Monthly Archives: December 2009

9 Shocking Moments of 2009

As 2009 draws to a close, most of us look back on the year’s events with fondness. Or grimaces, depending on which event you’re thinking of. This was a year of “shocker” moments–every couple of months, it seemed, we were blindsided by some unexpected news story. Some made us sniffle, some made us angry. Some were so strange that we simply blinked at our televisions for a few seconds, then turned to the people around us to make sure that we really did just see that.

The Nine Shocking Moments of 2009 is an attempt to pay tribute to this year of shockers. It sticks mostly to pop-culture, with a couple of exceptions. A few political and economic concerns were so big and so shocking that they made it into the awareness of even the most tuned-out tabloid-reading pop culture junkies.

#9: Jon & Kate Plus Eight Minus Jon = Tabloids.

Jon and Kate Gosselin’s failed marriage shocked many fans of the show–not because their breakup was sudden, but because we couldn’t believe it would happen to them. Jon and Kate embodied for many the ideal of making your family dynamics work, no matter how difficult.

#8: Blaggo on the Radio.

Wait a second! I thought we finally got rid of Rod Blagojevich. Wasn’t he removed from office? Isn’t he kind of — in the doghouse — with most of the country? How on earth did he weasel his way into hosting a talk show? Did everyone in the Chicago radio industry get collective amnesia and forget that most of Illinois doesn’t want to listen to Blaggo anymore?

#7: AIG Bonu — er, *cough*, —  I Mean BAILOUTS.

An economy in crisis. People losing homes right and left. Companies filing for bankruptcy. And the people at AIG really think it’s okay to use their portion of bailout money to make life super comfortable for their elite members? The shock factor here comes from the fact that they’re either horrendously stupid or gutsier than most of us could ever hope to be.

#6.: Quinto vs. Nimoy.

The new “Star Trek” movie is the strongest proof yet that human cloning is possible. Audiences sat stunned in the midnight showings, unable to comprehend the sight of a living, breathing, 40-years-younger version of the original Spock. If Zachary Quinto is not a clone of Leonard Nimoy, then I am a yellow-bellied marmot.

#5: Balloon Boy.

Imagine listening to your friend’s half of the phone conversation when she hears this story for the first time. “A kid floated away in what? But he really didn’t? They think who was behind it?”   ‘Nuff said.

#4: White House Party Crashers.

Sure, I was surprised when I heard that Tareq and Michaele Salahi managed to sneak past White House security. But the really surprising part? The centuries-long stretch of media coverage that followed the ordeal. Please notify the online news sources that we never again want to hear anything about this story.

#3: And the Nobel Prize Winner Is…Obama.

Wow. Didn’t see that coming. Whether you agree that President Obama should get the Nobel Peace Prize or not, you have to admit, it was one of the biggest surprises of the year. Come on, admit it. You shook your head and cleaned out your ears to make sure you heard right, just like the rest of us did.

#2. Gimme That Mike!

Oh Kanye. Kanye, Kanye, Kanye, Kanye. Kanye. What were you thinking?

And the number one shocker moment of 2009:

#1. WHO died?!?!

What? Michael Jackson died? But–but he’s like a permanent part of my world. He’s always been there. Like the moon or the rocky mountains or plastic. What will the tabloids talk about now that he’s gone? Who will I make fun of as being the ultimate in child-man creepy? More importantly, does this mean the 80s are officially over?? (Oh by the way, we miss you too Farrah!)

What about you? Any shocker moments you think I missed? How about this; do you remember where you were when you heard these stories? I’ll start: I was driving home from the gym when I heard about Michael Jackson.

This post was brought to you by Up and Writing as part of Daniel Scocco’s latest group writing project. Check his Daily Blog Tips for links to other bloggers reviewing the best and worst of 2009!




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Tuesdays With Tuesday–Week 3

Welcome to Tuesdays with Tuesday. For last week’s installment, go here.


So, my post is a couple of days late. Things happened this week–things I didn’t really want to talk about right away. But now events are escalating, and I have to write it all down to try and make sense of it.

On Monday, a detective visited our office. Yes, you heard right. An honest-to-goodness chain-smoking modern day Sherlock Holmes in a pair of worn-out loafers and a pressed white shirt. He had this dark brown mustache that bristled out under his nose, like one of those woolly worms you find crossing the road in hordes every autumn. It moved like a woolly worm every time he talked. I kept expecting it to crawl away.

He introduced himself as Detective Dawes, and called us into the break room one by one to talk about–what else?–Ike Cleavers. That’s all anyone in this office can think about these days.

Detective Dawes talked to Misty first, then some of the guys Ike worked with on his latest project. Then he called Penny back. After about ten minutes, she minced back out with small lines pinched around her mouth. When she sat down, her fingers fidgeted with the papers on her desk, but she didn’t really look at them.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

Her lower lip disappeared under the worried chewing of her teeth. It left a ruby red lipstick smear on her left cuspid. “He thinks Ike was in some kind of trouble,” she said.

“Legal trouble?”

She shook her head. “In trouble as in, had some kind of enemy.” She spoke the words low, glanced around, and went back to work.

I blinked, sat back in the chair to digest this. I’m no stranger to the phenomenon of making enemies. In this world, if you think for yourself even a fraction of the time, you’re going to piss somebody off, and you’d better just get used to it. The concept didn’t alarm me too much, though obviously Penny thought it tantamount to discussing the anti-Christ.

