I just have to shout this to the blogosphere: I just downloaded I am a Bird Now by Antony and the Johnsons. I'm only three songs in so far, but even if the rest of it is terrible, I have to say, damn this is really amazing.


I love the "Lazy Sunday" video as much as the next guy. But this article in Slate is some of the dumbest shit I've ever read: "The popularity of the Narnia rap might augur a reawakening at SNL—in fact, there are already T-shirts that parrot the song's catchphrases. It's more significant, though, for what it says about the state of rap."

I'd spend some time explaining why this article is fucking stupid, but we gotta bounce out of here for X-mas. Hopefully you're smart enough to recognize it for yourself. I've seen a lot of articles over the years lamenting how hiphop was so much better back in the good old days, I just figured the folks at Slate were smarter than that.


Merry Christmas.

For real, enjoy this shit because you know it's just cold and darkness from here until President's Day. Make merry, motherfuckers.


Lately in the WuKids house we have been having a lot of potty talk. Simon is showing a budding curiosity in all things potty, be it the body parts that produce the potty-filling products or the potty itself. It's pretty much all talk; there is no accompanying action, such as Simon sitting on the potty and using it. Still, I am trying to keep my hopes up that all of this talk might eventually lead to a 3 year old who can piss and shit in a toilet.

Part of my job, as I see it, is to shed a positive light on the potty, so that he might one day be interested in becoming better acquainted with it. This crusade for positivity can result in some ridiculous statements on my part. "No, Simon, the toilet is not yucky and gross. You would never want to put your toys in there, and you should never, ever put your mouth on any part of it. But it's not gross. It's normal and... and wonderful."

As I learned this morning, my campaign for positive potty talk can also be trumped by his young logic. Witness our conversation atop the changing table. He had just beckoned me to his room because of a poopy diaper, or so he said.

Me: This is not a poop. This is a pee pee.
Simon: Pee pee is yucky?
M: No, it's not yucky. Everyone does it.
S: It's stinky and gross?
M: No, it's normal to go pee pee.
S: It's very, very gross.
M: No, Simon, pee pee is normal. Everyone goes pee.
S: Everyone is gross.



Ina May Gaskin ---midwife, author, and hippie extrordinaire--- has a phrase she likes to teach woman in preparation for their labors. She especially likes to say these words to women whose babies appear to be whoppers. She says, "You're going to get huge." She claims that this simple phrase can often help a woman dialate even beyond the regular 10 cm, because it lets her visualize/internalize/focus on the opening up of her pelvis and cervix. I think that's cool.

Lately, her magic phrase has been popping into my mind, but not in its original context. When I look in a mirror, whether at my face or my body, I cannot believe the changes that are taking place --- already! Only 12 weeks down, and already my thighs are twice as Rueben-esque as before, and my chin is slowly but surely growing a twin. Looking at myself these days, I wonder, what am I going to look like after 6 more months of this? The answer is resoundingly clear:

You're going to get huge, Laura.



Here at camp Hartrich we are sick like dawwwgs. Ill, son, ill. Our house is in COMPLETE disarray, and we really can't be troubled to lift a finger because if we have to be sick, then our house is going to feel the pain to. Happy holidays!

Merry Christmas, Suckers

I've just completed my homemade gift for everyone to enjoy: Frankincense, Gold Fronts, and Myrrhder, a holiday themed DJ mix. Download at your leasure:

Part I

Part II


I'm in a band called Jitney, which now has a blog of its own. You can download all our songs there, we have a new one I highly recommend. It's called "Steel Pony".



I don't necessarily shower every day during the winter. Can't really explain why, that's just how I rock it. BUT, yesterday I didn't shower and this morning for some reason the cold water isn't coming out. I've heard of the hot water not working, but the cold water? Damn. So now I'm gonna stink the shit out of everyone near me. I haven't smelled this bad since my best friend was a piece of paraphernalia.


Rats with Rhyming Names

Here at WuKids, we try to avoid posts that center around the unbelievable cuteness of our son, for a couple reasons:
1. If you've ever met him, you already know.
2. There are far too many instances of profound cuteness to document.
3. You, our readers, may, possibly, I guess, if you happen to be completely callous, get sick of our blathering over his cuteness.

But sometimes a documentation of extreme sweetness cannot be avoided.

Exhibit A:

We are borrowing this book (and its corresponding audio-tape) from the library. We heard the following passage:
"Horace and Morris and Dolores were friends --- the greatest of friends, the truest of friends, the now-and-forever-I'm-yours sort of friends."
Simon immediately looked at me and said, "Mommy and Daddy sort of friends?" While I knew it was certainly one of the cutest things he's ever said, I couldn't be sure of its meaning. Did he mean Nate and I were good friends to each other, or good friends to him? Either way, goddamn, my kid is the cutest ever!

Then, later, after hearing the same passage, he said to Nate, "You the greatest of friends to Mommy?"

That cleared it up nicely.

How do you like that? My two year old can identify great friendship, and he sees it between his parents. This may well keep me feeling warm inside throughout the frigid winter.


Welcome to the fold, Adam.


Someone help, please

Seth Rogen is a funny man. He was Ron in "Undeclared" and Ken in "Freaks and Geeks", but when I looked him up just now on imdb.com it told me he was Ricky Danforth in Donnie Darko, a movie I've seen many times, but who the fuck is Ricky Danforth? Can someone clear this up so I don't have to go to the trouble of popping the DVD in? Because, you know, that would really inconvenience me.


Another Mammoth Post from Everybody's Favorite Blabbermouth

Last night, after leaving our firstborn in the hands of a brilliant democratic campaign planner, Nate and I went to the hospital, where we were given a tour of the birthing facilities by the World's Most Exhausted Nurse (bloodshot eyes, stumbling through the halls). We made stops at the registration desk, emergency room, triage, labor and delivery rooms (L&D), and alternative birthing center (ABC).

Overall, the 30 minutes spent walking through the hospital corridors just reinforced my dream of having a homebirth. This dream will not be realized, however, because, in this country, such an option is only available to those with sufficient funds. Here in Chicago, the best known homebirth organization, Homefirst, accepts very few insurance plans. I called and requested that they send me a summary of costs if one wanted to pay out-of-pocket. They kindly and quickly complied. I received a 3 page list of figures, and stopped adding them up when I reached $6000. So I don't actually know how much it would cost, total. But it's a lot. Too much.

I also called The Farm to ask how much they charged. They used to invite women to come there to deliver for free, but with rising hospital costs, they've had to start charging $3000, to offset those rare instances when they do have to take a woman to the hospital.

Maybe because it was so much less than Homefirst, I thought $3000 sounded like a very manageable amount of money. I started scheming about how I could raise the money to have my Farm birth. I could get a job at Joann Fabric, now hiring! Or! I could solicit my church community to hire me to do odd jobs! I could charge $10/hour, and I would only have to find 300 hours of work, cleaning a house here, babysitting some rugrats there. And I was pretty much counting on people having pity on me, the round-bellied girl cooking their family dinner, and being moved to give donations above and beyond my hourly rate. Yes! I could raise this money! I was all set to send out a message on the Wellington listserv, drafting my plea in my head.

Then I cooked an unusually ambitious dinner while my mom was visiting. Salmon, rice pilaf, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. It took maybe an hour. By the time I was done (even with Nate doing half of the work), my feet and my back were aching something fierce, and I was rethinking my plan for working my way toward a homebirth.

