Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Lots of folks in my neighborhood have closed in front porches to create sun rooms and two of them have made these rooms, with their big windows, into holiday displays.

Two one the baby Jesus is visited by a flock of glowing, plastic penguins who look like they are singing carols. In another we see Jesus, Mary and Joseph visited by the three wise men, an angel, and Winnie the Pooh.

God bless us, everyone.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Ended up riding the Chicago Transit Authority's Holiday Train completely by accident tonight. It was the train that came when I came out of the grocery store.

Here's some stats from the press release:

Decorated with 35,000 lights, the six-car train features a flat car in the middle that carries Santa and his reindeer. Car interiors are decked out with bows, garland, red and green lighting and hand poles wrapped to look like candy canes. The exterior is wrapped in a vinyl material depicting a holiday theme.

Yesterday the train derailed near the Sedgewick stop. The Chicago Tribune ran a story but their site requies you to register so here's a little cutting and pasting:

The Chicago Transit Authority's festive Holiday Train derailed Saturday evening with more than 100 passengers aboard, but nobody was injured.

Festooned with lights and Christmas figures, one of the middle cars of the four-car train derailed for unknown reasons on the Brown Line near the Sedgwick Street station, said CTA spokeswoman Kim Myles.

"It's a pretty popular attraction" in its 12th season, Myles said. Passengers evacuated safely, using a track-level footpath about 7:30 p.m.

"So were you on the train yesterday when it derailed?" I asked the elf who looked a lot like Missy Elliot.

"The train didn't derail," Merry Missy told me, "I don't know why they said that. I guess because they was on the ground and couldn't see what was happening."

A child began crying and Merry Missy said, "uh oh! Sugar! Sugar!" and ran towards the child with her bucket of candy canes.

Santa entered our car (Santa, unlike ordinary riders, is permitted to pass between cars) and the kids went pleasingly nuts. Santa had what looked like a real beard, fake whiteness though.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Up on Saturday morning, chugging espresso and Silk creamer, and listening to cable music. I have digital cable now and I still can't quite get into the habit of sitting in front of the tv and focusing on something but I am really liking having music. There are a ton of channels (hey Comcast? Who had the idea to put "Bluegrass" on the main music page?) and the playlists are different than what radio has. I like a lot of oldies, for instance, but the radio wants to play the same ones over and over again. I could go the rest of my life without hearing "Hang On Sloopy" again but oldies radio doesn't feel that way. But last night on "Golden Oldies" I heard Conway Twitty.

I had always heard that the rock star Conrad Birdie from the musical BYE BYE BIRDIE was based on Twitty not on Elvis as it might seem. Twitty indeed sounds like a poor man's Elvis, bluesy and pouty and not bad at all. And digital cable's got him!

Here's a cool MSNBC "Year in Photos" wrap up. There were wildfires this year, remember those? I had already forgotten.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

sorry so underblogged

I just learned that Hinckley, as in the guy who tried to shoot Reagan, has been given the right to have unchaperoned visits with his parents.

Okay, why wasn't that one a slam-dunk "no"?

I quickly googled the judge-yep, he's a Clinton appointee.

Tell me THAT isn't gonna come up in the election next year.


Monday, December 08, 2003

Reading about a new book by Anthony Harkins called "Hillbilly: The Cultural History of an American Icon". This Boston Globe piece notes that

American popular culture has been queasily fascinated for over a century by Southern mountain folk and their "hillbilly otherness."

"Queasily fascinated". Yes, that's about right.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

David Kodeski is getting his show ANOTHER LOUSY DAY made into a radio production (or rather, it has been made into a radio production and it's gonna be on NPR)

Kodeski does these remarkable performance pieces with found narrative, usually diaries. In this case he found the diaries of a woman living on the SW side of Chicago in the early 60's. It's like Bridget Jones for real...what she ate, who she flirted with, how the job is going. He has reproduced some of the entries on his blog. It's a little peculiar because he has "blogged up" the entries, linking to webpages which I think is a little unnecessary but I'm not much of a linker as you've no doubt noticed yourself.
So here's a shocker. You know that band from the 70's called WAR? "Spill The Wine", "Lowrider", "The Cisco Kid", "Me and Baby Brother" all those latino funk hits?

Turns out the band was black, not latino. From a fascinating story about the ways latinos are adopting and modifying hip hop culture in Houston.
Spent a small chunk of time yesterday searching for scholarship information on the web. I hadn't done much of that...I've got loans and that's it, pretty much, but I'd like to be more of a full-time student soon, less of an employee so I thought I should go that route. It looks like I might get some small chunks, $500 here and there but not enough to really FIX anything.

This makes sense but is still a little discouraging. Interestingly, I'm also reading a book now about con men that was published back in the 40's. Most of the cons are based on the idea that there are some folks who think they can get something for nothing. The cons are all based on some element of insider knowledge ("I have a way to learn the results of horse races before a bookie does!") and the mark buys in based on his feeling that he can exploit this "knowledge". I realized that I am primed for a con right now, eager for a quick answer to this financial question.

As a side note, in this 1940s book, the author writes "phone" with an apostrophe like this:


which is only interesting to me because I'm taking a copy editing class right now and this is a stylistic change...we no longer think of "telephone" as the real word and "phone" as a slangy shorthand. Nerdy, no?

Finally, here's a link to something creepy. Schools are getting rid of soap in washrooms because kids use it to be destructive. Ewwwww gross.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

December now, and Tuesday. I'm feeling kind of overwhelmed with lots of things needing attention. My in-box is out of control and I need to sit down and get it sorted out. Because now I can only think about the things I'm not doing when I do anything and that's no good.

Tried installing PhotoShop this morning so I could look at a friend's attachment he sent in .psp form and got thwarted by the installation. Too early for this sort of endeavor, I think.