October 29, 2003
Please Stand By

B&W is currently experiencing technical difficulties. Posting will be limited for a while. The technical difficulties are beyond the scope of the B&W elves and they are having to call in the experts. In the absence of other work to do, the B&W elves are looking in to new hobbies to occupy them during the down time, like apple snapping and lanyard making.

We hope to return to normal service shortly.

Posted at 05:18 PM
October 27, 2003
Step Aside for the Man with Roses

On the train, I stood next to a guy carrying a half-dozen roses. With a few ferns and a raffia tie, they had a nice, rough look and filled the car with a spicy, sweet smell. Every woman getting on the train looked at them. Other men looked faintly uncomfortable and maybe a little disoriented: Did I forget something? Rose Guy was carrying a packet of promotional materials for a local community college, and I tried to figure out the connection between the packet and the flowers. It really wasn't important. But why only half a dozen?

Link fun:

OK, I admit it: I read (and enjoy) Lucky! Ad Age has named it the magazine of the year and various detractors are calling it a cultural "soul death." The article alludes to one of the magazine's primary strengths--the absence of those annoying celebrity runway shots and product endorsements. On some level, Lucky understands the most basic of truths: I may never have a stylist, but I'll always have to buy new shoes.

But on to weightier matters. Here's a surprisingly even-handed analysis of the president's "leadership style" by David Gergen:
Moreover, the limited information only reinforces his tendency to see issues in stark black-and-white terms. That approach worked in rallying the country and then winning conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but seems peculiarly inappropriate for winning the peace in those same regions. To deal with the cunning and scheming minds that foment terror, we would probably be better off with Nixon. He was intimately familiar with both the scepter and the switchblade.

Posted at 06:42 PM
October 23, 2003

Remember the first gulf war? I didn't take a head count but some of us protested then, too, as things were heating up. Then it seemed like our dissent was swallowed up as my Southern Indiana town embraced flags and yellow ribbons. That was a long time ago and an administration far, far away. As a result, I felt a flicker of regional pride when I read this today. The author is good old John "formerly known as Cougar" Mellencamp, who is from (and lives in) Southern Indiana, where (outside from some town/gown circles) these sentiments probably aren't very popular.

Posted at 02:40 PM
October 17, 2003
Giant Fish

From the flyer archives:

This was found in Bloomington circa 1989.

So many things to like about this, it's hard to begin. My favorite part is the fish saying: "Buy me. I love you."

No idea whether it ever got sold or not.

B&W will be back Oct. 23.

Posted at 04:28 PM
October 15, 2003
Under My Window

He had a very good voice, poor Michael Furey.

When I had just met E., a friend used to tease me that he would "come and sing under my window."

"He was such a delicate boy," she'd say in a (pretty good) fake Irish accent.

Careful readers will know this as a reference to James Joyce's The Dead (conveniently reproduced here). It was a (slightly malicious, I always felt) joke and nothing more, of course. The reality is:

a) my window at the time looked out on a brick wall. You couldn't stand under there if you tried.
b) E. is a sensible person. He would never sing under my window.

So it's all a wash except for a glow of fondness that remains for the Joyce story. And today I was entertained to see a quick-hit summary of it in this article about what happens when you see on the Internet that someone you used to know has died.

If you are not familiar with the story, here's the plot in a nutshell. Everybody is having a great old time at Christmas and Mrs Conroy gets all sad because she hears a song that her long-dead first suitor used to sing to her. And her husband seems to be saying to her (in a poetic, Joycean way, of course ), 'Hello! What am I? Chopped Liver?'

Posted at 07:24 PM
October 14, 2003

Who says celebrity journalism has gone down the tubes? I love this:

Geldof is carrying a guitar and looking characteristically dishevelled in a pale crumpled suit, tufts of hair sticking out at right angles. (It's strangely comforting that, after all these years, and despite being a millionaire several times over, Geldof still manages to give the impression that he sleeps in a skip with a family of badgers.)

