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Worst Week

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A tale of two covers

Posted By on 11.10.16 at 02:43 PM


On the morning of Election Day, there seemed to be little doubt which image would appear on the cover of the issue that we'd send to press Wednesday before dawn.

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

The worst sports injury

Posted By on 06.30.12 at 12:26 PM

Veyriers Statue of Dying Achilles: I feel your pain, man.
I recently suffered my worst sports injury. While pitching for the greater glory of the Reader in a media softball league game (16-inch, if you have to ask) I partially tore my Achilles tendon.

After a bunch of damn ringers for the Tribune—none of them looking like Eric Zorn or Mary Schmich or even Steve Johnson or Phil Rosenthal—swatted the ball all over the field, the first woman to come to bat hit a dribbler right in front of home plate.

I went running for the ball, but I swear it felt like the heel of my shoe somehow got hooked on the pitching rubber. I went down, and looked over my shoulder to see what had tripped me—and knew right away what I'd done.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Why I'll never wear headbands again

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 05:29 PM

Even outwardly fashionable people make missteps now and then—particularly when young. In college, like a lot of people, I tried on a new persona practically every two weeks. The hippie (even though I didn’t like the Grateful Dead), the raver (even though I’d never been to a real rave)—you get the idea. Eventually I settled on wearing only black for a few years. Not because I was a goth or particularly depressed but because it was easy and distinctive.

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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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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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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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Thursday, June 28, 2012

A middle finger salute to the worst intersections

Posted By on 06.28.12 at 06:15 AM

The part of Chicago with palm trees
  • Mike Gonzalez
  • The part of Chicago with palm trees
I don't have a car. I don't have a car because I totaled it. I don't have a car because I totaled it at one of the 20 worst intersections based on the number of crashes in 2010, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. I know this because Tina Sfondeles, a transportation reporter for the Sun-Times, wrote a post a couple months back detailing the Chicago area's most dangerous intersections, and I was strangely satisfied to find that the intersection at Kedzie and Belmont made the list. Actually, I almost feel vindicated to see it on the list. Whether it's right or wrong, I don't care, I'm still going to deflect some of the blame for my wreck onto that lousy intersection. And no, I wasn't on my cell phone.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It was the best of hands, it was the worst of hands

Posted By on 06.27.12 at 04:06 PM

The famous glass
  • The famous glass
Assume the best. Assume the worst. Life is about making the right assumptions. This is one of two important lessons the game of bridge has taught me. I'll get to the other later.

How to put it? Be always aware of circumstances. Whether a glass is half full or half empty depends less on your nature than on whether you're filling the glass or drinking from it. So you be the one at the table filling the glasses. Let your opponents empty them. As the evening wears on you'll find yourself making more and more unmakeable slams.

Sorry. That's off point. What I mean is that in bridge, and in life, it is necessary to make appropriate assumptions. The state of your proverbial glass—half full or half empty—should not be contingent on anything so secondary as your disposition. If should not matter whether you're as optimistic as Pangloss or as despairing as the rustic who, when running water was introduced to his village, muttered, “This won’t end wells.”

Sorry again. OK, my point is this: be a genuine optimist or pessimist with your friends when there’s nothing at stake but their friendship; but at the bridge table exploit optimism and pessimism as tactical alternatives.

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I miss Chicago's worst movie theater

Posted By on 06.27.12 at 10:28 AM

The Pipers Alley marquee in 2008
  • The Pipers Alley marquee in 2008
For several years before it finally closed down in 2011, the movie theater at Pipers Alley was likely the least respected in Chicago. The projection was frequently dim, the floors were sticky, many of the seats wobbled, and looking at the concession stand actually made you less hungry. It seemed to be managerial policy that the box office attendants wipe their noses before giving you change. The theater was, in short, a dive—but unlike the Logan Theater before it underwent its much-needed renovation, Pipers Alley charged multiplex prices for the compromised experience it offered. Yes, it still belonged to a chain, but most people I knew just assumed the powers that be at Loews had forgotten about it.

This derelict quality had its upsides, though. In its final years, the theater adopted an anything-goes attitude towards programming, booking movies that no other theater in Chicago would take. Their bargain hunting resulted in the Chicago runs of some interesting movies that fell in the interstices between mainstream cinema and art cinema: JCVD, Southland Tales, Abel Ferrara’s Chelsea on the Rocks, and a number of Bollywood comedies—orphan movies for an orphan theater.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The worst record that I love to pieces

Posted By on 06.26.12 at 12:40 PM

The first time I realized that pretty much no one else in the United States of America appreciates Big Audio Dynamite's Tighten Up Vol. 88 was partway through a lip-synch dance routine that I'd put together to try out for my rural middle school's annual talent show. During a particularly frenetic move, as I reached to secure the military beret I'd chosen as part of my stage costume, I saw a look of unambiguous horror on the faces of the middle-aged country-assed women on the judge's panel. At that moment it occurred to me for the first time that not everyone in the world feels as warmly as I do about Mick Jones's post-Clash experiment in combining samplers, drum machines, Don Letts, and the kind of epic, sentimental pop that epitomized Jones's contributions to the Clash.

Predictably I didn't make the cut.

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