Monday, February 28, 2005

My Literary Family

I'm going to go more in depth on this subject later, but I thought I'd just share a quick find tonight. I'm in the process of scanning some old family letters and such so we can preserve them and send them to others in the family. My sister gave me this notebook of poems my grandfather wrote in 1985 to scan, and I thought I'd share one. It's a thank-you note to some friends entitled "Thanks to Joe + Rita."

We would like to thank you both so much for the terrific time last night.

And for the lovely card you gave to make our day more bright.

It isn't every day you find real friends as true as you.

And to think the amazing part is the fact you're not a Jew.

Beauty comes from the unlikliest of places, no?

Why Don't Black Folks Go Camping?

This story doesn't find an answer, but it's an interesting question.

You Say Monday, I Say Funday

The long journey is over. I'm now a free-lance editor. Which means I'm having my first cup of coffee at a quarter to 9 and I'm still in my robe. Not shabby.

After a crushing overtime MSU loss to Indiana on Sunday, I'm ready to tackle the day. Conference call at noon, send out a couple e-mails, schedule a haircut, buy some toiletries ... I hope I can fit this into one day!

More to follow.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

I Can Sing My Song Here, Because I Belong Here

The Craig Gaines Midwestern Tour has made its next stop in sunny (today, at least) Lansing. It's been almost five years since I called my hometown home, and it's all still seeping in. But I'll be able to tease out the psychic ramifications of this move in the weeks to come. For now, let's look back over the past few days:

1. Big thanks to Mom, Dad, and Joe for helping with the move. I must say, we put on a clinic. On the road before 8, in Cleveland before noon, done packing the van and car before 3, and out of town (after a nice late lunch at the Great Lakes Brewing Co. [Frey, that meatloaf is delish!]) before 5.

There were some hairy moments when we weren't sure we'd fit everything and I was starting to make decisions like in some war movie about which buddies get out on the chopper and which are left to fight Charlie to the bloody end. But the human eye is a poor judge of space, and every last stick fit in the caravan. Success!

2. Living at home is weird. Great, for awhile, but weird. For starters, it's an odd feeling to have to fit yourself into someone else's homelife. All of a sudden I'm not in complete control. Which in this case is almost entirely a good thing: I don't control the grocery shopping, the cleaning, the heat. I'm already eating better in a cleaner and warmer environment. I forgot what 69 degrees feels like. It feels good.

There's also a bit of a time-machine feel to moving back into the house you left after high school. Everyone is older and different, but the house's "wa" is much the same. It's almost like putting new cartoon characters on the same old Hanna Barbara background.

Let's talk about the food for a minute. For the past eight months I've had to feed myself. I'm not good at this. An analysis of my grocery lists would show heavy biases toward boxed and canned meals spiced with some potato chips and grapefruit. And then at dinnertime I'd stare into the fridge, hoping that I'd somehow purchased the ingredients to a satisfying meal. Well, home is a different story. Mom went shopping the day after we got back and when she started schleping in bag after bag of goods, the Ode to Joy played in my head. Such bounty! Meats and cheeses and breads and fruits and vegetables and pizzas and cereals and snacks and cookies and actual ingredients for whole meals! "Valhalla!" I cried. "I've reached Valhalla!" I giggled like a fool as I stuffed my mouth with Oreos while helping fill the cookie jar. I think I could dive into the fridge and swim around in its riches like Scrooge McDuck used to in his vault.

3. But while I'm excited for what my stay in Lansing might bring, what with reconnecting with family and friends and pursuing new job opportunities, I have to admit that this isn't how I wanted to leave Cleveland. I won't go into the bloody details, but I'm pained to be separated from certain people and things. I've ripped myself from my daily existence, and I think there's going to be some challenging transition times ahead.

Now it's on to a day of unpacking, TV (more on the world of television later), hot tubbing, and generally hanging out. Come to Lansing and see me, everybody. I have dorky new glasses to ridicule!

More to follow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Support the Unemployed

Teddy Spendlove, my brother on the dole, has created a line of humorous and heart-warming T-shirts, thongs, stickers, and other bits of fancy. Check it here.

'80s Movie Star Poll

I forgot to link up Julie Perlmuter with an '80s star. So, quick GLP poll: Which '80s movie star matches Julie?

