Lost Blueprint

LOST BLUEPRINT: Serious, slanted, fictional journalism


Bridging the Great Divide: Meeting People on the El

by Prissy McMouth
Behavior Commentator

You are sitting on the Brown line. It is 7:30 in the morning. You are headed to work. At Belmont, a crush of people move into your car. The morning sun is blinding, but out of this bright yellow light a figure slowly emerges. He is a life-sized version of a Ken doll. Your knees melt and your breathing becomes labored. What do you do next?

You talk to him, of course. And Prissy's going to tell you how.

First, you have to make up something to talk about. Try discussing how happy you are that we haven't gotten the shit bombed out of us by a really pissed off third world nation. Or, you could broach the subject of religious intolerance. Rely on something light and airy that anyone can comment upon.

Next, try maneuvering around the other people in the car so that you are standing right next to the Ken doll. Prepare your lips--apply gloss and by all means, make sure you do not have that dry throat syndrome so common in the morning. You know the one--where you talk like you just had a tracheotomy. Yeah--don't talk like that.

Now, as you stand next to the Ken doll, you want to grab his attention. I suggest stepping on his foot, then immediately following up with huge, flirty eyes meeting his while seductively murmuring a sincere apology. Bat your eyes for added effect. If you are not wearing makeup, this move will not work. And anyway, if you are not wearing makeup you should be shot.

Now that you have his attention, initiate conversation pronto. Mornings are not everyone's best time, so you have to be prepared to take the onus upon yourself. Really hit hard the religious intolerance issue, mass destruction, etc., etc. If he dodges your questions, looks down at the ground, watches the station platforms as the train pulls away from them, step on his foot again. No matter what, do not let his eyes wander from yours. Eye contact is your leash. Keep it tight.

Inevitably, this conversation should lead to an exchange of numbers. If it does not, you're a loser. Do not accept the first date he asks you on. You will be too busy on that day. Suggest another date shortly thereafter and there you go--you're dating!


Best Show Ever: Concerts from the Past

by Razz Trumble
Music Guy

Since there is currently a drought in the concert scene, or, to be more precise, a drought in my finances and a tight ass blog host who won't pay for concert tickets, I have been left to describe concerts of years past in order to fulfill my obligatory weekly column for Lost Blueprint.

The best show ever had to be the Jesus Lizard at Lounge Ax. This is because Lounge Ax had $1 Hubers and acoustics that left you with a ringing in your ears for three weeks. Also, Lounge Ax is no longer there and I cry my eyes out every time I think of it. Fucking condo motherfuckers. Anyway, the show was amazing despite the fact I can barely remember anything other than throwing myself into all my friends as we usually do to show that we care about each other. Some people call this a mosh pit. My friends and I call it bonding.

The next best show ever was a double whammy: Soul Coughing doing an in-store at Tower Records and then a road trip to Milwaukee to see the Jesus Lizard in some huge place that I can't remember the name of, but I remember we got lost trying to find it and the bottles of whiskey that accompanied us from Chicago were not helping with the navigational investigation. Anyway, we found the place, got there before the show started, and I remember them ending the show with David Yow saying, "I'm going home to make love to my wife." I cried. What kind of rock god are you when you can mix it up hard core and then go home to the wife?

The next best show ever was a show one year at Taste of Chicago but I can't remember who it was because I was tripping on acid and we stopped by The Weather Channel's tent and all the sales people there had weather patterns painted on their faces and I burst out laughing and didn't stop until the next morning. Man, that was a fucking great show.

There are many more best shows ever, but I'll save the telling of them for next week since I don't see a windfall of money coming my way anytime soon.


LuLu LaRue With Your Movie Review

by LuLu LaRue
Movie Reviewer

Movie: "The Kid Stays in the Picture"

This is a documentary about film producer Robert Evans, written by Robert Evans, and more than likely produced by Robert Evans. Robert Evans really loves Robert Evans. He has brilliantly mastered the fine art of speaking in Dashiell Hammet dialogue (upon passing his phone number to a woman at a bar he says, "Heaven is just seven digits away, baby.")(That may not be a direct quote--I found myself trying desperately not to puke throughout the majority of this movie).

