Posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Right now. Right this minute. I want nothing more than to assault a Kate...
I know this totally goes against the new anti-violence sentiment that is sweeping the Nation...
...but I've always been an aggressive eater when it comes to dessert.
And she totally has it coming for being so gosh-darn delicious.
Posted on Friday, January 28th, 2011
As I type this, it is 12:30am Saturday, January 29th in Cologne, Germany.
Since I woke up at 3:30am Thursday, January 27th in the US Pacific time zone, this means I have been awake for 37 hours straight. And yet I am still not tired. I tried to sleep on the plane, but ended up watching The Social Network again (a little more boring that the first time, but still awesome), Salt again (liked it even more the second time around), and Scott Pilgrim Saves the World again (which sucked even more the second time around, because whiny, dorky Michael Cera is NOT lady-killer slacker hero Scott Pilgrim... AT ALL. This movie could have been sheer perfection if the lead role weren't so hideously miscast).
The flight from Seattle to Amsterdam via Delta Airlines was bliss. I wasn't upgraded, but the plane was so empty that I had almost an entire row to myself, which was super-sweet. Except for the not-being-able to sleep thing, it truly was a flawless experience. As was my connection at Schiphol, as usual. Looking out the plane-window at sunrise, it was looking like a glorious day in DutchyLand...
Except... it was freezing cold. Even after the sun was out. Much like it would be when I finally ended up in Cologne. As I landed, I noticed that Gowalla had rolled out their new flight-tracker status updates, which is wickedly cool...
Not shown is my flight from Wenatchee to Seattle... probably because Wenatchee hasn't been considered an airport yet?
Anyway... after checking in at my hotel and then getting some work done, it was time to head up to Essen for some dinner with friends. While waiting at the train station, I ran across an awesome poster... I just love good advertising! That's the hugely tall Cologne Cathedral buried in snow there...
"Ihr Beitrag zum klima? Mehr Bus & Bahn fahren!"
Dinner was with my fellow Hard Rock Cafe fans, Marc & Mechthild... with vegetarian pizza hand-made by Mechthild herself, which was as beautiful to look at as it was delicious...
Easily the best pizza you'll find in all of Germany. You may commence being jealous now.
But the truly unexpected surprise of the evening was the beautiful salad that was served. I still have no idea what kind of greens these were... or even if there's a US equivalent... as I had never seen them before. Marc & Mechthild called them "winter salad," as there doesn't seem to be an equivalent name for it in English (they looked!). The greens appear to be some kind of thick four-leaf clover type-thing, tasting buttery and sweet. There's absolutely no bitter notes in the flavor at all, which made the whole thing taste like frickin' candy when tossed up with a lovely vinaigrette. I shit you not, CANDY...
If all salads tasted like this, I'd be eating a lot more fucking salads!
After-dinner conversation was all Hard Rock Cafes and world travel (two of my favorite subjects!). The time went flying by and suddenly it was 11:00 and time to take the train back to Cologne. The evening was loads of fun, despite the fact that I really should have been dead from lack of sleep. Praise be to the power of the internet for continuing to find me wonderful friends around the globe!
And now it's 12:56am here in Cologne, which means I've been awake for 37-and-a-half hours straight.
Still not tired.
I have no idea what my deal is, but I sure don't want to be around when this lack of sleep catches up to me!
Alas, I have no choice...
Posted on Saturday, January 29th, 2011
Work ended a senses-shattering three hours early, leaving me a little free time to goof around Cologne today. Having been to the city many times, I'm very much at home here, and so it's an entirely different experience than visiting a place you've never been before.
But before I get to that, I'd like to observe a moment of silence for my newly-dead Kenneth Cole dress shoes. Tonight I pulled out all my work clothes so I'd be ready to go in the morning. As I was shining my shoes, I noticed that one of them had somehow split in the back (I'm guessing my suitcase must have been crushed in transit? Or perhaps when the TSA opened my bag to inspect it, they really, really hated my shoes?). Anyway... all attempts to repair them were met with failure. So now I guess I'm going to attend work in sneakers. That'll look special.
On to my favorite things in Cologne!
No matter how many times I see the massive Cologne Cathedral, it still takes my breath away.
The light, airy, doughy inside makes "doghnuts" taste like shit by comparison!
I could eat this delicious bits of deliciousness until I asploded!
While not the same as the Dutch patatjes met, my favorite, they're still inanely delicious!
The line was crazy-long... it took me 8-10 minutes to get mah frites!!
The delicious and refreshing regional beer... usually served in tiny glasses, not steins, so you have to order lots of them.
And, lastly, since you have to pay for all this shit...
My photo turned out blurry, so this is not me. I found a photo of Neil Patrick Harris using a Geldautomat at Wincor Nixdorf.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've had my fill of doughnuts, fries, mayonnaise, and beer for the evening, so I'm going to go to bed and hopefully get some sleep this time. Last night I managed to nap a mere two hours after being up for 38 straight hours, so I'm thinking I kind of have to sleep or I'm going to turn go brain-dead. ZOMFG! Do you think that's what happened to Sarah Palin?
Previous adventures in Cologne...
