Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hotel Aphrodite

We saw a farce at Prop Thtr called Hotel Aphrodite.

"The Chateau Amantius is an erotic therapeutic retreat run by famed sex therapist Linda Knudson (Allison Cain), catering to every possible need an adventurous couple may have."

So here's the odd thing, which you might already have noticed. The play's name is Hotel Aphrodite, but the name of the hotel is actually Chateau Amantius.

So I just have to shout:
what was that about?

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Some say iambic is the normal beat, 

Of English speakers - underneath it's lurking! 

And making sure that each line has five feet, 

Is not so hard - just keep your fingers working,

And count it out while speaking. It's a knack,

But with some practice, it begins to seem

Not so much of a verbal heart attack,

But more a calm and smoothly flowing stream.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Toy Gun Panic

I see where some cop in Cleveland killed a 12 year old black kid who was waving around a toy plastic-pellet gun.

And earlier this year, also in Ohio, cops killed a 22 year old black man who was walking around a WalMart with a toy gun.

I don't remember this sort of story from my youth - my youth when most of us boys were running around outside playing cops and robbers with toy guns. Of course, when toy guns were more common - extremely common - maybe the real cops were less likely to assume that toy guns are real.

Both cases involved someone making a 911 call. In both cases the responding officers were given incomplete or incorrect information. Did you ever play that "telephone game" where people whisper in each other's ears, passing a message along, and the message gets completely scrambled? I wonder if we would be better off letting the responding officers hear a recording of the actual 911 call.

Drop that replica gun
or your days are done!

Sound Advice

Tracinski advises the media on how not to screw up the next Ferguson, because they certainly misreported this one.

He covers 5 main points:

1. It’s not a story until there are facts (and claims aren’t facts).
2. Forensics is a science.
3. People are individuals, not symbols.
4. Legal procedures and privileges exist for a reason.
5. You are not the story.

Perhaps because I work in a technical field, I was especially struck by his comments on point 2:

"These days everybody loves talking about how they love science. Actually loving science is quite another thing... [T]he real, hard, verifiable facts about a shooting begin with the forensics. They begin with the ballistics, the autopsy, and the physical evidence from the scene... If the media had waited for these actual, verifiable facts to come out, they might have dropped the whole story before it became a national sensation. Because science."

The reporting proceeded in defiance
of science.

Time Flies

Somehow it's hard to believe,
but now it's officially Black Friday's Eve!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


I have watched the outcomes since the sixties, and it has become clear to me:

Burning down local stores
because you're mad about race
is cutting off your nose
to spite your face.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Behavioral Political Economy

The "Grumpy Economist" remarks:

"I have long been puzzled at the high correlation between behavioral economics and interventionism."

He goes on in some detail. I think there's a lot to what he says.

If people are predictably dumb,
do not expect a solution to come,
from other people we've put in charge;
their errors tend to be just as large.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Phlebotomy Followup

I got an email today saying my pint of blood, which I donated on Veteran's Day, had headed off to the hospital. What was my blood doing in the mean time? Getting tested, and just chilling, I suppose. They never emailed me about this before. I found I liked it. I wonder if they're going to tell me when someone gets it? Probably not. What would it be like to know exactly where my blood would go and in whose veins it now might flow?

I For One Welcome Our Silicon Overlords

The Wall St. Journal has a feature story:

Automation Makes Us Dumb

It's the end of the world as we used to know it.
(This post generated by Automated Poet.)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Backward Facing Dog

I went to yoga with my pants on backwards.
I would say more, but by some chance I lack words.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Only 1 in 10

I'm not sure what to think:

"...about 29 percent of the population meets the definition for excessive drinking, but 90 percent of them do not meet the definition of alcoholism."

It's the kind of study I take with a grain of salt or a shot of whiskey. "Excessive drinking" and "alcohol dependence" both strike me as concepts that are fuzzy around the edges.

This may require revision,
but 85.7 percent of statistics are stated with misleading precision.

I do like this official slogan, mostly because it rhymes:

“Stop drinking while you’re still thinking.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

I'm in favor of some kind of legalization of these illegals who came to live here peaceably. But putting that aside, I don't think unilateral executive action is the way to implement that. Didn't he previously say he couldn't do that, because he wasn't king or something?

