Archive for February, 2008

Dialog Malfunction

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Hey y’all. So Evan asked me to guest blog on his site while he’s building bridges and fighting off wild boars in Guatemala. I’ve never actually blogged before, nor have I ever journaled or diaried (uh, I sure hope “diaried” isn’t a word…nope, it’s not). As a continuation of Evan’s previous post, I was going to talk about another ridiculous game we used to play when we were younger called “Chapters” — which is actually ten times dumber than Football With Socks and Fall Down the Stairs. I’ll save that for another time. Instead, it being Oscar season and all, how about a movie topic?

I happened to be watching Major League the other day, which is one of those movies they show on regular cable about 10 times a week and that, for some reason, I always end up watching whenever it’s on. Of course, it being regular cable, the movie was edited for television. Now, some edited-for-tv movies aren’t too bad. They may have a deleted scene here and there or an overdubbed piece of dialog on occasion. With Major League, though, it’s like they weren’t even trying. Pretty much every great line in the movie was butchered, including “Up your butt, JoBu” (replaced with “Up your bucket…”) and, of course, the Doran/Ricky Vaughn exchange at the end when Doran says, “I only have one thing to say to you. Strike this mother___ out!” (replaced with “Strike this [dead air] guy out.”). I couldn’t find a clip of the edited version, but you can watch the original here (skip to the 2:00 mark). I would almost rather watch this version instead.

I certainly understand the need to edit movies for tv, but it raises the question: Is there a worse edited-for-tv movie than Major League? And when I say “worse,” I mean more frustrating to watch due to bad (hilarious?) overdubbing and missing scenes. A few others come to mind, like Die Hard (“Yippee-kye-ay Mister Falcon”) and Ferris Bueller (“Pardon my French, but you’re an Aardvark!”), and there are some movies, like Robocop, that have no business being on regular tv. But I submit that Major League is the most consistently annoying of them all. That said, I’m prepared to be convinced otherwise…


Monday, February 25th, 2008

I’m leaving for Guatemala in a couple of days.  While I’m gone, my brother Aric will be guest-writing on this site.  Enjoy.

If Only It Were In The Olympics

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

I’ve been too lazy to write something new so I went through the “unpublished” archives and found this. For some reason I never posted it.

My brother Aric mentioned a game we used to play when we were little in his comment on a previous post. It was called “Football With Your Socks Tied Together,” often abbreviated as “Football With Socks.” I have two brothers, so it was always 2 on 1. (Hey parents… thanks a lot! Couldn’t you have given us even teams?) We’d loosen our socks to the point where we could tie them together while still keeping them on our feet. Then we’d play football in the bedroom Aric and I shared. I, as the least athletic, often had to block for my younger brother as he drove down our 5 yard carpeted field. (We only had one play: run up the middle.)

It was a good game, but it wasn’t a great game. Fall Down The Stairs was a great game. This is a game in which I truly excelled. Tempest was the only video game I could dominate my brother at (most likely because he thought it sucked) and Fall Down The Stairs was the only sport (yes, sport) about which I could honestly say I was the best in our family.

In case you want to play, here’s how it works:

  1. Gather all the blankets and pillows you can find in the house and place them at the bottom of a good, straight staircase.
  2. Each of the three players places a sleeping bag over his (or her!) head and sits at the top of the stairs.
  3. Everyone falls down the stairs.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3.
  5. Whoever gets hurt first loses.

Actually, everyone loses. Especially our mom. She hated that game.

At What Point Do I Pee My Pants?

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

This weekend there was a little party for the people going on this Guatemala bridge-building adventure. It was really great to hang out with everyone. The folks going on the trip are all really fun and interesting. We’re going to have a good time.

Aaron’s brother-in-law gave him a gigantic knife along with some other gear to bring on the trip. He also sent a six page letter filled with tips.

Aaron: It’s possible he was drinking when he wrote it.

The best part is the step-by-step guide explaining what to do if you are attacked by an animal:

It will be biting your left forearm. That’s OK. Keep its head occupied with your left arm and attack it with the knife. You will probably be on the ground with it on top of you while this is happening.

Sounds great. We asked if his brother-in-law had killed many wild dogs or mountain lions.

