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Thread: Close Up and Personal: Faces in the Crowd, Pt. 2

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    Cat Got My, Um, Mustache!



    Boy, I tell ya: Leave it to a house cat to spoil our best laid plans!

    I set the fake mustache on top of my gas-powered fireplace atop its original, celophane wrapper earlier this evening, only to find just the wrapper a few minutes ago.

    Geez, maybe I'm doomed to be a "cat person," you know, like those spinsters who live alone with 25 cats.

    Ugh! May it never be...

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    Excellent Piece on Frank Baltazar, AKA "Kiki" or "Kikibalt"

    I just posted up this excellent piece at the CBZ Newswire section on Frank Baltazar, Sr., who often posts here as "Mr. Kiki" or "Kikibalt." Frank, whose sons Frankie and Tony "The Tiger" Baltazar were exciting contenders in boxing back in the 80s, played a major role in California boxing.

    Although the author, Rick Farris, no longer posts here, I think you'll agree that he did a bang-up job on the piece.

    Here's a link to the piece:

    Link to Frank Baltazar Article

    Enjoy!
    Last edited by Juan C Ayllon; 02-09-2008 at 01:55 PM.

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    Those Darn Cats!

    Ha! Leave it up to the cats, who are forever up to something. Sigh. Last night, one of them absconded with my fake mustache. Now, they're playing DJ.

    Don't believe me? See for yourself!

    DJ Kitty Link

    I think it's just a matter of time until they steal my wallet, nab the car keys, and go clubbing in the city...

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    Final Photos on Merrillville, Indiana Fights Now Up!




    Well, what can I say? It took me a week to put up the final photos, but they're now up.

    I'll tell you: I've never looked at so many black--or almost black--photos and tried to readjust the best ones with photo software. What a headache! And, with my head cold this week, I just didn't have the energy to deal with it like I should have.

    So, for those who were inconvenienced by this, my appologies!

    Here's a link to my updated report:

    Link to Fight Report & Pics

    Regards,



    Juan
    Last edited by Juan C Ayllon; 02-09-2008 at 01:45 PM.

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    Coffee House Tonight!

    ‘Comfort Zone’ Christian Coffee House Kicks off
    Saturday Night with Joel Brovont and ‘Remember Rome!’


    A cup of coffee warms chilled hands. Laughter, conversation, and homespun gospel music remind you that you’re not alone on this frozen winter’s night.
    The event? It’s the Comfort Zone Christian Coffee House!

    This Saturday, February 9th at 6:30 PM, Comfort Zone kicks off its 2008 calendar of monthly events with Joel Brovont (for more info, see www.joelbrovont.com) and Remember Rome (see http://www.RememberRome.com). An open microphone, where guests share original music, poetry drama or art, follows their performance.

    Scheduled the second Saturday of every month, Comfort Zone runs from 6:30 to 10 PM, free of charge, following the 5:00 PM Saturday service at Harvest Bible Chapel-Lake Zurich. Harvest Bible Chapel is located at 255 Quentin Road in Lake Zurich, Illinois.


    So, grab a friend, come join the fun and warm up those frosted bones this Saturday! See you there!

    Harvest Bible Chapel-Lake Zurich (847) 438-7440
    http://www.hbclz.org
    I'm planning on heading off to my church's coffee house event this evening. Not doing anything? Drop by and say hello!

    Cheers,



    Juan

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    Uncle Boogie Pants CD Release Part at Cabs This Saturday!

    Hey,

    I just received this message in my email earlier today:

    CABS has a special music event planned for Saturday, Februray 16th. We have a CD Release Party for our own "Uncle Boogie Pants", (UBP). This band was "discovered" at CABS in November 2006 by a group in the music industry who were dining with us. UBP will soon announce a schedule to include festivals and openings for some of the biggest names in rock & the jam band world this summer.

    UBP recently completed a highly acclaimed album, "Volume and Verse", that will be reviewed in Relix Magazine next month. Go to www.uncleboogiepants.com and click press kit for a preview of the CD.

    "The first 25 reservations, receive a free CD, "Volume & Verse." UBP is a band on the rise so don't miss this CD Release Party at CABS on Saturday.
    I'll be there meeting a friend from out of town for dinner and plan on sticking around for the party. Stop on by and say hello if you get a chance!

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    On Turning That Frown Upside Down...

    Hmmm. I don't quite know what I think of this National Public Radio article on celebrating sadness, but he does have a point. Certainly, experiencing temporary feelings of depression or sadness can be a vital experience, no doubt, and lead to great works of art, amongst other things.

    Enjoy (or lament) the article:

    Arguing the Upside of Being Down

    Ken Bennett

    Eric G. Wilson, author of Against Happiness, argues for the vital need for sadness in the world. Wake Forest University


    All Things Considered, February 11, 2008 · Author Eric G. Wilson has come to realize he was born to the blues, and he has made peace with his melancholy state.

    But it took some time, as he writes in his new book, a polemic titled Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy.


