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Friday, June 29, 2012

The worst roommates I've ever had

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 01:39 PM

The apartment building on Monjitas, from Parque Forestal
  • Julia Thiel
  • The apartment building on Monjitas, from Parque Forestal
I’ve had my fair share of roommates. (Though in most cases they’ve technically been housemates. Or apartmentmates, but that’s a mouthful. I’ve always liked the British term “flatmates”—much easier to say—but I don’t live in England. So roommates it is.) For most of my college years, I shared houses with anywhere from three to seven other people, after which I moved to Santiago, Chile. In the two years I lived there, I had six apartments and 14 roommates.

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When Norman Mailer finally got to talk shit in the New Yorker

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 12:59 PM

Norman Mailer
  • openDemocracy
  • Norman Mailer
Earlier this week I wrote about John McPhee's essay in the current New Yorker, in which McPhee recounts how editors William Shawn and Robert Gottlieb kept most profanities out of the magazine. A commenter on that post asked, "They ran nothing by Norman Mailer, ever?"

Hardly ever. The acclaimed and politically vocal writer, who died in 2007, had just five bylines in the New Yorker. There were two short poems in 1961, and a third in 1995—"Homage to Faulkner", half of which said: "Newt Gingrich looks for angry votes; Ergo, he hammers welfare folks." Which is a nice reminder of the consistency of Newt's politics over the years.

Mailer also authored an article in 1995 on Lee Harvey Oswald's time in Russia under KGB surveillance, and a short essay in 2002 on writing ("Birds and Lions"). Both were profanity-free.

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A new food truck ordinance is introduced and other food news bites

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 12:24 PM

roadblock lifting?

City Council finally introduced a food truck ordinance at its monthly meeting Wednesday, sayeth the Sun-Times, and no one is happy.

More food news of the week, and the best of the Chicago food blogosphere.

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12 O'Clock Track: Washerwoman, "Burn the Veil"

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 12:00 PM

  • Washerwoman
One band jumped out at me while I read through the lineup for this weekend's fourth annual Premier Rock Forum BBQ: Washerwoman. I've kept an eye out for the noisy punk duo after seeing their name pop up repeatedly on a D.C. punk messageboard, and I'm quite taken with their self-titled debut seven-inch.

Today's 12 O'Clock Track is the A side of that release, the caterwauling "Burn the Veil."

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Now playing: Ted

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 11:54 AM

For once its the teddy bear doing the squeezing
  • For once it's the teddy bear doing the squeezing
The Christmas wish of a lonely eight-year-old boy brings his new teddy bear to life; 27 years later they’re still inseparable, blowing bongs on the couch every morning and endlessly rewatching the kitsch classic Flash Gordon (1980). Mark Wahlberg gives a sweet performance as the overgrown kid, whose bromance with his loutish stuffed animal threatens to derail his relationship with long-suffering girlfriend Mila Kunis. But the real star of this rowdy, energetic comedy is Seth MacFarlane—creator of the TV sitcom Family Guy—who wrote, directed, and supplies the voice of the crude, hedonistic bear. MacFarlane gets an impressive amount of comic mileage from having a plush toy talk like a Boston low-life, though for gut laughs nothing compares to the brutal, frantic, and completely wordless fight scene between Wahlberg and his little buddy in a cheap hotel room. An R-rated trailer follows the jump.

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Now playing: Magic Mike and a new generation of "bad news"

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 10:10 AM

They work hard for the money--so hard, honey honey.
  • They work hard for the money—so hard, honey honey.
Steven Soderbergh seems to have modeled this crowd-pleasing tale about male strippers in Tampa on such gritty 1970s comedies as Bob Rafelson's Stay Hungry and Michael Ritchie's The Bad News Bears, whose broad comedy was undercut by an unsentimental view of economic recession. The primary characters here are a vain up-and-coming stripper (Alex Pettyfer) who sleeps on his sister's couch because he can't afford his own place, a burgeoning entrepreneur (Channing Tatum) who manages three separate businesses when he isn't stripping, and a seemingly dimwitted emcee (Matthew McConaughey, often hilarious) who turns out to be a shrewd accountant. The dance numbers, choreographed by Allison Faulk, are inventive and athletic, but not really erotic; Soderbergh never lets you forget that, for these men, dancing is above all a job.

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Glory holes and circus feats: new Reader performing arts reviews

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 09:39 AM

Coach takes questions from the press in Oh, the Humanity!
  • Joe Mazza, Brave Lux
  • Coach takes questions from the press in Oh, the Humanity!
There aren't many shows to cover this week, but there are plenty to recommend. For instance: Common Hatred, a new homage to Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard by lyrically named local playwright Calamity West, and Oh, the Humanity!, a collection of five short plays from Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) author Will Eno. Both productions excel by virtue of their sad, humorous, and disarming honesty.

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This is the worst:

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 07:31 AM

The wurst
  • Jeremy Keith
  • The wurst
1. Cigarette prices
2. The word mingle used as a noun
3. People on OKCupid who want to talk about "philosophy"
4. Train, the band
5. Train, the Amtrak
6. Listicles
7. Katie Roiphe
8. Bad tippers
9. Three-quarters of the Golden Girls being dead
10. Cilantro (I can’t help it! It's genetic!)
11. Myself, in a sentence, when a simple me would do
12. Sports

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The Reader's Agenda: Fri 6/29

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 06:55 AM

Jack Oblivian
  • Jack Oblivian
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered:

Saint Michael's Church hosts the inaugural Chicago Craft Beer Festival. Admission is $5 and gives you direct access to more than 75 import and domestic brews.

Memphis blues man Jack Oblivian performs a set at Township in Logan Square. Channel Four opens.

If you're in the mood for something a little less serious, 80s hair metal stalwarts Scorpions and Tesla coheadline the Charter One Pavilion.

For more on these events and others, check out the Reader's daily Agenda page.

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Having the best-worst, most terrible time with Gerard Manley Hopkins

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 06:18 AM

G.M. Hopkins at about the time he started getting pitched past pitch of grief
  • G.M. Hopkins at about the time he started getting pitched past pitch of grief
Oh sure, I seem amiable enough. Young women smile at me on the street these days, because I remind them of their kindly old fathers. But inside? Big weltschmerz. Dark nights of the soul stretching into weeks, months, and decades. The one really precocious thing I did as a child had nothing to do with math or the science fair. It was me figuring out futility way ahead of the curve.

Which may be why I read poetry. Whitman makes an especially good antidote to despair. He knew he was deathless and said so. He was always busy jetting the stuff of far more arrogant republics. Who wouldn't be delighted?

But there's a certain dark delight in embracing the beast as well. So when I really want to sink into the great, musty arms of wretchedness—when I want the best worst time possible—I take down my book of Gerard Manley Hopkins poems.

A 19th-century English convert to Catholicism who became a Jesuit priest, Hopkins wrote some great devotional pieces (“Glory be to God for dappled things") and straight-out gifts to creation, like "The Windhover":

"I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing. . . ."

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