Thursday, March 31, 2005

She's Dead.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Frivolous Post of the Day No. 3 - If the Midwest were its own Nation, This would be its Population


Capital: Chicago

State Population Rank
Chicago 2,869,121 11
Illinois 9,784,423 3
Indiana 6,195,643 4
Iowa 2,944,062 10
Kansas 2,723,507 12
Michigan 10,079,985 2
Minnesota 5,059,375 7
Missouri 5,704,484 5
Nebraska 1,739,291 13
North Dakota 633,837 15
Ohio 11,435,798 1
Oklahoma 3,511,532 8
South Dakota 764,309 14
Wisconsin 5,472,299 6
TOTAL UMWSA 68,967,666


State Population Rank
China 1,306,313,812 1
India 1,080,264,388 2
Indonesia 241,973,879 3
United States 226,766,468 4
(minus UMWSA)
Brazil 186,112,794 5
Pakistan 162,419,946 6
Bangladesh 144,319,628 7
Russia 143,420,309 8
Nigeria 128,771,988 9
Japan 127,417,244 10
Mexico 106,202,903 11
Philippines 87,857,473 12
Vietnam 83,535,576 13
Germany 82,431,390 14
Egypt 77,505,756 15
Ethiopia 73,053,286 16
Turkey 69,660,559 17
UMWSA 68,967,666 18
Iran 68,017,860 19
Thailand 65,444,371 20

These states represent 23.3% of the population of the USA.

We are a Poison Donut


So I sent a call out for a serious political discussion in Calling Out and Vernaltide 3: I Know Why Kerry Lost. I've gotten some good responses. Check out the comments in response to those two posts, as well as The Disappeared and We Value Life Above All Else on Gemma's Blog.

See? We're legit. We get to play with the big kids.

* * * * *

The responses I've gotten in general from people who've lived through the Red Scare is that it's worse this time around. Which for some reason is surprising to me. I think a lot of that is my own bias... something seems bigger when it's in your High School social studies book, with accompanying glossy photos. And at the same time, I don't know that Montgomery Clift would agree. Today, if you're a politically active communist, you aren't particularly censored (you might be censured). Or, to cite a more pertinent example, Bush has said from time to time that Islam is not an evil religion, and makes clear distinctions between, say, the government of Iran and its official religion that McCarthy never drew between the Soviet Union and American progressive politics.

I know that the parallel has limitations. But the limitations have been useful themselves, in unexpected ways. I find that the points at which the analogy breaks down is where we might gain some insight into our present situation.

Two illustrations:

In his comment responding to Calling Out, Damien connected the current administration more to the Soviet regime than to McCarthy. He gives plenty of examples, or at least, policies that are easily extended to real examples.

Or as Gemma very spookily intones in The Disappeared (with appropriate references to Argentine fascism) the frighting difference between then and now is that there isn't an openness to what's happening in America these days. That's only a component of her argument, but it does stand alongside Damien's point that we're really more like a oppressive regime than we'd like to think.

Looking at the Soviet comparison... I don't think things are as bad as all that. Scale is important. There haven't been any mass deportation to gulags or even interment camps such as Japanese Americans were subjected to during World War II. I'll need to see a lot more before I think that something's going on in W's America equivalent to the nastiness of the Great Purges (or even fascist Argentina).

I think that liberals (such as myself) need to be doubly careful of exaggeration, since it's a charge so often levelled against us. Even if I'm convinced that the other side of the aisle is much worse. (1000 Indonesians dead this week, but not one Terri Schiavo style emergency session.)

Scale matters.

* * * * *

Does this mean that discrimination against homosexuals through bigoted state amendments, or racial minorities through broken voting machines, or the domination of the media by huge commercial interests isn't grave and dire?

Does that mean that Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and the profiling of specific nationalities isn't grave and dire?

Does it meant that the problem is as easily fixed?
The opposite, in fact.

The huge albatross for blatantly fascist regimes (I'm including both Old Argentina and the U.S.S.R. here) is that they rarely draw true support a majority of the people governed. Such regimes would be much more effective if they hadn't the burden of what might be called perpetual "strong-arm PR." As I understand it, the significance of "have you no sense of decency?" was specifically that it signalled a popular shift against McCarthy policies. He was denounced within months and dead within three years of that utterance. Remember: Hitler was, for all intents and purposes, running on the support of the people through most of the game. Even such a reviled dictator as Nicolae Ceausescu was admired in the start.

And here's where the point turns:

Where Gemma really hits something hard is this statement:

What's disappearing from America under the Bush administration is a sense of centrality. That is what nationalism rather than patriotism is. Patriotism allows us to collect at a center; nationalism pushes negativity outwards and leaves a vacancy at the center. And when there's a vacancy at the center, you, as the president, can do what you want. It'll work because nobody has a clear sense of what to care about anyway.

I do not know whether the implication of the dissolution of "moderate voters" (though as I've argued, democrats are incredibly "center" these days, if through expedience rather than essence) is intentional or not. Her analysis, however, of the cause and nature of the inaccountability is... physically affecting, at least to me.

The problem today is not that what is happening is below board. I can, if I wish, learn about any number of ways in which America has violated its own "values" both at home and abroad. The problem is that most Americans do not care very much. We don't hold ourselves accountable. Our tolerance for injustice is much higher than we'd like to believe, so long as only affects us little. Our own sense of right-and-wrong is not anchored, nor are our values discovered so much as encountered.

* * * * *

This is the point at which we step aside from scale.

This is the point at which the scale of an impropriety -> an injustice -> an atrocity does not matter in the least.

It is difficult to hold the Russians accountable for the slaughter of the Purges and collectivization because they did not know the extent of it, nor did they have to political capital to answer for it.

America, on the other hand, knows what is happening, and routinely elects leaders who adopt its policies. We stay the course.

We stay the course.

And that's what keeps me awake at night.

* * * * *

And most Americans neglect to acknowledge that Iran is, in fact, a democracy.

Frivolous Post of the Day No. 2 - Things People Have Typed into Search Engines that Have Led Them Here!


bombastic booty making
joliet teamsters mob
postcards of flint mi ghetto
"halo burger" song lyrics
fainting goat video ON CURRENT AFFAIR
"Pearl Jam"

Rant on Grossness



If you're in a public bathroom, and for whatever reason you get pee all over the seat, please do us all a favor and wipe it up.

Oneidine 8, 27.


- Yesterday I finally had the opportunity to use Armour Square as a litmust test for an age old question: How long does it take to photograph a relatively small Chicago neighborhood, if one is trying to photograph everything interesting? The answer is: a pretty long time. I spent almost five hours in Armour Square, taking in Wentworth Gardens, Comiskey Park, Armour Square, and most of Chinatown. Even then, I gave up after dusk, leaving Chinatown proper (along Wentworth, Cermak, and Archer) for next time. But it was a lot of fun. Armour Square is an incredibly dynamic area, and I'm excited to share the over 200 pictures I took yesterday. Look for a post on this soon.
- It does, however, mean that I need to critically reevaluate my strategy for exploring Chicago. The short apologia: The sixth part of my novel-in-progress Euphemism will consist of 77 chapters, each set in one of Chicago's 77 Community Areas. Which means I need some familiarity with each. I really could have done this if I'd committed substantial energy to accomplishing it for the last four years. In the next four months, and with so much on my plate... impossible. Part Six will have to wait until I'm getting fat off the royalties (and movie rights) for Urbàntasm.
- Still, I've been a part of this city for eight years now, and I think it proper to give it a good sendoff. So I will be exploring, and photographing, some neighborhoods. Look for a list in the next post.
- I got home from my wanderings at around 8:30 last night. I enjoyed a brief conversation with Jessica, and went to bed by about nine.
- This morning, sore from exercise and walking and exhaustion, I was barely able to drag myself out of bed in time to attend Mass at Assumption Church in River North. I was actually about ten-minutes late, slipping in at the end of the gospel. I've been reading these ahead of time on the bus, so at least the homily is comprehensible, though I'd rather be on time. Again, I took a few pictures on the way out, and will try to post them, along with St. Peter's, tonight.
- Today I'm going out to dinner with Jessica and Steve, the surgical coordinator for the Laser Vision Center. Some of our help has been out lately for medical reasons lately, and so I've helped to fill in. I guess my anxieties were overstates. But I am very flattered, and looking forward to it.
- Between Terri and the pope, the news today revolves almost entirely around feeding tube. Everyone's essentially forgotten the earthquake in Indonesia yesterday that killed over a thousand people. And shame on the New York Times for their lack of coverage.