Aaron: Nah. I think he just watches a lot of Animal Planet.

Don’t Lick The Popsicle

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

After taking a midterm downtown I walked over to Millennium Park to see the Museum of Modern Ice freezamadinugs that’s going to be there through February — a colored ice sculpture that has been nicknamed “The Popsicle.”

I didn’t love it at first. I guess I expected it to be more… something. It didn’t “echo the city’s renowned skyline” as I was told it would. I didn’t get much of a reaction at all. That it was sitting next to, in my opinion, the greatest piece of public art in the world, didn’t help either.

Luckily Shama showed up. She called to see how my midterm went and when I told her I was going to stop by Millennium Park she hopped on a train to meet me there faster than an Evan spilling soup on himself. She’s been wanting to go ice skating since, like, September. After some skating and falling we went up to take another look.

Shama loved it immediately, and the more she talked the more I started appreciating it. When you look up close you can see where pieces broke off, fell, melted, refroze, and melted again. I think I liked seeing it thrive on that zero degree night. The colder the weather, the stronger and more vibrant it gets — just like Chicago.

Why I Don’t Have Terrible Taste In Music

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Every couple of years Trevor recommends music to me. It’s not often, but he has an amazing track record. When we were sophomores in college, he introduced me to John Prine (and, by proxy, Iris DeMent.) Prine has gone on to become my favorite performer. A few years later he suggested I listen to Chuck Brodsky. Now I own all his albums.

Yesterday Trevor asked if I had been listening to M. Ward. I hadn’t. Trevor’s three for three. It’s nice to have a friend like that.

Here are two M. Ward songs for all of you:

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It Is Our Most Modestly Priced Receptacle

Monday, February 11th, 2008

In a couple weeks I’m going to Guatemala to help build a bridge with Engineers Without Borders. I’m not a big traveler. I don’t like being far from home, and I don’t like being a tourist. This trip is as far from being a tourist as one could ask for. We’ve got a five mile hike from the end of the nearest road to get to the site where we’ll be camping and working with 70 villagers to build a suspended bridge, allowing the locals to get to and from health care, schools, markets, and other necessities.

I’m a little nervous about this trip for a lot of reasons. Can we actually get this thing built without any electricity in such a remote location with such a short time frame? Are we going to be okay camping for such an extended period of time? What’s it going to be like in such close quarters with a bunch of people I barely know? I had to get travel insurance yesterday. The second item listed under “additional coverage details” did little to assuage my fears.

Blaming The Messenger

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Seeing this truck parked outside my house reminded me of a story.

A little over a year ago, driving down a busy street, a dark green truck pulled up beside me. It was clearly, at one time, a Marshall Field’s truck, but a big white “Macy’s” banner had been attached to the side.

This was only a couple weeks after Macy’s announced that they were transforming the flagship State Street Marshall Field’s store into a Macy’s.

This truck, with a crappy New York store’s logo pasted over a respected Chicago brand name, was not well received by the surrounding motorists that day. People were honking, flipping the bird, and shouting epithets at the poor driver. “Screw You Macy’s!

I’ve never actually bought anything at Marshall Field’s or Macy’s, but it made me happy to see Chicagoans sticking up for their institutions.

Have We Met?

Friday, February 8th, 2008

I normally don’t reveal what my song “Me and My Wagon” is about because the topic of not drinking doesn’t go over very well in bars. When I mentioned it at the show last week, I was booed. People like drinking. I get it. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I stopped actively not drinking, and I still don’t do it very often. As a result I often find myself at bars, sober, surrounded by people who are very not sober.

Take, for example, the guy who who kept forgetting he had already given me his business card. After talking to him for a half hour I had three of them. He was going to give me a fourth, but it seems he mysteriously ran out of cards. “I don’t know where they all went.”

I Love Fake Rock And Roll

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

About a month ago, while utterly dominating ZZ Top on Guitar Hero, I got a dumb idea. Everyone loves Guitar Hero, right? How cool would it be to play a Guitar Hero guitar during a live show? Okay, bad question, but I intended to do it anyway. I couldn’t just play the game on stage, however. That would cross the very narrow line from geek-cool into Lamesville, USA, Population: The nerd playing Guitar Hero on stage. No, I’d have to play an actual song… so I did, and “Underneath Your Clothes” never sounded so dumb. The sound guy at Schubas seemed to get a kick out of it, though.

