Archive for May, 2010

Arlo & Janis (5/31/10)

May 31, 2010

I’ve done a fair amount of grilling in my life, but I never owned a grill until earlier this year. (I’m not counting the George Foreman grill that sat in my kitchen, unopened, for two years thanks to stern provisions in my lease.) When I finally took delivery of a brand new, stainless steel gas grill in April, my whole perspective changed. I stood in my backyard and cooked a dozen hamburgers that had been slathered with homemade barbecue sauce. I ate one. My friends and family members and neighbors all partook. And then I started getting ambitious. The next cook-out featured beer-soaked bratwurst wrapped in summer sausage. And the next cook-out? The menu is still in flux, but I’m leaning heavily toward carne asada.

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One Big Happy (5/30/10)

May 30, 2010

Two months is a long time to be out of school, so it’s not surprising that kids fill their summers with casual pickup games of basketball, soccer, and (in Chicago, at least) 16-inch softball. When it comes time to choose teams, somebody always gets picked last. It’s unavoidable. But what blows my mind are the grudges that people harbor, well into adulthood, at the indignity of being picked last. No one wants to admit that maybe, just maybe, they weren’t all that good at sports. I got picked last a few times, but I didn’t pout. If anything, it gave me extra motivation to prove my friends wrong. On the flip side, the kids who got picked first acted like they were destined for stardom. I don’t think any of my childhood friends gave an acceptance speech upon being picked first, but some of them probably came close.

Mutts (5/29/10)

May 29, 2010

While I understand the lingo behind today’s Mutts (investors can increase the worth of their old, potentially nominal, 401(k) accounts by transferring those funds to an IRA), I can’t help seeing something sinister beneath the punchline. “Roll over” may be a valid financial term, but it’s also a command people give to dogs. It’s been almost two years since the global financial system went boom as a result of greed and mismanagement. And what happened in the aftermath of that crisis? Were bankers held to account? Hardly. Instead, they were treated to billions of dollars in taxpayer money and went on to enjoy healthy profits. They turned to the American public and demanded that we “roll over.” And guess what? We did.

Rose is Rose (5/28/10)

May 28, 2010

Sometimes, when it’s raining, I sit by a window and stare out into the street, marveling at the majesty of it all. But when I stop to think about it, I realize that I’m not focusing on the sky. What I’m really watching is droplets hitting a puddle or rolling down a windowpane. That’s one of the reasons I’m interested in art that depicts rainstorms, because it’s pretty abstract. How do you draw a downpour? Some artists flood their canvas with dark lines while others show the effect of water reaching (and soaking) the solid ground. Today’s Rose is Rose takes a different approach, rendering rain as a series of teaspoons floating in mid-air. I must admit, I like the effect.

Dilbert (5/27/10)

May 27, 2010

I’m sure career counselors are full of helpful hints when it comes to explaining missing recommendations, but I’m equally sure their suggestions are useless when it comes to real-life job interviews. Try telling your prospective boss that your old boss “hated you” and see how far it gets you. Not very far, I’m guessing. Then again, if you tell your prospective employer that your previous employer taunted you by calling you a loser while you stood in his office with a box full of your personal belongings, your missing reference might become a non-issue. Then again, in this job market…

For Better or For Worse (5/26/10)

May 26, 2010

Here are three fun, contradictory facts about me: 1) I’m a music lover. I listen to my iPod every morning as I run, every afternoon as I take the train home from work, and every evening as I make dinner. 2) I like silence. When I’m not listening to music or engaged in conversation, I like things to be quiet. When things aren’t quiet, I have a hard time concentrating. 3) I’d like to have kids, and am fully aware that they are not quiet. At all. Their crying and gurgling and questioning will likely make it impossible for me to read or write. I’m sure that will drive me nuts, but I’m also sure there will be times when their voices sound like music to me.

Get Fuzzy (5/25/10)

May 25, 2010

Comic strips are small. They may be drawn large, but they are shrunk to terrible depths so they can be squished onto newspaper pages. That’s a shame, because artists who take the time to add visual flair to their strips are often rewarded with a shrug. Take today’s Get Fuzzy, for example. The third panel, which shows a man staring at his cat, is silent, but the expression on the guy’s face is unmistakable: he’s deeply insulted, slightly surprised, and maybe even a little impressed by his cat calling him “peachy-not-so-keen.” It’s genuinely expressive, and well worth a squint.