27 August 2006

Stuff It

Reinhabiting the Martha house has been more of a challenge for me than i expected it to be. This is mostly due to the fact that brooke and i have very different senses of style and stuff viability (sV).

Having taken 1 year in Chicago, while brooke stayed with her job in Omaha, she seems to have developed the sense that the Martha house, where we've both been since July 2003, is now her house, rather than our house as it formerly was...sort of. Part of the problem is the fact that having recently had a mid-sized wedding, we have an inordinate amount of new stuff, which necessarily requires space for it to be housed. This space is generally created by getting rid of old stuff. So far, very logical.

The problem is, i often have a very different sense of an items sV than brooke does. Our first major purchase after our wedding was a brand-spanking-new couch and chair for the living room. This made our old chair and couch obsolete, so we called St. Vincent's and had them come pick up the excess furniture. As it was being carted away, however, i was thinking about what a great couch this one had been. It had the rare commodity of being a couch i could completely stretch out on, great for sleeping, and we already owned it.
i miss my Yöt
There is a hobbit term, which i can't verify at the moment (not having the trilogy on hand), called motham (i think), the idea being that it is an item currently in your possession for which you have no use, but you hold on to it with the idea in mind that it will be useful at some point in the future. Books, in particular, i am unable to part with, because i may need to refer to them at some point. Or a coaxial cable splitter, a 3-prong adapter, a set of James Arthur Vineyards wine glasses; at some point, i may want them again.

I know i am not alone in these thoughts of stuff. Sites like ebay, freecylcle and the amazon marketplace thrive on people wanting other people's old crap. This isn't the first time i've had thoughts like these, but now that i'm in the throes of a new round of throwing away and passing along, i just needed to think them out loud again. I like stuff, i enjoy it, and does anybody want the last two years of Entertainment Weekly's?

22 August 2006

I'm sailing away...

serious sailor Saturday morning arrived sunny, hot and lovely in Omaha and while we weighed various options i thought i could come up with nothing better than sitting in a car for 5+ hours en route to Minneapolis.

So it was that i was able to attend the 2nd bienniel (is that the word for every two years?) Luau, hosted by Nate & Lissa. The party was once again, a success, though i did miss portions due to "seasickness". Nathan allegedly drove a moped through his yard & the cops showed up at 3:45 AM... a good party by any standard. The cops came to the door, alleging they had just seen the front door wide open and were checking in. They warned that thieves often see a party going on, walk in, swipe a few purses and leave... not a bad idea, in fact. Their scenario reminded me of the first luau, two summers ago, at the Longfellow house. Some stranger was wandering around the party and at some point in the evening we approached him. He said he couldn't find the people he was looking for (we hadn't heard of them). We eventually realized he was at the wrong luau. He'd actually been going to a different luau on Longfellow Avenue (which in retrospect seems unlikely).

always turn INTO the wind (or is it away?)Nate's small sunfish was again in the backyard, beached and filled with ice and beer with a christmas light sail. There were several pitchers of tropical drinks, of all shades - a blue, a red, a pink, and a yellow - mostly terrible and terribly fruity.

The next day, miserable and hungover, i decided against the Twin's game, and we went down to Lake Nokomis and sailed the very same sailboat. I got the chance to take complete control of the boat for the first time ever (almost flipping us over twice), we played a game of wiffle ball (which i think i won) and then drove our sorry asses back to Omaha.

Overall it was a fun, fleeting weekend. The Twins took two of three and gained a game in the Wild Card hunt & we made a quick stop at Crate & Barrel to pick up some stuff off the registry that we really wanted.

18 August 2006

Life Lessons in the Office

According to Ricky Gervais, a great philosopher once said:

"There are three things you need in this life. The first is an important relationship with someone else, the second is an occupation that matters, and then you need to know you make a difference."

Who the fuck is Ricky Gervais... and who the fuck is said great philosopher. Tonight, two lovely... consumptions ... i moments ago, finished watching The Office dvd on generous loan from Nate & Lissa, and earlier in the evening went to Omaha's Jazz on the Green, tonight, featuring Heidi Joy (doesn't she look a bit like the Adventures In Babysitting girl?)

I think, perhaps i fear, that something about me has fundamentally changed. And i don't know quite when it started or if i want it to continue. As Gilbertson and i sit here and write this entry, my mind is a-flutter with thoughts of what can be gleened from The Office, and my viewing on Wednesday of Superman Returns (the Superman thoughts definitely have a strong connection to Zizek.)

