Friday, March 30, 2007

This is why I can't have nice things ...

... Because my friends make them buttfuck each other when I'm out of the room.

"Why, Mister Punk Cyclops Troll! You're ... you're beautiful ... from behind! Ook! Ook!"

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Wanna See You Kiss Him

It's getting warmer, and this is, after all, White Sox Nation over by here, so I've been hearing and loving and singing along with this song on the radio a lot this week -- good ole "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)," by Steam.

Holy cow ... this will be the 30th season since the White Sox started playing that song, and I remember that summer well, 1977. That was the year I attended my first Sox game, at the late, lamented old Comiskey Park.

This song still rocks, and still makes me ready for summer, but this video ... is just hilarious. I somehow never pictured Steam as comprising a bunch of fat white dudes who all look like Mike "Meathead" Stivic.

Show Some Respect for the Humble Index

I've been indexing for the last two days, and boy are my brains tired. Remaining vague as always about my gig, I'll just reveal that the task has fallen on me to whip up an index for a new book I've been editing for the last few months. I've indexed many books over the last several years (including one on a freelance basis for an acquaintance who I won't name drop, except to hint that he used to, until recently, blog a very, very wordy "dangeral" blog of some notoriety), and it's a task I find relatively interesting and satisfying ... but if you've never done it, lemme tell you, it's harder than it sounds. In fact, I'm too mentally tired to blab at length about how challenging indexing can be, so maybe you'll be kind enough to suspend disbelief at the assertion that putting terms, names, and concepts in alphabetical order so that people can find things they need to find is, despite the simplicity of the concept, not a cake walk.

It can be fun, though (if you're a nerd). Not only is it a little like putting together a big word puzzle, it also provides the chance to make one's own creative mark on the book. An index is, in a way, a retelling of the narrative. Years ago, it even occurred to me that it might be a cool idea to write fiction in the form of an index. Then I read Pale Fire ... and I discovered, to some chagrin of my own, that Nabokov had already done it, and, of course, vastly more skillfully and entertainingly than I could ever hope to do. The index to Pale Fire, in fact, is one of my very favorite pieces of fiction. But then I guess I'm biased. Biased in favor of indexes, man.

Nowadays, with so much information in electronic form, and the internets and search engines and everything, old-fashioned thumb indexes don't get a lot of regard. But they're still useful -- particularly when you don't know exactly what you're looking for, and what sub-topics might be of interest. You can find things via an index that you didn't even know you were looking for. I love doing research on-line, but I still stand behind the index, dammit. The index remains sound.

So, yeah, the humble index. Next time you're thumbing through one, please show a little respect for it and the poor underpaid drone who made it. It didn't get there on its own.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Meier Hired

This just in ... Garry Meier has signed on for the 8 to 11 a.m. shift on WCKG. The mighty mighty Opie & Anthony will be on from 5 to 8. No further details on the whereabouts of Wendy Snyder are known by this blog.

By the way, I have to wonder about all you people who visit here asking the googical question "Why was Wendy fired?" -- Did you listen to the Dahl show at all over the last couple of years? It's not like things were going well for her there. I like Wendy, and I've listened to Dahl for about [mumble mumble] years, even though I often wonder why ... but the better question would be, why did she last so long? She wasn't allowed to contribute much and didn't have much of a role other than tolerating Dahl's insults and pretending his jokes were funny. Although she is apparently missed -- and one friend of the blog recently opined that Dahl's show is "kind of a sausage fest" without her.

Anyway, it's radio. People are fired all the time.

OK, I'm tired of milking this topic. But Wendy Snyder fans are welcome to continue visiting.

I'm looking forward to checking out Meier's show, I guess, although I usually want to listen to music when I'm fighting traffic on the way to work in the morning. It will be interesting to see if he can finally shake the "second banana" rep. And by interesting, I mean most likely dull and lame. Like I said, it's radio. People are dull and lame all the time. People helping people. Traffic and weather together on the downbeat.

UPDATE: OK, here's why I listen to Dahl's show -- frequent call-ins by White Sox radio dude, Ed Farmer. The following account is stolen blatantly from Dahl's website's "show log," but doesn't do the story justice. Farmio rulez.

