Archive for category Celebration

It’s a Blog Birthday! (PART 3/3)

[Last one! Three of my favorite people…]


Kevin Gallagher

 I am breathless and sweating; I decide to take a smoke break and lament my booze diluted blood

"I'll let you stew in silence"

“I’ll let you stew in silence”

[What are you?]

I am still debating whether I am the light or the light bulb.

The Light: Let the roots of the future grow in the cracks of the past, I am an ever unfolding re-presentation of an unknowable universe to itself.

The Lightbulb: I am the tunnel through which an endless ribbon of deoxynucleotides replicates.

To solve this riddle, I study biochemistry.


I was jumping for gopher padfoot’s hand, reaching down from the space between a concrete pillar and the abandoned bridge it supported, somewhere in the fringe near 18th street. Ten – fifteen attempts later, I am breathless and sweating. I decide to take a smoke break and lament my booze diluted blood, and tell padfoot to go ahead without me – to tell me what he sees. [And this is what I saw: a massive train yard, the metal tracks of a hundred different lines crawling over each other like blind rattle snakes in a pit; an Amtrak guard, walking alone, the gravel crunching beneath his feet]

[Favorite post?]

That one paragraph that goes “the earth turned its back on the sun like it was never going to look back…ants’ shadows lengthened in the sun…” That shit is pure gold.
[from the first post! glad it’s been downhill ever since]

(one hour later)

can you remove the to solve this riddle part? I no longer like it. self definitions suck.

[but i might like it]

haha do as you wish

[Kevin, I am also the universe trying to learn itself. That makes us one. Not to appropriate your experience; maybe we are irrevocably two, a vast gulf of nothingness between us. To friendship!]


Julia Napolitano

Asshole. Mean-spiritedness, absent-mindedness, cold-heartedness.

At the Leather Archives of Chicago

“We’re hetero-normative, we swear!”


[What is something you hate?]

Biking north on Clark the last time I was going to see you, somebody almost doored me. “Almost” meaning I dodged it with enough time and space, but this clueless person was paying NO attention to what was going on around him. When I passed him and said WATCH OUT, he just laughed. [For my readers: getting “doored” is what happens when someone opens their door to get out of their car and a cyclist runs into the open door. Sometimes it is fatal]

Why are people shits, Ben? [idk] Thank you for not being a shit. [np] I hate shitty people…when people are shitty…if someone is shitty more of the time than they aren’t, can I just call them A Shitty Person? [yes] I’d like to give people the benefit of the doubt that doing shitty things doesn’t make them overall shitty, but: that person who opened his fucking door on me. That’s 100% of the time I will have ever interacted with him. And he was 110% shitty to me in that interaction.Therefore in my world he is a shitty person. Asshole. Mean-spiritedness, absent-mindedness, cold-heartedness. I hate realizing that there really are people everywhere who could open their car door and come so close to seriously harming another human’s life, and just laugh about it.

Thank you for reading that and inviting us to talk about things we hate. I feel better…venting can be quite healing.

[Way to get it out. The good kind of hate]

Dooring is just one example of prime shittiness in humans. Any time someone makes a point of having no regard for you – your body, emotions, thoughts – that’s shitty, and I hate it. Which leads me to your next question…

[what do you love?]

…I love having people in my life, like you Ben, who do the opposite, who want to honor all of these parts of ourselves and process things and seek Feeling Good. [ ( : ]

[A topic you’d like to see covered on UD?]

Mu! Audio stuff. Been saying it in person a lot…the formats I’m excited to see you continue working with are your recording pieces such as Cookies and Carnitas. Writing pieces can do this too, tell multiple stories/contain multiple levels of interpretation; with audio I do love how there are so many things going on when you overlay sounds with dialogue and see how they come together as music, stories. Keep getting Joe Franky on us, it’s good. [OK, it’s in the works]

As far as topics, I have a few ideas…maybe some of them are things I want to write about myself…the main ones that are coming to mind seem relate back to a central theme of our bodies and how they interact with our environments…I was going to suggest Napping, the experiences of body modification specifically what it was like when you got your tattoo (is there a post about this I’ve missed?), sex, food, and how any of these things produce both physiological and social responses in you and others. Hmm. I’d like to hash out topic ideas more later. I think we can say we do that all the time when we’re together, hash out ideas.
[We do hash things out. It is a never-ending process, and that’s OK. The psycho-physiological effects of activities like napping, pastries and sex? Is experience reducible to chemicals, or is it much, much more? The spot on the horizon where the individual and social body converge? Big ideas. I might need a guest blogger…]

[A queery for me?]

