Thursday, April 30, 2009

Snakes On A(n Astral) Plane

Something cool to chill you out for a sec.


(The following phenomenon is primarily confined to major metropolitan locations, which seem to be owned and operated almost exclusively by the Hindu community. Go figure.)

It might be time put Subway on hiatus. My girlfriend and I eat it at least once a week, but it's becoming an increasingly arduous task to get out of there with your sanity intact. For a chain whose only hook is "eat fresh", they sure get prickly when you try to do just that. It's as though they're making the food on autopilot and would prefer you to stay out of it, thank you very much. Study the look on the face of your "sandwich artist" when you tell them you don't want cheese or lettuce- it's as though you took Krishna's flute and stomped on it. Wait until you ask them for more than the three black olive pieces they've used to decorate your footlong- the dance of Shiva would cause them less distress. They seem to have no Scrooge-like tendencies with the other fixins, (they're more than happy to sever the cucumber from its bondage) so it all plays out like a culinary whodunit. A petty complaint? Most certainly. But never underestimate the beauty of a well-crafted sandwich. With extra tomatoes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Recessive Jeans

In a more definitive sign of apocalypse than any economic meltdown, three-chord purveyors Creed have announced plans for a new release and set dates for their "rebirth" tour (which kicks off in Pittsburgh, you lucky Steel City readers). I realize when times are toughest, we all revert to creature comforts (and judging from the looks of Scott Stapp, he sought solace in deep-friend Twinkies) but is anyone really clamoring for the reunion of a band that broke up a mere five years ago? I'm no musical elitist- hell, I have RuPaul on my iPod- but understanding the widespread popularity of this nonsense is a feat beyond my capabilities.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pig Virus

Swine flu? Really? Can we get a grip? The symptoms are the same as regular flu. Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in California after two people possibly died from swine flu. (Or maybe they just did a lot of their breathing in L.A.) The CDC is overrun with calls from people who think their dry cough portends something ominously porcine in nature. I understand Americans are a mealy bunch who frighten easily, but diarrhea and vomiting are hardly signs that The Stand is coming true. (In fact, at casa Cox, we call that double-whammy "a well-played Saturday night"). It smacks of the hysteria surrounding SARS in 2002. Despite constant reports that made us think bird flu was going to decimate the human race, if you weren't a Xiangzhou farmer having day-old roof pigeon for dinner, you were probably pretty safe. There's no big mystery to these things and all relationships are based on proximity. I live in a Latino neighborhood, but having heard no anguished oinks from next door, I think I'll play the odds on this one.

As with any media-generated panic, it's no fun until the conspiracy theory dolts put Loose Change on pause and weigh in. So, let me get the Armageddon ball rolling- who are the groups of people least likely to fall prey to tainted pork products? Jews and Muslims. Let the holy war commence! I'm gonna have a BLT.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Calling Dr. Love

Wow. I thought my girlfriend put up with a lot from ME.

The fiance of Philip Markoff, the alleged "Craigslist killer", is standing by her man. Markoff is a med student from a wealthy family who murdered a "masseuse" that he found on Craigslist. Further investigation uncovered that Markoff had a secret life of luring and attacking sex workers that he met online; it's pre-wedding jitters for the new millenium. (Although I think he misunderstood the concept of "cold feet". You get them, not give them.) Between the wannabe model hookers, the pre-teen slave trade, and the lime green futons for sale, Craigslist has become the premiere candy store for those looking to dabble in rough trade. Nevertheless, it's a chilling comment on marriage when life in prison seems preferable to registering at Target. Shades of difference, I suppose.

Despite all the criticism, the founder of Craigslist has no plans to remove the "erotic services" section. Duh. That's where most of the business is on the site. Why let one horny med student with lube and a vivisection kit ruin the whole thing, right? If Craigslist really wants to perform a service, they should remove the "jobs" section. You're more likely to get the $100 taffy pull than gainful employment, anyway.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Unemployment Lion

You thought you got screwed at your job? Looks like Mother Nature's gonna have to put fresh sheets on the pullout couch. On the other hand, I'm sure New York's Chinese restaurants are pleased as punch to introduce some "local flavor".

Animals Get Laid Off

Friday, April 24, 2009

As It Turns Out, We Do

Shepard Smith is a gem. He's the only reason to watch Fox News and he's solely responsible for whatever thin gilder of credibility they think they have. He's a late-model journalist from my dad's South, but he doesn't take anything too seriously- even to the point of heckling the pomposity of other FNC hosts. The best of this clip comes when he says "oops" (:41), since I'm sure a producer was screaming in his ear that he had just cursed on live TV.

Strangely, we haven't heard a single peep from the FCC about this verbal gaffe. Hm. Odd.

