November 22nd, 2009


Looks like it's that time again ...

I've been so nose-to-the-grindstone on the whole job search thing that the calendar just got away from me and I was shocked to find that we're coming up on Thanksgiving (I was sure that I'd have found a job by Halloween). Anyway, the weekend before Thanksgiving is the "Magnificent Mile Lights Festival" which is an all-day event down by the Tribune (hint, hint!), and culminates with a parade down Michigan Avenue, led off by Mickey Mouse who waves his arms and progressively lights up all the Xmas holiday decor on the stores.

Back when my Mom was still alive, she'd take us up to this Thai place in the Bloomingdale's mall, which had windows over-looking Michigan & Walton, so The Girls could see the parade, and she could enjoy watching The Girls watching the parade without having to deal with the crowds too much.

Fortunately, the parade starts only a couple of blocks from us. It used to "stage" west of State St. and be "live" by the time it got over to Rush & Oak, but the past couple of years they've had the floats lined up from Oak & Michigan back down the street, so if you want to catch Mickey, you need to get there early and deal with the heavy crowds on the Michigan Ave. end of things. The past few years we'd watched from back up the street, but today we worked our way down the block ... The Girls were able to get space on the front of the crowd, which was good.

What was really nice this year was the weather cooperated. Some years it has been very cold out there, and tonight I wasn't uncomfortable without gloves ... heck, didn't even zip up the jacket. This was especially good because it seemed there was a lot more of the parade this year than previously ... it took a good hour for it to go past us. Obviously from these pics, Disney and Harris Bank are the two biggest sponsors (they had multiple floats each), and have been for many years. If you're not from Chicago (or other Harris Bank territories) you might not know Hubert, but if you grew up in Chicago you've probably bugged your parents for a Hubert at some time or another, Harris having taken a page from the Tribune, essentially re-creating the Trib/WGN's (fabulously successful) "Cuddly Dudley" from the 60's, with a Hubert doll (I know we had a Cuddly Duddly, not sure about Hubert).

I kind of liked that pic with the Hubert balloon with the Playboy/Palmolive Building and Hancock Center behind it. If I had a tripod it would be a better shot, but at least it looks less blurry at 300x400 than it did at 2300x3000! One cool thing I noticed tonight is that the "Lindbergh Beacon" was once again lit, although no longer sweeping the city (the Hancock and other buildings growing up around it caused the original to be dismantled in 1981). Back in the 60's that was a signature of Chicago's cityscape, and I can remember as a kid watching it cut through the sky all night.

Anyway, we didn't freeze, the kids were amused, and I got away from the computer for an hour or two ... plus you got pictures ... I guess that's a win-win, eh?

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Ah, holiday traditions ...

Well, the "shopping busses" from the far flung corners of the greater midwest are beginning to descend on my neighborhood. A sure sign of the holidays being upon us (like a cloud of locusts). It's days like this that make me happy that, tucked in a drawer most of the year, I have a splendid sweatshirt with these sentiments ...

There are T-shirts, mousepads, and truly festive mugs to give the what-for to those cubicle mates who are humming holiday tunes along with the muzak! Hey, if you have to shop, it might as well be for some snark, y'know!

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What a bummer!

A few weeks back, somebody commenting on one of the posts in my main journal strongly encouraged my reading some George Carlin. Since I've been "coached" to consider the serendipitous for the job search and much associated with it, I decided to take up the suggestion and order in three of Carlin's books. All I can say after reading Brain Droppings is that I'm glad i got them from Amazon's new/used vendors.

As regular readers of this space know, I've been spending a lot of time pumping my brain full of Intention, Positivity, Attraction and other Secret-esqe philosophies. In fact, one book (the classic The Science of Getting Rich, which I'm still quite enthusiastic about) counsels one to "not read any other philosophies" while working towards wealth. Well, this collection of Carlin's musings is just about as "anti" all that as is humanly possible. An earlier edition of myself would have found that quite amusing (heck, there's a section in here, "Rules To Live By", which almost point-for-point goes down the list of things that "the Secret people" focus on, and presents a cynical and extremely negative version of them) in its complete "dark mirroring" of the "fluff bunny" movement. How'd he know? This book came out in 1997, so was penned nearly a decade before Byrne's book (you don't suppose she read this and was inspired to counter it?).

Frankly, I was unprepared for this to be any sort of a "challenging read", expecting to just blow through it and the others in a spare few hours. Instead, it was a grind, and surprisingly unfunny. While Carlin's work is certainly cerebral, picking apart language, looking at unacknowledged aspects of society, etc., I think it loses a lot when distilled down to simple text. Much of the punch to Carlin's humor is in the verbal delivery, and he's most effective when he can "mug along" with the jokes. Without the audio and video, the material here is at best "wry", but frequently giving the impression of "trying too hard" to get to some semblance of a punch line. I probably chuckled 2-3 times over the entire 258-page book (contrast that to the recent Kinky Friedman book which had me LOL'ing every few pages).

The tone here, separate from Carlin's stagecraft, is uniformly bitter, hostile, non-constructively confrontational, fatalistic, and mean-spirited. Reading through the book was akin to having to take a long Greyhound bus ride stuck in a seat next to the most cantankerous, negative, and opinionated person you know. In the introduction to his second book, Carlin notes that this one did better than he'd anticipated. I'm surprised as well ... but it must have been as a new product by a cultural icon rather than on the strength of what's on the page. I used to joke that my poetry collections were written for those "too happy" people out there, Brain Droppings comes across as being intended as a "cure" for those suffering from a surfeit of positivity. Needless to say, I'm very confused as to WHY the person (not a regular commentator in my journal) suggested that I read George Carlin's books ... I'm beginning to suspect that it was intended to sabotage whatever progress I've made "towards the light"!

As one might expect from the above, I am not recommending this, unless one wants to have it for a "historical" or "pop cultural" perspective. If one does feel a need to get a copy, I would recommend not spending the $27.95 that Amazon wants for a new copy, but pick up a "like new" copy for 1¢ (well, $4 with the $3.99 shipping, that's what I paid) from the used vendors!

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