Wednesday, December 8, 2010

test

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sunday Mornin', Fryin' Chicken

We jump right into the 4th Annual Thanksgiving Road Trip Mix Contest.
Rules: My brother and I submit 16 tracks to my older brother to be randomly mixed onto two CDs, and we listen to these 32 songs on the annual family car ride from Indianpolis to Columbus, OH. Our mother ranks every song on a scale of 0-5 (5 being highest). Until the end of the challenge Mom & Dad don't know who chose each song. Highest Average Wins
2 wildcard rules this year:
* 1 Song is scored inversely (mom doesn't know ahead of time). So G and I will submit songs that follow the general theme of songs we choose, but suspecting Mom will score them low. Must be in the spirit of the competition, like I couldn't submit a DMX song.
* 1 Song is a throwaway song - Mom will score it, but it doesn't get added to the final scores. Just a way for us to pick something random and put it on the mix.

Mom's comments in italics
K or G indicates who submitted the song

1. "If She Doesn't Smile" - Fantastic Something - 5 - K
I liked that song! Anything else? I liked that song!
Definitely the first time track one scored a 5. We thought mom was going to be generous this year.

2. "The Birds Were Singing With All Their Might" - Love Is All - 3 - K's Inverse Song, scored as a 2
Just when I thought there were not going to be any words, words came. I didn't particularly like the voice of the singer.

3. "Up From Below" - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - 3 - G
It grew on me after awhile

4. "Devil Knows You're Dead" - Delta Spirit - 4 - K
It sounded like Willie Nelson. Was it? Do you agree it sounds like Willie Nelson?

5. "I Need A Dollar" - Aloe Blacc - 3.5 - K
Did he say dollar? I'm not sure why he needed my dollar.

6. "Unstoppable" - Foxy Shazam - 2.5 - K
That was a very good pasodoble song. It started out angry, but it grew on me.

7. "Firecracker" - Frazey Ford - 2 - G
Not my favorite. I liked the music better than the singer's voice.

8. "A Long Way From Home" - My Cousin, The Emperor - 3 - G
We have more country songs this year. I like the beat, it would've been a good jive song.

9. "Ain't Waitin'" - Justin Townes Earle - 3 - K
Another country song. I liked that one, it was short. I was surprised it was that short. It had a good beat.

10. "You Make Me Blue" - The Living Sisters - 4.5 - K
I liked that song, and I think Grant picked it.

11. "Pumped Up Kicks" - Foster The People - 3 - G's Throwaway Song
That grew on me. At first I didn't like the weirdo voice, but I liked the music and beat even though I didn't understand the words.

12. "Love Is A Dirty Word" - Jason Collett - 2.5 - G
I don't know what to say. I thought it started out good, then I didn't like the singer, then it got better. It was average.

13. "Fruitcake" - The Superions - 3.5 - K's Throwaway Song
By the end I was singing along and I knew the words! Extra 0.5 for the comedic value.
Dad: Good song, Kyle.

14. "For The Price Of A Cup Of Tea" - Belle & Sebastian - 3 - G
Good beat, good music.

15. "She Needs Me" - Fyfe Dangerfield - 3.5 - K
Again, good beat, good music.

16. "Something, Somewhere, Sometime" - Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore - 3 - G
It ended abruptly and surprised me. I liked the music and words.

Disc 2

17. "Take Off Your Sunglasses" - Ezra Furman and the Harpoons - 3 - G
I liked the music and words. I don't like it when guys try to sing high and can't really do it. ::followed by a demonstration of this:: I did know the words by the end of the song, though.

18. "Take Care" - Beach House - 2.5 - K
Too repetitive, too slow, two-and-a-half.

19. "If Loneliness Was Art" - Allo Darlin' - 3.5 - K
I liked the chorus especially well. Three...no! 3.5

20. "The Ills" - Mayer Hawthorne - 4 - G
That sounded like a motown song!

21. "Last Leaf" - OK GO - 3 - K
I liked the music, but I didn't like where he sang "if it takes FUR-ever", I didn't like that.

22. "Breakin' The Chains Of Love" - Fitz & The Tantrums - 4 - G
Good beat, words, rhythm, excellent musicality!

23. "Ma Che Freddo Fa" - Nada - 3 - K
This was hard to sing along with because I couldn't understand the words. I really liked the music though. Who sang that?
K: some Italian woman who is probably dead. (Wikipedia says NO, Nada was born in 1953 and is very much still alive.

