Thursday, August 31, 2006

Someone's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend...

This is Katherine Harris. She is the Republican congresswoman for Florida's 13th District. She's crazy. Here is an interview I offer as my proof of her insanity.

I'll let you be the judge.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My Actor Friends

I used to live in Hollywood. I was an actor. I had a commercial agent. I took acting classes and waited tables. But this isn't about my failed effort at success, it's about one of my good friends hard work paying off.
Jeremy Luc, pictured here, will appear on "Bones" tonight. He's playing Eddie Bean. He's a hell of an actor and damn good guy. Please check him out. If you like him, email the show. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Parental Philosophy

The Boys and I were playing in our yard earlier today. We live on the southeast corner of the block. Kids from the neighborhood roam freely from yard to yard. No fences. That's the way we like it. Sometimes other kids toys get left in this yard or that. Everyone is pretty cool with it.

The older, Philip, picked up someone else's two-handed, pump-action squirt gun. Pointed it two inches from his brother's face and pulled the trigger. I watched it happen but I couldn't get the no out of my mouth fast enough. Patrick was fine.
The gun was empty save for a bit of mist.

The image was fairly shocking to me. I took the gun away. Explaining to him that I didn't like guns. He was sorry and wouldn't do it again. Sorry. No gun. Daddy doesn't like guns.

Philip is four. At four he knows what a gun is. Knows what will happen if you pull the trigger. Point. Aim. Shoot. Well, not really.

Last summer we went to the park one day. There was a kid there with plastic numb chucks stuck in his belt. A plastic knife in his pocket. A plastic rifle in his hand. This kid was ready for a Cobra invasion! He was nice enough to share one of his three hand-held weapons with Philip who held it upside-down and backwards.

I was somewhat proud of myself as a parent. He didn't even know what a gun was. Now he does.

See, I think violence is more damaging for a child than sexual subject matter or foul language. I would prefer The Boys watch "
Emmanuelle 1: First Contact" than "C.S.I. Anywhere." There is just something off about a culture where children play with authentic replica assault rifles shouting, "I killed you," but the image of a baby breastfeeding on a magazine cover is cause for alarm. Call me crazy.

I understand that kids will be kids. Back in the day we all played "Star Wars." I watched "The A-Team" and "The Dukes Of Hazard." We didn't have "Good Taste." I never shot anyone. Anyone you know of.

How worried should I be about guns? What can a parent do? Am I over-reacting?

I'll go ask Philip, maybe he has some ideas.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Here's to the sunny slopes of long ago.

This is from college. Dave and I. I attended Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois from '91-'97 and again in the summer of '99.
Hey!! I got the damn degree!
The date on the picture is obvious as is the locale. We would come here everyday.
Sometimes wasting the entire day there.
Skipping our classes and holding long conversations on all manner of topics.
For a short period I worked there. So did The Wife.
It was the social center of our daytime lives. Our Peach Pit if you will.

My favorite days were when I had money to pay bills. I'd go, order a bacon cheeseburger, (which bore my name for a period, The wife's name hung on the fruit cups) fries and a large coke. When I say large I mean I could accidentally drown in it. I'd grab a seat, buy the Chicago Tribune and write my checks waiting for the food. The post office was right across the street. With a walk of accomplishment after dropping the bills in the mail, I'd sit, eat and read.
First, I'd go through the Sports section, then Royko, then Kass. I'd read through the front page, finishing off with the funnies in Tempo.
By this time, if I hadn't been already, a friend would sit and join me. This group could easily swell to a dozen of us. Points would be argued. Tales would be told. Plans constructed.
Giant soda's refilled.

It didn't amount to much besides good times.

Friday, August 25, 2006

God's Own Suburban Success Story

This is Dan Konopka. The picture is from his sophomore Yearbook at York Community High School in Elmhurst.

Some of you might remember Dan in Art Staff at York.

You may not know it, but Dan isn't just a former resident and York Alum, he's one of our most high profile former resident and York Alum.

See, aside from living in Elmhurst for part of his life, Dan also plays the drums. Some of you might remember Dan playing drums at shows in Elmhurst. Some of you might remember Dan playing drums in your band at shows in Elmhurst.

Dan continues to make us here in Elmhurst proud. Dan is in a band called O.K. Go. The bands status has been on a steady rise due in large part to their impossibly hip videos. Their frontman was a recent guest on The Colbert Report.

I remember Dan. Elmhurst remembers Dan. And Dan remembers us both.

