Friday, September 28, 2007

Bottle Of Bowmore Sells For 29,400 Pounds

A bottle of single malt scotch sold for almost thirty thousand pounds sterling at auction in Glasgow recently. The hand-blown bottle contains the Islay malt Bowmore and is thought to have been bottled in 1850. Apparently the Morrison-Bowmore company wanted to buy the bottle and display it at the Bowmore distillery, but a private collector outbid them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Study: Post-Feminism, Men Are Happier Than Women

This is really interesting, and a nice change from my usual hand-wringing about masculinity. Two economists at The University of Pennsylvania recently published a study that they think shows that presently women are less happy than they were decades ago, and that men are more happy than they were decades ago. The researchers opine that this is because men have actually been able to cut back on activities they find unpleasant, while women have simply replaced unpleasant activities with other unpleasant activities since the advent of women's lib. Apparently the research also shows that male high school seniors are considerably happier than they were in 1975, while female high school seniors are no happier than they used to be. What a great time to be a man, guys!

Times Takes Unique Tack On Scotch Tourism

Sunday's travel section of The New York Times carried an article on visiting independent bottlers in Scotland--an interesting alternative to visiting Scotch distilleries. Independent bottlers, or "IB's," or "indies," constitute a cottage industry that has grown up in the spirits business wherein a merchant that is not connected with any particular distilling company buys casks from a distillery and ages and bottles those casks himself, oftentimes providing the market with rare products--for instance, much older whiskey than would otherwise be avaliable from the particular distilleries themselves. Although Scotch distilleries have, on some level, been tourist attractions for decades, I credit the Times for the originality of documenting this trip to the plants of merchant-bottlers.

Ad: Don't Die, Lindsay!

A rehab facility in New Jersey recently found a novel way to hawk their services: by referencing the precarious situation in which everybody's favorite firecrotch has found herself. The facility's ad agency, Jugular, thinks the add is an appropriate way to convey the spirit of the programs at the facility, Canterbury Institute, which apparently has a new kind of rehab program that they're billing as the antidote to the kind of programs that work like revolving doors for people with serious addictions. No word yet from Lindsay's lawyers.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ten Albums That Changed My Life

More than a year ago, I posted a bulletin like this on myspace, and I enjoyed putting the list together so much that I decided to reconstruct it (it has long been deleted by the myspace elves) and post it here.

1) Huey Lewis And The News: Sports--the first album I enjoyed listening to.

2) Young MC: Stone Cold Rhymin'--the first album I ever owned.

3) Janet Jackson: Rhythm Nation--the first album I ever bought with my own money.

4) Nirvana: In Utero--the first album I anticipated so anxiously that I bought it on the day it was released.

5) Stereolab: Mars Audiac Quintet--the first album that made me want to be in a band.

6) The Velvet Underground & Nico--the first album that made me feel like I could understand exactly how it was performed.

7) John Coltrane: Giant Steps--the album playing the first time I kissed a girl.

8) The Cannanes: Short Poppy Syndrome--the album playing when I totalled my mom's car.

9) Screaching Weasel: Kill The Musicians--the first (and only) album I was ever disciplined for possessing.

10) The Minutemen: Double Nickels On The Dime--the first album in a decade to make me feel like music can matter.

Afghan Boy's Family: Maybe You Should Take Out The Rape Scene

I haven't read The Kite Runner because it's bullshit tailor-made for upper middle class white girls who think they're intellectuals. But since it was written by an American author and intended for an American audience in the 2000's, the story culminates in the rape of a tween boy. Twelve year-old Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada who stars in the movie and plays the boy who gets what all men deserve has come out saying that he didn't really want to do that scene and he wishes the producers would take it out. His family, of course, agrees and fears that they will be ostracized or even attacked if the scene is included in the film. The producers--who did not provide Mahmidzada with the script of The Kite Runner prior to shooting, informing Mahmidzada and his family about the rape scene only days before the scene was shot--are just sort of like "Why?"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lindsay Lohan As Grounds For Divorce