    At the behest of well-meaning friends, I have purchased books on how to be happy. I have tried to turn my chronic scowl into a bright smile. I have attempted to become more active, to get away from my dark house and away from my somber books and participate in the world of meaningful action. … I have contemplated getting a dog. I have started eating salads. I have tried to discipline myself in nodding knowingly. … I have undertaken yoga. I have stopped yoga and gone into tai chi. I have thought of going to psychiatrists and getting some drugs. I have quit all of this and then started again and then once more quit. Now I plan to stay quit. The road to hell is paved with happy plans.

    Wilson has embraced his inner gloom, and he wishes more people would do the same.

    The English professor at Wake Forest University wants to be clear that he is not "romanticizing" clinical depression and that he believes it is a serious condition that should be treated.

    But he worries that today's cornucopia of antidepressants — used to treat even what he calls "mild to moderate sadness" — might make "sweet sorrow" a thing of the past.

    "And if that happens, I wonder, what will the future hold? Will our culture become less vital? Will it become less creative?" he asks.

    Wilson talks to Melissa Block about why the world needs melancholy — how it pushes people to think about their relation to the world in new ways and ultimately to relate to the world in a richer, deeper way.

    He also explores the link between sadness, artistic creation and depression — which has led to suicide in many well-known cases: Virginia Woolf, Vincent Van Gogh, Hart Crane and Ernest Hemingway, for instance.

    Wilson says perhaps this is "just part of the tragic nature of existence, that sometimes there's a great price to be paid for great works or beauty, for truth."

    "We can look at the lives of Dylan Thomas, Virginia Woolf, Hart Crane and others and lament the fact that they suffered so. Yet at the same time, we're buoyed, we're overjoyed by the works they left behind," Wilson says.

    The husband and father of a young daughter also acknowledges that melancholy is "difficult terrain to negotiate in domestic situations." He says there are certainly times when his family hoped he would be "happier," and yet they would not want him to pretend to feel something he doesn't.

    Wilson says that by taking his melancholy seriously, his family ultimately will get to know him more deeply and develop a more intimate relationship with him.

    "To get to know your partner, your spouse, your friend fully, you really have to find a way to embrace the dark as well as the light. Only then can you know that person," he says.
    Link to online article

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    Rue Royale in the News

    Wow! I just spotted this article on Brook Dekker and his wife, Ruth's band in the Chicago Reader today. A nice, softspoken young man, Brook is the son of the worship leader, Kevn Dekker (no spelling error!) at my church.

    Rue Royale played this last year at our coffee house event.

    Now or Never
    Husband-and-wife duo Rue Royale pinpoint the last sane moment to bail on grown-up life and hit the road.

    By Miles Raymer

    February 14, 2008

    Rue Royale, Horse in the Sea, Kyle Andrews
    Sat 2/16, 8 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 866-468-3401, $8.



    On their MySpace page, Rue Royale still list Chicago as their location, but two months ago this husband-and-wife indie folk-pop duo gave up their apartment in town—they’re staying in a friend’s living room in Barrington, and before that they were crashing with another friend in Palatine. They’ve sold or given away about 80 percent of their stuff, including their two cats and most of their furniture, and they’re about to quit their jobs. On Saturday they’ll play a local release party for their new self-titled full-length, and then in March they’re embarking on a seven-week European tour they booked themselves. They’re also arranging a tour of the States that will start when they get back. They aim to find out if they can do indie folk-pop full-time.

    Quitting your job and selling your stuff so your band can tour is not the sort of behavior you expect from married people making decent money in white-collar jobs. Ruth Dekker and her husband, Brookln, were securely on track to be a comfortable middle-class family a few years from now. Ruth, 27, works in remittance processing at a bank. Brookln, 28, works freelancefor a company that provides audiovisual services. They’ve been together seven and a half years and married for almost five. Though Brookln, who was raised in Saint Louis, played the Christian coffeehouse circuit in his teens and met Ruth, who’s from a small town in England, while she was touring with a choir, they’ve only been making music as a couple for about two years. “We’re both musicians,” says Brookln. “That’s one of the things that drew us together originally. Her parents kinda were always trying to pressure me to do something with her, but I wouldn’t because I thought, husband-and-wife bands—it’s so hard to do that in a cool way.”

    Eventually, though, familiarity and convenience trumped those concerns. “One day I was just like, ‘Come in the study,’” he says. “‘I’m playing this thing on the guitar. Let’s see what we can do.’ That day we put together a song called ‘Even in the Darkness’ that we put on our EP, and it just kinda happened naturally after that.”

    Rue Royale, "Walls"
    “We were both surprised that it actually sounded . . . ” says Ruth, then pauses. “It wasn’t cheesy.”

    Within a week they’d written a couple more songs and set up a MySpace page. They released the EP Brookln’s referring to, The Search for Where to Go, in May 2006.

    Given that what makes people musically compatible is as big a mystery as what makes them click romantically, Ruth and Brookln have been reluctant to tinker with their success by sharing the songwriting with a third party. “Two reasons come to mind,” Brookln says. “Logistically it’s so much easier with just two people. . . . But also you have this sort of emotional tie you have with your songs, and writing a song with your spouse, it’s almost like an offspring of sorts—and to let someone else into the creative process with that, to me, I don’t think I’m ready for that.”

