I had mouse problems a few years back. I documented the vermin tales, tails, and trails here, here,here,and here. As the years passed, I built up a false sense of security. My mouse problems? Surely a thing of the past.
And then came Thanksgiving (which was also my birthday this year–yay, me!). I decided to make myself a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich–clearly I wasn’t going to have enough to eat that day–so I went to the pantry to grab a loaf of bread. At first, I was confused by what I saw. The loaf was half-eaten, but from the side rather than the end. Then I noticed a hole in the bag. It was obvious–the mice had returned.
Further exploration of the pantry led me to find various bags of snack chips that had been penetrated and violated. And of course, the true calling cards of any mouse–tiny turd pellets–were everywhere.
After discarding all the mouse-ravaged foodstuffs, I cleaned the pantry floor. Then I covered it with an assortment of Home Depot-acquired traps and killing machines. I knew that I’d have to wait to see results–mice only come out when it’s dark and quiet.
Sure enough, while I slept, a mouse met its end in a plastic snapper trap baited with chunky Skippy peanut butter. I don’t think he was a lone gunmouse; it’s a safe bet that he has accomplices. Looking forward to seeing the body count tomorrow morning.
(Some NSFW language and topics follow)
It’s impossible to keep track of Marvel’s X-Men universe and the endless series of X-titles that have wrestled for shelf pace over the years. I tried to keep track of the characters and titles at one point in my life, but realized I’d feel a lot better if I gave up.
This week, I stumbled upon a new X-Men “#1″: Amazing X-Men. The cover stood out because it featured an all-time favorite character (Nightcrawler), and the artwork took me straight back to the early days of the (Cockrum, then Byrne) “All-New X-Men.”
It wasn’t just the artwork; the story itself was a flashback to those days. Just as I had myself convinced that comic book publishers had forgotten that comics can be fun, I was thrilled to discover that Amazing X-Men was cover-to-cover fun. Take, for instance, this panel with the super-brainy Beast, chasing down some of the villainous, elfin “Bamfs.” They’re accused of stealing equipment and drinking Wolverine’s whiskey:
With panels and direction like that, creators Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness crafted a comic that could have worked for all audiences. All the elements are there: great story, great characters, and a sense of fun. However, because the book’s rating is “T+,” there are a few things that prevent children under…let’s say 15… from reading it.
That’s right–Wolverine and Storm talk about foreplay. Storm is a woman of needs, dammit, and Wolverine is sure as shit going to take care of them before they “do it.” Was this exchange necessary? NOT IN THE LEAST. In fact, the “T+” rating could have been taken down to a “12+” by simply, um, massaging the dialog a bit to not be as overtly sexual. The conversation was completely out of place with the tone set for the rest of the book.
And just so we’re clear: everyone’s banging at the ole Mutant Mansion:
Yep, Iceman’s added another cube to his freezer, and there’s another one lined up behind her. You da man, Ice-dawg!
I don’t get the need to sexualize comic book super-heroes. Further, I don’t get why children are being frozen out (Iceman-style) of the target audience. Would the comic have suffered without the sexual references? Of course not. Did it suffer because of them? Well, younger kids can’t read T+ comics, so you tell me. Should kids be allowed to read X-Men comics? What about when the new X-Men movie hits in 2014, and they’re dying to investigate the source material?
I had the same issues with a lot of the garbage flushed out by DC Comics’ “New 52″ line of books. It’s just not right to tell a young boy, “Sorry, son, you can’t read Batman until you’re much older.”
As Robert Feder reported, Carla Leonardo died yesterday of acute myeloid leukemia.
When I started my internship at Q101, my 40-hour week was split between working in the Programming department and helping Carla with her local music show (then called “The Local Music Showcase”).
Carla was the best mentor I could’ve asked for; she let me take on as much responsibility as my very-green self could handle. She had no problem with letting me edit her interviews, screen music submissions, and “cart songs up” for air. I felt like I hit the jackpot when she let me help out with in-studio hospitality, and hang out with her as she recorded interviews with some of Chicago’s coolest artists (my mind was blown when I got to sit on the other side of the glass as Chris Connelly sang “What’s Left But Solid Gold”).
She was always supportive of me, and I’ve always felt that support helped me get my first paid job in radio when the Programming Assistant job went vacant in October, 1993. Less than two years after I got that job, she left Q101 to move to the East Coast. Before she left, she encouraged me to try out for her job of hosting the Local Music Showcase. I had no on-air experience, and was totally intimidated. She helped me to get over myself. I think she said something at the time like, “What? Like they’re going to give it to (Steve) Fisher?” (For the record, Steve’s a very talented jock and a friend. Carla’s point was that local music wasn’t Steve’s thing.)