5:24 Ed had a run in with some guy in the security line. The guy told him he was in the wrong line. There were two lines so Ed went into the shorter one, crazy him. Then he hears some guy saying "hey you, the line starts back here"

5:25 There were two lines and Ed pointed that out to him. Then the guy came up to make sure Ed heard him.

5:26 Ed told the guy he was under the misconception that he was afraid of him. The guy grabbed Ed's right arm so he turned it down towards his thumb and told him he was going to be wearing his butt on his head on the way home.

5:27 The security guys weren't even watching so they didn't notice what was happening. Then the guy said something over his shoulder and Ed told he didn't want to hear any more and that he fights dirty.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Today in Great Chicago Sports Names Today: Autumn Champion

As you know, the start of professional major league men's baseball season is just around the corner. And just around that corner is the start of professional fast-pitch women's softball. On May 29th, the NPF's Chicago Bandits face the Rockford Thunder on opening night. We ... uh, I ... here at CBRAT are am, as we I tend to get about such stuff, quite excited.

Returning to the Bandits this season is ace flamethrowing pitcher Jennie Finch -- you know her, you love her, you just don't want to find yourself in the batter's box facing her. For their part, the Rockford Thunder have added Olympic gold-medalist and all-around superstar Cat Osterman to their roster, so things should be interesting.

New to the Bandits team this season is the early front-runner for "Best Chicago Sports Team Member Name" for 2007 -- sorry, Rocky Cherry, you bane bumped down to 2nd place (although you still should get an ice cream flavor named after you).

Yeah, I'm referring to outfielder Autumn Champion. Her name sounds kind of like a character in a Thomas Pynchon novel, but, nope, she's a softball player:

The Bandits have acquired 2006 All NPF Team selection, Autumn Champion from the folded Arizona Heat. This two year veteran brings both consistancy and speed to the lineup. She led the Heat in batting average with a redhot .403 and stolen bases with 18. In 72 at bats, Champion had 11 runs, 29 hits, nine RBI, one double, one triple and four walks.

Champion played her college ball for the University of Arizona Wildcats. She was a two time NFCA first team All-American selection. She also earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors and was named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District VIII team.

I can't find information on the Bandits' website about the broadcast schedule for this season, but I watched several Bandits games on Comcast Sports Net last summer, and I am definitely a fan. If you haven't yet followed this sport, give it a chance. And tell them Stronger Than Dirt sent you.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Plea

Hey, my plea for information about Duane Dow last summer was actually quite successful, in terms of getting some information from "out there," so why not try another pop-cultural plea?

Anyway, what I'm wondering is, when is the movie "The Life of Reilly" going to be available on DVD? Or get shown (again?) in Chicago? Because I have wanted to see this movie for several months. The trailer is OK, but the clips on the promotional website are really worth watching.

And, thanks to the magic of that crazy thing YouTube, here's the first 10 (ish) minutes of the picture -- Charles Nelson Reilly's monologue of his life. It's like Spalding Gray meets ... Charles Nelson Fucking Reilly. This is a must see motion picture.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Today's Where Wendy Is Bulletin Today

Robert Feder reports:

Wendy Snyder is filling in this week as traffic reporter for Don Wade and Roma's morning show on WLS. She most recently held the same job for Steve Dahl's afternoon show on WCKG.

Oh yeah, by the way, the same Feder column says that Garry Meier may be picked up soon by WCKG for a late-morning talk show slot ... so the rumor attempted to be started by this blog several weeks ago wasn't so far off base after all.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Cole Stoma Notebooks #2 -- "Good News @ Last"

I've been going through a few boxes of old stuff tonight, and I turned up some masters from a zine project in 2000 that I never finished and forgot all about -- a project titled Good News @ Last. As the cover indicates, it was intended to be "Ouzipian product no. 1," because I was heavily into the Oulipo at the time, and I wanted to concoct a new branch of it for zines. ("The Workshop of Potential Zines," get it? I think the "ouzipo" name hasn't been used by anyone yet still, but one Google search isn't definitive ... yet that's all I'm doing. So back to the narrative.)

