Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Favorite albums

License to Ill Beastie Boys
Thriller Michael Jackson
Purple Rain Prince
Phantom of the Opera Andrew Lloyd Webber
Graceland Paul Simon
Forever Your Girl Paula Abdul
Madonna Madonna
Like a Prayer Madonna
Different Light Bangles
Come On Over Shania Twain
Greatest Hits Fleetwood Mac
Rhythm Nation 1814 Janet Jackson
The #1 Hits Elvis Presley
Pump Up the Jam Technotronic
In My Tribe 10,000 Maniacs
So Peter Gabriel
Joshua Tree U2
Laundry Service Shakira

Favorite movie list

Read 'em and weep!

Fast Times at Ridgemont High
The Road Warrior
Uncle Buck
The Breakfast Club
Stand By Me
Star Wars
The Empire Strikes Back
When Harry Met Sally...
Escape from New York
Blade Runner
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Snow White
Little Mermaid
Song of the South
My Cousin Vinny
Moulin Rouge
The Cutting Edge
Crimes and Misdemeanors
L.A. Story
...say anything
Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist
Before Sunrise
Some Kind of Wonderful

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dave Matthews Band to play Wrigley Sept. 17-18

The Chicago Cubs sent an email message to neighbors of Wrigley Field reminding residents of the Dave Matthews Band concerts this Friday and Saturday night. Isn't it odd that Dave Matthews can play Wrigley Field on Friday and Saturday night (even if Friday night is Kol Nidre), but the Cubs can't? Who is Wrigley Field's primary tenant? Hard to tell! The message indicated comments could be sent to, so we responded accordingly:

Thank you for your message reminding Lakeview residents of the upcoming Dave Matthews concert series.

I think it's a real shame that an out-of-town band is permitted to play at Wrigley Field on a Friday and Saturday night, but the ballpark's own tenants are forbidden from doing so. It's almost as though the Cubs are strangers to their own ballpark. By running through the City Council a bill permitting these concerts, Ald. Tom Tunney is really sending the Cubs an insulting message. Out of town bands? No problem--pick your night. Hometown heroes? One-twenty pm, suckers.

I hope the new ownership works hard to bring 55 night games per season, 7 nights a week, to Wrigley Field. The Cubs and their long-suffering fans deserve nothing less.

Whachootalkinbout, Ryno?

Hall of Fame second baseman and current Iowa Cubs manager Ryne Sandberg wants to manage the Chicago Cubs. The position is currently vacant for the 2011 season pending the front office's final decision.

We've heard from people who knew Ryne Sandberg personally that he is not that bright, to put it mildly. His comments on Cubs Insider Sunday morning seemed to confirm that he is not smart enough to manage at the major-league level. He believes Wrigley Field and the day-game schedule (only 30 home night games instead of 55, like all other teams) are to the Cubs' advantage despite their miserable record of mediocrity and 102 years without a title. After angrily typing out a letter to the manager of the Iowa Cubs, we settled on this toned-down version:

Sept. 15, 2010

Mr. Ryne Sandberg
Iowa Cubs
1 Line Dr
Des Moines IA 50309-4640

Dear Mr. Sandberg:

I found your comments on the Sept. 12 edition of Cubs Insider on WGN Radio grossly inaccurate and irresponsible. You mentioned Wrigley Field and day games as being advantages for the Chicago Cubs. Given the Cubs’ championship drought, I don’t understand that. How many World Series championships have the Cubs won in the night-game era (1939-present)? They have never won a championship while playing in Wrigley Field. In fact, the Cubs’ habit of winning pennants stopped abruptly right around the time their opponents shifted to a night-game schedule. Furthermore, since 1945, the Cubs have exceeded 50 wins per season in Wrigley Field just three times. The Cardinals have won 50 games per season more than three times just in the previous decade. So rather than being an advantage, it seems that the day-game schedule and Wrigley Field present real obstacles to winning.

For the Cubs to have a reasonable chance to win a championship, they need the ownership to make extensive upgrades to Wrigley Field’s seating and player facilities—similar to the K.C. Royals’ $250 million ballpark upgrade before this season. Most importantly, the ownership needs to persuade the alderman to allow the Cubs 55 night home games per season, seven nights a week—just like their opponents. Just like the Yankees, who are perennial contenders. In this endeavor, the Ricketts family will need public support from the players and coaching staff. Comments celebrating the day-game schedule that dooms the Cubs to mediocrity are not helpful.

