Monday, June 30, 2008

Lick the Frog

I don't have very many photos of myself. This is by design--I don't like the way I look on film, so I don't allow people to take my picture very often.

There are only a couple of photos of myself that I can actually tolerate without wincing too much. One was taken by my friend Charlie in his backyard a few years ago. I don't have a print of that shot, though--I gave it away to a friend who was moving out of town.

The other one? Is at the top of this page.

I don't like it because it's a great picture of me. (There's no such thing.) I like the sheer absurdity of it, though--me leaning over, tongue extended (and for those who are wondering...yes, that really is my tongue) to lick a piece of particularly froggy public art in Fort Worth, TX.

It's only the second shot of myself I've ever posted on this blog, and I don't think the first shot made it over from the old site. (Funny how that got "lost" in the move, isn't it?) And this photo doesn't exactly look like me. Maybe that's really why I, like it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

No Matter What Kind of Week It's Been...

...There's always Bring Your Action Figure to Work Day.

Sadly, no one recognized the toy I brought in, the large gold figure in the middle. "Is that the evil version of R2D2?" one co-worker asked.

You'd think that someone else in an office full of pop culture geeks would know a Dalek when they see one--and you would be wrong. Many more people spotted the armored figure to the right as a Power Ranger...whose drillhead spins...when you press the button just above...his crotch.

Best comment of the day, though, from a passing co-worker: "Is that the new Justice League?"

What a fine world it would be if that were the case, sir.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

For Those Who Wonder...

I didn't have any weird dreams last night. (None that I remember, anyway...)

I was able to take a hot shower this morning--for the first time in three days.

And today? Is a better day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In Dreams

Since yesterday was a long, trying day--in fact, this whole month has been something to be quickly and gratefully forgotten--I ate a brief, hastily prepared dinner upon my arrival at La Casa del Terror, watched a little bit of television and, at 8 p.m., gave up on the day and crawed off to bed.

If only the day ended there.

Somebody once said, "No one has more tortured dreams than the creative mind." (That someone may have been me, but I'm certain somebody else has said the very same thing, only more eloquently.) And when I have a lot on my mind--sometimes good, but usually (like yesterday) bad--I tend to have more detailed, intricate or flat-out weird dreams.

Last night (or was it this morning?) fell into that last category.

I don't remember all of it--a dream has to be really vivid or really freaky (or both) for me to retain the whole thing upon awakening--but the jist, as I recall, was this:

I was to attend a memorial reading for Lorri Jackson and compose a poem for the event. (Why I'd need attend--since she's been dead for 17 years--and write a tribute poem when I wrote one back then, I don't know.)

I arrive with JB at what I think is a meeting to discuss the memorial, take a seat on a folding chair in what looks like an American Legion hall and start to write lines in a spiral-bound notebook. (The only fragment I can recall from the verse-in-progress is "cancerous traffic"--which I actually rather like; maybe I'll use in a poem or haiku somewhere down the line.) Then somebody tells me that this isn't a meeting to discuss the memorial--this is the memorial.

Panic is setting in rapidly when a short man wearing a bowling shirt and jeans approaches me, lays his small, soft hands upon my troubled shoulders and urges me calm down and have a seat. I recognize him imediately, even without the "flowing robes" Carl the groundskeeper so eloquently described in Caddyshack, as the Dalai Lama. He directs my attention to the stage, where a Lorri Jackson lookalike is doing a vigorous dance. She's a dead ringer for Lorri, with many colorful tattoos and piercings shining in the stage lights...except she was naked...and had a fully erect dick.

When the Dalai Lama himself takes the stage to say a few kind words, the audience breaks out into an apparently well-rehearsed song-and-dance routine in tribute to him. I don't know the words or moves, so I look at the young man on my left--a blond kid in a crisp white shirt and tie, like the kind you see going door to door on Saturday afternoons, asking you whether or not you've accepted Jesus as your personal savior--and just do what he does, only maybe a beat or two behind.

When the number ends, the Dalai Lama begins to which point I wake up and vow never, ever to eat turkey chili right before bedtime.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday Bluesday

I'm in a foul mood today.