West Lawn. There is a Blue Skies Falling reader with roots in West Lawn.


BBC News:
Aid struggles to reach Indonesia

Chinatown, Chicago. Chicago - The Windy City! - Reisebericht und Reiseinformationen mit vielen Fotos!

What is your favorite Chicago neighborhood. If you wish you can list more than one...
Also, what is your favorite side of Chicago. List only one.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Oneidine 7, 27.


- Because Easter is a new beginning for me, and April is the month of Spring Cleaning, their coincision has given me ample reason to accomplish a lot. Which is fortuitous; there's a lot to accomplish this year.
- The Wedding and School are, of course, the first priorities. Right now invitations are on the agenda, as is the FAFSA, and drawing, like blood from a vein via leeches, responses from University of New Orleans, Columbia, and U. Wash.
- I also exercised yesterday, for the first time in years, and discovered I am probably more out of shape than I've ever been before.
- And, I also picked up the Romanian flash-cards.
- You can't stop me! I'm on fire!
- This morning, I got up at five so I could make it downtown for installment three of the Octave of Easter. I wanted to attend St. Peter's in the Loop at least once... it's easily my third favorite church in Chicago, and is so visually powerful it seriously should be part of a movie set. I obtained permission to take some pictures after Mass (a little bit awkward, with all the people in there praying) and will try to post them later tonight. Then I walked to work and have been happily busy (and utterly exhausted) ever since.
- It's a beautiful day. Assuming I get out of here by twelve or one, I'm taking another stab at Armour Square. If you're interested, send me an email at connor at afterdusk dot org, by 11 AM, and we'll find a time to meet at Seven Treasures on Wentworth.
- It's a beautiful day. Have you seen any red-winged blackbirds?
- It's a beautiful day. Have you seen any wildflowers?
- It's a beautiful day. Have you seen any trees in blossom?
- It's a beautiful day. Have you seen any hawks?
- It's a beautiful day.

The Sudan.


New York Times: Powerful Quake Jolts the Seabed Off the West Coast of Indonesia.

Indonesian Wedding Party. Boris Feldblyum Collection.

Which is your favorite Indiana Jones movie, and why?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Moments of Clarity and Sanity from the Flint Journal.


NOTE: This is a revision of a post I wrote yesterday. It was supposed to be published over the last, but was not. I will publish it as a separate post to retain the integrity of earlier comments.

A staff editorial: Partner Benefits.

The Flint Journal endorsed Bush in 2000, and has never been exactly a bastion of liberal thought.

But this is a good summation of why Proposal 2 was a horrible idea in the first place.

Also, there were two columns recently dealing with the Terri Schiavo case.

The first was written by Rickey Hampton, which answers a lot of the polemic coming from both sides of this debate.

The second, by Andrew Heller, another favorite of mine, wants for a forceful argument, but still provides a lot of useful info on living wills (I can't avoid adding that this somewhat makes up for his woefully misinformed take on juvenile violence, but then that's not a debate I'm trying to have to day>.

* * * * *

None of this is groundbreaking.

But it's nonetheless notable from a newspaper that is (sometimes justly) criticized for watering-down or dancing around topics of import. More, this sort of level-headedness increases the paper's credibility where it is the only mainstream source of local info, and this in a time when editorialism seems to be going off the deep end.

Calling Out


I'm on the verge of calling out several of you. We have the seeds of an electric conversation floating about, but they've yet to ferment.

I've been in a political dolor lately, which is absurd considering the chaos going on around you. It's as if after the last election, when we all acknowledged that we were a bitterly divided nation (I direct you to the CNN/USA Today poll in which 48% of Americans described Bush as a uniter and 48% described him as a divider), we're not resorting to histrionics.

Myself (being a little histrionic in the best of times), I've felt a little numbed. I haven't really posted much political lately, and a lot of it has been conciliatory... pacing around issues like abortion or a universal draft, in which I can actually see both sides of the story. But of course, my hot-button issues; social welfare, censorship, an autonomous media, and the separation of church and state... I've let these things fall to the wayside.

The news has left everyone a little weird.

And news... there's been a lot of news. Take it back to the tsunami. Since then, in addition to the routine-sounding-from-a-distance calamities in Iraq and the Sudan, elections in Iraq and Palestine, uprisings in Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan.

Meanwhile, back at home we've had two horrific shooting sprees (at a church than a school, respectively), the drama of the Terri Schaivo case (as a friend of mine noted, one visitor was unable to push through the crowds and security to get into the hospice before her friend passed on), all against the backdrop of increasingly incoherant statements on gay rights (or the lack thereof). This has all happened in under three months.

I don't think we're bucking the trend right now. I think things are accelerating.

* * * * *

About a week ago, I posted this on similarities between the Bush administration and Joe McCarthy's posse.

My post was admittedly more about establishing a parallel, setting up a comparison, than making a point. Not so Gemma's series of observations on our own Disappeared... the steady obfuscation of historical capital in this country. (You're not overblown Gemma. As I said, everything is a little off-kilter. It's refreshing for you to react with what we should consider reasonable alarm. It's disconcerting because, for the most part, no one is.

* * * * *

So I'm calling you all out.

A tremendous amount's been thrown down in the last several months.

I set up a parallel between the Bush administration and the Committee on UnAmerican Activities.
Gemma formulated an argument and gave it gleaming incisors.
At least one regular reader of mine has written a paper on this subject.
At least three regular readers have lived through the Red Scare.

Surely, you've something to say about all this...

~ Connor

Oneidine 6, 27.


- And yesterday rounded out the rest of a lovely weekend. After I finished the rest of the Oneidine 5 post, Jessica and I spoke with both of our families. We walked to the the Hyde Park Coop, and bought food for dinner. The temp had risen into the mid-forties, and so we sparkled in the sunshine with our little glass Cappuccino bottles. Once we were back, we made a ham for dinner, with stuffing and cooked carrots, and Dr. Pepper, and watched Monk: "Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation." The story relied a little too much on coincidence for my taste, but the mystery itself was pretty cool. And after that, Desperate Housewives. It gave me a creepy feeling in the end, but Jess gave me a ride home, and I filled out the rest with Sam and his sister, Emily, listening to Hooker and doing some writing.
- As I mentioned, I've resolved to attend Mass each day of the Octave of Easter. As of today, I'm officially 25% of the way there. I attended the 7 AM Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago's own Castle of Catholicism. The church has got a remarkable history with some very colorful characters, including an ecclesiastical Rasputin who didn't necessarily not redecorate the church with bizarre fake marble paneling during the 1960s or incite near-rebellion among midwestern priests. But I'm not naming names.
The Church was much emptier than I'm accustomed, but this was expected; I usually find myself at Holy Name around noon. The homily was alright; something about realizing the resurrection in stages, but of course, greetings were somewhere between chilly and listless during the Sign of Peace, and when people don't get into it, it's almost a drag. That said, the floral arrangements were spectacular. The sanctuary could've been filled with trees for all the greenery.
- Later today, reading and wedding and financial planning for grad school. Later this week, Cleaning begins. God, you've gotta love Spring!
- And speaking of Spring, we have to ask the classic midwestern question... now that Winter is slipping way, will we plunge headlong into summer, or might we have three weeks of cool breezes and warm sunshine? Will there bother to be khaki and jacket weather? With mud and moss?
- Signs of Spring:
Remember when it was warm all through late February, and then the temperature plunged again in March? Remember how it felt unusual for it to do so? Notice this.
Remember when, even at its coldest this March, the lake never really froze over again? We had snow and sleet, but the waves kept tumbling in? Notice this.
This morning, I noticed two mallards in the Lincoln Park inlet near Fullerton. Two were sailing through without disturbing the water, while a third landed in a cloud of spray and foam. Notice this.
I have to keep a lookout for birds and squirrels on birdfeeders, around dumpsters, and on the street. Notice this.
Now the sun's up for more than half of the time. Notice.


from the Old English Dictionary:
monergism, n.
1. The doctrine that regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. Opposed to SYNERGISM n. 1.
1890 Cent. Dict. 3831/2 Monergism, in theol., the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is the only efficient agent in regeneration. 1911 P. SMITH Life & Lett. M. Luther xviii. 208 [Luther's] determinism is..simply and solely the logical deduction from his doctrine of justification by faith alone, or, as it is technically called, of the monergism of grace. 1928 Philos. Rev. 37 391 In this matter [sc. free will] the Jesuits bore away a victory over the Dominican and Jansenist champions of the monergism of grace. 1967 D. T. KAUFFMAN Dict. Religious Terms 316/1 Monergism, belief in regeneration by God alone, with no human cooperation. 1989 Conc. Dict. Christian Trad. 369/1 This teaching [sc. synergism] was advocated by Melanchthon in the synergistic controversy within Lutheranism, 1550-1577. It contrasts with monergism.
2. = MONENERGISM n. rare.
1907 in N.E.D. 1966 R. BARR Main Currents Early Christ. Thought vi. 112 The heresy is to be called monergism, or monothelitism,depending upon whether one refers to Christ's activities in general or to his will-acts in particular.

