Maddon & Company Embrace Target with Red Hot Memorial Day Winning Streak

Joe M

“Holy cow! What a ride we’re enjoying. It seems as if the boys in blue took the pre-season advice of Manager Joe Maddon – and are running all over the competition with it. More than an approach to avoiding the team’s historical arc toward self-destruction, Maddon’s directive to ‘embrace the target,’ has removed the fear of success from a battered organization. And its fan base.”

Read the full post at Wrigleyville Nation.


Dear Bernie: Just Go Ahead and Go


“At this point I’m not sure Sanders or a loud subset of his followers, who sound an awful lot like Trumpists when embracing the GOP’s anti-Hillary Clinton talking points, are actually dealing with the reality facing the American people. A few simple facts are overlooked when the increasingly dysfunctional cult of Bernie expresses its rage, say in Nevada. From any angle – popular vote, pledged delegates, pick your favorite – Hillary is trouncing Bernie. There is no stolen election crime being perpetrated.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Remember to Let Him Into Your Heart


In February, Bob and I were dealt a cruel karmic slap with the loss of two of our three pets in just a few weeks. The concurrent deaths of Dino, the 16 year-old fluffy kitty and Meko, 80 pounds of Rottweiler warrior princess, ripped a hole through our home and our hearts. Wounds from which we’re still recovering.

I can admit now, with some degree of shame, that my own grief had a few additional layers. I’m a caretaker at heart. And Dino and Meko were notoriously needy – Deans with his numerous food and body temperature issues, Meeks destroying the kitchen, bathroom and/or laundry room at the first hint of a thunder storm. She was also truculent at best with other dogs, her attitude not affected whatsoever by the arthritic hips that made her unlikely to win a fight. She just didn’t give a shit. I miss my girl.

The dual loss of those two complex fur babies left a pragmatic vacuum in my world. On his worst day, Bob is more capable than most people. He’s the one who makes things work and keeps them running. In return I silently move the empty beer bottles to the recycling bin and clean the lint trap in the dryer. And while I always loved all three of our pets equally, it took a long time to discover what use, if any, Jude had for me. Bob and the cuddly, drooly Australian shepherd have been together for eight years. They have their routines and language. Bob, the standard bearer for reserve, shoots beams of puppy love from his inner core directly at Jude. It’s the warmest, most adorable light. But it was hard at that time not to feel like an interloper, an intruder into a perfect dynamic.

These feelings became increasingly painful as I struggled with newfound time – time no longer spent cajoling Dino to eat more or playing defense between Meko and every other canine walking the neighborhood. I resented Jude for the change. Throughout his own mourning process, Bob moved closer to Jude, with the confused, lonely dog reciprocating. And I was bitter. I missed my babies and the only one left had a perfect union with my partner from which I felt estranged. Why was he the one that lived?

With the benefit of time and perspective, it’s horrifying to confront the shape into which I allowed grief to contort me, however temporarily. After several weeks of uneven sleep and a waking gnashing of teeth, a simple idea occurred. Perhaps I could actually try getting to know Jude. True we’d been living together in the same menagerie for eight months, but I suddenly saw that I never gave him much thought. In part because of high maintenance devotion to Dino and Meko, and also yes, because of the perfect circle that Bob and Jude formed without me. If my nature is that of a caretaker, it’s also sharing space with an insidious pride. Missing love for fear of rejection.

Once I realized it was stubborn foolishness preventing a closer relationship with Jude, I made an effort to be more hands-on. Yes, he and Bob have their routines but we can have our own. I concede that initial attempts were infused with sad wistfulness. But with dedicated repetition, Jude and I finally got acquainted. The knowledge and understanding is reciprocal. He learned that I don’t like to be leapt upon at walk and dinner times like Daddy does. I figured out that a certain high-pitched whine means a digestive bomb is about to explode. But I still have time to open the back door because Jude hates having accidents in the house. Minus the dog hair and drool, my pup can be kind of fastidious. He is every bit as complex as his siblings were. I just had to look.

There are activities in which I can engage Jude that were not possible with Dino or Meko. Like taking long walks, sometimes three or four miles weaving through the neighborhood streets that are my past, present and future. On Mother’s Day, I awoke in tears, missing my pets more acutely while indulging in an annual bout of self-pity. It’s been well-documented that my own mother’s love was withheld. But it was a beautiful Chicago day and I wanted to treat myself to a positive experience. I decided to take Jude on a trek to see the only apartment building where I remember living a happy, healthy life with my immediate family.

As we made our way to the corner of Byron and Leavitt in North Center, I saw that what had very recently been a solid, well-cared for brick edifice, was now a huge empty lot. For sale. Sun shining, 80s tunes blaring through my headphones, I wanted to sit down and weep. The positive memories of my childhood were literally a crater. But I couldn’t indulge the impulse. I had Jude with me. Instead I leaned forward on the construction fence and placed my forehead on the metal plate, as if to absorb the good times from the vacant ground by osmosis. Jude sat on my feet with his hairy warmth. It was calming. Exactly the anchor needed in an out of control moment.

Our walks are now a regular feature – my activity with Jude. We wander through parks and I let him drink water from my cupped hands. I know to avoid food wrappers and garbage cans as if they are landmines. My spoiled doggie is still a rescue pup at his core. If it has aluminum foil, he’ll eat first and ask questions later. He knows I like a brisk pace and thus he rarely pulls me toward others strolling with their own pets (though we both know he’s dying to sniff their rears). He’s not just Bob’s dog anymore. There was always room for three in the circle. I just had to let myself join.