"How," you might ask, "is that any different than your mood any other day?"

And after I shoot you a look--known among my intimates as "the look," which has been known to make sturdy individuals wince, stop animals in their tracks and lower the temperature of the tristate area by at least 15 degrees--I probably wouldn't answer your inquiry with anything above a snarl.

As it is, Tuesday is my least favorite day of the week. It's just far enough away from the past weekend (which was just fine, as weekends go) for those two days to be a fading memory, and just far enough from the upcoming weekend to prevent the anticipation of those two days to be anything more than the faintest glimmer on the distant horizon.

It probably didn't help that when I stepped into my shower this morning, I found that the water flowing from my tap wasn't scalding, as it usually is, but frigid. My shower turned into a quick and, "bracing" scrubbing.

Then again, given that once on my morning train, I got many, many views of women in sundresses, the summer breezes gently pressing the fabric to their forms formerly hidden by many, many layers of outergarments in our far-too-frosty winter, reminding me yet again that not only have I not gotten any this decade, but also that I'm unlikely to unless willing/able to pay for it (I know--TMI), perhaps the full-on cold shower might have helped matters somewhat.

And the day has only gone downhill from there, with aggravations at work, unwanted information on the Internets and bad news on the doorstep (fare thee well, George Carlin).

Is it Friday yet?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday May Not Be "Happy"...

...but it is still Bring Your Action Figure to Work Day. So I have that going for me. Which is nice.

"Happy Friday!"

That's what I say to co-workers when I see them for the first time on the last day of the work week, usually as I'm walking in the door and to my desk.

Some of them are genuinely happy to hear me say it and respond in kind. Others are somewhat surprised--bemused, even--and smile, if only for a moment. Still others reply with snark: "Really?" "Not yet--say that again at five." "I wish."

This morning, the response has been nearly universal--nobody has wished my a "Happy Friday!" back or smiled or really done much more than growl. of my co-workers actually growled at me for wishing her a "Happy Friday!"

Now, I'm just saying a reserved, tentative "Good morning" to the people I pass in the hall--maybe that way my head will remain on its shoulders until the end of the day.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

As the Crow Flies (or Doesn't)

This morning, while on my way to the train that would take me downtown, I saw, about half a block ahead of me, a crow standing in the middle of the sidewalk.

Even at that distance, I could tell this was a very large crow. From its feel to its beak, it probably stood taller than my kneecaps--and as anyone who knows me could tell you, my kneecaps are well off the ground.

The crow, feathers shining in the middle of this sunny sidewalk, was picking at something below it--maybe seeds fallen from the trees along the street, or crumbs of bread left over after the sparrows had had their fill. As I approached, though, it hopped off the ground and onto a small tree at its right, which bowed with the crow's great weight.

Then, emerging from the darkness of a much taller tree across the street, a larger crow, its wingspan easily exceeding three feet, glided down and swept up to the top of a house at my left, landing at its zenith, turning to face me and cawing long and loud in my direction.

Perhaps the first crow was the second crow's mate. Perhaps it was disturbed that I was disturbing their feeding or idling or whatever they were up to. Perhaps it just knew it was an extremely large crow and throwing a scare into me might amuse it somehow.

"Dude, you stay where you are," I said back to the crow, my Converse All-Stars never breaking stride. "I have no interest in you." The crow stayed on the roof of the house, its head inclining to follow my movements, as if divining the truth of my stated intentions.

I looked away from the very large crow on the rooftop at my left and focused on the sidewalk ahead.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Shk shk shk ha ha ha

I don't suffer from triskaidekaphobia--fear of the number 13--but it's probably a good day to avoid dudes in hockey masks, even if they're wearing pads and carrying goalie sticks. (Seriously...have you ever been hit with one of those? That shit hurts.)

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

11 Haiku

There was a time a few years ago when I wrote haiku--three-line poems with syllable limits on each line of five, seven and five--with fair regularity. I liked the restrictions of the form--you really have to think about your words when you only have a limited number of them to use.

That's not to say that the haiku below, written over a 10-year period, are any good. Some of them probably are. Some of them likely aren't. I'm not the one to judge, though. I'll leave that up to you.

