Sunday, November 30, 2008

The sorrow and the pity

What is this steaming bowl of vomit before my eyes? The Bears game, of course. I have crossed the threshold of mere anger — as my body at this point cannot handle a full-throated expression of my agony — into a kind of blackhole of fan pain, the outward signs being deep sighs, long breaths and hollow whispers. I feel like crawling into a cold hole. If they lose this one, the season is done, and we get six months of Bulls rebuilding and Cubs uncertainty. A wretched menu, for sure.

NBC has shown Adrian Peterson come off the field every single time tonight, with further shots of him staring back at his teammates while a disembodied hand squirts Gatorade into his mouth. I can't remember any player getting covered this closely. … Now there's a shot of him coming back in. Madden is twitching and salivating. … Touchdown. I hate the Vikings. I've hated them my whole life. I think I'm going to kill myself now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Men of Buffalo, heed the call

Today, my brother Matt is wending his way through the Rust Belt — probably somewhere around Toledo by now — to pay us an extended Thanksgiving visit. We're looking at upward of 20 people from both sides of the family for this year's feast at our house. Erika, naturally, will be the star of the show with her pregnant stomach. (By the way, we're calling the baby Olivia Jane this week, or O.J.)

It's always great to see Matt. I only wish we lived in the same city — he in Chicago or we in Buffalo. Well, we'll just have to make the most of the celebratory itinerary we've been handed. Yea and there will be much song and feasting — and microbrew and import beer consumption! (And cursing of the NFL Network, though I love it so.)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thoughts from the holding pen

The entire power structure that was in place when I was hired at the New Cracker Factory is gone, including the two people who interviewed me back in December 2006. I've tried to figure out why, but I don't have enough real information to come up with a satisfying answer: Either the people, who were long-time colleagues, felt it was some kind of end of an era and inspired one another to leave or all of them sensed the company was in trouble and decided to jump ship. I have a feeling it might have been a combination of both.

Our company, like many others, is facing economic uncertainty, particularly in our specific group. It's not the most reassuring thing with a baby on the way in two months, but I'm confident the brass will hang tough for us. I told myself in January 2007 that I'd start looking for a new gig in two years. That time is almost here, and I think I will stay true to my promise, more out of curiosity than necessity. (I pray it stays that way.) This job is good, but we're all kind of frozen in place. It would be nice to work somewhere with a chance to make more bread, if I may be honest. It's something I now have to think about.

Erika and I both have left jobs in the last two years that were our first real gigs out of college. We had/have an attachment to them, for better or worse, that I don't think we'll ever find in our current or future gigs. Well, I shouldn't speak for her, but I know with myself that I've begun to feel more mercenary as time has gone on. It's a liberating feeling, and it's also an empty feeling — one of temporariness and not caring. I'd like some job down the road to prove me wrong that this feeling is now permanent.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Arch Stanton

Something's definitely up in my sinuses and nasal passages today. Irritation from central heat dryness? Impending sickness? I have been blowing my nose a lot. I also feel a little fatigued, but that could be from hunger just prior to lunch. Who said the hypochondriac's life isn't exciting?

I think the computer really promotes a wandering attention span, as I'm writing this while jumping back and forth from some work work and the affairs of a tiny electronic village I'm presiding over as part of an online video game. It's time to focus. Like we used to back in the late '80s. Remember?

All signs point to sickness and its attendant dementia. It's time we made watching "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" a new Thanksgiving tradition along with drinking Bitburger beer. Case closed.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another nordnik proclaims his love for radio

In an effort to not bow to the power of TV — though last night we notched another full hour of "Frasier" on our tube-watching axe handle … Let me start over: Erika and I don't have cable. And I don't think we're going to get it, even in anticipation of the DTV switch-over in February. (Our child will never know the joy of analog television.) It would just suck us in. Well, really it would suck me in.

Precedence exits: While Erika was taking her class near Morristown, N.J., in August, I was back at the hotel allowing toxic levels of ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN News to seep into my eyes. I shudder thinking about what could happen here at home when ESPN Classic is thrown into the mix as an obligatory part of a cable package. ("Bills-Oilers '92 playoff game? I've got nothing better to do.")

So … in light of this, I've had to feed my sports fix with radio during those hours when football contests are usually shown on pay TV. I like to think I'm the only one following the game this way outside of truck drivers, pizza delivery people, people who work in downtown parking lot shacks and shut-ins. I know that's not true, but it's a fiction that enhances the romance — that old romance of the radio.

Really, I only wrote this post to proclaim my love for Westwood One's football coverage. If you're like me and are in the same fix, you have undoubtedly become familiar with Westwood One, the nationally syndicated radio network (which I believe is an arm of CBS) that carries the Thursday/Monday night games. My week doesn't seem right now without at least a 15-minute visit with Boomer Esiason and Marv Albert on Monday night or gravelly voiced Dennis Green on Thursday.

I've been listening to Westwood One for more than five years now — over four residences and countless nights. Its existence reinforces the warming idea that somewhere, everywhere a game is on the radio for you to listen to while you unwind and forget your problems, if just for a few moments. Sometimes when you're alone, that's all you really need.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Man, an imperfect animal

Christ, I'm bored today. The last issue of the year went out last week. I have some Web site duties, but between that and my commute (detailed yesterday), there's little to pass the time. I've amused myself with Internet games, sent out some more submissions and even written in a journal to my unborn child.

