Jim Siergey: A Ghost Story

October 18th, 2017

Since it is the season, y’know, of witches and ghosts and goblins and “Fun-Size” candy bars I suggested to my wife that we watch a movie called A Ghost Story.

It had hit the theatres only a couple of months earlier and I remembered reading some reviews which made it sound interesting.

Interesting to me, anyway.

I like films that are unusual and off-beat, the kinds that many other people callboring”. I, on the other hand, find films filled with CGI, car chases and explosions boring. Cue up that Sly Stone record…”Different strokes for different folks…”

So, using our Roku streaming video device, I coughed up the $4.99 (plus tax) and ordered “A Ghost Story”, settled back with a glass of wine and awaited entertainment.

It turned out to be the longest hour and a half I have ever spent.

One of the actors was Casey Affleck, he of the School of Laconic Acting, who can’t seem to not mumble every line he has to deliver. I have only seen him in two movies so perhaps I am guilty of a rush to judgement but he played the same guy in both of those cinematic features.


Weird flick…


He wasn’t in the flick for very long because he dies early (this is not a spoiler) and spends the rest of the picture clad in a white sheet with two cut out eye holes. I guess it’s him under that sheet but it could have been anybody, an electrician, a key grip or even Harvey Weinstein for all we know…and for all it matters.

Now, as for the film direction, one could call it daring and bold or just plain lazy. It seemed to me that this guy’s directorial method was to set up the camera, call “Action” and then go out and grab a sandwich…and dessert.

One scene was a close-up of the couple embracing each other in bed while half-asleep. The camera lingered on them and lingered and lingered and lingered. And lingered.

Now, I’m not a big fan of quick cuts and action pans and all that rapid fire type of film making. I enjoy leisurely pacing and long takes but this guy took it to extremes. There’s a scene where the female lead sits on the floor and eats an entire pie, AN ENTIRE PIE, without a cut or any camera movement at all, just a shot of her on the floor eating pie while the director, I imagine, was out at some snack shop eating a slice himself.

I kept watching this movie and kept hoping something would happen, anything, to make me like it. Finally, the moment arrived—the rolling of the credits.

Okay, so maybe I’m not deep enough to “get it”. That could very well be although the director (who also wrote it) seems to bludgeon the viewer over the head with the movie’s apparent message via the bloviating of an actor in a party scene.

It doesn’t matter what we did in life or who we became, the thespian opined, because in the long run—the long, long run—everything and everyone will be forgotten.

Yep, it’s one of those “feel good” movies.

Anyway, if you’d like to play a trick on someone in this season of “Trick or Treat”, I recommend recommending A Ghost Story, that is, if the spirit moves you.


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Little Boxes


Randolph Street: Easy Street

October 18th, 2017

1DSCF1526Brown Line One–Chicago


2DSCF1523Brown Line Two


3DSCF1522Brown Line Three


4DSCF1530Brown Line Four


All photos © Jon Randolph 2017


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Jim Siergey: Little Boxes

October 12th, 2017

I’ve never paid for it in my life. That is to say, I have never had cable or satellite television. My television viewing has always been free, just like our forefathers meant it to be…The People’s TV. Right on!

A’course, that means I’ve never seen The Sopranos, Mad Men, Game of Thrones or what everyone seems to be squawking about these days, Rick and Morty.

Spin and Marty, yes. Rick and Morty, no.

Thus, I am out of the Popular Culture loop. Way out, man.

I have viewed cable and/or satellite TV when ensconced in motel rooms but I’ve never seen any of the shows that are hailed as groundbreaking and great. I flip through the thousand and one available channels but never come across any of those aforementioned shows or even one that interests me enough to stop flipping.

There are a lot of news programs but they all seem to be about repetitive minutiae, which is the price paid for being on for 24 hours. TCM, the one channel I would be interested in viewing, always seems to air a movie I’ve already seen way too many times or one that holds no interest for me at all.


They don’t make shows like this one anymore…


So, I end up watching an Andy Griffith rerun or (gasp) reading.

I’m not even hep to the shows that are popular on The People’s TV. I’ve not espied a single moment of those so-called “reality shows”, Survivor, The Apprentice, The Bachelor or The Housewives of Wherever. Nor do I watch any of the new sit-coms (except for “Modern Family”) or dramas (except for that present day Sherlock Holmes one that has been cancelled).

I’ll watch BBC mysteries or anything on MeTV like Perry Mason, Dick Van Dyke, as well as my cable favorite, The Andy Griffith Show.

God (or whoever) help me, I’m not even hep to the modern music scene any more.

I’m stuck in my own little box. It may even be made of ticky-tack but I rarely go outside of it to check.

But, each generation is in its own little box, isn’t it?

While recently riding the el I overheard two college kids talking about the recent demise of “Tom Penny”.

“He did music or something, didn’t he?” one asked the other.

I did not because who am I to sigh? I’m someone who doesn’t know who Rick and Morty are.


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Devil’s Den

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Randolph: Driving That Train

October 11th, 2017

1DSCF9379D Line–Buenos Aries


2DSCF9452D Line–Buenos Aries


3DSCF9362D Line–Buenos Aries


4DSCF9434 D Line–Buenos Aries


5DSCF9394D Line–Buenos Aries



All photos © Jon Randolph 2015



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Jim Siergey: Devil’s Den

October 4th, 2017

The wife and I rented a cabin in Devil’s Den, Arkansas. Pretty scary sounding, eh? Oooooo.

