Monday, September 08, 2008

Tina Fey vs. Sarah Palin

I was talking to my friend Jhoni yesterday. She is always a good source for the latest conspiracy theory.

"GE told NBC to push 30 Rock back to late October, so Tina Fey would not have time to write jokes about McCain and Palin. All of their other shows are returning this month or early next month."

You know, I would probably not have considered that to be likely, until I saw today's news about Keith Olbermann.

"Sarah Palin broke up her husband's friend's marriage."

With five kids, when did she have time? Next.

"Sarah Palin referred to Obama as 'Sambo.' "

Where did you hear that one?

"I don't remember, I probably clicked through to the story some place."

What else?

"The McCain people will be donating money to the Obama campaign every time they play 'Barracuda.' "

I think that one is actually true. Anything on the other side?

"Hillary is going to campaign for Obama, but she is going to ask for a high level position in return, like Supreme Court Justice, or Secretary of State."

I doubt that one. She still wants to be president, so why would she settle for less?

"I just pass the stories along. Stay tuned."

Saturday, December 22, 2007



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Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Five

I got an e-mail from my friend Will Briarwood today.

“Yo K –

This week’s Friday Five is a list of reasons why I haven’t had a Friday Five for a few weeks.

Too many holiday cookies, which means too much sugar crashing.

It’s the holidays. I still have piles of shopping to do.

A couple of minor adventures with the cats – The Queen is still crying at night, and the Little Guy has a little scrape on his belly. We took them both to the vet, and he suggested something called Feliway for The Queen, and Panalog for the Little Guy.

I left work early a few Fridays ago, and Mary and I took my mother to the annual holiday bazaar at the Animal Care League.

Can I repeat #1? I really wish I had stayed out of the sweets. I had my annual physical last week, and I’m sure that my numbers (cholesterol, triglycerides, weight, etc.) would have been a lot better before Thanksgiving.

Et vous?”

Thanks, Will. Five somewhat feeble reasons I have not blogged lately.

General procrastination.

The holidays, of course – I really wish I had started shopping a bit sooner.

Fairly busy at work this time of year.

A couple trips to the dentist, a couple of office parties.

Rampaging ennui.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Friday Five -- GoogleJerking

I got an e-mail from my friend Will Briarwood this morning.

“Yo K –

I’ll be working around the house this holiday weekend, so I thought I would do the Friday Five a couple days early.

You’ve seen plenty of articles or columns where the writer uses Google to make a point. Like writing about the prices at Starbucks, and pointing out that if you google “starbucks overpriced”, you get about 286,000 results. I don’t know if there is a name for this, so I will call it ‘googlejerking.’ At least until we think of a better word.

Here are my five examples of googlejerking:

(I was thinking about Dave Marsh and his biographies of Bruce Springsteen…) Marsh springsteen hagiography gives about 223 results

”Ann Coulter” skank gives about 49,600 results

Reagan senile has about 133,000 results

(This morning in the car, I was listening to a live recording of the Arcade Fire from 2005…) “Arcade fire” “joyful noise” has about 1,610 results

(And then I was listening to Nick Drake on the computer at work…) “Nick drake” tragic has about 55,800 results

Et vous?”

Thanks, Will. This is fun.

“deer hunter” small penis about 34,300 results

tofurky delicious about 545,000 results

"chicago cubs" "wait till next year" about 12,300 results

mtv crap about 1,820,000 results

”battlestar galactica" emmy about 1,390,000 results

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Five -- Shuffle

I got another e-mail from my friend Will Briarwood a little while ago.

“Yo K –

Sorry, not much in the way of interesting ideas for the Friday Five this week. So I just did an iPod shuffle, and added some comments, like the rock stars do in interviews:

Tangerine Dream / “Improvisation 1” / Live! Improvised!

A live recording that I downloaded from dime recently. Reims Cathedral – in France, I think? – from 1974. The artwork says Oh Boy on the spine, so this would appear to be a liberated bootleg.

Pink Floyd / “A Spanish Piece” / More soundtrack

I was a big Pink Floyd fan in high school, and in college – I remember playing “Echoes” at two in the morning, many times. But I didn’t get into some of their earlier stuff until later. This is a brief instrumental.

Pink Floyd / ? / Syncopated Pandemonium

Something else that I got from dime. I don’t think I know the source of this track – it’s a weird voiceover, with what I assume is Pink Floyd’s music.

