Monday, September 30, 2013

No One At The Controls

Two "EL" trains crashed in Chicago today. The one with passengers was sitting at a stop. The one without passengers just barrelled into it. And here's the puzzler:

"Video shows no one at controls of train before collision"

They're still trying to figure out how that happened.

With no one at the controls,
the empty train just rolls
and lots of people get hurt.

(Metaphor alert!)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Magical Realism in the Kitchen Sink


Jennifer Cronin, the painter, has a new show, opening Wednesday, at the Elephant Room Gallery here in Chicago.

The painting above reflects a recently recurring theme in her work - ordinary realism overlaid with magical images.

The painting is listed as "Untitled, (visual afterimage following surgery for a vascular malformation in the right occipital lobe), Oil on canvas, 2013."

Well, that's scary. Nobody wants a vascular malformation in the brain. Yes, I'm assuming it's literally true.

From Wikipedia: "The occipital lobe is the visual processing center of the mammalian brain containing most of the anatomical region of the visual cortex."

Well, it's evident that she can still paint just fine,
no problems with color or line.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stumbled Upon

No, my subject heading does not refer to the website.

I'm thinking instead about an argument you hear from Popperians and Hayekians about ethics. They will say that traditional systems of ethics have been "stumbled upon" and kept because they work, or because they work well enough.

"Stumbled upon" sounds clumsy and oafish, in a humorous way, but it's a metaphor, really, with a certain vagueness to it, which makes it hard to say exactly how true it is that a discovery was stumbled upon.

To me, at least, "stumbled upon" sounds particularly jarring in the case of ethics, a topic on which humans have exerted much brain power searching for answers... for practically forever.

Was the golden rule, for example, simply stumbled upon? Did it literally trip someone up who was on their way to do something else? Or was it enunciated after a process of contemplation and abstract thought?

Pasteur said: "In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind."

Calling discoveries "something on which we stumbled,"
seems like a way to keep the discoverers humbled.
But I would say that whatever you're hoping to find,
your odds are much better if you have a well-prepared mind.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Busy Day

They say TGIF, but I've noticed a tendency for deadlines to fall on Friday, which can make it the toughest day. I had 2 different deadlines today, with various setbacks along the way. Ended up staying late, after taking a big 15 minute lunch break. But, you know, the stuff got done.

Now my brain is mush.
But I kind of enjoyed the rush.


I ran the lights tonight
and pretty much got them right.

"Running lights" means operating the "light board" for a live show. In this case, it mostly meant hitting a button marked "GO" at the appropriate time - about 40 times or so. No big deal, especially because the woman sitting next to me was practically an expert on when to hit that button... but I never operated one before.

So running the lighting
was kind of exciting.

The show tonight was lightly attended (Thursdays can be that way) but intensely performed, and the small audience really enjoyed the show.

As a preliminary remark,
I warned the actors they might have to work in the dark.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Trying to Pick

I'm in that odd period where I've trained enough to run a marathon, but I haven't signed up for one yet. So I get to dither over online lists of upcoming marathons. I actually enjoy the process, including thinking of going to distant locales.

But, I have found that after a long run I have a particular need to stretch my legs out...

So I'll probably run nearby,
simply because I don't want to fly
in a leg-cramping seat
when my race is complete.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ad Lib

If I do a filibuster,
how should I fill my time?

With rhetoric of luster,
with words that soar and climb!

But could I ever muster
such a steady stream of rhyme?

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Inner Game

When running twenty miles,
take care to prepare your mind.

At first there are plenty of smiles,
later they're hard to find.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

20 Miler

I did an organized 20 mile run yesterday - timed to give participants a long run just 3 weeks before the Chicago Marathon. It's like a race - participants wear numbered bibs - water and Gatorade are handed out - but no times are kept. Well, you can keep your own time, of course.

Pacers are provided. These are runners who lead other runners at a given pace. I fell in with an 11-minute-mile pace group. The guy leading us was had a nice smooth gait, and didn't look tired at all, but at mile 11 he stopped to go to the bathroom and our group kind of broke up.

At least, I went to the bathroom too, and afterwards picked up my pace to try to find my group, and all I could find were pieces of it.

