Monthly Archives: December 2005

Hockey and Music Criticism: Two Great Tastes Together!

Well, that was different. Last night, takaza and I availed ourselves of the fine Chicago public transportation system and rode down to the United Center for a hockey game, the Chicago Blackhawks vs. the St. Louis Blues. Now, mind you, I don’t care one whit about NHL or hockey in general, but these tickets were provided by his employer. We entered through a special, uncrowded entrance and quickly found our way to one of the lovely suites. A full dinner layout was provided, as well as an open bar. The game was pretty dull, with the ‘Hawks playing being downright mediocre, but the food was surprisingly good. One of the highlights was when the Blackhawks mascot, Tommy Hawk, came into the suite and acted like he recognized Dan – which, it turns out, is actually a possibility.

Because we wanted to get home at a decent time, we left the game after the second period with the Blues leading 2-0 (they eventually won, 2-1). We waited a good twenty minutes at the corner of Madison and Damen for a bus, and just when I was thinking about grabbing a taxi the Damen bus showed up. We got home gratifyingly quickly, but didn’t get to bed until 11 PM. That has made today long and very sleepy (it’s hell when you gotta get up at 5 AM).

Not much else to talk about, except for the absoutely horrid cover song I heard this morning. Apparently a few weeks back Bono and Alicia Keys released a cover of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush’s “Don’t Give Up” to iTunes. Now, first granting that it’s a benefit for charity, I will say that everything about this version is wrong. The original was a masterful example of low-key arrangements and subtle interplay between the singers. In this version, Bono destroys Gabriel’s phrasing, transforming it into some kind of bizarre scat singing or something, and Keys injects strange R&B-inflected vocals into the song which are completely out of place. Just horrible.

Sorry, I needed to get that off my chest 🙂

Radio, radio…

So, when you drive 24+ hours over a few days, you get a chance to listen to the radio a lot. Thank heavens we got Sirius installed in my car again, because that was a real life-saver. Sirius recently quietly added a couple of channels that we really enjoyed: Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s CBC1 and CBC3 (alt-rock), as well as Iceberg Radio (all-Canadian alt-pop) and a couple of francophone channels. For listening to music we kept it mostly on Iceberg, which had a good mix in spite of their predilection for old Rush songs. CBC1 had some great programming, too, including The Current (“The Voice” can read the phone book to me any day!) and National Playlist, hosted by former Moxy Fruvian Jian Ghomeshi).

We came across the show Ideas (which I later found is rebroadcast on PRI) and caught a truly amazing two-part documentary on Christmas Mummers. If all you know of mummers is the Philadelphia Mummer’s Parade, you’re in for a surprise when you find out the roots of the tradition. Both parts of the documentary are downloadable from the Battery Radio website (alas, only with Realplayer, though). It’s a wonderful example of folk traditions traveling across the ocean and changing with the times.

Of particular furry interest was the segment at the beginning of the second hour where they talk about the hobby horse, which in this context is far different from the tame toy we know – it’s a menacing, mad creature. They interview one of the hobbyhorsers and he says (paraphrasing) that when he plays the hobby horse, he’s a different person – he does what the horse wants, not the other way around. This made me smile a bit, thinking of fursuiters we all know. If you have a chance, I urge you to click and listen to the show, though – it’s a great documentary, and a little-known topic.

On the Road to Anderson (without Hope and Crosby)

And so, five days and approximately 1,800 miles later, we’re home again. A quick recap:

On Thursday, we left for my parents’ place in Anderson, South Carolina. We only drove about two-thirds of the way there, stopping for the night in Knoxville, Tennessee (sorry we didn’t call, partran, but we got in pretty late). We got up early the next morning and drove the last five hours down to my parents’. We tried to stop in Canton, North Carolina, to return the NC license plates for the Alero and Dan’s old plates for his Element, but first we found that the DMV office had moved, and then that it was closed for the day. We shrugged and continued on, getting in at around 12:30 PM. My sister, her husband, and my two nephews were already there, having driven in from St. Louis the day before.

