Thursday, April 30, 2009

Give What You Can

Regular reader Belsum is walking for a very worthy cause this Sunday...why don't I just let her explain in her own words (ganked from her bloggity)?

When my mom was first diagnosed with MS in 1986 no one knew what it was. Very few people had even heard of it, much less knew what it stood for. At age 11, I quickly developed a short speech to explain it to my friends. Since then we've come a long way. It seems like everyone knows of someone with MS - when it used to be somewhat kept under wraps. Celebrities with MS have come out and advocated for understanding and continued research. You can help. I'm a notorious procrastinator and once again, the walk is this coming Sunday! I apologize for the short notice but donations will be taken until May 29th. I appreciate any help you feel willing to give.

If you'd like to donate for Belsum's MS walk, stop by here and give what you can.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Birthday Week Horoscope

Courtesy of Free Will Astrology:

An engineering company has plans to grow flowers on the moon. Paragon Space Development intends to land mustard seeds inside a small greenhouse dome on the lunar surface by 2011. If all goes well, they will bloom within two weeks, and, thanks to the marvels of communications technology, we earthlings will soon thereafter view one of the most iconic photographs ever seen. Paragon hopes the inspiring image of yellow blossoms on the lunar landscape will incite a new wave of space exploration. Take your cue from this vignette, Taurus. Come up with a riveting new personal symbol: some photo or image or object that thrills your imagination and inspires you to outdo all your previous efforts in pursuit of an ambitious future goal.

Sign of the Times

This morning, my workplace taped signs explaining how employees should wash their hands to the mirrors in our bathrooms.

Under ordinary circumstances, this might have seemed condescending--even though, much as it pains me to admit it, an alarming number of the men in the office need reminders to wash their hands after using the bathroom, no matter what they're doing in the bathroom.

A coworker (not at my current workplace, thank goodness) once said that he didn't think he needed to wash his hands if he weren't "going number two."

Dude. Seriously.

Not to dumb it down too much, but urine is wastewater. The human body expels it because, well, if it didn't you would die. So unless you're passing Perrier through that thing? You need to wash your hands. Yes, every time.

The signs put up today, though, were not addressing the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of our male employees. It was designed to protect everyone, to some degree, from the Swine Flu, which, as of this morning, had officially spread to Chicago--a North Side elementary school with at least one infected student has been closed for at least the next couple.

Honestly? I'm not that worried about myself. I wash my hands regularly, cover my mouth when I sneeze and cough and have managed to dodge the flu for much of this past season.

My mom? She's 70. And works in a drug store.

Color me worried.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


On the way to Mom's house for dinner last night, the storm front chased me up Western Avenue--or, more appropriately, I raced it to Mom's house, and I won. My victory was only momentary, though--I knew the rain would be waiting for me whenever I left.

I was right. (In case you're wondering: Yes, I hate being right so often.) By the time I left Mom's house after an evening of beef tacos, cats battling for my attention and "Antiques Road Show," it had been raining steadily for some time. The ground was soaked, large puddles had formed on both the sidewalks and the streets, and the temperature was slowly falling. Still, it was a short, brisk walk to the bus stop, and a bus came straight away. So far, so good.

When I hopped off the bus, it was still raining steadily, and many of the puddles had expanded to swallow corners and curbs.

It was then that I noticed them.

They were everywhere, winding their way through the water, pushing toward the submerged curbs, cutting through the grass and out across the sidewalks in all directions.

Worms. Hundreds of worms.

I stepped carefully around the worms I could see (who knows how many I couldn't see) and made my way to the bus shelter. As I sat on the bench, I watched the worms in their travels around my feet. Some were small and struggled to make progress against the texture of the splintered concrete, but many were large and long--a couple, at least, exceeded a foot in length--and were able to pull themselves along with remarkable speed.

I wondered where they thought they were going--if any of them made it to the street, they'd either be flattened by cars or swept along by the current of the rainwater swirling down the nearby sewer. There were crosshatch patterns in the dirt on the sidewalk; I realized later that these had been etched by worms that had already passed through.