So, it's the hospital for me! What is so wrong with the hospital? I don't know... it's just so.... institutional, huge, unfriendly, wirey, machine-filled, and hospitally. I wasn't surprised by much last night, but here were the most disappointing discoveries:
- No eating allowed for the mother, even in the ABC. This is one of the dumbest, most frustrating hospital policies, based on the minute chance that you end up having a c-section under general anesthesia, then end up vomiting and aspirating. Even the nurse who gave our tour admitted that the risk of this happening is very low, and she even added that the evidence behind the practice is "not very scientific." Still, they enforce this starvation policy for every laboring woman, even those having normal births in the birthing center.
-The "home-like" ABC rooms? Pretty much exactly like the L&D rooms, just with a few colorful pictures thrown on the wall. Oh, and a queen size bed instead of a twin. Still, a lot of machines and wires everywhere, cold hard floors, and the chaos of the hospital just beyond a thin door. Not quite as relaxing as home, in my opinion. Also, a bit disappointed by the lack of a pool or large tub. There is a tub, but it looked smaller than the one in our apartment. I'm not sure if I could fit in there now, let alone when I am huge with child.
-There seemed to be a million reasons why they might need to transfer you from the birthing center to a labor and delivery room. Laboring too long? L&D! Any hint of meconium in your fluid? L&D! Not walking around enough while in labor? L&D! Whining too much? L&D! I asked the nurse if she could give me a ballpark estimate of how many women who start their labor in the ABC end up delivering in L&D. After waffling for a few seconds about how it is on an individual basis, and she couldn't really say, and it's different for everyone, she finally spit out the figure 50/50. My heart sank.

On the drive home I felt defeated. This alternative birthing center business is the best option I have, unless we go the unassisted route, which, let's face it, is just for crazy people. I may be a hippie when it comes to birthing philosophies, but I'm no crazy hippie. Still, I struggle to see the ABC as a good option, when, to me, it could clearly be so much better.

I know I have to get over this. I have to do some mental weight lifting so that I can be strong and push through this disappointment. I know the scars from my last experience may be casting an unnecessarily harsh light upon another birth in the hospital. Also, I have reason to believe that my caregiver this time will be more compassionate and reasonable than my last doctor. And not everything about the tour was gloomy. The nurse did explicitly say that I could labor and push in any position I wanted to, as long as I was in the ABC. That's a good sign, I guess. In the end, it will be up to me to stay positive, hopeful, and confident throughout my pregnancy and my labor. It's important to keep the 'reward' in mind.

Because, while I certainly don't want to minimize the importance of the labor experience, and while I think our medical system does a bang up job of fucking with the beautiful and holy affair that birth should be, in the end, I just want another forehead to rub.

Last night before we put Simon to bed, the three of us crawled into our big bed. Simon by the wall, Nate in the middle reading Beautiful Bananas, and me on the edge. I lay on my side, left arm resting on Nate's chest, right arm stretched out past him, reaching to Simon. He let me rub his forehead and play with his hair the whole time we read. This is all I want. Another forehead to rub. Another miniature hand to hold as we cross the street. Another little person to know and behold in the most intimate ways. In that moment, as I touched his soft skin and golden hair, I knew that to have him in my life, I would go through my hellish labor, and worse, a hundred times. When this baby comes, I know I'll feel the same, regardless of what happens in the hospital.


The post directly below this one is being kept at the top of the page beyond it's normal life cycle due to the fact that unlike most posts here, it is both well written and meaningful. Please read it if you haven't. New posts can be found below it.

Sisters Just Don't Understand

This weekend I had a lengthy conversation with my family, centering around my bittersweet birthing experience with Simon and my hopes for a more holistic, peaceful experience this time. The discussion was meaningful for me, as it was the first time I felt like my family gained some understanding of why aspects of Simon's birth were so hard.... hard to endure and hard to accept. Almost everyone listened to me, expressed their regrets that I had struggled so last time, and extended their wishes for a better go round this time.

Interestingly, my sister seemed to have the hardest time understanding my story and my point. She tried valiantly to mask it, but her true feelings were pretty apparent, just as they were over two years ago, when the wounds from my complicated hospital birth were brand new and tender: essentially, she thinks I should stop complaining. I had a healthy baby, and what injustices done to me by medical professionals could possibly matter in light of that fact? I was, initially, surprised that I could meet such opposition from the only other person in the room who had given birth vaginally. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have been.

My sister and I are different in many ways, and our perceptions of birth are no exception. Here allow me to note, briefly, our birth stories.
With Simon, I was induced after being diagnosed with preeclampsia. I labored for about 24 hours and finally delivered after having an iv narcotic (at the insistence of my doctor) and an episiotomy (despite my very clear request, "Please do not cut me"). Because of my condition, I lost many of the options I wanted to exercise during labor. Losing options is one thing ---I can accept that the restrictions I endured were for the safety of me and my baby --- but losing dignity is quite another. Throughout my hospital stay, I felt routinely disrespected. One of many examples: I didn't see my doctor until it was time to push, but she did find time to call me at several points to reprimand me for being too difficult and to badger me into taking drugs.
Now, I lied about my story being brief, but my descriptions of my sister's really will be. They might look longer, but, remember, there are two! I wasn't there for either, but to the best of my knowledge, this is how they proceeded: With her first, my sis had a picture-perfect hospital birth. Halfway dilated before she got there, her labor proceeded so quickly that the nurses had to convince the doctor that she really was ready to push and he really should come NOW. No drugs, just an episiotomy, but no big deal according to my sister. Her second birth was a whole different thing, as she was carrying twins and went into labor several weeks early. One twin was ready to come out; my sister was fully dilated when she reached the hospital. After over an hour of trying not to push, she was wheeled in for an emergency cesarean, because the other twin was laying sideways, wedged up under her ribs. Only a miracle of modern science would've brought that baby out alive, and that's exactly what happened.

Perhaps our distinct birthing stories will shed a bit of light on our different views of birth...

I think birth is a natural process and a rite of passage for many women. I believe that under the right circumstances, most women, if they so desire, can give birth vaginally and without foreign substances. I believe that women in labor can experience strength, empowerment, and joy. I also believe that a woman's birth experience can have a significant impact on her spirit.

My sister believes that labor is but a means to an end, but not especially meaningful in and of itself. Good or bad, it can be easily forgotten as soon as a healthy baby is produced. She also believes it is a risky business, and that doctors only use interventions when necessary.

My sister believes that any woman who wants to give birth naturally should be able to do it in the hospital. Any woman who is strong enough, that is. Any discomforts, distractions, or disrespect dished out to her can be overlooked, powered through.

I believe that most hospitals are not conducive to natural birth. I don't have any on hand, but statistics support me on this. I think something like 30% of women in American hospitals deliver their babies drug-free. And while I agree with my sister that women can overcome the challenges presented by a hospital birth, I don't think they should have to. I think they should be supported by sensitive and competent individuals, made to feel powerful and capable, and allowed to move through their labor as they see fit.

I have to stop myself here, as I could go on and on. Also, I feel like the points I've already listed are unfairly vague. Each deserves further exploration, in my opinion, but I know not everyone is as passionate about this topic as I am.

Of all our disagreements and misunderstandings, the one that irritates me the most is that my sister thinks that because I have a lot of negativity about Simon's birth, I must be disappointed in myself. Not so, my friends! Honestly, I'm quite proud of how I handled it all, and certainly proud of what I accomplished. My negative feelings are in no way directed toward myself. My anger is toward the hospital system, which makes it so hard for women to give birth naturally, and, more specifically, toward my doctor. I've often had daydreams wherein I kick her in the face before she is able to slice open my perineum.

I only hope that, if I had the chance to do it, I would. Good and hard. A better birth experience is what I deserve this time, and a nice nosebleed was, at the least, what she deserved.
I had one of the strangest dreams I've ever been able to remember last night. It was about a drumbeat. I mean that in a literal sense, just a drumbeat, and a really simple one at that. It was the drum machine part from a Stetsasonic song, I can't remember which one. Butwhat I want to know is what does it mean?


A Message to Friends

You all get a pass since last time our pregnancy was unplanned. But when this new guy/gal is born, someone better be showing up with some cigars.



Keep in mind that Laura is pregnant, so Simon has babies on the mind.

Me (as I'm getting out of the shower, and therefore shirtless): Hi, Simon.
Simon: Hi, Dad. Big belly? (points at my belly)
Me: Hmmm... yeah, I guess so.
Simon: Have a baby? (still pointing)
Me (to Laura): (doubles over laughing) Did you hear what he just said? I don't know whether to laugh or cry.



