Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Decorations

Most years I go more or less all out on Christmas decorations in my living room. But this year, I have the world's most inconsiderate neighbors, 4/5 of a frankly mediocre PhD, a fantasy hockey team that keeps running up against mediocre goaltenders having fabulously hot weeks (hi, Marc-Andre Fleury!), and severe liver problems (probably). So I'm tired, and I opted for the "put up Christmas decorations on top of/in front of normal decorations" approach. Little touches, in fact. Plus twinkle lights. It actually came out rather well:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Winter Trees By William Carlos Williams

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bailey's Chocolate Cherry

I don't know what annoys me more about that stupid Bailey's commercial that comes on Pandora: the fact that it assumes all women are exclusively Sex-in-the-City watching, girl's-night-having consumers of sugary chocolate and fruit shots*, or the fact that despite this it still sounds kind of tasty.

*(I realize it's like a 15 second commercial and doesn't explicitly assume anything of the sort, but somehow the woman's tone implies to me that Bailey's believes that (a) all women like drinks like this and not real liquor like whiskey or gin and (b) no men like sweet cream liquors. Neither of these things, I should not have to point out, are true.)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Is It 1880?

I am watching the Hawks-Stars game and this commercial came on:

It's for Union Pacific. The railroad. I don't get it. Who is this for? According to Wikipedia, Union Pacific does operate some Metra rail lines, but they are largely freight shippers (because Amtrak took over passanger transport). So your average hockey viewer is not a direct consumer of Union Pacific services. Presumably we are all indirect consumers, and so I guess this is just about making the company look good?

I know railroads are still a backbone of goods transport in this country, but they are so under the radar that the whole concept seems anachronistic. It makes me want to send telegrams and install spitoons and shout about the gold standard.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hyde Park 4th Of July

The Hyde Park parade is my favorite parade that I’ve ever seen. It is surprisingly long, by virtue of allowing anyone who wants to march in it, and is the kind of parade that has infinitely more participants than watchers. First there are a couple of City of Chicago cop cars with their lights on, emitting little siren bursts, and then fire trucks, with intermittant long wails. Next a set of bagpipers and drummers wearing kilts, a Brownie troop, someone (a man) dressed as the Statue of Liberty, a Revolutionary War hero wearing a tricorn, sneakers, and flourescent socks, Betsy Ross, my friend Celia, a little kid on a trike trailing balloons, an alderman’s staff in matching tshirts, a high school band with majorettes and cheerleaders. Then a whole flotilla of kids and adults on bikes decorated lavishly with red white and blue streamers and balloons, two little girls with braids on pogo sticks, a guy on a skateboard with a kazoo. There are banners from local schools, clubs, churches, the community theater, the bank, the grocery stores. There are people with homemade signs, with dogs, with kids in red wagons, people gossiping as they walk and people leaving the line of march to hug people they know on the sidewalk. There’s another high school band, in yellow t-shirts this time instead of red, their majorettes in black not white, with flag girls instead of cheerleaders. There is a clot of girls from a dance studio in pink fringe, a surprisingly good six man band, their tuba decorated with tiny American flags, a group of cheerful women protesting gun violence, the kids from the martial arts studio in their white pajamas. Big kids skitter through the marchers. A little boy in a wagon has a stuffed dog as big as he is with him. There’s two moose mascots from Kilwin’s, the ice cream store, lumbering in their giant blowup costumes. A trolley bus playing loud patriotic music rather scratchily through its speakers is for the Chamber of Commerce. A truck garishly decorated with huge tissue paper rosettes advertises the Hyde Park Garden Fair, but there is no banner for the woman who, holding her dog, waves from the back of a boat towed on a trailer (are we supposed to know her?). Bringing up the rear is a group of equestrians in cowboy hats singing the National Anthem (not badly) and waving flags. Close on their heels is an impatient number six bus and that’s the end.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


I haven't posted for over a month. Being a grownup and keeping up with everything is hard. Do the dishes! Prep for the committee meeting! Eat healthy! Post on your blog! Send your mother a birthday present! Go to the dry cleaner! I don't know how I'm supposed to accomplish all of this generally, much less during the NHL playoffs. Seriously, every day is either a game day or a recovering-from-game day. My liver is complaining, I don't sleep enough, I gained back the two pounds that I'd lost as the opening foray of my Horrible Winter Is Over campaign, and my productivity is falling. Falling? Fallen? Anyway.

