29 May 2006

Campy

Yeah, Evan Dando really speaks to me... Thanks to Eric & Bethany for another blast of a Memorial Day Weekend party...

I love the idea of being outdoors-y, I want to be a guy who likes to camp, who can build a fire, who can pitch a tent. And to some extent this is true. I can put up a tent, provided i actually remembered the poles & stakes, I can build a fire if i have a lighter and a lot of time.

But i think maybe i don't really like all these things. I am afraid of bugs, i despise being too cold or too hot, and i don't know what plants i oughtn't touch. After scoring a tent from Eric's parents since mine had no poles and blowing up an air mattress we had a pretty sweet set-up, but still, sleeping outdoors... i dunno, kinda sucks.

I think my kind of camping is the kind on wheels.

26 May 2006

It's Hard Out There for a Primp

Tonight is MAPH Prom... The end-of-the-year Boat Cruise, with a 3-hour Open bar, that my program puts on for us... And it only cost me $30,000. Still, Open bar, though...Good stuff. So, i am getting all fancied up for the event, which i enjoy & despise.

Yesterday was the first day of the year that i climbed into a car that was toaster-oven hot, it was fantastic, finally, if i leave my car in the sun for a couple hours, it's warm enough out to make it unpleasant to get back in... Normally, this is a great time of year, but suddenly i'll be trying to do the same thing while suited up, making me an instant sweat-ball & all-round unpleasant person. I also shaved for a second day in a row, which my face really complains about... & i forgot to bring my battery-acid aftershave (which tells my weeping face: "i'll give you something to cry about") so there was additional facial unpleasant-ness... Add to this the fact that i evidently have no acceptable shirts to wear under my suit (although i thought i had about 20) and it makes for a trying dress-up experience.

But i love being whole-assed snazzed up. It's one of my favorite feelings. I don't do it often, and i don't do it well (because i always end up with 1 key element missing, socks, belt, pants), but i love the feeling of belonging to the world by trying to dress superior to it that accompanies the experience for me...

Plus, there's nothing better than being drunk in a nice suit.

25 May 2006

What the hell is down there?

So, yesterday i hosted my own private Lost party. And man, i just cannot believe it. What a cliffhanger, so many unanswered questions, who will live, who will die? What's with Walt? And what the hell is down that hatch?

That's right, i am still catching up and just finished season 1 of Lost. My current theory is that there will be a House of Leaves tie-in episode where Locke will climb down and run into Stephen King wandering the halls of the house.

Lost is an amazingly remarkable show, though, i think they do miss artistic opportunities by tying everything up together to neatly in a tv-shaped package. The flashbacks in any given episode invariably tie-in to whatever will happen later in the episode (those of you who often experience flashbacks know this is not the way they function in real life) & there are just too many damn cliffhangers, which i understand is a part of the medium itself, because of its serialization, but still, sometimes it seems like Dan Brown is a guest creative director on this show.

But, all in all, it's just too good to be true. Well written, good looking television that's popular. After finishing Season 1, i so desperately needed to know what was down there, i bought the first episode on iTunes... but then episode 1 had such a cliffhanger... well, it's gonna get worse before it gets better.

Anyway, happy Thursday everyone & know that you have my love & support in coping with your summer Lost withdrawl.

24 May 2006

A review of Food


Quite the Tuesday. After getting home late from barring around last night, i slept a bit late this morning, then headed to campus, leaving Nathan & Lissa to find their way downtown to hook up with Tritle, which they did fairly successfully. I had a blueberry muffin & coffee at the Classics Café. The coffee was desperately needed & the muffin was ok, but a bit crumbly. I really shoudn't get muffins. I don't eat them very attractively, i'm afraid.

I headed downtown to meet up with everyone & got to the basement restaurant they had lunch in just as they were finishing. After stops at Millennium Park (which i now appreciate as a pretty sweet thing - previous visits have all been in foul weather & therefore tainted) and the Art Institute of Chicago, we hit the 'Park Grill' near Millennium Park for a Heinekin and some chips & salsa (my favorite food, hands down). The salsa tasted a bit barbecue-y to me & had a very thick consitency. Strange stuff.

