Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: June 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

You Know Who You Are

Here's a little something for those of us who've been missing the Binny's troubadour.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

One More Time for the Theatre Building

Last week, I passed along the information about an auction in support of Chicago's Theatre Building. It was scheduled to end a week ago, but quite frankly, they're not getting the interest that a lot of these items deserve. So the auction was extended a week--which means, it's in its final hours all over again! (The time is down to 8 hours as I post this.)

There are almost 100 items that still have no bids at all! This includes entertainment items, sports memorabilia, and books, DVDs, and CDs! Go look around and find something you'd like. And if you've already gone, go back and look again. (Mrs. Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk has her bids in for us.)

Take a look here for more information about the Theatre Building and its activities. It's much more than simply a performance venue. For just a taste, here's its Mission Statement:

1. To provide subsidized space, equipment and support for performing groups
We offer services to the performing arts community with an emphasis on emerging artists and companies.

2. To develop and produce new musicals
We nurture new musicals – from our professional writers’ workshop to our concert readings and studio presentations to our nationally recognized festival of new musicals.

3. To provide opportunities for emerging artists, administrators and performing groups
We offer an intensive internship program, affording students the opportunity to break into the field.

Who can argue with that? Go bid and support the Theatre Building!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Are You Watching TV?

The big switch from analog to digital TV happened today, and you were either ready for it or you weren't. A Nielsen poll suggested that 76,000 households in Chicago were unprepared to lose their analog signal. I've mentioned before that we hadn't sprung for cable here at Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Central, but our hand was finally called, so, after waiting almost until we couldn't wait any longer, we had to put up or shut up. The cable guy came out on Tuesday, so we're now concluding our third full day of cable. I guess that means that we were among those 76,000 households unprepared when they survey was taken last week. That means there are now only 75,999 households out of luck.

Some of those people tried to take care of what they needed to this morning when the Dish Network sponsored a "swap" of government coupons for converter boxes. Too many people showed up, however (it was an estimated crowd of 500), so some went home empty handed. We'll see whether most of these TV-less people work out a way to receive the new digital signal or if we hear more about their plight. The media is probably not concerned about making those voices heard, but we may become aware of them through blogs or other unconventional methods.

If you're one of those people, though, WWME (23), which has received some local acclaim as ME-TV, has a signal that's at a low enough power that it doesn't have to give up its analog signal. The station has started to broadcast the WCIU (channel 26) signal, with breaks for news from WMAQ (5) and WGN (9). I just checked it out on our sole uncabled TV, and I not only found a signal there, but there was one at channel 48, ME-Too, as well, broadcasting the normal Me Too schedule. Is that an oversight that will be gone in the morning, or will ME-Too continue for the foreseeable future, as well? For the time being, at least, that gives analog TV viewers two choices.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Support Chicago's Theatre Building

Things are tough all over--we all know that. Everybody's finding it just that much harder (or considerably harder, as the case may be) to make ends meet, and everybody could use a little bit of help. But one place where it's particularly bad is in the arts. Many arts groups depend on government grants and other funding, and a lot of that comes from the states. The federal government's been looking for spending in relation to the stimulus package, but state governments have been doing little more than cutting back. Here in Illinois, for instance, the Illinois Arts Council is slashing parts of its budget. The Theatre Building in Chicago is set to lose 75 percent of the funding the Arts Council provided last year. They're on the case, though, to make up parts of that amount. Since the beginning of the month, they've been conducting an online auction that includes a broad variety of items (134 of them, to be exact). There are tickets to shows on the auction block, books, CDs, sports tickets and memorabilia (the Cubs, the White Sox, the Bears, the Bulls, and the Blackhawks are all represented--even the Green Bay Packers), furniture, travel packages--all kinds of stuff. The bidding finishes on Sunday evening, so you've still got room to browse, and the majority of items don't even have initial bids. There's plenty of good stuff yet to be had. And it's for a worthy cause. Go take a look!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Close to Home

Atrios has been keeping a running tab on which banks are being gobbled up by the FDIC, and that's where I first saw the news that the Bank of Lincolnwood was being taken over. I don't have any money at the Bank of Lincolnwood, but I pass it every day on my way to work. (I'm linking to the locations webpage because the home page has info about the FDIC takeover). The main office of my employer is just down the block (although I work at a separate office a few miles further away). The Bank of Lincolnwood sign is where I can find out how hot or cold it is. I always thought it was funny that the bank had a second branch that was on the same street less than a quarter mile away--they have a time and temperature sign, too.

