Sunday, February 2, 2014

Groundhog Day, 2014.
The same as Groundhog Day 1998.

In celebration of all things Bill Murray, I present for you a random bit of writing dating back to February 2, 1998. This was back in the dark ages of the internet, when porn was plentiful, but information was scarce. Way back before Wikipedia, so if one could not find information, one had to make it up (eventually to be uploaded to Wikipedia). My original missive is presented here in its (mostly) unedited glory. I fixed a couple spelling errors and added a few words to a sentence that I must have started but never finished. Some references are dated. Deal with it.

Happy groundhog day, everybody.

Fabulous holiday, that: Groundhog Day. Bit of a scam, really. As I write this, I’m trying (without much luck) to get some information about the history on this blessed event off the Internet. I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that the official website of Punxsutawney Pennsylvania, and all things groundhog never gets so many hits as it does today. Which is making it very difficult for me to get you the true story (as the good people of Punxsutawney would have us believe — and possibly the evil ones, too) of Groundhog Day.

Damn. Once again, the server timed out, but not before I noticed it trying to load a link to the “inner circle”.


Well, I’ve done my duty. I tried to tell you their side before proposing my hypothesis. Don’t say I’m not being fair. I’m just trying to look out for the animals, here.

So. My theory? I think that somewhere along the way, the people of Punxsutawney Pennsylvania took a deep look within themselves and accepted the truth about themselves. They were a town with nothing much to speak of: no tourist trade, no interesting religious sects, and no factory that produced some sort of product that was needed by the rest of the country, thereby validating them as a viable and necessary part of America at large, regardless of the byproducts that such a factory would produce, thus endangering the environment of beautiful little Punxsutawney and the rest of America as well. But the fact that Punxsutawney was such an unspoiled little chunk of the world led to just the right conditions for groundhog reproduction.

It’s a little known fact (little known, because it’s very likely not true) that groundhogs need just the right circumstances in which to reproduce. Just like weathermen. You see, to be a Weatherman is a calling, like the clergy. A “weatherman” without the call is like somebody who goes enters the priesthood because he’s the youngest in his family, and it’s tradition, or a somebody who gets his divinity degree because he hopes to make a killing as a televangelist. Sure, anybody with an unnatural attraction for weather can go to school to be a meteorologist, but a Weatherman is something greater. It’s like a mixture of biology and alchemy. And the case is similar with a groundhog.

So some sharp cookie in Punxsutawney realized this, and understood that there was some psycho-scientific truth to the groundhog legend (possibly some member of the aforementioned “inner circle”, or maybe the fellow who started it) and this individual decided to market the holiday, for the good of his town. Or rather its survival.

From what I understand, there are towns scattered around America that, because they had nothing to offer the rest of the country, either eventually became ghost towns or ended up desperately grasping at straws to remain viable. These are the towns that honor anyone who happens to achieve some modicum of fame, even if what that entails is having been on both “Geraldo” and “Jerry Springer”. In light of that, i think you all will agree with me that Punxsutawney has done ok for itself.

But what about the animals?

How do the groundhogs feel about all this? Do groundhogs like the attention of humans? I suppose, as a groundhog, all your days pretty much blend. One day as about the same as the next. Maybe burrow a little bit. Gather some nuts, or whatever it is that groundhogs do. Perhaps an exciting day involves having to run from a predator. I wonder if they hold little elections, perhaps a lottery, to determine who gets to be “Phil”. That may be an honor. Or not. Maybe it’s like being a sacrifice, and whoever ends up being “Phil” (by holy calling or by the drawing of straws) is revered in groundhog songs, and honored as a martyr. So perhaps it’s not so bad.

I guess that’s all I really have to say about nothing for today. Spread a little groundhog love.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine's Day blast from the past.

Have I got a box of Valentines Day Chocolates for you! Actually, it's a recycled box. And it's not chocolate. And it doesn't really come in a box. Anyhow, for your amusement, I'm posting here a couple of Valentines Day related essays (manifestos?) I wrote back in 1998. Before I was married. Before I had a proper blog (which I have largely ignored for the past couple years). Before everyone else had a proper blog. I used to write this stuff and email it to everyone on my email list. Here it is, out of context. Enjoy.