Guru Guru / “Stone In” / UFO

More krautrock. I bought this cd, and many others, per the recommendations of Julian Cope in his great book Krautrocksampler.

Merle Haggard / “You Take Me For Granted” / Down Every Road 1962-1994

From the big four disc box set, which I probably got pretty cheap from BMG. My brother got a kitten recently and named him Merle.

Et vous?


I do not have an iPod, so I just hit the random option on the Windows Media Player on the computer.

Romeo Void / “Nothing For Me” / It’s a Condition / Strange Language

Recent, and long overdue, reissue of the first Romeo Void album, along with Debora’s solo record. I was a big fan back in the new wave days, and this was my favorite of their records. And this was near the top of my wanted list of lp’s that were not on cd.

Loretta Lynn / “The Other Woman” / Honky Tonk Girl: The Collection

People think that Merle is a rightwinger because of “Okie From Muskogee,” but I do not think that he is – Loretta is long-time Republican and Bush supporter. Saw her live in 2000, and she made sure to include a “vote for Bush” speech during her show.

Waterboys / “Carolan’s Welcome” / Fisherman’s Blues

This is from the second disc of the recent deluxe edition. One of my favorite – maybe my number one – records of the 1980’s.

Kim Richey / “Drift” / Chinese Boxes

I think I might have discovered Kim through the p2 mailing list, or maybe it was hearing her on Mountain Stage or E-Town. Her new disc is really good – wish I had bought it sooner.

Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler / “All the Roadrunning” / All the Roadrunning

This was one of my favorite discs of last year, and I think covivant said it was her favorite. I have been an Emmylou fan since Wrecking Ball and I was a big Dire Straits fan for their first few albums. I went out and bought some old Dire Straits cd’s after hearing this, and downloaded some of his solo stuff.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sinead O'Connor, Symphony Center

I got an e-mail from my friend Will Briarwood earlier today. He sent me a concert review...

I keep meaning to tell you about some of the shows I’ve seen recently – I’ll try to send my reviews when I get around to writing them…

Who / When / Where: Sinead O’Connor / Sunday, September 23, 2007 / I think it’s called Symphony Center, at Orchestra Hall

Notes: They had problems with their sound all evening – I don’t know if it was their equipment, or the sound guys, or what.

Good show. Good mix of old songs and new songs (see setlist below). A bunch of songs from her second record.

Her first husband still plays drums with her, after all these years.

She still has most of that amazing voice. I am concerned that if she keeps smoking as much as I’ve heard she does, that she’s going to end up like Joni Mitchell.

Went by myself – Mary wasn’t interested in going.

Highlights: “In This Heart” was great. So was “Black Boys On Mopeds.”

I Wish She Had Played: “Jackie.”

Moron Factor: There was this young couple next to me, who showed up right as Sinead’s set started, and talked on and off all through it. It sounded like he had an accent, maybe Russian – I don’t generally confront talkers during a show, especially if they might be Russian drug dealers… Other than that, the crowd was pretty well behaved.

Opening Act: Damien Dempsey. Sort of a Damien Rice on steroids. He was quite good, and I saw that he was selling a lot of cd’s in the lobby after his set.

Reviews: Daily Herald, Concert Live Wire.

Setlist / Recording:

At dime. Downloaded it, have not burned to cd and listened yet. Setlist, per the taper:




Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Five -- TV On Strike

I got an e-mail from my friend Will Briarwood this morning.

“Yo K –

Let’s bring back the Friday Five. I’ll start – which five tv shows will you miss the most if the writers strike lasts a while? My five would be:

Battlestar Galactica
Ugly Betty
30 Rock

Et vous?”

I would agree with a couple of Will’s choices, but I will list five different shows:

Bionic Woman
Jericho (but I did read that CBS’ seven episode mini-season will probably not be affected by the strike)

And my list would assume that shows that are not due back till next summer (Mad Men, The 4400, Eureka) would not be affected.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

And Then There Were Two...

I was talking to my friend Will Briarwood earlier today. I had not talked to him for a few weeks.

“Sorry I haven’t been in touch. It’s been a tough few months.”

I know. How are the cats doing?

