Monday, March 31, 2008

Happiness is a Warm ... 5-Day Forecast

So while I'm working, I'm listening to the Indians game on the radio and, just to make sure I have all the information I possibly need, I also have the game up on the Gameday function. Most importantly, as I type this, the Tribe are putting together a 7 run second inning!

Between brain cramps concerning my "real" work, I check different websites and, occasionally, the Gameday page. Lo and behold, the folks at inform me that it is 66 degrees in Clevo today.

I can't quite believe that it is 66, but it is super nice.

So I go to, to confirm my skeptical fears about the MLB report, and they tell me it is 60 degrees, with a "real feel" of 55. Not 66, but still pretty awesome.

Even greater? The 5 day forecast features mostly mid-50s and upper-40s. The worst day of the week (Wednesday) is only supposed to get up to 45. Temps move back solidly into the mid-50s in Days 6-10, but dip again in days 11-15. Days 11-15 are far enough away, however, that I'm not gonna let them kill my "warm, relatively speaking, weather" buzz.

Maybe the first day of baseball season is a harbinger of happier weather after all!

Opening Day!

When I was growing up, opening day of baseball season was always a sign that spring was here. I also managed to put up a semi-impressive streak of opening day attendance at Wrigley Field through high school and college, though eventually the day seemed to get colder and more expensive and I turned 21, which enabled the new "skip class and watch it at the bar" option.

Years later, I still love opening day. I'm sitting here, with AM 1100 blaring as the usually ridiculo-conservative hosts have moved their location to Progressive Field and are temporarily suspending the race-baiting and self-righteous lack of logic for hours upon hours of pre-game coverage. Just in case you couldn't tell, I feel that this switch is a good thing.

I'm working from home today and have TONS of work to do, but every quarter-hour the desire to put on a sweatshirt and jacket and head downtown to scalp a ticket grows. After doing battle with (and losing) Time Warner, I no longer have cable, so watching games on the tube this year will be, well, impossible. And I sooo want to catch this one.

I guess we will see if adult responsibilities trump youthful zeal.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I tell you what, I really needed this weekend. Between being sick, stressed, and broke, I've just been grinding the days out.

This weekend was peaceful and fun in an entirely necessary mellow way. Plus I got paid a couple days earlier than I expected. Just in time for next weekend's long sojourn to Chi-town. But that's a story for another blog post.

I spent Friday home, working. Kind of. I slept in late, worked a bit, went and met a friend and her friend over at Talkie's, where I had a bite to eat and did a little more work, then went home and finished up a long overdue paper for next week's conference (i.e., the reason for the aforementioned sojourn to Chi-city). On Friday, my friend Tina came over with a family pack from Hot Sauce Williams and some Boondocks dvds. We gorged and watched the tube, before falling victim to what Grandpa (on the Boondocks) calls "the itis."

When I woke, groggy and still stuffed the next morning, I did a little more work, then went over to the Cinematheque to catch a screening of "Billy the Kid." If you get a chance to see it sometime, you really should. In the meantime, here is a link to a great story about the film that ran in the New York Times a while back. The movie is funny, but also visceral, and was really difficult for me to watch at points. There were moments that were almost physically painful, especially when watching the rise and fall of the protaganist's romantic relationship (his first) with a visually impaired gal he meets at her family's local diner. I'll leave things there, in the hopes you will find a copy of this to view, but let me just say that the director excels at putting forward moments that remind any honest person of their more humiliating decisions and moments when they were coming of age.

After the film, we walked down to The Barking Spider Tavern, drank a couple pitchers of Molson while watching the Cavs play terribly unimpressive basketball. Or should I say we watched the Cavs play terrible, unimpressive basketball. Either way. Eventually some drunk lawyer kept going on about the Chicago Bulls and how they refused to allow Ben Wallace to wear a headband, and any time anyone else said anything, he'd just shout "You don't know anything!"

We finished up our beers and took off, as wasted lawyer dude had apparently taken a shine to my pal while I was in the restroom. After getting back to the CIA parking lot, my friend took me over to her favorite dive bar, The Knotty Pine, where we had a couple average burgers and yet more beer. The Knotty Pine is a cool place, apparently these two brothers have owned it for going on 50 years. Very inexpensive, very neighborhood. I like it, though probably not enough to make a special trip back. But, if I was ever in the neighborhood, looking to kill time, I'd head over.

After all the boozing, it was time to head home, so I returned to my abode, popped in something from netflix, and passed out. Today, I woke up, did a little work as my apartment was being cleaned (!!!!!), then went to brunch at the West Side Market cafe. I don't really like this whole brunch thing. It feels bougie and Carter-era 70s and stupid to me, but everyone my age fucking loves the whole concept. Doesn't anyone go out for lunch anymore?


So I went to the Cavs game the other day, when they lost on a last second shot against the New Orleans team.

I'm a little ambivalent about the Cavs, to be honest. But my friend had 3 tix and was offering one for free. So what the hell, right?

Of course, later I realized she was giving me the ticket that belonged to her kid but who was being punished for some typical kid thing. That totally sucked for me -- it reminded me of the time my Dad bought 3 tix to a UofI football game and then, to punish me for some smart-mouth kid thing, ended up giving my ticket to my cousin Matt.

