Sunday, October 26, 2008

No Xmas for John Quays

Scene from the fantasy football trenches, Week 8

Holding on to a wafer-thin lead late in Sunday's action, the Logan Square Squires looked to close out week 8 against high-powered foe Tokyo Terror. Thanks to some inspired play from back-up runner Jamal Lewis and the Colts defense, the Squires were up 90.06 to 88.52 with all combatants done for the week, save Squires (and Steelers) QB Ben Roethlisberger, playing a tough one in the real world against the New York Giants.

With the Giants leading 21-14 late in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh looked for one last miracle drive from their daring passer. (TV stats said he's lead 14 Q4 comebacks in his four-year career.) However, Ben had already thrown three interceptions — depriving me of two fantasy points each — so far, as the Giants brought constant heat at the line of scrimmage. One more pick and I'd be down two more points, losing this week's fantasy matchup.

The Giants bring more blitzes: incompletion, incompletion, incompletion. Fourth down with about a minute left. One more chance for the Steelers, and there's no doubt it's going to be a Hail Mary. A vision of Nate Washington jumping for the ball downfield surrounded by six Giants defenders flits through my head. The snap. Ben evades the blitz and throws it long. Interception. Real-life game over. I'm now down 88.06/88.52. Fantasy game over. … I think I just started bleeding out of my eyeballs.

Friday, October 24, 2008


It's strange to think that a baseball stadium built in your conscious lifetime could be considered stylistically outdated (or even retro), but sure enough, watching the World Series, I've gotten the feeling that the Tampa Bay Rays' Tropicana Field is truly out of its era — though that era (the late '80s) is something I can distinctly remember.

True, parks such as Wrigley and Fenway are very out of their eras, but their old feels are a link to a past — echoed in the newer "neighborhood-style" parks of the '90s and '00s — teams want to cultivate. A purer time, so they believe. But the Trop — one of the last cookie-cutter stadiums of the '70s/'80s — is a different kind of reminder: one of lower attendances, the unsettling first decade of free agency, the mercenary nature of the DH and of general fan unfriendliness. (It's even media unfriendly, offering a high and off-center location for the center field camera.)

But when I see those blank, high pads against the backstop — an area that would now be filled with premium seating at places like PNC Park and Petco Park — I'm filled with a kind of strange nostalgia. And when Fox cuts away to full-stadium shots of the Trop, I can't help but think that it does looked outdated, though for such a long time that was what baseball looked like to me: a fixed dome, fake grass and multiple, vertiginous decks miles in the distance. Can you be nostalgic for something ugly and poorly planned? Definitely. And I'm growing to really like the Trop.

As a side note, it's very ironic that, years later, the Phillies are battling in the World Series in a fixed-dome stadium. Their last October visit had them facing the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993 at that king of '80s era baseball venues: the SkyDome.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Quiet village

You know, I never did buy the copy of "Quiet Village" like I wanted to back during the lounge/exotica revival of the '90s. I remember having a copy in my hand at a Hamtramck record store the day after we played a show in Ann Arbor in 1998, but I put it back in the bin, probably because it was a 180-gram reissue that cost $25. Ah well …

We watched "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" last night (and enjoyed it). Maybe that has me thinking about Hawaii and its dreamlike music. Also, the Cracker Factory is a bit mum today; the shifting seasons have muted my normally chattering co-workers. I felt pretty dog dang tired myself Monday night after a full slate of 50 degrees and grayness. But I think this is actually my kind of weather — I'll call it "minutes before sleep." The overcast maritime climate of Continental Europe beckons. I just have to learn French (or brush up on my German).

Some friends read the latest draft of my new play on Sunday. It turned out well, and I'm ready to kick off the next revision with their comments in mind. The pay-to-play service I've used the past two years didn't come through, even though I, yes, still paid for it. But I liked our home reading better. It was very insightful and refreshingly without the usual whining from the kitchen sink crew.

… Listen to that quiet. Just the faint hum of lights and the cycling of the building furnace. Perhaps elevators in the distance. Someone lets out a sigh down the hall … Time for a banana.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This kind of helps, too

A tradition unlike any other.

Uncertain time-suh

Looks like I need to take my own advice, as the stress factor has gone up about 10 notches since I last posted. Let's hear that theme, shall we?

Best TV theme ever. I think we need this for the whole office today — or at least our department. I figure I've got about 1.5 to 2 hours to go before I can be at home drinking a beer and forgetting about this bullshit. Hang in there, Woundup.

