Friday, October 07, 2005

Good word

According to our new arrival
Life is more than mere survival

We just might live the good life yet

-- Gary Portnoy, Judy Hart-Angelo

Thursday, October 06, 2005


As I was walking out of the record store yesterday, the phone rang. Not my phone, the wireless doohickey, but a real phone, somewhere, with a bell. Then I realized: it was the pay phone outside the shop.

When I was a child I leapt to answer any pay phone that rang, for the sheer unpredictability of it. Like the man used to sing, who can it be now? I also used to write down the numbers of pay phones and then, at home, call them. The reason was the same: something weird might happen. As I recall, what generally happened, no matter what end of the pay phone I was on, was a brief moment of shared confusion, sometimes followed by an even briefer moment of shared amusement. And that was about it.

Those memories raced through my mind in an instant when the phone rang yesterday. I dithered over whether I should pick it up, but it looked nasty, even by pay phone standards. So I kept moving. Pay phones aren't guaranteed to be clean.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Flip flip

Every several months I confront the gigantic pile of magazines. I subscribe to a few -- The New Yorker, Fortune, PC Magazine -- and I'm always mildly excited when one arrives: more reading material! But inevitably I leaf through it, set it aside and forget about it. What eventually results is the gigantic pile of magazines. Something like panic sets in, and for days I spend most of my leisure time plowing through them. Once the pile is gone, the cycle starts anew.

What is this about? Isn't reading magazines supposed to be a leisure activity? So why does it feel like graduate school? A while back I spent evening after evening at a UW-Madison library, simply so I could get caught up on magazines. But I'll be good: I hereby promise to be more discplined about reading magazines. So much for leisure.

And then, the Gibbon.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Therapy for all

Here's an interesting headline from yesterday's paper:

Payments Not Hush Money, UW Aide Says

In case you're just tuning in: the University of Wisconsin-Madison is again in hot water with the legislature. This time it's because a vice chancellor of student affairs, Paul Barrows, went job-hunting while on paid leave following a romantic affair with a graduate student -- an affair chancellor John Wiley has called inappropriate, but not in violation of university policy (?).

The newest wrinkle is that Casey Nagy, an executive assistant to Wiley, paid for the distraught student's therapy with money from a "crisis fund" in the Dean of Students office, then reimbursed the fund by dipping into "discretionary gift funds in the chancellor's office."

I have every sympathy for the grad student, of course. Barrows put her in a very difficult position. But what I want to know is, where is my free, government-funded therapy? I have a few things I'd like to get off my chest.

One other question: when a lackey claims that payouts from the discretionary gift fund aren't hush money, doesn't that automatically mean they are?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Why yes, I can

Sometimes I feel as though I've lived here in Madison an eternity. Biking home from the library just now, I seemed to recognize every third person. Look, there's Matt Sloan, the Wis-kino guy. Look, there's Kelli Kaalele, who books shows at Cafe Montmartre and elsewhere. When did I become a local?

At one point in my journey home, being a local was like to kill me. I was turning from King Street onto Wilson, downtown, and a woman leaned her head out of a car and yelled, "Can you tell me where the Hilton is?"

Reflexively, I braked to an abrubt halt. My tires skidded. Fortunately, no cars were behind me, or it could have been ugly. I paused a nanosecond, pointed and said, "It's just there on the left."

She thanked me. Then I spotted Shirley Manson. Kidding!