Carla had a knack for cutting through bullshit with a white-hot knife. She also had an appealing cynical streak that was less mean-spirited than it was the result of being too smart for her chosen vocation. I’ll never forget, after a round of firings and jock shufflings at the station, she introduced me to the apocryphal Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Every time things around me go berserk, I think about her smiling as she said those words.
I fell out of touch over the years, but always enjoyed the brief encounters we had since our Q101 overlap. When I interviewed her in 2011 for my oral history book about Q101, it was like we’d never stopped communicating. She wanted to know everything that was going on with me, from what my kids were doing to where my career was going. We talked for a solid hour…and that was the last time we spoke.
I owe an immeasurable amount to Carla, and can’t begin to thank her enough. I miss her dearly, and offer my condolences to her family, friends, colleagues, and fans.
Earlier today, a friend asked me to summarize why I liked the band Rush so much. I found myself pulling out hackneyed rock-critic jargon and bloated defenses that fumbled out of my mouth and fell right on the floor. I was trying way too hard to explain why they kick as much ass as they do.
I knew better. Less is more. I followed with, “I’ll make it real simple. Let me boil Rush down to a haiku.” Pretentious? Without a doubt. Ridiculous? Yes. And yet…
Ugly workingclass sex songs
Backseat rock and roll
Crowds bathed in blood and semen
Here’s one more:
Meet James VanOsdol
Too much free time; unemployed
Never a poet
I tuned in to a local FM music station on my way home from the Sox game this afternoon. I took a chance on the station because it’s one of the only few in Chicago that still has live and local disc jockeys on the weekend.
I can’t impress enough what a big deal this is–most music stations are running pre-recorded breaks that are free from any sort of time-stamped content. For instance, a prerecorded break might offer a non-committal, “hope your weekend is awesome so far,” while a live break might say, “the sun finally came out, and it’s currently 80 degrees by the lake.” Being live gives a station a major advantage over its competition: when new information comes in, the station can totally own it by communicating the details in a timely fashion. This isn’t “master class” stuff I’m talking about; it’s Broadcasting 101.
After playing a pair of downtempo songs that I’ve heard a million times before, the jock on the station came on and back-announced the title and artist for both: Lou Reed “Satellite of Love” and “Bad” by U2. Perhaps the Lou Reed song isn’t universally known, but there’s never a need to backsell anything by U2, let alone a song that was released almost 30 years ago. We’re all completely caught up with the U2 catalog at this point, even the stuff on Pop.
Coming out of that backsell, the jock announced that the Bears/Lions game had just ended. He went on to say that he wasn’t going to give the results because he didn’t want to spoil it for anyone. He then proudly said that he’s been handling sports scores that way all year.
Seriously? If you’re not going to tell me who won the just-ended Bears game, why should I even bother to listen to local radio? You can take the time to tell me the title of a 30 year-old, fan-favorite U2 single that even my mother knows the name of, but you refuse to tell me the final score of the Bears game? Since the station turned me away, I turned the radio off and asked Siri on my iPhone for the game results. She didn’t leave me hanging, bless her synthetic heart. Tough loss, Bears.
The Bears game isn’t the shrouded-in-secrecy Breaking Bad finale; it’s local and cultural news. If a live and local station isn’t going to share that basic desired information with me, I can think of plenty of other ways to get the info, all of which are internet (not radio)-based.
Maybe a prerecorded break would have been better. I certainly wouldn’t have felt as irritated by “Hey, big game for the Bears today” as I was, “The Bears played today–it’s totally on you to figure out what happened.”
Everyone has linguistic crutches that they lean on to carry them through conversations, texts, writing, and everyday life.
I’m specifically aware of two that I overuse: “dude” and “awesome.”
Regarding the former, I don’t necessarily feel like “dude” is a bad thing. It’s a multi-purpose word, serving as both a slang pronoun and an exclamation. For instance:
“Hey, dude.” (slang pronoun)
“DUDE!” (exclamation, used upon witnessing something surprising, pleasing, or frightening)
It’s informal and congenial. I’m sticking with it.
As for “awesome,” I know I’ve got to trim down how frequently I speak and write it. Going by its formal definition, awesome means:
Very impressive or very difficult and perhaps rather frightening
I refer to a lot of things as awesome; when in reality, they’re just pretty cool:
- Reuben sandwiches
- The original Earth 1 / Earth 2 team-ups between the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America
If I were to lean less on my “awesome” crutch, my vocabulary would most certainly improve. Using my boilerplate examples of awesomeness, see how much more interesting I become when I use different words:
- “You know what? Reuben sandwiches are tasty delights.”
- “Those JLA/JSA team-ups from the Silver Age of comics were really groundbreaking and exciting.”
- “Dogs are loyal and loveable animals; I think they’re swell!”
I’m taking steps to correct myself. Now I’d ask the same of those who use “rad” to describe music.
Rad (short for “radical”)- relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough
I love music, but based on that definition, very few bands in history were truly “rad.” Awesome, sure–just not rad.