Monday, December 31, 2007

Hasta, um, never again

Dear 2007,

Fare thee well, 2007. You have been a trying and eventful year, and though I enjoyed many moments of you, I am happy to see you go. Don't get me wrong, you weren't a TERRIBLE year (like 1997 or 2003) nor were you a GREAT year (like 2002 or when I was in 2nd grade). You were just a year where lots of shiznit -- good and bad -- happened (sort of like 1996, 2001, and my sophomore year in high school). Just living through you was like a decathalon: diverse, with some events I enjoyed more than others, but tiring as hell all the same. Not to seem unappreciative, 2007, but without you I wouldn't have (a) gotten a new job, (b) move to a city I really enjoy, (c) finished my dissertation, (d) made a bunch of new and interesting friends, (e) lost a couple old ones, and (f) painted my apartment in a rather conversational shade of green.Take it easy, 2007 -- put in a good word for me with 2008, ok?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Winter break

Dear Cleveland Bachelor Readers,

First of all, I truly appreciate both of you.

Second, I'm about to take a brief vacation from the blog, as I depart manana for the breathtaking expanse of central Illinois.

However, I will be back at the very end of the year, or maybe the very beginning of next. Either way, I have some interesting plans to begin next year, my own way of getting to know Cleveland better while doing my small part to promote the things about the city I'm growing to love.

In the meantime, as I prepare for my first sustained trip away since moving here in August, I have some thoughts.

In brief, while there are some pretty serious problems facing this city (too much crime, too few cops, suburban sprawl and some strikingly flawed economic development plans for staving off the impending downtown collapse, and - worst of all - some really terrible upper-level political leadership), there are also many, many jewels, architectural, commercial, and human. I've really enjoyed my efforts to immerse myself in the various cultural scenes here and have been helped along by some great people. The guys at the Glass Bubble Project (Mike, Chris, and Dave), proprietors and staff at local book and music stores (including Suzanne at Mac's Backs, Mike at West 25th, Kevin at Music Saves, and the clerk at Visible Voice whose name I am humbled to admit I cannot remember), and a number of other cool folks that I've met out and about, as well as through social networks like yelp and the prospering online community.

I'm looking forward to my return and spending 2008 continuing to explore the city, now as a member of the community rather than as a tourist or new arrival.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


After a LONG day of work, I came home, cleaned the baby beagle's ears, then headed over to the Grog Shop to see Unsparing Sea play. There had been a pretty awesome write-up this past week in the Free Times that really made me want to see them. I was envisioning something like a Van Occupanther-era Midlake meets toned down Arcade Fire, and got exactly what I expected. The show was pretty awesome, and I ended up picking up a copy of their CD (2 actually; one for Ducky for christmas). While I was waiting to get to the merch table, the next band came on: This Will Destroy You (from San Marcos, TX). They were also pretty terrific, some sonic insanity w/o lyrics. I'm a lyrics guy, and if you could pair some poetry with their jams, you'd have something really special.

I'm home now, about to hit the hay. Tomorrow night, there is another interesting show, this time at the Beachland Ballroom feat. Brooklyn's White Magic and Cleveland's own Mystery of Two. I may check it out. Though I REALLY need to do some laundry. We shall see.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

What to do today?

Got a little chilly last night. And, of course, it snowed. Just a baby snow, but enough to make the roads a little weird. The convergence-continuum show was terriffic, well acted and conceived. Plus, there was a total surprise of a nude scene that I still haven't wrapped my mind around.

After walking out of the performance of Demon Baby, I realized it was only about 9:20; plenty of time to drive over to Cleveland Heights and check out the 9:30 showing of The Big Lebowski (part of the Cedar-Lee monthly cult film series), rather than wait till midnight.

I ended up parking my car about 9:50, the trip taking twice as long as it should have, partly due to driver cautiousness (mine and others), mostly due to the fact that I missed turning on Lorain and took a twisting turning route through the Flats to catch Carnegie right in front of the stadiums.

The movie was great on the big screen and I remembered why it has been in my Top 5 since I first saw it almost a decade (!!) ago. (For those extra-inquisitive readers, the other 4 would include Love Actually, Dog Park, High Fidelity, River's Edge ... don't even ask about the order, lest you wish to be involved in a multi-hour conversation about nonsense).

Today, I'm feeling a bit domestic. I have gobs of laundry to do, which may be the reason why. There are a handful of options, but so far all I've been able to decide on are excuses. Like I could go see the showing of Crossing the Line (about a US defector to North Korea) at the Museum of Art, but that's pretty far to travel for a documentary I'm only very casually interested in seeing. Plus, something about that particular museum rubs me the wrong way, and parking stresses me out, and I'd probably end up missing the beginning of the Browns and/or Bears games. Similarly, I could go see Pulp, which features one of my new Yelp friends, but I really don't want to put on decent clothes and I would definitely miss at least the full first quarter of the game(s) if I went down to the Cleveland Public Theater. I could take Smelly Ellie for a walk, but it is too cold to make it enjoyable and my back still aches a little from yesterday's workout (my fault, not the pilates). I could go check out the Lake Erie Monster's minor-league hockey match against Syracuse this afternoon at the Q, but I don't really like hockey, especially not enough for those prices.