And this was only round 2 of 4. Do we really need two and a half solid months to get to the Cup? YOUR PLAYOFF FORMAT IS KILLING ME, HOCKEY.*

*Obviously this is also a humblebrag about how HARD it is when your hockey team is so GOOD they are still in it after round two...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This Meme And Hockey Naval Gazing

When I saw this, I thought "haha, funny; hockey players are badass!" but the hockey community at large, being who they are, managed to make it this huge soul-searching self-flagellating THING and spent the next three days asking each other questions on the Internet like Is this meme implying hockey is better than basketball? Is this meme indicative of hockey's deep inferiority complex? Is this meme racist? Why is hockey so mean to other sports? Isn't this celebrating the response of a guy too out of it to realize he just DIED and was brought back to life? Is that ok? How bad do leg cramps hurt anyway? Have YOU ever had a leg cramp? What's really important anyway?* Then there was the predictable backlash from people who thought that just maybe we were all taking two pictures with some captions added a little too seriously? Maybe? All in good fun guys? And then the back-backlash from people saying OH SO YOU DON'T TAKE RACISM SERIOUSLY. And then (thankfully) everyone lost interest and went on to be outraged about whatever happened the next week. (I say "thankfully" not because I don't take racism seriously, but because, like the boy who cried wolf, hockey fans are always up in arms about some desperately important issue of identity and morality and clarity and next week we'll have a new one and so it's hard to take totally seriously.)

I ask in all honesty, because I have no real experience: do fans of other sports spend as much time being outraged about things as hockey fans? I don't mean as individual fan bases being outraged about things their teams are doing, since that's just a central feature of fandom; I mean collectively, as fans of the sport in general. Hockey fans get together to be morally outraged about things on a weekly basis, including but not limited to: the shootout, how many outdoor games there are, how PK Subban has been treated, concussion protocols, someone's Twitter feed, the loser point, three lockouts in twenty years, staged fights, lack of coach's challenge, Ilya Kovalchuk, poor officiating, whatever Don Cherry said last night, suspensions that are too long, suspensions that are too short, Martin St. Louis demanding a trade, someone sucker punching someone else, celebrating goals too much, delay of game penalties for accidentally putting the puck over the glass in the defensive zone, line brawls, people who claim someone is celebrating goals too much, and whatever the rule is that influenced the last questionable goal that may or may not have been counted in a game that may or may not have been meaningful. For reference, that's only like three weeks worth of outrage. It's exhausting. 

*Answers: Yes. Yes. Sadly, to some subset of posters, yes ("Every group has its demons, Leo." "You don't have to tell me, Reverend. I'm a member of the Democratic Party."); but to others, one hopes the majority, no. See above re: inferiority complex. He still knew what period it was supposed to be. It's still pretty awesome. Pretty bad, I guess? No. Family, friends, LOVE, the children**.

 **In another two months some dude will be playing for the Stanley Cup with a broken leg or broken ribs or a punctured lung (hi patrice bergeron!) and we'll all lionize him and forget this ever happened.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

More Lyrics Peeves

In this space I have complained about Katie and Kanye's creepy alien rape song, Train's inability to say goodbye, Adele's shaky comprehension of weather phenomena, etc. Today's problematic lyrics belong to Green River Ordinance's song "Endlessly". It's the one that starts "She is my rock and my rolling thunder". Um, what? "Rock", ok, that's a pretty standard metaphor for someone who's important to you. I'm good with that. But "rolling thunder"? "She is my massive aeriel bombardment of North Vietnam (1965-1968)"? Or, on a more naturalistic front, "She is my ominous warning of an impending violent storm"? I DON'T FOLLOW, GREEN RIVER ORDINANCE. DO YOU UNDERSTAND METAPHORS AT ALL OR DO YOU JUST LIKE ALLITERATION?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pet Peeve Of The Day: Who Is Drinking All The Espresso

