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  • Archive for the 'Diversions' Category

    The Bottom Line

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 24th October 2018 (All posts by )

    So, several posts by the Zman blog crystalized in my own mind a partial understanding of the situation as regards the new cold civil war. The whole Trumpland/Clinton Archipelago split, and practically every bit of conservative/left nastiness over the last two years represent a slow-moving rebellion. Zman phrases it as; The ruling class and their media organs will never admit it, but one main reason for Trump is that white people grew tired of fighting wars for a ruling class that despises them.” I wouldn’t limit it to strictly white people, though – or the issue to war-fighting. I’d just say that it’s a rebellion of the normal citizens, the flyover country residents, the working and middle-class, what used to be called the salt of the earth, those who are Ruled against the Ruling Class – a Ruling Class which despises the Ruled with a passion which sends most of the Ruling Class into incoherent, spittle-flecked rage. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Diversions, Leftism, Media, Personal Narrative, USA | 29 Comments »

    Indy-Writing Scene; 2018

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 18th September 2018 (All posts by )

    The indy-author scene is not the only thing which has radically changed over the last decade; just the one that I know the best, through having the great good fortune to start as an indy author just when it was economically and technologically possible. It used to be that there were two means of being a published author. There was the traditional and most-respected way, through submission to a publishing house – which, if you were fortunate enough to catch the eye and favor of an editor, meant a contract and an advance, maybe a spot on the much-vaunted New York Times best-seller list. This was a method which – according to the old-timers – worked fairly well, up until a certain point. Some writers who have been around in the game for a long time say that when publishing houses began viewing books as commodities like cereal brands and ‘pushing’ certain brands with favored places on the aisles and endcaps, and treating authors as interchangeable widgets – that’s when the traditional model began to falter. Other experts say that it began when tax law changed to make it expensive to retain inventory in a warehouse. It was no longer profitable to maintain a goodly stock of mid-list authors with regular, if modest sales. Mainstream publishing shifted to pretty much the mindset of Hollywood movie producers, putting all their bets on a straight diet of blockbusters and nothing but blockbusters.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Business, Diversions, Entrepreneurship, Internet, Marketing | 13 Comments »

    Two Quick Movie Reviews

    Posted by Jonathan on 3rd September 2018 (All posts by )

    Review 1: Cuban Food Stories

    I saw this one at the Tower Theater while drinking Cuban coffee on an empty stomach. It’s a documentary by a Cuban emigre who travels around Cuba and talks to people about food. These are people who catch, grow, prepare, serve and/or sell food. The film is beautiful, the people charming, the settings picturesque, the food wonderful. There are spectacular drone shots of colorful towns, lush forests and rural landscapes, and closeups of ceviche, grilled octopus, roast pork and other delicacies. You will leave the theater hungry.

    This movie made me feel good about Cuba, which leads to another thought. In addition to its good qualities this movie is slick, well done propaganda. Perhaps the film maker really is ambivalent about having emigrated, as he suggests. Or perhaps he would not have been allowed to make this movie without showing Cuba in the most favorable light, i.e., things were bad in the ’90s but today they are getting better, people are better off and happy, it’s a great place to visit, etc. However, the hardships of daily life are obvious to anyone who looks. As my movie viewing companion said afterwards, the people in the film spend most of their time looking for food. One notices their teeth, their overall look of having been through hard times. The electricity fails. The happy fisherman was trained as a physicist and now rationalizes his difficult life (what else can he do?).

    I recommend this movie as long as you can enjoy the food and not be bothered by any political subtexts. Verdict: Four thumbs up, one thumb down.

    —-

    Review 2: The Black Stallion Returns (also available on Netflix)

    This is a really bad movie. I enjoyed the original whose plot involves a special horse that falls off a boat and saves the little boy who rides the horse to victory in the big race. Cartoonish but so are most movies and this one was visually beautiful, apolitical and had a happy ending. Plus the horse porn if you are into such things. Then I got talked into watching the sequel.