[Feb 10, 1998] we go.

take a deep breath, and graciously accept this bouquet of roses from me, off-color and slightly wilted though they might be.

on my drive into work today, i was told that what women want, what they really, really want (spice girls included) are 1K diamond earings from jewelry 3 [2011 Marc is unsure if Jewelry 3 is a store that exists any longer, but let's just say that the modern equivalent of said perfect gift is just about anything from the open hearts collection by Jane Seymour, available at Kay]. is that true ladies? just checking. see, i figure that if i give the right gift to the girl of my dreams, she will ignore my bad hair, crooked and slightly yellow teeth, my lack of washboard abs, my lack of adequate finances, the fact that i sing vaguely off-key, my collection of comic books, and poor self-image and will love me. and they cost only $97. apparently, the beatles were incorrect in assuming that they couldn't buy them love. of course, in the '80's, girls just wanted to have fun, and that was a bit more cost-effective. interesting when you think of the '80's as the decade of excess (and INXS), you wouldn't think economizing was such an issue. i gues cindy lauper was just ahead of her time. a real pioneer, that wacky girl was.

but on to the matters at hand.

in trying to make some sense of this whole valentine's day thing (something i have been trying to do for years, ever since the little tastless heart candy i got from dori bicek, in fourth grade said "hey dude" and the one that phil jones got said "be mine") i have researched the history of this blessed event. i have always felt, or rather, i have always been told, that if you understand the past, you are better prepared for the future.

now, as with all history, particularly history seeped in legend, one encounters the problem of conflicting reports. so i have compiled all the facts at hand, cross referenced them, and then filled in the blanks to try to give you an accurate, reliable, and archeologicaly supported historical reference.

the significance of february 14 dates back to before anybody thought to canonize Valentine (whose identity is in doubt anyway), possibly as far back as the fourth century b.c.. way back then, you see, romans had a lot to offer the world. domination, conquest, funny hats (they still have those, only you have to be a pope to wear them), latin and many, many, many gods. on february 14, one of these gods got a party thrown in her honor. juno, apparently the queen of the roman gods, known most for her support of the female gender in general, and the institution of marriage, specifically. i don't know what this particular shindig involved, but if the women's only parties i have spied on are any indication, i suspect paper hats, toilet paper, and strange party games were involved. what i do know about this day, is that towards the evening, the women, or girls, as the case may be, would write their names on a peice of paper (separate peices of paper, of course) and they would place them in a large shoebox decorated with hearts cut out of construction paper, elmer's glue, and glitter (if they wanted to get really fancy.) the neighborhood boys would then wander by, dressed to impress, collars turned up on their togas and sandles shined up for the occasion, perhaps a bit of sheep lard to hold their hair in place, and they would reach in the box and grab a slip of paper. the young lady whose name they drew would be their partner for the upcoming festivities of the feast of Lupercalia, which began the next day. other historical documents suggest that this young lady was to be the man's companion for the year, after which another lottery would take place. this hardly seems in keeping with the idea of juno as the goddess of marriage, but who is going to argue with ancient romans? a guy with a time machine, maybe.

at this time, i would like to voice my opposition to the "grab bag" method of choosing a date, and possibly a mate. true, those guys too shy to ask a girl to dance don't end up sulking in the olive groves, loathing themselves for their lack of courage. but on the other hand, it seems to take the choice out of the whole thing for the women. and what happens if there is an uneven number between the sexes in that town. this could lead to trouble.

the feast of Lupercalia was apparently a rite of passage for young men, and a festival in worship to the god lupercus, who, if honored properly, would protect flocks, and keep animals and people healthy and fertile. lupurcus really liked singing and dancing, so the romans did that a lot. amidst the singing and the dancing, goats and dogs were sacrificed, and the young men would make straps out of the skins, and they would run around the streets and then lash the women with those straps. apparantly, lupurcus liked that as much as he liked singing and dancing, so he would be pleased and would ensure fertility and easy child delivery to those women who would subject themselves to such behavior. now, something else the romans believed was that on february 14, doves and owls mated. not with each other. with other doves and owls, respectively. so this seemed like a good idea to the romans, so those who were paired in the "lottery" would slip off together and imitate the owls and dove. i suppose that means that they would hoot and coo at each other. i can't imagine what else that would mean.