As petty as it is, one can trace the demise of my happy relationship with my father to that moment. Or maybe the time we were playing catch in the front yard and he all of a sudden through it really hard and hit me in the nuts. I can't remember which came first.

But this is all kind of heavy -- I only mention the Cavs game because I thought the Q was a pretty decent arena. I also enjoyed having this group of inner city youths on some sort of field trip behind us. They were pretty young and hilarious, especially when two of them got in an argument about who was better, LBJ or Damon Jones.

The kid who was arguing in favor of Damon Jones was awesome, he kept calling LeBron a bitch and saying he couldn't shoot, couldn't jump, couldn't run, looked ugly, etc. The other kids were howling with disbelief, one kid said he couldn't believe the other guy liked "Amon Ones." When asked why he kept saying "Amon Ones" and not "Damon Jones" and he said something clever about how Damon Jones can't play no "D" and doesn't have any "J" in his jump, hence "Amon Ones."

Cute, huh. Here are a few bad pics I took from our nosebleed perch.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Munny Mania

Who here knows what a Munny is?

Ask me that same question 5-6 weeks ago, I wouldn't either.

I do now, though, so I'll tell you (or you can read about it yourself here). A Munny is a blank toy, usually a chubby little figure, that you can decorate yourself. Apparently, these things have taken off in popularity among the hipster/creative types.

Steve Brown, one of the proprietors of Shoparooni on Waterloo Road, is a fan and recently sponsored a contest. Despite my utter lack of artistic skill, I decided to enter and Tina and I spent the bulk of the day of the contest, a couple weeks ago, working on our respective Munny pals. Hers, of course, was way better than mine, both in design and execution.

She did something along the lines of a hip asian skater crossed with Lite-Brite. I had more trouble with the conceptualization.

At first, I thought about doing a little Lenin dude, with receding hairline and goatee and such, but I couldn't figure out how to do the clothes. Then I thought about doing a Ghoulardi munny, but the same type of problem confronted me. I thought about buying three more munnies and making a set of KISS dudes, but didn't feel like spending $60 more.
So, at the last moment, struck with inspiration at the art supply store on Coventry that I can't recall the name of, I decided to make a sea monster. I went to Tina's and her kids helped me mix up some green and blue and yellow paint, which we then glooped on the Munny. One of her kids drew a funky little scary face on the Munny from one of her "how to draw monsters" books. Another kid found a crazy looking claw and we decided to make a spear. Then I figured I'd put on the moustache I bought from Big Fun to put on the Munny when he was still gonna be Lenin. And then one of the kids put a little plunger in the Munny's hand (you know, the one not holding the claw-spear). We hurried up and created a little patch of undersea land, complete with shells and sand and coral and sponge for the Munny to stand on, and off we went to the competition.

En route to Collinwood, I changed my mind about removing the plunger the kid had included at the last minute. Instead, I embraced it, figuring between the moustache and the plunger, I was well on the way to having a pretty good version of a sea monster plumber. I mean, if sea monsters live in communities, there has to be at least one plumber, right?
Actually, I decided that my sea monster, Harry, would be the 2nd most successful plumber of his particular tribe of sea monsters. If only I would have thought of this earlier in the day -- we could have made an ass crack.

As it was, neither of us won anything at the competition. I thought maybe Tina had a chance, but as fun as mine was to make, it didn't come close to any of the others. Of course, with an ass crack it might have...
Either way, we had fun making them, and to paraphrase something Steve said the next day, when we bumped into him after dining at the Beachland's new Sunday Brunch, it was great to see adults all excited about playing with toys and coloring/painting/designing again. I agree, and look forward to whatever his next competition is. I still won't have any skills, I still won't win anything, but it'll be fun to try.

Oh My ...

So, as I'm logging in to my blog, having typed my ridiculous log-in and password, and as I sit and wait for the process to complete, I look down, realize that at 10:35 on what is ostensibly a work day for most people, yet here I am getting ready to blog, wearing scruffy camo slippers I bought months ago from the Dollar Store, a pair of shorts (the kind that never leave the house), and some old t-shirt from a Czech Bakery in West, Texas (which is actually more in about central Texas, but whatever).

As I notice all these things, and then the pizza boxes in the kitchen, the coffee mugs (that I use for drinking just about every beverage other than coffee, cause my coffee maker broke) strewn everywhere, sneakers and hats and fliers for shows and plays and gallery openings...

and the beginning of some horrible thought starts to work its way through my mind.

It only starts to work its way, because even if it is 10:40 AM (now), I still only woke up a little while ago and I can't deal with this particular blend of self-critical narcissism quite yet.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The President doth protest too much, methinks

Ordinarily, when all the economy chest-pounding and garment-rending talk starts up, I tune out. I'm not smart enough to be able to figure out who is right, who is wrong, who is sincere, who is lying (and why).

With the small caveat that I never ever believe anything Jim Cramer says. Not that I think he's lying - dude just seems unhinged.

But this recent round of bad news and, more importantly, the overblown rhetoric from economic elites, has raised my eyebrows.

The last few days I've been sick in bed, but managed to catch bits of the "news" updates that come on AM 1100 like every 8 minutes. (That is when I wasn't trying to strategically nap during the Mike Trivisonno show.)

