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« October 2008 | Main | December 2008 »

November 29, 2008

The [Thanksgiving Weekend] Papers

Dear readers, as it turns out, Weekend Desk Editor Natasha Julius is on a super secret assignment in Michigan so super secret I didn't even know about it. (Memo to Natasha: Let GM die - except for the Camaro.)

We do have a video today, though. I'm in it for the horses freaked out by the parade logo.

CM Punk at Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade

-

The [Black Friday] Papers

Before we get to today's special edition of The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week . . . You know, the Beachwood staff does and does for you people. Here's what we have:

* God Gave Rock and Roll To You. This is our way of giving thanks.

* A Beachwood Thanksgiving Poem For Children On The Subject Of Gluttony. Audio version.

* Home for the Holidays: The Sequel. Claudia Hunter returns with an update. Go back and read her whole series from last year, it's both frightening and hilarious. We provide the links.

* The Turkey Bowl. Brought to you by our very own Dan O'Shea and his Fantasy Fix column.

* The Lone Daley Dissenter. Is Billy Ocasio showing gumption?

* The [Thanksgiving] Papers.

* Turkey-shaped Jell-O Mold.

* Beware fake Black Friday news.

* Reading With Scissors, featuring Classic Gouda-style Cheese and The Biggest, Baddest Toilet Seat in the World.

* The Sound Opinions Turkey Shoot. "Jim, Greg and some listeners carve up the year's biggest musical turkeys."

* Watch for Natasha Julius's fabulous Weekend Desk Report on Saturday.

* And now . . . Stephanie B. Goldberg brings you a very special edition of . . .

The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week
Today I get to be Martha Stewart and share my helpful household hints.

1. This year's in-drink is the Pisco Sour, made with the fabled Peruvian brandy, sugar syrup, Angostura bitters (I always wondered what they were good for) and freshly squeezed lime juice. Stir well and pour over the nearest Bush. Here's looking at you, kid.

2. For Thanksgiving, I served the house specialty - Turkey a La Sarah Palin. It's stuffed with Wingnuts and basted in oil, which was an absolute steal. A big holiday dinner is always a challenge, but I was lucky to have a little help in the kitchen.

3. What's on your Black Friday shopping list? I was thinking of buying Woolworth's, but I don't think I could handle the payroll. Then I thought of picking up Ann Taylor or Chico's as a stocking stuffer, but those two haven't gone the way of Linens 'n Things yet. Still, I wouldn't sit on those gift cards if you know what I mean.

4. How about a little holiday pampering? Lucky magazine had a swell tip for healing chapped lips by massaging them with Visine but darned if they didn't take it off their website. Maybe somebody tipped them off that the vasoconstrictor that's the active ingredient in Visine can be fatal. But you'll leave a good-looking corpse!

5. Speaking of pampering, we girls of a certain age can't wait for the FDA to approve Vavelta, the UK's answer to Restylane. The good news is that it cancels out pockmarks. (Good for you, F. Murray Abraham.) The bad news is that this clear liquid filler is - oh, how do I put this delicately? - cultured from infants' foreskins. Somebody pour me a Pisco Sour.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Give thanks.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

November 28, 2008

The [Black Friday] Papers

Before we get to today's special edition of The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week . . . You know, the Beachwood staff does and does for you people. Here's what we have:

* God Gave Rock and Roll To You. This is our way of giving thanks.

* A Beachwood Thanksgiving Poem For Children On The Subject Of Gluttony. Audio version.

* Home for the Holidays: The Sequel. Claudia Hunter returns with an update. Go back and read her whole series from last year, it's both frightening and hilarious. We provide the links.

* The Turkey Bowl. Brought to you by our very own Dan O'Shea and his Fantasy Fix column.

* The Lone Daley Dissenter. Is Billy Ocasio showing gumption?

* The [Thanksgiving] Papers.

* Turkey-shaped Jell-O Mold.

* Beware fake Black Friday news.

* Reading With Scissors, featuring Classic Gouda-style Cheese and The Biggest, Baddest Toilet Seat in the World.

* The Sound Opinions Turkey Shoot. "Jim, Greg and some listeners carve up the year's biggest musical turkeys."

* Watch for Natasha Julius's fabulous Weekend Desk Report on Saturday.

* And now . . . Stephanie B. Goldberg brings you a very special edition of . . .

The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week
Today I get to be Martha Stewart and share my helpful household hints.

1. This year's in-drink is the Pisco Sour, made with the fabled Peruvian brandy, sugar syrup, Angostura bitters (I always wondered what they were good for) and freshly squeezed lime juice. Stir well and pour over the nearest Bush. Here's looking at you, kid.

2. For Thanksgiving, I served the house specialty - Turkey a La Sarah Palin. It's stuffed with Wingnuts and basted in oil, which was an absolute steal. A big holiday dinner is always a challenge, but I was lucky to have a little help in the kitchen.

3. What's on your Black Friday shopping list? I was thinking of buying Woolworth's, but I don't think I could handle the payroll. Then I thought of picking up Ann Taylor or Chico's as a stocking stuffer, but those two haven't gone the way of Linens 'n Things yet. Still, I wouldn't sit on those gift cards if you know what I mean.

4. How about a little holiday pampering? Lucky magazine had a swell tip for healing chapped lips by massaging them with Visine but darned if they didn't take it off their website. Maybe somebody tipped them off that the vasoconstrictor that's the active ingredient in Visine can be fatal. But you'll leave a good-looking corpse!

5. Speaking of pampering, we girls of a certain age can't wait for the FDA to approve Vavelta, the UK's answer to Restylane. The good news is that it cancels out pockmarks. (Good for you, F. Murray Abraham.) The bad news is that this clear liquid filler is - oh, how do I put this delicately? - cultured from infants' foreskins. Somebody pour me a Pisco Sour.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Give thanks.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

The Lone Daley Dissenter

Ald. Billy Ocasio cast the lone vote against Mayor Daley's budget. Here he is explaining why.

[- Via Newsalert via Progress Illinois via WTTW]

A few fun facts.

* Billy Ocasio has not heretofore been known as an independent on the council. He is, after all, a Daley appointee. As one wag put it to me, maybe he drew the short straw among aldermen who wanted to say something but were too scared.

At any rate, check out his hat.

* On the other hand, the Reader said in its aldermanic capsule that Ocasio was "showing signs of gumption."

* "Alderman Billy Ocasio is not a regular politician," he claims in his website bio. "He is a product of this community who decided to devote his life to the improvement of his neighborhood. Alderman Ocasio is guided by the principles he learned from his hard-working immigrant parents, by an unbounded commitment to justice, freedom and equality, and by the common sense of the workingman. Alderman Ocasio is a man of few words, but of many deeds.

* Is it just a coincidence that - as of this writing - the city's official website of the 26th Ward is"experiencing temporary technical difficulties?" We think not. There are no coincidence in Chicago politics.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:06 AM | Permalink

God Gave Rock and Roll To You

Giving thanks.

-

God gave rock and roll to you
gave rock and roll to you
put it in the soul of everyone,
God gave rock and roll to you
gave rock and roll to you
saved rock and roll for everyone

love your friend and love your neighbor
love your life and love your neighbor
no it's never too late to change your mind
don't step on snails, don't climb in trees,
love Cliff Richard but please don't tease
it's never too late to change your mind

god gave rock and roll to you,
gave rock and roll to you
put it in the soul of everyone
god gave rock and roll to you
gave rock and roll to you
saved rock and roll for everyone

if you wanna be a singer or play guitar
man you've gotta sweat or you won't get far,
coz it's never too late to work 9 to 5
and if you're young then you'll never grow old
music can make your dreams unfold
how good it feels to be alive

God gave rock and roll to you
gave rock and roll to you
put it in the soul of everyone
God gave rock and roll to you
gave rock and roll to you
saved rock and roll for everyone

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:42 AM | Permalink

November 27, 2008

Home for the Holidays: The Sequel

It is Thanksgiving Day and I am, once again, Home for the Holidays. Except now I live here. Yikes and double yikes. But that's another story to be told at another time.

Thanksgiving was always a big deal at my house, with my multitude of siblings and their spouses trampling over each other to get everything done. This year, my biological siblings, their spouses, and children are all gathered together at my sister's. They got there yesterday and will be going home in time for my 12-year-old niece to make a sleepover she wants to go to. Would this have happened when I was 12? Ha. Hahahahahahaha. But again, another story.

My estranged adopted brother is not here either. Last I knew he was in St. Paul, lucky bastard. Not that I love St. Paul. But it's not HERE.

I am thankful for the fact that I was permitted to sleep in til 10:30 this morning. Not so much for the dream I was having where DCFS - which I work with in my job - called to see if I could foster six Japanese siblings about the ages of the young Brady Bunch and I actually said yes. I was actually pretty alarmed by that, to tell you the truth. I can be impulsive, and I can actually see myself agreeing to such a thing.

My company only gives Thanksgiving Day off, so I worked yesterday and will work tomorrow. I wish I could say I'll be resting up today, but I'm afraid the chores have already begun.I am annoyed with my adopted brother for becoming estranged from my family. Without him here, I had to polish the silver all by myself. Yep, that's right, we use real, honest-to-goodness silver serving dishes and trays. And gold rimmed plates and glasses that have to be hand-washed at the end of everything.

For some reason this year, we are having no traditional favorites for Thanksgiving dinner. This may, in part, be due to the fact that I off-handedly asked if we were having "disgusting stuffing" again this year. That sent my mom through the roof. The result is that we're having sausage and apple stuffing, though, so the yelling-at I got was probably worth it.

Also, no broccoli casserole here. Nope, we're having green beans and mushrooms. Can't really explain why, cos I don't know. No sweet potatoes either. Instead, my mother is attempting sweet potato souffle, something she's never made and which will assuredly collapse despite her culinary talents. I mean, something has to go wrong with dinner, right?

Then there are the dinner guests. Cousins of my father, whom I have never met, but who are apparently outspoken Atheists and outrageous Liberals and who never shut up. I've been warned of this because I decided to even things up by inviting a guest of my own, a friend from around town. Unfortunately for us all, he also never shuts up, is devoutly Christian (referring to those above as "Big J" and "Big G"), and is an uneducated right-winger (in that he listens to Rush Limbaugh and believes him. Yikes.)

There may be some Thanksgiving violence.

The festivities start at 3, and it'll be nearly 7 before I've gotten all the dishes done (once again, curses to my estranged brother). Hopefully, the carnage won't be too bad and I won't have to call an ambulance. Getting blood out of the lace tablecloth isn't going to be a picnic.

All kidding aside, I am thankful for various and sundry things that I'm not going to bore you with by listing.

It's probably a good thing that I'm back to work tomorrow. A four-day weekend in this environment could turn into a real disaster.

Happy Thanksgiving.

-

Claudia Hunter is the Beachwood's pseudononymous holiday affairs correspondent. She filed these reports from her parent's home in the Northeast.

-

* Home for the Holidays: The Preamble
* Home for the Holidays: Day 1
* Home for the Holidays: Day 2
* Home for the Holidays: Day 3
* Home for the Holidays: Day 4 (Christmas Eve)
* Home for the Holidays: Day 5 (Christmas)
* Home for the Holidays: Day 6
* Home for the Holidays: Day 7
* Home for the Holidays: Postscript


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Turkey Bowl

It's Turkey Week, and what's Turkey Week without a Turkey Bowl? This isn't the kind where over-aged, overweight men test their weak hearts, weak knees and tender pride on a field of supposed battle. Been there, done that. This is the 1st Annual Fantasy Fix Turkey Bowl, in which we single out biggest disappointments of the year at each position, and try to get a read on the remaining value the rest of the season.

QB
Donovan McNabb: No one would have said it four games ago, but he has been in an epic tailspin since. Derek Anderson might be the bust of the year for some, but he was probably over-rated to begin with. McNabb, meanwhile, has passed for more than 2,700 yards this season, but has thrown 6 INTs and lost 2 fumbles in the last three games. Those of you in single QB leagues may have already gone to back-ups last week. This week, McNabb has a decent chance to right himself against Arizona, but the rest of the season is a minefield against four pretty good pass defenses: the New York Giants, Dallas, Washington and Cleveland.

RB
Willis McGahee: True, Steven Jackson and Willie Parker have fallen from much higher rankings, though primarily due to injury. McGahee has had minor aches, but there's something more missing here. He has less than 500 rushing yards and barely a 54 yards-per-game average after rushing for more than 1,200 yards and more than 80 YPG last year. He has 5 TDs, compared to 7 all of last year, but his last two games have been brutal and Baltimore seemed to show a preference for running LeRon McClain instead. Remaining games: He's got three of the top 10 rushing defenses waiting for him in Pittsburgh, Washington and Dallas. This week against Cincinnati could be his best opportunity the rest of the way.

WR
Braylon Edwards: Much has been made already of his prolific pass-dropping. He has had two great games out of 11 and only has 3 TDs. He seemed to come alive the last two weeks under new QB Brady Quinn, but now Quinn is out for the season. Still, looking at the remaining schedule, there is a lot to like against good pass defenses that nevertheless may not offer strong one-on-one match-ups: Indianapolis, Tennessee, Philadelphia and Cincinnati. Pittsburgh will be a tougher one, but Edwards still has a chance to turn his season around.

TE
Alge Crumpler: Once mentioned in the same breath with Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, Crumpler is a forgotten man: Just 185 receiving yards and 1 TD this season, and only 2 receptions in his last two games. Crumpler was a star when Michael Vick was his QB in Atlanta, but since Vick's ouster, the canine kingdom's gain has been Crumpler's loss. He moved to Tennessee this year and looked to be a featured receiver, but he isn't even the top TE anymore, with Bo Scaife well ahead of him. He can claim membership on a 10-1 team, but that sure doesn't help his fantasy value. Three out of his next five match-ups are against beatable defenses, but Tennessee doesn't have that much motivation to throw, let alone throw to him.

So, if these guys are the turkeys, who might still be capable of delivering the gravy? For that, we consult our field of experts:

* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week has QB Kerry Collins as a strong buy against the Detroit pass defense and QB Joe Flacco as a solid buy against Cincinnati. Detroit actually has appeared slightly less mediocre than usual in its last three games. I don't think they can upset the Titans, but I like Detroit to clamp down on Collins. Maurice Morris also gets a solid endorsement, but it sounded as of Wednesday like Julius Jones would be starting over him for Seattle.

* Looks and Touches laments the fate of Justin Fargas, who had 115 rushing yards last week, but no TDs even though Oakland had a season-high 3 TDs. L&T also notes that Week 12 was the most prolific scoring week in the history of the NFL. The big fantasy winners were Matt Cassel with 415 passing yards and 4 TDs; Michael Turner with 117 rushing yards and 4 TDs; and Terrell Owens with 213 receiving yards and 1 TD.

* CBS Sports.com, however, isn't impressed enough with Cassel's Week 12 to start him; in fact, it highlights Cassel as its Sit of the Week against Pittsburgh. Pitt is the pits for passers, but . . . ouch. New England looks revived and Pittsburgh has been stumbling along of late, even though it has won two games in a row. The site's Start of the Week is Warrick Dunn, given that Ernest Graham is now out for the year and Dunn, even though he's slowed by aged, is a nice passing target.

Hoopsville
The fantasy basketball world has a few turkeys, too, and the biggest one is Elton Brand. He's averaging a career low 16 points or so a game so far for Philadelphia, a new locale that some observers thought might be good for his offensive value. And he has indeed been offensive (I know, that was too easy). He is certainly the biggest disappointment among the top 20 fantasy hoops players.

Otherwise, most of the fantasy basketball world is settling into regularity. Deron Williams is back in action and climbing up the point guard charts. Manu Ginobili is back earlier than expected, but could find a squeeze for playing time. That's because Roger Mason, one of his early season replacements, is leading the league in three-pointers with 37 through mid-week. I don't like 3-pt specialists much, preferring to manage that stat by avoiding guys who never shoot threes, but if it's a hotly-contested category in your league, grab Mason, who is only in 65 percent of Yahoo! leagues so far.

Most of the remaining stat categories have the usual names at the top, with some guy named James leading most scoring categories, Chris Paul tops in assists and steals and Dwight Howard leading in rebounds and blocks. One surprising name in the top 5 for field goals made is Kevin Durant, with 313. Sure, we knew he would shoot a lot, but his FG% has improved at least slightly since last year (above 46% so far, compared to 43% last year). What's unclear is whether or not his FG attempts could go down. Oklahoma City fired coach P.J. Carlesimo, who had been playing Durant at SG, but now Durant may be moved to SF.

Here's our weekly survey of the experts:

* Big Picture at Yahoo! has one of my favorite meters, the Eddy Curry Line, which essentially rates fantasy value and potential production for players with a high number of turnovers. Durant is currently high on the list (which is a bad thing), so that may give you pause about picking him up. But, some real studs are on this list, too, including Yao Ming, David West and Emeka Okafor, giving you a good idea of how much value leakage they actually have.

* Fantasy Basketball Cafe features a post on maddeningly inconsistent players whose overall ranking makes them too valuable to drop, yet too crappy to start every night. No surprise to Bulls fans that Luol Deng is among them. So is Al Harrington, one of those mutants like Rasheed Wallace, who delivers treys from the power forward/center positions, but not enough rebounds to be your best choice at C. Getting in the flow of a busy offense after last week's trade to New York, however, could improve things for him.

* CBS Sports.com agrees, putting Harrington at the top of its Week 5 Fantasy Stockwatch. PG Steve Blake, C Andrew Bogut and PF Andrea Bargnani are other players seeing a rise in fantasy value.

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Happy Thanksgiving from Fantasy Fix and don't get up too earlier on Black Friday. Better yet, while your spouse hits the early sales, you should hit the waiver wire to hunt for bargains.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears every Wednesday, except for the occasional Thursday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:14 AM | Permalink

November 26, 2008

The [Thanksgiving] Papers

We're gonna start the holiday weekend a bit early here at Beachwood HQ. We do have a few new posts on tap for the next few days, but the Papers will not appear again until Monday. I will, however, post at Division Street on the latest political developments.

In the meantime, let's take a look back at some of the turkey time highlights from Beachwood from the last two years. I think you'll agree they're timeless.

* The [Thanksgiving] Papers 2006: The Pilgrims had no buckles. And turkeys can't fly. By Steve Rhodes.

* The [Thanksgiving] Papers 2007: Not even Whole Foods carries fresh praying mantis. (A Thanksgiving Poem for Children on the Subject of Gluttony). By Bethany Lankin.

* What I Watched Last Night: Giving thanks to the bounty that is bad TV. By Patrick Bataillon.

* Go Iraq: How to get the hell out of Iraq, as determined by the Pentagon and the Beachwood. By The Beachwood Study Group.

* Message to Cubs: Grow Your Own: The signing of Alfonso Soriano will do nothing to solve the Cubs' problems. By Don Jacobson.

* Devin Hester's Other Ridiculous Ways: He believes you should put money in bonds right now. By The Beachwood Ridiculous Affairs Desk.

* Meet the Hawkies: How ace Cubs marketer John McDonough will make the Blackhawks lovable. By The Beachwood Sports Marketing Affairs Desk.

* Booklist: A Beachwood Gift Guide: A gift guide produced by the Beachwood Book Lab. By M. L. Van Valkenburgh.

* Barista! Giving Peace A Chance: Barista gives peace a chance - and finds it lacking. By Maude Perkins.

* David Blaine: Alternate Endings: The hopes of a hundred children locked in the Target vault slip away as the oxygen runs out. By The Beachwood Gyroscope Affairs Desk.

* And get ready for: The Twelve Days of Cubness. Timeless indeed.

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A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Sponsored By . . .

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Yummy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:25 AM | Permalink

November 25, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

Is it just me or does it seem like Billy Corgan is crying out for attention these days?

Poor Billy.

The latest comes our way from Elliott Harris, who notes the following in his Quick Hits column today (it's appeared many other places too, I know, so don't send me hostile e-mail):

"The word is Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins fame had unkind words during a concert last week in town regarding Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame and Vedder's Cubs-inspired ''All the Way.' Cubs fan Corgan told the crowd between tunes Vedder's song doomed the team's chance to return to the World Series for the first time since 1945 and win its first one since 1908. ''Last I checked, Eddie ain't living here, OK?'' Corgan is said to have said. ''Eddie ain't living here to write a song about my [expletive] team.' Good to know it wasn't the ballplayers' or manager's fault."

Corgan's kind of on a roll with this sort of, um, crap. (And I hate that Eddie Vedder song.) So much so that when Corgan cancelled last Saturday night's show at the Auditorium - you know, the "White Crosses" half of his "Black Sunshine/White Crosses" two-part conceit - because he wasn't feeling well, Chicagoist said he had fell ill with grumpiness.

Still in question is whether it was grumpiness or artifice behind his recent attack on, as CHARTattack puts it, "Audiences Everywhere."

In "Smashing Show Ends In Bizarre Rant," Tribune rock critic Greg Kot wrote that "it all ended in deflating weirdness, with Corgan ranting on the microphone while the crowd filtered out wondering what happened. After a rousing first half, the momentum ebbed and flowed, and then finally nose-dived.

"'Why are you upset with us?' Corgan said. 'It's 'cause we don't do what you want us to do . . . We don't know what the [expletive] you want from us."

Poor Billy.

Jim DeRogatis, of the Sun-Times, wrote "if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say it was all part of the show, folks. Nothing spontaneous - or personal - about it. Despite invoking universally negative reactions from fans and reviewers across the country, Corgan has done this on every night of the tour at every one of the 'Black Sunshine' shows."

So this is Corgan's version of The Wall?

The real problem with Corgan is his deep desire to be profound despite having absolutely nothing original to say. But my sense is that DeRogatis is right. That doesn't make Corgan right, though.

"Why, if almost everyone has hated this tortured routine on earlier tour stops, does Corgan persist with it?" DeRogatis asks. "The man has never been anything less than 100-percent committed (and some say that he should BE committed) to his grand conceptual conceits, even when no one understands or likes them."

I'll leave the final assessment to Pitchfork, under the headline: "Smashing Pumpkins' Anniversary Tour Is a Shitshow."

"Poor setlist choices, awful-sounding music, and confounding sartorial decisions mixed with heavy doses of audience mockery: These are the reports we've been getting about the Smashing Pumpkins' '20th Anniversary Tour', and guesses at Billy Corgan's motivations can only confuse and infuriate."

Corgan may see that as Mission Accomplished; if so, though, he's the one who doesn't get it.

Taxes Quo
The Tribune editorial page predictably applauds this morning President-Elect Barack Obama's apparent decision to keep the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy in place despite his campaign rhetoric.

Now, the Obama team says, is not the time to raise taxes on anyone because the economy needs stimulus.

Um, if raising taxes on the wealthy dampens the economy, why would you ever be in favor of it?

One thing's for sure, this is already shaping up to be the most ironic administration we've ever had.

Tourist Attraction
Here's an idea: Turn Block 37 into a museum of businesses who have dropped out of Block 37!

I'm not sure you could fit them all on one block though.

Twitter Flitter
Manny Flores is apparently the first city council member to Twitter. (via John Bracken)

*

Bracken also reminds readers (via Beachwood contributor Hunter Clauss) that of this Tribune story about Ald. Patrick O'Connor, the mayor's floor leader and reportedly a candidate (but then, who isn't?) to replace Rahm Emanuel in the 5th District.

Senate Speak
"This morning, David Axelrod appeared on Fox Chicago Sunday and had some notable remarks on both the local and national fronts," Josh Kalven writes at Progress Illinois. "He said that President-elect Barack Obama plans to stay out of Prairie State politics once in the White House and doesn't plan on being 'a kingmaker or boss here in Illinois.' When co-host Dane Placko asked him about the vacant U.S. Senate seat, Axelrod disclosed that the Obama has spoken to Gov. Blagojevich about his replacement."

But not in a kingly or bossy way.

*

"If Obama, Rahm Emanuel, or Sen. Dick Durbin (D) had their say, Chicago and Springfield insiders presume they would push for failed 2006 House candidate Tammy Duckworth (D), a veteran amputee currently serving as Blagojevich's director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs," reports Timothy Carney of the Evans-Novak Political Report. "Getting Duckworth in the Senate would save some face for Emanuel whose biggest political blunder was pouring so many resources into Duckworth's long-shot candidacy. It would also earn Blagojevich glowing press - something he hasn't seen much of."

I'm not so sure about the glowing press part.

*

"The irony of the Democrats' punishment is that they let [Lieberman] keep his gavel on the committee where his stance most offends liberals - national security - while stripping him of his spot on the EPW committee, where he was a leader in advancing the left's cause of constraining greenhouse gas emissions," Carney also writes.

Best Ballot Ever
I so wish I had thought of this.

Woolly Bully
Last week I wrote about the bully-proofing program in Cherry Creek, Colorado, that I once reported on. The key component was to change the behavior of bystanders - to create a "caring majority" and ethos in a school in which bullying is not accepted and peers step in when needed.

I did that reporting 10 years ago, so I went to the trusty Google to see how it was faring. I found a U.S. Department of Justice evaluation from this year. Here are the Evaluation Results.

"There was considerable variation in the degree to which the program was faithfully implemented in the elementary schools, and it was not implemented especially well in the middle schools.The results of the evaluation at the middle school level were inconclusive; but they suggest thatthe program does no harm and may do some good.

"The results of the evaluation at the elementary school level are more persuasive, and they indicate that the program has the intended beneficial effect in reducing bullying behaviors and school violence more generally, and in changing the attitudes of students toward bullying and school violence.

"Where the program was implemented faithfully at the elementary school level, favorable results were quicker to materialize, more pervasive, and more long-lasting than in schools where implementation was weaker; but even where implementation was weaker, there were some positive effects of the program.

"The program appears promising as an intervention to reduce bullying and school violence at the elementary school level. Further research would be needed (and, given the results here, would be appropriate) before it can be concluded that the program demonstrates effectiveness at the middle school level."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: No bull.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:02 AM | Permalink

What I Watched Last Night: Lauren & Audrina

Readers may have noticed that I have a strange fascination with The Hills. Watching last night's episode, I was struck once again by the odd fact that I actually sort of like Lauren Conrad, who isn't at all someone I normally would befriend or choose to spend time with at all. But - and yes, I realize this is a TV show and she's been edited into a character - she seems well-grounded (especially compared to everyone else on the show, with the possible exception of wise Whitney) and . . . she has integrity.

At least this is my theory. Lauren has standards. She's not mean or manipulative like those around here, but those around her being the kind of people they are, well, they tend to let her down. Will any friend be true to Lauren?

That friggin' Audrina.

Why I would I want a friend who treats me that way?" Lauren cried (for the umpteenth time about the umpteenth friend). Audrina, you see, had swallowed (and spread) the ludicrous rumor that Lauren had hooked-up with Audrina's beau, Justin Bobby.

(My favorite part of the face-off when Audrina confronted Lauren was when Lauren told her Audrina that she never could sleep with her boyfriend because her boyfriend disgusted her.)

Of course, the entire drama of the show rests on relationship fraud, conniving and backstabbing. This brand of reality TV is nothing more than non-fiction soap opera, with the enduring appeal of that genre multiplied by the fact that the characters are actually real people. It's genius.

But The Hills works also due to a sitcom formula: the center and circle (or something like that, I can't remember the official name). The idea is that there is a rational person (Jerry Seinfeld, Barney Miller, the boring guy in Taxi) at the center of a crazy circle of friends, co-workers, whatever. The center provides the rational base while everyone else flies around being nuts and, presumably, funny. The center is a straight man (or woman) who provides the contrast we need to sharpen the insanity.

Anyway, that's my theory about The Hills.

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I also caught part of The Doctors yesterday. This show is kind of there, but not quite. Basically, it's MANswers meets Lovelines divided by Dr. Phil and diluted by half.

The premise is that there are four doctors with different specialties who answer questions in front of a studio audience and do segments on medical issues from illness to diet to plastic surgery. It's a daytime show.

Yesterday's show was a good example of its strengths and weaknesses. It was part two of a two-parter about embarrassing questions you don't want to ask your real doctor. They ranged from folks who leak urine when they cough or laugh to a woman who had orgasms when she exercised. The common theme is: Am I normal?

The problem wasn't the topics, it was the answers. They only seemed to go halfway in my book. Especially when it came to sex. Let's face it, people have an insatiable curiosity about sex. And why shouldn't they? Those questions deserved a little more time. We can learn about urine leakage from commercials on CBS.

But it's good daytime viewing for anyone like me who works at home and often needs a diversion to dull the mind or at least put it in a very different place. And quite often it's educational as well.

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For sports fans, I'd like to weigh in on three ESPN shows. I've come to like Pardon the Interruption, though Tony Kornheiser on Monday Night Football may be even more unbearable than Dennis Miller. It's a nice way to run down the day's sports topics with fairly intelligent discussion. But it's wholly dependent on the interplay of the hosts to work.

I've come around a bit to Around the Horn. But the point-scoring system is a gimmick and I'd prefer the format from which it's really copied, which is quite simply The Sports Reporters.

Still, you get to hear a variety of viewpoints. It's more satisfying than political pundit shows, I'll tell you that. These are reporters debating the issues, not spinmeisters pretending they're doing anything but selling propaganda.

And finally, First and Ten, which is unbearable almost wholly because Skip Bayless is so incredibly grating he makes me want to drive a stake through my ears.

Nontheless, for all the trendy criticism ESPN takes in the blogosphere and elsewhere these days because it's the Big Kahuna, it's still the best sports network ever and I find little not to like on it.

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Comments welcome.

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See what else we've been watching!

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Submissions welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:49 AM | Permalink

Obama's Small Donor Myth

Editor's Note: Sigh.

REALITY CHECK: Obama Received About the Same Percentage from Small Donors in 2008 as Bush in 2004

Obama also raised 80% more from large donors than small, outstripping all rivals and predecessors

It turns out that Barack Obama's donors may not have been quite as different as we had thought. Throughout the election season, this organization and others have been reporting that Obama received about half of his discrete contributions in amounts of $200 or less. The Campaign Finance Institute (CFI) noted in past releases that donations are not the same as donors, since many people give more than once. After a more thorough analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), it has become clear that repeaters and large donors were even more important for Obama than we or other analysts had fully appreciated.

"The myth is that money from small donors dominated Barack Obama's finances," said CFI's executive director Michael J. Malbin. "The reality of Obama's fundraising was impressive, but the reality does not match the myth."

Main Small Donor Findings
To look more fully at presidential candidates' fundraising during this cycle, CFI conducted an extensive analysis of FEC records to identify repeat donors and to categorize each donor's giving according to the cumulative amount he or she gave over the course of a full election cycle.

Although an unusually high percentage (49%) of Obama's funds came in discrete contributions of $200 or less, only 26% of his money through August 31 (and 24% of his funds through October 15, according to the most recent FEC reports) came from donors whose total contributions aggregated to $200 or less. Obama's 26% compares to 25% for George W. Bush in 2004, 20% for John Kerry in 2004, 21% for John McCain in 2008, 13% for Hillary Clinton in 2008, and 38% for Howard Dean in 2004.

