Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Random Notes, January 2019

Beating the cold with some hot takes:

+ Trump caved. Everyone except maybe his most ardent supporters could see it coming. His petty little hostage situation ended in, at best, a short-term failure. That it happened the same day Trump cheerleader (and former Nixon crony) Roger Stone was ensnared by the Mueller investigation is hardly a coincidence. Two years into the most mercurial presidency in recent memory, Trump is either learning to pick his fights or admitting he isn't perfect. Could we see a glimmer of self-awareness anytime soon?

+ Climate change is happening. Extremes in temperatures are gradually destroying habitats worldwide, and water levels are rising. Anyone who dismisses the concept of global warming (or uses it like an epithet) doesn't comprehend standard deviation. Also, yes, I am writing this as the wind chill is hitting record lows in the Chicago metro area.

+ I've set a personal goal of 750 followers on Twitter by mid-February. Will you help me out?

+ Before I forget: this month marks 10 years on Blogspot. Some of you may remember when I started this blog on, then "synced" my blog between the two hosts, then shifted over here. Even if you haven't read all 613 of my dispatches (the most recent 400 or so posted here) I thank you again for following along.


Friday, January 25, 2019

25 More Facts About Myself

Earlier this month, the big fad on Facebook was posting pictures of yourself from at least 10 years and now. I'm not totally sure why its trending; for me, its a stark reminder that I'm aging out of a key commercial demographic.

The big trend in January 2009, however was writing 25 random things, facts, habits or goals about yourself. If you were on FB ten years ago, admit it: you almost certainly wrote a list. Like the "2008 to 2018" thing, I took a facetious approach. Unlike that fad, I cut and pasted the rules, then encouraged who I considered my top friends at the time to share theirs. I'm in a much different place than I was a decade ago, and I'm sharing this almost like an open self-evaluation. (TL:DR, because that's how I roll.) Also, forgive me if I'm repeating myself or sharing you were well aware of.

1. I still blog.
2. My high school graduating class had a disproportionate number of twins.
3. I have never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and even though I feasibly could with a epipen handy, I have no aspiration to do so. The mere smell of peanuts make me queasy.
4. When I substitute teach, I go out of my way to make sure students neither know nor figure out my first name, mostly for privacy. A group of eighth graders at one school where I sub "exposed" me in October 2016; they Googled my name and found some short films I made with Brandon Reich in 2012-13. Even though its an open secret, I still white out Stuart on the name tag I have to print out every morning.
5. I've been using the same email accounts since 2002-03. Its not that I don't want a personal Gmail so much as its a privacy thing. Also, having an active AOL account in the late 2010s is a fun conversation piece.
6. I once went over a decade without setting foot on an airplane. I'm not proud to admit that; I love to travel, but I went through a prolonged period where I did not have the time or money to do so.
7. I put a commodity on communication. For all my social awkwardness, I appreciate directness, transparency, and honesty.
8. My parents died 16 months apart.
9. When my father died, I was 31 years old. My grandfather died when my dad was 31. My grandfather was also 31 when *his* father died.
10. I have next to no immediate family left. I have my sister, my aunt, and some cousins and that's pretty much it.
11. It took me seven tries to get into Level 1 of the Second City Conservatory program, another seven tries to get into Level 3 (and finish the program). Most of the people I auditioned with that first time graduated more than two years before I did.
12. Partially because of me, Second City now caps the number of times you can audition for the Conservatory program. To anyone reading this that was told not to come back after their third Level 1 audition, I apologize.
13. I have a love-hate relationship with stand-up comedy, and I feel far more comfortable writing comedy and doing improv.
14. Prior to launching Stu News, I used to sporadically post topical jokes as status updates. Since the launch, I've written over 1,600 different jokes, or roughly six a week for 5 1/2 years.
15. Speaking of stand-up, in June 2008 I did an open mic at a venue in the west Chicago suburbs. My five-minute set went okay, but the owner/open mic host and his staff were very rude. I attempted to book a slot about a month later, and again a month after that, but my voice mails was never returned. This turned me off from doing stand-up for about 3 1/2 years.
16. The first woman I was ever in a relationship with was an unabashed bigot, who was prone to bullying and gaslighting. I tolerated it for far longer than I ever should have. It was a relationship that I regret being in, as well as a brutal learning experience.
17. My two years at WZND (the college radio station at Illinois State University) were the first time I ever felt like I was part of a team. Even though its perfectly natural for people to grow apart, I still mourn some of the friendships that disintegrated since I graduated.
18. After my career in the radio industry came to a sudden halt in April 2010, I have spent the better part of a decade alternating between substitute teaching and temp jobs.
19. I quit my longest-lasting temp job (about three years) under exaggerated pretenses. I informed the company and my temp agency that I had landed a long-term substitute teaching gig. While it was my intention to sub, my real reason for quitting was that I could no longer tolerate my obnoxious, borderline incompetent manager, and my complaints fell on deaf ears.
20. My *shortest* temp job lasted about an hour. I was assigned by the same agency to do some clerical work for a hotel manager. He had broken off from a national chain, was trying to create his own independent hotel "experience," and had absolutely no idea what he was doing. When I first walked into his office, he was not prepared for me, so he asked me to shuffle some papers around "so the piles look neat." After 15 minutes, I mostly sat there waiting for further instructions. I was told I could go home, but after I told the agency how my morning went, I was pulled from the assignment.
21. I don't give much credence to most conspiracy theories, especially if there's very little hard evidence, but...
22. ...I am just about convinced that John Travolta killed his son.
23. My father's side of the family is from the Kansas City metro area, mostly around Overland Park and Lee's Summit. I more or less became a Royals fan by osmosis.
24. I collect sports autographs, with an emphasis on signed cards. I received my first autographed card in the mail in December 1997 (future Hockey HOFer Ron Francis) and I still do autograph requests by mail from time to time.
25. Adding onto #17, I struggled to make friends and connect with people growing up. If you're reading this, I appreciate having you in my life, and that you tolerate my eccentricities. Additionally, thank you for reading.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

My Nonessential Two Cents

Welcome to the Neverending Shutdown. If only it were a whimsical, underappreciated '80s fantasy movie...

I doubt anyone expected this partial government shutdown to last more than a few days. Sadly, you have to expect the unexpected with President Trump. His desperate, all-or-nothing bid for border wall funding has taken the nation hostage, and rather compromise in any way he wants to declare a national emergency. Trump has put himself in a Catch-22: if he caves on his beloved wall, he alienates his (presumably dwindling) core supporters and effectively loses reelection. If he gets his wall, Democrats that were on the fence about impeachment will surely flip. Beyond the usual backpedaling and finger-pointing, its hard to deny that the elongated shutdown is largely Trump's fault.