Two books arrived on my doorstep today about Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds, and i'm so excited to dig into them, i can't even describe it. So i'll try. All i want to do, is (have some fun) write some papers. As i mentioned previously, i'm actually currently garnering absolutely no pay for my days labors, but i find, more and more, that i can't stop fucking considering everything.

Why is it that Superman so often flies around saving one person at a time (how many other people are simultaneously dying that he's not saving)? Why is it exactly that von Hagens wants to industrialize the plastination (and preservation) of dead bodies? Do you really need all three of those things or is that just a 'best case scenario' and one or two will do you fine?

I don't know really, quite, what i'm getting at (my head's full enough of Shakers that i wouldn't pay attention to me if i could help it), but Brooke said something tonight to me that worried me. She said she saw me (future-gazing here) as an old academic, sitting in a leather-clad room, puffing a pipe (she said cigar, but i think her angle must have been bad) just talking about shit. And that can't be what i want to do, can it? Can i really live a life where i just talk about things? (This is where Zizek comes in)... Or is it that in thinking about these small things, academia is really pointing at larger things, and so my function becomes something of a go-between, a being who walks in both realms & tries to take the "real world" (so obviously absent from so many who go to UChicago) to the academy & the thoughts of the academy to the real world... Maybe i could be like some kind of academic Messiah, except i'd prefer to turn my water into vodka... wheat-based, 6-time distilled, vodka.

15 August 2006

Work to Live

The last couple of weeks have been busy ones, full of much work (all of it, as yet, sadly, unpaid), some play & many plans. Yesterday i poked my head in at my beloved ex-company OfficeTeam to see if i could get some temporary work to tide me over for a while. wouldn't you hire me?Unfortunately, the OT team was far too professional for me & couldn't be bothered to meet with me immediately, rather setting up an appointment for tomorrow morning.

In addition to my search for temp work, i've also been pounding the pavement in search of actual work & non-work, in contacting two other former "employers," Metro & Harris Labs... Both of which i've tried to get in at, and am waiting to hear back.

But at least i'm not bored waiting for the phone to ring. I've plenty of TV-DVDs to watch and have also been working on a new dining room table (for the dining room) as well as keeping a few academic irons in the fire. I now have two conference papers to write (one wholly new, the other a pieced together work from some of my UChicago stuff) and a Berkeley conference to get into. I'm trying to piece together application materials for this coming fall and constantly still working to make my zombie thesis better (in hopes of it getting into the zombie anthology that i submitted it to).

All in all i have plenty to take my mind off the fact that i have, at present, no incoming income whatsoever (though i did, just moments ago mail off a $3 mail-in rebate for Seagrams gin), including my newly purchased & nearly finished book The Ruins, by Scott Smith (an excellent read, go get it, right now).

But fear not for me, dear friends, i'll likey be ok (though if you want to donate to me via paypal, i won't say no... just a couple cents... come onnnnnnn...)

10 August 2006

Dinner Party of Five

... though, only if you count Gilbertson.

Tonight we hosted a small and successful dinner party, which seems to be nothing special, really, but is definitely something i've often thought to myself i should try more often. Tobi (our pleasantly surprising 3rd wheel roommate for the 1st month of marriage) invited a friend from her nursing program over for dinner to celebrate their completion of the 18-month Creighton nursing program.

I made a shrimp fried rice, that i must say, came off just about perfectly, Brooke boiled some corn on the cob and we drank a risky bargain-bin bottle of white wine from that also was pleasantly surprising. Rob, said friend, was excited to discuss zombies and religion and anarchy, so the rather short event, which culminated in slices of watermelon (which were passed on to Gilbertson after we ate our fill), was never boring. In fact, Rob is even excited to read my zombie thesis, which will then, likely, be the last we hear from him...

...but anyway, lovely evening.

08 August 2006


Tonight, Brooke jumped out to an impressive lead in the SeegerOlympics, a slightly embarrassing, extremely diverting past-time that is a family tradition... at least if you can call a 4-year-old event a tradition.

Since the 2002 World Cup Final, my two brothers (andy & tim) and i have competed in all sorts of events and awarded the Dick Koch trophy to the overall winner. I'm on a two-year winning streak, but this year jen & brooke both joined the ranks of competitors.

At first i assumed this wouldn't change too much, since many of the events played are video games or ridiculous child-ball events around the house, in other words, the sorts of events that my brothers and i have been training for our entire lives.

