Leslie's Omnibus

Book Your Ticket

Books read in July 2011


The Informationist: A Thriller, Taylor Stevens[1]

My Mother’s Lover, David Dobbs[2]

Saving Rachel (A Donovan Creed Crime Novel), John Locke[3]

Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices, 36 authors ­during a writing marathon called The Novel: Live![4]

Building the Successful Theater Company, Lisa Mulcahy[5]

JANE I’m-Still-Single JONES, Joan Reaves[6]

The Billionaire Bum, Samantha Blair[7]

How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival, David Kaiser[8]

A Dance With Dragons, George R.R. Martin[9]

The Bitch-Proof Suit, De-Ann Black[10]

Wahoo Rhapsody, Shaun Morey[11]

[1] Written in a flat, factual style that was vaguely off-putting in the beginning, it actually explains a lot about the main character, who I came to appreciate.

[2] Kindle Single.

[3] When your main character doesn’t show up until halfway through the book and then he doesn’t turn out to be very sympathetic… not so good, actually.

[4] Having participated in a similar writing joint venture under not quite as strict time constraints, I have a huge appreciation for the work that went into making this incredibly twisted tale work. My buddy El Capitan would especially appreciate the work it takes to tie up all those loose strands and give you a palatable ending to such an undertaking.

[5] I had a lot of questions. While this book by no means answered all of them, it certainly pointed me in the right direction and gave me a lot of food for thought.

[6] I’ll plead to having read one crap book and one business-oriented book before this one and needing a light read. This was pure dandelion fluff.

[7] Ditto. But better fluff than the previous book.

[8] While I have never been a science geek, I do appreciate the stories of the people behind the science. A terrific read if you’re interested in quantum physics and how it affects us on both micro and macro levels.

[9] Far superior to book 4 in the series. If you’re not reading this series, at least you should be watching it on HBO.

[10] Funny, smart, fast-paced rom-com set in Dublin. What’s not to love?

[11] Wanna-be screwball comedy/thriller. I’ll give this author a second shot, just to see if he can make his main character less one dimensional. Fingers crossed.


Sunday Rambles

Blame Jimbo for this:

Which American accent do you have?


You have a Northern accent. That could either be the Chicago/Detroit/Cleveland/Buffalo accent (easily recognizable) or the Western New England accent that news networks go for.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.

(Born in Massachusetts, raised in Ohio and Illinois -- yep. It nailed it.)

... and this:

... which had me jitterbugging by my ownself in the middle of my living room. I double dog dare you to sit perfectly still while listening to that.


In-N-Out is the Barack Obama of hamburgers. Puny, over-hyped, from a union-led blue state that’s fiscally boned, and laughably inadequate once you take time to research it and its alternatives.
That's gotta hurt.

This sounds like fun, and I'm thinking it could make for some serious mayhem for a blogmeet:
An assistant museum curator who questioned the authenticity of a Leonardo da Vinci has been murdered — but before he died, he left a code in his appointment calendar and a cryptic trail of clues connected to secrets in works of art that point to the killer.

Now, would-be gumshoes must figure out what drove one of four suspects to kill him. Was it greed? Fame? Lust? Or revenge?

That’s the plot of Murder at the Met, a murder-mystery scavenger hunt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York run by Watson Adventures, a private company offering a series of such games at 27 museums in seven U.S. cities, including Chicago.
Anybody interested?

Quote of the Day:
Pat Quinn is Jerry Brown without the hot-chick past. Like California Moonbeam, our Governor Soybean is signing the Dream Act. The Dream Act is a boilerplate pander piece that gets good press and WOW Progressive support. A Progressive would step over a starving Mexican blocking his way into Whole Foods.
Who wrote that? The same guy who wrote this:
I worked to help Pat Quinn, become Governor and I voted for Pat Quinn. It took the Governor no time at all to prove to me that he does in fact believe in the Easter Bunny: Gov. Quinn immediately paid off Planned Parenthood by wedging in Terry Cosgrove for a State salary; Quinn sprung more felons than George Ryan in much less time; pushed the Civil Union and made war on Catholic Charities; ran business out of Illinois; crawfished on Real Labor as well as his bet with Gov. Walker; and now is signing the Illinois Dream Act that completely ignores immigration and the economic jackpot that is our State economy in the hope that Ralph Martire is correct that more people will vote for Pat Quinn again. Hug that Bunny, Guv....

