Monday, December 27, 2004

December 27, 2004.


Sierra Leone


New York Times: Untold Numbers are Missing in 6 Countries

* * * * *

Loot. What did you get? Up to 3.

My pre-Christmas and Christmas.


Cut-and-pasted from my Journal for your enjoyment:

"The 23rd was wonderful!
"Work was busy, but I prepped Monday.
Pam gave me a box of chocolate and said I might go full-time or stay past January."
"Steve left. Kelly left. Nia took my place up front, so I could leave ~12:30."
"I got transcripts from MARY." ... asked "if people tend to do this all at the last minute. 'They all do,' with firm confidence. Then, the girl waiting with me commented on the cost of it all... 'and then, it's the last minute, so you have to FedEd it.'
"A great moment of empathy.
"I spent over an hour at 57th St. Books getting gifts.
"Then, I walked to Tom's[, my godfather].
"We drank coffee in his kitchen and talked about gay rights (And their recent setbacks). I can't see Tom enough. He is a verybestfriend.
"I had good CTA luck all day. I probably waited <10 minutes between 3 trains and 2 buses.
"Good karma.
"I go back to EDGEWATER BEACH by 5:05, but between packing and grad school shit, Sam and I didn't make it out 'til 8:30.
(I actually think it was even later).
"I drifted between Benton Harbor and PawPaw.
"Whenever I cross the MI state lne, I feel comfort, knowing that if I die I'll die in Michigan.
"We listened to good music; especially Postal ··· (?) and Orbital.
"We got in after 2.
"I didn't stay up late."

"I got up around 9:30 on Noctus 3 (Christmas Eve) with only Cody around. No cars. I spent ~2 hr.s on Advent work, but by noon nobody had returned and I still neded presents before Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma's at 5 so I started to panic.
"Mom got home around 1, and I left then.
I stopped at Main Street Treasures in Flushing.
"Then, Main -> Terrace -> River -> Beecher -> Graham -> Lennon -> Best Buy.
"Back home (I'd listened to Snivilization in the car) Caitlin and Craig had arrived.
"Two hectic hours passed, then we flew to Gram. C.'s for Christmas Eve dinner.
"Splendid! I had Guinness.
"The food has been particularly spectacular this year.
"Dad and Cody developed grandma's DVD ('drink Vernors daily,' I said, to help out).
"Caitlin fell asleep and we all talked while an old flix was on TV.
"At 9:15 I left for St. John Vianny, driving directly, then stood in the half dark at the back right-hand side with a glow up front: blue pins and white points, wreathes, and the choir belted the hymns out.
"At the homily, father...
"Osborn spoke of mystery! Of not unwrapping but grasping the mystery in its profound simplicity.


"They (do not break down) in a very similar way.
"But that was not the moment.
"The moment was standing in the pew and shivering - smaller but remeniscent of just before my confirmation - in that light and darkness and stained glass and music.
"(I'd noticed the before that (on my way) I saw the stained glass perfectly, illuminated in the night against the light within.
"But what was that moment?
"I want to find that moment.
"On the right, near the back. No incense.
"The pews were packed.
"I sat beside a family, halfway down.
"I sat immediately beside an older woman (with a shawl?) she was sweet and warm.
"I looked at the statues and tried to imagine they weren't so much Caucasian as bleached by a hugely bright light. I was half-successful.
"The feeling hit me during the homily.
"I felt there. In Flint. In that church. That church felt there; felt like home.
"But that might be about all I can say about that.

* * *

"At closing Father Osborn said he hoped to greet all on their way out. I took him at his work, (sic) clasping and saying 'You might not remember me, but I asked you for a blessing before I proposed to my fiancèe and, well, she said 'yes.'' He said, 'I mentioned it in my homily.'
"I had to go. I was near the front of a line of over 100 parishioners, but I still felt the glow as I drove to the Crawfords.
"These are still my people. Mine.
"I arrived (11:20ish). It was me, John and Carol, Sarah and Lindsay, Marcie and Elizabeth.
"Amanda also stopped in a while.
"We started with what's up with you's and when slowingdown first loomed I invoked the Election.
"I went home and wrapped my presents in a frenzy and went to bed, exhausted."