At least I'm not anxious. Wait, who said that bit about anxiety and boredom? The two states of humankind. I think it was Pascal, but I'm not going to rely on the Internet to provide the answer. Well, man also is a bit of an asshole. Erika was nice enough to take me to work this morning, and I criticized her driving. This situation, I've found, moves me to criticize her driving skills more readily than any other, and I always forget this fact before going into it again. Now I'm thrashing about with guilt.

I did finish up another draft of my new play yesterday, and I've sent it to the Feedback Processing Factory. I'm confident I can wrap this whole thing up by March, April at the latest. My goal is to do it in fewer drafts than the last two, which I hope spells an improvement in my skills (and a break for my sanity).

But none of this is helping my boredom. I can't even listen to the song "Boredom" because my Sprial Scratch 7" is in Detroit. I think it's time to sleep under my desk.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

At least he was doing what he liked

I was especially careful this morning crossing the corner of Homan and Grand. I was nearly hit by a pickup truck there yesterday while trying to catch the 65 bus. This is perhaps the most pedestrian-unfriendly intersection in Chicago, with vehicles making blind turns under a Metra bridge right into the designated crosswalk. I don't think it's really meant for foot traffic, being in a kind of no-man's warehouse land between Humboldt Park and the West Side.

Whatever. I was too reckless, running out on Grand like that. I don't want to die before my child is born — particularly in such a stupid fashion. Getting killed as part of a CTA commute might make a kind of poetic sense (the system always wins), but you'll probably be viewed as an idiot as the years pass, until you become a joke in your great-grandson's stand-up routine …

"I can't say I come from a lucky family. My great-grandfather was hit by a bus."

(Now appearing Thursday at the Comedy Hovel.)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Wigs, come and gone

Flexing some fantasy muscle today. Our league is starting to shake out, and it's looking like my youngest brother and I are going to be gunning for the coveted Culpable Cup. (That's what I call it, at least.) There might be a couple other dudes in the mix, but I truly feel a hermano y hermano championship match-up is imminent.

Cold day and a cold evening. Eagles/Giants on TV. I'm in the right place. We saw old friend (and old Woundup fan) Vanessa this morning. Always good to see her. She lives in a really sweet apartment now, too. That reminds me that we were roommates six years ago when I first moved into this wonderful city of ours. I just talked to Ted, and I halted in saying I moved to NYC just prior to the great 2000 election flap to spare an old friend a reminder of the passage of time. But now I've said it anyway. Sorry, Ted.

What to close on. ... Last night Erika and I cracked open HBO's "John Adams," and I am still confused about 18th century men's wig protocol. Sometimes they wore powdered wigs, but they also seem to have worn their hair long and braided it like the powdered wigs, but then Adams was bald and wore a natural-colored wig in this style because he was bald(?), but then he also wore the long white wig of a lawyer in the English court system. Someone really needs to help me out with this, and I don't want a Wikipedia answer. I want someone who actually knows this from a history class or a fashion class or something. Please.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Day after day after day

Two hangovers in one week's time. Seeming a little more like the old days around here lately. We, like many of our ilk, were out at a bar last night watching the election returns. Erika also watched me put away four beers — which is a lot for me. I didn't get the ideal amount of sleep, either, but now I've had orange juice, Powerade, Coca Cola, orange juice again, McDonald's breakfast and water, and it seems more likely I'll be able to limp through the rest of the day. I can see my bed at the finish line.

If you were expecting more profound thoughts on the election, I can only say that my positive vibes are tempered by questions about what's going to happen next. Just how much change are we going to see? I've vacillated between feeling hopeful for true restructuring, with the progressive organization of the Democratic campaign as one early indicator, and feeling wary of a possible watering down of campaign messages when the new administration is confronted with the realities out there now. Time will tell, I guess, as it always does.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Weequeend Wrappup

November's upon us. Today is my brother Matt's birthday. I suppose it's officially time to put on one's holiday running shoes. We're going to be hosting Thanksgiving at our place, as we did in 2006, for both families. We're still not sure what will happen at Christmas.

We had fun at the beer bar watching one of Chris's bands and the two that came after. I had a little too much Robert the Bruce Scottish-style ale and paid for it on Sunday, but I don't regret a thing. Erika said the baby was moving around a bit, which could indicate a musical tendency — though what person doesn't enjoy music?

I went to a playwriting class yesterday. I don't know what to make of these things anymore. It was nice to hear a playwrights-first viewpoint on writing stage directions, working with actors, etc. So often I have heard the other side of the equation, which can be a bit of a bummer (i.e., less freedom for writers). It was supposed to be a big feel-good session, which I guess is good, but it left me feeling depressed and alone as a writer. In some strange way, I was reminded that my work is really nothing more than programming, that no one knows/remembers my name (save a few) and that my work is often interpreted as crazy by others. And after I've been reminded of this, I have to go home and continue working alone for months. What exactly am I supposed to feel good about?

Well, today is the proverbial new day. It's warm and sunny outside. I have my tea here. I'm going to eat lunch soon. And after that, I will get back to work. Last week I made some significant headway in my latest draft, and I was proud of myself for coming back to it each day and not relenting. That makes me feel good. That, I suppose, is all that should matter.