Bob and Joy Schwabach Spend the Weekend at a Frank Lloyd Wright House

By Bob Schwabach

We knew it was the Wright house as soon as we saw it.

Those long horizontals hugging the earth, that flat roof and overhanging eaves, those clerestory windows high away from prying eyes . . . this was the place. And if we needed any further confirmation, the house was signed. There by the door was a red ceramic tile set into the wall, inscribed with the hand-scratched letters “FLLW”– for Frank Lloyd Lincoln Wright. Most people forget the “Lincoln,” which was his given middle name, but here he had inscribed it with his own hand, along with the other “L” for “Lloyd,” his mother’s maiden name. Continue reading


Don’t Bet Your Cybersavings on Video Game Spin-Offs

By Bob Schwabach

IN 1938, Johan Huizinga, the Dutch medieval historian, published a speculative essay called ”Homo Ludens” — literally, ”game playing man.”

In it, Huizinga examined the generally unquestioned labeling of our species as ”Homo sapiens” — ”intelligent man.” Several alternative labels have been put forth by anthropologists and historians: ”man the tool maker,” ”man the builder” and so on. But none of those he had read before quite captured our essential quality, Huizinga maintained. What really distinguishes man from other species, he concluded, is that we spend so much time playing games. And so he characterized our species as ”Homo ludens” — man the game player. We do seem to enjoy it.

How much time does it take to earn our daily bread? And what do we do with the rest of the time? I recall talking to an anthropologist at the Field Museum in Chicago many years ago, and he estimated that early man spent no more than three or four hours a day satisfying his basic requirements. Judging by the people I’ve worked with, it’s about the same today. Even lions hunt but a few hours, and not every day. What is to be done with the rest of the time? Lions sleep and scratch; we play games. These days we play a lot of video games. Continue reading

A Silent Comedy Surrounded by Sound

By Bob Schwabach

THE first time I saw a Jacques Tati movie, I thought something had gone wrong with the sound system.

It was a student film society showing at the University of Chicago, and things like that go wrong all the time. I was on the verge of getting up to tell someone in the projection booth when I realized that there was nothing wrong with the sound at all — it was a silent movie! But a silent movie with sound. Continue reading

A Guidebook that Hits You Right Where You Live

Copyright Oct. 18, 1981  For an interesting comparison with today, please visit

By Bob Schwabach 

All right, we know it. You’ve been thinking on and off for years about what it would be like if you moved to another city.

Would the food be the same? Do the people talk funny? Do they speak English? Three psychologists at C.W. Post College on Long Island have been wondering the same thing and they have put out a book on the subject, “Finding Your Best Place to Live in America” (Red Lion Books).

The thesis here is: “We have discovered that where a person lives dramatically affects his happiness and success in life.” We all suspected as much.

But what they have done is put together in a reasonably conveinent way a list of pluses and minuses for various places so you can figure out what bothers you most where you are now, and where to go for less of it, and what you like best and where to go for the most of that. Continue reading

Beware those ‘collectibles’: You may have to keep them

By Bob Schwabach

Originally printed in the Chicago Tribune, August 31, 1981

The floor has dropped out from under the Oriental rug market. Stamps look like they might be getting back

to postage values, and all those Bicentennial quarters you’ve been hoarding can be sold almost anywhere – for a quarter.

Things are not looking good in that vast area of hard goods called the “collectibles market.” This covers anything from the nut finge- barbed wire or telephone insulation – to those who think they’re more prudent and sophisticated and so bought diamonds and Oriental carpets. Continue reading