It May Not Be Trending, But Rahm Emanuel Is Still Ruining Chicago


“Why has the #FireRahm inferno cooled, fully ablaze as it was just months ago? Self-serving media/political laziness is one factor. Why fight a stubbornly intransigent and still powerful City Hall when an election-year Trump is the headline-grabbing gift of a generation? I appreciate The New York Times keeping this story nationally alive. Summer is coming and there’s no reason to believe the soaring 2016 murder rate will decline in a hot city torn apart by cynical, dehumanizing leadership. I said it in December 2015 and nothing has changed. Rahm has got to go.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Missing in Action: The Week’s Overlooked News Stories


A big personal week for the staff as we prepare to accept a trove of writing awards for our 2015 work on this very site. Since we are grappling with so many professional feels, why not add a heartwarming graduation story, a sexy Prime Minister elbowing opponents of a “death with dignity” law and a new celebrity baby? Read on….

Single mom graduates from college, credits son for her success

This week’s feel-good story brought tears to our eyes. A 24 year-old woman graduated from North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University this week after overcoming an incredible amount of obstacles. Jelina Sheppard took to Instagram to write a beautiful tribute to her 4 year-old son Karter, in which she describes times when he fell asleep in a library or took care of her when she was sick – all so that she could walk across the stage to make him proud.  We hope this incredible little family stays strong together and continues to enjoy success in life. Toss that mortarboard high in the air, girl. You earned it!

Canadian Prime Minister shows signs of being human

Large portions of the United States continue to look for ways to move to Canada, due in no small part to the liberal views and dreamy good looks of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But the seemingly perfect Canuck leader showed a blemish this week when things got heated during a session of Parliament. To be fair, no punches were thrown (it wasn’t a Trump rally) and it all appears to be much ado about relatively nothing. But an apology was issued  – and a very dignified one at that. So exhale. We can all resume our dual citizenship research.

Hollywood couple keeps baby a secret for months!

If you thought the Eva Mendes/Ryan Gosling baby mystery was well-shrouded, they have nothing on another famous duo. Gilmore Girls star Alexis Bledel and husband Vincent Kartheiser of Mad Men fame had a baby LAST YEAR as we learned this week. We have no idea how the entire pregnancy and birth remained safe from the glaring paparazzi eye, but we give them mad props for evading intrusion and for keeping things private. This is unheard of in Hollywood. The identity of the story-leaker is the best part. If you’re a rabid Gilmore Girls fan (like the staff), you want to click the link above.

Missing in Action: The Week’s Overlooked News Stories


April showers apparently bring…more of the same in May. While much of the country dries out, take a look at a few stories you may have missed this week. A stubborn American in Syria, a graduating granny and possibly the most ungrateful and entitled newlyweds in history caught our attention…. 

‘Last American in Damascus’ tells a different side to life in Syria

The team was shocked to read that any Americans still inhabit the war-torn region, but even more surprised that this gentleman has a positive outlook on his residential future. 71 year-old Thomas Webber landed in Syria back in 1975 to start a business and never left. Though he recalls a day when a rocket mortar landed at his doorstep, he maintains that he feels safe and has no plans to leave despite the urging of the U.S. government. We’re not sure if that is admirable or crazy, but we’ll continue to follow this story.

85 year-old great-grandmother fulfills a life-long dream

As the 2016 graduation season approaches its climax, we thought this article needed to be shared. Lottie Jacks will receive her diploma from Samford University this weekend – nearly 50 years after dropping out of college in 1948 to marry and start a family. Earning her degree was a dream that never died and damn it, Lottie did it! As an emotionally satisfying cherry on top, the new grad will share the stage with one of her granddaughters. The young lady is receiving a Master’s degree from the same university. This inspiring story reminds us that adages like “you can do anything to which you set your mind,” or “it’s never too late” are repeated with good reason.

Wedding couple apparently has the biggest balls of all time

This story out of somewhere in the UK (editorially inferred by the use of English Pounds as well as the word “gobsmacked”) is jaw-dropping in its sheer gall. Newlyweds, disappointed with the financial gift of a reception attendee, actually sent a letter to the guest to tell her as much. The couple even cited the woman’s recent inheritance as a reason for her to “send an adjustment.” The shocked and offended party took to an online forum to ask how for advice on handling this incredibly rude correspondence. The responses received are as entertaining as the original story. Click the link above for your daily LOL.

Professional Geek Podcast Episode 4: Becky Sarwate

Pro Geek Pod

“Professional Geek is a podcast where hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers interview professionals with geeky tendencies from various industries. Featured you will hear stand up comedians, video game writers, music composers, accountants, copywriters, Foley artists, journalists, sales people, actors, directors, publicists, authors and much, much more. Our guests will offer listeners sage advice for how to break into your chosen industry, and tell some funny stories of how they got into the jobs they’re in now. Each episode includes a discussion on the different ways that being a geek can help you become a better professional, and advice on everything from copyright law to networking, and turning your favorite thing into your career.”

On May 11, 2016, Becky Sarwate was interviewed by the hosts about her passions for writing, literary history, the late and great Prince, the Chicago Cubs and her experiences teaching her course, Making Your Liberal Arts Degree Work: Writing for the Professional World and Internships, a class that focuses on helping budding creative professionals learn to ply their skills in a variety of employable settings. Becky is well-suited to teach this subject, following a creative career working in the corporate sector, while publishing her own creative non-fiction works.

You can listen to this and other Professional Geek interviews here.