    The Dekkers’ friend Aaron Stampfl, who plays keyboards with the Ultra Sonic Edukators, recorded piano parts for both Rue Royale releases and sometimes joins them onstage (he’ll be part of the release show, for instance), but he doesn’t exactly write what he plays—they give him a sketch or a general outline and he fills in the details. Stampfl’s bandmate, USE drummer Aaron Mortenson, added percussion to the EP, but Ruth took over that job for the full-length. And at shows she and Brookln usually split it: he plays kick drum along with his guitar, and she handles shakers, a snare drum, and other odds and ends, including a set of bells she uses to play skeletal versions of the piano parts.

    By confining other musicians to peripheral roles, the Dekkers preserve the domestic vibe you can also hear in couple bands like Mates of State and the Like Young—a kind of easy, comfortable intimacy that makes it feel like the songs were written for an audience of one. The music is delicate, usually consisting of little more than acoustic guitar, piano, and Ruth and Brookln’s paired vocals. This is only partly a deliberate aesthetic choice, though. “When we wrote those songs for the EP,” says Ruth, “we were actually living in a small little apartment . . . the woman upstairs was a nightmare, and if we made any noise she’d like freak out.”

    “Cursing at us,” Brookln says. “Kicking the floor.”

    “So we actually kinda wrote them kinda whispering them, and it created this intimate, quiet, hushed thing, which sounds really weird,” says Ruth. “But it’s the creative space they came from.”

    The Dekkers count among their influences several artists I go out of my way to avoid—Coldplay, Sufjan Stevens, the Doves—but they seem to have borrowed only their finer qualities. The songs on Rue Royale are full of the sort of quiet tension that Sufjan and the Doves only nail a couple times per album, and though I can hear Coldplay—or Radiohead via Coldplay—in “These Long Roads,” there’s a haunted ache in Brookln’s lead vocal that Chris Martin seems incapable of projecting. The interplay between the vocal parts (and between the guitar and piano) triggers a hard-to-define sensation, something like the voyeuristic tingle you get when you realize you’re intruding on something private, and it keeps me coming back to the track to feel it again.

    Rue Royale’s music may be self-effacing—it hardly reaches out and smacks you—but their commitment to it is anything but diffident. Their European tour plans are certain to push them into debt, and though Brookln has been promised he can go back to his job if the band flops, Ruth doubts she’ll have any such luck. All the same, they’re convinced this is the best time to take the plunge. “I think it’s one of those things,” Ruth says, “where . . . 27, 28, you get to a point where you’re like, Are we gonna keep messing around with it? Are we gonna give it a go? Are we gonna just do it, and if we end up in the hole even more that’s OK? . . . I don’t want to regret not doing it, so we gotta do it now.”

    Brookln sees the window of opportunity to pull off crazy-sounding schemes like this closing fast as family life encroaches. “Us leaving our jobs,” he says, “and going on this European tour that we probably can’t afford to go on seems like it’s not pragmatic, but we’re a married couple . . . we gotta think about potentially having kids one day, we gotta think about her family in England—when are we gonna move over there to be closer to them? So it’s actually a planned move. We really, really want Rue Royale to work. But if it’s gonna work, this stuff better happen pretty quick.”

    Rue Royale Article Link

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    Wow! Article entitled, 'How to Train a Husband'

    Wow! Check this out:

    How to Train a Husband
    Want an obedient spouse? A new book says you should coach them like animals.

    By Jennie Yabroff | NEWSWEEK
    Feb 18, 2008 Issue | Updated: 1:32 p.m. ET Feb 9, 2008


    Attention, frustrated wives: if you want your husband to start listening to you and stop leaving his socks on the floor, all you need is a little patience and a lot of mackerel. Such is the putative relationship advice of Amy Sutherland, a journalist who spent a year at an animal-trainer school and decided to apply the trainers' techniques to her husband's annoying habits. According to Sutherland, the key to marital bliss is to ignore negative habits and reward positive ones, the same approach animal trainers use to get killer whales to leap from their tanks and elephants to stand on their heads. So to teach her husband, Scott, to stop storming around the house when he couldn't find his keys, she practiced what trainers call Least Reinforcing Scenario, which means she ignored his outbursts, and didn't offer to help with the search. To prevent Scott from hovering over her while she tried to cook, she engineered "incompatible behaviors" by setting a bowl of chips and salsa at the other end of the room. Soon she had a key-finding, salsa-eating mate and, she says, a happier marriage.

    Sutherland first wrote about her experiment in The New York Times in 2006, where it became the most e-mailed story of the year. This week her book, "What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love and Marriage," comes out, and a movie is in development. Sutherland admits that her ideas are not groundbreaking: in the 1890s Ivan Pavlov experimented with dogs to study stimulus and response. In the 1930s, B. F. Skinner used rats and pigeons to develop his theory of "operant behaviors," the idea that behavior is affected by its consequences. That doesn't mean the strategy is not controversial: critics bristle at the idea that humans are as easily manipulated as dogs or marine mammals, and contend that books such as Sutherland's reinforce war-of-the-sexes stereotypes about women using their feminine wiles to manipulate simple-minded men.