Mid-Range Repeaters
After merging the donor records, combining multiple records from those who gave more than one disclosed contribution, CFI concluded that about 403,000 different people had given enough money (more than $200) by August 31 to have their names disclosed. This increased to about 580,000 by October 15. By comparison, CFI found that about 475,000 discrete donors gave disclosed contributions to all candidates combined in 2003-2004.

Obama raised 27% of his money from people whose aggregated contributions fell in a middle range ($201-$999). John Kerry, who also relied on Internet fundraising after clinching the nomination, raised an almost comparable 24% from mid-range donors. McCain's mid-range supplied 20% of his total. Bush received only 13% from this group.

Many of the repeat donors who started off small ended up in the $201-$999 middle range. Among Obama's total pool of 403,000 disclosed donors on August 31, more than half (about 212,000) started off by giving undisclosed contributions of $200 or less. About 93,000 of these repeaters gave in cumulative amounts of no more than $400 for the full primary season. Another 106,000 repeaters ended up between $401 and $999. By comparison, Clinton and McCain each had about 100,000 donors in the entire $201-$999 middle range, and for them the number included both repeaters and one-time givers.

Finally, not many of Obama's 212,000 small-donor repeaters ended up in the top group. Despite colorful press stories, only about 13,000 crossed the $1,000 threshold in their cumulative contributions.

Because of the length of Obama's battle with Clinton for the nomination, his rejection of public financing for the general election, his personal charisma and, most importantly, because of the way he organized his campaign, Obama was able to use the Internet to go back to go the same supporters over and over again for both volunteer assistance and repeat contributions. These repeaters account for the difference between the past reports that focused on small contributions and the aggregates we are able to provide now.

Small Donors
We know less about people who stayed at $200 or below because $201 is the trigger for FEC disclosure. Obama's staff says that more than 3 million people contributed to his campaign. We cannot verify this number independently but we consider it to be plausible. Since about $156 million of Obama's funds as of Oct. 15 had come from donors whose contributions had not broken the $200 disclosure threshold, accepting the staff's statement (and subtracting the number of disclosed donors) would mean that an estimated 2.5 million undisclosed donors gave a cumulative average of about $62 each. This figure is consistent with the amount CFI has calculated for the typical undisclosed donor in past elections and is also consistent with survey research. Obama's innovation would not be in the amount he raised from each small donor, but in the number of such people he was able to reach. His 2.5 million small donors would be in the same general range as CFI's published estimate for the number of small donors who gave to all candidates combined in 2004 (anywhere from 2.0 to 2.8 million).

Large Donors
Finally, Obama received about 80% more money from large donors (cumulative contributions of at least $1,000) than from small donors. While the large donors thus were responsible for much more of Obama's money than either his small or middle range group, he received somewhat less proportionally from large donors than did his rivals or predecessors. Forty-seven percent of Obama's money came from large donors compared to 56% for Kerry and 60% for both Bush and McCain. However, because Obama's 47% is based on a larger total, that means he also raised significantly more large-donor money in absolute terms than any of his rivals or predecessors.

Much of this money was raised the "old fashioned" way. Since only about 13,000 of those who started out small for Obama ended up crossing the $1,000 threshold, that means the bulk of Obama's $213 million in large-donor contributions during the primaries came from about 85,000 people who started out giving big and stayed there. Much of this large-donor money - perhaps close to a majority - came to the campaign through bundling methods initially perfected by Bush.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) - which in the absence of legally mandated disclosure had to use information provided by the campaigns - 561 "bundlers" had raised a minimum of $63 million for Obama by mid-August and 534 people had raised a minimum of $75 million for McCain. The bundlers undoubtedly were responsible for more than these amounts because the campaigns reported the bundlers in ranges and CRP's minimum totals were based conservatively on the low end of each range. A reasonable guess might estimate the real amount at about 50% above the minimum - the mid-point for each range - yielding a total of perhaps about $90 million for Obama as of mid-August and more than $100 million for McCain.

At the top of the bundlers were 47 of Obama's and 65 of McCain's who were listed by the campaigns in mid-August as being responsible for at least $500,000 each. In addition, Public Citizen lists 2,205 people as having contributed in their own names at least $25,000 to joint fundraising committees supporting Obama and 1,846 people as having made similar contributions to joint fundraising committees supporting McCain.

Conclusion
These totals force a reality check. In McCain's case, a $100 million figure from bundlers would represent almost all of the money he raised from large donors ($122 million). In Obama's case, one should combine the estimated $90 million or so he received with the help of bundlers through August with the remaining $120 million or so from other large donors, and then compare it to the $119 million he raised from small donors through August. The comparison should make one think twice before describing small donors as the financial engine of the Obama campaign.

About The Campaign Finance Institute
The Campaign Finance Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit institute, affiliated with The George Washington University, that conducts objective research and education, empanels task forces and makes recommendations for policy change in the field of campaign finance. Funders include the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Joyce Foundation, and Pew Charitable Trusts.

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For more separation of myth from reality, see the world's best analysis of Obamology in Obamathon.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:23 AM | Permalink

The World's Worst Roots Music Fest

1. The World's Worst Roots Music Fest.

The head-shakingest roots music news of the week: A planned three-day Americana benefit music fest that was supposed to draw 100,000 people the weekend before last near Austin, Tex., collapsed in chaos, shutting down after the second day and leaving vendors, contractors and your sister's boyfriend screaming to get paid.

As far as I can tell, the reason it fell apart is that the guy who was putting it on was charging $70 for a fest whose headliner was . . . Asleep at the Wheel.

Nothing against those guys, but for $70, they're going to be the warm-up act on the third stage at my festival. And this promoter, who said the World United Music Fest in beautiful San Marcos was supposed to benefit veterans - his company is called United States Entertainment Force. Hmm. Yeah.

The Austin American-Statesman said no one's quite sure if the promoter, who supposedly had a little experience doing USO shows, was out to pull a scam or was just in over his head and didn't know what he was doing. The guy, Jerry Payne, had trouble getting anyone well-known to do an ill-defined benefit gig for "veterans" and instead filled the three-day dance card with pretty much unpaid local Austin talent. The kind you could see for a $5 cover charge at the local watering hole on a Thursday night.

But the newspaper's descriptions of the chaos are classic. Hot dog vendors demanding the return of their $1,500 booth fees. The Dallas company that did the lighting and the staging threatening to sue for the $60,000 owed them. The promoter using the phrase "act of God," implying bad weather and not incompetence and/or malfeasance was the problem. The band Flounders Without Eyes playing at 6 p.m. Friday to "a crowd of exactly zero."

Not exactly the Austin City Limits Music Festival, where they can get away with charging $80 because they get folks like Wilco and Lucinda Williams.

The World United Music Fest: Worst Music Fest Ever.

2. Indie Rockers Make Fake Cowboys.

Are most indie rockers who don snap-button cowboy shirts and pay homage to roots rock legends really only playing Americana Dress-Up? The Dallas Observer thinks so.

Observer writer Justin Farrar lets loose during a rant about some new bands he thinks are authentic (D. Charles Speer and The Coydogs) against those he thinks are just appropriating the hard-won credibility of Real McCoys merely to further their feckless detours into roots music.

These include such offenders as Rounder Records' Delta Spirit (not "Americana/soul" but Rattle and Hum filtered through emo and The Strokes); Biirdie (not "Laurel Canyon folk" but "an act nicking tricks from Bowie"); Dr. Dog (not The Band but Elton John); and Sleepercar (not Gram Parsons but The Cure).

His point is indie rockers are so dang self-obsessed and self-referential they're incapable of making the intellectual and lifestyle commitments to real country music that artists like Gram Parsons did. They're so in love with irony and "genre surfing" they can't begin to understand the real cry-in-your-beer suffering and commitment that even modern avatars like Jeff Tweedy had to put in to master the real country blues.

"Today's indie bands are doing nothing more than playing Americana dress-up," Farrar says. "Over the last 10 to 15 years, a genre that once considered Neil Young a deity has devolved into a closed system regurgitating different permutations of U2, The Smiths, The Cure and Sonic Youth. When an indie artist does experiment with country-rock, he or she sounds middle of the road (Conor Oberst, Jenny Lewis) or retro and novel (Blitzen Trapper).

"Indie rockers are college-educated kids too in love with postmodern detachment ever to commit to a discipline - to sit down, surrender their precious subjectivity and actually immerse themselves in bluegrass and/or country-style guitar (let alone to invest in the complex group dynamics required of any serious rural rock band)."

If he's right, it's too bad because it was late '80s/early '90s indie rockers like The Lemonheads that really got me to listen to country music, and I'd say Evan Dando is pretty high up there on the feckless scale.

3. Indie Record Label Still Exists After 25 Years. News at 11.

It's nice to know that Red House Records - one of the indie-est indie record labels of all time - is still at it after 25 years, even after the death of its legendary founder and "everything man" Bob Feldman.

The Minneapolis-based label that has unstintingly furthered the causes of acoustic folkies, reformed rockers and bluegrass types like Jorma Kaukonen and Ramblin' Jack Elliott has released a 64-song, boxed set that is probably the finest and most concise summing up of what Feldman's obsession was about: Red House 25: A Silver Anniversary Retrospective.

An article by the Associated Press says the death of Feldman two years ago has actually "energized" the label rather than spelt its doom, with the remaining Red House employees, including 19-year veteran Chris Frymire, saying they're determined to build on the founder's folk, roots music and Americana legacy.

The kind of music that Red House puts out is what I'd call "thoughtful singer-songwriter," whose typical listener I'd blatantly stereotype as an overeducated public radio listener driving a Volvo with a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker. Of course, in Minneapolis, that means big biz, and Red House provides an object lesson for indie record labels in surviving by knowing your market and serving it faithfully.

The AP says the biggest sellers at Red House are Lucy Kaplansky's 1999 album "Ten Year Night" and "A Nod to Bob," a 2001 tribute to Bob Dylan featuring Red House artists - each has sold more than 70,000 copies. Hey, not bad. Feldman for many years ran the label out of his basement and sold records from the trunk of his car, and now it's providing decent livings to several committed employee/believers.

Indie can work! I think Red House proves that people, even in hard times, will hand the money over for records if they're coming from a place they respect and feel a personal connection to.

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From the Beachwood Country All-Stars to Dylan's Grammy Museum, the finest bones of rock 'n' roll are rattlin' 'round Don's Root Cellar.

Posted by Don Jacobson at 12:37 AM | Permalink

November 24, 2008

The [Monday] Papers

1. "The Bears know what the St. Louis Rams are," Greg Couch writes. "They beat a tackling dummy Sunday."

2. Can't the city find a corporate (or otherwise) sponsor for its Jumping Jacks program instead of making Maxwell Street merchants pay for it?

3. Pace executives are not only raising fares; they are raising their salaries.

"Pace leaders point to increased ridership - it has hit all-time highs in the past five months - as evidence they're earning their money," the Sun-Times reports.

A) Funny how record ridership is a reason to raise salaries, but not a reason to maintain current fare levels

B) If the added revenue from increased ridership just goes into executives' pockets, then what's the point?

C) Plus, Pace executives showed up to Washington in private jets

4. From GM's official corporate blog, Fast Lane:

Nov. 21 By Bob Lutz GM Vice Chairman

It's been a historic week for us, and I don't mean in Washington. And let me just say upfront that I know there is a lot of talk online about that subject. But I am not going to comment here about any government loans or hearings or GM's financial situation - just like I wouldn't engage you in conversation about it if I ran into you in the produce aisle.

As if you do your own grocery shopping.

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Compare and contrast: Here's Google's corporate blog.

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Let's get with the program, people. What's good for Google is good for the country. What's good for GM isn't even good for GM.

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Here's one list of corporate blogs.

5. "If there was one thing Americans learned about Michael Phelps during his history-making eight-gold-medal run at the Beijing Olympics - other than that he can swim really, really fast - it was that he really, really likes McDonald's," Jeremy Mullman writes in Ad Age.

"So, how, then, did Mr. Phelps wind up signing a major, long-term endorsement deal for Subway, one of McDonald's fiercest and fastest-growing rivals?"

The money?

"Subway prevailed, [his agent, Peter] Carlisle said, because it offered 'more of a partnership and less of an Olympic program,' and also because its fast-growing presence and ambitions in Europe and the U.K. dovetail with Mr. Phelps' own ambitions to promote the sport of swimming in advance of the 2012 London games.

"Also a factor, Mr. Carlisle said, was the Subway brand's more-healthful image."

Right.

The money, then.

6. "It may not be Bears football, but the Boise State playbook would like mighty good with Devin Hester in the backfield - or under center or spread wide."

- Eric Emery, January 10, 2007

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"Use Devin Hester out of the backfield, duh!"

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"When your best players on offense are your top two tight ends, go with two tight-end formations . . .

" . . . With Devin Hester out of the backfield. In other words, put your best weapons on the field!"

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"When the offense stalls, put Devin Hester in a really deep shotgun formation and tell him to just pretend he's returning a kick."

- Eric Emery, Dec. 28, 2007

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"Having worked on the wildcat formation in practice for a year now, Bears players began to think it was just something offensive coordinator Ron Turner was directing for his amusement," the Sun-Times reports today.

"With dangerous open-field runner Devin Hester, Turner started to experiment with the package a year ago, when it was popularized at Arkansas by running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. But the Bears were late to the party in unveiling their new toy for the first time Sunday in a 27-3 victory over the St. Louis Rams."

Next week the Bears will unveil a new innovation called "the pass rush."

7. First the Chicago Police Department reconstituted its Special Operations Section, which was disbanded because it was impossible to be both effective and accountable and predictably ended in scandal, now the Chicago Police Department is reconstituting a mobile gang enforcement unit that was disbanded because it was impossible to be both effective and accountable and predictably ended in scandal.

Hey, I hear Jon Burge needs a job, as long as we're reliving the glory days.

8. Should PR guys with hidden agendas and mysterious motives really be allowed onto our Op-Ed pages?

9. David Lynch does a daily weather report. (via the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

10. In today's Beachwood:

* Axl's folly. Read what the critics are saying about Chinese Democracy.

* "People will pretend to know what's going to happen, and they will do so in all matter of media, and when it turns out they were completely wrong on Sunday, they'll just reload and fire away again starting the next day," Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday.

* "Off-Centered Ales for Off-Centered People." In The Periodical Table: Knives, Beer & Failure.

* Your Kitchen Companion. Just in time for the holidays.

And at Ferdy on Films:

"The people Nelson Algren wrote about have few champions in this world. They're the rummies and chippies and suckers and sinners who never get an even break. The fact that Preminger, in his zeal to exploit the lot of the junkie for the entertainment of a curious and ignorant middle class audience, stomped all over this underclass yet again creates, to my mind, a problem of legitimacy in the auteur theory. Should a film auteur be allowed to practice cannibalism? No, no way."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Chippies and sinners.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:57 AM | Permalink

The Periodical Table: Knives, Beer & Failure

An occasional look at the magazines laying around Beachwood HQ.

Beer Me
I'm thinking Beachwood Beer is next.

"Gasparine wasn't much of a wine drinker, but he had become something of a beer geek," Burkhard Bilger writes in The New Yorker. " (His thick eyebrows, rectangular glasses, and rapid-fire patter seem ideally suited to the parsing of obscure beverages.) A few years earlier, he'd discovered a bar in downtown Baltimore called Good Love that had several unusual beers on tap. The best, he thought, were from a place called Dogfish Head, in southern Delaware. The brewery's motto was 'Off-Centered Ales for Off-Centered People.' It made everything from elegant Belgian-style ales to experimental beers brewed with fresh oysters or arctic cloudberries."

Mmm, cloudberries . . .

*

"Calagione is thirty-nine. That day, as on most days, he was wearing flip-flops, cargo pants, and a threadbare T-shirt, and looked about as concerned with liquidity as the customers bellied up at the brewery's bar, drinking free samples. When tour groups visit Dogfish, they're greeted by a quote on the wall from Emerson's essay on self-reliance: 'Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist,' it begins. 'Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind'."

Ah, beer.

*

"To give you some context for why it's so distasteful to me," Calagione said. "At the same time that they're making this relatively hoppy wanna-be craft beer that exists only to confuse the consumer - so that they can be culture vultures."

And all you yipsters out there, don't forget: Pabst is a marketing company, not a brewery.

*

"It starts out as a stimulant and only later, when you've had a lot, becomes a depressant. Calagione laughed. "Does it work that way for you?" he said. "Because it doesn't for me. I never get around to the depressant part."

You will.

You Call That A Knife?
"Bob Kramer is one of a hundred and twenty-two people in the world, and the only former chef, to have been certified in the United States as a Master Bladesmith," Todd Oppenheimer writes in the same issue of the New Yorker.

The world of knives. Who knew?

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"One sold for forty-eight hundred dollars."

How good can a knife be? Apparently, very good.

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"Curiously, while this is the world's largest blade show, only a handful of the makers there produce kitchen knives. Most make sport and high-tech 'tactical' knives (partly in pursuit of contracts from the military, which still regards a knife as the soldier's ideal all-purpose tool, and the weapon of last resort).

Aha.

"The result is an annual spread of staggering lethality: pocket knives of every design (and price) imaginable, sheath knives smaller than your little finger, and medieval cleavers longer than your arm. At table after table, big men with thick fingers showed off knives with such intricate patterns that one would think they were made by a diminutive Old World jeweler."

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"The surge of interest seems partly due to the Internet, which not only has made once obscure items suddenly accessible but has also spread knowledge about the craft behind these items to a younger generation. 'The guys just starting out today, their knives are as good as the best makers' fifteen to twenty years ago,' Steve Shackleford, the editor of the magazine Blade, told me."

God bless the Internet.

Economic Indicators
"The American economy may be weak and getting weaker, but not all businesses are suffering," Failure magazine reports. "Rice, beans and macaroni & cheese are all selling well, and sales of beer are also strong, no doubt because legions of the unemployed are drowning their sorrows in alcohol."

And, quite possibly, knives.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:48 AM | Permalink

The [Chinese Democracy] Papers

What the reviews say.

*

Critic: Jim DeRogatis (Sun-Times)

Headline: "We Waited 17 Years For This?"

Golden Nugget: "With the very rarest of exceptions, rock 'n' roll is a dish best served steaming hot."

Reference to Ishtar: Yes

Reference to Heaven's Gate: Yes

Is the problem that Axl Rose sees himself as an artiste? Yes

Good Songs: "Chinese Democracy," "Shackler's Revenge," "Better," "Scraped," "Riad N' the Bedouins," "I.R.S."

Bad Songs: "If the World," "There Was a Time," Madagascar."

Worse Songs: "This I Love," "Street of Dreams."

Reference to Queen: Yes

Reference to Elton John: Yes

Reference to Bon Jovi: Yes

Assessment: "[T]wo out of four stars is as kind as I honestly can be."

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Critic: Greg Kot (Tribune)

Headline: "Chinese Democracy: Appetite for Excess"

Golden Nugget: "Rose ended up with 14 tracks spread across 77 minutes. That's about 4.5 minutes of music a year."

Reference to Ishtar: No. But Miss Saigon.

Reference to Heaven's Gate: No. But Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Is the problem that Axl Rose sees himself as an artiste? Pretty much, but he also has a huge chip on his shoulder.

Good Songs: "Chinese Democracy," "Better," "If the World," "I.R.S."

Bad Songs: "This I Love," "Street of Dreams," "Madagascar," "There Was a Time."

Reference to Queen: Yes

Reference to Elton John: Yes

Reference to Bon Jovi: No. But Wings.

Assessment: "Rose throws everything he's got into these songs, but this shock-and-awe arrangements suggest he's really trying to cover something up."

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Critic: Jon Pareles (New York Times)

Headline: "How Axl Rose Spent All That Time"

Golden Nugget: "Chinese Democracy is the Titanic of rock albums: the ship, not the movie."

Reference to Ishtar? No

Reference to Heaven's Gate? No

Is the problem that Axl Rose sees himself as an artiste? More that he has a huge chip on his shoulder.

Good Songs: "Shackler's Revenge."

So-So Songs: "Chinese Democracy," "Scraped," "If the World," "Riad N' the Bedouins."

Bad Songs: "This I Love."

Reference to Queen: Yes

Reference to Elton John: Yes

Reference to Bon Jovi: No

Assessment: "Chinese Democracy, though it's a remarkable artifact of excess, is a letdown."

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Critic: Chuck Klosterman (A.V. Club)

Headline: "Chuck Klosterman Reviews Chinese Democracy"

Golden Nugget: "Throughout Chinese Democracy, the most compelling question is never, 'What was Axl doing here?' but 'What did Axl think he was doing here?'"

Reference to Ishtar? No

Reference to Heaven's Gate? No

Is the problem that Axl Rose sees himself as an artiste? Um, that seems to be a good thing here.

Astonishing Songs: "Chinese Democracy," "Shackler's Revenge," "I.R.S."

Very Good Songs: "Street of Dreams," "Sorry," "This I Love," "Catcher in the Rye."

Not As Good Songs: If the World," "Scraped," "Madagascar."

Reference to Queen: Yes

Reference to Elton John: Yes

Reference to Bon Jovi: No

Assessment: "Under any halfway normal circumstance, I would give it an A." (He gives it an A-.)

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday

I hate previews. No one knows anything about the future NFL games that matter. That's why pre-game picks so frequently make the pickers look bad (this season started with virtually everyone picking the Colts to beat the Bears and off we went). All we can do is try to honestly assess what happened last game and so far in a given season. So much preview stuff - trying to project what specific units will do against that week's opposition, noting who's hot and who's not, playing up contrived sub-plots, is just oh so lame.

But the Bears' trouncing of the truly putrid Rams barely mattered. Of course they beat St. Louis - star running back Steven Jackson was out, Adewale Ogunleye mowed down starting quarterback Marc Bulger in the first series (on an actual stunt - nice coaching Bob Babich! You hang in there!) and knocked him out of the game. The offensive line is a shambles, the defense stinks and on and on and on. It was so obvious this was going to happen; just about everyone picked the game correctly (at least without factoring in the spread). So you can't help but quickly move on to "Will the changes the Bears unveiled against the Rams work at the Vikings next Sunday evening?" But anyone who tries to "break it all down" in front of the Monsters' next game is either disingenuous or flat out lying. People will pretend to know what's going to happen, and they will do so in all matter of media, and when it turns out they were completely wrong on Sunday, they'll just reload and fire away again starting the next day.

Here's the best news for the Bears, the news that has the best shot at mattering - the Viking game will be played indoors on turf. The Bears have played their best games by far this season in domes (in Detroit and St. Louis) on plastic grass. Those settings favor speed and the Bears have enough of that. While we're at it, how quickly can we put artificial turf in Soldier Field?

It may have been a forgettable game but there were plenty memorable moments:

* I'd like to apologize to Matt Forte for saying he "isn't special" last week. He's gosh-darned special. As the ever-improving analyst Brian Baldinger noted early on Sunday, he's touched the ball as much as anyone in the NFL this season. He was his usual, reliable, tough-to-take-down self. And on that long touchdown run, the usually straight-ahead Forte tossed in not just a shimmy but also a shake to break free in the secondary.

* Why was there only one replay of Forte's fumble? That is perhaps the biggest problem with the replay rule - that there are different numbers of cameras at different games. At the highest profile contests there are always multiple angles. In St. Louis on Sunday, anything from an end zone or the other side of the field might well have shown Forte's knee on the ground before the ball popped out, but apparently there was only one camera focused on this particular play. I wonder if Lovie was hoping another view of the fumble would just appear when he threw his wishful challenge flag. And a challenge should never be wishful. There was only one replay and soon the Bears had one less timeout.

* Hey Fox TV. Put Dick Stockton out of our misery already would you? Come on. He misses so much stuff, is easily confused, so rarely adds anything of substance ("And the kick is good . . . No good!").

* The Bears may have romped but Kyle Orton is still far from sharp. Enough said . . .

* The Bears caught a break when the Rams won the toss. It seems like the Monsters have been on a run of winning the toss of late and whenever they have, they have deferred. That essentially meant they would receive in the second half and put their defense on the field to start the game. But the defense is not this team's strongest suit. It is the offense. And sure enough, after Danieal Manning's great kickoff return, the Bears rolled right into the end zone to gain some early momentum. A little effective pass rush on St. Louis' first series and the Bears were on their way.

* The Bears finally busted out the Wildcat formation that Arkansas popularized in the college ranks last season with two future first-round draft pick running backs in their backfield. Direct snaps to Darren McFadden were followed either by fakes or by handoffs to teammate Felix Jones. The Dolphins brought it to the pro ranks this fall and running back Ronnie Brown has made it work down there. In the first half, the Bears lined up with Devin Hester behind center and Forte right next to him. Let's see plenty more where than came from during the next month, eh Bears?

* Highlights from the Rams include linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who has to be a candidate for most syllables in a single name in the history of the NFL. The Rams also lead the world in wide receivers with numbers in the teens, starting with #17 Donnie Avery and including several others.

* Rough day for the refs: not once but twice the Bears started first half plays a second after the play clock ran out and neither time were they flagged. Bring on the Vikings.

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Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday because he loves you. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:55 AM | Permalink

Your Holiday Kitchen Companion

Whether you cook nightly or never, you're bound to spend some time in the kitchen during the holidays. And when you're cooking for your brother's toddler, Great Uncle Max, and all the rest, you don't want to serve them food that you didn't realize went bad. Make sure everything you prepare and serve this year is as safe as it is delicious with the help of Kitchen Companion: Your Safe Food Handbook, a free publication from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Citizen Information Center.

When it comes to handling food safely, it all starts at the grocery store. Keeping cold food cold is important to reduce the growth of bacteria, so pick up the eggs and milk last. And don't put raw meat or poultry next to other items in your shopping cart. Prevent cross-contamination by placing them in plastic bags, if you can, and separate items in your cart.

Once you get home, Kitchen Companion shows you how to decipher the mystery of food labels, so you'll know when to use and how to properly cook things. You'll also find tips to help you safely store food in the fridge, freezer, or pantry, including a handy chart that outlines how long you can keep foods before you should pitch them.

Hams, roasts, turkeys, and foods with eggs - all get cooked during the holidays, but how often do you cook them other times of the year? Probably not enough to remember that for every 4-5 pounds of frozen turkey, you should allow 24 hours to thaw it in the fridge or that the internal temperature of your favorite beef brisket should be 145 degrees before you can safely serve it. Kitchen Companion has lots of charts with roasting times for a variety of meats and poultry, alternate ways to cook turkey, and storage information for cooked and raw eggs in a variety of forms.

Once your food is cooked, you still need to be careful. Maybe you're hosting a holiday buffet or it's your turn to bring oyster stuffing to Grandma's house. The rules about keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold still apply, whether you're serving or transporting them. And perishable food should be left out at room temperature no longer than two hours to prevent bacteria from growing.

You'll find many other suggestions to keep party food safe at home or on the road in Kitchen Companion. There are three easy ways to order this helpful brochure:

* Send your name and address to Kitchen Companion, Pueblo, Colorado 81009.

* Place your order online.

* Call toll-free 1 (888) 8 PUEBLO. That's 1 (888) 878-3256, weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time, and ask for Kitchen Companion.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 AM | Permalink

November 22, 2008

The Weekend Desk Report

While you're busy having your life blood sucked by some movie or bank or whatever, we'll be watching the news.

Market Update
With growing anxiety surrounding next week's Black Friday, analysts are predicting possible record consumption of Hollow Gestures and Too Little Too Late.

Change. Ish.
Meanwhile, markets soared Friday on news that Barack Obama will name his economic team on Monday. Heading the group as Treasury Secretary will be Timothy Geithner, who differs sharply from his predecessor Henry Paulson in the key area of Head Hair. This ideological contrast is said to bolster Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's stance that he is not going bald.

Rock-A-Bye?
In related news, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's hair continues to be rocked by the system it set out to change.

Blameless Game
As Inauguration Day approached, sources close to President Bush say he is ready to pardon just about everyone who applies for clemency under his watch, even the total sleazebags. These sources stress, however, that "pardon" in this case may in fact mean "kill."

Tidy Split?
Efforts at reconciliation have broken down between Tibet and China, with observers now saying the best the Dalai Lama can hope for is a "quickie Madonna/Guy Ritchie thing." Still, sources close to the pair predict any bid for independence by the Himalayan region will be more Denise Richards/Charlie Sheen.

Driven
And finally this week, duh.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 7:20 AM | Permalink

November 21, 2008

The [Friday] Papers

"Meanwhile, as invited guests celebrated the runway opening over lunch inside an O'Hare hangar, another problem in controlling the costs of the project came to light," the Tribune reports.

"The price tag for building a taxiway that is a key component of the plan to expand and reconfigure the airport's runways plan has more than doubled, according to documents the city recently filed with the Federal Aviation Administration."

The mayor also announced that construction at O'Hare would begin soon of the Millennium Parking Lot, the Soldier Airfield, and Terminal 37.

*

The plane used to inaugurate the new O'Hare runway was called United Runway 1. Look for it soon on eBay.

*

Looks like we picked the wrong week to stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

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The mayor's team reviews the O'Hare expansion budget.

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Airport officials will close the new runway today to practice for winter.

*

Air traffic controllers are already reporting a near miss - between reality and fantasy.

The Big 3
* The smartest take I've heard yet on the auto industry crisis comes from Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times on Charlie Rose.

* Michael Moore talks bailout with Larry King.

* "For starters, the carmakers should consider whether the Detroit Three should become a Two," David Greising writes this morning.

Maybe that should have happened 29 years ago. Who knows how the auto industry may have been reshaped.

The Bigger 3
Maybe Barack Obama ought to announce - right now, before we go over the cliff before he's even taken office - that he's putting Warren Buffett and Al Gore in charge of the economic crisis. Throw in Steve Jobs, too. You could even call it the Trilateral Commission.

Budget Blues
"Sixth Ward alderman Freddrenna Lyle described it as a 'bad-news budget' but said the council had fought for and won important revisions since the mayor introduced it last month," Mick Dumke reports. "'We've done our homework,' she said. But the Fourth Ward's Toni Preckwinkle didn't think she and her colleagues had done enough homework. She called for an additional week of budget hearings next year. 'How can we run through 40 departments in two weeks?' she asked. 'I don't think it leads to a very thoughtful process'."

Ah, but that's the point, Toni. Your thoughts aren't welcome.

*

"Ald. Billy Ocasio (26th) cast the only vote against the budget. He was one of the few aldermen who dared to speak out against the mayor's budget," the Sun-Times reports. "He argued that most of the layoffs affect not the desk jockeys, but 'people who do the work and get paid the least.'

"'We find millions of dollars in private and public funds when it comes to places like Millennium Park, the 2016 Olympics or Buckingham Fountain. But when it comes to finding . . . $75,000 for a woman's homeless shelter, the city says it's an ongoing process. We all know what that means. It means no,' Ocasio said.

"'For the reasons mentioned - the wrong people being laid off, my community being taken for granted, all of the false promises and the fact that this administration believes that everything and everyone is expendable - I vote no'."

Jesus, Billy, where did that come from? Is there a spine implant discount sale in your ward?

*

"I'm concerned about the revenue projections in this budget and whether they are realistic . . . What tricks do we have up our sleeve next year?" said Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd).