I just read your bike post from last year. Do you still think about your bike as a reflection of your spiritual health?

[Yes. And the level of uncleaned dishes accumulating in my sink. Last weekend a friend tuned-up my bike for free. Now it rides great. So I guess friendship is a big part of spiritual growth. And lube]



Thanks for introducing me to inter-human sex, asshole

Creature of Divine Love AKA Natural Born Killer

Creature of Divine Love AKA Natural Born Killer

[Do you have a ritual for reading the blog?]
Kind of. I watch Ben sitting in his apartment alone uploading what he just posted and reading it over and over again, imagining hundreds of people doing the same thing. The ego.

[How about a story involving you and the author?]
Once he got done blowing his nose into his own hand because he’s disgusting and too lazy to grab a kleenax, and after he sat around too afraid to do anything with the pretense that he was being contemplative, he got around to feeding me a treat.

[Do you have a favorite blogpost?]
Habit of Creature. For two reasons. It’s an accurate portrayal of the slavishness of dogs. And it’s the shortest of all 100.

[Pet peeves?]
I don’t appreciate the phrasing of that question.

[Err, anything that bothers you idiosyncratically?]
No I assume you perturb many people.

[What’s something you’d like to see covered in Underspecialized?]
[It’s in the works…]

[Anything you’d like to thank me for?]
Yeah, for introducing me to inter-human sex at the ripe-old age of 12. That was definitely NOT on my bucket list, asshole.

[Something you love?]

[Something you hate?]

[Final words?]
Is this self-indulgent “blog birthday” finally over?

[Yes. Thank you everyone!]

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It’s a Blog Birthday! (PART 2/3)

Peter Gilmour

'How are you Peter?' 'I couldn't be better if I had good sense.'

‘How are you Peter?’
‘I couldn’t be better if I had good sense.’

Literature, music, drama, and ritual are hypnotic transrational experiences for me.

[How did you come to be, and what is your place within the cosmos?]

I am a professor emeritus from Loyola University Chicago.  I was born at a University of Chicago hospital  just a few days before Enrico Fermi split the atom a few blocks away.  Truly, I am a child of the atomic age! [haha]  My interests have always been transrational, e.g., those experiences which transcend rational explanation. [huh?] Literature, music, drama, ritual are hypnotic transrational experiences for me. [oh]

[Favorite blog post?]

I particularly remember “Speculative Autobiography,” perhaps for egocentric reasons.  I am the author of, “The Wisdom of Memoir: Reading and Writing Life’s Sacred Texts.”  This book looks at life as a manifestation of the divine and the telling of a life story or part of a life story as a form of wisdom literature.  I am also fascinated with the concept of mapping, both physical and spiritual geographies, and appreciated the maps in the piece.  Nice work.

[Didn’t realize we barked up the same tree! Once, you walked into Metropolis and I was howling a single syllable for no reason. Then, without missing a beat, you started singing too. Quit hypnotic! Thanks Peter]


Erica Ricardo

[Who are you?]
[Favorite post or line?]
“My great-great grandfather aimed his rifle at the emaciated, wolfish-looking man running up to their front door. His wife pushed the barrel away, recognizing her son.”
[Wow, from post #2! Thanks Erica, mortal enemy of haters of the weird, and creator of Blogjob]


Bob Wegner, Pops, or Kathy’s Latest Fling.

"Boardwalk, please"

“Boardwalk, please”

We eventually worked our way up to making go-karts to shooting up rockets into space carrying guppies or mice.

[A story from your own life?]
As we prepare to pack up for an upcoming move leaving Delaware, we’re coming across a multitude of Gopher Padfoot’s personal items…a living time capsule in vivid 3-D.  From closets to file cabinets to boxes…a wealth of good memories.  What a rich history of boyhead [sic.] passions: a drum set that seems to consist of 100 pieces [each of them expensive- thanks dad], paintings, ultimate Frisbee shoes, a chess set from grandpa, a host of writing materials, passport, a survival kit from a sister [matches, walking stick, carbon monoxide detector, poem by Rudolf Steiner], grandpa’s 1950 encyclopedias, even dirty used clothes – no moths please – on and on.

Ben’s life – brought out from his personal items – reminds me of my earlier years. [hmm…] Memories from my childhood consist of being raised in a very large family…usually had enough arms and legs (not necessarily talent) to assemble a team for playing sports – only the three main ones mattered (baseball, basketball, football).  Hobbies, personal interests, and not getting caught doing something bad necessitated us to be creative as kids.