Best wishes for the offseason.



["Winning a pennant" means reaching the World Series but not winning it.]

Jan Schakowsky: "You have everything to fear"

There's a fascinating contrast between U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky's campaign website,, and her fundraising letters to supporters. The website is designed to reach out to everyone. The letters are targeted to Yellow Dog liberal Democrats. In the letters, the congresswoman warns that if she loses her seat, and the Democrats lose the U.S. House of Representatives, your worst nightmares might come true:

Rep. Joe Barton will become chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee!
Rep. Paul Ryan will chair the Budget Committee!

Sarcasm isn't nice. So we won't add any here. Let's merely point out what she didn't mention:

Rep. Nancy Pelosi will no longer be the Speaker of the House!

If Rep. Schakowsky had reminded voters that a Republican takeover of the House would remove Pelosi from her role as Speaker, she just might have unwittingly sent money flooding into Joel Pollak's campaign. But she's a campaign veteran. She didn't mention Pelosi. Good move, Congresswoman.

Schakowsky, who opposes Americans' Second Amendment right to bear arms, reminds me of Former NRA Spokesman Charlton Heston, whose most famous line was "From my cold, dead hands." Rep. Schakowsky is desperate to hold on to her congressional seat in the worst possible way. She will paint her opponent with the worst excesses of the extreme right despite his moderate views. We're convinced the only reason she hasn't accused him of racism is because his wife has dark skin. She aims for the underdog label--"A fighter for our side" is her new campaign slogan--despite her 6:1 fundraising advantage and her place among the Democratic Establishment. Furthermore, Schakowsky and her convicted felon husband Robert Creamer are millionaires. We're waiting for Creamer to lend her campaign $5 mil or so. She can't run on her embarrassing tax-and-spend record, plus no benefits for her Ninth District. So she runs a negative, scorched-earth campaign that is unbecoming her office and her character.

Chicago without Hizzonerdamare?

A friend and avid reader requested comment on the City of Chicago's upcoming regime change.

First, we congratulate Mayor Richard M. Daley on 21 years of service to the city. We wish him well. Thanks for the memories.

And tax increases. And massive deficits. And more tax increases to cover them. And the lakefront monstrosity that Soldier Field became. And Meigs Field's midnight closure. And the fact that the "Parking meter revenue" line item on the city's balance sheet will show "$0.00" until 2083, barring any change.*

Any alderman has a built-in political base that gives him or her an advantage in the mayor's race over a less-organized candidate. Unfortunately, aldermen are part of the problem that helped us reach this point: the city's horrible financial situation. No thank you, Ald. Burke.

We like Sheriff Tom Dart. But Dart and White House Chief of Staff Rahm "Rahmbo" Emanuel are both Daley guys. So it's possible that during Dart's or Emanuel's term, Hizzonerdamare would still be pulling the strings behind the scenes, or sitting at the controls behind the curtain. Pick your metaphor. Either way, it would hardly be the fresh start the city desperately needs.

That's why we believe the best candidate would be one who comes from Chicago's extensive business community. He would happily sink $5-$10 million of his personal wealth into the race to raise his public profile, create name recognition and get voters and the media talking. Of course, this person could be female, too.

With that much money, this candidate would probably be on a first-name basis with the mayor. But he also would be powerful enough in his own right that he need not heed the mayor's command.

In some ways, Mayor Daley made Chicago better. In others, we will be paying for his mistakes for decades to come. The financial mess is inexcusable. In light of the political hacks we have come to expect running Chicago, we fear for more of the same.

*Change meaning a lawsuit successfully negating the lease or LAZ Parking abandoning it due to decreased profitability.

Red Line Washington stop remains closed indefinitely

Back in March, this page wrote about the cta Red Line's closure of the Washington stop and how great it is that trains stop just once between Grand Avenue and Monroe Street. From reading Jon Hilkevitch's column in the Chicago Tribune, I learned that the cta has no plans to reopen the Washington Red Line stop in the forseeable future. Fantastic. Now could we please close Madison/Wabash on the Loop Elevated too?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Is there a plot to undermine Judaism?

I'm trying to think of the non-Jewish equivalent of non-kosher restaurants hosting Jewish holiday meals. First it was Pesach; this week it's Rosh Hashanah.

For those with reservations at non-kosher restaurants for the Rosh Hashanah prix fixe meal Wednesday evening, here's a better idea: Wrigley Field. First pitch, 7:05--just 13 minutes after candle-lighting.

