Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Goodbye, Goodbye

The New City YMCA on Halsted will close this Sunday, June 30. My wife and I have been members for two years, and it’s with a heavy heart that we’ll leave that multicolored building behind. I was resistant when Erika first took me there back in July 2005 but, with her prodding, I quickly found regular exercise incredibly beneficial for my physical and mental health. We’re going to move on to another Y for now, but the memories we leave at New City—the ones to be buried in the rubble when the wrecking ball hits—will make any new location feel like something less than home.

Though it may seem silly that the closing of a gym could mark the end of an era in someone’s life, it is nevertheless true for me. With that in mind—and, again, with a heavy heart—I’m announcing the end of Wound Up. I feel this site (and its earlier incarnation) was, like Picodiribibi, tied to a particular part of my life, and that part passed when I left my last job.

I will continue to keep this site alive. It’s a personal journal of sorts for me, so I don’t want it to disappear. You can also use the links at right to visit the old Woundup and Picodiribibi.

Thank you for reading my blog. If I ever decide to start a new one, I’ll let you know.

Friday, May 04, 2007

All Done

I finished my play today--completely. Spell-checked, copy-edited, page-numbered ... All that stuff. I got the idea for it, in part, while we were on our honeymoon in June-July 2005. I started writing it that August.

It's all kind of a ridiculous business--like most, if not all, occupations. If I tell myself that what happens next doesn't matter, I feel better.

I started work on a second idea during a lull last year. I'm giving myself a few weeks off, then taking it up again. In some ways, I feel it's waiting for me. On my desk.

Monday, April 23, 2007


I do need my record collection back. The lion's share of the rock section currently resides in Detroit, part of a five-year trip back from Greenpoint. Listening to 30-second snippets in the iTunes store isn't cutting it.

I honestly don't know where woundup will go from here, folks. I hope to keep it alive a little bit longer. Maybe it was inextricably tied to my last job. That's a good theory if you are given to fatalism. Maybe, like an aging ballplayer, the time for its career to end has arrived. I don't know. I hope to at least have a good reason if I hang it up -- like getting paid to write what I really want. We'll see. Till then, keep stopping by.

Friday, March 23, 2007

VoIPing It In

Gasp. For a second, I thought I had lost the complete Old Woundup archives. Diaryland looks to be taking a major crap. Hopefully they'll get it together again soon. Diaryland is kind of like the Maywood to Blogspot's River Forest. Diaryland is kind of like the Cheektowaga to Blogspot's Snyder. Diaryland is kind of like the Warren to Blogspot's Royal Oak. Diaryland is kind of like the Sauk Village to Blogspot's Homewood. Diaryland is kind of like the Yonkers to Blogspot's White Plains. And White Plains is where we get off.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Fighting 59ers

I've divided myself. I'm back into things at 30 that I was into at 15: baseball, Groo comics, military history, "Kill 'em All," the Chicago Bulls. It's a good way to live, I feel. Why not? I spent much of the last 10 years trying to prove I was smarter and hipper than my peers. What has it gotten me? Rotten teeth and a lifetime subscription to Magnet... and I give those to my therapist.

I used the bathroom at Trader Joe's today. It's very spacious with large mirrors over the sink and on the door, and I caught myself primping: my hair, my sweater, my pants. Did it look all right? I was still in the bathroom at Luxx in 2001--a part of me was. But that's okay. I comfort myself with the belief that the various versions of ourselves, year to year, combine to make us in the present. If you were to throw a stone, supersonically, at my chest, I would break apart, fragmenting into my many previous selves: a baby, a 15 year old, a 24 year old and many others.

And, man, do they get hungry. Thankfully, dinner's almost ready.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Woundup unto infinitum

Wow... the gaps are getting bigger than... bigger than... sorry, folks. We've got the lights turned off in the house. Here by ourselves with a Jimmy Smith record. I bought this collection two years ago but previously owned a very dirty (lit'rally, not figtiv'ly) copy I bought at flea market somewhere near Dayton in the late '90s. Now it's over.