Pat Quinn will sign the Illinois Dream Act on Monday.

Way to go, Hickey. Way to vote.
When you alienate your base, you're really screwed here in Illinois.

Windshield Wiper

More freaking lightning, thunder and rain.

Just call me Ms. Noah.

How long can you tread water?

Windshield Wiper

The weather has been simply miserable here in Chicago this month. Here's a little taste of what the storms that have rolled through here already this morning look like:

We've had 9.75" of rain so far in July, blew right by a 122-year record and it seems there's no end in sight. We've had tornadoes, flooding, power outages, damage from downed trees and more.

My Houston buddy Miss Nancy wishes I could send some of that rain her way. Believe me when I say that everyone around these parts (and especially this poor family) wishes they could, too.

When the local communities start offering rebates for generators, you know we've had a very, very rough time of it.

Say a little prayer for those of us in this belt of miserable weather who've been touched by storms (including derechos), floods, tornadoes and death due to the high heat and humidity that just won't go away. Yes, we'll suck it up and rebuild, bail out basements, face mildew abatement and all the rest, because that's just how we roll in the Midwest. But it ain't gonna be fun, and it certainly ain't gonna be easy.


By the time I got through the Cheeseburgers Across America recipes I was drooling all over myself.

By the time I got through the 30 Inaugural Cheeseburger recipes, I was a wobbly-kneed mess.

If that site had "smell-o-vision," I'd be a babbling idiot by now.


Go visit the Cheese & Burger Society for your very own self and see what I mean. Your taste buds will love me and your arteries will hate me.

Hold onto your hats:
The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority is seeking toll increases ranging from 35 to 90 cents for IPass users to fund a $12 billion capital plan.
Read this to mean that non-IPass users (suckers) will get hit with increases of 70 cents to $1.80.


Those are huge increases.

Oooooo! Fried clams:
Howard Johnson lied. So did your neighborhood shrimp hut. A fried clam is not a skinny strip.

A fried clam has a gut.
True dat. And the same for fried oysters. And they both go down wonderfully with a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of tartar sauce. (No, not cocktail sauce. That's for shrimp or fried scallops, silly.)

Now I'm missing my Nana and summers on Cape Cod... and also the fish fries at the NCO Club at Pease AFB... and fried swordfish chunks from Newick's.

Just the thought of these fishy treats brings back memories of salt air, clam shacks, endless miles of beaches and jetties, searching for starfish, hermit crabs, sea shells and sea glass and the feel of sun-warmed sand between my toes.


are the tastes of summer to me.

Cray to the Zee? It's not the one with all the lovely facial tattoos, actually:
A mixed-race woman who is due to marry a white supremacist murder suspect on Hitler's birthday has spoken out in support of her man.

Erica Herrera, who is half Hawaiian and half Hispanic, said despite prison inmate Curtis Allgier's frightening appearance - with tattoos of swastikas and the word 'skinhead' covering his face - he is 'kinder' and 'gentler' than he is publicly portrayed.

'He's a very sweet, loving…He's a really kind-hearted, good person,' she said, defending her plans to marry the man who faces the death penalty for murder.
See? I told you so!

Giggle of the Day:


Ear Worm of the Day:


Right to Your Door

I had to order a catered lunch for a meeting I was hosting on Tuesday of this week. I decided to do something a little out of the ordinary for a corporate lunch, and ordered Chicago-style hot dogs and cheeseburgers from Gold Coast Dogs through our corporate account at Seamless Web.

