Saturday, May 26, 2007
Suzy introduced the authors alphabetically. I got to go first despite the middle-ish position of my surname. In a word, I was rusty. I hadn't talked about the book much since last year, and it showed. I forgot nearly everything I had said at last year's signings to drum up interest in the book. On the bright side, I did my first reading. Last July at The Book Cellar, fellow author Noah Leiberman read a page or two from his book The Flat Stick. I declined to read, and I had been regretting it ever since. Reading from Biking Illinois is a great way to show that it's more than just "turn right, turn left." I chose the sidebar from the "Merry Miles to Maeystown" ride, which describes the founding of Waterloo, the town where the ride begins. The legend involves a "cheeky Irishman," and I got a lot of laughs with it.
Next Margaret Littman, who has written or edited a bunch of titles, talked about the new second edition of The Dog Lover's Companion to Chicago. The revisions were much more work than she expected; the task took nine months. One growing trend is that many park districts are opening up their pools to dogs the day before they close for the season. One of my mom's friends does the same with her pool.
The final author of the evening was Lucy Saunders. She talked about Grilling With Beer as a microbrewery representative poured free samples of a beer featured in one of the book's recipes. We don't often think about book design, but Saunders explained that she self-published because she had special requirements for this book. First she wanted a spiral binding so the book would lay flat, a common and useful feature for any cookbook. The problem with a spiral is that when the book is on a shelf in a store or at home, the title is not visible. She went to a Canadian printer to get what she wanted: the front cover wraps around the spiral spine to show the title. Grilling With Beer is available online but not through Amazon.com.
Afterward a couple of guys asked me questions but no one bought my book. I enjoyed talking with the other authors as I autographed a tall stack of books for stock. I hope Suzy can sell them; Biking Illinois has done well at The Book Cellar so far. Finally, Lucy Saunders bought a copy of my book so I wasn't shut out for the night.
Grilling With Beer
My grammarian readers (I know there are at least two of you) will enjoy Janet Maslin's review of Pearl Harbor, the latest book by everyone's favorite "family values" hypocrite, Newt Gingrich (cowritten with William R. Forstchen). Apparently this book was so important that the rushed publisher decided to skip the copyediting phase. How else could you explain painfully redundant phrases like "to withdraw backward was impossible?" (Actually, Newt, to withdraw forward is impossible.) Maslin writes
This is not a matter of isolated typographical errors. It is a serious case for the comma police, since the book’s war on punctuation is almost as heated as the air assaults it describes.She follows with an example. But this is my favorite passage from Pearl Harbor:
James nodded his thanks, opened the wax paper and looked a bit suspiciously at the offering, it looked to be a day or two old and suddenly he had a real longing for the faculty dining room on campus, always a good selection of Western and Asian food to choose from, darn good conversations to be found, and here he now sat with a disheveled captain who, with the added realization, due to the direction of the wind, was in serious need of a good shower.Perhaps I was wrong about skipping the copyediting phase. It is perfectly reasonable for a copyeditor, after reading a sentence like that, to throw up his or her hands in defeat. I mean, it can be fixed but where would you start?
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Don't do it.
Looking in our menu drawer (arguably the most often used drawer in our kitchen), I see no less than eleven menus and flyers for pizza with red and green ink on white paper: La Villa, Papa Georgio's, Shamino's, Godfather's, and Angelo's to name a few. When I have an urge to order a pizza from La Villa, I will open the drawer in search of the familiar menu... and see as many as ten similar menus first, any of which could tempt me to change my mind about where to order dinner.
Which menus would you find easily in a drawer?
The lesson is clear: avoid the obvious when designing menus, brochures, flyers, etc. The last thing you want is to blend in and be confused with your competitors. Take a good look at them before choosing your own motif. And for goodness' sake, please have someone proofread your menu before printing. I'm leery of ordering a pizza from someone who can't spell pepperoni.