I have a friend at Capitol Records. While attending an O.K. Go concert she got to go backstage afterwards.

Approaching former Elmhurst resident Dan, "My friend Phil Hendricks says he went to High School with you? Do you really know him?"

Pausing and maybe smiling abit at some distant, humorous memory of a time the two of us undoubtedly once shared.

"Yeah... Sure... Phil. Cool. How is he."

I'm well Dan. So is Elmhurst. Well and happy at seeing your success.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Race for The Sixth District of Illinois

Illinois Sixth District.
The Fightin' Sixth!

Henry Hyde's old stomping ground.

Actually he still serves. Kinda.

There is a race for his seat. Of course we have two candidates:
Democratic candidate Tammy Duckworth
State Sen. Peter Roskam, R-48th District

This is a very big election year. This is a big election in that big election year. First Lady Laura Bush was just in Addison raising funds. Vice-President Dick Cheney made a stop at the same Addison Medinah's Banquet Hall in March. Both stumping for Duckworth.

No they weren't. I'm kidding. They were here for Roskam.

Duckworth has on her side, Baraka Obama. Kinda.

And maybe Durbin though I don't want to really call that a strength.

Duckworth has no political experience. She is an Iraq War Veteran. Losing both of her legs in a helicopter crash in Baghdad. Her platform is very similar to the standard Democratic platform. The troops need to come home. Sure. Health Care reform. Yeah, good.

But, she is change. I like change. This seat has been a Republican seat since at least '75.

Does she have the skills to navigate the sometimes complex world of Congress having no experience? Is different for the sake of different a reason to vote for someone? Short answer, no. Long answer, yes when we have had these guys in charge for this long.

She's a Democrat. I'm a Democrat. I probably side with her on most social issues. Gay Rights, Women's Reproductive Rights, our personal liberties. All that crap. But I'm pretty sick of the Dems these days.

Roskam has been serving since '93 in the Illinois Congress, both as a Rep. and Sen. Before that he worked for Henry Hyde and, surprisingly still in his bio, Tom Delay.

Ouch. I don't like that.

He is a former teacher in favor of permanent tax cuts and paints himself as a conservationist.

I'm for tax cuts to. I'm more for responsible government spending. Taxes I can live with if the money isn't being wasted in Vonnegut like absurdity. For example see; F.E.M.A. mobile home project. My thinking is that taxes will come down naturally if the government is responsible. Creates a surplus for themselves. Maybe I'm the jerk.

I do like the conservation part of Roskam's record. I like that a lot. I like wide open spaces. But is he a Neo-con-theologian who will spend his time rubber stamping the Republican Party line? Probably.

Most recently Roskam debated an empty chair. The empty chair accepted the invite after Duckworth turned it down, claiming truthfully, that it wasn't a scheduled debate. She has made herself available to people at local meetings. To me this says, her handlers are keeping a close eye on her, careful of where and when she debates, and republicans are still jerks. After the debate, the empty chair's polls rose 2 points.

So lets get it on. Learn the issues. Get the right candidate in there.

Good site for more info then I have.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Out with the Nu...

If you grew up in Elmhurst, in the eighties, you rented your videos from one place.

Nu Time Video.

This was the place that rented us Evil Dead 2 for the first time. Let me walk out with a copy of Faces Of Death. Turned me on to the great history of professional wrestling with the horrifyingly violent video, I Like To Hurt People.

All you needed was a phone number. Tell them and get the movie.

When The Wife and I moved back here I was happy and surprised it was still here. I checked it out. Good selection. Mainstream titles plus a lot of stuff you wouldn't see at Blockbuster. The only real difference was they had gone to DVD.

I remember when they rented Beta tapes.

When a buddy from L.A.'s independent movie, Kwik Stop, came out on DVD, to a limited release of course, it was right there on the shelf.

Good bye Nu Time.

At least Gem Comics is still around.

John Effin' Madden Football '07: You gotta Save Your Game.

Dirty's comments in my Maddenday posting got me thinking...

And then I stopped thinking and played the new John Madden Football '07...

Then the kids got up from their nap...

As they were jumping on the bed. Pushing... Shoving... Tackling... I thought I saw into their future.

The things the would accomplish. The friends they would share them with.

Their games of John Madden Football '19 30th Anniversary Edition.

I know I saw my past... Would they remember this moment? Would I?

Patrick the younger came and set his two-year-old hands on my knees. Reaching for the PS2 controller in my lap.

"Hold on Buddy, gotta save my game."

When moments like this come along, you gotta save your game.