this sort of thing went on for some time, but eventually, the roman gods fell out of vogue, and policy decisions began to be made by the Christian church, who also had a monopoly on party hats. They did not approve of this festival, but rather than do away with it completly, they dusted off good old saint valentine, and made a big deal out of him.

but i'll get to that tomorrow.

until then,
make love, not war



[Feb 11, 1998]

hi, everyone. i hope you are all well. i have a splitting headache. well, not so much splitting as throbbing. have you ever had somebody repeatedly swing a rubber mallet at the inside of your brain? and then your brain bangs against the backs of your eyes? well, that's what i feel like. i have taken some painkillers, and intend to make another score soon, so don't worry about me. i will be comfortably numb soon enough.

of course, the headache didn't exactly help with the drive in. and the rain. visiblity was so bad that i wasn't sure if the vague shapes in front of me were other cars, or if perhaps those red glowing blurs were the eyes of some sort of demonic creatures. running backwards. very fast. it could happen.

and i kept repeating that nursery rhyme over and over in my head "rain, rain, go away..." it's been so long that i don't remember all the words, so that was pretty irritating. but then i began to think of the nature of children's songs, and i realized that they are little more than mantras that children repeat to themselves to conquer their fears. "ring around the rosey" is a little chant that dates back to when the black plague ravaged england. [2011 Marc has actually since heard evidence contradicting this, but as I don't know for sure, I choose to like the black plague story] "the itsy bitsy spider" casts a spider, a truly horrible creature (if you don't think spiders are horrible, rent "kingdom of the spiders" featuring william shatner in a role that will surprise you) as a determined hero. anyway, then i thought about how almost all "adult" songs deal with love in some way or another. and it occurred to me that like children, we sing about what we fear the most, which is, after all, love.

which brings me back to this whole valentine's day thing. (that previous paragraph was somewhat contrived and not very well-written. for that i apologize, but i present my headache as an excuse for all my faults today. )

in case anybody out there was wondering, of the ladies who have responded to my half-asked question, the vote is unanimous. the earrings that jewelry3 (stupid name, by the way) has been shilling are not the way to every woman's heart after all. i guess i have to take them all back. commercials have lied to me yet again. i'm going to have to stop believing everything i hear that happens to have a snappy jingle behind it.

but the real issue here is whatever happened to good old saint valentine. well, here's the deal. i have several versions of his tale that, while similar, are to some degree in conflict. plus, it's not clear if there was more than one valentine.

either way, like cupid, valentine, or valentinius, was a bit of a troublemaker. not so much because he flitted about shooting darts o' love into the hearts of unsuspecting potential lovers, but because the romans didn't much like christians. yet. so valentine was a christian, and as such (unlike many christians today) he was compassionate to his fellow man. woman. whatever. so he used to let the christians hide out at his swingin' bachelor pad when they were on the lam from the romans. to make matters worse, the emperor, one claudius II decided in his lead-poisoning induced madness, that if he abolished the practice of marriage, then he would have more soldiers in his army. without families, these men would have no excuse to not go about killing people. this, of course, seems a bit short-sighted to me. one would think this might lead to an eventual reduction in population, but he was the emperor, and who's to tell him that he has no clothes. well, valentinius, for one. Valentine took it upon himself to marry young couples who had such a desire. needless to say, this landed him in the pokey. the hoosegow. the slammer. the joint. the big house. whatever your favorite jail slang might be.

once in jail, valentine was a model prisoner, and the jailer was impressed with this kind and peaceful man, and would allow his daughter to spend her days with him. see, she was blind, and as such was no good around the house, so she would go to work with dad. always a good place for a young girl, prison. anyway, either they became pals, or valentine fell in love with her. it's unclear. maybe she wasn't so young. maybe there's something about valentine we don't know. anyway, legend has it that the day before he was executed, valentine wrote her a letter in ink that he pressed from violets, and signed it "from your valentine". wich seems odd, because the girl was blind. but, with violet ink, at least she could smell the card. miraculously, thought, when valentine gave her the card, her sight was restored. now. again, the story diverges. either he was executed as scheduled, or the jailer, pissed off that his daughter had fallen in love with this prisoner, clubbed him to death.