Unrequited love:
a pain that never ceases
unless you move on.

There are three roses
in the vase on my table.
Only one is red.

Even in alleys
purple flowers can grow, their
fragrance swallowed so.

Barbecue grill smoke
pokes up through the branches of
the full locust trees.

The air is weighted
with the breath of storms to come.
Raise the shades and wait.

For the first time since
my father died, his orange
tree is bearing fruit.

Black cauliflower
heads of storms grow on the dusk
horizon, crawl east.

A woman I thought
I loved was at a party
I declined last night.

The rose sleeps in this
winter yard, only to be
awakened by May.

I bought a cactus
the day Dad died just to hold
something sharp, alive.

Breeze, gentle me this
dark--my mind is rambled and
sleep in nowhere near.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Public Land, Private Gain, Part 4

"Aldermen must reject the [Chicago Children's] museum plan," says the editorial page of today's Chicago Sun-Times, "if only to show voters that we live in a democracy, where such quaint concepts as the people's will matters, and not the whims of one man intent on getting his way, no matter how poor the plan, no matter how high the cost."

On June 8, the Chicago Tribune spoke directly to the elected officials: "Aldermen, think of the heroes of earlier centuries. Think of your legacy—stewardship or betrayal?—to your descendants, the kids of future centuries. Then tell the museum executives they cannot have Grant Park."

Unfortunately, the majority of those aldermen, not burdened with independent thoughts, spinal cords or an iota of concern for "such quaint concepts" or for what future generations might think, voted 33-16 and approved the plan.

There will no doubt be lawsuits over this (one has been filed already), but don't be the least bit surprised if, in the middle of some night in the very near future, ground is broken and construction is started--because that's exactly the kind of straightforward, forthright, principled leader Mayor Richard M. Daley is.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday is Bring Your Ninja to Work Day

Okay, Monday is not really "Bring Your Ninja to Work Day."

But I can still bring my ninja to work on a Monday (or any other day of the week) if I want to, can't I? Yes, I can.

My ninja may have mad ninja skillz, but you'd think he would be able to keep from getting his foot caught in a desktop tape dispenser, wouldn't you?

I never said my ninja was smart.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday is Still Bring Your Action Figure to Work Day

Where else are you going to see Hannah Montana hanging out with Count Dooku while Golden Age Batman and Superman lurk in the background? Nowhere else but here, I'm pretty sure.

Public Land, Private Gain, Part 3

Yesterday, the Chicago City Council's Zoning Committee met to "discuss" the proposed move of the Chicago Children's Museum from its current cramped home on Navy Pier to a plot land in Grant Park immediately east of Millennium Park.

I set "discuss" in quotation marks because no actual "discussion" took place, nor was one going to with William Banks, an alderman staunchly (one might say "blindly") loyal to Mayor Richard M. Daley--who staunchly (one might say "arrogantly") supports the move--as chairman of the committee. Banks shut down testimony that he deemed redundant from protesters, yet allowed equally redundant testimony from the museum's architect and attorney. The measure passed on a 6-3 vote, just as it had passed on a vote by the city's Planning Commission a few weeks ago.

It doesn't seem to matter to city government or the museum that the plot of land they're obsessed with is a bad location for the museum, that there is substantial vocal opposition to the plan (including the alderman of the ward, Brendan Reilly) or that the design of the museum has been compromised so thoroughly by revisions to make it possible to stand up to the inevitable legal challenges (one suit has already been filed). Next week, the measure goes before the full City Council--it will likely pass.

At this point, the whole fight seems to no longer be about the museum or the park, but about Mayor Daley reasserting his control over the City Council, even if it means the Council will have to slit its own collective throat by giving up one of its most sacred unwritten "rules" (aldermanic prerogative) while also allowing Daley to slap down an independent thinker, the freshman Ald. Reilly.

You might have assumed that this fair city was part of a democracy. If so, you were mistaken. It's as if Daley were putting into action something a co-worker said the other day: "That's my opinion, and that's your opinion, too."

The co-worker was joking. Daley isn't.