Friday, October 5, 2012

Notes and Observations: Charlotte Trip

Exhaustive List Of Fun Things To Do In Airports

1. People watch
2. Buy magazines
3. Drink

That is all.

Leaf blowers: stupidest thing ever? Discuss.

Strangely surreal to be driving the same car I drove in high school. Except back then, the shift knob didn't come off every time you shifted into second. That's disconcerting. Also, how is the clutch STILL this stiff? The car is ancient.

Today was the first time I've driven since May and probably the fifth time or so I've driven in the past year. It was a bit weird. But after some initial hesitation, it only took a couple hours before I was driving without hands while putting bobby pins in my hair. Like ridin' a bike.

If we all had weekly massages, we would all be much happier. True or false?

Monday, September 17, 2012


Saturday: Shopping on Michigan Avenue:

I heard someone on Michigan ave say, in all seriousness, "look at these buildings..." in a tone of awe. 

I also walked behind three people holding hands in a line so they spread out across the whole sidewalk and proceeding at a leisurely amble.


Sunday: Lockout: Day 1. 

I cleaned all the shelves in my kitchen, reorganized my dresser, fixed the broken eyelet on my cocktail dress, made daal, and sharpened my knives. oh god. it's going to be a long winter.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Labor Conflict

or, How Children Are Like NHL Fans (But Not The Other Way Around)

Today is the fourth day of the Chicago teacher's strike (and for those of you keeping score at home, the NHL lockout begins tomorrow at 11:59 EST). Bored of their picket lines, they have taken to roaming the neighborhood in droves* and accosting people outside Starbucks**.

As everyone in the entire world has already pointed out, it is the children who suffer most at a time like this, waiting on the steps of their schools, tiny faces alight with hope and the burning desire to learn. Ok, so these people have clearly never met an actual child. But passing over that, the kids are the ones getting screwed here. Much like the NHL fanbase. Yes, I'm going to compare the Chicago teacher's strike to the NHL lockout. I only have room for one reference labor conflict in my brain. Guess which it is.

Anyway, like NHL fans, kids (and I suppose their parents) are the main consumer of the product in question and have a huge emotional stake in it, but have no negociating power in the labor conflict whatsoever. Oddly, both groups DO contribute financially, as the NHL is a gate driven league and parents pay taxes, but such financial investment still does not engender power. You don't have a choice about paying taxes, or, you know, you'll go to jail, and NHL fans aren't going to stop going to games because, you know, hockey.

There's another parallel too - I imagine that most of the teachers who are striking are people who genuinely care about children and their education and as things go on they will feel more and more pressure from their own consciences to get back in the classroom. Hockey players also have the additional personal pressure of genuinely wanting to play, a desire that is perhaps stronger than financial motives. Although I suppose teachers don't have the option of going to teach in Russia until this is all over.

There are some differences. I suppose there are some political ramifications for someone in the CPS thing, plus PR is a more important pressure on both sides because THINK OF THE CHILDREN. Also, angry parents can't withhold their tax dollars but they can make themselves mighty unpleasant. As an evolutionary biologist, I can tell you there are few forces stronger than a mother's need to defend her children. Why, when grizzly bear cub class sizes grow too large, mama grizzlys have been known to rampage through elementary schools, causing havoc and eating the occasional cafeteria worker***. So there is more pressure in the teacher's strike to get things sorted out sooner rather than later. The NHL PR war on the other hand seems pretty pointless. NHL owners are basically insulated from all PR pressure, because people will keep buying tickets as mentioned above, and the owners clearly do not care at all how many cartoons of them as Scrooge McDuck get uploaded to the Internet. (As an interesting aside, there was an blog post on puck daddy a couple days ago (here) about how during the last lockout crisis Bain Capital (yes, that Bain Capital) tried to buy the NHL. Not a team, you understand, but the ENTIRE NHL. Apparently they thought it was worth about $4 billion dollars. Anyway, the blog post (referencing an article in Bloomberg Business Week) attributes the failure of the offer to the fact that the NHL owners were emotionally attached to their teams. That is, the value of the team to its owner was higher than its monetary worth because there was some sort of intangible added value. Which is weird, because in both that lockout and this, their general attitude has seemed to be to give ZERO FUCKS about hockey, the fans, the Romance of the Game, the Agony, the Ecstasy, or any of it except the Money.)

Anyway, what was my point? Oh yes, NHL fans and children are the totally screwed majority in each of these labor conflicts. On Wednesday we were at the park for grad student softball (i.e. mildly athletic beer drinking) and there was a Little League team practicing on the next field (they were far, FAR better than us, it should be noted. They pitched overhand and everything). Anyway, this led to a discussion of mobilizing an army of children dispossessed of their education. Discussion of what to do with said army ("Storm NHL headquarters!", absolutely no one but me suggested) fell through when we realized the alarming amount of money it would require to buy fruit snacks for the entire army.


*Is there an aggregate noun for teachers? There should be.
**Ok, smiling politely, handing them leaflets, and saying "thank you" when they are taken.
***Note: I made this up. Grizzly bears don't have cafeteria workers! At lunchtime the cubs are allowed down to the river where they catch their own salmon. It's character building.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Analyzing Song Lyrics

I think I've blogged before about pop lyrics I find objectionable. There was a rant, I believe about Katy Perry and Kanye's creepy alien rape song. And maybe something about the improper use of metaphor in Katy Perry's Firework? Katy Perry really does not get metaphor. Anyway, here are some other pop songs with problematic lyrics, in my opinion.

Artist: Train
Song: 50 Ways To Say Goodbye
Précis: Girl dumps guy; guy for obscure reasons (bad at saying goodbye??) invents excuses about what happened to her for when his friends ask where she is.
Problem: Allow me to illustrate.

Friend of Train: Where's your girlfriend?
Train: She broke up with me.
FoT: Dude, I'm sorry. Let me buy you a beer.

FoT: Where's your girlfriend?
T: She was eaten by a lion.
FoT: Holy shit! What? Where did you see a lion? Were you at the zoo? Did you go on safari? Was she teasing it? Was this on the news? Is there a youtube video? Holy shit, a lion! I have to call my other friends and tell them about this.