But in a single evening of events (which only rarely get played because we competitors live all across the country) brooke jumped out to a commanding lead (3 to 1 to 1 to 0 to 0) by doing reverse crunches, rolling a disc across a room into a bucket, and finding the word "very" in a book (she also dominated in her first ever game of a PGA Golf video game {a generic version of Golden Tee} at Brewsky's).

So, the competition gauntlet has been thrown down by... my wife. But play will continue and the fight for the trophy will be tough. Keep up with the games at the new SeegerOlympics blog. You can even play along, submit ideas for events, or trash-talk your favorite seeger.

06 August 2006

Review of "The Walking Dead"

This review was originally posted (and better so) in Four Color Comics. To see the original version (with an image that simply will not work on my blog for some reason) go here. But, since it fits my theme, and i haven't posted on zombies for a while (except for my wedding post) i submit it here for your amusement & edutainment. But do check out & bookmark jd's wonderful comics blog. I plan to write for it once in a while & it's just a damn good site all round.

The Walking Dead (Vol. #1-4)
Image Comics
Reviewer’s Grade : C-

When my set of all four volumes (thus far) of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead first arrived from amazon.com I was positively giddy… I’d heard nothing but good things (from reviews that evidently were written by his mother) and was thinking I was coming into a world of Romero-level zombie thought in this exciting new series.

BUT, instead, what I found was a cliché-ridden work of zombie survivor fiction that’s been told too many times, and always in the same way. Kirkman does not help his cause in the introduction to Volume 1 when he writes:

“To me, the best zombie movies aren’t the splatter fests of gore and violence with goofy character and tongue in cheek antics. Good zombie movies show us how messed up we are, they make us question our station in society… and our society’s station in the world. They show us gore and violence and all that cool stuff too… but there’s always an undercurrent of social commentary and thoughtfulness.”[1]

Even casual fans of zombie films and literature see such societal critiques at work, but for Kirkman to explicitly make such a blatant statement in the introduction to his first volume bodes ill for the whole run and is a sign of what’s to come. Kirkman suffers from over-writing and an often painful lack of subtlety, a trait shared by artists Tony Moore (Vol 1.) and Charlie Adlard (Vols. 2-4).

The story traces police officer Rick Grimes who awakens from a coma in an empty hospital some days (28 perhaps?) after the zombie necropalypse has hit earth. We follow Grimes as he heads home, discovering his old neighborhood mostly abandoned and slowly discovering the new world order. Through contrived conversations with another survivor and a horse we learn about his wife and child (which we also found out about several panels earlier in the artwork), who he leaves town to try and find.

Kirkman shows disrespect to his readers by having to spell out every notion in words. He seems to not trust his artists, who in turn seem not to trust him (using the most extreme ‘surprised’, ‘angry’, ‘sad’ looks in any frame they want to express emotion).

Some of his frames are so full of words there’s almost no room for characters to walk around in them. When his characters fight, their dialogue feels like an 8-year-old at play: “I’m going to blow your head off” says one survivor to another at one point, presumably before she is about to blow someone’s head off.

With all its negatives, though, the most frustrating thing about The Walking Dead is its amazing potential. The artwork, when it’s not painfully obvious, is quality black and white, which adds to the bleakness of the world the characters inhabit. The covers, all done by Tony Moore are beautiful, if a bit repetitive and the splash pages, few and far between are used very effectively. Walking Dead is at its best when Grimes is wandering alone and there are two or three wordless pages in a row, capturing the voiceless zombie threat more perfectly than any conversation can, but Kirkman again finds a way to spoil many of these with a speech bubble filled only with “…”.

Kirkman is asking very interesting questions about humans living in extreme circumstances, I just wish he could sometimes avoid asking them right out loud.

[1] Kirkman, Robert. The Walking Dead: Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye. Introduction. Berkeley: Image Comics, 2005.

02 August 2006

Weeks in Review

It has embarrassingly been a month since my last post on Roman Numeral J, and while i want to apologize to my faithful readers who've been reading the same mildy-drunken post of july the 4th for 4 weeks (sorry rssl, sorry Ci), i say in my own defense... it's been a slow last couple of weeks, so i've had trouble finding topics to talk about. Nonetheless, that's what blogging's for, right? writing about meaningless daily occurrences.