    The newer movie revolves around a struggle between good and bad Arabs to repatriate the famous horse to the Sahara where they plan to run it in a hokey every-5-years race on which tribes with poor risk-management skills bet the farm. You can tell the good from the bad Arabs because the main bad Arab is fat and has a Brooklyn accent and the good Arabs are thin and have Roman accents. Also we are made to understand that the bad Arabs cheat rather than follow important movie rules of noble-savage fair play. The good Arabs take the horse and explain to the little boy that it’s really theirs, and who can blame them. They head off for Casablanca and the boy follows in a flying boat. Much drama and silly plot escapades follow until inevitably the little boy wins the big race for the good Arabs but then is too stupid to either take the horse back home with him or sleep with the hot Arab chick who would do him in a second since he’s now the high-status race winner.

    I recommend this movie if you liked Mystery Science Theater, or if you have young daughters who are into horses as horse porn is probably more wholesome than vampire porn. Verdict: Four thumbs down, three thumbs up.

    Posted in Cuba, Diversions, Film | 11 Comments »

    The Age of Magical Thinking

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 18th August 2018 (All posts by )

    A couple of different blogs that I follow have linked to one or more of these essays in recent days. Not being mystically-inclined, I don’t know about the magic-working aspects, but I think the sociological observations are spot on. Herewith for your consideration – The Kek Wars, from the Ecosophia blog.

    Part One: Aristocracy and Its Discontents

    Part Two: In the Shadow of the Cathedral

    Part Three: Triumph of the Frog God

    Part Four: What Moves in Darkness

    Your thoughts?

    Posted in Blogging, Civil Society, Conservatism, Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Human Behavior, Leftism, Miscellaneous | 10 Comments »

    In Memoriam: TV Knights & Radio Daze

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 22nd July 2018 (All posts by )

    We learned this week of the death of Adrian Cronauer, famous as the wild and wacky military radio DJ during a tour of duty in Vietnam, made even wilder and wackier when he was played by Robin Williams in the movie Good Morning, Vietnam. Of course, the movie bore only the slightest resemblance to real-life military radio operations. Some day, I may bore the very dickens out of you all by fisking it down to the subatomic level, but Adrian Cronauer himself is supposed to have had the definitive answer, when asked how accurate the movie was. “There was a Vietnam War, and there is an Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.”

    As a matter of fact, those of us who served in the various military broadcast detachments were rather disappointed on two accounts with the movie when it first came out; the multitude of operational details which were just wrong, wrong, wrongedy-wrong, and secondly – because we all had stories of incidents and people which were just much more bizarre, comic and ironic. Which would have made an even funnier movie.

    Some time ago, for the original Sgt. Stryker’s Daily Brief website, I wrote about some of them in the post retrieved from my archives. (It’s also one of the essays in this collection.)

    The guys at Far East Network-Misawa in the days of my first duty station in the Air Force and my first overseas tour were a joke-loving lot, much given to razzing each other, with elaborate practical jokes and humor of the blacker sort. Practically none of it would survive scrutiny these days by a Social Actions officer, or anyone from the politically-correct set, either in the military or out. The nature of the job means the successful are verbally aggressive, intellectually quick, and even when off-mike, very, very entertaining. Some broadcasters I encountered later on were either sociopaths, terminally immature, pathological liars, or otherwise severely maladapted to the real world. They could generally cope, given a nice padded studio, a clearly defined set of duties, and a microphone with which to engage with the real world at a remove. Regular, face to face interaction with others of their species was a bit more problematic. But all that would come later. The people during my first tour or two were something else entirely.