I placed the order on Monday afternoon to make sure that there was plenty of time. I scheduled delivery for 11:15 a.m., and giving a 15-minute leeway on either side of that time for delivery. I added in a tip for the delivery person, as well.

On Tuesday, my well-laid plans went sideways.

Here's my email to Seamless Web:
I am writing to let you know that delivery of this order was one hour and ten minutes late.

My receptionist called at the 20 minutes late mark and were told that they thought it was a pick-up order [even though there was a delivery fee, delivery instructions and a tip written right on the order form], and that they’d send it right over.

I personally called at the 40 minutes late mark and was told: 1) I’d “have to be understanding” because it was their very first order through Seamlessweb; and, 2) the driver was on the way.

When I called at the 60 minutes late mark, I again got the “have to be understanding” song and dance and reassurance that the driver was on his way. I informed the person who answered the phone that I wanted to speak to a manager who gave me another “you have to be understanding” song and dance. I informed him that I have a blog, a Facebook account, a Twitter account and am very familiar with Yelp and Metro Mix, and that if I didn’t get satisfaction for an order that I assumed (rightly) would arrive cold, I wouldn’t hesitate to express my displeasure on ALL of those outlets, as well as on the SeamlessWeb website.

That got me a promise that I’d be hearing from the General Manager ASAP.

At the one hour and ten minutes late mark, the order arrived, tepid and soggy.

I still have not heard from the General Manager of Gold Coast Dogs.

I never once heard the words, “I’m terribly sorry, Miss. We’ll get this fixed right away.”

I never once was offered the name of a specific person to talk to about this problem.

The nearest Gold Coast Dogs location is close enough that I could have walked there and back at least five times in the time it took to get this order delivered.

I do not believe we should be charged for this order. Furthermore, SeamlessWeb should be having a very frank (no pun intended) discussion with the management of Gold Coast Dogs if Seamless is going to continue to use them as a vendor.

I would like a telephone call from someone at Seamless to confirm that this matter is being given priority attention. I am holding off on letting loose on the various social media outlets listed above until the end of business today, but won’t hesitate to express my displeasure if there is no redress.

Thank you.
Here is Seamless Web's response:
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I’m very sorry to hear your order with Gold Coast wasn’t exactly Seamless! I spoke with the restaurant and have confirmed this shouldn’t be an issue for the future. Also, they have approved a 30% discount off your order which I have already applied. For our part I would also like to off you a 25% off code for your next Seamless order, which I hope goes far more smoothly. If there is anything else I can do for you please do not hesitate to let us know! Have a wonderful afternoon.
I'm still boiling mad that no one from Gold Coast Dogs called me to apologize -- as promised. Yeah, I took the discount, but the order really should have been totally comped. Their customer service is absolute crap as far as I'm concerned.

Seamless did their best, but they're more concerned with fixing things going forward, and I'm more focused on them making me happy. Which I'm obviously not.

I've used Seamless for other orders and never had a problem. Gold Coast Dogs, on the other hand, I'll never use again and can't recommend at all. And I'll be linking this to my Facebook and Twitter pages, too. Re-post Facebook or re-tweet, won't you? I really do want them to feel some heat on this.

I'll let you know if I ever get an apology -- which I absolutely deserve.


Giggle of the Day:
Officials believe the man was using the portable toilet (also known as a port-a-potty) at Rockhampton Airport, in the state of Queensland, when he lit a cigarette.
Go here to find out what happened next.

Can you answer the Miracle Question?

What a cool way to customize your carpeting! (If I didn't have hardwood floors, this would be tempting. And I might just pick up an inexpensive area rug and give it a try anyway.)

For anyone who thinks ol' Rusty Rockets is a flake, go read his tribute to Amy Winehouse. Beautiful, sensitive stuff.

Just because it's so darned cool:

Blame Cordovan for turning me on to this seriously addictive blog.

Just a little shout-out to the folks at Sean's Original Designs -- I LOVE my Welsh Dragon pendant! It's beautiful.

