Thursday, July 31, 2008

And I Thought Tiger Was A Douche...

I'm not a golf fan at all--in fact, I hate it and think it's the most useless, nature-wasting sport imaginable with the possible exception of grouse hunting. All those green, beautiful hills and trees that only exist for a bunch of old, rich assholes to trudge around wearing ugly clothes and swinging clubs? The only think I ever liked about golf was "Caddyshack."

But sometimes, the human angle is very intriguing. Some of the worst egos in the world are in golf. Pretty amazing, considering the hideous clothes and lack of personality.

18-year-old golfer Michelle Wie decided to skip the Women's British Open and play on the PGA tour this week, despite not making the cut. And now the other girls are sharpening their claws.

My favorite quote was from Swedish golfer Helen Alfredsson, who said "I feel kid of sad for her...she was so good a few years ago when she came in second a few times." Wow, what a cleverly-disguised backhanded compliment, Helen. We'd never have noticed it.

After all the backbiting and stomping of sour grapes, another fellow girl golfer, Paula Creamer, says "I don't know why you'd want to pass up the chance to play at the (Women's British) Open." I can see her point--I mean, Michelle chooses to play with the guys instead of a bunch of back-biting bitches??


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

TMI Survey-Everyone Else is Doing it So Why Not Me? (Even if it's a day late...)

1. What is your language pet peeve? (Example ‘hot water heater’, why would you heat hot water?)
I hate it when people say "irregardless" and other double negative words that have prefixes and suffixes that negate each other. What pisses me off the most was that it used to be pointed out as clear-cut bad grammar, but now lazy American speakers/writers (it sure ain't English!) have lobbied Merriam-Webster and even had some of these verbal turds added to the dictionary, reasoning that they're now correct by reason of common usage. I'm sorry, but commonality is not a good enough reason. Colds are common, too--do you want one??

2. What is your favorite word? Both dirty and clean?
I think it's hard to pick a favorite word, since I can only associate the word with what it represents. That said, my favorite dirty word is "motherfucker." It just sounds funny.

3. What is the one word you cannot spell?
Well now, if I can't spell it, I sure as hell ain't gonna try here!

4. What is the one word you always pronounce wrong?

5. If you could erase one popular catchphrase from the English language, what would it be?
Just one?? I'm going to get plenty of chances to use that eraser in these environmentally-conscious times, but if I could delete the phrase "carbon footprint," I'd be a happy motherfucker. Every time I hear that, the only "footprint" I can think of is the one I want to leave on their backside. Why not just say "wastefulness?" Nooooo, they have to have a catchy catchphrase to get people interested and start decorating every sentence with, so they feel like they're all hip to the jive and doing something meaningful.

The other one is "bring it." Another example of people using the lexicon of youth to try and sound "fierce" and tough. (Which reminds me, I hate it when people say "fierce" all the time to refer to pop stars and divas. No, they are not "fierce." Lions are fierce--pop stars and divas are vacant and stupid.)

***Bonus (as in optional): The late, and very hot Michael Hutchence (INXS) once sang, “Words are weapons, sharper than knives” . What is the most hurtful thing you have ever said to anyone? Was it deliberate or accidental? What was the most hurtful thing ever said to you? Do you think it was deliberate or accidental?
Well, first off, I never thought of Michael Hutchence as all that "hot." I mean, he was attractive enough, but to me he always looked like Linda Ronstadt. And Linda Ronstadt looked like my mom. So by association, finding Hutchence "hot" would be kinda creepy, don't you think? Loved his music, though, especially "The One Thing."

That aside, I always try never to say anything hurtful to anyone, just because I know how it feels. I'm sure I have, though, without meaning to. As far as what's been said to me? Oh boy--countless things. I don't think they were so much deliberate as simply thoughtless and careless, but I can be overly-sensitive and thin-skinned if I think it was unnecessary. After hearing a lot of such things, I've kind of withdrawn and just try not to talk to people at all (unless I have to). It's safer. For all parties.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008



This got me very excited. I've gazed at the outside of this building for years and years, sadly wondering why it sat in slumber. And wishing somebody would wake it with a kiss.

And now somebody has. UTII, an entity formed from Jam Productions, has finalized the purchase of the Uptown Theatre and plans to renovate the building. Well, so many potential buyers planned to renovate, but none ever followed through. At least we know that Jam can do it--they have the pockets.

Also, since they are a concert promotion company, they have an interest in seeing it properly restored as a performance venue. I've been waiting for years to see the finished inside--at least now we know it will happen! Of course, with the Aragon and the Riviera both a mere block away, and the Annoyance Theatre a few feet away, the Uptown neighborhood and the Lawrence/Broadway corridor in particular, will be saturated with performance venues.

But like I always say, you can't have too many.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Well, now I feel sort of bad.

(But not too bad. He's still kind of a butthole, after all...)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Since You Asked -- July 25, 2008 Edition

In which Aaron answers select letters sent to various advice columnists throughout the week. So who asked him? The better question is: why DIDN'T they? So let's pretend they did! On we go:

DEAR ELLIE: I've always been treated differently from my three siblings, though my parents deny this. They'd knowingly miss important events (graduations, sports events) and yell at me more. I was always a straight-A student, never got into trouble; my siblings have partied more than me, been in trouble with the law, been unemployed, I was the first to get a part-time job at 16 -- so financial support was stopped. I'm now 27 and about to get married.

My parents tried everything to stop our dating. I understand their problems with his being of a different religion, but they've treated us both so poorly I've started speaking out. (For years, he was forced to hide in the basement when relatives came over so they wouldn't know I was dating him). We've been together for seven years .
They say they love him and welcome him as part of the family, but I still get grilled on where I'm going, why I have to be out so long, even when I'm with his parents.

I'm the only sibling who's had to go through this. I'm ready to stop talking to parents and siblings after the wedding. Should I give up, and look forward to my new life?



