Archive for May, 2008

Merkle’s Curse – Now Available

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Last year at this time I was not very excited about the Cubs. They found ways to lose games I never even knew existed. And even though they made the playoffs, I never found them very likable.

Today the Cubs came back from a 1-9 deficit to win 10-9. Who are these guys? It’s as if there’s some higher power at work here. How else do you explain Ronny Cedeno batting .300 or Ryan Dempster’s 2.56 ERA?

Is it the new field? The unseasonably cold weather? Bob Brenly’s mustache?

Well, my dad wrote a book called Merkle’s Curse with another possible explanation involving Dracula, the sale of Manhattan, the invention of the paper clip and, I don’t know, gypsies. There are gypsies too. He’s busy making the rounds at local bookstores, sports shows and rotary clubs explaining his complex (and fictional) theories on a curse that dates back to the Holy Roman Empire.

The book’s available on his website and at a few Chicago book stores including The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square.

Ikea Is Cheap. You Can Be Too!

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

I wanted to put up some shelving in my kitchen, but when I went to the lumber yard, I was disappointed by how expensive wood was. Then I realized that when you buy furniture from Ikea, you’re basically buying lumber and instructions on how to make it into something. All you have to do is throw out the instructions and you can make whatever you want. The wood is super-cheap — cheaper than going and buying the same wood from a lumber yard. What the heck, Ikea? How does that work? (The answer is simple: volume.)

So here is my shelving creation. The pieces came from the VÄRDE line. Some pieces were installed as designed. Others (like the box) were cut up and reassembled. The leftover pieces and a crafternoon produced the mediocre paintings on the left.

(Not pictured: the incredible disgusting mess that usually occupies the counter.)


Friday, May 23rd, 2008

I’ve wanted to play at The Horseshoe for a while. Cheese and barbecue sauce, folks. Eat ‘em separate or put ‘em together.

Divebar will also be playing, and you know that’s a good time!

Okay, I go on at midnight.  It’s late.  It’s a Saturday.  Whatever.

Good Friends

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

I think I found the best cereal box ever. Look at these two. They come from such different backgrounds and yet they still managed to become Good Friends.  I like to think they met on adjacent toilets in a public bathroom — she accidentally went into the men’s room, how embarrassing!  There they realized how much they had in common: starting off each day with a bowl of Good Friends and then spending the next 3 hours on the can.

I’m not sure if you can read it, but underneath “High Fiber Cereal” it says, “Trio of Flakes, Twigs & Granola.” Yes, Twigs.

How To Grow A Beard in 3 Easy Steps

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Step 1
Get really busy a couple weeks before you are about to go out of town and don’t bother shaving. Then go out of town to some place warm and sunny. Don’t bother shaving there either.

Step 2
Upon your return, get worried that if you shave you will have a weird beard-face-tan. Realize that you can live with a ridiculous farmer’s tan, but not a beard-face-tan. Decide not to shave until aforementioned tan goes away.

Step 3
After a week or so has passed and you’ve returned to your natural, pasty, Chicago-winter complexion, realize that you don’t know how to get rid of a beard that has gotten too out of hand to shave with a razor. Trim it occasionally with giant craft-scissors like an idiot as it grows even more unwieldy.

I also need a haircut.

From Innis:

By the way, what happened to David Letterman?  Has he completely lost his sense of humor?  He used to crack me up!

Help Chicago’s Music Scene Is Okay For Now

Monday, May 12th, 2008

When I lived in New York, I wasn’t so into the music scene. I wasn’t really a musician back then, so that probably explains some of it, but I never really went to shows either. Music in Chicago is much better. So is small independent theater.

City Hall has a new ordinance in the works that would make it more difficult for independent promoters to put on shows at small venues. This is all in response to the H2 nightmare a couple years back when 20 people were trampled to death after a fight broke out at a concert, but I suspect it will do more to hurt small, honest promoters than it will to stop any future disasters. Most promoters I’ve worked with don’t get rich off of small shows or festivals. They put shows together because it’s fun and they like the music. A $1000 fee and required background check would probably be enough to persuade many of them to quit putting up shows. That would be bad for musicians and bad for Chicago.