    The idea of women training simple men is a well-worn trope of pop culture. In the 1963 film "If a Man Answers," Sandra Dee's mother hands her a canine-training manual with the advice "If you want a perfect marriage, treat your husband like a dog." More recently, the BBC reality show "Bring Your Husband to Heel" featured a professional dog trainer teaching wives how to get their husbands to sit and stay.

    While Sutherland claims that animal-training techniques work on both genders, in another new book, "Seducing the Boys Club," Nina DiSesa advocates a gender-specific approach to changing people's behavior. DiSesa, who was the first female chairman of the ad agency McCann Erickson, argues that women should use their femininity to manipulate the men they work with and advance their careers. Instead of criticizing an employee's ad proposal, she flatters him for his "brilliant" idea, then sweetly asks if he had any other inspirations. "Women use these tactics with men all the time," she says. "We're mothers, wives, girlfriends, sisters. We know how to handle men, we just don't do it at work."

    While DiSesa's tactics may appall feminists, the appeal of Sutherland's approach is obvious: no tearful couples-therapy sessions, no tantrums about unmet expectations. But Sutherland says it's not a quick fix. In fact, she was the one who wound up being retrained, as she taught herself not to take her husband's actions personally, and not to react when he did things that annoyed her. DiSesa also says she retrained herself to stop criticizing and confronting the men she worked with, and instead use "S and M," seduction and manipulation, to get her way.

    And, she says, we shouldn't admit to our manipulations. "If people think I'm being conniving, I am," she says. "But if men see it coming, they'll duck." Sutherland's husband eventually caught on to her experiment (it didn't help that she wrote a book about the animal-trainer school), and even started using the techniques back on her. Now they use the word "shamu" as a verb, as in "Did you just shamu me?"

    Shamuing might work to get your husband to stop leaving his socks on the bathroom floor, says psychotherapist Marlin Potash, author of "Hidden Agendas: What's Really Going On in Your Relationships." "In small doses, it's really a good idea," she says. But she's skeptical of the idea that the technique will work with real marital problems such as lack of communication or sexual incompatibility: "I don't really believe that changing these small behaviors is how one transforms a marriage." Sutherland makes no claims to be a relationship expert. And she's not opposed to therapy, although she says, judging from the enthusiastic response to her essay, "Psychologists might want to consider bringing more animals into the mix."

    Sit, Beg, Roll Over, Stay

    Animal trainers use lots of tricks to train their charges. Try the techniques below at home.

    Reward positive behavior: If your mate picks up just one dirty sock without being asked, give lots of praise. Or a tasty fish.

    Ignore negatives: Don ' t nag about the rest of the filthy laundry still piled on the floor. Trainers call this Least Reinforcing Scenario.

    Don ' t take it personally: Laundry is just laundry, not a symbol for how much your spouse loves you or values your marriage.
    © 2008 Newsweek, Inc.

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    Interview with Promoter Pesoli on His 10 Yr. Anniversary

    I just posted up a lengthy interview with Chicago boxing promoter, Dominic Pesoli, who's president of 8 Count Productions.

    I'll be covering their 10th anniversary show tommorrow in Cicero.

    Check out the interview, which was pretty candid at times:

    Link to Pesoli interview

    Cheers,



    Juan

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    A Little More Personal Than I'd Like...



    'Solo Boxeo' announcer Lupe Contreras chatting with a ring card girl at ringside

    I was posting up photos on my boxing report last night when I got to this photo, which I used along with the account of the Andrzej Fonfara-Jorge Gonzalez bout.

    Sigh! Those two were chatting up a storm last night and, as I was lying across the stairs to the ring in one corner directly in front of them, I could hear a lot of their conversation!

    At one point, I heard the girl say, "Look at that ass! It's so big! And it's right there," or words to that effect.

    Lupe said, laughing, "You're a bad girl!"

    Oh my gosh. I was so embarassed.



    Riddick Bowe signs autographs for fans in the audience

    Then, later, I walked up to Riddick Bowe, the former heavyweight champ who was visiting with people at ringside.

    I said, "Mind if I take your photo, Riddick?"

    He said, "No problem, big guy!"

    And, it's not like he's looking trim like his old war-dog opponent, Evander Holyfield, either.

    Sheesh! Am I that fat? I can hardly wait to get back to training with David Estrada. Man, or man...
    Last edited by Juan C Ayllon; 02-16-2008 at 04:26 PM.

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    Re: Close Up and Personal: Faces in the Crowd, Pt. 2


    Juan,

    My son James and you know who, watching the fight last nite.

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    Re: Close Up and Personal: Faces in the Crowd, Pt. 2

    Hi Frank,

    That's a cool photo! How did you like the fights?

    Last night, I met up with someone I've been corresponding with through eHarmony. She was in town for a "Salsa Congress" at the Westin O'Hare and wanted to meet me at Cabs. Nice girl! Funny, though: afterwards, a handful of people were asking me how it went. Whereas I had a good time, I wasn't sure if there was anything more than a friendly meal and chat. Gues I'll find out soon enough.

    Dating!

    Anyways, after she left to return to her convention, I joined some friends and shot photos of the band, "Uncle Boogie Pants." They sounded good last night! When I get a chance, I'll have to post up some pictures.

