Monday, October 31, 2005

Bull Session

There has been a strange trend, slowly evolving in sports media, in which animals (horses, bulls, etc.) that participate in human-sanctioned games (races, etc. ) are called "athletes."

During a late-season Cubs rain delay, WGN ran a program highlighting 100 great athletes. One of these was Triple Crown winner Secretariat _ a race horse.

Today I leafed thru a recent copy of ESPN the Magazine and found an article on Reindeer _ a particularly ornery bull on the Professional Bull Riders circuit.

ESPN the Magazine extended its typical fawning treatment of human athletes to this animal _ calling it a "diva," and even running a portrait shot at the head of the article like the bull was Dwayne Wade. One expert praised Reindeer's athleticism in the story.

I suppose we should compliment ESPN for its superior mythologizing skills. Over the course of the article, I began to think of Reindeer as a star _ rich with the complexity our greatest sports heroes possess.

Is it cruel to call Secretariat and Reindeer by what amounts to a euphemism? Aren't they forced like slaves into these games? Aren't they goaded _ whipped and otherwise _ to be angrier, more violent?

The ESPN article makes it sound like Reindeer lives a life of splendor _ full of food and mates. The bull's owner seems to think Reindeer understands he is a prized performer _ that he likes it.

It's ridiculous to project human feelings onto animals, calling them "athletes" _ a title only humans should carry. It's insulting _ to both man and beast _ to liken what happens on the horse track or in the bull ring to a baseball game. Frankly, it's insane.

The Comforting Squirt of Brain Chemicals

My dreams are getting stranger _ or maybe it's that I'm remembering them more. There was a time _ a period of years _ when I did not dream. The last few weeks have seen an uptick in my subconscious activity (or is it called alpha/delta wave activity?). I cannot attribute this to anything in particular. Perhaps it's the changing of the seasons.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and went back to sleep for an hour. It was then that I had a dream...

I was back in high school, though I later learned it was graduate school. I was in a classroom filled with the classic high school desks with the built-on plastic slab desktops. The teacher was White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. He had us study some pictures of the Art Institute that he drew himself and determine what his psychological problem was from a list of five options (man, I wish I could remember these). Ozzie kept driving out students, who got up and left throughout the class. At one point, one of my real-life co-workers came in with a large dog _ like a Great Dane. The dog had no ears and eyes like a mole _ barely visible. I thought maybe it had been deformed by a firework explosion, but my coworker told the class it was just a rare breed.

What does it all mean? I don't think it means anything _ just an entertaining nocturnal vision _ an assemblage of experiences, longings and ruminations _ a few frames from the human cinema _ a patchwork quilt of our (cont. tomorrow)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

King of the Nighttime World

At some point I fell asleep after drinking a homemade gimlet. Is this one of the warning signs? Of a boring ball game, perhaps. I left Tuman's when the power blinked off, hid my beer in my coat and drank it as I walked through the darkened neighborhood. A telling image from our nation's post-oil nightmare future or another chapter in the continuing story of public miscreancy? I tastefully brought the bottle inside my apartment to throw away _ instead of decorating one of the many renovation sites in the Village.

Again, I feel I should only log in here when I awake during the night. But, then it's been debated whether I should log in here at all. I'm going to bed either way.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

We Never Should Have Taken Out Willoughby

Mike Golic, one half of ESPN radio's morning drive-time squawk team, has no choice now but to talk about the White Sox. Golic, in my opinion, is a Chicago naysayer, but the capricious nature of his show makes him follow the hottest story and__viola!__he is now a Chi-town cheerleader. Screw you, Golic.

As a Chicago resident, I'm supposed to have an opinion on this phenomenon _ the World Series. I am happy for White Sox fans. They can feel the hot breath of the title on their faces. But, I am a Cubs fan, and I am kicking myself that those bastards BLEW IT IN 2003. WHY DIDN'T DUSTY GO OUT TO THE MOUND TO CALM DOWN PRIOR IN GAME 6? WHERE WAS MATT CLEMENT IN GAME 7? WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING, DUSTY???

The Cubs are the kind of team _ unlike, say, the Yankees or Braves _ that get to the playoffs once a decade. So now we have to watch Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano waste away their careers playing on sub-.500 teams. And maybe they can be the competent, but declining veterans on the next Cubs squad to get mangled in the fanged jaws of the postseason.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Riding the Abuse-cycle

Just got word a small town letters-for-Santa-Claus campaign is getting write-ups in a lesbian lifestyle magazine AND Military Money. Everyone loves Santy Claus, see? In her defense, the flak was very, very nice.

You think I can sit here behind the glass wall and deride whomever I please? Turnabout is fair play, as witnessed a few moments later in the offices of P. Putnall Publishers, Manhattan, N.Y. ...

"Hey Allan, just got a call from Donahue."
"That blogger? That's the fifth time today."
"Yeah. He says he wants a three-book deal. A collection of his bloggings."
"Tell him to go fuck himself."
"Will do."

Don't think it can't happen to you.

It Lacks Lustre

Wow. I glanced at the Empty Bottle lineup for the coming week. I feel like it's 2001 again. Quintron. Get Hustle. Sheesh. For Halloween, I should dress as my favorite personality from 2001 _ and I don't mean the critically acclaimed motion picture. Christ, I hate Halloween.

Now the weather is getting colder, and I am getting... bolder. We'll see what the temperature is like when I hit the streets at 1:45 a.m. tomorrow morning. I'll be on Oakley between Walton and Chicago around that time. I generally carry big bills. Please don't break my glasses if you hit me.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Woundup v. City Spirit, et al

Chicago is over-saturated with BASEBALL news. What did Ruben Bolling say? You can go 10 years without a non-sports-related thought about CHICAGO.

