Support Chicago radio personality James VanOsdol's history of the local '90s rock scene, Chicago Rocked! He's funding the project through Kickstarter.com and only has 13 days to raise another more than $10,000. Please pledge if you can, because I selfishly really, really want to read this book.
September 2, 2009
September 1, 2009
Just a reminder of the reading tonight at Flourish Bakery Cafe, 1138 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago, IL 60660. I'll be appearing with five other authors and poets. What a bargain! For more information, please see:
Here's a personal invitation:
September 1, 2009
Winter is not here yet, but it has definitely RSVP'd this past week. Summer had finally shown up after slumming somewhere down south but only hung out for a couple of weeks before autumn served it its eviction notice. I know that in a few months we'll be longing for temperatures in the 50s, but right now it feels cold as hell out there.
Fortunately, it was hot inside the Chicago Theater last night, once everyone thronging the sidewalks stopped taking pictures of the marquee and squeezed themselves through the doors. As part of their Rent Party '09 tour, Steely Dan is playing complete albums in a few cities. Chicago is fortunate enough to have gotten Aja last night, and gets Gaucho tonight and The Royal Scam on Thursday. I wish I could go every night, but Laura and I could choose only one, so we agreed on Aja.
It was a fantastic show, with an incredible cross-section of great songs. I won't be posting a full review, but I do want to note a couple of things. First, this was the first show we've been to in a long time, with the possible exception of AC/DC, where the majority of the crowd appeared to be older than we. (Definitely not the case at, say, The Dead Weather a few weeks back.) Second, having listened to it countless times over the past 32 years, I can't quite put my finger on why "Deacon Blues" made me all teary last night. Maybe I, I want a name when I lose.
- Black Cow
- Deacon Blues
- Home at Last
- I Got the News
- Black Friday
- Time Out of Mind
- Daddy Don't Live in That NYC No More
- Babylon Sisters
- Showbiz Kids
- Hey Nineteen
- Dirty Work
- Do It Again
- Don't Take Me Alive
- My Old School
- Kid Charlemagne
August 28, 2009
So Laura got home this morning from walking Ella to report to me, as I drank my unmagical coffee-n-cream, that they'd had a fantastic time. All except for one little incident.
There's a big preserve of prairie grass at the park in which the dogs like to romp. Ella herself enjoys tearing first one way then the other along the narrow paths through the tall grass. This morning Laura was nearby while a dog we know named Digger was playing in the preserve. She heard happy squeaks coming from Digger's direction. I'll let Laura report the rest in her own words:
I looked at Mike and I said, "Digger has a toy? A squeaky toy? I've never seen him with a toy at the park before! Fun!" Mike replied, "He just caught a bunny. They sound like squeaky toys before they die." Me: "Well, I guess that makes sense, but I have to go now."Our own little carnivore is lying flat on her side on the floor next to me, her eyes fluttering as she fights sleep. I sure have a different view now of the delight she takes in running around the house with her rabbit toy squeaking in her mouth.
August 26, 2009
Hey, Chicagoans! I have a reading coming up just under a week from now, Tuesday, September 1, 2009, as part of Chicago's Tuesday Funk Reading Series.
The reading starts at 7:00 pm sharp at:
Flourish Bakery Cafe 1138 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Chicago, IL 60660That's just east of Broadway, just west of the Bryn Mawr stop on the Red Line.
I'll be appearing with Robyn Detterline, Billy Lombardo, and Dancing Girl Press poets Stephanie Anderson, Kristen Orser, and Susan Slaviero. I'll be reading from my memoir The Accidental Terrorist. Copies of my chapbook An Alternate History of the 21st Century will be available for purchase for a paltry $4.
Please come out! I hope to see you there.
July 20, 2009
Ella's been having a rough time of it lately. Between thunderstorm season and fireworks season, she's been afraid to go outside after dark, and until recently she was starting to balk earlier and earlier in the day. (Yes, balk,, not bark.) We've been working with her very carefully to bring her anxiety level down, and it seems to be working.
I just hope she doesn't start shying away from the dry cleaners. Ella loves running errands in the car, and the dry cleaners is one of her favorite places to go. It's also one of our favorite places to take her, if only because it's one of the few businesses we frequent where we can bring her in with us. Usually Ella and I park in the lot out back, then walk around the corner to the front door. Ella knows where we're going, so she likes to dash aheadaround the corner and in through the glass door, which is usually propped openwhile I brace myself so the tug on the leash doesn't dislocate my shoulder.
Okay, it's not really Ella's fault. It's not like she's a bird or something, attracted to her own reflection in glass. The door is usually, like I said, propped open. This afternoon Ella dashed ahead of me, like usual, and I cleared the corner of the building just in time to see her slam full force into the glass. I swear to God, she accordioned like a cartoon character.