“Tuesday!” Misty shouted down the hall. “Your turn.”

I found Detective Dawes both professional and un-alarming. Unless you count the previously mentioned face-woolly-worm an alarming feature, which, arguably, you could. But he kept me quite calm and on track during his questioning. He started with how well I knew Ike.

“Not very,” I said. “He’d ask me to file something for him every now and then. Sometimes we said hi in the break room, or waved when he passed my house on his runs.”

“He lives near you?” Detective Dawes said. “How close?”

“A few blocks. You have to make a couple turns to get there.”

“So you can’t see his driveway from your home?”

“No,” I said, wondering at the weird question. “It’s way too far. Why?”

“We’re trying to find out if any strange visitors or cars have been to Ike’s house in the past few weeks. Do you ever pass by his home?”

Thus began a long process of digging for information about anyone unusual who might have contacted Ike recently. I was singularly unhelpful; Ike truly is not a part of my daily routine other than the odd hello at work.

“Detective Dawes,” I said at last, “may I ask what this is about? Where do you think Ike went?”

He sat up straighter, and the woolly worm twitched. “Mrs. Jones, to be perfectly frank, we think he might have been killed.”

I’ve no idea why I didn’t recognize this as a possibility in the last two weeks. I assumed Ike had disappeared on purpose, maybe gotten in a fight with a girlfriend or had a sudden personal emergency. I even wondered if he’d run from a huge debt owed to drug lords or something (because drug lords are so prevalent in mid-sized southern Illinois towns). The thought that he might actually be rotting in someone’s trunk had not crossed my mind.

Now I understood why Penny was so upset.

Luckily, the work day came to a close not long after my interview with Detective Dawes, and I scuttled home before I could do too much damage with my half-distracted brain.

But the thing that really upset me happened today, when I came home from work a few minutes ago.

I was on my way up the ramshackle staircase to our apartment when Mr. Chicory came out his front door. I think the metallic squeal of our apartment stairs draws him outside with the promise of conversation, because he always catches me, no matter how quietly I pull into my drive.

I hoped I could get rid of him by talking about something unpleasant, so I went for broke. “Hey Mr. Chicory. I found out today that Ike Cleavers was most likely murdered. He’s probably in bloody pieces in the back of someone’s car right now. Weird huh?” I said a silent prayer of apology for being so irreverent of the dead, but come on. It’s Mr. Chicory. I’m sure Ike wouldn’t mind.

“I heard something about that from his next-door neighbors,” Mr. Chicory said. “Though your version is a bit more grotesque.” He said this with an air of long-suffering, as though I had begged him to come out here only to regale him with gore.

I kept going up the stairs, hoping he would take the hint and go back inside. “Well, have a nice day,” I said. I was now high up enough to glance over his back fence at the mound of dirt still sitting unattended in his back yard. “You doing any more gardening?”

Even from halfway up the stairs, I heard the impatient sigh escape his nose. “Why would I be gardening in the middle of winter?”

“I don’t know.” I gestured to the mound of earth. “Why are you?”

Mr. Chicory’s head swiveled towards his back yard so fast I thought it would fly right off his shoulders. His eyes went wide behind those thick glasses, and he actually stuttered. “I–I see. You saw that, did you?” He eyed me where I stood on the staircase, then his glance darted again in the direction of the high fence around his back yard. His fingers laced together, and something about the quick gesture spoke of nerves.

I raised an eyebrow. What was his problem? Had he not realized that Jonah and I could see over his back fence into the inner sanctum of his precious yard? Just what was he doing back there that was so secretive any–

My eyes slid back to the mound of earth. Rectangular. About three by seven feet.

It suddenly connected in my head that the mound of earth appeared the weekend Ike went missing.

In slow motion, and almost against my will, I felt myself turn and lock eyes with Mr. Chicory. His watery black pupils stayed riveted to me from behind the glasses, and a slow line formed on his brow. For a moment, paralysis gripped my limbs.

“Well.” I forced myself to break out of the horrible moment. I moved my feet up the stairs, and forced a painful smile to my lips. “I guess you’re getting the ground ready for next spring then, right? My dad does that with his garden this time of year. Always helps a lot. Good thinking.” I turned and flew up the steps two at a time. “See you tomorrow.”

I slammed and locked the door behind me, but I swear I could feel his calculating gaze on my apartment windows. I was shaking so hard that I just dropped my purse and coat and everything on the floor and stumbled into the office. I sat in the desk chair, hunched over the warm radiator to think.

My dad doesn’t have a garden. I have no idea if tilling the soil in the fall is a common practice. But if it’s not, Mr. Chicory is going to know that I lied, and he’s going to figure that I lied so he won’t suspect me of guessing his secret.

To be honest, this whole thing is absurd. It’s a complete coincidence that just looks bad. Mr. Chicory and Ike hardly knew each other. There’s no reason to suspect that Mr. Chicory has Ike buried in his back yard. And that weird look Mr. Chicory gave me just now–well, he always gives me weird looks.

I hoped that if I wrote all this out, it would make me realize how foolish I’m being. But I don’t feel foolish. I feel like I’ve just walked in on a crime in progress. I’m the only one who knows. And Mr. Chicory knows that. And that means

Hang on, gotta go, I hear footsteps coming up the outside staircase!


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Delayed Tuesday Post

Tuesday informed me today that her blog post will be a day late. Apparently something upsetting happened and she didn’t get it finished yesterday. I hope she’s all right. I guess we’ll see tomorrow!


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