General

APB? No, BRB

The Wisch List hasn’t gone on vacation.

Or retired.

It’s just been busy.

(Got this dang thing called a job.)

New posts coming very soon, though.

Promise.

General

Rim shot, please

So, my good buddy “Dish” of PropCulture.com sends me an e-mail with the subject head: “My new favorite website.” This is it.

And now it’s my favorite, too. (You know, for today, at least.)

Cubs

Safe at ‘home’

I used to live a few blocks away from Wrigley Field.

Not anymore, though. This summer, I’ve decided to just move into the place.

Seems like I spend most of my time there anyways.

So, it’s back to the bleachers again.

(I know, rough life, right?)

Remarkably, the weather is even nice.

So, two days after drinking this at Thursday’s night game – on May-frickin’-29th! – I’m planning today to instead have one of these.

Or, maybe, two.

And, who knows, maybe the Cubs will rally from 10 down today.

General

Now, you can’t Bee serious

I’m a good speller.

Heck, probably a great speller.

But after stumbling to a somewhat-disappointing 4th-place finish in the districtwide finals as a first grader (I flubbed “lyric,” a word I’d simply never heard before. I think I misplaced the “i” and threw in a “k”), I never competed in a schoolwide spelling bee again.

That’s still weird to me, as I’m certain I was — after, you know, learning what a lyric is — a better speller than almost every other student in my grade. Whereas numbers, basketball or, well, detentions were the forté of some kids in school, my strength was words.

Still is.

Now, letters, on the other hand, well they belonged strictly to my childhood buddy Thoufiq Kutty.

Along with his brothers Malik and Rafiq before him, Thoufiq — now an attorney and alumnus of Northwestern University and University of Chicago — was part of a spelling dynasty at Bourbonnais Upper Grade Center during the 1980s.

Back then, the Kuttys did one thing: They won spelling bees.

And by the time Thoufiq rolled into junior high in 1988, it was simply expected that he would sweep the 6th, 7th and 8th grade bees over the next three years.

Just as his brothers had before him.

Really, I don’t know he had any other choice.

The pressure was on.

And I certainly didn’t want to add to it.

So, each spring during a schoolwide assembly, I’d sit up in the gymnasium balcony, twiddling my thumbs and spelling to myself while watching other classmates drop like flies during the bee, misspelling an “allusion” here or a “conscience” there.

And every year, at bee’s end, Thoufiq stood alone. Victorious.

And, I’m certain, relieved.

Now, it’s not that I would have surely beaten Thoufiq (in fact, it’s unlikely I would have), but never once did I even enter our school’s spelling bee during junior high.

I believe I may have claimed stage fright as my excuse, and perhaps that did have something to do with it. But I think even more of a reason for ducking the bee was I feared I’d actually win the thing.

And beat my buddy, snapping his family’s cherished streak.

I didn’t even want to try.

In any case, the only reason why I’m sharing this little tale with you today is to display the strong respect that I have for spelling.

And bees.

That said, however, I still had to laugh this morning when I read a “BREAKING NEWS” e-mail alert sent by my hometown newspaper, the Kankakee Daily Journal (where I have friends, and once interviewed for an editor job).

Because, while spelling bees are great and all, I’m still not sure they’re quite this buzzworthy … 🙂

Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2008 8:33 AM
Subject:
***BREAKING NEWS FROM THE DAILY JOURNAL ONLINE***

Ajay Chatrath, an eighth-grader at Grace Baptist Academy in Kankakee, correctly spelled his first word this morning in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.More on this story will be posted on www.daily-journal.com as details are available.

General

Heat Waive

Chicago Summer R.I.P.

May 26, 2008 – May 26, 2008

Wednesday afternoon update: Well, at least the sun is out today. But, still, people simply should not be wearing parkas and scarves on “L” platforms three days before the start of June.

This happens next year and the CTA is going to have to start keeping those heat lamps at my Red Line station active until May 31.

Or July 31.

The current shut-off date of March 31 is not cutting it anymore. Not even close.

Of, course … ahem, I’m guessing CTA officials probably have other things on their minds today besides the Chicago chill.)

General

Bad TV, Good Stuff

Just like boys, apples and hair days, there’s a lot of bad TV out there. But who knew that screen captures from some of it could end up being so good? Take a look at these, and have a laugh.

General

Pun Porn

You could say HBO Def Poetry alum Big Poppa E has a way with words. And, boy, did he ever show it last weekend with his pun piece “Illegal File Sharing” at the 2008 O. Henry Pun-Off in Austin, Texas. Punny stuff.

General

Ten years, Ten thoughts

Last Saturday marked the 3,653rd day since I graduated from college.

Ten full years.

Yes, some how, some way an entire decade has slipped off the calendars since May 17, 1998, the day I strolled onstage inside the University of Illinois’ Foellinger Auditorium wearing a stuffy cap and gown, and then strolled off it with my diploma in tow.

(Too bad a 10-year projection of the print newspaper industry didn’t come tucked inside it.)

A day after graduating, I turned 22 years old.

And, apparently, one day after that some gizmo called the Galaxy IV communications satellite failed while orbiting Earth, resulting in a loss of service to about 90 percent of the world’s pagers.

Pagers.

Jeez, how old am I, anyways?

In any case, with a decade of life in the real world now under my belt, I got to thinking this week about how much things changed since that sunny day in ’98 when I morphed from Joe College into Joe Journalist.

And headed out on my own.
In honor the 10-year anniversary, I came up 10 things I was doing in 1998.

That I don’t do any longer.

1. In 1998, I didn’t own a cell phone.

I think I knew exactly one person who did.Besides this guy.

2. In 1998, I wore a watch.

Now I just use my cell phone.

3. In 1998, I had an alarm clock.

Now I just use my cell phone.

4. And in 1998, I had a landline phone.

Now — you guessed it — I just use my cell phone.

5. In 1998, I didn’t have an ATM card.

I actually went up to a bank teller to withdraw 20 bucks.

Either that, or I wrote a check out to myself and cashed it at a grocery store service counter.

Weird.

6. In 1998, I didn’t have a home computer.

And my newspaper office had just one with Internet service.

Dial-up, of course.

I checked e-mail one time a day.

Now, I check it, about one time a second.

7. In 1998, I thought Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa hit home runs naturally.

They just, you know, worked out really, really hard in the offseason, drank milk and took their vitamins.

8. In 1998, I was an idiot.

9. In 1998, I was more likely to HotBot than I was to Google.

If you don’t know what HotBot is, well, try Googling it.

10. In 1998, I could buy a gallon of gas for 97 cents at the
Speedway station in Ottawa, Ill.

I am so not kidding.

Told ya things have changed.

And I don’t think they’re changing back.