Another new runway at O'Hare?

*

"The bottom line is that the City Council took what downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) has called a 'leap of faith' by approving the mayor's $6 billion budget."

A) I thought the Bush administration was over
B) Campaign mailer for his re-election bid will tout excellent record on leaps of faith
C) That's not what the mayor meant when he told you to take a flying leap

*

"Daley's decision to lay off 635 employees and eliminate more than 1,600 vacancies means Chicago will wait longer to hire police officers, plow a side-street, fill a pothole, trim a tree, sweep a street and clean a vacant lot.

"And Ald. Ed Smith (28th) is afraid that some neighborhoods will wait longer than others."

Well, we should retain some sense of normalcy, shouldn't we?

*

"The tax package includes higher parking and amusement taxes and a laundry list of fees. But it's the mayor's $9 million plan to license garbage Dumpsters - at an annual cost of $80 to $780 - that has drawn drew the most fire.

"It comes on top of hundreds of thousands of dollars of facade repair and critical examination costs the city has already imposed on condominium residents.

"'They are being taxed up the yin-yang and it is bankrupting our taxpaying citizens. We cannot keep relying on the same population year after year after year,' said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th)."

After she voted in favor of the mayor's budget, as she has done year after year after year.

Downey Out
"Mike Downey, who returned home to Chicago in 2003 as a Tribune sports columnist, is leaving the paper," Phil Rosenthal reports.

"The Tribune was generous enough to make me one of the best-paid sportswriters in the history of this business," Downey said.

That makes him one of the most overpaid in history too.

Ballot Bowl
Take a look at these ballots from Minnesota.

Foodie Fun
* 1 Metre of Licorice and other foreign treats.

The Beachwood Tip Line: The way and the light.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

Hand 'Em Over, Blago

Court upholds ruling that Blagojevich must disclose subpoenas

Springfield, Illinois (Nov. 20, 2008) - The Better Government Association ("BGA") is thrilled that the 4th District Court of Appeals has upheld the public's right to know. Today, the court ruled that the BGA is entitled to federal grand jury subpoenas that have been served upon the Blagojevich administration. The BGA first requested these documents in July 2006. After repeated denials for the information, in January 2007, the BGA sued Governor Blagojevich under Illinois' Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA").

The BGA started this litigation for two primary reasons:

1. We believe the public has the right to know what is going on with its government. Public officials overwhelm us with press releases and news conferences to extol their victories, but seek to limit and control information when things go wrong. As the public pays for both the good and the bad, we feel the public should have a clear idea of what is happening at the highest levels of state government.

2. We believe that the law applies to everyone, even the Governor of Illinois. He has public records relating to a very important issue, namely that his office has been served federal grand jury subpoenas. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Illinois recent history knows this is a disturbing development. However, rather than ignore this unpleasant issue, it should be aired to the fullest extent possible. Simply being Governor does not mean public records laws don't apply to you or your office.

During the entire course of the trial and the appeal, Blagojevich's lawyers have argued that federal law bars the Governor from releasing the subpoenas, despite their inability to point to any specific language prohibiting such disclosure. Further, they admitted in court that Governor Blagojevich couldn't be punished under any law if he did, in fact, disclose the subpoenas.

Unsurprisingly, the Governor has now added a loss at the appellate level to go with his loss at the trial level.

At this stage the BGA sincerely hopes that Governor will stop spending taxpayer dollars on his private attorneys and comply with the court's decision and hand over the subpoenas. Clearly, the public is well aware that the Governor's administration is under federal investigation. To continue spending tens of thousands of dollars on attorneys fees in a losing battle doesn't serve the public well and does nothing to bolster the Governor's already battered reputation.

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For a PDF of the court's ruling, click here.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:37 AM | Permalink

The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week

1. No one likes a tattletale or the modern-day equivalent - a leaker. A few weeks ago, Palin called them "jerks." Now Obama's people are displeased with those loose-lipped Clintonites, Madonna's minions are upset that Guy's guys are talking trash about the big divorce settlement, and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is being excoriated for possibly leaking a story that makes George W. Bush look, well, dumber than a box of rocks. I can't help thinking that a story about someone's anger at the anonymous source of another story produces a mental state not unlike ice cream brain freeze.

2. The Joe-of-the-Week is Joe Lieberman - now, a grateful beneficiary of Barack Obama's largesse. He gets to keep his snazzy chairmanship while professional gasbags young and old debate whether this makes Obama look like a wuss. Personally, I'm glad
that he exercised forbearance, saving us from what would have been the inevitable Lieberman whinefest on Larry King and the Sunday talk shows.

3. Let's hear it for Virgil Eisenbeisz of Aberdeen, South Dakota, "a longtime collector of barbed wire."

4. Ducks, it appears, are refraining from procreating, and Southern Illinois University investigators want to know why. Feelings of sexual inadequacy? The disappearance of the wetlands? Anxiety about the credit crunch? Or maybe the modern duck doesn't buy into this mate-for-life thing. I can just see Donald Duck telling Daisy: Sorry, but I'm just not that into you.

5. Meanwhile, environmental activist Madonna is doing her part to save the wetlands . . . by wearing them.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:52 AM | Permalink

November 20, 2008

The [Thursday] Papers

"As a new runway opens, 6 top airlines break with City Hall and call further construction 'ill-conceived' and 'premature'," the Tribune reports in a front-page exclusive today.

As far as I can remember, this is as big a broadside any portion of the business community has ever launched against the mayor. The language is cutting and the timing embarrassing.

"As the first new runway in Chicago in 37 years is set to open Thursday, major airlines serving O'Hare International Airport have unanimously called for halting the next phase of the ambitious expansion project, according to documents obtained exclusively by the Tribune.

"American Airlines and United Airlines, the two largest carriers at the airport, said the O'Hare plan is flawed, according to the statements sent to city and federal authorities that oppose more spending on the project.

"They called Chicago's effort to move ahead with the project 'premature and inappropriate' because of the decline in air travel and the airline industry's uncertain future.

"Delta Air Lines executives said Chicago failed to do its homework and they accused the city of mounting an 'impulsive grab for [tax] funds'."

The city wants to pay for part of the expansion with about $182 million in passenger ticket taxes.

But the rest of the funding formula remains a mystery.

"Seven years after Daley announced the project, the city lacks a strategy to pay for all of it, despite acquiring hundreds of homes and businesses in Elk Grove Village and Bensenville for runways that may not be built.

"In addition to the airlines balking, the city's efforts to line up private investors have also fizzled."

No one disputes the simple fact that air capacity in Chicago must expand. A third airport (which Barack Obama has supported), be it in the south suburbs or elsewhere, ought to be operating by now. The mayor's plans at O'Hare have never seemed designed to ease congestion in the skies.

For example, as the Tribune report notes:

"The $565 million runway that opens Thursday on the northern flank of O'Hare is designed only to help reduce delays, and it barely will make a difference, according to the FAA. A new $65 million control tower exclusively to serve the runway also begins operation Thursday.

"'Average delays with the new runway are expected to drop seven-tenths of a minute,' FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said."

By my math - and correct me if I'm wrong - seven-tenths of a minute equals 43 seconds. That's $14.6 million a second.

"Further improvements will be seen with additional runways," Cory said.

If those runways are ever built, that is. And even then, putting more planes in the same airspace is hardly a smart delay reduction strategy.

Calling All Victims
"The proposal to create a gay-friendly high school was pulled from the agenda of the Chicago School Board's meeting Wednesday, but the controversy continued to grow," the Sun-Times reports.

"I was recommending that we make a school that's all-inclusive, for kids that are straight, gay, obese and not just target one group of people," a Humboldt Park minister told the paper.

Yes. Just call it Nerd Central.

I'm sympathetic to the idea of a "safe haven," but I've come to believe this isn't the way to do it. Every school should be a safe haven.

And maybe, just maybe, school officials and activists are targeting the wrong folks here: victims. Ten years ago, I reported on a bully-proofing program in Cherry Creek, Colorado, that has always stuck with me for its innovative strategy of not directly trying to change bullies or victims, but to change the peer culture that allows bullying to prosper by transforming the "silent majority" into a "caring majority."

As I wrote:

"The caring majority intervenes, grabbing a potential bully victim by the arm and pulling him into a classroom or a playground game. The caring majority informs a teacher if someone is in trouble but doesn't tattle. The caring majority abides by classroom rules of respect and sharing.

"The result is that bullies find themselves in a world where they don't count."

When it comes to bullying - and you can extend this to all walks of civic life - sometimes the most important thing isn't how the main actors behave, but how the rest of us do.

Train Gang
Save the Choo-Choo now has a Facebook group.

*

I miss CTA conductors who made their own announcements.


Jay's Way
You know what? Mariotti is right. From Michigan Avenue (!) magazine:

MA: How can the daily newspaper be saved?

JM: Take the Chicago Sun-Times as an example. The news source can be saved by upgrading its website, promoting its website, and developing a 24/7 mentality. That would make the Sun-Times a must-see site and allow it to be ready when the ad content inevitably starts coming to the website. You keep the paper around for older people, commuters, and people who just like reading a tangible product. Obviously, you run them in tandem, but the paper has to be deemphasized and the website has to be ramped up.

The serious papers are lined up on the Internet to some degree, and the papers that are going to go out of business are half-assing it. That's really the core reason why I left the Sun-Times. I'm looking to the future, and I saw none at the Sun-Times. Meanwhile, I'm looking at other media outlets and seeing great futures. There will always be a place to read about sports. I just don't think it's smart for a writer in his late forties, like me, to be at a newspaper - especially one that's failing. That's professional suicide.

MA: Imagine, then, the fate of the newspaper columnist.

JM: He's going to be a columnist/commentator. He's going to be on the Internet, the radio, and TV. That's why people in this town resent me, because I've done all of that. You've got to branch out. Unfortunately, a lot of [print] guys think that's showboating. No, that's moving on with the times. Sports are as popular as ever. People love to read about sports; they're just going to do it online.

I was trying "Mariotti 24/7" at the Sun-Times. The Bulls make a trade - boom! Two hundred words. Maybe you add a video post and a long-form column. It becomes a multimedia blitz, complete with interactive chat rooms where people can yell at me. To me, it's a new world. Why would I confine myself to this hole in a newspaper?

Rose Flowers
Apparently Derrick Rose is the one we've been waiting for.

Programming Note
More on the political developments of the day - John Cullerton, Penny Pritzker, the mayor's budget - coming later at Division Street.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Up and at 'em.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 AM | Permalink

Ironside: The Monster of Comus Towers

Our look back on the debut season of Ironside continues.

Episode: The Monster of Comus Towers

Airdate: 16 November 1967

Plot: It's a dark and stormy night when thieves break into a corporate art exhibit on the umpteenth floor of a high-rise office building to steal a rare and valuable religious painting. An infrared security system, one murdered security guard, and a suspicious candy wrapper ("Chocolate Charlie - a meal in a mouthful") lead Ironside to the simple deduction that this was an inside job.

Guest stars: Warren Stevens and a pre-Good Morning America David Hartman.

Cutting-edge computers: Before Bill Gates (who, if he were watching the original airing of this episode, would have been 12 years old) there was Howard Comus (Warren Stevens) and the Comus Computer Corporation. (Say that three times fast.) Obviously he's filthy rich, since his company has acquired the "most renowned masterpieces of European religious art." Don't let the easel stands used to display these paintings fool you.

A hi-tech security system that makes HAL-9000 look like rocket science: The brain behind Comus Towers is a control panel that stretches half the length of command central. Suddenly, the entire console lights up, complete with buzzers and alarm bells. There's been a break in!

Comus Towers security guard handbook, Rule #1: When answering an alarm, run with your handgun drawn, flailing it wildly about.

A mastermind on and off the field: When we first see Ironside, he's concentrating on a tabletop football game, the kind with the magnetized little players that bounce around when the board is plugged in. The Chief is formulating plays for his pal, the coach of the 49ers. "The game's only ten days away and this is the play that's going to crack it wide open."

Riddle me this: Ironside takes the case and describes it to Mark in the following way: "Query: If it doesn't fly with ease in a 50 mile-per-hour wind, what can walk up and down the side of a glass and stainless steel building, has no blood, and . . . wears tennis shoes?"

Cutting-edge computers, part 2: Ed Brown is suitably impressed by the Comus Towers' set up. "Some security system. Electronic. Magnetic tape records all data."

Egghead eyewear: Exhibit curator Owen Simmons (Kevin Hagen, AKA Doc Baker on Little House on the Prairie) is wearing a pair of black-rimmed glasses that look like they were the prototype for those gigantic gag glasses you see on circus clowns.

Just the facts, ma'am: Amanda Stillman (Joan Huntington) is Howard Comus' confidential secretary (wink wink.) Surely she knows something. Her interrogation by Lieutenant Fitch (David Hartman) is performed in a hallway and lasts all of three questions. Mark, Ed, and Ironside look on with interest. Each answer is given with a coy, cock of the head and a breathy delivery. She's too good to be true - all four men suspect her.

Gotcha! Amanda is shown entering the office parking garage and walking around the rear of her car before getting in behind the wheel. When a man she obviously knows pops up from the backseat and startles her in the rearview mirror, you have to laugh at the fact she didn't see him cowering in the back of her car - since she's driving a top-down convertible!

Because stamp collecting wouldn't help Ironside solve the case: A character central to the investigation has a bizarre and slightly creepy hobby - closed-circuit TV.

Any excuse to wear a costume: Mark feels it's typecasting when he goes undercover as a janitor. His job is to replicate the crime by working his way past the security system. Ironside is rolling along beside him the entire time - nope, that doesn't look suspicious at all - so I'm not quite sure why they feel the need for the janitor ruse.

If you ever saw the movie Entrapment, with Catherine Zeta-Jones contorting her way around the criss-cross of security beams, well, this wasn't anything like that: Mark assembles a three-piece rig that looks like a very small rolling coat rack; carefully positioned in the doorway, it redirects the waist-high infra-red security beam so that Ironside can wheel right under it.

How's this for a theme bar? Bullfighting! Patrons at La Corrida cafe watch black-and-white footage of a bullfight, applauding and yelling out "Ole" while a waitress dressed like a toreador serves drinks.

Ed Brown, Enforcer: "Don't worry about Miss Stillman. Sgt Brown hasn't pistol-whipped a woman in over a month."

When smoking isn't sexy: Suspect Vince Longo (Donald Buka) gets the most out of his cigarette, inhaling smoke up his nose as it comes out of his mouth and blowing it out his nose again like a snorting cartoon bull. You can't miss it since his head is cocked backwards and the camera has got him in a close-up.

Woman "driver": A scene between Amanda and Vince sets them in the front seat of her car. Actress Joan Huntington is the worst fake driver I've ever seen. She doesn't turn the wheel a single time as she's "driving" down the gently curving city street projected in the rear window.

Father knows best:

Daddy Ironside: Mark, I got your grades from school today.

Mark: And?

Daddy Ironside: May I suggest you excuse yourself and hit the books.

Cryptic caller: Late one night, Enzo Rossi (Renzo Cesana) phones Ironside with some important information, but it's pretty obvious that Rossi is going to kick it before the Chief ever hears what his Italian buddy has to say. If Rossi's cryptic comment wasn't enough ("I have had an idea who has done this. Now it is no longer an idea. I am ready to speak, aloud,") the foreboding low-angle camera shot is a sure sign that he's a dead man.

The sleep of the dead: Mark is inexplicably taking a catnap stretched out in Ironside's barber chair with his arms crossed over his chest like an Egyptian mummy.

Coffee, tea or Eve: Eve is serving coffee again!!!!

The world's slowest civic improvement, continued: Yep, that dump truck is still there, in the upright and locked position.

Ironside is working that boy too hard: A few scenes later, Mark is back in the barber chair looking like an Egyptian corpse.

Computers in the Castro: When the building's chief of security pulls out a transistor to track the elevator being used as a ransom drop, Ironside says, "A time to be living. I understand you people marry those computers to each other."

A death scene worthy of the finest opera: Vince is laid out on the elevator floor, raised up on one arm, his eyes closed as he clutches his chest and gasps for breath. "A quarter of a million. I thought I could get it for myself. I followed him in here. I . . . Ironside . . . I . . . " He collapses and dies.

I ain't never seen one of those new-fangled recorders before: The closed-circuit TV set-up (mentioned above) records to tape, played back on a reel-to-reel recorder that Ed and Ironside ominously refer to as "the machine."

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Previously:
* A Cop and His Chair
* Message From Beyond
* The Leaf in the Forest
* Dead Man's Tale
* Eat, Drink and Be Buried
* The Taker
* An Inside Job
* Tagged For Murder
* Let My Brother Go
* Light at the End of the Journey

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

What the Bears have in common with Forrest Gump.

Jenny to Forrest: Listen, you promise me something, OK? Just if you're ever in trouble, don't be brave. You just run, OK? Just run away.

Lovie to Kyle: Listen, promise me something . . .

*

Lt. Dan: I am living off the government tit! Sucking it dry!

Brian Urlacher: I am living off my contract! Sucking it dry!

*

Forrest: Mama always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them.

Bob Babich to defensive unit: Let me explain the fundamentals of the pass rush one more time.

*

Mama Gump: Life's a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you're gonna get.

Jerry Angelo: The NFL draft is like a box of chocolates, folks. You never know what you're gonna get.

*

Forrest: Stupid is as stupid does.

Brian Urlacher: It's the media's fault.

*

Forrest: I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours. [he stops and turns around]

Young Man Running: Quiet, quiet! He's gonna say something!

Forrest: [pause] I'm pretty tired . . . I think I'll go home now.

Devin Hester: I'm tired of being ridiculous.

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Bears at Rams
Storyline: Lovie Smith and Bob Babich obtain a boat so they can fish for shrimp. Brian Urlacher yells obscenities about not finding shrimp. Lance Briggs crashes shrimp boat, paddles away in life raft.

Reality: Unlike the movie, the shrimp cannot be harvested any longer, due to sticking with the same fishing areas and dead zones in the Gulf of Tampa Two.

Prediction: St. Louis Plus 8.5 Points, Under 43 Points Scored

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Sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 50%
Recommended sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 35%

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Last week's picks: 5-1
For the season: 29-19-4

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Over/Under: Due to an advance scouting trip, there will be no Over/Under this week.

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Fantasy Fix: Does Giselle know?

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Eric Emery grew up in small-town Illinois but has an irrational love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Every week he writes The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report and Over/Under. You can send him love letters and hate mail and he will respond graciously.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:46 AM | Permalink

November 19, 2008

Meeting Up Now

The newest Chicagoland Meetups.

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Chicago Christians Curious Meetup Group

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Kinky Figure Drawing

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The Chicago Mythology Meetup Group

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GOSPEL GREATS OF COMEDY

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Chicago LGBT Motorcyclists

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LOCK AND KEY SINGLES EVENTS-LINCOLN PARK

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Pine Point Ski Club

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The Chicago Russian Jewish Meetup Group

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Sunday Morning Hikers Meetup Group

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Chicago Winter Dining and Cultural Exchange

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The Chicago Cisco Systems Meetup Group

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The Chicago World Music Meetup Group

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TrueWorldHistory.info Chicago

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West Chicagoland VBAC Meetup Group

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Knee-deep in Needles on the North Shore

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The Northbrook Jewelry Making Meetup Group

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Chicago Amharic Speakers

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The Low Carbon Diet Club

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Chicago North Suburban Minnesota Vikings Meetup Group

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Billiards Meetup in Addison

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Stardust Card Game Night Out (West Burbs)

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Work At Home - Control your Life

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Bye Bye, Corporatocracy!

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Moms Who Want a Creative Outlet

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Bake for Hope Chicago

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Business Development & Expansion

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Sanctuary Spirit and Truth Weekly Gathering

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Sorry I'm late this morning - I wish I could blame it on a late night at the Beachwood Inn (free pool and Bob behind the bar on Tuesday nights), but alas I had to get some NBC5 work out of the way.

So . . . let's see. Oh yeah. Here we go.

Thank You
William Schirmang.

You were the cause of - and the solution to - all of life's problems.

The Daley Show
"After Mayor Richard Daley pushed through his first city budget for 1990, the Buildings Department was headed by a commissioner, two deputy commissioners and an assistant commissioner," the Tribune reports.

"By this year, the mayor's budget has ballooned to include two managing deputy commissioners, a first deputy, five deputies and six assistants - even as the department has far fewer workers."

When Todd Stroger does it, he's a hack. When Richard M. Daley does it, he's an international management darling.

"The City Council is set to trim eight high-level managers from the Buildings Department when it votes on Daley's 2009 budget Wednesday.

"While Daley is cutting non-union top bosses, those layoffs will only partially offset the dramatic growth in upper-echelon management during Daley's reign. A Tribune analysis of city budgets found that since 1990 the number of department heads, deputies and assistant department heads has risen from fewer than 200 to almost 350, despite the slow shrinking of the city workforce."

*

The Trib is live-blogging today's council meeting.

Joe the Senator
I'm not going to spend the next four years saying I Told You So, or even the next four weeks, days or hours, but I will say that readers of the Beachwood will not be surprised that Barack Obama saved Joe Lieberman's bacon.

And progressives - meaning the left part of the Democratic party, clarification being necessary since moderates have tried to claim the nomenclature - who think they are Obama's base haven't been paying attention (or else they've been watching too much Fox News, a more unlikely possibility).

Memo to Kos, et. al.: You're idiots.

But it's nice of the Tribune, in a straight news story, to rationalize on behalf of the president-elect.

At least the Tribune finally acknowledged, sort of, what Obama did in that Connecticut primary.

*

The Clinton Administration is coming along nicely, don't you think?

Setting Sun-Times
"As we have told you and our shareholders before, the Board considered an option to voluntarily terminate the registration of our Company's stock with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Board determined that the Class A common stock is held of record by fewer than 300 shareholders and is therefore eligible for deregistration. We have estimated that if our Company's stock is deregistered under federal securities laws, our 2009 corporate costs would be more than $10 million lower than our 2008 corporate costs, due largely to reductions in costs related to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, SEC reporting and directors and officers insurance. This is a logical move for a company of our size."

Corporate costs could be lowered even more by eliminating the corporation.

Dr. Phil
I heard him say this yesterday and I thought it was worth repeating.

"I believe that 80 percent of questions are statements in disguise."

I wonder if the vice versa is also true.

Auto Pilot
I cannot believe - or, depressingly, I can - how many media members fell for the $1 PT Cruiser story I wrote about yesterday. I saw it picked up by CBS2, NBC5 and CNN Headline News, among others.

Do the math, people!

A) Newspapers should start selling a second ad for $1.
B) Pay a bribe for a zoning change and get the second one for a buck!
C) If you buy The Beachwood Media Company at list price, I will throw in a second one for a dollar.

Slim to None
The White Sox will become America's Team when monkeys fly out of Ozzie Guillen's butt - or when Richard Roeper spends more than 15 minutes writing his column, whichever comes first.

Lake Effect
The Urban Waterfronts Conference is in town.

Programming Note
That's all I've got today. Look for a full slate of Beachwood all the way around tomorrow.

The Beachwood Tip Line: To have and to hold.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:15 PM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix

The NBA season is still so young - only in its third week - yet trends both encouraging and discouraging are establishing themselves. For instance, if you ignored point guards in your draft until the late rounds, as I did sort of by accident, you are paying dearly for it. Six of the top 10 players by per-game averages in Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball so far are PGs. That in itself may not be too surprising, but some of the names are:

* Chris Paul -20. 8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 11.6 APG
* LeBron James -29.8 PPG, 8 RPG, 7.3 APG
* Dwyane Wade -27.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 7.3 APG
* Joe Johnson -26 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.9 APG
* Jason Kidd -10.4 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 8.2 APG
* Devin Harris -23 PPG, 4 RPG, 6.2 APG
* Amare Stoudemire -23.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2 APG
* Chauncey Billups -17.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 6.4 APG
* Al Jefferson -22.3 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.9 APG
* Dirk Nowitzki -24 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.2 APG

This list doesn't provide the whole story. For example, Kidd's ranking is helped by his 2.8 steals per game - second in the league. Paul, Wade, Johnson, Kidd, Harris and Billups are your PGs on this list. It's no surprise, of course, that Paul is the No. 1 player in fantasyland so far, as he was the No. 1 pick in most leagues. Wade, Johnson and Billups are all looking stronger than expected, with Billups' move to Denver in particular paying dividends. The big, big surprises are Kidd and Harris, who were swapped for one another last year. Kidd has been stellar for a very poor Dallas team, and Harris, who was expected to find his niche in New Jersey and have a break-out year, is far exceeding expectations.

So, who's missing from the top 10 list? For starters, where's Kobe? He still makes the top 20, but with the Lakers on a roll, his somewhat sub-par season so far is a surprise. Who's disappointing? Kevin Garnett and Shawn Marion are both well off their career PPG averages.

Let's check out the fantasy basketball experts for more observations:

* Fantasy Basketball Cafe weighs in this week on Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the big man from Cameroon, a rookie who wasn't drafted in most fantasy leagues and who, at the time, was thought to be a questionable early second-round pick in the NBA draft. He's been picking up the slack since Grizzlies' teammate Charlie Villaneuva has been injured, and with Memphis looking for bright spots (especially with Mike Conley underachieving so far), you can expect Mbah a Moute to lock himself in as a scoring and rebound threat.

* NBA Skinny highlights PG/SG Anthony Morrow, who had 37 points in his first career start for Golden State, even though had done little in three previous appearances. He seems to be at least a pretty strong play for now. The biggest part of his game is the three-pointer, but you might need to put up with fewer assists if you swap out another PG for him.

* Eric Karabell likes Jeff Green as a Hidden Gem for his 15.3 PPG and 6.2 APG. I didn't think he was all that much of a sleeper, as he was drafted in the eighth round in both my fantasy drafts. Right now, he is out-playing Kevin Durant, who has been having a bit of a sophomore slump.

Pigskin Poop
The big news in the fantasy football world is that Matt Cassel has stolen Tom Brady's identity (does Giselle Bundchen know?). Cassel hasn't been bad at all most weeks since taking over for the injured Brady; inconsistent, maybe, with 7 TDs and 7 INTs, but he's been making up for his flubs with pure yardage. In Week 11, Cassel passed for 400 yards, 3 TDs and - wait for it - 0 INTs.

As many fantasy leagues head into playoffs at the same time that some NFL starters start getting gentle treatment to save them for the post-season, Cassel could be a great option. For instance, if you have Eli Manning starting at QB most weeks and have Cassel on the bench, Cassel may now be worth a look.

Elsewhere, Peyton Manning has begun his second half comeback and should be a good bet this week against a sub-par San Diego passing defense.

The fantasy flubs worth mentioning this week include two running backs who usually have strong second halves but who have both become non-factors in recent weeks. Steven Jackson is the biggest disappointment, having missed three games and about to miss a fourth this week, despite having an injury that continues to be called a strain. The other MIA RB is Edgerrin James, who looked to have a comeback year this season, but has only 385 rushing yards and 3 TDs, getting eclipsed not only by fab rookie Tim Hightower, but also J.J. Arrington, both of whom probably have more value in Arizona's pass-happy offense. Former fantasy stud James had only 1 rushing yard in Week 11, the same number tallied by our wished-for Week 11 star Shaun Alexander.

And the fantasy football expert survey says:

* Yahoo! Pick-Ups of the Week stars Shaun Hill, another Tier 2 QB who is doing some great things at exactly the right time to contribute in fantasy league play-offs. WR Justin Gage also gets high marks. He's been a favorite passing target of Kerry Collins on the 10-0 Tennessee Titans, but you have to wonder if the Titans are about ready to lose. Also, LenDale White really gets most of the scoring chances on this team.

* Bleacher Report likes RB Warrick Dunn, QB Aaron Rodgers (even though he doesn't get to play the Bears again this week) and WR Donnie Avery. Dunn is going up against the Lions, who have the worst rush defense in the NFL.

* The Talented Mr. Roto recommends QB Kerry Collins and RB/Last Man Standing in Denver Peyton Hillis. Collins was among the top point collectors in Week 11, but again, the Titans are about set for a bad game, and it could be this week against the Jets. Hillis had 2 TDs in Week 11. I wonder if Tatum Bell gets more work this week against the increasingly poor Oakland rush defense. Still, as TMR points out. Hillis is the goal line choice.

Next week: Our first annual Fantasy Fix Turkey Bowl.

-

Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears every Wednesday, except for the occasional Thursday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:49 AM | Permalink

November 18, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

Several readers thought I made a bad analogy yesterday when I suggested that folks wouldn't shy away from buying cars from American automakers if those automakers happened to be re-organizing themselves in bankruptcy court. After all, I wrote, who among us hasn't flown on an airlines in bankruptcy?

The readers who called me out all made this point: an airline flight is a one-time deal, a very short-term relationship with a company requiring no further commitment. Purchasing an automobile, on the other hand, generally requires that you will be able to act on a warranty in the future and, for example, that parts will be available when needed. If a company's longevity falls into question because not everyone emerging from bankruptcy survives, sales may fall.

And the truth is, financially strong companies inspire confidence.

Point taken. I tossed off my point without really thinking it through. I'm still undecided about an automaker bailout, mainly because I haven't had the time and energy to research the issue sufficiently and also because the practical answer - yes, at least to get us through the short-term - is so offensive.

The car companies - like newspapers - have been in trouble ever since I can remember. Don't forget, America's manufacturing base started eroding in the 1970s. Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown" was recorded in 1983 ("These jobs are going, boys, and they ain't comin' back" referred to a textile mill in particular, but factory jobs in general ) and Roger & Me was released in 1989.

As far as I can tell, the fault lies with three parties. First, greedy and recalcitrant management utterly unable to innovate. Second, greedy and recalcitrant unions utterly unwilling to innovate. Third, politicians like the Family Dingell and "free-marketers" whose stance on trade puts American companies on an uneven playing field - not because they have to abide by silly things like living wages and environmental and safety standards, but because our trading partners don't.

Anyway, I'm still not convinced consumers will be fearful of auto companies in bankruptcy. Deals may abound, and I don't see the supply of parts needed to service autos from those companies disappearing from the planet. (And plane tickets are often bought in advance, with confidence an airline will still be around, as well as the additional safety concern that a plane in bankruptcy might fall out of the sky because it can't afford nuts and bolts anymore.) But it's a mess, and you have to wonder if a Gore administration would have nudged us further down Bill Clinton's "bridge to the 21st century" and in some way staved this off.

Maybe that's a role Gore can still play: energy czar, including the remaking of our auto industry. Many pundits now are talking up the opportunity Barack Obama has to make a new New Deal that is a Green Deal. Perhaps.

In the meantime, we'll probably have to bite the bullet to keep the auto industry on life support. But it's not clear that that is really doing anyone any favors in the long run.

Get One Free
The Sun-Times republishes a small portion of a SouthtownStar story today about Mancari's Chrysler-Jeep selling slightly used PT Cruisers for $1 to anyone paying full sticker price for a new Pacifica SUV.

Sounds like a great deal, right?

I mean, why wouldn't you? You could turn around and sell that PT Cruiser for a nice profit, right?

