Archive for October, 2007

Oh Those Crazy Days of College Days

Monday, October 29th, 2007

My mom has my entire life (as well as my brothers’ lives) carefully chronicled in an elaborate system of closets, cabinets, boxes and drawers.  When I mentioned the Columbia University Marching Band’s appearance on The Late Show, she disappeared for about thirty seconds before reemerging with a dusty VHS video tape in her hand.

Because Battlestar Galactica Isn’t Nerdy Enough

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

After being told to watch Battlestar Galactica by everyone in the universe, I finally gave in. It’s a good show. A great show, even.

One thing I love about it is the way the ships move. It’s the first time I’ve seen realistic space flight in science fiction. Space vehicles are always depicted as airplanes when in fact they work on very different principles. Air vehicles rely on the presence of air to maintain lift and, thus, counteract gravity. Space vehicles don’t have to deal with gravity, nor is there any need for aerodynamics since there is no air to… um… dynam. I love seeing the Vipers in Battlestar flip about on multiple axes using reaction control thusters while maintaining their forward velocity. I also enjoy the (mostly) silent space shots. Hooray for space realism.

I find it very unrealistic, however, that they have such difficulty figuring out who is and who isn’t a Cylon. They have an MRI machine for pete’s sake! Are we supposed to believe that humans and Cylons are anatomically identical even though Cylons have superior strength and somehow transmit a wireless signal when they die?

The show did get me thinking of what would be involved in building an artificial human that could one day attack and enslave us. Seems like a good project. I think one of the biggest problems (besides, you know, the brain) is power. Humans are supposed to eat about 2000 kilocalories a day. (We call them “calories,” but they’re actually kilocalories.) A TV running 16 hours a day (8 hours of sleep) would require about 2900 kilocalories. A human being uses less power than a TV! And that doesn’t even account for the inefficiencies of converting food to usable energy. I don’t think there is technology today that can do what a human does while consuming so little power. Fiona Apple is right. We are extraordinary machines.

(A toaster, by the way, is very inefficient. If it were toasting 16 hours a day, it would require over 11,000 kilocalories.)

Are You There Chicago? It’s Me, Amanda.

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

In the final episode of Impress These Apes, Amanda Rountree created a conversation between herself and Chicago — starring the audience as Chicago. Brilliant!

I Wanna Be The Teacher’s Pet

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

I started taking classes in September. It’s been almost 10 years since I did homework or took a test of any kind. It’s kind of fun. Mostly I enjoy accumulating points. My brother Aric asked if I was the teacher’s pet, which made me pause for a moment.

You see, GPH 436 is like going to a stand up show in an empty club. Anyone who’s ever been on stage knows how important the audience is. Unless you’re Don Hedeker, who can put on a manic show for a couple of goldfish, the audience can make or break a performance. My professor is a smart guy, but he definitely feeds off of his audience. When we ask questions and answer his, he’s a better teacher. So maybe I raise my hand more than the others, but I do it for the greater good.

(By the way, The Polkaholics will be celebrating their 10 year anniversary at Martyrs on November 9th. I guarantee it will be a fun show.)

Thank You Charles Tillman

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

I was at the Bartman game. My dad somehow managed to find bleacher tickets for himself, my brothers, and I. There’s a very clear picture in my head of my brother Brian holding five fingers in the air… one for each out the Cubs needed to move on to the World Series.

My brothers at game 6 of the NLCS in 2003 with high expectations.

We all know what happened next.

I wish I took a picture afterwards, but I was too depressed. The four of us trudged down Sheffield to my brother’s apartment, too miserable to get on the train. We joined thousands of others, dazed, silently wandering in the middle of the street. Every once in a while someone would vocalize their frustrations by shouting: “Dammit,” “8 runs,” or a simple Santo-esque “No!!” It was surreal and awful. Many have compared it to a funeral. In my experience, funerals are happier.

Seventh Inning Stretch — 3 to 0, Cubs — 15 minutes to meltdown.

A week later, looking to vent my frustrations, I sold my ticket stub on eBay with “Worst Game Ever” scrawled on the bottom. It was bought for $22 by someone in Indiana. (I refused to ship to Florida.)

As the Cubs embarrassed themselves against the Diamondbacks this weekend, I felt numb. I was disappointed but not depressed. For some reason I didn’t have very high expectations — maybe because this year’s collection of overpaid underachievers didn’t inspire me much — but I think Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS had something to do with it. That night changed me. I’ve lost my naive childish thrill. To quote Steve Goodman (again) “What do you expect when you raise up a young boy’s hopes and then crush them like so many empty beer cups year after year after year after year after year…” As the playoffs began this year, my dad said he wasn’t sure what made him happier: seeing the Cubs make the playoffs or seeing the Mets collapse. He still holds a grudge from 1969. These things stay with you.

“Worst Game Ever”


I hope someday I can feel that way about the Cubs again. They have some likable young players and 100 years is a nice round number. In the meantime, here’s hoping the back page of the Sun Times has some good news after a pretty depressing couple of weeks. Watching Charles Tillman literally wrestle a win from the arms of the Green Bay Packers was a pretty good start. Thanks Peanut, Chicago needed that.

Pump up the Jam…boree

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

I work in a weird neighborhood. Really weird. Our neighbors include an industrial paint factory, horse stables and a strip club. Walking out of work this evening I noticed there’s a new business in the neighborhood:

If you can’t read the subtitle, it says, “Inflatable Party Zone for Little Ones.” I asked them if I could look around. It’s pretty sweet. There are several rooms filled with stuff like this:

My crappy camera phone picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s big. And the room also had a giant moonwalk and some sort of inflatable gauntlet. And there were two other rooms. As I was leaving, the man at the front desk said, “Pretty cool, huh?” Yes. Pretty cool indeed.

It reminds me of one of the best parties I ever went to in high school. The folks who ran the school newspaper somehow convinced the proprietors of a neighborhood Discovery Zone to let them have a party there from midnight to 8AM.  There weren’t many balls in the ball pit by the end of the evening. I didn’t work on the paper, but I wasn’t about to miss that.

I think my next birthday party is going to be at Pump it Up. Mark your calendars!

Anything But A Mattress Store…

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

Once I lived across the street from a “tobacco” shop. I can’t say it was a big surprise when a “going out of business” sign with a Grateful Dead sticker on it appeared in the window one day. It was a time of great excitement for my roommates and I. None of us were all that into “tobacco” and we were excited to see what would move in across the street. Would it be a great sandwich shop? A bookstore?? An arcade?! A waterpark?!?!!?

After months of construction, the plywood on the windows finally came down, awnings went up, and we were left with… a Sprint Store. A Sprint Store! I guess there are people who go to such places for their Borg implant bluetooth devices, but I was still rockin’ the land line at the time — rockin’ it hard. Oh how I missed the old bong shop.

Recently signs went up on the pizza place across the street from my house announcing that they are moving and once again I find myself excited by the possibilities. You may be thinking that I’m crazy for not wanting a pizza place right outside my front door. I’m not. Here are 4 reasons:

  1. There’s also Chicago’s Pizza and Giordano’s very very nearby, offering much tastier pizza.
  2. I’ve never actually seen anyone buying pizza there.
  3. It seems they have a nasty habit of dumping grease directly in the sewer.
  4. There’s a Donkey Kong Jr. machine in there that drives me crazy because I suck so bad at Donkey Kong Jr.

The thing is, my neighborhood is so dang awesome that I can’t think of anything I really need. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Maybe it will be a branch of my weird bank. Or maybe someone will bring back Photon. A kid can dream…