16 August 2007

The Move: A Brief Photo Diary

Hey nurses! I finally made it to Chicago, and the lovely folks at Comcast finally hooked up my series of tubes. So here, as promised, are some photos from the trip. They are in reverse order for no reason. Enjoy!

First view of the skyline of Downtown Chicago (from the hellish Dan Ryan Expressway).

An exhausted Max sits on the attic floor in Urbana, IL, bracing himself for the final leg of the trip. Or that may just be shock...

Illinois welcomes us...to DANVILLE!!!

I pass the time by (safely) taking self-portraits outside of Indianapolis, IN. Can you sense the joy in my tensely furrowed brow?

The endless flat cornfields of Indiana, which, for me, are much less pretty than the endless flat cornfields in Illinois.

The alarmingly classy statue outside of our hotel in Western, PA.

Max discovers his love for looking out of the window. (Soooo cute!)

The sun shining through the clouds (I used to call these "God Clouds" when I was a kid, cos of a picture in a Noah's Ark book) in Eastern, PA.

The now-infamous rain-soaked traffic jam in beautiful Rahway, NJ. Please take special note of the sign to the right that says, "Your Highway Taxes At Work!" So encouraging...

Robert and David pack up my kitchen stuff in sunny Brooklyn, NY, the day before we leave.

13 August 2007

Day Three: 9:00p CDT

So our journey ends. We arrived in Chicago at 5.00p. I had to yell at strangers to open the gate for the load-in area, and, once we were in, 8 gorgeous people showed up to help me unload. It went so smoothly (apart from the elevator violently jumping up and down at one point, with Laura and I sure we were seconds from plummeting to our deaths), and, after just under two hours, it was all inside.
My apartment is quite nice. Robert did a great job scouting this one out. The buzz about the place amongst those moving me in was the fact that there appears to be more closet space in here than the total square footage of most Manhattan studio apartments. I've got storage for my storage! Max is settling in and exploring the wilderness of boxes. He was exhausted and is soooo happy to not have to ride in the truck, get zipped in the suitcase, sleep in the attic, or, really, go outside at all anymore.
We celebrated the effortless move-in with a shockingly good cheeseburger (and some beers) @ Moody's Pub. Enormous humble thanks to Chance, Drew (the other one), Jason, Jessica, Laura, Marcos, Mark, and, of course, Robert, who was brilliant to have on this trip, for working their lovely backsides off in the swamplike humidity.
The unpacking now begins. Later this week, I'll get the photos up in here. My interweb won't be on 'til Thursday.
Thank you for reading!


12 August 2007

Day Three: 1:40p CDT

After a tour of the new house and a nice lunch, we are leaving Champaign-Urbana at 2:00p. Should take Robert about 2.5 hours to get to the apartment. I will take a little longer, as I have to take the construction-benighted Dan Ryan and not Lake Shore Drive. So all you lovely folks who's comin' to help us move in should plan on meeting us there at 4:30p. I'll make some calls, but if you read this and are planning to come and help, please call a couple of other people and spread the word!
We will have bottled water, and dinner/drinks will follow.
Feel free to call me for directions to the place if you don't know where it is.
See you soon, nurses!

Day Two: Supplemental

Robert and I, after a delicious meal at Milo's in Urbana, hauled some stuff out of the house (desk for Drew!) and then headed to Downtown Champaign for a cocktail. We hit Boltini first, and enjoyed a couple of martini-esque beverages. Robert found something made with black vodka that seems like it should have tasted more evil than it did. I stuck with cosmos.
We ran into a cavalcade of C-U folks, starting with Brandon. Brandon was attending his 10 year (Uni) High School reunion. He and his partner, Kevin, just adopted a baby(!), which is crazy but awesome. He is called Garret and is three months old. Yay for gay daddies! He very excitedly relayed that, yes...he is the dad taking thousands of pictures of every event and I'm sure you'll see a couple here someday soon.
Said hello to Danny, who was, unsurprisingly, running to his next engagement. He has the most insanely full dance-card of any nurse I know! I have teased him before about him being the busiest Buddhist in the western hemisphere.
The guy who used to stand on the corner of the dance floor at C-Street and idly rotate, back when we were in college, now stands about three feet from the DJ at Boltini, idly rotating. I'm surprised the DJ doesn't scream, "PERSONAL SPACE!" and hit the guy.
Three feet, I tell you. What thought processes lead a person to...? Oh, I can't even start down that path.
Finally, Bryan and his friend Ashley showed up (she is getting a Ph.D. in Art History at Yale and is between apartments in Paris and Rome! Must be nice. He teaches 2nd grade.). Bryan talked us into, yes...you know it...going to C-Street.
So off we went. The dancefloor is all classy and hardwood now, but everything else is pretty much the same, down to the stupid graffiti in the loo. We danced for a bit, had another couple of cocktails, and Bryan got approached by Lyle Lovett/Abe Lincoln Guy who was, of course, still there.
An interesting sidenote. Lyle Lovett/Abe Lincoln Guy looks just awful, but it's, like, the same awful as when he was sitting his "tired old ass down" next to Adam Nelsen back in the day. It's like he's preserved in a perpetually unchanging state of awful.
So anyway, we just about closed the place out and came home. We slept really well. More later...

