Wednesday, November 30, 2005


My 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox have already been busy this off-season (though not quite as busy as the Mets maybe). Last week's trade with the Phillies that sent Aaron Rowand to Philly for Jim Thome left me a bit skeptical. Now, if Thome is healthy and can back to his usual production, then he is a great pickup (plus, he's a lefty). On the other hand, if he's the .208 hitting Jim Thome... The other problem is that I don't want to see Rowand go. He has been one of my favorite Sox these last few years - he always plays hard, is one of the best centerfielders in the game, and can get the clutch hits. I really hate to see him go.

Now brings some great news. Paul Konerko signed a new contract with the Sox today, 5 years at 60 million. He's been my favorite Sox player over the past couple of years, even when he's gone through his slumps. He knows how to hit and he can hit for power. Plus, he plays a better first base than he generally gets credit for. And if we get the good Thome...what a combo that will be. Yup, this news makes me very happy.

Sickness update: Grant got through school just fine yesterday and today. I survived two days back in the water without any problems and with kids happy to see me. However, Jill came home early from school yesterday and had the same problems as Grant and me. The bug batted 3 for 3, damn it.

Site update: Lots of things I want to talk about and I hope to start getting two posts a day up tomorrow. We'll see. Upcoming subjects include Scott Pilgrim, Jeffrey Ford, live CDs and DVDs, the Jan. 2006 issue of Asimov's, my new TV love, lots of talk about DC Comics icons, and more.

Music update: Grooving to The Hold Steady's Separation Sunday. Again.

Monday, November 28, 2005


This year was not my best Thanksgiving experience, I'm sorry to say. It started with snowy and icy weather when we left, which caused delays and slow speeds at times. The worst part of the weather came in western Pennsylvania - the roads had just started getting bad when a Jeep-type vehicle in front of me drifted to the left and skidded on the ice. He went into the embankment (we were in the left lane at the time and westbound 80 was above us at that point) and flipped over the hill a couple times. Right in front of me. It was very scary and we pulled over as soon as we could. Jill called 911 on her cel and I walked back to see what was going on. Luckily, the guy was okay and just had a few aches and pains. I waited with him until a state tropper arrived and then we went back on our way, though at about 35 to 40 MPH for many miles after that.

Thanksgiving itself was fine. It was odd not to have either of my grandmothers around but we got through it. Big dinner and cards and homemade ice cream and pie and so on and so forth as usual.

Friday started out normally as well, with most of the group going to Woolrich (I am one of the few who stays at the hotel...managed to finish Scott Pilgrim too (more on that in the near future)). The guys went to lunch at the Bridge Tavern, where I had a cheesesteak, and then I went up to Percy's to play cards with my dad, my cousin Heath, and his brother-in-law (and an honorary cousin) Brian. It was a nice time except I started feeling worse and worse. Once my wife arrived, I had her take over for me and went back down to the hotel. Long story short (and you really don't want the details) - I got very ill. Very very ill. And that was pretty much the end of my weekend. Saturday I spent trying to feel better and I did start feeling closer to normal by Saturday night's surprise 60th birthday party for my Aunt Merry.

The whole experience was very unpleasant and one that I do not wish to repeat. I felt well enough to make the drive home (my mom was along with us, as my dad had to stay in Williamsport to take care of things with his mother's estate today) but any joy at being home was undercut but Grant getting sick around 10:30 last night. I was up with him until about 2:30 in the morning and had to miss work today, while he missed school. It was not a fun way to end a weekend that already wasn't much fun.

Of course, I did enjoy the time I spent with my family when I was feeling well. And I'm thankful that I can spend that time with them. I just wish I'd been able to have a whole lot more fun.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I think I've been in Pennsylvania for about a my head. As I mentioned the other week, Thanksgiving has always been an important holiday for me and this one seems even moreso with the losses we've had recently. So, I've been a bit distracted and haven't been focused enough to post. I will therefore wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and I will plan on being more consistent once we get back.

Oh, and I can't wait to have some shoofly pie on Thursday night.