At mile 17, I was zipping along, for me, actually running faster than 11 minutes per mile, when I suddenly felt a need to slow down and do some intermittent walking. My right quad (front of thigh) was threatening to cramp, and I just felt like I didn't have any more gas.

In my last marathon, almost a year ago, I also had a cramp that darn thigh. So what is up with that? I didn't used to get thigh cramps! Is it something I'm doing differently? So I turned to Dr. Google, who had various suggestions, some contradictory, but who mentioned that the odds of getting cramps go up with age.

Well, there's not much I can do about my age!

Dylan Thomas recommended rage,
and Yeats wrote bitter poems about being old.

But I try to accept what cannot be controlled.

Friday, September 20, 2013

It Is Upon Us

One of those routine shocks: autumnal equinox. 


Apparently the prez & congress are gearing up for the partial federal shutdown game, the key to which is assigning blame. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013


In torrents the rain poured down, and basements flooded throughout the town. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News

A foible one encounters now and then: you want me to trust you, so you lie about your credentials. But that can backfire.

"Elizabeth O’Bagy, the Syria researcher at the center of a week-long controversy surrounding her academic credentials and her work with the Syrian opposition, admitted for the first time to The Daily Beast she was never enrolled in a Ph.D. program despite representations she made to the press and multiple organizations for whom she worked."

First she was Dr. O'Bagy, then she was "PhD approved but not yet issued," and now she was never enrolled in the MA/PHD program at all.

I guess she's just a Master
of Disaster.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Moose statue
Coming atchoo.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Anarchist

I read Mamet's recent play, The Anarchist, on the plane. A 2 character play, it reminded me a bit of his Oleanna. Anyway, I liked it.

It's about a New Left killer whose goal - is to finally get out on parole.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Return of the Right to Carry

As of today, anyway: "Illinois Supreme Court: Second Amendment Protects Carrying Outside the Home"

Will shootings go up or down
here in this Windy Town?

I'm not clear on the practical implications of the ruling. The state legislature and governor just put a new concealed carry law into effect. People have been saying the new rules won't go into effect till 2014. But... if it's a constitutional right... isn't it in effect already? But maybe it's just open carry that's protected? I don't know. And I'm not eager to find out the hard way. But I think my home state is returning to sanity in the gun department.

I mean, we led the way in banning them for years, and it clearly didn't work.

I don't expect murder will come to an absolute stop,
but I'm willing to bet that the rate will drop.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Related to the Romantic Manifesto

The Romantic Manifesto brings together Rand's central essays on aesthetics. But it's a thin book, and if you're really curious about the full range of her aesthetic views, there are some other key pieces to look at.

The 2 posthumous books on writing, one on nonfiction and one on fiction, are both worth a read - even though these edited lectures may be way over-edited. I once listened to the tapes of the fiction lectures, and the book is much shorter than the lectures. If memory serves, the fiction book misses, in particular, the sense of nuanced interpretation of other writers that was evident in the lectures.

There are incidental introductions (to The Man Who Laughs, and Calumet K, and her own fictional works) and short reviews (of Mickey Spillane novels as I recall) that help to flesh out her thoughts about fiction a bit.

There is an article about a painter she admired, Capuletti, which is her most sustained meditation about painting in particular.

And there are articles by other people, about particular art forms, that sound suspiciously like they were heavily edited - by Rand - and probably reflect her views pretty closely. I say this based partly on writers' complaints about how heavily she would edit their pieces. In this category:

Metaphysics in Marble, by Mary Ann Sures, a discussion of sculpture.

Kay Nolte Smith's articles on Rattigan and Ibsen, which are very interesting discussions of writing for the stage. One interesting angle of both of these playwrights is that they are perceived, usually, as realists rather than romantics. But the reviewer calls Rattigan a romantic, and heaps praise on Ibsen for his mastery of dramatic plot structure and integration with theme.

I'm not saying you should swallow her aesthetics whole,
but if comprehending it is your goal,
then these are some extra nooks
in which to look.

From the Land of Cheese

Winter planning from Milwaukee: "The city's Department of Public Works will go ahead this winter with a pilot program to determine whether cheese brine — a liquid waste product left over from cheesemaking — can be added to rock salt and applied directly to the street."