    Meanwhile, enjoy that pooch of yours. I'm hoping to get a dog or two some day when I settle down.

    Cheers,



    Juan

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    John Cleese's Letter to America

    I posted this elsewhere, too, but wanted to make sure it went in this string. My brother, Pablo, sent me out a link to this funny piece by John Cleese, famed actor from Monty Python:

    Dear Citizens of America,

    In view of your failure to elect a competent President and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

    Her Sovereign Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy), as from Monday next.

    Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

    To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

    1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminium,” and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

    2. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour’, ‘favour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix “ize” will be replaced by the suffix “ise.”

    3. You will learn that the suffix ‘burgh’ is pronounced ‘burra’; you may elect to spell Pittsburgh as ‘Pittsberg’ if you find you simply can’t cope with correct pronunciation.

    4. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels (look up “vocabulary”). Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.

    5. There is no such thing as “US English.” We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’ and the elimination of “-ize.”

    6. You will relearn your original national anthem, “God Save The Queen”,
    but only after fully carrying out Task #1 (see above).

    7. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday. November 2nd will
    be a new national holiday, but to be celebrated only in England. It will be called “Come-Uppance Day.”

    8. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.

    9. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

    10. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

    11. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric immediately and without the benefit of conversion tables… Both roundabouts and metrification will help you understand the British sense of humour.

    12. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling “gasoline”) - roughly $8/US per gallon. Get used to it.

    13. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call french fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called “crisps.” Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with malt vinegar.

    14. Waiters and waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

    15. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as “beer,” and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as “Lager.” American brands will be referred to as “Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine,” so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

    16. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors as English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” was an experience akin to having one’s ear removed with a cheese grater.

    17. You will cease playing American “football.” There is only one kind of proper football; you call it “soccer”. Those of you brave enough, in time, will be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a
    bunch of Jessies - English slang for “Big Girls Blouse”).

    18. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the “World Series” for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable and forgiven.

    19. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.

    20. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due, backdated to 1776.

    Thank you for your co-operation.



    John Cleese
    Link to Online Letter

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    Report on Chauncey Welliver

    Check out Ricardo Ibarra's report on the CBZ's Chauncey Welliver's fight card, featuring Chauncey doing an exhibition bout against Iran Barkley:



    Welliver (left) and Barkley

    Link to Welliver Report

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    Miguel Hernandez Runs Youth Boxing Program in Cicero



    I just posted up this piece on Chicago middleweight Miguel Hernandez's youth boxing program that he's running in Cicero, Illinois:

    Link to Miguel Hernandez Youth Boxing Program

    I think you'll enjoy the story and pics (which I shot Friday night).

    Cheers,



    Juan
    Last edited by Juan C Ayllon; 02-26-2008 at 12:25 AM.

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    Re: Close Up and Personal: Faces in the Crowd, Pt. 2

    That was a nice article on the Youth Boxing Program. I enjoy this thread, keep up the good work!

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    Thanks!

    Thanks, JohntheHammerHeyes! I appreciate that.

    I'll post up more as I get the chance.

    Cheers,



    Juan

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    Indiana Info

    By the way, I received a link to the following piece on fights in Indiana from Jacob Hall of the Indiana Boxing Commission. Obtaining permission from the writer and Indianastar.com, I posted up the first two paragraphs and a link to their story.

    And, wouldn't you know? I had some photos of one of the featured fighters in the story (Travis Loveless), so I posted that up along with it.

    Check it out:

    Indiana Boxing Show a Knockout Link

    Cheers,



    Juan

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    Some Pics from 'Uncle Boogie Pants' at Cabs

    Here's some photos I shot over a week ago at Cabs of an up and coming band, Uncle Boogie Pants, that's supposed to be reviewed in the magazine, Relic, soon.

    They're a very nice blend of rock, blues, and alternative, with a strong early to mid 70's infusuion of rock rhythm change-ups. If you like guitar, you'll enjoy their riffs.

    Check them out sometime if you get a chance.

    Enjoy!

















    One of the servers shows her secret of working while the band plays: Earplugs!



    The son of a friend of their promoter sits in and plays on guitar



    Their promoter--and a heck of a mouth harp player--David Kinney, jams away
    Last edited by Juan C Ayllon; 02-27-2008 at 11:22 PM.

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    More Pics of Uncle Boogie Pants at Cabs...



    David Kinney's wife and the daughter of a good friend dances in front of the band



    Checking out some bottles of wine





    Woo-hoo!

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    Interesting...Piece that My Mom Wrote

    Wow. This was sweet, interesting, and somewhat profound. It's a piece my mother wrote and forwarded to me:

    Bess’ Journal

    November 13, 2007



    Thoughts on “Falling”


    A “spring chicken” I ain’t, nor an “old biddy”, yet. Like between heaven and earth, sometimes longing for here and for there. Yet, here I sit in my reclining chair.

    It’s Autumn, the Fall, and the leaves do just that, drifting down, piling up, showing beauty, then drab.

    So, I guess that’s where I am, in the time of my life, in Autumn, sometimes robust, glowing with color and lust, for the living the giving, watch the growing, and hoping. For a future for my children, their children, our world.