    The middle management NCOs were all Vietnam-era, and in some cases, Vietnam veterans. The draft had brought them into the military, and military broadcasting, they liked it, and had stayed. They tended to be rather more results-oriented than the regulation-driven broadcast management I encountered later on, a lot less uptight, and consequently much more fun.”What’s that VU light for?” was a favorite gag, asked from the studio door as the on-air broadcaster sat poised to read news headlines. With a few seconds to go on your music, or carted spot, they would snap off the overhead studio light, leaving you to read the copy, live, by the light of the two little lighted meters what measured audio levels.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 25 Stories About Work, Blogging, Current Events, Diversions, Humor, Media, Military Affairs | 3 Comments »

    Sturm und Drang

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 3rd June 2018 (All posts by )

    Ah yes, a rousing round of storm and stress this week in our own very dear so-called entertainment media, starting with Rosanne Barr’s self-titled and relaunched sitcom being cancelled with such alacrity that security probably left scorch-marks on the carpet, escorting her off the premises at speed, although I am pretty sure that in Hollywierdland, it doesn’t work quite that way when terminating an unsatisfactory employee. Especially a star player in a recently-revived, highly-rated, and yet – controversial sit-com. Still – it is curious how quick off the mark the sacking was. So Rosanne has always been a bit of a loose cannon … no, reconsider that; a completely unsecured cannon, impulsively driven to fire in all directions on the slightest provocation, up to and acquiring her own foot as target. Calculated or inadvertent – at this point it makes no difference to anyone, really, save perhaps for her costars, now left high, dry and living on residuals.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Conservatism, Current Events, Diversions, Leftism, Media, That's NOT Funny | 8 Comments »

    The Worst Day At Work, Ever

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 13th May 2018 (All posts by )

    The absolute nadir of bad days at work was sketched briefly in a recent book about the Revolutionary War battle of Saratoga – a decisive turning point in that war. There is nothing much new in Dean Snow’s 1777: Tipping Point at Saratoga, save that the author has gone through just about every set of archives, memoirs, and reminisces existing, along with an exhaustive survey of the site itself, and produced an hour by hour account. No mean feat, especially since keeping track of time was an inexact science. (And would be for at least another eighty years, when the developing railways, with requirements for exact timetables over long distances, and necessary scheduling of use on single track routes made it mandatory that scrupulous attention be paid to these matters.)

    Briefly, that campaign was series of battles, skirmishes, and clashes on the banks of the Hudson River where it passes through upstate New York; the culmination of a grand plan to slice the rebellious colonies in – if not half – at least thirds. The supreme British commander, General William Howe (rumored to be a backstairs cousin to George III, his granny having had a productive affair with George I), was pleasantly ensconced in New York, where he was assisted in his revolution-suppression duties by General Henry Clinton. The British forces had chased the rebellious colonials out of New York some months previously. All the notable cities of the Colonies were ocean ports; Boston, New York, Charleston, Savannah. Only Philadelphia was an exception – and it sat on the inland reaches of the Delaware River. Still a port – but far inland from the Atlantic Ocean. In any case, the grand scheme was to split off New England from the other rebellious colonies by coming down from Canada with an overwhelming force of British regular troops and hired German mercenaries.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Book Notes, Diversions, History, USA, War and Peace | 19 Comments »

    American Alpha Male Test

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 17th April 2018 (All posts by )

    (inspired by Are You an Alpha or a Beta Male? Take Our 20-Question Quiz and Find Out and the Bill of Rights)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Diversions, Education, Law, Law Enforcement, Religion, The Press, USA | 25 Comments »

    History Friday: A Man of Elastic and Convenient Virtue

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 23rd March 2018 (All posts by )

    (From my own website archives, a post from March, 2011, explaining a little of the background to the fight for Texian independence, and a bit of the shifty character of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, whom I think of as Mexico’s bad boyfriend. He brought only grief to poor Mexico, over and over again … and over and over again, Mexico forgave him and took him back.)