"Christmas was generally a bit more disorganized than usual, but still fun.
"We got up 9-something, had bread and coffee (coffee was a theme throughout the day), and opened presents.
"At 11ish grandma Coyne and aunt Georgia came over. We unwrapped more gifts, then helped mom with lunch and ate. Sometime after 1, grandma and Georgia left, and my parents left with Craig and Caitlin to see grandma Mascroft.
"I took a nap.
"In the afternoon we lounged around and I read the Travel Book.
"Later, we went to grandmas for ham, scalloped potatoes" ... "sifting through they honeyed.
"Caitlin and Craig played for us and sounded sweet, even though Craig's hand cramped up.
"We went home, got home 10:40. I went to be by 11:30."

"Oh yes, and on Christmas Eve I called Jess and read her a sonnet by Shakespeare 15x saying she was beautiful."

That flowers had stolen their graces from her. Which is, of course, only the edge of the truth...

~ Connor

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas to all of you.

~ Connor

Thursday, December 23, 2004

December 23, 2004.




BBC: Rumsfeld fights fresh Iraq flak

* * * * *

What is your favorite movie featuring (a) Santa Claus?

The 'O' Antiphons; "Emmanuel"


O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the One whom the peoples await and their Savior. O come and save us, Lord, our God.

* * * * *

Emmanuel, literally translated, is "god with us."
It's probably one of the most literal assertions of Christs' divinity in the Bible.
But it's also, I think, a more challenging assertion than it is often made out to be.

~ Connor

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Buy Blue.


Finally! A website that succinctly and clearly sorts retailers, etc. by campaign donations.
This will be massively influencing my spending this Christmas season and beyond.

I suggest you check out the site and sign up for their newsletter:

But for your convenience, I've posted the leaders of the sinners and saints here.

as posted at

EDIT: I removed the rest of this post, because it went on for days and days, and there's a link readily available above. Still, you should check it out!

~ Connor

Q. 12/22.


Where are you, these days?

Are you traveling this week?


The 'O' Antiphons; "King"


O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one. O come and save man whom you made from clay.

* * * * *

Each Antiphon is broader and more urgent than that which procedes it.
This, the second to last, is emphasized by its reference to the gentiles, effectively enclosing all of the people of the world in the prayer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Q. 12/21.


What do you want for the holidays this year?

For yourself.


- A whole bunch of legos.
- The Lonely Planet Travel Book.
- A date with Emma Anderson of the bands Lush and Sing Sing.

Today is the Winter Solstice


The winter solstice occurs today.

~ Connor

The 'O' Antiphons; "Rising Sun"


O Rising Sun, you are the splendor of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

* * * * *

Not much is written for this one.

This morning, when I got up, our apartment was surprisingly chilly. I put on an extra shirt to stay warm as I moved about, getting ready for the day. Since it's the shortest day of the year today (the winter solstice), the sky was darker than I've seen it since the end of daylight savings time.

As I finally hurried out the door, I glanced out our front window. It faces east, over two blocks of residential mid- and high-rises, then falls out over the lake extending to the horizon. That lake. The sky was turning its colors from soft blue to gold to pearl, and it had grown light enough for me to see that the thundrous waves had finally been subdued. Lake Michigan at the Chicago shoreline has frozen into a flat, broad, pale sheet with wisps of mist curling upward.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Sawyer and Laura


In looking over the last week of posts, I'm suprised to notice that I never officially congratulated Sawyer and Laura on their marriage. This was a mistake. I suppose I just thought it was so over the news that I assumed it must be here.

Some of us have literally (and not) seen this one coming for years.

Best of luck, guys, and congrats. Oh, what's in store for the world now?

~ Connor

These Crazy Days


I think that the ghost of Andy must have really arrived for our Andy Kaufman Party, because that night, and every night since has been either delightfully bizarre or bizarrely delightful.

On Wednesday... um... scratch that, I don't even remember Wednesday. I got out of work late... I know that much.

On Thursday, I got home from work early and did some cleaning. Jess came over and we worked on: bum bum bum: The Wedding List. We ironed out several difficulties, including the choise of wether or not to have Flower Girl / Ring Boy (we will, natch). At pasta. Then she left, and I crashed, exhausted.

On Friday, I went to the Ophthalmology office party and got mildly schnookered (what can I say... a bunch of stressed out clerks and an open bar leads to...) but for the first time in ages, I think I'm connecting with coworkers en masse in a somewhat non-superficial way. Through Lasik there's Steve and Pam from Indiana, Kelly from Wisconsin, and D from Joliet (which should be its own state), and Evonne and Nia. In Ophthalmology, I've met Jerome and Joy, Randy and Michelle and Michelle (who is called Nicki), and Roz and Lateefa and Vicenta and Joe and so they come to the table. It was a very enjoyable night.