* More accurately, an American interpretation of an authentic Italian dining experience.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Before we left the house last night, I went to the Borders Web site to check their hours. Since they were supposed to be open until 10 PM, we went out to eat first, arriving at Borders around 8:35 PM. So imagine my surprise minutes later when a voice came over the P.A. with that familiar line: "Attention Borders Customers... The store will be closing in 15 minutes..."
We checked the hours on the front door as we left, and Sunday's closing time was blank. In other words, there was no clue anywhere that the bastards were closing at 9 PM. Why bother to put your store hours online if they are wrong?
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Safety concerns are the obvious explanation. I don't have any statistics, but according to my scans of the local paper's police blotter, delivery people are robbed on a somewhat regular basis. Occasionally worse things happen, but usually it's just about cash.
Alas, women aren't any better than men at this job. Once again, I received a pizza with the cheese and toppings slid over to one side. That's the second time this week from two different restaurants. What the hell, can't anyone properly transport a pizza in this city anymore?
Friday, May 18, 2007
I hate calling tech support and being asked if my computer is plugged in. Sheesh, I have a degree in computer science with ten years of IT development experience, which often makes me more qualified than the person at the other end of the line. I have to be in pretty deep before I even consider calling tech support. So when I do, I want the assistance of an expert, not inane queries about whether I remembered to turn on the monitor.
One wonders how they will determine which level of support to offer to a caller. I think there should be a quiz while the caller is on hold. First question: "How many e-mail messages have you forwarded to your entire address book in the past month?" If it's greater than five, you get granny support. At least that's how I'd identify my grandmother!
Of course, tuition increases are not news anymore. Education costs have been rising at a higher rate than inflation for many years. Out of curiosity, I looked up current tuition at my alma mater. For the 2007-2008 year, full-time students will pay $8,375 per semester. That's an increase of 80% in fifteen years!
I guess that makes me feel a little better about paying $2,700 for Rosco's knee surgery two years ago -- it still beats hell out of paying for college.
- May 27 -- Bank of America Bike the Drive
- June 15 -- Bike to Work Week Rally/Commuter Challenge
- July 21 -- Bike Town Bash
- September 9 -- Boulevard Lakefront Tour
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I changed the lock on my front door so you can't see me anymoreThe song builds intensity as the singer changes one thing after another to evade a former lover: phone number, car, clothes, train tracks, and finally the name of the town. Both the original and Petty's version are excellent.
And you can't come inside my house, and you can't lie down on my couch
I changed the lock on my front door
On Tuesday we changed the lock on our front door. This is significant because it was likely the first time in our home's 88-year existence. In fact, our old mortise lock was a non-standard size... and the size of mortise locks was standardized in the 1930s!
The lock wasn't in great shape when we bought our home nine years ago, and its condition has steadily deteriorated under my neglectful watch (this is why we don't have kids--I can't even take care of a house). For the past two months, it has been nearly impossible to unlock the door from the outside. Every time we shamefully skulked down the walkway to our side door, I could feel the eyes of our neighbors--responsible homeowners--glaring at us with disdain.
I always feel a little guilty about tossing away vintage features of our home, even when they are worn out and hardly functional. So many of our house's original features have been stripped away by previous owners that I want to keep what little is left. In this case, however, I became frustrated enough with the old lock that I wanted to simply be done with it.
Our new lock didn't come cheaply. We paid over $500 for the hardware and labor, which included filling in the space formerly occupied by our oversized, non-standard lock. In return, we have a deadbolt twice as deep, knobs that don't require set screws, secure door plates, and a lock that works when you turn the key. It looks good and works great, but it lacks the charm of the old one. The installer took away the old lock, and part of me wonders if it's selling for $$$ on eBay right now.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The ACLU's gotta take a lot of blame for this. And I know I'll hear from them for this, but throwing God off successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the Pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, "You helped this happen."Gosh, that's even more misguided than, "They hate us for our freedom!" Even partner-in-crime Pat Robertson -- who at first agreed with Falwell -- distanced himself from the outrageous comments in the days that followed. I snagged an MP3 of this rant, and for five years it has resided on my hard drive in a directory titled "humor." But too many people really take crap like this seriously; too many people took Falwell seriously regardless of how ridiculous he sounded to America's immoral majority. Today the world is a better place without the bastard. For a timeline of the bad reverend's transgresssions, see The Carpetbagger Report.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
[Hubert] Frank, 68, who organized a petition for Whitehall Drive, said sidewalks could also pose a safety risk by welcoming strangers into the neighborhood. "There's strange things happening in the world today, so why would we want to open up that possibility?" he said. "We are connected, we all know each other. The concern is, who knows what you'd be encouraging to come through."
