Tuesday, February 28, 2006


First, today I got a fortune cookie with lunch. It said "It tastes sweet." What the hell kind of fortune is that? I mean, I understand that fortune cookies have slithered into being Apparently-Wise-Sayings-Cookies, but this is ridiculous.

Second, say what you want about Glenallen Hill, but this will live forever.

Friday, February 24, 2006


I posted a couple of new pictures on the foto side today. They were taken at Washington and Wells in the Loop. A rational person familiar with my commute might ask what the hell I was doing at Washington and Wells in the morning. After all, I work at Columbus and Wacker and take the Brown Line, f/k/a/ the Ravenswood train into the Loop. A sensible idea would be to switch from the Brown to the Purple at Merchandise Mart and exit at State and Lake. Normally this is what I do.

This morning I got off the train at the Merchandise Mart. I waited for the Purple Line. I will swear until the day I die that the train said "Linden" on the front and had two white lights on the front, both indicia of Purple Lineness. I got on the train. The doors closed, we moved, and the voice said "this is the Brown Line, next stop, Washington and Wells." Thus, did I end up at Washington and Wells this morning. Son of a crap.

So I made lemonade out of lemons by trespassing at the parking garage on the corner and taking these pictures from the "Born in the USA" level (I kid you not).

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Lee Sinins of The Hardball Times is reporting that the Cubs and Mark Prior are both denying a report that Prior is experiencing should problems. Obviously Prior is experiencing shoulder problems. I have no doubt at all, but Baseball Prospectus did not randomly decide to torque people up for no reason. In addition, the Cubs have a history of being less than frank about the health of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.

Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. DAMN!!!

Monday, February 20, 2006


On Sunday the New York Times did a piece about the clothes and hats etc. that Pope Benedict has chosen so far during his pontificate. It was pretty interesting in that it pointed out that Benedict is a big fan of St. Augustine, and wears all kinds of stuff with sea shells (a traditional symbol of Augustine, apparently) and similar nifty stuff.

In the piece they mention that the author has a blog and is a reporter for a Catholic newspaper in the United States. I checked it out and will have to see over time if I really care about the Church gossip enough to keep it in my web clips. However, it gets a boost today, when, at the very end of this very long and very interesting post, the author points out that if Archbishop Forte (about whom the post is) were to be elected Pope after Benedict, John Paul the Great would have appointed 113 of the 115 men who elected his successor, and neither of the his two immediate successors would be people he chose.

What are the odds of that? I mean, a lot would have to happen, including Forte becoming a Cardinal, Benedict passing away, and Forte being elected to replace him, only the second of which is a true certainty. Still, if Benedict has an unexpectedly long pontificate, it is very possible that none of John Paul the Great's Cardinals will ever be Pope.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Last week Rush Limbaugh got himself all bollixed up when he assumed that a man named Sherrod Brown was a black man. It turns out that United States Representative Sherrod Brown is . . . white. As funny as I find this, I have had this very issue. Apparently so has Bill Simmons, also known as the Sports Guy on ESPN.com, although I can’t find the article anymore.

In any case, here is my top five people who I thought were a race different from what they turned out to be:

(1) Khalil Greene, shortstop, San Diego Padres. Khalil Greene is white? No, he’s white and blond, and looks like a surfer boy in California. Turns out he’s also a Bahai, and the name is related to his religion. Who knew?

(2) Troy O’Leary, right fielder, no team. The archetypical Irish kid, Troy O’Leary is black. The fact that he played in Boston, home of the Celtics, made it seem even more sure that he was white.

(3) Sherrod Brown, Congressman. I had not heard of him before Limbaugh’s faux pas, but jeez, I can see why the error was made.

(4) Nene, forward/center, Denver Nuggets. He’s a black Brazilian man. I was thinking the first time I heard his name that “he” was a “she” in the mould of fellow Brazilian Xuxa, or Columbian Shakira. He ain’t.

(5) Major Applewhite, quarterback, New England Patriots. I thought he was black. I saw his picture and saw a middle aged looking white man and assumed they had the wrong picture. He even has a receding hair line.

Please keep in mind that Tracy McGrady did not make the list because I always knew that T-Mac was black. Others fall into this category. Those above are the people who genuinely made me say "who the hell is that guy?" Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Friday, February 17, 2006


I cannot believe that we are still discussing the "Danish cartoon" story. Today a Pakistani cleric and two members of his congregation (is it a congregation? I don't know) collectively offered a roughly $1,000,000 bounty on the head of the Danish cartoonist who drew one of the images. Crazy. I hope that Hamlet Kingsen (or whatever his name is) takes heart from the fact that people more powerful than this guy in Pakistan put a price on Salman Rushdie's life and not only is he still alive, but he's in a relationship with this woman. Punching above his weight indeed.