Why wait? Stop talking to them now. It’s unthinkable that a 27-year-old (who’s engaged to be married) should be held to a curfew like some teenager. That’s bullshit. And incidentally, you don’t owe your parents any information about where you’ve been/how long you’ll be out when you’re with the fiancé. Try taking a home movie in the bedroom sometime and giving it to them the next time they ask. I’ll bet you they keep their gobs shut when the Kitty Cat of Curiosity starts purring around the saucer again.

In answer to your last question, yes, forget about them and enjoy your new life. Just make sure it’s an independent one that doesn’t require any participation or assistance from them, because they’ve proven that they’re not reliable.
In fact, why even invite them to the wedding? They never attended your special events in high school, when it mattered, and cut off their financial support when you were 16, so what makes you think they’d even show up for an important life event now?

The good news is, should you change your mind and decide to invite your parents and siblings, they could all take one car, since I’m sure these losers still live at home. Think how environmentally-friendly it can be!

DEAR ABBY: I am 26 and lived with "Mackie" for three years. Although we were not legally married, I referred to him as "my husband."

We have now split up. I refer to this as "the divorce," and the time we were together as "when we were married." My conservative mother seems to understand why I do this. However, others choose to correct me -- rather rudely.

My question is, what would you call this? And what do I say to those who feel the need to tell me how I should attribute an event in my life?



Of course your conservative mother was happy to indulge you in referring to the breakup as a “divorce.” It probably galled her no end that her daughter was living with a man in sin, and this terminology helps her because she can maintain her fantasy that you were married. Besides, she’s probably happy as a pig in shit that it’s over now, so she’ll call it whatever you want.

When and if you begin another live-in relationship (after a suitable period of time, of course), be prepared for her to stick her nose in and constantly drop snide reminders about “what happened the last time you co-habited without benefit of marriage,” or some such terms.

As far as the friends who correct you rudely, tell them it was your relationship and you can call it what you want. Since it didn’t even cost them a waffle iron or a wedding shower, they can shove it up their ass. You gave them a bargain.

DEAR AMY: I feel as if I've been used. My fiance told me to move out of the house we co-own. She went back to dating the same guy with whom she cheated on me. I moved, but I'm still supporting her by paying the house taxes, insurance, etc.

I've invested thousands of dollars into the house for renovations and expansion. I can tell she really doesn't want me around the house, and she keeps turning down my offer to help her maintain it, but she gladly accepts my monetary support.

Meanwhile, the guy she cheated on me with has the run of the house.

I'd like to continue co-owning the house as an investment, but it is difficult, knowing that she doesn't want me around and that her boyfriend stays with her in "our house."

Should I try to negotiate a buyout from her, or should I just hang onto my share of the house for a while?



You feel like you’ve been used? Why, whatever gave you that impression?!
Jesus, dude. If you co-own the house, and she didn’t want to be together anymore, you should have made her move out: as the travel-itchy partner, the onus should be on her to change the living arrangement she’s unhappy with.

You should move all your shit back into the house and tell her and her rent-boy that if they don’t like it, they can go hit the bricks and move into his one-room studio with the hot plate and the hissing radiator.

Alternately, you can check your insurance policy and make sure it’s covered for the market value at the time of purchase. Then wait until they’re out of the house and torch the fucker. Chances are, your settlement will make a more-than-generous down payment on a new place—footloose and fiancé-free.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: As a server in a coffee shop, I am constantly greeting customers, and I make a genuine effort to be kind and polite to everyone. I greet most customers by asking how they are or how their day is going. Nine out of 10 responses begin with the phrase, "I'll have ..."

How do you suggest I respond to an answer of a question I did not ask?

It truly hurts my feelings to be ignored while attempting human interaction apart from the usual impersonal (and often required or even prerecorded) greeting at other quick-service restaurants. I realize it is probably not my place, but I am tired of biting my tongue and feeling less than worthy of a response or even recognition as a human being and not a drink-making machine. Please let me know a polite response.



I agree that people are abrupt and rude nowadays, but you mustn’t take it personally. Remember, these people haven’t had their coffee yet, so they’re probably suffering withdrawal. If you work for one of the Big Coffee chains, you’re probably also inundated with pretentious poseurs who can’t wait to get back outside and try to impress people by standing next to the BMW they’ve rented for the day. So of course they’re in a hurry and have no time for human interaction.

Next time, wait until they turn their head for a second, then spit in their drink.

No, really, the pleasure was all mine.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This Just Ain't My Bag

Yesterday, I was out of the office, feeling lousy, but still wishing to do something productive. So I starting straightening up my place, getting rid of old papers, etc., and listening to my CD of the "Eating Raoul" score for Hell In a Handbag's Summer Camp series (it's the next production in the series, opening Aug. 5, and I'm playing in the "pit orchestra" so I've been playing the CD to learn the music).

I went through the stack of junk mail sitting on my counter and, carefully looking at each item to determine what was and wasn't important, I threw away all the excess paper that wasn't useful to me. I kept the important things resting on the counter, propped against the back wall so I could see them easily.

I also scrubbed the inside of the microwave, changed the cat litter and took out the garbage. Then I did laundry.

Later that evening, as I watched my DVD of "Here's Lucy" that I'd picked up at Reckless Records in Wicker Park (when I was postering for the Joans gig on Saturday), I got this funny, prickly feeling that something wasn't right...

A few weeks ago I'd received a check from the storage company down in central IL where Mom's stuff was stored, a refund for the time paid in advance after we'd closed it up. It was for $97.00. I also had a refund from AT&T for $17.00 from when I'd switched my phone service. As if jerked by a marionette's string, I got up and went over to the counter and went through the propped-up-important-item stack.

No checks.

"Calm down," I thought to myself. "Remember you put some things down in the second drawer of the filing cabinet. They're probably in there."

I opened said drawer. No checks. (Although I did find a deck of Wizard of Oz playing cards that I'd forgotten I had.)

Now the prickly feeling became a cold sweat along my brow. What had I done with the checks?