Robert Evans has had quite a life. A true fighter. He's produced some well-known movies: "Love Story," "Chinatown," "The Godfather." He's had to fight to get them all made. He screwed up his marriage with Ali McGraw because he was trying so hard to get a movie made. He knows how to handle the big guys. He is one of the big guys. He's been around forever. He had a stroke. He survived it. He'll probably survive a nuclear war. The world will be left with Robert Evans and a bunch of roaches. It would be hard on the roaches.

On the upside, the visuals are cool. Photographs of really cool Hollywood people with backgrounds fading away from the focal point, who, of course, is Robert Evans. If you were tripping on acid and you felt like watching a movie, maybe these visuals would be cool. But only if you've already tripped out to"Fantasia."

Don't rent this, there are better things to do. Like watch paint dry.



Shameless Friend Promotion

The promotion is shameless, the friend is not. The friend is Jeff. Readership, meet Jeff. Jeff, meet The Readership. Oh, wait. You are The Readership. Well, it never hurts to take a look at oneself from a different perspective.

Jeff's nom de plume is J. Adams Oaks. Perhaps you know him from such gems of storytelling as "Itch," "Connected That Way," and "Ash Butterflies." You can find his work in Madison Review, River-Oak Review, and Hair Trigger. You can also find it on the hard drive of my laptop, but that'll cost a pretty penny. J. Adams Oaks's story, “Connected that Way” won WBEZ’s “Stories On Stage” contest in 2005. Most recently, Simon and Schuster bought his first novel. A chapter of that novel won the National Society of Arts and Letters regional competition. Mr. Oaks possesses the rare and enviable gift of matching his shoes to his belts. He also makes one mean ass martini.

Go listen to Jeff and a talented cast of clever artists read his fiction:
Saturday, May 6, 2006
Webster Wine Bar
More info here:

It'll change your life. I swear.


Letters to the Editor

Periodically, we like to print some of the letters we receive in the mail at the Lost Blueprint office. We want you to think you have a voice in our publication. You do not, of course, but we would like you to think you do.

Dear Lost Blueprint,
I have been a faithful reader of your publication for as many years as you've been around, but I gotta say your lack of fiction is god damned frustrating (Blog Description, home page). I'm not pulling my subscription or nothing, but I do expect an occasional tale of woe or sorted yarn of lust and vengeance, even a light-hearted romp with bunnies and tortoises for fuck's sake. Gimme something, you hear? I say good day to you, sirs (and madams)!

With piss & vinegar,
Darnel H. Sasser

Dear Lost Blueprint,
Is it editorial policy that your columnists must mention cycling in their columns? What the hell is cycling anyway?

Texarkana Tex

The Editorial Board responds: "Cycling" is a euphemism for suffering. Apparently, there are demented individuals in the world who claim cycling is a sport, but they wear lycra and why would you believe someone who wears lycra? The Blog Host is a passionate devotee of suffering (she actually starts drooling when drivetrains and smooth pavement are mentioned) and so we are obligated to mention the "sport" regularly. By the way, we are aware that cycling cannot definitively be called a sport as there is no ball and there are no clearly marked, chalk-white lines delineating the field of play. However, we encourage the myth that cycling is legitimate because as the suffering season progresses, the Blog Host will show up at the Lost Blueprint office on Monday mornings half dead from exhaustion and dehydration. This will make the coup that much easier to stage.

Dear Editorial Board,
I am so firing your asses.

Yours truly,
Kim Morris
The Blog Host

Dear Lost Blueprint,
I take issue with Prissy McMouth's piece regarding umbrella etiquette (Umbrella Etiquette for Urbanites, 3.12.2006). I leave my wet umbrella wherever I want because it is not just an umbrella, it is a friend. That does not make me a dirty fucker.