Artist: Adele
Song: Set Fire To The Rain
Précis: Girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, boy turns out to be a jerk, girl sets fire to the rain.
Problem: What the hell is this rain made of?? Is this some horribly polluted dystopian future? Did you rig up some "rain" made of gasoline? In all fairness to Adele, though, I'm pretty sure that unlike Katy Perry Adele probably understands metaphor and imagery pretty well, and I actually really like this song.

Artist: Black Eyed Peas
Song: any of them
Précis: Um. The Black Eyed Peas would like to start a party, I guess? They have got that boom boom pow, I am reliably informed, or they must get it? They would, I understand, like to rock right now.
Problem: I always get the feeling when I listen to a Black Eyed Peas song that they were writing it and didn't have the lyrics done and were like "Oh, just put in some random syllables, like 'boom boom boom' and before we release it, we'll go back and put in some actual lyrics." And then they get to that point but they really just want to finish up and have some beers so they're just like "fuck it, release it like that." 

Artist: Carly Rae Jepson
Song: Call Me, Maybe
Précis: Girl meets guy, finds him attractive, wants him to call her, maybe.
Problem: There is no problem. There is literally nothing wrong with this song.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Things That Have Been Happening

Recently, I acquired a master's degree? It came in the mail.

I am in three book clubs, but I arranged it so that in two of them we are reading the same book. EFFICIENCY.

The turtles in Botany Pond keep trying to make a break for it. They tend to get as far as the courtyard on the other side of the building and then get trapped (see photo below). They then have to be rescued and taken back to the pond. Where do they think they are going? Someone should write a heartwarming children's book about this.

Kitchen items I currently covet: full size Cuisinart, espresso machine, Sodastream. Oh, what wouldn't I do for a Sodastream! Fizzy water whenever I desire it! Also, someone told me you can use it to make any wine into sparkling wine. MUST HAVE.

All of these awkward pictures of Gary Bettman are hilarious, but I would rather have no lockout.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Back in the day, I had one policy with regards to arthropods and my house: none allowed. However, a combination of education and laziness has led me to develop the following standards:

HOUSE CENTIPEDES: I had never seen these before I moved to Chicago, and in case you were wondering, yes, they are as terrifying-looking as the picture below. And when they run, all their legs seem to move independently. Yuck. Initially, my response to these guys was to prosecute them with extreme prejudice. But they are really fast, and they often hang out up near the ceiling where they are really hard to reach. Also, they predate on cockroaches. Thus, I now let them live, on the understanding that they are to stay out of my sight as much as possible and kill many roaches.

SPIDERS: Here are the rules for spiders: if you are relatively harmless looking and have located your web in an out of the way place such as the top corner of the wall and the fireplace and you pretty much stay there, then you are welcome to live in my house and snack on gnats and mosquitos. If you are large and hairy, have visible fangs, crawl around too much, or come anywhere near my bed, then I'm sorry. We don't tolerate your kind here.

FLYING BUGS: Eventually I assume you'll find your way out of the holes in the screen where you came in.

MYSTERIOUS RED BUGS: I don't know what these are but I keep finding them. They are quite small and have fat red bodies and frankly they look like ticks, but they can't be because (a) they are too big for ticks, because we are not in Australia, where I shit you not, they have ticks the size of M&Ms and (b) as far as I know there is not a herd of deer living in my building. These don't freak me out too much because they are always either dead or dying and I only find them curled up next to the baseboard in my bathroom. I was going to post a picture but I am afraid if I do someone is going to respond to tell me OH MY GOD THOSE ARE ARGENTINEAN CARVER BEETLES YOUR HOUSE IS PROBABLY RIDDLED WITH HOLES LIKE SWISS CHEESE AND ON THE VERGE OF COLLAPSING LIKE A SHODDILY CONSTRUCTED THIRD-WORLD TENEMENT IN AN EARTHQUAKE ZONE. ALSO YOU PROBABLY HAVE ARGENTINEAN CARVER BEETLE SLEEPING SICKNESS OH YES THIS IS PROBABLY WHY YOU ARE SO LAZY AND NEVER GET ANYTHING DONE ON YOUR PHD.

COCKROACHES: All cockroaches must die an immediate and horrible death.

DISCLAIMER: I just reread this and it really sounds like I am a terrible housekeeper who lives in a swarming pit of filth. Really I don't. They spray the common areas of our building regularly and the apartments if you call and request. I see a cockroach every couple months, usually already dying, often when the weather changes and they come in from the outside. I see house centipedes even more rarely (and they really are your friends). Spiders aren't really around at all in the winter, and maybe I'll see one or two in the summer. The red bugs ARE mysterious though.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Sometimes life gets away from you a little bit.

Here is a list of things I am currently obsessed with:

Real Simple magazine (pretty things! food! organizational tips!)
those tiny individually wrapped Babybel cheeses
the air when it's under 80 degrees outside
examining the enormous bruise I got on Fourth of July when I fell over in Lake Michigan
the Internet (pictures of cats that look like American presidents! thoughtful articles about Robert Frost! West Wing episodes that happened in real life! a million near-identical posts by bored hockey bloggers who wish the new season would start already!)
the feeling you get when you are just about to impulse buy something you don't really need

Monday, June 25, 2012

Being A Complete And Accurate List Of Subjects Discussed When Evolutionary Biologists Dine At A Bar At Which They Were Promised Trivia But At Which Trivia Failed To Materialize, Due To Boystown-Wide Pride Related Exhaustion

Trivia failures past and present, a statistical analysis
Animals it would be the most badass to be eaten by (category: the Americas; category: the world)
Laura's high school tutorees; lack of making out with same
Sushi as date food, euphemistically and literally
Childhood height trajectories
Jennifer Lopez; astounding continuing hotness of
Childhood cotton candy eating habits; metaphors thereof
Big Bang Theory, accurateness of
Racial profiles of card games
Old man names (Homer, Earl, all of the 'Berts)
Meta conversation about topics of conversation; birth of this list
Is Tim white? Discuss
Tucker Max, douchebag?
Life history of frat boys: neotany or progenesis?
Whose mom is a babe? (Stacy's mom)
Falcons of Illinois
Horrible names to name your child, specifically, Milfred; appropriate gender of Milfred; appropriate monetary compensation for naming your child Milfred (to be provided by Alice)
Naming practices of Tim ("If I'm ever cursed with offspring I'm just going to throw a dart at a map of Canada. 'Medicine Hat.' 'Thunder Bay.' 'Regina.'")