Well, once you learn more in the full SouthtownStar story, maybe not.

First of all, you have to calculate how much more money you are paying for the Pacifica by agreeing to the sticker price (more than $39,000) instead of the negotiated price you would usually pay. And then you have to figure in that the PT Cruisers available were previously used as rentals or driven by Chrysler employees; they normally retail for about $12,000.

So the gap is closing.

Let's say you end up paying $40,001 for both vehicles. Now let's say that you could get the Pacifica under normal circumstances for, say, $32,000. And the PT Cruiser for, say, $8,000. See what I mean?

Then it turns out the the car dealer, Frank Mancari, only had five Pacificas to put toward the promotion and expected those to be gone within two days, though he said he would make more available at another location.

"While Mancari said he's losing money on the deal, it has brought him plenty of publicity," the SouthtownStar reports.

I wonder if the amount he's losing when all is said and done equals how much he would have had to spend on advertising if the newspapers hadn't given it to him for free.

CSI: Crime Stats
"Police: Bad Economy May Breed Crime."

May?

Every study known to man shows a correlation between the economy, crime and poverty. It's a little hard to understand, I know, but good-paying jobs and optimism about future opportunity tends to dampen the motivations of many a criminal.

Inside the Outsource
"In 2005, 40 aldermen co-signed an ultimately unsuccessful ordinance that would have required an analysis of financial benefits - and Council approval - before the jobs of any more city employees were farmed out to private contractors," the Sun-Times notes.

So at least 16 aldermen backed down at the mayor's behest.

Maybe that's what Berny Stone really was referring to when he said "Nobody has any balls around here."

The Beachwood Tip Line: A bailout for your mind.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:07 AM | Permalink

HBO's Biting New Theme Song

These pages have dealt with TV theme songs from time to time. It's time to add another strong, new entry to the body of proof that those of us who treasure these recurring music videos with meaningful lyrics have a lot to celebrate: True Blood.

What do you say about a television series set in the Deep South that stars a Canadian by way of New Zealand, an Englishman, an Australian, and assorted other people who not only didn't grow up south of the Mason-Dixon line, but may never even have heard of it? You say, it better have someone around there who knows what they're talking about.

It does. True Blood, the HBO series that premiered this year, is the brainchild of Alan Ball, Academy Award-winning screenwriter of American Beauty (1999) and director of the acclaimed HBO series Six Feet Under. Ball came upon Charlaine Harris' The Southern Vampire Mysteries, a series of books set in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, and decided they would be a great basis for a TV series - one to which he could bring his Southern and gay sensibilities. The Atlanta native managed to snag Canadian/Kiwi Oscar winner Anna Paquin to play Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress who falls in love with Bill Compton (Englishman Stephen Moyer), a Civil War era vampire in an America in which vampires are now recognized citizens with legal rights and protections.

The parallels between gay and vampire rights are especially pointed ever since Proposition 8 put a stake through the heart of gay marriage in California. But Ball is careful to underplay the politics even as he populates Bon Temps with gay men and vampires. HBO hasn't gone as far as to allow gay, or even interracial, sex on the screen the way it has with its explicit and fairly kinky couplings of opposite-sex humans and humans/vampires. Perhaps this is just another nod toward the sexually hypocritical attitudes of religious Southerners Ball exposes during most episodes.

It is the subject of Southernness that I really wish to explore, specifically in the opening credit sequence and theme song that in many ways are a lot better than some of the show's episodes. They illustrate a South that may seem stereotypical, but that as a native Northerner, I feel I may never penetrate during my life. I rely on my husband, who spent many years in Georgia, to help me sort out what I'm seeing and how well it touches the heart of Southern culture. He assures me that the opening credits give slice-of-life shots of parts of the South that are still quite prevalent today. I don't know if it's going to get me in a lot of trouble to say that, but take a look, and I'll meet you at the other end.

Hmmm. Lots of sexy, writhing women, a few naked bodies if you look closely. A snake striking in slow motion. A suspended alligator skull showing a predator tamed. A Klansboy. An insect shaking as it frees itself from its shell juxtaposed with a black woman shaking in religious ecstasy. Violent protests. "God hates fangs." Death and decay. Every major theme of the show is covered in this compelling opening sequence - sex, intolerance, primitive Christianity, predators harmless and deadly and, well, death and decay.

The theme song breathes so naturally with the opening sequence, a brilliant marriage of images perfectly edited to match the song's rhythms. The lyrics of "Bad Things," by Jace Everett - who I thought at first was Chris Isaak - are as follows:

When you came in the air went out.
And every shadow filled up with doubt.
I don't know who you think you are,
But before the night is through,
I wanna do bad things with you.

I'm the kind to sit up in his room.
Heart sick an' eyes filled up with blue.
I don't know what you've done to me,
But I know this much is true:
I wanna do bad things with you.

When you came in the air went out.
And all those shadows there are filled up with doubt.
I don't know who you think you are,
But before the night is through,
I wanna do bad things with you.
I wanna do real bad things with you.
Ow, ooh.

I don't know what you've done to me,
But I know this much is true:
I wanna do bad things with you.
I wanna do real bad things with you

I particularly like how the lyric "And every shadow filled up with doubt" references Alfred Hitchcock's film Shadow of a Doubt, in which a trusted uncle is revealed to his namesake niece to be a psychopathic killer. Again, the edge on which the characters balance is perfectly encapsulated in this lyric. Sookie trusts her vampire lover, encouraging him to bite her the first time she ever makes love. But as in a television show True Blood liberally rips off - Buffy the Vampire Slayer - will Bill become, like Angel/Angelus in Buffy, the killer he is capable of being?

The humans come off even worse than the vampires - a human is almost certainly responsible for slaying a series of waitresses. This is, as the opening shows us, the frightful irrationality that some see in the ways of some Southerners, a temperament that stays very close to the sources of life and death from which the "more civilized" North prefers to keep its distance. Tapping this beating heart of darkness, the True Blood opening is as compulsively watchable as a train wreck.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:50 AM | Permalink

Big in Japan: Drunken Salarymen

The Japanese working tradition includes long hours, limited vacations, endless rules, tyrant-like bosses and a myriad of other complexities too difficult for the Western brain to comprehend. In this country, the first year of a recent college graduate's working life often consists of seven-day work weeks with few days off during the course of that year. And that's if he or she is lucky enough to get placed with a respectable company.

The Japanese are extremely hardworking and dedicated to their companies (even though many people don't to anything all day long). However, the concept of work here is radically different from what we are used to at home.

I was out to dinner not too long ago with some Japanese friends and, of course, the topic of conversation eventually turned to work. One of the women we were dining with is in the fashion business doing PR for the Tokyo office of a French luxury brand. She enthusiastically told us how much she loved her job, extolling the virtues, benefits and flexibility of her company.

"It's great," she said. "We get two vacation days every month."

"Wow," I said with a little bitterness. "It must be great to have that much time off every month."

"Oh, it is," she replied. "We even get to wear casual clothes on Saturday and Sunday."

Then it dawned on me. The two days to which she was referring were not in addition to her normal weekends; they were her normal weekends. She only got two days off per month, and was completely satisfied with this arrangement.

Totally perplexed and disgusted, I prodded her with a barrage of questions in order to get to the bottom of this travesty. My questions were met with a quizzical look, and she couldn't understand why I was getting so worked up about this issue. The straw that broke the camel's back, and ruined the dinner, was when I pointed out to her that this arrangement was most certainly illegal and suggested she take it up with her boss.

Perhaps this type of work is not so unheard of. People in the States also work long, unreasonable hours and sometimes must sleep in the office as their Japanese counterparts do. However, I know for a fact that karoshi (working to death) is not nearly as common in the United States as it is here.

Another cultural difference that separates the Japanese style of overwork from other countries is the salaryman and his propensity to follow his long working hours with equally long drinking sessions. Many times these drinking bouts last late into the night, often after the "shuden" or last train (usually between midnight and 1 a.m.) home has departed the station.

It is not uncommon to see drunken salarymen propping each other up and stumbling their way to the train station only to lie down and pass out five yards before reaching their destination. Another familiar sight is the salaryman unconscious in an upright position with vomit caked on his shoes and/or briefcase. Sometimes people get emotional, crying their eyes out or stubbornly refusing to board the train home. Even more bizzare is that the next morning they wake up, go to the Don Quijote, buy a new shirt and head into the office early. The boss won't get angry because it is entirely likely that he was the instigator of the previous night's drinking bout.

What makes this all the more interesting is the complete and total social acceptance of this behavior. Rarely will the police bother a drunken salaryman, despite his behavior. Public urination, no problem, as long as you are drunk. Loud, obnoxious arguments, no worries, as long as you are tanked.

If you happen to be headed home around the time of the last train on any given night and must pass through one of Tokyo's major transportation hubs (Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya), chances are high - though higher on Friday - you will encounter a few drunken company workers who have unwillingly tucked in for the night on the steps near the train.

All varieties of drunken experiences are possible. My personal favorite occurred one night this fall. I was on my way home around midnight and was about to pass through the turnstile at Shibuya Station in west Tokyo. Right before the main "hachiko" entrance to the station there is a row of public telephone booths (yes, they still exist here). It was there that I encountered a tiny salaryman so inebriated that he could only have been described as "stupid drunk."

The man was engaged in a losing battle made so much worse by his obvious state of intoxication: He was trying to exit the phone booth.

Time and time again he pushed on the sliding door on which he should have been pulling, all the while uttering unintelligible curses at the booth. When he finally managed, completely by accident, to open the door of the phone booth, he immediately collapsed to the pavement, lying with his legs inside the booth and the upper half of his body on the outside.

Thinking it was over, I began to move towards the station. Just as I passed him, however, the salaryman remembered that he had not actually made his phone call, which was his intention before getting chesty with the door in the first place. The absurd drunken ballet repeated itself and the coda occurred when the man gave up, and slumped down next to the booth for a few hours of much-needed rest.

Fascinating? Disturbing? Most certainly. However, tolerance of this type of behavior is even more curious considering this country's total and complete intolerance of any other kind of intoxication. For example, when a foreign sumo wrestler was found to possess a joint and a pipe with traces of THC, he was kicked out of sumo and deported in less than a week.

The social culture in Japan is passive; aggressiveness is considered offensive. However, when it comes to drinking off the work day, the salaryman gets a pass. I guess a seven-day work week is a small price to pay for the privilege.

-

Japanese Salary Man Tries To Sober Up

-

Total Trashoid Salary Man

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Completely Trashed Salary Man

-

Previously in Big in Japan:
* Not Fukudome
* The Yokohama Cubs
* The Chicago Way
* Not The Olympics
* Charisma Man
* Not American Football
* J-Girl Style
* Chicago Blues
* Obama

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 AM | Permalink

November 17, 2008

The [Monday] Papers

"We know you think it's weak to allow anyone to see any emotion, especially emotion as embarrassing as well, embarrassment," our very own Jim Coffman advises Lovie Smith. "But if you aren't ashamed of your defense's fundamental flaw, then pretty soon you'll have to stop pretending you're the right man for this job."

Steaming Pile
"President-elect Barack Obama, tear down those walls," Ad Age writes in an editorial today. "One of the words bandied about by many supporters of the next resident of the Oval Office was transparency. We've got one place he can start: this steaming pile of excrement known as the bailout plan."

Losing Ground
Among the new third-quarter housing stats released by Zillow.

homes2.jpg

Freak Show
"Feld Entertainment - the producer of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus - is represented by lobbyist Timothy Dart, the brother of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart," the Sun-Times reports. "Timothy Dart, his wife, Jennifer, his law partner John Nicolay and their law firm, Nicolay & Dart, have contributed $13,100 to aldermen and their ward organizations since 2004, $4,000 of that to Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th), Illinois State Board of Elections records show.

"Sources said Burke played a behind-the-scenes role in engineering the City Council delay [on an elephant-cruelty ordinance]."

Well, Ed Burke does need the money. I'm sure Nicolay & Dart are just being generous and don't expect anything in return for their gift.

*

Ed Burke can drink water while Willie Cochran speaks.

Sweet Lou
Rick Telander can't fathom how Lou Piniella was voted NL Manager of the Year.

Yes, if the voting took place after the playoffs, you'd probably have to go with the Phillies' Charlie Manuel. But Piniella guided a not-so-perfectly constructed team without a lead-off hitter or, really, an outfield, as well as a No. 1 pitcher who is such a No. 1 head case that he couldn't open the playoffs to 97 wins. Who else?

Six Degrees of Bill Cellini
Even the judge is connected.

Valerie Valhalla
It's been fascinating to watch Daley tool Valerie Jarrett suddenly emerge as a sainted public servant because she's a close adviser to Barack Obama. Maybe David Axelrod set up all those gushy magazine profiles.

Those in-the-know, though, know.

"The ultimate Chicago insider, Jarrett has family roots that run generations deep. She has avoided the scandals that have ensnared other Chicago power brokers, but her time in civic life has not been without some controversy," Politico reports.

"Habitat, which manages subsidized housing throughout the city, has been criticized for mismanaging some of its properties. One of the public-private projects, Grove Parc Plaza, deteriorated so badly that federal inspectors rated conditions there an 11 on a 100-point scale and moved to seize the property.

"Jarrett has supported a transformation of public housing that has demolished whole public housing projects and replaced them with mixed housing that includes both affordable and market-rate units, said Ethan Michaeli, publisher of Residents' Journal, a nonprofit publication that covers Chicago's low-income communities, who has written about Jarrett since the early 90s.

"The approach 'hasn't done much for public housing tenants or poor people in general,' he said, largely because the mixed-use developments have less affordable housing.

"The policy has poured billions of taxpayer dollars into private development and management companies and reduced the number of public housing units, Michaeli said. And when he talks to former residents of the demolished Robert Taylor Homes, more than 4,400 apartments in 28 high-rise buildings named after Jarrett's grandfather, Michaeli said he has never met a resident who benefited from the mixed-use approach.

"'If their lives were better, it was despite the best efforts of the housing agency, not because of them,' he said."

Detroit Leaning
I'm not sure if a bailout of America's top automakers is a good idea or not, though I'm leaning toward Not. But the argument against "forcing" these companies into bankruptcy - where they would not go out of business, but re-organize - because nobody will want to buy a car from a company in bankruptcy strikes me as kind of ridiculous. After all, who among us hasn't flown on an airlines in bankruptcy?

Losing Wood
So, my reading of these stories about Kerry Wood is that Jim Hendry is basically a liar. Do I have that wrong? It turns out Wood was willing to return to the Cubs on a one-year contract - surely with a hometown discount. Hendry, though, acted as if the Cubs wanted Wood back but just couldn't afford him. And, you know, he was looking out for Wood's family and suggested he go sign a multi-year deal somewhere else. Why not just say Wood no longer fits in the Cubs plans? I'm sure Wood and his family don't need looking after.

College Daze
Please, no more self-indulgent columns about journalists sending their kids to college. And you don't even have to leave Chicago to witness that incredibly weird secret custom called "tailgating."

The Beachwood Tip Line: Here and back.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 AM | Permalink

What I Watched Last Night

Often I spend at least a certain portion of my Saturdays watching really bad TV - as opposed to the slightly bad TV I watch during the week. One difference is that I often watch retread movies on Saturdays that I never ventured out to the theater to see in their day - and never would have even if I had the chance. It's a way to numb my brain over the weekend - sort of like alcohol.

So that's how I found myself watching Patch Adams and The Break-Up within hours of each other. Go ahead, make fun of me. I don't have much of a defense. Both movies were pretty bad. At the same time, both movies could've worked. Let's take a look.

As I'm sure everybody knows, Patch Adams is the story of a real-life doctor who preaches that humor is the best medicine; that the health care system is cold and unfeeling. That rules are meant to be broken. Patch Adams is a rebel who wears a Hawaiian shirt under a white lab coat.

Movies about wacky personalities who teach us all that our institutions are inhumane may be a dime a dozen, but they remind us of a lesson we seem to constantly need re-learning. Of course, the folks who really need to learn this lesson will likely never see these movies, nor learn from them if they do. To me, the real answer is to prevent and obstruct these people from achieving positions of power. Or maybe show how a united effort - from a staff, not an individual who has to put his or her ass on the line - can create change.

Because if you're waiting for a Patch Adams to come save you, you're going to be waiting a long time.

And you'll be waiting even longer if you're waiting for Robin Williams to come save your film.

As has been observed by many millions before me, this is pretty much the same character Williams has played in several movies before and after; the faux gonzo humanitarian who shakes up a chilly bureaucracy of narrow-minded traditionalists.

Maybe in the 60s this would have been compelling, but geez . . . these days you can just go work for Google and play ping-pong all day.

Anyway, the problems with this movie go beyond Williams. In effect, there is really no plot. Oh sure, we ostensibly watch Patch progress through medical school, open an unlicensed free clinic, and cope with the death of his love interest. But there really isn't a narrative thread; instead, the film is pieced together by a series of scenes so thin that the constant tinkling of the wondrous Disney-like score provides most of the fake emotional ballast.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is the stereotypical stand-in for the arrogant rich kid who has a super-sized brain but can't relate to people; Monica Potter is the woman who has been the target of men for all her life because of her attractive good looks whom Patch covets solely because of her attractive good looks; Bob Gunton is the evil dean who dares to enforce a rule keeping medical students - who are, after all, still students and haven't even graduated - from seeing actual patients until they are ready to do so without killing them. Somehow, this is judged to be an evil rule imposed by evil doctors who evilly think one should have a medical degree before trying to treat the guy in Room 305 dying of pancreatic cancer.

Truly, I thought Patch Adams should have been tossed out on his ass long before he got his dramatic hearing before the state medical board. And the dean was right when he diagnosed Adams not as a hero but as a guy working through his own issues in his selfish search for meaning and validation.

In the end, Patch pretty much gets his object of desire murdered. And then he only breaks out of his depressive shell by believing that she has been reincarnated as a butterfly. I mean, really. What is the real lesson here?

I know this movie has been the subject of much (deserved) mockery, but I consulted Wikipedia to see how it did at the box office. "The film is generally considered a box-office success, grossing over twice its budget in the United States alone."

Not a shock.

At least on IMDB there is a reader thread titled "WHY does nobody like this movie?"

Finally, the real Patch Adams is still around. I'm sure he's a great guy, but seeing him with the duck hat and rubber nose here makes me want to smack him in the face.

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The Break-Up is a better movie than Patch Adams, but it's still a failure.

This movie could have worked if it went one way or another - darker or more intellectual in its rendering of a relationship that falls apart and the messy aftermath, or zanier in its depiction of bitter, warring ex-lovers. More of the a cappella martial arts brother and less about the freedom to play video games now that the nagging girlfriend is gone.

My suspicion, too, is that either direction would have required different casting. Cameron Diaz or Mira Sorvino, for example, in the zany direction; Janeane Garafalo in the darker or intellectual direction, natch. I almost hate to say it, but maybe even Jim Carrey or, better yet, Matthew Broderick as the guy. Just sayin'.

The problems with this film are myriad. First, the relationship between Jen and Vince isn't believable. They meet at a Cubs game and we're quickly spun through a series of photos to establish that they fell in love and eventually bought a condo together. There's no fire, just bickering.

The movie does work in brief bursts, which is what leads me to believe it could've worked if it went in an alternate route. For example, the argument about doing the dishes ("I want you to want to do the dishes!" "Who wants to do dishes?!") is believable, as is the way the movie touches on communication problems where each side is listening to the same words but hearing different things.

But alas, those moments are in short supply.

On the other hand, if the movie went down a more psychotic route, that, too, would have been interesting. Trying to make each other jealous is pretty rote; a more devious battle covering a wider range of each person's life would have had far more potential. I mean, the Vince Vaughn character runs a Chicago tour bus; how could that not be a vehicle (no pun intended) for dark comedy?

"I found two good things in this otherwise execrable movie," one thread says at IMDB.

How did it do at the box office?

According to Wikipedia, "The romance/comedy film has grossed over $203 million worldwide, with a total of $118,703,275 in the American box-office."

I seem to remember it being considered a flop, though.

Here's how Roger Ebert opened his review:

"The Break-Up hints that the broken-up couple will get back together again, but that doesn't make us eager for a sequel. The movie stars Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston as Gary and Brooke, a steady couple who have many reasons to break up but none to get together, except that they fall in love. Since the scenes where they're together are so much less convincing than the ones where they fall apart, watching the movie is like being on a double-date from hell."

Even more so when your double-date is this and Patch Adams. But at least I succeeded in numbing my brain.

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See what else we've been watching! Submissions welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:44 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday

With 30-some seconds remaining in the first half, Charles Tillman moved forward with his head up, spread his arms, drove his shoulder into the midsection of the Packer wide receiver who had just made a short reception, and took him down. It was the Bears' first form tackle . . . of the game. The contest went from embarrassment to utter humiliation in the second half, but the first 30 minutes were worse because not a single Bear could execute the skill upon which all defense is based. As Packer running back Ryan Grant bounced off one pathetic tackle attempt after another (and bounced back from the only memorable hit of the day - Mike Brown's atomic bomb blast late in the first quarter), he knocked away all the artifice and exposed the Bears defense as it truly is - completely deficient.

The situation cries out for major changes and here's a start: much more hitting in practice. Now Lovie, I know you worry your precious little players will get hurt but . . . they can't tackle. Did I mention they can't tackle? Be embarrassed about that, coach! We know you think it's weak to allow anyone to see any emotion, especially emotion as embarrassing as well, embarrassment. But if you aren't ashamed of your defense's fundamental flaw, then pretty soon you'll have to stop pretending you're the right man for this job.

I'm afraid I do have a few more complaints:

* Another quick fix is to get safety Kevin Payne off the field. It is old news that Payne is one of the worst tacklers ever seen in these parts (Bears radio analyst Tom Thayer began pointing it out much earlier this season). He never, ever wraps up opposing ball carriers (and he never covers receivers either, but we're focusing on tackling today). My personal favorite from his first half lowlight reel was during one of Grant's big early runs, when he dove forward at where he guessed the ball-carrier would be, missed by several yards, and in the process smashed into teammate Nick Roach. In so doing, he not only ensured his speedy, pursuing teammate would have no shot at taking Grant down, he also almost sent Roach to the sideline with an injury. On the other hand we would have welcomed a Bear lineman trying to turn himself into a human missile. Sure, he probably would have missed the tackle as well but at least that would have meant he hadn't been pancaked by whichever Packer lineman happened to be on point during that particular play.

* At the other safety spot, many observers were surprised when the Bears brought Mike Brown back for another season this fall despite so many injuries during the previous three seasons. He now appears to be the only Bear (including linebackers) who can race up to the line of scrimmage and make any kind of effective play on a ball-carrier when a first down or at least a big gain is still in doubt (unless they commit too many guys exclusively to run-defense like they did against Tennessee). Brown's return now stands as just about the only thing the Bears have been absolutely right about on defense this fall.

* The Dusty Dvoracek and Tommie Harris "Isn't it neat they played defensive tackle together in college at Oklahoma and now they're playing together in the pros" era ended late in the second quarter when they were absolutely obliterated on the Ryan Grant touchdown run that made it 14-3. Obliterated. They should never play together again. Somebody has to be stronger than these guys, even in this system. Under-sized defensive tackles who are supposed to out-quick opponents are one of Lovie's true loves, but if it wasn't obvious last week this wasn't working when the Bears never managed a sniff of an up-the-middle pass rush against Tennessee, it certainly was obvious when the Packers did whatever they wanted on Sunday.

* Every Bear unit was awful on Sunday. Hunter Hillenmeyer was out of the starting linebacking lineup despite being healthy enough to suit up. So that meant he had special teams duties, where he made news only once - a holding penalty on Devin Hester's best return of the day. As for the marquis linebackers, well, is it the money that has ruined Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs? Actually I would argue Urlacher is the same as he ever was the last half-dozen years. Before that he was the lightning-fast sideline-to-sideline dervish tracking down the likes of an in-his prime Michael Vick. But he hasn't been quite that fast in a long time. He had a surge late last season, making it seem as though he had finally found something close to full health and the performance that came with it. But he can't seem to make more than one or two big plays a game this time around, and teams run right at him time after time after time. On the other hand, Briggs, he of the trashed Lamborghini and other excesses, seems a perfect candidate for "got the big contract-stopped trying as hard" status.

* The secondary is in absolute disarray. You would think someone would have taught these guys by now that at the very beginning of a play in Lovie's Tampa-2 set, you are responsible for a zone and only a zone, but that once a play progresses just a bit, you have to find receivers and figure out how to get between them and the ball. So many times on Sunday - and really, all season - Bears cornerbacks and safeties seemed to content to just sit in their zones. And top cornerbacks Nathan Vasher and Tillman . . . at some point, Lovie, you have to remember you paid these guys all sorts of money because they can at least occasionally cover guys man-to-man. And you have to let them do that in order to generate more pass rush, and you have to resign yourselves to Vasher and Tillman occasionally messing it up and getting beat deep. Of course, the deep pass is a low percentage play and more often than not will result in an incompletion no matter how open the receiver is.

* That was why that second-down play in the final minute in the first half, the one that resulted in the incompletion that ensured the Packers would get the ball back with plenty of time to get into field goal range, was so mind-bogglingly ill-advised. We can perhaps accept a pass in that situation to try to shake up a game that was going so wrong, but at least make it a pass the team has a decent chance to complete. The Bears still should have run the ball to force the Pack to take its last timeout and to ensure they wouldn't get the ball back after the Bears ran on the next play as well. But a low-percentage pass deep down the sideline to a tightly covered Devin Hester - a pass that even had he caught it, he almost certainly would have come down out of bounds? That was just grim.

* On several occasions in the second half, cameras showed a clueless Lovie standing on the sideline with no emotion, no visible mental exertion of any kind, heck, no talking. It has been asked before regarding former Raider coach Art Shell, but Lovie, why do you wear that headset if you never talk into it? And what was that in the coach's hand that he kept looking at in between plays? Was it a prayer card?

* As for the offense, the less said the better. Kyle Orton clearly wasn't ready to play - yet another blown call by the coach. And it is becoming more and more apparent that while Matt Forte is rock-solid carrying and catching the ball, he is far from special. When the Packers covered Bears tight ends who lined up wide with extra cornerbacks, it was clear the Bears didn't know how to respond. And they never did.

* Here's one last idea that is slightly more radical than the rest: how about moving Urlacher to strong safety and Briggs to middle linebacker? Urlacher played strong safety in college and it has been clear for a long time that his primary strength is pass coverage. He can't be any worse back there than Payne. And maybe the spot in the middle will wake up Briggs. Of course, first we have to wake his coach.

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Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday because he loves you. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:39 AM | Permalink

November 16, 2008

The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week

1. If your significant other has cybersex on Second Life, does that constitute adultery? If you're like Amy Taylor of Great Britain, you don't particularly care what the answer is - you just want the loser out of your life. And so Taylor has becomes the first woman to meet her spouse on a virtual reality site and later divorce him because his avatar couldn't keep his virtual pants on.

2. Farewell to the world's ugliest dog, although we understand there's a new contender for the title.

3. You'd think that with a net worth of $490 million, Madonna would be able to tackle the job of building a school in Malawi without financial assistance from her fans. Wrong. Detroit's answer to Mother Teresa is soliciting donations on her website for a girl's academy that will presumably out-Oprah Oprah's $40 million boarding school in South Africa. It's designed to help girls "reach their full potential," which we can only assume means learning the 3Bs: bustiers, bad acting and seven percent body fat. Three guesses what's on the reading list.

4. Memo to self: If I ever visit NASA, do not drink the water.

5. I have a diabolically Rovian answer to the Republican party's doldrums - Piper Palin in 2012. So what if she's only seven - she's a chip off the old block. Not even Katie Couric would give her grief for not knowing the signatories to the NATO treaty when she looks this adorable teetering in Mom's high heels.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:25 PM | Permalink

November 15, 2008

The Weekend Desk Report

The Weekend Desk goes to India for six weeks and what the hell happens? Here's a quick look at the top stories I missed while contemplating my navel.

Market Update
As I dangled somewhere over the Atlantic, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged from Mildly Disconcerting to Seriously Not Funny. Banks continued to eat each other and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson continued his slow decline into Vice President Dick Cheney.

Stuck Between Barack and a Hard Place
The entire free world was saved; except for the part where it wasn't. Meanwhile, against all the laws of nature, Rod Blagojevich's hair has amassed even greater powers.

Triumvirate Update
Despite worrying reports to the contrary the Hermit Kingdom continues to threaten Western stability. Any attempts to return Iraq to the international mainstream have gone terribly awry. And Iran continues to dabble with the kind of long-range capabilities that keep us all up at night.

Lion in Winter
Finally this week, in a mixed-up, topsy-turvy, upside-down world, it's good to know some things never change.

Thanks to everyone who filled in for me while I was away. The Weekend Desk appreciates your support!

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:30 AM | Permalink

Chicago In Song: Truckin' and Druggin'

Boy, those classic country guys sure seem partial to using Chicago in their song lyrics. This time in Chicago In Song, two more of them, Lester Flatt and David Allan Coe, trot out the city in their ditties, in one case referencing Chicago's supreme position as the trucking capital of the world, and in the other . . . well, as a drug-ridden hellhole.

I know. You just can't escape the typecasting.

Lester Flatt/Backin' to Birmingham
This is pure bluegrass novelty delight from Lester Flatt, who, by the time "Backin' to Birmingham" came out on 1972's Kentucky Ridgerunner LP (it was later re-issued in 2003 as part of the RCA Country Legends series) had split with Earl Scruggs and had formed a new band called Nashville Grass. Flatt was determined to stay true to the bluegrass ethic while Scruggs wanted to go in a more rock direction. History has proven that Flatt was the smart one.

lester_flatt.jpgHis early '70s stint on RCA Victor was not an especially successful one commercially, especially when compared with the overwhelming popularity of his '60s run with Scruggs - mostly thanks to the inexplicable Beverly Hillbillies phenomenon, which yielded bluegrass' biggest-ever crossover into modern pop culture. But Flatt's dogged adherence to Bill Monroe's spirit during this time provided a crucial link to today's modern bluegrass movement. His example gave young Baby Boomer fans such as Marty Stuart an example of principled devotion to traditional Americana at a time when pretty much all country music was being derided as cornball trash by anyone under 30.

Stuart, in fact, joined the Nashville Grass in 1972 at the tender age of 13 as a mandolin-playing prodigy, in effect becoming part of Lester Flatt's family and "attending" school via correspondence courses. I wasn't able to determine whether Stuart played on this particular recording, but he certainly was performing it live with Nashville Grass shortly thereafter.

The Chicago connection with this song is a fairly common one in the Chicago In Song canon, which is the city's status as a transportation hub. Probably next to being the home of the blues, the city's image as an air, railroad and highway center is its most frequent function in popular song lyrics. I can't tell you how many times I've seen lines like, "Thirty miles outside of Chicago, I thought about my baby and cried," or "I was flying into Chicago at night," etc., etc. Planes, trains, and automobiles, as John Hughes would say.