As I sat, I was joined briefly by a young man wearing an eminently practical leather jacket, but lacking a hat of any kind. He stood at the other end of the shelter, loudly popping his gum and occasional craning to see if the familiar flashing display of a CTA bus was cutting through the mist. No sign (literally). Like me, he noticed the worms. Unlike me, he kicked at one, punting one onto the grass behind the shelter; it curled up, straightened out and started crawling back toward its original intended destination, seemingly unharmed. He then saw how many there were all around him. After another minute or two of waiting, he walked off into the rain.

I waited a bit longer--half an hour altogether. Finally, though, even my patience wore out, and I started to walk as well, carefully toeing around the crawlers I encountered on the sidewalks between the bus stop behind me and my apartment ahead. Then, as I usually do, I turned to cut through the large park near La Casa del Terror.

Bad, bad idea.

It was like a scene from a particularly gross horror film: the ground before me was writhing and undulating in the dim Park District lighting. There was no way to walk the winding path without stomping hundreds of them, so I trotted along the soggy grassline instead--maybe I still stepped on a few, but most of them were either on the paths, inching toward who knows where, or still under the saturated soil.

By the time I got home, greeted as ever by Olivia yowling like she hadn't been fed in days, I was soaked to the skin. I went to bed soon after.

This morning, it was still raining, though not as hard. There were few worms on the sidewalk on my way to the train, but as the Brown Line wound its way past the baseball field just west of the Sedgwick stop, I saw that it was covered by dozens of gulls. I knew why they were there.

Monday, April 27, 2009

RIP: Bea Arthur

I was never a fan of "Maude," and I don't think I ever sat through an entire episode of "The Golden Girls," but I'll always remember Bea Arthur, the Emmy/Tony-award-winning actress who passed away Saturday of cancer at the age of 86, as the bartender who sang a horrid cabaret-style song and danced awkwardly with Ponda Baba and Greedo in The Star Wars Holiday Special.

Rest well, Chanteuse of Tatooine.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday is Bring Your Starship Captain to Work Day

Lately, I've been taking requests for Bring Your Action Figure to Work Day.

Last week, one of my esteemed co-workers asked specifically for Mego Batman (the removable cowl variety, who always looked to me like a little kid playing in a Batman costume two sizes too big for him) and Robin (the version with the painted-on mask; the removable mask version looks like he's ready for his cameo in Eyes Wide Shut), and I was more than happy to accommodate. I parked the boys on either side of my computer monitor, and they were much admired throughout the day--even though they're both wearing oven mitts.

This week, someone asked for Star Trek figures. And, again, I was pleased to oblige.

Mego produced a full line of Star Trek figures back in the mid-1970s, including most of the crew of the Starship Enterprise (except for Sulu and Chekov, both of whom had figures planned, but never produced) and a variety of aliens for them to fight with. Above, you can see Captain Kirk, smirking ever so slightly like he's checking out an alien babe and thinking, "Hey, how you doin'?" even though he's pointing a less-than-intimidating powder-blue phaser at nothing in particular. (Out of frame are his buddies, Spock and Dr. McCoy, both looking on their commander with a typical mix of awe and irritation.)

Flanking the good captain on the left is the Gorn, an alien that appeared on the original Star Trek TV series and took on Kirk in solo combat. Mego made their own Gorn as part of their original line, but he looked nothing like the TV version: They took the head from the Lizard, a Spider-Man villain they'd produced as part of their World's Greatest Super Heroes line, changed the color to brown, plunked it on the same body and uniform they'd used for the Star Trek Klingon figure and called it a day. Mego fans still debate to this day whether or not the Mego Gorn is charming or abominable. (Count me in the latter category.)

EMCE Toys, which began reissuing Mego's classic Star Trek line a couple of years ago, has since expanded the line beyond what Mego produced (including the never-produced Sulu and Chekov figures) and now have even gone back to make a TV-accurate Gorn. And the masses rejoiced.

The figure on the right, though, is something of a mystery.

Mego named him the Neptunian, even though no such alien race ever appeared on either the original series or the later cartoon version. Co-workers have been somewhat befuddled, one asking if he was a Sleestak (referring to the reptilian monstrosity from the '70s Saturday-morning staple "Land of the Lost") and another remarking that he looked like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The latter may be closer to the truth than the co-worker realized. There's a long-standing rumor that Mego planned to make a Creature figure for their Mad Monsters line (which already had Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolf Man and the Mummy), only to discover that Universal owner the rights to the character. Rather than pay a licensing fee, the story goes, Mego scrapped their idea for a Creature figure and used the hands and feet they'd created for the Neptunian instead.