Yes, it was only a matter of time before I put the flashing "NaySayer" light on the hood of my car and hit the gas. Nobody likes a good backlash more than the 7-person content team here at Woundup.

That said, I'm ecstatic Sam Smith's "Inside the NBA" column has returned to its weekly rotation in the Tribune. Let's put the pastoral leftovers of the summer game to rest and embrace basketball _ and the indoor life, in general. I'm a big proponent of the indoor life.

Why do I like Sam Smith? He has fun _ especially when he's hypothesizing trades. He throws out at least one trade idea each week so ridiculous it makes sense _ like today's Kevin Garnett for Dirk Nowitzki straight-up swap. Why not?

There's hope in trades _ change, new beginnings, etc. Who doesn't love that stuff? The 05-06 NBA season is a blank sheet of possibility, so sit down, turn off the lights and CATCH IT.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Greatest

The cosmic connection is positively crackling...

Monday night I went to a local bookstore I hold in great contempt _ but nonetheless patronize _ and bought Erika another copy of "The Crucible" for her student teaching work along with a modestly priced collection of Harold Pinter plays.

I came home and read the introduction to the Pinter collection _ text of his acceptance speech for a German theater award in the early '70s. I spent a lot of time flipping the book over to look at the picture of Pinter on the back _ from the same era _ nattily dressed in a dark suit, purple shirt, tie and gray suede shoes. I placed this book on our plant table in the front room next to the couch, so I'll see it whenever I sit down to watch TV _ a totem to ward off laziness.

And now this.

Pinter is one of the greatest of all time. He is one of my heroes. I write this with the utmost joy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I've dedicated my life to snuffing out corporo-speak _ at least in those places I have some power over. I, for example, don't use this plastic jargon around the house or on the bus ride to work (though try as I might, I cannot prevent my fellow riders from venerating the B2B Portal on their handheld compu-screens).

As I slash a path through the dense growth of double-speak, I promise to spare one leaden term _ Facility. I like Facility, as in: "We boast a 2500 square foot facility in Camden, N.J. for processing peer-to-client orders." I don't know why _ maybe it rings faintly with the sound of home: "I cordially invite you to our 200 square foot facility for the processing of tofu lasagna and $5 red wine."

On that day, when I find Facility hiding in some lexical thicket, I'll trap him in a cage and set it on the back porch so I can admire his dull, gray feathers while I take my morning tea.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Give My Regards to the Fourth Estate

Proving Woundup is the internet's foremost cosmic hub _ at least for the theater world _ Hedy Weiss is now involved in a flap with the producer of a local, big-budget show. Read here. Woundup thinks Weiss is right on. These Broadway productions are huge cash cows. God forbid someone question one of them and threaten to stem the flow of money. "Broadway" and "Quality" are NOT synonymous, and in a "free" country we should be notified accordingly.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Thank You Lord for the Gift of Guilt

I was sitting on our new couch in my underwear watching the Sox game last night. The lights were off in the apartment. Tadahito Iguchi had just a hit three-run homer, making the Red Sox pay for Tony Graffanino's Bill-Buckner-esque error on a ground ball. I sank deeper into the down cushions and thought, "This is all I'm gonna do tonight."

The commerical break came, and I switched to Channel 11 _ "Chicago Tonight," our local PBS news, arts wrapup. And who was Bob Sirott speaking to? Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times theater critic. "I get the hint!" I yelled to the TV, and after the game I went out on the back porch to work.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Lunch with the Gray Lady

Apart from the time I spend with my wife, nothing brings me more joy than the NYTimes Wednesday Dining section. I know I'll always find a quality front page story on local (New York) or international cuisine, along with intriguing pieces on booze and the restaurant industry.

It seems a colorful world _ restaurants _ and though I'd never enter its frenetic confines for work, it remains rich for fictional use. I can think of only two films on the cooking life, "Big Night" and "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman." I know there must be more, and also plays, novels, poems. Someone help me out.

That said... It's time for lunch.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Film Studies Majors Unite

Feeling better, feeling better... breaking out of the "Communicative Jail Cell" makes us feel better.

And what else, you ask, lifts our spirits? Tedward tipped me off to a fantastic site, and I am not embarassed to shill for it:

Channel 101

Watch and love... or retch.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Falling From the Tree

I have a strange family. I don't see them that much, so I usually live under the illusion that they are "normal." I hate that word, but it's the only one that conveys what I'm trying to get at.

I love my family, but I don't understand them _ specifically my mother. I imagine we're all in this same boat. The Family is the no. 1 source of material for playwrights, so that isn't all bad...

I think I'm taking it all too seriously, but I can't help feeling something. It brings out contours from the map of my life _ the moments of failure, weakness, irresponsibility _ and makes them seem the dominant tone of the whole thing. I don't know. We have hope for change. It takes personal action. I just don't like people telling me when/how I should take that action.

That feels better. There is your emotional content for today.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

We Do It The Old Fashioned Way...

One of the local sports talkers is running an infomercial for a football betting hotline. It's very elaborate _ designed to sound like a regular sports talk show. Back at school, the editorial soldiers fretted about the new, insidious ways the advertising insurgents were dynamiting their objective sanctity: advertorials, corporate-sponsored magazines, etc.

Nothing works like going through the front door. A nice eggs hollandaise breakfast can turn a 1200-word interview into free advertising quicker'n you can say "kid gloves." That or a goat cheese omellette. I'd like a large orange juice with that, please.