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Saturday, 28 October 2006
Topic: Baseball
In other baseball news, a campaign started by a sports writer, Paul Lukas, aims to do away with the Mets' use of black in their on-field attire. I am excited that someone is playing such close attention to "athletics aesthetics", approaching cultural analysis through the scrutiny of icons and uniforms.

However, I completely disagree with his conclusion regarding the Mets recent color theme. He's worried that black will replace the dominance of blue and orange, and cites numerous examples of the team's on-field apparel and a more recent (not universally adapted) black logo. But generally the black is just a replacement for the previous base color, white. It's true that some of the solid blue color schemes seem to be getting phased out, but this is part of contemporary style that should be accepted. Other teams have done similar things, and it looks sharp. Notice the shine on

I love the Met's orange and blue theme, and the depth of its meaning: colors derived from New York's two preceding NL teams (Giants and Dodgers); New York City's flag. But let's not get carried away. I would even go so far as to suggest a black-on-black alternative road uniform, and/or employment of a Mr. Met alernate logo. Because the Mets iconography is just that deep! They are now old enough that they can have "throwbacks," like the traditional blue cap or the belovedly unpleasant pajama-style 80s v-neck with side stripe.

Posted by thenovakids at 1:09 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 31 October 2006 1:41 PM CST
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Friday, 27 October 2006
The St. Louis Cardinals, despite my desperate plea for otherwise, won the World Series tonight. Detroit's fielding was horrendous, and Pudge couldn't hit a thing. The Cardinals continued their pesky, wormy ways, sneaking in revenge-runs after every inning Detroit laboriously managed to score.

The Cardinal's rookie closer, Adam Wainwright, has been incredible this postseason, filling in for the injured star, Jason Isringhausen (formerly a mediocre Mets starter). Wainwright pairs his mid-90s fastball with an impossible 75mph curveball. Brandon Inge struck out on 3 pitches in the 9th tonight. Similarly, he froze Carlos Beltran with his 3rd pitch to end the NLCS. See my Fox Trax approximation of the curve that killed the Mets (right).

There is however, a more important Wainwright of St. Louis: Louis Sullivan's Wainwright Building (left). Erected in 1890-1 in St. Louis, this landmark represents the architect's discovery of a 'solution' to the problem of the skyscraper (commercial base, offices above, mechanical at top).

Posted by thenovakids at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 31 October 2006 1:30 PM CST
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Friday, 20 October 2006
2006 METS
Topic: Baseball
The 2006 Mets postseason ended last night in an exciting game against the Cardinals at Shea. It was a major disappointment for the organization and their fans, but it's important to realize this was the greatest mets team since 1986. If you act entitled to a trip to (and victory in) the World Series people will start mistaking you for a Yankees fan. Newsday ran a headline today, "Heilman couldn't get it done," but the bullpen was close to impeccable this postseason, including last night. If anyone couldn't get it done it was the middle of their lineup--Beltran, (who struck out looking on 3 pitches with 2 outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th!!!), Delgado, and Wright, all of whom failed to get that big hit the team desperately needed. But let us rejoice in the wonderful season the tenacious and pesky Mets had, stealing bases, playing small ball, and being postseason contenders despite losing 2 of their big starters. They finally have a lineup that can build a dynasty, that they can keep more or less the same for the next several years. One thing that was lacking, to my knowledge, as an estranged Midwestern Mets fan, was a peppy campaign song like this one from 1986. Watch it to the end for the cameos by New York celebrities partially obscured by the poor digitized quality. Please leave a comment if you figure any out. So far I am able to discern Mayor Ed Koch, Twisted Sister, and Cameo.

Posted by thenovakids at 11:01 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, 31 July 2008 9:15 PM CDT
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Sunday, 1 October 2006
Topic: Food/Sports/NY

It is now October, a month of great importance for the 2006 New York Metropolitans.


Posted by thenovakids at 1:26 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, 1 October 2006 10:44 PM CDT
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Saturday, 9 September 2006
Topic: Architecture/Food/Chi

"We shall emphasize image--image over process or form--in asserting that architecture depends in its perception and creation on past experience and emotional association and that these symbolic and represetational elements may often be contradictory to the form, structure, and program with which they combine in the same building. We shall survey this contradiction in its two main manifestions:

1. Where the architectural systems of space, structure, and program are submerged and distorted by an overall symbolic form. This kind of building-becoming-sculpture we call the duck in honor of the duck-shaped drive-in, "The Long Island Duckling," illustrated in God's Own Junkyard by Peter Blake.

2. Where systems of space and structure are directly at the service of program, and ornament is applied independently of them. This we call the decorated shed.

The duck is the special building that is a symbol; the decorated shed is the conventional shelter that applies symbols."

From Venturi, Robert and Denise Scott Brown and Stephen Izenour. Learning From Las Vegas (Revised Edition). Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1972, 1977. p. 87.