And trucks, as Lester Flatt would add. Chicago is the world's largest trucking hub - there are 394,000 trucking industry workers in Illinois, one out of every 14 workers in the state. And the guy in this song was one of them, although not a very competent one. "Backin' to Birmingham" tells the comic tale of a Chicago city slicker who wants to be a long-haul trucker:

Read an ad in Chicago's Sunday paper
Help wanted, semi driver needed bad
I walked in I said I'd like to see the foreman
I told him all the experience that I had

He said, "Son, you're just the man I needed"
Handed me the keys and shook my hand
He pointed to the truck and said, "I'll see you
Take that load of steel to Birmin'ham"

The steel reference ties another Chicago industrial staple into the song. It's very likely Lester had the steel mills of Gary or Hammond in mind when he wrote this ditty, which neatly ties together two of the main industries that made Chicago what it is - steelmaking and transportation. It's like reading a trade magazine . . . only more entertaining.

Well I finally got inside and got it started
Put it into gear and started backin' up
Tried every way to get it goin' forward
Oh, but I ain't never drove a big old truck

Well it wasn't easy backin' through the traffic
And I'll bet I'm the first truck drivin' man
That ever left Chicago in a semi
And backed it all the way to Birmin'ham

The route from Chicago to Birmingham takes the backwards driver through Nashville in Flatt's song, so I'm kind of thinking he took Interstate 65 all the way. So that would also take him through Gary, on down to Indianapolis, past Louisville and right to Nashville, the home of Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass! Coincidence? I think not.

David Allan Coe/Heaven Only Knows
After a brief detour through its considerable economic meaning, Chicago is back on its well-worn track as a metaphor for horrible human suffering and death in David Allan Coe's "Heaven Only Knows," from his great 2003 album and DVD, Live at Billy Bob's Texas. It's probably best described as a gritty, heartfelt ballad from an outlaw country legend who's better known for more aggressive tunes like "Take This Job and Shove It."

david_allan_coe.jpgIn "Heaven Only Knows," Coe, as masterful as always in the ways of the country song, writes something so damn country that you're not quite sure if he's making fun. I mean, he's the guy who popularized the ironic song about what it takes to write the "perfect" country tearjerker, "You Never Even Called Me By My Name." So, how can we be sure he really means the acres and acres of heartbreak in "Heaven Only Knows?" Well, at least on the Billy Bob's album, he sounds like he means it.

The premise of the song is one man's lament about the backwoods hellhole he lives in and how his ungrateful kids couldn't wait to get out of there. But it turns out home ain't so bad after all, as the young 'uns find out. Daughter dreams of Hollywood, and guess what? She turns into a porn star.

You ain't Daddy's little girl anymore
Isn't that a crying shame
With your dreams of California
Searching for your wealth and fame

I can still see the teardrops
Streaming down your face
I can still hear you say
There's no future in this place

You thought you knew all the answers
When you were seventeen
Someone just sent me your picture
From some dirty magazine

And I've heard you made some movies
That I would not care to see
I just know how much I love you
And that don't mean a thing to me

So there you've got your West Coast den of inequity. Porn. Sin. The rape of the innocent hillbilly girls. But wait, there's another, Midwestern modern-day Sodom much closer to home as well, as the porn star's brother found out after he, too, up and left rural America and lit out for the Big City.

I guess your brother felt the same way
I could not keep him on the farm
They found his body in Chicago
With a needle in his arm

I can still see the teardrops
Streaming down his face
And I can still hear him say
There's no future in this place

A whore in L.A. A drug addict in Chicago. I'd say David Allan (or D.A.C. as he's known) pretty much has a right to cry into his rebel flag. Chicago's reputation as a drug-infested city of broken dreams has hardly ever been put so succinctly into a song lyric. But that's what songwriters of great talent like D.A.C. do when they call upon the ghosts of the Windy City . . . they don't just settle for run of the mill imagery. They find newer and better ways to make it seem even more terrible than ever before.

It's this willingness to go over the edge that seems to set Chicago apart from other cities regularly referenced in song lyrics. I have yet to really explain it. There are other cities just as poverty-filled, drug-ridden and overflowing with heartbreak. New York, for instance. Yeah, there are certainly songs out there that bemoan those things about New York, but they're more than balanced out by unending odes to Gotham's many delights. So where are the delightful songs about Chicago? Do we have nothing to offer, delight-wise? Why aren't there a half-dozen mega-hits about the Magnificent Mile, or romantic classics stretching back 50 years about Navy Pier?

Are we really so bad? Answer me that, and I will be forever in your debt.

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Comments? Write Don.

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From "Cubs 'N Roses" to "The O'Hare Blues," Chicago In Song explores the myriad and fascinating ways our fair city is portrayed in popular music. Check out the whole collection.

Posted by Don Jacobson at 12:09 AM | Permalink

November 14, 2008

The [Friday] Papers

"CTA officials figure it will lose about 17 million rides because of the [fare] increase."

Here's an idea: cut fares and gain 17 million rides. Find a price point that would maximize revenue. Don't they have an in-house economist to do this?

And why is reversing free rides for seniors off the table?

And is it ever a good idea to kiss-off 17 million customers who want your product?

There has to be a better way.

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File under Culture Wars.

"A Chicago man who persuaded a Minnesota judge to delay his sentencing in a drug case so he could vote in the presidential election didn't show up for his hearing this week."

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"Daley wants Jones' successor to be from Cook County."

Daley wants everyone's successor to be from Cook County.

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"Leading up to the closed-door session, Daley dispatched some of his Springfield emissaries to spread word that his preference is someone from the Chicago area, Senate sources said.

"But the mayor publicly denied having any role in that maneuver, which was first tipped Wednesday in the Capitol Fax political newsletter published by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rich Miller."

So then I guess Daley scolded his Springfield operatives from acting without his authority.

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"I haven't said that at all. I don't know who you're talking to. Who's Capitol Fax anyway?" Daley said after Wednesday's City Council meeting."

Then Daley denied he was even the mayor.

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I'm still trying to figure this one out.

"Cook County Judge Martin Coughlin kept discussion focused on Davis' alleged left turn crossing the center line and refused to hear testimony from Kuhlmann about a second time she claimed [U.S. Rep. Danny] Davis' vehicle drifted over the double yellow lines. Davis remained silent.

"Coughlin dismissed the charge, saying 'of course' Davis crossed the double yellow line - that's what happens when you make a left turn."

Um, no, that's not what you do, unless you start turning before you've reached the intersection, which is, um, dangerous. And the officer testified, near as I can tell, that Davis "veered" across the yellow line (more than once, it turns out.)

This is where it happened.

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"This effort, along with kind words from Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) last night about Lieberman, is giving the Connecticut senator some serious momentum heading into next week's secret vote. Dodd's involvement in saving his home-state senator is an extraordinary turn because Dodd backed Democratic candidate Ned Lamont in 2006 against Lieberman, who won the Connecticut Senate race as an independent. Dodd, however, had backed Lieberman in the Democratic primary and only switched support to Lamont when he became the Democratic nominee."

The media continues to be allergic to pointing out that Obama did the same thing.

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Tim Willette has an addendum to yesterday's item about the representation of Humboldt Park in the New York Times:

"Of the B&B and three restaurants reported as situated in 'Augie March Country,' one is in Bucktown, one in Wicker Park, one in Logan Square, and a fourth at 'the Humboldt Park-Logan Square border' (rather a stretch at 3749 W. Fullerton). This is just as well, considering the average dinner for two at the restaurants prices north of $100 (safely beyond the reach of most actual Humboldt Park residents). Nevertheless, 'for those who prefer to stay downtown' rather than brave the grit of an exotic Bucktown bed and breakfast, the Trump International Hotel and Tower's address and phone number are helpfully provided."

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From the Association for Women Journalists:

"In case you missed AWJ's October 15 program featuring Linda Yu, Hanke Gratteau, Lynn Norment and Sally Eisele discussing where women stand in Chicago newsrooms and the release of AWJ's report on our survey of Chicago newsworkers, now you have a chance to watch it or listen to it.

CAN TV will broadcast the discussion on Sunday, Nov 23 at 1 p.m. Additional airings are expected, as this is not easy for non-Chicago residents to view, we aim to get it posted online soon.

In the meantime, you can listen to the program via Chicago Amplified.

The report, "Where Women Stand: A Survey of Newsroom Staff in the Chicago Region," can be downloaded from www.awj-chicago.org.

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Schools can't fix poverty.

They can't fix segregated housing patterns either.

Like most things in life, the best way to fix schools is to fix the causes of the problem.

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Now that the Sun-Times has written about Obama's extraordinarily boring haircut (is there nothing too mundane left to fetishize? Which deodorant he prefers? The style of toothbrush he uses?) and the Tribune has at last weighed in on the surging popularity of his Hartmarx suits, can we call a media moratorium on these moldy matters? And please, no more tours of Hyde Park.

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"Student writers and supporters of Youth Communication Chicago will rally at noon on Saturday, November 15, at YCC's Columbia College office, 619 S. Wabash, to call attention to the organization's financial crisis.

"After 32 years of publishing New Expressions as a vehicle for Chicago youth voices, YCC suspended operations early this month, said executive director Phil Costello.

"'It's the economy, and the squeeze on nonprofits, and the crisis in the newspaper industry - it's a perfect storm,' Costello said."

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"It's time for the annual Sound Opinions Turkey Shoot! Each year, Jim and Greg call out the year's most disappointing albums and give thanks they don't have to hear them again.

"If you have a 'Turkey' you'd like to line up and shoot, e-mail us and we'll contact you to be on the air.

"And tune in this Friday at 8 p.m. or Saturday at 11 a.m. as Jim and Greg take a look at the musical genre that has kept teens screaming for over half a century: Bubblegum Pop."

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"At the heart of Renaissance 2010 is a belief that families should have a range of good educational options to select from. But a Catalyst analysis finds that a significant number of black students are making lackluster choices, bypassing their low-performing neighborhood school only to end up at one that's no better. Ten of the city's neediest neighborhoods have yet to get better schools. And families find it tough to navigate the free-for-all process of choosing schools."

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It's the economic death spiral: workers are laid off while prices rise.

Economic activity slows.

So more workers are laid off.

A government stimulus package is complicated by the mind-boggling deficits we've run up - it turns out they do matter, Dick.

So the only way to dig ourselves out of this mess is to dig ourselves in deeper.

I've begun to think an FDR-style public works program really is part of the answer.

Another part of the answer is for the wealthy to do their part, whether that's continuing to make investments, fund R&D, accept a more equitable tax code, or propping up industries that ought to be propped up.

*

From Wikipedia's entry on Jimi Hendrix drummer Mitch Mitchell, who died this week:

"Mitchell pioneered a style of drumming which would later become known as fusion. This is a 'lead' style of playing distinguished by interplay with lead instruments such as guitar or keyboards, and the melding of jazz and rock drumming styles. Though lead drums was not a new concept in the world of jazz, it was relatively unheard of in the rock genre at the time. Upon joining Hendrix in late 1966, it soon became evident to Mitch that the trio format of the band was very similar to the recently formed Cream, and that it would allow him an opportunity to become more free with his playing. Like a jazz drummer, Mitch's playing not only provided a rhythmic support for the music, but also a source of momentum and melody. He made heavy use of snare rudiments, fast single and double stroke rolls, and jazz triplet patterns in his playing, and shifted between both traditional and matched grips. Notable examples of his style include the rudiment-heavy fills on 'Hey Joe,' which help to carry the song through a series increasingly intense crescendos. 'Manic Depression' is a 3/4 rock waltz that finds Mitch playing a driving afro-cuban inspired beat, which then shifts to an explosion of triplets all around the drumkit during the outro. 'Third Stone from the Sun' incorporates a jazz ride pattern to underpin Hendrix's jazzy surf guitar, and the spacey breakdown section features polyrythmic drum fills that float over the 4/4 meter. '1983 . . . (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)' features military-style snare drum work and delicate cymbal playing that evokes the sound of wind chimes. The long blues jam 'Voodoo Chile' features Mitch playing a deep blues groove with subtle hi-hat accenting and powerful drum fills that help to propel the song to new heights. Alongside Hendrix's revolutionary guitar work and songwriting, Mitchell's playing helped redefine rock music drumming."

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Thank God it's Tip Line.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

Almost the whole country is in love with one buzzword: change. Please ignore the fact that in six months we're likely to tire of "change," and we're going to love "charity," "respect," or "temporary tent cities" more. Notice that I stated almost the whole country is in love with "change." One man hates change: Lovie Smith.

Lovie refuses to change the defensive call to help limit the pass. And Lovie refuses to change the offense so it plays to Rex's limited strengths and limits the effects of his limitless weaknesses.

After further review, Lovie's problem is not hubris or obstinance. Lovie simply does not understand ANY meaning of change. Here are some common definitions and Lovie's understanding of them.

*

Definition: to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone: to change one's name; to change one's opinion; to change the course of history.

Lovie's Definition: Lovie is afraid to take a boat trip because of the fear that "the boat will fall off the face of the Earth."

*

Definition: to give or get smaller money in exchange for: to change a five-dollar bill.

Lovie's Definition: When somebody asks for change for $5, Lovie cuts the $5 bill in five pieces.

*

Definition: to substitute another or others for; exchange for something else, usually of the same kind: She changed her shoes when she got home from the office.

Lovie's Definition: Lovie wears the same underwear until it wears out, though he does change it by sometimes turning it inside-out.

*

Definition: (of the voice) to become deeper in tone; come to have a lower register: The boy's voice began to change when he was thirteen.

Lovie's Definition: Even though Lovie likes to do impressions, the only one he's good at is Cleveland Brown.

*

Definition: a variation or deviation: a change in the daily routine.

Lovie's Definition: Let's practice the Tampa-2 three times today instead of twice.

*

Definition: variety or novelty: Let's try a new restaurant for a change.

Lovie's Definition: Let's play the Tampa-3! Just kidding. Okay, line up for Tampa-2 practice.

*

Definition: the passing from one place, state, form, or phase to another: a change of seasons; social change.

Lovie's Definition: No matter what I do, the game will never change and pass me by.

-

Bears at Packers
Storyline: Storied franchises meet in a storied rivalry. The average record of both teams is the same ol' story.

Reality: Green Bay's ability to adjust will be the story.

Prediction: Green Bay Minus 4 Points, Under 44 Points Scored

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Sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 55%
Recommended sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 40%

-

Over/Under: Product placement opportunities the NFL is missing.

-

Fantasy Fix: Fantasy mysteries.

-

Eric Emery grew up in small-town Illinois but has an irrational love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Every week he writes The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report and Over/Under. You can send him love letters and hate mail and he will respond graciously.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:45 AM | Permalink

Over/Under

I'm not one to pimp products. But I must say, the new pancakes at IHOP rock the house. I mean, if I happen to be in the mood for pancakes at 7:30 p.m., I'd eat them, and I'm pretty sure I'd like them. Why am I excited about pancakes I've never consumed? A friend from high school is the star of the commercial for said pancakes. So as a good friend, it's my job to sell a few stacks. But this got me to thinking: what product placement opportunities is the NFL missing out on? Let's take a look.

*

Opportunity: Al Davis
Advertiser: Circuit City
Why: The intellectually bankrupt should shop at a bankrupt store. Plus, he's blown all his circuits. Ha ha.

*

Opportunity: Cowboys fans
Advertiser: Soft Surroundings
Why: Banging your head against a brick wall hurts.

*

Opportunity: Brian Urlacher
Advertiser: Planned Parenthood
Why: Duh.

*

Opportunity: Mike Holmgren
Advertiser: Samsonite
Why: For when your bags are already packed.

*

Opportunity: Brett Favre
Advertiser: AIG
Why: When you're not sure you're ready for retirement - and neither are we.

*

Opportunity: The Minnesota Vikings
Advertiser: Sylvan Learning Center
Why: We take on even the toughest underachievers.

*

Opportunity:Bears fans
Advertiser: Bare Necessities
Why: Because that's all they ever have.

*

Opportunity: Ben Roethlisberger
Advertiser: Ice.com
Why: Because "Big Ben" always seems to have a "Big Injury," yet all is okay with his health until he throws a "Big INT."

*

Opportunity: Lance Briggs
Advertisers: GEICO, duilawyer.com
Why: Because when you're a rich athlete, you never have to pay for your mistakes.

-

OverHyped Game of the Week: Cowboys at Redskins
Storyline: Everybody hates each other. Hate. Anger. Frustration. Murder.

Reality: The only thing you'll hate is the sloppy play. The only thing worth watching is Dallas hating themselves.

Prediction: Washington Plus 2.5 Points, Under 46 Points Scored

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UnderHyped Game of the Week: Ravens at Giants
Storyline: Nobody cares about Baltimore. Nobody cares about the Giants. Who won the Super Bowl last year? Well, you'll be surprised to know it was the Giants. Too bad you don't care.

Reality: All these teams want to do is make you care. So they will reward you with a pretty close, physical game.

Prediction: Giants Minus 6, Under 42 Points Scored

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Eric Emery grew up in small-town Illinois but has an irrational love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Every week he writes The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report and Over/Under. He also is a spark plug in floor hockey. You can reach him here.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:20 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Elegy For Studs

ELEGY FOR STUDS

Listen: voices embroider
the unwelcome November rain.
Wind: mind radio. Radio:
great friend of the solitary.

Listen: my favorite
spoken-word artist
has checked out.

"Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep--
He hath awakened from the dream of life--"

Actor, author, blues rider, freedom fighter.
Activist, archivist. Medium, not message.
Lyre of tongues, culling euphony
from cacophony.

The Gil Evans
of the American
folk chorus.

"Begin again and again the never-attainable praising;
remember: the hero lives on; even his downfall was
merely a pretext for achieving his final birth."

"Working" was the paperback
I wore out, re-binding the spine
with greying Scotch tape.

"The Good War" was Homeric,
articulating the soul of a nation
forged in war.

"Voices. Voices. Listen, my heart, as only
saints have listened, until the gigantic call lifted them
off the ground; yet they kept on, impossibly,
kneeling and didn't notice at all:
so complete was their listening . . . listen

to the voice of the wind
and the ceaseless message that forms itself out of silence."

He read your book, he listened
to your music. He drew you out.
Call it: Old School.

Red shirt, red socks? Red
flag! "Call me Red? I got
your Red right HERE, fella!

Great line about
his FBI file:
"Some funny stuff . . . "

Listen: Mahalia Jackson,
Big Bill Broonzy, a bright
up-and-comer named
Barack Obama . . .

"His is made one with Nature: there is heard
His voice in all her music, from the moan
Of thunder, to the song of night's sweet bird;
He is a presence to be felt and known
In darkness and in light, from herb and stone,
Spreading itself where'er that Power may move
Which has withdrawn his being to its own;
Which wields the world with never-wearied love,
Sustains in from beneath, and kindles it above."

Wind: ancient wire,
maelstrom of desire.
Studs: the Illinois Zephyr.

"The unwelcome November rain
has perversely stolen the day's
last hour

and pawned it with that ancient fence,
the night."

This came to you
from Chicago.

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:28 AM | Permalink

November 13, 2008

The [Thursday] Papers

These just in.

*

"Obama Win Triggers Run on Guns."

Alternate: "McCain Win Triggers Run on Guns."

Alternate: "McCain Win Triggers Run on Abortions."

Alternate: "Palin Win Triggers Run On Banks."

Alternate: "Biden Win Triggers Run-On Sentences."

Contributing: Tim Willette

*

"The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink opening has been delayed one week."

Tribune waiting for check to clear from this week's advertisement so it can afford to buy ice.

*

"As part of a promotion, Burger King will be leaving 5,000 wallets around the city, containing gift cards and cash."

This would work better if:
* The wallets included condoms.
* The wallets included gift cards for McDonald's.
* The U.S. Treasury left wallets around the city.

*

"Experts see rise in rates of people with paranoia."

People see rise in rates of paranoid experts.

*

"Some analysts still suggest he might consider appointing one of his potential rivals to remove them from a governor's race - for example, Lisa Madigan, the state attorney general and daughter of Michael J. Madigan, the longtime speaker of the State House; or Dan Hynes, the state comptroller and son of Thomas Hynes, another powerful Illinois Democrat."

I've never understood this line of reasoning. I mean, you're allowed to say "No," right?

*

"We seem to get through these [recessions]. It's not always easy, but we hunker down until we've put it behind us."

We? Does that include the 40 million people living in poverty in America including one in five children in Chicago?

*

From Beachwood reader Dianne Robertson:

"Wrigley made the biggest mistake to lots of old customers when they change the packaging, flavor and price of their new flavor of Doublemint Gum. Please bring back the old 5 sticks in the old flavor."

*

"Elephants have a tendency to sleep four hours, then they wake up," Ald. Willie Cochran said Wednesday, arguing against an elephant cruelty ordinance. "Professional trainers need that chain on those elephants at nighttime to keep them from disturbing other elephants. That way, all the elephants will get the appropriate amount of rest and they'll be able to train and perform properly.

"If you allow an elephant to roam freely at night and wake up all the other elephants, they don't listen as well . . . If they're not listening as well, they don't perform as well. If they don't perform as well, then there could be an incident that may involve the public . . . If something happens at Ringling Brothers, we'll find ourselves in a lawsuit."

Ald. Mary Ann Smith "called Cochran's sleep deprivation argument 'bogus' and hinted that it might have something to do with 'lobbying money' from the circus industry."

Let's give Cochran the benefit of the doubt and believe that he just happened to have taken notes from his own research on Ringling Bros. stationery.


*

"Would-be clowns bid for circus gig."

Cochran says job would complement council duties; Berny Stone already hired.

*

Normally I wouldn't take this as evidence of anything but the immaturity of children, but I saw the same behavior in adults this year.

*

"Some hipsters, but not many, have started to make inroads this far west. At the end of Bellow's old block, on the corner of Cortez and Western, is a bar called the Empty Bottle where the new and old communities have made a tentative accommodation: it has an old-time, corner-tavern feeling (which in this area still tends to mean Polish), it serves a largely Latino community and in the evenings it features an eclectic array of experimental jazz and rock bands, along with some of the best D.J.'s in the city."

Apparently this is the first time the writer made "inroads" so far west since 1990 - and never actually went into the bar.

*

"It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

"Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. 'Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,' Mr. Shuster said.

"Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn't exist. His blog does, but it's a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow - the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy - is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes."

*

"In fact, Dems and libs have paid the real price for this cohort's inanity. In the long run, it would be smart for Dems and libs to take these tools away. For that reason, we're disappointed when we see triumphant liberals run to the culture of snark and smirk. Your 'leaders' are having a good time today. But this culture will turn back against them."

*

"Meanwhile, there's an intriguing wrinkle in the race for Mr. Emanuel's seat: talk that he really only wants to serve as chief of staff for two years, and wants a mere seat-warmer who would give the job back when Rahm so requests."

Why not dispense with the charade and let Rahm hold both jobs - plus take over Obama's Senate seat. After all, Chicago's in the House.

Um, and that's supposed to be a good thing?

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: On the street.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:34 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix

Fantasy sports are rife with mysteries. No matter how far ahead of the game you think you are, no matter how much you think you know who should play and how many scoring chances they should get, you still are not managing the team on the field or the court. In fact, when you see what some of the field and court managers do, who they choose to play and how many chances they get to touch the ball, you might think you actually know more than they do, or are better prepared.

I won't say you're right or wrong about that. Though we fantasy types lack the professional training, sometimes it seems like the professionals are stuck in mode of doing things by the playbook, when a better decision appears to be at arm's length, if only they reach out for it.

One of this year's fantasy football mysteries concerns the disappearance on one-time RB stud Shaun Alexander. He went downhill fast and was sent to the junk heap by Seattle - fair enough. But, the way other teams passed on Alexander, even with their own questionable backfield plans, makes little sense.

Washington finally picked him up, but he's barely touched the ball. That may change this week with Clinton Portis possibly out, or at least limited. Ladell Betts still is ahead of Alexander on the depth chart but also hurting, and Rock Cartwright is in play, too. But I'm betting Alexander delivers a break-out week - if given the chance.

One of this year's fantasy basketball mysteries goes all the way back to last year: The Greg Oden effect. Oden was injured in the first game this year before he even made a shot. Anyone who drafted him had to decide whether or not to keep him on the bench for several weeks or take the injury as a sign wasn't meant to be.

You may - or may not - recall that Oden was a sixth-round pick on one of my fantasy teams. I decided the day after he was injured to drop him for a PG/SG to better address two areas where I was definitely lacking. I picked up Nate Robinson, and can't say I regret it, as he's been the Knicks' most consistent offensive and steals threat. But now Oden is coming back a couple weeks earlier than planned. If you have room, make a spot for him. He will be treated strictly with kid gloves for a few weeks, and I think with Brandon Roy and Lamarcus Aldridge scoring big for Portland, he may not figure as a great scorer, but should get rebounds and blocks galore even in limited playing time.

And, now, here's what the fantasy football and basketball experts are saying this week:

Football
* Bring the Noise ranks Kansas City QB Tyler Thigpen as his strongest pick-up of the week, followed closely by Denver RB Peyton Hillis. Larry Johnson is finally supposed to be back in the starting RB role for KC, so you have to wonder what that will do to Thigpen's numbers, but he has been leveraging a new spread offense while Johnson has been out.

Thigpen has been pushing the top 10 QB rankings in many leagues, but he may slow down a little the rest of the way if Johnson actually does his job.

Hillis could be interesting because he's the only back Denver has left that has played this year. That doesn't count Tatum Bell, who just signed, however, and knows Denver's system from playing there previously.

Denver is one of the teams that missed out by not picking up Alexander. Hillis will be most interesting in short yardage situations, meaning he could get TDs, but Denver QB Jay Cutler had an all-star Week 10 performance, I wouldn't be surpised if Denver just keeps throwing.

* NFL Skinny speculates that Tony Romo will be back, and none too soon, even if he is not 100 percent. Matt Hasselbeck and Kyle Orton could both be back, too. What's with all the healthy first-string QBs? Barring any last-minute setbacks, Orton should be the one to cut loose with the most pass attempts, while the other two may favor their injuries with short, low-risk throws that don't leave them too exposed to pass rush.

* Brendan Roberts at ESPN.com has a comprehensive list of strategies for after the bye weeks are over, which is now, by the way. His advice in short: Drop everyone you don't need and pick up only the back-ups to your starters if they are available.

Well, I might be stretching my interpretation a little.

But guys like Jerious Norwood and Darren Sproles, normally back-ups to stud RBs, should see enough of an increase in opportunities that you can play both the starters - Michael Turner and LaDanian Tomlinson - and their back-ups.

* ESPN's experts also rate Kurt Warner the top fantasy QB, amazing in that he probably was not drafted in some leagues even after he was named the starter over Matt Leinart. But he's got great targets and is playing like the two-time MVP he once was.

Basketball
* NBA Skinny notes that injuries are already playing a major role in the young NBA season, with Deron Williams likely out longer than expected, and now no fewer than four guards - Michael Redd, Josh Smith, Devin Harris and Tony Parker -all fighting ankle sprains that are costing them multiple games.

* Hoops Lab says Jose Calderon is the new Steve Nash and Nate Robinson is the new Leandro Barbosa. It's amazing that Calderon has actually been able to live up to - and arguably surpass - the considerable hype he was burdened with going into many drafts. Robinson, meanwhile, fills the Barbosa speedster role in Mike D'Antoni's new line-up in New York.

Meanwhile, the guys Mike D. left behind are suffering. So far, Nash's points and assists are well off expectations, even for a star player seen to be in gradual decline. Barbosa's points are also down, and he's not running his way into as many steals either.

By next week, most NBA teams will have played 10 games, and we'll take a look at how the top 10 list of fantasy studs shakes out.

-

Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears every Wednesday, except for the occasional Thursday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

Chicago 1929

"That word is dangerous to use, depression, but this is going to be a very difficult economy."

- Mayor Richard M. Daley, Nov. 12, 2008

-

Let's take a look back to 1929 to see what might be in store.

-

World Series: Cubs vs. Philadelphia A's


-

Harry Horlick's A&P Gypsies

-

Chicago Blackhawks

-

Rare Hot Chicago Jazz

-

Chicago Cardinals and Bears

-

St. Valentine's Day Massacre


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:45 AM | Permalink

I Am The Roadie

I Am The Roadie


-

Paul

-

Mic Stand

-

Inbred Roadie

-

The Load-Out


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:02 AM | Permalink

November 12, 2008

The [Wednesday] Papers

Sorry folks, no Beachwood column today, I've got a lot of business to attend to. I'm planning to make a couple posts to Division Street later this morning, though. And, as always, there's new material elsewhere on the site. ->>>

The [Tuesday] Papers
Fun with numbers, via a Tribune graphic on Sunday:

* The 21st Ward delivered the most votes for Obama: 30,059. Alderman: Howard Brookins.

* The 12th Ward delivered the least votes for Obama: 6,188. Alderman: George Cardenas.

* The 41st Ward delivered the most votes for McCain: 11,858. Alderman: Brian Doherty, the council's lone Republican.

* The 17th Ward delivered the least votes for McCain: 95. Alderman: Latasha Thomas.

Yes, that's right. Just 95 people in the 17th Ward voted for John McCain. Voting for Obama: 23,379.

* McCain didn't win a single Chicago ward, which is unsurprising, but still interesting to note. He came closest in the 41st, of course (15,096 to 11,858 for Obama).

* McCain won the following Cook County Townships: Barrington, Lemont, and Orland.

* Thornton Township cast the most votes in Cook County for Obama: 67,406 (9,686 for McCain).

-

"Having gone over the numbers several times, I still can't get over the rock-solid support black Chicago gave President-elect Barack Obama in Tuesday's elections," Ben Joravsky writes. "The pollsters coming in to the election predicted Obama would win at least 90 percent of the black vote nationwide. But in Chicago it was over 99 percent - at least in the five wards that are almost 100 percent black. To be exact, he won 99.27 percent of the vote in the 6th Ward, 99.19 percent in the 8th, 99.24 percent in the 21st, 99.21 percent in the 24th, and 99.40 percent in the 34th."

Boss Hogs
"You may think a Cook County commissioner is well paid at $85,000 dollars a year," Dane Placko reports. "But now, Fox Chicago News reveals how some commissioners are giving themselves a back-door pay raise."

This is the first of a two-part series; the conclusion is tonight.

Fox has also posted the expense reports of county commissioners; you can get there through the link above.

Memory Hole
The Sun-Times said in an editorial on Monday that "We worry about Mayor Daley's memory."

Maybe it ought to worry about its own.

The paper, reacting to the mayor's convenient memory lapses when it comes to untoward business being conducted in his name, cautions that Daley "should remember one critical fact. If they get the brush-off too many times, voters don't forget."

Apparently, as pointed out in a letter to the editor today (second item), we haven't reached "one too many times" yet after 19 years of Daley rule. And neither has the Sun-Times, which will undoubtedly continue endorsing Daley just as it has in the past.

*

Who hired Angelo Torres?

Movie Mojo
The Tribune editorializes this morning in favor of extending the state's film tax credit program. But as I wrote for NBCChicago last month, citing a New York Times story, the trend among states is in the other direction.

