Friday, March 30, 2007

One year: Dreams Do Come True.

Today marks one year of my blog 5 of 9er. And to celebrate it, my pal Jason bought me my first park ranger hat! Now I just need a badge... and a park.
Thanks for the visits and comments this past year.

I look like crap this morning... the High Dive on Thursday night with Iron City Beer will do that to someone.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Way To Go San Francisco!

Way to go San Francisco! I am very excited that the city decided to ban plastic bags at large grocery stores... and hope this catches on in more cities. Not sure Chicago will follow suit. You can read more about the story here.

I grew up in California in a pro-recycling family. My parents were far from hippies, but they always found it very important to recycle. I remember going to the recycling center at the local community college on the weekends and dropping off all of our bottles, cans, and paper. We did not do it for money... the college made the money on the recycling. As a little kid, I thought the recycling center was really cool - although it was kind of stinky on hot days.

I am not an earthy/tree hugging person... and I still love to make fun of the hippies and pseudo-hippies and their patchouli oil, but when I meet people who do not recycle it kills me. The Midwest in general is not into recycling, and from what I've seen the South is not very recycling friendly either. How can this be? How do we as a society not realize that we need to take care of the planet we live on? Recycling should be the least amount we do. Sure, I own an SUV - but between my wife and I we only own one automobile which has less than 9,000 miles in the two years we have owned it (I walk to work, and LP takes the bus).

Al Gore is a schmuck (I love to poke fun at him all of the time), but at least he is using his power to do something positive for our environment. And maybe San Francisco's new law will not solve every issue of our environment, but it's a good start. Will the next generation care about the environment more... or less?

Wow... I really got on a soapbox this morning.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

April Showers in March.

Spring is here... which is nice. I was tired of the winter temperatures in the teens. And I was tired of the snow, and I love the snow.

But with the warmer temperatures of the Spring comes the rain. The rain is fine in small amounts (meaning: just a few days). I would rather have a thunderstorm than the annoying misty / almost rain.

Rainy days like today remind me why I am glad I no longer live in the Northwest... and it also reminds me that the subject of weather always makes for a boring blog entry.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Back With An Old Love.

Friday night at the Civic Opera House, during the first intermission of the ballet, I was involved with an incredibly intense and highly intelligent conversation that involved the admiration of peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Which is better: peanut butter with... honey or jelly?

Side note: I do not recommend buying the peanut butter & honey mix (as pictured)... it just sounds wrong.

My vote is honey. Golden, sweet, sticky, and glorious honey. It is the way I ate my peanut better sandwiches for a long time, but then they left my life. Not sure why. I just stopped eating peanut butter sandwiches all together. Thinking back, I think I left them at the graduation ceremony of college. And as years went by I just completely forgot about them... not even an occasional dream.

Suring the second two acts of Romeo & Juliet Friday evening my brain thinking over and over "Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich... Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich...Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich..."

Saturday afternoon found me making a couple delicious sandwiches. Sunday found me making a couple more. And today for my work lunch I left my little buddies home... but I cannot stop thinking about going and getting a couple PB&H sandwiches.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Starting Right Now.

I am finished slacking. I have been reading (or neglecting) the same book for over a year. A year! I have been picking up (and putting down) The Devil Wears Prada for way too long... and I am only half done. It's a great book, I've just been slacking on reading it.

No more slacking. I will finish this book by the end of April and move on to one of the million other books I need to read. I want to be at the point where I read one book per month. That would make me feel good. I do read... but it's usually just the newspaper, magazines, and blogs.

I need to read more books for two reasons:
1. Reading books means less time watching TV... which is a good thing. I watch way too much TV.
2. When I finish a book I feel like I accomplished a good goal.

So starting right now... I am going to read more and finish this book.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Before 1998 I could not stand to even hear five seconds of Willie Nelson. I would rather listen to Celine Dion (ok, maybe not) than deal with a song by Willie Nelson. I could appreciate his talent for song writing - "Crazy" is an amazing song, when performed by Patsy Cline (not Celine Dion or Willie). Before 1998 I really was not a fan of country music at all... but Willie was the worst of the pack. I liked Johnny Cash... but I saw him more of a story teller (like Nick Cave) rather than a straight-up country singer.