24. "The Underdog" - Spoon - 5 - G
That was Billy Joel-esque!

25. "Wasted Hours" - Arcade Fire - 3 - K
I don't like it too much when the tempo changes in the middle of the song. You know when he's going "do-do-do-do" and then it's slower talking.

26. "Give It Back" - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - 4.5 - G
Motown-ish, good beat, rhythm, excellent musicality.

27. "Release me From Love" - Consequences - 4.5 - K
I enjoyed this song, the words and the music.

28. "Shadowcasting" - Ra Ra Riot - 4 - G
This had easy to understand words, and good music/beat.

29. "No, My Heart Will Go On" - Gigi - 4 - G
yes, a 4!

30. "Glitter" - No Age - 2 - G's Inverse Song, scored as a 3
The screechy noises I didn't like. The music also overwhelmed the words.

31. "Searchlight" - Aloha - 3 - K
Ho-hum. The beat reminded me of something else, but I can't think of what it was.

32. "Shine On" - The Airwaves - 2.5 - G
There was no time for a comment on this, as Adam in the backseat was busy alerting us that after the last 2 scores we ended up with a tie. A TIE?!

Somehow we had never considered that this might happen. Rather than set tiebreaker rules after the fact we just agreed on the tie. Maybe if we had a way to hook our ipods up to the car stereo we could've had a sudden-death song-off. We'll consider that for next year.

Final comments from Mom:
"Fruitcake" was the most memorable song. It was definitely more "country-ish" this year. There were no dirges,, and overall she thought we did a better job this year.

Once again, Grant does not have to create a trophy because technically he hasn't lost yet. Also, there were no instances where both of us chose the same song this year, which was a bit surprising.

When I get a chance I'll post links to download the entire mixes.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

11th

Kyle shouts at the sky, angrily shaking his fist, as if the months of the year were manifested in the heavens and feelings of disdain could be directed at them, “November!”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

Where I suffer for your entertainment. A coworker, with whom I occassionally engage in debate regarding the output of various pop-music starlets (a favorite is the "Rihanna vs Britney" argument), challenged me to listen to the new Katy Perry album, "Teenage Dream". Here goes, track by track.

1. "Teenage Dream" - the first, and title, track on this album full of lackluster vocal prowess and halfed-assery in the studio. When Katy makes an attempt at singing I can handle this, the song is fine until you get to the :51 second mark, where Katy and her handlers decide she'll just forcefully belt out one- and two-syllable words in between what should be a much better beat. This song doesn't do much for me...until she decides to actually sing again. The "i'mma get your heart racing in my skintight jeans..." umptempo bit is by far the best part of the song, and only appears twice, covering probably 20 seconds of the nearly four minute running time on this one. There's a monster-pop hit in here somewhere, and it's missed. Surprised they let this one get radio-play so quickly while California Gurls was exhibiting staying power.

2. "Last Friday Night" - The autotune vocal effects on this song are complete garbage (they appear during what the CD booklet refers to as the Pre-Chorus)...but once the real chorus starts, again, it's possible to find a catchy track in here. The opposite of the previous song, Katy's singing bits are the awful sections on this one and her more casual speaking sections carry the song. 2/3 of the way through you get a beat buildup and the crowd chant-along, begging for a producer/remixer to invest more time on this track than Dr. Luke and Max Martin appear to have spent. One of them slipped on the banana-peel effect button a few times too many in post-production and just gave up.

3. "California Gurls" - should've been a Snoop song feat Katy Perry instead of the other way 'round. Give the Dogfather another verse or two and drop Katy's wailing.

4. "Firework" - When, exactly, is the Firework expected to go off in this song? Get some real instruments in the studio, build a guitar riff, and drop the hollow synth noises. We get what sounds like a sample of the Coldplay string section instead of the bombast we're expecting based on the buildup. Once the "power" part hits, it lasts for maybe 10 seconds, and lacks the punch you'd get from a superior artist like Kelly Clarkson. Producers! Turn the volume up.

5. "Peacock" - This is a rubbish attempt at a Fergie song, which is ill-advised to begin with. Also, Katy namechecks Mystery, yet gives the cold shoulder to Matador and J-Dogg? Really hate the Venga Boy beat here.