Serenity now

I don't know what it is about the theme from "Taxi," but I find it very calming. With all the stuff I've read recently about in-utero communication and memory-forming, it makes me think my Mom watched the show while she was toting me around in 1976 — that or we all watched it together before my faculties fully kicked in.

That said, I find that on a stressful day, such as today, playing the "Taxi" theme in my head relaxes me quite a bit. I'd even advocate for pumping it in over the office's emergency PA system, but not everyone may enjoy the same effects I do.

It all makes me wonder what Bob James is up to right now. Probably hanging out in the Florida Keys. Cue that theme.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

(More than a few) Moments of peace

Navigating the rough waters of backed-up work: the price to pay for a three-day weekend of fun. But I've managed to keep my ship afloat and relatively dry since 9 a.m.

It's a price I'll always be willing to pay. Erika and I had a really nice time in Three Oaks. The weather was absolutely beautiful, with bright sun glinting off the area's many multicolored trees. Our little hideaway was cozy, as always, and we stocked it well with food and drink. I admit I watched a little more DirecTV than I should've (MLB playoffs, college and pro football), but Erika managed to get me out of the house for a couple of bike rides, including a 14-miler, numerous walks downtown and an evening visit to New Buffalo, where we sipped our beverages by the small harbor facing west (back toward Chicago) before adjourning to a microbar indoors to keep the friendly young bartender (a local actor and musician) company. Later, Erika stopped with her well-buzzed husband at legendary Redamak's for some cheese fries (mine) and a veggie flat-bread sandwich (hers), enjoyed greatly back at the house.

Three Oaks thrives on seasonal tourism, and it was still in full effect this past weekend, perhaps because of those beautiful leaves. We saw lots of Illinois license plates on Audis and Lexuses, as foursomes of gray-haired flatlanders cruised the farm fields, stopping at overpriced antique stores. I don't know if that will be us someday, but we do want to bring our child(ren) to this wonderful place. When the grind of dark, dreary Chicago starts getting to us, we can remind ourselves of this other world only an hour and a half away: the warm house on a quiet street and the feeling that the city isn't everything.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Finding it hard to get going this morning on my work, both professional and personal. I've had my infusions of orange juice and Pepsi. ... Perhaps this poppyseed muffin will help. ... See even the Mechanical Man, Woundup, finds it hard to push forward from time to time. ...

I wonder if the city of Akron, Ohio, has ever officially honored Devo. Like a giant bronze statue of Mark Mothersbaugh in a crib with the baby mask on. ... That would be awesome.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Don't go to southwestern Michigan

Just keep reading that subject line. Meanwhile, Erika and I will steal away to Three Oaks this Friday evening for an extended weekend of fun. I've been looking forward to it for months, and I'm going to get some very good beer at Whole Foods in anticipation.

Why am I being so secretive? Dutiful Woundup readers will be able to locate my gushing SW Mich. report from a while ago (though I won't point you in its direction now). It seems interest in our little hideaway has increased over the past year. I won't pretend this blog has contributed to that, though write-ups in the Trib and Time Out most likely have.

We only discovered the area a year and a half ago ourselves. I'm sure we look like interlopers to the long-time visitors (and all of us invaders to the locals). Such is the nature of humankind, played out year after year over centuries. I don't really need to get into all that. I only want to drink my Belgian tripel in peaceful seclusion. See you at the cottage! (Well, see me, not you.)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Quiche can't fix everything

Christ Jesus. We just found out Erika's step-father, who's been remodeling our baby's room, fell off a ladder in Palatine while helping a friend build a haunted house and broke his leg. That just sucks. Please keep John in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery. He's an old veteran of job site injuries, but a broken leg is still a broken leg.

Well, that really puts a damper on the rest of this Friday. To recover, I would need some Bulls preseason action. Is that going to be available? I was looking forward to killing off the last two Brooklyn Pennant Ales in the fridge, as well.

I don't really know what the weekend holds beyond paying Erika's folks a visit. Maybe a few unexpected drops of sunshine into our lives will fall. Barring that, I'll take a slice of quiche at Vella.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oh baby

My guy Eric Asimov tackles Oktoberfest bier.

I'm picking Oktoberfest as my drinking holiday of choice over St. Patrick's Day and Cinco De Mayo. Seems like it's getting a little more buzz this year, too. You just can't beat the Germans on lager (though some U.S. craft brewers are coming close).