Several people have asked me how the dingus worked, so I will explain it below if you’re interested.

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Bear Down, New York Giants

Monday, February 4th, 2008

In October my brother Aric threw an issue of Sports Illustrated at me. “Read the first letter to the editor,” he said. “That’s why I hate Boston.” It was in response to the previous issue that had placed Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon on the cover. The letter was from a Boston fan complaining that Sports Illustrated had jinxed the Red Sox by placing Papelbon on the cover. It concluded with, “Haven’t we [Boston sports fans] been through enough?”

In truth, the main reason that Aric hates Boston sports is jealousy. The Red Sox went on to win another World Series, the Celtics have the best record in the NBA, and the Patriots had won three previous Super Bowls. Jealousy is expected. But now they’re complaining about their suffering? What, exactly, has Boston been through except for world championships in 2002, 2005, and two in 2004.

Meanwhile, in that span, the Bears imploded, the Bulls fell apart, and the Cubs, well, Cubbed. If Boston fans want something to whine about they should try rooting for our teams… or at least Cleveland’s.

Then, when the Patriots finished the regular season 16 and 0 — the only team ever to do so  — it got personal. The two great bastions of glory in Chicago sports are Michael Jordon and the 1985 Chicago Bears. In just about every poll, the ’85 Bears are considered the greatest football team ever. It would be hard to argue that the 18-1 Bears were better than a 19-0 Patriots team. (I’m not saying it couldn’t be done. I’m just saying it would be hard.)

But the Patriots didn’t go 19 and 0.

When Eli Manning eluded a wave of tackles and connected with David Tyree, who miraculously caught the ball on his helmet, I don’t think there was anyone happier than Aric. And when New England’s grumpy, classless, cheater of a coach stormed off the field, there were high fives in Chicago.

R.I.P. Cone of Freshness

Monday, February 4th, 2008

There’s an intake vent at Jellyvision that has been pouring cold air into the office all winter. Woody calls it “The Cone of Freshness.” Fresh or not, it’s pretty inefficient to have cold Chicago air pouring into your building through a two foot intake.

I tried making a one-way valve out of paper that closes when the heater is off, keeping the cold air out of our office, but opens up and allows air to be sucked (intook?) when the heater is on. The photo above shows it in full suck mode with the valve open.

It seems to be working, although Nate, who sits right underneath it, says it scares the crap out of him every time it closes.

Might As Well Hang Em Up

Friday, February 1st, 2008

I can’t imagine ever having more fun at a show than I did at Wednesday’s CD release. To everyone who came out, I can’t thank you enough. The crowd totally blew me away. I’m still geeked about it.

It was especially great to play with both of my brothers, Brian and Aric, not to mention all the other very special guests: Jon, Thea, Kelly, Chris, Dan, Matt and Gordon. When it comes to music, I don’t play well with others. I unexpectedly add in extra measures, repeat verses, and leave out choruses. I play songs at different speeds and sometimes stop in the middle to talk about peanut butter. These folks not only navigated my shenanigans, but they sounded fantastic.

It seems I don’t really have a point here. I guess I just want to say thanks. Thanks to my family. Thanks to everyone who came out to the show. Thanks to everyone who bought the CD. Thanks to the people who read this garbage. I don’t expect to make it big as a musician. I don’t even think I’m very good. I just do this because it’s a tremendous amount of fun, and it wouldn’t be without all y’all.

It’s a little self-indulgent for me to post these, but some friends of mine took it upon themselves to write about the show.  And while I’m ridiculously flattered by what they wrote, I’m mostly using this as an excuse to direct my meager audience to websites of three wicked-good writers: Arnie, Lacy, Shama.

Photo by Gordon Wright

And Just Like That…

Friday, February 1st, 2008

…we have a street again.

I know I’ve been dwelling on this, but the whole process was fascinating to me, and the city really did great. To think, just a week ago our street looked like this.