I welcome anyone else's Madden Football memories.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Elmhurst Teachers Council Vs. Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205: Pt. 2

So we got some new info today courtesy of the Elmhurst Press. Seems that the proposal from the School board is still not satisfactory to the teachers. They want a larger salary increase and expect significant increases in the retirement proposal. That the salaries are lower then Naperville District 203 seems to be a sticking point. They are about $2600 lower.

Why is Naperville the yard stick? Is it the highest paying district in the state? Do their teachers walk through the streets like, Pimps On parade, sporting their Bling? Is there gonna be a throw down? It's the only other school district ever mentioned.

We also got some bad news that the Districts was over budget in regards to school construction and improvement, to the tune of $1 million. I never liked those fast-tracked smarty-pants anyways.

But then we got some good news, they are spending $500,000 to upgrade tech equipment at the district schools. I guess the microfiche machines are getting old.

There is another Elmhurst publication, The Elmhurst Independent, that has more info. Unfortunately they have no website to link to. We are efforting some kind of link.

This is a quote from comments Joan Davis, Chief Union Negotiator for the teachers, made in response to my earlier entry.

"You are right - teachers need a competitive salary but unlike big business, school districts don't have "big pockets". One correction-until we settle this, we are working under our old contract. As of now - all we want is for the Board to recognize that we are not replaceable, care about our students and deserve a little more. Keep you posted."

So the teachers do have a contract. Their old one.

I believe her when she says they care about the students.
I believe they are not replaceable, within reason of course.
I believe they probably deserve a little more. Elmhurst is pretty frickin' expensive.

But how much is to much and what can the School District afford? This is what I want to find out.

According to the Elmhurst Independent Aug. 23rd edition, in an article I can't link to, District 205 has approved a budget of over $90 million for 2006/2007. Their largest budget ever, with appropriations for $81,612,441 and reserves. That is a 8.75% increase from the 2005/2006 budget. The article goes on to say that the Educational Fund represents 76.6% of their total budget, with salaries being 74% of the Educational Fund.

This same article describe a surplus for the 2006/2007 year of $489,562. So that's good news. But there are projects going on that are coming in over budget. I'm not savvy enough about this stuff.

If anyone can help me decipher that info, please do. Is 74% going towards salaries to much?

I also linked to a rather angry letter in the Elmhurst Press in an earlier post. It's not a Pro-teacher letter. The Independent has a very well written response in their letters I wish I could link to. Here is a teacher defending herself and other teachers that I can link to, here. Her defense answers a couple of the accusations from the first letter. Not directly, since she is in Virginia I think, but generally if you are asking yourself these same questions.

There will be a School Board Meeting on Aug. 28th. I will try to attend and get some answers.

I also welcome anyone's help in getting to the bottom of this, correcting my mistakes or improving my blog.

John Effin' Madden Football '07: My John Madden Football Career.

Time: 1994

Place: Our college house on Flora Way.

To Much Time On The Clock.

My buddy Brendan and I are playing Madden for maybe the millionth time that year. The game is very high scoring and we each take the lead back and forth. I'm sure we are playing the '93 version. A solid version we would stick with for a number of years, if memory serves.

Brendan often loses. Badly. That he might win this game is a big deal. For him and for me. He scores with about 7 seconds left in the game.

I don't think he said a word.

We never talked much trash in our house. We just thought it was disrespectful to treat your friend that way.


We took it waaaay to seriously, plus there was always an Alpha Male when it came to these games. If you were the best at Madden you probably weren't the best at NHL. Unless you wanted to eat it the next time around keep your mouth shut. That's just how we played. We also never punted the ball (pussy move.) Or kicked field goals for the win (cheap pussy ass move.)

We were crazy and, I might add, flunking out of college.

So I have the ball, after returning the kickoff. Maybe 5 seconds left, Brendan up by 4.

"I'm going to score right now and you can't stop me."

I can't remember why I said it. I was probably pissed off about something in my overly dramatic college life. I was flunking out after all.

I was the Niners and I knew I could. Just get the time to let Jerry Rice run by the corner. Easy money. Been doing it all game.

Just to much time on the clock.

I did. I scored.

Brendan silently put his controller down and went up stairs.

I felt like a dick later. I had insulted him for no good reason. I was a jerk.

From then on the phrase, "To much time on the clock", was our "Dead man walking." Just something the player, knowing he was destined to lose, would say, in preparation for the loss.

John Effin' Madden Football '07

Happy Maddenday Everyone!