Hardee's is making me miss my Darling Daddy, who was chief cook and bottle washer whenever the Princess Mom headed off to parts unknown with my favorite auntie/fairy godmother for a week or so each year:
To partake of Hardee's latest round of breakfast promotions, you'll have to road trip to Wisconsin, say, or the Southeast and promise to exercise a couple hours extra post-consumption of the items: A Double Loaded Omelet Biscuit and Fried Bologna Biscuit.
OMG! Fried balogna!

This was one of the goodies that Daddy, who'd been a short order cook way back in history when dinosaurs roamed the earth, liked to whip up for dinner. The Princess Mom would have had heart failure, had she but known. And you can bet that we kids were zippered-lipped about this particular secret, because if we told, we'd never have fried balogna sandwiches for dinner ever again.

I like mine on soft white bread with a generous schmear of yellow mustard and nothing else. Mayo and foo-foo stuff on a fried balogna sandwich is for sissies. And biscuits? No. Just... *shudder*... no.

Quote of the Day:
You may know two men that you think would be perfect as a couple except one likes leather daddies and the other is into twinks----and they’re both tops. If you don’t know what that means, then you shouldn’t play cupid.
Lingering would be a colossal waste of love and money.
Go read the whole thing.

Since the passing of the Princess Mom and Darling Daddy, I think about stuff like this pretty often, and I agree entirely with the author's perspective. There's nothing wrong with me now, but I've already started having conversations about this with my daughter so that when the time comes, she'll know exactly where I'm coming from and there'll be no surprises.

My friend Lisa's got a new album out. She wants you to Come Dancing:

Yes, she is that disgustingly gorgeous in person. And a real sweetheart, too.

Update: Searches that turned up on my site meter today: "ass burgers," "color of puss" and "boobs licker."


Road Trip Eats

This article on favorite road trip snacks... and the recent spate of hot summer weather... got me more than a little nostalgic for the days when the Princess Mom and Darling Daddy loaded up the Ford station wagon and hauled us all to Nana's house in South Harwich, MA for our summer vacation.

So what were the top 10 snacking highlights of our road trips as we lounged in the "way back" of the wagon? (Nope -- no seat belts.)

In the cooler:
  1. The Princess Mom's oven-fried chicken, served cold for a picnic lunch.
  2. Home made potato salad, ditto.
  1. Regal Crown Sours sour cherry candies, purchased from a machine at an Indiana or Ohio tollway oasis -- the best sour candy ever. (And they don't make 'em any more. Wah!)
  2. Kraft Easy Cheese. 'Nuff said.
  3. Ritz Crackers.
  4. An economy-sized box of Cheez-Its.
  5. A big ol' gallon thermos jug of cherry Kool-Aid.
  6. Keebler Pecan Sandies. (A Darling Daddy fave.)
  7. Mother's Iced Oatmeal Cookies. (The Princess Mom loved 'em.)
  8. Ice cream cones from the restaurant at the HoJo hotel we always stayed at in or near Schenectady, NY. (Pistachio for me!)
So what top 10 edibles figured in your childhood road trips?

Book Your Ticket

Just finished my first reading of A Dance With Dragons. It will require me going back, once again, to read from the beginning to the end of the entire series to be sure I get all the nuances of foreshadowing from the previous books that I know I missed on the first read of this book.

Some observations so far:
  • It's better than A Feast For Crows.
  • MORE new characters??? Argh! I could a very large org chart to keep them all straight as it is!
  • Where is Catelyn? Sansa? Rickon? (You'd think that somewhere in the four books following the first Martin would give us some clue as to where the tiny spoiled brat and his angry direwolf might be hidden.)
  • Too much magic. The story line was fine without it.
  • That being said, note to self that Thoros of Myr is (was?) a red priest, too. Hope the same magic in his kiss works for Melisande, as well.
  • Daenerys needs to put on her big girl panties and deal.
  • The bitch may end up bald, but she still has her head. Why?
Yes, I'll eat humble pie. Martin actually delivered on time... and well he should have after all these years.