Then I remembered all of the things that I'd thrown out with the garbage.

The sweat spread down my back. But I knew what must be done.

I grabbed my keys and headed outside to the dumpster in the alley. I opened the lid and was relieved to see that there weren't too many black garbage bags like the one I'd tossed earlier. I picked out one that was tied shut bunny-ears style. It was very light, but I thought it might be the one.

I opened it and saw loose paper, an empty wine bottle and an empty Breyer's ice cream carton. Not mine.

I picked out the next one. Much heavier and tied with red drawstrings, which I then remembered I'd bought at Target. Yes, this was mine. I couldn't open the knotted drawstrings neatly, so I tore around the top of the bag to open it.

The smell of decaying vegetable tops and cat litter assaulted my nostrils, but the thought of losing $110.00 in today's economy made that a trifling concern. I took a deep breath (with my head turned away, obviously) and plunged my hand into the bag.

I turned the contents over until I'd found every possible scrap of paper inside.




Terrific. I'd just wasted my time among--well--waste. Although I'm sure it was very entertaining for the four people who'd chosen that very five-minute time block to pass by: a prissy stick figure, walking her dog and yapping on her cell phone; a man on his bicycle (with his headlight on, which illuminated my activity very nicely, thanks a million); and a beret-wearing hipster and his Gidget-esque moll (fortunately, these two were too self-absorbed to notice anything happening around them). Nobody said anything, but then, if they had, I simply would have thrown the now-open bag of cat litter directly at them.

I closed the bag up bunny-ear style (since I'd torn away the drawstrings) and headed back into the building, gingerly holding my key in the less-soiled hand. I trudged back up to my condo, pondering what the hell could have happened to the checks as I washed my hands in very hot water and antibacterial soap.

Another feeling hit me (damn it), and I walked back over to the file cabinet. I opened the top drawer this time and looked in.

There, hidden behind an envelope from my bank, was the envelope with both checks in it.

Yes. That's correct. I had gone on a late-night adventure with my hands in the garbage (among other things) for absolutely no reason at all. And all because I didn't look in the top drawer the first time.

Oh well. That'll teach me to pay attention to prickly feelings more selectively next time (or alternately, to feel the right pricks).

Moral of the story: We all have to stick our hands in the shit sometimes. Even when it turns out not to be really necessary.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One Way Or Another...

Boo Berry Novak

Chicago Sun-Times columnist, right-wing pundit and Boo-Berry lookalike Robert Novak may not have been arrested for leaking Valerie Plame's name (although he reported it way before Judith Miller did), but he did get a $50 ticket for hitting a pedestrian.

Well, it's not a very big fine for hitting someone with a car, but it was Washington, D.C., he is a Republican, and they do have the bully pulpit.

At least for now.

And of course he drives a black Corvette. Of course. That's the aging hipster-mobile of choice. It's what old men buy when they don't have the guts to actually walk into the shop and buy the dildo...

Monday, July 21, 2008

And Now, For A Musical Interlude...

Our friend Gary has a DVD of Scopitones that he sometimes shows before the Flesh Hungry Dog shows at Jackhammer (next one is Fri. August 1 with The Pussy Pirates, BTW! Get your tix while they're hot!). For those of you who are unfamiliar with Scopitones, they were very big in the 1960s, and were basically music "films" that were shot and edited with the purpose of being played back on a special machine in bars, like a sort of video jukebox.

Most of the Scopitones on the DVD are of relatively obscure acts in the U.S., and several others that were popular in Europe and overseas. But one in particular from this compilation caught my eye (and my ear!). And I'd like to share it with you!

Without further ado, here's Timi Yuro performing "If":

Not bad for a little Italian girl from Chicago, eh? To put it in perspective, she was about 19 years old when she sang this. Her biggest hit was in 1961, a song called "Hurt." She was called "the little girl with the big voice," and she never achieved the fame that she deserved. I think people just weren't ready to reconcile that big voice with that sweet little girl. She violated their expectations!

Today, she'd be HUGE.

Sadly, she passed away in 2004 after a 20-plus-year battle with cancer. But that voice will never fade! Ironically, she will probably achieve greater success now than when she was alive...

Finally, A Tiny Shaft Of Light At The End Of The Judicial Tunnel...

We can't expect sanity from the Supreme Court anymore, but at least the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hasn't completely lost its marbles.

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Since You Asked" -- July 18, 2008 Edition

DEAR ELLIE: My nephew, 33, has frequently been in trouble: stealing, driving under influence, driving while suspended, violence, drugs. He'd stolen a considerable sum from his aunt at 18 while she was staying in his parents' home. He was brought up an only child among alcohol and verbal abuse. He's physically assaulted his mother and father on several occasions, but they do nothing about it.

He threatened me on three occasions. He'd later call and apologize and I'd forgive him. Last January he and other relatives were intoxicated and playing music loudly. When asked to turn it down, he threw his aunt onto the ground and stopped only when threatened with the police being called.

I've banned him from my home and any association with me. Other relatives did the same. His parents want me to come over (he's there daily) but I've said no -- not until he gets anger management and does the right thing with his aunt. I feel tough love is the only way.



You’re right. So you need advice because…?

Actually, I can offer one correction/suggestion: “tough love” isn’t the only way. Try this one: another stint in jail with Big Bubba bending him over at shower time.

Best “anger management” I’ve ever heard of. He won’t be smacking his family around much when he can’t walk fast enough to catch them.

DEAR AMY: I am a single, successful professional. I am a quite pretty woman who has been dating a man for more than two years.

Sadly, I thought I was in a serious, committed relationship. Was I ever mistaken!

My boyfriend and I had developed what I thought was a solid relationship. Our families meshed and our children from each side became good friends. We even went to church together and spent most weekends together.

The problem is that I recently found my so-called boyfriend's profile on a popular Internet dating site.

I sensed something was wrong in the relationship. I decided to do a bit of investigation, and my PhD research training came in handy.

