Leinies, but I doubt it. The point is, Leinie's is fantastic with Thai food.

Finally, let me just point out that in typical hipster fashion, the forest has been lost for the trees. In an effort to be "beyond mainstream" people are treating imports as being all the same. They are not. Be beyond the mainstream. Don't drink Corona. Try Bohemia, or Tecate. Don't drink Heineken or Beck's, but try Czechvar (the original Budweiser beer) and Wiehenstephan (the oldest brewery in the world). THOSE are old school.

So the next time you put on your Sinatra hat, your Eddie Haskell sweater, and groom your goatee to go out for a beer, go beyond the people beyond the mainstream and actually try a different beer. And for God's sake, don't order a PBR.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


If you fly from Washington to Chicago on Thursday nights, you have a decent chance of flying with politicians. I flew with pre-conviction Rostenkowski (he was in first class, I was in cattle class). I flew with Luis Gutierrez, who hung out in the back of the plane glad handing the poor folk. There were others, but I am too tired to think of them now.

Why do I bring this up. Because it's my blog. That's why.

Anyway, tonight I had to fly home from Washington. For the first time in my life, I flew ATA. I flew ATA because it was cheap and the time was good. I kept humming "with ATA, you're on vacation." I could use a vacation. Maybe flying would be a mini vacation. Maybe? Could be? Small chink in the armor when I could not get my boarding pass on-line before the flight. Bigger chink when I showed up and was assigned a WINDOW seat?!? Um, ma'am, I prefer the aisle. That's great sir. Every seat on that flight is booked. That's fine, but they're aren't here yet and I am, so why don't you give me an aisle? I can't do that sir. Uh-oh.

The armor was splitting when I arrived at Terminal A at Washington National Airport. I guess I had never been in Terminal A. Terminal A is, I believe, the original building from 1812. Terminal A is not as nice as Willard Airport in Champaign, Illinois. Terminal A is a teeming mass of humanity, with too few seats, too little space, and too many flights bording too close to each other. Uh-oh.

I had genuine concern when I saw a good 30 junior high thugs sitting around in my general gate area. On the other hand, Terminal A does not make it very clear who belongs where, so I hoped they were not on my flight. Fortunately, I was distracted from this worry by an announcement from the gate four feet to the west of us that "no flights west of Washington are being allowed to depart." Well, with limited exceptions, EVERYTHING is west of Washington. Uh-oh.

Nothwithstanding my concern about delay/cancellation, at 6:15 promptly we began bording for our 7:00 flight. Weather must have broken. Cool. Except those 30 kids are, of course, on my flight. They are randomly interspersed among the rest of us. They are like roaches. They are from Colorado. The kid behind me is in 7th grade. His hair is dyed that blond that turns green. He had two earrings in his ear. His haircut is essentially a mullet without the party side in back. He's bragging that his mom cleans airplanes for United. I realize that he is basically Kenny with his hood off. Uh-oh.

I am in seat 18A. Immediately before we close the doors to push back, Barack Obama rolls on to the plane. The man is a rock star. People stare at him. People get up to shake his hand. People ask for autographs. He is another level from Rosty and Gutierrez. He is SOMEBODY. He strolls down the aisle beaming. He stops, smiles, and sits down in 18C. The guy in 18B says "isn't that guy a Senator." Yes he is. And he's flying ATA. And he's in my aisle. And he's surrounded on three sides by half-witted 7th graders. Uh-oh.

The fasten-seat-belt light is on. We are cross checked (whatever that means). We have gotten the safety lecture. Electronic devices are off and have been stowed. We are just not pushing back from the gate. We just sit. For an hour. Finally, pilot comes on and informs us that for reasons not apparent to him, "they" are calculating a new flight plan for us. Just to be careful, they are going to do two. When they are done, we can go out to where airplanes actually LEAVE the airport. Uh-oh.

Meanwhile, the Senator is plowing through the New York Times, Washington Post, Roll Call, and the Atlantic Monthly. He is obviously trying to ignore the constant beating on the back of his chair. He is obviously trying to ignore pseudo-Kenny tell racist jokes to the black kid next to him. The man is good. I thought he had the patience of a saint when he debated Alan Keyes. Now I KNOW he does.

We got to Chicago late. The Senator wanted to get home as badly as any of us. He stopped and spoke to nuns, moms, guys who yelled out "Yo! Obama!" He was gracious the whole time. He was on the same flight I was. I was ready to kill EVERYONE. He is a politician. I never will be.

...you're on vacation...

I am in Washington, DC today. Not my usual haunt, but also not a place with which I am wholely unfamiliar. However, I had an experience this morning that I hope to never have again.

I was staying at a hotel where the AC did not work very well. It is beastly humid in DC today and pushing 90 degrees. It is uncomfortable. I decided to head down to our Washington office early and get ready for some work I needed to do this morning. Little did I know that the entrance to the building of which *I* was aware did not open until 9 am. To add insult to injury, none of the personnel in the office were at work when I arrived at 7:45 (which is not too surprising, it was just unfortunate for me). So, now it is hot, it is 7:45, and I am outside without a place to go. As they say on TV, D'OH!

I decided to get some breakfast. Maybe a nice coffee and muffin or something. Right next to the office there is a place. It looks fine. Nothing special. I walk in. The first thing I notice is the super all-American diner black and white checkerboard everywhere. The "down home" feel is not too surprising, since we are about one-and-a-half blocks from the White House and there are lots of tourists up and down the street.

The next thing I notice is that ABBA is blaring, not playing, but blaring from the PA system. Kind of scary. Actually very scary. Then I get to the counter, where a 50ish Korean woman is cutting bagels, dancing to ABBA, and SINGING ALONG! I was stunned. I was scared. It is a testament to how badly I needed coffee, and how bereft of other options I was that I not only got a muffin and coffee there, I STAYED THERE TO HAVE THEM.