Whatever the Neptunian's origin--unique creation or aborted effort--he's still kinda cool looking. And Captain Kirk will still totally kick his ass. 'cause that's how he rolls.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Importance of Proofreading: Of Natinal Importance

The baseball team that plays in our nation's capital, Washington D.C., has a fairly bland name--the Nationals. Not as storied as the Yankees or Red Sox, not as festive as the Brewers, not as misery-ridden as the Cubs. Just kinda...there. Serviceable, but not much else.

Still, that's not reason to misspell the name. Yet, that's what Majestic Athletic, which provides the uniforms to the team, did on the jerseys for Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman, dropping the "o" in "Nationals."

Granted, the "o" lands just on the other side of where the jersey buttons up--just as, as one reader pointed out regarding the misspelled Wolves uniform art, the missing "l" could be hiding in the fold of the jersey--so when the player is wearing the jersey, the typo isn't nearly as obvious.

One assumes, however, that someone at Majestic Athletic takes at least a glance at their product before shipping it off to be viewed by thousands of baseball fans all over the country, well before any human being has donned the uniform.

But we all know what happens when one assumes, don't we?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Stormy Monday

I went into the weekend filled with dread--not of the weekend itself, but of what the next week would bring. That's right--I started my Sunday afternoon anxiety attack well before Sunday, most because I was coming off a long, hard week, and the coming week, from the perspective of Friday afternoon, looked like it was going to be longer and harder. (Minds out of the gutter, people.)

My enjoyment of the weekend was therefore blunted--I wanted to curl up in a ball and stay there. It didn't help that, with my most comfortable shoes having fallen to pieces and been ushered unceremoniously to the Dumpster out back of La Casa del Terror, I've taken to wearing my least comfortable shoes--shoes which, given even half an opportunity, attempt to eat my feet. In this instance, I wound up with a nasty blister on my left foot, which led me to walk like Chester from "Gunsmoke" for a couple of days, including the aforementioned weekend--just another reason to stay in bed.

I had at least one obligation, though: A co-worker was performing with the Windy City Gay Chorus in Andersonville Saturday afternoon, and I'd already bought my ticket. So I hobbled out to Ebenezer Lutheran Church for a couple of hours of lovely music by Handel, Schubert and Queen (yes, WCGC and Aria, their corresponding female singing group, covered "Bohemian Rhapsody"--and beautifully at that).

Getting back to La Casa del Terror afterward was more challenging than expected, in large part because of my reliance on CTA, which, as is customary, let me down. I got a Foster Avenue bus straight away, but after a quick stop at Dominick's on Lincoln Avenue for some groceries, I couldn't get a bus going south, couldn't afford a cab and was in no shape to walk the rest of the way home. I finally made it back to my place around 8:30--an hour and a half after leaving the church. That's twice as long as it took to get there, and about half an hour longer than it would have take me to walk it (when in condition to do so).

I spent the rest of the weekend convalescing and ignoring my cell phone--I didn't feel like talking to anyone about anything. I'm back in one of those periods where I hate all telephones and am eternally grateful that my current job, odious as it can be, does not require me to pick up and dial.

Sunday, the weather, which had acted relatively springlike for a couple of days, returned to typical Chicago weather--dark, gray, wind-drivel drizzle and the prospect of snow in the forecast.

I'm at work. I'm even working. But the bed beckons. The covers call. The pillows plead for my head to rest upon them. I hear you, my friends. Really, I do. But Monday is going exactly as I feared, dears--I won't be returning to you for quite some time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

One Question

There are several questions I could ask of the conservative Americans who turned out to protest on Income Tax Day, such as why you some of you thought it was cool to compare President Barack Obama to Hitler (a comparison Republicans rightly howled at when applied to George W. Bush); to continue questioning the legitimacy of Obama's presidency (still asking about his birth certificate? really?); or, most astonishingly, to openly encouraged advocates of the secession of the state of Texas from America (this from pundits who questioned the patriotism of anyone who disagreed with them).