Is it time to shell out more bread for a playwriting class? I answer the call about once a year. How about stage fighting--the last bastion of D&D nerds over 30? I think someone offers that somewhere in Chicago... maybe a back alley garage. Yes, let's take off our shirts when we do this routine. It gets so hot in here. I thought you said there were five other people in this class. Yes, but they all canceled at the last minute. Take off your shirt and... come at me with your staff. Bring it down on my head like this. Very good. In a sweeping motion, really just... Yes, like that. Harder. Harder. Good. Like you want to break my skull open. Very good. Now I'm going to take off my pants. It gets so hot in here. What? No... There isn't a break. I don't have a bathroom either. You can... you can piss in the alley, but I have to come with you.

Well... you might run away.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Don't Forget Your Intermittens

"I am disgusted by the pathetic trickle of content on this site the past month."

Just another angry letter from a Woundup reader--well, really the only Woundup reader. But he lives alone, is unemployed and has a powerful modem. Mr. Calabrese, your points are well-taken, but we ask for your patience during this transition time. We recently found the 240-foot mainframe unit we paid for was partially constructed of mint-flavored toothpicks--completely useless.

Things are still in boxes. I haven't even touched my dishes, yet. And I take my clothes straight from the plastic tubs. I just have a lot going on right now, and I'm always super-tired when I get home. The weather's so bad, too. I just want to watch TV and go to sleep. The lightbulb burned out in the front entranceway. I'm afraid I'm going to get mugged, but my landlord doesn't care. I just want spring to get here so I can refocus and open the windows. I totally missed the deadline to register for classes. I don't think I was really ready... I mean, I don't know what I want to do. I shouldn't spend all that money on grad school. But maybe I should just say "fuck it" and dive in--totally buckle down and do a lot of work. I don't know. I just want to go out tonight and forget everything.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Stumbling, Bumbling

Now this is more like it: a classic fuzzy Woundup post. We went to the sushi hut last night, where they whip their employees. Didn't see any whipping, but I toasted a couple of sakes to the westward development of dog salons down Division. Those dogs ate better than any of us did last night--and that includes the visiting Yamaha executives.

Add to that a couple brewtas at the ol' Darkroom and...Yes, here I am, back in the pressurized cabin. The co-pilot took the day off for the high holiday. The only substance in my body: Pepsi.

I have become an angry driver in Chicago and may have to be driven around like Keith Moon soon. I don't know how this happened to me. Erika's going to buy a straight jacket this weekend at the Hal Markofsky estate sale. It's hard to get that 1950's Bellevue quality anymore.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I Was in Line at the DMV...

I woke up after 6 a.m. and forced myself back to sleep, albeit pleasantly. I then had a dream I took Erika and Tim to visit Williamsville East High School--hated rival of my alma mater, Williamsville South. We drove down a tree-lined suburban street and pulled into East's parking lot. Then it jumped to a foyer in the school where someone was taking ID cards. I woke up shortly thereafter.

Does this mean anything? Probably not, but it's the freshest, most vivid thing in my mind this morning. I remember reading "The Adding Machine," in which William Burroughs said he got most of his story ideas from dreams. I've never tried it. I briefly kept a dream log about four years ago, and haven't thought much of it since.

June 2007 marks the five-year anniversary of my freedom from mental medication, which I had used for six years. I only mention this because mental medication all but eradicated my dream life during the time I took it. I never had very vivid dreams when I was younger, anyway, and that trend has continued as my dreams have returned. Regardless, I'm glad they're back and taking me to exciting places--like suburban Buffalo.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

King Catch-up

They let us out early today due to the weather. That would've never happened at the old Cracker Factory. I hopped a cab, avoided a nasty snarl near the Ontario on-ramp and found myself at home by 2:15. I lit a cigar, poured a glass of sherry and put my feet up on the ottoman. Well, those last three were fictitious, but I felt that way inside.

It's fun to get a little snowed in. I keep reminding myself how much more intense the Upstate New York snow of my younger years was. A foot was nothing to Buffalo or Syracuse. It really takes a knockout, like the recent one near Watertown, to upset the locals.

A little wine, a little "Sanford and Son"... I hope you're in a warm place tonight, Woundup reader. Talk to you soon.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pro Bowl

Wow, that might be the longest gap between posts in Woundup history. But don't worry. After a period of re-adjustment, Woundup is now back to begin content generation on a regular basis.