Hmm. Maybe I'll do some work. Pop on the space heater by my feet, read my friend's paper on the importance of developing scholarly approaches to the study of presidential losers (not dickheads like Bush or Harding, but the folks that run for and lose an election, but still change political reality in a discernible way). I also have a bunch of research ideas of my own that could only benefit from listing out -- both so I don't forget what I was thinking and so I give myself a little extra push to actually complete the work.

Oddly enough, that idea sounds nicest of all. If this keeps up, I'm doomed to keep the "bachelor" part of this blog's title forever!

Now where is my space heater...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

trying new things

Woke up this morning thanks to a call from Mike, reminding me we were to go over to Lakewood for our first pilates class with Christina.

How could I forget that? I'm no Rambo/Rutger Hauer/John McClain-style overtly self-consciously macho man, but the idea of taking a pilates class had me a little freaked out. The text message from my friend Jen in Texas suggesting a leotard didn't help matters.

After lumbering about, convincing myself not to convince myself to feign a sore throat or fluey stomach, it was off to Lakewood. We survived, though my shoulders are pretty sore and I don't think I'll ever be able to make eye contact with Christina again, after my embarrasing performance.

Afterwards, I dropped Mike off at the bubble, had a morning beer with his business partner Chris, and then it was off to Gateway for Smelly Ellie's last check-up related to her infected cyst of a few weeks ago. She got the thumbs up from Dr. Abby, but my last second request to have Ellie's ears looked at (she's been asking me to rub them an awful lot lately) revealed two separate yeast infections, thus raising the price of the visit another half-bill and getting her two more forms of medication. I also could swear I got some glares from Abby and the nosy woman at the examination table next to me. Two infections in as many months -- I must be doing something wrong! People, she's a beagle. Big floppy ears and deformed glands -- what am I supposed to do?

Anyway, chastened, wallet lightened, I depart, head home, have lunch and play with Smelly. Then it is off to the RTA station, to catch the Red Line to Tower City. I manage to avoid cursing at the J. Crew-ensconced drunk couple harassing the conducter (Seriously - is there a stand somewhere in the bowels of the West Side Market that gives away shots along with fruit samples? Cause I'd like to go, too.), jet off the train, and head up to Caribou coffee for a ... wait for it ... cup of coffee. Seasonal spirit momentarily and unwisely struck me and I ordered up a ho ho latte or something stupid like that and remembered an oft-learned lesson: I hate the confectionary coffee drinks these places serve. Oops.

With a mustache full of whipped cream, I head out Tower City and over to Prospect, then down a half-dozen blocks to Mike the Hatter's. I'm a hat guy, have been since I was about 10. Once you near 30, the opportunities to wear ball caps become pretty limited, but I still don headware on a very regular basis. Places like Mike the Hatter's allow you to do so, look somewhat like an adult (though my businessman meets pirate t-shirt and my eleven-year-old blue hoodie messed that up anyway), and even feel like a historical throwback. I bought a beautiful cap for about $50 bucks - a little pricy, I admit, but it is really pretty (a descriptor that, despite the pilates class mentioned earlier, I don't use often) and classic.

Then it was back down Prospect, to the Sincere Building (at the corner of Prospect and E. 4th). to check out the Bazaar Bizarre. Brought to the city by the SUPER cool Pop Up City organization. Stay tuned for other things by these folks for sure. There were about 3 dozen tables manned by some really edgy crafts artisans. Edgy crafts people? I know, sounds weird, but there was some really cool shit here. I wish I would have had more cash -- one table was selling awesome "seasons greetings from cleveland" funky postcards and cool red rider christmas cards. I bought myself a lapel pin that I think will look cool on my ragged brown cord default lecturing blazer. I also got my little sis a cool wrist thing made out of a necktie. I think she'll like it; more importantly, I will feel like the one brother that managed to get the high school hipster something she won't return. Or at least can't return. Mwah ha ha.

After all that, it was back home, to feed Smelly. I'm about to take her for a brisk walk, then head over to the convergence-continuum theater in Tremont to check out the new play they are staging, Demon Baby. The name alone is probably worth the 12 buck admission, but the online reviews of other stagings look promising. Then, maybe, depending on my mood, energy, and the residual effects of the pilates, I might check out the midnight showing of The Big Lebowski at the wonderfully-named Cedar Lee. We shall see...

(Wait, that rhymes!)