It was a great weekend, and it was really good to spend time with my family. takaza seemed to have a good time as well, and got along well with Chris (age 10) and Tim (age 8). Ruth and I did most of the cooking during the weekend, which I’m sure was a welcome break for my mom, and Dan and Marvin (my brother-in-law) did yeoman work with cleanup detail. Dad was looking fantastic for someone who had had back surgery just a few weeks prior. I was glad to see him up and standing for hours at a time, when before the surgery he was able to remain upright for less than a minute.

We did the traditional gift-giving on Christmas morning. Chris and Tim, of course, got a pile of loot; they seemed to enjoy the Legos and video games they received, and judging from the background noise from last night’s phone call, Dan’s choice for Apples to Apples Junior for the family was a huge hit. Ruth and Marvin will get a lot of use out of the accessories we got for their new digital camera, and Mom and Dad seemed to like our gift to them: a Tivo. I think they’re still figuring out how to work it and why it’s such a wonderful thing, but I suspect they’ll come around with time. We had some fun trying to set it up since they had no telephone jack in the room we put it and even if they did, all they have is Vonage, which does not play well with Tivo. We wound up having to take the Tivo back to our hotel room for it to dial in and get all of the program updates. Fortunately, we had prepared for the possibility and we had picked up a wireless router and adapter for the Tivo; once we had all the program updates it was a breeze to get it hooked into the network. They should be good to go!

For Dan, I got a gift that I know he will enjoy: A night out on the town, with gift certificates for dinner at Heaven on Seven and two tickets for Blue Man Group (I’ll point out those are to be used for him and anyone of his choosing – it’s tacky to buy someone gifts that you’ll use yourself 🙂 I won’t list all the gifts I received except to say that they were all wonderful, and all very much appreciated. (OK, I will mention that I’m going to really enjoy the Thermapen that Dan got me, though!)

Christmas was over all too soon and yesterday we hit the road at 5:45 AM Central Time. We made great time; the only bad weather we ran into was some light rain/snow flurries and high winds through the NC mountains. Surprisingly, the traffic into Chicago wasn’t horrible and we pulled into the garage right around 6:00 PM – darned good time!

Today, Dan is off from work, but I’m here like a good worker drone. Naturally, about half of the office is out until next week, but that makes things a bit more bearable. Linnaeus, who is already babysitting a surprisingly well-behaved large, white bird (I thought it was a cockatiel, but looking at pictures of them now I’m not so sure), surprised me this morning with another friend that he’s keeping an eye on: Nita (she’s in the center of that pic). She’s a real cutie, but alas, only visiting for one day. But hey, any dog time is always good.

I slept poorly, so I suspect today is going to drag. Nevertheless, it should be pretty mellow – I’ve got some projects I’m working on, and it’s nice to have some peace and quiet in which to do it. Looking ahead, Dan and I are going to see the Blackhawks tomorrow night, and then there’s the LAFF New Year’s Party this weekend. I’ll be in touch with those of you who have volunteered to help out at the door – with luck, we can keep it down to 30 minutes apiece, leaving folks time to go and have fun with other stuff. But now, back to work!

Your Daily Linkage

I’ve come across some useful links that I wanted to share:

Joss Whedon gives up on Firefly: “‘In the end, it was what it was: a tough sell,’ says Whedon, adding that it appears the Firefly saga has reached its conclusion.”
(See comments for why this is incorrect. Thanks cyohtee!)

– Speaking of franchises being reborn due to popularity on DVD, Matt Groening thinks the prospects for more Futurama are good.

– And while we’re on the topic of animation, Venture Brothers co-creator Jason Publick has a LiveJournal with notes and stills from the upcoming season (no word on the exact date for the premiere, just “Spring, 2006”).

– I’m not a fan of Saturday Night Live and haven’t been since the early 80’s or so. Nevertheless, the “Lazy Sunday” segment from last weekend’s show (aka “The Chronicles of Narnia Rap”) is drop-dead hilarious. You can watch it here and read the lyrics here.

– Please excuse me if I occasionally mutter the phrase “breathtaking inanity” and giggle to myself all day today.

“What do you mean, MLK, Jr. isn’t saintly?”

Been sort of quiet here for the last few days, hasn’t it? Let’s see, what’s been going on?