For those of you who don't know Julie, answer for these folks:

Lon Medd
Christine MacDonald
Becky Amos


Shane O'Dell

It's Go Time

As I enter the final 48 hours of Operation Move Back Home, I pause for some reflection of the past few days:

1. The IB gang threw Zawacki and I a lavish going-away party at B. Smith's pad in Lakewood on Friday. Plenty of alkie, plus pizza, pizza bread, pie, cake, a killer veggie platter, and all the Josh Groban a boy could hope for (plus a bottle of Maker's for the both of us). We had cooked up a faux IB cover for Zawacki with the headline "Exit the Humanzee" emblazoned on an image of Z's face melded onto a chimp's head. It was Bill Joyce's finest hour. It was really the perfect little night with the perfect little group: I had a great time shooting the shit one last time with Zawacki, Joyce, Slepro, Brian, Lewis, and Frey. If only Flash Moran had been there, the group would have been complete. As I told you fools before, come on up to the lake place this summer.

2. I took a load of stuff to my grandparents' house in Grosse Pointe on Saturday, then stayed for a dinner at a little restaurant for my Nana's birthday. I spent a lot of time talking free-lance shop with my Aunt Sarah, who's been getting her hustle on for quite a few years. She's a wealth of information and a helluva designer to boot.

3. Reconnecting with the Dean group was as natural as can be. I spent a couple days at the tres modern pad of Amy and Shane, discussing retarded orangutans (one almost wasted Julia Roberts!), catching up with various folks, and generally getting lost in the largest (HD) TV I've ever seen. This sucker is wider than the windshield on a Mack truck. I'd watch anything on Discover HD.

4. Thanks to MZ for helping me schlep a few final items to Goodwill and a couple lucky buyers. The place is pretty empty now, which is actually when moving is at its hardest. At this point, there's little else to pack. It's just a bunch of stuff that has to be moved, but the urge to organize and label has me wandering around the apartment, wondering if there's a way for me to wrap the stereo and speakers in the perfect box.

Ah, well. Enough talk. It's on to a day of cleaning, final packing, and a prelim trip to Lansing before I say goodbye to this fare city.

Thanks for reading. More to follow.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Maybe I Should Get Health Insurance

Like Craig Schmidt, I've gotten sick at a crucial juncture. It's just a slight cold, but I'm notoriously bad at handling these situations, so it's bedtime for me in awhile.

Many thanks to Amy and Shane for housing me for the past few days. I look forward to seeing them plus the extended Dean family in the coming weeks.

Details on my last GLP hours will come once I've regained strength. So weak ... so weak ...

More to follow.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Grounded in Detroit

Someone dumped a ton of snow on the ground in Detroit, which means I'll be making use of Amy and Shane's hospitality for one more night. Quickly:

1. Great GLP sendoff on Friday night. A fuller recap will follow.
2. Great dinner with the family to celebrate Nana's birthday.
3. Great time reconnecting with some solid Detroit folks. I'll be broaching this metro area's borders more frequently.

Stay safe. More to follow.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Sudden, Thrilling Rush of Unemployment

'Scuse me, sir, can I have just a minute of your time? I don't do drugs, I don't drink. I just need $300 to cover my car payment and cell phone bill. Could you find it in your heart to help me in this time of need? No? Well God bless anyway.

So The Week of Lasts comes to an end. After a night at the bar with a super Great Lakes Publishing showing, it's off to B. Smith's house for one last shebang. I can't wait. The day was filled with donuts, a final visit to The Harp, a series of goodbyes, and the passing of the Wall of Evil. Guard it well, Slepro.

Tomorrow it's on to Detroit and what's to come. Holy shit!

More to follow.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Quickly, and Slightly Drunkly

A goodbye lunch to maestro tech writer Dan Hanson at Corky & Lenny's, a place Hudson would rave over.

A day of preparing myself and others for the future.

A night of bourbon, beer, and Irish carbombs with an all-star cast including Zawacki, Joyce, Slepro, Frey, Lewis, Flash, B. Smith, PERL-mutter, and others.

Here's to Friday. Thanks for reading. More to follow.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Product Plug

Next time you're at the grocery store, buy a Hershey's S'mores candy bar. It's 1.65 ounces of delectable deliciousness.

No More Lies

For two days now I've been talking about packing up the kitchen. But the lies must stop: It's been talk and nothing more. I've developed a Packing Block over the kitchen. It's like trying to solve a greased Rubik's cube in a wind tunnel. There are too many moving parts right now. What if I pack something and have to use it later? What should I do, starve?

I've been considering a half-pack, wherein I pack only half the kitchen goods, but then I have a half-packed box just sitting there, mocking me! I'll not stand for a box-mocking, that's certain.

So tonight I return to my nemesis, fueled by an entire box of frozen mozzarella sticks.

In other news, I'm lining up a few jobbie jobs for when I get home. It feels great to know I'll be able to get to Lansing and not start freaking out about money.