Thankful for, in ascending order:

5. Computers/Internet: Yeah, I'm a geek. I believe that the internet has been a democratizing force in the world, and will only become more so in the future. A romantic geek, I guess.

4. Music: Bad, good, whatever people like, good for them. And if it sets you free in some way, well, that's the best.

3. Electronic musical instruments, including but not limited to: drum machines, software, synthesizers, little toy instruments, DJ equipment, amplifiers, effects boxes: Again with the democratization. To me cassette 4-tracks were just a stepping stone, since you still had to have multiple expensive instruments, and enough space to contain them all, to really get the job done. Now, all you need is a computer and some booted software (the latter being the mark of a true artiste), or a drum machine and a synth, or a sampler and a mic, or whatever weapons you choose. They won't take up more than a table top and you will be able to sound as professional as much of what you hear on the radio.

2. Friends: Can't really put this one into words. The people who I love give me what it takes to get by. Which leads to...

1. Laura and Simon: You knew this one was coming, right? Both count as members of the previous item, but of course they're more than that. Laura and Simon both challenge me every day to be a better person than I was the previous, and I'm trying to keep up. Thanks, guys.


If you're like me and giggled a little bit at the reference in the last post to "Skateboard Pete" (it's Skateboard P, honey), then you'll probably appreciate this freaking hi-larious post from So Many Shrimp. I'm just going to repost the whole thing right here because picking a favorite is to hard for me (maybe the last two?):

Best rap album of 2005

1. Intro
2. Triumphant Horns of Victory (Prod. by Rocky VI)
3. After Which What? (Prod. by and feat. Mannie Fresh)
4. Let's Get Even More Blown (Feat. Snoop Dogg)
5. Euphemisms for Dealing (Feat. Young Jeezy and Juelz Santana)
6. Cars, Neat! (Feat. Someone from Swishahouse)
7. Pimping, Obviously (Prod. by and feat. Jazze Pha)
8. Heartfelt and Vaguely Caribbean (Prod. by and feat. Akon)
9. Get Laid (Feat. Trey Songz)
10. I Can't Believe We're Still Here, Either (Prod. by the Neptunes)
11. No really, Lil Wayne's Good Now (Feat. Lil Wayne)
12. Kinda Gangsta, but T.I. Sounds Bored (Feat. T.I.)
13. Lets Get This Rude Club Song on the Radio (Feat. Ying Yang Twins, prod. by Mr. Collipark)
14. I Have Bun's Phone Number (Feat. Bun-B)
15. Avant-Garde, Yo! (Feat. Cam'ron, prod. by NY No-Name and Axl Rose)
16. Yeah, OK, That'll Do Fine (Prod. by Lil Jon)

Disc Two: Screwed and Chopped

'Fess Up

Okay, who's been teaching my son that Ferrell (or Skateboard Pete?) song featuring the most boring part ever "sung" by Gwen Stefani?

Today at lunch he dropped his sippy cup and then asked, "Can you get it?" I complied, and then in typical sing-songy, repetitive toddler fashion, he kept saying, "Can you get it? You got it." I swear, upon uttering the phrase, "You got it," he sounded JUST LIKE Gwen Stefani (minus the "like that").

It was funny, and then, after a while, freaky.


We just watched the last episode of Freaks and Geeks. (Thanks, Colin!) If you haven't seen this show, you need to. Rent it, buy it, order it from Netflix.
It was cancelled after the first season, so there are only 18 episodes, including the pilot. I thought I would be disappointed with the last episode, since when it was made they didn't know it was going to be the last epsiode ever. But it wasn't at all a letdown. It was a perfect ending actually.


"It's like the love of my life"
-Laura, on Freaks and Geeks


Simon had his first haircut over the weekend, and as you can see it was quite a swanky affair. I know I've never gotten a sucker during my haircut. Even when Laura cuts it. No sucker.
It took a little while to get used to the reduction in curls, but it looks nice. That's a big boy bed and first haircut in the same week. Laura and I expect to be overthrown as leaders of the house before the year is out. Posted by Picasa


Fizzy Goodness

This beverage is currently making my wonderful life even wonderfuller. Because I'm feeling a lot of pressure to feed only the healthiest of foods to my incubating baby, it's fun to feel like I'm cheating by drinking some soda. But it's not soda! It's just juice! It's equal to a serving of fruit, according to the bottle!

Also, it contains one precious gram of protein, and every little bit adds up to help me reach my goal of 100 grams a day. Holy God, 100 grams is sooooo much, especially for someone who seldom enjoys those protein-packed foods of the animal flesh variety. Today I kept a protein log, adding up my grams throughout the day, just like I used to write down my calories when I was trying to lose weight. It's a bit tedious, but I'm willing to try anything to avoid a rematch with my arch-rival, preeclampsia. Nothing is guaranteed, but both a woman at the Farm and my nurse-midwife said research suggests ample protein may help prevent that nasty condition.

So, except for the other day when I dreamt that my uterus fell out in the shower, I am very hopeful for a better, healthier pregnancy and delivery. And hope is beautiful.

On a sidenote, I feel so grateful to be married to a man who makes the world's tastiest stove-top popcorn. Thank you, God.


Tomorrow night Paul Fitz the Almighty Scrabblor is having a party at his house, and I will be playing disk jockey. If you're in Chi and you're not too busy listening to the new Modest Mouse and reading Camus or whatever it is you kids do nowadays, you should come. Email me for his address, jitneypop @ gmail.com.


Simon is sleeping in a big boy bed tonight! Big. Boy. Bed. And the bed is old. It "came over from the old country", as my parents say. Hopefully I'll post a picture of the bed soon. Can't take one now because he's asleep.


I think you call this the chickens coming home to roost. From the Chicago Tribune, via Chicagoist:

Two groups opposed to Republican governor candidate Jim Oberweis' ardent stance against illegal immigration said Tuesday they helped two illegal immigrants file a state labor complaint alleging the dairy owner hired a cleaning firm that paid sub-minimum wages.


Oberweis initially called the complaint part of a "smear campaign" against his candidacy for governor, but he later backed away from that description and said he hoped to meet with immigrant advocates to hear their concerns. He also said his Oberweis Dairy would investigate the matter but would never knowingly employ illegal immigrants.


I love John Cage. Love him. So it should come as no surprise that I also love Silent Podcast. That's right folks, a podcast that is "pure digital silence." Unfortunately you have to use lame iTunes to listen. But otherwise, it's perfect.

Election in VA

Today there's a gubernatorial election in Virginia. A friend who's working for the VA Democrats asked me to phone bank for him, and like the sucker I am, I agreed to do it. Here are some of the choicest quotes from potential voters:

Me: Hello Mr. _____, I'm calling today to remind you to vote on Tuesday the 8th. We need your support for Tim Kaine and the entire Democratic ticket. Kaine is endorsed by governor Mark Warner, who...
Potential Voter #1: I don't like Kaine (the Democratic candidate for gov.) and I don't like anyone who votes for him. But thanks anyway.

Me: Hello Mr. _____, I'm calling today to remind you to vote on Tuesday the 8th...
Potential Voter #2: I don't need you to call and remind me to vote, man. I'm a living, breathing human being.

Me: Hello Mr. _____, I'm calling today to remind you to vote on Tuesday the 8th.
Potential Voter #3: Vote?!?! Vote for what?
Me: Umm... there's an election on Tuesday.
Potential Voter #3: What election?
Me: The gubernatorial election is on Tuesday.
Potential Voter #3: I'm sorry, we don't mess with voting. Sorry.


Just realized that the link from this post doesn't work. So, to reiterate:

I've been known to make music from time to time. Yesterday I posted a bunch of said music here. Please give a listen and let me know what you think at jitneypop @ gmail.com. All of the songs are at least 3 years old. All of my new musical efforts have been directed towards the great R&B Noise band Jitney, whose Audiri page should be coming soon.

And now the link works.