Aural Fixation

The fantastic new Bat For Lashes disc, Two Suns, is out and I can't understand why this song isn't annoyingly huge. Plus, anyone who wears a logo hoodie of their own band is aces in my book.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I love Mayor Daley. A guy who regularly mangles the king's English has devoted a day to one of history's most enduring stewards of it. Ah, the city of wind will truly rejoice in mimicking the Bard's lugubrious tones today:

"Hark! Yon parking meter doth charge me 25 cents for 3 minutes!"
"What stuff 'tis catapult-sized pothole made of?"
"What the fucketh is up with snow in April?"

Daley Introduces 'Talk Like Shakespeare Day'

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yes We Can...Improve A Salad

Hey, I dig Obama, but enough is enough with the shameless merchandising. The Chia Obama Head? Is this really "a piece of history"? It makes him look like Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction. Nice to know the leader of the free world gets the same treatment as Scooby-Doo. (Although, I do like that you get your choice of "happy" or "determined", as if they're mutually exclusive.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Only Day You Will Find "According To Jim" Funny

I smoke pot, but I can't stand pot culture. Lunkheads with High Times "Bud of the Month" centerfolds on their walls, tie-dye trustafarians, Grateful Dead/Bob Marley clones- you can have 'em. Let's just light one and leave the cultural posturing outside, shall we? But as a policy issue, decriminalization is long overdue and the tipping point may be near. The irony is, for all of the protesting on campuses nationwide, when marijuana laws are reformed, it will be because it has become unquestionably beneficial to the senior citizen voting bloc. Grandma's gotta get her snoogies!

As a nod to those of you who do think white-boy dreads are superbad, enjoy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Can I Get Clearance, Clarence?

The bright orange clearance sticker is a tractor beam for bargain-hunters. But this makes you wonder why they even bothered. The top price on this item is the original; note that the bottom price is the "clearance" price.

Friday, April 17, 2009

When The Rubber Hits The Road

Who knew there were "female condom advocates"? Oh, that's right- they're called "men".

Hey Ladies- get funky

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tea Bagging

Chicago was among the cities staging anti-taxation "Tea Parties" yesterday to demonstrate displeasure with the Obama administration thus far. It's strange how some citizens become so concerned with fiscal policy, once the guy they didn't vote for is running the country. NOW you're taking to the streets? Fiscal responsibility is a core tenet of Conservative beliefs. Where were all these protests when the former POTUS was expanding tax cuts during wartime? Where was the public outrage over using tax dollars to approve warrantless wiretapping operations? As with so many other issues, these kinds of demonstrations aren't really about promoting responsibility in the abstract sense, they're about self-interest. No one can be sufficiently moved to action until it personally affects them. Which is precisely why there were very few Republican representatives at these shindigs: they don't want any more egg on their faces.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Hi, Steve Jobs? We need to talk.

I'm an Apple guy all the way. And, like every other carbon-based life form, I love my iPod. But the Willie Wonka shit you're pulling out there in Cupertino is getting out of hand. The new iPod Shuffle? Dude, we get it- you keep making them smaller! Consider me wowed. So, what's next- a cochlear implant called the iPod Quark? Is technology really moving so quickly that original iPods are already becoming the mp3 equivalent of vinyl? We know your world is different- whereas most guys want everything to be bigger, the inverse is true for you tech geeks. So we also know that this iPod isn't a quantum leap sprung from the Apple braintrust; it's just the last one you put out, only tinier. They sit in a warehouse and then, every six months, you drop a "new" one on a gadget-hungry public. It's pretty ingenious, but enough is enough.

You're already the alpha dog, Steve. You're a billionaire who's actually popular and your former partner was last seen lumbering around on TV like a manatee stuffed into a mariachi costume. I'm no Luddite and I love my music, but King Diamond isn't any cooler when I listen to it on something the size of a Fruity Pebble. Take a load off; we're already impressed.

Get well soon,

Monday, April 13, 2009


I lived in Pittsburgh for seven years. Before moving there, I thought of the city in much the same way as many Americans do- as a cold, grey, faded steel town- and I couldn't have been more wrong. It is a vibrant, topographically astounding, politically active city with criminally underrated arts and culture. I was (unexpectedly) very successful there, due in no small part to the fact that I related to the midwestern mindset and no-bullshit attitude of its residents. Some of those residents continue to be dear friends and it was only my desire to be back on the air in Chicago that caused me to leave. Sure, I criticized its collective low self-esteem a lot, but I had no idea how much I would miss the area after I left. (My family no doubt bristles at the fact that I still consider the Steelers to be my home team.) In my heart, I'll always be part Pittsburgher.

Which is why this guy should get the chair.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I Feel Weird. What's In These?

This will be perfect for the Black Sabbath cookies I'm making.

Superstar, Indeed

Happy Easter, heathens!

40 Awesome Versions Of Jesus

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I Totally Second The Lumberjack Thing

These dudes are funnier than I'll ever be. Buncha dicks.