6. "Circle The Drain" - another song shouting out for real musicians to play real instruments in a real studio. Katy echoes Billy Joel's "ack-ack-ack-ack" and sings her own terrible echoing. For a song about abandoning someone due to their drug abuse it sure makes me want to abuse drugs. Hilarious attempted drum solo as the song comes down from it's high.

7. "The One That Got Away" - Honestly, this is the best song on the album, and it begs for someone with real vocal chords to belt it out. Rewrite the first verse, get a killer guitar riff (again, see: Kelly Clarkson), give it to one of the talented kids graduating from American Idol, and you've got an actual hit. In Katy's hands, it's middle-album slow down filler. Hearing her attempt to sing the "whoa-oa-oa-oa"s live without a backing track would be torture.

8. "E.T." - No one should ever cram all of the T's and R's of the word "Extraterrestrial" into a chorus. I suggest replacing it with "Gastrointestinal"

9. "Who Am I Living For?" - Where Katy sings over terrible synths and beats, pretends to be Rihanna in parts, and in other parts just tries to sing words as loud as she can. Zzzzzz. I think this might be a 'message' song. The message is "get this crappy album released quickly while people still remember how great 'Hot N Cold' was!"

10. "Pearl" - I don't think I can do this anymore.

11. "Hummingbird Heartbeat" - Ugh. This one is about the birds and the bees. I'm done here.

12. "Not Like The Movies" - I'm sure it isn't. i didn't bother listening to it.

Never Again, this was a terrible idea. How much did the producers on this album get paid?

Friday, June 11, 2010

A rash of absent-mindedness

Yesterday evening I freaked out a little bit -- I opened up my wallet and noticed my debit card wasn't there. Having recently lost my iPhone this was cause for alarm. I quickly checked my pockets to see if I had misplaced it. Seconds later my $40 withdrawal came out and I remembered I was standing at the ATM...my card was in the machine.

Living "off the grid", sotospeak, after losing one's iPhone has the potential to be liberating. There's only one phone call I am compelled to make weekly, and my parents seem to be surviving so far without hearing my voice the last 2 sundays. I think I'll keep this up for the forseeable future, as my iPhone connectivity addiction was probably becoming bothersome to others.

Maybe in my pretend old age I'm discovering that some things do deserve moderation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

One Moment, of Many (Blackhawks v Sharks, Game 4)

Rick, Internet Celebrity Baumer, and I were in standing room only at center ice yesterday. Of the many many incredible moments, one of my favorites:

The official review of Seabrook's goal and whether it crossed the line or not. While the official was checking the camera angles, the tvs or jumbotron took forever to show the first replay. Like, a good 25-30 seconds that seemed like minutes. Eventually the graphic for "play under review" gives way to the slo mo instant replays and anticipation washes over the crowd. We see 2 views that don't give us anything definitive. finally, on the 3rd angle, it's clear to us that the puck just barely crossed the line. The place cheers loudly, hoping the powers that be see the same things we saw. The UC is it's usual loud self.

The review goes on. There's a noisy buzz in the air.

The official backs away from the glass. The noisy buzz turns into hushed murmuring, however amplified by volume.

The official opens his mouth to speak; time stops in the united center. extreme suspended animation takes over and hearts stop beating. In movies there's that moment where things move in slow motion, the only sound is silence. If it's possible to register negative decibels, we achieved it. Nothing moves but one man's mouth. He is standing in the center of the arena, the intense focal point of 22,000+. The very definition of rapt. He tells us the entire puck crossed the line.

...

An eruption of emotion and 22,000 roars immediately follow. Cue the Dagger, however delayed it may have been. Delirium overtakes us. Commence with the dancing!

...

Many many hours later, I high-fived Niklas Hjalmarsson at a bar.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Yeah? Well Now This Is Happening.

30 years ago today, on May 18th, 1980, Mount Saint Helens erupted in Skamania County, Washington, killing 57 people, and Ian Curtis committed suicide in Macclesfield, England, killing, well, 1 person.

Of course, I don't recall either of these things. I turned 2 that day.

My fifteenth birthday is immortalized (probably not the correct word) by this bizarre song from Randan Discotheque released on August 31st (across the pond...I doubt it ever saw the light of day here in the states). It's pretty much an entire song recapping everything that was included in the Daily Record on May 18th, 1993. I suppose this technically makes the song about May 17th, 1993.


May 18th, 2010, LCD Soundsystem, led by Mixed Martial Artist James Murphy, releases their new album This Is Happening.