Monday, June 18, 2012

Saturday Night

Carrie: Calista Flockhart, you know, she has babies with Harrison Ford.
Me: How can she have babies? She doesn't have an ounce of body fat.
Colin: Are you kidding? She's banging Harrison Ford.
Me: Good point.
Carrie: Han shot first?

FOR THE RECORD. I checked, and she has one baby who is adopted. She adopted him before she married Harrison Ford, he subsequently adopted the baby as well.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Birthday Presents

I got many delightful presents this year - a floppy sunhat, an Origin of Species t-shirt, Vanity Fair postcards, Tina Fey's memoirs, whiskey - but the weirdest and possibly best one was a book called The Nuthell Studies of Unexplained Death. Perhaps you have heard of the Nutshell Studies. Here is a New York Times slideshow about them, with some pictures. Basically, they are very detailed, to scale dollhouse crime scenes, complete with little corpses. They were built to help train cops in the 1940s and I believe are still used. They keep them at the Baltimore Medical Examiner's Office. They are beautiful and fascinating and more than a little creepy, and the person who sent the book to me hoped I wasn't offended that they made her think of me (because I like dollhouses and mysteries). I wasn't, by the way. It made total sense. Of course she thought of me.

The Nutshell Studies were built by a Chicago lady named Frances Glessner Lee. I haven't read all the biographical information the book contains yet, but she founded the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard in 1936. There are a lot of pictures of her, the only woman in a room full of dudes in 1940s suits. She was an impressive lady, and also perhaps she was a little nuts. Interestingly, there was another upper class Chicago woman who spent a lot of time making detailed to scale dollhouse rooms - the Thorne rooms, which are one of my favorite things at the Art Institute.  They are intended to be period replicas - a 13th century French bedrooms, a Victorian sitting room, a 1850's Massachusetts cottage kitchen, etc. They don't have any corpses, or people at all, actually, but I think they should. They decorate them for Christmas. Why couldn't they have a Murder Week where a bunch of the rooms get little corpses? It could be a game - you would have to profile the serial killer as he rampages through time. It would be easy for anyone who has watched a lot of Criminal Minds episodes. (Note: Don't watch a lot of Criminal Minds episodes. They will convince you that everyone you meet may be a serial killer and that you will probably be killed by one of them after being raped and tortured in some horrible fetishistic way.)

Anyway, thanks for the presents, everyone, they are lovely!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Any Party The Cops Show Up To Is A Good Party

A: Theme?
Me: kind of Mexican...but mostly the theme is alcohol
A: That is the best theme of them all

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Unmistakable Signs Of Summer

This weekend I:

got my first sunburn of the season
ate brunch outside
bought an air conditioner
went to a barbeque at the point.

I think summer's here at last!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


"It is summer time! It is time to climb up on things and yell at other things that are too high to reach. It is time to mess up the calm quiet routines we built up all winter. With fire. It is time to make yourself proud and everyone else a little nervous." (joey comeau of a softer world)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Protest Fashion

Spent the day watching the NATO protests on TV. Have little patience for the actual causes, but have become fascinated with protest fashion. What DOES the modern revolutionary wear to a protest? What is the balance between statement and practicality? Below, some of the fashion items and accessories I've noted.

silver sparkly wig - statement? disguise? crazy person?
kid's party hat - ?
ugly orange beanie - dude, it's 90 degrees out
bandanas - classic
spray painted sign saying "fuck the police" - cliche. come on, reach for some creativity.
winged helmet (Thor costume?) - stupid unless you're actually Thor, and since he wasn't punching people across the street I don't think it was
neon ball caps - unfashionable 80s throwback, but useful for locating your brothers-in-protest in the crowd
giant sunglasses - Audrey Hepburn would never have attended a protest like that
shirtless - I hope you remembered to wear sunscreen
batman tshirt - mixed messages here. bruce wayne was a maverick, sure, but he was technically on the same side as the police. as for the occupy people, bruce wayne was definitely one of the 1%.

from chicago tribune photo gallaries:
"will work for weed" tshirt - classy, also guaranteed to make cops sympathetic
overall shorts - really?
a giant cardboard sign in the shape of a dollar sign, painted a weird yellow color - i admire your arts and crafts ability
floppy lace sunhat (note: wearer was a very elderly woman) - i guess if you're out in the sun surrounded by anarchists at that age, you can wear whatever you damn well please
a cardboard cutout of a torso with big boobs labelled "bust up NATO" - um. clever?
any number of anarchist tshirts - i'm going to be honest, i really thought anarchism was kind of an archaeic thing of the past. you know, starving bohemians smoking and eating baguettes in vienna coffee shops in 1920 and dying of consumption because their garretts didn't have heat. didn't realize there were so many of them still out there
full on black robe/goggles/long nose Black Plague costume; sign "beware the plague of capitalism" - i'm going to be honest this was super impressive
blue hair - honestly, since katy perry it feels a little "establishment"
peace sign glasses (note: on an old lady) - these were probably your protest glasses in the 70's right? (note: i then read the photo caption and she has had them since 1959!!!)

NATO Weekend in Chicago

drinking g&t's at the point and waving to the cops in the low-flying police helicopter

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tiny Angry Demons

Have you ever had/used a printer that didn’t have some weird quirk of dysfunctionality? Me either. And now I have a theory as to why.

Certain religions and systems of belief hold that objects like trees and rocks are inhabited by their own individual spirits. I think Shinto is like this, for one thing. Maybe some Native American religions? I’m no expert. Anyway, most of these focus on things found in nature, or things that are in some way alive. But I don’t see why it can’t be true for printers. As far as I can see, there’s also no reason these inhabiting spirits have to be benevolent. Wouldn’t everything make a lot more sense if each and every printer were inhabited by a tiny, angry demon?

Trapped in their inky little domains, these minute gods wreak a terrible if narrowly-scoped vengeance. At work, one of our printers announces that it is jammed in between every page. It is not jammed. All you have to do is push the button to tell it to continue. Between every. single. page. This printer used to work great, when it was located in the main office. Now, after renovations, it has been consigned to a back lab. This appears to have displeased its tiny angry demon, hence, the current difficulties. The other printer is out of magenta ink, and thus refuses to print anything at all, even when not a single pixel is magenta.