Please Let This Cause Brain Damage

When I was a kid, they were still making candy cigarettes; the "smoke" was just powder that you blew out of the candy. It was a bit of harmless fun. Mimicking adult bad behavior is a cornerstone of childhood and kids know the admonition, "smoking doesn't make you look cool" is a crock. Of course, it makes you look cool. If it didn't, no one would ever buy their first pack. But if you're gonna follow the yellow-toothed road to lung disease as an adult, man up and do it.

There's nothing even remotely cool about this.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Son Of A Preacher Man

The one time I interviewed George Carlin, he mentioned that his comedy in the late 80's has gotten a bit stale and uninspired. He said, "Once I saw Sam Kinison, I knew I had to step up my game." Thus began the change in direction that ushered in the sociopolitic rants that became the last phase of Carlin's legendary career. It was 17 years ago today that Sam was killed by a drunk driver on a California desert highway. Assuming there's cocaine in heaven, I imagine he and George are having pretty intense conversations these days.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Roger & Me

Despite the intersection of increasing costs and decreasing quality, I'm an avid movie-goer. I rely on Netflix for my documentaries and Asian gorefests, but I'm still a sucker for the ritual of going to the movies. The communal aspect of it, the darkened theater, the popcorn- it's corny, but it still works for me. Sometimes, it even pays off. Roger Ebert was virtually alone in his glowing review of the new Nicolas Cage doomsday flick, Knowing. I don't put much stock in movie reviews, but his are generally spot-on. The thumb-up aside, I still expected the film to be a piece of crap. Nicolas Cage hasn't done a good film since 8MM and the end-of-the-world premise is as played out as his curiously-revived hairline. However, Knowing turned out to be a very intense and strangely compelling two hours. It all leads to a less-than-satisfying ending, but that may have been asking a bit too much for a movie like that. They can't all be Monsters vs. Aliens.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


How did Iowa make California look more conservative? California has San Francisco. Iowa has...Des Moines. And now, legal gay marriage. While the victory was the result of a reversed court decision (rather than a legislative one, as in Vermont), it still came as quite a shock to many red-staters who probably figured the gayest thing they'd ever have to see was a touring production of Rent. Any decision that moves us toward a more socially equitable platform is positive; increased liberty is always good. Now Iowa gives a sense of hope to non-coastal states that the rainbow tide might be turning.

Though, as a Chicagoan, I'm wary of anything that might give Wisconsin a sense of hope.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Theater Of The Mined

We attended the 100th birthday celebration of the late Chicago writer Nelson Algren at Steppenwolf last night. Authors and actors such as Willem Dafoe, Don DiLillo, the Trib's mighty Rick Kogan, and Russell Banks read scenes from his works and it was fantastic to see it adapted for the stage. It was also interesting to note that my girlfriend and I were among the youngest people in the audience (though admittedly, I was less so). It struck me that the next generation of theater fans may not be nipping at our heels. I'm no lifelong patron of the arts by any means, but watching a live theater adaptation of a classic writer's works seemed to be a double-whammy of things that fewer and fewer people care about. In the digital age, I think it's good for the soul to revisit analog forms of entertainment once in a while, especially for those of us living in a city as culturally revered as the City Of Wind. As last night's host said, "Coming from New York, trust me- you're lucky to have the Steppenwolf."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Thoughts Exactly

(I-94 outside Michigan City, IN.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Failure Is Not An Option

While revisiting my numerous, frequently maddening, philosophy texts from college, I wonder- how old do we have to be to realize that we can't really know anything? Spending nine hours a week arguing over whether or not we can actually know that a peach is a peach and not a chair might sound like a lot of mental masturbation, but it was heaven to me. Trouble is, it seems I've learned nothing from it. Fifteen years later, after holding fast to the notion that I was smarter than the average bear, it seems that I've confused wisdom with merely being clever. Sadly, clever is nothing more than narcissism dressed as entertainment- great onstage, but a nightmare in relationships. Wisdom requires always asking questions, rather than attempting a pale enlightenment with answers. The understanding that true knowledge of the human condition is an illusion makes the search for it far from futile. Instead, it is a call to action, not an excuse to cloak ourselves in relativism and conjecture.

How the wicked fuck can I be 37 years old and still trying to realize this?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

There Is Nothing To Attack

Easter break next week for my son. I'm not sure how perturbed I should be that he's been inducted by my 20-year-old sister into World Of Warcraft and is constantly conferring with her over their respective strategies. If the kid wasn't so goddamn smart, I'd be more inclined to be a stick-in-the-mud about it because the allure of WOW is entirely lost on me. But I figure, in ten years (when spring break means tequila shooters and the clap in Cozumel) he'll have some cool memories of slaying the undead with his aunt.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Pity The April Fool

I wonder how many people Google punked with this?