Why is a Cub game a better idea? Because the connection to Judaism is the same: there is none. The difference is the Cubs don't pretend that their game is a Jewish event. By hosting Rosh Hashanah dinners, the non-kosher restaurants are sending a message: "We can do your holiday better than you can--treif kitchen be damned."

Don't let them get away with it!

Do these restaurants host lunch buffets for Muslims during Ramadan (when Muslims are prohibited from eating during daylight hours)? Of course not. Catholic meals with steak on Fridays during Lent? Just the opposite: restaurants, correctly and respectfully, offer fish-on-Friday menu specials during Lent.

So why insult Jews with non-kosher meals on two of the most important (and most observed, along with Yom Kippur) holidays of the year?

What's next--a singles dance/nightclub event on a Friday night?

Already on the calendar.

The annual Christmas Eve event will go on as scheduled despite Christmas Eve falling on Friday this year. Moving it up 24 hours to Thursday night wouldn't affect attendance; no one goes to work on Dec. 24 when it's a Friday.

Why are so many working so hard to turn Jews away from tradition?

GOP chooses Tampa for 2012 convention

Good call, Republicans.

Tampa and St. Petersburg lie on the critical I-4 Corridor, where several hundred thousand swing voters live. I-4, which isn't really an interstate, heads east from the Gulf to Orlando and then northeast to Daytona Beach. Perhaps by nominating Gov. Mitt Romney (or a player to be named) in Tampa, the Republican campaign for president can secure a head start in reclaiming Florida.

The Democratic search committee is still choosing from Cleveland, Minneapolis, Charlotte and St. Louis. I'm a little surprised Chicago is not in the running as the president could sleep at home instead of a hotel during Convention Week. Also, as anyone who was here in 1996 knows, we put on a hell of a show. Three of the four cities are in swing states (not Minneapolis). The Democrats need to hold on to Ohio and would like to keep North Carolina. St. Louis has its benefits if the delegates can withstand the St. Louis humidity in early September.

Really, Congresswoman?

Tea Party Glenn Beck Sean Hannity Neo-Con right-wing blog right-wing ideologues 32-year-old.

And that's just a single fund-raising letter.

Congresswoman Schakowsky, you've represented the Ninth District of Illinois for six terms. You were the president of your freshman Democratic class in 1999. You should be proud to run on your record. And the best you can do is guilt by association?

Really, Congresswoman? Isn't such mudslinging beneath a Member of Congress of your stature?

Were you making a salient point in noting your opponent's orthodox Judaism? Or was this a sleazy attempt to stir anger and antipathy among your base of liberal Jews?

Joel Pollak made several corrections to the falsehoods and misstatements in your letter. To add one more: Joel has not characterized your support for the president and a two-state solution as anti-Israel. He has characterized your friendship with Helen Thomas and your alliance with J Street as anti-Israel. Feel free to defend these connections. In fact, you responded to questions about J Street with a "wait and see" reply. One doesn't join an organization--or speak at its Chicago kickoff event--and then determine what its Israel policy turns out to be. That would be irresponsible.

It appears, Congresswoman, that you are taking your reelection campaign marching orders from the House leadership and the DCCC, which warned against running on the records of Congress or the White House. Good move. If you were forced to defend your record, voters might notice:

--how you vote for earmarks to help other districts but cannot bring any federal government money to your own.
--how Obamacare is going to cannibalize Medicare, endangering your base of senior voters.
--how your husband Robert Creamer went to prison for felony check-kiting. What did you know and when did you know it, Congresswoman? You owe your constituents an explanation.
--how you repeatedly lie (state in error?) regarding job creation statistics relating to the federal stimulus package while your district continues to lose thousands more jobs--faster than Illinois as a whole.

And organizing hecklers at your opponent's campaign events, Congresswoman? Really? Isn't that beneath you?

Oh, well. Back to the name-calling.

By the way, talk show host Glenn Beck uses two "n's" in his first name. You might want to make a note of it for your next fund-raising letter. And "Neo-Con" is a code word for "Zionist."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Is a Wrigley championship impossible?

In a recent article, USA Today listed two obvious reasons the Cubs have so much difficulty winning in their ancient ballpark: not enough night games and antiquated facilities. As previously noted here, however, those obstacles are easily fixed. A more serious problem lies in the ballpark's architecture and location: the tendancy of the wind to control the outcome of games.