After that we headed to U.S. Cellular Field for the White Sox Game. They won handily, in a quick game. We got in on some successfully scalped tickets & i had a brat w/ sauerkraut. It was pretty decent, but nothing too special. I had been told by several Chicagoans that U.S. Cellular Field has some of the best stadium food in the country, but i would say it doesn't hold a candle to Miller Park... Not even close. I had a Sam Adams & then discovered with my Pretzel purchase (again, no Miller Park pretzel) that they had a vendor with PBR on tap. Which makes this stadium ok in my book.

The game was fun. Lot's of homeruns & a 'loud guy' (guess which one of those people is 'loud guy') pretty close to us who yelled at Frank Thomas a lot. Once again, no actual images of the game, because Nate's camera has a crazy big memory card that fits nowhere, but here is some evidence we were at the game, and here's some more... of my watch, Lissa's soda, and me looking at the card the photographer handed me that says how to find my picture. (You can buy a Joel & Lissa at the White Sox game t-shirt - Nate was getting cash & food). Oh, speaking of photographic evidence... there was a couple in front of us, who, when the photographer came around asking if people wanted their pictures taken, to put on the website, they were like "No, we can't be shown to be here..." then laughed & were hiding from the photographer as he took other people's pictures. I think they were illicitly coupling. Cool.

23 May 2006

Sweet mama

It's in. Unbelievably, but true, i've finished & handed in my thesis (photographic evidence should be forthcoming. Nathan took a picture to document my handing in the paper at Malynne's office, but he has some bizarro-size memory disk for his camera that doesn't fit in my computer.

But rest assured, our great zombie nightmare is over. At least no more will be bothering me tonight. Nathan & Melissa are in town - we crashed my precepts post-thesis party, then moved on to bigger & brighter things. It's so great to have some folks in town. I only got about 4 hours sleep last night & am so glad they were around to pull me up & out... Sorry i missed the good times in Hyde Park, my MAPH-feathered friends, but, well, you know. the HP is lame & there's nothing Nathan loves more than 'cool stuff'.

Ok... must catch up on some sleep (before delving into The Man Without Qualities)

20 May 2006

It's a bird, it's a plane..."that's an omen."

Today, i was biking to my soccer game - sadly my last soccer game of the season, Sparkle Motion's over-achieving reign of mediocrity came to a crashing end today with a 2-0 playoff loss. As i approached the fields, through a parking lot, i was going over a speed bump when a bird dropped from the sky, dead not 10 feet in front of me. I looked around for a confused hunter, stalking the alleys of Chicago for pigeons, but saw no one. Then there arose what seemed to be a bird scuffle, in mid-air. A pigeon (looked related to the recently fallen dirty dove) was chasing a larger black bird around, squawking at him. So, i assume the black bird was the guilty party (unless the pigeons are equivalent to the Hyde Park police in bird world & every time a crime is committed they go around harrassing any nearby black birds).

Anyway, i took the fallen bird at my tires as a bad sign, but i'm hoping it was an omen pointing to our playoff loss, rather than my final 36 hours until the thesis is due. I think if it was supposed to be an omen for my thesis, the bird would have gotten back up after a couple moments & begun awkwardly, but persistently trying to eat up all the other birds in the world. Though, now that i think of it, i haven't seen a bird for a couple hours.

19 May 2006

Hang up & Walk

Today i was cut off by no less than two people who were talking on their cell phones. And i was walking. And they were walking. One was merging from another sidewalk, and got there a little ahead of me, but she still really ought to have been aware of me. She was completely oblivous, though & walked me right onto a soggy patch of lawn with her giant bag. When i then proceeded to walk around her, she still didn't seem to register that she wasn't the only one on the sidewalk.

Earlier, another girl walked past me - i walk kind of slow some times, especially when, like today, i'm carrying my shoulder bag (Kenneth Cole $69.99) - got a call on her phone and slowed down and veered right, which would have rammed me right into the brick wall by the sidewalk had i not decelerated and gotten around her. I'm just lucky to be alive. Be careful out there.

18 May 2006

Zadie Zadie Bo-Bady

I went to a reading of Zadie Smith's this afternoon. She read from her newest novel On Beauty. The novel, which i haven't read, sounds hilarious. In fact, i haven't actually read anything of Smith's novels, White Teeth or Autographed Man. I have read a short story of hers called "I'm The Only One" in Speaking With The Angel, which i vaguely remember enjoying, but mostly because i remember enjoying most every story in that book. But i loaned it to Nathan shortly after accruing it & haven't seen it since, so i have trouble remembering which story exactly was hers.