I'm sure the album, and the live show next Wednesday I'll be attending, will be fantastic. But in the meantime, all I can think about is, "yeah? well now this is happening."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Done With Fish

On Monday Rick and I ran the Boston Marathon. With considerably less conviction, and replacing "fish" with "marathons", John Laroche sums up our general feeling on marathons for the time being with this (vulgarity laced) clip from a truly great film, Adaptation.




Going into Boston I knew my training was somewhat lackluster compared to what I put together for Chicago in the fall. Ultimately, due to a crisis in confidence of my fitness pre-race, my goal became to finish the marathon without injuring myself. I went by the half in 1:40:00 and that felt perfectly fine. But the first half always does.

Running through Wellesley just prior to the halfway mark, I hugged and kissed about 15 Wellesley girls on the cheek. This was clearly where I first officially abandoned any time goal that was lingering in the back of my mind.

I pulled up my 5k splits post-race, and this offers a comprehensive recap:

24:51 (included a quick bathroom stop) – 8 min pace

23:15 – 7:30 pace

23:21 – 7:31 pace

23:39 – 7:37 pace

25:48 (a second, longer bathroom stop) – 8:19 pace

27:38 – 8:54 pace - probably when I first took some walking & stretching breaks, and around when I decided since I didn't have a time goal it was going to be difficult to push myself to the brink. so I started to slow down and enjoy things a bit more.

30:21 – 9:47 pace - included a walk up heartbreak hill

37:55 – 12:13 pace - where i sat down on a curb and had a few glasses of water while watching runners go by, did more walking & stretching, ate a pretzel stick and a reese's peanut butter cup. someone offered me a drink of their miller lite. had it been a better beer I might've taken a drink.

the last 1.4 was in 15:11, and this included me stopping to talk to my friends for a few minutes, including one of them going into the bar to get me a glass of water. I drank half of it and poured the rest over my head, which felt great.



I’ve definitely been more sore after a marathon, but based on training I was more unprepared for this one, so that’s taken its toll. I’ll estimate at least 15 to 20 minutes of my 3:51 wasn’t spent running (walking, standing, sitting, hugging). I cannot comprehend at all what it must be like to run an entire marathon in over 4 hours, those runners have my utmost respect. The amount of time they are on the marathon course wrangling back demons and fighting the good fight is unfathomable to me. Cheers to them.

I've had 2 very large cheeseburgers since the marathon (one of them the Plague Bringer from Kuma's). Both of my quads were very sore. My right hamstring was tight as well for the first 2 days, and from time to time I noticed my shins are sore and my lower back hurts a bit. None of this pain is out of the ordinary, and it's all muscle pain. My feet, ankles, knees & hips all feel fine.

I sent much of this to my dad and he replied, “I think you’re just getting old.”

By Thursday I felt well enough to play in a softball doubleheader, where (between game 1 last week and the top half of the back-to-backs) I may have set the Chicago Coed Rec Softball League Record for most batters struck out in the first 2 games of a season. Really, people, I'm not throwing Danny Almonte-level filth here, it's just softball. Put it in play already.

Elsewhere, Halljams also ran Boston on Monday and has a short recap. Our good friend Robert is running the London Marathon on Sunday (tomorrow if you're reading this as of this writing), and after spending much of the winter dealing with a stress fracture has put himself into a position to shoot for a 2:45 marathon. Except now he's had to deal with the eruption of that Volcano with all the vowels, and the heat in London is going to be quite a bit higher than what would be ideal. Best of luck, Robert!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Weight

Okay, this is 20 minutes long but you should take some time out of your busy busy day to watch it anyway. I fully support the idea of educating our children (well, not ours, you & I don't have any kids. "ours", collectively) on diet, nutrition, and basic cooking skills. Why wouldn't anyone support this? I've read comments about people complaining he has some of his facts not completely accurate. Who cares? Kids are fat and unhealthy. Fix that.



While you're at it, go download the TED (technology, entertainment, design) app for your iPhone or whatever super-mobile device you're carrying around. Watch the videos. Be intrigued. Learn.

Unrelated: EBONY/The 907 survived New Orleans. Some might say New Orleans survived us. Half-marathon & bars in the French Quarter in the books. Next stop: Boston Marathon, 6 weeks from 2 days ago.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Revisiting Birthdays of the Utmost Significance

Haven't posted in a while...mostly because I was on vacation in the mountains for a week and a half and work was insanely busy pre- and post-vacation. I'll try to get back to it soon.