Posted by thenovakids at 1:03 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, 10 September 2006 8:48 PM CDT
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Thursday, 27 July 2006
Topic: Food

Last week I attended, with my companion from Keipopnation, my cousin's wedding in central Pennsylvania. It was great seeing my family, and everyone had a good time. There are many things I could discuss here about our visit, but will instead use this medium to share with my audience our discovery of an unhealthy snack food called Hulless Cheese Puff' N Corn (whose discarded remains [right] have been lying on my floor since July 18).

I am confident that at some point everyone has become frustrated with popcorn's offensive texture. That is, its tendency to disintegrate into an armada of fibrous, undigestible pellets and flakes that lodge themselves in your gums, teeth, throat, and probably digestive tract. Somehow Snyder of Berlin, a snack foods manufacturer based in Pennsylvania, whose product we discovered at a gas station in that state, has created an enjoyable, artificial-cheese-infused snack that boasts the airy, slightly gritty aspect of popcorn without the inedible obstacles.

Suspiciously, Snyder of Berlin (pronounced BER-lin) is located near the location of the better-known/more widely distributed Snyder's of Hanover, though their packaging declares, "We are not connected with Snyder's of Hanover, Inc." In fact, it seems they were once the same company but split in 1981, at which point the Berlin plant became the lesser-known company. However, Snyder's of Hanover does not offer Hulless Cheese flavored puffed corn, giving Berlin a distinct advantage. But you know who does? Utz Quality Foods, located in...Hanover, PA. It seems Pennsylvania is home to an incestuous and overly complex battle of snack foods.

Posted by thenovakids at 11:18 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006 8:24 AM CDT
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Thursday, 29 June 2006
Topic: Miscellaneous
For several years I have ignored the hype and barrage of commercials FOX runs for 24, remembering Kiefer Sutherland as no more than the punky teenage vampire gang leader in The Lost Boys, and son of Donald, the elderly vampire slayer mentor from the Buffy movie.

But then the more contemporary, non-vampirical, potential awesomeness of Kiefer was communicated to me last July (spent in Yokohama), via a Calorie Mate commercial in which Jack Bauer crushes through a subway car full of school girls. That was my first exposure to his shouting (which I now look forward to seeing in each episode), made all the more sweeter by being directed at seemingly innocent high school girls.

I should metion that Calorie Mate is a nutrient-rich blocky biscuit thing, whose purpose is analagous to that of the PowerBar. They also make a gel (as in the embedded commercial) and flavored drinks. Details of their products can be found here: Calorie Mate.

The 24 campaign has an exciting site, as well: CMT24

Posted by thenovakids at 10:52 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006 11:02 PM CDT
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Thursday, 22 June 2006
Topic: Architecture / Travel
The famous Japanese architect, ISOZAKI Arata, known for a number of international projects including LA's Museum of Contemporary Art and Kyoto's concert hall, appears in an interview regarding Japan's results in the World Cup. An interesting choice, but since it's pretty much just soccer talk, it's probably only interesting if you like soccer more than architecture:

Posted by thenovakids at 11:58 AM CDT
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Tuesday, 20 June 2006
Topic: Architecture / Chicago
Metra, the Chicago area's commuter rail system, antagonizes expressway drivers with its self-rightous billboards that boast, "We're On Time. Are You?" It's their job to be on time, and not their business whether mine is. Otherwise, from my one experience riding one of their trains, I think they do fine. But if especially irritated, one might be tempted to pose a similarly accusatory question like, "I Don't Present Myself as a Pile of Standard Lumber Scraps Nailed Together Haphazardly. Do You?"

Earlier this month the Chicago Tribune printed an article on Metra's Roosevelt Street Station. Despite being a primary city hub for the system, located across from the Museum Campus, it is a long-neglected and never fully realized facility. It is built from standard 2-bys, and is crooked and leaning. Walkways are reinforced with diagonal members that prop them up from the sides. I have admired its ramshackled crudeness from the CTA bus many times, but it seems like people are getting pretty sick of it. It is certainly absurd that neither the public, the city, or Metra's own dignity have demanded its replacement. The Tribune article offers explanations about budget delays, and other predictable set-backs. But with the shiny new condos going up around it, I imagine something's going to have to happen soon.

Chicago Tribune: "Showcase Metra Station Suffering"

Posted by thenovakids at 10:42 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 20 June 2006 10:43 PM CDT
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Monday, 5 June 2006
Topic: Site Features
The 1908 Chicago and Northwestern Railway Bascule Bridge south of Kinzie Street has been added to TAKOTRON BRIDGES. The site is now up to date and complete, at least until another wave of research and accompanying field trip takes place.