Those questions, however, would be digressions from the one question I really do want to ask:

Where were you the last eight years, when the Bush administration took the budget surplus left to them in 2000 and turned it into a crushing debt by 2008? Your voices should have been heard then, too.

Truer Words Were Never Spoken

From the Onion AV Club's review of the Jane Austen/undead invador mash-up novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: "Almost any endeavor these days, it seems, can be enhanced by the addition of pirates, zombies, or ninjas."

Six Months Later

I still miss her.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April Showers

I realize, of course, that in order for flowers to rise from the ground in proper abundance in May, there must be rain in abundance in April. I get that. Really.

Must it be so perpetually gloomy, though?

On my way into the building where I work, I ran into a coworker with the same lament: We were both tired of cool and damp. We wanted warm and dry--and sunny. Don't forget sunny.

The forecast is for clear skies tomorrow and significantly warmer temperatures by Friday. Then? Cold, wind-driven rain for Sunday and Monday.

Spring in Chicago is never a constant thing. Must it tease me so, though? Or should I enjoy what I've got while I've got it, know so many others have it worse? I still have a roof over my head to protect me and Olivia from the rain and cold, and our home isn't flooded.

April may be gloomy, but it's not been cruel. Not yet. I'll get by.

Monday, April 13, 2009

RIP: Marilyn Chambers

Back in the days before every-fucking-body had cable, there were broadcast pay channels that ran recent video releases--and, late at night, after the kids were presumably asleep, edited porn.

Chicago had two such services competing for our consumer dollars: On-TV and Spectrum. Both shared space with normal UHF stations, switching over to the pay service around 7 p.m. My family never bought into either service. Hell, we didn't even get cable until later that decade, more due to Chicago's large volume of red tape (i.e., politicians with their hands out, screaming "Where's mine?") than my family's notorious lagtime in keeping apace with advances in technology.

If you adjusted your TV's "rabbit ears" just right, though, depending upon atmospheric conditions and individual skill and patience, you could get the pay programming for free--usually with intermittent sound and a distorted/fuzzy picture. Thus, for many kids my age living in Chicago in the early '80s, our first exposure to porn--and, consequently, to Marilyn Chambers.

Of course, I'd heard of her before then. Who hadn't? Like Linda Lovelace before her and Jenna Jameson after, Marilyn made her mark not just of the adult industry and its related subcultures, but on pop culture in general, mostly because she went from a straight modeling career (she appeared as the adoring mom on the Ivory Snow soap box) to hardcore (in the Mitchell Brothers' now-infamous Behind the Green Door). She tried to branch out from time to time, appearing in David Cronenberg's Rabid and a few straight-to-cable/video efforts and even tried to establish a singing career, but found her most frequent work in porn from the early '70s until the late '80s, returning to the industry sporadically after that.

Marilyn wasn't the most beautiful porn star ever, but she threw herself into each scene with abundant enthusiasm and looked like she was having fun, natural fun, which made her fun to watch, even through the blurry screen of illicitly acquired On-TV.

Sunday night, Marilyn Chambers was found dead of as-yet undetermined causes at her home in California. She was 56 years old.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hippity, Hoppity...

Happy Easter, everyone.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday is Bring Your Fertility Symbol(s) & Savior to Work Day

Today is Good Friday, though, as an agnostic, I've never understood why it's "Good," since it's the day Christ was crucified. (Perhaps one of my Catholic or Lutheran friends can explain this to me.)

It is certainly "Good" in the sense that it is Friday--which means the week ends (one hopes), it's Easter weekend (bring on The Ten Commandments!) and, of course, it's Bring Your Action Figure to Work Day.

Little Bunny Froo Froo, who has served as an Easter decoration at La Casa del Terror for quite some time (I think Mom got him as some sort of fabric softener premium and passed him on to me) and has been contentedly munching his carrot at my workstation all week, though the Pez dispensers are a brand-new addition.

(Isn't it interesting that the two holidays devoted to Jesus--Christmas and Easter--have appropriated so many pagan fertility symbols, like evergreens, eggs and rabbits?)

A less obvious, but vitally important, participant in today's display, however, is an action figure of the Man himself, tucked subtly onto the shelf of my cube so as not to offend coworkers who might think I'm being flip or disrespectful by bringing in a Jesus doll to work.