Surely the next jihad will be charging into Northbrook on their new sidewalks!
As unbelievable as it may seem to suburbanites, some people walk places instead of driving everywhere. And some of those people are even employed and white just like you, you whiny bastards.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
"Yes, I am Birillo. It was me that suggested to be called this way," said the former Discovery Channel rider, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. After months of denials to any links with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes and his offices that were raided in Operación Puerto Ivan Basso revealed that the name 'Birillo' that appeared on bags of blood sequestered were of significance... Basso had historically denied Birillo as being the name of his dog, he insisted in his original CONI summons that his dog's name was 'Tarello'.You may think I am calling Basso a bastard for doping or for lying about it for so long. No, what makes Basso a bastard is that he dragged his dog into it!
Monday, May 07, 2007
At a regional level the big winner is obvious: Iran. In fact, Iran wins so big in this war I think that Dick Cheney's DNA should be checked out by a reputable lab, because he has to be a Persian mole. My theory is that they took a fiery young Revolutionary Guard from the slums of Tehran, dipped him in a vat of lye to get that pale, pasty Anglo skin, zapped his scalp for that authentic bald CEO look, squirted a quart of cholesterol into his arteries so he'd develop classic American cardiac disease, and parachuted him into the outskirts of some Wyoming town.Iran has lost a regional enemy and gained "a risk-free laboratory to spy on American forces in action. If they feel like trying out a new weapon or tactic to deal with U.S. armor, all they have to do is feed the supplies or diagrams to one of their puppet Shia groups." Should the U.S. choose to unleash their military on Iran, the Iranians will be ready.
Meanwhile, the long-term winners will be ascendant powers India and China. They have watched the U.S. burn through a trillion dollars in a losing cause while shoring up their own economies.
Brecher also describes how the war has hurt two major U.S. allies in the region, Israel and Turkey, and admonishes our VP: "Happy now, Cheney, you Khomeini-loving, anti-American mole?" I love it.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Friday, May 04, 2007
The Book Cellar is located at 4736-38 North Lincoln Avenue, just a couple of minutes from the Western Avenue stop on the Brown Line. There are lots of great restaurants nearby if you want to eat before or after. I have not scheduled any other signings this summer, so don't wait for "some other time."
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
He thinks his case would have turned out differently if the judge had allowed him to present the cabbie's prior offenses to the court. He just doesn't get it. It doesn't matter whether the cabbie was a saint or a sinner. It doesn't even matter that the cabbie threatened him first. What matters is that after his personal safety was no longer threatened, Jackson got behind the wheel of the cab and ran the guy over repeatedly. All he had to do was walk away, but he chose to kill. And I don't care if Jackson claims he thought he "only" ran over the cabbie once -- once was enough to crush him, and once was enough to deserve a conviction. He got off easy, really. With good behavior he'll be out in 2010.
But wait, there's more. Jackson whined that his charitable works were suppressed in court. Again, he doesn't get it. It wouldn't matter if he was Mother Teresa -- if you kill somebody, you have to pay the price.
And finally, there was Jackson's detached, pointless pseudo-apology to the family:
"I apologize that he's passed away. I apologize that the man decided to attack me," Jackson said. "I can't imagine what it's like to lose a father. For that, I'm very sorry for their loss."What a bastard.