that's amore.

but, i tire of the history lesson. suffice it to say that when christians took over, they decided that a feast to the roman gods was a bad idea, so they made a big deal out of valentine and turned the feast of lupercus into Saint Valentine's day.

so for years and years, saint valentine had the honor reserved only for heads of state and rock stars, but probably because of his immense popularity, or because he was jaded by all the relationships gone sour that he was forced to oversee from his little pink room in heaven, he sold out. the catholics wouldn't stand for that, so they dropped him from their calender in 1969.

that's all for today.
more fun valentines facts tomorrow. probably.


I lied at the end of that post. I did not post any more Valentines facts the next day. There may be some people still waiting for that follow-up post. Get used to disappointment.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

the return of sketch-of-the-day

or, how I alienated myself from the other Cub Scout parents.Last night, I attended a parents meeting Cub Scouts. My older son, Ross has been in Cub Scouts for three years, heading into his fourth. Jack is excited to start. Me? I'm a little bit to cynical for most of it, and find some of it to be busy work that, but the kids seem to generally like it. And I like building cars with them to compete in the pine wood derby.

Anyhow, the purpose of this meeting was to split the new kids up into dens, and to attempt to cajole a parent or two into taking on the five-year commitment of being a the den leader. So we all sat around and tried not to make eye contact with the Pack leader. I started to doodle, and eventually the drawing above started to form.

I began to rather obsessively work it, adding on ink in an almost sculptural manner. It's not perfect. I didn't have my preferred drawing tools, and the paper wasn't ideal. But I sort of like it.

The parents seated near me seemed to be pretty okay with it when I declined to take on the role of den leader.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A review of a review...

A "reviewer" of local plays (read: Guy With a Blog) took it upon himself to review the show I've directed (To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday), and man-oh-man was he offended that we--the community theatre company, the actors, the stagehands, the playwright--forced him to sit through it. Am I upset about a negative review? Not really. I went to art school. I've had numerous paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints critiqued, slammed and praised by qualified professionals whose work I admired as well as by curmudgeons whose best work was long behind them and by fellow students who had very little discernible talent. You have to develop a thick skin, and an ability to accept a critique for what it is -- an opinion -- and if possible, see your work through the eyes of others and use that information (if it's actually useful) to make better work in the future. So a negative review doesn't bother me all that much. But what does bother me is an intentionally snarky review with an agenda, and one that does not take into account the context in which the show is done.

The aforementioned reviewer (GWaB) claims that his intent is to fight "the perception that local/suburban theatre is not as good as 'Chicago' theatre." He intends to achieve this objective in part by warning people about those shows that he feels are not worth the price of admission, because "there's no one out there telling people what shows are worth the personal investment of money and time, and which ones are not." Thank god for blogspot, because otherwise, I would assume he'd have to stand out on the Eisenhower Expressway with a sandwich board, to prevent all those city commuters from coming out to the 'burbs in the event there might be a show that GWaB feel is not up to his mathematical standards.

GWaB has been heavily involved in local theatre for many years, including acting and directing at the very theatre at which my play is running. Might there be a conflict of interest? Not so, says GWaB, for he has disassociated himself from any theatre organization of which he may have been a member and has retired from stage work and directing. He apparently did so last week, when the last show he was in (at another local theatre) closed.

Since I have additional inside information, I should also disclose that GWaB's mission appears to have been inspired specifically because the theatre that's putting on my show doesn't make it a practice to post links to negative reviews of its shows.