Between my intoxication and perennial sleep deprivation I managed to fall asleep on the train. I was woken up at the Howard stop by an attendant tapping on the window. I went do, went home, went to sleep. For 12 hours.

On Saturday, I rode down to Hyde Park and Jess fixed us French Toast for breakfast. We visited until early afternoon, when she met Matt for shopping, and I used her computer all day to work on my U. Wash. app. Then she got home and we enjoyed a party; a very estrogen-heavy event, featuring Jess, Amber, Emily, Meridith, and Gemma. I represented the only Y chromosome. We ate cheese and crackers and caramel made by Amber and little Jewish pastries made by Gemma. We were up until almost three, talking about everything from roleplaying to a serious talking on the thrush and the thrushes. On that note...

On Sunday, I walked in the 5 degree -13 windchill over a mile to the Medici Bakery for my weekly coffee and reading. I started having trouble with my eyes. I won't detail, but it was gross, and seemed exactly like 4 years ago, when I contracted Pinkeye. Not wanting to spread this to a bunch of churchgoers on the week before Christmas, I walked back to Jess', warned her, called Sam, warned him, call work, warned them. We ate macaroni and cheese with tuna. I helped her pack, and she gave me a ride back to the North Side before beginning the long trek to Ohio.

Back home, I visited with Sam's friend Aleta (sp?) and Dana (sp?) and Skylar. We fingerprinted up my brother's Christmas present (finding it irresistable... maybe I'll have to get him a new one) and drank hot chocolate and complained about irresponsible things and irrepressable things. I felt bad about missing church. I dug up times on a 5 PM mass 2 miles away. I left the apartment at 4:15. Between CTA and brisk walking, I made it to Sambong (Filipino Christmas celebration at Advent 4) and got home by 7. It was worthwhile. Even though I froze more than halfway to death waiting for CTA (damn you, Skokie 97!) to get back.

Once home, things settle in a bit. I cared for my eye. Took a shower. Ate dinner. Fell asleep around 10 PM to Man on the Moon.

Now it's Monday. I don't have Pinkeye after all, but a lame bacterial infection of the eyelid. Which is fine with me. This week's work is basically paying for the Christmas presents I buy.

In spite of the length of this post, it's somewhat abbreviated.

Maybe I'll compensate for that later.


I hope the weirdness continues.

~ Connor

Q. 12/20.


If you were to spend a day with either Latka or Tony Clifton, who would you choose?

If you aren't familiar with Latka or Tony, answer this question instead:

If you were to spend with one of the Seinfeld characters (the main four), who would you choose?

~ Connor

The 'O' Antiphons; "Key of David"


O key of David and scepter of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open. O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

* * * * *

This one's one of my favorites... the language is symbolic but there's a specificity to it. If you aren't offput by the reference to That Psalm Everybody Quotes.

I think these could be Radiohead lyrics.

~ Connor

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The 'O' Antiphons; "Stock of Jesse"


O stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations; kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim. O come to deliver us, and do not delay.

* * * * *

I'm shot.

I have Pinkeye.

It sucks.

I'm going to bed.

I'll leave you with the stock of Jesse, and get back with you in the morning.


~ Connor

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The 'O' Antiphons; "Adonai". Kenya. Malawi.


O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.

* * * * *

Catholic Online emphasizes the increasing urgency of the Antiphons with each successive day. We can certainly see this here; where just yesterday we entreated wisdom to "teach us the way of truth," we are today imploring Adonai to "save us."

Directly translated, Adonai is "lord of mine" or "my lord." It was substituted in scriptural texts for YHWH, the unspoken name of God. Use of the word in the Antiphon references the original writing of the Torah.

* * * * *

I'm having a day of deep frustration with the leadership of the Catholic church...

The Pope has released a statement condemning the progression of abortion legislation in Kenya and Malawi. The legislation in these 70-80% majority Christian nations is in response to the AIDS crisis, which is now a problem of almost incomprehensible proportions.

Pope John Paul invokes colonialism in his statement, then advises that "sexual fidelity within marriage and abstinence without" is the only "foundation" of a remedy.

Meanwhile, UN Peacekeepers in the Congo are raping women, 7% of the adult population is HIV+, and 1 in 16 African women dies during pregnancy or childbirth.