I intend no such disrespect, especially with this figure who, though He wasn't actually manufactured by the legendary Mego Corporation, was made using molds left over after Mego went out of business in 1983, and therefore is a pretty high-quality representation of Christ. He looks gentle, wise, friendly--just how I how I'd hope He would be.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Sparrow Story

While standing on the Loop el platform waiting for CTA to accommodate me and send a Brown Line train my way, I saw a sparrow hopping around on the planks behind me. It was small, as all sparrows are, but plump for its species.

Nonetheless, the sparrow appeared to be pecking for whatever crumbs some careless commuter might have dropped on the hurried way into the pausing-none-too-long maw of the el car. Finally, it found something worthy of the effort--from my vantage point, it appeared to be a Wheat Thin or some other kind of tiny snack cracker.

Just as it had begun to fill its beak with no-doubt morsels, two pigeons, each easily dwarfing the sparrow, landed on either side of the feasting area and began consuming the sparrow's hard-won meal.

This would not do.

After the sparrow had fled to a rusting support beam about 10 feet away, I walked over to where the pigeons were busily working away at the cracker. I did not yell, stomp my feet, kick or swing my workbag or hat. I just stood there, too close for comfort for the pair of avian interlopers.

I've been told that I'm an intimidating physical presence. I imagine that the effect is magnified for birds, for the two pigeons edged away from me, then took flight for heights or depths unknown.

I picked up the cracker and carefully moved over to the decaying support beam, where the sparrow remained patiently perched. I set the cracker down a few feet away and slowly stepped back. It eyed me warily until I'd moved far enough away for safety, then bounced over to its prize, scooped it up in its tiny beak and flew away.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A More Perfect Union

I've never understood the opposition to gay marriage--it's not right or cool that I can get married (not that there's a woman out there demented enough to have me) when my gay and lesbian friends cannot--especially when those who oppose it cite it as a threat to the institution that is heterosexual marriage.

The greater threat to heterosexual marriage, it has always seemed to me, is the divorce rate amongst married heterosexuals, yet I've not heard and conservative legislators or commentators suggest, even in jest, that we either ban divorce or make "as long as you both shall live" anything more than a vow between legally consenting adults.

I have, however, read the words of Justice Mark Cady, a Republican appointee, in his written opinion for the seven-member Iowa Supreme Court:

"We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important government objective. The Legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification."

Simple. Blunt. Eloquent. Beautiful.

Today, Vermont also legalized gay marriage.

Illinois? It's your turn.

Take Me Out to the...No, Don't

Yesterday was opening day for baseball in Chicago.

Or, rather, it was supposed to be, but a late-season snow hit Sunday night, dropping anywhere from half an inch to several inches on the metro area, depending on where you were standing and when.

This is not unprecedented. It snows in April in Chicago--not every April, but often enough for wary natives to keep their winter gear--boots, parkas, mittens, etc.--close at hand through, say, mid-May.

Which is why I'm dumbfounded every year that Major League Baseball schedules opening day for the first week of April in cities where winter doesn't end just because the calendar says it's supposed to.

The Cubs started their season last night in Houston--an eminently sensible place to start, since it's not only a warm-weather city, but the Astros play in a stadium that, should the weather be inclement, can retract its roof. The Cubs will them move on to Milwaukee--a cold-weather city, granted, but one that also boasts a stadium with a retractable roof.

The White Sox, however, got stuck with playing their season opener in Chicago, where we don't have a retractable roof on any of our sports facilities.

Hence, when the weather outside was frightful, opening day was so not delightful--it was, in fact, cancelled and rescheduled for today.

Not that today's forecast is a vast improvement--no snow, but temperatures in the high 30s or low 40s. Weather conducive to hockey or football--not so much for baseball.

I realize that, unless the Sox build a dome over U.S. Cellular Field or the Cubs enclose Wrigley, one or the other of them will either have to open in frigid air or sacrifice their first series to a warm-weather city like Oakland, Anaheim or Tampa Bay.

So be it. Better to make such a sacrifice than to perpetually inconvenience loyal fans or, worse, to get a player hurt--possibly even lost for the year--on an icy field on which he should never have set foot.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Over the weekend, I began the long, involved process of emptying La Casa del Terror of items I no longer need or want.