*

I also wrote a brief post yesterday about Chicago as "Subsidy City." The truth is, we have a mixed-market economy featuring both raw capitalism and outright socialistic mechanisms and everything in between. It's really the only way a complex, modern economy can be run, and that's what makes all the free-market rhetoric such a bunch of malarkey. The real question isn't about binary, textbook ideologies, but who wins and who loses. Who is benefiting and who is getting screwed? And how and why are those choices made? That's the game, folks. Study that, University of Chicago.

CBGB Ticket Contest
The Beachwood is giving away six tickets to the Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival, to be held at the Congress Theater on Nov. 22, to the 12th e-mailer. Beachwood members and/or those who contributed to Division Street's Election Night blogging will have their e-mails counted twice. The tickets can be broken into pairs for multiple winners.

Dr. Drew News
Loveline is coming back to town.

*

The Genius of Celebrity Rehab.

Job Description

- h/t: Illinois Review

Chicago and Back
Time lapse of the drive from Oklahoma City to Chicago and back.

-

The Beachwood Reporter Tip Line: For once in your life.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

Turks & Caicos!

Islands Prepare for Fifth Annual Conch Festival

Competition Winners to Join Other World Class Chefs at South Beach Food and Wine Festival

TURKS AND CAICOS, BWI - The Turks and Caicos Islands, a burgeoning luxury destination best known for its world class beaches, is preparing for the Islands' most famous culinary extravaganza - the Fifth Annual Turks & Caicos Conch Festival. Visitors are invited to join locals, Nov. 29, 2008, on Providenciales' (Provo) powdery white sand beach to indulge in Turks & Caicos' unique flavors. The event, named one of the "Top 10 Festivals of the Year" by MSNBC in 2007, includes music, cultural activities and a cooking competition in honor of conch, a cultural icon and fundamental element of Caribbean cuisine.

"We are thrilled to bring this culinary celebration of Caribbean culture back for the fifth year," said Ralph Higgs, director of tourism marketing at the Turks & Caicos Tourist Board. "The Conch Festival allows Turks and Caicos to showcase our culture and cuisine to visitors from around the world. We look forward to seeing the winners represent Turks and Caicos in South Beach this winter."

Turks and Caicos is the world's second largest exporter of conch, and one of the few countries allowed to take conch directly from the sea thanks to its established Fisheries Division, which manages the process, and the Islands' strong conservation practices. The Islands are also home to the world's only conch farm, Caicos Conch Farm, where Caribbean Queen Conch are raised from veliger to adult. As such, conch is a specialty dish served countless ways in the Islands - cracked conch, conch fritters, conch chowder, conch salad, curry conch - at upscale establishments like Simba at Turks & Caicos Club and Grace Bay Club's Anacaona and local eateries including Da Conch Shack and Hole in the Wall, a past champion of the competition.

During the festival, chefs will prepare this protein-packed aphrodisiac using a variety of techniques in hopes of being awarded the winner in one of three categories: best conch salad, best conch chowder, and best specialty conch dish.

The full-day celebration, held in historic Blue Hills, one of Provo's original settlements and a quaint seaside throwback to earlier days in the Caribbean, will include a conch recipe contest, native boat races, live music, a conch treasure hunt and a conch blowing contest.

For those who can't get enough conch, the Caicos Conch Farm is open to visitors interested in learning how conch are raised, handpicking a pink conch pearl souvenir, purchasing fresh conch or conch shells to bring home, and watching a show with two trained and very friendly conchs. Travelers can also embark on full-day or half-day conch cruises where boat captains will first take guests snorkeling along the Islands' world-renowned barrier reef and then teach visitors how to free dive for conch, get the conch out of its shell, and prepare fresh conch salads, to be enjoyed during a Caribbean BBQ on an uninhabited island.

Entrance to the Turks & Caicos Conch Festival costs $20, entitling attendees to a tasting of every conch dish entered in the competition. Judges of the contest will include nationally-known chefs Clay Conley, head chef at Azul at Miami's Mandarin Oriental, and Dean Max, chef/owner of 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale and Latitude 41 in Columbus, OH.

Winners of the contest will be invited to represent Turks & Caicos at The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, a national, star-studded, four-day destination event showcasing the talents of the world's most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities, taking place Feb. 19 - Feb. 22, 2009.

Please visit the Turks & Caicos Conch Festival website for more information and a complete schedule of events.

About Conch
Conch (pronounced "konk") is a common name for large marine snails, also known as gastropod mollusks, more specifically the queen, pink-lipped conch, which are found in the warmer waters of the Atlantic and the Caribbean. The bright pink colored shells are 12 to 13 inches in length and have been a popular Caribbean treat since the 1400s. Common conch creations are soup and salad, conch fritters, conch chowder, conch steaks and marinated raw conch salad.

About Turks & Caicos
The 40 islands of the Turks & Caicos, of which eight are inhabited, are renowned for their award-winning beaches, diving and array of world-class resorts. Additional activities include tennis, golf and horseback riding. The islands feature a variety of spa and body treatment services and is home to the world's only conch farm. There are three daily 90-minute direct flights from Miami, a US Airways direct flight from Charlotte, daily flights from New York and weekly flights from Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Toronto. For more information on travel, visit the Turks & Caicos Islands Tourist Board website or call (800) 241-0824.

-

COMMENTS
1. I hear the conch from Lord of the Flies is flying in for the occasion.

2. Does anybody ever confuse you guys with Trinidad & Tobago? Like, a hundred times a day . . .


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:49 AM | Permalink

November 11, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

Fun with numbers, via a Tribune graphic on Sunday:

* The 21st Ward delivered the most votes for Obama: 30,059. Alderman: Howard Brookins.

* The 12th Ward delivered the least votes for Obama: 6,188. Alderman: George Cardenas.

* The 41st Ward delivered the most votes for McCain: 11,858. Alderman: Brian Doherty, the council's lone Republican.

* The 17th Ward delivered the least votes for McCain: 95. Alderman: Latasha Thomas.

Yes, that's right. Just 95 people in the 17th Ward voted for John McCain. Voting for Obama: 23,379.

* McCain didn't win a single Chicago ward, which is unsurprising, but still interesting to note. He came closest in the 41st, of course (15,096 to 11,858 for Obama).

* McCain won the following Cook County Townships: Barrington, Lemont, and Orland.

* Thornton Township cast the most votes in Cook County for Obama: 67,406 (9,686 for McCain).

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"Having gone over the numbers several times, I still can't get over the rock-solid support black Chicago gave President-elect Barack Obama in Tuesday's elections," Ben Joravsky writes. "The pollsters coming in to the election predicted Obama would win at least 90 percent of the black vote nationwide. But in Chicago it was over 99 percent - at least in the five wards that are almost 100 percent black. To be exact, he won 99.27 percent of the vote in the 6th Ward, 99.19 percent in the 8th, 99.24 percent in the 21st, 99.21 percent in the 24th, and 99.40 percent in the 34th."

Boss Hogs
"You may think a Cook County commissioner is well paid at $85,000 dollars a year," Dane Placko reports. "But now, Fox Chicago News reveals how some commissioners are giving themselves a back-door pay raise."

This is the first of a two-part series; the conclusion is tonight.

Fox has also posted the expense reports of county commissioners; you can get there through the link above.

Memory Hole
The Sun-Times said in an editorial on Monday that "We worry about Mayor Daley's memory."

Maybe it ought to worry about its own.

The paper, reacting to the mayor's convenient memory lapses when it comes to untoward business being conducted in his name, cautions that Daley "should remember one critical fact. If they get the brush-off too many times, voters don't forget."

Apparently, as pointed out in a letter to the editor today (second item), we haven't reached "one too many times" yet after 19 years of Daley rule. And neither has the Sun-Times, which will undoubtedly continue endorsing Daley just as it has in the past.

*

Who hired Angelo Torres?

Movie Mojo
The Tribune editorializes this morning in favor of extending the state's film tax credit program. But as I wrote for NBCChicago last month, citing a New York Times story, the trend among states is in the other direction.

*

I also wrote a brief post yesterday about Chicago as "Subsidy City." The truth is, we have a mixed-market economy featuring both raw capitalism and outright socialistic mechanisms and everything in between. It's really the only way a complex, modern economy can be run, and that's what makes all the free-market rhetoric such a bunch of malarkey. The real question isn't about binary, textbook ideologies, but who wins and who loses. Who is benefiting and who is getting screwed? And how and why are those choices made? That's the game, folks. Study that, University of Chicago.

CBGB Ticket Contest
The Beachwood is giving away six tickets to the Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival, to be held at the Congress Theater on Nov. 22, to the 12th e-mailer. Beachwood members and/or those who contributed to Division Street's Election Night blogging will have their e-mails counted twice. The tickets can be broken into pairs for multiple winners.

Dr. Drew News
Loveline is coming back to town.

*

The Genius of Celebrity Rehab.

Job Description

- h/t: Illinois Review

Chicago and Back
Time lapse of the drive from Oklahoma City to Chicago and back.

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The Beachwood Reporter Tip Line: For once in your life.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:47 AM | Permalink

The Genius of Celebrity Rehab

It's quite possible that the second season of Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew is the greatest thing ever aired on television in all of human history. Let's run down the patients.

1. Gary Busey. Dr. Gary, as his castmates have taken to derisively calling him, is under the illusion that he is here as a "participant, not an addict," meaning that he thinks he's a counselor, not a patient. Not only is he a patient, he's a whack job - Jeff Conaway times ten. Watch him play alpha male politics with the guys and creep out the women. His Buseyisms (first spun on I'm With Busey) are actually pretty good, but bear in mind that he has "angelic interventions."

2. Jeff Conaway. Back for a return engagement and, really, not that funny anymore. Not that he was someone to laugh at, but he was at times a figure of comic relief in the first season, even as he was tragic. Now he's just grating and, at times, obviously mugging for the camera. "911!' he'll yell when he claims he's being held against his will. His girlfriend is even more aggravating, and it turns out that whatever degree of gold-digging she is up to is transcended by her own demons.

3. Steven Adler. The original drummer of Guns 'n' Roses whom the band fired for being such a drug-addled fuck-up. "I just want my friend back" he wails in the opener, looking at a photo of him and Slash. Adler is far, far gone and makes a life-saving visit to the emergency room before we even get started at the Pasadena Recovery Center, but a couple episodes in and he seems to be not only cleaning up nicely but surprisingly cooperative, humorous and insightful.

4. Tawny Kitaen. When you are famous for being the vixen in a Whitesnake video and the chick who brawled with your major league baseball player husband, well, you are either bound for glory or bound for The Surreal Life. Instead, Kitaen ended up here.

5. Rodney King. Yes, that Rodney King, though early on the rest of the cast can't seem to figure out who he is. King may be the single most compelling figure to appear on the show in that there is not a single thing about him that his clownish. The big surprise is that he hasn't really processed what happened to him that day at the hands of L.A.'s finest. He also seems isolated from the rest of the cast, at least so far in the early episodes. To watch him talking one-on-one with Dr. Drew is not only moving and emotionally exhausting, but a piece of our history.

A loyal Beachwood reader sends this haiku about Rodney:

he breaks my heart in
to a thousand sad pieces
rodney all alone

6. Sean Stewart. Perhaps the most unsympathetic cast member yet. Sean is the son of Rod Stewart. He's been in and out of rehab, and once "starred" with Randy Spelling and Dave Weintraub in the reality show Sons of Hollywood, which is not to be confused with The Princes of Malibu, which starred Brandon and Brody Jenner, along with "sidekick" Spencer Pratt, of the Laguna Beach spinoff The Hills, where Brody also occasionally appears. At some point I'd really like to see Rodney King pummel each and every one of these noxious, corrosive, morally decayed superbrats into mincemeat, but Rodney is too much of a gentle angel to do that.

7. Nikki McKibbin. Nikki is an American Idol survivor who, incredibly, blames Simon Cowell for her problems.

8. Amber Smith. Amber is apparently a model. She went through opiate withdrawal in episode two.

And, of course, there is the staff. How can you not love Shelley Sprague? She has to learn how to assert authority, though. This season Dr. Drew brought in Luisha to be the bad cop. And Bob Forrest, well, is the hair beneath that hat real?

Finally, there's Dr. Drew. He rules. And if you pay attention to this show, you will learn a lot about addiction and psychology. In the end, it's not exploitive and it doesn't make a joke of these people and their problems; it's enlightening, even if Busey is riveting because he's such a mess. The B-, C-, and D-List celebrities bring you to the party, but the pain and drama of addiction keep you there. And that, along with the steady leadership of Dr. Drew, is what makes the show not only succeed, but succeed brilliantly.

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See also:
* Celebrity Rehab Reunion

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

I Totally Voted For . . .

I bet you're wondering.

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See the rest of the fabulous Citizen Kate collection!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:43 AM | Permalink

November 10, 2008

The [Monday] Papers

"It's almost certain that the handoff of the White House from President George W. Bush to President-elect Barack Obama will pass more smoothly than the greeting that Bush's new crew faced in 2001," the Tribune reports on its front page.

"The Ws were removed from the keyboards in the executive office building of President Bill Clinton's departing administration."

Oh Lord! Hoary media narratives never die!

Indeed, a General Accounting Office investigation at the time found that the outgoing Clinton administration left some wear-and-tear for its successors. But any intentional damage done was hardly noteworthy or unusual.

"The accounting office said similar pranks were reported in prior transitions, including the one from Mr. Bush's father to Mr. Clinton in 1993," the New York Times reported at the time.

''We were unable to conclude whether the 2001 transition was worse than previous ones," the GAO stated in its taxpayer-funded report.

"[I]t's safe to say that a close reading of the GAO report doesn't validate the charges of wanton, widespread destruction by the Clinton team," Salon noted in "The real White House vandal scandal." "What it does show is the lengths to which the Bush administration went to try to make the scandal charges stick."

In other news, Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet.

Replacing Rahm
Laura Washington adds some names to the list of those who might be options to replace Rahm Emanuel as 5th district congressman: Edwin Eisendrath, J.B. Pritzker, and Ald. Tom Tunney.

"For my money, [Tunney] is The One," Washington writes.

She also reports that Roland Burris is throwing his hat into the ring to replace Obama in the U.S. Senate.

"I can think of one reason it shouldn't be Burris," she writes. "We already have an oversupply of egomaniacal blowhards in the Senate."

Cheat of Staff
"It was Tomczak, under orders from higher-ups in Mayor Daley's office, who dispatched an army of city patronage workers to guarantee Emanuel would win his first political race in 2002 for Congress. It was a close race and their help sealed the deal," Carol Marin writes.

"Emanuel, whose grasp of detail is second to none, condemned the corruption when the indictment was announced but improbably claimed to be clueless and even more improbably certified that Daley couldn't possibly have known, either."

*

Cynics Eric Zorn and Richard Roeper, on the other hand, applaud the Emanuel appointment - and delight in presenting to you the inanity of the false choices they set up.

"Yes, president-elect Barack Obama could have assembled a transition team of outsiders and activists - philosophers, rebels, true believers and demagogues," Zorn writes. "He could have named Michael Moore as chief of staff and Cindy Sheehan as press secretary."

Yes. Having eliminated Michael Moore, Emanuel was clearly the only choice left.

"Who'd the Republicans expect Obama to anoint as chief of staff - Rudy Giuliani?" Roeper writes.

Maybe they expected Michael Moore.

Funny, to Roeper the criticism of the appointment comes from the right. To Zorn, it comes from the left.

At least when combined together they got something right.

Political Scientist
"[I]t is a fact that nine-tenths of the HUMAN RACE never have and never will think for themselves, about anything. Whether it's music or Reaganomics, say, almost everybody prefers to sit and wait till somebody who seems to have some kind of authority even if it's seldom too clear just where they got it to come along and inform them one and all what their position on the matter should be. Then they all agree that this is gospel, and gang up to go persecute whatever minority might happen to disagree. This is the history of the human race . . . "

- Lester Bangs

Quick Take
One of the best things about the Sun-Times for a long time has been Zay Smith's Quick Takes column, a personal favorite of mine and one I've mentioned many times here and elsewhere. What the Sun-Times is now doing to Smith is unconscionable, but not surprising. The dismantling of the paper is an ass-backwards strategy hastening it towards death; it certainly isn't a survival strategy.

What's particularly head-spinning is that Quick Takes is such a natural fit for the Internet. I've never figured out why the column wasn't linked-up and marketed on the Internet; geez, on Sundays Smith turns it into a "what's on the blogs" feature.

The failure to properly manage the column and press it forward is one of the great local symbols of print mentality failure.

*

The Trib should snap up Quick Takes and consider making it a website of its own. Or if Zay Smith wants to go into business with me, I'd love to make it part of The Beachwood Media Company. Consider that an invitation.

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Skokie Sculpture Park

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The Beachwood Tip Line: In transition.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:40 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday

Never has the conventional wisdom about a defense's stuffing of an opposing running game automatically leading to an effective assault on the quarterback proven less true than during the Bears' fourth loss of the season Sunday. As it turns out, if guys can't rush the passer, they can't rush the passer, no matter how much the other team throws the ball. Right now, the Bears don't have anyone who can even invade the signal-caller's space more than once or twice a game. And while the Titans' offensive line may be the best in the league right now, their counterparts on the Lions certainly aren't and the Bears couldn't mount a sustained rush against them either the week before.

The Bears didn't just fail to create pressure, they failed to even get a push up the middle, enabling Titan quarterback Kerry Collins to step up and deliver pass after pass to comfortably open receivers. A big part of the blame has to go to coach Lovie's overall philosophy. The Bears simply don't have enough strength at defensive tackle (Coach Smith prizes quickness at the position above all else) and the Titans' much stronger guards and center completely sealed off the Bears' interior linemen The only guy who even started to slip through Titan blockers in the middle on a couple occasions Sunday was Israel Idonije. Big Money tackle Tommie Harris made a tackle for loss right at the start of the game and pounded down Tennessee running back LenDale White just in front of the goal line late, but was otherwise invisible.

The game's three phases, in the appropriate order:

1. The Bears blitzed a bit more but you could tell their heart wasn't in it. They usually sent no more than one extra guy and there was nothing exotic, nothing resembling Buddy Ryan's old 46 scheme or the zone blitzes that work so well for the league's best defense - the one in Pittsburgh. You would have thought with the Bears' supposed strength at linebacker and their struggles to rush the passer all season, perhaps they might have started to incorporate some of that stuff in the past few weeks. No dice. Actually, the Bears did manage one great blitz . . . on a running play. Mike Brown and Brian Urlacher blasted through to take down running back Kris Johnson for a half-dozen yard loss early on, but as usual on this day there was no resulting turnover or even a significant shift in field position.

2. More than anything, poor field position lost this one. Devin Hester isn't just failing to generate long returns, he isn't generating medium ones (although he finally returned one kick-off and one punt well late in the game). And you can't win games like this if your punter is out-kicked by as much as Brad Maynard was out-kicked. He never did launch a field-position changing blast, his second punt was low and weak and the resulting return inside the 30 set up the Titans' first score (OK, OK, Grossman's interception actually started that ball rolling, giving the Titans the ball well inside Bear territory before an unforced fumble briefly gave the Bears life - Maynard's bad punt capped off the ensuing ineffective possession). Numerous less-than-40-yard efforts followed. When Titan punter Craig Hentrich had a chance to punt one inside the 15, he did. When Maynard had the same chance, he kicked it into the end zone on the fly.

3. Rex Grossman looked great on the Bears' first drive, scared the crap out of his coaches with a terrible interception on the second (nobody throws the panicky, back-footed heave into double-coverage better than he does) and then couldn't get out of the shadow of his own goal posts until the fourth quarter. Part of that has to be attributed to rust - let's face it, completing a lot of these passes takes a hell of a lot of practice and Grossman hasn't had it - part of it to poor play-calling and part of it to the quarterback's deficiencies. As the game progressed there was some booing that was deserved and more that was not. The fans sure seemed to hop right back on the bandwagon when Grossman finally got it going again late but there's just no way this whole thing ends well. It will definitely be time for Grossman to go at the end of this season, for his sake and the Bears'.

Other bits:

* During an early commercial break, the Patriot-lover in my house requested we check the score in her team's game with the Bills. We got there just in time to see a long Matt Cassel to Wes Welker completion... except, wait a minute, Welker's second foot definitely wasn't down in bounds. The opposing coach needs to get that red flag out there in front of an official, he needs to make a scene to make sure there's a replay review before the next play begins. Except that coach is Dick Jauron, and Jauron absolutely, positively does not make scenes. So there he is calmly talking to an official after the next play went off before Jauron could make what should have been an easy challenge. And later on, the Bills suffered their third straight crushing loss, officially obliterating their sparkling 5-2 start. Coincidence? Speaking of replay, the downside of that capability was on display in the Giants-Eagles game Sunday night. Several non-conclusive replay reviews went on for so long . . . I'm thinking the last non-Giants or Eagles fan watching this one signed off in the middle of the fourth quarter.

* Dumbest Dan Deirdorf comment of the Bears broadcast: the one about the Titans having weak wide receivers in the midst of a game in which guys who answer to that description, primarily Brandon Jones and Justin Gage, consistently created space between themselves and defensive backs. And sure enough, the play after Deirdorf took the shot at the Tennessee wideouts, Gage got inside Nate Vasher or Charles Tillman on a slant again (their ineptitude was interchangeable Sunday) and scored. Both players are trying to bounce back from injuries and are less than healthy. Otherwise, though, Deirdorf seemed less annoying than he has in the past. Congratulations, Dan, on generating considerably less vitriolic disdain this time around.

Hawk Talk
And finally, a little hockey news.

Don't look now but the Hawks have dominated their last three home games, winning 5-2, 6-2 and 6-1 (and they eked out a road victory between the first two). They torched the Calgary Flames Sunday and while the game was closer than the score indicated for most of two periods, the Hawks eventually pulled away again. Folks always talk about offense being the best defense and not letting up after grabbing a lead, but it has been a long time since the Hawks had the offensive firepower, and the wherewithal, to make it happen. So far these Hawks seem capable. As for the Hawks' dynamic duo of second-year stars, well, Jonathon Toews is a fine young talent who seems to be wearing the captain's "C" comfortably enough. He finally got on the scoreboard with his first goal of the season Sunday. But the guy who keys this whole thing for the Hawks is Patrick Kane. Another youngster, Kris Versteeg, set up the Hawks' first goal against the Flames with a clever little pass and they got lucky on a long point shot for the second. Then Kane took over. He scored the third goal and feathered two perfect passes to set up tallies four and five. He is worth the price of admission, especially when the game starts at 6 p.m. and I can therefore easily bring my kids (way to go Hawks!).

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Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday because he loves you. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:47 AM | Permalink

The Periodical Table: Biden, Palin, Homer Simpson

A periodical look at the decreasing number of periodicals laying around Beachwood HQ.

By the end of the presidential campaign, Joe Biden - not Sarah Palin - had become the gaffe-prone vice-presidential candidate hidden out of sight for fear that he would capsize the top of the ticket.

His gaffes weren't surprising; he's made a career of making them despite his enormous intelligence and political skill. In part, his mouth and his past as a lying plagiarist led the media to mostly dismiss Biden as a joke when he was running for president early in the campaign. The minute he was selected as Barack Obama's running mate, however, Biden was transformed; suddenly he was the wise foreign policy guru and old Washington hand who would add ballast to Obama's light resume.

And suddenly - thanks to the dark hand of David Axelrod - he was a working-class kid from Scranton, not the elegant senator from Delaware with exquisite tastes and hair plugs.

"Although Obama seems to have chosen Biden partly because of his legislative experience, the campaign introduced him by emphasizing his biography - a moving story," the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza wrote in "Biden's Brief," which appeared in the magazine's October 20 edition.

The emphasis on Biden's biography wasn't surprising; even while Obamaphiles were slamming the McCain campaign after an official said the race wasn't about issues, the Obama campaign was hewing to its strategy of making the race about personalities and not issues.

In Biden's case, there was a large obstacle to overcome. "He left the 1988 Presidential race branded a plagiarist and a dissembler," Lizza noted. Curiously, the Keating Five found its way into this campaign, but not Joe Biden's problems telling the truth.

Partly that's because Biden is sort of lovable, if not grating. Certainly I've expressed positive thoughts about him here. But that's still no excuse; the media, as usual, did not do its job. Somehow, Biden's lengthy record wasn't as worthy of examination as Palin's wardrobe.

"On some days, only a single print reporter is covering Biden," Lizza reported, "and weekly studies by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism note that Biden was the subject of between two and six percent of all stories each week in September. (Palin was the focus of between fifteen and sixty percent of a week's worth of news in that same period.) Pew has noted that Biden is 'the virtually forgotten candidate,' someone who 'has consistently been in afterthought in the coverage'."

*

The law school at Syracuse University bought a full-page ad in the New York Times on Friday touting its famous grad. But the school didn't like him so much when he was actually a student there.

Purple Palin
"As governor, Palin has done nothing to impose her religious or social views," Philip Gourevitch reported in the New Yorker. "Alaska has no death penalty, and during the campaign she said that she would support one, but never made an issue of it."

(Obama supports the death penalty, and says his opposition to gay marriage is informed by his religious views.)

"She opposed abortion even for pregnancies caused by rape, but this was a personal opinion, not a legislative cause. In fact, she refused requests to put abortion bills on the agenda during a special legislative session this summer, preferring to discuss the natural-gas pipeline, which she pursued in such a bipartisan manner that she ultimately won more solid support for it from Democrats than from Republicans."

Interestingly, the majority of Alaskans hold no party affiliation; 25 percent are registered Republicans, 15 percent are registered Democrats, and 3 percent belong to the Alaska Independence Party. Partisanship isn't big in the state's political culture - and wasn't Palin's thing before becoming the vice presidential nominee.

Her rhetoric about change was nothing new, as Gourevitch reported in another issue.

"The theme of our [gubernatorial] campaign was 'new energy'," she told Gourevitch. "It was no more status quo, no more politics as usual, it was all about change. So then to see that Obama - literally, part of his campaign uses those themes, even new energy, change, all that, I think, O.K., well, we were a little bit ahead on that."

I wouldn't go that far; Obama's been talking about change forever - as have many pols. But Palin also thought it was "neat" that Obama was doing relatively well in the polls in Alaska because it indicated that Alaskans were interested in shaking up the status quo - as was Palin.

"Turning purple in the state means, to me, it's more independent, it's not the obsessive partisanship that gets in the way of doing what's right for this state, and I think on a national level that's what we're gonna see, Palin said.

*

When the Obama campaign was trying to game out who John McCain would pick as his running mate, Sarah Palin was indeed on their short list, according to Newsweek reporters speaking on a panel about their special election project. Never in the top five, and not whom they thought would be the ultimate choice, but on the list as a legitimate contender.

The Enemy Is Us
"When you fight monsters, be careful that in the process you do not become one."

Liberals were fond of saying this about America's post-9/11 security state and particularly when it came to issues like torture. I would apply it to political campaigns as well.

Text File
"Texting may be using a new technology, but its linguistic processes are centuries old," says David Crystal, author of Txting: The Gr8 Deb8 (sigh), tells Louis Menand.

But all you really need to know is this:

~(_8^(|)

It's Homer Simpson.

Tipping Point
"Eighty percent of Americas say they prefer tipping to paying a service fee, according to Zagat Survey," the New York Times Sunday Magazine reported last month. "They do so, Leo Crespi's surveys first demonstrated, primarily because they believe tipping provides an incentive for good service. But there is little correlation, in fact - less than 2 percent, according to Michael Lynn, a Cornell professor of consumer behavior and marketing."

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:15 AM | Permalink

Affordable Housing Month

During November, organizations and individuals throughout Illinois will be taking action to raise awareness about the importance of affordable housing to individuals and communities.

With the national economy teetering on the edge of recession for at least the past year and the foreclosure crisis continuing to deepen, the demand for affordable housing is growing.

Illinois Affordable Housing Month is coordinated by Housing Action Illinois, a coalition of more than 150 organizations that works to increase resources for the development and preservation affordable housing.

Housing Action Illinois has organized more than 15 groups throughout the state to hold educational events and engage their local elected officials. A complete list of activities is available here.

According to RealtyTrac, there were 10,204 foreclosure filings in Illinois during September 2008, 23.58 percent more than in September 2007. The September 2008 data represents one foreclosure filing for every 510 housing units, the 12th highest rate in the nation.

During November, Housing Action Illinois will also be encouraging their members and the general public to comment on local plans to spend the $172.5 million recently awarded statewide to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Before submitting their plans for approval by the federal government, the State of Illinois and the 12 local governments that received funds must post their plans on the Internet and take public comment for two weeks. Links to all the plans will be posted as they become available here.

"The foreclosure crisis has refocused attention on the importance of affordable housing in people's lives and to the overall economic health of our communities," said Sharon Legenza, Executive Director of Housing Action Illinois. "However, the foreclosure crisis is only making the affordability problem worse, as owners lose their homes and competition for affordable rental units increases."

According to the United States Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey, released in September, 36.4 percent of all Illinois households have a housing affordability problem because they spend more than 30 percent of their income on renting or owning their own home.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition's Annual Out of Reach study, the Housing Wage in Illinois is $16.23 per hour. This is the average amount a household must earn to afford a two-bedroom apartment without having an affordability problem.

In support of Housing Action Illinois' efforts, Governor Rod Blagojevich has declared November as Affordable Housing Month in Illinois.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:37 AM | Permalink

Poll Daze

The conventional wisdom seems to be that each presidential candidate's reaction to the country's economic collapse was the key moment in the campaign when Barack Obama surged ahead. I've harbored suspicions myself that it was less the economic situation than the collective weight of attacks - some justified, some not - on Sarah Palin that cast doubt on the Republican ticket. Looking at this poll graphic by Pollster.com, John McCain seems to have actually inched ahead on or about Sept. 10. After that, it was all over.

Just what happened on Sept. 10 and the days to follow? I went back and took a look. Here are representative headlines from around the country at that time.

Sept. 10

"Lehman's Troubles Rattle The Market" (Boston Globe)

"Palin Outshines Biden in Favorability" (Boston Globe)

Sept. 11

"Palin's Parenting Is Fair Game In Politics" (Detroit News)

"Dems Just Don't Get It As Palin Pounds 'Em" (NY Daily News)

Sept. 12

"Poll: McCain Gaining On Obama" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

"A Hockey Mom Gives GOP A Lift By Erasing Its History On Working Women" (Ellen Goodman)

Sept. 13

"Lower Rates Don't Guarantee Homeowners Can Refinance" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"Florida May Be Falling From Obama's Grasp" (St. Petersburg Times)

Sept. 14

"Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes" (New York Times)

"A Once-Promising Campaign Has Degenerated Into Harsh Rhetoric And Attack Ads" (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Sept. 15

"Big Banks Pool $70 Billion To Head Off Global Panic" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Fey Out-Palined Palin on 'SNL'" (Chicago Tribune)

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:45 AM | Permalink

The Seeds: A Web of Sound

The L.A. group The Seeds have an incredibly apt name because from their humble, barely visible germ sprung some mighty, mighty oaks. Like The Doors (very woody) and Alice Cooper (kinda tinny). There is a direct connection from The Seeds' organ/synth-heavy Flower Power psychedelia - chiefly authored by unsung '60s keyboard genius Daryl Hooper - to Ray Manzarek and all the rooms of the Morrison Hotel. And the proto-punk screechings and snotty ramblings of Seeds singer Sky Saxon. . . well, I think it's safe to say that raw '60s garage rock reached some of kind climax with him and it was up to Alice and Iggy to take that stash and run with it, later handing it off to the kids at CBGBs.

seeds_web.jpgThe Seeds were the farmers, planting the crops that grew into so many branches of loud and damaged rock. They are best known, of course, for that unsurpassed slice of garage-y bliss "Pushin' Too Hard," which, when it came out in 1966, pushed its way into the Top 40 thanks to Saxon's spooky-druggy, angry-yet-emotionless repetitiveness and one of the great early fuzz guitar solos by Jan Savage (who later became an LAPD cop, in about as big a turnaround from Flower Power as you can get . . . Sky Saxon claims to have coined the term "flower power," by the way).