In a Far Off Land .... or, Confusing Bumper Stickers Spotted in Central Illinois

God, Guns, and Guts
Keep America Free

I really was taken aback by this sticker, probably because of the images it conjured up. I pictured the male, white-bearded vengeful God (bound to be the object of faith of the person who would slap such a sticker on their vehicle). I saw the guns of America, millions strong and enjoying their heyday. Then I imagined guts. Bloody, shredded intestinal bits strewn over a battlefield. This was the most shocking image induced by the sticker, and I was amazed that someone so blatantly patriotic would embrace gory violence in this way. I mean, I know the God Bless America crowd doesn't shy away from war, but the assertion that GUTS keep America free seemed especially harsh and senseless.

Then I remembered that guts has a figurative meaning. This sticker wasn't referring to a person's innards, but rather their testicular virility, in the famous sexist words of our governor. I guess that makes more sense, but doesn't make this sentiment any less disturbing for me.

I don't want to launch into stereotypes about my hometown. All I'm going to say is that I've never seen this sticker in Chicago.


Spot on article at Slate.com about "Rock Snobs": "...let's face it, only one thing is more incorrigible than my snobbery, people, and that's your indefensibly crappy taste in music."
Haagen-Dazs new flavor, Caramel Cone, is absolutely fucking delicious. You gotta try it.

Today I went to the Sprint store downtown for reasons related to the fact that Laura's phone has been busted for a few weeks now. At this Sprint store, there's a phone store hostess, who takes your name and your reason for being there. The lady in front of me at the hostess' kiosk, let's call her J. Doe, shook her perfectly normal looking phone in the air and sighed, "I just HAVE to get a new phone. This one is not working for me." The hostess took her name and almost immediately an employee called her name and took her to the wall of phones for her to choose from. I was not so lucky, and had a fifteen minute or so wait.

As I was killing time pretending to be interested in the phones on the wall, I managed to overhear Ms. Doe telling the person showing her phones that her old phone was "cramping her style". "It's all about your phone," she then informed him.

Later, after wandering over to the other wall, where they keep the Nextel i530 that "Adheres to Military 810F Spec", I saw J. holding her prospective new phone and asking the Sprint salesman if he liked it. She then opened it up (flip phone), held it up to her head and started talking into it, and asked the salesman, "So it looks good?" HELD IT UP TO HER HEAD AND PRETENDED TO TALK ON THE PHONE. Is this normal? If it looks good in your hand, won't it probably look good when you're talking on it? And don't all phones look almost exactly the same, save for the different basic types: candy bar, flip, and Blackberry/Trio? Someone please help me understand.

Leaving my Mark on the Streets of Peoria

Today I had my first bout with morning sickness. Now, I don't have anything to compare it to, as I never hurled during pregnancy #1, but I thought this was some pretty intense morning sickness. First of all, MY GOD, the headache. Then, the misery of driving while nauseated, trying not to think about how sick I feel, but feeling more and more sick because I can't stop thinking about it. Finally, the panicky moment when I realize it's coming up, and I'm in my dad's car, yet so close to my sister's house. Must keep driving.... must reach toilet..... must control gag reflex..... Alas, I was not successful in my efforts to stop the inevitable. So I had some put-on-your-hazard-lights-and-open-your-door-in-moving-traffic-to-puke morning sickness. Goddamn disgusting.

Why did we decide to get pregnant again? Oh yeah, because after these nine months of potential hell, we will have one of those great little pink bodies to wrap up and gaze at for hours on end. We will meet a brand new person. I, for one, plan on liking that person a lot.

I promise that if I continue to have morning sickness during this pregnancy, I may mention it in passing, but will not describe it in such detail as I did today. It was the first time ever, so give me some grace, please.


Via Atrios, via Kevin Drum (mmmm... taste the bloggy self reference) Editor and Publisher takes a look at the public's response to the Plame leak scandal and... remember those folks who said no one will care? Wrong:

Plamegate: 86% important 12% not important
Clinton-Lewinsky: 62% important, 37% not important
Whitewater: 49% important, 45% not important
Iran-Contra: 81% important, 19% not important
Watergate: 78% important, 22% not important

Wow. Didn't expect that. Clearly this has a lot to do with why Bush registered his deliciously low 35% approval rating. Damn it feels good to be a lefty.
I've been known to make music from time to time. Yesterday I posted a bunch of said music here. Please give a listen and let me know what you think at ***. All of the songs are at least 3 years old. All of my new musical efforts have been directed towards the great R&B Noise band Jitney, whose Audiri page should be coming soon.


I think my MySpace.com profile is a piece of Zen beauty.


So Bush nominates Alito. Wow. From the point of view of the Bush camp, a perfect pick. Crazily conservative, yet with nothing on his record that will sufficiently piss off the public to get much of Congress concerned enough to vote no.

He's written more than a few interesting opinions over the years, but, as all the newspapers and blogs have written already, the most controversial is Planned Parenthood v. Casey, where, in dissent with the rest of his fellow judges, he defended a provision of a Pennsylvania law that required women to notify their spouses before getting an abortion.

While I would disagree with any argument (at least that I can think of) that reached Alito's conclusion regarding the spousal notification requirement, the argument he used was particularly bothersome. He said that spousal notification was not an "undue burden" on the process of getting an abortion. Or, in other words, he asked, "How can being required to notify your spouse possibly interfere with your plan to get an abortion?" and his answer was, "It can't."

This, my friends, is fucked up. And the Supreme Court agreed. BUT, I think the sad fact is, most of America won't care enough to stop the confirmation. And, of course, many folks don't care at all, because they'd probably be happy if the spouse stopped the abortion at all costs. Damn it.



Friend Adam and I have started an mp3 blog called The Square Tracks. I would love it if folks checked it out. Free music! Come on, I know you want some.
I've listened to a lot of pundits talk about the Libby indictment today on CNBC (CNBC is the only channel that's ever on in the office) and NPR, and, what the fuck? All of them have basically pronounced this a non-story. I would love to link to examples of this, but I'm not sure where to go since on NPR it was the live coverage and CNBC is TV, you know. One example I remember pretty clearly, from NPR, basically went something like this: "No one knew who Libby was before this investigation, and after Bush nominates the next Supreme Court justice, everyone will have forgotten about this."

Thankfully, after this idiot, Nina Totenburg (sp?) was asked to comment, and she said the only intelligent thing I've heard anyone say about the indictment all day. To paraphrase, she said that there are two possibilities as to how this will play out:

1. Libby cops a plea and incriminates more people in the White House. Ms. Totenburg didn't take this any further, but obviously, if this happens it will most likely be a MAJOR shitstorm for the White House.

2. It goes to court. Unless Libby pleads guilty and is comfortable with going to jail for his scumbag bosses, I would assume that he will try to portray himself as carrying out the will of others. Again, shitstorm.

Not a big deal for the Bush administration? Who are these people and can someone please explain to them that an indictment doesn't mean everything is over and we can all go home and sing Kum Ba Yah. Five counts folks. Shit is not even close to over.


I know 25 isn't very old at all, but damn I felt old yesterday when "Wonderwall" by Oasis popped up on the ol' mp3 player set to random yesterday, and I felt really touched by it. This is really hard for me to own up to, that I seriously was fucking feeling "Wonderwall". (Right now you're reading some straight up "blog as therapy" shit.) It only makes sense, I loved "Wonderwall" when it came out. But I was 15 then, at that point I had only reached the foothills of Mt. Music Snob. I think (hope?) I reached the peak 4 years ago or so. I guess this is a sign of my progress in my descent.

Did I mention I love random playlist listening? Because I do.
Okay, so the tube-socks-as-kiddie-legwarmers idea? Somebody's on it already.


The Strongest Bladder the World Has Ever Seen

So, the last few weeks, we have started to get serious about potty training the boy. I asked Nate to do a little research on methods we might employ. He did a google search, and the page that popped up first was the one we decided to go with. I thought it looked easy enough, and I liked that the instructions were simple but very clear.

