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Friday, August 29, 2008

Better off dead

Posted By on 08.29.08 at 08:03 PM


Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just
And Immortality.

We slowly drove—He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His

We passed the School, where Children strove
Recess—in the Ring—
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain—
We passed the
Setting Sun—

Or rather—
He passed Us—
The Dews drew quivering and chill—
For only Gossamer, my Gown—
My Tippet—only Tulle—

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground—
The Roof was scarcely visible—
The Cornice—in the Ground—

Since then—'tis Centuries—and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward

Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω  Ω 

Didn't I warn y'all not to let me see the damn thing? So now look what's happened ... like, eeeyyyaaahhhh! 

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You Shoot: Conversation Lines

Posted By on 08.29.08 at 08:01 PM



9/2 -- Movies, music, and scotch

Posted By on 08.29.08 at 07:03 PM


High Concept Laboratories (1401 W. Wabansia, across from the Hideout) is hosting a night of movies, music, and whisky cocktails on Tuesday, September 2, and it's free with RSVP. Click on the image for details.

Cupcakes full of bacon

Posted By on 08.29.08 at 03:34 PM


The bacon craze isn't over yet, at least judging from the menu at the still-unopened cupcake shop More (it's scheduled to open September 12 at 1 E. Delaware). They've already developed a BLT cupcake and a bacon, maple, and brown sugar cupcake, and are working on one more to offer in their bacon tasting flights of "moresels"--bite-size cupcakes--to be sold in sets of six. 

Gimmicky? Maybe, but the ones on offer at a preview tasting at the store yesterday were also pretty good. Out of the 12 or so sweet and savory cupcakes, the one with maple frosting and candied bacon was my favorite--sort of like dipping bacon in maple syrup, but better. The BLT, with ranch "frosting," tiny tomato slices, micro basil, and bacon crumbles, had a nice balance of flavors, and I might have liked it even more if I liked ranch. Kelly, who I brought along for backup (and who does like ranch), was a fan.

Chaos Theory Cakes (owned by the Bleeding Heart Bakery), another place that does savory cakes, opened recently to mixed reviews. But Patricia Rothman, owner of More, says that she and consulting chef Gale Gand (of Tru) and executive pastry chef Todd Maturatai (formerly of Powerhouse), have worked hard to create savory flavors that people would come back for rather than just trying once.

We didn't get to try all of the savory options, which include a fig, port, and blue cheese cupcake as well as a strawberry, peppercorn, and balsamic one. But I did have a Madras curry cupcake, topped with goat cheese that balanced out the mild curry flavor, toasted puffed rice that added a little crunch, and a blackberry, which gave it a shot of fruity sweetness. It tasted weird at first but ended up being a favorite for both of us. And a barbecue peach cupcake wasn't so much savory as it was just slightly sweet, with a little smokiness--also nice.

The sweet cupcakes were mostly also good, particularly the red velvet, the salted caramel, and the Valrhona chocolate ganache. The only one I didn't like was the lemon meringue, which left a weird aftertaste. None of the sweet cakes, though, stand out in my mind as clearly as the savory ones. Maybe I'm just easily distracted by bacon.

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We'll find the money somewhere

Posted By on 08.29.08 at 03:23 PM

The Park District may have a little budget deficit, but there's a plan. That's good to hear. Given the economic times, I was starting to worry about how the district would be able to afford the items at the top of its agenda.

Like the $22 million acquisition of its Streeterville-area central office from the landlord who contributed $50,000 to Mayor Daley's campaign fund, since top staff obviously need to be near the Gold Coast.

And the $2 million (and growing) south Lincoln Park soccer field. (Hey, somebody's got to make sure the kids at the Latin School have a place to play within walking distance.)

And the $25 million rush-job restoration of Buckingham Fountain so it can be in tip-top shape for next April's visit by the International Olympic Committee, even if everything else (baseball batting cages, running tracks, playlots, etc.) has to wait. All together now: The Olympics comes first!

Maybe they could use the money generated by downtown parking garages--except that they already leased them to a company that employs the mayor's nephew.

But, to his credit, parks superintendent Tim Mitchell has apparently devised a solution that I think the mayor can sign on to: getting rid of 300 park district positions--as in, you know, people who could actually work in the parks.



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Kids admission to the Museum of Science and Industry

Posted By on 08.29.08 at 03:02 PM

Kids 11 and under get free general admission to the Museum of Science and Industry through Labor Day. The offer's good for up to two children with one paid adult. Click here for details.