The premise was -- as I dimly recall -- that I had written four related but different short stories, and via some geometrical mishegoss I can't quite refresh my recollection of just from these 2D master pages, the zine was to be stapled in the center and trimmed in a way that allowed for pages to be turned in various combinations, so that the four stories would be combined into ... I dunno from math. A bunch of variations.

For example, here's page one of story one (they're all very short pages ... very short stories):

Before long, he said to me, "I'm off to get cigarettes, you'll probably never see me again." To that I spat, "If so, it will be too soon!"

Page one of story two goes as follows:

Before much time passed, I asked him for a cigarette. He said, "I am excluded from the function of cigarettes; realize that, to take them through me, I am probably never to be seen again." To that I said, "So you're refusing to give me one?"

Page one, story three:

Before much longer, he said to me, "I'm an excluded function around cigarettes." He was pouting. "So don't buy any, I said."

And page one, story four:

Before a very long time, he said to me that "one" is excluded from the function of "I." I lit a cigarette and scratched my lower jaw. "Therefore you will probably never see me again."

The sickest arty farty conceit was that you needed to read all four to get clues as to what the fuck was going on in any of them, which made it one story. And because you could read it in various orders, you would find out certain details in random sequence, which would affect your realization of the story in varying ways. Also, it's about a lawyer who goes insane and befriends a dog who can write, who then witness a horrible crime and go even insaner. You can begin to sense the deep trench I had dug myself into, pulling-this-off-wise, I think.

I gave up on it because I was having trouble with the mechanical details. And I got lazy. Also, the stories weren't all that great. There were a few good lines, but some of the jokes were blatantly stolen from well-known sources, and ... ecch. I hit the wall in terms of trying to write fiction that year and have never really written any since. This is actually possibly the last fiction I tried to render.

Anyway, I do kinda like the following excerpt, which is notated in pencil on the edge of the paper as page "1-5" -- the fifth page of the first story:

There were thirty-seven thousand, three hundred forty-four 1966 Dodge Chargers sold, only 468 with the 426 Hemi engine. And only one of those contained a dog who could write. It was navy blue with a black leather interior. The front passenger seat was covered with white hairs. On the dash was scattered four or five post-it notes scrawled with ballpoint pen, "Brush me," Give me a brushing," "Please, the brush," etc.

Dying to know what happens next? On page 1-6, this paragraph (typeface: Gill Sans) convenes:

We hadn't spoken for some moments when, in the parking garage, the dog asked me a question. "You can drive a stick, right?" I nodded. He scratched at his hindquarter for a second and handed me a set of keys. "Good. Then we'll take my ride."

I guess the dog can talk, now, too. See how easy it is to fuck up when you're playing out of your league?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I Can't Complain, But Sometimes I Still Do

Joe Walsh is my (Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss's) official fake uncle. Not one of the dour, hostile uncles; one of the fun uncles. I dunno how to describe him any more succinctly than that.

Joe Walsh - Life's Been Good

I remember the first time I heard this song on the radio -- which was the first time I heard it anywhere. I was riding in my dad's Pontiac in Gurnee in the late '70s, heading home from Gungler's Drug Store or some other small-town quaint independent business that no longer exists. I thought it kicked ass, rocked, and was hilarious. My dad thought the words were funny. One of many fond memories of pop-culture connection moments with my parents, who were, in retrospect, not all that uncool.

Maybe in the near future I'll do a post about how I took my mom's Redbone (not Leon; the band Redbone) albums in for show and tell in kindergarten. That went over okay. Although my dad's Rusty Warren albums would have killed.

Oh yeah, by the way, this is my favorite Joe Walsh song. (This placed here so I can watch it later when I masturbatorially read my own blog.)

James Gang - Walk Away

And as a chaser, here's this. Attention, serious Joe Walsh nerds, this live version contains the Bolero chunk forced off of the "James Gang Rides Again" album version by the thugs working for Ravel's estate. (Actually, it cuts in at that part of the song, with the first part missing, but you can't always get flawless.)

Joe Walsh's Barnstorm - The Bomber

Et tu, Jimmus Peterikus?

Beware -- It's The Ides of March!

Ray Liotta reminds me of my inevitable lack of athletic ability!

No, not this Ray Liotta. This Ray Liotta, pitcher for the Winston-Salem Warthogs, minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.