Posted by thenovakids at 2:40 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006 2:49 PM CDT
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Monday, 29 May 2006
Topic: Architecture / Chicago
TAKOTRON BRIDGES is now up and ready for your consumption. The site contains information I have compiled and photos I have taken of some of Chicago's moveable railroad bridges. Chicago was the home of various modern engineering marvels, including the elevator and skyscraper, and the marriage of such innovation with the city's place as America's railroad hub yielded some incredible new bridge designs. Most notable is the Strauss trunnion bascule bridge, designed by Joseph Buermann Strauss, better known for the Golden Gate Bridge. Other methods for accomodating both the railroad and an open waterway were developed as well, including this unique vertical lift solution in which a 1500-ton span is elevated 130 feet above the Chicago River.

Posted by thenovakids at 11:32 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006 11:55 PM CDT
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Sunday, 28 May 2006
Topic: Food / Chicago
The other night I took Miss Keipop to the Bridgeport institution, Schaller's Pump, for dinner and a drink. Schaller's is a family owned pub that's been around since 1881, a staple of the working-class neighborhood that has served as the epicenter of Chicago politics and Sox-pride (on the walls are posters of the owner, Jack Schaller, holding the 2005 World Series trophy).

Once inside the square brick box at Halsted and 37th, we found ourselves in the midst of what felt like a small-town, old-timer bar. Miller and Bud are the choices from the tap, while the basic menu is similarly unpretentious, offering inexpensive burgers, sandwiches, and slabs of meat. The food was great, the people friendly, and the environment comfortable.

Partway through our meal a man came in to do what seemed like a regular 'dinner-music' gig, playing corny old tunes on an electric Yamaha piano. It was pretty charming, and some of the old-timers even came up and sang along, as Mr. Schaller himself hummed along the whole time.

Other write-ups:
Chicago Public Radio, Oct 25, 2005 (13 min through)
Metromix (Tribune)
Chicago Foodies
AOL Cityguide

Another folksy place that pulls for the Sox, if you're in the loop, is the Exchequer at 226 S Wabash.

Posted by thenovakids at 1:40 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006 11:45 PM CDT
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Tuesday, 23 May 2006
Topic: Site Features
I am working on a website devoted to the historically significant but overlooked railroad bridges over the Chicago river system. I will introduce the site more formally when it is presentable, but it can be visited while under construction at:

Posted by thenovakids at 1:30 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006 11:47 PM CDT
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Tuesday, 16 May 2006
Topic: Architecture / Chicago
When I first passed by the Chicago Board of Trade, I thought I recognized its logo from somewhere. Upon reflection, I realized it is extremely similar to that of Omni Consumer Products (OCP), the sinister corporation that runs Detroit in the 1987 film Robocop. One or two friends confirmed this similarity, so I thought I would investigate. The website RoboCop Archive has a whole page dedicated to logos used in the films from which the rightmost image was extracted (and modified). As you can see, both logos are octagonal, divided into 3 rings with a center, with the outer 2 rings broken by an extension radiating from the inner ring that is the width of that ring's side. Coincidence or influence?

Posted by thenovakids at 9:57 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006 11:51 PM CDT
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Monday, 15 May 2006
Topic: Food / Chicago
IIT M.Arch Program 3 Year 1 has ended, and I am back on earth, reemerging into society for the summer. It is high time I resume my duty of sharing with the world my discoveries in the complex folds of our contemporary urbanscape.

Let us start with Chicago's Deluxe Diner.
One of Long Island's key features is its plethora of 24 hour diners, complete with neon, chrome, and frosted glass. I remember at one point the short-lived, LI-based little sister of the Village Voice had a feature in which the author and a friend ate at 24 24-hour diners in 24 hours--a masochistic gastrochallenge. Small towns seem to have their own humble analogues in Perkins, Denny's, or Waffle House, but Chicago presents the late-night diner with a multitude of (fried) options: the delicious and ubiquitous Golden Nugget Pancake Houses, IHOPs, and independent greasy spoons like the personal favorite, White Palace Grill.

But if you find yourself on the far north side in the middle of the night, heavily intoxicated and in need of processed meat, pancakes, and/or onion rings, you absolutely must go to Deluxe Diner on Clark and Devon. Their food, accompanied by off-brand soft drinks (left), is a cut above the late-night expectations, and, in my experience, there is almost always an interesting incident. For instance, once a couple got in an argument and the woman threw her plate, smashing it against the wall. Another time there was an African-American man in a Hasidic get-up who kept wandering in and out of the restaurant, twitching and mumbling to himself. That same night a group of extremely drunk college seniors(?) arrived. The boys were all dressed identically in nice jeans and untucked, vertically-striped dress-shirts. One girl kept falling out of her chair and making loud, amorous phone-calls. Another eventually vomited all over the table and left a trail across the floor and out the door. Unfortunately, it also seems the Deluxe Diner was once host to a much less funny, more extreme incident. But don't let that discourage you. The servers are patient and friendly, and the food is tasty at all hours.

Posted by thenovakids at 11:17 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006 11:49 PM CDT
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