Monday, July 31, 2006

Inspirational Posters revisited

The movie was clever. The book was so brilliant it will blow your mind.
Reading: Demian, by Hermann Hesse
Listening: (note: this is what has been on my office's CD carousel for a week now, and my ears bleed from it) Elton John and Friends, ABBA, and Howie Day.
Watching: Hell's Kitchen. God, I love this show.
Working: Promotion for Red Ivy Afternoon, eBay projects, website updates, Silverthought organizational calendars.
Fetus is Craving: Nectarines, meatloaf, pasta.

I've been getting chiropractic adjustments at work from one of the docs I work with. Let me preface this by saying even as a massage therapist I am one of the most universally skeptical bastards you're ever likely to meet. I am the absolute FIRST to call shenanigans when something doesn't seem on the level. So, back to my story. I'm getting core training, diet, and chiropractic adjustments... I'll be DAMNED if I don't feel stronger, more flexible, have more energy and my posture is improving! I've had bad posture since I was 15 years old, and I'll be damned if I'm not standing straighter just this past week! I should take pictures for before and after. Despite the kung-fu like manual manipulation and the jackhammer of the mechanical high-tech Pro-Adjusters, it's actually much more mild treatment than I had expected. And better than that, it seems to be working.

For the first time since 2001, I'm no longer living in fear that I might turn the wrong way and wrench the shit out of my back again like I did in 2001 in St. Pete. I was laid up for nearly a week, flat out in bed, when that happened, and I ate ibuprofen like M&M's for a month afterward. I've had a few flare-ups since then, but none so bad as the first. Lately, though, that scary desperate feeling area in my back has backed off to Defcon 2 and become just a minor bruise-like ache. Soon, it may be gone. I almost want to weep with happiness about this. I'm turning into an infomercial.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Baby Brand's Dresser, Part III

When all the dust had cleared and the fumes from the polyurethane finally disappated out of our front room where the dresser had been stored for a week, Mommy and Daddy looked at the newly-painted and refinished dresser.

Something was still not right, though.

Daddy said: "I don't understand, I thought I was done with this project!"

Mommy said: "Not quite, Daddy. There is still something missing."

Daddy said: "Well, I know. But in all fairness, there are logistical problems with packing those drawers full of beer, cigars, and wads of cash..."

Mommy said: "No silly! You're forgetting the drawer-pulls!"

Daddy rememberd the drawer pulls he had removed from the dresser prior to the Strypeze mayhem. He went into the basement and retrieved them, but to his disappointment they were in decidedly sub-par shape.

Daddy said: "These old wood drawer-pulls suck my ass! They're all filthy and covered with layers of paint and Strypeze tar and who-knows-what. We need to get some brand spanking new, super-DUPER drawer pulls! Let's throw these old ones away."

So off to the hardware store Daddy went for the third and final time. He found some snazzy NEW drawer pulls that he got at a mere $17.89. At first Daddy thought this sounded a bit high for drawer-pulls, but he had come this far with the dresser project and didn't want to sully it now with cheap hardware.

"Hmmmm...." said Daddy, "The new shiny drawer-pulls sure look nice. I bet Mommy will like them!"

As he finished installing the new drawer-pulls, Daddy mused inside about all the time he would have now for other projects like his new second job selling things for people on Ebay and taking care of his 80's haircut that Mommy wants him to have.

"Oooh," Mommy said. "I LIKE those new drawer-pulls!"

Daddy said: "Really?"

Mommy said: "Oh yes! In fact, I LIKE the WHOLE DRESSER! It really turned out NICE!"

"Oooooh yeah!" grunted Daddy, using a Macho Man Randy Savage voice. "I KNEW I could do it! I made the baby a nice dresser AND I kept Mommy happy!"

Daddy did a little victory dance in celebration of restoring balance to his home and successfully completing Baby Brand's Dresser.

Mommy said: "Come on over here and snuggle up next to me and we'll take a picture together!"

Daddy said: "And how! Tell me, Mommy: who brings home the bacon?"

Mommy said: "You do, Daddy!"

Daddy said: "You're damn right I do."

And the dresser was nice and ready for when Baby Brand was born. And Mommy and Daddy and Baby Brand all lived happily ever after.

The End.

Political Violence, Part 2

In April of 1974, Patti Hearst, member of the famous American family from which George Hearst and William Randolph Hearst descended, was photographed participating in the robbery of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco with members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Later, she renounced the SLA, of course, but I cannot get over how incredibly riveting this photograph is. You just have to wonder what's going on in their heads. The other fellow in this photograph is SLA founding member Donald DeFreeze, who called himself "Field Marshall Cinque", after Cinque, the man who led the overthrow of the slavers on the ship Amistade.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Red Ivy Afternoon on iTunes

The Red Ivy Afternoon iMix is now available on iTunes:

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Communist Manifesto Narrated with Cartoons

This is the first time I've ever been able to sit through more than four seconds of Marx and Engals. Watch it, you'll be smarter if you do.