I gotta go home.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Fanta is a surprisingly interesting pop. We call it pop. We call the frunchroom the frunchroom, and we call pop pop. No need to comment on it. No need to be surprised. That's how we talk in the Chi.

Anyway, back to my tale. I don't drink a lot of Fanta. The machine (here) at work has orange, but I never see pineapple, strawberry, or grape when I am at the store. Well, actually, that is not completely true. I never see Fanta in MY neighborhood. However, on Memorial Day I went by my cousin N's place for a little BBQ. He lives in Humboldt Park. I tried to stop to get ice, and was unsuccessful. However, in his heavily Puerto Rican hood they had all kinds of Fanta. Hmmm. Coincidence? We have Orangina in my hood. N has Fanta in his.

Anyway, the story of Fanta is kind of interesting. As related by snopes.com, "In 1938, the man in charge of Coca-Cola's operations in Germany, American-born Ray Powers, died of injuries received in an automobile accident. His right-hand man, German-born Max Keith, took over. Meanwhile, the German government placed Max Keith in charge of Coca-Cola's properties in the occupied countries, and he sent word through Coca-Cola's bottler in neutral Switzerland that he would try to keep the enterprises alive. But with no means of getting ingredients, Keith stopped making Coca-Cola and began marketing an entirely new soft drink he called Fanta, a light-colored beverage that resembled ginger ale." Smart.

Snopes also indicates that "until the end of the war, Coca-Cola executives in Atlanta did not know if Keith was working for the company or for the Nazis, because communication with him was impossible. Their misgivings aside, Keith was safeguarding Coca-Cola interests and people during that period of no contact. It was thanks largely to his efforts that Coca-Cola was able to re-establish production in Germany virtually immediately after World War II.

According to a report prepared by an investigator commissioned by Coca-Cola to examine Max Keith's actions during that unsupervised period, Keith had never been a Nazi, even though he'd been repeatedly pressured to become one and indeed had endured hardships because of his refusal. He also could have made a fortune for himself by bottling and selling Fanta under his own name. Instead, in the face of having to work for the German government, he kept the Coca-Cola plants in Germany running and various Coca-Cola men alive throughout the war. At the end of the conflict, he welcomed the Coca-Cola company back to its German operations and handed over both the profits from the war years and the new soft drink."

Fanta is still big in Germany. Much, much bigger than here. Well, once again, I guess that depends on the area. I think it is fair to say that Fanta is working to exploit the Latin market. For instance, we have the Fantanas! The web page says that "their raison d'etre is to bring fun into your life." I'll say. I think a mix of Capri, Lola and Sophia could bring some fun into my life... Fanta Fanta, don't you want a Fanta Fanta.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Yesterday was a beautiful day. It was sunny. It was 80 degrees. It was glorious. I went out to get a hair cut at about 2:00. I was listening to the Schadenfreude radio show on WBEZ. One of my cousin N's buddies is in the troupe, so I usually like to listen to them when I can. Anyway, I could see that it was clouding up a bit, but I decided to listen to the end of the show before going in.

I walked in the door at the Supercuts just as a tremendous gust of wind hit the parking lot. I remember when I was a kid, wondering where wind started and stopped. Well, this wind started right in that parking lot, and went zero to sixty in about .2 seconds. Before I made it to the counter, torrential rains began. This was not hard rain. This was sheets of water falling one stacked upon another upon another ad infinitum. The wind was still howling. I was in a one-story, strip mall Supercuts in Lakeview. No basement. No backroom to speak of. I had already planned who I would pull on top of me if the building started breaking up.

Ten minutes later it was basically over. There were downed tree limbs, there was flooding, there were Port-O-Potties tipped over, etc. but the rain was basically gone. Now it was humid and 75 instead of not humid and 80. Someone in a room without windows for 20 minutes would have come out to see the day looking exactly as it had when they went in, but with water all over and tree limbs down.

I am officially declaring the baby boomers who edit the New York Times Generation F. This F stands for "fixated" because they are fixated on Iraq as another Vietnam. Today's headline in the Week in Review section is "Iraq's Ho Chi Minh Trail."

Don't get me wrong. The entire Iraqi adventure has seemed like a very poor use of precious resources to me. I recognize that the al Quida morons killing themselves in Iraq are (a) killing non-American civilians, and (b) attacking those Americans best equipped to defend themselves. Still, once North Korea has a couple of nuclear warheads a missile that may or may not be able to reach Los Angeles, I think Iraq will seem like small potatoes. Nevertheless, that does not make Iraq Vietnam. Unless of course you are writing for the New York Times.

I know that many people think that summer arrives with Memorial Day and ends with Labor Day. Not in Lincoln Square it doesn't. Here the bookends to summer are the Maifest and the Germanfest. This weekend is Maifest. I was, unfortunately, in Washington, DC on Friday, so I missed the beginning of the fest. However, L and I made up for that omission last night.

The fests are always fun. There are people in crazy German outfits, and all kinds of events that the Germans put on for each other (there are choirs, hunt clubs, sports organizations, karneval societies, etc.) There is always one guy though, who takes the cake. We call him The Captain because he wears a captain's hat like the guy in the 1970s musical duo. He is a dancer. Three years ago he danced the night away with a chair. Last night he alternated between his beer as a partner, and the occassional 20-something who got within arm's length of him. The funny thing is, he is a very good dancer. He spins and dips, and otherwise puts on a good show when he has a partner. What makes him so great is the show he puts on without a partner.

Summer is upon us!