July 12th, 2004

flavored with age

Weekend update with your host, Henry Cumbucket

A swell weekend full o' pals and with plenty of time for scribbling. Over too soon, but what weekend isn't? Here's the recap, for you fans of tedious descriptions of other people's lives:

FRIDAY. rum_holiday and her husband head over to the Pierce crib for a covert game of Cities & Knights of Catan. thaitea decided to join us at the last minute, to make it a four-player do, and to my surprise and delight, it turned out to be certainly the longest and probably the most hotly contested game of Catan I’ve ever played. Doug ended up winning the 4+ hour marathon, but there were points at which rum_holiday or I could have taken it, and thaitea was in it the whole time (even leading at one point) and put on a pretty good showing considering that it was her first time playing. It was such a tight match, and so engrossed in it were we, that we, uh, forgot to order any food or fire the buddha I found in my smoke hutch. Also, as we were packing up, my cat, Jack "King" Kirby, knocked over the game board and was forced to flee in embarrassment. All in all, a hell of a good time.

SATURDAY. The early part of the day was spent banging around my crappy novel and blue-skying some chapter ideas and possible titles for another book I’m working on (a collaboration with a pal of mine). Then it was off to MicroCenter to do some banal Lileksian computer shopping, the details of which I will spare you as this entry is already boring enough. I will, however, mention that I picked up an iMic, with which I am laboriously converting my remaining cassettes to mp3 format. It’s actually working out decently so far, and I’m getting to the point where I’m putting some of my band stuff, some local groups from the AZ, and never-to-be-released tapes by mid-‘80s bands in digital format, but the bitch of it is that so far, they’re all coming out in mono. I think I can fix this by going to Radio Shack and snagging some proper cabling, but I hate Radio Shack the way Black Spy hates White Spy.

Later that evening, I headed for MoJoe’s for the SPEC/Diatribe Media series. July’s theme was "conspiracy theories", which (amazingly, considering that I am a demented old crank) I have not written about much. So I read this piece instead; I’m not sure if it was a good pick, as I can never really gage audience reaction that well. At any rate, even though there were fewer participants than usual and (with the exception of Grant Schreiber and the always-excellent Emerson Dameron) the pieces weren’t exceptionally strong), there was some good stuff, I dig the space, and the crowd was energetic and cool. Thanks to all my pals who showed, including Lara, theletterr, thaitea and boss-jock zinester thevulgartrade. I drank a very large, very strong mocha, and then confirmed my long-held belief that I should not drink coffee by cruising to the grocery store and bopping up and down the aisled manically like a deranged Weeble-Wobble.

SUNDAY. Woke up early thanks to my cat Gus, who enjoys headbutting me awake on the strength of his belief that he will starve and die if I don’t wake up at 6:30AM every morning. It’s rather like being punched awake, which I do not recommend for a peaceful life. At any rate, it got me up early enough to do some sunrise writing (the older I get, the more I prefer writing early in the morning as opposed to late at night). I polished off a chapter in the crappy novel and then worked on a freelance piece about Chicago comic creators I’m gonna shop around in a month or two. The rest of the morning was devoted to converting more cassettes to mp3; welcome to my iTunes, shitty mono copies of Guadalcanal Diary, the Velvet Underground, Pylon, Naked Raygun, the Feelies, the Fall, Leaving Trains, Salem 66, Public Enemy and Dazzling Killmen! It’s 1988 all over again!

In the mid-afternoon of what turned out to be a bone-meltingly hot and humid day, I hitched up my knee (which I inexplicably injured over the weekend) and limped over to Lara & Jeff’s apartment. They treated me to iced tea and photos of their recent trip east (including some very keen shots of a tiki bar in North Jersey), and we watched Elephant and an episode of SCTV before heading to dinner. (An aside on Elephant, which was my pick as 2003’s best movie: I understand and even appreciate the problems that many critics had with the film, but in picking over some reviews after my second viewing – after which I found I liked it even more than the first time, having noticed some stuff that didn’t hit me the first time, like the phenomenal sound editing – I noticed this, from Hoberman’s diffident piece in the Voice: "The shooters make a pretty pair of Lucifers, but evil is curiously absent." What does he want them to do, have devil horns? Cackle maniacally while they gun people down? Even if you’re not a pomo evil-is-a-word-not-a-thing type like me, even if you don’t believe that evil is best judged by acts rather than attitudes, I’m not sure what Hoberman is talking about here. How would he have made evil more present? Have the gunmen sneer and wear Snidely Whiplash mustaches? Shoot the dog? This smacks of one of those decorative phrases some critics love so much, those pseudoreferential pieces of pretty bullshit that looks good on the page but hasn’t been thought through, or else someone would have noticed it doesn’t mean anything. Also, Ebert suggests that John is spared because of his good looks, which is patently absurd given the film's closing scene and says a lot about Roger's obsession with pretty people.) Dinner was at Matsu Yama, a new sushi place up on Belmont that turned out to be quite excellent. I’m not yet ready to cede it Chicago sashimi supremacy over Shiroi Hana, but I’ll definitely be going again. (By the way, not that I’m sayin’ anything, but Laura Levy Shatkin is wrong in her Matsu Yama review – the "eyes" of the white dragon are tako suckers, not roe. Maybe they should hire a new restaurant staffer. Like, I dunno, me.)

P.S. Hey, omnipolis people, there's a new chapter up if you haven't noticed.

P.P.S. Yes, I'm still down on my knees begging like a televangelist PLEASE Chicago-area nerds, sign on for my face-to-face D&D campaign. I need a couple more people and we can get it rolling. I give you my personal worthless guarantee you won't regret it. My apartment has no vermin and lots of free booze! You have NOTHING to lose, except your pride.
flavored with age

MONDAY SHITLIST, PIP 11: Wish You Were Here

Oh yeah! Monday! That means the MONDAY SHITLIST, meme/list/participatory cacklefuck I do each week in this space where you, the reader, tell me the worst of everything. Feel to post in your own journals, or to simply put your answers below, in comments.

Previous shitlists have dealt with the worst in fashion, movies, music, literature, celebrity, television, food, jobs, horrible people you have known, and things that are supposed to be fun but aren't.

Today, it being summer holiday season and with my own vacation on the way, I revive an aborted shitlist from last week: what's the worst vacation you've ever had?