    Other times, tired and fading, and wishing for rest. From the sadness, disappointments, seeing terror, savage evil, decay of bodies, souls and earth.

    But, the promise of Spring, other side of Cold Winter, with newness, fresh beauty, blooming, glowing – and growing!

    The promise of all, the comfort, the hope, God is with us, never leaves us, Christ redeemed us, we are safe. In His presence, we can rest, recover, go on. Seek His path, follow, follow, when we fall, be lifted up.

    Friends and family, how loving, and giving one meaning and purpose to go. On living, and laughing, sometimes crying, but real.

    This day offers beauty in gold leaves out my window. And warmth from the sunshine, erases the chill. Of the morning, of the soul, saying “come on, let’s go”.

    Wash the dishes, clean the floors, arrange those books, and relax. That warm cup of coffee, having lunch with some “girls”. With dear Gloria, and Cecilia –the “nervous little bird”. She has a heart full of care and a drive that unnerves, with her constant verbal chatter, constant movement---please rest. We’ll celebrate her birthday, at Applebee’s today. Dear Lord, give me patience, and an assurance for her.

    The wind just blew, like rain pelting down, a barrage of maple leaves across the street, in Doreen’s lawn. A reminder, leave the chair, make a flurry, get things done. O.K., finish my coffee, check the list, hope at least half get’s done. Lift, flutter, flutter, ----middle-aged hen!

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    Explosion in Nearby Store Complex

    I just heard about a store exploding maybe half a mile to a mile away from where I work and, apparently, they've cordonned off a block on the main thoroughfare on which this store complex is located. The roof was lifted off due to the force of the explosion and collapsed when it settled back down.

    Check it out:

    Explosion at Store Link

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    Watching ESPN2 Tonight for Walker vs. Echols...

    Hey,

    I'm watching ESPN2 tonight because Chicago's Michael Walker will be facing Antwun Echols in the main event. I've seen Walker fight about five or six times and seen him numerous other times at ringside in Indiana and Chicago. It's a fight that I think is winable for Walker, but one in which he could also get possibly knocked out in.

    Remember Echols rocking and having Bernard Hopkins ducking and dodging for a few anxious rounds?

    My physical trainer, David "The Weezel" (sic) Estrada, who lost a decision to Walker several years ago, called me up a few minutes ago and mentioned that Walker gets hit a lot, so if he gets hit just right by Echols, it could be "good night."

    Of course, hailing from Chicago, I'm pulling for Walker to pull off the win in this step-up bout.

    Here's a press release put out by Walker's promoter on tonight's fight:

    One in a Million Press Release

    Regards,



    Juan

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    Some Pics from Cabs Last Weekend



    The husband and wife team in Majors Junction belts out another tune a week ago last Friday at Cabs Wine Bar Bistro in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. And, as is typical with their performances, there was a little dancing, too.











    Here's a photo that had a bunch of spots on it--must have gotten the filter or the flash unit dirty on my camera. I tried editing it a little with this photo software. I'll have to cave in eventually, get Photoshop and learn how to use it.

    That, and clean the stinkin' filter and/or flash unit better. Oh well!
    Last edited by Juan C Ayllon; 03-03-2008 at 12:58 AM.

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    Fast Times at Waukegan High...

    Sheesh. We should have released our last class a few minutes ago, but due to some yet undisclosed threat, all teachers and students have been advised to remain in their rooms until further notice. We're on lockdown.

    Last week, there was a bomb threat. Tomorrow, we'll be on "Code White" because a bunch of text messages have been sent out to students that there was going to be a shoot-up at Waukegan High School.

    Although these are probably hoaxes, you can't simply dismiss them because of the obvious possibility that it might actually happen once.

    Oh well...

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    Lockdown Over...

    Well, the lockdown ended about a minute ago. I don't know what it was about, but would be curious to find out.

    Sheesh!

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    Owning a Piece of San Fran...



    I received this email soliciting participation in "fractionalized ownership" in some prestigious-looking condominium in San Francisco. Sounds to me like a time share.

    No thanks, but my, the view looks breath-taking!

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    Giving Freebies Online Can Benefit Musicians

    I just spied this on the Chicago Reader online:

    Giving It Away Can Pay
    RCRD LBL lets advertisers support the artists so consumers don’t have to.
    By Miles Raymer

    February 28, 2008

    This column was supposed to be about local rap duo Dude ’n Nem. When I talked to them two weeks ago, they were in an enviable spot for an up-and-coming act—last summer’s addictive “Watch My Feet” had built up so much heat that the three tracks they premiered on MySpace early this month earned them blog praise from Pitchfork, Idolator, and the Fader. The new tunes, all of them weird enough to out-OutKast OutKast, have kicked the buzz for Dude ’n Nem’s still-in-progress debut album into overdrive.