Anyway... she read two short (very short) "bits" of her new novel about an academic party & a funeral (unrelated {her joke, not mine}), the book was hilarious & smart & well, just plain good. The reading itself was also superb. Her tone was clipped & Brit-y and she answered all manner of questions (standard 'where do you get your ideas' reading variety to UChicago 8 minute variety) gracefully and amusingly. I'm very excited to catch up on her stuff once they let me out of this place & just want to point everyone in her direction if you've not read her yet.

I find myself really missing 'for fun' reading... Although i read a lot of amazing things that are brilliant, that are fascinating, and often are terribly fun, it's never pure 'kick-back-whatever-i-want-reading'. Terribly disappointing. I haven't read the newest Harry Potter book, didn't get a chance to re-read The Da Vinci Code before it comes out this week. I do so miss it... But soon enough, soon enough.

16 May 2006

c-c-c-clothes coming to k-k-k-kill me

Every morning, when i wake up and start thinking about leaving the house, i am confronted by my closet. I pick out a shirt or a pair of pants that i feel in the mood for and find something that seems to go right along with it. But i am starting to suspect that i may not be a very good dresser. This surprises me, because, though i often joke about myself being a bad dresser, i would say that if i were to make a list of people that i knew in descending order of style, i would have expected to find myself somewhere near the top of that list. But this is not so. In fact, if anything, i think the style comment i would warrant is something along the lines of "...and you dress really interestingly."

Today for instance, i felt like wearing a jacket. So, i looked over my current selection of 2 different (but not that different) jackets that aren't in the shop, decided i'd worn the brown one quite a lot recently & chose the green one. Threw on some jeans & went with my green shirt with the purple piping... This outfit generally works, i like it. While i was doing all this, picking clothes & whatnot, i was packing my bag & thought to myself, "don't forget to throw in your paper from last quarter because of your meeting with WJT Mitchell today & begging for a letter of recommendation." So, i'm thinking this thought at the same time as i'm putting on clothes and yet i don't make the connection that i will be wearing these very same, toolish (yet quasi-hip) clothes when i meet with him. Thankfully, i'm at a college and surrounded by endless numbers of people of all sorts of questionable styles, but who take whatever they're going with a lot farther than i do... But somehow they sell it better, i think.

I think a (very small) part of my problem is identifying a 'style' for myself. When i was working at the library, most days i wore the same thing, khakis or jeans & a casual-ish shirt. Simple. When i came home i collapsed in a pile of bookish mush & didn't at all care what i was wearing any longer. I had a finite number of 'approved outfits' that i could throw on in the event of 'going out in public' but because i didn't do that all that often, i didn't need too many of them.

These days, i'm out in a non-work-environment public all the time, and i haven't nearly enough pre-planned sets of clothes to last much longer than a week... Add to that, anything i wear when i go to school, i think of as a costume, as in a "Grad Student Costume", so when i wear these jackets (or my preppier collared shirt under sweater), it's because i am, in part at least, playing at grad student dress-up, somewhat mocking, somewhat envying & not really believing that anything i wear is in any way, 'real clothes'. And so, i walk around campus or Hyde Park dreading the moment when someone will call me out on my impostery. I would lamely point at someone in a similar costume to mine, but their resounding response is always, "Well of course they're* wearing that... They're a real grad student... You just would like to pretend to play one on tv."

14 May 2006

beis-buru


Last night, i went to a really spectacular baseball game. The trip started, boringly enough, in Clinton, and felt a little like a middle school flash-back with our carload being just myself, Shane & my parents (shane even spiked his hair up & wore his Rude Dog t-shirt), but instead of shane & me in the back seat, being all punk-kid-y, we tossed my parents back there and cruised up (a good 3-hours before game time) to Milwaukee. I am slowly acclimating myself to the fact that things happen a whole lot slower, but with a great deal more production, nowadays when they involve my parents than they used to. So, our early arrival was fortuitous, not only since we got to see a little BP, but also because a food/beer run became quite the ordeal, changing levels, fretting over bobble-heads & convincing my parents that indeed there are condiment stations on the next level up... But, i think i've come to the point where i can relax & enjoy what a big show seemingly small events become when involving my parents...