I look forward to more posts... what's that? You want a real post, not one of these "See you next time" deals? Oh...

Wow, there was a product placement for Smooking Loon wines in "A Scanner Darkly." That takes some balls. Almost as ballsy as the FTD Florist spot in "Apocalypse Now."

Friday, January 26, 2007

To Read

Erika's poem -- the one I mentioned a month or so ago -- has just been posted at Double Room. Please take a look. I'm very proud of her.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I Won't Ever Leave You

Have you missed me/us? Well, we've been kicking the boxes around the new space here for a few days. Still trying to figure things out. Hopefully it'll all turn out okay. It's nice. Lot's of good places to eat nearby. It's funny how regimented your conception of the city is until you move just a few blocks away. You feel completely disoriented. It'll change with time. Welcome to the new cracker factory.

It's nice to have my evenings back. Funny that I make it sound so inconsequential after all that strife the past four months. I can't remember how I lived before, working 9 to 5. I did it for more than four years. I imagine it'll come back to me, and I'll wonder how I ever worked the nightbeat.

No. Something tells me I won't ever forget the nightbeat.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nothing Less Than

The Bears kick off in less than two hours. Like many of my generation, I watched Super Bowl XX and the great Bears victory. I remember McMahon getting hit on a scramble and flipping up in the air; the Fridge scoring; Sweetness looking dejected on the sidelines; and the team hoisting up Ditka. It can happen again. The Bears will win it today.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

2006: The Woundup Year in Review

Looking around at all these packed boxes... I'm gonna miss this old place. We're moving the company headquarters to a new facility on Monday. There are a lot of memories floating around in here...

There's the broom closet where I spent many nights drinking Heineken tall-boys by myself, trying to drill a hole in the wall so I could look into the ladies' john. There's the mail room where I would sneak cigarettes after hours and make phone calls to my bookie. And there's the door to the loading dock. I wanted to bone that UPS delivery lady so bad, and that day when she said, “I've got something for you,” and bent over—I had to touch it. The lawsuit cost me my home in Vale. It was really just a crash-pad for my pothead son, Chad. He works in advertising now.

I'll miss it. I lost some money here, but I made a whole lot more. Those are the times I'll remember most: rubbing newly minted money on my face and chest; sticking it in my briefs and walking around the office... Yeah...

2006 was a good year for Woundup Corp. We really raked it in. I'm sure you want the quarter-by-quarter breakdown; the tech advancements; the numbers... Well, I'm not doing that this year. Why not? It's my fucking year in review, and I can do whatever I want. It's called respect, folks. I earned it. You haven't.

In January of 2006, I decided I would write a novel. I had never written anything before, besides these goddamn stupid year-in-reviews, and, of course, the original Woundup Corp. business plan. I hire pencil-necks to write things for me. That includes accountants, secretaries, office assistants and everybody's favorite—the 7-person Content Team... bunch of fairies. I got sick of those fruits making snide little jokes at the meetings—little literary jokes they thought I wouldn't understand. Like, “Sorry chief, we can't work on June 16. It's Bloomsday.” Very funny. I had to look that one up.

One day I got sick of it, so I brought out my old Smith Corona—Hemingway had owned it. I sat down and told those content fruits, “I am going to write a novel in one year.”

I built a multi-million dollar company with my bare hands (and my father-in-law's money); I dine regularly with presidents and CEOS; I'm involved in a paternity suit with Dutch royalty—I knew I could write a fucking novel.

Well, the first thing I had to decide was what to write about. A Tom Blister venture makes money, but I didn't want to lower myself to the level of those losers Grisham and Turow. I wanted this to be art, folks. I had some of my people look into it. Seems you get the most respect if you write a long 1,000-page-plus novel. Mix in a little personal experience, some family strife, a mysterious visitor or shadow organization, maybe someone leaves somebody a bunch of money in their will... also, a little skin. Shit, I knew could write that.

I outfitted my own little writing room at the estate; got myself a leather-bound writer's notebook; and stocked the liquor cabinet with Wild Turkey. I sat down and started, wrote a few sentences and...