The bank has been sold to Republic Bank of Chicago (which is actually headquartered in Oak Brook), and it's expected to open under Republic's auspices on Saturday morning. It's too early to say for sure, but the majority of employees are expected to be kept on. According to the FDIC, the Bank of Lincolnwood is Illinois's sixth bank failure this year (other news reports identify it as this year's third Chicago failure) and the 37th in the nation. I've seen some of those others, and I don't mean to say that I didn't take them seriously, but it's interesting to note how the simple proximity of this one make the entire recession and economic difficulties we're in have more resonance for me. Or maybe not--perhaps that's what proximity is all about.

Friday, June 05, 2009

New Trends in Book Shows?

Since I didn't actually attend this year, I haven't had much to say about BEA. Reports I've heard back from those who were there described a subdued show, which matches with much of what I've read online. One attendee talked about the specter of kindle that he could feel pervading the show, keeping everyone looking over their shoulder. Certainly it's hard to avoid questioning the future of the show (even if we try our best to avoid the equally obvious uncertain future of book publishing in general).

Peggy Burns, associate publisher of Drawn & Quarterly comics, didn't go to the show, either. Earlier this week at the D&Q blog, she explained why. It's true that BEA is extremely expensive if you're setting up a display, and if you're a small press, at some point you have to start thinking about diminishing returns. But Peggy also discusses the possibility of book shows for consumers, which may be more effective for smaller publishing concerns.

All of which brings us to the annual Printers Row Lit Fest, which puts on a consumer book show in downtown Chicago this weekend. There are two full days of events and talks on Saturday and Sunday, as well as plenty of booths for publishers and booksellers alike. Drawn & Quarterly will be there, along with some comics programming: Lynda Barry and Chris Ware share a stage to talk; Ivan Brunetti, book designer Chip Kidd, and author David Hadju (The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America) discuss the form; and Harvey Pekar talks about two different books on Saturday and Sunday, his adaptation of Studs Terkel's Working and his graphic history of the Beats. Neil Gaiman, who still has a finger or two in comics, will also be there, but not surprisingly, tickets are no longer available for his presentation (although no-show tickets will be released 15 minutes beforehand--it's all free, so it's very possible that some people who reserved won't show up). I haven't figured out exactly what my plans for the weekend will be yet, but it seems hard to go wrong in attending. The future of book trade shows? It could be along these lines.

Speaking of Printer's Row Lit Fest, it appears that Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk pal Stu Shea has sold out. It's been said that every person has a price, and if that's the case, it appears Stu hasn't been offered his yet--his integrity is intact. No, he's part of a "Cubbie Blues" panel with Sara Paretsky and James Finn Garner, among others, which also has also run through its free tickets. As with Neil Gaiman, a few tickets may become available just before the panel begins. For those of us who still can't get in, then I guess we'd better keep our eyes open for YouTube video.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

What Exactly Are We Expecting of Our Judges, Again?

Is it the Internet Age, or is it just me? I feel like we've been talking about Sonia Sotomayor for ages, but it's still just a week since Obama officially nominated her for the Supreme Court. There had been talk about her before the nomination came in, and that might be part of it. It could also be the single-minded argument of the Republican party branding her a racist (a courageous and valiant stand for them to make, because privileged white males have been downtrodden for far too long).

Aside from the silliness about Sotomayor being a racist, one of the primary complaints that conservatives are airing is that she would use her background as a Latina woman to trump the law. The good folks at SCOTUSblog have shown that there's nothing much to this, but it raises the point of how far, exactly, the right wants judges to go in ignoring their backgrounds. Partially, of course, it depends on whether conservatives think a judge's background works in their favor or not, because, as Jason Linkins pointed out at The Huffington Post, the backgrounds of Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito were among their key selling points for their Supreme Court nominations.

But even aside from the requisite right-wing inconsistency, the question is ridiculous. Part of what a judge is supposed to be offering is wisdom, and wisdom only develops out of experience. If we just want a straight reading of the letter of the law, then we don't need a judge at all. We should just get a computer. It wouldn't be hard to simply shift over to digital law, with a 1 for legal and a 0 for illegal. Or, since the Star Trek movie is still doing well, let's just have Obama nominate Mr. Spock (which wouldn't work, of course, because we're still more than 200 years away from Spock's birth). But that's not what we want. We want a judge who will weigh a case by looking at the law as written and perhaps considering its real-life ramifications. No living, breathing human being can help but filter that through her personal experiences and background. I'll admit that how judges allow this to influence their decision-making process can be a fair enough question, but in examining Sotomayor's appeals court record, SCOTUSblog has come up with nothing to suggest that she's beyond the norm, that she's doing anything beyond issuing unremarkable and reasonable decisions.