Friday, October 16, 2009

Summer is filled with the scent of cut grass and rich soil. Its that feeling of the heavy, humid air so vibrant, charged with activity that makes us yearn for this time when nature sleeps. On a still day as the sun beams down, I swear I could hear the Photosynthesis taking place. Plants producing energy and oxygen; a chemical process that gives life to our summer!

The sun is now shifting its focus to the southern hemisphere. In Australia, southern Africa and South America, spring has begun For the rest of the world, its autumn....then winter....and snow!

The autumnal equinox--that imaginary point in time when the sun is directly over the equator--is here and gone.

Now, we transition from summer warmth to a cool and damp stillness. The freshly cut grass aroma begins to waine and the earthen smell of yellow and orange leaves takes over as they reach maturity. Summer warmth seeps away replaced by the calmness of cool, damp and still evenings as the the initial stage of autumn commences with the first leaves quickly changing color, falling to the ground by mid-September. The collective sound of children running around fades to a distant few. Presumably most are inside doing homework--most likely playing video games--as the sun hastily exits below the horizon even quicker then the day before.

Slowly, the tree-line becomes more transparent. Distant light from an unknown source now makes its way all the way through the once thick underbrush to our eyes. The thick blanket of deciduous trees and shrubs is now a thinned out shadow of its former self. Each day, a new element of mother nature's woods becomes visible again after being secluded from the outside world. The irony is dramatic. We experience the vibrant state of nature, full of heat and light outside of the woods. Yet nature's fruits produce a green blanket creating a dark, isolated world only to be revived once the blanket dies away.

The garden is already wilted and gone. The rhubarb has shrunk and withered back to its subterranean sanctuary.

The grass is losing green luster.

I continue to "voice" my disdain toward earth's measly yet potent season-driving twenty-three and a half degree tilt by wearing shorts. Its forty outside and I am wearing shorts. I take the dog out at 6:30 A.M. A heavy frost blankets the deck. The thermometer reads 28. I'm still wearing shorts. You wait. The first hard snow and my choice of attire will still buck the trend. Call it my "obscene gesture" expressed in a code only to be decrypted by mother nature. Maybe she will get the idea...Maybe she can't decrypt it....I don't think she is listening.....I don't think she cares.

Yet at the same time, the changes autumn offers are a refreshing substitute; cleansing in a weird way. As nature prepares for its hibernation, the shorter days and cooler nights seem to have a rejuvenative property. The summer fire still smolders in our minds even after the autumnal equinox. Although my grilling days will continue as they always do when the cold air sets in, a hearty bowl of soup or chilly sounds surprising good right about now. The apple picking, the bright colors, jumping into leaf piles and the distant smell of bond fires rekindles the euphoria albeit under the guise of autumn. You can't help but breathe the cool air in a little deeper, open your eyes a little wider and smile.

The resurgence is felt on the bumpy hayrides as kids drape themselves over the side; their smiles frozen from ear to ear as mom and dad guide them through the sensory experience. One kid comments on the odor emanating from the horses in front. Laughter ensues as the wind shifts wafting the odor over everyone. Laughter continues. Dad laughs. Mom corrects Dad and then succumbs to the laughter herself. As we turn the corner, the wind shifts and alas, the olfactory onslaught is over.

A cup of warm apple cider warms the palette and the hands as a push of cool air knifes through our bodies amid the anemic sunshine. The chill is bone numbing and quick. Sunshine overtakes the wind, we warm up then the wind starts again. We all recover only to go through it again...and again...and again. At the same moment almost by Ultimate design, every one's expression screams the same thought. "This only the beginning of what is to come in the weeks and months ahead." Not one person dare say it. Yet everyone knows that everyone is thinking the same thought. Its the only awkward moment of the day.

For unknown reasons, someone wants ice cream--no doubt trying to hang onto the last remaining footprint of summer. Either that or they are really, really, really jonesing for some frozen desert. Someone makes fun of the request, then another and another. Eventually, everyone gets an ice cream cone quickly forgetting the bone numbing chill that seemed so paralyzing minutes before.

For all its changes, autumn is still my favorite season. I enjoy all of it.

The fleeting warmth, albeit brief. The chill, strong and still maturing. The colors, dirty yet vibrant.
The smells, fulfilling and sweet.
The kids, energetic and full of life.

To me, this is autumn.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Hayride Photos

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Great RUSH article in the Chicago Tribune

The article below. The link HERE.

If you have waited decades for the signal to come out of the closet and declare your allegiance to "The Holy Triumvirate," as Jason Segal dubs Rush in "I Love You, Man," consider this your official notice.