    For the writing of Daughter of Texas – which followed the life of an Anglo-German settler’s family in Texas, beginning in the mid 1820’s – I needed to delve into the deep and murky political waters of early 19th century Mexico, as they touched on the matter of Texas. In doing this, I made the not-entirely-unexpected-discovery that  . . .  well, it was an extremely complicated situation. Byzantine, even.  A horrific situation like – say, the siege of the Alamo – did just not appear out of the clear blue, just because Davy Crockett and a couple of hundred Texians and a Mexican strong-man general and his thousands decided one spring day in 1836 to start bashing away at each other. There was about twenty years of back-story there, some of it terribly convoluted, but no less interesting for all of that, and simply crammed with dramatic potential. Curious characters, dramatic incidents, marvelous coincidences, and accounts of political dirty-dealing and quietly heroic sacrifice abound, most of which is barely hinted at, in books and movies about the Texas War for Independence.  Becoming familiar with the circumstances was absolutely necessary: in order to fill out the background, and to explain in a natural fashion how it all came to pass, through the lives and words and experiences of my characters – some of whom were historical characters.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Diversions, History | 14 Comments »

    Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th January 2018 (All posts by )

    (I post an archive entry from my Celia Hayes blog, on the eve of the Golden Globes awards, All Hollywood seems to be running about with their hair on fire, casting accusations everywhere, regarding who knew or didn’t about the casting couch, who got an advantage from utilizing the casting couch, and who behaved badly to whom. I’m working on a post about this week’s Trump madness, and the time just got away from me.)

    (Example #1 – William Holden, publicity still)

    There are boys enough in the movies now, all dressed up in costume and mincing around, waving the prop weapons in a manner meant to be intimidating. Generally they look a bit nervous doing so. They have light boyish voices, narrow defoliated chests, delicate chins adorned with a wisp of beard, and sometimes they come across as clever, even charming company for the leading lady or as the wily sidekick to the first name on the bill, but as hard as they try to project mature and solid masculinity they remain boys, all dressed up in costume pretending to be men. Even when they try for a bit of presence, they still project a faintly apologetic air. Imagine Peter Pan in camo BDUs, desert-boots, full battle-rattle and rucksack. It’s a far cry from picturing John Wayne in the same get-up. Where have all the cowboys gone?

    (Example #2 – Robert Mitchum w/Deborah Kerr in “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison“)

    You could not really describe John Wayne as movie-star handsome; neither could you honestly say that Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, Steve McQueen, Charlton Heston or William Holden were movie-star handsome. (Save perhaps Holden, early on.) They had something more – magnetic physical presence. They owned a room, just by walking into it. They had lived-in faces, especially as they got older, rough-hewn, weathered and individual faces, broad shoulders, strong and capable hands, and total confidence in themselves – even when the plot necessitated a bit of self-doubt.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Culture, Current Events, Diversions, Film, History, Media | 15 Comments »

    Entitled

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 31st December 2017 (All posts by )

    I see by another link on Insty Saturday afternoon that the United Airlines- Sheila Jackson Lee flap has not quite faded away – much as MS Jackson Lee, AKA ‘the Queen’ or ‘Cruella’ Jackson Lee likely wishes it would. I surmise that this bit of congressional bad behavior is still rattling the newshounds and the commentariat for several reasons. The first of these is that ‘Cruella’ is one of the dumber members of Congress. (The honor of the dumbest must go to Hank “Guam Might Tip Over!” Johnson, of whom it might rightfully said – stealing a paraphrase from the late Molly Ivins about another spectacularly dumb career politician – “Lose any more IQ points, and his staff might have to put him in a pot in the corner and water him three times a week.”) But there’s more! ‘Cruella’ Jackson Lee has been acknowledged hands down for many years as the rudest and most abusive boss on Capitol Hill. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Civil Society, Current Events, Customer Service, Diversions, Human Behavior, Politics | 17 Comments »

    Seasonal Madness

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 22nd December 2017 (All posts by )

