Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scene from the Midwest

I'm back in the Midwest for all of the blink of an eye.

In a piece I wrote that a guy that looks a lot like this guy didn't take for this show I referred to another Midwest city as practically sweating testosterone (1).

I was reminded of this line this evening sitting at the bar of a nearby brew pub having a couple of beers and a burger. There's a motorcycle race in town and the city is swarming with fans and crew members and the rest.

One of the three guys sitting near me ordered a beer and asked for a slice of orange.

"Fruit in your beer?" the guy's friend said. "Don't do that. It's gay."

The guy sitting on my other side looked at me. I paused and then said, "Please. Even we don't do that."

1. I still love this piece...I also referred to the Tribune Tower as the loud guy at the end of the bar.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The secret life of daytime.

Talking to Leopold yesterday it hit me.

"I can get my haircut in the middle of the day."

"Yes," Leopold replied. "You can."

You see...I don't really remember the last time the prospect of completely unscheduled time was in my immediate future. Yes, there are projects that need finishing up and I have some things to get ready for and writing I'll be doing. But I have, essentially, a full week of free time coming up.

Those projects? I will be able to do them in the middle of the day.

I can blog in the middle of the day.

I can work on reviews in the middle of the day.

I can go to the bookstore in the middle of the day.

I can read comics in the middle of the day.

And not just in the middle of the day.

In the middle of a weekday.

I cannot believe how very excited I am about this.

That's kind of sad, isn't it?

Maybe I'll think about that...in the middle of the day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's you. I like. It's not the clothes you wear.

I've been getting some really nice notes lately from people wishing me well and asking where my leap of faith is taking me.

Which has gotten me thinking about the really amazing collection of friends that I've acquired over the years.

They live all over. They are artists and writers, musicians and attorneys, journalists and philosophers, suits and athletes, teachers and folks who have made their own leaps of faith over the years.

Some of them I'm even related to.

The one thing that they all have in common is that they're all intensely curious individuals.

They ask questions. They read. They admit the things they don't know or understand. They chance being wrong. They are right graciously. They get excited about the things they know and the things they have learned about.

They are interesting and smart and pretty much to a one, they're pretty darn funny.

And some of them...I'm even related to.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Laugh clown, laugh.

Early on in the job that I'm about to leave VanPelt sent me a present.

A coffee mug emblazoned with the name "Giggle Bunny."

I am a giggler. A grown man who, sweet Mary above protect me, is prone to bouts of uncontrollable giggling.

Remember the episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show when she went to Chuckles the Clown's funeral?

If you don't, Chuckles the Clown was a children's show clown on WJM (1). While dressed as a giant peanut Chuckles was trampled to death by an elephant.

Which is not really funny, but everyone thought it was.

Well, everyone except Mary who chastised the members of the newsroom for how awful they were being.

This was a good thing until the actual funeral rolled around because, at the funeral, Mary starts to giggle and finds she can't stop (3).

That's me (or used to be me) on a regular old Wednesday.

In fact, from what I've been hearing the last day or so, it's become my signature.

Fonzie had the leather jacket. Samantha had the nose twitch. Otis was drunk all the time. Natalie ate her feelings (4).

I giggle. A lot more lately.

It's not really something to build a career on and it's probably good that I've never dreamed of being a cut throat Wall Street financial type or prosecuting attorney.

But if anyone ever decides to bring back the laugh track...I'm down.

1. Which would be the television station that Mary worked for...just in case. I like to be helpful. I'm disappointed that you didn't know that...but I like to be helpful. Is that a new shirt? It's pretty on you. Nice color. No. Really (2).
2. See how I made you feel less self-conscious by starting to talk about your shirt? That's called manners.
3. Okay. For the purists - eventually she does stop. And actually, her stopping is even funnier and more awkward. You know, everyone talks about Lois Lane and Clark Kent and all these other fictional folks that inspired them to get into journalism...I don't think that anyone has ever told me that Murray Slaughter made them want to be a news writer. What's that all about?
4. Yes. A Facts of Life reference.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our home and native land.

Another great Canadian (1)?

David Rakoff.

I was explaining to someone today that my reading tends to move in small, tightly-focused circles.

So, for a while, I'll only read books that have to do with food. Or I'll be reading all memoirs. Or, as I did a few years ago, all authors whose work I became aware of thanks to This American Life.

I would sell a kidney to have a story on This American Life.

Which, actually, could be a great story for This American Life. The story of how I sold my kidney to be on This American Life.

Of course, by the time it was done transforming from being my story of how I sold my kidney to have a story on This American Life into the kind of big message story that can be heard on This American Life...probably something about what fame is in our status obsessed culture or the frustrating and obsessive nature of desire.

Maybe it could be another partnership thing with Marketplace and I could work with a whole team of public radio-nistas to determine the street value of my kidney in various locations around the country.

"There was a time in the Silicon Valley when Artboy's kidneys could have commanded millions of dollars but today, with shutdowns and layoffs replacing talk of startups and lattes at the local Starbucks, Artboy's organs are another victim of our struggling economy."

I'm sorry.

What was I talking about?

1. Though I feel like I've said this before. One of these days I've gotta start tagging these entries.