After 35 years as one of rock music's most persistent punch lines—the singer sounds like a girl, the songs are long and pedantic, some fans are obsessive, the band is indulgent and Canadian—Rush is suddenly cool.

In fact, even more remarkably, liking Rush is cool.

"You heard right," said TBS sports announcer Chip Caray, grandson of legendary Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray. "I'm a fan of Rush, to put it mildly. I tell people, and they go, 'Really?' which is sad. How many hate what they do? [Rush enjoys] what they do. One song goes, 'The pride of purpose in an unrewarding job.' I'm a 44-year-old who quotes Rush—so be it. I'm proud to be a fan, and I don't mind saying it. We're everywhere now."

Recently, the band played a major role on "The Colbert Report"; they have had gushing profiles in Rolling Stone and non-ironic interviews in Entertainment Weekly; they've been a plot thread in "I Love You, Man," referenced on "Family Guy" and effusively adored in the new coming-of-age drama "Adventureland." Later this year, the band will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

But even more notable, perhaps, is that these days Rush is less likely to be a target of snark than reverence. And with reason: The Rushinati have infiltrated the power structure. For instance, the Rushinati control the media: Stephen Colbert is a fan; "I Love You, Man" director John Hamburg and "Adventureland" director Greg Mottola are big fans; Victor Lisle, creative director for WGN-AM (owned by Tribune Co.), will talk your ear off about the grandeur of a Rush concert; Metallica lobbied for Rush's inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during its own induction speech this month; Paul Rudd is a longtime fan, as is Billy Corgan, who, before forming Smashing Pumpkins, honed his chops covering Rush in high school bands.

"The Rush fan is a serious guy," said Mottola, who also directed "Superbad." "He has a fervor in his eyes. I have a vivid memory of a Rush guy doing a drum solo at my high school talent show and taking more time than anyone needed. But Rush inspires that kind of … insistence. They have this unswerving integrity, and it's translated to some fans into a sort of religion."

In Chicago—for decades, one of the band's primary markets—the Rushinati have stayed silent but present. They have held the mound at Wrigley Field (former Cub Matt Clement is a die-hard Rushinati). They are college instructors. They run computers at financial institutions. They own scores of businesses around Chicago, and they have their hands on the world's purse strings.Sterling Smith, 44, a Chicago economic analyst and vice president of trading firm FuturesOne, said he has been a devoted fan since high school—so devoted he routinely attends fan gatherings in the area, gatherings which are attended, incredibly enough, by several dozen like-minded Rush devotees who work at the Chicago Board of Trade. "Talk to any male on the floor [of the Board of Trade] and if they're under 55, I would bet you they're at least 50 percent likely to be a fan. And I think I know why: The Rush fan is a person who values precision and analysis, and the music is often about the rights of the individual—and any of these things would be interesting to someone who trades commodities all day. We're a mathematically oriented group."

Indeed, Alex Lifeson, Rush's guitarist, said he has noticed that fans who grew up with Rush seem "a little more detail-oriented in their professional lives." He said, in middle age, they seem disproportionately made up of engineers, chemists, economists and businessmen."

Just yesterday I got an e-mail from an astronaut," Lifeson said. "A guy up in the space station. He brought a copy of our last album with him into space. I mean, this is amazing. You know how many Rush fans there are within NASA? A lot. I'll leave it at that. And I'm not just talking about the guys out in the field. Our fans are inside, close to the big programs. They run everything."

It wasn't always like this.

For Chris Schneberger, 38, who teaches photography at Columbia College, it has been a long road. "I kept [my Rush fanhood] to myself when I was in college," he said. "I admit I always felt a little ashamed by it. For years, I felt like one of those early Christians who would draw a crescent in the sand and wait for someone to come along and draw a fish beside it—to give out a signal that they are part of a brotherhood. But I think I'm at the age now where I have stopped caring."

For Dan Langosch, 42, who lives in Naperville and runs IT for a major bank, to be committed to Rush was "to carry around a chip on your shoulder. They sing songs about the space shuttle. They don't play love songs really. But some of the sci-fi aspects [of the music] faded, and I think, like the band, the fans have learned to relax a little more and deal with real life. But being an outcast is fine."

Indeed, director Hamburg said that when he was thinking of a band to put at the center of "I Love You, Man," it came to "the question of what band would two guys in their late 30s feel a genuine bond over. Rush was ideal because when you meet another fan certain truths are self evident: Neil Peart is the greatest drummer ever, and 'Limelight' is the greatest song. But what I noticed is that fans are coming out of the woodwork, and they don't all look like organic chemistry majors."