Gone are the days when one had to allege intolerable cruelty to petition for divorce; these days you just need to name Lindsay Lohan a few times in your petition and you're good to go. One Stephanie Allen--wife of the front man of some third-rate English rock band I've never heard of--has filed for divorce, citing her husband's habitual drug use and alluding to infidelities during his recent stay at the Cirque Lodge in Utah; Mrs. Allen's petition further includes press clippings reporting rumors of an intra-rehab fling with Lindsay Lohan. I don't get what the big deal is; I thought that the wives of rock stars understood that what happens in rehab stays in rehab. Plus, once you've snorted all of the blow you smuggled into rehab, you're going to want to fuck somebody, even if he's in a shitty band you've never even heard of.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ten Things I Love About Chicago

This week's Reader ran a pretty cool, thoughtful article detailing various staff favorites about Chicago as a resource for students moving to Chicago for the new school year. As a nod to The Reader's publishing such uncharacteristically interesting and useful content, I here treat you to some of my favorite things about this fair city:

10) The Drive Between Logan Square And The Felony Courts: you can take Sacramento all the way from LS to 26th and Cali and the drive is both laid-back and gorgeous. For much of the way Sacramento is a boulevard that takes you, sans stop lights, through Frederick Law Olmsted-designed emerald necklace parks with a striking view of the skyline once you get south of Garfield Park.

9) Sam's Wines: this is what liquor stores are going to be like in heaven. The stock is phenomenal, whether you're looking for single malt Scotch, sake, cheap Champagne or any other spirit (although they no longer carry the Mortell family favorite, "Smokin' Dog" halbittern). It's in Lincoln Park, but almost not even, because it's hidden on a little back road by the River, next to a junk yard.

8) The Red Apple Polish buffet: on Milwaukee Avenue near Belmont there is a place where it doesn't matter how many dumplings you eat with your sausage and schnitzel, plus they serve pretty good imported beer and you get ice cream at the end or something.

7) The Swatch Store: is located at 520 N. Michigan Avenue. It's true; they still exist, at least in Chicago. Plus, North Michigan Avenue is always full of people who look like they're going to the beach all year around. If a family of tourists asks you to take their picture for them, go ahead--do it.

6) Smoking In The Bleachers At Wrigley Field: Sorry I have to geek out about this one, but even though I grew up nowhere near Chicago, my dad--a baseball fan in the truest sense--raised me to love the Cubs unconditionally. Plus, as my friend Rob showed me, the bleachers are a really good place to drink a lot of beer, ignore smoking laws, and meet cute girls. Yeah, I know we all hate Lake View. If they ever fuck around with modernizing Wrigley, maybe we can get them move it right behind Lane Tech.

5) University of Chicago Doc Films: the oldest student-run film society in the country, Doc Films plays only the most bad-ass classic, foreign, high-brow, or crazy disturbing movies possible every night of the week. Plus, it's really cheap and the no drinking policy is almost not enforced at all.

4) There Is Mexican Food Everywhere: do you like Mexican food? Then you might want to move here. Chicago is a city where people tell you where they live by telling you which Tacqueria they live near. Some are better than others, but the vast majority are varying levels of awesome. Plus, it's good for you.

3) The CTA: runs like a charm and always will, no matter what the funding-hungry suits talking about service cuts say. If you move to Chicago, leave your parents' car at home; it's not even worth the gas money. I live at a pretty sleepy intersection in a pretty secondary neighborhood, and buses blow by here every which way till the cows come home.

2) Johnnie's: easily the coolest bar in Chicago, Johnnie's has been the preferred locus for all celebrations in my inner circle ever since Rudy's friend Colin introduced us to the place a few years ago. Located at Lincoln/Roscoe/Paulina, the place is huge, is almost always empty, and has a jukebox that features "Careless Whisper," "Nothing Compares 2 U," and "Strokin'" among many other effing awesome songs that I will be playing all night long.