Last year, I acted in a show that received an overly harsh review from one of the only sources for reviews of non-City theatre (another GWaB, but I won't call him that, because frankly, it will get confusing). The theatre's publicity staff chose not to post a link. GWaB was incensed. How dare we post only the positive review and not post the negative one? (Why the fuck would we?) Fast forward about 10 months or so, and that same reviewer came out to see our show. He doesn't like the script. He doesn't like our show. Okay. Fair enough. We're not going to link to it. GWaB sent an email to our publicity staff as well as to the webmaster email wondering why we don't. Since I used to be the webmaster for that theatre's web site, and since I've been too lazy to remove the auto-forwarding that sends me those emails, I saw the message. I responded to explain to GWaB that we are not attempting to suppress negative reviews, but we won't promote them. Like with movie posters and commercials. If Peter Travers from Rolling Stone likes your film, you're going to put his name and quote in your ad. If he doesn't, you won't. I would expect that he'd understand this. And his response to my email seemed to me that he conceded it was a valid point. Shortly after, he announced his blog and his intention of making his review of my show his first one.

I am in no way attempting to draw any sort of conclusion about any sort of personal beef between GWaB and myself, since I was first made aware of his weird obsession with getting the "truth" out there around a show I was in, and it comes full circle with his review of my show. At least I don't think it's personal. He was actually personally kind to me regarding that other show.

Enough exposition.

Does GWaB raise any valid points in his criticism? Some. When you get past all the snark and attitude, there is a kernel or two in there that might be useful information, should I choose to direct another show.

And he points out a rather major blunder on my part that had nothing to do with my directing abilities. Something that upon reading it, I was pretty embarrassed about. In my director's note in the program, I opened with the following:

Thank you for coming to see To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday. Like many, I was unfamiliar with this play when it was suggested as one of the possibilities for this season. I had seen the 1996 film version featuring Peter Gallagher and Michelle Pfieffer, and hadn't loved it. But when I read the script, I was interested to see that what didn't work so well in film could work differently on stage. I began to understand why this script was awarded the Oppenheimer Award for best play in 1983. And like you, I took a chance on a little known play.

The publisher of the play touts it as the "Oppenheimer Award Winner." It's been all over the press releases written about this show. Like GWaB, I hadn't heard of the Oppenheimer Award. Unlike GWaB, I didn't look it up. It seems that the Oppenheimer award isn't really all that prestigious. It is an actual award. But not in the same league as, say, the Pulitzer Prize. Okay, GWaB. You got me. I should have done my homework, or at the very least, just removed any reference to an award I knew nothing about. IN MY DIRECTOR'S NOTE.

GWaB spends three paragraphs on this. About 1/3 of his review was written before the play began, as he gleefully mocks the Oppenheimer Award and any reference to it. And then he goes on to rip the script and our production apart.

As a director, I know that ultimately, whatever ends up on stage is my responsibility. Do I acknowledge that I have put up on stage an imperfect work? Absolutely. I knew from the beginning that the production would have flaws. How do I dare put something before an audience with which I am not 100% satisfied? Almost no work of art - painting, film, music, theatre - is perfect. In all my endeavors, I set my bar very high. In art school, I never judged myself against my peers, but rather against the work of the great masters. Did I ever get there? No. I didn't. But I continue to try. I do the same with my theatrical endeavors. However, if I refused to act in a show because I can't do it like Sir Lawrence Olivier, or direct a show like Harold Prince, I would never grow as an artist. And that's why I continue to do it.

Both GWaB and the other reviewer who didn't like the show point out some very valid flaws in the script. Note that there are some people who absolutely LOVE this script. I am not one of them. I think there are some very nice moments in the script, but my tastes run to the macabre and the twisted. This show isn't that. And the general critique that the answers the script provides regarding love, loss and life are too pat is valid. This is a "nice" little show. It isn't one of our great American plays and I would be surprised if it is still being done 100 years from now.

GWaB makes a valid criticism when he says that HE FEELS that our production does not rise above or overcome the weaknesses inherent in the script. That's useful criticism: someone who saw our show wasn't dazzled enough by our collective skills to not notice that the script is imperfect. But when valid criticism is wrapped with the sort of glee evident in GWaB's "review," it loses it's ability to construct, and instead tears down.

