Books given, books received

My annual Santa list.

Courtney Cerruti: Make Art Where You Are
Courtney Cerruti: One Color a Day Sketchbook
Charles Cross: Heavier Than Heaven
Stockholm Noir
Isabel Wilkerson: The Warmth of Other Suns
Johanna Fridriksdottir: Valkyrie
Honey Meconi: Hildegard of Bingen
Donald A. Norman: The Design of Everyday Things
Laurent Pernot: Before the Ivy
Kurt Vonnegut: The Last Interview
Edna O’Brien: Country Girls
Carl Sandburg: Chicago Poems
Carl Sandburg: Cornhuskers
David Rhodes: Driftless
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Last Interview
Jenny Odell: How to Do Nothing
Rockwell Kent: Wilderness
Daniel Woodrell: Winter’s Bone
Dmitry Samarov: Music To My Eyes
Alex Kotlowitz: An American Summer

Mark Costello: Middle Murphy
Joe Meno: The Boy Detective Fails

(Actually, I didn’t receive any books this year. Those two were gifts to myself. I’ve wanted both for a while, so I added them to my shopping cart while ordering gifts for family from University of Illinois Press and Akashic Books.)

January 3, 2021 in Books, Family | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indie cats


As it turns out, yesterday was Independent Bookstore Day. Which is wonderfully fitting, since in the afternoon I happened to stop in at Book Market in Crest Hill, which is about as indie a store as you'll ever find. I was there specifically looking for a copy of T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, which I saw there a few years ago but passed on buying. Last night, Maddie performed in a high school stage adaptation of the book, and I thought the book would be the perfect gift to commemorate her performance. Luckily for me, the store still had it, and I bought it. I gave it to her after the show, and she loved it.

Eliot's book is also the basis for the legendary Broadway musical Cats, though the adaptation we saw was more of a dramatic recitation of the poems, without music. Maddie played the character Skimbleshanks, and she was great, as was the entire cast. I'm amazed at how talented these kids are.

This edition is illustrated by Nicolas Bentley, but from browsing Goodreads, I see that there is another edition illustrated by Edward Gorey, one of my favorite artists. I'll keep an eye out for the Gorey edition - I would love to add it to our library.

May 1, 2016 in Books, Family | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hilton Head photographs

Last week we were on our semi-regular vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina. As always I took a ton of photos, but since the natural geography never changes much there, I'll skip showing the usual sunsets, waves and mountains. Instead, this time I'll focus on some strange and quirky images I managed to capture.


Nothing symbolizes the heaven-and-hell, saint-and-sinner tension of the south for me quite like this roadside scene: the sprawling Adult World sex superstore, towered over by a giant cross. This perspective is deceiving: the cross (a quarter of a mile down the road) is actually much taller than the store. It's almost as if the cross was built to give customers one last reminder, as they step into the store, just whom they're pissing off by satisfying their craven urges.


Tunnel through an Appalachian mountain, in the Pisgah National Forest. Julie cringes every time we go through a tunnel, especially a long curving one like this where you can't see the other end.


I always know we're arrived in the south when the first Waffle Houses begin to appear. I like how the motel sign next door seems to comment on the regional orientation of the restaurant chain.


Strange cover illustration of James Agee's iconic autobiographical novel. If I didn't know better, this cover would lead me to believe that Agee's mother was some sort of human-butterfly hybrid.


Family portrait.


Narcissism, pure artsy narcissism.


I love the refreshing informality of Piggly Wiggly. Every other supermarket calls it bathroom tissue or toilet paper, but not The Pig, nosiree.

September 25, 2013 in Family, Photography | Permalink | Comments (2)



This Sunday, August 12, my daughter Maddie and her band, Nuclear Plankton, are performing in Minipalooza, a benefit rock festival. Minipalooza is a great program put together by West Side Music (where Maddie has been taking guitar lessons for the last two and a half years) which organizes kids into bands, who then rehearse a handful of songs every week and finally perform at the festival. There will be three kid bands performing, plus two "grownup" bands. I've heard Nuclear Plankton practice a few times, and they're really good - at Minipalooza they'll be doing "I Love Rock and Roll" (with Maddie belting out the lead vocal, with a great Joan Jett snarl), the Beatles' "Come Together", the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" and the Surfaris' "Wipeout."

Minipalooza should be a lot of fun for the whole family (all-ages show!), cheap ($5 cover), and for a good cause - the Muscular Dystrophy Association. It's at Live 59 in Plainfield (16108 Route 59, between Renwick Road and Fraser Road), starting at 2 PM. If you happen to be in the area on Sunday afternoon, please consider attending. I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

August 6, 2012 in Family, Music, Personal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Farewell, noble stallion


That photo is our beloved '95 Honda Civic, nicknamed Zyx, which we finally sold today after seventeen years, 109,000 miles (most of those during its first five years), and a few too many years of neglect on my part. It was Julie's car before we first got together, and sort of became mine after she started a new job in the city that was walking distance from our house (and thus she no longer needed the car for work) and she worried that my decrepit Ford Probe was no longer safe to drive to Oak Brook every day. I had never even driven stick-shift before Zyx, but Julie patiently taught me how - and I must have been a good learner, because the car still has the original clutch.

When we moved to Joliet and I worked from home for two years, the car mostly just sat in the garage, and then when I started working downtown and took the train, I only drove it to and from the train station, just a few miles each day - so during the past twelve years it's only been driven a few thousand miles. Reliable as it was, though, Zyx became superfluous when we bought Julie's Fit three years ago, and kept the Civic sedan that I now drive to the train. Since then Zyx has sat, undriven and rather ignominiously, first in the driveway and most recently in the street.

We finally decided Zyx's time had come, and sold it to the father of a girl from Maddie's gymnastics class. Soon it will be fixed up and driven by the family's teenage son when he starts driving. I hope it's now in good hands, and will give him years of reliable driving, as reliable as it was for us. Hondas are truly great cars, of which Zyx is just one example. We never had any major problems with the car, which never required anything more than regular maintenance and occasional replacement of basic parts like brake pads and such.

Though we knew it was time, we're still going to miss Zyx, which has been part of our lives for so long. The other night Maddie and I took one last spin around the block, and it was as fun to drive as ever. Loud - it needs a new muffler - but fun. So long, Zyx.

June 5, 2012 in Family, Personal | Permalink | Comments (0)

It's Always Time For Pie!

This week my wife and daughter whipped up an apple pie, from scratch. Darn good eatin'!

September 8, 2007 in Family | Permalink | Comments (2)

Welcome T.J.!


I second this notion, and welcome young T.J. Quinn to the world. He's the first child of my wife's youngest sister Amanda who, until I started working longer hours on my new job and she went on maternity leave, used to be my "train buddy": we sat next to each other on the Chicago-to-Joliet train every night. Try as I might, I couldn't divert her too far from her fondness for James Frey, Nora Roberts and countless pastel-covered chick lit novels, although she did admit to enjoying Slaughterhouse-Five and The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas when I foisted them on her. Or maybe she was just humoring me.

May 24, 2007 in Family | Permalink | Comments (1)

Easter Greetings...

...from everyone here at the Joliet Yacht Club. Barbie and Cinderella Barbie had a bit of a mishap with their annual egg delivery, but the rescue squad has already been contacted and is on their way. Everything should be fine as long as the crane operator shows up.

March 26, 2005 in Family | Permalink | Comments (0)

Photo of the Week

Maddie, still coming down from her Halloween sugar high.

November 1, 2004 in Family, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)