The tiny angry printer demons are often arbitrary in the meting out of their judgements. For months, I couldn’t get our printer to allow me to print double-sided pages. One day it started printing double-sided and never stopped. If I wanted single-sides – critical when, for example, you are printing sticky labels – I had to either insert blank pages into the document or give an individual print command for each page.

So, what to do about this problem? Imagine a world where we have figured out how to appease the tiny angry printer demons. Imagine the productivity gained, the headaches saved! Imagine how many times I wouldn’t have to run up and down the stairs between floors to try AGAIN. Obviously the most extreme solution is blood sacrifice. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are a few other things we could try first. Sometimes one person seems to have a good relationship with your printer’s tiny angry demon. For example, in college, I was the only one who could get my next door neighbor Lauren’s printer to work. Everyone else would fail, and then I would float in like the Tiny Angry Demon Whisperer, lay my hand consolingly on the plastic, and press the button. And like magic, it would print. However, see paragraph above re: arbitrariness of tiny angry printer demons. There’s no guarantee this solution will last, and anyway if you change offices or get a new printer you have to search for a new person with a special relationship with the resident tiny angry demon.

Another, more tenable solution, might be printer gods. If you are a scientist or have ever worked in a lab with equipment like PCR machines, you’ll be familiar with this concept. Most labs with PCR machines have PCR gods, totems that live on the machine and (hopefully) protect your samples from the wrath of whoever it is that controls PCR results. Usually they are tiny stuffed animals or happy meal toys or something like that. Our old lab had a wind-up Yoda. The Field Museum sequencers have Beanie Babies. The exact form isn’t important. Generally scientists aren’t a very superstitious lot, but no one moves PCR gods. It’s just Not Done. We could also try tiny altars like in India where fruit and flowers can be left for the tiny angry demons. My guess is that it would take a while to figure out what your particular demon was fond of – mangos and lilies? strawberries and poppies? – and again, they are arbitrary so perhaps it would be futile.

If that fails, then I’m not sure what comes next. Based on the behavior of every printer I have ever owned or operated, the tiny angry demons are very angry indeed. It’s possible that, if you value a straightforward printing experience that highly, you’re going to have to start reading up on black magic and considering which member of your office or lab you can most afford to spare. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Welcome To The Fallout

As you may or may not know, the Blackhawks lost Monday night to end their season and send the Phoenix Coyotes to the second round. All that agony, all those last minute goals, a brutal injury, and we couldn't even make it through one series. Here's the rundown of the game and aftermath:

Night 0. I am convinced we will not lose tonight. I am also sure that we will go to overtime, and that tonight or Wednesday, we will win or lose by a one goal margin. I will admit that I might be wrong, but only very grudgingly.

The night starts out well. They put a ton of shots on Mike Smith, and I disagree with the commentators who don't think many of them are viable scoring chances. They seem to have decided that the best answer to their goaltending woes is to never play in their own zone ever again, and this seems like a pretty solid strategy. By the end of the second period, we are down one goal but leading in shots 28-8. This seems pretty promising.

Two minutes into the third we're down two, but still, given the ability of the Hawks, collectively, to be clutch in this series, it doesn't seem insurmountable. Then, eight minutes in, Jimmy Hayes takes a 5 minute boarding major and Phoenix scores on the PP. Even though it's clearly over, even though it seems the gas has run out of the tank, even though Mike Smith doesn't appear to have broken a sweat, we're all still hoping for a miracle.

And then with 5 minutes left Phoenix scores again and there's no denying it. There's just five more minutes to go and it's brutal and awful and miserable.

The Night 0 reaction goes something like this: "FUCK fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck the powerplay makes me want to throw up fuck" *sound of intoxicated and heartbroken hockey fan falling off their chair*

(I didn't fall off my chair. I was extremely dignified about it all. I didn't even cry.)

Day 1. You wake up with an ugly feeling in your stomach that has nothing to do with the amount of liquor you may or may not have ingested the previous night and then the Internet explodes. "Trade Kane! Trade Sharp!! Trade Keith!!! Trade everyone!!!!!!!!!!"

Night 1. It's all starting to sink in. It helps to watch something soothing before you go to sleep, like adaptations of Agatha Christie novels. No one in prewar Britain ever talks about ice hockey, and everyone is very polite. Not one single person gets cross-checked in the throat.

Day 2. Rationality returns slowly. Why did we lose?

         1. Inconsistent goaltending
         2. A terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad powerplay
         3. Periodic egregious defensive errors

None of these things are a surprise. All of these things plagued the Hawks all year. There was no reason to believe they would magically be fixed in the playoffs.

         4. A really, really hot opposing goalie

In the press conferences today, the players all emphasized this, and they aren't wrong. Mike Smith is a very, very good goalie (as well as being an Oscar nominee worthy actor; see Game Three: Travesties of NHL Discipline), and he played at the top of his game. I may hate the fucker, but wow.

As for the other problems, the solution is not to blow up the team. According to Stan and Q, the solutions appear to be:

         1. Trust Corey to come out of his sophomore slump. I think I'm ok with this. I love Corey Crawford, and we know what he's capable of. He looked awful and shell-shocked during the postgame handshakes and I really feel for the guy.
         2. I don't know, but presumably something. A lot of people think an assistant coach will be fired, though the staff is keeping this close. There's no excuse to have this kind of talent on your roster and yet to consistantly have such terrible special teams.
         3. Apparently they are going to try and keep Oduya, which I am in support of, generally. He wasn't impressive in the playoffs but he did good the two months before that, providing a lot of stability on the back end. Hjalmarsson's name was notably absent from the dicussion of defensemen (Keith, Seabrook, Leddy, and Oduya mentioned as the main four, with presumably Olsen coming up from the AHL more permanently) and given his recent play that's not surprising.