1. My mom is doing a breast cancer walk thing. If you want to donate, e-mail me at for more information.
2. The cat is so desperate for attention that he's taken to getting on my lap while I type and sniffing my chin. The cat has bad breath.
3. Said goodbye to The Boss today (he's off to Florida) and I gave him a very disappointing handshake. He came at me from an odd angle and I ended up executing a half-grab, wherein I grasp his hand only slightly above his knuckles. I lost major guy points on that one.
4. The governor of Ohio has the world's worst handshake. I met him once and thought I was shaking a dead kitten before I realized it was a handshake.
5. Cook has a great line is his most recent posting about getting squirted by the cologne girl at the mall. Classic.

More to follow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Fare Thee Well, China Sea

The Week of Lasts continued as I lunched at the wretched China Sea Express on Euclid Avenue for the last time today. I've visited this Chinese buffet version of hell an average of once a week since I started at Inside Business in September 2002. That means I've been there about 130 times and have spent more than $900 (at $6.20 a pop plus $1 tip) at that place. Only the damned souls who've visited this gruesome eatery can fully appreciate what that means not only to my bank account, but also to my heart and kidneys.

The China Sea's buffet is stocked with a murderer's row of fried, sodium-infused morsels of indeterminate nature. Its Crown Prince is the peanut butter chicken, which has been the Special of the Week since autumn 2002. It consists of strips of flabby chicken fried coated in a thick peanut butter sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It is by far one of the most nasty and addictive dishes I've ever encountered.

The IB staff usually writes off the afternoon following an excursion to the Sea; our MSG levels are so high that we usually have to lock ourselves in our offices until the hallucinations and muscle spasms stop. There's so much sodium in a meal that I have to take off my watch afterward because my body swells up like The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Then there's The Bear. But since I'm trying to keep this thing relatively readable, I won't get into The Bear. There are some things a man just shouldn't talk about.

The rest of the day was pretty pedestrian: finishing up the March issue and one other project, meeting with some folks from NASA Glenn Research Center, generally running around.

Tonight I continue my work on the kitchen and will possibly start taking down what I have hanging on the walls.

Before I leave you, I'd just like to say goodbye to a few of the items I've thrown away in this latest premove purge. Here's the honor roll:

1. My "Wine is Insanity Water" jug that I used to hold my change.
2. My faux 1984 Detroit Tigers baseball. It had the fake signatures of the members of the World Series team. One of the cats knocked it over this year and broke its container. Yerrr out!
3. My Wolverine boots. Those babies could probably last in the La Brea Tar Pits, but it's time to go.
4. This plastic double-picture frame holding two photos that tell a hilarious story: The right shows my grandfather as he's telling one of his stories, his mouth wide open and his arms stretched out; the left shows my grandmother and father sitting on a couch, listening to him in silent agony. I kept the photos, but it's time I upgrade the frame.
5. A spray canister of shoe protectant. I really like to spray my shoes with this stuff. It makes me feel like I could walk through molten lava.*

Thanks for reading. More to follow.

*Spray-on shoe protectant will not protect shoes from molten lava.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Week of Lasts

Forgive the theme, but I'll be marking a few last-time-evers this week as I close up shop at the largest business publication in Northeast Ohio. I completed my final dummybook today, which is the final, complete proof of the magazine. This one was a whopper, our largest March issue and third-largest issue. I'm also proud to say I went out with a pretty damn good magazine. The cover looks great, and there's some solid editorial inside.

In moving news, I was a good little packer this weekend, knocking out the books and CDs. Books are maybe the most maddening of all possessions to pack, especially if you're as peculiarly exact as I am. I packed and unpacked five boxes at least twice as I challenged myself to a 3-D version of "Tetris." Each box needed an even distribution of weight, and the big books and hard covers were at the bottom. The smaller paperbacks were left to fill in the gaps.

Tonight it's on to an appraisal of the kitchen equipment, not that there's too much of it. While I enjoy a good quiche as much as the next fella, I have a rule for the kitchen: If it requires more than one pot, pan, or cookie sheet, I don't make it. Macaroni is given an exemption because colanders are light and easy to clean.

Finally, a rundown of the World's Best Packing Music:
1. Any Jimi Hendrix greatest hits will do (especially because it's fun to intersperse the cat's name in the lyrics: "Hey, Tiny, where you goin' with that gun in your hand?")
2. Not-too-dissonance-laden Wilco, including the "Mermaid Avenue" albums
3. Grandaddy's "Sumday"
4. Any good Thelonious Monk set
5. The Hives, especially if you're in throw-away mode and have to punch the living hell out of old cardboard boxes to get them to fit into trash bags

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Saturday Night's All Right For Fighting ...