The point that GWaB misses entirely is that we are engaged in "community theatre." I do theatre because I love it and enjoy it. I have SOME training, both in acting and directing, but I am not a professional. And this show is not presented as a professional production. The actors in the show all have varying backgrounds, skill and experience levels. We all behave as professionally as we can, and attempt to deliver the most professional product of which we are capable. Each actor in the show is giving what he/she has, to his/her level of ability. And I'm directing to my ability. Throughout I have seen enormous growth from those with less experience. There are people on that stage that are stretching beyond their comfort zones. GWaB would say, I think, that the audience doesn't care about that stuff. But I care. I'm very pleased with the work these actors have done.

Now that the show has been running for three weeks, and I've been able to sit back and watch it as an audience member several times, there are probably some things I would change. I'm not surprised by this. It happens in all my artistic endeavors. I critique my own work, too. I always have. But I'm not embarrassed about the work we did, and the show we have, warts and all.

GWaB ends his "review" by putting a price sticker on what he feels the show is worth. His whole hook is "is the show worth the price of admission?". In his intro to his blog, GWaB states that he's putting "his" price on the ticket because... you know... for your $18 you can get a lot of DVD rentals from the Redbox (ignoring fully the economies of producing a show, of which GWaB is fully aware). But GWaB gives the show an arbitrary price tag, with no indication of how he got to that price. I think it's fair to suggest that a show is, or isn't the price of admission, but to put an arbitrary price tag on it just ads to the overall snarkiness evident throughout.

I wish GWaB had liked our show. I really do. I want everyone to like it. But that's how it goes. Many people have liked the show. Some have not. On the other hand, GWaB took it upon himself to target our production as his virgin review. He suggests that people should ask him to come review their shows. He'll do it on his dime. Bully for him. We did not extend a personal invitation to him. Not because I was afraid of what he might say, but because had my suspicions of how he'd say it.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Jack Daniels: Scientist

despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage.
-Smashing Pumpkins "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"

Again, I appear to have missed my calling. I came across a story today about some "research" done in Japan on the effects of alcohol, and whether or not one can actually drown one's sorrows.

So here's how they tested this:

The researchers, led by pharmacology professor Norio Matsuki, gave mild shocks to lab rats to condition them to fear. As a result, the rats would freeze in terror and curl up the moment they were put in their cages.

Researchers then immediately injected the rats with ethanol or saline.

Let me parse this a little bit. First, we have to consider from whose perspective should we consider the shocks "mild". Mild to humans (which can be at worst, uncomfortable, often beneficial, and in some cases pleasurable)? Because I'm not sure if a shock considered "mild" for a rat would condition a rat to fear and "freeze in terror and curl up" when it was put in it's cage. But I'm no expert on rats. So maybe it would. Or perhaps rats are particularly wary of needles, so the part that really scares them is the injection. That would explain the need to inject the saline in the control group. Because...what's the point of the saline?

Okay. So, experiment performed, here's what my scientist friends observed:

The researchers found that rats with alcohol in their veins froze up for longer, with the fear on average lasting two weeks, compared with rats that did not receive injections.

And the brilliant conclusion:

If we apply this study to humans, the memories they are trying to get rid of will remain strongly, even if they drink alcohol to try to forget an event they dislike and be in a merry mood for the moment...The following day, they won't remember the merriness that they felt.

Now, I've been performing experiments on myself involving various concentrations of alcohol derived from myriad sources for almost 20 years. I feel that my research has been pretty complete. I have used alcohol derived from grapes, mixtures of various grains, sugar, potatoes, and the occasional desert plant. I have avoided injections, preferring to ingest the chemicals orally.

While my research is ongoing, I feel that I can with confidence report the following observations:

  • Consumption of alcohol in large quantities changes the subject's perception of the intensity of a "mild" electrical shock.
  • Consumption of alcohol in large quantities eliminates the terror one feels when a "strong" electrical shock is administered. It's best to consume the alcohol BEFORE the administration of any stimulus that might lead to unpleasant memories.
  • Alcohol cannot erase memories created prior to its consumption when ingested in quantities that can be processed safely by the human body. Research in this area is ongoing.
  • Regular alcohol consumption over an extended period of time can interfere with one's ability to create new memories. One could extrapolate from here and determine that if one expects a future consisting of less-than-ideal circumstances, it's a good idea to drink early and often to avoid the the long term effects of the memories those circumstances might generate.
  • Memories created while consuming alcohol often lack detail and clarity. They cannot be trusted or used as evidence. Photographs taken of subjects of these experiments can be a useful tool for documentation, but can also be digitally altered. Don't believe everything you see.
  • The above two points are the key to avoiding the creation of additional unpleasant memories. The advantage to using the second method is that one is often heroic in the memories that are created during the consumption of alcohol. (Note: This is only effective is all persons who share the memory are also participating in the experiment.)