BBC News: Kyrgyz political stand-off eases.

Cathedral of our lady assumed into Heaven. ndetour48, Webshots.

What is your favorite park in the town you live in?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Oneidine 5, 27. Part 2.


Washington Heights.


The New York Times: Pope Makes Appearance but Is Unable to Speak.

Easter lily.

What is the most important/sacred day/event for you each year?

Oneidine 5, 27. Part 1.


- Happy Easter to all of you!
- I'm in a hurry... I usually try to attend church during the Octave of Easter (the first eight days of Easter), but I usually sleep through the first. Today is an exception.
- Last week finished out pretty hectically. Evonne, a coworker, has gotten very sick, so please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.
- As a result, I am taking on a number of her responsibilities, at least for the next several weeks. I do believe I will be able to continue posting on a daily basis, but it will require a reevaluation of my strategy and may require extensive use of NotePad. The result may be fewer links (such as those provided below).
- On Thursday, I left work at 5:15, hurried back to my apartment, and Jess gave me a ride down to Hyde Park, and attended Holy Thursday at St. Thomas. It's annually one of the most beautiful services there is, and I've written about it here. But this year, I attended alone.
- On Friday, I left work at 1:15, rode down to Hyde Park, and attended the Good Friday Mass. It's a quiet event, concluded by the Veneration of the Cross, where parishioners file to the front and kiss the feet of the crucified Jesus. I left at a few minutes past five.
Jess and I had planned on riding down to Ohio that evening, but her car stalled twice on my in the parking lot, and she was exhausted from working past midnight on several nights. We decided to stay in Chicago. Friday was a relaxing night in. We watched Monk and ate fish and mac and cheese.
- On Saturday, Jess and I spent much of the morning discussing wedding invitations and the like, and we continue to near many solutions. In the evening we went to the Easter Vigil, the most important event in the liturgical year because it celebrates the resurrection of Christ. We'd arranged (last minute) to attend with Tom and his boyfriend, Michael, so we all sat together. We held candles lit for over two hours of the three hour Mass, which involved many unexpected adventures, like reciting the Creed twice, extending the sign of Peace twice, and listening to This Old Man chirp away on someone's cel phone. (This not typical of an Easter Vigil).
But, we had a good time.
Afterwards, we went over to Tom's for coffee and cakes, and after three cups of coffee and three hours of conversation, I was seriously wired. I didn't get in until two in the morning.

More soon!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Comment Trouble


My comments are down. I don't know why this is, but I'll contact Enetation about it.

Thanks for your patience.

~ Connor

Friday, March 25, 2005

Holy Thursday.


If I wished to overwhelm a friend with sensation and impose upon them a Christianity fueled by passion, sincerity, and depth, then I would take them to the Catholic Easter Triduum. The sounds, the visions, the interplay of light and shadow, the fragrant odor of spice and smoke floating through the air as if God is squeezing divine sweat through the pores in the wood of the pews, and most of all, the charged and melancholy stillness of the air... the breathlessness of so many people, sitting, standing, kneeling. Waiting and recognizing.

And if my friend had been struck as I'd been struck the first time, the experience would have been beautiful and a little lonely.

I think one of the most fundamental and unyielding differences between Catholics and Protestants is the perception of spectacle as a component of worship. If I may generalize a bit, (or a lot; some Protestant denominations are closer in philosophy and practice to Catholics than they are other Protestants) Protestants tend to value austerity more as a default... austerity in ritual, theology, and institutions. But when spectacle is a feature among Protestants, it is available to all and all at once. Generalizations, yes, but then it wasn't Catholics standing on the corner of North and California with plastic buckets, practically chasing me down the street so they could baptize me, nor was there a prominent Catholic presence as a consert I attended in high school, at which we were coaxed to lay down on our bellies before the stage so we could be crushed by Jesus. My relationship to those spectacles was completely different.

These are anecdotes. I think there's something behind them. If you look at the architecture of Catholic churches, the elaboration of ritual, and the complex structure of Church heirarchy, there is a different value placed upon spectacle. Spectacle is more continually present. It permeates. But even in abundance, there is something inaccessible to an outsider. Catholics are generally hesitant to baptize someone at once upon a declaration of faith. Catholics believe that true faith is deep, and depth involves snags and stumbling... and wrestling. We are meant to work at it as Jacob worked at it. And so, it was appropriate my first experiences at Mass involved feeling overwhelmed by strange people participating in strange actions. After three years of work, I became one of those people. I was baptized at an Easter vigil. And now I grasp, I do not take for granted, but I truly breathe the value in holding candles in the dark.

This isn't a declaration of pride. Or even an argument. I don't think that spectacle trumps austerity as a path to spirituality.

But I experience some of my holiest moments each Triduum... my spirit is awakened by the seriousness and size of the event, and its appeal to my every sense, and it answers because I had to work over time to become a participant.

* * * * *

One of the holiest moments of my life occurred just two days before Easter in 2003. It was two days before my baptism, and very late in the game I'd been getting something akin to cold feet. It wasn't that I doubted my belief in God... but is my belief in God so broad and vague that it is meaningless? And I knew that, no matter how thorough and rigorous my theology might become, my whole faith is predicated on the conviction is that there is something, and something so vast and essential deserves to be loved and known by a name. Was this enough? Was my flickering faith enough?

Each year, Holy Thursday at St. Thomas in Hyde Park is gorgeous. The church fills until each pew is stacked end to end and the temperature rises even at the chilly end of March. Then the scriptures are read, and after the homily, parishioners have the opportunity to walk to the front, and have their feet washed by the priest and attendants before the sanctuary. Then, in the chill that sets in after the Lord's supper, the organs and cantor begin sounding off, closing off, shutting down. If you've heard our cantor, she hits the very highest notes and holds them shivering... she must have been operatically trained. I do not know her name. Tom is our organist, and the instrument surrounds him, and he leans far over the keys, so intent. So the song winds on, towards nightfall and silence. The lights are shut off. The candles are extinguished. The attendants carry the plants and flowers and shawls and ribbons away. As the last lights dim, I do believe that while Christianity is a final leaving of our worldly life, like the Passion, it's bittersweet... not without regret. They've stripped the altar.

Now we sit in considerable silence and darkness. Maybe a thud now and then as a hassock is lifted. A cough. The sound of coats sliding on to arms. A dull murmer of conversation from the narthex. And in the purple dim that slips through stained windows gray with dusk, the congretation slips out into the rainy night.

But not all and not all at once.

The moment I've described is still coming.

On April 18th, 2003, my friend Michaelangelo and I crossed over to the Daily Mass chapel. And this is a favorite room... warm tones with black pews on black floors... several saints pensieve upon a row of narrow windows. It feels very interior, but isn't claustrophobic.

This night, the Daily Mass chapel was packed with over a dozen parishioners, and the only light fell out from two white candles. Michael and I knelt down at the back of the room before the body of Christ. The Host stood in a stand between glass plates, and we turned toward it.

And this silence was almost literal silence. We breathed deeply and slowly so as to not disturb it. And I've never known such gleaming blackness. In the distant candlelight, but the floor and the pews felt still and sturdy beneath me and seemed to shimmer darkness. And the darkness of moving shadows coming back and forth... entering or leaving. Bowing on the way in or out. The darkness that seemed to cover us all, falling from the ceiling. It was a darkness that felt lain down, like bedsheets and blankets. And kneeling was a comfort. I could kneel as long as I wished. We stayed. And I waited and watched. And knelt. And listened for Michael's breathing. And felt my knees on the cushion. And relalized that those people in front of me were still as silhouettes. And I watched and waited. And glanced at the windows, and traced the lines of the walls and ceilings along the lintels, which I knew to be painted verdnant green against a soft burnished orange. And I gazed into the Host and thought "he's in this room with me." And then I realized: Far from waiting and watching, I was being watched. Someone was waiting for me. Someone waiting. Someone so patient. And wise beyond words. What wisdom to choose to listen when you know so well. I've tried to choose the best words.

