Journal of Vitriolic Observations: JVO Blog

The Self-Publishing Chronicles Part Seven: The Cover

My book has a cover, and I couldn't be more excited about it!

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The Self-Publishing Chronicles Part Six: Cover Me

I'm so close...

Off the Record Collection is just a cover away from being ready for consumption.

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The Self-Publishing Chronicles Part Five: Additions and Waiting

Back in January, I fully expected that Off the Record Collection would be published by now.

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My three seconds with Rush

I had a "once in a lifetime" moment this week: I met Rush.

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Record Store Day: I was on WGN-TV today

I visited WGN Midday News today to talk about Record Store Day, as well as a few local concerts. Thanks as always to the WGN Midday team for their hospitality and professionalism.


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Chasing Chicago's Food Trucks

It goes without saying that food tastes better when you get it from a truck.

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The Self-Publishing Chronicles Part Four: Are you famous? Do you like music?

The blurb solicitation process for my self-published book, Off the Record Collection: Riffs, Writings, and Rants about Rock is moving slower than I'd like.

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Mancation 2011 (Days Two and Three): Guitar Center on Halsted, John Hancock, and Carson's

The boys-only MANCATION week continues...

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WWE night! Mancation 2011 (Day One) Wimpy Kid and Tough Adults: PART TWO

If you're just skimming this entry for top-line information about my WWE trip, here are the key findings:

1) WWE merchandises the shit out of its products. Dead air was greedily filled with pushes for Wrestlemania on pay-per-view, WWE highlight DVDs, and ludicrous action figures.

2) To my horror, but not my surprise, my son loved every minute.

3) The promoters packed way too much in to the evening for it to feel like a cohesive experience.

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Mancation 2011 (Day One) Wimpy Kid and Tough Adults: PART ONE

It's MANCATION week, an annual spring break event my son and I have shared for the past few years.  

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The Self-Publishing Chronicles: Part Three

Wherein I address the roadblocks that have slowed me down this month...

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C2E2: Day Three

C2E2 2011 is now officially history.

I spent the majority of my day there today, and here's what I experienced and saw...

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C2E2: Preparing for my day of full geek immersion

I'm going to C2E2 tomorrow, the comic convention heir to a massive and devoted group of attendees who, for years, suffered the indiginities of trudging out to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for Wizard World.

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@mayoremanuel and my fake Thor Twitter account

One of the most closely-guarded secrets in recent Chicago memory was revealed today when Punk Planet founder Dan Sinker outed himself to the Atlantic as the voice behind the brilliant mayoremanuel Twitter handle.

Remember Dan's name: by the time you're done reading this, he'll probably have scored both a publishing contract with Simon & Schuster and development deal with HBO. Deservedly so, I might add.

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The Self-Publishing Chronicles: Part Two

Work continues on Off the Record Collection...

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The Self-Publishing Chronicles: Part One

As mentioned in an earlier entry, I've decided to self-publish a collection of my music-related writings. As of today, that book officially has a name: Off the Record Collection: Riffs, Rants, and Writings about Rock.

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Pro wrestling and rock and roll

I haven't watched professional wrestling since 1985.  I was a high school sophomore at that point, and my social life was screaming for me to grow out of it and move forward.

Up until then, I had been a hardcore fan.  My friends and I made frequent trips to the UIC Pavilion to see monthly AWA cards featuring superstars like The Fabulous Freebirds, the Road Warriors, George "The Animal" Steele, Baron von Raschke, and Jesse "The Body" Ventura.  We made posters, we bought the programs, and we loved every minute.

I was pretty aware of the fact that everything I saw was pure theater, but that didn't bug me.  It was like watching comic book heroes and villains come to life, only bloodier.

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Name my book! (updated 2/21/11)

You may recall that my efforts to publish a book about Chicago Music in the 1990s were met with failure: profound, hard-to-contest, failure.  I just couldn't pull it off, and that fact left me quietly sulking for the past two years.

I'm not interested in going back to that well anytime soon, but I've been anxious to do something.  That anxiety compelled me to gather a book's worth of my music-related writings into a formatted manuscript. After a few months' worth of effort, I'm sitting on an all-new volume of material, framed by fresh commentary and observations.  I plan to publish it before June.

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Caffeine withdrawal

I collect sinus infections like baseball cards.  This past week, I got the sinus equivalent of a  Gordon Beckham rookie card:  Young and full of potential.  

That potential has been realized, as I've spent most of the week dealing with skull-crushing headaches, laser beam-like pain aimed at the backs of my eyes, and general fatigue. 