As an offering, here's a reposting from 2/12/09, where Rick and I celebrating Darwin & Lincoln's birthdays, and came up with the other 12 most influential historical figures of the previous 200 years (in the eyes of EBONY and in the spirit of our mission).
This post also marks a time when we actually posted about the bar-hopping immediately after getting home. Ha! Remember those days?

Original Link

Top 12:
Our Thursday night outing took on a celebratory note this week -- milestone birthdays for Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. If you can't raise a pint to honor these two, well then what good are you? In their honour Rick and I had one incredibly productive Thursday night.

His moniker is Honest Abe, what else do you need? The man is idolized in Illinois and is still a style icon to this day. When you see someone wearing a stove-top hat or sporting the Amish beard, the first reference that comes to mind is this guy. In the words of Sufjan Stevens, "Stephen A. Douglas was the great debater, but Abraham Lincoln was the great emancipator."

Charles Darwin…talk about not being afraid to think outside the box. A hearty 200th birthday to the man behind what is known simply as "The Theory". Months ago Roger Ebert published a journal entry praising the Theory of Evolution and set off a comment war on his webpage. Today he sarcastically tips his hat to those fools with the line, "This is a grand celebration for a man whose Theory of Evolution promoted atheism, inspired Hitler's genocides, and thinks your grandfather was a monkey." Please go read either his original entry HERE or his updated post from today HERE.

We honor Daniel Burnham for setting down the blueprint of our beloved city. I only wish his wisdom were reincarnated and quickly siphoned into City Hall, Chicago Police Department, Chicago School District, the CTA, and all other administrative offices within Cook County. While we're at it lets cut the number of Alderman in half, too.

Jure Robic is the physical everyman of endurance sports. He has no inherent physiological traits that would make him superior to his competitors, it simply comes down to his capacity to mentally separate his muscles from his mind. Robic can push himself past most recognized points of human exhaustion, providing researchers with windows into the link between mental imbalance and physical performance, a relationship embraced by EBONY.

When you think of Milwaukee, the first thing you think of is beer (or in Ricky's case, the Moscow of USA), and not just any beer, but Pabst. In lieu of our journey this year, we salute Frederick Pabst for taking over Phillip Best's (famously or unfamously known for marrying his own daughter) microbrewery and turning it in to the object of our affection.

Justin O. Schmidt suffers for science. If you can't develop a reliable test subject for your wizardry, by all means volunteer yourself. An ethos at the core of the EmptyBlogOfNothing.

Martin Luther King, Jr, a man with a vision of life, an unparalleled faith in humanity, and the fearlessness to speak loudly about it. Religious overtones or not, he's the keynote speaker at our table of 12.

When EBONY finally finishes the screenplay we've been working on for 2 years James Murphy will be tasked with crafting the soundtrack. He's the puppet master in his own play, an underrated wordsmith and a magician behind the boards. Read all the pamphlets, and watch the tapes.

Unless you want mini versions of yourself running around the floor, we all owe a vow of thanks to Margaret Sanger. Her controversial work in the early 1900s has curbed our country from looking like India in terms of population.

From Bottle Rocket to The Royal Tenenbaums (which we both think is the movie we have seen the most of any ever made) to The Darjeeling Limited, Wes Anderson has provided us with a unique perspective which delicately mixes poignancy and dry humor. He has also given EBONY one of our favorite movie quotes of "I know you asshole." Plus he is the only director to get Natalie Portman to take her clothes off on screen -- bravo to you, Wes.

Paavo Nurmi...The Flying Finn could possibly go down as the greatest Olympian ever. In the 1924 games, Paavo won 5 gold medals in the 1500, 5k (on only 26 minutes of rest, in which he broke the world record), 3k, and both cross country events. At one point he held every world record in events between the 1500 and 20k. This man knew dominance and held the running world in check during his prime.

And lastly, Geronimo. Geronimo was generally a badass and he defended his tribe against American and Mexican pressures. He holds the perseverance and womanizing skills (he had wives with names ranging from Azul to Chee-hash-kisk to Ih-tedda to She-gha) that we admire.

Honoroable Mention, but not quite making the cut: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Spencer Pratt, Belinda Carlisle and ALF.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

So Quiet...