In the summer of 1998 I had a meeting at Island Records where my company was hired on to work the new Willie Nelson album "Teatro." I was so BUMMED to say the least. My two co-workers who attended the meeting as well were over the top excited to work a Willie album (I was baffled). So I faked my excitement at the meeting, took my copy, and bitched the would ride back to the office. I just knew we were being set up to fail by this guy at Island we had nick-named Surf'n'Turf (not really sure why)... but he was not a fan of ours and hated hiring out company.

I started listening to the CD on my Discman on the F Train rides to work every morning because I needed to try to come up with something good to say about it. With one listen I was hooked. Hooked. This album was very close to brilliant. It did not hurt that Emmylou Harris lends her sweet and soulful voice... and Daniel Lanois brings the band's simplistic sound so nicely together. And very quickly "Teatro" became my most listened to record of 1998... and it also opened up my mind to Dwight Yoakam since I was no longer aboard the "I hate all country music" bandwagon. Plus the campaign we were hired on was very very successful.

Yesterday I pulled out my copy of "Teatro" for the first time in a few years and was reminded of what amazing album Willie Nelson released in 1998. You should give it a listen.

BTW, my top 10 that year was:
1. Black Heart Procession "1" (headhunter-cargo)
2. Godspeed You Black Emperor! "F#A#(Infinity)" (kranky)
3. Mojave 3 "Out Of Tune" (4ad)
4. Quasi "Featuring Birds" (up)
5. Willie Nelson "Teatro" (island)
6. DJs Z-Trip & Radar "Soundsessions Vol. 2" (future primitive)
7. Jets to Brazil "Orange Rhyming Dictionary" (jade tree)
8. Joan of Arc "How Memory Works" (jade tree)
9. Pedro The Lion "It's Hard To Find A Friend" (made in mexico)
10. Dwight Yoakam "A Long Way Home" (reprise)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Taking The Next 2 Off.

My body spoke to me this morning and told me I have to take off the next two days... well really it's the nights that are killing me. I have been out every night for a solid week. Last week was SXSW in Austin, TX which means sleep was not really part of the equation... and drinks surely were. This past few days Loaf has been in town, so that meant more outings and late nights. And then to top it off - last night was the first softball practice of the Spring, then out to dinner and drinks, then drinks with the Liar's (which I left after one drink).

I am way out of shape. I got to practice yesterday evening and did my stretches, then tried to run to the end of the fields (about 200 yards) which I accomplished (barely) and then had to walk back. Maybe I should be doing a little exercise in the winter time, but I am too cheap to join a gym and it's too cold to do anything outside. So the next month of workouts will be painful to say the least... but I am excited about it. Winter gets really old when March comes around. I need to be outside!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Park Ranger.

I have always wanted to be a Park Ranger. From the time I was a Cub Scout & Boy Scout to present day. Being a Park Ranger would be a great time. It would be like a party every day... and lots of people would think you are super cool because you are a Park Ranger. Imagine going to a shindig in the big city and everybody talking about their boring ass jobs and you could say "Hey, I'm a Park Ranger! Defender of wildlife, trees, and picnic baskets!"

The biggest pluses would have to be:
The awesome Park Ranger Hat.
Green Pants and Brown Shirt.
Get to work in places like Yosemite and Jellystone.
Get to run after Yogi and Boo Boo and stop them from snatching up the picnic baskets.
Fresh air.
Tall trees.
Get to rescue lost Boy Scouts and other stranded hikers.
Get to go on TV when hikers are lost.
Get to wear Park Ranger Hat... super awesome.

The biggest bummers would have to be:
Make about $10K a year.
Could be stuck being a Ranger in a horrible place.
Green Pants and Brown Shirt.
Completely isolated from the outside world (the city)... so not many parties to attend.
Probability of getting killed by a bear or mountain lion goes way up.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Texas (Reasons for a Camera).

I am back from my SXSW trip which was fun as usual, but not super over the top great like some years. The best part had to be the warm weather... I actually wore shorts one day.

This year I decided to not bring my camera. I always bring it and the photos seem to be the same each year... people and bands. I hate dragging it around (yes, it fits in my pocket) since I usually think I am going to lose it plus I am carrying so much other crap. And some venues will not allow you in the door if you have a camera - so it's an all around pain.

So what photo opts did I miss since I was without my trusty camera? Here are a few (my brain is too tired to remember them all):

I met David Cross.

I met John Doe (of X).

