#842 ½: An Announcement

September 15th, 2017 § permalink

When I started this site my worry was getting to my goal. Now I’m scared I’ll get there too soon. » Read the rest of this entry «

#842: Quizmaster D

September 13th, 2017 § permalink

Do people know DeKalb produced barbed wire?

Who has a clue what the second-biggest city in the state was before Rockford?

What is a reasonable amount of Cheap Trick lyrics to expect people to know? Like, all of them or just most? » Read the rest of this entry «

#841: The Business of Beauty

September 11th, 2017 § permalink

She shifted foot to foot as she spoke to the 10 of us.

Her talk was inflected and genuine, but as lunchtime became afternoon she was getting tired being on her feet. An active 50s in dyed red hair and white hoodie, she wanted us to turn down cellphones, sheath our umbrellas, check any bag that might knock over one of the artifacts should we turn too quickly and unwarily.

Then she could turn us over to the tour guide. Then she could walk the five meters back to the gift shop in the converted car garage where she could rest, chat with co-volunteers and get off those aching ankles that made her shift as she talked. » Read the rest of this entry «

#840: A Review of ‘Hamilton’ Written Several Hours Before I See It

September 8th, 2017 § permalink

In October 2016, my friend Kate stood in line for six hours to buy a block of tickets for “Hamilton.” Thursday’s 7 p.m. showing was the first available date. So I saw “Hamilton” last night.

Although my readers deserve a probing, incisive review of the rap musical’s portrayal of our nation’s early days, I have a flight this morning. In the interest of time management, I pre-wrote my review before the show based on what I’ve heard about the play and what I remember off-hand about American history. » Read the rest of this entry «

#839: A “Prominent Author” Deems You Should Go To This Fundraiser

September 6th, 2017 § permalink

In the last few weeks, I have made the transition from “and many more” to “prominent author.”

The “and many more” was for “Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology,” which I wrote about in August and which conveniently ran out of pixels on the website before they could add my name to the list of contributors. While I am honored to be part of this collection of  pieces about life in 21st century Chicago, this is the writing equivalent of getting to play with your favorite band but seeing “and Guest” on the marquee when you pull up to the club.

But although I got the Professor and Mary Ann treatment in the marketing copy, it’s still a great book, mine was one of the five stories they chose to put online and you should totally buy it.

My upgrade to “prominent author” just came this evening, and you should totally put your money toward that too. » Read the rest of this entry «

#838: A Happiness of Cicadas

September 4th, 2017 § permalink

I detest stories about the wonder of childhood.

I detest the way they imply an innate happiness at the simplest of things is the sole domain of those who can’t yet drive, vote or depreciate noncurrent assets using the straight-line basis. Childhood is magic, yes, but there’s an inherent plaint in such stories that it’s the only magic there is.

“Behold the child!” the stories seem to cry. “Behold his or her wonder at the world because you have to behold it in others because you’re clearly a boring old fart who understood the ‘depreciate noncurrent assets’ line in the last paragraph.”

The wonder is out there for adults to see. Granted, having a kid around helps.

» Read the rest of this entry «

#837: Fire-Flowers

September 1st, 2017 § permalink

The sky above exploded in whites, reds, blues, crinkly crinoid yellows that shimmered over its reflection in a darkened lake.

The concrete below shook and rattled with every car that sped by just feet behind us. » Read the rest of this entry «

#836: Funny Things

August 30th, 2017 § permalink

I presume the calligraphed words running down his well-hewn triceps said UNTOUCHABLE and UNSTOPPABLE. » Read the rest of this entry «

#835: Cannibals Need Free Speech Too – An ACLU Story

August 28th, 2017 § permalink

On Oct. 2, I will be participating in a reading of banned books as part of a benefit for the American Civil Liberties Union. The organizers still in the planning stage, but I will update details on my Appearances page as I learn them.

Participants will read selections from a banned or challenged book, then share original essays inspired by the work. I have chosen to read my favorite children’s poem about familial cannibalism, “Dreadful” from Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

The rough draft of my reading follows: » Read the rest of this entry «

#834: Crescent Sky

August 25th, 2017 § permalink

It was glorious to see so many care.

The IBM-turned-AMA building on the Chicago River, the blackest glassiest boxiest box of all the glassy black boxes of Chicago architecture, had poured out its workers.

All the buildings had, of course, but the American Medical Association headquarters building spewed most effectively onto its own plaza. Between Miesian glass and swishing brown river, the workers poured from River North and the Loop offices puddled.

They puddled to look-not-look at the sky. » Read the rest of this entry «

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