She bounced off, shook her head, and seemed to be fine. But even as I was wincing and kneeling to make sure she hadn't broken something, I was wishing I had the whole thing on video.
July 20, 2009
My new short story "A Strong Premonition of Death Struck Me This Morning" is now live at the Electric Velocipede blog. I think it was the first piece of fiction I ever wrote that's set in Chicago (though I'm now deep into a novel that's also set here in Chi-town).
Stick around at EV, order more drinks, and remember to tip your servers. I'll be blogging there all week.
June 20, 2009
Cory Doctorow published a smart, exciting political novel for teens last year called Little Brother, as I'm sure you know. Well, the Griffin Theatre Company right here in Chicago has mounted a stage adaptation that's on now. The production runs Thursdays through Sundays until July 19, and I highly recommend you get tickets before they're gone.
I saw a preview of the play last week to review it for Sci Fi Wire, and I think you'll enjoy it. I'm told that the production has even more bells and whistles now than when I saw it.
The production runs at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. You can get tickets either in person at the Athenaeum box office, or from Ticketmaster by phone at 800-982-2787 or online at http://www.ticketmaster.com.
Come any day you can, but if you show up on Thursday, July 9, Cory will be in the audience. I'm just sayin'.
For more details on the production, see the Griffin Theatre web site.
June 14, 2009
Laura and I had a ton of fun yesterday running Chicago's 2009 Urban Dare race. Urban Dare is a scavenger hunt that takes you all over your city to solve trivia puzzles, collect photographs, and complete a few dares. You're only allowed to travel by foot or on public transportation. You need a phone, a digital camera, and a PDA with internet accesspreferably all in one.
We started at noon in Oz Park. A trivia question got things underway. Every two-person team was directed to stand in a certain group depending on their answer to a multiple-choice question: In what year did Chicago's Playboy magazine publish its first issue? Since I, ahem, knew the answer was 1953 (come on, Marilyn Monroe was Miss December), Laura and I were in the first group to get our clue sheets and get started on the race.
We took our clue sheet to a nearby Orange Julius/Dairy Queen combo to have some ice cream and decipher our clues. We had to hit 11 stations throughout the city. For each clue we had to figure out where we were supposed to go, and what the best order would be for hitting them all. Once we had the locations plotted, we decided to tackle them from north to south.
It probably would have been smartest to just hope we would be able to pick up #7 (photo of a Cubs and Twins fan together) somewhere along the way, but we decided to ride up toward Wrigley Field first of all. As it turned out, we found our victims the moment we stepped onto the train. That let us head back to our next challenge without traveling all the way to Wrigley.
So we took a combination of buses, trains, and shank's mare all the way from Belmont on the north to Balbo on the south. Along the way we scarfed down eight buffalo wings at a sports bar, tossed beanbags into targets at the Benito Juarez sculpture, assumed the upward bow yoga position, and hobbled around a plaza in a three-legged duo. We bothered passersby to take our pictures all along the route, including a befuddled tourist from Manchester who seemed a little embarrassed to admit that he was enjoying the unseasonably cold and cloudy June weather.
At every manned station, at least early on, we asked the race personnel how many teams had beaten us there. We didn't have any delusions that we'd come in first, so we had agreed that we'd take it easy and just have fun. By the time we were staggering up to our final challenge station, though, we were sure we were going to place right down at the bottom of the standings, which didn't sit so well with us.
Miracle of miracles, though, when we made it back to our finish line at Kendall's Bar and turned in our passport and photos, we found ourselves with an unofficial place of 20th out of about 60 teams. Not bad! And a fine excuse to indulge in a victory beer.
Urban Dare hits a lot of big cities around the country over the course of the year. If they come to yours, there are plenty worse ways to spend a Saturday! And if you run Chicago's race next year, you'd better look out because we're going to kick your asses.
June 2, 2009
If you're reading this, I assume you have at least a passing interest, if not a full-blown stake, in the future of online journalism. Most saliently, how can the business of news-gathering and distribution be monetized? Can it ever make money? How will the news business survive in the future, and what will it look like? How will readers consume news?
If you live in Chicago and care about these questions, you owe it to yourself and your community to attend the Chicago Media Future Conference. Organized by Mike Fourcher, Barbara Iverson, and (my friend) Scott Smith, this FREE conference will be held Saturday, June 13, at Columbia College's Film Row Cinema (1104 S. Wabash) from 1:30pm to 4:45pm. The program consists of two moderated 90-minute panels, each with a 10-minute introduction.
I hope you'll take the time to attend, but don't do it just on my say-so. Organizer Scott Smith was a guest this past Friday evening on WLUW's Out of the Loop Radio, and you can hear him discussing the conference in this audio stream, starting at about 2:01:
(As an added bonus, the segment after Scott's is about the recent ruling in 2006's infamous Jefferson Tap police brawl.)