“OK, I think. It’s just the queen and the little guy, now – it’s been about nine years since we only had two cats. They get along pretty well, but she is twice as old as he is, and doesn’t have much patience for him sometimes. And some nights she will start walking around the house, crying – we’re not sure if she’s just getting old, or if she misses the other cats, or if she’s hungry, or all of the above. She passed her most recent exam, so I think we’ll just keep an eye on her for now.”

You and Mary doing ok?

“Aside from feeling terrible about the old girl and the big guy, I guess so. You know, a lot has happened this year, and I suppose at some time I have to start thinking about other things.”

In good time.

“I mean, Al Gore won a Nobel. The Cubs were in the playoffs for a few days, the White Sox were terrible, and it doesn’t look like the Bears are going back to the Super Bowl any time soon. The tv writers are on strike. There’s all kinds of problems with the economy – and Mary’s daughter’s fiancĂ© just got laid off.”

Hillary Clinton could be the next president. Or Mitt Romney, or Rudy Giuliani.

“Assuming the country survives twelve more months of Shrub and Cheney.”

I was looking at my 401k a week ago, and it looked great. And then the stock markets starting dropping.

“We’re not retiring for what, fourteen years? Keep saving, and don’t mess with what you have.”

I will keep that in mind.

“And we’ll talk further about concerts, and tv and stuff.”

Ten four.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Farewell, Big Guy

I was talking to my friend Will Briarwood last night. Unfortunately, he again had bad news about his cat…

“We had to put the big guy to sleep on Monday.”

I am sorry, Will.

“Thanks. He was doing ok last week, but then one of his tumors started bleeding on Sunday – the vet counted a total of six little tumors when we were in there last week -- and we noticed the big guy was breathing a bit harder, and I don’t think he was eating as much – Mary said she did not want him to suffer, that was his time to go.”

You had said his quality of life was pretty good last week, all things considered – it went downhill, then.

“Yeah. We knew his life was not going to get any better.”

You guys doing ok?

“Not really. I mean, we’ll be ok, but this is just as hard on us as when the old girl died back in August. In some ways, this was even harder – the old girl was ready to go at the end, but the big guy still had some energy left. And the old girl was almost fifteen years old, but the big guy was only nine. The worst part was when he would look at me like he did not understand what was going on, and like he did not want to go…”

I am sure you made your decision out of compassion for him.

“I know we did. But that does not stop me from feeling guilty, and does not stop me from missing him.”

How are the other cats doing?

“OK, I think. The old girl sometimes starts meowing in the middle of the night, but she’s been doing that for a while, it’s just part of her getting older. And the little guy, sometimes I see him looking around the house, like maybe he’s looking for the big guy. I think they both know that things have changed, again.”

You should not feel guilty – you and Mary gave him a good life.

“We tried our best. And I did try to come up with a list of ten things to be thankful for, like I did when the old girl died.”


“Well, there are some of the same things I had last time – like us going fifteen years since any of our pets died. And being very thankful for everything our vet did for us. But let’s start with this – the big guy survived over a year after his first cancer surgery, and he did pretty well on three legs.”

That was last October, right?

“Yeah. And although he had to go the vet one last time, his final moments were peaceful, Mary and I were both with him. And he did not suffer too much in his final days, like the old girl did.”

As I said, compassion.

“And it was Sunday when we noticed he was bleeding, so we got to spend his last day with him. And Mary said he slept next to her all that last night. And that leads me to the most important thing – it was Mary and her love for him that gave him a good life. He was a wild young cat, and I think his bond with her really calmed him down as he got older.”

I think that is about six things.

“And I got to spend a lot of time with him the last few weeks – we would sit together on the chair on the porch during the evening. And we took a bunch of great pictures of him during his last day.”

I think I know your last two things.

“Our other two cats. Without the queen and the little guy, our lives would just be too empty. They are there for us, and we will be giving them a lot of attention in the coming weeks.”

You and Mary take care.

“Thanks. Say hi to covivant for us.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hang In There, Big Guy

I was talking to my friend Will Briarwood last night. He gave me an update about his cat, who has cancer.

“Well, the good news is that the big guy is still acting like his old self. His appetite is good, and he doesn’t seem to be in pain.”


“The bad news is that he has a couple more bumps on his side, and they are ugly and red – I don’t know if they broke through his skin, or if he licked the fur off them – I’m hoping that they’re something other than more cancer, but I’m not optimistic. He goes to the vet Thursday morning.”