Also notable: Stan really likes Kane at 2C and Q thinks Kruger has improved and will continue to.
Message: they aren't shopping for a new center.
They don't need more top six guys (duh) but guys to complement them with "physicality and grit."
Message: Guess we get more Carcillo this year. Davy Bolland mentioned him twice in his interview, and for the record, Davy Bolland uses a soft voice and pulls his baseball cap real low and does, in fact, come off like a potential sociopath.
Brunette doesn't think he's coming back to the Hawks and might not play again regardless.
Patrick Kane's beard looks terrible. Aren't you supposed to shave after you lose?
Jon Toews is beautiful.

Day 3+. I guess the players get to play golf or go on vacation or do whatever it is rich twenty-somethings do when they're out of a job for five months. Fans start counting down the days to the beginning of the 2012-13 season, grudgingly admit that maybe they could root for the L.A. Kings a little bit, if it means they get to become emotionally invested in more hockey this season, or design an elaborate greenhouse experiment to test the effects of various levels of drought stress on coastal and inland accessions of Arabdiopsis, whatever is their wont (I did all three).

Go Hawks

ADDENDUM: Also I am totally obsessed with Andrew Shaw's twitter feed because: so adorable. Like a puppy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


HOW did I not know that Rupert Everett has played Sherlock Holmes????

So perfect. Yummy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ugh Wednesday

I was going to write a post about the State of Hockey and some other things.
But after some reflections on the unpleasant realisms of sobriety, I decided to have some wine and go to bed instead.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

shawsy suspension

i was expecting zero games. i was prepared for one game. don't get me wrong, i was still planning to be irate for one game. but three games? THREE GAMES? did shea weber fly to toronto and perform sexual favors on the entire staff of the nhl disciplinary offices? has shanahan just finally snapped? is the prohockeytalk commenter correct and suspensions are now decided via dart board ("the video clearly shows that the dart landed in the three game area")?

and it's not that i think andrew shaw is a game changing factor, although he could have been, i don't know. hopefully, the hawks will be so angry about this that they will demolish the coyotes and fucking mike fucking smith. i wish he had three names so i could insert another fucking in there. no, this is just about the utter ludicrousness of this entire process. it's just become arbitrary and ridiculous. any mom or kindergarten teacher can tell you that discipline is effective when there are clearly defined rules that are consistently enforced. well nhl FAIL. i have been patient. i have cut them infinite amounts of slack because it's a transitional period and we're all confused about concussions and it's hard to be consistent and on and on and on. i ignored the totally stupid injury severity criterion. i forebore to be only mildly irritated about the keith vs doan suspension lengths because even though it was unfair, keith did elbow a guy in the head in a fully malicious manner and did deserve to be suspended. i thought very carefully about ellen etchingham's points re: officiating's effect on outcome. but now i am fucking done. 

honestly, i feel really, truly sorry for andy shaw. i am sure he is going through hell, and he doesn't deserve to. for fuck's sake, aaron asham cross-checked a guy in the throat, and then when he fell down, punched him in the back of the head, and i bet he doesn't feel half as bad as andy. based on the andy shaw suspension rubrick, he should be suspended until about 2015, but, oh, wait, it wasn't on a goalie. he'll probably be back on friday.

i have kept most of my ire reserved for shanahan and the clowns at the league, but i haven't forgotten the yotes stupid stunt. mike smith is playing now, by the way. i dare you to listen to that press con of tippett saying that they can keep players out of practice for whatever reason they want and they don't have to tell anyone and not want to punch him in the face. sure they can, but this was just a cheap ploy to grind their heels into this poor kid's face. 


Monday, April 9, 2012

Kids' Party; Adults' Party; Men Punching Each Other; Just Another Manic Monday

Friday night:
chili cookoff at girls'
skittles infused vodka
arguments involving Michael yelling "THERE WOULD ONLY BE ONE TIME, LAURA" repeatedly
dramatic discussions about dramatic happenings in Castle

CHI wins in the SO to clinch 6th seed
sigh of relief because Nashville is terrifying and now Detroit has to play them instead

Saturday night:
party at Madlen's
lovely vegan food
adult conversation
obvious contrasts with previous night
obsessive checking of phone until PHX wins and playoff seeding is finally determined

Easter service; much enjoyment of elaborate Easter hats worn by old ladies and little boys wearing suits (so cute, they think they're people!)

now that panic re: Nashville is over, begin obsessing about Mike Smith, Phoenix's very hot goalie (hot in the technical sense of the word)

reading of English mystery novels
viewing of movies where large men punch other large men for an hour and a half
this conversation between two twenty-ish male movie theater employees:

Boy 1: I like that song.
Boy 2: That Celine Dion song?
Boy 1: (somewhat embarassed) I didn't remember it was a Celine Dion song. In my head it's sung by someone else. (ok, so this doesn't seem that funny written down but when I overheard it I thought it was hilarious)

cooking of pizza

solving coding problems
arguing about the attractiveness of seminar speakers
reading player by player playoff predictions written by people as obsessive compulsive as I am
adding one more step to my elaborate, borderline ritualistic skin care regime
hand washing my unmentionables while drinking jack and coke

Sunday, April 8, 2012

oh grad school

some days the only thing that is real or important to me is how the blackhawks are doing.

today a playoff spot vs. phoenix has been determined.

i am alright with that.

i do not know what this says about me.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Don't Tempt The Hockey Gods

an article by a st. louis blues blogger (ick) on Things One Does Not Do that accurately summarizes the attitude of most thinking hockey fans. of course, saying the word "shutout" in your living room could in no way affect the outcome of a hockey game being played by what are in effect complete strangers potentially hundreds of miles away. of course, the level of hair on the face of players and male fans can't possibly change the level of talent displayed on the ice. there is no plausible connection between putting your fingers on a piece of metal and plastic and subsequent wins or losses. but why risk it? i mean really, why?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Euphemisms For People Punching Each Other Used By Hockey Announcers

exchange of pleasantries
get together

A Tale of Three Cities, or Playoff Seeding for the Obsessive Compulsive

I wrote this as an email to my brother but decided to post it. Actually I don't know why since Jack is probably the only one who cares. Never mind. 