On Friday we belatedly celebrated datahawk‘s birthday by going with a whole crowd of folks down to tour Macy’s Marshall Field’s Christmas displays. The general consensus was that they intentionally made the displays suck so that people won’t miss them when they don’t do them next year. We spent a very entertaining time critiquing the other displays while the cancer-addicts of the group got their smoke fix, then we adjourned up to Heaven on Seven. Although they have other locations, this location, on Wabash on the seventh floor of an old office building, is the original. They’re only open for dinner one night out of the month, and we were lucky enough it was the night we planned on going downtown. The meal was absolutely amazing! They are a New Orleans-style restaurant, and I (a former Tulane student) and genet (a Louisiana native) gave it an emphatic thumbs up! The hurricanes were fabulous. My shrimp po’ boy was quite tasty, and roho‘s shrimp and cheddar grits were yummy as well. takaza‘s country-fried steak and mashed potatoes were by far the best, though. We ate ourselves silly, then came the tasty chocolate-caramel cake that siriuswolfstar had picked up at Bittersweet. It was the perfect end to a wonderful evening.

The original plan for Saturday was to stay at home and relax. Well, that didn’t happen. Instead, Dan and I drove up to Antioch to have brunch with Roho, Genet, feren, and neowolf2 at the always-tasty Las Vegas. Afterwards, we walked over to the surprisingly-well-stocked game shop where Feren picked up a bunch of Christmas gifts, then stopped next door at the small shop that sold record players and old vinyl albums and Feren got a new turntable. Then it was back to Roho and Genet’s place where we filled the afternoon with chatting and then a bit of shopping at Wal Mart. We also used their nice, heated garage to park my car so we could finally install my Sirius radio in it, which had been sitting idle since I took it out of my Alero when I sold it back in August. Linnaeus joined us not long after and we ordered pizza and got down to a serious game of Drunken Apples to Apples. It was very, very funny, even if I didn’t do very well until right up at the end of the game. Somehow, Neowolf skunked us all. I also learned that Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka is very tasty, particularly when mixed with Cruzan Rum Cream. It’s also very potent (woo!).

We got a late start on Sunday – no surprise there. We spent the afternoon doing some Christmas shopping, and we finally picked up a replacement electric blanket, since the one we bought earlier this year was going haywire (the center third of the blanket was getting far too warm for comfort). The evening was spent catching up on TiVo and being all domestic and stuff.

This is a short week for me. I have one more day at work then on Thursday, right after rush hour, we hit the road for South Carolina. We’ll be making a stop somewhere along the way Thursday night, then getting in on Friday morning. After a far-too-brief stay, we’ll be driving home on Monday, making the entire 14-hour trip in one day. It sucks, but I have to be at work on Tuesday, so that’s the way it is. Hope everyone’s holiday preparations are going well!

Party…quietly?

Let’s hear it for Friday! {crickets} Oh, that would be because more than half of the office here has taken off for the afternoon. Must be nice to have vacation and stuff. To that end, I’ve been passing the last hour or so applying to positions in and around the Chicago area – we’ll see if anything comes of it.

So apparently folks down in South Carolina and Georgia had a bit of fun with ice storms yesterday. I called my parents and was surprised when my mom said they were holed up in the La Quinta Inn since they had lost power at the house at 3 AM. They should be home by now, since the temperatures were supposed to get back up to 52 degrees there today. And here in Chicago? Snow showers and 30 mph winds, yay! We’re supposed to go down and look at the store windows downtown tonight, which should be fun, if really freakin’ cold.

It’s shaping up to be a lazy weekend, which is good since after this weekend it’s going to be insane. About the only thing that MUST get done is we need to install my Sirius radio in my car. Since we’re driving down to South Carolina (14+ hours each way), Sirius is a sine qua non for the trip. Plus, it’s been a good long time since I’ve had my OutQ fix, and the Canadian channels they’ve added sound interesting too. Anyway, other than that, I look forward to spending the weekend sleeping in and lazing around the house while it snows and blows outside, interrupted only by a possible trip to the movies. Our list of movies to see is getting a bit long – Rent, Narnia, and now Brokeback Mountain. If anyone is interested in seeing one of these, maybe on Sunday afternoon, let me know.

Time to wrap up a few things, then head on home. Hope everyone has a great weekend!