We enjoyed literally thousands of hours of years of our youth in exploring (and conquering) “the woods”…a local bounty of wilderness. Woods in Summer:  ‘sploring’, climbing the timbers, fort building; Winter:  skating and sledding, surviving the harsh Wisconsin elements. The woods:  our personal refuge that we ruled for years.

[Some differences between me and you: I had the chance to play richy-rich sports like hockey and lacrosse while you played the ‘three main ones’. Some similarities: We both spent a lot of time in the woods, our refuge, and grew up inventing games. I also loved the times you coached my little league baseball teams, even though you kept wanting to check we had our cups on…]

[How are you creative in your own life (anything from writing, making things with tools, drawing, etc.)?]

Gees, did we build things!  Early projects involved hand-made necessities such as a butterfly net out of a hanger and net fabric or that necessary bow and arrow or slingshots for sustenance.  Hey, I’m talking early on.  We never did shoot any deer or rabbits with those.  Mom always had had a PB+J sandwich or two to keep us going. [Thanks Grandma]

We eventually worked our way up to making go-karts [what!?] to shooting up rockets into space carrying guppies or mice. [because they can’t feel, right?]  And housing…yes, we built fort after fort in the woods.  Little did we know at the time, that my future wife and brothers would unknowingly invade them, knock them down a bit for us to build more concealed ones. [my parents grew up next to the same woods, at St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee]

All-in-all…some awesome childhood memories…all spurred from Ben’s wonderful artifacts that we’re seeing now ahead of the next journey. [Awesome dad. Thanks so much]

…Many cherished moments …each one to be augmented with new ones into the future.


Amy Jamy Schyler 彩漫 Cunningham 姜. Which itself is hard to figure out.



[Favorite blog post?]
Honestly, I find the ones I am in or thought of to be supremely interesting simply for the fact I get a chance to imagine the vast differences in perception. Simply put, it is rather awesome to see what other people take away from times with you.

Is there a question about my life path or current activities? I’m gonna go with 有.
那…I am on a bus going through Western 中国 headed towards a village for 端午节 (known as Dragon Boat festival in English). Oh, the wonders of internet phones.
From there, I am joining my 朋友 to teach his kids baseball and work with his special needs kids for a week. Woo.
I am also trying to grow out my nails. Which means a lot of nail polish.
[Jesus. I’m renting a car and driving to Wisconsin]

[Pets ?]
Three cats, two strays, one spider, several students and select friends (they just don’t know it.)
[We do, and thanks for getting me ‘fixed’]

A 问题 for Ben…
How is your cat doing?
[Mimi is doing absolutely wonderful. She is answering the questions too and will appear next week!]

[My friend, our correspondence during your time in China has been invaluable. Your journey abroad and my journey at home have mirrored each other in fascinating ways, and your experience has informed me immensely; specifically, you’ve taught me that if I look too hard for something, I might miss everything. Everyone: if you want to read about what it’s like to teach English and rural China and then discover that maybe it’s not the best thing, right now, to do, oh my god what do I do now?- then click here]


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It’s a Blog Birthday! (PART 1/3)

[Breaking this into three parts because there is a lot of good stuff to read. And I need a vacation.

Recently a friend told me he’s been to more funerals than he has weddings. He told me that life is a gift; it’s no guarantee. I think that’s true, and while I have a tendency to feel guilty about the fact that I exist while the environment goes to shit and small children die of preventible diseases, I choose to feel grateful rather than guilty. Besides, what’s a better response to a gift?

Celebration. Thank you to everyone who participated in celebrating this blog’s 100th post. Reading your responses made me feel really guilty grateful to have you in my life.  Thank you. Today honestly feels like a second birthday. And now, THE READERS!

Benjamin ‘gopher padfoot’ Wegner]


Bill, Cosmo and Ann

Bill, Cosmo and Ann

Being with my family and having them tell me about their lives is the happiest time for me.

[How do you use your time? What’s a ‘typical’ day?]
My typical day is rising by 6:00 a.m. After coffee I read the paper, check email and say my morning prayers. I pray The Lord takes care of our family, gives grandpa a good day.

Right now my healing after surgery is changing my activities. When I am healed I will again take the dog for a long walk, go to Yoga class and volunteer with Cosmo at the local hospital and library. I belong to the grief ministry at my Church which has taught me a lot. Also in the Church choir.

[What is most important to you?]
Most important to me is my family. I enjoy to see how all have grown and matured. Being with them and having them tell me about their lives is the happiest time for me. My religion is very important, I need and get strength from my faith.

