Sunday, May 27, 2007


Updated the musical playlist on the right. Don't ask me about my taste in music, I don't really understand it either.

Random Photos from Mark's Cell Phone

It's time for another installment of Random Photos from Mark's Cell Phone. I went through my entire memory card and off-loaded a bunch of older photos, so here we go:

More reasons why my commute is more interesting than yours:
Two Ferraris and a Shelby-designed Ford GT. I've only ever seen one of these Ford GTs, but they definately hold their own next to Ferraris and Aston Martins.

Trade show booth mayhem:
I do a lot of these events to help make people more aware of what we do at our business. Sometimes people with pink hair show up.

Sticker reads: "Frodo Failed, Bush has the Ring"

Waiting in line at 7:00AM for our old ghetto daycare to open its doors. Talk about deppressing.
You won't be able to see this very well because the picture is so grainy. I tried to enhance it, but the sign says Regular $3.99, Mid-grade $4.09, Premium $4.15. That was the first time I saw gas over $4.00 a gallon. It was in the city at North and LaSalle.
About two weeks ago on my way to work in the morning I saw something like 20+ cop cars strewn out from Evanston to downtown. I have no idea what they were looking for, but I had the uncomfortable feeling that I was under the eyes of the police for pretty much my entire commute. The whole thing gave me a creepy police-state vibe, and I mentioned it to a few people. Anyway, I snapped a pic of this one car on the way.

The Volvos are multiplying

Most of you are familiar with my Volvo S60 turbo by now, because I gush like a retard about how much I love it. Well, our old Sentra was looking like someone needed to take it out and shoot it, so we we finally decided we couldn't wait any longer to trade it in. Behold, Beth's new car, a blue 2003 V70 wagon:

Old and busted: (though to be fair, this little guy DID run for ten years with maintenance-it was just getting mechanically unreliable, wasn't particularly safe, and was highly uncomfortable for me, its primary driver.)

New hotness:

It's hard as hell to find good deals on these because they're very popular, everyone that has one keeps it, and no one can afford them new ($32,000+). When you find them used, they generally look like kids and pets have half-destroyed them. The title to ours was previously in the name of Chase Bank, meaning it was an executive company car lease. We got this one for just about $12,000 after the trade-in. Sweet!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fuck the Diaz brothers.

I bury dose cocka-roaches.

God, this movie never gets old.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


The hunt for a job continues.

I managed to take care of four items of my to-do list today, all before 3:00 pm. Which left me with a day full of boredom and yawning and watching movies in my new basement hideaway. It's still not as comfortable as I would like it to be. Not comfortable enough to enjoy my workout yet. I need some carpeting and maybe another chair or something... It's a project. I have tons of them right now. Getting in shape is tough, but not too bad. My arms are starting to look tighter and lean and the stretch marks under my biceps have gone away. I eat less, I drink less, and the food is better and more filling here. There is more to do, even though there are fewer people to do it with. I'm trimming down and tightening up. I'm optimistic about the physical test for the troopers. Hopefully I passed the written exam.

I applied for another job today, this one as a youth councilor for the school-to-work program. I spent a good deal of time today filling out applications in the state and county unemployment offices talking to women who looked like they'd talked to a million young guys just like me already that morning. I think as long as I maintain the appearance of looking for work, the rents will stay off my back. I could really give a shit about getting a summer job, even though I'll be poor for a few months. All I really care about is getting in shape for that physical test. I wrote a letter to Senator Wright today asking for a letter of recommendation to the trooper academy. That can't hurt. Registering in the Republican party should be good for SOMEthing, no?

I miss my friends already. I miss being around people my age. I'm going to spend the next few hours trying to find email addresses for them all. There will be some I miss, I'm sure. Oh well. I'd like to think that having money right now would make my life significantly easier, but to be honest with you, my life would be doldrums even if. I kinda want a job, just for something to do. But more importantly, I want to be around people my age. I want to make some new friends and have fun with them. Maybe now that I'm out for good I should look into finding my old friends from high school and see what they're all doing. Most of them don't live around here anymore.

Even my usual dose of online friends from DyingDays has fallen silent whilst Paul takes a sudden and unexplained sabbatical. Perhaps people read this little journal page and perhaps not. Either way, I can't help but feel as though I'm talking to myself.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Week in Pictures

John can now sit up more or less unassisted.

Hey Dad, I fink I haff some teeff comin'!

Couple of handsome devils...

Shattered Glass

I saw this movie on a lark when my TiVo Wishlist for Peter Sarsgaard automatically recorded it. It was far better than it had any right to be, given that it concerned possibly the most boring bit of non-news that ever made headlines. Journalist Stephen Glass, who was all of 26 at the time, apparently made up some or most of the details of a number of his stories in The New Republic magazine in 1998. Never mind that Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, and Chuck Klosterman have been doing this for years and years and calling it journalism, this still somehow shocked people and this poor bastard got fired and blackballed from the media for it.

Anyway, this movie stars the always terrific Chloe Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Rosario Dawson, and a sorta-ok performance by Hayden Christiansen. The film itself is interesting for good performances particularly by Sarsgaard and Sevigny, but also because it goes into detail about how the editing process works for non-fiction publications. Given my own run-throughs with the editorial process of fiction, I found it to be an excellent way to kill about two hours.

Plus, like my wife said, you pretty much can't go wrong with Chloe Sevingy.