We are in week 3, wherein we leave Simon's pants and diaper off for a period of time every day. I have stretched it each day. First 45 minutes, then 1.5 hours, and today over 2 hours. The idea is that you will tell him to go in the potty if he has to go, then leave him to play. Accidents are expected, and can be helpful incentive for him to go to the potty next time, as most people do not enjoy the feeling of their own urine running down their legs.

After only 3 days, I'm starting to grow doubtful of this method. We haven't had any successes, and we haven't had any accidents. I was all ready to be sopping up piss with a towel..... but, no. Nothing.

Simon, I think, must have an astoundingly strong bladder. I know he had to pee for at least an hour this morning. How do I know, you ask? Well, he downed two sippy cups full of soymilk. Later, he started frantically begging me to put a diaper on him. I encouraged him to sit on the potty instead. (He cooperated with this suggestion, but retained an iron-grip on his bladder.) Another clue that he he needed to pee was.... well, not to get too personal, but there is a physiological clue to mommies of boys. Basically, his little penis sticks out like a miniature balloon animal, looking painfully full and ready to burst. But Simon would not let it go.

So... I don't know about this method. I don't think he's ever going to go as long as he is pantless. Maybe we'll move to undies. If he could feel something next to the skin of his nether regions, he could relax enough to go. But he could feel the yucky wetness too. I swear, this potty training business seems so cruel sometimes.

Speaking of cruel, here is a potty training pic which someday Simon might hate me for showing to the world. But I include it to demonstrate my efforts to make the process less cruel. See, in the pants-off method we were using, I worried about his little legs being cold. A pair of daddy's tube socks, pulled up mid-thigh, and presto! Instant leg-warmers. Someone could market them for this purpose, I swear.


Naming your children is hard.


We were in the hometown area over the weekend. Laura and I went for a walk yesterday morning around my old neighborhood which I really enjoyed... until we came upon a giant helicopter, suspended above the air, right on the edge of a park that is the setting of many of my favorite memories from my childhood/adolesence. The helicopter is a monument to... itself. The plaque in front of it bears the history of that particular kind of helicopter. Again, for emphasis: This is a monument to A WEAPON. Not soldiers. Not a particular battle or war. What a fucking bummer. You can't go home again, at least not without seeing a scary as shit helicopter looming over one of your favorite spots.


Looking at my positive pregnancy test this morning, a flood of emotions washed over me. These emotions varied greatly from what I felt the last time I discovered I was pregnant, when I was 20, single, and still reeling from having committed the gravest of sins --- giving away my virginity, to a non-Christian heathen, nonetheless. Allow me to illustrate the difference:

Last Time:

This Time:

Painfully obvious conclusion: When it comes to pregnancy, a committed relationship, a stable home, and a faith based on love rather than guilt can make a pretty significant difference.


I'm a Glutton for Punishment...

in the form of long science books. Just finished Gödel, Escher, Bach a few days ago, and today I picked up The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil. It's a little bit shorter, and I'm hoping the concepts will be more intuitive than those in GEB. If you don't know about the concept of "the Singularity", you should check it out here. My current interest is one of curious skeptic, which is why I picked up the book. I read a few pages on the train today. So far everything seems to be making sense. It's that chapter about reverse engineering the human brain that has my bullshit detector itching to scan over it.

P.S. I find it really funny that Sudoku books are on the bestseller shelves at Border's. Seeing 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America up there gave me a chuckle too, but in a sorta depressing way. Al Franken is number 37, you know.

The Pee Stick.

My little boy is rounding the corner to three years old. As he grows, it prompts us to think about how we will add to our family. In my mind, adoption was the best option for two reasons:

1. The whole altruistic, beautiful, noble aspect of it. We have love and stability, and could give those things to a child in need.
2. The whole non-childbearing aspect of it. Labor was amazing in some ways, but awful in many others. Yeah, and not just labor, but pregnancy. Pregnancy, people. It does crazy things to your body.

So, adoption had been foremost in my mind, especially for the past 2 or 3 months, as I felt increasing pressure to somehow obtain a sibling for my son. I made phone calls to agencies. I had tea with a virtual stranger from my church so she could tell me about her experience adopting. I felt so sure of this course that I was willing to share our plans with many of our friends and family.

Still, I had a nagging voice( both psychological and biological, it seemed) telling me I might want to have another baby. I was so fixated on adoption, though, that I ignored this voice. Or, more accurately, I snapped at it to 'shut up!' The process of adoption is not without its own difficulties, and I believed that wanting to procreate again was sheer selfishness on my part. Too lazy to do all the paper work and jump through all the hoops, too impatient to wait an unspecified period of time before another child would live with us.

It took a conversation with a friend to see the error in my thinking. I guess in what was a throwback to my days as an evangelical, I had taken on a little too much responsibility to, you know, save the world. Just because I had considered adoption did not obligate me to pursue it right now. And wanting to carry another baby did not make me selfish, lazy, or impatient. After several months of single-mindedly focusing on adoption, I slowly became comfortable with changing my mind. I decided to listen to my heart and my body. I still think adoption is an amazing possibility, one I hope to explore with my family a few years down the road.

But, right now, I want to be pregnant again. So I talked with Nate. We discussed it shortly. We decided to try. Then we tried. And now we are........

WAITING. I am single-handedly keeping Scantibodies Laboratory, makers of First Response preggers test in business, I think. I keep taking these damn tests even though it is too early to tell. So, maybe not selfish and lazy, but impatient... yes. Certainly impatient.

Note to Self

Do not bring a bowl of pistachios to the computer with the intention of snacking on them as you write a blog entry. Your fingers will be busy searching for little green nuggets of fatty goodness. You will not be able to stop; therefore, you will not be able to type.



Me: Why do you think Bush's approval ratings have gotten so low?
My Dad: Well Nate, what's there to to approve of?
Today I hit 25 on the Age-O-Meter. Set up the wireless router I got for my b-day last night, so now I can blog from the men's room. Tonight I'm DJing with the Almighty Scrabblor at Skylark, which is at S. Halsted and Cermak. 9pm-2am, if you're in the Chi you should come check for at least a bit. There's a rumor that Ice Cream Truck DJs from LA are going to show up and do their thing.


Gödel, Escher, Bach is a 750 page beast, and I'm almost done. It's a fantastic book, but goddamn, let's finish it already. I feel like I've been reading it for eternity.
Yesterday, I woke up alone, with a shitty old computer and a dial-up internet connection. Today, I woke up with my two most loved ones in the house, a shiny new laptop, and DSL. What a difference a day makes.


If anyone wants a comprehensive explanation of the previous post, just read this. And I'd like to add that up to the point of illness, I had a really fantastic time, and if someone could tell Liz that it was a pleasure to meet her I would be greatful. And CT, thank you again for your help with my duties at WAUCC.


I would like to take this opportunity to formally apologize for the events of the night of the twenty-third. I am not accustomed to drinking alcohol.


Speaking of main dameys, my real main dameys, Smiles and L-train, left yesterday to go visit the great-grandmother. And they'll be gone for FIVE DAYS. That's a long ass time. Thus the increase in posts. Also, remember that while you're reading these, I'm drunk and weeping on my keyboard as I wait for them to come back. You know, metaphorically.
I ordered a new laptop 1 1/2 weeks ago, and they finished building it and it was shipped yesterday. It was built in China. How long does it take to ship something from China? If I remember right, they said it will be 5 business days at most.
This is really great news, because this computer is FUCKING BROKE. It works probably 40% of the time. The other 60% is spent rebooting, slowly grinding to a halt, and otherwise fucking up your shit. And anyone who knows me knows that my computer is, as Neiman Marxist MZ Snokilla would say, my main damey (sp?). Mr. Postman, bring me a dream!