Inspirational Posters

This was a good day

This time last year, or so. Happy belated anniversary, guys!

Political Violence

I'm starting a new semi-regular feature here on Since political violence has been one of my latest obsessions, and I've archived some pretty amazing photographs that I've come across from Wikipedia and so forth, I'm going to try to do a weekly update that includes some of them. I can't publish them for money because they're copyrighted, but some of them I'm just so floored by that I have to share them. They represent a collection of photographs where everyday people decided to take the whole world into their hands for a moment and do what they thought they needed to do. This kind of intense focus on historical events and turning points I think is just incredible.

Without further ado, one of my favorite haunting political violence photographs:

This is from the assassination of Anwar Sadat. Here you see revolutionaries firing into the parade grandstand that Sadat was sitting in.

Baby Brand's Dresser, Part II

When last we left our heroes (Mommy and Daddy), Daddy was slaving away under the hot sun to strip a dresser for Baby Brand. Daddy had managed, despite the skull-popping heat and tar-like goo, to take an old dresser and prepare it for re-painting. Daddy's skill level at such things could best be described as amateur, but what he lacked in woodworking talent, he made up for in raw enthusiasm (or, as Mommy likes to call it "Optimistic ignorance"). So as we rejoin our couple, we find Daddy once more in the driveway with the dresser and drawers, already well on his way to applying the paint.

Daddy said: "I will paint this dresser all afternoon, if I have to!"

Mommy said: "That's good, because once you're done with the first coat of paint, I want you to polyurethane the entire inside of the dresser as well."

Daddy said: "Why would I do that? What's wrong with just leaving it bare wood?"

"Well," Mommy said, patiently, "Nothing. Except I'd have to divorce you."

"Yikes," Daddy said, "I wouldn't want that! But isn't all that polyurethane a little unnecessary?"

"See these cobwebs?" Mommy indicated a small spattering of spider webs from having stored the dresser in the basement for a week. "There will be baby clothes in that dresser. Not regular clothes, BABY clothes. As in, little tiny clothes. I'm not putting baby clothes in that thing until you polyurethane every surface of that wood."

"They're just a few cobwebs! Nothing to be afraid of! Look we'll just paint the exterior of the dresser and..."

(Mommy rushes Daddy with a crowbar)

"Jeepers! All right, all right! I'll polyurethane the WHOLE THING!"

"That's better," Mommy grumbled.

So Daddy painted.

.... and painted....

.... and painted some more....

"Jeez," Daddy said, "This sure is a lot of painting for such a small piece of furniture. It's nearly seven o'clock at night and I'm still painting!"

Mommy came out at regular intervals to gently correct Daddy's technique, which he thought was working perfectly well on its own, and to offer to do some of the polyurethaning.

"Gadzooks!" Daddy exclaimed, "You can't do any polyurethaning! That stuff is toxic to babies!"

"Are you sure?" Mommy asked.

"Well," Daddy replied, "I've been high for about an hour, does that tell you anything?"

Daddy managed to finish the painting just in time to narrowly avoid a light summer evening shower that decided to rain on his project. He carted the pieces onto the back porch, where they would stay until the following day.

(To Be Continued...)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ebay-ing like it's my job

Reading: Fyodor Dostoevsky: "Crime and Punishment"
Listening: Pearl Jam, Mandalay, Pink
Watching: Hell's Kitchen, So You Think You Can Dance
Working: Selling things on Ebay for fun and profit. Anyone need a really nice 6' hardwood office desk? I've got one for $300 I'll sell you.
Fetus is Craving: Daddy's singing. This evening's set included Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" and Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man".

Missing my friends a little, like I always do this time of year. Had a lot of fun when Sara came to visit. Wishing DJ and Jeramy didn't live so #@$*&^ far away... Oh, and AUSTIN OIE, if you're reading this, send me your email man, I lost it.

The people I work with now are having a good influence on me. They've talked me into getting back on the old weight-loss train and starting to work out with them. Since at least one of them is a certified personal trainer, I am interested to see where all this ends up taking me.

Little Baby Brand is on the way, and I'm starting to feel the anticipation building. And you thought I got a little cagey when I was waiting for something from Amazon to arrive...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Baby Brand's Dresser. Part 1

Once upon a time, there lived a couple in Evanston, who were going to have a baby.

Mommy said: "Daddy, there's a baby on the way, and we need to make his/her room ready!"