However, there's the issue of odor.

They say that cheese brine
can do the job fine
but the strong smell
may leave you unwell.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Directing Again

O'Brien & O'Brian has closed. I think our Sunday audience, and performance, may have been the best yet. Lucky for us, that's the performance we shot on video.

In the mean time, I have been directing a segment of WOMEN! (a comedy) by Jeremy Menekseoglu, which opens at Dream Theatre on September 19.

I say a "segment" because the show is constructed of thematically connected short plays which have been woven together into an evening's entertainment. All, or almost all, of the actors are women.

Our segment involves a couple of college roommates who seem to have gotten on each others' nerves.

Too much time together
can make for stormy weather.

Death In Montana

"Newlywed Wife Admits Shoving Husband Off Steep Cliff"

They were having a spat at Glacier National Park.

He grabbed her hand. She got her hand loose.

"Graham stated she could have just walked away, but due to her anger, she pushed Johnson with both hands in the back and as a result, he fell face first off the cliff."

She gave him a shove
and he fell out of love.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Royal State of Confusion

Um, aren't they supposed to know who he is?

"Two days after an intruder was found prowling around Buckingham Palace, police confronted Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, in the royal residence’s garden and demanded that he identify himself."

Check that prince
for fingerprints!

He could be an illegal regal!

Chicago Half Marathon

I ran the Chicago Half Marathon and got beaten!

My son-in-law beat me by almost 3 minutes. And some other J. Enright - a Jennifer from St. Louis - beat me by more than 11 minutes.

Yes, I know, that's a silly way of looking at it.

One look at the results will remind me
there were also people behind me.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Two More Nights

There are songs about lovers who know they must part, who enjoy one last night.

And I kind of feel that way about this play, which I will say goodbye to after two more performances. Well, I won't say goodbye to the play, but I will say goodbye to this production of the play, to the shared experiences I've enjoyed sitting in the theater with these particular audiences and this particular cast.

Putting on a play
is a roller coaster ride
and on the final day
I will feel glad inside
and also sad.

The Mystery of Audience


Tonight we had a fun crowd.
They started off quiet,
but became riotously loud.

Thursday, September 05, 2013



Saw this snazzy convertible while walking to the train tonight. I saw the horse insignia on the back, and for a second I thought it was some new kind of Mustang. But, no.


That's the Ferrari symbol.

This is the Mustang logo:
Not quite the same
but neither horse looks tame.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013



That's from the triathlon, a week ago. In my hand is my yellow swim cap, wrapped around my goggles.

You can see me make
my break from the lake.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Can We Landfill Into Indiana?

That's a satellite view of Chicago's Calumet Park, and that dotted line is the "border" with Indiana, which runs through the waves of Lake Michigan. If Chicago could just extend that park a little, with some landfill perhaps, could we be a two-state city?

I believe the legal answer is no,
but it might be fun to give it a go.

(There is already a town called East Chicago, Indiana. As well as a West Chicago, Illinois, and a North Chicago, Illinois. And then there are 2 versions of "New Chicago, California" which seem to involve a ghost town and a real estate hoax.)

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Wild Things Among Us

Came home from tonight's performance, parked my car by the side of the house, and who do I encounter but a furry fellow with a bushy ring-tail?

After I chased him up a tree,
he turned and stared straight down at me.


Kayaking Chicago

We went kayaking today on the Chicago River, paddling from Chinatown to downtown and back. Today it looked a lot like this, though this is someone else's photo:


The day was perfect, the city canyon views were spectacular, and the river itself... well, they say it's a lot better than it was 50 years ago.

It isn't clear and sparkling clean.
Instead it's dark and sort of green.

Change Up!

Last night we rolled with a scheduled cast change in O'Brien & O'Brian. It was a little bit complicated, but played very well with an appreciative audience.

Kate, who had been playing Caitlin, took over the role of Brenda from Julie.

(Kate and Julie)

Anna, our director, took over the role of Caitlin from Kate.


Due to scheduling issues, change was necessitated,
so Kate took over from Julie, and Anna did what Kate did.