Lake Michigan lies about a mile east of that dump Wrigley Field. The lake breeze can blow in on hitters. A western or southwestern wind blows the ball out. Since the wind is so inconsistent, it's impossible to tailor a starting lineup for slugging (blowing out) or small-ball (blowing in). The Cubs have exceeded 50 wins per season at home just three times since 1945. (Also due to the day-game problem.) The Cubs' divisional archrival Cardinals have won 50 games at home three times just in the last decade. That suggests a serious problem.

Besides the obvious solution of a full slate of 55 night games at home, the Cubs need to consider raising the ballpark outer walls to eliminate the wind factor. Obivously, doing so would block the view of the rooftop seating across Waveland and Sheffield Avenues. The rooftop operators pay the Cubs a healthy percentage of each ticket sold. We believe the Cubs' best move is to buy out all the rooftop owners and rebuild the ballpark edifice, possibly adding seats within the ballpark if rooftop seating is no longer viable. Once the ballpark is protected from the wind, the Cubs would no longer need to worry about an additional opponent in their efforts to win ballgames.

Kim Jong-Il to meet the media in Hong Kong

[Simultaneous English translation]

Thank you very much for meeting me in this beautiful city. I love visiting Hong Kong when I'm not threatening the world with complete annihilation. To that end, I have a major announcement. After meditative prayer and careful discussion with my senior advisors, I have decided to end the state of war between the People's Democratic Republic of Korea and South Korea. Furthermore, I would like to begin peace and unification talks immediately--either here in Hong Kong or in Seoul.

Toward that end, I am announcing the immediate termination of the People's nuclear weapon programme. Threatening our southern neighbors and the West in order to receive food and oil is no way to treat friends. I invite the United States and international inspectors to supervise the shutdown of the nuclear weapon programme. From now on, we only intend to use nuclear power to provide heat and power to our long-suffering people.

There is nothing like 61 years of starvation, famine, desperation and despair to prove that our socialist/Communist system does not work here on the Korean Peninsula or anywhere in the world. Are you listening, President Obama? I'm kidding! But seriously, folks, I will need your help in converting our system to a market-based, free capitalist economy.

I am going to continue my rule of the PDRK, though no longer with an iron fist. I plan to stay on only long enough for an election to be scheduled and a new president to be elected. All international observers except Jimmy Carter are invited to make sure the upcoming election is fair.

Since we now welcome political dissent here in the PDRK, there is no longer any need for the gulags holding political prisoners. Today, I am ordering all political prisoners to be released to their families immediately.

We hope the Korean Peninsula will be unified and able to realize its full potential by Jan. 1, 2011.

A message from Tom Ricketts--I hope

Thank you for attending this press conference on short notice.

Owning the Cubs has been an absolute dream come true. After spending so many summer afternoons and evenings in the bleachers, I never could have imagined running the team I followed growing up. When I bought the Cubs form Tribune Co., I told Cubs fans worldwide my goak is a World Series championship, and for the Cubs to be a perennial National League power. Little did I know how difficult this challenge would turn out to be. I have decided to do whatever is necessary and possible to bring home aWorld Series championship. The night-game comproise, agreed to by the previous ownership group, is absolutely unworkable if the Cubs are to compete for a championship with any frequency. I have asked my friend Ald. Tom Tunney to submit to the full City council a bill rescnding the night-game limit, effective with the start of the 2011 season.

I have also asked the alderman to give fast-track approval to the extensive construction and renovation plans we have for the main grandstand, which will begin as soon as the Cubs play their final home game of the season. We hope to complete the renovation by Opening Day, 2011. We are confident that visiting Wrigley Field will be a much more enjoyable experience for Cubs fans once the main grandstand and concourses are rebuilt. It's absolutely essential that we have tom's full cooperation as we change the Cubs' 20th Century malaise to a 21st Century powerhouse. We will be unable to field a competitive team here in Lakeview without Tom's assistance.

As for the Cubs' on-field struggles this season, make no mistake: a tradition of losing is no longer acceptable here. When we arrived before the start of this season, we took on some very bad long-term contracts. We will no longer permit those contracts to interefer with our pursuit of a World Series championship. Players whom we believe are not contributing to our goals will be traded or released. There will be no exceptions.

We said at the beginning that this was Year One, not Year 102. Nothing has changed. Next year is a new opportunity, and we intend to take full advantage. Thank you very much.