In other news, the editor of the Daily Illini was fired for publishing the Danish cartoons. The board that runs the (independent) paper says they fired him for not following protocal on the editorial page, not the content of the page. Whatever. I could have a whole debate about the journalistic merit of publication at this point, etc. etc. Screw that. I will just say that it is typical of the Daily Idiot to publish cartoons from 2005 in February 2006. Much better than the usual crap on the opinion page like this, and this.

. . . will anyone hear it? That question became more relevant earlier this week than it had been before. See, Stanford University uses a tree as its mascot for athletics. A tree. In 1972, Stanford got rid of their Indian mascot and replaced it with a tree. As a side note, this terrifies me when we at Illinois discuss the Illini logo.

Anyway, Stanford fired their mascot last week for being drunk during a game. Her blood alcohol level was almost twice the legal limit to drive. I assume that California has a legal limit for driving a mascot outfit, but I don't know what it is. I have also seen the Stanford tree perform, and I have no idea how you would tell she was drunk.

By the way, the story also pointed out that the band was on "alcohol suspension" which required a zero-tolerance policy toward drunkenness. I guess I had assumed that drunkenness would be banned generally for a college band playing at an athletic event. Silly me. A band spokeswoman went on to say, "we don't want to risk our core mission of rocking out and bringing funk to the funkless."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


It is February 15. It is a little chilly (but 20s by the end of the week) and very dark outside. However, all I smell is fresh sod, and all I hear is birds singing. You know why? Can you guess?

Pitchers and catchers (not that way, perverts) report to Cubs Spring training today. Next year is this year until and unless proven otherwise.

In other news, the Cincinnati Reds signed Tuffy Rhodes to a minor league contract. I suggest that they feed him nothing but Japanese food, since he seems to thrive on that, especially as compared to his time in the United States.

Finally, former Cub, and apparently a Dodger at some point, turns 58 today.

Friday, February 10, 2006


I have an album that my cousin N gave me. It is called How's Your Girl, and the artists are Handsome Boy Modeling School. In several songs, Father Guido Sarducci talks. In the Outro he says that modeling is not all "cupcakes and Jesus juice, as you might assume." This always cracks me up.

Consequently, I was shocked to see this headline: "Cops: Communion Juice That Sickened Dozens Was Tainted." I immediately thought, My God! There IS Jesus juice! Well, it turns out that at least some Baptists, particularly 40 of them in New Haven, Connecticut use grape juice instead of wine for communion. The headline was literal. The Welch's used for communion made dozens sick.

Not as cool as Sarducci's cupcakes and Jesus juice, but what the hell, right?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I saw the story below today. Please read it and decide if you think it is a real news item, or an item from the Onion. You can find out by clicking on the appropriate link after the story. By the way, I would click on both links...

A man celebrated his golden wedding anniversary by eating a 50-year-old tin of chicken. Les and Beryl Lailey, of Denton, Gtr Manchester, were given the chicken in a hamper on their wedding day in 1956.

The Buxted Chicken tin remained in their kitchen cupboard until the couple marked 50 years together this month.

"We kept it safe, and I always said 'on my 50th wedding anniversary I'm going to eat that chicken' - so I did," said former soldier, Mr Lailey, aged 73.

"When we got married I'd just come out of the Army and we had very little money, so we did our own buffet.

"We got a hamper as a present and included in it was this whole chicken in a tin. We didn't use it and packed it away and kept it."

Tight vacuum

Mr Lailey, a former soldier, said he had not felt ill since eating the chicken.

The couple were given the chicken on their wedding day

The pair met at an Irish pub in Hulme, Manchester.

"I had to go back to the Army almost straight after we met, but we kept in touch by writing letters. I came home and we got married," Mr Lailey added.

Prof Eunice Taylor, a food safety expert at the University of Salford, said: "Canned food can last indefinitely if it has been sealed properly, although the normal shelf life is about six months.

"If it's done at high temperatures and under high pressure, then the process should create a tight vacuum.

"If anyone is going to eat old canned food, I would suggest they heat it thoroughly first of all, just in case to be extra safe."

So, was it the Onion, or was it real?

Sunday, February 05, 2006


L and I like to watch the Boondocks. The show is very funny, but it is very, very edgy. By edgy, I mean up front about race. To wit: "Nigga moments are the third leading cause of death among Negro men, behind pork chops and FEMA." That is pretty damned edgy.

Yes, they had a ten year old child say that. Huey is always perceptive, but damn if he doesn't leave me feeling uncomfortable at least once an episode.

Pity the poor Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians. They are such good neighbors. They don't want to offend anyone. They always give troops for peace keeping missions. They sat out (for the most part) the age of nationalism in Europe, and made it through the Cold War without selling their souls to either the Consumer Crazy West or the Bureaucratic Socialist East. They had a consumerist model of socialism that seemed to work. Two of them are (and were) members of NATO, but even so they carry very little colonial baggage, and were never perceived as being running dog lackeys. Yes, the Scandanvians are the model of content, middle class good neighborism.

