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Showing posts from April, 2013

That Was the Month That Was

Well, readers, it's been an interesting 30 days. They say that April can be the cruelest month. While this April wasn't necessarily cruel, it was definitely full of a varied amount occurrences, some good, some bad. I thought it fitting to review the month, properly say goodbye to it, and look ahead to May with some optimism.

The Great Beyond

David Allred has written a "faith column" for Oak Ridge Today, in which he takes umbrage with the late Roger Ebert's musings on death. In particular, Allred would seem to dislike the term "nothing" being ascribed to the state of what happens to us after we die. Allred appears to believe in an afterlife and, it seems, a god. Following is a passage from Ebert's essay-in-question: I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. Adding to Allred's distress over Ebert's beliefs (or lack thereof) is the mass sharing of the late film critic's essay that has occurred since his passing earlier this month. From Allred: I am not surpris…

Pic of the Week

Time for another luscious Pic o' the Week! Here we have British diver Chris Mears (friend of Tom Daley), doing a photo shoot for the Gay Times 'naked' issue from earlier this year. Alas, he's not gay, just a supporter. Still, enjoy!

He's My Plus One

The week my father died I began working at a bar on campus. Cochrane's. I was one of the DJs. Sayon was another one. He and I would alternate Friday & Saturday nights every weekend. It was a fun time, believe it or not. I did a lot of bar hopping during those days, at Cochrane's, other campus bars and, of course, Chester Street. There were several bar outings in those days that consisted of failed attempts to be noticed by some straight guy or other. What was I thinking? Oh well.
My friend, Bryan, had gotten me the job at Cochrane's. He'd just become the manager there, and was nice, and believed in my DJing abilities. Sometimes during the day when the bar was technically closed, but Bryan was there working on stuff, I'd stop by and visit. There was a cafe a couple doors down from the bar, and I remember stopping in there one day. The two owners were a husband and wife, very kind people. They had a nephew visiting -- an extended visit -- named Mike.

On the Eve of Ebertfest

Upon entering the resplendently restored Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign, IL this past Saturday, my first thought was, 'If only Roger Ebert had lived to see this.' The rest of the visit there that afternoon was bittersweet. My partner and I, longtime Ebertfest-goers, walked around and took-in the Virginia in all her rediscovered glory. The murals, the stencils, the new licks of paint, the repaired masonry, it was all so beautiful. The new chairs? Eh, well, nothing is perfect.
And now, a few days later, we are about to begin Roger Ebert's 15th Annual Ebertfest, but without Roger Ebert. The film critic died earlier this month, and this will mark the first time the festival has taken place with its namesake dead (he did not attend one year due to health issues, but was active on his blog during the course of the festival). It is unclear how the festival will unfold this time around. Probably as normal, with a few misty-eyes and remembrances thrown in for good measure.

The Once and Future Campus Town

I grew up and live in Champaign-Urbana, IL, a nifty little college town. Having been here for (ahem) some time, I've watched the community grow and prosper. Most of the changes have been for the best, although change is often defined subjectively. One of the areas about to undergo a somewhat major overhaul is the campus town district. Many college communities have a campus town, an area close to the university full of shops and cafes, where students and townies alike can meet up for food, friends and fun. The changes coming to our own said area include several new high-rise (for C-U) buildings, parking garages, retail spots and hotels.
An employee at the university here, driving in to work this morning I became wistful while gazing upon the campus town landscape and skyline, all the while thinking of the aforementioned changes, and how things used to be. In truth, campus town here in C-U used to be more, well, grungy. And I mean that in the most affectionate way possible. Perhaps…

Pic of the Week

Hello again! Our latest Pic o' the Week is none other than actor (and star of the Microsoft Surface Pro commercial) Daniel Cloud Campos. Enjoy the dishiness!

They Say It's Your Birthday

It's true that I've devoted a lot of time on this blog to friends, family and neighbors who are no longer with us. That's probably not too uncommon, as it's a fallibility of human nature that we don't tend to overly-gush about the living. We wait until they're dead, then eulogize them. That's all well and good for those who are still around, but kinda sucks if you've already snuffed it.
Pondering over the aforementioned thoughts made me realize that it's better late than never to show an appreciation for those who've made a difference in my life, both in the past and in the present. In fact, today falling smack dab as it does between two stellar people's birthdays (Terry's yesterday, Amanda's tomorrow) has prompted me to undertake a little written appreciation of them. Two folks whom I'm fortunate enough to count as friends.

Riding Without Training Wheels

We had a beautiful Sunday here in Champaign-Urbana. Only two weeks ago today there was a foot of snow falling, and now we have 70 degree temps and plenty of sunshine. It was a nice day to do some walking, and so I walked, purposefully. Part of my job as an elected precinct committee person is to get information to voters. I did so this afternoon by dropping-off some campaign literature for various candidates. Hopefully there wasn't much bother to folks, simply putting the lit in their doors, and moving on.
As I meandered up Daniel St., a father and son could be seen on the sidewalk. The son was on a bicycle with training wheels, the father sometimes beside him, sometimes behind him. This was at the portion of Daniel St. that comes to an end right at the front of Westview, my old elementary school. In fact, it is the same school where I learned to ride a bike without training wheels. It's a coincidental reminder of living in the town you grew up in, seeing a father and son and…

Elusive

Nothing is infinite. Well, probably nothing. We can't be certain, but we know that many things are finite: our lives, certainly. Even the Earth, the sun, other stars and planets have expiration dates, although it's difficult to fathom such a notion, as their lifespans are so very much greater than our own. What seems to define all of this is time. True, there is also space, but space is pretty much a given. Things -- though they come and go -- exist within a spacial plane. But what defines them (and us) is time.
Indeed, it would seem that time is the ultimate prison, the ultimate foe and, therefore, the ultimate frustration. We could, theoretically, travel to other worlds. And perhaps someday we as a species will do so. But for us, here and now, the likelihood is slim-to-none. Anyone who is reading this bit of writing when it is published will not survive long enough to have such an opportunity. Time will have taken its toll on us.

Requiem In Silver and Screen

There I was, at the President's House of the University of Illinois, enjoying a work-related function. Odd though it may sound, it was a familiar environment. I'd been there before, several times, for the opening night gala for Ebertfest, Roger Ebert's annual film festival held in his hometown of Urbana-Champaign. Then I got a text from my partner that read "Ebert has died."
The surroundings remained familiar, but surreal. A few moments prior I'd been thinking how, in just a couple of weeks, I'd be back at the house again celebrating a new edition of Roger Ebert's Film Festival. It would be fun! Yes, Ebert had recently announced that his cancer had returned, but he'd sounded very future-forward in his outlook, and I sort of hoped that perhaps he'd be able to attend his wonderful, glorious event.
And now he's gone.

Moral Ambiguity and The Walking Dead

Last night saw the 3rd season finale of AMC's The Walking Dead zombie apocalypse series. Although its ratings will no doubt be massive, the episode appears to be garnering some dissent among fandom (at least if you read the online reviews, comments and message boards). Personally, it seemed lacking as a season-ender, even if it had its moments. I'm about to delve into a morality issue regarding certain aspects of the episode so, if you haven't watched it, turn back now.
Ok, here we go...