But words are small.

We wrestled in there, acknowledged, and grit our teeth, bore down, held down, and fell down before, and were lifted up again. And astonishing, really, because for all the ruckus our turmoil and hope and true love must have caused, I've never known so many people in one place at once to be so perfectly silent and still.

* * * * *

This is probably my last year attending Easter at St. Thomas.

Of everything I've had in Chicago, this is what I've come to love the most. What I most wish I could take with me. What I'll most miss leaving behind.

And peace be with you, too.

~ Connor

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

New link added


The Blog Hunt continues...

This week I brink you Charles' blog, Job 21:3 - Charles is from Nebraska near Omaha, and he writes on a variety of topics, with particular emphasis on religion. I found Job 21:3 while looking for blogs from Nebraska, and was delighted by this blogs humor, warmth, and insight. I was further pleased to read about Charles' involvement with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to which belong many of my own friends and family. Regardless of what he writes about, or whether our political sympathies are unaligned, I enjoyed Charles' writing to be most persuasive. He is a generous author, and I think you'll enjoy his work.

~ Connor

Oneidine 1, 27.


- For comments on why I didn't post yesterday, consult "Vernaltide 1" below.
- For Vernaltide (as explained in Gothic Funk Manifesto #2), I'd intended to go on an all-night walk (specifically from 5:49 PM - 6:15 AM), but after a ninety minute nap after work, I decided I was just a little too tired and it was just a little too cold for the expedition. Having the day fall in the middle of the week certainly didn't help. I'll make it up a little later, but I should revisit the concept of these planned nightwalks to see if I can't make them perhaps a bit more practicable.
- I worked on the Vernaltide posts for several hours, and then was joined by Sam, and later, Sky. We talked and visited until about one, and then I left with Sky, walking with him to the Thorndale stop, then continuing north to Loyola. The weather was fine, hovering just about freezing, and the black sky spat thick bits of icy rain, almost sleet. I walked up and down the lakeshore, taking pictures for this blog. (I'll post the rest a little later). By the time I left, my ears were numb, and my jab had begun to ache. I walked back home, getting back by a little after to. I uploaded the pictures, and was in bed by 3:30.
- I'm going into overdrive on linking to Chicago neighborhoods. I figure the Countries of the Day can go on indefinitely, but it's a little strange if I keep linking to Chicago neighborhoods after I've lived her for eight years and then moved away...

Near West Side.

Surf and Turf.

The New York Times: Behind the Why of a Rampage, Loner With a Taste for Nazism.

Muskingum County Courthouse. The Ohio County Courthouse Project.

What are you going to accomplish by June 21st that is of great importance to you?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Vernaltide 4: A Bittersweet Symphony


It really is.


* * * * *

It's been a long time, my friend.

First, don't worry. They'll gloss over this. They won't understand what I'm saying. It's all white noise to them. Virtually everything is lost when you don't understand the context, and people care too little to spend time and energy to try and discover what doesn't come easily.

Second, while I do not desire contact or correspondence (it would be too complicated, after too long), we believe that drama does not decrease sincerity. So let me pour my heart out on stage and really mean what I say. What happened up there was real. What happened on the road was real. Elbowing our way through the crowds downtown was real. There was a great respect. I was happy to hear... and I agree. I've missed it too.

But distance can be like a fine wine. We distill and bottle only grapes plump and thick with blood, and when they sit on shelves, year after year, we go downstairs if we're lucky, dust off our favorites, and smile when we look upon them.

Some wine, it's best to keep bottled. To examine from time to time. And then, to return to the shelf.

It will always be one of the best bottles, and one of the most often examined.

All the best. Only the best. For ever and ever.

And ever.

Vernaltide 3: I Know Why Kerry Lost


Imagine this, if you will... place it at any point during the last half of the third debate, as part of Kerry's reponse to virtually any question. Proper execution would have mandated "breaking the rules" by making direct eye contact with Bush and holding, but then, such disregard of convention is typical of those who do not flip-flop:

JOHN KERRY: Mr. President... I'm staggered... appalled can scarely begin to describe the impression your answers leave upon me.
You've stood at your podium lying to American people for the last two debates; for the last four years. You've lied about the war in Iraq, our economy, our educational system, you've lied to our seniors and our children, and you've lied with full knowledge that you've been lying.
Have you no sense of decency?

* * * * *

The last sentence will not be lost of several of you. It was spoken on June 9th, 1954 by Special Counsel for the Army, Joseph Welch, in Senate hearings between the army and Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn.

I am unfamiliar with the details of those hearings themselves, but most of us have at least a passing familiarity with Joseph McCarthy as the man who founded the Committee on UnAmerican Activities, fueled the Red Scare in the fifties, and ruined the lives of thousands of people (like Montgomery Clift). Roy Cohn was the guy who broke every rule in the book to execute the Rosenbergs... I'd say he was the Antichrist, but the world hasn't ended yet.

In short, though, McCarthy sustained his own high-profile political career through the skillful manipulation of public opinion. Even from a casual knowledge of fifty distant, I find he has a startling amount in common with Bush (I can't credit myself with this observation; my parents made it first). In both cases, their tactics had a credible foundation. There was nothing light about nuclear proliferation then, nor is Al Qaeda a laughing matter today. Both Bush and McCarthy had an accessibility to most Americans. Most importantly, they both seem to know what keeps us awake at night.

And having said that, I'm at the limits of my knowledge regarding Joseph McCarthy, though I could say much more about Bush.

I've commented recently that political posts are so difficult because so much background is required to say much of anything. I've even got a mild case of pundit envy, and am continually in awe of those bloggers that seem to have digested every commentary on American History from the Civil War on.

Still, I have one resource: you. And I'm going to guilt you into working for me.

You answer those "questions of the day," so you can answer this, and between all of us, we have enough context to say something worthwhile.

Answer the questions, or write more generally. You can post your responses as comments below, or if you want, send me an email [connor at afterdust dot org] and I'll post your answer in full.

What are the parallels between the early aughts and the early fifties?

What are significant differences?

Will Bush meet the same end as Joseph McCarthy; public and political condemnation followed by an early and tragic death?

How is Cohn and McCarthy's Committee parallel to the president's cabinet?

And what are significant differences?

Is the profiling of Arab Americans as potential terrorists comparable to the profiling of the American Left as communist traitors?

What are significant differences?

And what are similaries and differences to the democrats as a counterpoint then and now?

I can't do this crap myself. I'm too young. I admit this.

Let's roll up our sleeves and dig in.

Let's talk about this.


Vernaltide 2: The Obligation to Live


A close friend (well, okay, my mother) wrote me this morning and asked what I thought of the Terri Schiavo case, whether my conversion to Catholicism had impacted my opinion, and suggested I might blog on the subject.

In keeping with the spirit with the beginning of Spring, I'm not going to do any background research, but write from the gut with accumulated fragments of context.

What I understand of the situation is this: Terri Schiavo was involved in an accident which resulted in a coma fiteen years ago (she would've been my current age, 26). She had left no written instructions as to what should be done, though her husband claims she would not want to be kept alive as a vegetable. Her parents dissent, saying that she is responsive, and this disagreement has resulted in a protracted legal battle that has gone back and forth in the Florida courts this whole time. Finally, in recent days, a judge ruled that her feeding tube should be removed, allowing her to die, and the G.O.P.-dominated congress convened in an emergency session, passing (by overwhelming odds) legislation that required the reinsertion of the tube.

That's the long and short of it; I write everything I write based on my limited knoweldge, and if I've included certain details, it's because I believe they are relevant.

* * * * *

Two observations from opposite sides of the discussion:


I absolutely condemn the congressional session, and presidential action.

It seems transparently political. The G.O.P. won big in the last election, largely because the religious right came out in droves due to abortion and gay marriage. Well guess what: Roe v. Wade is solidly in place, and a Federal Marriage Amendment is on the outs, largely due to moderate Republicans. The Republican Party knew this well before the election and now, baring their true, Corporate souls, knows it would be madness to forego a dramatic opportunity to offer the religious right what amounts to second place.