The Bear Stearns buyout intrigued me. The pending demise of those evil fuckers at National City, both worried and gladdened me. Worried because (a) what might it be the harbinger of, and (b) if it folds will I be able to get that rainy day $23.07 out? Gladdened because those terrible service, exploitative monsters don't deserve to be in business.

My optimistic side tells me maybe all we'll see is the hyper-greedy of the bank firms go down, for every National City that implodes, hopefully a more ethical Fifth Third will stay afloat (if not prosper).

But that optimistic side, genetically predisposed towards hiding anyway, goes AWOL when I keep hearing statements from the prez, fed chair, and others talking about how strong our economy is and how good things are. Obviously, these things are not fully true, and while I'm quite used to this administration treating "truth" as an optional condiment rather than a required entree, the fact that this mantra lies at the top of everyone's talking points memo is starting to unnerve me.

While it is an empirically documented fact that irrationally exuberant eliterhetoric does improve objective and subject economic reality, the fact that these guys seem suitably worried to employ these efforts is not exactly a good sign.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Man Cold

The last few days I have been laid low by that most insiduous of fellows: the man cold.

Friday morning, I struggled to wake as I realized my phone kept ringing and I kept receiving text messages. Upon checking them, I was informed that I had overslept and missed my breakfast plans. As I struggled (mightily, by the way) to send a return apology text, and then collapsed back into my pillows, I realized there was something far worse than missing out on the spinach & feta omelet at the Inn on Coventry: I was coming down with something nasty.


Let me say this, I can count the number of times I've been sick in the last 10 years on one hand. As long as I don't count the 7 months I've lived in Cleveland, that is. Since moving here, there have been a couple mini-colds, one horrific bout with a chest cold in January, and then this weekend's nonsense.

I'm starting to think some of it might be allergy related. But as it has mostly been below freezing, that didn't make sense. So I checked with my go-to medical advice person, a grad school friend now living in Hong Kong that somehow knows a freakish amount about medicine and all the various ways our bodies can screw up. She suggested it probably is allergies, specifically dust.

As I look about my apartment, that makes sense. We are way overdue for the semi-annual sweeping of the floors. Indeed, some times I get confused that the pile of dog hair in the corner behind the television isn't actually Ellie. (Note: If this seems even remotely disgusting to you, well, it should. But the title of the blog is Cleveland Bachelor, and there are a number of very good reasons for that. Also, I guess, for why the blog title looks unlikely to change any time soon.)

I started to self-medicate a couple days before my confirmation came in, and was doing a pretty good job of alternating between Claritin in the day and Benadryl in the evening.

Except ... the first day or so I felt so crappy I didn't eat anything, and the next everything I tasted seemed like it was covered with a mountain of table salt. So by today I was as woozy as you can imagine. I took a walk down to Heck's to get a bland chicken sandwich (some ringing endorsement there, right?) and getting there and back was ridiculous.

A few hours later, though, with the exception of some belly-aching (physical and rhetorical), my head seems to have cleared. Enough so, anyway, to realize I actually suffered from a Man Allergy Attack, not a Man Cold. My bad. For those of you that don't know the reference, check out the clip below. I'm guessing all the female readers will watch it, chuckling and nodding. To be clear, I reject the entire premise of that sketch (i.e., making fun of my gender for our inability to suffer minor bouts of the sniffles), but it is pretty clever.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I really didn't (and don't) intend this blog to be a political thing. I do enough of that during the day. But politics has been on my mind lately, with Ohio being ground zero for a period and with the Democratic primary race heating up, so please bear with me. I promise you, soon we'll be back to boring chronologies of my weekends and whiny stories of my bad luck in the romantic universe. But until then, ponder this:

Doing my daily online media cycle, I came across the funniest little blurb about a conference call PA Gov. Rendell and Philly Mayor Nutter did with campaign media. The thrust of their argument was that although HRC has pretty high (and stable) unfavorability numbers, they promise to all but disappear by the November elections, should HRC become the party's standard-bearer.

This is hilarious for several reasons, but here are the top two.

First, Rendell's evidence that unfavorability erosion can and will occur? Himself. "“When this started a year ago, I didn’t like Hillary Clinton.” Now that's a surrogate for you.

Second, do these two really think 8 more months is gonna make a difference? I mean, HRC has been a household name for 16 years! And her early (though now evaporated) advantage was the very thing that leads to her high unfavorables: America knows her. People like her or don't, but only very few haven't a clue. And I just don't think more exposure to her is gonna make them like her more. (See this link for some interesting graphics.)

I guess Bill could cheat on her again. That always seems to improve her numbers in the short term. Plus, it isn't like that isn't something HRC is averse to exploiting (see New Hampshire or even the recent CSU debate fore evidence). Besides, another bout of infidelity from Bill isn't that unlikely of a development and is one the former prez would probably endorse on the merits. My best friend from grad school recently told me of something he had heard or read about Chelsea dating a Florida super-delegate. If Chelsea will do it, why not Bill? And he can date way more than one person at a time.