    But four days after our interview, the group’s label, TVT Records, announced that it was laying off the majority of its staff and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Label founder and president Steve Gottlieb assured the media that TVT still planned on releasing everything on its schedule, including the Dude ’n Nem record, though he acknowledged it might take longer than planned. I doubt anybody believed him. Droves of A-list TVT artists have publicly complained about the label’s business practices. Even before the bankruptcy announcement, Pitbull was telling his fans to bootleg his new record rather than support the label, and last year Lil Jon threatened to withhold Crunk Rock from TVT, accusing Gottlieb of shorting him millions in royalties (eventually TVT cut him a check and he backed down). Trent Reznor, whose acrimony toward his old label is legendary, posted a link to the bankruptcy story on the NIN site under the headline “You’re Gonna Get Yours.”

    As for the Dude ’n Nem record, though TVT is a top-tier independent and its big releases sell enough copies to compete with major-label product, it doesn’t seem likely it’ll have enough personnel left to do right by an album that could blow up the way this one might—especially considering that Pitbull was bitching about lax promotion when TVT had twice as many employees. Dude ’n Nem could end up on whatever label buys out their contract—or worse, stuck in limbo.

    When I write about the music industry, I frequently focus on major labels and their failure to cope with the emerging digital marketplace and its shady counterpart, illegal file sharing. In fact I’ve been accused of taking improper pleasure in their suffering, and of turning a blind eye to the trouble that piracy causes artists. I do get some joy out of watching the big corporations fuck themselves, it’s true, but that’s precisely because I sympathize with artists. File sharing can’t hurt most of the people who make music for the majors because they never see a cut of sales in the first place. You have to be pretty savvy or pretty lucky to land a contract that doesn’t start you off so far in debt you need a hit to earn your way out.

    Dude 'n Nem, "Watch My Feet"

    White Denim, "Let's Talk About It"

    Professor Murder live at Pitchfork Festival 2007
    What about indie labels, though? They’re not necessarily any nicer to their artists, as the example of TVT proves. But even the saintliest labels—the genuinely independent, not-half-owned-by-Warner indies who treat their roster like family—are threatened by the same marketplace pressures as everybody else. Of even greater concern than slumping sales is the question of what happens once the music business goes entirely online, the costs associated with producing and shipping CDs disappear, and any band with a MySpace page is as likely to blow up as one with a budget behind it. Labels of all types will have to make fundamental changes to the way they work.

    If there’s one killer fix that’ll let them thrive under this new music-distribution paradigm, I don’t think anyone’s found it yet. But Peter Rojas, cofounder of RCRD LBL, is pursing one interesting option. After helping to develop some of the Web’s best-trafficked tech-commentary sites—including the gadget blogs Gizmodo and Engadget—he “stumbled upon” the idea for a label whose business model would be built around charging consumers the going rate for music online—that is, nothing. RCRD LBL isn’t trying to compete with outlets that make music available for free. It is one of those outlets.

    Tech pundits tend to advocate the free flow of information (including music) in the online world, and they’re often accused of overlooking the difficulty artists are bound to have trying to make a living off—or even break even on—music nobody pays for. Launched in November by Rojas and Josh Deutsch, a former VP at Virgin and cofounder of Downtown Records (aka the label that Gnarls Barkley built), RCRD LBL has money coming in, but 100 percent of it is from ad sales and sponsorships on its Web site. The site works like a blog, right down to the RSS feed, and the free downloads on offer come not only from a gang of affiliated indies (Warp, Ghostly, Dim Mak) but from RCRD LBL’s own roster, which currently includes the likes of Professor Murder and White Denim. “Music is already free, whether the labels want to admit it or not,” explains Rojas via e-mail (he and Deutsch live in New York). “But interest in music is at an all-time high. It’s just that the value has evaporated in selling plastic discs and crystallized elsewhere.”

    Advertisers looking to pick up some reflected shine from hot music are already footing some of the expense of delivering consumers free material, and a lot of venture capital has been expended on ideas like ad-supported media players or delivery systems that incorporate microcommercials into the songs themselves. RCRD LBL’s method of interwining music and advertising is less invasive—by the time you download its free, unlocked 192 kpbs MP3s, you’ve already looked at all the ads you’ll have to. Most of them are relatively tastefully incorporated into the site—the Nikon logo on the artist-photo widget, the Virgin America logo on the tour-date widget—but it’s hard not to be at least peripherally aware that the tunes you’re downloading were brought to you by a friendly indie-rock-loving megacorporation.

    Depending on your perspective, this is either another example of the capitalist sys*tem co-opting the underground or a deliciously ironic way to funnel cash from multinationals into independent art. Either way, it seems to be working—Rojas won’t go into details, but he assures me that RCRD LBL is turning a profit and paying all its artists. In no time the label’s managed to position itself as a tastemaker, so it isn’t simply parasitizing the established imprints it partners with—and its Web site is an amazingly effective promotional tool in its own right, cutting way down on the money required to push emerging artists. It hasn’t started offering tour support (Rojas says nobody has asked for it yet), but it’s prepared to step up.