I met Michael Des Barres at 6:30am (of such hit movies as "To Sir, With Love" "Commando" and "Poison Ivy 3").

I walked by Pete Townshend (of The Who).

The guy in his late 50's/early 60's who was walking on 6th Street wearing a red thong and cowboy boots.

Me drinking lots of Lone Star.

Me looking like hell on Thursday morning.

The plethora of crazy Japanese bands running around being crazy.

And of course the drunken dudes on the ground getting arrested.

I am glad to be back in Chicago getting caught up on my sleep. The bands this year were ok... nothing absolutely blew me away. I was really into ALOKE, Bishop Allen, Ume, The Narrator, Russian Circles, Buffalo Tom, and Imperial Teen. And I am looking forward to catching up on all of the blogs...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Austin, TX

Austin, TX here I come. Another year of fun at SXSW... and Lone Star Beer! I'll be back writing next week.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Not Being Able To Be There.

Feeling helpless is very frustrating, especially when you want to be there for someone. A very good friend of ours (LP & me) lost her father to cancer last night. The funeral is Thursday and there is no way we can attend. I am going on a business trip I cannot get out of... and the flights are outrageously expensive, even with the bereavement rates (which are not that much of a discount).

Our friend will not take it personally... it's just sad that we (or even just LP) cannot be there for her.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I Am Looking Forward To...

I am looking forward to this week. So much seems to be going on... and I really need a good week. Lately the weeks have been just blurring together. So what is in store for me this week?

Today it is going to be 61 degrees! There is a tiny bit of rain this morning, but nothing to ruin a sunny day that will be 61 degrees! The first day in the 60's for 2007. Most excellent! That means lunch outside.

On Wednesday I get to go to Austin, TX for SXSW. I love going to Austin every year at this time, mainly for the weather. There are lots of great bands, fun parties, and catching up with old friends - but it's the sun and warmth that do someone from Chicago well. Mid 70's to low 80's means no big jacket - no jacket at all! I also get to see my really good friend LJ from PDX. We always have a great time together. And since LJ just got back from a three week excursion to South America I am sure he'll have great stories to share. Boo for being away from LP and having to fly... but it's good to get out of town because when I return I am always reminded of why I love Chicago.

When I return to Chicago on Saturday it will be St. Patrick's Day! A day of over the top fun in Chicago. The Northside parade (I know, the Southside Parade is better - but this year the Northside parade actually lands on St. Patty's Day), the dying of the Chicago River, the public drunkenness by Noon, and the fun parties with green beer. I am 0% Irish, but completely embrace the day.

To top off all of this fun... I get to meet two new bloggers this week. The Meaning Of Loaf is visiting from London (for the first time) so the Liar's Club gang is going to go all out and entertain (please do not over "entertain" before I get back please... no party pooping Saturday night). Joining us will be Klefa in Disguise who lives right around all of us Liar's but we've never met. It sounds so dorky when telling people a bunch of bloggers are going to meet up - like we are part of a D&D or Star Trek club. But let me assure you all... we are much more dorky than any D&D-ers. We don't need dice to have fun!

Friday, March 09, 2007

1 vs 5th Graders

American television can never seem to give up the game show. Every few years there is a new re-birth of the prime time game show. We are now in the era of 1 vs. 100, Deal Or No Deal, and Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?. A few years ago it was Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and The Weakest Link. And Cable TV now has the Game Show Network.

I am not a fan of the game show... but when my lazy ass just cannot seem to get off the couch, I find myself getting dumber as I watch a game show. Streetsmart is good one to make you feel more intelligent. As the years go on it seems to me that game shows get dumber and dumber. Deal Or No Deal takes absolutely no skill or brains. It is a game of 100% guessing and not letting greed take over. Greed... remember that show.

I remember growing up with the game shows of the 80's... although looking back they did not take a super genius to play either. Press Your Luck and Make Me Laugh were tops... plus Bowling For Dollars (that took skill). The Gong Show was sort of like the first version of American Idol... or Star Search (ug, I hated that show).

But why do Americans love their prime time game shows so much? Do all countries have game shows that air in the prime time viewing hours? I know Japan is way into them but not sure when they air. The UK must be into game shows since we steal some of them and make them "American."

Do you like game shows?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Radio Ga Ga.