*Grumbles naughty words under her breath*

More coherent review after I've read the entire cycle again.

(George had better not take so long with the next one!)


And so I did.

Seven years and 6 days ago I first stuck the keys in the ignition. Who knew I'd still be roaming the digital highways and byways after all these years?

Windshield Wiper

Quote of the Day:
"The cage-dancing, the lap dancing, the S&M hoods — it all seems so quaint now." -- Thomas Conner
Yes, I spewed all over my monitor.


I want one. In fact, I'll park it right next to my motorized barstool with built in cup holder, cooler and autopilot.

While I'm certainly not his target audience, I've become a huge fan of John W. Fountain.
I have come to understand that your speech does indeed betray you. For one’s enunciation and command of the English language can be as revealing about one’s roots as a buttered southern drawl. But in my mind, mastering the King’s English is no more a betrayal of one’s roots than choosing a mode of transportation to get you to a destination. The point in either case is access.

For me, there was no greater vehicle for changing my status from ghetto black boy to successful American black man like learning to communicate effectively — in the spoken and written word. Both were at the core of my education and extrication.

And I believe they remain important bedrocks for future generations of boys and girls — especially black and brown — who, like I once did, find themselves today drifting far from the shores of the American dream, dwelling in hyper-segregated communities, separated by that great divide: language and ideas. This is exacerbated by the perpetuation of this idea that for black folks to use proper English is to “talk white.”
That's just beautiful stuff.

Quote of the Day:
"With blond hair and a barbarian headband, Giamatti appears something like the less handsome medieval brother of Bjorn Borg." -- Jake Coyle
Yes. I giggled.

I didn't know that the Federal Reserve Bank here in Chicago has a Money Museum. How cool is that?

Irish Fest starts tomorrow at the Irish American Heritage Center. Yay!

I'm looking forward to The Tossers, among other great bands. See you there?

Mile Markers

My Fourth of July was lovely....

And yours?


All of a sudden Illinois Dems are acting like Republicans -- and they're leaving my head spinning. Behold:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing another round of ethics legislation — this time to try to “reign in the influence” of City Hall lobbyists and lift the veil on their influence-peddling activities.

During his first few hours in office, Emanuel signed a series of executive orders that, among other things, aimed to slam shut the “revolving door” that has allowed city employees and mayoral appointees to lobby City Hall. They are now banned from doing so for at least two years after leaving their jobs.

Emanuel also swore off campaign contributions from city lobbyists and insulated city employees from pressure they had felt to give gifts or make political contributions to the mayor, department heads or city supervisors.

More recently, the mayor also posted an unprecedented amount of information about city lobbyists on the internet.Now, he is prepared to go further. At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, the mayor will introduce an ordinance limiting — to $50 per gift and $100 per calendar year — the value of gifts lobbyists can give to city employees.

And good ol' Governor Giveaway is finally reining it in, too:
Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday he was prepared to go to court against the unions to defend his decision to cancel pay raises for nearly 30,000 state workers and he repeatedly blamed lawmakers for leaving him no choice by not setting aside the money.

“It’s very clear that the money wasn’t available for the raises and therefore there’s really nothing I could do to clear it up,” Quinn said after a Chicago press conference where he touted a $10 million program to give teens and young people internships and jobs in state parks, park districts and nature centers.

Quinn made the surprise announcement Friday that workers wouldn’t be getting the 2 percent increase they were expecting that day. The state’s largest employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said it had no idea Quinn was considering such action.

The raises will save the state about $75 million as it copes with a budget crisis.
And finally Governor Giveaway shocked me with this stunner:
The names of licensed gun owners in Illinois will remain private under a measure Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law today.

The governor approved legislation to prevent Illinois State Police from releasing the names of those who hold or have applied for a Firearm Owner’s Identification card.
Apparently they're listening to the tax paying public here in Illinois. Who knew?