I.AM. Sam

Dear Lost Blueprint,
The overwhelming stench of marijuana smoke emanating from Buckshot Lamont's office is as offensive as his insufferable agreeableness. No one is that happy.

Fuck you,
Prissy McMouth

Dear Lost Blueprint,
Please ask Razz Trumble to contact me. I am interested in signing a hippie jam band and I think Please Don't Shave My Hairy Butt has enormous marketing potential (Mice on Toast, 3.11.2006).

Swanky McNerd


Out of Context: Phrases That Catch You Off Guard

by Buckshot Lamont
Language Lover

This is the first installment of "Out of Context" a somewhat regular column where we will discover odd turns of phrase and apply them to their rightful contexts. For example:

Phrase: Looming Specter of Condemnation
Found: In an article regarding real property valuation
Original Context: There is a possibility that a property will be condemned, and the looming specter of that condemnation is causing hell for the seller of that property.
Rightful Context: This is going to be my Halloween costume next year. I am going to go to many parties dressed as the looming specter of condemnation. I will be wearing a black robe and a severe frown. I will carry a staff, which I will crack over the heads of people who drool, mumble, or who refuse to share their drugs with the rest of the party.

Phrase: Eschew Obfuscation
Found: Some pretentious writing website that is in desperate need of an editor (I freelance! And I won't call you pretentious if I work for you)
Original Context: When writing, one should use clear, concise prose to articulate one's point.
Rightful Context: This is going to be the name of my pro cycling team. Our logo will be dense fog and it will be strategically placed on the kit so as to give the impression of gaseous fumes emanating from the cyclists' bodies. Hopefully, the management and I can pump the athletes full of lots of drugs so they win every race and then all interviewers will have the tenacious job of saying, "Eschew Obfuscation dominates the podium AGAIN!! Does it never end???"

Phrase: Transpose Boldly
Found: Said during an editing class by a very articulate and intelligent teacher
Original Context: When marking up the hard copy of a piece you are editing, make your transpose sign really, really distinct so the typesetter gets it.
Rightful Context: Well, duh. If this doesn't give you a new lease on life and how to live it, you must be dead.

Transpose boldly, people.


Umbrella Etiquette for Urbanites

by Prissy McMouth
Behavior Commentator

The umbrella is an amazing tool. Dynamic, despite it's inanimate nature. However, when many umbrellas are opened at once, there is significantly less space for people in the world and that lack of space demands that some ground rules be formulated.

As Head Rule Maker of All-Time, I will take the lead on this project.

Rule #1: To avoid crasing into other umbrellas, never tip yours to one side or the other. This causes runoff and it shows a lack of savviness that exposes you as a sub-urban person. Also, you risk forcing rain to be directed into the shoe of another person, wherein that person will have soaked socks and as most persons do not carry an extra pair of dry socks with them when venturing into the world, the rest of us are left spending time with someone who has smelly wet sock feet. This will cause ill will, start conflict, escalate wars, spread disease, etc., etc. Solution: Move the umbrella up and down. Practice before a rainy day. Up. Down. It's all in the elbow. There is more vertical space than horizontal space in the city, use it.

Rule #2: Do not use your umbrella as a shield. If you feel you must fight through crowds on a city street on a rainy day, do not do so as though you are fighting a dragon. You are merely putting yourself in a position where you cannot see in front of you, thereby causing ill will, starting conflict, escalating wars, spreading disease, etc., etc. Besides, you look stupid doing that. Solution: If the wind and rain are coming at you so hard you actually need a blocker, stay home.

Rule #3: When around others, do not shake out the excess water on your umbrella. Those tiny beads of water flick their way upward, usually into eyeballs, hair, nostrils, open sores. This causes ill will, starts conflict, escalates wars, spreads disease, etc., etc. Solution: Walk to the nearest alley, step one-quarter step away from passing pedestrians on the sidewalk, and vehemently shake your umbrella to relieve it of its extra moisture. More than likely you'll miss flicking water on other persons and as a bonus, you may very well scare the shit out of some rats.