Anyone in my position can imagine the feeling of sadness and depression the minute I saw pictures of him smiling and flirting online.

The saddest part is that he was "advertising" for a relationship that is exactly what we had together. He denies participating in the exchanges with women, even though his profile has been up for months.

I recommend to all women who think something may be odd with their so-called boyfriend to do a quick search on the most popular Internet dating sites to see what comes up.

My blood is still frozen from finding his picture, name and profile asking for all of the qualities in a woman that I already possessed.



This guy sounds like a prize dick, all right (according to your letter, anyway). But I have to wonder if all these pseudo-sly references to your education mightn’t have had something to do with his, er, “wanderlust.” (Let’s see, do you happen to have a Ph.D. by chance?? Now, what kind of degree is it again? Is it a – I’m just guessing here – Ph.D.?? Wow, we’d never have known! You were so subtle about it!)

Your letter paints your guy as a dishonest creep, but I’m afraid it also reveals you to be slightly immodest, pious and faintly smug. These aren’t qualities men look for, pigs though they may be. And though you think that “anyone in your position can imagine” your feelings, to read your brochure letter, there’s nobody in your position besides you—you’ve built up your own little diamond pedestal.

You didn’t mention when his profile on this “popular Internet dating site” was last updated. Did your professor forget to teach you about dates in your many, many book-larnin’ classes? This might have been a profile he wrote long ago and never took down. It doesn’t necessarily mean he logs in every day.

And since when does it take a Ph.D. to operate the Internet? Since when does it take so much as education? Or even brains?? Have you seen how many people read the Drudge Report??

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My matron of honor, my sister, will be (if all goes well) six months pregnant at the time of my wedding. Her husband will be in attendance and will want to claim his place as the father of the child. However, their wife, one of my oldest friends, will also be in attendance with her then-15-week-old baby, also born of their shared husband.

While their lifestyle is not for me, I do not find it my place to condemn them, but rather to rejoice in the happiness my sister's choice has brought her.

It is the concern of my fiancé, however, that if their relationship comes to light, older and more conservative members of his family may look upon us with ill favor or denounce us outright because we did not denounce the three of them, opting instead to invite them to our union.

My own concern is that people are not so socially put out that they cannot enjoy themselves and celebrate with us our happy marriage—whether that be the groom, fretting for his relatives; my brother-in-law, temporarily disavowing a great happiness in his life; or my fiance's family, trying to figure out what the world has come to, or some such.

I agree with my sister that it might not become an issue if we do not announce their relationship to one another in introducing them, but as the newborn will be the only child at the wedding, and my sister will be the only (obviously) pregnant woman, parentage seems to be an obvious point of conversation.

It seems that it would disturb the fewest people to have my brother-in-law practice restraint of joy for a few hours, but it would be a more openly joyous occasion if we were not putting effort into denying the truth. I have agreed to abide by your judgment, and I believe that my sister's family will, as well.



Wait a minute: are both your sister and this other woman actually married to this guy?? If so, they have a problem of their own: the laws against bigamy. But I’m going to assume you mean that they’ve just had some sort of commitment ceremony, in which case their life is their own beeswax and you hit on the solution to this dilemma without even noticing it. You said that the problem lies with your fiancés “older and more conservative” family members.

Well, they’re old and they’ll be dead soon. Who the hell cares what they think?

Simple, ain't it? Don’t thank me.

DEAR MARGO: I'm engaged to a man I love ferociously. However, over the past four years his ex-girlfriend has caused a lot of trouble by attacking me verbally and also threatening me on three occasions. My fiance claims their relationship is almost familial since they've known each other since they were in diapers. But ... they have been intimate on two occasions.

He failed to stop her attacks against me on all three occasions, but he does say each time that he will no longer talk to her until full apologies are made. Well, this is the fourth time -- still no apology to me -- and they have kissed and made up, so to speak, and now laugh on the phone together in front of me about how insecure I am.

I am heartbroken that this close to our wedding he is still allowing this person to negatively affect us. I don't want to leave him, but I don't know whether there is any other answer. Am I wrong to ask him to cut her out of his life once and for all?



Maybe this is the end?? Golly, do you think so?

I’m still wondering why you didn’t cut this squid loose after the first time he didn’t stand up for you. And why you love him at all, much less “ferociously.” He’s obviously indifferent at best and a lizard at worst. He probably gets off on having his spitfire psycho of an “ex”-girlfriend threaten the other women he becomes involved with. They’re probably still very much a couple, and this is a sick little game they play, like some European sexual thriller or something.

I’ll bet he wears her panty hose and a dog collar, too. Break it off.

DEAR ELLIE: I'm early 50s, in a committed relationship with a man, 60, for 13 years. I've discovered his affair with an 80-year-old woman whom he'd befriended four years ago. They started a secret romance when her partner died suddenly in January. He took her to casinos, her social events, church, etc.

During the past two years, I had many losses of family and jobs, went into a depression and withdrew attention from my boyfriend. We went on vacation last January; I discovered he was planning this same vacation with the older woman. When confronted, he denied anything but friendship between them.

The woman contacted me, calling him a liar, claiming they were sexually intimate. We've been going to couples counseling. The counselor believes that theirs was a spiritual relationship and that he can still contact her. She said it's the 30-year age difference that makes this so devastating to me.

He says he wants to work it out and that he'll be there for me always. Things are 100 percent better, but I still have doubts. I don't know the whole truth. He swears nothing happened, she says different.



First of all:


Second of all, it’s sort of normal to turn to a friend when your partner suddenly withdraws. What is NOT normal, however, is to begin an affair with an 80-year-old woman unless you’re 80 years old yourself. That’s just a little strange, not to mention dangerous for the older person: what if they break a hip?? Now it’s entirely possible that he’s telling the truth and the old gal is just out to make trouble. But at the very least, it’s unnatural and sneaky for him to be planning a vacation with her behind your back (you say you had to “confront” him, which implies that he wasn’t exactly forthcoming about it).