The Democrats, equally culpable in this affair, voted (many probably against their conscience) in support of the resolution that they thought would be open-and-shut for most centrist voters. In other words, Democrats assumed "mainstream" America would support the legislation, and perceive any dissent as coming from the Left. So operating as a centrist party, they downplayed that dissent. [Note: I respect any Republican with the spine and acumen to admit that the Democratic party is truly the centrist party these days, if only because its base is so fragile and fractious. The Republicans have had the luxury of establishing a non-mainstream agenda.] This fact suggests to me, more than John Kerry ever did, that a party with a historic backbone of Jews and minorities has lost both its chutspa and cojones.

Politically, this case belongs in the judiciary, not congress. The emergency session of congress was a classic example of what the Founding Fathers were trying to avoid with checks-and-balances, and by all this, the poor girl should be resting right now.


An argument I have not heard, but that I think is very central to this whole thing is that Terri was twenty-six when the accident occurred.

As a sixteen year old with a drivers licence, I made the decision to be an organ donor. If my death can somehow be mitigated as a gift of life to a human being, I would be selfish and short-sighted to deny that opportunity. But I also knew that, legally-speaking, I must make my views clear. If I died before the age of majority, my family might circumvent my request. While my parents always shared my views on this subject, it was my legal and moral responsibility to affix a witnessed organ donor card to the back of my license as a record of my wishes, and I have always done so.

This is my responsibility. It is also my responsiblity to pay my student loans on time, to not throw sticky-buns at pedestrians from a moving vehicle, or get fired for excessive interneting. And as an adult, I acknowledge this. If I fail in my responsibility and are denied my wishes, it's on my head. It is others' responsibility to define my rights and not violate or circumvene them.

I am that sure most of my friends who support the removal of the feeding tube (and I am not strictly opposed, myself) were abhorred by euthenasia as performed by the Nazis. Nor do I doubt that Terri's husband cares deeply for her. Nevertheless, it is useful to recall that most of us consider euthenasia to be termination of a life due to disability without consent.

I feel absolutely confident saying that any government that tacitly agrees to terminate a life based on consent as only verified by one person's highly biased testimony is skating on thin ice. As liberals who truly care about civil rights, we must remember to look past the right-to-die surface of this situation to consider the fact that Terri's own desires have never been made unambiguously clear.

* * * * *

Having made these two observations, I want to draw them into my central point, which, yes, somewhat reflects my conversion to Catholicism, but in a way that crystalizes what I've believed all my life.

Most religions teach the sacredness of life and its inviobility... in fact, we might even find this to be a requirement for the longevity of any organized religion, though I don't have the examples or background to lay this out right now. I think such sentiments are accurately and sincerely grasped by the practitioners of most faiths.

At the same time, a subtler, but just as important element, of enduring religion, is practicality. The two largest religions in the world are Christianity and Islam.
I don't think it's coincidental, or even purely otherworldly, that Christ is so concerned with forgiving. Because people sin, and life must move beyond sin. Forgiveness and understanding is certainly a component of a peaceful soul, but it is also the foundation of a stable society.
Similarly, Muhammed placed a greater emphasis on the day-to-day interactions of his followers (and in a way that transcends the numbers so often cited from the Qur'an) than he did jihad or ritual protocol. Because any society cannot bow in submission to God if it's preoccupied tearing itself apart.

These are not isolated examples. When we look at the treatment of taxes, of nonviolent dissent, of mutual respect and understanding without the denial of faith, virtually every successful prophet from Confucius to Joseph Smith has put the ethical debate in the public sphere of building and maintaining a society. Righteousness is not something we are meant to experience alone, distant and inaccessible to all. Rather, we are called to a public dialogue that builds a world where souls can flourish, uncluttered, in search of a higher truth.

So on a pure, non-legally driven level, my feelings on Terri Sciavo's life and death are practically informed, and here they are:

Certainly, money and energy are better spent keeping a human being alive than they would be on developing video games and Barbie dolls. Coca Cola can wait. But the fact remains that in my own hometown and in many parts of this very wealthy country, children are dying of mundane illnesses and industrial pollution, violence is endemic, our elderly cannot afford their own medication, and we are subjecting our immigrant population to racial profiling on the basis of their nationality and our own people to discrimination based on gender, race, and sexuality. Beyond our borders, tens of millions die each year due to starvation, malnutrition, thirst, and exposure.

Certainly, I think, a culture of life, a true democracy, would not neglect the lives of so many for the benefit of so few.

Certainly, I think, the Religious Right pursues a mirage; they believe they are doing the right thing, but only because they have not held themselves to a high standard of scrutiny and self-examination.

We want for the practicality, compassion, and true sadness of our more inspired prophets. And remember, kids, as Easter approaches, Gethsemane was fucking heartbreaking.


Vernaltide 1: The Internet


Let's start with the internet.

Myself and two others have had internential crises in the last weekend, and they haven't been pretty.

Mine has probably been the most gentle of the three, and the worst was an absolute doozy. I don't feel at liberty to share the details of the others'; I only bring them up to illustrate the workings of the Law of Threes in our lives, that things change for the better and the worse when winter moves into spring, and to backhandedly suggest that we, as humans, are naturally lazy, and tend to take the collusion of opportunity and comfort for granted.

So yesterday was an exceptionally busy day at clinic, though the morning was relatively quiet. My supervisor approched me during one of these quiet periods and dropped the "I've been meaning to talk to you about your internet habits" bomb.

To a temp, this is an catastrophic way to begin any conversation... we're usually temping because we don't have a better career prospect immediately available. Temps in my position, that is, perennial temps, are in an awkward position of temping when they don't really want a permanent position, but need to squirrel away fund$ for a cheap summer in Flint, or at least the Next Big Thing.

At the same time, because our work relationships, interest in our job, and often, work ethic, are essentially superficial, the internet is our source of pleasure and hope. At its best, it's what keeps us from hating the day. At its best, it gives us a sense of purpose that mindlessly running tracks through HIPAA does not. For example, I know precious little about programming or graphic design, but I believe this blog looks pretty damn sweet. That isn't due to any natural finesse or vision on my part, but a obscenely large time investment.

Nor do I, or most temps, I believe, feel we are owed our internet binges between the phone calls and patients. Most of us would admit that there's something subversive and not on the level about our practice, and the most honest would admit that this has more to do with boredom and inertia than a cheerfully rebellious initiative (an initially cheerful rebellion?). Nor do I believe that, deep down, most of us don't feel a little dirty about the minutes and hours of what WalMart would term "time theft." But there it is: I do testify that the guilt, dessication of work-ethic, cessation of soul, and inevitable slouching in the rolo-chair are thoroughly worth it for the elimination of so many dreary minutes and hours ahead.

This is, by the way, a purely selfish thing. I've had the luxury of behaving this way largely because, so far, I've only been supporting myself very modestly. When I am married, things will have to be different. When I have children, things will have to be very different, and if they are not, then I will be guilty of grave irresponsibility.

* * * * *

Most of these comments are tangential, but they are all relevant.

I'm not writing to expose or confess, to wallow in clerical iniquity or justify or abstain... but I've gotten in the habit of candor with this blog. I pride myself on my honesty. I've agreed (most often) with the statement, "if you've done nothing wrong, then you've nothing to hide," and I share a lot of myself with the eighty or so people who hit this blog daily. In fact, I try to withhold information only when it's excessively personal, or at anothers' request.

The fact is, you deserve you know that your T-shirt was made in Bangladesh, and you deserve to know that most of these blog posts were written on time unknowingly subsidized by Advanced Resources and the Northwestern Memorial Faculty Foundation.
You deserve to know that if WalMart jacked the prices in T-shirts in the late 90s, it was because their "Made in the US" workforce was exposed as a bunch of Bengali children working in sweatshops, and you should know that if I cut back on posting in upcoming weeks, it's because I'm being more closely watched.
While you might like to believe that WalMart scales back their illegal work force (they have not) out of a sense of guilt and altruism, you should know that they would only do so for being caught. While you might like to believe that I recommit myself to the daily needs of RefractiveWare and IDXTend, you should know that I would only do so for being caught.

As Charles Wheelan asked and answered: Why did the chicken cross the road? To maximize its utility.

Most of us are corporate, obsessed with our personal bottom line. Those who are not are the true saints.

* * * * *

Since yesterday, RefractiveWare has been clean enough to lick tasty bytes from.

And, honestly, my boss was at my computer again this morning when my email was open, but didn't frown or sigh.

And, honestly, temps are a dime a dozen. I would've been replaced months ago if I wasn't a worthwhile employee.