Another essential element of The Seeds' sound evident on "Pushin' Too Hard" was Hooper's carnival-like organ, and his electric keyboard solo which, I swear, sounds as if The Doors had come out bit earlier than we all thought. Saxon was quoted by music writer Ralph Hulett as saying the lyrics were his reaction to the Sunset Strip riots in 1966 in which the cops and L.A. city fathers moved to close the Pandora's Box music club and rock fans reacted by going nuts in the streets and staging protests. These episodes were also the inspiration for the Stephen Stills classic "For What It's Worth."

"Pushin' Too Hard" was on The Seeds' first eponymous LP. It's infamous for its primitiveness - which I think is a good thing, really. But in my opinion, their second disc, A Web Of Sound, released later in 1966, was the group's high point artistically. Of course, it also was the point in which it became obvious they were never going to score a Top 40 hit again. Their sound was so extremely strange and Sky Saxon's lyrics were so repetitive that it consigned them to the has-been file pretty quickly. It took Jim Morrison's persona to take that sound and really put it out to a post-Flower Power mass audience. But as a weird and fascinating glimpse into the psychedelicized soul, Sky can give Jimbo a run for his whiskey money any day.

Here's my take on A Web of Sound, one of the all-time craziest mid-'60s pioneering rock 'n' roll records.

1. "Mr. Farmer." Perhaps the first major label song to hint broadly and openly about maryjane. Not even the Beatles were doing that yet. And it's such a weird-ass song. It has a great rolling organ intro from Hooper, and soon Sky is telling us the story of a city man who gets fed up, moves to the country, buys five acres, and well, waters his crops. He sings:

He used to live in an apartment in a big old city
With thick and priestly windows built right in it
But he decided to move to a little tiny town
He wanted to be a farmer all year round
And on a country road where you can't see a thing
He's got five acres filled little green things, he said
He's working so hard all night and day

Mr. Farmer let me watch your crops
Mr. Farmer let me water your crops
Mr. Farmer let me harvest your crops
I want to have a dream come true
I said a farmer, farmer, farmer
I want to be just like you

Banned by pretty much every radio station in its day, "Mr. Farmer" is now one of the favorite cult classics of college station DJs everywhere.

The Seeds/Mr. Farmer

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2. "Pictures and Designs." The melody is pretty much "Pushin' Too Hard," but Savage's guitar is totally loony, with Hooper's dissonant, calliope-style acid organ straight-out, pure Doors. Amazing. It's just like "Light My Fire." Who copied whom? They were both living the Sunset Strip life at the time. It's got an ascending crescendo, with a trippy stereo back-n-forth and explosion at the end.

3. "Tripmaker." I think the title says it all. There's this really wacky whistle, like the kind they used to use in cartoons when something flies up into the air. There's the same Saxon vocals (again with the "night and day" lyric a la "Pushin'") a nice chugging-train-like snare, excellent fuzz guitar solo from Savage, and Hooper's electric piano taking the break lead. Note: Hooper was also one of the first to use a keyboard bass, which he played live a lot as Saxon would dump his guitar to concentrate on the vocals. This is something else Manzarek picked up for The Doors.

4. "I Tell Myself." Here's a much more restrained Sky. Rather than his usual Mick Jagger imitation, here he sounds a lot more like Peter Noone from Herman's Hermits . . . only on acid. This is about as close to a pop song you'll get from The Seeds, albeit with a spooky bottleneck guitar and backwards vocals.

5. "A Faded Picture." Wow. After a very Doorsy keyboard intro, Sky is fully in Jagger mode, circa "As Tears Go By" on this somber, five-minute tone-poem/ballad. Really, it's kind of like the Stones and the Doors got ripped on the Sunset Strip in 1966, stayed out all night then and wandered into a studio in a pensive mood. "I want to go back to my happy place," Sky sings. Hooper kicks in a reedy organ solo, with music box chimes.

6. "Rollin' Machine." Get on, get on with me, Ride my rollin' machine! Another sly MJ reference. There's a great carnie, evil fun-house calliope vibe to thus tune thanks to Hooper. It also has an overpowering fuzz bass and distorted bottleneck guitar.

7. "Just Let Go." This has got a very funky bass, rather than the usual fuzz bass. It's also the highlight of Sky Saxon's repetitive lyric technique, endlessly repeating "Justa, justa, justa set yourself free, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon run with me." This is a also an overtly sexual song, of which there are actually surprisingly few on A Web Of Sound. There are some really nice moans and groans, as well as a "woo-woo-woo!" Here is a video of Sky Sunlight Saxon (as he renamed himself in the '70s after converting to the Yahowha sect) with the reformed Seeds in 2005:

Sky Saxon & the Seeds/Just Let Go

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8. "Up in Her Room." Oh. My. God. This has got to be one of the greatest epics in early rock history. A 14-minute opus . . . unheard of in 1966. This has really got to be one of biggest opening shots of the sex and drugs revolution, as well as an envelope-pushing concept song that, I'm thinking, must have helped invent the whole ethos of "psychedelic rock." Lyrically, here's a nice bit from it:

She's got the kind of body
I idolize
I justa wanna lie
Here by your side
Up in her room
Going up in her room
Up in her room
Tear me up in her room
Mmmmmmmmmmm!
Mmmmmmmmmmm!
Mmmmmmmmmmm!
Mmmmmmmmmmm!

It's got an upbeat beginning, with Keith Richards-like guitar riff straight out of "Time Is On My Side." Its steady-rocking beat is endlessly repeating - basically for almost a quarter of an hour. Its intensity ebbs and flows, heaving, up and down like . . . well, like a baseball game. Yeah, a baseball game. At the 7-minute mark, the signature gets denser, more drum fills. At 9:30, organ comes in, drums get louder. By 12 minutes, Sky is just la-la-la-ing, as a crescendo builds . . . two chords repeating over and over . . . finally, fret strumming . . . and the end.

Was it good for you? It was for me. The next year, Saxon and The Seeds abandoned garage punk and turned into laid-back hippie pop troubadours. They were quickly forgotten after that. A shame. The Doors ended up getting the Classic Rawk chops that The Seeds showed on A Web of Sound really could have belonged the them.

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From Chad Everett to Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Swaggart to Prince, the Beachwood Bins are teeming with great and not-so-great moments in rock history.

Posted by Don Jacobson at 12:41 AM | Permalink

November 8, 2008

The Weekend Desk Report

Weekend Desk editor Natasha Julius remains on assignment in India. Stephanie Goldberg once again fills in with her Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week.

This was a week for the books. We laughed, we cried, we danced in the streets and some of us even had sex with strangers just to get a ticket to Obamafest. (Now there's a story to tell the grandchildren.) But let's not forget the little people.

1. Here's to the unnamed Republican Party lawyer who labored on law review and undoubtedly kissed major ass all for the day when he could fly to Alaska to play Repo Man for the remnants of Sarah Palin's designer wardrobe. Good luck and have a mooseburger for me.

2. And on a related note: Who's up for The Wasilla Hillbillies as a Bravo reality show? In the first episode, the family Palin discovers bubbling crude under the snowmobile shed and ditches Alaska to buy a nifty McMansion in a gated Orange County community. Clad in cashmere jogging suits, they gather round the breakfast nook, planning Bristol's wedding to Levi "Jethro" Johnston. Special appearances by Jon Voight and Patti Heaton.

3. "Don't mess with me or I'll cut ya." These words were recently said by:

A) Barney the Scottish terrier to Reuters correspondent Jon Decker
B) Rahm Emanuel to a little old lady who edged him out for a bus seat.
C) Joy Behar to Elizabeth Hasselbeck
D) All of the above

4. Narciso Rodriguez, what were you thinking when you sold Michelle Obama on that horrid red-and-black knit dress that made her hips look broad as a barn? And that's not just me saying that. No soup for you, you Republican saboteur.

5. It must suck to be Sen. Mitch McConnell, whose sex life was deemed to be so uninteresting that Kentucky voters ignored a campaign to out him and re-elected him anyway. Now McConnell is courting Joe Lieberman to become a member of the Republican Party. Joe Lieberman, Joe the Plumber, hey, what's the difference?


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:05 AM | Permalink

November 7, 2008

The [Friday] Papers

The more Barack Obama changes, the more he stays the same. And the Chicago boys couldn't be more thrilled.

"Windy City White House Begins," the Sun-Times proclaims on its front page today, noting the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff and the other Chicago appointments to come.

And this is a good thing?

The media speaks out of two mouths around here. Out of one mouth comes the investigative reporting and subsequent decrying of our deeply ingrained corrupt political culture, and out of the other comes the pride of that culture elevating our pols to positions of national stature, whether it's Denny Hastert or Dan Rostenkowski, Bill or Richard Daley, Rahm Emanuel or Barack Obama.

The media loves the appointment of Emanuel to Obama's White House; both the Tribune and Sun-Times penned love letters today to the man nicknamed Rahmbo and is charmed and endeared by oft-told anecdotes of how he once sent a dead fish to a pollster and another time wielded a steak knife while proclaiming those who had dared to disagree with him as "Dead, dead, dead."

The Tribune editorial page today calls the appointment of Emanuel a "savvy" move, while its front page assures readers that "Selecting hardball players for team signals [Obama] knows the reality of D.C. politics."

You can hear the sigh of relief through the corridors of power; Obama isn't going to change anything at all! Thank God!

Hope won, and now it will be safely tucked away in the closet until it's time to run for re-election.

"It took only 36 hours for President-elect Barack Obama to take the off ramp from the Change We Can Believe In Highway and slam his foot on the gas in the express lanes of the Chicago Way," John Kass writes.

After all, who is Rahm Emanuel? He's the guy Daley sent - with the backing of his goon squad - to defeat an actual, real grassroots candidate for Congress. Change was squashed in the 5th District that year - change from the old politics of beloved felon Dan Rostenkowski. That kind of change Chicago could do without.

"Loyal readers know why I put the (D-Tomczak) at the end of Emanuel's name," Kass writes. "It refers to the corrupt Daley administration Water Department boss, Donald Tomczak, now in federal prison in Duluth, Minn. He sits there because he was convicted of bribery. Emanuel didn't have anything to do with that. But he was a political beneficiary of Tomczak and the Chicago Way.

"Two years ago, at the federal trial of Mayor Daley's patronage chiefs - who were eventually convicted for building an illegal political army of city patronage workers to maintain the mayor's control on Chicago - Tomczak was a key witness.

"And he testified that he was ordered to put his political regiments on the streets in 2002 to elect Emanuel and defeat a liberal Democratic grass-roots candidate. The mayor put hundreds of political hacks on the city payroll stumping for Emanuel back then. Tomczak controlled them."

In its news pages, the Tribune incredibly pens this passage:

"Some might have harbored concern that Obama, with his message of inclusion and unity, would not be a fighter. Maybe those people missed the significance of Obama's political upbringing in Chicago, where politics, as they say, 'ain't beanbag'."

In other words, some - a lot I would say, like the majority of a nation - might have actually believed Obama meant it when he said he wanted to change the way business was done in Washington. You know, no more partisan bickering, no more attack politics - no more fighting. Fighting is what Hillary Clinton promised.

But, whew, that was just talk!

Just like when Obama used to say during the primaries that if you keep sending the same people to Washington - you know, Clintonites like Rahm Emanuel - you'll just get the same results.

I can hardly wait to see where Bill Daley - a senior Obama advisor and member of his transition team - ends up.

Nothing says more about what we're in for than how thrilled the Daley boys are.

"Chicago Mayor Richard Daley," the Tribune reports, "was almost giddy about Emanuel's appointment."

A Windy City White House indeed.

If Obama wasn't exactly a Machine pol coming up, he is now. His transformation is complete.

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See also The [Rahmbo] Papers.

The Beachwood Tip Line: The real deal.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:47 AM | Permalink

Illinois Lottery Rolls 666

Timing And Location Adds To Intrigue But Student Of Biblical Prophecy Not Alarmed

When Ronald Wilson Reagan was elected, some fearful critics pointed to the letters in each one of his names adding up to 666. Now, one day after the 2008 presidential election, the winning lottery number in the home state of the president-elect was 666.

Dan Hayden, director of biblical research and education, is available for interviews to discuss why such things give so many people pause. "I encourage people not to put too much credence in those kinds of fears," Hayden says, "There are countless scenarios people can come up with to make things appear to be supernatural signs but that doesn't mean they're right."

Hayden is a staunch Christian but he's also a pragmatist who is often times more interested in what Scripture says and while he does spend much time interpreting it the best way he knows how, he also finds the phenomenon of intrigue with numbers from a Biblical sense worth exploring as well.

"When you talk about the significance of numbers in Scripture, there is no denying the fact that they not only have varying degrees of significance but also significant attributes when it comes to good and evil." While Hayden concedes that people are naturally drawn to the interpretation of numbers in Scripture, he encourages people not to become too emotionally invested in any earthly occurrences.

"At the end of the day," says Hayden, "we've guessed wrong a whole lot more times than we've guessed right and those are numbers that can't be argued against."

About Dr. Dan Hayden
Dr. Dan Hayden is among those whom you could call uniquely gifted of God. With the ability to communicate difficult biblical concepts in ways that are easy to follow, one comes away from his teaching with a broader, more complete understanding of biblical truths and themes. His keen intellect, down to earth humor, and clear speaking skills make him a joy to listen to and read. With endless enthusiasm for Bible study and ministry, he is always approachable, and his affable personality makes you an instant friend.

Dan obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wheaton College in Illinois, and for a time worked as a surgical technician at Children's Hospital in Chicago. He planned to go on to medical school, but then felt the call to ministry and redirected his studies to Dallas Theological Seminary where he went on to earn a Master's in Theology. Additionally, Dan completed a Doctor of Ministries from Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.

After many years of serving as a pastor and seminary professor, Dan began producing the daily two-minute feature, A Word from the Word, which has aired on hundreds of radio stations and is a popular Internet podcast. He has authored several books and has produced numerous audio and video Bible study resources.

Dan Hayden is the director of biblical research and education at Sola Scriptura, a teaching ministry associated with The Scriptorium, Center for Biblical Antiquities and the Van Kampen Collection of biblical texts and artifacts. He and his wife, Karilee, have two grown children and eleven grandchildren. They live in Orlando, Florida.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:00 AM | Permalink

A Guide To Blue State Living

We know it's been awhile since some of you out there in the real America lived in a blue state, so we thought we'd help you through this transition time with some handy hints for blue state living. Feel free to adjust accordingly to your local needs.

1. When paying for your "latte" always pay with George Washington, Abe Lincoln or Andrew Jackson face down. This is our way of saying "We hate America."

2. When you go "looking for your handout," stake out your street corner bright and early. Remember, the early bird always gets someone else's hard-earned pay first.

3. There's no need to pull your kids out of private school to demonstrate your support of public schools. Public schools are to be pitied, not enrolled in.

4. By supporting civil unions instead of gay marriage, you can maintain your separate-but-equal instincts.

5. The best thing about palling around with terrorists is that when it's time to bow to Mecca, if you forgot your rug at home, somebody usually has a spare rug. Take them up on their offer. They may be pals, but they are a little volatile, and you don't want to piss them off.

6. We don't say "My friends." We usually just go with "Comrades."

7. As a courtesy, please remember to leave the safety lock on when the jackbooted bureaucrats come to confiscate your semi-automatic assault rifle. Blue states' socialized medicine won't cover bullet wounds if negligence can be proven.

8. When you go shopping for your new Volvo, go for the C70 convertible. You'll be able to afford it once we put the loopholes in to our confiscatory tax policy. You may even get a tax credit.

9. Don't be shocked when you see what Whole Foods is charging for arugula these days.

10. Remember: some pigs are more equal than others under socialism too.


- Rick Kaempfer, Marty Gangler, Mike Luce, Don Jacobson, Steve Rhodes

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:14 AM | Permalink

November 6, 2008

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

Here's something we all can agree on: everybody loves a vacation. It's a good time to kick back and separate from the stress and pressure of everyday life. Sometimes, however, duty calls, tearing you away from your dreamy existence. Now that Rex Grossman's vacation is over, we got to wondering: what did Sexy Rexy do with his time off?

* Played a tape of Lovie saying "Rex is our quarterback" over and over and over again.

* Totally didn't read those memos from Ron Turner regarding the game plan.

* Continued to visualize what it took to throw the ball to the opposing team.

* Practiced taking snaps with his girlfriend.

* After the Bears moved to 5-3, he went to Vegas and bet "Under 8 Wins."

* Followed Orton around like he was pregnant, making sure he continued to feel as good as possible.

* Called in to talk radio as "Gus from Stickney" and complained about Kyle Orton.

* Purchased Madden 2009 Created player named "Rex Grossman" who is 7 feet tall.

* Prayed to God that the Bears didn't compile a winning record only to have Orton get injured right before playing an undefeated team.

Tennessee at Chicago
Storyline: If the Bears do everything right, they can be the first team to beat the Titans this season.

Reality: If the Bears do everything right, they can can lose by a margin smaller than what John McCain lost by.

Prediction: Tennessee Minus 3 Points, Under 39.5 Points

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Sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 65%
Recommended sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 45%

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Over/Under: If the NFL were run like our national elections.

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Fantasy Fix: Sources you can trust.

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Eric Emery grew up in small-town Illinois but has an irrational love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Every week he writes The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report and Over/Under. You can send him love letters and hate mail and he will respond graciously.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 PM | Permalink

Over/Under

As I write this, I have one eye on my writing, and one eye on history. It's clich to talk about how important the civic duty of voting is in comparison to the simple game of football. Most media coverage I listened to emphasized the greatness of the American democratic process, and glossed over all of its idiosyncrasies. Good thing these idiosyncrasies are not part of the NFL, or fans would riot.

* Large market teams wear shiny new safety equipment; small market teams wear wool sweaters with leather helmets.

* Some fans stand in line for three hours to watch the game, others walk move directly to their seats.

* When scoreboard goes down, 12,242 fans file lawsuits instantly.

* TV announcers name the winning team sometime during the third quarter.

* The head coach is interviewed at anytime, with his wife next to him at all times.

* Rather than showing the action, TV coverage centers on two people arguing the effectiveness of each play. Even if the result is clear, they never agree.

* Teams can use extra money to have a seemingly unlimited number of players.

* The winning team needs 270 points to win.

* No matter the team somebody roots for, 100% of the fans are glad the game is over.

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OverHyped Game of the Week: Packers at Vikings
Storyline: Both states are blue, mostly because they are 4-4 and trail the Bears.

Reality: Minnesota is more of a "blue-green," green referring to the ill, nauseous feeling that comes from throwing the game away in one pivotal moment.

Prediction: Green Bay Plus 3 Points, Under 48 Points Scored

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UnderHyped Game of the Week: Saints at Falcons
Storyline: Both states are red, mostly because they are angry that they are staring up at Carolina and Tampa Bay.

Reality: New Orleans is a brighter red, mostly due to having a high-powered offense and an easily burned defense. Relying on that is a recipe for a big road loss.

Prediction: Atlanta Even, Over 48.5 Points Scored

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Last week's picks: 2-4
For the season: 20-16-4

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Eric Emery grew up in small-town Illinois but has an irrational love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Every week he writes The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report and Over/Under. He also is a spark plug in floor hockey. You can reach him here.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:42 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

Bob at the Beachwood is preparing for the transition. Who will be chief of bartenders?

Paper Tigers
I have to vehemently disagree with Robb Montgomery, who picked Wednesday's Sun-Times as the nation's best front page of the day. A static portrait? My interpretation of that was that the Sun-Times was unable to deliver a photo from the Grant Park rally because Obama appeared after its lame deadlines.

Looking through the gallery Robb provides, I liked the Tulsa World, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Omaha World-Herald, the Green Bay Press-Gazette, and the New York Times.

I also liked what the Tribune did - at least in its second version, which is the one I received at home.

You can publish a portrait of Obama any day of the week. You can make it part of a special edition, or a poster. What you really wanted to show was history in the making - Obama (and his family) walking out on that stage in Grant Park as the president-elect. That was the (electric) moment to capture and convey.

And when Obama really does become the president, you want to show him taking the oath, or what he does in the moment just after.

Paper Lions
Mark Friesen also has a collection of front pages, and among these I like Newsday, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Seattle Times

Programming Note
I'll be working through some Obama material as well as looking at other election results in the next couple of days, so, combined with my Internet problems yesterday, my subject matter may get a little scattershot, but I'm just trying to clear everything off my desk as best I can. So I'll start here with today's papers and see where it goes. Maybe tomorrow will be fun Obama stuff and local elections. Also, don't forget to check out Election Day and Election Night material I posted on Division Street, as well as material I've already posted since.

Olympic Dreams
"Barack Obama's victory doesn't mean Chicago is a shoo-in to host the 2016 Olympic Games," Fran Spielman reports. "But let's put it this way: Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janiero are probably running scared right about now."

Really?

"Tokyo has just taken the lead in the latest installment of GamesBids.com's BidIndex, the original and most trusted formula for rating Olympic bids throughout their campaign," GamesBids reports.

"Despite this week's historic U.S. election victory by Barack Obama who has close ties to the city - Chicago's bid fell to third behind Rio de Janeiro. While President-elect Obama will certainly be a valuable asset to the Chicago bid team, it's too early to determine whether his politics or involvement in the bid will have a significant impact on the final vote next October."

To be fair, the Tribune also a case of Obamania.

"Chicago's hand just got hotter," the paper states.

And Philip Hersh is already envisioning an appearance by President Obama before the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen next year. You know, if he isn't busy with his day job.

Clout City
Forget all that talk about change.

* "State and local transit officials are buzzing about the federal grants that could come to northeastern Illinois with the help of the Obama administration. Some believe the potential Obama bonanza will far exceed the transit funding heyday years when Dennis Hastert, the Republican from Yorkville, was House speaker."

* "Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) envisions Obama rewarding unions so that 'maybe they will ease up on the local level. I might even be able to get a Wal-Mart now'."

* "Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) wants Obama to make Chicago the Midwest hub of a high-speed rail network and to increase CTA funding."

* "In Coles County, local supporters of the FutureGen project are optimistic that Barack Obama will breathe new life into the clean-coal plant."

* "'One word: money,' said Ald. Emma Mitts (37th). 'You're supposed to take care of home first, aren't you?'"

I'm sure the Adler Planetarium and University of Chicago are salivating as well.

The Truth About Turnout
Last I saw, it was about 61 percent - or the same as 2004.

That's more important than raw numbers because the U.S. population has grown. Chances are, each successive president will win a record number of raw votes.

And it appears that it wasn't higher turnout among young and black voters that made the difference, but that Obama simply captured more of those groups who did vote than John Kerry did.

Block That Kick
I'm sure the mayor was waiting for a day like the one after a historic election to propose another $12 million subsidy for Block 37.

Here's an idea: dig a giant hole on Block 37 and invite tourists and taxpayers to watch city workers dump money into it every month.

Today's Worst Person In Chicago
City revenue director Bea Reyna-Hickey was asked why the mayor's proposed parking ticket amnesty isn't as generous as the last one. Instead of saying "Because we need the money," she said this:

"We've already got dollars committed through our payment plans, through the booting we're already doing, through referral to collection agencies. We're trying to tap new dollars. It would be a loss of revenue to do it the old way - the way we did it in 2002."

Don't think about it too hard, but if you do, I'm sure you'll see a multitude of fallacies colliding.

Obama in the Beachwood
* The Obama Victory Set
* Grant Park, USA
* Bind our wounds.

The Moment

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Generally inspecting.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:01 AM | Permalink

November 5, 2008

Grant Park, USA

We face neither East nor West; we face Forward
- Kwame Nkrumah

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Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:01 PM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix

This is one of those crazy times of year when we're all suffering from information overload. No, I don't mean election time, though in your real life, you certainly may be suffering from election info overload, too. What I'm talking about is fantasy info overload. This condition becomes especially acute at times when different sports seasons overlap. Drafting your fantasy basketball team can be difficult even if it's the only thing you have to worry about, but when your middling fantasy football team at the same time is facing a big Week 9 test and requiring waiver wire help to reach the playoffs, well, who can blame you for not having time to take out the trash?

We're contributing to the info overload with this column, of course, which is just one of dozens - dare I say hundreds? - of fantasy sports advice columns, research dispensers and informational resources you can turn to for different takes on who to draft, who to sit or start, who to pick up from the waiver wire, or who to trade for. And a lot of us may feel like we need to check out every single one of them. Some might say it borders on obsession, but it doesn't just border on obsession; it crosses the border and heads straight for the next state: insanity.

Managing a fantasy sports team is one of those things where most of us feel we are better off the more information we seek out, but the more information we seek out, the more directions we get pulled in. It's best to pick a few sources of information that prove trustworthy and effective over the course of a pre-season or the first couple weeks of the regular season. Or, you could find someone who has more time than you do to organize that information for you.

So, here at Fantasy Fix, we'll now make that part of our weekly mission. Let's start with a couple of "kitchen sink" sites, ones that cover all sports:

* Rotoworld is one of my favorites. It's got a lot of breaking news from local-level news sources, and the individual player notes tend to go more in-depth than the typical stuff you get from Yahoo! and other sites.

* FantasySportsCentral is another good catch-all where you can find links to fantasy experts from Sports Illustrated and ESPN, among others.

Then there are the individual columnists you can count on. Some of the fantasy football experts have been at it for years, and now have huge followings:

* I just mentioned ESPN, and anybody who plays fantasy football is at least aware of the Talented Mr. Roto, who also goes by Matthew Berry. You can also catch Mr. Roto on Sunday mornings on ESPN News dispensing fantasy football advice. He's a pretty funny guy, and self-deprecating about his sometimes acting career, though at times he blathers on a little and makes you wonder how self-deprecating he really is. He also tends to champion the same guys for weeks on end, and is fairly obsessed with the fantasy strategy of "hand-cuffing your studs" by picking up their real-life back-ups or potential injury replacements to keep on your bench in case something happens. Still, I do agree with that strategy if you have a really solid starting lineup and can spare the roster room.

* Eric Karabell is another ESPN guy, and seems to offer some pretty solid player predictions and trend assessments that go beyond sit-and-start advice.

* Over at Yahoo!, many people are aware of Brandon Funston, but I like Brad Evans and his Bringing the Noise column. He's entertaining and quick with the obscure reference, and just as good at finding truly obscure players and figuring out if they have they potential to be more than one-week wonders.

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Fantasy basketball tends to have less expert analysis as football, and some of what's out there is honestly no better than street-level trash talk.

* Matt Buser's NBA Skinny report for Yahoo! offers a pretty good reviews of actually NBA happenings, such as big trades, and their effect on the fantasy world.

* InsideHoops isn't as noisy or glitzy as some other fantasy sites, but offers straightforward fantasy hoops analysis.

* The daily Fantasy Basketball Blog at ESPN also is helpful if you're the type who's swapping guys in and out of your line-up nightly, and using the waiver wire just as often.

We'll be watching these sources and others weekly, and we'll link to some of the columns and posts we think are especially valuable.

And now, how about a quick look on the week that was in the NBA?

The top five performers in the first week show one guy everyone expected to be at the top, and four complete surprises. Of course, most teams have about 78 more games left to play.

* Chris Paul: 65 pts., 16 reb., 36 assists (averaging 21.7 PPG and 12 APG, the stud we all expected)

* Rashard Lewis: 81 pts., 28 reb., 10 3-ptrs. (a top 30 player expected to fade is looking stronger)

* Spencer Hawes: 50 pts., 37 reb., 9 blks. (a late-round sleeper still largely unclaimed)

* Dwight Howard: 87 pts., 58 reb., 18 blks (even better than predicted, second in pts., rebs., tops in blks.)

* Jose Calderon: 54 pts., 29 assists, only 8 turnovers (another sleeper making good, with 9.7 APG)

Next week, we'll start taking a look at some of the trends and hot waiver wire pick-ups in the hoops world, and we'll return with a fresh fantasy football round-up.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears every Wednesday, Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:11 PM | Permalink

The Obama Victory Set

After closing out my Division Street Election Night blogging and watching Barack Obama's victory speech, I headed down to the Beachwood Inn to check out the action. Shortly thereafter, folks who had been at the Grant Park rally started trickling in . . . and the jukebox fell silent. Armed with a couple house jukebox dollars, the responsibility fell to me to get the party started. I was under a lot of pressure - to move quickly while maintaining a celebratory vibe combined with Obama themes without being too obvious. You know, like Richard Roeper. Here's what I came up with.

1. Ooh La La. Well, it sets the table. It's been getting a lot of play at the bar lately, and it has a good back story. Plus, very singable.

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2. Pink Houses. Yeah, well, I was under a lot of pressure. Plus, I was probably unconsciously thinking about the stereotypical old African American man in the Obama infomercial who made me think of the black man sitting on the porch in the video for this song. I always hated that, like the black man was being used as a prop. And I've always had mixed feelings about this song. But you know, it just seemed to fit. And believe me, the "ain't that America" line is the last reason why.

3. Pride (In the Name of Love). Okay, yes, this was on Roeper's Election Day playlist too. How could you not want to reference Martin Luther King, Jr.? Here's the video.

4. Come On Eileen. No Obama theme, just a song that's undeniable and indestructible. Plus, I was under a lot of pressure. It was a safe fallback pick.

-

5. Sister Christian. This was totally a mistake, I swear! I punched in the wrong numbers and I didn't know what song would come up until it did - and I didn't remember what I meant to play. What a long day I had had. But yes, we were motorin'.

6. At Last. Just one of the most beautiful, heart-rending, soul-filled songs ever.

-

7. Long As I Can See The Light. Put a candle in the window.

-

From the Beachwood jukebox to Marfa Public Radio, we have the playlists you need to be a better citizen of the Rock and Roll Nation.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:20 PM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Inaugural

INAUGURAL

adapted from Lincoln's second inaugural address

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray,
that this mighty scourge of war
may speedily pass away.

With malice toward none,
with charity for all,

with firmness in the right
as God gives us to see the right,

let us strive on to finish the work we are in,
to bind up the nation's wounds,
to care for him who shall have borne the battle
and for his widow and his orphan,

to do all which may achieve and cherish
a just and lasting peace

among ourselves and with all nations.

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray,
that this mighty scourge of war
may speedily pass away.