Now, I haven't written my findings up in some sort of sciencey format and published them in the journal "Neuropsychopharmacology" like my Japanese counterparts. But I'm willing to bet that my research has a lot more to do with the effects of alcohol on humans than theirs does. And the "merriness" that one feels...well...that's really the point, isn't it?

Stupid scientists.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


i'm sick today. not feeling well with some variation of whatever virus is floating around at present. I can't breathe too deeply, because when i do, it sets off a coughing fit. And looking at things hurts my eyes a little bit. Generally, I'm a bit uncomfortable.

But i'm at work. Why? because I don't have any sick days. That's the big downside of being a freelancer: no sick days. And I need the money, so I soldier on. The one thing I had to look forward to today--my only small pleasure--was lunch. And even that has let me down.

To begin with, I grabbed a frozen something out of the freezer on my way to the car. I was unsure what it was, but I assumed it would be a part of a meal that Polly had put in the freezer for this very purpose. Turns out I was wrong. Nope. Just some random sauce. Would have tasted great if there was a chicken breast and some rice to go with it.

Not to worry! There's a full service cafeteria in the building. They have a large variety of reasonably priced food, prepared on site that is usually somewhere between edible and good. Sometimes even very good. Looking over today's specials, I noticed with interest that the chefs had highlighted a gyros plate (had it before--passable, but not great), a "deep-dish vegetarian pizza" and a taco salad type thing in a tortilla bowl. I wasn't sure what was special about the pizza, as they usually have it there, but perhaps it's because this one didn't have any meat on it. I got in line for the taco-salad thing, but watching an actual Mexican ladle some melted Velveeta into this bowl-thing sort of made me sad and a little bit sick.

So I decided to try the pizza.

Here's the part where I should have followed my own instincts. The pizza didn't look good. It did smell good, but it didn't appear to have much in the way of toppings. I convinced myself that there had to be more to it than there appeared to be. I've seen people eating the pizza here. There must be something to it.

Nope. It was basically a lump of mushy just barely cooked and not very tasty "pizza" dough with an embarrasingly small amount of cheese on top. The sauce was, at best, an afterthought. lunch sucked.

On the other hand, it could have been worse. I happened to be reading the following article about Cheesebugers in a Can.

Hey...what's in your bag? Wanna trade?

Thursday, February 7, 2008


here i am again. apologizing for my inattention to you, my blogfriend.

this is a short post...mostly because of the shooting pain I feel when typing. it seems that whatever ailment I have in my right arm--likely tendonitis--has been exacerbated by whatever movements I use to shovel snow. And I've been shoveling a lot of snow lately. I don't think it's normal for my pinky and ring finger to be both numb and in pain. Oh well.

felt like a bit of jerk yesterday. a client of mine from Tennessee contacted me regarding a project i'm working on, and he let me know that they were a bit wet, but still standing. I replied with a vague statement about how much snow we're getting in Chicago. After hitting "send," it occurred to me how silly it was to compare a little snow storm with the massive devastation brought on by all the tornadoes down south. we can be dumb sometimes.

on an amusing note: I walked into work today behind a young woman who works on my floor. I don't know her, but I've seen her around. She's a stereotypical pseudo-flower child. There's about 2 inches or more of slush all over the pavement. She was wearing her Birkenstocks. To be fair, they weren't open toed Birkenstocks, and she was wearing socks, but there is no way her feet stayed dry between her vehicle and the building. I don't understand being so committed to one's lifestyle that one is willing to suffer wet, uncomfortable socks for the rest of the day. I'm just funny that way.