And, honestly, this is a difficult line I find myself walking. I am proud of the work that I do, and I'm proud of doing good work at a job that often does not capture my interest or imagination. I'm punctual, reliable, resourceful, and will go the extra mile.

But no more bullshit. I'm not typing you a resumè. The blog you're reading is tainted.

Incidentally, today, after persistant phone calls, letters, and emails to the Agency, I finally received my fifty-cent-an-hour raise.

~ Connor

Monday, March 21, 2005

Occludine 30, 27.


- Oh, cheer up. If you look up, there are buds hanging on the trees and in less than a month they'll be heavy.
- Yesterday, after the trials and tribulations of shopping and getting my hair cut (Arg! Cleen! Nooo! Connor no like hair out from face!) I went to Palm Sunday mass. I sat next to Josie, who artfully folded her palm into a tiny, gorgeous, and accurate rose (my two crosses were clumsy, and had to be held together with palmthread), and somehow got recruited to wash feet on Thursday and go out for coffee with Father Mike sometime in April. Both of which will be enjoyable and worthwhile, and neither of which I really expected. Afterwards, I picked up Jessica and we went to an Italian place downtown for a meal with some people from Jess' Toxoplasmosis study. It was engaging and worthwhile conversation, which actually gave me some perfect discussion points for this blog.
- Such as: how do you perceive the regional differences in America and how do you define sophistication? But more on that later.

Northern Mariana Islands (Commonwealth in union with the United States).

from the Old English Dictionary:
In Iroquois belief: a spirit or power thought to exist in all things.
1902 J. N. B. HEWITT in Amer. Anthropologist 4 33 (title) Orenda and a definition of religion. 1902 J. N. B. HEWITT in Amer. Anthropologist 4 37 This subsumed magic power is called..orenda by the Iroquoian tribes. And it is suggested that the Iroquoian name for the potence in question, orenda, be adopted to designate it. 1920 Times Lit. Suppl. 29 Apr. 264/2 Notions of the type of mana or orenda are of ‘a nascently philosophic order’. 1947 C. S. LEWIS Miracles xi. 100 It [sc. pantheism] may even be the most primitive of all religions, and the orenda of a savage tribe has been interpreted by some to be an ‘all-pervasive spirit’. 1971 J. VAN BAAL Symbols for Communication VI. 129 The trend towards mystic participation is expressed in concepts such as mana, wakenda, orenda, and so on, which give scope to the mystic connections underlying things and events. 2000 Beaver (Winnipeg) (Nexis) July V, Everyone was thought to hold a certain amount of personal power or orenda suitable for making offerings and entreaties to spirits for luck in battle, for protection of one's home and family, or to encourage the season's crops to grow well.

The Flint Journal: UAW: No GM Deal.

2006 Buick Lucerne. Automobile Mag.

Now, again not discounting states we've already lived in or been in, which 5 top off your list?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Occludine 29, 27.


- It's been awhile since I've posted on a Sunday, which says something. This has been nice; a relaxing weekend.
- Happy first day of spring.
- I never really consider winter to be over until the beginning of April, but I have to say this is the most satisfactory Chicago winter I've remembered since 1999. It's been cold enough often enough, with several generous spates of snow. In Michigan, there's been even more snow, and I wouldn't have minded that either.
- Friday and yesterday I did some work around the apartment; some cleaning from the 17th, some laundry, some reading, and I managed to procure a ratty dresser from the alley... something to hold me over until Jess and I move.
- Yesterday afternoon I met Jess, her brother Jeff, and his girlfriend Chelsea at the Lincoln Park zoo. It had gotten chilly by then, so we spent most of our time in the Primate and Ape house. Then we drove out to the Golden Apple for dinner, then back to Hyde Park where we hung out for awhile. Jess and I wrapped up the evening by talking about the prospect of living in New York and developing her Wraith.
- Today... Palm Sunday. Haven't been to church yet... I'll attend the 5:30 Mass at St. Thomas.



New York Times: Annan Will Recommend Sweeping Reforms for the U.N.

Narwhal. Oceantaiwan.

How was your weekend?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Occludine 27, 27.


- Well, here I am, at work and thoroughly on time. And not feeling bad about it at all.
- Not to say that I'm not a little bit hungover. But it's a mellow, palatable hungoverness.
- Last night, Sam and I hosted an Occlusion Group St. Patrick's day dinner... at some point, photos will follow, hopefully. But it was a great success. And I spent most of the evening cooking. In the end, it was also a worthwhile project, as I discovered a new (and better) Colcannon recipe, and even better, acquired some basic competance with corned beef.
- All in all, the offerings were: Colcannon, Soda Bread (provided by Sky), Corned Beef and Cabbage, Cookies (provided by Amber), and your typical array of Irish beveredges, and juice.
- Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day. You probably knew that. But did you know that today was St. Anselm of Lucca day?
- And... hey, it's warming up!



New York Times: Muslim Group Is Urging Women to Lead Prayers and In Blow to Bush, Senators Reject Cuts to Medicaid.

Field Connections. University of Washington: The School of Oceanography.

Which 5 states are you *least* interested in visiting? (Note: No metaquestioning... in other words, don't exclude a state simply because you've already lived/visited there).

Thursday, March 17, 2005

St. Patricks Day Parade, South Side


And here is the account of the (much better) South Side St. Patricks day parade.

Unfortunately, I went to this one alone. Also, I think that the photos are less differentiated... while the South Side trade in of glamour for spark was a worthwhile transaction, it doesn't show well in 2D.

I left Hyde Park at about 10:40, managed to catch a #55 with a minimal wait, and rode out to Western, where a #49 took me south to 79th. Virtually everyone there was waiting for a bus to the parade (and a good many of them were high schoolers, and already drunk). We sandwiched aboard a #379 (Pace), and I was lucky enough to snag a seat at the back next to a girl who was talking tearfully into her cel about the inconsiderateness of her former boyfriend. Her friends harangued her for spending her mind on such matters on Sunday morning.

The bus stopped at 99th street, and we walked en masse towards the parade's starting point. Many neighborhood residents has set up informal kiosks where they were selling hats, placards, T-shirts, you name it. Some people were on volunteer duty, sitting at a card table on the curb and handing out free coffee and hot chocolate, doctored and undoctored, to all. I got an (undoctored) hot chocolate.

The temp was allegedly the same as the day before, but felt much warmer. Additionally, the crowd must have been at least several times the size of the downtown parade, which was impressive, given the remoteness of the location (served by no El line, and limited bus and Metra), the lack of high-powered celebrities, and the fact that it was noon on a Sunday.

There is a rivalry in Chicago between the North Side and South Side Irish... it follows along the same lines as most North/South rivalries. In a valid corruption of the book "Ethnic Chicago," the North Side Irish are more likely to stage a Sean O'Casey play, and the South Side Irish are more likely to stage a coup.

The parade had already begun when I arrived, but I was able to overtake the "beginning" by walking briskly down an alleyway and setting up base along Western and 107th St. I watched for over ninety minutes, then hurried back to 103rd St. (My adventured included a choreographed maneuver with a girl outside a KFC to avoid a collision, and trying to take decent pictures over the head of the crowd.)

By the time I'd arrived back, there was still no end to the parade in sight.

I wandered off into Beverly, and waited for my ride...

I'm sorry if the pictures are less interesting this time, but I tried to focus on the life and vigor of the participants and crowds, since the parade relied less on shimmer and technology.
Also, I have more photos than are linked to here... about another thirty, but they didn't upload. If there's interest, I'll post them later.

But for now:

1. St. Patrick.
2. Wall of People in Green.
3. "The South Side Irish."
4. The Wee Folks of Washtenaw-Talman.
5. St. Barnabas Parish.
6. Big Green Drum, hauled by Jeep.
7. Pipers.
8. The Boy Scouts.
9. Marching Band, red.
10. The Caritas Society.
11. Step-Dancing Lasses!
12. Parade...
13. The Jameson Pipers?
14. Pipers up close.
15. Crowds on the opposite side of the street...

We're the South Side Irish as our fathers were before
We come from the Windy City and we're Irish to the core
From Bridgeport to Beverly from Midway to Soth Shore
We're the South Side Irish-Let's sing it out once more!

Our parents came from Mayo, from Cork and Donegal.
We come from Sabina, St. Kilian's and St. Gall
St. Leo, Visitation, Little Flower and the rest.
The South Side parishes are mighty-they're the best!


We live on the South Side-Mayor Daley lived here too
The Greatest Irish Leader that Chicago ever knew
and he was always proud of his South Side Irish roots!
So here's to His Honor to his memory we'll be true.