I am done with music radio. AM and FM music radio blows. And it's not about the commercials... those don't seem to bother me. Often the commercials are the most entertaining part of radio. Music radio in Chicago is awful. Sorry to those of you who work in the radio business (I was part of it when I lived in NYC), but music radio is boring and lifeless. And not just in Chicago... NYC, San Francisco, and Portland have awful radio too. I could go on and on listing cities and states, but I'll save you from reading that.

I do not have XM or Sirius satellite radio. Since I do not have the long commute to work (I walk), I don't want I to spend the money on a satellite radio subscription. If I lived in L.A. I might. And I am not a fan of listening to the radio over the internet... I like to listen to the radio in my car. That's it.

What happened to music radio? How did it get so bad? When did radio stations start thinking that having a rotation of just 20 songs was a good thing? Is this horrible radio the product of this whole payola scandal? Does anyone really like the bands Staind or Creed... because they are one of those 20 songs.

I have always been a supporter of college and community radio - but in Chicago those stations have such low wattage you cannot pick them up. I wish we had a WRAS (Atlanta), KEXP (Seattle), or a KCRW (L.A.) - they are not the best radio stations... but they are a whole lot better than what most cities have.

For now, all I listen to is sports talk radio or NPR, and I can only take so much of that.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Indulge Your Senses?

Five words that do not belong together:
OK, I am not a Pepsi fan... it's Coke for me. That aside, who the hell drinks Caramel Cream Diet Pepsi? It sounds disgusting. Really. And how does Pepsi get away with ruining the word Jazz? Where is Branford and Wynton Marsalis to stop this? Why are people not protesting this awful idea?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

More Television.

I think, just maybe, I have been sucked into another television show. BBC America started showing last year's thirteen episode Robin Hood. I was completely glued to the first episode... but I am really not sure why. I've never been a Robin Hood fan. If this was an American show this would be on the CW or Fox... not channels I tend to watch a lot of. Part me thinks I am the only one watching it, so it makes me special. Gee, television makes me special.

I tell plenty of people that I am not a big television watcher... but I am. I sit in front of the boob-tube way too much. I can watch the news hour after hour. And the list of shows I am hooked on has never been so long in my life:

How I Met Your Mother (CBS/30 min)
The Class (CBS/30 min)
The Office (NBC/30 min)
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC/60 min)
Gilmore Girls (CW/60 min)
Ugly Betty (ABC/60 min)
Grey's Anatomy (ABC/60 min)
Men In Trees (ABC/60 min)
American Idol (Fox/60 min)
Good Morning America (ABC/about 60 minutes per day)
Local & National News (ABC/9-120 minutes per day)
Baseball Tonight (ESPN/30-60 min... during baseball season)

And now Robin Hood. That is way too many. I want to be the guy who reads books. I want to be the guy in the coffee shop that can wax the intelligence that is pouring from my well-read mind... not gabbing about the who got voted off what show. But what can I cut?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Photoshop Some Bush.

Today marks one month until Opening Day! Baseball Season is going to be here soon! Go Go White Sox! There is nothing like Opening Day... every team is undefeated and everyone has hope that this could be their team's year to win it all.So this new baseball card has been released by Topps and it has lots of people talking. It is so obvious that the image of George W in the background is Photoshopped into the photo (click on the image to get a better view), but Topps let it run even after they caught it in the proofing stage. It's so funny... and I am glad to see that the people at Topps have a sense of humor.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sick Movies.

Being sick and staying at home is a good time for the first day... maybe two days. But after that all I want to do is get outside and actually (gasp!) go to work. The longer away from work... the more catch-up work there is waiting for my return. But going to work sick is just not a smart idea, especially during the first few days of a cold or flu.

When I am sick (which is not often, maybe once a year) I look forward to laying on the couch, with both cats, wrapped in a blanket or two, and watching two movies:

The Goonies (1985)
The Princess Bride (1987)

With these movies it doesn't matter if I fall asleep for part of the movie, or all of it - I have seen them so many times I practically know every line in each. They are both fun feel-good films that help me not think about my aches and sneezing. Both also make me feel like a little kid... probably since I was a kid when these came out. And the Princess Bride is actually about a grandfather reading a book to his sick grandson, so that make it a perfect sick movie.

So what are your sick movies?

BTW: I will be playing catch up the next few days on reading your blogs... my reading attention span has been about zero this week.