It makes me sick. Not sick with anger. Nausious. I'm cynical with both sides of the abortion issue in America, but Kenya's so ragged and bleeding, in this and so many other ways, that I can't imagine passing down such dry and drained morality from the comfortable square miles of the Vatican.

I wish his entire article had been replaced with the Antiphon above.

Adonai... "come and save us with your mighty power."

My, my my...

What else could possibly save us when the Christian authority on Earth is content to slap some wrists, shed a couple tears, and boost the Kenyan charity a sliver?

And then again (and this is the part that exempts my anger), what could possibly make a difference, what could possibly "save" this time, except a mighty power?

~ Connor

Q. 12/18.


What would you do about AIDS in Africa?

Assume I've given you 1 billion dollars.

Or, hell, that'll be gone before you know it. I'll give you a billion Euros instead.

Friday, December 17, 2004

The 'O' Antiphons; "Wisdom"


O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come to teach us the way of truth.

* * * * *

For the week preceeding Christmas, a prayer is sung at daily mass. They are known as the 'O' Antiphons because each begins with "O [title of the messiah]": Wisdom, Adonai (Lord), stock of Jesse, key of David, rising Sun, King, and Emmanuel.

from Catholic Online:

The antiphons were composed in the seventh or eighth century when monks put together texts from the Old Testament which looked forward to the coming of our salvation. They form a rich mosaic of scriptural images. These seven verses, or antiphons as they are called, appear to be the originals although from time to time other texts were used. They became very popular in the Middle Ages. While the monastic choirs sang the antiphons the great bells of the church were rung.

A curious feature of these antiphons is that the first letter of each invocation may be taken from the Latin to form an acrostic in reverse.

So the first letters of Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel, provide the Latin words: ERO CRAS . The phrase spells out the response of Christ himself to the heartfelt prayer of his people: "Tomorrow I will be there".

Wisdom in the Biblical sense is a more specific entity than what we think of today as "good sense." Despite the common, puritanical interpretations, there is plenty of evidence that the Jews worshiped many gods on down to the time of the exile and afterwards, and the last of these to go was "wisdom." Very generally personified as a woman, wisdom was present in everything good and was an intuitive, "divinely inspired" sense of balance and logic.

Old-Testament, Wisdom is present in the stories of Kings David and Solomon, the writings of the prophets and in books such as Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus. The early chapters of Proverbs exalt Wisdom very directly. In the New Testament it is demonstrated most directly in the parables of the gospel.

~ Connor

The Body


This blog is slowly approaching what I've visualized it to be; a sort of journal for personal use, but also a sort of public record of ideas, beliefs, and projects.

It's indulgent on one level (it might call for an undue level of self-reflection resulting in an undue sense of self-importance).

At the same time, many successful writers maintain self-reflective blogs, journals, and websites, and of course, anyone modestly successful in the entertainment industry has a veritable online party store.

At the heart of things, I'm using this blog as a forum for discussion, and in its finest moments, it's served this function well. The sometimes sparse commentary has more, I think, to do with a lmited number of hits than with the content of the blog. Here, of course, I am open to suggestions, as I am anywhere else.

* * * * *

With all this in mind, I'm creating a fourth category of entry. I will be adding "BODY" along with prior categories of "DIARY," "EVENT," and "COMMENT."

The BODY entries will be theological in nature. "Body" derives from what consider to be one of the most compelling aspects of my chosen faith. In the Catholic church, the faithful are considered to be the living body of Christ, and are referred to as such from a very early date. It's a very physical, very specific manifestation of the notion of God in all of us.

It's also a concept that breaks down barriers between faiths. From the communion with nature expoused by animistic religions such as Shinto and pagan faiths, to the Brahmanic texts of early India to the theological base of Islamic architecture and art, this oneness in God is an element common to all faiths. It is endlessly paradoxical... and interesting and compelling. It certainly affirms the worth of humanity, and calls us to an introspection that is deep and absorbed, yet moderated by reason.

With this in mind, Catholicism will naturally be present in many of the BODY entries, but the category is not meant to be restrictive. The line between philosophy, science, and religion is more blurry, I think, than it is made out to be, so I'll be stepping all over it.

* * * * *

To review:

BODY entries apply to theology, divinity, and philosophy. They explore spirituality and the attempt to understand, articulate, and experience the universe.

CONCEPT entries apply to art, ideas, and projects in perception. They explore the mind and senses.

DIARY entries apply to my daily life. They are a chronicle of interesting and meaningful happenings.