We sing the songs our fathers sang when they were growing up
Rebel songs of Erin's Isle in the South Side Irish Pubs
and when it comes to baseball-we have two favorite clubs
The Go-Go White Sox... and whoever plays the Cubs!


Highly Recommended.

Occludine 26, 27.


- Top o' th' mornin' to ye!
- Ha ha! So much for the death of winter. Every time we think we've got her figured out, she goes and fools us again.
- Last night I left work for Kopi cafe where I read for several hours. I spent several hours at home alone, and then Sky came by to help prepare for our (somewhat impromptu) St. Patrick's Day dinner. Same returned, late, and we both were asleep before one. All in all, a pretty uneventful evening (again) but set aside many fine moments.
- A note on the "Picture of the Day" today. Unlikely as it seems, this was the dwelling of some Coynes about 100 years back. For all I know, it still is...
- Image hosted by



New York Times: Senate Votes to Allow Drilling in Arctic Reserve.

The Burren, County Clare. Evangelische Gemeinde A.u.H.B. Klosterneuburg.

What is your favorite song by mainstream Irish musicians? (It's an obvious question, I know.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005



2nd little dot from the left.

If I can see it in the murk of Chicago light pollution, there's no reason you can't see it.

Look to the unobstructed west a half-hour after dusk.

via my phat photo editing skills.

St. Patricks Day Parade, Downtown


I promised an accout and pictures of the St. Patricks day parade downtown last Saturday... here it is!

Cody and I met in the biting cold at Buckingham Fountain, and he secured us a place agains the barrier (east side of the street) while I cast about looking for Sam and Sky. (They arrived a little later, but we missed them).
The parade kicked off at noon with a long chain of dignitaries and bagpipers, and the photos should suggest the procession of marching bands, floats, trollies, balloons, dancers, and corporate trucks that followed.
For the first half of the parade, we had the bad fortune to be standing next to a cluster (I believe the technical term would be "gaggle") of frat boys and sorority girls, who'd obviously been drinking all night, flashing the cops, and imitating stunts from the movie Jackass. I kept mentally daring the tool standing next to me to puke on my shoes, if only to give me and excuse to kick him in the shins.
Later, however, the cold got to them, and they were replaced by yuppie and non-yuppie families. Cody and I got an assortment of beads, streamers, keychains, chees, and pop out of the deal. No complaints. The parade itself was enjoyable, if nothing spectacular, and mob spirit seemed to hold up pretty well despite the cold.

But where were the Shriners?

The parade ended around two thirty, and I jumped a #6 and rode home to Jessica.

In pictures:

1. Here comes the front guard.
2. Mayor Daley's in here somewhere, and that waving hand just left of center definitely belongs to an Obama.
3. He's Green and He Terrifies Little Children.
4. The Irish Fellowship of Chicago.
5. No comment, besides that I like the hat.
6. The military band.
7. Mayor Richard M. Daley and Family Salute Chicago's Irish.
8. Many people thought this was the highlight of the parade downtown. I tried to catch them in midair, but instead grabbed a simultaneous lift off and landing. I figure hitting concrete at that speed must be roughly equivalent to falling off a tightrope. It would hurt.
9. The Forsaken Hat. Hideous Fratboys continuously screeched for it, but alas, the barriers blocked their drunken advance!
10. Former St. Patrick's Day Queens.
11. Another St. Patrick.
12. The Ancient Order of Hibernians.
13. Lisa Madigan, aka, Chicago's Hottest Politician. I almost developed a
celebrity crush on this woman. Erudite, practical, and absolutely dreamy.

14. O'Brien's something-or-other in a dreamy green car.
15. Misericordia trolleys receding towards Monroe.
16. Another dreamy green O'Brien car filled with... dreaminess.
17. I really felt for this guy. He was trying really hard to give us those beads, which must have been even harder given the constant yelling of the fratboys to our left. But he was a good sport.
18. Step dancers in motion.
19. Balloon #1. At which point the fratboy to my left (the one who tried to wrestle with the steel barrier and lost, and later seemed likely to puke on my shoes) turned to me and slurred, "What do you think of that froggg?" "It's a frog," I said.
20. No, it's not the IRA.
21. No, still not the IRA.
22. Balloon #2. Still not the IRA.
23. A non-obnoxious lephrachaun!
24. On rollerblades no less!
25. The Plumbing Council.
26. Bagpipers.
27. An Irish Caterpillar?!
28. The Medieval Times Court...
29. ...followed by the obligatory Tough Guy on Horse.
30. The Sons of Sligo had put together a pretty impressive float.
31. It was followed by a bunch of field hockey players on rollerblades. How does Gaelic Football work? I've never understood that game.
32. Marching band. There were actually quite a few at the downtown parade, from quite far afield.
33. I don't know... is this float sponsored by the Irish of North Halsted?
34. The Sheila Tulley Irish Dancers, all in splendiferous costumes. None of them were male, or over fourteen.
35. Balloon #3... it's a shamrock and, and... a polar bear? Something's afoot...
36. Ah, Balloon #4 and its accompanying semi solve the mystery. When the attendants ran out with cans of Lime Coke for everyone, this quickly became one of the most wildy greeted features of the parade.
37. Into the sunset?
38. A lot of the parade profiled sponsoring Unions... it's nice to see that a few things don't change. The first of this series was the Pipefitters Union.
39. Heat and Fire Insurance Union (with the Simpsons endorsing).
40. Bagpipers.
41. The Great Lakes Irish Wolfhound Association. My family's owned two Irish wolfhounds, and they are absoutely the sweetest dogs around. They don't live long, nor are they known for exceptional brainpower, but you can tell how loyal and friendly they are at a glance.
42. Marching band.
43. The Guinness float. We all hoped that they'd follow the lead of the Coke float and hand out some free samples, but to no avail.
44. The Teamsters.
45. The Iron Workers.
46. For some reason, I particularly liked this trolley. Those umber ones.
47. Step dancing.
48. Marching band from Georgia.
49. Marching band continued...
50. The Kelvyn Park Hurricanes.
51. Another installment of the Sligo Association of Chicago.
52. Possibly my favorite moment. This Dark Green Hearse broke down just across the start line, somewhere about Congress. After a frenzied jump, it revved into life again, but in a shocking moment of Kauffmanesque genius
53. the coffin felt out, and was hurriedly run back to the hearse by six lads
wearing porkpies.

54. Yes. Metallic Coffins.
55. The Yiddish Sons of Erin. I should tell them about my situation...
56. And no parade would be complete without an appearance by Eugene "Gene" Moore, the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.
57. Marching band.
58. Balloon #5. The only thing the balloons consistantly had to do with St. Patrick's day was the color green. Except for the Coke float, which had to my knowledge, nothing to do with St. Patrick's day.
59. And the obligatory Star Wars Episode #3 promotion. I cannot deny its charm.
60. One of three DeLorians.
61. And men walking around with exploding smokestacks utop their heads.
62. Connor, post-parade, with assorted loot.

All in all, good times.

Occludine 25, 27.


- Although yesterday was supposedly a brief day at work, there were complications near the end. I skipped lunch and left around four. I stopped on the way home at the Lakebreeze (?) a seedy burger joint (indeed, the very definition of "seedy burger joint") right under the Thorndale stop at the Red Line. There oliveburgers a recommended, by the way. Once there, I sat and read for awhile. Later that night, I took a nap with trippy music and a fan going crazy in the background (which always sets off the windchimes). It's a great way to have unusual dreams, if you were wondering.
- Weather! It's been awhile since I've written about the weather... largely, there hasn't been much to write about. March's initial cold snap has turned into an extended drought (recompense for balmy February, I maintain). That said, it's gotten bearably warm. AccuWeather seems to suggests this may shift towards next week.
- Have you been out to see Mercury yet?

New Mexico.


BBC News: Iraq MPs sworn in amid deadlock.

Cliffs of Moher. Ivanweb.

Where were you in '62?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005



In the muggy cover of July '99, friends and I breached the cargo doors of that abandoned hospital and found that a maze of underground tunnels linked all the buildings together. We found murals, stacks of computers and magazines, dirty and clean linen. In the basements, everything had the stale, dry smell of decay, and upstairs, the whole world was quiet. We'd crawl about the 'L-shaped' outer buildings and up the core of the cross-shaped main hospital. On the roof, we had one of the most spectacular views of the city... Longway shivered in the distance through the head, aquamarine cool, and wet reflecting the glow of the nearby fountain, and a mile away, the Towers, the Mott building, the weather ball, and Hurley and frowned back at us. The sun set. On our last trip, we held hands and called out and the silence that gripped us afterward brought about the most terrifying moment of my whole life. This final trip happened in early September, when I was staying with the Crawfords, and many of that summer's illusions had simply given up.