So If you’ve got nothing better to do, read what Jim DeRogatis has to say about it and write to your alderman. It’s fun. They usually write back. Okay, maybe I am a little political.

UPDATE: Chicago Promoter’s Ordinance to be reworked.  Hooray!  Hopefully the new version will address the actual problem without killing Chicago’s honest music, theater and comedy promoters.  I have to say, I’m impressed with Chicago’s artistic community.  Way to go everyone.

Some Third Party Candidates To Consider

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

I’ve never really been all that into politics. The candidates never seem to talk about anything that really interests me. Maybe I’m not paying attention. Luckily, the Internet has made it possible for some less mainstream candidates to get their message out.

Cobra Commander ’08
While I tend to vote along party lines with G.I. Joe, it hasn’t always been clear cut. Let’s face it, Storm Shadow was awesome and Bazooka was kind of annoying. Cobra Commander has some interesting new ideas, including a 2-trillion dollar weather dominator and his “elderly into food” program. He also has much-needed experience running a complex paramilitary organization without submitting to the demands of special interests. He doesn’t submit to any demands!

Cobra Commander also has amazing support from the celebrity crowd, which might motivate young voters and surprise some pundits in November. It will be interesting to see who joins Cobra Commander as his running mate. Destro would be an obvious choice and could definitely enfranchise the chrome vote, but The Baroness would bring a strong female figure to the ticket as well as much needed experience with foreign intelligence.

Zod 2008
I’ll be honest, I think Zod has an uphill climb to the White House in 2008. It will be hard for him to differentiate himself from Cobra Commander, policy-wise, and he has a weird-looking beard. Still, he has a message that resonates with everyone who thinks Superman is kind of annoying because he has no weaknesses. (Kryptonite? Please. What a crutch!) He also has some experience running the country from Superman II, although he did entrust Lex Luthor with most of the day-to-day operations.

Roslin/Airlock ’08
It’s unclear if this is an official ticket or just an Al Gore-esque grass-roots recruitment campaign staged by loyal fans. Either way, it’s hard to dispute Laura Roslin’s three years of wartime experience. It’s also hard to dispute Airlock’s strict interpretation of justice — impartially evacuating Cylons into the cold expanse of space.

I’ve Been Waiting Two Years For This

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Longtime readers of this site (Hi, Mom) will recall my asparagus adventures from last summer. You see, I planted asparagus two years ago with high hopes for a bumper crop. After waiting impatiently an entire summer, all I had to show for my 5 minutes of hard work was a pile of dirt. I figured the asparagus, like everything else I’ve ever planted, died a lonely, humiliating death. But then last summer, a lone asparagus shoot surprisingly appeared in May. Even more surprisingly, it then flowered into plant weirdness before I got my act together to eat it.

Well, guess who’s back! This time, however, I didn’t give it a chance to bloom. I cut out that single asparaguh, grilled it up and ate it. It was the best asparagus I’ve ever had. For reals.

Uncommon Ground – Devon

Monday, May 5th, 2008

I finally get a chance to check out the new Uncommon Ground venue in Rogers Park. Gordon Wright will be performing at 8PM.

It Really Is A Dollar Menu

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

I’m not usually a very perceptive person but I did notice something weird in a Kentucky Friend Chicken commercial over the weekend. I even had the wherewithal to take a picture of the TV.

Look at that! There’s a tiny little dollar bill stuck in the lettuce! What’s it doing there? And why weren’t there tiny dollar bills in any of the other sandwiches? And, really, what are we supposed to subliminally think when we see this? Maybe it’s just there so big dummies like me talk about it on our websites while KFC basks in the glory of free publicity. Well the joke’s on you, KFC! No one reads this crap.

The A(lgebra) Team

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

It’s been a long time since I’ve been taken on a mind-blowing journey through high-level mathematics, but last night I was taught all the wonders of quaternions, and it was fabulous. Quaternions are a somewhat archaic mathematical construct of 4-dimensional complex numbers. They’re not used for much anymore, but they come in quite handy when animating rotations in 3-D computer graphics.

I know a lot of people don’t like math, but when a complex mathematical tool serves a practical purpose so elegantly, It’s a beautiful thing. I love it when a plan comes together! Don’t you, Hannibal?