The game itself was fantastic. Though the Brewers lost, it came down to the last batter & about 3" (the distance by which Corey Koskie missed a game-tying double). The 8th inning, when the Brewers were down by 4 runs, featured back to back home runs by Koskie & (i wanna say) Damian Miller, tying the game & leading to a lot of strangers slapping hi-fives, me jumping up & down and screaming. And the Brewers aren't even my team... We were way up in the upper deck, with the plebs, and the crowd was riled up something fierce. In the 9th, though, Turnbow (the Brewer's superb closer), who was also the guy who's bobble-head was being given away, gave up a home run to the first batter & the Brewers lost by 1. Heartbreaking, but a damn good game. Even though i love baseball, so often, you go to a game and you know who's going to win by like the 3rd inning, and you stick around, sort of getting your money's worth & hoping it gets interesting, but the game stays as you expect & you walk away unsatisfied... Here, though the game did end on a called strike three, it was all up in the air until the very last pitch. Good stuff.

11 May 2006

Bad Umbrella Day


So, it's a swirly-winded, rainy day in Chicago. The walk home featured rain from all directions, and impassible puddles strategically placed to ensure soaked socks. All in all, it's a miserable day for walking home. To illustrate this (which i can't), two blocks south of my apartment i discovered the handle of an umbrella, with no actual umbrella attached (i imagine the cover section of an umbrella {a red one, i think} flying whimsimically through the treetops of Hyde Park, never again to deign to descend to earth...) and pictured the poor sot (sop?) holding just the handle as his umbrella top flies away. Sad rain stories all around.

My walk home featured several umbrella inversions, which, as it turns out isn't overly distressing for my newly purchased Walgreens umbrella. Evidently, my umbrella has an advanced technology that allows it to be inverted (converting it into a useful tool for water collection if stranded on a desert island), but easily changed back into an umbrella by closing and reopening it. Most umbrellas i've owned before this one seem to be permanently changed into a 'water collector' because the flimsy aluminum shafts are bent to hell by the wind.

Walking home also gave me an opportunity to show off my amazing leaping ability, from hopping over small puddles, to huge leaps off of curbs, to complex multiple jumps, kicking off of stoops & fences to avoid particularly long puddles. When i jump, i imagine myself floating gracefully over & landing eloquently (think Jackie Chan or Spiderman), but i'm sure the person behind me on the street sees Drunken Penguin or Club-Footed Gorilla... But i do enjoy it.

10 May 2006

Looming

Do you ever have the sensation that you may not be prepared for a thing, even if you know what it is & where it is & how to deal with it? My thing is zombies, specifically, or work, generally... The thing is, many days, i do a lot of work in the direction of my thesis, but much of that work is work around my thesis, not at it. This is not a good thing, because i calmly convince myself that i am working, & working hard & working long, but perhaps nothing is really actually getting done. I read some book, or make some notes on a film or even write a few pages, but perhaps nothing of what i've done today (and i put almost all day into zombies today {all apologies to Thomas Carlyle}) will actually get into my thesis... And i tell myself that this is ok, because i store these thoughts away for the future zombie work, which once again leads me to the question of "Zombies? Seriously?" & i say, "...emmm... zombies are good to think with?" (Note: Joel or Aimee or Brooke, i know the question of 'why do you study zombies?' came up on Sunday, but i can't seem to recreate the answer, so if you remember it... do drop me a line, please {without using the word 'zizek'}). So, yeah. I guess, while i say to everyone "i feel ok about where i am with my thesis," i simultaneously mean it & do not mean it. I'm sure it'll all come out ok. Because it always has, but i dunno, i have this sneaking suscpicion that perhaps this is the time, the first time, that it won't. And what then.

Then we'll all be eaten by zombies, that's what. Don't say i didn't warn you.