Until they got a new set of neighbors. First, a Danish newspaper did some cartoons in which Muslim topics were depicted in a manner offensive to Muslims. The newspaper was the Jyllands-Posten, which is hardly an international powerhouse of a paper. The cartoons caused an uproar back when they were published in September, but they have somehow come back around to really piss people off. It appears that they were reprinted elsewhere in Scandanavia. The Syrians burned the Norwegian and Danish embassies in Damascus Saturday, and the Danish mission in Beirut was burned today. This has got to be the first time in the modern era that the Danes evacuated people for being "Danish" rather than "Western." This has gotten so bad, the Danish foreign ministry has a FAQ on its web page (and a version in Arabic) addressing these cartoons. Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Syria have pulled their ambassadors from Denmark and the Iraqis say they are cancelling their contracts with Danish companies.

Meanwhile, the Swedes have avoided having their embassies burned (so far), but they have their own problems. The New York Times Magazine today had an article about the integration of Muslims and other immigrants into Swedish culture. Actually, an article about their integration would have been quite short. This one was about their lack of integration. Much longer article.

It turns out that what we would call "projects" in the United States were built slightly differently in Sweden. First, they are built so that cars are excluded from the middles of the complexes, and pine trees and lakes are common. In other words, they are built by Swedes for Swedes who share a cultural vision of a rustic life being the "good life." This means that the projects are not in central cities, but rather, out on the outskirts. Not a problem if you are an employee at the local Volvo, Saab, or SKF plant, but bad if you move there without a job.

As it turns out, the Swedes for whom these complexes were built moved to houses as soon as they could, leaving the projects basically empty. Thus, when hundreds of thousands of immigrants and asylum seekers arrived in Sweden in the 1990s, there were empty projects just waiting for them. Unfortunately these projects made it almost impossible to integrate these people into Swedish society. The projects were designed to be isolated to make you think of the rustic parts of Sweden. Now they serve to isolate the residents. Now there is white flight from these areas, and schools are being abandoned by Swedes to these immigrant communities. The Swedes fear that they are slowly but surely creating the sorts of neighborhoods the French had explode on them in November.

And so, pity the poor Scandanavians, who thought they had made it through the worst of times when the Cold War ended and now find themselves in as hot a pot as the Cold War ever produced.

ADDENDUM: As of Monday, fresh protests were breaking out across the Muslim world. Newspapers in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Poland, the United States, Japan, Norway, Malaysia and Australia have published the cartoons. Malaysia is a majority Muslim country.

Today's New York Times ran a piece written by one Luis Alberto Urrea, who teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago ("UIC"). He is a quite renowned poet and author. That being said, he stepped out of his zone of expertise in the New York Times and created jackassery.

As any regular reader of this blog will know, we do not tolerate jackassery lightly. Mr. Urrea is discussing the "sly social engineering" of the South Loop and UIC area. He then says that "farther south, stalwart symbols of urban decay like the Cabrini Green housing project are giving way to brighter, shinier developments." First of all, Cabrini is firmly on the North Side of the city. It is along Chicago Avenue. It is not "farther south" of the South Loop.

Second, Mr. Urrea talks about the police he knows who work three jobs to "make ends meet." It took me less than five minutes to find this, which shows that the starting salary for cops in the city is $42,258, which increases to $54,636 after a year, and $57,744 after 18 months. Hardly the sorts of salaries that mandate second and third jobs for most people.

The point here is that I get the sense that Mr. Urrea knows just enough about Chicago to write jackassery, but not enough to give any insight. Too bad he got the forum.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Immediately after Christmas this year L and I were in Boogie. L's brother-in-law Q was there with his PlayStation Portable ("PSP") and a few games. I was smitten by the PSP unit, and was blown away by Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. I went out and got a PSP, and tried to get Grand Theft Auto. However, some low-life scum bag had stolen the last copy in the store I was at, so I just lived with other games.

Last week L proved to be the Queen of All Wives when she came home with Grand Theft Auto for me. Woo-hoo! I started playing immediately. And now I am understanding better why parenting groups are so upset with this game. Oh. My. God.

So, I discovered last night that if you kill a prostitute (and they are all over the Red Light District), you can take her money. This can be very convenient, since you need money. It is also necessary at several points in the game to kill police officers. When you beat people up their blood flies, it gets on your shoes (I'm looking at you, O.J.). And on and on and on. There are times when I am uncomfortable with the level of violence and Reservoir Dogs is one of my favorite movies.

So, long and short of it: this game rocks, but for God's sake keep it away from kids, the unstable, Italians, and anyone else prone to confuse reality and fantasy.