So, we actually missed a bar in the recap...Elbo Room, #172. This was on a random wednesday or thursday night (I could look it up, but I don't care to right now).
Our plan was to eat fast food Mexican, hit up the Ole Lounge for a very quick drink (our 2nd attempt at going here), then head up the street to the Elbo Room to be entertained with Open Mic night.
Well, step 1 check. Tortas:

Rick and I then head over to the Ole Lounge. The door on Diversey is locked. The door on Lincoln is locked. Bollocks.
So we went across the street for our second ever visit to Patsy's Place, and we watched some of the Oregon Civil War college football game. Remember when that game was? That was forever ago. That's how long it has taken me to write these terrible recaps.
So after a couple of drinks at Patsy's we head back across the street to Elbo Room, finding the doors unlocked this time - it's probably 8:15...their website says they open at 7. Their website is wrong. Back to the story - the doors are unlocked and we walk in. A guy and a girl are there sitting at the bar together, and we approach as if to order drinks. The guy says, "You guys here for the interview?"
us: No.
him: Oh, you'll have to come back later, we're not open.

Screw this place.
We head on up to The Elbo Room, #172, a local music venue. They used to have the Grolsch pop-top bottles here. I order a couple. They don't have them any longer. The Elbo Room has a stage in the basement, the upstairs is fairly loungey and is advertising an "open mic night" starting at 9pm. The place is empty except for us and a few band members who will be playing later tonight entering and exiting the main room repeatedly. It's freezing outside, a good bar would be crowded right now with people seeking shelter from the cold.

While we wait for something to happen (nothing happens), we note that on the outside it's The Elbo Room, and on the inside it's The Elbow Room. Curious.



Back to waiting around for something to happen...
A handful of what must be close friends of the band about to play downstairs show up. Upstairs there's a tv feed of the band playing downstairs. If they gave out awards to bands who played to empty rooms, well this band would be on the list of bands eligible for those awards.
Upstairs a guy shows up and asks Rick and I if we're here to perform in the Open Mic night, and tells us there's a list to sign up by the microphone. An older man asks him when the open mic night starts. It's 9:05. The website said 9:00. The guy says, I don't know, 10:30?
We finish our beers and walk home. In the cold.

Coming very soon: Kyle and Craig discuss the inevitable downfall of Dubai due to their lack of a middle class. (Bars 177 through The End)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Aint Gonna Save Me

We're going to Quenchers on Sunday to kick-off the much less ambitious version of EBONY 2010 -- "Bars in Chicago outside of the Mile Radius We Want To Visit for One Reason or Another, and These Reasons Will Be Explain when We Post About Those Bars". (aka BICOOTMRWWTVFOROAATRWBEWWPATB)
Anyway, Quenchers is having a Stout-fest. We'll drink a lot of Stouts.

I promise before next Tuesday that I will write the final two bar recap entries, and by the end of next week you'll also have the final friends rankings posted, and possibly even the Quenchers recap.

Internet Diversions:
*Black & WTF - a fantastic photoblog featuring only old black and white photos that are incredibly WTF.

*Letters from a grown man pretending to be a child, writing letters to famous people (several of them incarcerated), asking for advice. Also following up on their responses many years later -- Charles Manson, Richard Rodriguez, Alan Greenspan, and my favorite response from Clarence Thomas

Lastly, "The flying V never looked more at home than in his hands" - Sly Larkin


RIP Jay Reatard

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Political Coverage Take 1: Senate

My lack of posts recently is a pure mix of laziness and fatigue from our 2009 adventure. For many of the bars at the end, it was difficult enough to get my foot out the door, let alone writing a recap in the days to follow. I plan to pull my weight through 2010 in a different angle to 2009. We may see less writing on bars/drinking excursions (as we have an exclusive list of bars for 2010), than say current event commentary on my part.

This first installment will center on the upcoming elections for us Chicagoans. The expressed views are solely those of my own and do not necessarily reflect everyone associated with EBONY. The 2010 off-cycle primaries offer all the major political seats up for grabs. The most heated and important open positions are those for Senator, Governor, and President of Cook County. We also have other critical openings for Congress, Lt. Governor (thanks to our recent impeachment), Comptroller, Treasurer, along with the numerous less significant seats that I don’t have time to do any research for. Open your calendars as the primary vote is on February 2nd, while early voting begins on January 11th. I also recommend checking out the Chicago Tribunes coverage of each candidate.

