Thursday, April 30, 2015

Devilish Children

I'm acting in a play at Dream Theatre.

We open tomorrow with The Devilish Children and the Civilizing Process. It's an adaptation of a classic 19th century German book for children, "Der Struwwelpeter", which is a collection of short rhymed stories.

This play adds a through-line, a hero's journey, for little Karl, aged 3.

Although the original stories are for children, our production runs to the graphic, and you should only bring children who won't be terrified.

These cautionary tales
were originally designed,
to scare bad children into
a civilized state of mind.

Marathon, No. Fringe, Yes.

Yesterday I got an email that opened like this:

"Thank you for entering the 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon lottery. We regret to inform you that your name was not selected."

I was feeling sort of unlucky.

Then tonight I got an email that opened like this:

"Dear FringeNYC Participant,

That’s right, Participant! CONGRATULATIONS! Your production of O'Brien & O'Brian has been ACCEPTED, and on behalf of The Present Company and the entire FringeNYC team, we want to welcome you to FringeNYC."

My play got into the NYC Fringe.
I feel my brain is about to unhinge.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Major League Wildness

The White Sox are playing the Orioles tomorrow, in Baltimore.

There won't be much of a crowd -
no fans are allowed.

It's some kind of safety thing because of the riots in the city of Edgar Allen Poe. Apparently it has never happened before in the history of major league baseball.

Things are out of hand
when fans are banned.

I wonder what Poe would have thought of this.

Once upon a baseball season, having lost all trace of reason,
I sneaked in to see the Orioles play as they have played before.
While I watched them, barely waking, suddenly there came a breaking,
As of someone boldly taking, hatchets to the stadium door.
"'Tis some rioters," I muttered, "breaking though the stadium door -
It's a mess, in Baltimore."

Professor Has Had It

Prof goes off on class,
says none shall pass.

"The lengthy, fiery email to students explained to students why they would all be receiving failing grades, included is Horwitz’s claim that the students were spreading untrue online rumors about his wife and that he felt threatened enough to physically teach the course that he required police protection."

Administration says no,
this isn't a go.

I'd say he sounds excitable.
At least that's not indictable.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Just the Ticket

A speeding ticket for 58 thou?
Just, wow.

He was going about 14 mph over the limit. It happened in Finland:

"Mr. Kuisla is a millionaire, and in Finland the fines for more serious speeding infractions are calculated according to income."

He says he's thinking of leaving the place.
I can see where he would, if he likes a fast pace.

Dog Whispering

When teaching "down" to a lazy pup,
you may first need to get her up.

Friday, April 24, 2015


What if Millard Fillmore, deep inside,
secretly identified
not as a he
but a she?

Were it so, it would be
plain to see
(if you weren't too leery
of current gender theory)
that due to her inner belief,
Fillmore was our first female commander in chief.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Raisins Raising Constitutional Issues

These raisins are in the hands of the Supreme Court:

"The National Raisin Reserve — which is overseen by the Fresno-based Raisin Administrative Committee — is part of post-World War II-era program that forces raisin producers to give part of their annual crop to the government to prevent an oversupply of the dried fruit."

The National Raisin Reserve demands
raisins for free from the farmers' hands.

I think these farmers have their nerve,
defying our National Raisin Reserve.

Support the Reserve, which is trying to keep
raisins from getting way too cheap!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


It's the season of the ants
And they do their conga dance
In my dining room and kitchen 
And I tell you I am itching
To eliminate their presence 
For I find it quite unpleasant 
When each grape in my big bunch
Has a little extra crunch
From some tiny head or thorax. 
I have got to lay down borax!

Monday, April 20, 2015

First Responder

And now, the Uber driver as superhero. It happened on the north side of Chicago.

"Authorities say no charges will be filed against an Uber driver who shot and wounded a gunman who opened fire on a crowd of people in Logan Square over the weekend."

No charges? That's a good start.

Actually, I'm on board
for giving him an award.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why Aren't There More Books?

As for work of actually doing the writing,
I think that very few people find it exciting.

Dallas Buyers Club

Saw Dallas Buyers Club. Fine acting job by Matthew McConaughey as the rodeo-rider turned FDA-bashing entrepreneur.

I'm deeply sympathetic to the cause of getting pharmaceuticals out from under government control.

But I felt like the story was slow, and dwelt a lot on misery, in a way that bored me at times.

Maybe it's more interesting if you didn't follow these events when they were happening.

For me this slice of history
lacked a sense of mystery.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dosage And Diminishing Returns

The NYT has an interesting article up about the controversial question: what dose of exercise is best?

"Two new, impressively large-scale studies provide some clarity, suggesting that the ideal dose of exercise for a long life is a bit more than many of us currently believe we should get, but less than many of us might expect."

Basically, you can get a log of positive effect just by working up to something vigorous walking for about an hour each day. After that, any increased benefits plateau. You hit a point of diminishing returns.

Curiously, they didn't find a point at which a steady high dose became life-threatening. There has been some worry about that - about possible cardiac problems arising specifically in heavy-training marathoners, for example. But, at least on net, they didn't see that in their longitudinal studies.

As I always tell people, you can get a lot of the benefit of exercise without much suffering. It's not all about masochistic marathon training or grueling CrossFit routines. Those things seem to be good for you, but the big long-term benefits are low-hanging fruit, that require effort, but not all that much effort.

So, anyway, an hour a day of moderate exercise is highly beneficial.

If only some lab could make it,
into a little pill,
requiring no act of will,
then everyone would take it.