Or perhaps we all do.

Everyone is a nerd these days. "We've only had to wait 35 years for this to happen," Lifeson said. Tolkien is mainstream. Comic book movies are the new westerns. And the idea of an 18-minute song called "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres" would not seem out of place on a new Kanye album. "To be honest," Lifeson said, "I'm not listening to music like I was when I was in the '70s. And when I do, you know who's really great? I'd rather listen to Radiohead. Everything else—who has the patience?"

Friday, February 27, 2009

Random Stuff: TV Humor and a Kenny Lofton Sighting

I've been lax in keeping this updated recently. Comatosed is probably closer to it.

Call it an attitude of complacency. Call it apathey. Call it what you want. The fact is the spirit hasn't moved me.

That said, we are two months into the new year and things must change. I aim to do just that.

So to start, here is a bit of television newsroom humor and a few random items.

I had a chance to talk to former Cleveland Indian Kenny Lofton late last week. I asked him what pitchers were the toughest in his career. His answers: Mariano Rivera and Al Leiter.

Evidentally, Kenny is now a music producer/manager. Here is the interview.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Something is Missing

The new year of 2009 is upon us; the decade is almost history. I am the proud father of two beautiful children, happily married and in good health. But something is missing. I've been trying to put my finger on it since the days leading up to New Years. It wasn't until this morning that I realized what this "something" was. When, or more importantly how, did this "something" evolve into this missing element in my life? For the answer, we had back to the decade of 80s.

Back in the yesteryears of the 1980s when the popular movie genre was action adventure/scifi with advanced computer technology themes sprinkled throughout, hollywood writers painted one of two plot scenarios. The first dealt with some sort of post-apocalyptic, dystopian world filled with all of the negatives humanity could offer. The second painted a picture of a society in the future with technological advancements exponentially ahead of the time that, in retrospect, were highly exaggerated and not even close to our real life present day of 2009. Like most viewers, I bought into both of these premises as the most logical and realistic future of the country and the world as seen through my young, clairvoyant, adolescent eyes with limited life experience with only the decade of the 80s as a starting point.
The thought of nuclear annihilation and a subsequent world filled with a barren landscape with little to no assemblance of humanity was not particular appealing. So my mind quickly changed its heading from gloom and doom toward the promises of the future and what, say 2000, would be like.

WOW. The year 2000. By then, I would be old, an adult with responsibilities, a job, a family. Eeeesh. In 1985, this was an overwhelming pile driver of a foreshadow that my imagination subconsciously drove into the center of my psyche so violently that I was certain this wasn't a plausible future reality. This wasn't because of its distance relative to 1985 but because of it having absolutely nothing remotely similar to my life at that time. I was 10 years old. Video games, riding my bike and playing baseball were my responsibilities. Jumping ramps and playing whiffle ball were to me in 1985 as doing your yearly taxes are to an adult. These activities on the stage of life couldn't be more diametrically opposed. To this day, whiffle ball is incredibly more appealing.

For sure, computers would be the staple of the future, I thought. Just watch the movie Wargames to find one of the earliest uses of a modem in motion pictures. How cool was that to see a kid "communicating" with his school computer. Remember Cheyenne Mountain, the facility now called the NORAD and USNORTHCOM Alternate Command Center? The facility where the Air Force monitored the skies for incoming Soviet missiles during the gulf war? Very cool and scary stuff. On an unrelated note: A buddy of mine is still on the waiting list to visit. In this post-911 world, he'll be waiting a long time since it is now a back up facility.

Another component of the future would be a daily existence where everything was controlled by voice interface. Just say it and whatever it is that you are talking into would turn on, adjust to a different setting, make coffee, whatever. So far, aside from my cell phone, I have no such devices.

This brings me to the focus of this article. The "something" that is missing. The "something" that I honestly thought would exist in the year 2000 above all else. The one "something" that I thought would permeate every fabric of life today.

That "something" is FLYING CARS.

Where in the hell are they?

I drive down the freeway and I still see cars riding along the pavement. Why. Combustion engines are virtually the same. Tires are more or less the same. Dashboards are the same. We've got airbags, mp3 ready stereos, backup sensors, sensors that tell you your tires are low, sensors that tell you its 32 degrees and there could be ice on the roads. And yet, cars still can't leave the ground. Sure we have the hybrids out there now but they can't fly either. I hope that by the year 2030 when I am 56 that cars are at least levitating a few feet off of the ground. If not, the void in my life that could only be filled with the invention of flying cars will be emptier still.