    I swear, I have no idea why the denizens of celebrity-world are going nuts lately. The distinct possibility is that most of them were always nuts, and I – despite once having had a nice collection of subscriptions to publications like Premiere, Entertainment Weekly, and Rolling Stone, and a mild and mostly professional interest in the entertainment field generally – managed to not notice the frothing waves of insanity emanating from the world of popular entertainment … since … Well, I think some entertainment figures began to go nuts about a decade ago, but in the last year it’s been … OMG, are these people allowed out without a keeper?
    And this was before Pervenado, and the revelation to the wider public that apparently just about every big producer, star, or media figure in a position of authority is a sex-crazed perv who cannot keep their nasty hands off lower-level staff or prospective employees. Well, it wasn’t like the existence of the casting couch was that big a secret, but still …
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Diversions, Law, Leftism, Trump, USA | 13 Comments »

    Nostalgia Post: Heirloom Dishes

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 22nd November 2017 (All posts by )

    (This essay was originally written more than ten years ago, and is included in the ebook Happy Families; a reminiscence even then of what Thanksgiving was before I left home to join the Air Force. I think I was home with my family for that holiday perhaps four or five years since then. Dad passed away in 2010, Mom is a semi-invalid living with my sister and her family. I don’t know if my sister ever fixes the onions in cheese sauce – I certainly don’t.)

    Fairly early on, Mom and Dad reached a compromise on the question of where the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas would be celebrated: Christmas at our house, and Thanksgiving alternating between the grandparents’ houses: One year at Grannie Jessie and Grandpa Jim’s little white house on South Lotus, the next at Grannie Dodie and Grandpa Al’s in Camarillo. Since Dad was an only child, and Mom an only surviving child, all the hopes of constellation of childless or unmarried great-aunts and uncles were centered on JP, Pippy, Sander and I. We rather basked in the undivided attention, even as we regretted the lack of first cousins; there was Great-Aunt Nan, who was Grandpa Al’s younger sister, and Grannie Dodie’s two brothers, Fred and Bob. Fred had been a sailor on a real sailing ship in his youth and had lady in a frilly skirt tattooed on each forearm, who did the shimmy when he flexed his muscles: he also had children, so he was not invariably with us every Thanksgiving. Great-Uncle Bob was married to Great-Aunt Rose, and her sister Nita lived with them. Rose was frail and genteel, and her sister Nita plump and bossy, but they both had neatly marcelled short hair, in the fashion of the 1920ies, and both smelt deliciously of flower-scented dusting powder when hugged.

    The menu was unvaryingly traditional, no matter if the table was laid out in the screened porch at Grannie Jessie’s, or set up in Grannie Dodie’s dining room and living room. Both of our grandmothers followed pretty much the same recipes for the turkey and bread stuffing, the giblet gravy and mashed potatoes with plenty of milk and butter whipped in. Both of them preferred opening a can of jellied cranberry sauce and letting it schlorp out onto a cut-glass plate, the ripples from the can unashamedly displayed to the world; at Christmas, Mom went as far as making cranberry sauce from a bag of sour fresh cranberries boiled together with sugar, but as far as the grandmothers were concerned, there was a reason that God had invented canned cranberry sauce technology.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Holidays, Human Behavior, Humor | 6 Comments »

    Preference Cascade

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 27th October 2017 (All posts by )

    (Sorry for the lack of posting – I am trying to finalize A Fifth of Luna City, and Lone Star Glory — the follow-up to Lone Star Sons, and the days are just all too short. Herewith a rant about certain recent developments in pop culture for your weekend edification.)