... and it's also OK for sitting around and watching my "Chappelle's Show" DVD. But first a rundown of this, the 12th day of February, 2005 (some may call it 3 Adar-I, 5765).

1. For some reason I slept on the floor last night rather than the bed. I thought it would be good for my back, and it was, if good for my back means sore and tight in the morning. What an idiot.

2. Did some mild puttering in the morning, which included packing up my drinky glasses and throwing away a few things. Moving is always a time of material self-appraisal, a time to seperate the crap-wheat from the crap-chaff. Which means I finally junked the old thermos I've been lugging around since high school. I used it to drink coffee after morning swim practice during first hour, which was journalism. There I'd be, a steaming cup of java in my hand, editing a column by my co-editor in chief about how she was going to stop fighting in the halls and resort to peaceful conflict with her peers. I made a few comma corrections and made a mental note to never cross the writer, who easily had a few inches on me.

3. Took a brisk walk around the OC, noting this would be one of the last times I'd walk through this fabulous neighborhood. Ohio City reminds me a lot of the hood I grew up in, with its well-kept, modest homes and diverse population. While I'm paying a shitload for this apartment, I've thoroughly enjoyed my time in this area, with its proximity to downtown, world-class market, Cleveland's answer to the Peanut Barrel, and striking architecture. If I ever return to Ctown, I'll no doubt return to the near West Side.

4. Saw Hotel Rwanda. Sister, I think you're overly critical of Don Cheadle's supporting cast. I think everyone did a splendid job. This movie easily could have veered off into indulgent bloodbath territory filled with overacting and inelegant political rants. It instead followed Cheadle's character (real dude) as he hustled the cretins around him to protect his family and the brave souls seeking refuge in his hotel. The scene where Whitey was whisked away while the natives could do nothing but stare was striking.

5. Now it's off to leftovers, a Scotch or two, maybe some more packing, and a dose of Chappelle's. Tomorrow will see me reading my last dummybook for Inside Business and doing little else.

More to follow.

Friday, February 11, 2005

It's 5:30. Are You Still Wearing Pants?

Just had a great conversation with old droog Ilya before his trip to Argentina. He'll be making some cultural observations, studying cooperative manufacturing, traveling South America, and generally shaking his moneymaker. Safe and happy travels, my friend.

Back in Cleveland, I'm close to putting my last issue to bed. We had our last meeting as a staff, which clocked in at another solid hour and a half. True to form.

Meanwhile, in East Lansing, public urination has been banned. The MSU board passed it, 7-0, and civil liberty suffered one more little death. The outrage.

Now I'm off to dinner with MKB, petting the cat, and maybe vacuuming the apartment. We'll remember these days for the rest of our lives.

More to follow.

Gaines' Last Stand

Ah, those last few days in a magazine production cycle. Edit is pushing its final few pieces, Art is going into overdrive because Edit is behind, and Production sits in its office like a dragon in its cave.

Part of me will miss this lunatic routine.

But after this, new vistas await, including L.A., as I just got confirmation for the ACES conference. Headlines and hotties, here I come!

More to follow.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

It Is Not I Who Am Crazy ...

Day 9,191 in Craig Life and Day 2 in Rocket Fever Life was, well, long. Out of the house at 6 a.m., back home at 20 after 7. The hours in between were spent bouncing like a pinball through the halls of my soon-to-be-former employer. Nothing like editing a 14-page meeting and event facilities guide that had to be operated on because the designer accidentally left off ONE FREAKING LINE on the third page to start a day. As my colleague Mike Zawacki would say, OOF!

After work went to a discussion at the Cleveland Athletic Club about a new major transportation project about to hit downtown. To nerds like me, it was actually sort of interesting.

Now it's off to making dinner, ironing a shirt for tomorrow, and a little Economist reading. Not exactly the Fresh life, but it keeps me occupied.

Also, thanks to Cook for keeping the pressure on me to contribute to this thing.

More to follow.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Well, Damn

Here's my blog, I guess. The name comes from the first words I read after opening up Ray Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles," which I must have read at least five times.

Just to get everyone up to speed, here's me right now: recently divorced, about to leave Cleveland for home in Lansing, Mich., and whatever lies beyond. I almost named this thing "The Hustle," since that's what I'll be getting on in the coming months. I'm going to test the theory that a professional editor can survive without a full-time job. I'm going to be doing some traveling, some reading, some reconnecting with folks.

More to follow.

Oh! Happy Birthday, sister.