My Ulyssian epic begins just two short days after you last heard from me. On July 6th, andy, daveT & i cruised down to the Rockford airport for an Allegiant Air flight to Las Vegas, Nevada. After a couple gin & tonics on the morning flight i was ready to hit the Strip at a full sprint. We met tim at our hotel, The Imperial Palace, and wandered the nearby casinos. The Minneapolis foursome arrived late that night & i continued wandering with them until 4:30 in the morning. From $1 Margaritas at the Casino Royale to $2 drinks of any kind at Barbary Coast, we found our section of the Strip very accomodating. It was a Bachelor Party, so i forwent sleep in favor of good times & woke up with the early room that had retired before holliday, davewake, gilkerson & JP had arrived. Around 9 or so we hit the mediocre ImpPalace pool and then were off to the races again, cruising the strip, winning money, losing money, losing money. All in all, the weekend in Vegas was a pretty damn good trip. I drove a Hummer, saw the lovely American spectacle that is Las Vegas, and met some good life-long friends (shout out to Kylie!). Sadly, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so details necessarily must be few and far between. So, after a late-saturday night (3:30 am or so) which almost culminated in a fist fight with a drunk guy we got on a plane at 6am and headed home...

...arriving just in time to watch the World Cup final at home with my parents & andy. While the outcome was immensely disappointing, and Zidane's head-butt inexplicable, i am glad i got home to see the game.

The next week began lazily enough, making a few last minute plans, and Thursday night hoardes of people began arriving in the small hamlet of Clinton along with a lovely large RV from Finnegan's in Beloit. The RV Extravaganza was about to begin. We toured several local bars, karaoke'd at Rockin' Roger's (especially Grant), peed in an enormous urinal at the Boar's Nest (in a confederate flag-themed bathroom). Then i almost left my credit card at Sud's in Beloit & we ended up in the loft at the Hog Cabin. The evening was a blast, fun had by all, and afterwards i slept in the RV.

The next night was another extravaganza of sorts. The Rehearsal on the Green started out with Pastor Tom talking... a lot. First we talked through what the ceremony would be like. Then we walked through what the ceremony would be like (with continued talking about what it would be like), then we talked some more about what it would be like. Tom continually referred to the Miron's reading of a dialogue from Posession as a "dramatic reading," which we thought wasn't entirely accurate, but turned out to be right on. After the actual rehearsal we went out to Turtle Greens golf course for dinner & golfing. I hit what might be my best golf shot of all time teeing off on hole number one, a long straight hole with the road directly off to the right (behind a thin tree-line). My tee shot floated to within maybe 20 yards of the green. On the trip down to my ball, everyone took a few more shots (jackie taking one at the photographer, nearly nailing him in "his childhood"). My second shot, which was meant to be a lofting chip instead line-drived directly to the right, through the tree-line and perhaps over the road. The ball was lost, but i found another one, chipped over the green then picked up my ball and called it quits. I should have ended with my drive, but i got greedy. After a lovely dinner we headed to the Beloit Inn & i put the "finishing touches" on my slide show for the next evening.

The next day was kind of exciting. On Saturday, July 15th, i got married. And that was pretty cool. The entire day is in something of a blur, partially due to the excitement, and partially due to the heat-stroke induced by outdoor photography in july. Brooke & i both agree that it was fun, but that it might have been more fun if it had been somebody else's wedding. We constantly felt like we were missing out on lots of good times because we had 'obligations'. We did manage to get a fair amount of dancing in, both took part in the limbo competition & had a chance to harass the DJ for playing crappy music a few times each. I hope everyone had as good a time as i did (or better). In the end, there was little wine left over, seemingly no beer, and suit-coats were recovered from Club Impulse.

We bolted the next day & headed to Chicago before flying early Monday morning to Cancun Mexico for a weeklong honeymoon in Puerta Aventuras. We had a blast exploring Mayan ruins, swimming in the ocean, drinking, eating, and eating at our 'All-Inclusive' resort. The resort actually got a bit old after about a day. There is only so much swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and laying on a beach you can do in one place, but the food was excellent, the booze was free & our massuese Ernest had magical fingers. In the end we owned 1 hammock, 1 sea-shell lamp, 5 bottles of tequilla and some postcards of mexican art more than we arrived with. It was a great week, but we were happy to be home & now i've landed myself back in Omaha and am currently looking for gainful employment.

So, that's what went on while i was away. Now i am returned, hopefully with abandon. Looking for work, pining for school, and doing ok as long as i stay in the AC as often as possible...