    Just to make it clear, I do not think that the NFL, or the So-Cal based movie-TV-media production industry usually described by the simple designation of ‘Hollywood’ are going to wither up and disappear in a puff of smoke and a puddle of goo like the Wicked Witch when Dorothy threw a bucket of water on her. No, likely the first will be diminished to relative insignificance over the insistence of many players to ‘take a knee’ during the national anthem, after a long train of other actions which increasingly put the well-reimbursed celebrity athletes of the NFL at loggerheads with the audiences in Flyoverlandia who watched games from the stand, or on TV, purchased season tickets, merchandise and premium cable service with the big daddy sports channel, ESPN. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Conservatism, Diversions, Feminism, Film, Human Behavior, The Press | 12 Comments »

    Shameless book promo

    Posted by Margaret on 17th October 2017 (All posts by )

    I’ve started writing again after a ten-year pause, so it’s pretty much like starting from scratch and I can use all the help I can get. The first two books of a three-book science fiction series, Insurgents and Awakening, are available on Amazon now, and the third, Survivors, will be up in a week or two. (The books work as stand-alone novels; you don’t have to read them as a series, though I think they’re more fun that way.) All three are/will be available in paperback and e-book editions, and the e-books are free in Kindle Unlimited.

    There’s an excerpt from Insurgents here and the first chapter of Awakening here, if anybody’s interested.

    I hope ChicagoBoyz readers will find the trilogy interesting, since it’s meant to be the chronicle of a totalitarian society’s collapse over a period of several generations.

    If anybody happens to read one, I would be very grateful for a review.

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    Posted in Arts & Letters, Blegs, Book Notes, Diversions | 6 Comments »

    Informers and Tattle Tales

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 13th September 2017 (All posts by )

    Tattle tale tit,
    Your tongue shall be slit,
    And all the dogs in the town
    Shall have a little bit! – trad. schoolyard taunt

    How bizarre it is to come to a time in these sort-of-United States where certain people who might otherwise have been mistaken for grownups appear to take great pleasure in channeling their inner selves; that of a malicious, sneaky tattle-tale, running to the teacher to inform on their fellow students at every opportunity. We do not — yet — have the equivalent of the East German ‘Stasi’, where half the population eagerly and voluminously informed on the other half. I would have assumed that Americans, young and old, despised tattletales – the adult version every bit as much as the juvenile variety. But we have moved on, it seems. A certain kind of mentality seems bound and determined to sign up as informers even before such volunteers are requested by the authorities in various venues.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Customer Service, Diversions, Human Behavior, Just Unbelievable | 18 Comments »

    Rerun Post: Bidwell-Bartleson, 1841

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th July 2017 (All posts by )

    The westward movement of Americans rolled west of the Appalachians and hung up for a decade or two on the barrier of the Mississippi-Missouri River. It was almost an interior sea-coast, the barrier between the settled lands, and the unpeopled and treeless desert beyond, populated by wild Indians. To be sure, there were scattered enclaves, as far-distant as the stars, in the age of “shanks’ mare” and team animals hitched to wagons, or led in a pack-train: far California, equally distant Oregon, the pueblos of Santa Fe, and Texas. A handful of men in exploring parties, or on trade had ventured out to the ends of the known continent … and by the winter of 1840 there were reports of what had been found. Letters, rumor, common talk among the newspapers, and meeting-places had put the temptation and the possibility in peoples’ minds, to the point where an emigrating society had been formed over that winter.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Diversions, History, Miscellaneous, Reruns | 6 Comments »

    Suits and Bean Counters

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th June 2017 (All posts by )

    Along about the time that I started blogging … no, even well before that point, I was well-aware that there were personalities who could say and do flamingly stupid and insulting things on the public stage, and some would take no permanent career harm from having done so. Jane Fonda, for example, went on having a career for decades after getting the nick “Hanoi Jane” for her anti-war antics in the 1960s. Other personalities – equally prominent, having said and done things just as injudicious – appeared to walk away unscathed. It seemed to be a given that some public personalities were basically Teflon; as it would become even more obvious in the last decade, they had something that I call – for lack of a better term – douchebag privilege. Generally speaking, the lefty-intellectual-media lot – like the Kennedys, the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton brand of racial activists, and jerks like Michael Moore had douchebag privilege, whereas those of the other persuasion didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Diversions | 15 Comments »