(CBRAT Debaffler: The post title is a clever reference to this semi-notorious web meme from a few years ago.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Reasons to be Colicky, Part Million and Three

So the weather gets nice, and I come down with a head cold. I blame the goddamn germ-ridden airplane and/or hotel crowd from last week. Traveling is, for so many reasons, completely and totally evil. I should have been born a tree. But then I'd probably have really horrible allergies. And birds living in me. I hate birds.

Head colds suck, but I guess they're not all bad. In the the half glass empty column: Coughing, aches, chills, congestion, nose bleediness. On the other hand, in the half glass full column: Feeling vaguely like I'm on a low-grade psychedelic drug all the time.

The full glass full viewpoint (and by "full glass full," I mean "full glass empty"): This cold will probably end within a couple of days, just in time for the weather to get cold and snowy again (damn you, Tom Skilling).

Cough cough cough. Cough cough.


Template-Related Update: I hate this hated the new color scheme like meeces to pieces. I'm going So I went (more or less, with some tweaks) back to the unreadable white-on-black burgoo as soon as I garner garnered the energy. James Garner Garnered. Insert answering machine joke here, a la The Rockford Files.

And if you find the unreadability of the blog itself too much to deal with, I suggest reading the site in some kind of RSS viewy setup. Google Reader is not bad. I don't, by the way, recommend "My Yahoo" for this purpose or for any other, because it sucks hairy testicleeze. It rarely updates correctly, things disappear all the time for no reason, it's unnecessarily challenging to edit, etc. etc. etc. Not a problem on your end? OK, so use it then. Hunky dory.

Oh yeah, by the way -- cough cough. Cough cough cough cough cough. Cough.

Template-Related Update #2 (March 15): As of now, I've reverted completely to the old template, and perhaps I've learned a lesson from the last week of frustrating non-productive tinkering. But I wouldn't bet on it.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Black on White Silver?

OK, template changes are finally underway. The first change is for readability's sake. More adjustments lazily to come. Unfortunately, I kind of hate all the available templates (or at least a few elements of them, and there aren't enough options for changing certain things to please the unpleaseable me), so to get this really right I'll have to wade into the html swamp ... which I'm not in the mood for today. I really should be outside, anyway, instead of watching the Cubs game and futzing around with this mishegoss. But now my OCD is kicking in ... and I really want to figure out how to do away with the goddamn "all caps" title, dammit. Geh.

UPDATE: We're getting there. Got the title left-aligned the way I prefer, and the post headings in sans-serif. Not so sure about the heading & link colors yet. Isn't blog layout editing fascinating? Gotta be right up there with ... baseball spring training.

UPDATE 2 (Sunday March 11): Still tinkering. And watching another spring training game on the cable, this time of the White Sox variety.

Speaking of the White Sox, the magic baseball computer over at Baseball Prospectus sez the Sox will go 72 and 90 this year. I hate to succumb to negativity (yeah, right), but I think that's probably a pretty accurate Kreskination. I think maybe they'll win a few more than that, if they re-aquire Aaron Rowand for center field, but not many. They'll finish in third or fourth place this year -- bank on it. Oh, and Ozzie Guillen will be fired on the day after the season ends.

By the way, the main reason for the baseball nerd-puter's dire prognostication: Too many Sox players on the "wrong side" of 30. Oof. That hurts. Pretty soon, I'll be on the wrong side of the next decade after that. At least when I turned 34, there was the song "Slit Skirts" to orient my experience ... the only song I can think of that applies here is the godawful Jimmy Buffett song (redundant, I know, and also it sez the same thing twice), "A Pirate Looks at 40."

That's got to put me in a pretty high percentile as far as geezerness of bloggers goes. Which reminds me -- I was recently told by a friend that I am too old to be a "slacker" anymore, even though I haven't really changed at all (other than actually holding down a job for almost the last 12 years in a row and stuff along those lines) ... so I guess I'm just a bum. Are you happy, dad? Your prophesy came true! And, as we all know, "the bums lost." Lost what, we're not sure. All I know is that my doctor has promised that pretty soon I'm going to get that "thorough" exam, so I'd better lay into some CCR ahead of time, get the jump on it.