Friday, November 18, 2005


I came to rock music later than many of my peers. My parents listened to country music and "oldies" in the 70s and early 80s and I was perfectly happy to listen to it. I even disdained "rock" as being something not worth my time. I happily bought albums and singles (.33s and .45s) of country music - Kenny Rogers and The Oak Ridge Boys were early favorites; my younger brother's collection of Alabama albums was also of great interest. In fact, it wasn't until 7th grade when I really started listening to the music on The Loop (out of Chicago) that was played on the bus on the way to and from school. I began to like "rock" songs...and eventually branched out with my album purchasing. I'm pretty sure it was early 1984 when I finally succumbed and picked up Michael Jackson's Thriller, finally joining millions of other people. I switched over to buying rock albums and singles until Christmas that year further changed my musical life - I got a Sony Walkman and a number of tapes, including The Pointer Sisters, The Cars, ZZ Top (which my mom asked for as "22 Top" due to my sloppy handwriting and a general ignorance of the genre), and Van Halen (might as well jump!). My conservative nature was still intact, though, as I somehow overlooked asking for Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A.

Now maybe only a couple songs from that album had been on the radio at that point. I do remember that the album had a long shelf life and over half the songs were releases as singles. But I'm sure I was aware of the stuff and I know I liked it. I just wasn't sure about it yet. In those days I used to keep track of the songs I heard on the radio (Z95 by that point, I think) and made a running tally - my own Top 40 to match against Kasey Casem every week. And eventually, I realized that I needed Born in the U.S.A. and I got it in the late spring or early summer of 1985 (maybe as early as my birthday in March?). It was in my Walkman many, many, many times. I loved it and I loved Bruce (and maybe at some point I'll talk more directly about the album). By the time I started high school in the fall of 1985, he was my favorite musician. I even used that fact to bond with a senior girl in the swing choir who was beautiful and ended up being my dance partner on a few songs (including, "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey?," which we performed many times during the year). She had even been to Soldier Field to see him in concert.

Christmas 1986 added a new chapter to my love of Bruce - the release of the boxed set, Live/1975-1985. Not only were the songs from Born in the U.S.A. including but also a bunch of older songs I'd never heard before. How cool was that? What was this "Thunder Road" and "Adam Raised a Cain?" I heard "Hungry Heart" and "Candy's Room" and "Racing in the Street" and "Nebraska." I heard "Born to Run" for the first time. I was in love all over again.

It wasn't until I was in college and buying CDs that I actually picked up the Born to Run album. Of course, I'd read all about it and heard many of the songs from it but it was still a revelation to me. The epic grandeur of "Jungleland." The amazing rocker "She's the One." The noirish cool and melancholy of "Meeting Across the River." The power of the title track, of course. And the song that slowly became my favorite Bruce song and then my favorite song in the world, "Thunder Road." A fantastic album.

Now it's 2005 and this week saw the release of a new Bruce boxed set, the 30th Anniversary Edition of Born to Run. It contains the remastered album, which is just finishing as I'm typing this. It sounds great and the songs are still great. Even better, the set contains 2 DVDs. I watched "Wings for Wheels" first, which is a 90 minute documentary of the making of the album and consists of interviews looking back as well as old footage from that time period as well as some alternate takes with varying instrumentation and lyrics playing along in the background. It's very entertaining. That disc also contains a three song performance from 1973, featuring a smaller E Street Band with Vinnie "Mad Dog" Lopez on drums. It's a lot of fun.

Even cooler is a two hour plus concert from 1975 - Bruce and the boys at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. It's cool not only to see the group when they were younger but the music is amazing. And I was surprised to see some of the current live arrangements intact back then - the organ intro to piano to full band on "Lost in the Flood," for instance. "She's the One" rocks and "For You" is done by Bruce alone on the piano. "Kitty's Back" stretches out to include long solos by Danny Federici and Roy Bittan and Clarence Clemons. Max Weinberg thunders on the drums and Garry W. Tallent holds down the bass. The interaction between a young Bruce and a young Stevie Van Zandt is so much fun to see. It's a great historical document and a great concert.