    New! – Your Chicagoboyz Bicycle Safety Product Endorsements

    Posted by Jonathan on 22nd May 2017 (All posts by )

    As the season turns to Spring, Chicagoboyz turn to wholesome fresh-air pursuits such as bicycle riding. Unhappily we must share the road with motorists including various drunks, hotheads, incompetents, text messaging fiends and other menaces. A friend of ours who is a lawyer has taken to yelling at drivers who buzz him, advising them of the law requiring them to give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing. We have great respect for the law but prefer more active measures. To somewhat improve our survival odds we now limit our hours of operation, have increased the proportion of our riding done on off-road trails and, when we do go on the road, light ourselves up like a Christmas tree. (To those who are troubled by bright flashing lights in traffic I can only say: Yes, such lights are troubling, that is why they are used on police and other emergency vehicles that are at high risk of collision.)

    In this regard the following products are ones that I have used extensively and recommend:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Product Reviews/Endorsements | 10 Comments »

    An Archival Post: Texiana – Mr. Cannonball Was Not His Friend

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 20th May 2017 (All posts by )

    (A repeat post from 2012)

    Thomas William Ward was born in Ireland of English parents in 1807, and at the age of 21 took ship and emigrated to America. He settled in New Orleans, which by that time had passed from French to Spanish, back to French and finally landed in American hands thanks to the Louisiana Purchase. There he took up the study of architecture and engineering – this being a time when an intelligent and striving young man could engage in a course of study and hang out a shingle to practice it professionally shortly thereafter. However, Thomas Ward was diverted from his studies early in October, 1835 by an excited and well-attended meeting in a large coffee-room at Banks’ Arcade on Magazine Street. Matters between the Anglo settlers in Texas and the central Mexican governing authority – helmed by the so-called Napoleon of the West, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna – had come to a frothy boil. Bad feelings between the Texian and Tejano settlers of Texas, who were of generally federalist (semi-autonomous) sympathies had been building against the centralist (conservative and authoritarian) faction. These developments were followed with close and passionate attention by political junkies in the United States.

    Nowhere did interest run as high as it did in those cities along the Mississippi River basin. On the evening of October 13, 1835, Adolphus Sterne – the alcade (mayor) of Nacogdoches – offered weapons for the first fifty volunteers who would fight for Texas. A hundred and twenty volunteers signed up before the evening was over, and Thomas Ward was among them. They formed into two companies, and were apparently equipped and outfitted from various sources: the armory of the local militia organization, donations from the public, and ransacking local haberdashers for sufficient uniform-appearing clothing. They wore grey jackets and pants, with a smooth leather forage cap; the color grey being chosen for utility on the prairies. The two companies traveled separately from New Orleans, but eventually met up at San Antonio de Bexar, where they became part of the Army of Texas.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, History | 3 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Fanning’s Fatal Path…

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th May 2017 (All posts by )

    (Source)

    Fanning's Fatal Path...

    Fanning’s Fatal Path…

    Posted in Britain, Diversions, History, Ireland, Judaism | 1 Comment »

    History Weekend: Elsie the Cow and the Alamo

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th May 2017 (All posts by )

    Elsie the Contented Cow was created in 1936 first as a cartoon corporate logo for the Borden food products line; a little brown Jersey cow with a daisy-chain necklace and a charming anthropomorphic smile. Three years later, a live cow was purchased from a dairy farm in Connecticut to demonstrate (along with several other likely heifers) the Borden Dairy Company-invented rotary milking parlor – the dairy barn of the future! in the Borden exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair. The live Elsie, originally named You’ll Do Lobelia (no, I did not make up this bit) came about because an overwhelming number of visitors to the exhibit kept asking which of the demo-cows was Elsie. Of the cows in the show, You’ll Do Lobelia was, the keeper and administrator of the dairy barn agreed – the most charming and personable of the demonstration cows, especially for a generation of Americans who had moved on from a life of rural agriculture and likely never laid eyes on a real, live cow. So, Lobelia/Elsie was drafted into service for commercial interest (much as young American males were being drafted at about the same time for military service). Elsie, her assorted offspring, spouse (Elmer the Bull – the corporate face of Elmer’s Glue) and her successors continued as the public face, as it were – for the Borden Dairy Company, appearing in a movie, even – and the Macy’s department store window, where she gave birth to one of her calves. Her countenance adorns the labels of Eagle Brand condensed milk to this day.