I started with the CD collection. How many CDs do I won? Couldn't tell you. When was the last time I listened to individual CDs? Again, couldn't tell you. If it's not currently in the frequently malfunctioning RCA 5-CD changer tray, then chances are I haven't given it a spin in a while. That makes just about everything in the collection fair game.

Still, one must do these things in increments, so I chose 15 CDs to head out the door first, including Fergie's "The Dutchess," the Juno soundtrack and all my Brian Wilson CDs. I managed to sell off 10 of the 15 and got back enough to pay this month's electric bill. Next? The DVD collection gets trimmed (though fear not, regular attendees of HMB--none of the movies in that group will be heading out the door).

I decided, further, to extend my spring cleaning to my electronic homes, starting with the "Saved" folder for my personal e-mail address, which I may be shutting down soon (it's tied to my home Internet account, which is effectively defunct due to a crappy phoneline, so that money may go elsewhere).

There are several dozen e-mails in there, including the death notices for Ms. Christopher, Gigi and Kaytee, along with the many related responses and expressions of condolence.

There was also a group of e-mails to and from an old friend, who, at the end of 2007, I'd had great hopes of renewing friendship after contact had been abruptly cut off years before; we'd traded e-mails at the end of that year, after she'd become fabulously successful in her chosen field, and I'd thrown a line of congratulations her way.

Unfortunately, 2008 began with silence, which continued for months even though I sent her messages regularly--some long and prosaic, but most short and to the point. Hopes were revived in July, when she answered a couple more e-mails, but then the silence resumed and carried through to the end of the year. I'd hoped for something, even an acknowledgment of a holiday greeting or a "Happy New Year" message, but no such luck.

At the end of the first week of January, I composed the following e-mail:

When you updated your bloggity on 12/30, I posted a brief comment: "Glad to hear you're OK. Miss you."

Afterward, I realized that I could have posted the same comment at any time within the last five years, including 2007, when I had some hope that we could renew our friendship. But after another year of emails, the overwhelming majority of which went unanswered (unread?), it would take optimism bordering on hubris (or, more aptly, dementia) to hope that you would answer any message, much less this one.

God knows you're busy--hardest working woman in show business. I know that. But I also know lots of busy people, and most of them find time to drop me a line, if only to say, "Haven't heard from you in a bit. How are you?"

Maybe you didn't want to communicate, even electronically. Maybe you thought I had an agenda. In that case, you thought right. I
did have an agenda:

I wanted my friend back.

The e-mail was sent January 7.

There was no reply.

This Year's Amazon Wishlist

My birthday is now less than one month away.

For those who care, this means a couple of important things: The embargo on buying myself DVDs, CDs and/or books has officially gone into effect (not like I've got money to do such anyway, but still...); and I've updated my Amazon Wishlist.

I've done something different with the Wishlist this year, though. In the past, I've gotten comments about the size of my Wishlist along the lines of "It's so big? How can I possibly choose?" Understandable. My Wishlist has had as many as 90 items on it. While that leaves a lot more room for surprise and less room for anticipation on my part, it can (and did) lead to undue confusion and anxiety on the part of gift-givers.

This year, I've pared the list way down--under 30 items as of this writing. The list is now more focused, with more DVDs and books that I not only really, really want, but that my friends might be most likely to afford in these tight times.

Not that I'm asking everyone (or, really, anyone) who reads this page to buy me something. As Mrs. Lovett sang, "Times is hard, times is haaaaaaard!" Also? I'm not boiling over with enthusiasm about the annual ritual this year. My job is in jeopardy (due to the recession, not through my competence or lack thereof). I've lost friends both figuratively (as in being dumped out of their lives without ceremony or explanation) and literally (as in shuffling off the mortal coil). I think I may just take the day off from work, have a quiet lunch or dinner on my own, and leave the circumstance and pomp for another time.

Of course, if any of you are inclined to buy me a little sumthin'-sumthin, I'm not exactly going to turn it down or send it back. Just sayin'.

