#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 «

#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 «

#714: Did They Know?

November 18th, 2016 § permalink

Her mouth was full when she yelled, but I can’t speak Spanish anyway.

She yelled at him to knock it off, body language told. Head thrust forward, arms thrust out, elbows cocked inward in sort of a third shrug, third “I can’t believe you’re so stupid,” third “I might backhand you so watch out” gesture.

He laughed and laughed, so she swung her backpack at him.

They were young, and I don’t know if they figured out they’re in love. » Read the rest of this entry «

#709: Vote Like a Champ in Just Six Steps

November 7th, 2016 § permalink

Voting is like improv comedy: The fact you’re unprepared is only amusing to you.

For the rest of us, those who take more than one stab at existence and who tire of any activity with a cover and two-drink minimum to watch state school theater majors laugh harder at their own jokes than the audience ever will, we like to be a little more prepared.

So in the vein of my Bare Minimum Voting Guide from the primary, a six-step plan that will get you voting like a champ in no time. * » Read the rest of this entry «

#690: Shameless Self-Promotion Theatre, Part 3

September 23rd, 2016 § permalink

In part 1, I pimped a live lit reading honoring Studs Terkel.

In part 2, I announced a podcast that I since stopped doing (I later halted the Patreon campaign too).

And now, in part 3 of Shameless Self-Promotion Theatre, I want to dress up all fancy, swill some cocktails all Gatsby and yell at you about politics. » Read the rest of this entry «

#670: A Sadness of Cicadas

August 8th, 2016 § permalink

I wrote last year about nouns of assemblage, the packs of wolves, prides of lions, parliaments of owls or smacks of jellyfish that give our language the zest we enjoy.

I made some Chicago ones up. A haggle of bocce players arguing in Croatian. A bindle of cotton candy sellers hoisting their wares on shoulder. A whisper of old Polish women riding the bus to church on a gray and misty Sunday morning.

I have a new one today. A sadness of cicadas. » Read the rest of this entry «

#652: M

June 27th, 2016 § permalink

We filed in early. A small line of elderly people waited for an usher to open the door at a prompt 11 a.m. A few younger meandered in after.

We went to two lines. One was for the people who bought tickets online. One was for the folks shuffling up with cash or a card to swipe.

Some bought popcorn.

Some went to the couches in the lounge to pick through movie factbooks or ogle the vintage posters on the wall.

Others went right to the theater to be taken someplace they had never been. » Read the rest of this entry «

#581: The Podcast Cometh

January 13th, 2016 § permalink

Listen… » Read the rest of this entry «

#580: The Ashes of Gapers Block

January 11th, 2016 § permalink

They gathered in early December at a coffee shop in Lakeview, weeks before the rest of the world knew Gapers Block was shuttering, to discuss what would come next. » Read the rest of this entry «

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