[CHI = Chicago; DET = Detroit; NSH = Nashville, who actually have a pretty good hockey team, I know this is kind of surprising; MIN = Minnesota, who actually have a pretty shitty hockey team, also surprising; DAL = Dallas; NJD = New Jersey Devils, I'm not sure who came up with the NHL abbreviations but some of them are city abbreviations and some include an abbreviation for the team name, it is very inconsistent; COL = Colorado, I think they should have the best home record in the league because they play at altitude and visiting teams have to shorten their shift length by about half when they go to Denver, however, this is not the case, much like my "NBA players should make like 90% of their free throws" theory, actual sports do not follow the logical rules I come up with] 

CHI, DET, and NSH all have games tonight (CHI vs MIN, NSH vs DAL, DET vs NJD) and Saturday (CHI vs DET, NSH vs COL).

All tonight's games are up in the air to my mind. NJ has themselves a playoff spot and is most likely locked into 6th seed, but they shouldn't be complacent, and Dallas is fighting to get in, so that should be a good game. Saturday, Nashville should win, just like we should win tonight, but at this time of year there are always a few weird upsets where teams that are out of the playoffs feel the need to prove something and teams that are in the playoffs are tired and trying to gear up.

We are at 98, NSH at 100, DET at 101. They both currently have the tiebreaker on us.

Therefore, we will be:

6th seed  IF we win 0 or 1 of our games.
OR  IF we win both games but NSH and DET each win at least 1

*5th seed vs NSH
IF we win both games and NSH wins at least one game but DET loses both

5th seed vs DET 
IF we win both games and DET wins vs NJD but NSH loses both

**4th seed vs DET
IF we win both games and NSH and DET both lose both games

*worst possible scenario but seems pretty unlikely, although the necessary three conditions are not independent as we are playing DET.
**ideal but also very unlikely.

Overtime losses (3 point games) don't change any of that, I think. The wins have to be wins.

Lose to Minnie tonight and the suspense is over. DET wins tonight and the worst case scenario is off the table. In any case 6th seed seems most likely and I'm fine with that. Against who, it remains to be seen, looking like the Kings (who have embarassed us a couple times this year but who we should, on paper, be able to handle). 

no toews or bollie tonight.

I just spent like half an hour of my work day figuring this out.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Absolutely NO Hot Dogs During Holy Week

I think about this every year during Holy Week. What does it mean? Unfortunately, the antecedents of the phrase are lost in Merwin family history. Like a piece of cultural flotsam, this truism is all that remains, adrift in our conciousnesses, untethered to any contextualizing memory. Well, in mine and my brother's at least. For some reason my mother doesn't remember it at all, although I have the sneaking suspicion she is the one who first said it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why It's More Fun To Read Hockey Bloggers Instead Of Beat Reporters

ESPN's Jesse Rogers on Brent Seabrook's gamewinning goal Saturday night versus Nashville:

"A crazy night went the Hawks’ way when Andrew Shaw found a pinching Brent Seabrook for the winning goal midway through the third period. It was a perfect back-hand pass and helped ease the pain of the Hawks blowing a 4-0 lead." (full story)

Same goal described by Cheer the Anthem's Tim Currell: 

"He moved to the half-boards, found Andrew Shaw down low, whose backhand threaded the needle through a Nashville defender to find Seabs pinching down low. Seabrook slammed that puck home like it had just fucked his girlfriend, and that was the game-winner." (full story)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hockey & Thomas Jefferson

my brother "This article. Man, this article. This is the kind of hockey article Thomas Jefferson would have written, if he had written about hockey." about this.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Detroit actually lost in OT tonight so is at 93 points.

That D. Sedin hit to Keith should in my opinon exonerate Keith from any possible suspension that Shanny was contemplating.

On the phone to my mother:

Me: "You see, we're currently seeded sixth, which puts us up against the third seed for the first round of the playoffs, which will go to the Pacific Division winner and will be a team with a poorer record than we have. But we've been playing well lately and Detroit hasn't, so we're in position to move up, but we don't want to be fifth seed, because that would put us up against Nashville with them having home ice advantage. We either want to be fourth seed, which would still put us up against Nashville but starting on our ice, or stay at sixth. Not to mention that Nashville just got Radulov, Russian badass rumored to be the best hockey player in the world outside the NHL, after a very complicated and not that interesting story involving contracts, the KHL, and restricted free agency."

My mother: "I wish you hadn't told me that. I'll be up all night."

Sarcasm points awarded to my mother.


I wish I had live blogged tonight's hockey game, because it would have been hilarious. Instead, I drank a half a bottle of wine and ate about 500 calories worth of Viennese wafer cookies. However, recreated for you*:

*mostly Jack, since he's the only one who will get most of this.


"Chevy: Drive What Kane and Toews Drive"...except when Jonny drove into an L pole a few weeks ago (sorry, Jonny), he was driving a $200K Mercedes. Well, wouldn't you?

Jim Corneilson sings the Canadian national anthem to respectful silence (or, as close to respectful silence as 21,500 people already half-drunk on bloodlust and overpriced United Center beer can get). Jim Corneilson sings the Star-Spangled Banner to the traditional overwhelming cheers, which, by the way, do not in anyway disrespect America, assholes who don't like our traditions.

1st Period:

Vancouver appears to have stolen our strategy of "score in the first minute." Damn.

Brendan Morrison gets the start because Jamal Mayers is sick. Everyone reminds themselves that Brendan Morrison plays for the Blackhawks.

The PK looks...not to tempt fate, but it looks good.

Everyone remembers that despite our hatred for Bobby Lu, he actually is an elite NHL goaltender.

Good Corey appears to be in the building.

Duncan Keith elbows Daniel Sedin in the face and then argues with the referee about it (?).

Despite normally having a remarkable level of discipline (Vancouver has been shorthanded FORTY MORE TIMES than Chicago this season) the Hawks pick this moment to lose their shit and take a bunch of penalties.

Not much happens, Jack and I speculate about putting Bolland on a line with Kane, and the monetary value of Stalberg's awesomeness.

2nd Period:

Kaner gets his #20.

Bieksa angry face!!!

Kaner gets very pissed about something, loses his helmet, and has to wear Brendan Morrison's.

Everyone punches everyone else a lot.

Duncan Keith and Alexander Burrows each get 14 minutes worth of penalties. Perfect excuse to watch three-year-old footage of the hair-pulling incident several times.

Henrik Sedin takes two bad penalties in a row. Fuck Henrik Sedin.