In the chilly spring of '96, friends and I acted in Flint Youth Theatre's original production the 7th Dream. Kids that spit on the stage and swore at us became suddenly silent when one of the actors was shot and died and stood up to be shot and killed again. This repeated six times. To the audience, the rest of the show was a farce. They were all 9th graders from Northwestern High School. At the time I was dating a girl, and we went to an afterschool luncheon at Donovon Mayotte. It was pouring outside. And it was warm. The ground was so green and the sky to gray, and everything so wet that my feet semed almost to bleed brown and green. Two months later, the 7th Dream had wrapped up and I'd broken up with that girl, and the weather had finally turned around. I went for a 4 AM walk with my best friend, again in the rain, and from that moment on I was a convert.

During the summer of '98, the same friend and I spent a week together. We slept on the porch of a friend's house... it was hot out, but dry, and comfortable, and there were crickets chirping, and the sound of bass thudding two blocks out. Within a few days we'd seen the Smashing Pumpkins live (for the second time) at the State Theater in Detroit. Within a few days, we went for awalk down to Ballenger and rode the swings in the dark at the Unitarian Church. I was always convinced that if the creatures from the White Wolf games were real, that would be where they lived.

What is Urbàntasm?


Last night I had the priviledge of picking two brilliant brains about Urbàntasm (I actually convinced the suckers into reading a little!) and I spent a lot of time afterward thinking about this project, its characters and processes and what transpires. In particular, since the emotion we discussed was "fear" I was thinking a lot about what fear represents in this project, from whence it derives, and why I expect (and hope for) fear in a reader.

I understand fear in Urbàntasm as unease and uncertainty resulting from a pervading sense that something is fundamentally wrong and flawed in the world... that the program is so essentially wounded that any elements contained therein are necessarily and systematically injured or destroyed.

In other words, my answer today for "what is Urbàntasm?" is:

A steamroller that crushes characters, allusions, themes, symbols, stories, and motifs into an undifferentiated mess of number, organs, images, contradictions, and words.

Characters are conscious and aware of this process, and while they can never apprehend the whole picture at once, their apprehension generates the fear that I hope to transmit to the reader.

Now a question (and my challenge) is whether it is possible for a character to survive in the end? Ideally, yes, and hopefully, a few will. But from my perspective, the fear, distress, and tragedy of the story results from the fact that, while any character can retain any one gift or aspect, the price of such retention is often (and sometimes literally) everything else. And these costs run the gamut from a computer to a home to a life to a name.

Occludine 24, 27.


- Good news yesterday: I found out I was accepted at the New School.
- Bad news yesterday: I was rejected from the MFA program at Louisiana State.
- All in all, the good news outweights the bad... especially because I found it out first! And as I told my mom, I sent them my best writing and wrote the most compelling statements I could. If they didn't choose me for that, it simply wasn't meant to be.
- After work I took the train up to Dominics, where I was stumbled upon by, and had a conversation with, a patient that I've seen a number of times in clinic. I bought sugar and whipped cream and Jamesons Irish wisky and Mango Lime Fiesta!
- Back home, I spent awhile talking with my mom about life and plans for the future. Three of Sam's friends arrived from Paris and crashed at our place pending their return to Marquette. We were soon joined by Amber, Gemma, Jess, and Sky for my little celebration, and Sky, Amber, and I stayed up talking late into the night. When they left at around 1, I called Jessica. Then I went to bed.

U.S. Virgin Islands.


BBC News: Jackson boy denied being abused .

Cork, Ireland. Mount Union College.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Drinks on Me!


I am in at:

in New York City

I've also been offered a $3500 scholarship per year.

Later on I'll write about the massively interesting and literary complexes that have developed over the last couple months... but at the moment I'm satisfied with inviting you over to my place tonight, circa 8 PM, for some of Jameson's best. (And some very yummy non-alcoholic alternatives!)



Occludine 23, 27.


- Another weekend check in, check out. This one involved alternating stretches of laying around and frenzied activity.
- On Friday, I got off work earliesh, and returned up north. Took a nap. My brother was passing through town on his way home from Madison, Wisconsin, and neede a place to crash, but first we went down to visit Jessica. Sam had several friends coming to visit, so the place was crowded anyway. Cody picked me up around seven (after adventures navigating traffic jams, Fullerton, and Loyola Lakefront), and we picked up a couple frozen pizzas and a 2-liter of Lime Coke, and watched an old episode of Monk.
- On Saturday, Cody and I met up for the St. Patrick's Day Parade downtown. We tried unsuccessfully to meet up with Sam and co. I took a ton of pictures... more on this later. At a little after three, the parade ended, I said goodbye to Cody, and returned to Jessica's. We relaxed for several hours, then headed over to Evan's for a night of (more) pizza and Rocky and Bullwinkle. It was nice; we haven't seen Evan in awhile. Then, we were slated to return to Edgewater Beach for a party at my place, but on calling, we discovered that everyone was asleep.
- On Sunday, I rode CTA all the way out to Beverly for the South Side St. Patrick's Day Parade. This parade was spectacular and sparkling and invigorating. I felt more Irish than I've felt since I was in Ireland. I've regretted, for a few moments, not applying to Trinity after all, but it wouldn't be what I wanted it to be. So... I took a ton a pictures. More on this later. After the parade, Jess and Greg picked me up, and we hurried out to Blue Island for a session of Phil's Forgotten Realm's campaign. We wrestled with evil bloody psionic snow, interrogated orcs, and at the end, I put myself in a very compromising position by using my Hat of Disguise to pose as the one-eyed "Messenger of Gruumsh." Meanwhile, my companions ambushed the thieves on the river. Good times, I tell you... good times. Finally, we returned home and watched the Greatest Week Ever on VH1. I only had to attain my mid-twenties to be hep enough to watch TV like a regular teenager. Sigh.



New York Times: Hundreds of Thousands of Lebanese Rally Against Syria.

Dublin: The Temple Bar. Photos from Northern Ireland, Summer 2003. By Ville Valio.

To the best of your knowledge, what is your ethnic background?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Occludine 20, 27.


- Last night: Scav Hunt meeting. We talked about ... .... a.... b... ... ... ... .. .... .... ... . ... ..... .... ... ... ... .... wo.... .. . ...... .... ... .... ... ..a.... ... .... ... .... ... such .. a...ole .. ... .... . .ean, but that .eside. ... ...... ... ..... .. ... .att.. .. .... ... ..... .. ... ..f... ... ... .. . ... ... .... .. .... ... .. .... .... pro..em. Da.. .... ... .linton, and .ou .oo, Ch....... .ammerer. I'll ... ... .. .... ... . ..... ...... ...... .... ..ur ...brero. ... .... ... .... ... .... ... ... .. .. ... ....... ... .... 1.25 points?! "So be it," we intoned.
- We wrapped up the meeting with hummos at the the Nile. Then, Jessica and I (celebrating our 5 year anniversary) drove out to Joliet to eat at Steak and Shake. Sound romantic? We discovered this particular Steak and Shake on an adventure we had on our 1 year anniversary, and decided it was high time for a pilgremage. We sat in the same booth as before, and I ordered a Cherry Coke and Jess ordered a Vanilla Coke and I ordered a coffee and we both ordered food, but were so stuffed with hummos, we ended up sitting and talking for two hours. It was a very sweet moment.
- My brother's in town tomorrow. He's actually up in Madison, Wisconsin right now, on a secret mission for the Department of Homeland Security (ie. Euphonium stuff).
- Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade Saturday 3/12, noon, on Columbus from Balbo to Monroe. Go. It'll be cool.
- South Side St. Patrick's Day Parade Sunday 3/13, noon, on Western from 103rd to 115th. Go. It'll be cooler.
- Stay in. It'll be cold.

The Little Village.


New York Times: Electrician Says in Suicide Note That He Killed Judge's Family.

Leprechaun. Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators.

You have an obsession. Not a dangerous, unhealthy obsession (ie. Russian roulette), but an irritatingly endearing obsession (ie. restores Pintos). What is your obsession, why are you obsessed, who finds it irritatingly endearing and why?