In the meantime, take a look at the graph below. Smooth out the lines and what do you see? A whole lot of stability. Between the pictures you can view at the link above and the picture below, can we really expect anything meaningful to change? I doubt it, which is why I'm a little more (extremely cautiously) optimistic that the super-delegates will go with Barack. Favorability numbers, general election prognostication, down ticket coattail strength, partisan realignment possibilities -- all these things and more favor my guy from Illinois. One would think/hope that they would also influence the strategic decision making of the several hundred savviest pols in the DNC.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another film fest update

I gotta tell you guys, this film fest is really making me happy. I've seen some wonderful films, but more than that, I've really enjoyed taking the train down to TC (which is what I call Tower City in my head) and chilling for the afternoon. Plus, as a special treat, they've totally cleaned the floors of the theaters there -- at least they have in the individual theaters the festival is using. That is good and really necessary thing.

As mentioned in a previous post, my gal Tina scored us some VIP passes for the last few days. Sadly, they are no longer in our possession, but we made the most of them when they were. Between visits to the hospitality suite in the Ritz, we managed to sneak in screenings of Vogelfrei, Mugger, and Slingshot. Today, I went down by myself and saw my much-anticipated Russian double-feature: The Russian Triangle and Cargo 200. Each of these movies was excellent, but each was also really freaking dark. They were all dark in different ways, but I always left the theater as the credits started to roll with that same depressed soul and a slow mumbled "Fuuuuuucccckkkk" under my breath.

The three I saw using the VIP passes were all unique insofar as they didn't employ the traditional straight-forward story-telling approach we are so used to in mainstream movies these days. (Note: I'm a fan of stories, so don't interpret that last sentence as some snobby indictment of Hollywood.) Vogelfrei was interesting, a single film consisting of 4 separate films, each depicting the life of the same man, but at different ages. This guy lived one of those silent yet desperate internalized lives, the kind only Nordic folks seem able to live. Mugger was interesting, particularly as the dapper anti-hero lost his composure throughout his day. I was totally not ready for the ending, and it sparked one of the most interesting post-film conversations I've ever had. I really feel like it was the middle of a fantastic narrative, which is probably exactly what the director intended. Slingshot was kind of like one of those films where there are several intersecting plot lines, but in reality it was just a sprawling picture of a community where every individual's life intersected with every other individual's life in thousands of direct and indirect ways every day.

Today's films, the Russian two-fer, were great. I expect big things from Russian film -- for my money, other than some French interludes in the 60s and 70s, they do the very best work. And as globalization has had its way, Russian (and their peers from the post-Soviet republics) filmmakers been able to pair their artistic genuis and technical skills with greater technological sophistication, creating things on as grand a scale today, in relative terms, as they did in the days of Eisenstein nearly a century ago.

The Russian Triangle competes with films like Traffic or Syriana (or, god help us, Crash), but adding an interesting and well-spun murder spree to the social commentary. Cargo 200 is interesting and well-filmed, but really far out there. Taking place in the middle-80s, as the USSR's inexorable demise became increasingly clear, this film uses bureaucratic politics as the backdrop to a really fucked-up story. Two guys walking out of the theater in front of me compared it to Psycho and Deliverance. I could see both references, but I was more thinking along the lines of Reservior Dogs or even a 90 minute Slavic version of the nastier bits of Pulp Fiction. As I type this, I'm willing to bet Bill Guentzler, the Cleveland Film Society's Artistic Director, would agree that Alexey Balabanov is Russia's answer to Quentin Tarantino.

Anyway, I'd recommend seeing all of the above films, though caution viewers against Vogelfrei if they are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder and against Cargo 200 if they have a weak stomach or a teenage daughter.

Bonus fact: So far, of the 8 films I've seen, I've managed to show up late to 7 of them. No matter what I do, or how early I leave my apartment, I cannot help showing up 5-10 minutes late. Interestingly enough, the only one I made it to on time, Slingshot, was one of the films where the actual director was in the audience. So I was lucky enough to hear Brillante Mendoza riff for a few minutes about the film he had made. That was cool.

Barack Rebounds

My Obama depression of the last week or so has finally started to fade. Don't get me wrong -- I'm still worried about what kind of bullshit Senator Clinton is gonna throw at Barack, but that particular form of anxiety has been with me since last November and will probably stick around till Obama accepts the nomination (knock on wood!) and announces HRC will not - repeat NOT - be his running mate (pound the shit out of a big block of wood).

As many media outlets have confirmed (but see especially's mini-essay on the subject), Obama's significant victories in Wyoming and Mississippi, along with the recently semi-released results of the Texas evening caucuses, combine to erase any delegate gains HRC made on March 4th, with Obama probably even a small handful of delegates better off (relatively speaking) than he was vis-a-vis the junior senator from New York on March 3rd. Or as David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, recently put it in an email to supporters: "With our overwhelming victory in the Mississippi primary yesterday, our lead in earned delegates is now wider than it was on March 3rd, before the contests in Ohio and Texas."