9/6 -- Lucha Libre Mexicana

Posted By on 08.29.08 at 02:23 PM

The Congress Theater is offering free tickets to the Lucha Libre Mexicana show on September 6 with RSVP. You can even bring your own food and drinks, excepting booze, which will be on sale at the venue. The show features wrestling stars of the FMLL (Fuerza Mexicana de Lucha Libre), including Lucifer, Diabolico, and the original La Parka, who makes up for his less than fearsome name with some killer moves:

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The Palin pick

Posted By on 08.29.08 at 01:45 PM


Since the immediate CW on Sarah Palin seems to be WTF (inexcusable!), I thought I'd take a look. I know it's not local, but the hairs went up on the back of my neck when I saw the first wave of reaction.

First, start with James Wolcott's rundown of the other main candidates. They sucked. Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge were the most Serious choices, and they were apparently ixnayed by management (can't remember where I read that, but I'll update when I find it) for being too moderate. Don't know what happened to Eric Cantor.

That leaves as your "strongest" candidates Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty. Romney was a one-term governor of Massachusetts. Pawlenty is partway into his second term. Neither has any political experience outside of state or local politics, unless you count being CEO of the Winter Olympics. Neither is/was overwhelmingly popular as governor, although they held their own. Neither is particularly charismatic. I guess you could include Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, but the former isn't a politician at all and the latter isn't a politician and was a disaster at HP.

I'll be honest and say that I don't know that much about Palin as governor, so I'll have to outsource immediate opinion to erstwhile Alaskan Dave Noon at the generally left-wing blog Lawyers, Guns, and Money, who vouches for her personal appeal (and it appears she has a gift for political theater), competence, and lack of corruption (heretofore the only famous thing about Alaskan politics, especially their Republicans), and casts a skeptical eye on the nascent Troopergate scandal.

His biggest criticism of her is that she's a radical social conservative (but not so radical that she'll give the middle finger to her state supreme court; more) and ready to drill the fuck out of Alaska for oil, but that's clearly part of her appeal to the McCain campaign. Her choice to carry a child with Downs syndrome to term will carry her a long way with the Christian right, and as far as following one's conscience it's admirable.

So, think about it. Lieberman and Ridge are out. Romney has just a couple more years of political experience than Palin, and his foreign policy experience amounts to running for the Republican nomination. Oh, and he's unlikable. Pawlenty is in his second term as governor--a job that Palin might actually be better at--and doesn't seem to have any experience of any kind outside of Minneapolis. Plus there was that bridge collapse.

The NYT's roundup/bio is even more convincing. Is it a good idea? I have no idea. Do I understand the logic? Yes. Will Biden own her in the VP debate? Maybe, but I'm the only person in America who watches that.

Do I think the fact that she's an attractive woman with a nontraditional pedigree and work history from a state no one thinks about has something to do with the fact that Steve Chapman and others are bugging out? Um, yeah, kind of. For the record, the women at Slate's XX factor are highly impressed, including the incomparable Dahlia Lithwick, whose word carries more weight with me than virtually any other political commentator writing today. Am I going to get sick of the acronym VPILF? Yeah, real fucking fast.

YMMV--I'm not the most informed person to be listening to about Palin and am playing catch-up like most of America. Chill, was I think my point.

Update: Shorter Eric Zorn: Alaska's awful tiny. Oh, okay then. Please let us know how big a state you have to be governor of in order to be Vice President.

Update II: Wonkette, both the posts and the comments, is the abyss. Really, really ugly.

Update III: Joan Walsh makes a good point--she's also there to balance out McCain's nonphallus-related weaknesses, which is to say almost everything except foreign policy, not to mention his wealth and presumed detachment from the interests of working-class etc., which the Democrats are hitting pretty hard.

Update IV: She's got as much experience as Tim Kaine; her rep in AK government and media is very poor (really good discussion here)

Update V: In the comments, Albert Williams (implicitly) asks--why not Kay Bailey Hutchinson? According to Ezra Klein, because she's pro-choice, which also nixed Ridge, Lieberman, and Jodi Rell.

I'm coming around to the idea that this is a fuck-up, for a number of reasons: he doesn't know her and vice versa, which makes him look incompetent and hasty, and like he doesn't have the balls or autonomy to take a different sort of risk with Lieberman, by accounts his first choice; it'll piss off Pawlenty and Romney, who got took; even if she's cleared in the firing scandal, there's this; and there's the whole bridge to nowhere thing.