Friday, April 3, 2009

23 Names

Mike Tomczak. Jim Harbaugh. Peter Tom Willis. Will Furrer. Erik Kramer. Steve Walsh. Dave Krieg. Rick Mirer. Steve Stenstrom. Moses Moreno. Shane Matthews. Cade McNown. Jim Miller. Chris Chandler. Henry Burris. Kordell Stewart. Rex Grossman. Jonathan Quinn. Craig Krenzel. Chad Hutchinson. Kyle Orton. Jeff Blake. Brian Griese.

Those are the names of all the quarterbacks who've played for the Chicago Bears since Jim McMahon played in the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl for them over 20 years ago.

Thursday, they traded Orton, two first-round draft picks and a fifth-round pick for a 24th name: Denver Broncos Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, who had become severely disenchanted with that franchise when their new coach tried to trade for then-New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel.

That sounds like a lot to give up for any single player, and it is. But the old saying, "Sometimes you have to give a lot to get a lot," has a good deal of truth to it. It's just so rare--shocking, really--to see the Bears make such a bold and risky move.

The loss of two first-round picks could be a blessing in disguise, given the Bears' recent history with first-round picks, most of whom have been negligible at best and outright bombs at worst.

But trading a steady-if-unspectacular quarterback, Orton, who's won 75% of the games he's started, for a potential superstar who could be an overly sensitive headcase? We'll see how that goes.

Now if only Cutler had a decent receiver to throw to...

Passing Out

I haven't slept well in a while, for lots of reasons: Bad habits, like eating or consuming lots of fluids (milk or water, mostly) right before bed; drinking cans of RC when having dinner at Mom's; worrying about the economy in general or my own employment situation in particular; racing my mind so fast for so long that an average person would probably have gone crazy by now (and, perhaps, I already have and just haven't noticed).

Slept better last night, though, by making a few changes:

Went to Mom's for dinner and stayed 'til 9 (I usually cut out at least an hour earlier);

Only had one can of RC at Mom's, followed by only two cups of Sleepytime tea;

Didn't eat anything else before bed or take anything to help me sleep;

Stayed up until 11 (was going to stay up later to watch the rerun of "Chelsea Lately," but it was the episode from Monday night--the one with someone I used to know on the roundtable--so I did the same as I had Monday night and clicked out straight away);

Slept with my head on the opposite end of the bed and the fan blowing away from me (Olivia adjusted admirably, parking herself at my feet and not moving until the alarm went off.

Didn't get a full night's sleep--maybe 6 hours. Still, that's about 5 hours more than I got the night before, and the dreams that accompanied that sleep (involving spiders and Tom Baker) were no stranger than normal, really.

So...yay, me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My April Fool

Olivia turns five years old this month.

OK, so I don't know with iron-clad certainty that Olivia turns five this month. I do know, however that, as far as my mom's vet could ascertain, Olivia was about seven months old when I brought her to La Casa del Terror back in November of 2004. That would put her birthday somewhere in April of that year, so celebrating that happy occasion on April Fool's Day seems entirely appropriate.

Not that I'm saying Olivia is a fool. I'm not--not really, anyway. She's incredibly smart--often too smart for her own good.

Like that time she figured out how to get behind the shelving unit in the northeast corner of the dining room, only to find that she then couldn't get out and had to scream for help.

Or when she and I swatted at each other around the headboard--until she decided to take the game seriously and charged at me from behind the headboard, slammed into my left temple and kept going straight across the bed and out of the room, never breaking stride.

You get the idea.

It must be said, though, that since Ms. Christopher died in October, Olivia's personality has shifted. Not to the extent of taking on Chris's personality traits, as sometimes happen with cats (and which did happen, to a certain extent, to Chris after her sister, Lottie, had to be put to sleep), but now Olivia is more inclined to jump up into my lap and stay there for a while--something she'd rarely been inclined to do before. She's also a lot more attentive, playful and even downright cuddly than she had been before--again, not a wholesale personality change, but more a function of being alone all day and craving attention once I finally get home from work.

Tonight, I'll drag my ass back to La Casa del Terror. Tonight, I'll rip open a pouch of Friskies for Olivia, pop something in the microwave for myself and fall into my living room chair to watch "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." And after a few minutes of eating and watching, Olivia will join me, parking at my feet, asking permission to come aboard, waiting for the hand slap at the thigh that signifies consent, and jumping up to curl and purr there for a few minutes. And I will be grateful.

Happy birthday, little one.