That's good. Of course, politics can still be played and stories will be spun. That same email from Plouffe has a good summary of the current arguments being advanced by Team Clinton, while also putting them in historical perspective (e.g., the history of this campaign) in a pithy way:

"When we won Iowa, the Clinton campaign said it's not the number of states you win, it's "a contest for delegates."
When we won a significant lead in delegates, they said it's really about which states you win.
When we won South Carolina, they discounted the votes of African-Americans.
When we won predominantly white, rural states like Idaho, Utah, and Nebraska, they said those didn't count because they won't be competitive in the general election.
When we won in Washington State, Wisconsin, and Missouri -- general election battlegrounds where polls show Barack is a stronger candidate against John McCain -- the Clinton campaign attacked those voters as "latte-sipping" elitists.
And now that we've won more than twice as many states, the Clinton spin is that only certain states really count. "

At the end of the day (this day or any other between early January and now), Obama's won more states, more delegates, and more votes. Hopefully, HOPEfully, that'll actually mean something when the super-delegates eventually end up doing their thing. We shall see.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Basketball star sighting ... kind of

I almost forgot to mention, coming down the Ritz elevator today we were joined by a fit looking dude. I noticed his luggage tag had a Portland Trailblazers logo on it. Ordinarily, I'd just dismiss this as fandom, but the day before, while waiting for my friend, I'd seen a bunch of really tall jock-looking guys wandering Tower City sporting apparel stores. They also had that weird Trailblazer logo on their matching warm-ups, but I figured it was just some travelling high school team. I mean, what pros would walk around the mall in their official gear?

Well, the wheels started a-turning and, apparently, the Ritz elevator is quite slow, because 2+2 went quicker than usual. I asked the dude if he was with the Trailblazers, he admitted he was, and said they were in town to play the Cavs.

Duh, I thought. I shoulda known that. Then again, although LeBron is admittedly awesome and I hope to one day forge a bond of friendship with him based on mutual respect of one another's professional skills (hey - he might want to know more about politics, right?), I don't really give a shit about basketball.

Call me un-American or un-athletic or whatever, but when you grow up spending your teenage years in Chicagoland watching Jordan dominate and dominate and dominate and ... dominate, the sport gets a little old when there is no #23 to follow. Though LeBron, if anyone, might get me back into the sport.

Anyway, I mentioned seeing the guys in jumpsuits and our fellow elevator rider (who turned out to be some kind of producer with the Trailblazer broadcast team) acknowledged they were probably members of the team.

So, after searching the team's website and doing my best memory stuff, I'm pretty sure the guys I saw were James Jones, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Von Wafer.

I really have no clue if this is something I should, in retrospect, thing is a big deal. Perhaps some of my more basketball-savvy readers could tell me?

Also, perhaps you could tell me if I should be concerned that my friend's main regret after the elevator doors opened and we all went our separate ways was not taking the guy out at the knees. I tried to explain that it wouldn't really hurt the Trailblazers all that much, though she'd probably go to jail. Her response: it would be a symbolic show of Cleveland menace, enough to scare the Portland squad into poor performance.

Who knows - maybe she's right.

VIP style

So somehow my lady friend scored VIP passes to the film festival, so we went over bright and early and caught a showing of Vogelfrei this morning. After taking a few moments to cheer one another up (that shit was depressing) and getting our parking validated, we headed up to the hospitality room.

Getting there was like starring in the sequel to Labyrinth, minus David Bowie and only 1/2 as creepy. Actually, it wasn't creepy at all - the Ritz is (unsurprisingly) swanky, though in a WASPish, subtle way. Kind of like the place good Republicans would stay when visiting Cleveland; Dems favor places like the W.

Ironic, now that I think of it, huh?

Anyway, the air of the hospitality room was hospitable, though are culinary choices were pretty much candy, candy, or candy. That's cool, though - it was all free.

And the Ritz has some sweet spoons for stirring your coffee.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Film Fest Update

I'm officially through with 1/2 of my festival 6-pack. So far, I've seen Eduart, In Search of a Midnight Kiss, and Dead Time.

None of the three were exactly what I expected. With respect to Eduart, that was just an interesting development, not any better or worse than what I had anticipated. In Search of a Midnight Kiss was much better than I expected, not as whiny or as noir-ish as I had feared, but a lot funnier. The penultimate scene wasn't that great, but the finale, including especially the roommates sing-a-long, was perfect. Dead Time was a lot hokier in parts than I thought, with some ham-fisted shout-outs to the Indonesian director's American and British filmmaker heroes.

Still, all three were enjoyable, though I wish I'd seen the French film Love Songs instead of Dead Time. Regardless, I'm really looking forward to the second half of my 6-pack. On Wednesday, I'm gonna hit a Russian cinema double feature (feat. Russian Triangle and Cargo 200), and after that, assuming I don't kill myself as a result of the double dose of Russki fatalism and assuming my car has been unburied, I might head over to the Bertram Woods branch of the Shaker Heights library to catch a rare screening of a documentary about Cleveland's poet laureate, Daniel Thompson.

My last film I'm currently booked to see is Exodus, which is also the one I'm looking forward to the most (or at least it is tied with Cargo 200).

PS - For those of you interested in Russian film, you might want to mark your calendars: On April 20th at 1:30, Angels on the Right screens at the CMA. Of course, I just realized that is the same day as the Metro Parks Zoo's Earth Day Fest.

Hmm. Decisions, decisions.

Yet another whiny snow-related post

My plans for the day have yet again been vanquished.

Today's culprit: the necessary evil of snow-plow accumulation.

Ugh. I'm soooo bad at being flexible.

I was supposed to go to the inaugural brunch at the Beachland Ballroom today with this girl I've been seeing a lot of recently, then check out a film or two at the festival in Tower City.