EVENT entries apply to the broader world, particularly in matters of history, economics, and politics. They explore relationships in the larger world.

~ Connor

Q. 12/17.


What do you want for Christmas (Hannukah, Yule, etc.) this year?

This time, for yourself.

But abstractly... less material.

- peace of mind
- to get into grad school
- to have Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson attend one's bachelor party

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Q. 12/16.


If you were to join the armed services, which branch would you select?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A call for suggestions.


So Washington State wants a 12-20 page sample of my "critical writing."

Most of what I have from within that page range is theater writing or something for one of Malynne's classes, in which I cultivated a more informal style of writing than what is probably expected here.

Any suggestions?

Should I write a paper this week, specifically for the application? There's always The Great Gatsby. It'd be a pain, starting from scratch.

I could use one of the editorials I've posted in this blog. Alternately, I could use by BA paper, or the paper I wrote on the Mathematical Principles in Urbàntasm, although I'm afraid that might look like grandstanding. I'm not sure whether "critical" implies I'm critiquing another work of art.

I could choose a couple shorter papers; one from a humanities class and one from a math or science class. But I wrote these as a less experienced writer, and I fear the execution is less skillful and the content less meaningful.

In short, there are a number of options, but they all have serious drawbacks. I want something that works, but given my need to crank out the rest of my application in the next few days, I need something that won't be too time-consuming.

Your help is appreciated.

~ Connor

Q. 12/15.


What do you want for Christmas (Hannukah, Yule, etc.) this year?

This questions falls in the "yes, you should feel like a guilty shit if you don't request something selfless" category.

- world peace
- an end to hunger
- George Bush to choke on a chocolate-covered pretzel
- a flat tax
- scientific socialism

Not Enough


There is so much I want to write about right now. So much that is difficult to phrase in the language of relevance.

But the patients are coming...


Look at this picture!

~ Connor

Monday, December 13, 2004

Andy Kaufman Day


In celebration of Andy Kaufman's 56th birthday (on January 17th)
I am hosting a mini-party tomorrow.
Probably more of a get-together (being on Tuesday night)



8 PM (right after Gilmore Girls)
5820 N. Kenmore #801
take Lake Shore Drive yada yada or the Red Line yada yada

Please RSVP.

~ Connor

PS. Pictures of Gothic Funk #2 are posted on Elisabeth's blog at

Western-Leaning ROMANIA


In Romania, the Western-leaning center-right candidate Basescu has beaten out Adrian Nastase, favored by the more-moneyed party and the outgoing Ion Iliescu...

(and of course, America doesn't give a shit, as it was all over the BBC's Europe section, but buried three pages deep in the International Section of the New York Times website)

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Circumstantially, and with broad generalizations, it's tempting to compare the situation to the Ukraine. The incumbant-backed candidate had ties to old-style communists, the support of state (to some extent) and more financial resources. The opposition had

But there aren't as widespread allegations of fraud, and Nastase has already conceded. This will be more interesting to watch play out in the long run.

I heard it first, by the way, from Halfway Down the Danube.

~ Connor

The ex-Idiot's Desolation


I've been reading Detroit Funk, formerly the Idiot for months now, and I've always enjoyed his UE pics of Motown.

But Desolation Row is one of the most forceful, beautiful, and galvanizing explorations of urban decay and desindustrialization I've ever happened upon.

There are geniuses all over the cracks. Check it out:

~ Connor

Media manipulation, anyone?


Pentagon Weighs Use of Deception in a Broad Arena

I think I know how I feel about this, but it's an issue with such a broad base, I don't completely trust my instincts.

This is the sort of post that would be best augmented by a well-articulated and thoughtful post by someone more familiar with issues of military intelligence. Just leave a comment or, if you prefer, send me an email (connor at, and I'll post your thoughts unedited.

Who knows... maybe I'll find that I've a more expressible opinion on the subject than I thought.

~ Connor

Question of the Day: 12/13/04


Desperate Housewives.

Who would you hook up with?

Sunday, December 12, 2004



I've had several dreams in the past week, but until last night, I haven't remembered what I've dreamt in any detail.

Circumstances had put me in Flint for a while, and an actor had dropped out of the play at Flint Youth Theatre, so they'd called and invited me to take his place. The situation was impossible; many people were there who've dropped off the face of the Earth, or who have had falling-outs with each other: Josh, the Serrs, the Nicolais... and people I haven't seen in years and years. Everyone was cheerful and delighted and gorgeous, so the whole thing was basically a nostalgia-fest. At the same time, it wasn't a total cleaver reunion; several people remained conspicuously absent: Bree, Demetrius, Katie, and Perrico. Jermaine. Zahiyah. Jeff. Walter directed the play.

