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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How to swim like a mermaid

Posted By and on 10.11.16 at 09:00 AM

The authors as mermaids - NORA KAITIS
  • Nora Kaitis
  • The authors as mermaids

A few weeks ago an e-mail popped into the inboxes of the authors of this post inviting us to swim like a mermaid. We knew we had to accept, because how often in your life do you get to fulfill one of your most cherished childhood dreams?

The message from Nora Kaitis of AquaMermaid Chicago, the local franchise of a company based in Montreal, promised we would be provided with actual mermaid tails and taught how to swim in them. So last weekend we headed down to the pool at the UIC Sports and Fitness Center, where Kaitis teaches classes every Sunday at noon.

After we signed a rather daunting disclaimer that absolved AquaMermaid of any responsibility should we drown (we were comforted that we were very close to the UIC Medical Center), Kaitis showed us how to put on our monofins, which fit on our feet like sandals, and fit the stretchy cloth tail over it. Then we plunged in. Somehow we had forgotten in our excitement that Kaitis had promised it would be a workout.

Herewith our reflections on our experiences:

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thoughts on Vogue's September issue from someone who shops at Target

Posted By on 08.26.15 at 12:30 PM

This is how a plebeian reads Vogue. - BRIANNA WELLEN
  • Brianna Wellen
  • This is how a plebeian reads Vogue.

As an employee of a print publication I feel it's my duty to keep a close eye on the industry. Why did so-and-so magazine become an online-only read? How does such-and-such newspaper keep producing a daily edition? Is print really dying? 

For an answer, let's look to Vogue's September issue. This year the fashion institution printed an 832-page book. That's 832 honest-to-goodness glossy paper pages. I've never been one to follow fashion; growing up, I mostly turned to these magazines to practice figure drawing and make collages. And, truth be told, most of my clothes are from Target's clearance racks or my 18-year-old sister's closet. But when I saw this massive issue (and Queen Bey on the cover), I just had to pick it up to see what all the fuss was about. HEY—maybe this is the future of print media. 

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

There are still tickets for Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet tonight

Posted By on 03.17.15 at 12:00 PM

Strange Angels
  • Strange Angels

According to the Harris Theater's website, there are still tickets to see performance artist-singer-musician Laurie Anderson play with the classical group Kronos Quartet tonight. If you can swing it, I'd suggest going, since it's due to be a pretty great performance. Coincidentally, it's also a couple weeks before Major League Baseball's opening day. So in honor of the forthcoming MLB season and the performance tonight, today's 12 O'Clock Track is one of the all-time best baseball songs: "Babydoll," off of Anderson's 1989 album Strange Angels. Frankly, it's relationship to baseball is only tangential, but then again, "Baby Doll" is on some level about the human brain's tendency to go off on tangents. Here's another one.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A taxonomy of snow

Posted By on 03.04.14 at 03:38 PM

Its like the Great Barrier Reef, only its on a street in Rogers Park and there are no fish.
  • Aimee Levitt
  • It's like the Great Barrier Reef, only it's on a street in Rogers Park and there are no fish.
It's March. We're all still wearing our snow boots and long underwear, which are starting to get a little rank by now. There's not enough booze, Girl Scout cookies, or even paczki in this whole stupid world to compensate for this shitty, shitty winter. But if you still have a molecule of optimism left inside of you, try to see last weekend's snowstorm not as another opportunity to pretend you're living in Siberia (you are a political prisoner, you have been sent to the gulag, your continued survival is a triumph of the human spirit, etc) but as a chance to get to know snow in all its multifarious forms. Hey, it's not often that you get to see dirty, month-old snow and fresh, new snow all at once. Plus, temperatures this week have soared all the way into the 20s, which means prime snow-spotting weather!

Herewith a guide to all the exciting different kinds of snow that may be piled up on your very own curb:

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The time I spent the night in my back alley

Posted By on 09.04.13 at 03:48 PM

Not our alley, but it looks similar.
  • Not our alley, but it looks similar.
I wouldn't exactly recommend spending your first night in a new neighborhood in the alley. But it's probably the best way I've found to meet the neighbors and learn about a place. Maybe it's because for most of my adult life, I've been a renter in city neighborhoods where they don't have the Welcome Wagon. Cookies are probably nice, but the alley is far more interesting.

We were spending the night in the alley in Rogers Park because of a series of unfortunate events that included a tree falling on my boyfriend Jeff's car during the storm last Friday night, power outages also due to the storm, and everything about the move Saturday taking way longer than it should have (partly because we were moving into a third-floor walk-up). It culminated in the movers driving off at 1 AM, leaving all our heavy furniture in the alley and Jeff, his mom Marilyn (who had come in from Iowa to help us), and me there with no way to move it. None of us is very strong. Which is why we'd agreed to shell out for movers in the first place.