Of course, both our cars received the short end of the stick in terms of getting blocked in by snowplow dump. I fully realize that somebody has to get screwed, what with the greater good and all, but still it sucks. I mean, both of us? Clear on opposite sides of the city?

Anyway, mature emotional warrior that I am, I threw a total fit, vetoed any possible suggestion she had about getting to Tower City to meet up. (It isn't tough for me, just a short walk to the Rapid, though Christine's comment on a previous post motivates me to put on my hiking shoes. She, on the other hand, has like a mile-and-a-half walk to a station, and there are transfers and blah blah blah.) Now we are in the process of reenacting the romantic equivalent of missteps leading up to World War I. I guess yesterday's snowfall would be cast in the role of the arch-duke.

Oh well. This whole thing was starting to distract me a little too much anyway.

Good to know, though, that underneath the years and pounds of grad school fat is still the impulsive wreck of the impatient and self-sorry teenager I used to be. Yuck.

Such is life, I suppose.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Winter Resignation

Ok, I give in. The weather beat me today, maybe all weekend.

So here I sit, with the heat on, a plate of pierogies in my belly, pondering which Netflix selection to go with. My choice is between "The Son's Room," an Italian drama about family struggles or "Squeeze," an urban crime drama that Russell Jones, a friend of a friend and a NEO native, stars in.

I think I'd like to save Russell's movie for a time when I'm in a better mood, so it'll be sub-titles and strife for me tonight.

I went out a bit earlier today and snapped some photos, just after dusk, of my immediate surroundings. One of these days, when I find the transfer cord, I'll try to post them here.

UPDATE: Found it. See below.

Snowed in

I have a lot of shit to do today.

More importantly, I have a lot of shit I really want to do today.

The Blizzard of '08 isn't helping me out.

Thanks to it, my car is buried in several feet of drifting snow. I suppose I could walk over to the market and do some quick shopping, but I don't relish the idea of sinking to my knees in snow.

I also had plans to dine with my friend, before seeing a hilarious afternoon show at the Beachland. After that, we were pondering a trip to the Cinematheque. I don't know that any of those things will happen.

So, let me make it fully clear, Ohio - you simply must do a better job of making me happy. Clinton victories and blizzards are not getting it done. Your remarkable plethora of panhandlers on streroids and absent and/or incompetent politicians and civic "leaders" is not doing the trick. Block upon block of ripped up downtown, buffered by more blocks of empty storefronts is not making me happy. And the freaking parking meters in Cleveland Heights.

I think you get the point. Shape up, Clevo.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Ohio, let me say this: For the first time since moving here last fall, I don't really like you right now.

I mean, come on.

HRC? Freaking HRC? How many times is this state going to look at two options, and pick the bad one? Is this what I have to look forward to - going to bed depressed and bewildered every single time I vote, because the majority of you are going to fuck it all up?

I have a few radio interviews lined up this morning, talking about what happened in the election last night. What am I supposed to say? That the residents of my state, by a significant margin, are dumb-shits, destined to slit their political wrists at any opportunity?

One interesting observation: other than the color scheme, the electoral maps that showed a sea of Clinton counties with a few Obama islands looks an awful lot like the 2004 general election map, only switch Dubya for Clinton. Does that make you proud, Ohio? There wasn't a Republican buffoon to select (again), so you went with the ruthless, throwback Dem? Geez.

And don't get me started on the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. One of these days, shouldn't we start talking about requiring that blue-chip organization to have a name change? I mean, it seems like the last thing they are facilitating is an electoral system, between the incompetence and the corruption.

Ahh, fuck. I haven't woken up in this kind of a bad mood in a while. Thanks for that, Ohio. Now I have a day of explaining your ridiculous decision-making to media outlets and my own grad school friends and colleagues from Texas. At least in Texas, the HRC victory was within the margin.

Ugh. Something really fucking charming better happen here soon, before this anti-Ohio ick in my gut begins to fester.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Before I begin, let me say this:

Go vote for Barack today (please). If you are in line at your polling place by 730, they have to let you vote.

If you do it, when your friends ask what you've been up to, you can say: Baracking the Vote.

That being said, let me tell you about my day yesterday.

Woke up, did some quick work, emailed out my upper-division course's midterm exam, and then went with my friend Tina to spend the day hanging on the west side. We had a late breakfast at Grumpy's, where I enjoyed what quite possibly were the best scrambled eggs with cheese ever. Then we went out to Edgewater Park to soak up some of the day's awesome weather. Things were still pretty cool down by the lake, though, so we didn't stay long. We went by the old castle in Ohio City, the spooky and vacant one, then stopped off at Suite Lorain and the vintage supermarket. Then an hour at the market, followed by a jaunt up and down the shoreway for reasons I still don't fully understand. After that, Tina had to head home. I returned to my pad, fed the dog, did a little work, and then headed off to Collinwood for ...


... a free Arcade Fire show at the Beachland Ballroom.

Apparently, Arcade Fire has been touring Ohio the last couple days, playing free shows in support for Barack Obama. I support Obama and like Arcade Fire, though I think I'd have rather seen him talk than them play. But it was still cool.