The cabin was built in the 1930s by the CCC. For those not in the know, the CCC stands for the Civilian Conservation Corps which was established for young out of work men by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

It was part of the New Deal whereupon young unmarried men of unskilled labor worked in natural resources and conservation in rural areas. They cleared land, constructed trails, lodges and other facilities, planted trees and built a network of public roadways. Many of our campgrounds exist because of them.

So, thank you, CCC.

Devil’s Den, called that because of the variety of bats that reside in the nearby caves, is located in the Boston Mountains in Northwest Arkansas, just over the border from Missouri. We had a grand time hiking the rocky trails and enjoying the spectacular views but…

I’ll get to that but in a bit.

One afternoon, after a strenuously enjoyable hike, we were relaxing on the rocky “lanai”outside our cabin with a bottle of wine that we had purchased along with the few groceries we had brought along with us.

I was using a spoon to lift a bug out of my glass of wine so I could let it flutter away drunkenly into the woods.

“I can lick any bug in the forest!” I imagined it buzzed.

I wished the little sot well, sat back in my ancient wooden chair and looked upward just in time to see about twenty black vultures circling above, riding the thermals. I called to my wife to come see but when I looked back up, they were gone. However, they had left a faint rainbow in their stead.

A mystical moment.

Rainbow Devils DenUp in the sky…


Time went by and dusk descended. The weather was pleasant, as was the wine, so we continued to sit even as evening began to intervene. After a while we decided to enter our cabin.

We couldn’t get in.

Instead of a lock with a key, the cabin doors were fixed up with a key pad. No matter how many times we punched in our code, which had worked earlier in the day, the door remained shut.

There we were, in the middle of the woods, with no way of attaining shelter. My car keys were inside the cabin so we could not take sanctuary in our sedan. We had two very old wooden chairs and a wrought iron picnic table to sleep upon but that would indeed be roughing it. I briefly thought of taking a rock to a window but that seemed way too desperate a measure.

There was no longer any staff on the grounds. They left at 5:00. But, there were other cabins so I decided to walk down the twenty flagstone steps that served as a staircase to the road and venture off to another cabin to seek assistance.

Fortunately, there was a half-moon out so darkness was not in totality.

Down the road apiece was the next cabin and there looked to be a bit of light peeking through the window so up their flagstone staircase I trod and rapped upon their door.

A minute went by and a fellow cracked the portal open a bit. I explained my situation and he let me in. Fortunately, we recognized one another as we had crossed paths while hiking earlier so I seemed less like a lone madman.

He brought out a booklet with cabin and campsite info and in it were some phone numbers. Each cabin contained a land line so I dialed away only to hear recorded messages. The only number left to call was 911.

Someone answered and I explained again my situation. After assuring him that no one had any guns nor was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, I was told a ranger would arrive straightaway.

Relieved, I hung up and thanked the cabin dweller for his assistance. He told me that his name was Brad and his wife, who had joined us from another room, was introduced as Janet.

He offered to let me stay until help arrived but all I could think of was that the main characters in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” were named Brad and Janet so before any fishnet stockings made the scene, I politely declined and made my way back to Cabin 16.

A ranger and a locksmith soon arrived. It was an impressively quick response. I guess there aren’t too many emergencies going on in Middle of Nowhere, Arkansas.

The locksmith reprogrammed the keypad and we were allowed access. We climbed into our cozy bed but I had a hard time falling asleep as I couldn’t get “Let’s Do the Time Warp Again” out of my head.


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was My Heart Belongs To Dada



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Randolph Street: The Greats

October 4th, 2017

Mr. Dylan…


Mr. Terkel…



Ms. Brooks…


Mr. King at Cook County Jail…

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Jim Siergey: My Heart Belongs To Dada

October 1st, 2017

The fortnights went no further and the cascades refused to fall.
The armistice was legless so it leaned against the wall.

Sassafrass and Kool-Aid was all there was to drink

A glassful handed to me I poured right in the sink.
The trees had leaves of atom bombs and Autumn lurked nearby.

Mothers clutched their children, I wished that I could fly.
Multi-hued multi-grained flakes of flotsam flew
swirling in a whirlwind til they were out of view

“My country for a Dervish!” I cried in mock dismay
A manatee at a vanity turned to look my way


Out of minds…

A defiant smile full of bile graced my vile face
I leered and sneered and peered all about the place
Upside down were baskets full of unrelenting pleas
Their muffled words sounded like “Pass the lentils please.”

I smirked and shirked and with a jerk, worked my way around
the obstacles of popsicles blanketing the ground

I popped some pills to kill the chills the frozen treats produced
Those frozen treats froze my feet so I became reduced
to a frosty goateed snowman who looked like Burl Ives
albeit with a nasty case of dehydrated hives

The sun’s behind a cloud as it waits for its reprieve
Until its heat thaws my feet, I fear I cannot leave
Like a Chinese Moses I cry “Let my peapods grow!”
as an iridescent curtain falls and eradicates the show


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was White Pine

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