If you don't know, you should: I heart dj /rupture. This post on his Mudd Up! blog is particularly great: DJ RUPTURE'S 10-STEP GUIDE TO SELLING OUT. It deserves to be read, but the gist is that /rupture has no problem with getting paid, regardless of the source. I have to agree. Money=food, more/better recording equipment, and maybe even some savings. I think those that bitch about selling out usually take these things for granted. Also, the quote in the post, from another blog's comments, "Would anybody be upset if UGK was used to promote a new Chevy Impala? No, fools would be like 'golly gosh this is so cool! I LOVE that southern rap is getting the attention it deserves!!'" is a great point. If I ever get a call from the man talking $, there's almost no question what my reply is. And to anyone who has beef, my reply is the words of Kanye. "Fuck you, pay me."
The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.
While this should be obvious to most, in evangelical America a statement like this is a revelation. Too bad about all that required chastity, gay hating, etc.
It still surprises me that my ears still perk up when there's news about the church. Mostly, it amazes me that so many people who don't agree at all with the church are able to remain members, e.g. my parents. Whenver the church lets out one of their more rediculous decrees, I think, "Oh, this is the one that will piss them off." But no, just head shaking and "I know, I know." What would it take to get them to leave? Not that I want them to leave, but I just wonder. I don't know whether to respect or to just be dumbfounded by them.


Okay, I know that last post was written to sound like there would be a picture accompanying the text. And that was indeed my intention. But I can't get these pics to upload for the life of me. I guess you'll have to wait until tonight, when our resident computer guru can tackle the issue. Sorry.

Demands have been made.

I tried to post this last night, but our computer froze right before I published. She's a tough old broad, this emachine... little does she know, her replacement is on the way. You can expect more regular posting after the laptop arrives.

I considered waiting until my tattoo was not so new-tattoo-scabby to post a picture, but when Colin Taylor asks to you to post your tattoo, you post your tattoo, goddamn it.
It is healing up nicely, though, and I don't think this photo will offend our more squeamish readers. In the end the heart will not be two-toned. The dark spots are the previously mentioned scabs. They will come off, leaving only the baby soft skin of my flabby right arm.
I have only two thoughts about my tattoo experience:
1) That was it?!?!?!?! Removing the tape that held the bandage in place hurt more than the actual injection of the ink. I was pleasantly surprised when the process just made me wince, not cry out in pain as I expected. Listen for those cries next time, though, when I get inked in a more sensitive spot. This one is near my shoulder, the meatiest (you know, muscle-bound) part of my arm. So I guess I got off easy this time.
2) When can I get my next one??? My little girl is already very lonely, and it's not for lack of plans on my part. It's because I lack the funds. Any donations toward my drawn-upon skin would be happily accepted.


Hit the hometowns over the weekend, in celebration of L-train's birthday. Lots of food. Got to bring home some Peoria microbrew, which is really tasty. A little envangelical craziness. Food. Awkward political conversations. Traffic wasn't bad. Oh, and Laura got a tattoo Fri. Hott.
Not too long ago I remember it was fashionable to write articles about/reference the idea that DJs and producers are the modern equivalent of jazz musicians. But who is who? (This is an idea that I was thinking of while listening to the new DJ Shadow mix that's making the rounds, which is fucking fantabulous. You may be able to still get it at So Many Shrimp. Also, while you're downloading, everyone should check the new Fugees track at Lemon-Red. Lauryn spits her hottest rhymes yet. If you ain't checking new Fugees, you hate music. But I digress.)DJs/jazz musicians
DJ Shadow/Miles Davis
DJ /rupture/Coltrane
Kid 606/Ornette Coleman
Dr. Dre/Louis Armstrong
How about more, including non-jazz musicians? Who's the new Beatles? New Minor Threat? New Electric Light Orchestra? I dare you to say. Dare you!


A Poll for our Chicago Readers. All Six of You.

So, today was street cleaning and we left for the playground right at 9 am, when the parking ban begins (yes, we drove because it's my birthday and I'm allowed to be lazy). Upon returning, it was hard to find a spot, of course. I was so tempted to park on the streets with street-cleaning signs up, because all of the cars on them already had tickets. I know the parking ban is from 9 am to 3pm, but my question is this: Do they make more than one ticket sweep? Do you think they would come back looking for more offenders after they had already dispensed the original batch of tickets?
Does anybody know or have experience with this situation? If so, comment, please! Thanks.

Today I am twenty-four.

I must admit, since becoming a mommy, birthdays have been a little underwhelming. I guess it's because I'm alone with my guy all day, and our routine is exactly the same as every other day. So I decided I could take some steps to make this day stand out a bit, if only in small ways.
1. When Simon woke up, I announced, a little self-consciously, "It's mommy's birthday!" And I think he understood on some level. He has been much more lovey than usual, displaying affection of his own volition, but also not complaining as I've smothered him in an inordinate amount of hugs, kisses, and embarrassing compliments.
One thing he definitely understands, and I quote, "Mommy's birthday! Cake?"
2. I took Simon to the playground with the intention of staying as long as his little murmuring heart desired. This may sound like a selfless act, but my goal was to ensure he would be worn out enough for a nap later today. Because a birthday when the kid doesn't nap really isn't a birthday at all.
3. After leaving the playground we stopped for some ice cream and Nutty Bars.
4. Instead of putting on Elmo or Baby Einstein, we put on Stop Making Sense.
5. Tonight I'm having a picture drawn on my arm. And it's going to stay there forever. HOLY SHIT!
I think I succeeded in making today special and somewhat celebratory, even though I'll still have to change poopy diapers.


Funny You Should Ask...

Today was the first story hour at the new library down the street. My friend Karen and I decided to meet there, with our respective rug-rats in tow. We weren't sure how the kids would handle it, so we agreed beforehand that we would be willing to jet if necessary. This is something I really appreciate about Karen; she is a good mommy-friend to have.
The story hour was really only 10 minutes of books about bunnies. Following the books was a craft (making a bunny), and Karen and I decided this might be a bit much for our little ones. We snuck out and headed to the children's section of the library, where there were books galore for the kids to rip from shelves, spread out on tables or the floor, and devour at a frantic pace.
For a few minutes Simon was fixated on stealing books away from baby Kalie, but other than that, things were going well. Kalie was getting a bit antsy, and Karen asked me how she looked (she was strapped on to her mom's chest, facing forward in the Snugli, so it was easier for me to see her face). I reassured Karen that the baby was still smiling. Then, being the good mommy-friend she is, Karen asked how Simon was doing.
The instant the words left her mouth, Simon let fly a drum-shattering scream. And the screaming continued in a rhythmic, pulsing pattern. Yes, everyone in the library turned to look at us, in one of those moments mothers dread but cannot seem to avoid.
I decided it was time to go. And, of course, Karen understood, because she is a good mommy-friend.


Predictability and repetition in entertainment can be fun. Some people like the OC, some people like The Diplomats, and some people like A Prarie Home Companion. I like all three. So, I was really bummed to see that Garrison Keillor is suing MNspeak.com over a t-shirt that says "A Prarie Ho Companion". First, he doesn't even have a case. Second, the t-shirt is so unfunny that it shouldn't warrant anyone's attention. All suing them is going to do is put more unfunny t-shirts on the streets, and no one wants that. And lastly, what the fuck GK? Get a sense of humor, old guy.
It's like Cam'ron once said:
duck duck goose,
pump pump shoot
shoot, let's get down, down
it may seem petty
but we all turn mean deadly for green feddy
my whole team ready
I'm sure Garrison would agree.

Jitney at Hot House, 9.13.05



You Will Let My Child Eat his Lunch in Peace

Today at lunchtime I placed Simon's plate on his tray and then turned around to finish fixing myself a salad. Suddenly he was screaming, a panicked, horrified and horrifying scream. I turned around, imagining everything that could've happened to him during the 15 seconds my back had been turned. He somehow cut off his pinky with his plastic fork. He managed to stick his toe in the outlet behind his high chair and received a near-deadly shock. While I can normally come up with endless scenarios of impossible ways my son could be hurt, these two were really all I could think of... I mean, he's in his highchair at lunch time, the same as every single day. How dangerous can it be?
At that instant I saw a fat fly leaving the area of my son's plate, perhaps discouraged from his conquest by the bone-chilling scream. Simon calmed down pretty quickly, telling me he saw a fly and then mustering a brave, "Go away, fly." Oh, that fly will go away, I thought. I reassured my kid, hugging, cooing, and then encouraging him to go on eating as if nothing had happened. I casually moved to the closet where we keep the flyswatter, then, for the next 3 minutes, I devoted my undivided attention to stalking that fly. I watched him, utterly focused on my task, until he landed. Then with two quick flicks of my wrist he truly had gone away, as per the boy's request.
That fly died. Because you can't make my baby cry like that and expect to live.