Putting that aside too, I'm not sure what to make of this:

"The White House is exasperated with the major broadcast networks – ABC, CBS and NBC -- for skipping out on President Barack Obama’s Thursday primetime address on his executive actions on immigration."

Are they trying to protect their ratings?
Do people now find him too grating?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Really, I would have preferred
warming to what has occurred.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Woman of the Year

In this morning's Tribune, there's a splashy story about some "Woman of the Year" gala put on by Glamour magazine. The first fresh face pictured is Chelsea Clinton.

Here's an NY Times story about it: Chelsea Clinton and Lupita Nyong’o Honored at the Glamour Women of the Year Gala. I do not intend to read this story.

My first thought was that it was part of the Hillary Clinton campaign for the presidency. But she wasn't Glamourous enough or something. Or including Hillary herself would have been too openly political, but including Chelsea was just political enough?

Here's a conservative guy over at National Review complaining about it: Now Chelsea Clinton is in the public spotlight and we’re being instructed to think of her as extraordinary, without any good answers about what she’s done, or what she would have done, without her father’s name or her mother’s influence.

Well, she's got a lot of power and money behind her. What's not clear to me is whether she's really got any personal drive in the political realm, or whether she's just being pushed along at this point.

This article in Glamour
looks like artificial clamor
based on media loyalty
to something less than royalty.

Friday, November 14, 2014


When you are uber,
as uber as Gruber,
you sometimes can make
the trifling mistake
of speaking too clearly
and then you pay dearly.

He may be vaguely hateful,
but I for one am grateful
that he has decided to teach
with intemperate speech.

Why I Didn't Post Yesterday

Because Thursday
turned into blursday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Night Alive

Tonight I went to see The Night Alive, by Conor MacPherson, at the Steppenwolf. MacPherson is a contemporary Irish playwright with an American following.

I had a very enjoyable time, because I liked the Dublin characters, and the lively dialogue, and the strong dramatic situations. But the plot's a bit meandering and ends with a sort of mystical ambiguity, and the characters are sympathetic but not particularly admirable, so be forewarned!

A friend, who recommended the play to me, said that the playwright's voice reminded him of my own. So I feel flattered.

The story's about a middle-aged guy who rescues a young lady from a beating from her ex-boyfriend.

My favorite performance was that sociopathic ex-boyfriend. Great sense of menace when we finally meet him. Which makes his receiving of his just deserts all the more satisfying.

Who will contrive
to make it it through
the night alive?

Seven Interviews, by Mark Dunn

I read Seven Interviews, by Mark Dunn, which is really a set of 7 short plays, all with the same desk and chairs, intended to be an evening's entertainment. And all you need to produce it, aside from desk and chairs, is 2 women and 1 man to play all the parts.

The plays vary from funny to serious. The one I liked best, set on Christmas Eve, had a fair amount of both funny and serious, but I know I missed the punch line somehow.

It's hard to go home on Christmas Eve
when you're caught as a thief
and they won't let you leave.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Submission, by Jeff Talbott

Went to see a play about a gay white playwright who writes a good play about black people. He's worried that it will be rejected because it's "inauthentic", so he hires a black actress to play the part of playwright.

Anyway, his play gets accepted at the prestigious Humana Festival, and predictable racial tension and heartache occurs. But it's quite clever and mostly moves along very quickly.

I really liked the black actress, who played the black actress, who played the playwright, for the playwright.

Yep, this play
is meta that way.

Baby Talk

My mother used to use a word which I have long suspected was Yiddish. It sounded to me like PUSH-mook, where mook rhymes with look. She would say "let me wash your push-mook" to a child, and would proceed to wash the area around the child's mouth. Children do have a way of getting that area messy while eating.

My mom wasn't Jewish, but she grew up with a lot of Jewish friends.

Today I saw that "pisk" can mean "mouth" in Yiddish, particularly in the sense of animal mouth or maw. In a slangy way, it is used for human mouths.

It must be said, my recollection of the pronunciation word is untrustworthy. And I suppose Yiddish sounds don't correspond exactly with English sounds anyway.

My attempts to figure this out are not helped by the fact that Yiddish is usually written using the Hebrew alphabet, which I do not know.

Mother, my mother dear,
I'd ask if you were still here.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Advice To The Players

I just read a short play, Advice To The Players, which I very much enjoyed, in an angry sort of way.

