Monday, January 16, 2017

The Winter of Mark's Discontent



So here I am, still alive. I'm not frozen and I have not turned cannibal on Mark because I can't get to the supermarket. I have not lost one single extremity to frostbite while walking the dogs in the brutal, sub-freezing cold. My body seems to have adapted quite quickly to the change of seasons here in Chicago. Twenty seven years in Florida and you would think that I would be soft. I am not. A little chapped with dry skin, but not soft. I can take it. And look, halfway through winter and we are looking at temperatures in the upper forties and even a day or two over fifty. I'd like to say, thanks to all of you who have burned fossil fuels without regard for the climate for the last hundred years. This global warming thing is working out pretty good here in Chicago. I am just happy that I sold that house in Florida when I did. Six feet above sea level was making me a little bit nervous. So we have one and a half months of winter left before spring comes along. I consider March to be the start of spring, and March snow storms to simply be the wakeup call for the crocuses. They say that March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb. Sure, sometimes that lamb is a little bitchy, but I can take it.

Oh, I forgot. Mark. He's not taking it too well. He is not dealing with the sub-freezing temperatures, the ice on the streets, and the snow. Mark spends most of the day whining and complaining. He hates to set foot outside if the temperature falls below thirty three degrees, and even then it's a bitch-fest. At least once a day Mark tells me that he hates me for bringing him to this hell hole, and I remind him that O'Hare is only a few miles away. They have a lot of planes that can take you right back to Florida.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Where I Will Go When I Want to Escape From Mark



I remember my dad's workbench down in the basement on Ravinia Drive. It was a child's fantasy playground. Hammers, saws, screwdrivers, and the screws to go with them. There were drills, and a vice on that workbench too. The vice was one of my favorite toys. It was almost as fun crushing things in the vice as it was smooshing them on the train tracks. At least I didn't have to hike three blocks over to the railroad tracks for my smooshing. Now I am an adult, sixty seven years, and I finally have my own workbench. Well, almost have my own workbench. If I can figure out these cockamamie instructions on how to assemble it I will. There are serious flaws in these instructions. I did not notice where this thing was manufactured (My dad's workbench was manufactured by him, from lumber.),  but I suspect it isn't the United States. So I have had to improvise a little bit. Hopefully it turns out well and I can start all my winter projects next week. You know, all those things I promised Mark I would build last summer.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Room Where it Happened



One thing I promised Mark before we moved to Chicago, was that I would make sure he got to see Hamilton when it came here. So last June, when the frenzy of Hamilton hit, I sat at the computer for over an hour trying desperately to get tickets. No luck. We were frozen out by the scalpers. At least we still had the hope of the lottery. You see the theater announced that every day they would put up a limited number of tickets that they would give away in a lottery. Only ten dollars, and the seats were right up front. The only catch was that you had to go downtown and pick them up by two in the afternoon, and they were for that day only. Anyway, I was not one to give up so easily. We were not going to rely on the vagaries of a lottery. So I tried again later that afternoon, and there they were. Two tickets in the orchestra, and at a very inexpensive price. I snapped them up despite the warning that one was an "obstructed view" and the other was "limited view". I have bought such tickets before and was only mildly inconvenienced. A portion of the stage hidden, or maybe a bit of the balcony hanging low. I was not prepared for what I got Tuesday night. A seat directly behind one of the fattest columns I have ever seen in a theater.

Here is my critique of the show, Hamilton. Act one. While sounding lively and possibly entertaining, (I have to rely on the reaction of those around me for that) I found it a bit hard to follow. It's the hip-hop, fast talking, staccato pace of the songs that threw me off. I had to keep asking Mark, "What the hell did they say?" Mark had the limited view seat, which meant that he only had to lean over a bit to see the whole stage. Smart Mark had watched the PBS special on Hamilton the night before, so he knew exactly what was going on.

Act two. I made Mark sit in the obstructed view seat for the second act. It turns out that just that little bit of extra view that I got, improved the show immensely. Not all of the songs were hip-hop. Some were real songs, real music. As for whether I liked it or not, I have been to better shows. Hamilton is a good show. I did like it, but it is way over hyped. There was one minor role that every time the actor stepped out on stage he stole the show. King George. When that character would appear, I knew I was going to be entertained.