SENATE

This is arguably the most important open position, so do your research kids. Thankfully the time for our embarrassment of a senator in Roland Burris is finally over, and we Illinoisans actually have a say in who represents us. Senate elections across the country have an added importance as the Democratic party currently has the magic number of 60 seats to block any filibuster. In my brief voting eligible years, I have voted Democratic more than Republican, but I do believe it is bad for one party to have a major control in the senate or hourse. The Republicans are looking at a strong likelihood to gain 1-3 seats after this whole election cycle is over, especially with the difficulty for the Democrats to keep North Dakota and Delaware, while Nevada, Colorado, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania can be complete toss-ups. A Republican takeover of the Illinois seat also has a decent likelihood. No matter what though, none of these seats will be officially filled until after the general election in November, so until then, the D’s are still holding the magic number for another year (unless of course Scott Brown pulls the upset in the Massachusetts special election, wouldn’t that put an interesting twist on the revised healthcare vote?).

As far as Illinois, everyone out there needs to tune in to ABC next Tuesday the 12th for the first televised debate. On the Democratic side it is a battle between Alexi Giannoulias, David Hoffman, and Cheryle Jackson. In recent polls (these need to be taken with a grain of salt, as primary polls, especially in off-cycle elections carry a large variability) Alexi is the favorite to get on the D ticket. I am very troubled and confused about his popularity. Through Alexi’s young life he has only held two jobs – taking over his family’s bank and being the current Illinois treasurer – and has failed/bankrupted both. I encourage every voter to read The Reader’s investigative reporting on Alexi’s albatross with Broadway Bank. And if that wasn’t bad enough, look at the economic shambles our state has recently suffered. Now yes, I realize that everyone has suffered the last 2 years with the economic landslide, so you can’t completely blame Alexi. But you can and should but blame on him for his lack of responsibility and transparency of his mismanagement of the Bright Star Program. This program allows families across the state to invest now and then use their future pot to pay for their children’s college education completely tax-free. Tens of thousands of families across Illinois take advantage of this program. It was Alexi’s responsibility to make sure these investments carried minimal risk (as we are looking at the long-term success) for the families involved. Unfortunately for the 65,000 families who invested in this program, they now only have 50 cents on the dollar of their investment. The Giannoulias campaign admitted a month ago that they made bad investments and lost over $85M, but reassured the people that they were suing Oppenheimer to recover $77M of that for a net loss of only $8M. The only problem was that the Giannoulias campaign lied about the $85M figure and recent research uncovered shows that they actually lost $150M! To top it off, Alexi is using his near limitless war chest to paint a positive picture of this fiasco in that he is standing up for Illinoisans by suing Oppenheimer. Somehow he forgot to mention that is was his responsibility to choose the risky investments and that the $77M coming back is not even half of what was put in. This was released 2 weeks ago, and the Giannoulias campaign has yet to say one peep about it. From a political standpoint, I don’t blame him. The only reason he is leading on polls is because of name recognition, so they feel it is easier to brush this under the rug and ignore it completely. I challenge anyone from Alexi’s campaign to apologize and explain this mishap. And yet, even with this giant black cloud over Alexi’s head, I still haven’t touched on his suspicious ties to those in the Daley Machine. The last thing we need right now is another financially irresponsible crooked politician.

Jackson and Hoffman are running neck-and-neck on the podium for second place. I personally endorse David Hoffman for senate. I have nothing against Jackson, but I honestly believe that Hoffman is the best candidate out there. I may not agree with all his policies, but I think he is the right man for the job (a la Obama). My personal belief with electing political officials is that I want the most intelligent person representing me. If you are going to hold one of the important jobs in politics, I want you to be in the 95th percentile. This includes IQ, but more importantly I want someone who has willingly showed that he/she will look at both sides of the debate in a fair manor before coming to a conclusion. I am sick of Democrats who only vote for liberal policies and Republicans who only vote on the conservative end of the spectrum. We need politicians down the middle. I believe David Hoffman best holds this criteria and that is why he has my support. I also strongly believe that we need a reformer in DC, and with Hoffman’s background as the Inspector General of Chicago (basically this means he is Daley’s public enemy #1), he is a perfect match. With him being the whistleblower on getting financially hosed in the parking meter privatization deal, he has earned a +1. Hoffman also has the endorsement of Paul Vallas, which may not have the political pull it did 4 years ago; it still is the biggest endorsement any of the candidates have received. The one redeeming factor in having Hoffman lose is that he would most likely be Daley’s biggest challenge in the mayoral election next year, with presumably increased name recognition after this run.