Despite the dominant 11-3 shot stat in the second period, the Hawks power play remains fucking clown shoes. Even with Johnny Oduya, stone cold badass, on the point.

Just assume that after every whistle there is punching, because that is happening.

2nd Intermission:

Every time I see that Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos commercial, I feel (a) astonished that they thought that was a good idea (b) amazed that an ad company used the phrase "who but taco bell would have dared...etc" (c) vaguely ill. (This isn't the right one, but I'm unwilling to spend more than 30 seconds searching for Taco Bell commercials on YouTube.)

3rd Period:

Kane delivers a big hit on Alberts and smirks around his mouthguard, which is, as usual, doing absolutly nothing to guard his mouth.

Correction: Last Year Playoff Awesome Corey is in the building.

Oh, hey, Keith is back from his misconduct.

Corey Crawford is saving our sorry asses.

Vancouver gets away with an egregious too-many-men situation.

Eddie Olyzck uses the phrase "rocked his world" in a way I'm pretty sure was not appropriate.

The only thing I know about David Booth is that he cried when he found out he got traded to Vancouver from Florida, which I find endearing, especially because this was back when Florida really, really sucked.

The UC crowd appears determined to chant "Luuu-oongo, Luuu-oongo" for the rest of the game, which I fully support.

According to secondcityhockey, Pat Foley drinks in the box, which isn't that hard to believe.


Apparently Andy Shaw has "gumption." There's a word you don't hear much anymore.

People don't get just how fast Viktor Stalberg is.

JOHNNY FUCKING ODUYA IS THE MAN*. Oh look, he actually has a nice smile when he's not being a stone cold badass.

*I don't care that it actually went in off Shaw. Not that I don't love Chicken Hawk.

Tied with Detriot and Nashville at 92*!!!

*DET with game in hand and NSH with two in hand and one up on the first tiebreaker. Don't care at all that this was a 3-point game. VAN is as locked into the 2nd seed as possible without it being mathematically certain.

Wish Oduya had been star of the game.

Also, might be the only game of the year where we can call it a goalie win. Crow kept us in it in the 3rd and also came up big in OT.

Kane: "Tell you what, that's a hockey game right there."

Ahh, TSN footage from a different angle shows that Daniel Sedin actually hit Keith high and hard before Keith elbowed him in the face (DIRTY SHOULDER), which is what Keith was trying to tell the refs. D. Sedin didn't come back after that though. See what happens with that - Shane Doan got suspended for a bad elbow this week but Keith has a clean record.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Nancy Drew We Are Not

Last night for reasons I won't go into we tried to pick a lock with a bobby pin. We failed. In the remembered books of my youth, this was always but the work of a moment for the heroine. Did they have simpler locks back then? More sophisticated bobby pins? Or were they just less drunk than we were?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

More Letters To The Blackhawks

Dear Johnny Oduya,

The word "revelation" is strong, but there's no doubt that you have exceeded all our expectations. Eating up ice time, playing some solid defense, and, though the powerplay is still and always, as second city hockey would have it, fucking clown shoes, you look good on the point. Your goal the other night was a thing of beauty. Also, I like your beard.

Now all that remains is not to fuck it up utterly in the post season like Chris Campoli.


Dear Corey Crawford,

Oh man, after last night it is oh so tempting to hope that you're back. But no one is being foolish enough now to hope for that quick a solution to our shaky goaltending situation. It's heartening not to see much blame heaped on you for your slump. We KNOW you're a great goalie, and that you're in your head right now. Please come back for real. Ray Emery's hips could disintegrate at literally any moment.


Look at that smile. source

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Questions You Ask Yourself As A Grad Student:

Why does the downstairs hall smell like pickles?
What does this data MEAN?
Why does everyone who posts on R help boards come off like a smug, patronizing asshole?
Is it too soon to go get another cup of coffee?
Is it possible we drink too much?
If I get playoff tickets, what's an appropriate excuse I can use to get out of the departmental retreat?

Questions You Ask Yourself As A Blackhawks Fan:
Do we have the goaltending to go deep in the playoffs this year?
How can the powerplay be this bad?
Is it possible to be made physically sick by this powerplay?
Isn't it a little creepy how Brandon Bollig likes to fight so much that he smiles even while he's getting punched in the face?
Does Johnny Oduya's beard have magical properties?
How have the announcers been able to resist making "Oduya" puns every five minutes?

Questions You Ask Yourself As A Person:
Do the Republicans really hate women? Because it sure seems like they do.
How is this even an issue in this day and age?
Is there a point to Daylight Savings Time anymore?
What the hell is up with this weather?
Where does all the dust in my apartment come from?
What would Jane do?

I don't have answers, but I do have this, arrived at after much contemplation.

How To Survive Grad School:

It's pretty simple. Coffee and alcohol. It helps to have friends with which to drink coffee and alcohol, but on balance, I think it's probable the beverages are the most important part of the equation.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

More Letters

dear jonathan toews,

it's pretty important that you come back and play as soon as possible, so it was a little frightening to hear that you had run your car into an L pole this morning. smooth move, ferguson. as someone referred to as "beloved" by nearly-always-snarky hockey bloggers, it is hard to underestimate how important you are to this team. please get better soon, and also maybe think about having someone drive you to practice when you are (allegedly) concussed.

love, laura

ps nice mercedes.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Letters To Corey


dear corey crawford,
thank you for staying in your fucking crease. .955 sv% in the last few games feels good, doesn't it? keep it up.
love, laura

feb 16

dear corey crawford,
please stay in your fucking crease. thanks.
love, laura

feb 15

dear corey crawford,
i think you should spend some time trying to locate your talent. retracing your steps can help. maybe you left it under a locker room bench? or try the pockets of the pants you were wearing in november. don't bother asking ray emery. he doesn't have it. if you can't find it, it's a long shot, but when you are in new york on thursday, you could try asking henrik lundquist to borrow some.
love, laura

Monday, February 6, 2012

Delightful Quotes From A Delightful Book

The Sweetheart Season by Karen Joy Fowler. It's about a girl's baseball team in a small town in immediately-post-war Midwest America. But these quotes aren't about the plot, I just thought they were charming.

"'No good ever came to me from arm wrestling men,' my mother always told me, and these are the words I've tried to live by."