Quote of the Day #1:
"President Sparklefarts is seriously deranged." -- Second City Cop
(Yes, it made me giggle, although the subject matter did not.)

Is buying organic produce really better? Apparently that's a yes and a no. Go here to check out which fruits and veggies contain higher levels of pesticides and which ones don't.

Is it rude to text in at the movies, during a live concert or during a live theater performance?
Those little LED screens can break the spell in a darkened theater, and it doesn't matter that you're not making a sound. "Anything intrusive is a noise, and the light is intrusive," said Charles Coleman, who is the programmer at Facets Multimedia. "Using a phone in a darkened... theater is like lighting a road flare."
In a word -- YES. Turn 'em off, folks.
Smoke belching from Asia's rapidly growing economies is largely responsible for a halt in global warming in the decade after 1998 because of sulphur's cooling effect, even though greenhouse gas emissions soared, a U.S. study said on Monday.
So we really don't have to go green? All we have to do is encourage Asia to pollute more and that'll stop global warming? Or we could simply burn more coal here in order to save the planet?


Has anyone else out there gotten a bazillion emails of posts to Google+ from friends who are beta testing the site?

Jeepers Creepers! It's like having Facebook invade your email. Ugh.

If anyone knows how to opt out of receiving every brilliant thought that crosses someone's mind out of my gmail, please, please, please let me know.

(No. I will not be signing up for this one.)

Quote of the Day #2:
"I'm really not a 'What Would Jesus Do?' kind of guy. I'm more of a 'Why Would Jesus Do That?' kind of person." -- My Baby Bro, 7/4/11

Holy crap. I almost forgot that ADWD lands six days from now... or so they promise. Seems I'm not the only skeptic.

(Fingers crossed.)

Book Your Ticket

Books Read in June – 12/48

Catcher, Caught, Sarah Collins Honenberger[1]

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, Benjamin Hale[2]

Wild Bill Donovan, Douglas Waller[3]

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs[4]

Well Bred and Dead, Catherine O’Connell[5]

Perfect on Paper: The (Mis)Adventures of Waverly Bryson, Maria Murnane[6]

Traitor’s Wife, Susan Higginbotham[7]

Tommy Babcock: A World War II Thriller, Rich Whitney Turner[8]

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl, Stephanie McAfee[9]

Mystery: An Alex Delaware Novel, Jonathan Kellerman[10]

Beach Lane, Sherryl Woods

Moonlight Cove, Sherryl Woods[11]

[1] Charming, heartbreaking, and an excellent reason to reacquaint yourself with Holden Caulfield and why so many young boys identify with him.

[2] Transfixing fictional narrative told from the perspective of a chimpanzee, born in the Lincoln Park Zoo, who learns to speak English, and the devastating results.

[3] Biography of the larger-than-life man who conceived of and ran the OSS during World War II. Another big booger of a book.

[4] Young adult fiction that’ll grab most adults, too. Harry Potter + time travel + gothic = most excellent read. Yes, there’ll be a sequel.

[5] My friend Walt assured me I’d love this book; the opposite is true. The main character is by far the most shallow, unreasonable and unlikeable I’ve run across in a long, long time.

[6] On the other hand, this book I did love. The protagonist is real a charmer and the story’s got a lot of wit.

[7] Historical fiction, set in the world of England’s Edward III. If you can keep all the names straight, you’ll find it’s a fascinating look at an uneasy era in Britain’s history.

[8] I really liked this story of half a Hollywood brother/sister dance duo, bored and at loose ends when his sister marries and moves to the U.K. Because of his acting ability and fluent German, learned from his grandmother, he ends up spying against Hitler before the U.S. enters the war.

[9] Not your run-of-the-mill chick lit. Bitterly funny.

[10] Grade C. If I wasn’t already invested in the characters from previous books, I probably would have rated this lower. Kellerman just didn’t hit the emotional notes he usually does.

[11] Yes, they’re light reading. Still, I like Woods’ characters.