Rule #4: Do not place your wet umbrella on the seat next to you. Don't do this on the train, on the bus, on a seat in a restaurant, on the benches in the lobby of an office building, on your coworker's chair. Your umbrella did not pay for a seat on the train, it is not a patron of any food establishment, and it does not work in your office building. If you do insist on leaving your wet umbrella on the seat next to you, you should take full responsibility for all the ill will in the world, every conflict, every war, and every disease, you dirty fucker.


Mice on Toast

by Razz Trumble
Music Guy

I have decided that I am going to start a punk band and name it Mice on Toast. Our schtick will be that we eat what seems to be live mice onstage while screaming into microphones about man's inhumanity to man. The media will pick up on this much like it did with Ozzy Osborne and the bat and we will be vilified in the press for eating live rodents, who of course are living beings and should therefore escape the very inhumanity our band decries.

Then smoking gun will do some research and find out that really, we are not eating live mice on stage, but large chunks of cheese molded to look like mice and the smoking gun will also find out that we are eating large chunks of cheese in an effort to maintain our protein levels because, they will find, we are not a hard-core punk band that parties excessively and takes pride in throwing up, but actually straight edge punks hell bent on achieving excellence in endurance sports.

The straight-edge punks will hate us by that point for having hidden our straight edgeness and they will go on record talking about how it is a shame that there is a stigma out in the world that would require humans to hide their protein consumption, especially when their eventual aim is to succeed at such harsh sports as bicycle racing. But by that point, I will have already disbanded Mice on Toast and will have started a hippie jam band. I will name this band Please Don't Shave My Hairy Butt.


How I Spent My Cycle-Smart Training Camp

by Kim Morris

Leucadia, California is: palm trees, salty thick breezes off the ocean, graceful hills, surf shops, shy smiles from people used to sunlight and cloudless days, wispy sand mounds along bike lanes, surfers bobbing patiently in the water, huge houses sneaking their way into an otherwise cottage-dotted shoreline, sunsets that melt your heart.

Cycling camp was: one week that would’ve lasted two if I had my way, strangers who became friends, egoless, deep conversations about Life, long zen-like rides, riding companions with open faces and honest eyes.

In Leucadia there are two townhouses trapped inside a gated community where said good humans lived for one week. Both places had curved couches in living rooms where multiple people could crash out and talk and this was good because laying around and talking with people feeds the soul and also, you can find out about other people’s lives very easily while laying around with them. If I were running for president, this would be my campaign plan—couches for every town! Talk to the humans next to you! I’ll be the couch campaigner. Kim the Couch Campaigner. Also, the couches were within eye sight of the kitchen and most importantly, the refrigerator, which is very important for a healthful existence.

Ostensibly, I went to cycling camp because I wanted to get in some base miles in a land not cold. Honestly, I went to cycling camp because I am taking back my life from injuries and negative people and ice packs on my leg and summer days spent staring at a gorgeous Cannondale unwittingly rendered still and somewhat sad due to unuse. What better way to shake it up than to do something that is scary as shit? When I signed up, this was such a good idea, I considered becoming a therapist because I thought I was that insightful. It is a money-saving trick to be one’s own therapist.

But then The Day Before showed up and it suddenly occurred to me: I have averaged 4 hours a week on Princess Cannondale and I am going to a place where I don’t even speak the same language as other cyclists (they are not bike riders, by the way, they are cyclists). Here are some translations:

Hard-Core Cyclist Terminology/Kim’s Terminology
Incline =Hill
Hill =Shit
Mountain =Holy fucking shit
Rollers =Heart attack
It’s all downhill from here =Big lie
Fun descent =Straight drop to an unknown place, possibly hell

Sunday, February 26, 2006
Sunny. California sunny. Bleach-your-eyebrows-a-lighter-color-than-your-hair sunny. Warm. Wear-short-sleeves-and-not-quiver warm. Work up a sweat and actually think to yourself, “Man, it’s hot today,” warm. It was a fuck yeah day, as most of these days were.