I've never been able to chase these people from my brain. I get occasion reports on some of them through the grapevine... I talk to Katie often enough... whenever I'm in town I stop by FYT, and sometimes we go out for a drink.

This was a group of young people that had expressed a sort of durability, and remained close for several years after the intervention of college, career, and familial crisises. We were finally distanced by the Usual.

Anyway, the dream was sort of a Hip-Pop version of the play Electric Folderol, which was once performed at my high school, as far as I can tell. I played a suite of characters but was in the first of four "clusters," meaning I had substantial parts with considerable lines.

About mid-dream a crisis materialized in that I arrived at rehearsal (the walls and cushions were lima-bean green, and apple trees stood between Bower and the planetarius), and had forgotten my script. Kathryn (with whom my last words, exchanged over four years ago, were bitter) and I were working together, trying to figure how we might share her script although our scenes were placed close together.

I found my script in my backpack. At the back of the space, before the run-through, I went and sat with Walter and the SM and listened to a TV jingle on headphones, while watching a little toy screen light up, and tried to sing along. I did embarassingly bad. No problem. "It's my hearing loss," I said. They'd give the song at the end out to one of the other actors. Everything proceeded smoothly.

Fast forward to the play. In grand FYT style, cheerful techno music flooded the auditorium as the lights dimmed. The curtains pulled back, whimsical shapes and bubbles and boxes swirled acorss the stage for several minutes, then the lights dimmed further as the curtain came back down. Then, when the music had faded completely, the curtain lifted again, and the play began.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Question of the Day: 12/10/04


Give me some weirdness.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A slightly more restful... restful.


Last night was a blast...
I got home early, made some French Onion soup (every time the leaves finally fall off the trees, I get gradually interested in cooking again), and caught up on some reading. I worked on my applications.

Then Sam got home, and soon we were joined by Jessica, a friend from Flint.

We sipped Sam's quality brandy and ran through long lists of people we had in common. I realized for the 100th time how much more of a home I found at Flint Central than at Flushing. Here was a school from which I still maintain around a dozen friendships, even though I've been in the building twice as many times. Contrast that with Flushing which, despite a four-year process, there not a single soul I'm still in touch with.

Jessica left after midnight, and Sam went to sleep. I got all of my clothes and lunch packed up last night so I could sleep in the next morning. I also decided to try breakfast for once, so I boiled an egg and set a cup of fresh coffee in the fridge. I slept in until 6:50 and made it out the door by 7:00.

Today is a Holy Day of Obligation, which is Roman Catholic for "Non-Sunday Day on Which you Must Go To Mass or Suffer Free-Floating Guilt". It was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, during which we celebrate the birth of Mary without sin. The sermon was compelling and the music spectacular.

One of the perks of working on the Mag Mile is that I attend such events at Holy Name Cathedral, the center of the Archdiocese of Chicago. It's a magnificant structure, if you overlook the horrid 60s renovations.



Inside pre-renovation:

Vatican II was a good thing, I believe, on the whole. I just wish it hadn't coincided with the worst decade for good taste the world has ever known.

Yeah, yeah, I'll write about art and politics again soon.

With all this wedding planning and grad school applications, I'm using this blog to kick back a bit more.

~ Connor

Question of the Day: 12/8/04


How, in your opinion, should the CTA respond to its current budgeting crisis?

~ Connor

It's the East Coast... it Figures.


Of course, the New York Times didn't even cover the LaSalle Bank fire... I know; I checked several times.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Question of the Day: 12/7/2004


What is your first memory involving Christmas lights?

My own surreal life.


I've been an awful penpal this week. I haven't posted anything except those silly questions.

I have the song Mad World stuck in my head.

Yesterday, I was so tense at work all day, I almost felt sick.
At 3:45 I bolted from the clinic and walked briskly down Michigan, around the to-be-Trump monstrosity, then the river, and cut in along Clark, grabbing a bite at the Expo building before I arrived at the testing center 20 N. Clark.

The very far-sighted can perhaps see where this is going.