Thirdly, what kind of hippie-dippie therapist are you guys seeing that would encourage this kind of shit?! “Since it’s a spiritual relationship he can still contact her??” Spiritual? WTF?! Is this a séance or something? Unless he’s giving this woman Holy Communion or Last Rites, there’s nothing “spiritual” about this. It’s based on duplicity and it needs to stop. Besides, a partner should be sensitive to your feelings, and if this relationship makes you uncomfortable, he owes it to you as his long-term partner to put your needs first.

If he refuses to do that, maybe you should set him free. And hopefully Harold and Maude will be very happy together.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

OK, THIS Is Just A Little Bit Excessive...

Karen Tumeh of Lincoln, Nebraska is suing a local McDonald's for not allowing her to place an order at the drive-thru. Crazy, isn't it??

Oh--did I forget to mention that she's DEAF? Yeah. She can't hear. But she wants to use the drive-thru. You know, that box that you have to HEAR the speaker thru in order to be able to use it? Right. She wants to use it. The store has said she will need to order inside at the counter, but she insists on using the drive-thru. After all, there's no sign telling her that you have to hear to be able to use it, therefore she should be able to, and to PUT such a sign up would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, so she has the restaurant by the short-n-curlies. (That last sentence wasn't in the article--it's just implied.)

And probably spoken aloud by Tumeh's attorney, Shirley Ann Mora James (no doubt of Shirley, Ewe, Geste, LLC), who says that Tumeh is physically capable of coming in and ordering at the counter, "but that's not the point."

No, Shirley Ann. The point is racking up a lot of billable hours for you, isn't it, honey bunch? Honestly, if your attorney was named "Shirley Ann," wouldn't you go find another one?? But since Shirley Ann's willing to take the case, Karen will stick with her, I'm sure. Especially since she's seeking attorney's fees and "unspecified damages" (that's lawyer-speak for "money she didn't earn and doesn't deserve, but the law will no doubt grant her a windfall because they'll look like big meanies if they don't"). Until she gets her payday, I'll bet Shirley Ann's her best bud.

I wonder if they do each other's hair and laugh over General Foods International Coffee?

Look, I realize that we have to be sensitive to people with disabilities, but people need to recognize their limitations, too. I'd love to be able to swim in the Olympics, but I'm just too old and fat. Even at my physical peak, I couldn't move that fast. Should I sue the Olympics for discriminating against me? Of course not! (Besides, I'm saving my lawsuit for when they presumably ruin my city in 2016.)

I hear you saying, "But Aaron, that's an extraordinary example. Drive-thrus are common features at every fast food restaurant and they're there for EVERYONE." That's right--and so are the counters inside, for those who can't use the drive-thru. It's not like they're denying her service ALTOGETHER, they're just saying she needs to use the method that works for her. How can you hear the drive-thrue speaker if--well, if you can't hear?

Shirley Ann says that Karen can't come inside because she has autistic children who might need her attention.

They might need decent nutrition, too, Shirley Ann, which means they probably shouldn't be eating McDonald's. And even if they are autistic, they can still walk into the store with her. They got into the fucking car, didn't they??

When my mother ran her boring-ass errands during my childhood, I got dragged all over tarnation--the drug store, the grocery store, the post office (before they had the drive-thru window), and a few times even the hairdresser. It's a good way to socialize with elders, I learned a lot from them, and I was better off because of it. Granted, you won't necessarily meet the pillars of society at McDonald's, but if kids have autism, they need all the social interaction they can get. And not just with a steel box at the drive-thru.

In this litigious age, I'm sure there will no doubt be TDDs at every drive-through window soon enough--or else people will be able to text their orders to the cyborgs behind the window. Until then, pull into the lot, walk inside and interact with humans!

Maybe that's the price you have to pay temporarily for eating junk.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Silver Look With An Aluminum Foil Budget

As The Joans continue to explore the world of visual imagery and plan for our inevitable first video, we often wonder how it will look when it's all done. We don't have the biggest budget in the world, after all, but we want it to look professional and nice...

However, I recently discovered that you CAN be glamorous and sexy on a budget. Witness this gem from 1976:

It's amazing what one can do with some strategically placed Christmas tree lights and tinsel, one camera and a video screen splitter.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Things That Go Bump Around Midnight...

Last Thursday, The Joans played at The Acorn Theatre in Three Oaks, Michigan. This was our second appearance there, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, as we did on New Years Eve. They have a video night every Thursday, where they offer drink specials (the theatre has a full bar) and show retro videos.

So this Thursday, they invited The Joans back as extra entertainment, and the audience really enjoyed themselves. So did we! Here's a picture as proof:

Joans Vintage Car
One of the Acorn patrons, Ron, kindly allowed The Joans to pose next to his 1979 Clenet roadster. The picture was taken by Gary Ward, who snapped several shots, then had to stop because it started raining.

Sadly, we were unable to stay for very long and enjoy the festivities after our set, because we had to drive back to Chicago and work the next day (although I had taken the next morning off, in anticipation of being dog-tired). So we hit the road about midnight Michigan time and headed back. It was raining pretty steadily, and there are LOTS of semis on I-94 and I-90, the two roads we have to drive on the way back, so my windshield wipers were working furiously. It's an hour-and-a-half drive, so I was grateful for the CDs I'd brought along.

The drive to Chicago was uneventful, if wet. I made an exit off of Lake Shore Drive onto Lawrence Ave. to drop my drums off at Taylor's. It was about 12:30. And that was when I noticed it.

A sort of vibrating dragging coming from the front end. I drove a little more carefully and slowly and noticed the vibrating becoming a distinct thump-thump-thump.

Fuck. My tire was flat. I was very close to Taylor's so I drove the last few blocks, and heaved a sigh of relief at the large parking spot right in front of his house.