We went for a two-hour ride. A lollygag until a seemingly innocuous hill that was not. Climbing these long climbs is a matter of balance—how easily can I maintain my balance on two small patches of thin tires while going 1 mph? While dressed in a brightly-colored, near pornographic, lycra get-up, it reeks of a traveling circus show. I had to dismount from Princess Cannondale, at which point I believe I heard her groan, because of course she was made for this and ended up with me, who was not made for this. But then I uncramped my leg and inched my way up and was rewarded with going down a hill much like the ones I flew down when I was nine and rode an orange banana-seat bike like a rocket.

Here’s what I learned from Fuck Yeah Day One: I miss the whir of tires in a paceline, it takes much concentration to stick to a wheel after not having done so in many months, it takes much concentration to keep my line after depending on the trainer to do it for me for many months, and having a support vehicle around is a wonderfully decadent way to have a ride. I am considering hiring someone to be my support vehicle as I travel through life.

Monday, February 27, 2006
Here’s the day I crashed. Figuratively, not literally, thankfully. A week of tensing up about going away and not sleeping well or eating well and flying on a plane and checking oversized luggage and worrying and just generally hand wringing to the point of ulcer finally hit me.

You would think a road named after a lilac would be nice, but you would be wrong. Those climbs out there are never ending. They keep going like they’re being paid to do it. I got 2 hours in and then I got off the bike and into the van, which is a godsend for a Midwesterner in southern California at the end of February. Then the rain came. I am so anti-riding-in-the-rain that I am willing to start a advocacy group for the abolition of riding in the rain. I rode in the van, talked to Gerard Master Mechanic, listened to Gomez, ate Fig Newtons and pretzels, drank Coke, daydreamed.

Back at planet homebase, I slept for two hours in my lycra and so woke up with deep red lines in my legs where my leg warmers tried to squeeze me like an anaconda. It is a good thing I had my own room. I didn’t smell especially pretty either.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Recovery day. I had to recover from sitting still too long the previous day. Today is the day I discovered my all-time favorite wheel to draft off of, in the form of Steve’s Independent Fabrication. He of the liquid, mesmerizing eyes has a rare and wonderful talent for snapping at items in the road that could cause much distress were they to be crashed into by an unsuspecting cyclist. For example, a prone-to-daydreaming cyclist from the Midwest who is easily distracted by sunshine and mountains.

Today we rode roads that winded through lemon groves. There was the smell of something earthy and peppery. There were the sounds of whirring tires, the clunking of changing gears, the airy voices of light and happy conversations, the quiet ease of riding bicycles with quality humans.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006
We rode out to Fiesta Island, which is neither a fiesta nor an island, from what I could see. It looked more like a peninsula, but maybe I missed something descriptively geographical. There was a dog park and port-o-potties with toilet paper. There were the ubiquitous wispy mounds of sand on the road. The road circled around something that was vaguely hill-like, but secretive, with signs that proclaimed the land was government property and forbade trespassing by the general public. Today was our sprint day in southern California, with the sun and the warm.

I decided not to do the sprints. This was for a litany of reasons that were clearly delineated in my head, the most important of which was the high possibility of (re)injury. But the reality was, I was scared. So, after breaking into groups, I toodled along with David from Arkansas and some girl from Texas who wasn’t staying at planet homebase and was not a part of the camp as far as I could tell and Brendan from I don’t know where but probably somewhere on the East Coast as most of these people are, and Adam, El Presidente of the camp.

Here’s how I decided not to do sprints:
Me: Adam, I’m not going to do the sprints.
Adam: Why don’t you just try a couple.
Me: No.
Adam: Are you sure?
Me: You only get one opportunity to ask me if I’m sure and that was it.
Adam: OK.

Of course, I was not sure. I have no idea what I am doing and I’m too self-conscious to ask for help, and I’m not about to ask Adam pro super sprint guy for it, even if he is a sparkling great human. This sport is like being dropped from an airplane into the ocean and then asking passing sharks for advice on how to get home. I’m trying to pretend I know what I’m doing, but I’m getting the impression that people can see right through me. It’s unnerving.

