Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Viruses, Candidates, and Other Assorted Nuisances

This is ridiculous. The nasty cold is STILL kickin' my butt. I'm thinking it will be over just in time for Thanksgiving. At least I will have something to be thankful for. While we are on the topic of giving thanks, is anyone else counting down the days until the day after the election? Why the day after the election? Because on that day, the political ads will abate and we can go back to the usual inane and distasteful ads for stuff, rather than ads for inane and distasteful candidates. Sadly, it won't be the end of inane comments from the likes of our president who was quoted in today's newspaper as saying that a victory for Democrats means a victory for terrorists. In the same story, he trotted out the old saw about marriage being between a man and a woman. Somehow, he missed immigration and taxes. Democrats and fags, America's enemies number 1!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Something, um, "special" in the air

The great thing about deregulated air travel is that for a relatively modest sum one can get almost anywhere relatively quickly. The not-so-great thing is that one must travel inside of a sealed metal tube and breathe dry, recycled, virulent air in order to do so. As often happens, I caught a nasty cold while on vacation and was positively miserable my last day in Chicago and the thre days after I returned home. Hence, no posting until today. So...I'm going to post the piece that I started in the Newark airport and continued while en route from Chicago to San Diego. I accidentally took non-non drowsy cold medicine before the flight home, so I can't vouch for the writing. Happy reading!

I began writing this while waiting for my flight from Newark to Chicago. Visiting with family and friends, meeting two new dogs, playing with my nephew, exploring the great city of Chicago, and more playing with my nephew came in the way of finishing the original piece and working on another. So, with time on my hands en route from Chicago to San Diego I am writing a superpiece. Hopefully, it is truly super.

Walking, more walking, two movies, still more walking, a museum, and yet more walking rounded out the NYC portion of my trip. I explored every section of Manhattan below 110th Street and I have the blisters to prove it. I decided to limit myself to two museums on the NYC trip and, having already visited the Pierpont Morgan library, I chose The Museum of the City of New York as museum #2. It was Columbus Day, the holiday seemingly celebrated only by banks and cities in which there is a significant Italian community, and I chose this museum because I wasn’t up for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters (technically part of the Met, albeit a few miles away on the other side of town) was closed. If you are looking for a low-key low-stress museum, check it out. It costs nine bucks and well worth every penny, even if the NYFD exhibit didn’t have any pictures of hunky firefighters. Dammit.

As everyone knows, the only thing predictable about Chicago’s weather is that it is unpredictable. From a 70-degree Christmas morning to 3 feet of snow in April, Frank Sinatra’s kind of town never fails to serve up a variety of weather conditions. So, it was no surprise to step out of the terminal at O’Hare and find that the city was having its coldest October 11 in many, many years. Nor was it surprising, albeit disappointing, to not see fall colors but snow the next morning. Snow, I tell you, snow! No orange maple leaves. No golden oaks. Snow. The earliest snow on record. Fortunately, the sun came out, the snow melted and it was just cold for the next seven days. I managed to spend a solid day tromping around the North Side and Loop (after I bought a scarf and snarfed down some cold medication) and even saw a couple of golden orange trees out in the ex-urb in which my family lives. For the record, we are city people. They grew up in the “old neighborhood” (which has since become gentrified for the second time) and my brother and I grew up in a section of town that was part post-WWII housing and part an old town annexed by the City of Chicago in the early 1900’s. My parents moved out to The Land Beyond the Land Beyond the Land Beyond O’Hare a few years ago after my brother and his family moved out there.

The silver lining to “too cold to do serious tromping” was that I had a great visit with my parents (I only had to referee two arguments) and spent rather a lot of time playing with the afore-mentioned nephew, a very tall lad of almost five years. Given the duration of my trip, I was able to have a lot of one-on-one hang-out time with my brother and sister-in-law individually and my brother and sister-in-law together. It’s amazing how well we get along when our parents are not around. Not that my parents aren’t great people, they just add a certain dimension of, uh, “excitement” whenever they are around.

My last day in Chicago was the worst day of my cold. I returned to Santa Anas in San Diego. While they added to my misery, at least I was miserable all at one time. Small miracles – gotta love ‘em.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Bite Out of the Big Apple

Some people go to New York City to see shows. Others eat themselves into oblivion. Me? I walk a lot and start a blog.

The friend who is graciously hosting me on a futon in his Upper West Side apartment is an engineering student at CUNY, so I'm on my own for much of the day when he is studying and for much of the night after he goes to bed, given the three hour difference between West Coast time and East Coast time. Rather than talk to myself (and get a sock stuffed in my rather ample trap) finally starting the blog seemed like a good idea. And here we are!

Anyhow...One of the best vacations for me is to visit a place where public transit and walking, not cars, rein supreme. This vacation is a two-fer. Four days in New York City and seven days in Chicago.
This is Day 2 of the NYC leg. Yesterday was spent getting my bearings after not having been here in two years. Just walked around taking the place in. Today, after meandering down the West Side past Lincoln Center and a taking a lunch break at Whole Foods, I braved the crowds at Times and Herald Sqaures and walked over to Madison and 36th to the J.P. Morgan Library. It is a very interesting little museum showcasing the personal collections of J Pierpont Morgan. Seems Pierpont fancied renaissance art and amassed rather an impressive collection of it. There's also an extensive collection of manuscripts (seeing one of Henry David Thoreau's diaries that spawned a passage in "Walden" was a highlight) After that, I wandered down through Chelsea to the West Village, had a snack, read the Onion while spying the handsome men, and hopped the subway back to home base. Met my friend for a burger at Jackson Hole (where they have the best dill pickles) and drank at Dive Bar til my drowsy bud and I had enough of the crowd and called it a night.

Speaking of which, it is time for me to do the same. Nighty night.