Daddy said: "Hmmmm.... I know a piece of furniture that's been sitting in our basement storage unit for a number of years. It's old and smells like mildew and has been covered in a hideous dripping of white paint that ran so bad it looked like the damn thing was dipped in it... but still... it's hardwood."

Mommy said: "I don't like mildew and basement-y smells."

Daddy said: "By Jove, I've got it! I'll buy some Strypeze and some sandpaper and I'll sand off all the nasty old 1950's lead-based paint and we'll do a super-duper, fixer-upper!"

Mommy said: "Daddy, you're out of your fucking mind. Do you know how much work that will take?"

Daddy said: "Of course, but I'm a man, and I am not intimidated by things like that!"

Mommy said: "All right, dipshit, knock yourself out."

So Daddy went to the big, bright hardware store full of large shiny tools, most of which he could only guess the function of. He picked out somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 worth of equipment including a hilarious old-school hand-sanding block and some Strypeze. Strypeze is only to be used outdoors, and not when Mommy is around, because Strypeze is VERY toxic. So much so that it burns like acid when it touches your skin. How do I know this? Because I got splashed by it several times, silly!

It just so happens that on this wonderful, bright day, the temperatures soared into the mid-to-upper 90's all afternoon, and Daddy was out in those hotter-than-hot temperatures ALL GODDAMN DAY with long rubber gloves, a face shield and goggles. Daddy was slightly terrified of getting Strypeze in his face, so he wore the HAZMAT garbage and nearly gave himself a great big heatstroke.

But none of this would daunt Daddy, who wanted more than anything to make something for his soon-to-be-delivered baby. So he hemmed and hawed all day in the sun until Mommy took pity on him and said: "I know what you need, Daddy. You need a handy dandy electric sander!"

"Whew," said Daddy, "For a minute there I thought you were going to suggest that this whole thing was a bad idea."

Mommy said: "Of course not! That should have been evident right from the beginning!"

So Mommy drove off to the hardware store again in her nice shiny car and came back a little while later with another $100 worth of equipment, including one handy dandy Master Mechanic electric palm sander. And, since I had used most of it on the drawers, another half gallon of Strypeze.

At this point, Daddy was starting to get discouraged. He was able to get the white paint from the dresser up with the noxious Strypeze, but what he had been unprepared for was an under-layer of some non-descript black goo that might have been Shellac or some other similar nameless sealing agent. This goo prevented the paint from sanding cleanly away from the dresser, and made an incredible mess. Daddy filled an entire bucket full of rags that he had used to wipe off the tar-like goo from the dresser.

Now it was starting to get late, and the sun was blasting down on Daddy like the fires of Hell. It was 95 degrees in the shade, and there was no shade left for Daddy to sit in. But still he worked. He guzzled water, he came inside and took a few breaths of the sweetly air-conditioned air before bursting back outside to fling himself once more onto the tar-covered dresser. Slowly, over several hours, layer by layer, Daddy managed to strip almost all of the black tar-like goo from the dresser.

Mommy said: "Daddy, it was stupid to do that, because you can't get all that stuff off. We should have just repainted the dresser and been done with it. Now we've spent $130 that we couldn't afford, just to have a bare-wood dresser that we're going to have to repaint the same white color it already was!"

Daddy said: "I know, and I nearly had a heat-stroke in the process, but I wanted the dresser to be super-duper nice for our new little Baby Brand. I wanted the dresser not to have any mildewey spots or rotten boards and we wouldn't have known that if we hadn't stripped it down first."

Mommy said: "I suppose you're right. I just wish there was a cheaper way. We could almost have bought a cheap dresser at Target for $130."

Daddy replied: "Heck no! Target dressers are for douchebags! I want my baby to have at least one piece of furniture that I can say I made, or at least restored!"

Mommy said: "Sigh. Way to take the path of least resistance, dumbass."

Daddy said: "The path of least resistance is for PUSSIES and daddies who don't love their children!"

And so as the sun began to set, Daddy put the stripped down dresser back into the basement to await yet another trip to the hardware store to return $25 worth of unused items and to pick up some paint. Daddy liked the idea of painting it olive green, but Mommy was more interested in white again. Daddy thought that either way, he felt glad that he stripped the dresser by hand, even if it did cost $130.

The only thing Daddy did NOT feel good about was the whole Strypeze experience. According to a source who shall remain unnamed, this was supposed to make the process of refinishing a piece of furniture endlessly easier.

"BALDERDASH!" Shouted Daddy. The Strypeze turned the retarded under-finish of the dresser into a maddeningly-frustrating tar that had to be wiped clean by hand in the hot sun for hours while carefully avoiding the chemical burns that instantly followed an errant splatter. The Strypeze added at LEAST a good two to three hours to the entire day, and made Daddy's life a living Hell on earth for his Saturday afternoon.