[Thank you so much, Grandma. For those of you who didn’t catch that, my grandma visits sick children and seniors with her dog, Cosmo. I’m very proud to have such a wise and compassionate grandma- who reads my blog every Monday morning!]

My name is Whitney Peterson, Wide Faced Wendy, or something along those lines…



photo 2

Memory is a strange beast. Our ability to forge meaning from chaos and contradiction is truly astounding.

[a story (in your own words) about a time you had with me]
I don’t know what I was doing before or after this particular event. I was somewhat successfully (depending on how you define success) balancing on the handlebars of Padfoot’s bike. Or perhaps it was my own kleines Fahrrad. The chilly mist in the air reflected the glow from the streetlights illuminating the cobblestone streets. As we picked up speed, I pictured Padfoot losing momentum and my body smashing to the ground, as it had done twice already in the previous months. A drunken joy and excitement soon clouded my initial panic. It was one of those spontaneous moments when you think to yourself, “I am going to remember this.” I suppose we made it to our destination, but that small window of time is what stands out most. I’d be interested to know if Padfoot remembers this at all.
[I remember. It was night- and as you say- frosty. We were past that tunnel, the one under the train tracks where during the daytime people sold flowers and cheap pastries. We were headed somewhere far enough that walking seemed dissatisfying. I suggested you ride on my handlebars and was baffled by your ready assent. The hardest part was what you described, but what I remember most vividly was riding along the limestone path at a steady clip past two Germans who were looking at us with unconcealed admiration. Boy was I drunk. Haha!]

[your favorite blog post]
I liked time is not wasted if it’s deliberate because I have also been on at least two dates with myself at the Chicago Cultural Center [you have!?]. Even though it is geographically located in an ideal location for tourists/self-daters, the place seemed somehow forgotten [right!?]. I believe it used to be the old central library [it was]. Part of me wishes it were still filled with books [me too]. I also enjoyed reading The Man Who Couldn’t Cry. I was compelled by the way you wrote with awareness of your inner conflict which later manifests in regret. Perhaps regret is most significant when we know we will regret our actions at that very moment of indecision [omg yes]. You also wrote a post about your experience tripping on acid, I believe, for multiple weeks through finals?? Solid work. Perhaps I shouldn’t be impressed [a couple of my professors weren’t either]. All in all, you have a strong honest voice that emerges through your writing. Keep it up.

[what you are doing with your life]
What am I doing with my life? Yikes. I am currently doing some kind of balancing act trying to make everyone happy and not tip the boat. At some point in the very near future, I hope to be in the open water swimming in whatever direction pleases me [bravo!]. Since I left Chicago, I have been working at Manzanar National Historic Site, a place where Japanese Americans were confined during World War II, two-thirds of them citizens. Perhaps the most rewarding part of my job has been conducting oral histories with people who were confined at Manzanar. It is amazingly difficult and enlightening to speak with people who have experienced the world for over 80 years, especially when they are verbalizing memories that they have never talked about. Memory is a strange beast. Our ability to forge meaning from chaos and contradiction is truly astounding. Since January, I’ve been working at a library, which has proved more challenging than expected. I thought access to free books would make people happy. Apparently this library is a place where people feel entitled to do as they wish by treating people and the poor, helpless books with blatant disrespect. It’s all a fantastic learning experience though, right? When I am not working, I’m usually navigating the rugged, isolated wilderness of the Eastern Sierra and Death Valley. It could take ten lifetimes to really get to know this place. The end.

[You have a strong honest voice that emerges through your writing. Thanks Whitney, look forward to seeing you again.]


Ella, asleep

Ella, asleep

It gets much, much better!!! Be patient. It really does!

[How do you know Ben?]
We came from the same uterus
[Do you have a ‘ritual’ for reading the blog?]

Yes. I normally read it on my phone either right before going to bed, or early Monday morning, depending on when I go to work.

[Are you a writer?]
[What do you write about?]
travel, culture

[Anything you want to get out there, to an audience verging on the 20s!?]
Hmm… I would say to myself in my 20s just what I would say to myself in high school, “It gets much, much better!!! Be patient. It really does!”

[Pets- do you have pets?]
Yes, Ella!

[Pet peeves?]
[oh no, have you seen where I work?]