You said that he also has cancer in his lungs – is he breathing ok?

“Well, he breathes fast sometimes, but he’s not panting or gasping. He does seem to lie down more than he used to – I mean, he used to sit around, now he seems to lie around.”

How are you and Mary doing with all this?

“Some days we’re ok, some days we’re not. I was really worried about the big guy last week, but today, I don’t feel quite so bad, I don’t know if I’m denial or if I’m accepting the inevitable. I mean, the vet gave us a four-month supply of prednisone, and then I bought a big bag of cat food, which should last us a couple months. But Mary is worried that he’s not going to last till her vacation at the end of the month.”

Her vacation? Not yours and hers?

“She’s going to see a friend of hers in Arizona. I’ll stay home and catsit. Just like I did when she want to San Francisco on business last month.”

The cats do ok when she is gone?

“Pretty much. I try to take at least one day off work when she’s out of town, so the cats don’t feel like we’re both gone.”

Good luck at the vet tomorrow, and good luck to you and Mary with all this.

“Thanks. Hey, we have to talk about the fall tv shows some time, and I need to tell you about Sinead, and Anoushka, and Christine Kane…”

Will do. Talk to you later, Will.

Monday, September 24, 2007

It Is the Evening of the Day

I talked to my friend Will Briarwood earlier today. Unfortunately, he had more bad news about his cat.

“The big guy’s x-rays showed some shading in both of his lungs, which is probably cancer. And he has two lumps that we know are cancer, and we just noticed two more lumps which we figure are probably cancer. Surgery is not really the answer for him, so we are just giving him anti-inflammatory pills and hoping he can hang on for a while.”

We seem to be having this conversation too often, Will. I am sorry.

“Thanks. The good news is that he does still have his appetite. And although he does not seem to have as much energy, he does still get around ok. I’m just worried that his lungs will stop working enough, like what happened to the old girl. His quality of life is pretty good now, but I’m afraid I don’t know how long it will last.”

Did the vet have any suggestions or ideas?

“The vet says that the big guy’s cancer is very unusual – he doesn’t think he’s ever seen a case where a cat had so many tumors of this type. He said he has seen cats live for up to a year with lung cancer – but they did not have the external tumors that the big guy has.”

I am sure you and Mary will give him the best care possible.

“We try. I mean, he has survived almost a year since losing his leg to cancer. Hey, on the other hand, Mary’s daughter and her fiancĂ© got a new kitten, and so did my brother and his girlfriend. So life goes on, and all that.”

I know that you and Mary will have many more cats in the years to come.

“Well, the big guy would not be happy with any changes to his environment at this time, so we won’t be bringing home any new cats any time soon. And Mary has talked about fostering kittens instead of getting any new cats for ourselves.”

And I am sure that Mary would never keep any kittens for herself…

“No, never. Hey, I have to get back to work, but let me tell you a quick story.”


“I was sitting out on our porch the other evening. Reading my vampire novel, and the big guy was curled up in the chair next to me. I look out the window, and watch the wind in the trees, and I start thinking that it’s evening, and it’s fall, so it’s getting late in more ways than one. And this book – it’s called The Historian – there’s just this sense of dread in the story, and I’m looking down at the big guy, and thinking that it’s getting late for him, and, well, it was like Melancholy was a capital M.”

As tears go by…

“Yeah. I gotta go -- remind me to tell you about the Sinead O’Connor show last night.”

And do not forget that Heroes is back tonight.

“That’s right. Talk to you later.”

Take care, Will.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I'm All Lost

I was walking around the mall during lunch yesterday, and I heard “Lost In the Supermarket” by The Clash, over the music system.

“Im all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality”

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Get Well, Big Guy – Again

My friend Will Briarwood called me earlier today. Unfortunately, he and his wife just got more bad news about one of their cats.

“I think I mentioned that the big guy had some sort of shadow on his lung on an x-ray last month.”

I think you did.

“A week ago, I noticed a little bump on his chest. We took him to the vet on Friday, and the vet found a second little bump. Well, today the lab results came back, and he has cancer again, for the third time.”

I am sorry, Will.

“Thanks. The vet said they’re fibro sarcomas, like he had the last two times. He also said this is very unusual, that there is some unknown factor with the big guy, maybe it’s something environmental – but none of the other cats had anything like this – or maybe it’s something genetic.”