I'm still willing to buy the idea that she's an ok governor who's getting called up to the Show too early--I'm not saying she's confidence-inspiring as a veep pick, just not sure how big the actual difference is between her, Kaine, Romney, Jindal, Pawlenty, etc. But it seems like the actual disaster is the process.

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More than another afterfest session

Posted By on 08.29.08 at 01:43 PM


Most of the afterfest activities around town this Jazz Festival weekend are jam sessions or sets from locals hoping to attract listeners still hungry for music after the main event wraps up for the night. But on Saturday at 10 PM the Hungry Brain hosts a killer double bill that would be notable any night of the year.

Brilliant Dutch pianist Misha Mengelberg, coleader of the ICP Orchestra (which plays the fest Sunday night), opens the show with a rare solo performance. The circuslike atmosphere of a typical ICP performance, where the emphasis is on playful collective give-and-take, sometimes makes it hard to fully appreciate his imagination, skill, and command of jazz history, but Mengelberg, who turned 73 in June, has absorbed the lessons of Ellington, Monk, and Herbie Nichols like few other pianists. Both his slightly cranky, unkempt persona and his blase demeanor at the bench belie the subtle genius of his playing. When I've caught him solo before, he's seemed to have no idea where he's headed at first, tentatively striking some keys, but within minutes an improvisation guided by sharp logic has taken shape. That shape is always thoughtfully structured and always different, and that's part of his singular appeal.

Following Mengelberg's set wonderful drummer Gerald Cleaver (pictured) will lead his group the Violet Hour (no relation to the Wicker Park cocktail bar of the same name) in its Chicago debut. Like keyboardist Craig Taborn, a fellow Detroit native, Cleaver is a selfless musician who improves any group he works with, and he's worked with an impressively wide variety. He's collaborated extensively with Taborn, Roscoe Mitchell, Matthew Shipp, Joe Morris, Lotte Anker, and Liberty Ellman, among many others. I recently heard him in Lisbon with pianist Sylvie Courvoisier's superb Lonelyville band, and his careful, evocative texture-based playing gave the classical-flavored music an elegant pulse and heightened its drama.

Despite a lengthy discography, Cleaver has only cut two albums as a leader; this Saturday his group will focus on material from the most recent, Gerald Cleaver's Detroit (Fresh Sound New Talent). In this context he wears his hard-swinging postbop hat, and he's got an excellent lineup to elucidate his tunes' graceful melodies and pungent, carefully wrought harmonies: pianist Ben Waltzer, bassist Chris Lightcap, reedists Andrew Bishop and J.D. Allen, and the trumpeter Jeremy Pelt (who's not touring with the group). In other contexts Cleaver excels at creating different kinds of opposition: timbre versus groove, melody versus melody, chaos versus calm--but here he functions mostly as a propulsive timekeeper and elegant composer. In fact, he sits out entirely on the lovely Monkish ballad "Grateful," a duo by Waltzer and Bishop.

I'm particularly excited to hear tenorist Allen in the flesh. Earlier this year the Detroit native released the trio set I Am I Am (Sunnyside), and so far it's one of my favorite albums of 2008. Ably supported by bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston, Allen swings like a motherfucker, and his skill at embroidering his pithy postbop themes when he solos brings to mind the master, Sonny Rollins. It's a lean outing, even by sax-trio standards, but it's not minimalist. Succinct, deliberate, and hard-charging, Allen knows how to trim down his improvisations till they're nothing but meat.

Today's playlist:

John Anderson, Eye of a Hurricane (Collector's Choice/Warner Brothers)
Frank Rosolino, Free for All (Specialty)
Dieb 13, Tomas Korber, Jason Kahn, Zirkadia (1.8 Sec)
Oneida, Preteen Weaponry (Jagjaguwar/Brah)
Jon Balke, Book of Velocities (ECM)

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He seemed like a such a nice boy

Posted By on 08.29.08 at 11:25 AM

Just what sort of help is fast food mega conglomerate Yum! Brands, Inc. trying to attract with this recruitment poster stuck outside the KFC/Taco Bell at Irving and California, one of some 35,000 "system restaurants" in its global empire?

We're looking for a clean cut, all-American, customer-focused, self-starter with the hidden potential to process his mother into Chili Cheese Burrito filling. Someone who thinks outside the bun.

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