I've been buying this game every year for the better part of 18 years. I'm pretty sure I skipped purchasing the '95 & '96 versions. I've owned it for Sega Genesis, Play Staion 1 and now PS2. It is the only reason I would purchase an Xbox360. I've competed in 1 Madden Tournement in Santa Monica, CA. '04. I won 1 game then got bounced by some punk kid. Some of my most triumphant moments in life have come from playing this game. Some of the most embarrassing and humiliating as well.

God Bless John Madden and God Bless You.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Elmhurst Teachers Council Vs. Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205

We all went to school. We all had teachers. Some good. Some bad. Some competent. Some incompetent. But occasionally we have a great teacher. It doesn't happen often when you figure how many teachers you had in your life.

I consider myself lucky I had as many good ones as I did. Most were merely there to hand me tests, grade those tests and record that I had fulfilled the requirements of that class.

Some took the time to construct their class to maximize learning. Took the time to make sure I was learning. Took the time to make sure I understood the work. The ideas. Took the time to teach me how to teach myself for the rest of my life. The kind of teachers I hope The Boys have.

One of those great ones was Mrs. Joan Davis. My sophomore criminology and junior U.S. History teacher at York Community High School in Elmhurst. I learned more getting D's in her class than any A's I got. (I didn't get many.)

Joan, as she makes me call her now, has been in the news (here, here and here) a lot lately in Elmhurst. She is the Elmhurst Teachers Councils Chief Negotiator in the negotiations with the 205 School Board.

The teachers have no contract.

From what I understand the teachers want more money based on two reasons;
  1. To create an attractive job for better teachers to come to District 205.
  2. To properly compensate the teachers for rising living costs.
The School board claims the salary requests are at odds with the money they have.

Seems like a classic Labor Vs. Management debate. My sympathies lie with the teachers, but I also understand that there are limits to everything and a need to operate things with financial responsibility.

I'm going to try and find out more about this. I'm rather naive when it comes to these things. I've never been in a union. I've never been in Management. I've never been a teacher. I've never been on a school board.

But I have been a student. Not a good student but... A student of Mrs. Davis, and I'll tell you this. As a student, teachers like Joan Davis are worth it and don't come around often.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Wife 1, Phil 0

I found my pants.

About a year ago I spent some $600 on a new suit for my sister-in-laws wedding. It was too much to spend but I hadn't bought a new suit in at least 15 years. The last time was somewhere around '91.

I needed a new one.

This is a Calvin Klein, all wool, single-breasted, three button suit. Black. New tie, shirt, shoes, and what the hell, throw on some suspender buttons and I'll take those suspenders there. Sweet. I wore the suit at the wedding. I looked good. I don't wear them often but I do like wearing them.

I got my $600 worth.

Fast forward to about a month ago...

I'm cleaning out my closet. I have been for awhile. Slowly sending stuff to Goodwill. Taking other items to the cleaners so they are ready when I need them.

As I'm organizing I wonder, where are the pants for my suit? Hmm...

I look through my closet, my dresser drawers. No pants.

I ask The Wife, "Have you seen the pants for my suit?"


I ask my Mother and Father, whom we share the house with. No luck. We all go through the house, room by room, floor by floor. NO FRICKIN' PANTS!

Did I get my $600 worth?

I start grilling The Wife. "Are you sure
you didn't see them anywhere? Perhaps while cleaning? Moving them to and fro. You put alot of boxes in the attic awhile ago."

"I didn't lose your pants."

"Of course you didn't. But... It's happened before. As people clean they move things and sometimes they get moved somewhere hard to find. Somewhere you wouldn't expect to find it."

Why is she always moving my stuff anyway? Isn't where I left it as good a place as any? Goddamnit! The pants are gone and I know she did something with them.

"I didn't lose your pants."

"Of course you didn't.

And now I'm angry. I got 1 wearing out of this suit. It's ruined because the pants are gone.

I did not get my $600 worth.

As is often the case when we get angry, I take it out on those closest to me. I sulk around the house, all but accusing The Wife of losing my pants.

Well, yesterday as I was going through my closet looking for clothes for the cleaners, I pull a wrinkled shirt off a hanger and what do I find under it?

My pants.

I lost the pants.

And I found the pants. Exactly where I left them. In my closet. It was my fault all along. I am thankful and humbled. I'm a jerk.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My Name Is Phil. This Is My Blog.

I live in Elmhurst, Il. with The Wife, The Boys, Mother And Father.

I grew up here. This street. This House. I loved it as a kid and I love it now.