"Women used to say, I can weave better than Minerva, or Minerva's hair is not so beautiful as mine, or my fourteen children are better than Latona's two. Not, I need to lose ten pounds before I buy a bathing suit, or I hate my thighs. Those ancient women had some self-esteem."

"Some place where women wore their hair in a curtain over one eye and left the dark red imprint of their lips on their cigarettes. Some place where the women all had pasts and the men loved them helplessly in spite of it. The real Paris."

"She was an avid reader, which is almost the same thing as having friends."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nearly Six Years Out

There are songs that still remind me so strongly of narrow medieval streets paved in uneven cobbles slippery under my shoes coming home late and drunk after closing time. Nothing so sweet as that, and the sliding into worn pink-flowered sheets and resting my head against the cool concrete wall. Maybe I've never felt as safe as I did in viale Milton 41, with the mopeds droning by outside the French windows. I miss you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter, Or, Falling In Love With Strangers On The Bus

So it's well and truly winter now, and that means taking the bus to school more often. And that means that I fall in love pretty frequently. This is something that happens to me on the way to school, never on the way home. It only lasts for the duration of the bus ride. Once I get off, the feeling fades quickly, and is nearly always gone by the time I reach my office. I do not remember my past bus loves. I couldn't describe a single person that I have fallen in love with on the bus (except for the one who looked kind of like Niklas Hjalmarsson, but I don't actually remember his face, just that he looked like a Blackhawks defenseman).  I never fall in love with the same person (I don't think - like I said, I don't remember them), and I never speak, flirt, or even make eye contact with them. This is a totally one sided affair. But lest you think that what I am describing is merely lust, or an appreciation for a handsome face, let me assure you you are wrong. This is true love. For the entire ten minute bus ride, I remain convinced that this is the person with whom I am fated to spend the rest of my life. We will get married and have children and sit in rocking chairs on the porch when we are old. Why does this happen? Does winter arouse some deep seated nesting instinctin me? Am I secretly terribly lonely? Is one of these boys my actual true love? Why does it only happen in the morning? In the morning I am generally less sociable, less interested in people, less open to interpersonal connections. But I never fall in love on the way home. 

I have the answers to none of these questions, but this whole description reminds me of this, which is the same but opposite:

I love this watercolor by Carmel Seymour. It is called "I sometimes think strangers are in love with me". Isn't it beautiful? In looking for a pic of this to post I found Carmel Seymour's blog and looked at a bunch of her other work. Guys, it is truly delightful! Here, this one is called "Science documentaries taught me how to love". I want to be friends with this lady. You can check out her blog too, right here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Blackhawks Game!!!

Definitely spent more on beer than I did on the game ticket. Blackhawks won 4-3 after a great game involving a good fight, a contested goal, lots of scoring...totally awesome.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

As Promised: Gosford Park, Reasons To Watch

Reasons You Should Watch Gosford Park

1. Clever Agatha Christie style English Country House Murder except that the servants get equal play. In Dame Agatha's books the servants are all usually eliminated from suspicion immediately as they were all together in the servant's hall or something; then they can be ignored. Once in a while the butler turns out to be someone's long lost secret twin brother just pretending to be a butler or something or a chambermaid unknowingly holds an important piece of evidence, but the murderer is always a toff. In Gosford Park, the servants are half the story, and not a separate half either. It's an incredibly interesting and revealing portrait of how intertwined these two seemingly separate social classes of people could be: how much power the upper classes held over their servants, and how that could be abused terribly, to be sure, but also some of the more complex facets of that relationship - power and loyalty and intrigue and sex and gossip and even affection.
2. Clive Owen = yummy. Well I did say.
3. Maggie Smith is just so deliciously bitchy I cannot stand it.
4. Kirsten Scott Thomas has the most incredible poise. Maybe she is an ice queen, but I find that I am all admiration.
5. Everyone smokes all the time and it is so glamorous, all languid and haughty and elegant with the lipstick and the nails and the smoke curling up so artistically. I wish so much that I smoked and that it looked like that. And I guess that it didn't give you cancer.
5. Omg did I say, English country house in 1932. With the gardens and the shooting and the dogs and the horses and the drawing rooms and the dressing for dinner.
6. 1932 fashion.
7. I feel like I have to be clear: Clive Owen: dark, brooding, mysterious.
8. Stephen Fry smokes a pipe and bumbles.
9. Jeremy Northam sings and plays the piano.
10. In an English country house in 1932 while wearing a dinner jacket.
11. Ok, so it's JUST POSSIBLE that no one else is quite as obessessed with this time period as I am. And maybe it's a little disturbing that I am so fascinated by a way of life that was, let's face it, characterized by a very particular brand of patronizing, passive aggressive, narrow minded, cruel, class obsessed, xenophobic snobbery. But, damn, they carried it off with such STYLE.

There you go. And look, only TWO points were Clive Owen related.

This morning I found a cockroach in my pants and that is all I have to say about that. This weekend: more brunch!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Back to Chicago! Christmas with the fam in Charleston was lovely, as was vacation in Atlanta, but the more time I spend in Chicago the more it feels weird to be in places without winter. It was nice to come back to the cold and the snow and my cab driver who had this (among many, many other things) to say:
"Mayor Daly, I love that guy! He's a crook, but I still love him." Oh yes it is good to be back in Chicago.

What were the highlights of 2011? I'm not sure. Throwing a super awesome fancy cocktail party? Finally getting an iphone? Becoming an official PhD candidate? Those were all pretty exciting. The time we accidentally attended a gang wake was also pretty memorable.

Do you make New Year's resolutions? I don't usually, but this year I did and it is the following: more brunch! There has not been enough brunch in my life, and I am determined to have more. Brunch at fancy brunch restaurants, brunch with bottomless mimosas, brunch parties at my house. And lots of bloody marys. Yummm.

Now that the madness of proposing, post-proposal lethargy, and holiday party round are all over, I also plan to post more on this blog. That's not an official resolution, because that type of resolution only sets you up for failure. But to give myself a little accountability, I'm going to promise you right now that the next post is going to be a list of reasons why you must, must, must watch Gosford Park. (Spoiler: the hotness of Clive Owen is only a few of the reasons. Three, at most.)