I was 4 years old when the original Born to Run album came out, too young to know anything about him. I found Bruce at 14 and now I'm 34. He's been my favorite artist for 20 years and this 30th anniversary collection is a great testament to why that's true.

I'm pulling outta here to win...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


* Bruce Springsteen/Born to Run 30th Anniversary boxed set (I'm part of the way through the documentary disc about the making of the album)

* Wilco/Kicking Television: Live in Chicago (listening to disc 1 currently - "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" at this moment)

* Scrubs Season 2 (not yet out of the plastic)

* The Cosmology of the Wider World by Jeffrey Ford (ordered through Shocklines a while back and showed up out of the blue; saving it for the Thanksgiving trip)

* Sleep (good night!)

Monday, November 14, 2005


That's what I have for you today. Not much at all. I've been thinking about covering the last two issues of Asimov's or talking about how INFINITE CRISIS is reawakening by inner DC fanboy or telling you how I just finally got around to seeing "Batman Begins" or my new TV obsession or going back to talk about Jeffrey Ford's The Girl in the Glass or or or...

Instead, I'm feeling very tired and can't bring any thoughts to coherency. So I'll go back to listening to some Springsteen in anticipation of tomorrow's 30th anniversay Born to Run release and watching the Cowboys/Eagles game on mute. And I'll try coming back with something worth your while tomorrow.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


With the demise of "Arrested Development" (and let's hope we will see more episodes), is there any sitcom worth watching? Yes, there is.

The new "How I Met Your Mother" is a solid series. It's more in the traditional mode than "AD" but still can be pretty funny. Plus, any series making use of Alyson Hannigan ("Buffy"), Jason Segel ("Freaks and Geeks"), and Neil Patrick Harris ("Doogie Howser, M.D." hisself) has to be worth watching.

Also of interest is the just wrapped first season of "Extras." I watched and enjoyed the first episode and then circumstsances forced me to lose track of it after that. I have slowly been rectifying that by catching it on HBO On Demand. I never watched the original "The Office" (though I still want to) but I really enjoy the sensibility of Ricky Gervais. And Kate Winslet's appearance in the premiere episode is not to be missed.

My frontrunner, however, is "My Name Is Earl." I havem't been able to watch it on its regular night due to my "Amazing Race" habit (boo, Weavers!) but NBC has been rerunning episodes on Satruday nights occasionally. Last night they replayed the last four episodes and I laughed quite a bit. Every episode seems to have one huge laugh for me, such as Randy's wonderment at "Karma's Army, made up of all the nations of the world" or his telling Catalina that when you play the card game War in America and you both pull the same card it's called a "Truce" and the players hug because America is a peaceful nation. Jason Lee is perfect as the titular Earl and Jaime Pressly is fantastic as his trashy ex-wife Joy (and she looked great in a small bikini during the Pretty Prettiest Pageant on one ep last night). And after telling you my favorite parts, can I ignore Ethan Supplee as Randy? And how about guest-stars like Johnny Galecki and Giovanni Ribisi? Great stuff. If you haven't watched an episode, please do. I think you'll like it.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


This week brought news I'd feared was coming - Fox canceled "Arrested Development." I was actually surprised they brought it back for a third season, after season 2's episode reduction. Technically, this season is also a reduction (down to 13 eps) but we'll be lucky if we see many of them before the final DVD gets released some time next year. And when you think about it, we're lucky that we'll end up with 53 episodes of this great sitcom. For Fox, that's pretty good.

It does sting, especially after Monday's back-to-back greatness. Tobias telling George Michael to have sex with Ann right then and there. Buster using his father's surrogate to build a train set with GOB. Michael and Steve Holt! training for the father/son triathlon. The continuing mystery of Rita. And the huge finale with Tobias dressed as a giant mole being attacked by George Michael in a jet pack, amidst a tiny town created to trick the Japanese investors. Plus, the return of Annyong!

This show has been brilliantly written and acted from the start and is one of my all-time favorite shows. It will be missed.