Flowering bush pushes the notion, that Spring may really be in motion.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Penalty Phase

Now that they've decided the Boston Marathon bomber is guilty, which wasn't much in question, they somehow have to decide whether to kill him or not.

A friend of mine suggested that they would decide not to kill him, because it was cheaper to keep him alive.

I think it's true that it's cheaper to keep him alive - mostly because of all the mandatory appeals that have been built into the death penalty system.

But I told my friend that they may see execution as worth the extra cost. I mean, how much money have we spent on this guy already? Tons.

It's clear that the criminal justice system does not operate on a simple cost/benefit ratio. And, even if it did, what is the psychological/social value of giving this guy a lethal injection? It's manifestly clear that a lot of people feel it's a good idea.

When facing a monstrous deed,
many will feel the need
to bury the beast
at the very least.

It Happened In Romeoville

Late at night, with a knife, the robber sneaked in...
but then got clobbered with a bowling pin.

I'm not making this up:

"Romeoville Police Commander John Ferdinardo said a married couple with a child were sleeping at the time, but the husband got up after hearing a noise in the house. The husband then spotted the intruder who was holding a knife and hit him on the head with a souvenir bowling pin."

If he wanted to have any chance at all,
he should have brought a bowling ball!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Opera vs. Musical

Chicago's Lyric Opera, in recent seasons, has taken to including a Broadway musical in their season. This year it's "Carousel". I was amused to see that it was reviewed by their head theater critic, rather than their classical music critic. I guess that's logical.

But I'm not sure how perfectly logical the opera/operetta/musical distinction is. I see that there are differences among them as genres. But if you step back, they look awfully similar.

You string together a story
while singing for glory.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Just a Bug

Facebook rebuts its accusers:
A bug made us track non-users!

Well, non-users in the sense of people who didn't directly visit Facebook. But apparently they visited some part of the far-flung FB empire, i.e., some web-page run by Facebook.

“It is important to note that tracking of non-users initiates even if one does not visit the Facebook homepage,” the researchers wrote. “In principle, any page belonging to the domain will result in the placement of a long-term, identifying cookie (e.g., an event page, a shop page, fan page …).”

Beware of bugs,
they crawl under rugs,
and into your bed,
and chew on your head,
and into your brain,
to drive you insane.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Who Makes These Days Up?

Reportedly it's Sibling Day,
and without quibbling I can say
that I have eight
who are first rate.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Weather Report

Between two rains the sun comes out.
The sidewalks gently glisten. 
More water's coming - so they shout,
But I don't want to listen.

I walk in shirtsleeves in the warm,
A rather happy fella,
Not focused on the coming storm,
But armed with an umbrella. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


Rahm Emanuel has been reelected as mayor of Chicago.

Outside of Chicago, among conservatives, Emanuel is often regarded as an arch-progressive.

But inside the city, Emanuel was regarded as the more conservative candidate. Particularly as regards fiscal matters.

In the media, the big question to ponder is: Has Emanuel been humbled? Perhaps in some sense he has been. But most of the Chicagoans that I know are less worried about the man's attitude and more worried about the city's future cash flow.

Visions of bills
coming due soon,
can give you the chills
on a warm afternoon.


I've seen articles lately on a behavioral disorder called "orthorexia nervosa". The idea is that you can be too obsessed with "healthy eating", often on the basis of some inadequately researched food fad.

"All I could think about was food. But even when I became aware that my scrabbling in the dirt after raw vegetables and wild plants had become an obsession, I found it terribly difficult to free myself. I had been seduced by righteous eating."

Either I never had this, or I'm in remission.

I fear my tastes in food
are kind of rude.

I think that gluten's yummy
in my tummy.

And I've been known to spend the day
munching chips from Frito-Lay.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Will That Tower Fit In My Yard?

I imagine I'm supposed to be horrified by the ongoing re-privatization of art:

"With government subsidies to public institutions being cut back, museums in countries like Britain, the Netherlands and Germany need the income from art sales to close budget gaps, make repairs or finance expansions. That has led to fears that masterpieces will disappear from public view to adorn the living room walls of a Saudi prince or hedge-fund billionaire."

Most of this artwork is probably languishing in storage, anyway. Museums just put a fraction of their collections on the wall.

I'm hoping that I
can very soon buy
the Leaning Tower of Pisa,
and maybe the Mona Lisa.

In Need of Direction

If that was Easter, when is Wester? 
And which of the two is bester?

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Mythic Visitors

Santa keeps track of who's been good.
You get lots of gifts if you do what you should.

But Bunny is glad to leave you some eggs,
regardless of whether you followed the regs.

Dog Tired

Played hard
In yard.

Now flopped on floor.
Later I'm sure
She'll want to play more.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Easter Moon

I was eating dinner when I looked out the window and saw the full moon staring at me. And I was jolted by the awareness that, oh, of course, it's Easter weekend, and we can't have Easter without having a full moon first!

First full moon of spring,
Old friend from outer space,
I am glad to see your face
And I heartily embrace
The brightness that you bring.


I'm dreading
A wedding
In a pizzeria.

Whether gay
Or nay
It's a bad idea.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Culture Wars Continue

Nick Gillespie has published a long analytical rant entitled:

"Everybody's Lost Their G*ddamn Mind Over Religious Freedom"

That asterisk is just my subtle way of trying to keep this a family blog. But I agree with his sentiment.

My favorite line:

"Which isn’t to suggest that America is the same seething pit of homophobia it was during Three’s Company thousand-year reign of terror, either."

Can't we all just get along?
Apparently not. That would be wrong!