Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sen. McCain Really is Anti-Tax

John and Cindy McCain have failed to pay taxes on their California beach-front condo for the last four years and are currently in default.

The McCains own no fewer than seven different homes through a variety of trusts and corporations controlled by Cindy McCain.

Reminder: The Democratic nominee is the elitist candidate.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Shaddap ya bums! I'm trying to hear the teevee! -- Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 4

John Callaway's interview with Neil Steinberg will air this evening at 7 p.m. on WTTW Channel 11's "Chicago Tonight."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gimmie the usual... -- Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 3

What would be the point of working at a newspaper if it didn't hype your new book? Neil Steinberg doesn't have to ponder that question because the Chicago Sun-Times gave his new memoir, Drunkard, the push it deserves.

Here is the unabashed plug from the Sun-Times books editor, Teresa Budasi:
Steinberg did a brave thing writing Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life, a post-arrest/rehab memoir -- a memorial of sorts to the once-cherished and romanticized former version of himself as a whiskey-swilling journalist.
The S-T wisely looked outside its offices for the official Chicago Sun-Times Review which was provided by Roger K. Miller, a former Wisconsin newspaper editor:
Steinberg calls himself "a functioning drunkard," a more colorful "slur" he prefers over the clinical word "alcoholic." It fits his sometimes debased behavior, including fishing a bottle of cherry brandy out of the recycling bin to lap the dregs and "snorting" booze by inserting an empty airline minibottle into his nostril and inhaling the alcohol vapors. ***

As a former ink-stained wretch myself, I greatly admire Steinberg's reason for writing Drunkard; not to help others avoid going through what he did -- the high-sounding motive you typically get from people who write about struggles they went through -- but because telling their stories is what writers do and "because doing so somehow redeems us."

It is part and parcel of his honesty in examining his life. Mr. Steinberg, consider yourself redeemed.
Sadly, Mr. Miller is wrong.

Some of my favorite books were written by great writers who were rotten husbands, terrible fathers and miserably failed human beings, see Royko, Michael and Burroughs, William Seward. In my eyes, their books are capital-'g' Great.

But their books, no matter how well-written, honest or beloved, did not -- could not -- redeem their authors of their sins against those who loved them. Great writing alone can no more redeem us of our sins than great cabinetry or great photography can.
One's life can only be redeemed by good living.

Fortunately for Neil, there is plenty good news.

First, none of us are ever really, fully redeemed, so he's got plenty of company on the road to redemption.

Second, an honest and well-written book can be a valuable, powerful tool for living a good life.

And finally, Neil's "Father's Day" piece for the Sun-Times shows that honesty and thoughtfulness -- the characteristics that have served him so well in his chosen occupation -- are serving him in his primary vocation as well.

Note: The Webster Place Barnes & Noble will be hosting Mr. Steinberg's only Chicago area book signing TONIGHT at
7:30 pm.

Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 2
Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 1

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Our two weapons are fear and surprise..." -- Cardinal Ximinez

"Certainly [another terrorist attack on U.S. soil] would be a big advantage to him." -- Charlie Black, chief adviser to Sen. John McCain.

Earlier : "They're going to try to make you afraid."

Fear of a Black Planet President

From your Chicago Tribune:
Barack Obama is telling supporters to watch for his critics to play the race card, even if it is turned over in a subtle way.

The Illinois senator cast the the coming election as a choice between hope and fear, with, in his view, Republican opponents stressing fear of the unknown. That, he said, is likely to encompass his youth, his slim public record, his strange name, and, yes, the idea of a black man in the Oval Office.

"The choice is clear. Most of all we can choose between hope and fear," Obama said at a fundraiser in Jacksonville, Fla., Friday evening. "It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy.

"We know what kind of campaign they're going to run," he continued. "They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me -- 'He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?' ''
And if voters really want to cast their ballots based on fear, they should try this on for size: "Ninety-five more years in Iraq."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Romenesko: Redesigned Chicago Tribune to debut in mid-September

Your Chicago Tribune's editor Ann Marie Lipinski:
We are committed to determining the basic architecture and sectioning of the paper within 30 days; deciding on paging (how many and where) within 45 days; understanding our staffing levels throughout the paper in 60 days; and being ready to launch a rethought and redesigned Tribune within 90 days in mid-September.
Fortunately, the best plans are those developed and executed in great haste.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Untimely Death of Tim Russert

Tim Russert, NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and the moderator of “Meet the Press,” died Friday after collapsing. He was 58.

When he suddenly and shockingly died of a heart attack, Tim Russert was thirteen years younger than Sen. John McCain.