It's based on a real incident, back in the day when people around the world were boycotting South Africa. The situation is that a couple of black South African actors are scheduled to perform Waiting For Godot, and an American political group is sending protesters to stop the performance. The paradox, of course, is that the 2 actors are further oppressed by the boycott itself.

So, first it's 2 black South Africans being pushed around with progressive doublespeak by a white lawyer from the boycott group. Then, as the plot unfolds, a woman from the South African revolutionary organization shows up to push them around some more, this time with revolutionary doublespeak and a more serious level of threat.

The play's sympathies seem on the side of the actors, the individuals who are the real losers here, pawns in the hands of the progressives and revolutionaries who only care about the big collective chessboard.

The trouble with being a pawn,
is that you are so frequently gone.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

25th Anniversary

Sub-headline from the other day:

"To the outside world, the fall of the Berlin Wall was the culmination of courageous acts of ordinary people. But within the East German regime, the wall’s final hours were closer to a comedy of errors."

The East German government built a great wall.
Amid great confusion, it had a great fall.
All the red soldiers and grey Stasi men
Could not put that grim wall together again.


I enjoyed the film, but I think it's extremely uneven. I have a high tolerance for this sort of thing. In my youth I watched 2001, at the theater, many times.

Also, pet peeve, apparently the title should be Intergalactic. But in these movies, when someone mentions going to another galaxy, I never get the sense they have any appreciation for just how far away that is.

Let's go to a galaxy far, far away,
(exactly how far, let's not bother to say)
but since we've got a space-time hole
it won't take long to reach our goal,
just watch out for relativistic clocks
that lose it with their ticks and tocks.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Twisting The Night Away

I was kind of amused by this inscrutable exchange between a college student reporter and Robert Downey Jr.:

“Scarlett Johansson has never had her own superhero movie. Would you call yourself a feminist?”

“You bastard. Yeah, that’s all make believe, son.”

This is being relayed as "He said feminism is make believe."

This was from a session in which a reporter also asked him about the size of his manhood.

Remember: words only exist
so you can creatively twist
them into a form that offends
you and your friends.

Another Illinois Scandal

This is interesting, from the Chicago Sun-Times:

"Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, one of President Barack Obama’s closest friends, has refused to answer federal prosecutors’ questions about whether he had a “sexual relationship” with a former aide who pleaded guilty to stealing $400,000 in taxpayers’ money in a scheme that began when Whitaker was her boss at the Illinois Department of Public Health, court records show."

Perhaps he found the question too complex.
People mean so many things by "sex".

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Purple Illinois

We have a new governor, here in Illinois, a Republican, a very successful businessman who hasn't held office before. I'm not sure what his motivation is in seeking office. He doesn't need it for the money. Is he simply public-spirited? Would he enjoy the power? The glory of actually turning the state around?

The state could use some turning around. Our finances, our public pension plans in particular, are in perilous shape. And compared to neighboring states, our economy is not doing well.

I'm not sure what a Republican governor can do with a strongly Democratic state house & senate. Yeah, it's the reverse of the national situation.

It would certainly be great
to improve the state of the state.

But it won't be much of a shock
if it turns to solid grid lock.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014


Always vote for the losing name.
That way you get none of the blame.

And none will question your right to complain,
if the guy who wins proves insane.

Monday, November 03, 2014


I really enjoyed an article in WaPo about an American physician, Lewis Rubinson, who was in Africa treating Ebola patients - when he accidentally stuck himself with a possibly-contaminated needle. It's an inside take, not really political, more just human, on what it's like to fight the disease in Africa, and then what it's like to be held in an isolation unit in America... while waiting to see if you have the disease, and watching TV:

"The TV experts reiterated that U.S. hospitals were prepared to care for patients with Ebola. How could they be? Rubinson thought. All 6,000 or so hospitals? ...He didn’t think that people were reassured by oversimplified messages."

I fear that "TV expert"
is a contradiction in terms.

And oversimplification
always gives me the squirms.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Steel Cable News

A famous tight rope walker came here, and tonight walked across a steel cable between 2 skyscrapers, traversing the river in the process.

It's a risky family tradition:

"Thirty-six years ago, Wallenda’s 73-year-old great-grandfather Karl Wallenda fell to his death attempting a wire walk between two hotel towers on a windy day in Puerto Rico."

I didn't watch it.
But I'm glad he didn't botch it.