He wasn't home yet, so I dropped the drums off in the basement, and told his roommates what had happened, that I was leaving the car (in case he saw it in the morning, and wondered what the hell happened), and cabbed it home. I fell into bed around 2:00 a.m. after all was said and done.

I woke up around 9:00 a.m. and called the Just Tires shop that's not far from me (and close to Taylor's also). I determined that it was possible to have the car brought in and they would change the tires while I was at work that afternoon, and I could pick it up at 5:30.

I walked over to Clark Street and took the bus down to Taylor's, and called the tow truck number I'd written down from my Internet search. They arrived 20 minutes later, loaded the car onto a flatbed trailer and I rode with them over to the tire shop. I had to run to the ATM to get the money, because they only took cash, but $80 later, my hobbled car was parked sideways in the Just Tires lot. I went inside, went through the tire catalogue with Joe, the Just Tires customer consultant, and picked the second-tier tires, not quite top of the line, but very respectable (good for 70,000 miles--it'll take me at least 10 years to drive that much). I left the keys and my phone number and hopped onto the Red Line at Lawrence.

I got a call from Joe at Just Tires around 1:30. "The alignment check (they include it with certain tire purchases) showed that your front tow is out of specifications. We can perform the adjustment for $74.95 (they had told me this was a possibility when I was making my purchase)." I bade him go head with the said repairs.

They called about 2:30 to tell me the car was ready. I said I'd be in at 5:30 to pick it up.

When I got there at 5:30 (on the fucking NOSE, people--do I know how to time a CTA journey or what!), the car was parked neatly (and closely) in an angled space in the side lot. I went inside and settled up, then had to make a 7-point turn to get out of the spot, since it was so close to the building (on one side) and the curb (on the other). As I was pulling out (in the ONLY room I had to move), I did just brush the bumper of a taxicab minivan next to me. I got out just to be sure no damage was done (none was) and headed off to my evening's doings. About $750 poorer, after all the math.

But what the hell, the tires should last about five years. I hope I do!

(I would post pictures of the tires, but, you know, you've seen one set of tires, you've seen them all. They're kind of black and round.)

Friday, July 11, 2008

"Since You Asked:" The Return!

Now that life has simmered down just a tiny bit, I now have some time to trawl through the advice columns and read the insipid responses to the clueless whackos who write in.

Which begs the question: can you do any better, smartass?

Well, yes. Yes, I think I can. And since I'm not beholden to United Features Syndicate or some other such organization, I can answer these loonies the way I think they should be answered.

So without further ado, I bring you the comeback edition of what I expect to be my regular Friday feature--now titled "Since You Asked." Enjoy!


DEAR MARGO: Two girlfriends of mine have married, and each had her first child this past year. The babies are 9 months and 12 months. Both friends have asked if I'd baby-sit. I'm in my mid-40s, happily married, with no children (by choice), and frankly, I'm not interested in taking on the task of child care. How do I tell them no without hurting their feelings?



Tell them you’ll be happy to babysit their kids – if they’ll walk your dog and clean up after him for a week. Then feed him some Hormel Chili and hand him over. I guarantee you’ll not be asked again.


DEAR MARGO: I am 28 and have been happily married to my wife for a little more than five years. I am currently away on an extended business trip and received an e-mail from my wife stating that she is considering going with her younger sister to get a tattoo. One of the things I have always found feminine and attractive about my wife is that she'd never marked her body with tattoos. While I understand that they are more popular and socially acceptable these days, that doesn't change the way I feel about them on my wife. Please dispense any helpful advice you may have.



*chuckles softly*

Oh, Skippy…delusional, delusional Skippy. What disappointment you’re destined to experience.

But that’s for later--you asked for advice, and I’m always glad to help. So here goes: if you don’t like tattoos, don’t get one. I doubt that we’ll miss the lost opportunity to see an anchor, a rose or a butterfly stamped on your pasty ass cheek. However, it’s your wife’s body and if she wants a tattoo, she’s an adult (I assume—otherwise, you’ve got bigger problems, buddy) and can do as she likes. If you don’t like it, don’t lick it while you’re having sex.

See how easy that was? I aim to please.

DEAR ELLIE: I'm getting married, but my sister-in-law doesn't get along with the general population. My brother asked me to have her in my bridal party as a show of reaching out. It took her four months to accept, but she's resentful because the wedding date was inconvenient for her.

She's delayed getting a dress (and demanded a style change); she says she'll get things done when she wants to, and I shouldn't worry.

I don't want her in my party, but by kicking her out, I risk damaging my relationship with my brother. Is it worth speaking my mind?



Normally, I can’t stand brides. In my observation, the brides who write in asking for advice are usually shallow, bitchy, self-centered, obsessed over how fat their relatives are because they’ll spoil the pictures, and are generally looking for some recognized authority to validate their pettiness.

But lo and behold! This time, the bride isn’t the problem. Just because you were nice enough to confound my expectations, I’m going to give you the benefit of my wisdom.

The sad fact is, you’ve already invited this crazy bitch to be in your wedding party. If you uninvite her now, you will piss off your brother. And that’ll really fuck up Thanksgiving. Don’t do it.

What you can do is hope she drops out on her own—and I have a feeling she will, if everything is as inconvenient for her as you say she makes it sound. Another thing you can do is let her know that the dress is non-negotiable. You say that she demanded a style change—I’m assuming you caved on that once. Don’t cave again. Tell her that the dresses chosen are the ones being worn, and she’ll either wear it or be excluded from the photos. Period. El Fin. End of story.

Your brother may not like it, but you can tell him you’ve accommodated her once and that he’s pressing his luck to keep trespassing on your generosity. If she doesn’t like it, tough shit—you’ve held up your end. It’s OK to keep the peace, but letting this whack-ass steamroll over you will set a bad precedent. Be prepared that she won’t wear the dress you want. In that case, follow through on the photo threat—for once, you girls are right: it’s your wedding.

DEAR AMY: I read the letter from "Frustrated," who didn't like neighborhood children retrieving balls from the lawn and didn't want kids playing in the street.