11 August 2007

Day Two: 5:30p CDT

We pulled the truck into my Dad's farm just about right on time, although I made a wrong turn. All the corn...it confused me! Anyway, Max is now sealed in the attic to sequester him from my mother's insane, sickly menagerie. It's probably best. Robert has spruced up and we are headed out to dinner with the 'rents.
More on the hopping summer downtown Champaign nightlife before we loader-it up tomorrow and head up to our Final Destination.
Almost there!

Day Two: 12:25p CDT

And so our intrepid travellers stopped at a Steak'n'Shake outside of Columbus, OH. I had a salad with my frisco melt, impressing myself with my ability to make that nutritionally okay in my head. And now: Indiana! Despite that crow's protestations in the ads, at this time of year, there is NOTHING but corn in Indiana.
Tonight: dinner with mom and dad, and some possible forays into the hot Champaign-Urbana nightlife!! Won't want to miss that, nurses!

Day Two: 11:20a EDT

Crossed through WV first thing this morning. Mercifully, the speed limit is 70 there, so that didn't take long. Wheeling, WV has a lovely scenic bridge, but the gentleman with the PT Cruiser, the mullet, and the thick, lustrous back-hair sculpted into some sort of fauxhawk, whom we saw at the gas station on the Ohio border, was neither lovely nor scenic. Max has started to enjoy looking out the window (pics later), which is really cute.
New batteries have led to occasionally hilarious commentary tracks on the walkies. Lunch near Columbus in a couple. Ciao!

Day Two: 9:00a EDT

Good night's sleep. Max slept as far under the hotel bed as he could get. We had a BK breakfast (roadtrips are just crap-o-rama, foodwise. Lordy!) and some MadTV. And we're off! Up next, the thrilling switch to Central Time. Oooooohhhhh. Aaaaaahhhhh.

10 August 2007

Day One: 11:35p EDT

"I talk talk...I talk to you..."

Fuelled by early 90's dance music, courtesy of Real McCoy on a really cheesy southwestern PA radio station (is there any other kind?!), Robert and I landed in a Best Western about 30 miles from the So-hio border. We had to smuggle Max inside in my luggage (he's currently investigating the room and being cranky), and, after a surreptitious "visit with Sheila" we are watching South Park (the Scientology episode!!!) and turning in. Day Two, featuring the unfathomable flatness of Southern Indiana and dinner with the folks, commences tomorrow morning at 9:00am EDT. Sweet dreams, nurses!

Day One: 6:45p EDT

Okay, okay. Pennsylvania is very pretty today. Sun peeking through the clouds (pics later) and scenic rivers. It still takes too long to get through. We stopped to gas up and get some Arby's. Sometimes a nurse just needs some curly fries, mkay! We may not make it to Ohio tonight, but we're gonna drive 'til we give out. Have a good dinner...

Day One: 3:20p EDT

We finally dodged out of the traffic nightmare. Stopped at a Subway for a sandwich and some helpful directions from a big, pierced, inked, toothless local in downtown (?) Rahway, NJ. They turned out to be more or less accurate directions, and we finally got on a highway with little hassle as a result. Thanks big pierced inked toothless dude!
This truck has some oomph, and though I'm fine with not having cruise control in my car, it's making my right leg hurt in this thing.
Some looneytunes in an Infiniti SUV tried to swerve in front of me. He apparently didn't get the memo that the 16 foot Penske truck wins!!
We're on I-78 now, and caught in some other trraffic snafu. Almost in Pennsylvania. I'll save comments on that state for when we're actually there.
Our walkies aren't working too well. Maybe new batteries will help. We seem to get other people's conversations fine...just not ours!
More driving now. Will post when next we get fuel. This bad traffic karma is killing me. Thank Buddha for NPR!! Love to all...

Day One: 12:51p EDT

We finally pushed off at about 11am. Max was an unhappy kitty. It was still pouring rain, and we couldn't take the Bay Parkway cos I'm in a big ol' truck.
The Verrazano was half shrouded in clouds and beautiful. That's still my favourite bridge in NYC.
The right windshield wiper on my car started flopping off the window about 2 miles into Jersey. Robert was, essentially, rendered blind. We pulled over at a gas station, and I spent 15 minutes running around in the rain to find a pair of pliers. Thanks to the folks at the auto-body shop next to the Citgo on Rt. 1/9. Wiper fixed. I'm soaked. And we are now trapped in appalling traffic in Rahway, NJ. Woo hoo!! We're moving. More later...