I got to the Beachland about quarter to 5 and there was already a line snaking from the front door to the back of the Beachland's parking lot. I got in it, feeling secure that I was, at the very least, among the first 500 (which was capacity for the event). But then I heard there was a priority line forming at the discretion of the Obama campaign workers that would be allowed in before my line. And then I heard that at least 200 tix had already been given out at Case, earlier in the day. About this time I started to wonder if maybe I wouldn't get in. About this time it also started to rain.

As I started to mull packing it in and heading home, an Obama campaign staffer came out and started talking to us folks at the back of the line. He made us the deal that if we agreed to go canvass for an hour or so, we'd get to line up in the priority line. I figured, what the hell, I support Obama anyway, and I'd rather walk down streets than stand in a line. So myself and about a dozen other folks walked down the block to the Obama campaign headquarters for a quick and dirty orientation.

We were signed in, given manilla envelopes with door hangers and addresses, told to report back in a little more than an hour and we'd get our access. I was partnered up with Jen, this really cool and cute girl. (Naturally, it turns out she's moving to Oregon. At the end of the week.) Jen and I were assigned a few blocks around E 157th and St. Clair. Yeah, St. Clair, like, you know, gunshot St. Clair. This was gonna be interesting.

We found the area, and started knocking on doors. All in all, we got through about 33 doors and talked to about a dozen or so folks, the vast majority of which were Obama supporters and promised us that they'd be voting tomorrow. We eventually made our way back to Waterloo, killing some time in the car before going in to the campaign office so we wouldn't look like slackers. As we chatted, we realized we actually both used to live in the same building (the one I still live in), and that her apartment was above mine. Later, though a few hours and many drinks later, we realized that we had actually met once, when she said, "Wait, did you used to have long hair and a beard?" Small, small world.

An Obama guy came by selling buttons, and since I was the only one with cash, I bought a round of buttons for myself, Jen, and a few of her friends. Funnily enough, we all went with the same one, this early 70s play on Black Power, with a fist and a face. I was promised beers from each of the folks I bought buttons for, and a few minutes later when we were allowed in, we hightailed it to the back bar and let's just say promises were kept. About 45 minutes and 5 rounds later, the sounds of tuning could be heard, and we ventured back into the ballroom.

Win Butler and co. played a quick, kinda sloppy set, with about a half-dozen of their most popular tunes, as well as some choice covers including an Otis Redding gem and John Lennon's All I want is the truth, which incidentally The Polyphonic Spree played as they came on stage during their recent Fragile Army tour. Something about replacing Dubya apparently brings John Lennon to mind. Go figure. Here's a clip of Pearl Jam covering the tune. And here is a link to the lyrics, as you'll no doubt be unable to understand Eddie Vedder's singing.

The show was a lot of fun, and afterwards we headed back to Lakewood to get some grub at My Friends. It was tasty, pretty cheap, and I really liked this new group of folks. It is sad that Jen is moving away so soon, but her friends are cool and, maybe, will end up being my friends, too.

UPDATE: I found a clip of John Lennon performing the aforementioned song on youtube: here it is. You should definitely check it out, there is some interesting footage of John and Yoko protesting, recording, visiting art galleries and installations, and other stuff.

Do it.

And also, please, Barack the Vote.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

wonderful weekend in progress

So, after a long and intellectually challenging week, I have had a really awesome weekend (even including the early AM interview stuff - see previous post below).

It started Friday morning, when I woke up, got a bunch of work done in a really efficient sort of way, then had a fun couple hours with a gal I met at the Beachland last week. We didn't do anything special, just hung out at the Lee Road Phoenix and then checked out this nature area, but it was nice in a casual and conversational way.

After that, I headed home, did some phone meetings, then headed out to Waterloo Road for a 6 hour vacation in Collinwood. I picked up a glow-in-the-dark Muny for Shoparooni's upcoming competition, bought the new Beach House album at Music Saves (sadly, the new Del the Funkee Homosapien album was pushed back to a week from this Tuesday), and then headed down the block to the gallery area.

First up was Arts Collinwood. Let me tell you, dear readers, this is yet another small gallery gem in Cleveland. This might be my favorite Clevo space outside Tremont. They always have interesting local work and, this last time, the greatest snack table ever. PBR Light? Yes. Super-thin homemade chocolate chip cookies? Yes. Fudgey cake? Yes. Bite-size cheesecake? Yes. In terms of the art, the current exhibit of Ian Petroni and Hannah Ries is really good. Ian's metal/found wood/paper lamps are brilliant, beautiful, and really affordable, and Hannah's stuff is cool too, very diverse. (Plus, she's the super sweet girl that checks in Smelly when I have to drop her at The Mutt Hutt.) I almost dropped $350 on this unbelievable broken ladder/gourd-like paper lamp piece, but then realized I didn't technically have $350, and when I did get it on pay day, folks at Time Warner/AT&T/Geico/Dominion Gas/Cleveland Utilities and, of course, my landlord, wouldn't be supportive of the latest art acquisition.

After about 45 minutes, I booked across the street to another gallery (though I can't remember the name). It was pretty unimpressive, especially the snack table (though, really, how could anything compare with the previous one?). I did a super quick loop, then crossed back over and entered Cafe Marika.