But at least the sky was clear and the movers hadn't touched the couches since they unloaded them from the U-Haul, so we could guard our stuff in comfort.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

12 O'Clock Track: John Martyn's grizzled-man folk jam "Over the Hill"

Posted By on 05.06.13 at 12:00 PM

John Martyn didn't die on this day, but I'm going with the singer-songwriter's "Over the Hill" for our 12 O'Clock Track because I've been listening to the album it's taken from, 1973's Solid Air, like crazy lately. The album is a cross between a number of my favorite 70s grizzled man/jazzbo/weirdo touchstones: Nick Drake, John Cale circa Paris 1919, Tim Buckley, and Van Morrison's 1974 album Veedon Fleece. Martyn is an unbelievable guitarist, capable of employing frisky blues licks, plucky fingerpicking, and elegant strumming whenever it suits the melody and emotional undercurrent of a song. His voice has some of Drake's soft baritone, but he can also go for the glottal soul-blues hybrids of guys like Morrison and Richard Thompson. Actually, Thompson makes a rare appearance on mandolin on "Over the Hill," a song with a double meaning: going over a physical hill toward home, and being worn out from a lifetime of being on the road and partying. The song has a Rod Stewart Every Picture Tells a Story vibe, which means it's the kind of thing about which the staff of early 70s Creem would wax poetic. It's mostly just Martyn singing against his acoustic guitar, with Thompson seriously jamming out on the mandolin John Paul Jones-style. Incidentally, Martyn never quite achieved significant recognition stateside, but he was kind of a big deal in the UK, where he influenced a whole generation of musicians who connected with his introspective, occasionally haunting lyrics and jazz-folk-blues fusions. You can especially hear traces of his longer, meditative, spacious tracks in the work of later-period Talk Talk. YouTube and Spotify versions are below the jump.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Southwest Airlines and Branson, Missourah, want YOU!

Posted By on 03.12.13 at 04:06 PM

At the Branson airport, staffers greet or bid farewell to planes with the Branson Wave.
  • At the Branson airport, staffers greet or bid farewell to planes with the Branson Wave.
Southwest Airlines started nonstop service last weekend between Midway Airport and Branson, Missouri. This development is poised to change the lives of both Bransonians and Chicagoans.

"There's no place like Branson," claims Lynn Berry, director of public relations for the Branson Chamber of Commerce. "It's a friendly, family atmosphere. There's nothing offensive. Four generations of a family could come here. There's no gambling. It's great family fun."

Or, as Homer Simpson once put it, "It's like Vegas if it were run by Ned Flanders."

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Friday, December 7, 2012

What the holidays are really all about

Posted By on 12.07.12 at 11:17 AM

Mashing up Bad Brains' "Pay to Cum" with A Charlie Brown Christmas. It's actually pretty great.

"It's a Bad Brains Christmas, Charlie Brown" from Tad Was Here on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What's the difference?

Posted By on 09.19.12 at 10:44 AM

I decline to tell you what I was after, but thought you should know the burning curiosities of your fellow googlers:


Previously: "existential googling."

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Eighteen dollars to Wisconsin

Posted By on 08.27.12 at 03:25 PM

On Friday evening the Megabus station—that's to say the Megabus sidewalk, just south of Union Station, as the Megabus has no real station—had sort of a zombie-apocalyptic feel. It was filthy, for one thing. The sidewalk is wide on that block of Canal, the better for passersby to discard Dunkin' Donuts wrappers on. There may have been a bus coming but nobody seemed really sure. The many travelers on the sidewalk were threaded through with random people asking for money or digging through the garbage cans, which contributed further to the block's trash problem. There was a wet pile that could've been vomit. A woman asked me for $18 to get on the bus; I gave her a cigarette instead, she asked about my semicolon tattoo, and then she moved on to the next guy.

I'm on record as being a Megabus superfan, but it's not without its glitches. There was the time, for instance, when a busload of us got as far up 94 as Jefferson Park or so, on the way to Minneapolis, before one passenger realized this wasn't the bus for Saint Louis. On the way back downtown it was observed by a number of passengers that the bus was filling with the smell of gasoline, and so after cracking a window and dropping the wayward passenger back on Canal Street we headed to the bus barn on the south side—44th Street, I think, or thereabouts—to trade the vehicle in. It was about 11 PM.

We still made it to Minneapolis on time.

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