On the upside, it was sunny and after going around the forbidden government mound of land a few times in a small group, it occurred to me that a ten-second sprint couldn’t really be all that bad. Besides, I think Princess Cannondale had an itchy trigger finger. So when the group did the first sprint, I went with them, but only because I’m human and have an innate instinct to herd with others in my species. Then numbers two and three seemed a silly thing to miss and el presidente was dispensing wisdom and I’m not one to pass up a learning experience and that’s how I ended up not doing sprints on our sprint day.

Thursday, March 2, 2006
When cyclists go to California for a week of training and they say they are going to spend a day riding up a mountain, they mean a real live true mountain, the kind with changing temperatures and elevation signs, look-out spots on the roads, guard rails, views of the entire world and the entire sky, and a never ending grade that seemingly increases with each switchback. And of course, there are switchbacks. I am not making this up. Where in Chicago is there a place that rises so significantly that it actually needs switchbacks designed into it to facilitate travel?

This particular mountain is a called Palomar. It is not my friend. It quite clearly had the upper hand. It was a 25% grade, uphill both going and coming, and I was barefoot. Oh, and also, it was snowing. I have a new position to climb with now because El Presidente said so and since he didn’t dog me for being a big huge baby of major proportions on the day of not doing sprints, I decided to listen to him.

I trudged along in my new position and cleared my head, which quickly got filled up with pleasant thoughts, like the smell of pine trees and how cool it is to be around 12 brand new people, all of whom I have a burning desire to give great big bear hugs to. That’s called being lucky; as in, keep your head outta yer ass and be very, very grateful.

One hour and 23 minutes of climbing is what Princess and I got in today. Then I turned a switchback and did something weird that made me drop my chain and so I had to dismount but had kinda a hard time getting out of my left pedal because I couldn’t quite get my leg to pay attention to my brain. I got my chain on and decided to keep going. Except that then I did that lightheaded bobble head thing and when I swung my leg over the saddle, I cracked my knee on the seat post as though I was throwing a misplaced roundhouse kick and that’s when I thought that maybe I should call it a day for Palomar. Mountains are beautiful and proud beasts to me. You just don’t see noble creatures like those lurking about in the suburbs of Chicago.

Re: hard-core terminology verbiage—the way home was allegedly dotted with rollers, which were not rollers, they were near-fatal, cruelly misjudged terrain that after an hour plus of climbing were the most painful things I have ever run into. And here’s the coolest thing: I was riding with people who climbed that whole mountain, rode down it, let me ride with them after they were down the mountain, and then actually had the manners to ask me how I was doing when I started breathing like a gun shot victim when we hit the rollers. Rock out, man. Total good energy.

Friday, March 3, 2006
1.5 hours, easy, down the coast with Josh and Lori and Kim. Lori and Kim being two women who make me realize how cool women really are. We went to the military base where they carded us and told us very militarily how we were to stay only on the bike path and not to wander elsewhere or we would be charged with trespassing and then sent to Siberia where there is no bike riding and we certainly did not want that. I had the sneaky suspicion we were being followed. We were probably bugged too. It started raining and it got cold and then it got windy. We turned around and sure enough, there was Mr. Guard in his military police vehicle, riding up behind us. We smiled. We said thank you, but it was time for us to go. I kept my political views to myself.

The rest of the ride was quite like an April day in Chicago—windy, cold, brutal, Mother Nature’s not-so-subtle reminder that she’s the one in charge. Plus, I could feel the ferocious arrival of a saddle sore. The East Coasters say “wicked” a lot. As in, I am getting a wicked painful saddle sore.

Dinner: tilapia and rice; kale and asparagus; salad with artichokes and mushrooms; beer. Everyone talking. I will miss these humans. They are touching, good hearts. It’s quite possible I made the mistake of becoming a better human myself while hanging out with them. Who knew.