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:07 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Editor's Note: No, the delay this morning is not due to an Obama hangover, unless my Internet Service Provider (Speakeasy) was being punished for failing to contribute to his campaign. Instead, my internet - and e-mail - service was down for an extraordinary long time due to "connectivity issues" in Chicago. I'm back online now and will start to catch up.

The [Tuesday] Papers
As I disclosed in this year's Beachwood voting guide, I planned to write in Beachwood Inn proprietor Bob for president this morning.

But walking to my polling place this morning, I felt a nagging pull; the same one I've felt all along and I'm sure many Americans have felt.

While we've all read the stories about recalcitrant white voters and if racism is reflected in polls and if America would really put a black man into the White House, we haven't really seen very many stories about how dearly a large number of white people would like to cast a presidential vote for a black man as an affirmation of the righteousness of the civil rights struggle and everything associated with it.

Now, this isn't about us white folk, I know. If history is made today - and I believe it will be - that history is a million times more profound for African Americans. I know we're all in this together, but I hope in a sense that us white people just sort of step aside in a certain kind of way and honor the tortuous path that people of color have walked and continue to walk in this country. This is history for all of us, but even more so for some who have dragged this nation kicking and screaming into simple humanity.

In the end, I followed through with my original voting plan. I found it impossible to validate through my vote the sheer corrupt hackery of Emil Jones, Tony Rezko and Richard M. Daley. History doesn't need me today. If it did - if the election came down to my vote - I would surely put Barack Obama in the White House instead of John McCain. The Bush administration has been such a disaster that a Machine-backed hypocritical and cynical campaign is a thousand steps up from what we have, and John McCain's campaign promised not so much a continuation of the Bush years but a miasma of an altogether different sort.

McCain had an opportunity to capture large numbers of swing votes by running a different kind of campaign. He went a different way.

I do not believe this will be a victory for reform. But it will be a victory of another kind, in a way whose depths are nearly impossible to articulate.

My Other Three Votes
After I voted, I went to my corner 7-11 for coffee. For the last month or so, the 20 oz. cups have come in two varieties: blue Obama cups and red McCain cups.

The first time I confronted this, I was truly torn. Wasn't there another choice? I mean, not Bob Barr cups, but . . . something else for the independent-minded voter?

No.

So I chose an Obama cup. There was no way I wanted to be seen walking down the street with a McCain cup.

This morning was the third time I was confronted with that choice. So at least I've cast three votes for Obama at the 7-11. In Chicago, that might even count.

Poll Playlist
When I got to the Wicker Park Fieldhouse to vote about 5:50 a.m., there were maybe 20 people in line ahead of me. When the doors opened - and it seemed like more than 10 minutes later but I don't know for sure - there were probably 50 people behind me.

Once the doors opened, the park or election staff flipped on some music and Hall and Oates' "Private Eyes" queued up.

When I walked out after voting, Andy Gibbs was singing "I Just Want To Be Your Everything."

Reward System
They also had free donut holes and coffee. Though maybe that was for the staff. I felt kind of guilty taking a chocolate donut hole on my way out. But then I thought I kind of deserved it for actually casting votes against judges who should not be retained.

Butterfly Blues
I almost missed voting on the Con-Con referendum. After I thought I had completed my voting, I wondered where the Con-Con question was. I even thought it was missing. Then I found it at the very beginning of the ballot, right where I was instructed to "Start Voting Here."

It was shaded in blue, though, almost like a space for official use only or instructions. My guess is others will miss it too - and not go back looking for it.

UPDATE 3:12 P.M.: Cate Plys writes:

"Bad news, you DID miss the con-con question. I, too, completed the question in blue at the very beginning - but that was just an example. I realized that when I got to the very bottom and found the real Con-Con question, which I almost didn't see. Wonder if they did that on purpose? I checked with the election staff and they confirmed that the blue one was just an example. I checked with them because I was afraid filling out the sample one would ruin the ballot."

That really, really sucks. I really cared about that vote.

MultiPurpose
While waiting in line inside the polling station, I thought it would be nice if other services were offered at the same time. Like, maybe I could renew my driver's license while I waited, or get a haircut. Just sayin'.

Programming Note
I'll be blogging on Division Street until at least midnight. I hope to incorporate reports from pals all over the city, state and country, so don't hesitate to send e-mails my way with amusing anecdotes, witty insights, or just observations about your polling stations, your states, or your TV viewing.

I also hope to duck into the Beachwood Inn a couple times during the night to gather material and take advantage of the free pizza and a free drink if you show your voting receipt. After all, I did vote for Bob.

Losing the Cub Vote
"I can't vote for Obama," a Cub fan writes to Rick Kaempfer at Just One Bad Century. "His entire platform is designed to help Sox fans."

Find out how.

Big in Japan
Including "Obama Is Beautiful World" and "McCain Goes On A Japanese Game Show."

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: For all you do, this tip line is for you.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 PM | Permalink

November 4, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

As I disclosed in this year's Beachwood voting guide, I planned to write in Beachwood Inn proprietor Bob for president this morning.

But walking to my polling place this morning, I felt a nagging pull; the same one I've felt all along and I'm sure many Americans have felt.

While we've all read the stories about recalcitrant white voters and if racism is reflected in polls and if America would really put a black man into the White House, we haven't really seen very many stories about how dearly a large number of white people would like to cast a presidential vote for a black man as an affirmation of the righteousness of the civil rights struggle and everything associated with it.

Now, this isn't about us white folk, I know. If history is made today - and I believe it will be - that history is a million times more profound for African Americans. I know we're all in this together, but I hope in a sense that us white people just sort of step aside in a certain kind of way and honor the tortuous path that people of color have walked and continue to walk in this country. This is history for all of us, but even more so for some who have dragged this nation kicking and screaming into simple humanity.

In the end, I followed through with my original voting plan. I found it impossible to validate through my vote the sheer corrupt hackery of Emil Jones, Tony Rezko and Richard M. Daley. History doesn't need me today. If it did - if the election came down to my vote - I would surely put Barack Obama in the White House instead of John McCain. The Bush administration has been such a disaster that a Machine-backed hypocritical and cynical campaign is a thousand steps up from what we have, and John McCain's campaign promised not so much a continuation of the Bush years but a miasma of an altogether different sort.

McCain had an opportunity to capture large numbers of swing votes by running a different kind of campaign. He went a different way.

I do not believe this will be a victory for reform. But it will be a victory of another kind, in a way whose depths are nearly impossible to articulate.

My Other Three Votes
After I voted, I went to my corner 7-11 for coffee. For the last month or so, the 20 oz. cups have come in two varieties: blue Obama cups and red McCain cups.

The first time I confronted this, I was truly torn. Wasn't there another choice? I mean, not Bob Barr cups, but . . . something else for the independent-minded voter?

No.

So I chose an Obama cup. There was no way I wanted to be seen walking down the street with a McCain cup.

This morning was the third time I was confronted with that choice. So at least I've cast three votes for Obama at the 7-11. In Chicago, that might even count.

Poll Playlist
When I got to the Wicker Park Fieldhouse to vote about 5:50 a.m., there were maybe 20 people in line ahead of me. When the doors opened - and it seemed like more than 10 minutes later but I don't know for sure - there were probably 50 people behind me.

Once the doors opened, the park or election staff flipped on some music and Hall and Oates' "Private Eyes" queued up.

When I walked out after voting, Andy Gibbs was singing "I Just Want To Be Your Everything."

Reward System
They also had free donut holes and coffee. Though maybe that was for the staff. I felt kind of guilty taking a chocolate donut hole on my way out. But then I thought I kind of deserved it for actually casting votes against judges who should not be retained.

Butterfly Blues
I almost missed voting on the Con-Con referendum. After I thought I had completed my voting, I wondered where the Con-Con question was. I even thought it was missing. Then I found it at the very beginning of the ballot, right where I was instructed to "Start Voting Here."

It was shaded in blue, though, almost like a space for official use only or instructions. My guess is others will miss it too - and not go back looking for it.

UPDATE 3:12 P.M.: Cate Plys writes:

"Bad news, you DID miss the con-con question. I, too, completed the question in blue at the very beginning - but that was just an example. I realized that when I got to the very bottom and found the real Con-Con question, which I almost didn't see. Wonder if they did that on purpose? I checked with the election staff and they confirmed that the blue one was just an example. I checked with them because I was afraid filling out the sample one would ruin the ballot."

That really, really sucks. I really cared about that vote.

MultiPurpose
While waiting in line inside the polling station, I thought it would be nice if other services were offered at the same time. Like, maybe I could renew my driver's license while I waited, or get a haircut. Just sayin'.

Programming Note
I'll be blogging on Division Street until at least midnight. I hope to incorporate reports from pals all over the city, state and country, so don't hesitate to send e-mails my way with amusing anecdotes, witty insights, or just observations about your polling stations, your states, or your TV viewing.

I also hope to duck into the Beachwood Inn a couple times during the night to gather material and take advantage of the free pizza and a free drink if you show your voting receipt. After all, I did vote for Bob.

Losing the Cub Vote
"I can't vote for Obama," a Cub fan writes to Rick Kaempfer at Just One Bad Century. "His entire platform is designed to help Sox fans."

Find out how.

Big in Japan
Including "Obama Is Beautiful World" and "McCain Goes On A Japanese Game Show."

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: For all you do, this tip line is for you.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:57 AM | Permalink

Big in Japan: Obama

1. Obama Is Beautiful World

-

2. OBAMA '080305

-

3. Obama Burgers at the Obama Rally in Obama

-

4. Japanese "Obama" Souvenir

-

5. McCain Goes On A Japanese Game Show

-

Previously in Big in Japan:
* Not Fukudome
* The Yokohama Cubs
* The Chicago Way
* Not The Olympics
* Charisma Man
* Not American Football
* J-Girl Style
* Chicago Blues


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

November 3, 2008

The [Monday] Papers

It's funny how the names are almost always the same - just in different combinations.

On Friday, the names were Bill Cellini, Ed Burke, Michael Marchese, Michael Madigan, Eddie Vrdolyak, Richie Stein and Richard M. Daley, among others.

On Sunday, in the Sun-Times, the names were Bill Cellini, Michael Marchese, Eddie Burke, Dick Mell, Tony Rezko and Richard M. Daley.

At least today Vrdolyak goes on trial.

Clout Corner
Read the Sun-Times story from Sunday and then marvel at the Chicago Way:

* Watch as Daley - unprecedented for him - not only endorses Rod Blagojevich for governor but agrees to serve as chairman of his campaign. (Then Bill Daley, Rahm Emanuel and - wait for it - Barack Obama plotted strategy to get Blago elected.)

* Watch Daley come down with a cross between Newsheimers and Fedheimers.

"Neither the mayor nor any of the people who worked on the project have any recollection of a meeting in which the mayor specifically requested a Home Depot, or anything specific," Daley spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard said.

A) See the mayor never answers questions himself, except at press conferences where he doesn't have to answer questions.

B) Not a single person has any recollection of a meeting in which the mayor specifically requested a Home Depot. That's probably because the mayor's spokesperson was asking the question.

C) Or maybe the trick is a meeting in which the mayor specifically requested a Home Depot. He could've just winked.

* Watch Tony Rezko in the middle of everything much to Obama's supposed ignorance.

* Another Ali Ata sighting!

* Watch Dick Mell redraw the boundaries of his ward to excise residents who didn't want a Home Depot in their neighborhood.

"He called me up, asked me for my address, and then mapped me out of his ward," neighborhood leader Michael Graff told the S-T. "All of a sudden, we're in Vilma Colom's ward."

Be careful, Graff, you could be mapped out of Illinois altogether if you don't cooperate!

* Watch Vilma Colom lose her re-election bid after acquiring said residents.

* Watch Michael Marchese, the mayoral pal who once famously acquired a piece of property from the city for a dollar, make off like a bandit along with his partner, the now-indicted Cellini.

Blinded by the Light
And now watch the Tribune editorial page deny that Obama is associated in any way with Rezko, Emil Jones, Rod Blagojevich, and the Daleys.

"He's not a Daley guy, a Blagojevich guy or a machine guy."

Yes and no. Obama traded endorsements with Daley and kept his mouth shut about widespread corruption emanating from City Hall. He helped plot Blagojevich's first campaign and - through Rezko - helped stock the administration. And we know all too well how his relationship with Jones worked.

Obama is not a Machine hack per se. But he aided and abetted the Machine and the Machine returned the favor. To the degree that Obama kept himself relatively clean, it was about him and not us - it was about his own self-image and cultivated persona and ambitions, not about change or reform or principles or standing up for what's right. Some call it pragmatic, others call it cynical.

Vote for Change
The Beachwood Election Guide shows you how

Horrorscope
The Sun-Times wants you to know via its astrologer, Georgia Nicols, that the "celestial events taking place now are amazing."

Really? If so, we'll see them for ourselves in however many light years it will take for those events to reach us.

A Little Birdie
Lefty Rosenthal was a snitch.

That was always the working theory of a lot of us; how else could he have remained both out of prison and alive?

Studs' Place
"He was also known as the quintessential Chicagoan, a label I find kind of funny since I always thought of him as the quintessential New York Jew," our very own Marilyn Ferdinand writes at Ferdy on Films.

"Even so, as a suburban Chicagoan growing up in what was still a very working class metropolitan area, I could very well have learned and retained the narrower horizons that many of my relatives and neighbors had. Studs gave me the kind of civic, social, and cultural education I probably wouldn't have gotten anywhere else, and he may be responsible for my highly eclectic and ecumenical tastes."
*

I have a brief round-up of tributes on Division Street

Medicare Mess
"On Friday, the City Council's Finance Committee agreed to return $6.9 million in ambulance fees collected from Medicare during the five-year period ending in September 2005," the Sun-Times reports.

"Fire Commissioner John Brookes told the Finance Committee that 50 of his paramedics had been disciplined for making billing mistakes and that all paramedics and emergency medical technicians had been retrained."

Not so easy, guys, is it?

Streets and San
"Though the city's inspector general figures Chicago is wasting millions of dollars a year on garbage-collection crews 'paid to do nothing' for 25 percent of their time on the job, no one has been disciplined for slacking off," the Sun-Times reports.

"City Corporation Counsel Mara Georges said Friday it would be tough to justify the firings promised by Mayor Daley and city Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael Picardi in the wake of Inspector General David Hoffman's report last month, let alone suspensions."

See, those promises had an expiration date of one news cycle.

"If they point the finger at the little guy for this problem, the same problem will just reoccur somewhere down the road," Hoffman said. "The main ones to hold accountable are the managers and supervisors who ran the system and allowed taxpayers' funds to be wasted so extensively."

So, you know, Daley and Picardi.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Street smart and sanitary.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

The Beachwood Election Guide For Change 2008

Remember, you can take this into the voting booth with you.

PRESIDENT: Except for a brief shining call for real reform coming out of the Republican convention, John McCain has run a lousy campaign that has just gotten worse as it has gone along. He's not George W. Bush, he's George H. W. Bush, reprising the 1988 spectacle that was built around flag factories and the Pledge of Allegiance. The assertion that Barack Obama is a radical with a secret radical plan is not only scurrilous, it's ignorant.

On the other hand, how can any of us here in Chicago who have longed for an end to our thoroughly corrupt political system vote for a man whose political godfather was Tony Rezko and whose political mentor was Emil Jones? How much more do you need to know? That the Daleys are thrilled with the prospect of an Obama presidency? That Rahm Emanuel is licking his lips? Do you really think change is on the way?

Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney is a nut. Ralph Nader almost always speaks the truth, but he's marginalized himself. Plus, writing him in has gotten boring. Bob Barr is great fun, but I don't want to ever recall my list of presidential votes in a bar 20 years from now and have to say that I once voted for him.

What I don't understand is that in Illinois, write-in candidates apparently must file paperwork with election authorities to appear on the ballot - and only those write-in votes will be counted. What about a write-in vote where you simply "write-in" a name on a blank line? Isn't that my right? Why can't that be counted?

Because that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to write in Bob, the proprietor of the Beachwood Inn. He is truly America's Everyman; he is a small-business owner who has watched this election closely from the start with a clarity and thoughtfulness that puts our pundit class to shame. Plus, he has a wealth of experience with both domestics and imports.

*

Although this guy looks interesting.

U.S. SENATE: Dick Durbin is as effective an advocate for the Democratic Party as they come, but if you think hyper-partisanship is the problem in Washington, he's not your man. In reality, though, he's far more qualified to be president than his junior colleague. His challenger, Steve Sauerberg, is a doorknob. Kathy Cummings is the Green Party candidate, and I just might vote for her.

U.S. HOUSE By district.

1st: Bobby Rush is a joke. We all know it, but we don't all say it. Vote for Antoine Members just to give Bobby a scare.

2nd: No one has asked the obvious question of incumbent Jesse Jackson, Jr.: If you are named to Barack Obama's Senate seat, as you hope you will be, who will you back to fill your spot here after your short-lived victory? In other words, is this election just a sham?

3rd: Newspaper editorial boards like to blame the voters for not throwing the bums out, but then they always endorse the bums. Both the Tribune and the Sun-Times have endorsed Dan Lipinski, thus validating the slimy way he got into office and the sleaze surrounding his stay there. Lipinski's behavior should not be rewarded. Jerome Pohlen is the Green Party candidate and if I lived in the district, he'd have my vote.

4th: Luis Gutierrez is a little shit. We all know it, but we don't say it. This is my district and if I can find out a little something about Green Party candidate Omar Lopez, he'll probably get my vote over Republican Daniel Cunningham, whoever that is.

5th: I'm sure Rahm Emanuel can't wait to join the Obama administration and change the way Washington works! Um, yes, that's right, Rahm Emanuel for Change. Alan Augustson is the Green Party candidate. Tom Hanson is the Republican. Or you could write in Nancy Kaszak out of spite.

6th: There's no good reason to return Peter Roskam to Congress, but Jill Morgenthaler is still looking for a house in the district. I think Tammy Duckworth is too. You could write in Christine Cegelis out of spite.

7th: Danny Davis isn't the worst congressman in the world, but it seems to me he's tired of the job and wants out. Help show him the door.

8th: I don't support Republican challenger Steve Greenberg, but Melissa Bean is pretty crappy too. Write in Christine Cegelis out of spite.

9th: I'm tired of Jan Schakowksy, and even more tired of her check-kiting husband whose hostile and childish posts on Huffington Post are a perfect example of how so few of Obama's followers seem to follow his rhetoric. But then, neither does he. Morris Shanfield is the Green Party candidate. Michael Younan is the Republican.

10th: This truly is a tough race to call. Frankly, I haven't seen much depth to Dan Seals. I've always thought, and often written, that the Republican party undervalues Mark Kirk and that he has a future. Toss-up.

11th: There's no way I can endorse cement guy Marty Ozinga, but he's far more coherent than Debbie Halvorson, who is an Emil Jones flunkie full of double-speak. Mangle your ballot in protest.

12th: Incumbent Democrat Jerry Costello is apparently opposed by Timmy J. Richardson Jr. Punt.

13th: Judy Biggert isn't an evil person, but she's always been palsy-walsy with the financial sector. Steve Alesch is the Green Party candidate. Scott Harper is the Democrat.

14th: Might as well vote for the geek.

15th: The incumbent is Republican Timothy Johnson. "Johnson's opponent, Democrat Steve Cox of Urbana, has not raised enough money to require him to report his spending with the Federal Election Commission," the Bloomington Pantagraph reports. "Cox, a retired federal employee with no previous political experience, said he used most of his economic stimulus check to pay for the printing of 500 yard signs and a stack of informational cards."

Vote Cox!

16th: Incumbent Don Manzullo is being challenged by Bob Abboud, the mayor of Barrington Hills. Abboud is "running as a Democrat, is a businessman himself, a nuclear engineer who owns RGA Laboratories, an energy consulting business," the Daily Herald reports.

"Manzullo supports current policy on Iraq and Afghanistan, and calls for getting more support from NATO and Pakistan. Manzullo also favors keeping the Bush tax cuts, while offering a flat income tax alternative. and is rated the most fiscally conservative congressman from Illinois by the National Taxpayers Union," the paper says.

"Abboud, a self-described former Reagan Republican disillusioned by Evangelical influence on the party, would repeal tax cuts for oil companies' record profits, and on businesses that send jobs overseas."

The Green Party candidate is Scott Summers, "a McHenry County College trustee from the town of Harvard, champions Medicare for all and 'micro-capitalism' to support home and community-based businesses."

Abboud, however, sounds intriguing.

17th: Democrat freshman Phil Hare is the only Illinois congressman unopposed for re-election.

18th: Democrat Colleen Callahan wants to bring back the draft. Republican Aaron Schock wants to sell nuclear weapons to Taiwan and has a notary problem. Green Party candidate Sheldon Schafer is clearly the best candidate if the Peoria Journal-Star is right, but they were unwilling to endorse him simply because he lacked money to get his message out. Vote Schafer and impeach the Peoria Journal-Star for not knowing how to do its job.

19th: Incumbent John Shimkus is being challenged by Democrat Daniel Davis and Green Troy Dennis. I think you know what do do.

COOK COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY: Tony Peraica has a role to play in our political community, but this isn't it. I've had a hard time discerning if Anita Alvarez shares any accountability for the office's inaction on Jon Burge & Co., but she exudes competence, knowledge, experience and the possibility of a fresh direction.

COOK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT CLERK: Shake things up and vote in the Republican, Diane Shapiro. It's not about patronage, it's about competence. Paloma Andrade is the Green Party candidate.

COOK COUNTY RECORDER OF DEEDS: Shake things up and vote in the Republican, Gregory Goldstein. It's not about patronage, it's about competence. Terrence Gilhooly is the Green Party candidate.

ILLINOIS SENATE: Selected races.

14th: If you really want the madness to end, vote the Clown. And I mean the real one, not Emil Jones III.

15th: There's a role for James Meeks in our political culture, but I think it's as an influential minister, not a state representative.

16th: Donne Trotter dresses nice but he's a hack.

41st: Christine Radogno is one of our brightest legislators and could be the Republicans' future in Illinois, if they ever get their heads out of their butts.

ILLINOIS HOUSE: Selected races.

22nd: Michael Madigan must be destroyed. Vote Famiglietti, even though he's probably a Madigan stooge.

ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT: Selected races.

1st: Anne Burke does not have an opponent except the righteous winds of truth, transparency and integrity. Do not give her your vote.

REFERENDUMS: Selected.

1. Constitutional Convention: Yes. One argument against it is that the state constitution isn't broken, but it is meant to be revisited every so often and now is the time. The other argument is that a bunch of crazy people could hijack the proceedings and, you know, do all sorts of crazy stuff. By crazy, most of the opposition means "pro-lifers." You know, the time is never going to be right if you are waiting for political and social conditions optimal to your political viewpoint. Besides, Illinois has never been bluer. What are you afraid of? Finally, the Machine doesn't want it and tried to rig the system against it, so what more do you need to know?

2. In Berwyn: "Shall our representatives in Congress hold current and former public officials, and private contractors accountable for war crimes, including torture and unprovoked aggression, in connection with the Iraq war?"

Yes.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:19 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday

I don't really remember how much it hurt when I broke my foot a couple times before I was 10 years old. When I messed up my elbow playing high school baseball and had to have surgery, the initial popping sound was the worst part. There was discomfort but it was far from agonizing. It wasn't until I was in college and playing rugby that I first experienced significant, sports-related pain. And that was in addition to suffering the worst break of all: I didn't have even the beginnings of a decent story to go with the injury. I took a bad step during practice one day and twisted my ankle. And it hurt so much I was sure I was going to puke. The next season I banged heads with a teammate and eventually had to get a half-dozen stitches but that was also a ways down on the pain scale.

Kyle Orton's second quarter injury didn't happen the way most sprains happen - in fact it was downright weird. Most of the time people turn their feet on the way back down to the ground (and the end of a stride or a jump) and the combination of gravity and body weight do the damage. You could see a 300-pound lineman falling on a quarterback and making it difficult for him to breath for a while, but twisting his ankle? Athletes have always been encouraged to hide how badly they've been injured, at least from the other team. And surely Orton would rather have kept his pain to himself on this occasion. But it wasn't surprising that he couldn't do it. A field microphone picked up Orton yelling, if not quite screaming, in pain. His attempt to walk off the field ended quickly and after a short delay he was carted off.

If Orton misses a month with a high-ankle sprain (the best guesstimate I heard Sunday evening) it will make it tough for the Bears to stay atop the NFC North, but not impossible. So much will depend on the defense. I'm not quite ready to push the panic button, but a few more quarters like the second on Sunday and it will be time to contemplate major, major changes. The Bears went on to hold Detroit scoreless in the second half, generating just enough pass rush to knock Lion quarterback Dan Orlovsky at least a little off kilter. But next week's foe, Tennessee Titan veteran Kerry Collins, will be much tougher to rattle.

Equal rations of highlights and low:

* Individually, the only defender who has brought it every quarter of every game so far has been defensive end Alex Brown. The rest of them come and too often go. Lance Briggs made a huge play late to both strip and secure the turnover that stuffed the Lions' last, best chance to score on something other than a desperation heave. But where was he for the first three quarters?

* On the bright side for Rex Grossman on Sunday, no fumbled snaps! But defensive lineman deflected a couple of his passes like they always do and one became an acrobatic interception. Earlier a few of Orton's attempts were also tipped at the line, so it's tough to slam Grossman for struggling the same way. But the one thing Orton never does is go into complete retreat mode like his back-up did before throwing that ridiculous tight-end screen to a completely covered Greg Olsen for a loss of four. Grossman followed that effort with a wounded duck that did not land in the same zip code as any of his receivers. Fortunately when he absolutely had to, Grossman found the highly valuable Rashied Davis for a huge touchdown and for the only yards other than the last one on the game-winning drive that didn't result from Matt Forte runs. That last yard was Grossman's quarterback sneak.

* Analyst Tim Ryan did a great job of pointing out that the Bears' final scoring drive was almost exclusively the result of a single play, well-executed time after time. Roberto Garza pulled back and over to the left side of the line and consistently sealed off big holes for Forte. And the rookie running back finally found his stride again after several sub-par weeks.

* Looking forward, Grossman will benefit from a week's worth of practice with the first team. There is no denying he had some success during his second short stint as a starter last season and longer stretches of success during 2006. I do wonder, though, if the Bears will go with an ultra-conservative game plan against the best defenses they will face this year.

* The lousy field condition eventually favored the Bears. The biggest slip of a couple dozen stumbles caused by the atrocious turf was the one that led to the blocked extra point after the Lions' first touchdown. I hope (although I'm far from certain) the Bears would have played tougher defense and thereby perhaps stopped the Lions short of field-goal range on that last drive if a field goal would have tied it. I'm not sure why I feel that way but I do.

* I wonder sometimes if the Chicago Park District, the folks who are responsible for the condition of the field at Soldier Field, could be more of a joke. And hey superintendent Tim Mitchell, don't send out some pathetic flak to field questions about this latest Chicago Park District failing. Step up and face the music yourself. And while you're at it, please make sure to tell us why in the universe the district should continue to look after this field.

A few more game notes:

* Luck favored the Bears in a variety of ways on Sunday. Lion quarterback Dan Orlovsky had star wideout Calvin Johnson wide open twice on bombs in the second half. He way underthrew the first then overcompensated and launched the second way out beyond where anyone could catch it.

* Devin Hester's fumble on that first-half kick-off return was the Bears' second-worst turnover of the season (Greg Olsen's second fumble against the Panthers as the Bears were blowing that 17-3 second-half lead in Game 2 is still the worst). Devin, we understand that returning the football is a fickle business and that big returns are often very, very difficult to generate. But it seems like at least once every game you fail to protect the ball or return a ball you shouldn't or make some other basic mistake. How about you first try to make sure that stuff doesn't happen for a while? Then maybe we can find a way to get the big returns flowing again.

* Rod Marinelli lost it when officials decided well after the play to call a penalty on a horse collar tackle that brought down Hester after his best return of the day. Marinelli was arguing first and foremost that the call was made in part because a replay on the scoreboard made it clear that a penalty had occurred, which was obviously a no-no. He clearly was also hot about the lateness of the flag. Hecklers have long raked refs over the coals for "late" calls, suggesting that because the call was late the ref was unsure and shouldn't have made it. But lateness shouldn't matter even a little bit. The point is to get the call right, which the officials did on the tackle on Hester and on the intentional grounding call on Orlovsky later that was also flagged well after the play was over.

* As far as calls go, better late than never. And that goes for some careers as well. Did you see Ced Benson had over 100 yards and a touchdown as the Bengals finally recorded their first win of the season on Sunday? If Ced Benson's career can be saved, Mr. Grossman's resurrection should be a snap.

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Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday because he loves you. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:57 AM | Permalink

November 1, 2008

The Weekend Desk Report

Weekend Desk editor Natasha Julius remains on assignment in India. Stephanie Goldberg once again fills in with her Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week.

1. Don't you just love Halloween? It's a magical time when those costumed strangers who knock at your door just might be packing heat. Or that guy who's lying in a pool of blood could be pulling your leg. It's a time to test the limits of your dog's affection while humiliating your partner at the same time. Best of all, it's a time to display stunning originality in your choice of costume.

2. It amuses us greatly that Cindy Crawford got dressed up for Halloween as Little Miss Rehab. Turns out that Crawford, too, is not adverse to shooting up.

3. Now it's time to hear from the Australia chapter of Future Serial Killers.

4. If small businesses that come up with innovative products like this and this and this one are the engines that drive our economy, no wonder we're fucked.

5. Damn it - will you sing already so this election can end? By the way, I'll be at Grant Park on Tuesday night. I'll be the one wearing the Obama button so just come up and say hi.

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Catch up with The Papers and previous Weekend Desk Reports.

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See the Division Street posts that are sweeping the nation:

* Will Trade Sex for Obama
* Working the Holiday
* Ad Wars
* West Winging It
* Da Bears

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Costumes spotted at the Beachwood Inn last night:
* Ed Grimley. C'mon! You've probably been pulling that one out for years now! If you're going to be topical, be topical!
* The St. Pauli Girl. Or Swiss Miss. Whatever.
* Drunk Pool Players. Well, we kind of came as each other. Let's put it that way.
* Bjork. See Ed Grimley.
* The Beachwood Jukebox. Looked just like the real thing! Played a Halloween CD too!
* Tamale Guy. The first one looked like the real thing, but the second one was obviously a fake.
* Mr. Peanut. We weren't sure until we spotted the monocle.
* Cowboy Sam. A satin red shirt and a black cowboy hat can go a long way.
* Bored Doorman. At first we thought it was a wax figure, but then it moved.
* Sarah Palin. A cliche before anyone got a chance to do it. But we had to admit the accent was spot-on.

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Coming soon:
* Beachwood Endorsements on Monday.
* Division Street live-blogging on Tuesday, including dispatches from the Beachwood Inn's Election Night party. Bring your voting stub thingie and get free stuff.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ready to lead.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 PM | Permalink

MUSIC - Our Aretha.
TV - Tribune: Sinclair Blew Sure Thing.
POLITICS - Dems Fake FCC Oversight.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Trying To Prove God Exists.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Foxconn Flooding Alert.


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