[Do you have a question for me?]
What advice would you give to a teenage you? A ten-year old you? A five-year old you? Are any of those sage words still applicable?
[Great Question! Teenage Ben- If you learn moderation you might be able to keep enjoying these things you’re enjoying so much. Ten-year old Ben- don’t completely abandon spontaneous play for organized sports. Five-year old Ben- Get a job! No really, listen: America is actually really weird; stop drinking corn syrup.]

[What is one thing you’d like to see covered on Underspecialized?]
I want to see videos and/or music that you collect along your daily journeys!
[OK, it’s in the works!]

[Thanks so much Kristy. Long ago you brought me out of the cave and into the light, and things have never quite looked the same. Love, Your Little Brother]


Kathy “Catheter” Wegner, aka no longer Mommy, but Mom, Mum, Ma, and “What do you know?”
[Wow. See where I get my sense of humor from?]

My Mom and Her Most Recent Fling... hi Dad.

My Mom and Her Most Recent Fling.

The reader learned the author has a rich sense of humor and loves to play games with people, systems and institutions.

[Your favorite blog post or reading ritual?]

My favorite blog was the “Five Paragraph Essay” from August 2012. It was easy to understand. Everyone can empathize with it. There were hidden meanings in this blog. You can see that the “Five Paragraph Essay was the best blog.

First, the “Five Paragraph Essay blog is easy to understand. The reader didn’t have to comprehend difficult concepts such as philosophy or linguistics, characteristic in many other blogs.

Secondly, everyone can empathize with “The Five Paragraph Essay.” At some point in our education, we all probably had to write a five paragraph essay.

Finally, there were hidden meanings in “The Five Paragraph Essay.” The reader learned the author has a rich sense of humor and loves to play games with people, systems and institutions. His reluctance to follow the prescribed formula demonstrates his delight in being unconventional.

In conclusion, “The Five Paragraph Essay” is my favorite. The three reasons it is the best are it is easy to understand, everyone can empathize with it, and it has hidden meanings. Now you can see that “The Five Paragraph Essay” is the best blog.

[Oh My God, that was incredible! Do you have a message or question you’d like to share with me?]
My question is… Do you consider your readers’ possible reactions before writing or posting? For example, are you worried you might offend or alienate someone?
[I want to make this absolutely clear- You are at more risk associating with a writer than you are with a terrorist. By relating to me, there’s no telling what collateral damage might occur, and I have not even released my memoirs. That being said, I do pause each and every time I reference (or challenge the beliefs of) somebody from real life. There have been times I posted something and then immediately felt uncomfortable and even guilty. However, the times I censored myself make me feel even worse. Hopefully, I earn my artistic license by doing two things A) Putting myself in harms way more often and before anybody else, and B) writing only what I think is true and would be willing to say in person. If you (and I’m talking to everyone) ever feeling alienated by something I write, please ask me about it. Conversation trumps silence every time.]
[What are you doing with your life?]
I’m re-inventing myself.
[Thanks Mom. I love you so much, I can’t even tell you how much I love you.]
Mike and his Pecker

Mike and his Pecker

My place in this universe is simple, to communicate. I want to communicate through laughter and song.

A) Michael Glader (See picture attached)
B) My favorite blog post is… “Time’s Not Wasted If It’s Deliberate
I like this piece because I feel completely in lock with Ben. Always honest, I feel like I am with Ben on the date, seeing the same things, hearing the same sounds. In addition to its clarity, I always walk away from Ben’s pieces with something new I have learned. Ben seamlessly works history and contemplative ideas into his work. I feel calm. I leave with a greater meaning in my head. Build your own ship.
C) My stance towards life! I am here on this planet to make people laugh. I am here on this planet to write music and heal people through song. My place in this universe is simple, to communicate. I want to communicate through laughter and song.D) I want to thank Ben. I want to thank Ben for being a rock. I want to thank the universe for bringing us together. I want to thank Ben for helping me navigate this world in the ship I am continuously building. Every Thursday Ben and I get together to share our creative works, our thoughts and talk about life. This structure has provided me with an artistic constant and a great friend to share a guttural laugh with. I am eternally grateful for this. Thank you, Ben.
[Mike, I am grateful the universe has brought us together, too. Even though you have horrible body odor, a disfigured face, and an even more disfigured personality, you are still somewhat possible to tolerate. If our Thursday Night meetings were half-way productive, they would have taught me that Life and Art are irreversibly intertwined; they would have taught me that Art is best made with and for other people; you would have taught me that creativity can be a healing force; you would have exhibited, week after week, courage, honesty and friendship. But, since they’ve been a complete waste of my time, none of that is true. Thanks a lot. Dick.]

[More Next Week! A chance for late submissions?]














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