"FUCK YOU, STRYPEZE!" said Daddy.

(to be continued...)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Here's to the State

"Here's To The State" - Pearl Jam (cover of Phil Ochs song)

here's to the judges of John Roberts,
who wear the robe of honor in a phony legal form,
and justices are stranger when the partisans report,
when the court elected a president it was the beginning of this war,

here's to the land you tore out the heart of,
John Roberts find yourself another country to be part of

here's to the government of Dick Cheney,
with criminals posing as advisors to the crown,
and they hope that no one sees the sites or that no one hears the sounds,
cause the speeches of our president are the remains of a clown

here's to the land you tore out the heart of,
Dick Cheney find yourself another country to be part of

here's to the churches of Jerry Falwell,
oh the cross once made of silver now is turned to rust,
and the sunday morning services preach in fear of men in love,
and God only knows in heaven they must trust

here's to the land you tore out the heart of,
Jerry Falwell find yourself another country to be part of

here's to the laws of Alberto Gonzalez,
congress will pass an act in the panic of the day,
and the Constitution's drowning in an ocean of decay,
and freedom of speech is dangerous i've even heard them say,

here's to the land you tore out the heart of,
Gonzalez find yourself another country to be part of

here's to the businessmen of George W,
who'll want to change the focus from Halliburton to Enron
and their profits like blood money spilled out on the white house lawn,
to keep their hold on power they're using terror as a con,
while the bombs they fall on children dont know which side...dont care which side that they're on

here's to the land you tore out the heart of,
George W find yourself another country to be part of

here's to the land youve torn out the heart of,
George W find yourself another country to be part of


After a family, the best thing in the world you can have is a good group of buddies. I miss you guys.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Mommy and Daddy

Reading: Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum
Listening: U2-"How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb", Dashboard Confessional-"Dusk and Summer"
Watching: Munich, Dog Day Afternoon, The Weather Underground
Working: Housing stuff, selling furniture on Ebay, trying to catch up.
Fetus is Craving: Frozen Dove bars and Cherry Garcia.

Spent much of the day cleaning out our storage space to accommodate the things we need to rearrange for the baby. The nesting instinct that they talk about in parenting books: it's real. I was impressed mightily after watching the documentary about the Weather Underground when Beth told me that she works at UIC with none other than Bill Ayres, who apparently teaches there. Amazingly enough, Bernadine Dorn also lives in Chicago and teaches just up the street at NU. I need to go on a photo-op mission someday and get pictures with them.

Sara comes to visit

My friend Sara from high school (and college) came through to visit me on her way to Texas. Despite how close we have been for the last ten years since graduation we've only actually hung out a couple of times. We had a great time going to the beach and seeing Millinium Park.

While we were there I snapped this terrific pic of the Faces fountains.

The Best Job in the World

You know, I pretty much have the best job in the world. As a massage therapist I'm able to use a healing and intuitive skill that doesn't involve drugs or invasive medical procedures and requires nothing but my brain and my hands to do. I cost my employer next to nothing because I'm not selling or utilizing any significant inventory, and now instead of being the go-to person for every unpleasant or "that's beneath me" task that the practitioners don't feel like doing, I'm now a practitioner with input into the patient care and I'm privy to the game plan for treating people. I really feel like I've turned a major corner with this new position and I have to say that for the last two weeks I've come home happy and excited about massage therapy every single day. Is this what they mean when they talk about loving your job?

In any case, now that I've gotten the ambiguous philosophy out of the way, here's something that I am sure about.

The 10th floor of my office building has an open-air pool that I get to use during my 2-hour lunchbreak. It's like a little mini-vacation in the middle of every day. Some part of me can't believe that I let myself be talked into working with the Orthopedic docs for so long with no lunch breaks at all.

Massive Blog Update Frenzy

Well, since I've been treading water in my new job and going to our Level II ultrasound exam for the baby and getting used to my new sleep schedule and hosting a long-time friend for the weekend and selling a huge variety of office furniture on Ebay for my father in law and rearranging our second bedroom in preparation for turning it into a nursery AND trying to work out the details of my first home purchase, you know I really haven't had a hell of a lot of time to post stuff on my blog. For the moment, though, I'm not busy, so it's catch-up time.

Here are some ultrasound stills from our nifty Level II diagnostic ultrasound.

Pictured here you can clearly see the baby reclining in 2001 Space Odessey fasion with his (we don't know the sex yet) hands in front of his face.

Here you can see him apparently throwing up the peace sign.

Here you can see a pair of feet.

Here's a terrifc view of his/her spine.

According to the friendly and impressively professional Dr. MacGregor that we saw for the ultrasound, there are no markers for genetic or developmental abnormalities. That was the whole point behind the ultrasound to begin with, but it's still very reassuring.