Many of my grown friends remember the cranks from their own neighborhoods who yelled at kids playing on the street.
I think that if someone doesn't want people in his yard, he should put a low fence up, and if he wants to be the curmudgeon, be prepared to always be remembered that way.

Having children occasionally in your yard is a part of living in a neighborhood. If you dislike it, you should move to a retirement community where you and your other curmudgeon friends can sit in the grass and yell "get off of my lawn" at random passersby.



There’s nothing wrong with “occasionally having children in your yard,” if their ball happens to come over into your yard, occasionally, and they are simply retrieving it. Occasionally.

However, when it happens constantly, or if (which is likely) the little shits always take shortcuts through other people’s yards, it’s a nuisance, and you’d be surprised at just how “curmudgeonly” anyone can be if they’re constantly disturbed by uninvited “guests.” One of the legal rights of home ownership is called “quiet enjoyment.” You can look it up. This doesn’t usually extend to noise you make on your own property which can be overheard by others (within reason). If you want to eat burritos, hang your ass out the window and toot “Ain’t She Sweet” on the manure flute, you’re legally free to do so. On your own property. (I suspect, however, that this would introduce a host of other problems, legal and not.)
You’re right about one thing: he should put a fence up. You’re wrong, however, that it should be a low one. If I were this guy, I’d make that bitch the fucking Great Wall. And I’d make it electric, too. Try climbing THAT mother.

As far as playing in the street goes, it’s a dumb-ass thing to do. (I did it once or twice when I was a kid, and it was just as dumb-ass then.) I don’t know how long ago you grew up, but I assume there were cars, although they may have been pulled by horses or had crank starters. If you strain really hard, you might remember that the drivers of these cars don’t always drive carefully or slowly, despite any signage. They may also not expect to see kids in the street, since that’s not, in fact (and this may come as a shock to you), what streets are for. When he yells at them, your “neighborhood crank” might genuinely be concerned about the kids’ well-being. It’s a damned good thing he is, because you and their parents don’t seem to be.

If you think playing in the street is so wonderful, why don’t you do it again? During rush hour.

I promise you the rest of us won’t make a peep.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hell No, He Won't Show!

Karl Rove is above the law!

So perhaps the law should rise to his level and go knocking on his door. With some handcuffs. And a taser (just because that would be damned fun).

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Random "Hmm"ness

Here are just a few of the mental flies buzzing around my head this morning:


Apparently, Brooke Hogan (real name: Bollea), daughter of washed-up 80s wrestler Hulk Hogan, thinks it's no big deal that her 54-year-old father applied suntan lotion to her 20-year-old derriere in a recent controversial photo.

"It's like he's touching an old car," she explains, and after all, "he changed my diaper!"

But see, here's the thing, Brooke: he changed your diaper because you were an infant and you weren't able to do it yourself. You are now grown up and perfectly capable of rubbing lotion on your own ass.


President Bush addressed G8 leaders and said that "significant progress" has been made on climate change. It wasn't clear whether he meant combatting climate change or causing it.


Chicago Straw Olympic Boss Pat Ryan says that the weekend shooting tragedy at the Taste of Chicago festival will likely not affect the city's greedy grasp pipe dream bid for the 2016 Olympics.

Ryan says that most people who visit Chicago "marvel" at the safety and security of the city. Those who live here just marvel at the insane taxes. (An amusing note: Remember when Daley said he was going to raise the money for the Olympics without letting it fall on the taxpayers' shoulders? Are we surprised that he lied?)


Intelligentsia Coffee says that, beginning August 1, it will no longer offer the 20-ounce venti sized drink. Founder Doug Zell (yes--ANOTHER penny-pinching Zell) says that it's not an "economic" issue, it's about "respect for the brew," and that the full intensity of the flavor can't be appreciated in a "big-gulp-sized" drink.

Riiiight, Doug. And you also can't charge people for the price of two mediums if they decide they're satisfied with one large. Very sly. You should open a gas station.


Finally, the CTA plans to implement a new program to alleviate "bus-bunching," the problem that occurs when buses are so late that five or six show up at the same time (and usually after we've given up caring). CTA president, and some folks' wet dream ("but not mine," to quote Patti Smith), Ron Hubermann, says the new program will aim to get supervisors out of their booths and into fuel-efficient vehicles to head off groups of buses, taking passengers off of one and putting them on another to make it an express, etc.

All I can say is, the only thing more annoying than waiting forever for a bus is waiting forever for a bus, finally getting on one, then being told to get off halfway through the route and get onto another. Which is usually more crowded, with no seats available, and next to a bitchy old woman who wants to jawbone about how inconvenient it is for her (since it's not at ALL inconvenient for the rest of us).

No thanks, Ron--leave ill enough alone. If you want to alternate buses so every other one is an express, that might work. But don't yank people off when they're already on. That's just asking for it.

A motorized scooter is sounding better and better. If they only weren't so damned expensive.


So, this morning the BBC is actually at my place of work (because Chicago is SO close to England) filming a segment for that insipid "What Not To Wear" show. We're told that we can go down (it's on the first floor) and watch, but not let on that we're there for the filming, since it's not supposed to be obvious that that's what they're there for (I suppose the cameras and lights won't tip ANYONE off).

Fortunately, I have no interest in this, and I only hope I don't come across them when I'm walking out on my break. I think it's an annoying show, and although their comedy ROCKS, the British have some of the most annoying reality TV EVER (and that's saying something, because America's sucks pretty bad). And anyway, if ANYONE I didn't know were to approach me and criticize my wardrobe, I may have to whisper softly to them what they could shove and where they could shove it. And then I'd demonstrate.

I'm closing the door now so no more flies come in...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ignorance Is Obviously Bliss (And Today, Temporary Deafness Would Be, Too)...