So does this mean another surgery for him?

“Don’t know yet. He goes in for to get his chest x-rays again this Saturday. The vet said if his lung looks better, then we could remove the sarcomas. But if his lung looks worse…”

Is he still coughing?

“No, the good news is that we haven’t heard him cough for a week or two. But the bad news is that he’s been throwing up his breakfast every other day.”

Is this all related? The cancer, the coughing, and the vomiting?

“Not that we know of. I mean, if he has cancer in his lung, then it could be caused by whatever causes the sarcomas. But we think it might be the antibiotics he's been taking for several weeks, or maybe he has some sort of food allergy, that is making him throw up.”

Do you know what he might be allergic to?

“We thought it was turkey. But the dry food he eats all the time has turkey as its main ingredient. He was eating the same moist food as the queen, but that food has been out of stock everywhere for the last few weeks. So we’re trying to find foods that the queen will eat, but won’t make the big guy throw up.”

It has been a tough year for you and the cats.

“Tell me about it. I try to keep positive, for the cats’ sake, and for Mary’s sake.”

For your sake too, you know.

“Yeah, I know. Did you read the latest issue of MOJO?”

Umm – as in the music magazine? I think so.

“The article about Def Leppard?”

I did read that. But I do not recall that it mentioned anything about cats…

“You know, I’m not a fan. I mean, I think I still have their first album on vinyl somewhere, and I did actually see them many years ago, they were opening for Ted Nugent.”

Is there a segue here somewhere?

Rick Allen, the drummer, talked about the accident where he lost his arm. I wish I had the exact quote here – but he said that, looking back over everything that happened to him, that it’s important to try to stay in a place of gratitude.”

Ahh. You are referring to you and your cats.

“I read that, and it made sense to me, but then I thought, well, I am grateful that we had healthy cats for many years, so why do I still feel so bad about the old girl’s death, and about the big guy having cancer again. And I realized that I am not in a place of gratitude – you know, I think that’s the phrase he used – that my first thought about the old girl is how much I miss her, and how bad it felt when she was sick and dying. I try to remind myself of all the happy times we had together, and make that my place of gratitude. Hey, sorry to get all long-winded on you.”

Not a problem. I hope everything works out.

“We’ll know more on Saturday. I’ll keep you posted.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Can We Live Through August?

I was talking with my friend TS Elmwood the other day. She called to make sure we were ok after last week’s storms.

“I was reading Tom Skilling’s weather blog. Looks like things were pretty bad in some places.”

We actually spent about twenty minutes down on the first floor of our office building that afternoon, because there was a tornado warning for the city.

“Everything ok?”

The building is fine. A street about half mile north is closed, and there are some trees down. I walked around by the river today, and there is some flooding on the bikepaths, and the small bridges are closed. And there is some more serious flooding on the Fox River, farther north.

“And your house is ok?”

Much to our relief, it is. We just had a bit of water in the basement. The tree out back lost a bunch of small branches. One of the houses across the street lost a huge old tree.

“When I was kid growing up out that way in the suburbs, the power would always go out during storms.”

It does go out more than I thought it would out here. Ours was out most of the day Friday – I figure ComEd may have shut things down while they were picking up power lines.

“Was there a lot of damage in your area?”

Not right around our house, but it turns out that a tornado touched down a couple miles north of us. Lots of trees down, power lines down – I drove home that way on Thursday, so I must have gone through there only about an hour after the tornado did.

“I’m glad you’re all ok. I saw some scary looking pictures in the news.”

We’re all ok. I was home most of Friday -- with the power out, I spent several hours sitting by the window, catching on my reading, and catching up on petting cats.

“Awww. Hey, how is Will’s cat doing?”

Unfortunately, she died a few weeks ago.

“Oh no, that’s too bad. How are he and Mary doing?”

OK, I think, but I know Will is pretty down. They had that cat for like fourteen years. And one of their other cats had cancer last year, and now they are afraid that his cancer is back.

“That’s so sad.”

I know. Driving home from work last Thursday, during the storms, I kept worrying about our cats, because I knew they would be scared of the thunder of lightning. And they would have been really scared if the tree in our backyard had ended up in our kitchen.

“You know, it is even worse with kids. Worries, I mean.”

I know.

“Take care of yourself, K. And take care of covivant, and take care of those cats.”

Thanks. You take care of your family as well.