09 May 2006

Omaha & Back




06 May 2006

"...greatly exaggerated"

This moring, Brooke & i went to the Farmer's Market in Omaha's Old Market, and, after finding it painfully understocked & not buying anything we stopped to have a coffee & sat at an outdoor table... As we were sitting there, Kate, a girl i used to work at Metro Community College with, but didn't know very well, walked by. She was smiling and said, "I'm so glad to see you. I thought you had died." This struck me as odd, but i thought it might just be an expression... something like 'it's been so long,' just weirder, but then she went on to explain that she literally thought i was dead, because she'd heard that somebody named Joel who worked at Elkhorn (the Metro campus i worked at) had died, and she thought it had been me, since she didn't know my last name. She said she'd wondered what i'd died of, and how sad that was & was oddly apologetic that she hadn't come to what she thought had been my funeral (she used her baby as an excuse).

She imparted to me that she was very happy i wasn't dead, a point we could agree on & we parted amicably, if awkwardly... See you later

05 May 2006

...and i just can't hide it.


I've arrived in Omaha safe & sound... A lovely flight after waking up to a 04:50 alarm (crazy) & a seat-mate who was great. She & i exchanged not one single word the entire flight (except i muttered "Gesundheit" when she sneezed, but i don't think she heard me, so it hardly counts). We were cordially & comfortably silent, it was great.

In other exciting news, because i am visiting Brooke, i have access to a digital camera for the weekend (hooray), so i can share real-time photos with you, my loyal readers. Instead of my 'found photo' blogging, you can see some actual photos of the stories i'm telling. ...

04 May 2006

zombies, i guess


Since in at least a few places, this blog is referred to as "Joel's Zombie Blog" i feel like i should occastionally reflect on what zombies mean to me. Today, during my 'Little Red Schoolhouse' writing class Russell & I were reflecting on various liquors we enjoy & both decided we very rarely enjoy rum, but we were speaking more of the 'Rum & Coke' variety of cocktail, but i completely overlooked the caribbean variety rum drinks... While Russell did mention the Mojito, the Mai Tai and the Zombie were left out of the equation... In retrostpect (by which i mean after half a bottle of wine), i love Rum.

In other news, last night Lindsay, Russell, Adrian & I went out on the town, there's a full story out there, but - good times, good times. We played Trivial Pursuit : 90s Edition and among the real puzzlers Adrian & I paved our "victory" with was "How Many Times Did Eminem fail 9th Grade before he gave up and went on to become a rapping god?" (or something like that...ahem). Yeah. So. Good game.

So, zombies. Yeah, they're great. As i kinda mentioned yesterday, i feel like i really have a paper now... And it can basically be summed up with the sentence:
"Where did all these zombies come from and what are they trying to tell us...and i wonder why they're so hungry; but don't worry, it'll all be ok."
Seriously, that's what Eirik (my preceptor) & i decided my paper was about yesterday. Ridiculous, eh? Anyway. G'day all. Hope this little zombie reflection has been helpful to you all.

02 May 2006

Random Momentary Elation (RME)


Once in a great while, a brief moment comes along in my life when suddenly everything seems alright... All my looming problems suddenly have solutions, the sun looks sunnier, my thesis has a thesis... Things seem great. Today this moment lasted from 4:36pm - 4:51, a longer period than such a feeling usually lasts for me, but i was biking home, waving at cursing motorists & smelling the fresh spring dumpsters of Hyde Park...

But now i'm home, and after delaying the Real for an hour with the first episode of Lost (thanks Eric & Bethany) i am rather back to feeling nervously content, happily trepidatious and not a little swoomy. But, this afternoon's RME is not utterly gone from my life, i still have the memory of it and the hope of another such moment soon... now, if i can just remember what the line after "Zombies are good to think with..." is.

01 May 2006

the man who Should be king...


Stephen Colbert is a comic genius... not only that, but he's got a a pair made of pure titanium. I saw a short piece on him last night on 60 Minutes & was musing today on just how funny he is. When i got back to Chicago tonight MSNBC was running a piece on his speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner... The stuff coming out of his mouth, even though he was on the screen with 'Dubya,' i thought it had to be a 'fake news' story (my favorite line was 'He believes the same thing Wednesday, that he believed on Monday... no matter what happens on Tuesday.') but for some reason, he really was invited to speak at the annual presidential roast... The 'double "Dubya"' got a lot of press play (ha, ha, here's a guy pretending to be the president) probably because nobody knew what to do with Colbert's material... But it is biting. Mean and cruel and true.
So good...