    Right now it’s hard to say whether a busi*ness like RCRD LBL would survive if there weren’t traditional labels in the same eco*system, but we may find out soon—things are going to get worse for the music business before they get better. The industry’s evolution from disc to digital seems to favor smaller, faster-moving indies, but Rojas thinks the majors can make the trans*ition if they give some of their smarter staffers permission to use their brains. “It won’t be easy,” he writes, “but there are actually a lot of smart people at the labels, and more and more they’re getting a chance to do what they want to do.”
    Link to story:

    Link to Story in the Chicago Reader

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    The Meat Pushers

    This story also caught my interest as I was perusing the Chicago Reader online. It's about an interesting project servicing the meat conglomerate in order to help keep us carnivores buying en masse:

    The Meat Pushers
    A downtown skyscraper houses a beef-industry brain trust.
    By Mike Sula

    February 28, 2008

    With ground beef recalls, mad cow scares, and the environmental hazards of industrial livestock production in the news, it’s getting tougher to sell red meat these days. In 2006 Americans ate an average of 65.8 pounds of beef, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. If that sounds like a lot, consider that that’s down from more than 75 pounds in 1980, and the trade organization predicts a continuing decline.

    But each week in an office suite on the 18th floor of a Michigan Avenue skyscraper, down the hall from a psychotherapy practice and the Poetry Foundation, the staff at the Beef and Veal Culinary Center goes through that much meat and then some, trying to figure out ways to keep people eating it.

    The center, which operates under the auspices of the NCBA’s marketing arm, develops some 100 recipes each year for the organization’s consumer and food-service divisions. It also does product testing for manufacturers. One recent morning several employees were evaluating two commercial marinades and four rubs on some burgers and steaks they’d grilled in the test kitchen. A pair of rib eyes that had been steeped in a whiskey-flavored marinade for 15 minutes got the thumbs-down. The meat had an assertive, treacly, artificial odor, and the marinade had somehow inhibited the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction responsible for browning. The steaks looked sickly and gray next to an unmarinated pair exhibiting a tasty-looking char.

    “That’s terrible,” said Jessica Gordon, the center’s senior culinary manager.

    “Flavor companies are in the business to sell flavor,” said executive director Dave Zino. “I think sometimes the attitude is, ‘If one is good, ten’s gotta be better.’”

    The center was the first tenant to move into 444 N. Michigan back in 1976. At the time it operated under the auspices of the National Livestock and Meat Board, which later merged into the NCBA. It’s currently funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, an initiative started under the 1985 Farm Bill that assesses $1 per every head of cattle sold. In the words of the USDA, the program is designed “to strengthen the position of beef in the marketplace and to maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets and uses for beef and beef products.”

    Zino, a Kendall College grad, has been the center’s director since 2004. He came on board three years before that, near the beginning of the beef industry’s big push for flatiron steak, a muscle that until then typically had been ground up with the rest of the chuck. “We basically did a dog-and-pony show,” says Zino, who acted as a chef-spokesman for the project. “We went to meat packers, steak cutters, retailers, chain restaurants. My role was basically cooking the steak up, maybe coming up with some recipe ideas.” Many of the dishes the center devised—like sesame-soy steak stir-fry in wonton cups and mini steak tacos with pico de gallo—made their way into ads or brochures or onto sealed packages of supermarket meat. “I probably cooked more of those steaks than any human being,” Zino says.

    The center is equipped with both a professional kitchen and a consumer-oriented test kitchen stocked with supermarket staples, a microwave, and ordinary gas and electric stoves. Here the staff uses mostly middle-grade choice cuts (mostly sourced from Jerry’s Quality Meats in Skokie) to approximate the average household’s cooking and eating habits.

    “This is a big country, and not everybody will have Thai curry paste,” says Zino. “So we need to be careful when we’re developing consumer recipes to make sure that they’re available basically around the country.”

    Even bearing that in mind, the staff will occasionally overestimate consumers’ kitchen savvy. Zino tells me about a focus group the center assembled to evaluate some of its recipes: one participant said he didn’t like the ones that called for dry red wine because he could never find it in powdered form at the grocery store.

    Last month the NCBA launched its latest ad campaign. Created by Leo Burnett, it features a series of fantastic giant landscapes, or rather “beefscapes,” like something Homer Simpson would dream about: towering beef mountain peaks topped by creamy Gorgonzola snowcaps, a river of sauce running over a bed of mushrooms and lentils between steep tenderloin banks. “Discover the Power of Protein in the Land of Lean Beef” is the clumsy tagline, delivered in radio ads by Matthew McConaughey. The campaign was designed to integrate two themes the NCBA previously used separately—the nutritive qualities of beef and the American “passion” for it.

    In a departure from previous campaigns, Zino and his crew were directed to develop their recipes after the ads were created rather than before. So for an image of meat canyons split by a golden brown stream, they came up with crumb-crusted top sirloin and roasted garlic potatoes with bourbon sauce, a dish that might sound a little involved for the kitchen novice but in fact calls for nothing more exotic than prepared mustard and ready-to-serve beef broth. For a scattering of beef boulders set atop a whole-grain beach, they developed Moroccan-style beef kebabs with spiced bulgur, which gets its whiff of the Orient from pumpkin pie spice and golden raisins.

    Zino, whose computer alerts him to the arrival of new e-mails with the sound of a lowing cow, says that despite all the beef he eats on the job he still eats it when he’s not working. But then what else would he say? “I see myself not only as a chef but as a marketer,” he says.
    Link to Meat Pushers Story
    Last edited by Juan C Ayllon; 03-04-2008 at 04:49 PM.

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