Friday, November 11, 2005


A few years ago I decided I should make a reading goal for myself. I felt like I wasn't reading as many books as I had in the past and I wanted that to change. I settled on the goal of 36 books read in a year, an average of only 3 a month that seemed reasonable. I started in 2001 and managed to read 30 books that year. In 2002 I jumped up to 33 books read. I only managed one more book in 2003 and one more again last year, leaving the total at 35. I am very happy to report that I have already read 36 books this year; in fact, I did it a few weeks ago. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm stopping (though I've been catching up on my "Asimov's" since that time). 40 seems easily achievable. Anyway, here is my list of books read so far this year...

1. Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross
2. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
3. The Truth About Celia by Kevin Brockmeier
4. Home Land by Sam Lipsyte
5. The Wilco Book by Wilco and Picture Box, Inc.
6. The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories edited by Ben Marcus
7. The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken
8. In the Penny Arcade by Stephen Millhauser
9. Days Between Stations by Steve Erickson
10. The Family Trade by Charles Stross
11. The Disappointment Artist by Jonathan Lethem
12. Faithful by Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King
13. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
14. Tumbling After by Paul Witcover
15. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
16. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
17. A Gentleman's Game by Greg Rucka
18. The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips
19. Crossing California by Adam Langer
20. Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham
21. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
22. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
23. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
24. Bulletproof Girl by Quinn Dalton
25. Air by Geoff Ryman
26. A Friend of the Earth by T.C. Boyle
27. Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow
28. The Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford
29. Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
30. Eric by Terry Pratchett
31. Tooth and Claw by T.C. Boyle
32. Anasi Boys by Neil Gaiman
33. Born in the U.S.A. by Geoffrey Himes
34. The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders
35. The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami
36. Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

Thursday, November 10, 2005


1. Thanksgiving is two weeks from today. It is a holiday that has always meant a great deal to me, one full of family and tradition. Ever since I was a kid, my family (Mom, Dad, and my brother Theron) would travel to Williamsport, PA (also the home of Little League baseball) to meet up with all of my relatives. When I was younger, we would take turns as to which part of the family we had dinner with. Some years we would be at Grandma and Grandpa Steiner's, where we would also eat with Aunt Ginny and Uncle John. That was it for my dad's side of the family. Other years we would eat at Grandma and Percy's, where my mom's sisters and their families would be. Those years we got to eat with our cousins at the kid table. But even if we ate at the Steiner house, we would end up at the other one.

Things changed, of course. Grandma and Grandpa Steiner moved to an apartment and could no longer host dinners. My then-girlfriend, now-wife started coming. Grandma and Percy moved to an apartment, which meant we started go out for dinner. Grandpa Steiner and then Uncle John passed away. Jill and I had a son. My cousin Heath got married to Anne. And so on.

We always had the traditions, though they have also mutated over the years. Homemade ice cream and lots of pie. The ladies' luncheon and the guys' lunch. Sub night. Lots of games of Hearts and then lots of games of euchre. Aunt Ginny's fabulous Saturday breakfasts. The trip to Woolrich. Traditions.

This year is going to be a bit different. Both of my grandmothers passed away in October, three weeks apart. A difficult month and one that necessitated two unexpected trips to Williamsport. I haven't eaten a Thanksgiving meal without them in a long time (probably 1994, when I had to stay in Valpo because my boss was having a baby and I had to manage Subway). It is going to be weird to do that this year. But the rest of the family will be there and we will go on. We'll eat a lot and laugh a lot and just enjoy being together. Thanksgiving is about family and I'm looking foward to it. I always do.

2. This is my second blog here at Blogspot. I had deleted the original Shooflypie a while back...I had decided it wasn't worth thinking about anymore and I should be writing creative material and blah blah blah. Obviously, I've missed it. However, I couldn't get my Shooflypie URL back and that's why this is Another Piece of Shooflypie. Shooflypie is good enough to have two pieces anyway.

So, if you're finding me again - welcome back. And if this is your first taste of any Shooflypie, welcome. Please feel free to post comments and I start to once again build a backlog of posts. I don't promise regularity, though I will try for it. I do promise to talk about anything and everything that is on my mind but mostly I'll try to talk you into reading/watching/listening to whatever I'm into. If I like it, shouldn't you?