The Yo-Yo that is my Motivation

I had the laziest week ever. Really. I mean record-setting laziness. I managed to cut back my normal 8-10 weekly workouts to one measly walk all week! During Simon's nap (one of the two time-slots during which I usually exercise) I decided to watch 3 consecutive hours of TV. Every day. (Two soap operas and then Ellen who, thank God, has taken Dr. Phil's 3:00 time; I love Ellen, and I love watching Kanye on Ellen. Two beautiful people.) I don't know why I lost my motivation to do anything productive during my extremely scarce free time this week. I guess I just needed a break.
Maybe I was storing up my energy for tonight, as I knew I had to make cookies for a few church events this weekend. And I baked the shit out of those cookies. For 5 straight hours I made cookies. Thousands of cookies. Cookies, cookies, cookies.
Now I am tired. And you are craving cookies. Ha ha.

This American Tragedy

Everyone should try to tune in to This American Life tomorrow. 1:00 pm on WBEZ 91.5. Dow Jones and I were in tears. Unbelievable, moving, horrifying, outrageous stories from survivors of the storm. Stuff you're unlikely to hear anywhere else. Thank you, Ira Glass and crew.
I'm not at all kidding when I say I've been wondering what Jay-Z would say about Katrina.
No. Please, please, no, don't. We got this, ok? You've done great things, and really, I don't hate all of Farenheit 9/11. But seriously, you shouldn't even be talking about this at this point. Fucking stop it, ok?
Dow Jones


This is an actual conversation between myself and my son yesterday. Simon's words have been edited for clarity:

SM (runs into room): Daddy, does a zebra graze in the meadow?
Me: No, a zebra lives on the plains of Africa. (I think that's right, right?)
SM: Does a zebra live on the farm?
Me: No, a zebra lives on the plains of Africa.
SM: A zebra is not a goose.
Me: That's right.


Funny Things Happen When You Have a Kid

Sometimes you fart and even though you realize that you farted it smells so bad that you wonder if maybe your kid pooped. So you check his diaper, but no, no poop. Just you and your hair-singeing fart, you filthy pig.

The Suckers Club

Yesterday Simon got a piece of mail from 4 year old Josie, daughter of some friends of ours in Peoria. It was a typed chain letter, inviting Simon to join The Sticker Club. We were instructed to send stickers to the two children (Molly, who we don't know, and Josie) whose names and addresses were listed. Then, we were to move Josie's name to the top spot and put Simon in position 2. All this was simple enough. The request that made my heart sink was, "send this letter to 6 other people." Six. Six other kids. Not two or three, but six. This was troublesome. You can't just send a chain letter to anyone. It has to be someone you know, but not that well. Someone who will recognize your name and return address, but who you don't see more than once a year. The shame of passing this kind of hassle on to families we see on a regular basis would be too great.
I agonized over the Sticker Club all night. My struggle may have been brought on by the not-so-subtle guilt written into the letter: "If you cannot do this within six days, please let me know because it is not fair to those who have participated." I didn't want to be unfair to Josie by short-changing her 1/6 of the stickers she was longing to receive. So I racked my brain for hours. Who could I send this to? I identified a few distant cousins, but after that I was stuck. Then my list had to be modified when I realized that my cousin (whose 3 year old girl was a prime candidate for the Sticker Club) had recently had another baby, and I hadn't sent a card. So, she had to be taken off the short list. Can't ignore the birth of a new child and expect someone to smile upon receiving a chain letter.
In the end, I decided that maybe I should shift my focus from the children to the parents. Of course I welcome an opportunity to make children happy, but what about the parents? I reflected on what a headache the Sticker Club had caused me. Then I had a vision of my headache spreading, like a menacing cloud, to each family I invited to the club. I just couldn't feel good about sending this kind of task to already frazzled moms and dads.
So, I did send stickers to Molly, to ensure she would receive her full allotment. And then I sent many, many stickers to Josie, to make up for her loss. Maybe her mom will distribute them slowly with each day's mail, with accompanying stories: "Look, Josie, you got some stickers from a child in France!" "Oh, Josie, these came all the way from Chile!" "Wow! These stickers are from Cookie Monster, Josie!"


Jitney is playing Tues. the 13th at the Hot House, opening for Nuevos Ricos.
I think this is a handy timeline, for when you need to remind yourself just how fucking bad the response was to Katrina.
Everyone should really read this whole article about firefighters who wanted to help in the wake of Katrina but got held back by FEMA. (via TPM)
The levees in NOLA weren't kept up for the past few years because the feds couldn't afford it, what with the tax cuts, The War on Terrorism, Inc., and, oh yeah, we're fighting a war in Iraq. And Katrina has also illustrated the important part social services play for the millions of poor folks in this nation. So what's near the top of the Republicans' agenda as they go back to work in Congress? From the WaPo:
In the last few days I've heard a few pundits saying things to the effect of, "maybe Katrina is what the media needed to start telling the truth about this administration." Cooper Anderson, obviously, is exhibit one for their cause, and beyond that they cite a few sprinkles of outrage here and there. Maybe I'm just a pessimist, but it's hard for me to think that. There's not a lot of money to be made in truth telling, it's as simple as that. CNN isn't going to get higher ratings because of what Anderson Cooper said. Also, there's this.


In happy news, my parents were in town today, and we all went to Lincoln Park Zoo. This is my son's dream, to go to the zoo every day. Because he's obsessed with animals. And I wouldn't have it any other way. If I could pick one category of things to be his favorite, it would be animals. He kinda likes cars and trucks too, which are ok. But animals don't need fuel that destroys the environment to function. They aren't made by major corporations. (No comments about GE animals, ok?) They aren't a brand, some character with a copyright slapped on everything they do. Bob the Builder, Nemo, and Dora the Explorer, I'm looking at you. Animals. This kid is going to save the world, I'm telling you.

Missing Chief

Just got the news that Rehnquist died. Also, the news is showing a clip of Kanye saying, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Looks like it's time for G.W. to nominate another Clarence Thomas to smooth it all over.
Seriously, what the fuck is going on in this nation? I'm as much of a Bush hater as anyone, but even I didn't expect this level of incompetence. At this point, I won't be too surprised if Alan Keyes gets nominated for Chief Justice.


I don't know that much about copyright, which is why I've never posted about it. I'd rather leave it to the experts. But this, I think it's safe to say, is just absurd: "Maine AG implements antipiracy education in state schools". When he gets old enough, Simon's getting a strict curriculum of music theft.
America, you so crazy! And by crazy, I mean really fucking stupid. Good thing we have No Child Left Behind to clean up this mess. Oh, wait...


The Scrabblor, an effort to defend screw music, pointed out the other day that screwed and chopped is to hip hop what Piper at the Gates of Dawn is to rock, and everyone else looked at him as though he had just said, "your mother sucks cocks in hell!" Rockists.