The test went well. The most interesting details, of course, I must spare you... I loved the analytical writing section. It was actually fun, and I felt like the issues selected had been tailored specifically to me. I won't get into my actual scores on the Verbal and Quantitative sections, except to say that

1) they're definitely what I need to get in where I'm applying
2) my Quantitative score was 70 points higher than my Verbal score, and higher than the Quantitative mean for Engineering and Physics students.

I was still a little disoriented by this scholastic shake up when I got off the elevator at about 9 PM and stepped onto the street. I'd never seen so many fire engines in my life. Literally dozens and dozens, they clogged every intersection like a faithful recreation of the closing scenes of The Blues Brothers. Yes! I'd arrived at the burning of the LaSalle Bank Building, one of the greats of the Midwestern Wall Street.

These pictures are from the Trib:

I spent a half-hour circling several blocks around, trying to get a good vantage point... I'm a shameless rubberneck. I do think being a writer legitimizes the practice, somewhat, but frankly, it's exciting to be located when something important happens. I watched the smoke rising into the air and watched the people watching the smoke, but most impressive of all was the image of streets flooded with so many bright red trucks and swirling lights, and police and men with hoses and hats running to and fro, tightly organized, and fast.

My final view was from Clark street looking along Quincy. The top of the Sears tower was wreathed in a milky white cloud, and the midsection, shrouded by inky black smoke. The areas above and below stood out as thosands of perfect squares of fluorescent light.

I got on the train and rode home.

I was going to complain about something, but I'm in too good a mood right now.

~ Connor

Monday, December 06, 2004

Question of the Day: 12/06/2004


Will Connor bomb his GRE's this afternoon?

No, actually, while that is a question right now, only I will be answering it.

So, ahem:

If you were stranded in the worst place possible, be it an abandoned tropical island, Michigan City, IN, or wherever, who would you least like to be trapped with?

- Barry Manilow
- Gene Simmons
- Jessica Simpson
- Ashley Simpson
- Kenny G
- Upton Sinclair

(Tomorrow's question will be less lame... I have a lot on my mind.)

~ Connor

Friday, December 03, 2004

Question of the Day: 12/3/2004


What is your favorite insect?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Question of the Day: 12/2/2004


If you could live in any Middle Eastern city, which city would you choose, and why?

~ Connor

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Rock: 2, The Don: 1


I miss Flint terribly these days, all the more since Public Enemy No. 1, Don Williamson, our own little W-styled Banana Republican (as opposed to City Council, Lès Mòùntàìn) has met his match, not in his witholding millions in nonprofit funds, laying off city employees, bickering with unions, or refusing to share financial data, but in his desecration of 'the Rock'.

Flintstones will want to read this, Diaspora included.
Outsiders will probably find it intriguing as well.

* * * * *

THE DON ... ... ... ... ... vs. ... ... ... ... ... THE ROCK


* * * * *

I'd be remiss if I didn't include these gems of Letters to the Editor from the Flint Journal:

I would like to personally thank Mayor Don Williamson for his crackdown on graffiti across the city. It is because of his tireless effort that tradition can finally be outlawed and a wonderful new background for "tags" can be made. It is important that we allow those who would make our city look worse the advantage of a plain brown background so their wonderful art form can really pop!

Is this the kind of leadership we can expect? I grew up in Flint and have seen its lack of tradition. "The rock" on 12th and Hammerberg was one of those few traditions. It has now been outlawed. It shows the true lack of understanding and respect our mayor has. People would drive by just to see what was on it that day. Groups would get together and spend the day painting it for something they cared about. It was done in the spirit of fun and tradition.

The mayor didn't even bother to ask us what it meant to us, to our past and future generations. That was a place of happiness. He has labeled our tradition as a crime. Wonderful leadership.

Emerson Jones


I'd like to congratulate Mayor Don Williamson on his bold initiative to fine people for painting "the rock" at Hammerberg and 12th, an activity that has gone on as long as I can remember.
Now instead of the occasional gang symbols that get painted on "the rock" and then get painted over within a few hours, we get to look at gang symbols on "the rock" for days on end as the law-abiding citizens are too afraid to cover them up.
Scott Bland

I also must link to the Journal's prominent article on the issue yesterday:

FLINT - Somewhere in the area, someone named Dorothy is celebrating a birthday.
It says so on "the rock," where a "Happy 70th Dorothy" message was written in gold spray-paint - one of many messages visible Tuesday on the concrete block at Hammerberg Road and 12th Street.
In fact, a month after the city coated it with brown paint and threatened to fine anyone who painted on it, the rock is being used as it has for decades - as Flint's unofficial community billboard.