Just one thing kind of bugged me, and it happened before I even knew that I would not be able to see the first act. We were out in the lobby and a woman was bragging about winning that lottery for tickets.
"I can't believe it. Second row seats, and for only twenty dollars. I'm giddy with delight."
I paid nearly three hundred dollars so I could sit behind a column and listen to the show.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Going to See Hamilton



"The back of my neck is getting dirty and gritty! What kind of song is that? That's a stupid song. Who sings about their neck getting dirty?"
I still remember my mom saying that when I was sixteen years old. I remember I was down in our recreation room, Mom was ironing, and I had the radio on in my bedroom. Before that moment, I did not realize that Mom could actually understand the songs I was listening to. I imagined that it was a foreign language to her. After all, years before she had told me it was just noise.
"Turn that damn noise off. I can't believe people listen to that." It was Elvis on the radio. Mom let me know that day that she did not like Elvis Presley. Funny thing is, neither did I. Elvis was too old fashioned for me. I liked The Rolling Stones. I guess every few years the new up and coming generation has their own music. It's not intended for the folks who came before them.

Mark and I are going to see Hamilton tonight. So I called Mark into my office and had him listen to something that was on the radio.
"Is that hip-hop music? I'm not exactly sure what hip-hop is. Is that it?"
"I don't know. I guess it could be. Why would you think I would know what hip-hop is?"
"You're Black."
Wrong answer.
"I don't like hip-hop. I don't like rap music. Do you ever hear me listening to that stuff?" Mark huffed.
So no, I have never heard Mark listening to that stuff. The fact is, I listen to a lot of Black music. But not rap. I hate rap. It's not music to me. It's just somebody talking real fast, in rhyme, with a crappy beat behind it. I'm told that the music in Hamilton is hip-hop. So I don't know if I'll like Hamilton. I hope I do, because it is two hours and forty five minutes long.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Five Ways to Tell If You Are Fat



Quick, what is this? a) An Easter Ham. b) A wad of used bubble gum. c) A prop from the remake of the movie, The Blob.

"What's that sound? Why do you make that sound all the time?"
"What sound? What the hell are you talking about?"
"When you reached for the door knob, you made a grunting sound."
"No I did not. I just let some air out a bit loudly."
Sometime later:
"There, you did it again. You made a grunting sound when you opened that drawer."
"Geez. Can't a guy breath? What the hell....  "
But Mark is correct. I am grunting and huffing and a puffing all day long, and I know why. I am a fat fucker. I have gained a lot of weight over the last couple of months and it is affecting a lot of things in my life. I know that I was kind of fat before the holidays, but this is entering obesity territory, way beyond just plump. Warning to all my siblings; We have a propensity to chub out and I think I have hit that hard. Here are a few points of fact that tell me I have to lose weight.

  • That last video that I made. The one where I dress up as Alicia. Alicia is a big pig, but she was never that fat. I looked like a giant pink beach ball. I was aghast, absolutely aghast at what I saw. (Been wanting to use that word for a long time.)
  • Those sounds I make. Every move outside of just waving my fat arms, makes me grunt, huff and puff. Just reaching for another donut takes my breath away.
  • My shoes. I dread putting on my shoes. It is an ordeal to bend forward, pull my shoes on, and then tie them. What is even worse is that Scout is always there biting my toes as I try to put them on. She knows that she has the upper hand in that game, that the fat fuck can't stop her when he is doubled over squeezing out his last breath.
  • My wardrobe. I have a Cubs shirt that used to be very loose on me. When I put it on for that last video, I could not even button the damn thing. My pants fit like a sausage casing and every time I sit down, if I don't pop the top button and unbuckle my belt, sitting is impossible. Even my giant winter coat fits very tight around the waist.
  • And finally there is the bathroom. Close your virtual eyes if you are squeamish. I have to get nearly naked to sit on the pot or the clothing will strangle me. As for the standing up and peeing thing, I haven't seen that happen in months. All I see is a stream of water coming from some mystery place. It really makes for a lot of bad aims when I can't tell exactly which way things are pointing.