1) The Fact That Every Fall Bazillions Of Teen Girls Move Here To Start Art School: more of them than you can count, than American Apparel can clothe, or than their parents can keep from making huge mistakes. They're all crazy, they all have ridiculous hair, and they all think that the $4.00 bottle of Champagne you bought at Sam's makes you the most intriguing, most sophisticated, tenderest man they have ever met, and there's something they want to show you back at their dorm.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

CT Teacher Resigns After Giving Student A Copy Of Eightball

High School English teacher Nate Fischer was forced to resign his post at a Guilford, CT school recently after controversy developed around his giving a female freshman student a copy of Eightball # 22. Dan Clowes' Eightball, referred to by this news source as "a series of comic book novels," is probably the most highly-regarded comic book presently published. Moviegoers may recognize recurring stories from Eightball that were the basis for the well-received feature films Ghost World and Art School Confidential. Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella said the book was "inappropriate" for freshman students, and the girl's father characterized the comic as "borderline pornography." The girl recently turned 14. Now I'm not going to bullshit you; Eightball does sometimes have tits in it, but I did read it when I was 14 with little or no negative affect on my development. In fact, when I was in high school one of my teachers lent me a bunch of R. Crumb comics, which makes Clowes' work look pretty Mickey Mouse. Of course, this girl's parents think that it is imperative that Fischer "never teach again."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

And What Does This Say About The Voucher Program?

A teacher at a Christian high school in Canton Township, MI, was arrested Monday on charges that she sexually abused one of her male students. Stephanie Ann Stein, 31, who formerly taught at Plymouth Christian Academy in Canton Township is accused of having sex with a 15 year-old student from the school. Apparently the guy's mom came home several times over the summer and was puzzled to find the teacher there with her minor son. The teacher seriously tried to play it off like "I'm helping him with his schoolwork," but I guess that excuse only works so many times when you have your tits out. Stein faces several charges, including third degree criminal sexual conduct, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Avondale Mugger: Do You Have 50 Cents?

Someone was mugged at about midnight last night on the sidewalk around 2710 N. Artesian in Avondale. Apparantly the mugger went up to the guy and was like "Do you have 50 cents?" When the victim produced 50 cents, the mugger brandished a gun, and told him "That isn't enough." At that point, the victim produced a dollar bill, then split. No shots were fired. The victim called Police, and they apprehended a suspect about a block away from the scene of the mugging.

Friday, September 14, 2007

IN Attorney Arrested After Bringing Bottle Of Whiskey To Court

Attorney Peter Katic was arrested and charged with public intoxication after allegedly arriving at a Tippecanoe County courtroom drunk yesterday. Katic is a former Lake County, IN commissioner and former Hammond, IN city judge. Katic, 53, arrived yesterday at the Tippecanoe County courthouse in LaFayette, IN for an 11 a.m. juvenile court hearing. When officials noticed Katic's bloodshot eyes, flushed face and slowed movements, they gave him a portable breathalyzer test, on which he registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.201 percent, more than twice the 0.08 legal limit for driving in Indiana. Officials apparently also found a bottle of whiskey in Katic's coat pocket.

Wall Street Journal: Our View Of Men Compels Men To Limit Interaction With Kids

The Journal recently ran this interesting piece, which posits that much of men's limiting their interaction with kids they encounter is due to fear of being characterized as a predator. Not only did the men who gave input say that they were mortified when they accidentally bumped into a child they didn't know, but even felt compelled to avert their eyes when children were around and felt as though they should not hold their own child's hand in public.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Student Suffering Stroke Denied Emergency Care Per School Policy

I guess we can all agree that high schools should all be like jails, but at least in the clink you can eventually get paramedics if you have a stroke. Earlier this year freshman Mariya Fatima suffered a stroke while at school at Jamaica High School in Queens, NY. School staff declined to call 911, because they had been forbidden to do so by their superiors. Specifically, former Jamaica Assistant Principal Guy Venezia sent a memo to Jamaica High School's deans on April 12 banning 911 calls "for any reason." Why? Because 911 calls create permanent paper trials that could reinforce Jamiaca H. S.'s reputation as an unsafe school. We at The Avondale tip our hat to our educational system's concern for our children's safety.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Seattle Times: No Sympathy For Female Sex Abusers

There have been two reported instances of female teachers sexually abusing their students in Washington state in recent months. Jennifer Leigh Rice, a 31-year-old former Tacoma teacher, was recently charged with having sex with a 10-year-old boy who had been in her fourth-grade class. And earlier this year, former Tenino math teacher Dawn Welter, 38, was charged with second-degree sexual misconduct after spending the night at a motel with a 16-year-old female student. And that's nothing new. The only unusual thing here is that The Seattle Times is running a story actually commenting on how absurd it is that we collectively give these women a pass since they, as women, must be cultivating some valuable "relationship" by boning these apple-juice drinking, back pack-wearing tykes. Just a couple years ago, the press would still be giving you the tragically naive "by definition it's impossible to sexually abuse a male" argument.