Day One: 7.30a EDT

After a wallscrapingly good time, and no severed toes, we got just about everything, including that bloody couch, onto the truck. Thanks so much to Micah, his lung, my roommate David, and Robert, who flew in from Chicago (to drive my car and be my support structure)! The truck isn't what I'd call the jackrabbit of moving vans. Perhaps the beached whale shark of moving vans might be more apt. But it's newish, the a/c works, and it goes, so once I'm on the highway, the tuckpointing of Brooklyn will be safe again and we'll be fine (knock on particle board). I have a few more things to take down, and then we shove off. Not sure what kind of omen the rain is, but it feels strangely appropriate. Stay tuned...

08 August 2007

Politics: AFL-CIO Presidential Debate (In Brief)

So the marginally insane choice of having a presidential debate outside in Chicago in August proved to be a good time (and I know from formal events outside in August!). The crowd was feisty, and the candidates played that up as much as possible. Here is my bullet-point review and scoreboard for the night:
  • Joe Biden (4): Joe always has some good things to say, but I have to tell you: older white men with white hair in politics just really bore me these days. He has a lot of experience, and he seems a smart guy, but all this talk about bucking the establishment in Washington, coming from a man who's spent 35 years there, is a tough pill to swallow. He also sometimes gets in these hawkish fugue-states that I don't care for. His credentials are impeccable, and I hope he's an adviser in the cabinet. Also, someone on his campaign staff: Please tell him to put his pen down when he gestures!
  • Hilary Clinton (1): For lack of a better way of saying this: she brought it. She's from the suburbs and she started with a Bears thing, which was a nice opener for the home field. She was smart, commanding, funny (the "I'm your girl!" line is all the buzz today), and pretty much had them at "Hello." I was relieved to see that she appeared to be a lot less "produced" and more genuine this time around. That's going to be a continuing challenge for her. She's definitely got some inside the beltway baggage, but it seems fresher coming from her than from Biden. Could be because she's a woman and I like that, but I just think she owned this debate. Her one slip up with the "you shouldn't say everything you think when you run for president" will come back to haunt her. Suggesting opacity is a little too Bush/Cheney, and I think she knows it. It was live. People say stupid stuff. Hopefully, her clarifications of that statement will be cool and not too "handled."
  • Chris Dodd (5): Again with the old white men with impeccable credentials. He had good things to say as well, and he was not afraid to get up in Barack and Hilary's respective grille's, which led to some lively (actual) debate. He helped keep the proceedings a little spicy, which is good. He also, however, gets into strange hawkish modes that I don't like. Points for unabashedly stirring the pot.
  • John Edwards (6): This was his debate to lose, and he pretty much lost it. Kucinich stole his thunder with the union crowd, and he read to me as really flat. He tried to get some digs in, but they rang hollow. Even his constant iterations of having walked 200 picket lines seemed to me like he was trying too hard. I expected better from him. As a side note, I LOVE his wife.
  • Dennis Kucinich (3): My God was he on fire. He worked this crowd like Kathy Griffin in The Castro. Nailed everything he said. Directly answered questions the other candidates artfully danced around (esp. re: NAFTA, WTO), and really won the crowd over. On two occasions, he just ignored Olbermann and worked them up into a pep-rally-esque froth. He was great fun, and he always keeps everyone aware of where progressives really are on the issues. He's almost completely unelectable, but everything is so much better when he's around. Go Dennis!
  • Barack Obama (2): Barack rocks. Second only to Hilary in terms of his performance, he actually bested her in quite a few areas, and he did so with consummate ease. Effortlessly deflecting criticism with a casual smile, and bringing a somewhat severe game-face that is a new and interesting posture for him on more serious issues. My favourite bit of his being when he told Clinton, Dodd and Biden that they have no room to criticize him on foreign policy since they voted to send us to "the biggest foreign policy disaster in our generation." It could have been a serious clunker, but he said it with real class, and it sure shut them up. His momentum continues...
  • Keith Olbermann (Moderator): His deadpan delivery and focussed attitude helped reign in everyone to get the most out of the event. He was funny and serious and as brilliant as he usually is. Best moderator so far this season! More Keith!
  • Bill Richardson (7): This man has a resume that goes on for days. He's probably, all told, the best qualified person running for president in '08. His policies are great, he's erudite and not unfunny. He did some wonderfully progressive things in New Mexico when he was governor. It is a pity, then, that he has all the raw naked charisma of a small potted plant, or at least, on the stage with the others, it appeared that way. As a friend pointed out last night, he should be #1 on everyone's list for Veep. He did not distinguish himself from the crowd here, though, as a rallying figure for the party.
Did you see it? Thoughts on the evening? Let me know!

(Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast / AP)

06 August 2007

Film Review: Sunshine (****)

Set the Controls...


If you haven't heard of Sunshine yet (not sure it's nationally distributed as of today) you should make it a point to. Sporting the most ludicrous premise since The Core, but with actual CERN particle physicists consulting on the technobabble, I was praying that, since Danny Boyle directed it, it would rock despite that.
It did.
It was a marvellously engaging film, featuring a breathtaking scope that should be seen on the big screen to be truly appreciated. The plot wore its influences on its sleeve (2001, 2010, Solaris, Event Horizon, chiefly) but managed to be an entirely other creature, melding (seeming) hard science with Big Questions about humanity and existence effortlessly. It was not without its faults, but dragging narratives and overly complex McGuffins are beautifully papered over with impeccable visual style and mostly excellent performances.

Additionally, Chris Evans does NOT suck in this, although his character is not, methinks, a stretch for him. Also, the subtext of much of the film appears to be,
"Look! Look at how eerily beautiful Cillian Murphy's electric blue eyes are!
And look! Look at how long and feathery his dark, dark eyelashes are! Bathe in his creepy beauty!"
His strange hotness is exploited greatly in this film, and I, for one, appreciated it greatly. He also turns in a compelling performance, cementing him as Mr. Boyle's new Mr. McGregor. Michelle Yeoh, who is fabulous, is somewhat wasted in a supporting role, but it's nice to see her face, and to see that she's working. (Seriously.)

Proving that, post The Beach, Boyle has embraced whatever genre tickles his fancy with serious commitment (see: 28 Days Later), this is such a confident endeavour that you would be hard-pressed to believe this was the man who brought us A Life Less Ordinary! The CGI is stunning, flawless, and simply HUGE, and the concepts and the scope are almost overaweing.
Overall, a great summer film.

The score, by John Murphy and British Techno-Savants Underworld (best known for the closing song from (Danny directed) Trainspotting, "Dirty Epic"), adds a nice analog sheen to the proceedings, hearkening back to the better synth scores of the 70's and 80's. I felt that their more "Sound Designey" cues worked better than some of the more synth-string heavy "Emotional" cues, but I may have just been being snobby about their choice of string patch. There is some nice guitar work on display as well, ranging from some lovely ambient finger-picking to driving rock riffs. On the whole, they crafted a resonant, singular, and effective sonic environment for the film. Also, special mention of their ability to know when to NOT to place music cues. Flawless placement in that regard.

So I'll give it a 4 out of 5 stars. Despite some unsuccessful plot choices, Sunshine succeeds in being a wholly watchable and gripping film. Smarter than the average "This is the way the world ends!" picture by a long shot!

Go see it and tell me what you thought!

(Shirtless pics: classichunkofman.com, justjared Websites: IMDb, Fox Searchlight Pictures)

05 August 2007

This is only a test...

This is a test of the emergency blogcast system, in anticipation of LiveBlogging my three day moving trek to Chicago. Stay tuned for more!

UPDATE: It works! How terribly, self-indulgently exciting it is!

04 August 2007

Wood you...?

Elijah Wood appeared recently on The Graham Norton Show in the UK with Kim Cattrall. I love some Graham Norton, and his bizarre, Candid-camera-esque production numbers are often quite hilarious. I also love some Elijah Wood, whom I find almost painfully attractive most days (his hair is a bit too B-Burg Hipster for my taste in this clip, though).

Anyway, so Graham bursts in on a young lady who is doing some speed dating in a pub, and insists that he sit in, with a big red button, to buzz out the lads that don't pass his muster. At about 2:45, you will see Rupert sit down at the table. Rupert, it seems, was deemed universally hot by the the crowd, Mr. Norton, and Ms. Cattrall. The real area of interest, however, is Mr. Wood's expression when they cut away after Rupert edges into his frame. I will say nothing, except to say that to say anything would be too bleedin' obvious...

(Clip: docbrownuk Websites: IMDb and Auntie Beeb. Shirtless pic: Teen Idols 2000 )

03 August 2007

Mostly Glass

Did anyone else notice that "No Reservations" was scored by Philip Glass? I'm almost curious about seeing the film (a remake of the woefully named French film "Mostly Martha") just for this reason, although the sound clips on the website are not promising. Well...Aaron Eckhart has some hunk appeal, as well.

Mister Glass' past film scores include: Koyanisqaatsi, Kundun, The Hours and...erm...the latest Catherine Zeta-Jones vehicle...

Oh, Philip...