Friday, October 20, 2006

We had a half day today because of conferences. Normally, I head to Best Buy to waste my hard-earned money on a crappy DVD--last year it was the Special Edition of The Fly; the year before that, Evil Dead II. But I found out I'm not, after all, registered to vote, and while I support wholeheartedly American complacency and the voting gap that lies stinking like an abscessed wound over my generation, I nevertheless felt a transitory yet persistent urge to throw my lot in with the rest of the disenchanted, sick-of-swiping-politicians voters and cast my ballot for the "anybody but the rest of them" party. As much as humanly possible, anyway. So I stopped-and-went along 90 to the Blue Line and hopped a train to the Daley Center (in its resplendent Halloween glory; see image and note below), where I did Late Registration Voting.

It's a humbling process. I should probably point out that I was still attired in my suit-and-tie from conferences, and since the Maiden concert was over and done with, I'd gotten a haircut mere minutes before the meet-and-greet yesterday. So I was looking relatively dapper. As my colleagues like to point out, I clean up good. As I like to point out...well, seriously, ladies, who wants a taste?

But I could have been wearing Armani delux and still received the same treatment.

My first mistake was bringing a book. White guys wearing Ipods, dressed in ratty clothing with hair hanging down their face over a copy of Critique of Practical Reason don't draw a second glance on the Red Line. (Trust me--I know, except substitute Kant for Hustler.) But wearing a rumpled shirt under your suit and carrying a copy of Eleanor of Aquitaine, for some reason, brands you a Hillary-ite. (I'm not saying I'm not one, just that I was labeled.) Seriously, several people passed me tracts. One guy told me he hated New York. Another said he would pray for me. And this was all from reading a fucking book. Or, better still, reading a book about the most powerful woman in the twelfth century. Had I carried a copy of Dr. Phil, I probably would have been safer.

My second mistake was assuming I'd remember the address. I found the building no sweat--only a complete and utter illiterate would have trouble disembarking and walking through the wrong door. I remembered that much from a Chicago parking ticket many moons ago. But I couldn't remember what suite in the Cook County building it was, and the "Information Desks" were anything but informative. The good news: I now know where to apply for divorce. Hey, you never know.

My last mistake was missing the deadline in the first place. Like an utter cretin (but not an illiterate one, I hasten to add), I assumed I'd registered when I moved, when, more likely, I reminded myself to register, forgot the reminder, and assumed I'd done it. Doing late registration seems to be like registering for unemployment--you get a lot of judgmental, "how the hell did you end up here looks from the people behind the desk, you fill out a lot of paperwork, you wait in uncomfortable plastic chairs that somehow mold to not fit your butt, and you listen to other people (losers, unlike you, who screwed up somehow, which is why they're there, even if it's not why you yourself are) screech about long lines, paperwork and uncomfortable chairs.

One interesting wrinkle: I had to vote that day. Late registration precludes you from the Nov. 7 experience. Good thing I did my homework and knew how badly both governor candidates sucked the royal root.

An even more interesting wrinkle: no-votes are possible. You can leave ballot boxes blank. It's the only form of two-party protest I can think of.

And you even get your I voted today sticker to put on Nov. 7.

The Halloween-themed Daley Center, cribbed from Freaky, innit?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

You can rock at a Maiden concert on a school night.

Yes, indeedy, the Maidens rocked the house at the Allstate Arena Wednesday night. I whined. I puled. I howled. First about the late hour; then about the new album they were playing start to finish.

Let me tell you something: they rock.

I'm still digesting A Matter of Life and Death, but there are songs that scream "old school" to me. "These Colours Don't Run," or "The Greater Good of God." I've only listened to the songs in the car--I need to get them on my MP3, or in my living room. But I don't even know all the lyrics yet, and the only reason I know there's an anti-war theme is because of the bigass tank on the cover. My car is ok for acoustics, but the Allstate leaves much to be desired.

So there I stood, 31 years old, wearing a secondhand Hawaiian shirt and my dog-chewed concert jacket, cheering like a loon along with the appropriate lyrics from "Iron Maiden" and "Hallowed Be Thy Name." I'd never gotten to wail along to "Fear of the Dark" (it being post-1985 work of theirs), but I did not miss my chance Wednesday. They put me to shame: Dickinson has got to be past 50, yet he can still run and bellow high notes nonstop without even breaking a sweat. They had energy. They had depth. They knew how to put on a show.

When I left, my ears were ringing. My head was splitting. I needed a shower. I needed a drink. I needed to pull out all my Iron Maiden tapes and play them back to back until one a.m.

So why was it, then, that in the car, after fiddling with the radio for a while, I found myself singing lustily along to George Michaels' "Faith"?

Not exactly the capper for my first metal concert in over a decade. I swear, I have ADD for music taste.