In our house, we use the word "badger" as a verb. "It looks like someone badgered this box/envelope/packaging material," E. will often say, when I have been at something with my fingernails or other tool. So, naturally, I am entertained to read that Sir Bob and I have something in common.

And who could resist this face?


Posted at 06:44 PM
October 13, 2003
Train Song with Advil

I've had a headache for two days now, and the dance music in the store where I am buying tank tops is so loud it makes me dizzy. In the dressing room the lighting is bad and my lipstick is the wrong color, for me or, in this light, for any living thing.

In the train everything seems weird. There is an overpowering smell of sweat, but from whom? It's not clear. On my left, a girl lies with her head on another girl's (sister? friend?) shoulder, eyes shut. She seems exhausted. After a while she leans over and puts her head in her friend's lap. The friend, helpfully, sets about re-tying the sleeping girl's nylon headscarf. It's ill-advised; she ties it too tight and it slides off. Watching this makes my head hurt more.

Across from me a girl with a nose ring reads The Secret Life of Plants. She looks amazed. A button on her backpack says "Save the Rain Forest" which makes sense, given all those plants and their secret lives. Nearby a couple holds hands. She has dirt-colored jeans and braces, he looks vacuous and too old for her. My god, are we STILL on the train? What IS that smell?

Out on the platform I am grateful for air. The trick is to forget about the pain and when I remember to look for it, it'll be gone. I call home on my cell phone. As I speak, the phone blurts back to me a tiny echo of everything I say, a phantom transmission of myself, from a parallel universe that is headache free.

Posted at 08:17 PM
October 09, 2003

Through the back window I thought I saw the color of her dress.
"Which way does it go?" Hmm, buddy, that's the bus called Happiness.

Driving home from Indiana this weekend, we took the long route and stopped at Musgrave's Orchard. E. shopped for cider while I stared indecisively at barrels of apples and taffy. In the end, we settled for a half gallon of cider, a half peck of Jonathans, and a little autumn atmosphere.

We had been there about this time eight years ago, with some of the usual suspects. The four of us had been in town for a wedding and stopped in here during a leisurely drive back up north.

It was a weird time. E. and I had just moved to Chicago and were barely unpacked. At home, Grumpy Sean, whom we barely knew, was staying at our house. On returning home, a mass exodus to a Vietnamese restaurant in Uptown took place. Later, M & V returned to Seattle. As a group, the four of us wouldn't be back in Indiana together for another three years.

Posted at 07:37 PM
October 07, 2003
Cubs Frenzy

the stars are gonna spell out the words to tommorow's crosswords
and the phillips corporation will admit that they've made an awful mistake
and bill gates will single handedly spearhead the Heaven 17 revival

Memo to self: Avoid subway during current period of local Cubs frenzy. It is filled with people wearing ball caps who don't know how to step away from the door.

On another note, looks like the Mountain Goats are still at it. It's criminal that they've never been asked to Wrigley to sing "Cubs in Five." Oh well, play ball.

Posted at 08:52 PM
October 06, 2003
Body Politic

Although I'd wanted to get pre-printed cards explaining our opposition to many of the things the current government is doing, we didn't really encounter too much anti-Americanism on vacation. That's not to say many of our friends and relatives didn't have opinions. One friend, sadly, said he just doesn't want to go to the US right now, because of the political machinations. Others continue to go back and forth for work as usual.

"Who do you think is going to win your election?" was a favorite question, but we have no good joint answer (E. says GWB; I say it's too soon to tell). Repeated questioning tempted me to grab my head and moan "We don't knoooooow!" now and again. (It sounds like fun, doesn't it? Maybe I should get my own talk show.)

The papers, of course, had plenty to say. But here's my favorite political expression of the week. This was photographed just up the street from the well-named London Foot Hospital in Fitzroy Square.

Posted at 05:05 PM