Logan Square "Mega Mall" Burns Down

The Mega Mall in Logan Square burned up in a four-alarm fire on Saturday night. The Mega Mall is basically a flea market/pay day loan place in a warehouse, and the Logan Square community has always been divided over its value. Saturday night, as a few of my friends were hanging out on the roof of their place in Avondale, they saw a massive cloud of smoke to the south and opined that it must be coming from somewhere around Diversey. Nope; it was the Mega Mall. Fire inspectors are still investigating the cause of the fire, but the building's owner suspects that it was caused by vandals.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Friday, September 7, 2007

SC Teacher Pleads Guilty To Charges Of Having Sex With 5 Male Students

Allenna Williams Ward pleaded guilty yesterday to charges stemming from her amorous liasons with five male middle school students. At the time of the conduct Ward, 23, was a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Bell Middle School in Laurens County, South Carolina. Ward pleaded guilty Thursday to six charges--three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and three counts of lewd acts on a minor. By pleading guilty Ward admits that she had sex with several students in cars, parks, a hotel and at the school where she taught. Police said that Ward had sex with at least five boys: three 14-year-olds, and two 15-year-olds. The boys were students at Bell Middle School and another school that was not named.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

First Season Of "30 Rock" On Shelves

Everybody knows that Tina Fey is the most talented (read: hot) person in TV right now, and "30 Rock" is a perfect picture of her comedic brilliance. If you're not hip, I'll catch you up on it: Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is a young third-wave feminist head writer on a women-centric live comedy show called "The Girlie Show" taped in NYC's famed 30 Rockefeller Plaza TV studios. Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin, or simply "Baldwin"), head of the Microwave Oven Division in the corporate conglomerate that owns NBC, has been put in charge of television broadcasts and decides to punch up "The Girlie Show" by hiring mentally disturbed black movie star Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) and changing the show's name to "T.G.S. With Tracy Jordan." Hilarity ensues. The first season of "30 Rock" is full of all that stuff that made Fey's Mean Girls script so awesome--glamorous women and their charming insecurities; straight-faced white liberal race comedy ("Two-fer is a two-fer; he's a Harvard guy and a black guy"); and enough physical comedy to make Amanda Bynes blush: spit-takes, spills, awkward dancing, stubbed toes: you name it. The first season of this Emmy-studded contemporary Mary Tyler Moore show hit shelves yesterday, and I walked a half a mile in the rain after an all-day deposition to buy it. Yes; it was worth it, and I haven't even checked out the special features yet.

Universal Studios, Unrated, Retail price: $49.98

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Word Of Advice: Don't Fuck With 114

Yesterday my friend Rob and I decided to have our own little barbecue, because everyone else had gone back to Crystal Lake for Labor Day. Before we went to the Mexican grocery store to buy steaks and so on, we took the bus down to Foremost Liquors to get drinks. When we got there, we milled around for a bit, not sure what to get. We both wanted whiskey, and Rob was leaning toward Bourbon, but nothing was jumping off the shelf at us. A handle of Evan Williams? Sounds kind of yucky. A fifth of Jim Beam Rye? Rob wasn't interested. Then it hit me: sitting on the top shelf, next to all of the pricey premium brands was a cognac bottle-shaped fifth of Old Grand Dad 114. It had never before even occured to me to try to fuck with a bottle of 114, but at that moment our boredom with the bourbon selection, and the fact that 114 only cost $22.00 (I had never priced it before) made buying that bottle seem like a really good idea. And it was; the whiskey tasted great, diluted with the requisite amount of tap water. Rob and I were both impressed. Here's the only thing: after like 2 reasonably-sized glasses of the stuff, Rob and I were both so groggy and wasted that we both decided to go to sleep at about 6:00 PM.