Well, it was about this time last weekend that I was struck by a hideous case of food poisoning/stomach flu that lasted for almost five days.

I've eaten at Jacky's Bistro a number of times before and always had an excellent experience with it. I took Beth there for her first Mother's Day, thinking it would be a nice treat. The food tasted excellent as always, I had a steak, a salad, and a dessert cheese plate. I have had all of these things there before, and Beth had the same thing as me. Right around quarter of eleven on Saturday night (we went out early for Mother's Day hoping to beat the crowds), I started getting stomach cramps and nausea of a kind I've only felt a couple of times before. Fast forward to eighteen feverish, cramping, nauseated, vomiting hours later, I finally feel like most of whatever the hell I got has gone out of my upper GI tract. I go to work the next day, more or less functional, and Tuesday brings more nausea, weakness, and fever as the poison hits my lower digestive system. By Tuesday afternoon Beth talks me into going to see a doctor to make sure I haven't got anything John could get. I accede, and go. I get blood-work done for the first time in over 15 years, and my electrolytes are so low that my blood pressure dips to 102/70 and my heart stutters enough to make the doc order an EKG. Weirdly, my appetite disappears for four days, and all I can stand to put into my stomach is bottled water and popsicles.

Despite persistent diarrhea, weakness, achy joints, and eating essentially nothing for three days, I lose only two pounds. This, I decide, does not bode particularly well for my upcoming class reunion. I had hoped (with collossally cliched vanity, I'm sure) to bust my John-pregnancy weight off completely and get back down to the uber-slim version of myself from September of 2005. Oh well. An extra 15 pounds will probably just make me look like everyone else. Even the other dads, who had as much trouble as me "just saying no" to the Heath Bar Ben & Jerry's.

All self-deprecating bullshit aside, I'm glad to be healthy again, and here's to not having to go back to my physician for another five years or so.

Also, sadly, Red Ivy Afternoon was awarded the Bronze medal at the IPPY awards this year. As were the other four contestants who didn't get Gold or Silver. I certainly didn't mind losing to one of the contestants, a short story anthology featuring Neil Gaiman, one of the better gothic horror writers of the last ten years or so (author of the DC adult-targeted comic book Sandman). Oh well. I suppose Bronze wasn't bad for a first effort, and a book that got great reviews from all four people who actually read it.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A Generation of Swine

"It is going to be a true generation of swine, a decade run by cops with no humor, with dead heroes, and diminished expectations. A decade that will go down in history as The Gray Area. At the end of the decade, no one will be sure of anything except that you must obey the rules, sex will kill you, politicians lie, rain is poison, and the world is run by whores. These are terrible things to have to know in your life, even if you're rich."

- Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Vital Statistics, part 2

Name: John Henry Brand
Age: 155 days
Weight: Approximately 17 pounds
Height: 27"
Astrological Sign: Saggitarius

Current aspirations:
Playing with big-boy toys
Seeing/hearing animals outdoors
Going to the park

Standing up
Swinging at the park
Walks in the sunshine
Monkeys at the Zoo
The Johnny-Jump-Up toy while listening to House of Pain's "Jump Around"
Sitting in Daddy's big chair and playing with Daddy's Stuff
Watching music videos on YouTube with daddy

Sitting for too long
Being sick all the time from his ghetto daycare
Missing meals/late meals

John goes to the Zoo!

John's first trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo!

Smiley little dude.

Holy Monkeys!

That one looks a little like Dad.

What zoo trip is complete without seeing a Llama?

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Well, in case you haven't noticed, has gotten a major makeover.

-New aesthetics on the front page.

-New playlist on the right, courtesy of Rather than manually update my song list of the moment, I figured I'd just do this and you can listen for yourself.

-Biography updated.

-Writing page updated.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Red Ivy Afternoon

I recieved word from my publisher tonight that my second novel, Red Ivy Afternoon, is a semi-finalist in the 2007 Independent Publisher's Awards (IPPY) in the category of "Science Fiction/Fantasy". The IPPY awards are a major national award for small presses and independently produced books. It's a little like the Sundance Film Festival for literature.

I won't know until May 18th if I've won it, but I'm honored to just make it this far. Two other books released by Silverthought Press last year, which I respected enormously, did not make it. Even though I thought for sure that the brilliant "Iota Cycle" by Russell Lutz was a shoe-in for the Sci-Fi category. I am absolutely thrilled that Red Ivy Afternoon made it to the top 6 semi-finals, and I'll keep you posted on the results when I know more.

From "Kingdom of Fear"

We are AT WAR now, according to President Bush, and I take him at his word. He also says this War might last for 'a very long time.'

Generals and military scholars will tell you that 8 or 10 years is actually not such a long time in the span of human history-which is no doubt true-but history also tells us that 10 years of Martial Law and a wartime economy are going to feel like a LIFETIME to people who are in their twenties today. The poor bastards of what will forever be known as Generation Z are doomed to be the first generation of Americans who will grow up with a worse standard of living then their parents enjoyed.

That is extremely heavy news, and it will take a while for it to sink in. The 22 babies born in New York City while the World Trade Centers burned will never know what they missed. The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids compared to what's coming now. The party's over, folks.

- Hunter S. Thompson, from "Kingdom of Fear"

More Joss Stone Awesomeness

From my latest "used-to-not-like/now-like-a-lot" musician:

Son of a Preacher Man

Cry Baby and Piece of My Heart, with Melissa Etheridge, who sings her ass off here.