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SNOWMAGEDDON 2011: The Playlist

I spent a couple of hours this morning carving a path out of a mountain of snow.  

Now that I've caught my breath, I'm sure that I cracked a few vertebrae in the process. There just aren't enough Motrin to negotiate my way through the remainder of the day,

What would've helped is the right playlist, which I'm sharing here with you.  I'm probably missing a bunch (RCHP "Snow" was omitted on purpose), so let me know what you would've included.

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Here it comes...the SNOWPOCALYPSE is upon us. 

It feels like we've been given similar warnings in the past, but the weather reports swear that this is the big one: SNOWMAGEDDON.

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Rahm, Egypt, and the culture of willful ignorance and stupidity

When the Appellate Court yanked Rahm from the ballot last week, a friend of mine was outraged.  "That's bullshit!" he said.  "He's the best man for the job."
"Why's that?" I asked, not necessarily disagreeing, but wanting to hear the answer.
"He just is. He's gotta get back on. I can't imagine what would happen to the city if he doesn't."

I took the opportunity to remind my friend that, as worked up as he was, he wasn't even allowed to vote in the mayoral election. 
"Why's that," he asked, "because I don't live in Cook County?" 
"That's part of it," I said.  "More specifically, you don't actually live in Chicago."

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"First Time: First Car" video

I had a blast last night. CHIRP put together an absolutely stellar, top-flight, event, and I was honored to be part of it.

There wasn't a dud performance on the bill.  Everybody on stage positively killed.  I'm still chuckling about Robbie Fulks' tale of wandering the East Coast while waiting for his van to get fixed.

Extra credit goes to Steve Frisbie, Liam Davis, and Gerald Dowd for learning, mastering, and rocking each performer's song choice.  I especially loved what they did with my selection, "Is Your Love Strong Enough," by Bryan Ferry.

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First Time/First Car: Written Words about a Night of Spoken Word

Last month, I was invited to speak at CHIRP Radio's "First Time: First Car" event at Schubas.

As explained on the Schubas site:

<<The First Time is CHIRP's reading series that combines the written word and music. Local musicians/performers/writers write and read an original piece based on a "first time" theme. This month, we're featuring "First Car." The piece will reference a specific artist or piece of music, and immediately following, a live band will perform the aforementioned song. This is a benefit for the Chicago Independent Radio Project.

Also featuring Steve Frisbie, Liam Davis and Gerald Dowd playing live accompaniments to each piece.>>

Gallery sneak peek (7 images):

View the gallery...
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Stealing Florence: How I Made Tyler's BBQ Sauce

We had my parents over for Christmas Eve this year, and I was in charge of the menu.  For ease, flavor, and comfort, I chose ribs for the entree.

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Found at a Metra station: The Illustrated Man

There's a bookshelf inside my local Metra terminal that's used for book sharing.   The idea's simple:  Read a book, then pass it on.

I'd rifled through the books before and never found anything worth a second glance; Harlequin romance novels, old textbooks, and outdated self-help books half-lined the shelves.  Nice idea, just nothing there worth picking up.

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Sherbet vs. Sherbert

Sherbert is not a word.

There are plenty of people out there who insist that it is, and do so with conviction.  This week, I learned that, for some, discovering that the word in question is actually sherbet (pronounced "sure bet") is a "there's no Santa Claus"-level, shock to the system.

Urban Dictionary defines sherbert "How dumbfucks spell sherbet," going as far as to use it in the sentence "It's SHERBET, not SHERBERT, dumbfuck."

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GWAR Christmas

I'm generally against devoting an entire blog entry to showing someone else's content.  The exception?


(found on

Christmas With Gwar - Watch more Funny Videos

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The Damned Things interview (updated 12/18/10)

The Damned Things didn't play at Q101's Twisted 2010 show on Sunday night, due to awful weather which kept 1/3 of the band from being able to make it into Chicago on time.

The rest of the band managed to make it to the House of Blues, and I got to interview them backstage before doors opened to the public.  Note that a properly-mixed and shot version of this video, produced by Q101, is expected later this week. (Update 12/17/10-My video interview didn't make it to

Of particular interest to Anthrax fans is the (brief) discussion of the "Big 4" tour, which Scott Ian deftly avoided with a smile.

The Damned Things debut, "Ironiclast," comes out today.  Get it.  Rock it.

(12/18/10: Here's the audio link)

"We've Got a Situation Here"

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Mud Bug OTB

My office held its annual holiday party last night.

The party's start time was a relatively early 6 p.m., which left my friends and I at a loss for things to do in between the time our office closed and the party started.  Staying at the office wasn't an option. Our solution?  Go off-campus and bet on the ponies.
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