Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bloodless Gore

Al Gore

When Al Gore debated George Bush in 2000, he had two minutes to make a point. Now he's getting 100 minutes.

That alone makes the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" worth finding at the local indie film house, just to see such a high-profie argument being conducted with Apple slideshow software in the manner of a workplace quarterly report or McCormick Place keynote address.

Gore has road-tested his argument. An animated frog gets rescued from a death ordained by analogy, because a frog boil implies that incremental temperature change can't be stopped. And because Gore still can't muster the charisma of a cartoon frog.

"I've been trying to tell this story for a long time, and I feel as if I've failed to get the message across," Gore muses in The New York Times. Well, yes. Earth in the Balance found a limited audience, and the 2000 coin-flip campaign couldn't handle any metaphor more complicated than "lock box."

Talk about whether "An Inconvenient Truth" is a 2008 campaign vehicle seem sadly beside the point. Gore's message is more urgent by the year yet seemingly locked in the lecture hall. The movie marketplace pits Professor Gore in competition with Vince Vaughn. Guess who wins?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Edmar turnover, and a new leaf

mystery veg?Maybe it's watercress.

The bugs aren't much of a clue.


Brenda and I are sizing up leafy vegetables in a plastic container, part of this week's shipment from Home Grown Wisconsin, a restaurant supplier that's stocking our fridge this summer.

We've subscribed to a community supported agriculture project along with a few neighbors. Every other week we walk down the street and pick up a box of veggies, then take them home, bag them and try to plan menus around them. The first box contained chard, spinach and other leafy plants, not all of which we've identified, plus strawberries, rhubarb and three fennel bulbs.

It wouldn't work without online recipes for the menu planning. Google Images initially was no help on the mystery veg, but it seemed to confirm a neighbor's ID, sunflower greens. (Added another neighbor, "It's not a bug, it's a feature.")

This stuff wasn't showing up at Edmar, now closed for for remodeling as a future Dominick's. The Chicago Avenue grocery did its best to grow with the neighborhood, stocking shelves with chai tea and extra-virgin olive oil as well as tortillas and tripe. But produce always seemed to be the remainder aisle, and there was a growing list of what we wouldn't buy again at Edmar.

Ald. Flores continues to negotiate with Dominick's on concessions to the neighborhood, the Journal reports. He got a lot of heat about the prospect of rising prices, although attempts to prove price differences always seemed suspect.

No doubt prices will rise, because Dominick's carries higher-quality items and pays better wages. Courteous workers at the inner-city locations seem to really enjoy their jobs. I'll be glad to see them here, if the Journal doesn't first banish me to Naperville for expressing such Tory notions.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Blog'em Dano

• Shane Gericke of Naperville has published a paperback thriller, Blown Away. Retired Sun-Times reporter Brenda Rotzoll, who worked with both of us, led me to Shane's Web site, which led me to Amazon for the $7 paperback. Of course by the time I emptied my shopping cart the tab had grown to $34.

• My library is a Zero Population Growth zone, so I'll have to add a few more books to the Salvation Army donation pile in the garage. I can start with volumes available online via the American Studies archives of the University of Virginia. I came across the Hypertexts site while looking up crossword puzzle answers for my wife (I understand if she does this it's cheating, but for me it's OK) and it prompted me to start the Open Stacks section of my blogroll.

• The new blog of the National Books Critics Circle revisits John Updike's rules for reviewers. Rule #1 works for criticism of all sorts: "Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mark R. Evans, 1963-2006

Web designer Mark Evans was shot to death outside his home in Avondale, the Tribune reports. I met him after I had started as a Web producer and he was full of ideas on our emerging field.

The area looks rough from police blotter reports, including the nearby bust of a suspected gun dealer. But there were few early details in Evans' death.

The Decatur paper published his death notice Friday; a guestbook is on

Fresh talk

Restaurateur Jerry Kleiner (Marche, Opera, Carnivale) gives his alderman a blunt assessment of condo development in Chicago Journal.