Seriously, who is it? They finally started carrying the pods for my Starbucks espresso machine in Hyde Park, but it doesn't matter, because the stores are always out of the basic espresso pods (and usually the decaf too). Finally I asked the cashier about it on like the third time in a row I'd gone in and they were gone. I figured maybe they only ordered like three and if I acted annoyed they would order more. But she told me that someone comes in and buys all the boxes, every week, even when she orders extra, they buy all of them. I suspect this same espresso bandit (I mean, not really a bandit, because they do pay for them) hits the other Starbucks as well, as they are always out too. Other people want to drink espresso in the comfort of their own home! How can you be drinking this much espresso anyway? You must have several ulcers and constantly tremble like the leaves of those trees that are always used in metaphors about trembling. Aspen? I don't know. Leave some espresso for the rest of us.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

NHL Goaltending Depth Charts

This type of thing happens kind of startlingly often:

Here's the goaltending depth chart for a typical NHL team:

1. Starting goaltender; paid $5-8 mil/year; subject to intense scrutiny and criticism; often considered backbone of team.

2. Backup goaltender; sometimes up-and-coming projected star, sometimes reliable veteran. Takes easier starts, but still reasonably elite.

3. AHL goaltender, some of whom may eventually move up to the major league.*

* Often logistically unavailable at short notice, since AHL farm teams generally aren't matched geographically with their NHL teams, and anyway both teams travel.

4. Random dude who can put on goalie pads the right way and lives within driving distance of the rink.

Seriously. To date, I don't think any of these #4 guys have made it into a game, but a couple times a year an NHL team unexpectedly loses a first or second goalie, is unable to get their AHL goalie to the rink in time, and they call some local guy, or they dress a trainer or equipment manager or someone who maybe played goal in a rec league for a while. They take warm ups and sit on the bench and are one awkward hit away from being a real life NHL goaltender. It's insane and awesome and one of the reasons I love hockey.

(The other option is to dress a skater as a goaltender. We lost a goalie in November and then, in the third period of the same game, the backup took a hit and was slow to get up. Apparently Andrew Shaw volunteered to suit up, and I'll be honest, I kind of wish that had happened. No, that's a lie. I REALLY wish that had happened. A year or two ago it did happen in the OHL, a major junior league. The forward-dressed-as-goalie had a .71 SV% and allowed 13 goals. The other team declined to celebrate their goals.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hockey Updates

It's the Winter Classic today, which is the League's premier outdoor game and the excuse for a thousand nostalgic articles about the magic of pond hockey and the dreams of little children and remembering Where We Came From and blah blah blah. I've been watching sort of, and I have one main observation: Apparently, when you put an NHL team in a room with eyeblack, you get approximately the same results as a team of 10-year-olds. So. Much. Eyeblack. And it's not even sunny. It's snowing pretty hard. The stadium is full though, even though it's so cold they keep having to skate new water bottles out to the goalies because theirs keep freezing.

Now they're introducing the USA Women's Olympic Hockey team. They are all smiling and beautiful and look identical and blond and Midwestern, except the one Asian girl, although she manages to still look Midwestern somehow. They all look too nice to punch someone in the face, but that totally happened a couple weeks ago! Don't let all that shiny hair and Minnesota nice fool you. Do not fuck with these bitches. In short, they are pretty great: USA! USA! USA!

The Men's Olympic Hockey teams for the US and Canada are also due to be released today, which is great, because I'm SO TIRED of reading ten speculative articles a day about Canadian Olympic goaltending. The Americans are not this neurotic. Quick, Miller, Howard. Sound good to you? Welp, they're the three best American goaltenders, so yeah, sounds good to me. DONE. The Canadians, on the other hand, waffle more than the green men throwing waffles at the Maple Leafs (ok, so it's not a flawless analogy and my use of "waffle" as a verb is suspect, but shut up). So. Much. Angst. Is Marty Brodeur too old? Is Marc-Andre Fleury a high-pressure choker? Is Corey Crawford worth his massive contract? Will Josh Hardings MS be a liability? Is Mike Smith only good because he plays on the Coyotes? What about Craig Anderson? Braden Holtby anyone??? (Probably; even if he's not everyone believes he is; probably not; not if his numbers to date are any indication; no but I hate Mike Smith; once he missed several weeks because he cut his finger cooking dinner; NO.) If you are Canadian and you have played in an NHL goal, your name has been brought up. Someone needs to explain the concept of "overthinking".