First of all, this is baffling to me. I don't know which is more baffling, the fact that somebody actually measured this, or that they really think there's a correlation. Whom did they talk to? Not exactly a representative sample, whoever it was. All of my pet-owning friends dislike McCain. (That's why we're friends.) Anyway, it's inconceivable to me that people who respect and love animals--you know, a representation of nature--could claim to prefer McCain, a man who's already promised to continue the policies of Alfred E. Neumann George W. Bush. And we all know how nature-friendly HE is.

Are we sure they didn't measure "meat-eaters" instead of "pet-owners?" And maybe they just got a little confused? Yeah. Yeah, I'm sure that must be it.


Secondly, I think my job is driving me nuts. Normally I get along fine with everyone, but I no longer sit directly next to the people in the area I work in--now I sit smack dab in the middle of another program area (in a move so stupidly-conceived that I would have sworn it was a military strategy). The two program assistants there have a strange, reverse-symbiotic dysfunctional relationship, and today they're fighting like Baby Jane and Blanche.

All of which, as you can imagine, works WONDERS for my concentration.

Monday, July 07, 2008

In Which I'd Like to Bury My Head Along With Those Treasures...

Well, yesterday The Joans laid down rhythm tracks in the studio for their first CD (well, besides the rehearsal MP3s I burned onto CDs to play in the car). We spent nine hours and we got rhythm tracks laid for 10 songs. Yep, we worked fast...

All I can say after hearing the rough cuts is, Holy Christ, I'd forgotten how many damned mistakes I make when I just don't have time to make mistakes. And of course, putting ourselves under time pressure GUARANTEES that we'll fuck up plenty. Every error is exposed like a huge boil on the ass. Since we don't have a huge budget for this motherfucker, there are some things we're just going to have to live with, although we'll be going back into the studio in a few weeks for overdubs and vocals, and I might be able to fix some stuff then. The nice thing is, since we did three takes of each song, there was something I liked about each one, so at least in aggregate that's one whole song I liked! And there were a few that I liked my playing in each take (the less-fast ones mostly, because I didn't feel like I was rushing).

I did my damnedest to stay consistent in tempo (which was harder for the really fast songs, because I ALWAYS end up speeding up), but since I refused to play with a metronome in my ear (it always sounds like a heart monitor to me, and I've heard enough of those in my lifetime), I can only rely on my body clock.

The one that just turned 40.

Yeah--you can guess how successful THAT was.

The thing is, just for shits and giggles once, I played a metronome along with my favorite band's record. And you know what? THEY don't match the metronome either! Metronomes are fascist instruments. But I may have to bite the bullet and plug a really loud one into my ear when I go back into the studio, and forget how much it sounds like my grandmother's bedside...once I train myself, hopefully I'll develop a more relaxed and steady sense of rhythm. Right now, I have "multi-taskers'" rhythm, that sporadic sense of timing that develops when you are used to doing 20 jobs at once (and I have been for 12 years)...

*sigh* All will yet be well...I'm determined that this is so.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Buried Treasure...

Well, today The Joans are studio-bound as they prepare to lay first tracks for their first CD (besides the ones taken with crappy microphones). I'm leaving to go pick up Taylor at 11:00 and we'll head down there.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on some choice trinkets that I resuced from Mom's storage space a few weeks ago. Some things couldn't be saved, were warped/water-damaged, etc. But I got the things I really wanted to keep. Here are a few:

Buried Treasures 011
Here's what it looked like in the trunk of my car. That's a full trunk! I had to finally move the stuff inside so I'd have room for my drums when we go to Michigan next week.

Buried Treasures 012
Mom ordered this silver coffee service set from Carson Pirie Scott. In 1979. It had never been used, and was never touched. Until now! Pretty, ain't it?

Buried Treasures 009
These made me absolutely giddy. I remember listening to these with my Mom when she dubbed them onto cassettes (yes, cassettes--shut up!) when I was a kid. You can't see it (and I couldn't make the photos show it, because it's so faint), but her name and address are stamped in the corner.

Buried Treasures 003
More giddiness. These are a few of the singles from the box of 45s I got out of the storage shed. Nancy Sinatra's "Sugar Town" (another favorite of mine from childhood), The Beatles' "She Liebt Dich" (the German version of "She Loves You"), "Just A Little" by the Beau Brummels, and...

Buried Treasures Herm Herm
...a Herman's Hermits single with a most intriguing title. Hmmm...does it really, Mr. Noone? Does it really? Did Mrs. Brown have a lovely SON as well...? I wonder...

Buried Treasures 008
This is some girl's confirmation certificate from 1901 in Ford County, IL. I'd be tempted to say that it's one of our relatives, except that it appears to be in Swedish, not German, and our Swedish relatives (my father's grandfather) all lived in Chicago, and would have been confirmed there. Also, there are no ancestors from that era named Anna Carolina as far as I know. There were an Olget, a Marget and a Bertel, but no Annas on that side.

I think Mom probably found this at a church jumble sale and kept it because she liked the look of it. That's just like Mom! She knew when something was worth hanging onto, even when nobody else did...

Maybe next week, I'll show you the lovely china that Mom found at another jumble sale (she had a knack for finding this stuff, I'll tell you). It's in my storage closet downstairs.

There's more stuff, but it will have to wait until later, because I have to jump in the shower and get ready to hit the road for Taylor's, and from there to the place in Humboldt Park that we're recording. (We went and saw it yesterday--it's quite nice.)

Later, tomaters!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mooshy, Gooshy, Dull and Flaccid

So it appears that the "mushy middle," that great swathe of undecided voters, could decide the outcome of this year's Presidential election.'s my question: after watching what's been going on for the last eight years, should anybody really BE undecided?? I mean, one way or the other, it's clear these two candidates are pretty different. Either you like what's been going on, or you don't. One says he will continue the course as is, the other promises change.

What's ambiguous here? Help me out...

If people REALLY can't make up their minds with all that information available to them, should they be allowed out of the house without supervision breathing voting at all?

If so, I sure hope to hell they're not driving to the polls...