A month later, well after the football playoffs were over, I looked in the writing room. A thin layer of dust covered my Smith-Corona and my writer's notebook. “Fucking bullshit,” I said. “No fucking book is gonna beat Tom Blister.” I sat down, wiped off the dust and jammed a sheet of paper into the machine. “THIS is my story...”

Three months after that, I was puttering around the estate, looking for a case of Titelist golf balls Bill Richley from CompuPlex gave me. They were sitting in my writing room. I looked at my typewriter and muttered, “Goddammit.” I opened a bottle of Wild Turkey and sunk into the leather couch next to the desk. “Fuck this,” I said. The sun went down, and I sat there in the dark. I was drunk. I picked up Hemingway's fucking typewriter and threw it out the window. It crashed down on the croquet court, narrowly missing my 23-year-old Taiwanese girlfriend. She was playing a game in the buff with her tennis instructor. I passed out.

In December I was skulking in my office. The Content Team—the fairies—had got whiff of my writer's block and were making little jokes. One of them said, “Cheer up, chief. It took Joyce 17 years to write 'Finnegans Wake.'” I hated them. But luck smiled on ol' Tom Blister. I found one of those little fruits making an illegal, personal copy on a company machine. He was making a copy of a 1,000-page-plus novel. It was Ethan Kraputnik himself—the leader of the content team.

“Kraputnik,” I said. “If you don't give me that novel, I'll shitcan your ass, and I know you can't live without your iPod docking station and wine-of-the-month-club.”

The twerp was really sweating. I asked what his piece-of-shit book was about.

“I... I've been working on it for five years. It's a mixture of personal experience and family strife. A mysterious visitor shows up, someone leaves a sizeable amount in a will... and there's a three-way sex scene involving a middle-aged literature prof—“


I commandeered his novel as property of the company. A few contributions to the Great Books Society and my 'script was edited in record time. Folks, you can buy my new novel, “Pounded,” Jan. 22. I'll be signing books at the Clark Street Border's in February.

What's 2007 got in store for Tom Blister? One word. Screenplay.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Busy With Other Things

CEO Tom Blister's many attempted (and failed) first drafts reminded me of my short film/short story class freshman year of college. It was a blow-off elective but sort of interesting. We had to read a short story then watch the short film adaptation and compare the two in a weekly paper. To psych myself up for the task, I would write an unrelated, fictional intro for each paper--sometimes short, sometimes a bit lengthy--then go into what I was actually supposed to be discussing. One intro involved a spoof of "The Ten Commandments," and I remember another had some people on a river raft like "Huckleberry Finn."

They call this a warm-up, and you usually cut it out at the end. But I never did and turned each paper in, warm-up included. My professor, a sour fellow who walked away from his Jesuit life for the love of a woman, never said anything. He just gave me letter grades--no comments on my off-assignment fiction. He acted like it never existed.

What did he think? Maybe he was so wracked with guilt after leaving the priesthood, all he could do was stare blankly at the film screen, slumped in his chair, and robotically mark "A-" on every paper put in front of him. I'll just have to add it to my 5 Unanswered Life Questions. I'll fill you in on the other four sometime.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Sources tell me Woundup Corp. CEO Tom Blister has locked himself in his Park Ave. hotel suite with a case of Dom Estes. One can only assume he's working on his 2006 Year in Review. Yes, this behavior is not different from a typical Blister night, but an iBook was delivered to the hotel, as well. Let's hope he figures out how to turn it on.

Friday, January 05, 2007


I'm free. Four months of job searching paid off. I took a gig in a familiar line of work. I'm happy about it, but certainly have all the normal apprehensions related to leaving a job after 4.5 years for something completely new. I think I'll be okay.

This means two things. First, the end of the nightbeat in two weeks' time. Maybe you've grown to enjoy my lamentable nightbeat posts. Maybe you haven't noticed. It doesn't really matter to me, because I don't have to fucking work at night anymore. Second, Woundup Corp. will finally move from its longtime headquarters on W. Hubbard (aka "The Magnesium Mile"). Look for details soon about our new location.

And don't forget about CEO Tom Blister's 2006 Year in Review. It will show up here sometime next week.