On the Republican side the only real candidate to speak of is Mark Kirk. As long as the recent low-blow and homophobic attacks by Andy Martin (if he hasn’t changed his name again) doesn’t coagulate the conservative base, Kirk should win in a landslide. When Kirk first made his intentions to run for senate, I had high hopes for the socially liberal centrist-republican from the very liberal congressional district in the North Shore. I find him to be a very intelligent individual who sometimes makes some really stupid decisions. He has also decided to take a page out of John McCain’s playbook and flip-flop on some of his liberal leaning objectives to get his base on his side. I’m not sure it makes a difference to the true conservatives in the state as Pat Brady, the Illinois Republican Party Chairmen isn’t even a fan of him. If the R party was smart, they would realize their only chance to win this election is if they pooled all their resources in to Kirk’s campaign. Yet somehow this eludes too many conservatives who refuse to vote for anyone who is pro choice. Being stubborn is not a virtue folks. If it comes down to an Alexi vs. Kirk in the finale, I have no qualms voting for the Republican ticket on this one.

This ended up being a longer post that I originally intended, so my thoughts and feelings on the Governor and Cook County Board President elections will have to come in the near future.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Delia's Gone, One More Round, Delia's Gone

While you await us putting an end to this period of Holiday-time vacation we’ve taken from updating our Quest (we finished, by the way…posts forthcoming), I’ll just write some random reflections on one of the most interesting resolutions I’ve ever managed to keep for an entire year.

• Over the holiday I told many people that “I’m tired of going to bars.” That’s not entirely true. I’m tired of going to bars that I’m *required* to attend. Several of the last places we visited were venues we held off on going to simply because we didn’t actually want to go there. Our last weekend of bar hopping has been dubbed “The Garbage Weekend” due to the general strangeness of most places we had a drink.
• Our 2010 plans for the Empty Blog of Nothing will be “officially” announced soon. They’re not nearly as ambitious as we were in 2009. Honestly, our 2009 goal at times seemed like one of the worst ideas I’ve ever tried to carry out.
• As proof that I haven’t tired of going to bars…I’ve been to 4 already in 2010. Yikes.
• We will, however, try to keep posting semi-regularly, and hopefully about things that you readers will find interesting. Like, we’re both running the Boston Marathon in April, so maybe there will be training updates. We both go to a lot of concerts (I saw 87 bands in ’09), so maybe we’ll check in from time to time on what we’re listening to. We’ll still write about evenings (or entire days) spent on the bar scene, but not so much that every post reads “We went here, here, and here. They were all terrible.” Basically, there will probably be more variety in these parts than in 2009. Maybe Rick will be nice enough to give us a recap of the shenanigans surrounding the IL Senate Race prior to the primary election on February 2nd.
• We’ve turned into the “go-to” people for determining destinations in our neighborhood. About every Thursday and Friday I get at least one email from someone listing the requirements of the nightspot they want to attend in my neighborhood, hoping I have the perfect buffet list of places for them to visit. I’m not gonna lie…usually I do.
• More so than the specific “place” of drinking, however, this year we discovered (well, not so much “discovered” as “reinforced”) that the most important ingredient to having a good time while carousing through Chicago is the people you surround yourself with. Our friends, new & old, embraced our 2009 mission and offered all kinds of encouragement. We thank you. Everyone from Internet Celebrity Baumer, to the former members of the 907, to our runner friends more dedicated to sport than to drink, and to the girls that I think show up just to laugh at us dancing…Thank You. Your attendance during our year of drinking locally made terrible bars bearable. It made great bars places that show up repeatedly on the lists I produce for the previous bullet point. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.


Lastly, since we’re both voracious consumers of all things internet, maybe we’ll try to post more links to things that people should be reading. Here’s a few, and one of my favorites from this past year:
• FiveThirtyEight.com offers up Onion-worthy satire: Ben Nelson Trails Jesus in Latest Election Polling
• Here’s a great post from Chicago Justice about the local media’s inability to understand or even bother using and reporting on anything other than the yearly homicide rates. Here
• And finally… the Eternal Moonwalk…still Moonwalking (well yeah, it’s Eternal), and most people are still terrible at it. Like playing golf…the great shot from time to time is worth dealing with the terrible ones.

Thanks for reading. Final Bar recaps coming soon. Really! I promise. As soon as I get around to them.

(re: post title. There's a lot of bullets. Using the Smashing Pumpkins song was too easy)