Wow, that was a crazy digression. Hangovers and time changes always fuck with my concentration.

Friday, March 09, 2007

This Blog Post Did Not Take Place

Damn, things do happen while I'm gone. Just read that Jean Baudrillard died.

And We're Back

Yes, the entire staff of CBRAT has succesfully returned from the big unnamed conference in Washington, D.C., where we got to wear a "PRESS" badge and eat some free food and attend a bunch of panel discussions about stuff, including a couple with some semi-famous people who I won't shout out here cuz I'm into the vagueness thing right now.

It wasn't a bad trip, but there's no place like home, Wiz. Sure, I have to provide my own turn-down service (which comes naturally to me -- I just tell myself "no" straight out -- no leading myself on with "maybes" or go-nowhere pity dates -- because I just don't like myself "that way" -- get it? "turn-down"? ha ha ha).

It's beyond time to try to get some substantial posts together and maybe garner some non-Wendy-Snyder-related interest in the blog (a tall order, I know), but tonight I think I'm just going to relax, drink some beer, and enjoy not being on the road. Cuz I am Tireder Than Dirt at the moment. Plus, I have a lot of blog reading to catch up on, let alone writing.

My childhood hero Henry Reed once said that he didn't understand why people think traveling is so tiring, because you're just sitting down the whole time. Well, Henry didn't have to schlepp to the remote economy lot at O'Hare, which I think is actually located in the Quad Cities (Bettendorf, to be specific). So, pffttthhhppp. (That's a sleepy sort of raspberry noise there.)

And Chicago has warmed up in my absence. Which is a huge relief. D.C. had a little snow "storm" the other day ... it's hugely amusing to watch a big city paralyzed by one inch of flakes when you can watch it from the comfort of your expensive hotel room. If I weren't so lazy, I'd make a "flakes" joke about D.C., cuz so many come to mind, but ... lazy. So lazy.

OK. That's enough for now. Moss out.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Fear and Colic on the Loose -- Road Tripping Time Again

In my capacity as a person with my job, I'll be attending an unnamed legal conference in an unnamed nation's crapital for most of next week -- as a member of the press, yes, the [adjective] and [other adjective] legal industry trade press type thing -- so there won't be any blog posts posted to this blog until probably Friday evening, at the earliest. Not that I've been posting much of blogsequence lately anyway. Maybe something will happen at the law-talkery shindig that will be bloggable. But probably not. Work and CBRAT don't mix ... and alluding very vaguely to law and publishing is as close as I am willing to get to that colloidal burgoo. Anyway, for those select but very important few who worry that I am dead when I am not heard from electronically for a few days -- fear not. I am merely eating room service and bitching about poor channel selection on the hotel cable.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Last Chance To See

... this YouTube video while reading a version of the English translation in the sidebar, to the right. Because pretty damn soon -- maybe even tomorrow, if I'm on the ball -- the sidebar material currently consisting of the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team's pre-game war chant is going to be re-replaced with CBRAT's own adulterated lyrically altered version of the White Sox theme song ... "Thunderstruck" ... No no no -- "(Let's Go) Go-Go White Sox!" Yeah ... so ... that's something to look forward to.


Saturday YouTube Throwaway Posting Post

This song has been going thru my head in one form or another at least once a day for the last several months, dammit.

Neil Young - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

This one, too.

Bob Dylan - Everything Is Broken

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Things I love (and by love I mean hate), part 9,412,983

Yeah, I always love clicking about 80 times to get to my inbox in the web mail interface -- any web mail interface. Who opens their mail and wants to go to some saved folder instead of their inbox first? Hey, autistic programmers of the world -- give me the inbox immediately, you stupidity-crusted nerds!

In other news, I hate all technology, and all non-technology. Leave the damn bush babies alone, you insane spear-wielding chimpanzees! All of the "higher" primates suck -- even the bonobos. They have hideous genitals and are mean to their orphans. Yeah -- you never hear about the "mean to orphans" part, just the all-day sexing. Even though from the footage I've seen, it's not exactly inspiring sex. I think a 14-yr-old boy could last longer than a bonobo.

Yes. Things I hate. Apes, and lousy user interfaces. Which is redundant, because I have never met a user interface I liked. Nor a user.