McCain Emphasizes Experience in Major Foreign Policy Speech

Friday, June 13, 2008

Make it a Double: Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 2

The second in a series of news, interviews and reviews of Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life by Neil Steinberg of your Chicago Sun-Times.

Marcia Froelke Coburn of Chicago Magazine:
Steinberg examines in unrelenting detail how he had been drinking -- sometimes up to 40 ounces of hard liquor a day -- for a long time. Somewhere along the line, it stopped being fun. The book starts the day before the domestic-battery incident and then takes the reader through Steinberg's 28-day rehab and his struggles to stay sober (under the threat of a divorce) in the first months afterward. His wife, Edie, is a pivotal yet aloof character in the account. She is a driving force in his quest for sobriety, yet she moves quietly around the edges of much of the book, reading her Al-Anon pamphlets and refusing to indulge her husband.

Drunkard is, by turns, horrifying (Steinberg drinks the bottle of vanilla used for his kids' French toast), exasperating (he turns a speech in New York into a scene from The Lost Weekend), frightening (he leaves his young son Ross alone in the children's section of the Northbrook library so he can run out and buy a pint of bourbon), and funny (home from jail, he wishes he had spent half as much time thinking about his life as he had planning his kitchen renovation).

The book is a compelling read, sad and wistful and breathtakingly forthright. Amazingly, it also has a lot of laughs.
The piece also features Neil's candid photos of his wife and children.

Steinberg's former S-T colleague Esther Cepeda spoke with Neil for her "600 Words" column:
"I was writing it as it was happening, so I like to think they're fresh," he said. "The editing was excruciating – that was as difficult, if not more difficult, than the writing. At the time [of recovery] the book was the one thing I could control. I couldn’t control the drinking, the law, or the case but I could control the book. During the editing I had to really battle to keep control if it."

And was it worth it?

"If I wrote ‘Ulysses’ it was," he says, reasonably tired of pondering it. "Given the pain, ‘The Sun Also Rises’ would not have been worth it to me, I would have much rather avoided the whole thing."

"That said, I feel I did the best I could with a bad situation. I at least rose to the occasion and didn’t move to a Red Roof Inn and continue drinking. At least not yet."
Kirkus review (via the Little City Book Sale site):
Instead of romanticizing recovery, he does something much more difficult and effective: He acknowledges, even celebrates, the allure of the drinking life and sees his year of sobriety as both "a triumph" and "little more than a good start."Enlivened by humor and brisk prose, Steinberg's unflinching tale is far more compelling than most recovery memoirs.
From the list of recommended summer books:
Much of Steinberg's memoir takes place in fluorescent-lit A.A. rooms or at meals where he must begrudgingly swap his beloved Jack Daniel's for iced tea, meanwhile reconciling himself with the man he has become: a drunkard. He wears the identity like a hair shirt, resenting the 12-step doublespeak and the God stuff. His struggle to stay sober isn't exactly sexy; getting clean is never as fun as getting dirty. But it is a clear-eyed (at times even elegant) depiction of the desperation and denial of the white-collar wino, who must stumble repeatedly before realizing that intellect and ego alone are not enough to save him.
And long time readers know that if "intellect and ego alone" could save anybody, it would be Neil Steinberg.

More reviews and interviews as they become available.

Previously: Steinbook Roundup Part 1.

UPDATE - Missed Bookshipper's 4-star review:
Steinberg has drawn a vivid and scary picture of what someone can become when the drinking gets out of control. Despite the fact that he is on the verge of losing absolutely everything, including his mind, his addict mind will not let him see that he truly needs help.

Through his struggles and with alot of honest insights, Streinberg starts to see that maybe he is, after all, the addict that everyone else seems to believe he is. The author does not hesitate to describe his nightmare and is very candid about his role in how he got there and more importantly, how he can get to a happier, sober place.
Again, if you spot something about Mr. Steinberg's book lemmie know.

Pissed Off: R. Kelly Acquitted

"Let's say I committed this crime… Even if I did this, it would have to have been because I loved her very much, right?" -- O.J. Simpson

At long last, R. Kelly can now begin the hunt for the
real child pornographer.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

"And don't get me started about my daughter-in-law..."

Maybe I'm a foolishly sunny optimist -- friends, family and long-time readers are forgiven for laughing -- but I seriously question the actual threat posed by the much-hyped anti-Obama Clinton-supporters.

There is no doubt that some noisy cranks and dramatic crackpots have made themselves and their bruised feelings known to the press. But these people can't be taken seriously.

