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One of the best parts of a career in freelance writing is the constant exposure to new places, ideas, and people. Every assignment presents a new opportunity to learn and a new world to explore, and every day is a new story waiting to be told.

Then again, one of the other best parts of said career is the opportunity to revisit some old favorites with a newfound critical eye and a wider audience. And a bigger mouth.

SSB was named one of “Chicago’s Best Blogs” (White Sox category, naturally) by the Chicago Tribune.

– The 2008 baseball season is underway, and it’s going to be a rough one for Sox players and fans alike.

– But it could be worse: at least we’re not rooting for the Royals.

– The new Counting Crows album is pretty good, as is the new Nine Inch Nails instrumental quasi-album.

– If you’ve ever wondered exactly how a person can inflict temporary psychosis upon themselves, the answer may lie in a box of records somewhere.

Finally, a story about perseverance. In 2004, when I was slightly less of a nobody than I am now, I sent a submission in to one of my favorite magazines in the world. They very quietly rejected it, but I held on and earlier this year found a new outlet that may have had a use for it. And lo and behold, I will become a published poet for the first and possibly last time in the spring issue of the Seattle-based Commonline Project. Far out, man. Far out indeed.

Last Call for Hooligans and Barflies

It is with great a little some an as-yet-unknown sadness that I must inform some of you of the death of Reservoir magazine. I know a lot of people enjoyed reading it, and despite all the things I hated about the managing editor job, it was ultimately a very rewarding experience being the man at the top for a little while. We did some fine work there, and any now-former co-conspirators from that endeavor should be proud of what you accomplished. For those just dying to check it out, I’ve uploaded and cleaned up some of the better works I did in the last year and half of Reservoir‘s life:

– In honor of the upcoming holiday, a few words on hypothetically offensive sports mascots.
– In honor of the rapidly-approaching dawn of baseball, last year’s White Sox preview which, if you change a few phrases, could actually be this year’s preview as well.
– In honor of the best show on television reaching its end, a small treatise on The Wire.
– All kinds of oldies but goodies at the bottom of this page.

Elsewhere:

– Strip clubs and Texas’ approach to them are both stupid.
– A dumpy ballpark by another name is still a dumpy ballpark.
Music is neat.
Metal rules, except when it doesn’t.
– Buckethead is still totally incomprehensible after all these years.
– Sensitivos can make good music, too.

And those of you prone to hanging out in freaky Chicago indie bookstores should keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming issue of Ghost Factory featuring a contribution from yours truly.

The website traffic reports suggest that a lot of you are tuning in to my little outpost regularly. I am honored to occupy a small part of your day, and I am doing my best to deliver something worth your time. Thank you as always for reading.

– AR

Hands Off, She’s Mine

The editor of an as-yet-unpublished local lit magazine called me last week:

“Dude, do you have any story ideas?”

Sure, I’d love to contribute.

“No, no, I mean like we just want you to come up with ideas so we can give them to our writers. I don’t think your style would work with what we’re doing here.”

Thanks. Don’t look for me in any upcoming issues of The Noble St. Review, but do look for me elsewhere doing things like. . .

. . . writing nostalgically about Counting Crows, critically about crummy punk bands, in praise of the excellent Nicole Atkins record, and nonsensically about why British bands in America are doomed

. . . thinking a little too deeply about power ballads and why it’s a terrible fate to be worse than Dream Theater

. . . and pontificating on the metaphorical chess game of life.

That last piece, as some of you may have noticed, formed the basis of what I read last week at No Touching After Dark. Thanks to anyone who ended up here by way of there, and thanks you all as always for reading.

– Reilly

Distortion and Cake

Sometimes it’s fun to talk about the promise of urban renewal. Other times, it’s a more compelling use of time to take a look back at a so-so year in loud music or get a break in the British music press.

Which are all well and good, except for those days where you just want to wish a boyhood hero a happy 41st.

Also, for those of you in the city of Chicago, a long-form story of mine about chess, fireworks and suburban youth will be in the upcoming “home” issue of No Touching, which should hit a smattering of independent and fringe bookstores around the city the 28th of this month. Thank you as always for reading.

– AR

Christmas Eve Eve Eve [Chicago, 12/22]

A friend of mine discussing the mystery of Christmas shopping:

“This whole thing makes no sense. Jesus was born, now go buy stuff for people you see once a year. I don’t get it.”

Couldn’t put it better myself, but to honor J.C.’s birthday, turn to page 52 of this week’s Chicago edition of The Onion or keep reading to follow all kinds of other important business like…

…the best show on television. Ever.

…how a journeyman middle reliever and the supervillain of Shankfest 2007 have managed to turn only-in-the-movies things like criminal drug possession and cheating at professional sports into irreparably boring concepts.

…the discussion no one’s having about the recently-departed Quiet Riot frontman

…the soul of lower Michigan

…and, a month later, Thanksgiving. The holiday is passed but the sticking points are, in all likelihood, eternal.

That’s that for now. Talk to you soon, and thank you as always for reading.

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