* * * * *

It's easy to dismiss this as undue attention given to a rather frivolous subject... especially given Flint's dire straits in any number of categories. Something larger's at work, however. The Flint Journal usually goes to pains to provide a balanced account of any conspicuous issue, even when such efforts are carried to an absurd extreme. The fact that the Rock has generated so much noise, virtually all of which is one-sided (pro-Rock) is telling.

I don't want to turn this into the five-paragraph essay... the briefest overview of the city's history in the last ten years would encompass continuing deindustrialization and flight, an inability to access the momentum of the 1990s economy, followed by record deficits, late audits and failed budgets.
Financial woes cme to a head in March, 2002 when the deficit topped $40 million and the three-term mayor Woodrow Stanley was recalled, voters acting largely along racial lines.
For a few, brief months Darnell Earley ran the city somewhat smoothly, until a special election produced a range of nominations and disqualifications. These came to an abrupt halt in November, when the state took over, appointing Ed Kurtz as financial manager to resolve the budget crisis, and reducing the mayor (then James Rutherford) and City Council to ceremonial positions. During this receivership, Don Williamson won the mayoral race, again, largely along racial lines, receiving endorsements from 7 out of 9 city council members.
The state receivership ended a couple months ago, with Don Willaimson laying off many city employees and witholding funding from area nonprofits to investigate their activities, in many cases preventing application deadlines from being met.
Don Williamson's most visible efforts to reclaim the city have been in the areas of litter pick up and graffiti cleanup, although he briefly entertained the idea of opening a city-run auto-parts factory, East German style. In light of his recent refusal to supply the city council with budgetary information, a majority of council members are now calling for the mayor's recall. Members of both camps are calling for the others to take polygraph tests on the subject of accepting bribes.

In light of this, and the social breakdown in Flint overall (which doesn't fall along neat age, gender, or racial lines) of high school dropout rates, high crime, poverty, and unemployment, is it any wonder that Flintstones have such little faith in their local instituions, and moreover, that they feel that their relationship to such institutions must be of little relevance to their lives?

* * * * *

In the Jungle, Upton Sinclair argued that crime, poverty, unemployment, corruption, and a lack of adequate workplace standards led to the social breakdown in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood. He argued so extensively, in fact, that his single-mindedness has been criticized as his novel's most salient fault as a social critique. In showing how afflicted his Lithuanian Americans had become, he forgot to notice that they had erected a community in the face of their adversities and that, while this didn't "fix the problem," it did make many people's lives much easier. Credit unions, voting blocks, widespread church and union participation all made a huge difference.

Flintstones feel a variety of emotions for their city, and see her from a variety of perspectives. Many of the most powerful and pervasive identities are perceived in the Rock, and such an communal outlet isn't insignificant.

Frustration, love, grief, anger, and joy poured out on the Rock as graffiti, birthday wishes, political commentary, shout outs, memorials, advertisements, and on and on and on and on, covering the massive surface for decades.
The Rock encouraged a work ethic; painting took several people hours. It was an opportunity to be seen. Police and autoworkers honked at you in the 3 AM as they passed and thousands saw the Rock daily as they drove by on I-69. The Rock offered a nonviolent outlet... if you didn't like what someone posted, you didn't swear, you didn't mug them or jump them or shoot them or chase them... you got paint, and painted your own message. Unlike Flint's mayoral elections, has not been tarnished by systematic or wide-reaching racism... the racial discourse here has largely been productive. Unlike the factories around it the Rock it hasn't emptied and fallen apart or been imploded with dynamite.

But most importantly, the Rock, unlike many striking developments in my hometown, has gotten steadily better over the last thirty years.

Until the mayor had it stripped last month.

Already, residents are shirking the restrictions. The "$1000 fine" signs have already been stolen, both of them. The Rock is shimmering in paint. It will rise again... it affords us a glimpse of the phoenix.

If Don Williamson loses his reelection bid (one can only hope), he may well find his loss written on the Rock.

from the Black Box Underground website:
Marcy Sheldon, Annie Hartranft, Josh Aldred, Lindsay Crawford, Victor Galea, Elizabeth Jordan and Tony Du give a cheer after painting the "block" graduation, 1999.

I know. I saw. I was there.

~ Connor

Question of the Day: 12/01/2004


This one's late, but it's a freebie:

Who might you miss more: Ashcroft or Rumsfeld?