November 30, 2004
Do Not Despair

B&W has worked through various stages of grief about the election and has arrived at acceptance. (How healthy of me!) Acceptance does not mean good cheer, but rather a return to the status quo of low-key despondency that has become familiar in the last three years. Wish we'd had this in our town--did you get one, Mike? (Also interesting, if rather corrosive, reading here and meta coverage here.)

Posted at 06:56 PM
November 29, 2004
OPN for Business

After three years and $250 million worth of construction, the Chicago Skyway is open again. We took it this weekend on our way to Indiana and gladly* paid the tolls.

*Well, sorta gladly. Not unhappily, at any rate.

Posted at 06:57 PM
November 24, 2004
Time for Us to Bug Out

I stopped watching the evening news years ago, so the resignation of Dan Rather is somewhat academic to me. I guess I figured because of the incessant self-regard of journalism, the shame of the forged-documents scandal would be punishment enough. But he was pushed, or maybe he jumped, and even I can agree that it's not much of a windup to a long and visible career. Twenty years ago, as a high school journalism student assigned to read The Camera Never Blinks, I didn't forsee this kind of ending (although, for incessant self-regard, how about that title?). My journalism class also didn't cover the ways journalists can add weirdness to popular culture as Rather did, from the "What's the Frequency, Kenneth" meme to his perky recitation of "dying of a heart attack, dying of breast cancer, dying of a japanese nuclear bomb" in the notorious ECC single of a few years ago. (This record was not well received by CBS, unsurprisingly, but the point was made.) What can I learn from this? Well, I will add to my list of Things I Hope Never Happen to Me:
1. Never wind up on "E! True Hollywood Story" and
2. Never be referred to publicly as "Nixonian." Ouch!

Posted at 07:58 PM
November 23, 2004
Only in America

The classic American idea about only children, nurtured in suburbs where two children could seem too few, is that they’re oddballs—coddled, spoiled, lonely. Raised without the camaraderie and competition of sibling society, they’re simultaneously stunted and overdeveloped—a repository of all their parents’ baggage (hello, Chelsea Clinton).

While sitting down to a family meal tomorrow, why not ponder your place in the birth order? If you're an only child like me, even the phrase "birth order" may seem cryptic. For only children, the birth order is all about you, baby, and this has its ups and downs, as chronicled in this New York magazine article. While my childhood didn't resemble those of the metropolitan wunderkinds the article describes, I could relate to the paragraph above. Being an only child is sort of like winning a genetic lottery--lots of perks, which you didn't ask for (eg, you get all the presents)--but it also means that you get all the problems, if your family has any, and most of them do. It also means having to put up with the perceptions and misperceptions of the rest of the world about only children. I was poor at sports as a kid, but I was a pro at listening to people generalize that only children were spoiled, stunted, and/or weird and then studiously trying not to look or act spoiled, stunted, or weird.

No one understands the lot of an only child like another only child. Fortunately for me, I married one. We're fine with each others' only-child quirks, like needing to go off by ourselves sometimes. And we can understand some of the problems the only child faces later in life, like coping with aging parents. Are we spoiled, stunted, or weird? No worse, I suppose, than anyone else.

Posted at 06:49 PM
November 21, 2004
Seen on Western Avenue

I have no caption for this. Nor, I think, is one needed.

Posted at 09:22 AM
November 17, 2004
The Way It Was

boring ollie north down in the subway dealing drugs and guns...
turning little liars into heroes, it's what they've always done.

I have hesitated to say anything about the election, mostly because other people are saying so much. (There are a lot of bad examples; here is one that I liked.) Instead I have put my energies into other pursuits, like cleaning out the guest room closet. In one box I came across a bunch of college memorabilia collected (and then returned, without ceremony, I might add) by my parents. Included was a bunch of intact copies of my college newspaper circa summer 1989, when I was working on the copy desk.

Most of the stories have lost their familiarity at last, but taken together, the headlines alone are instructive. Sure, it's the 21st century, but what did we have 15 years ago? Hostages in the Middle East. Another Bush, whose meaningless cultural wedge du jour was flag burning. Oliver North, before his talk show reconstitution. There was Gorbachev, true, but there was still the Berlin Wall.

Does this reassure me about the current state of the world? Not really. But we'll always have The Mekons.

and you know that people are really rather afraid,
afraid of being swamped.
afraid of being swamped by selfishness and greed.

Posted at 07:24 PM
November 16, 2004
Requiem for An Earring

We pause here to commemorate one of my favorite earrings, which died a premature death when its top little hook-thing bent unexpectedly and came off. The fellow at the jeweler told me that because we don't know what kind of metal it's made of, it's tricky to solder pieces on, although a specialist in sterling silver might be able to do so.

So it looks like it's curtains for this lovely piece. Send suggestions on what I should do with its mate, an unbroken but otherwise similar-looking, although bereft, bauble.

Posted at 07:01 PM
November 15, 2004
Angels in the Cafe

Posted at 10:02 PM
November 11, 2004
No One Said This Would Be Easy

The B&W elves are in a state of exhaustion. Work and the election have left them temporarily, well, wordless. So they are reading, watching, listening, thinking--in other words, taking in more media than they are producing at the moment, in hopes of rejuvenation. But they feel guilty. They want to share, even though they can't think of anything particularly original to say. So they are passing this along.

Posted at 06:22 PM
November 03, 2004
Post-election Trauma

In this (mostly) Democratic city, I don't think I've seen so many long faces since the Cubs melted down last year.

In other news, have you actually ever been involved in an exit poll? I don't know if I know anyone who has. I'm just wondering how reliable these really are in terms of demographics, etc.

Comments welcome, advertisements for "via*rgara" not.

Posted at 08:47 PM
November 01, 2004

"And now Christmas is coming again, as if we hadn't enough to put up with. It's nearly enough to extinguish the low solstitial flame of life--and will, one of these years."
--Philip Larkin to Barbara Pym, 1963, in her biography, A Lot to Ask

Ruminated on in Marshall Field's last week, where I noticed they already (in October!) had the Christmas trees up.

Posted at 09:02 PM