As I Live and Breathe

Listening to a really sad song by The Streets right now. God, this shit is breaking my heart. I don't know why, but it makes me think of The Office. BBC, of course. Why would a sad love song make me think of the Office? I guess because Tim and Dawn's story (the focus of the show for me) was a sad one for so long, up until that glorious moment at the end of the Christmas special. I was so deliriously happy as I watched them walk hand-in-hand off the set, despite Tim's ill-fitting pants, which only killed a tiny bit of the magic for me.
On a semi-related note, I saw two performances by the band Keane on SNL last weekend (a re-run, I think, with Paris Hilton). I have to say, I found myself falling a bit for their crooner of a frontman. I have no idea if this band is entirely dorky to like, but I'm thinking of buying their album, just based on those two songs, which I've been humming all week. What's so special about these songs, you ask, and what do they have to do with the Office? The songs that I've been softly singing to myself give me a certain feeling.... There's no way to describe this without sounding completely cheesy, so I'll just say it. They remind me of falling in love. That's right. Somehow, they just send me back a few years to when all of my emotions were throbbing and raw. I'm glad love doesn't always feel that way... it's quite exhausting, really. My life now is exhausting in other ways. Fewer turbulent emotions, more physical repetition. Picking up dishes, picking up my child, changing diapers, changing towels and sheets, etc etc, on and on. I'm glad that the love in my life now exists on a simple plane of unconditional acceptance and unshakable stability. I wouldn't have the energy for the all-consuming romance of yore. Still, I appreciate music that can take me back to those days. Because it's nice to remember once in a while that I felt that way. I had a love story, complete with ups and downs, and now I'm living out its much less dramatic conclusion. I guess I'm in the "happy ever after," which, of course, no one in their right mind would trade for the world. A little Keane in my life would help me recall what led up to this point. And that is nice. I hope the songs are short, though, because I can't think about it too long. There is laundry to do, damn it, and toys all over the floor.



So many lefty propoganda films, so little time. If I have to hear another person drool over one of these things, I don't know if I can take it. The same people who love to bitch about how dumb George W. is would rather take their socio/political opinions hand fed to them in an easy to digest film, rather than deal with the confusing messiness of the issues. Read, goddamn it! Read! It only takes a little more time, and if you're reading from the right sources, you'll have a much better handle on the facts.


Housekeeper of the Year

You know you're doing a poor job of keeping up with housework when someone crawls around on your floor and repeatedly says, "dirty, dirty, dirty." Especially when this critique comes from a person who has a urine-soaked bulge strapped to his person constantly. This same person, while walking outside, would gladly put a dried-up dog turd in his mouth if you weren't cowering over him with a look that said you were ready to pounce. Dirty, he says. And the thing is, he's right.
My floors are dirty. It's not my fault, though. The Roomba isn't working. I have tried, Lord knows I have tried, to fix it. I've spent extensive time in the "troubleshooting" section of the irobot website, and I've spoken to a very polite operator on the phone. All to no avail. I think I'll finally bite the bullet this weekend and ship it off for service.
Godspeed, Roomba. When you return, I'll treat you better than ever before. I'll clean all your sensors on a regular timetable. I'll use q-tips and even rubbing alcohol! Just come back and clean my floors again. Please. I have to show this two year old that I can be cleaner than him.


The Great Fruit Fly Invasion of 2005
It all started innocently enough; I had some tiny tomatoes from the bounty of Sam and Janna's Louisville garden sitting in the kitchen. Since we moved I've been "cooking" mostly frozen pizza or pasta, and, despite my best intentions, most of our fresh produce meets a soft, mushy, or moldy ending before being tossed. Such was the case with the Louisville tomatoes. Except, this time, due Chicago's spate of spectacular weather, the windows were open. Enter the fruit flies.
A week has passed....
Of course, the tiny tomatoes are gone by now. But the pesty flies are not.
Dear God, how do I get rid of these fuckers? Here's the thing: my house is not clean enough to be unappealing to a fruit fly. It's true that they are no longer lured by the stinky siren song of the tomatoes, but now they have the hanging plant, the orange peel that I left out after lunch, and the garbage. The GARBAGE, for God's sake. We will always have garbage, so does that mean we'll always have fruit flies?
This reminds me of the story of...
The World's Cleanest Garbage.
This story is true. I witnessed it with my own eyes.
In my grandmother's trash can, you will not really find trash. You will find folded paper and boxes. You won't find any aluminum foil in the trash can because it is in the pantry, washed and folded for its second, or fifth, use. The same goes for ziplock bags. Most amazingly, you won't find any food scraps. No banana or potato peels, no bell pepper seeds, no apple cores. Where are these remnants of former fruit and vegetable glory, you ask? In the refrigerator, of course. That's right, they go in a bag back in the fridge from whence they came, all to prevent stinky garbage.
This method also works to prevent fruit flies.
If you want to behold this awesome sight for yourself, you'll have to travel to Southern Illinois to my grandmother's modest home. She'll gladly give you the world's cleanest garbage tour.
Please note that I love my grandmother dearly. After living with her and her regimented garbage system for two years, I feel I've earned the right to poke fun a little.
This is in direct contrast to Dow Jones, who feels he has the right to make fun of fat people, even though he's never been anything close to fat himself.


Watched Goodbye Dragon Inn last Friday, and although I hated it while I was watching it, in hindsight I think it was really good. It's definately not entertaining to watch, but it's haunting. I find myself thinking about it a few times a day, the images popping into my head, triggered by something I see on the sidewalk or on the train. There's no score and almost no dialogue, just beautiful shots, the slow movement of the actors, and the sounds of Dragon Inn, the film playing in the theater where Goodbye Dragon Inn takes place. The ticket lady slowly walks around in the halls behind the theater. An aged actor from Dragon Inn sits in the audience, watching himself doing kung fu on the screen. I can't remember the camera moving a single time. Weird, but in a good way.

U.S. crude settled at $67.32 a barrel, up
$1.61, shortly after hitting $67.40, the highest level in 22 years of oil
futures trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Get ready for $75.
Jitney is playing a show Saturday, the 27th, at Texas.
Where do they come up with this shit? The U.S. attourney's Office says homeless people may be terrorists in disguise. "...[S]ome terrorists may be pose as street people to conduct surveillance of buildings and mass transit stations for future attacks." (via Theory of Everything)
It's wrong to laugh at people for being fat.
Pinko commie leftist crazy that I am, even I thought that Iran's claim that the highly enriched uranium residue on their equipment was left over from Pakistan was rediculous. Just goes to show you how controlled we are by Big Daddy Media. Thank you sir, may I have another?


Bappy Update

The baptism went off without a hitch, so our son is now sin free and ready to enter the pearly gates with nothing more than a high five to Peter. It was a beautiful service, as usual our pastor delivered a great sermon with lots of fiery lefty rhetoric. During the baptism, I managed to not burst into tears, which is a difficult task for me. Anyone who was at my wedding knows what I'm talking about. Afterwards, lots of friends and family came over for lunch. The part where the adult males fall asleep is always one of my favorite parts of family gatherings, so I was glad to see some of that. All in all, a wonderful day.



Yes, Google is slowly becoming a giant corporate behemoth. Yes, their work presents valid concerns for privacy advocates. But I have to respect a company that's so geeky that their re-issue of stock will be 14,159,265 shares, reflecting the first 8 digits after the decimal point in pi.


West says hip-hop was always about "speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people."
Kanye's message: "Not just hip-hop, but America just discriminates. And I wanna just, to come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, `Yo, stop it.'"
While I don't quite understand why he thinks gay is "the opposite, the exact opposite word of hip-hop", this is just another reason to be absurdly excited to check his new album. Now if he'd just move back to the Chi.
Rick Warren wants to turn Rwanda into the first "purpose driven nation." Choicest quote from the Time article: "Warren says he was 'looking for a small country where we could actually work on a national model,' and Kagame, impressed by The Purpose-Driven Life, volunteered Rwanda in March." What good luck for Rick.
China and Russia kick off "Peace Mission 2005". Good to see that the Bush administration doesn't have a monopoly on Orwellian misuse of language.


Really busy around the house this week because the young heathen is getting baptised this Sunday, which means all sorts of folks are going to be showing up here, at our previously quite chaotic house. We had a lot of stuff still sitting around from when we moved in a few months ago. I wish we were the type that believed that baptism magically saves the soul of the recipient. That would make it all worth it. Ceremony symbolizing the embrace of the congregation? Worth all the cleaning and shuffling around? Maybe.


Reasons to love Chicago:
1. We have reference tone.
2. We have the Red papers.