They are those pathetic souls, burdened with their laundry list of petty grievances, who whine and moan about everything -- "kids these days," "the Mexicans," the new minister -- and complain to anyone who will give them the time of day. Or who is unfortunate enough to be standing in line with them.

If the press was reporting on barking dogs, those same bellyachers would be elbowing their way to the cameras to bitch about the neighbor's lab.

We can't let our candidate or our party get distracted by a handful of serial gripers.

Steinbook Roundup

The first in a series of news, interviews and reviews of Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life by Neil Steinberg of your Chicago Sun-Times.

First up, Michael Miner of your
Chicago Reader:
[Steinberg's] sixth book, Drunkard, is fascinating.

It begins—after some brief scene setting in which Steinberg describes exactly how and where he got wasted each evening before catching his train—with the night he slugged his wife, Edie, and she had him arrested. You may have read about it in the papers in 2005.

A trip to jail, rehab, and AA followed, along with sobriety and relapses, altered family life, and Steinberg’s grudging admission to himself that AA was probably right—he could only be saved if he submitted his ego to some higher power.

The problem was that he didn’t believe in a higher power, and he couldn’t pretend to himself that he did.
Bonus: A debate on the necessity of A Higher PowerTM for maintaining sobriety ensues in the Reader's comments. Jonathan Messinger interviewed Neil for Time Out Chicago:
TOC: Some of your descriptions of booze actually made me want a drink.

Neil Steinberg: This isn’t a polemic. I hope that it helps people. I’m a drinker who doesn’t drink. I don’t drink because then I want to drink more, and then it slides to hell very quickly. But drinking is a wonderful thing.

I wish I could do it.
More Drunkard coverage to follow, so if you spot something about Mr. Steinberg's book lemmie know.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Now would be a good time to start following the strip.

Darrin Bell's Candorville -- the cartoon too good for the Tribune -- just got very, very interesting.

Harriet Christian Redux

Many thanks to Mr. Black for introducing me to the word "cigarette hag."

If not for that neologism, I'd be at a loss for words.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Rage! Rage Against the Dying of the Light.

From James Fallows of the Atlantic:
Way to unify the party, HRC!

You HAVE LOST the nomination. There are NO MORE primaries. And you're urging your supporters to nurse their bitter feelings on your web site, and keep selling their bikes to give you money that you'll spend on... what?

The unseemliness -- and, yes, destructiveness -- of this is too obvious to mention, though perhaps not obvious enough to have occurred to you.

This is a new low.
Anyone who donates money to Sen. Clinton's campaign after tonight deserves to be fleeced.

UPDATE - Mark Evanier: "Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe is starting to sound like Michael Palin in the Dead Parrot sketch. Hillary has not been eliminated. She's just pining for fjords."

Ask For It By Name!

"England and America are two countries separated by a common language." --George Bernard Shaw.

Adding Japanese to the mix doesn't clear anything up.

From page 31 of volume 387, number 8581 of The Economist (emphasis in original):
Japan is the true fast-food nation, and Tokyo's food-on-the-run is vast and diverse: at its best a thing of genius, while at its worst it can out-affront anything the United States has to offer. A bottom-up tour gives a sense of the possibilities. At the ubiquitous combini (convenience store) that caters to millions of salarymen, students and shiftworkers each day, you find not just the yakisoba dog, but also the potato-salad sandwich (available in vending machines too), the katsu sando (breaded pork-cutlet sandwich) and the curry pan, in essence a doughnut with a slurry of curry powder and meat gristle injected into the middle of it, irradiated for longevity.

Friends of mine showing discrimination in other parts of their lives confess to a fondness for such outrages, though even they cannot swallow the Homo sausage.
The online edition explains that the homo sausage that cannot be swallowed is actually "an emulsified, shrink-wrapped fish sausage."

Ellas Bate McDaniel (1928 - 2008)

"A dude with a pencil is worse than a cat with a machine gun." -- Bo Diddley

After many decades as a civilian, the name "Bo Diddley" still haunts the dreams of this pencil-pushing dude -- and I suspect that his name will ring through eternity as long as there are cats with machine guns.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Harriet Christian aka The Clinton Base


In his column in the Washington Post, David Ignatius asks, "What happens when a superpower becomes preoccupied by a costly war and loses some of its ability to coerce friends and enemies toward the outcomes it favors?"

While Ignatius is referring to the post-Bush United States and its role in the Mideast, exactly the same question could be asked about the Clintons.

Rationale v. Rational

You can only choose one:
  1. Hillary Clinton's Democratic primary campaign was fatally crippled by rampant sexism that has poisoned the nation's electorate, or
  2. Hillary Clinton would be the stronger Democratic candidate in the general election.


Blog Archive