    But what – one might reasonably ask – has Elsie the Cow have to do with the Alamo? Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Diversions, Entrepreneurship, History | 7 Comments »

    Bike Ride

    Posted by Jonathan on 24th March 2017 (All posts by )

    Chicagoboyz are getting into shape and enjoying the fresh air and wide open spaces.

    Posted in Diversions, Video | 7 Comments »

    Sunday Diversion: Back Yard Chicken Melodrama

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 5th March 2017 (All posts by )

    (The following is provided as a small, light-hearted diversion from the deeply serious social and political commentary normally provided. We need such small, light-hearted thing in serious times, which is why my daughter and I started writing the Luna City Chronicle series.)

    No, it’s not that anything bad has happened to our chickens, or the ‘Whup-whups’ as my daughter calls them, for the contented and low-voiced clucking that they make when all is good and happy in their world, especially when I bring out something savory from the house, like slivered-up potato or apple peelings, or a handful of cracked corn, which the chickens love to the point of distraction. They love it so much that we call cracked corn ‘chicken crack’. Although they are also very partial to the slivered peelings; spoiled birds – I do have to slice it up for them This world of theirs is a limited one; the tiny back yard of a tiny suburban house with a population of five; three Barred Plymouth Rocks, and a pair of bantam Wyandotte hens. (Barred rocks are those pretty speckled black and white chickens with brilliant red combs and wattles.) Wyandottes are also pretty – tending to be white or pale, with darker edges to their feathers which gives an overall lacy effect. They come in many colors; the smallest of the Wyandottes, Dottie (pale with caramel-color lacings), is lowest in the pecking order, and subject to mild bullying on the part of the next-smallest, Winona (white with grey lacings) – and in turn, the two of them are bullied by the Barred Rock hens, Maureen and Carly, who chase them away from the two shallow pans where we put their food daily. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions | 10 Comments »

    A Christmas Eve Story: Father Christmas and the Provost

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 24th December 2016 (All posts by )

    (This is a short-story version of an episode in Adelsverein: The Sowing, which I reworked as a free-standing Christmas story a good few years ago, for a collection of short stories. The scene; the Texas Hill country during the Civil War – a war in which many residents of the Hill Country were reluctant to participate, as they had abolitionist leanings, had not supported secession … and had quite enough to do with defending themselves against raiding Indians anyway.)

    It was Vati’s idea to have a splendid Christmas Eve and he broached it to his family in November. Christian Friedrich Steinmetz to everyone else but always Vati to his family; once the clockmaker of Ulm in Bavaria, Vati had come to Texas with the Verein nearly twenty years before with his sons and his three daughters. “For the children, of course,” he said, polishing his glasses and looking most particularly like an earnest and kindly gnome, “This year past has been so dreadful, such tragedies all around – but it is within our capabilities to give them a single good memory of 1862! I shall arrange for Father Christmas to make a visit, and we shall have as fine a feast as we ever did, back in Germany. Can we not do this, my dears?”
    “How splendid, Vati! Oh, we shall, we shall!” his youngest daughter Rosalie kissed her father’s cheek with her usual degree of happy exuberance, “With the house full of children – even the babies will have a wonderful memory, I am sure!” Her older sisters, Magda and Liesel exchanged fond but exasperated glances; dear, vague well-meaning Vati!
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Deep Thoughts, Diversions | 3 Comments »