Cafe Marika has a great vibe, lots of interesting looking folks lounging and noshing, a little jazz act with a terrific singer, and bar service. I ordered an Abita Restoration Ale (giving a fiscal shout out to the Crescent City), and a plate of chicken schnitzel and veggie rice. It was tasty, nothing fancy, though it wasn't supposed to be. I'm a big fan of the philosophy of only judging something for what it was intended to be. You can't fault a hot dog stand, for example, for not being posh because it wasn't trying to be. Similarly, Cafe Marika strikes me as a casual effort to provide a bo-homey service to the community, and for that I appreciate it. I probably won't ever make a special trip over to Collinwood to seek it out, but if I'm doing another vacation in Collinwood, I wouldn't think twice about it.

Digression, Digression, Digression.

After dinner and a quick thank you to my sweet bartendress, I headed down to the Beachland. My favorite local act, Unsparing Sea, was playing second in a three-act show. NEO musicians, Talons, opened up. They were interesting, though the singer seemed to be really impressed by how unprepared and drunk he was (I think I got over thinking how cool it was to see a musician drunk, well, the first time), and they really stumbled through their 40 minutes or so. I think there is a lot of talent there, though, in the singer/writer and also some of the more hidden members of the band. After them, Unsparing Sea went on, played their unique blend of antique rock, and then it was time for Baby Dee.

Baby Dee is an interesting phenomenon. A transgendered harpist and Clevelander, she plays some really interesting music, rich and lush and funny and stirring. She also seems to be a warm person. I didn't know what she looked like, but soon realized I was sitting next to her at the bar. I realized this because people kept coming over and introducing themselves to her. One of these people was a certain spouse (famous in her own right now) of a famous Cleveland arts icon. She was interested in brokering a conversation between Baby Dee and another friend of hers, one I'm guessing was also transgendered or at least the victim of some orientation-based discrimination. Baby Dee was kind and thoughtful, and though we never shared a word (I am, if nothing else, a top-notch eavesdropper), as she walked away with Famous Spouse and friend, I felt really warm things for her.

After the show, I headed straight home and hit the hay, as I had to be up by 530 to head to Alliance, OH, to give a talk at a symposium on our current president. It was interesting, and my talk went well, thanks primarily to an off-the-cuff decision to warn the audience that things might be interesting since (a) I broke my glasses that morning and (b) the gas station I had bought coffee at apparently made it with crack. In all honesty, I broke my glasses weeks ago, but my eyes were really bothering me, and I hadn't even had any coffee yet, but that edgy funny shit really breaks academics up. They are an easy crowd, though. A little audacity (a very little amount) goes far.

Later, I had the change to chat at length with Robert Draper, the author of the recently released biography of Bush. His book, Dead Certain, is excellent, the best one out in the sense of its objectivity and access. Most folks reading it for interest get pissed, thinking it is either too nice or too critical, depending on the previous ideological/political committments they come into the book with, but from a methodological perspective, Draper's work is excellent and historically unusual. He had several lengthy interviews with the president, along with many other important members of the administration, but then went and wrote a very fair-minded book. Usually that sort of access buys a puff piece, but Draper seems to not have been overwhelmed by the power and pageantry of the White House. I was impressed when I read it, and he's a really cool, savvy guy in person.

I got back from Alliance mid-evening, came home to do some work and laundry, and passed out in my desk chair. Honestly, though, given the long week, the long night previous, and the long day, it was the best Saturday night I could hope for.

And now I'm putting the finishing touches on a burned CD (the millenial equivalent of the mix tape, I guess), for Friday's day date -- we agreed to exchange them as our musical interests overlap a lot, though there is some divergence into weird and funny areas. Right now, I have the disc starting off with The Besnard Lakes ("Disaster"), followed by tracks by Teddy Pendergrass, local awesome act Unsparing Sea, sugary pop from The Little Ones, and drama drama drama rock from Calla. There are a few Cleveland Bachelor staples, like tracks from The Polyphonic Spree, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and The Flaming Lips, and some funny idiosyncracies from artists like Prince, Daniel Johnston, Serge Gainsbourg, Self, and The Lucky Sperms, all before closing with a pair of choice indie cuts by Sam Roberts and Spoon, respectively. We shall see.

I like the lineup so much, though, I'm gonna burn one for my car, too. Anyway, I'm off to meet my new friend in a couple of hours, which means I need to start the multi-hour process required for me shower/dress/walk&feed&water Smelly/etc. I think we are gonna see if we can get cheap tix to this afternoon's Cavs-Bulls game, though I just got a text message suggesting we drive down to the Parmatown Mall and make out in the food court. Apparently, that is a rite-of-passage for Parmans? I think it was a suburban slur, but it made me laugh.

And right now I actually have that Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg track, "Je T'aime ... Moi Non Plus" playing, so a little Parma-style PDA doesn't seem like that bad of an idea...

(Here's a video for those of you that don't know the sexiness and beauty of this tune.)


It is 8:51 AM.

Can I just point out that it is Sunday?

I don't usually wake up this early on week days, much less on my precious Sunday.

Yet here I am.

I woke up early to do a phone interview with some radio station in Charlotte, NC. Don't get me wrong, I kind of like the media stuff, particularly radio and print media, but it always breaks my heart a little to get up so early, spend 15 minutes persuing polls and checking stories published in the last hour via google news, and then do 7 minutes (usually less!) with some dude with a voice so bizarre and radi0-ish I can't hardly pay attention to anything else, much less think AND speak deep thoughts about the politics of our day.