Posted on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
So very tired...
The weather in Cologne today was odd. It was dreary and cold, but not the kind of cold that lands on you... it was more a general cold around your immediate vicinity. Sure I could see my breath and needed a jacket, but wearing gloves was too much, and my hands were perfectly fine without them. I'm a real weenie when it comes to having cold hands, so this was kind of freaky. In a good way.
What was decidedly not freaky was that they finally replaced the chocolate chicken! Isn't she awesome?
As today was my last day in Cologne I had intended to try and wander around a bit, but I was just too exhausted and had entirely too much work to do. So instead of eating dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, I just bought some pins and a T-shirt while breezing through after work...
It's a fairly small property, but has all the classic Hard Rock fixin's so I really like it here.
Alas, I didn't have time to hang around, so dinner consisted of glorious Patatjes Met "Pommes Frites mit Mayo" with a delicious Spritzringe and a Coke back at my hotel room for dessert...
While I was walking to the tram stop so I could get "home" I noticed some interesting things:
ONE: HINDENBURG! After the movie Titanic made a gazillion dollars, I remember asking when somebody would get around to making a modern movie drama about the Hindenburg tragedy...
Apparently they now have, as I've seen the posters around Cologne...
"Ein Traum von Ruhm" - "A Dream of Glory"
TWO: MADONNA! I've lost count of the number of times I've walked through Neumarkt, but this is the first time I can ever recall seeing this Madonna & Child statue glued to one of the buildings on the Eastern loop. While I'm sure it must have been beautiful at one time, it's kind of creepy now that pieces have fallen off and it's been partially eroded by pollution and the elements...
THREE: BANNED! I never take food or drinks onto the tram anyway, but I found it funny that fries and mayo are specifically banned on the signage (along with coffee and Kölsch/beer)...
And now I suppose I should probably pack my suitcase. I've got a long, strange journey ahead of me tomorrow, and the last thing I want to have to do when I wake up is pack before rushing off to the airport.
Posted on Friday, February 18th, 2011
Without change, something sleeps inside us and seldom awakens.
—Duke Leto Atreides, Dune
I've been struggling this week. A couple weeks, actually. Ever since I came back from Europe it seems as though I've been hit by one horrible thing after another and I'm starting to lose faith that things are ever going to get back to normal. Whatever "normal" is. It's like I left my life for a while, then came back to find all the things I recognize about it... missing.
Almost like it never existed and I'm just remembering it all wrong. Except I have pictures. And this blog. I'd blame the travel, but I know that's not true.
Because today as I was skimming the news sites, I figured it all out. And this is what did it...
Nooooooo! Not Giordano's! They say they'll stay open as they declare bankruptcy, but who knows how long that will last? Their cheese supplier could decide to stop delivering cheese tomorrow and where would that leave us? How can you make pizza without cheese?
And there it is.
I haven't eaten at Giordano's in quite a while... even though it's kind of a quintessential Chicago experience... but that's not the point. The point is that I always know I can go to back to Giordano's for a pizza and a beer if I wanted to...
Now I don't know how much longer that might be true. Giordano's could close tomorrow and I'd never get to have pizza there again. I don't know how much that would actually bother me if it happened, but the thought of it weighing on my mind is crushing me.
And if that's true for a pizza restaurant 1650 miles away then it's true for everything in my life.
Anything I do... anyplace I go... anyone I see... could be the last time.
I don't fear change. Really, I don't. In many ways I embrace change and welcome the new adventures it brings. But sometimes change makes you question the things you know... the things you believe in... the things that are true. And with all that doubt floating around my head lately, it's no wonder I don't want to get out of bed in the morning.
I suppose I should do something about that.
Or go to Chicago and have a Giordano's pizza and a beer while I still can.
Posted on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
Last night I got -zero- sleep.
It seemed like all the horrors of the world just wouldn't let my mind slip into oblivion... instead I was endlessly occupied with the events in Libya, The USA, New Zealand, Yemen, Bahrain, and the rest. There seemed no way to let it all go. Instead I just laid there feeling restless and helpless all night long.
When all I really wanted to do was go home.
But I was slammed with work all day long and, when it was time to leave, I found out I couldn't. The passes were either closed or a hellacious mess, and the weather was just getting worse. After four people at work started Googling maps and pass reports, the general consensus was that my best option was to drive to Portland and make a run up the Columbia Basin tomorrow.
So here I am in Portland, feeling exhausted and destroyed...
My hetero life-partner suggested I have pizza and beer at Rocco's... where philosophers & aliens meet!
Then it was time for the awesomeness of Powell's City of Books, where I spent WAY too much money,
Not on this particular book... though I wanted to. Badly.
Then Vahid just had to remind me of Mio Gelato. The bastard.
Stracciatella gelato and Powell's Books... the perfect combo.
Classy third-floor entertainment for gentlemen!
Time for... VOODOO DOUGHNUTS!! Where good things come in pink boxes.
A maple bar and voodoo doll doughnut for dessert!
For those who have never had the orgasmic pleasure of eating at Voodoo Doughnuts, here is the carousel of awesomeness which awaits...
And so now I think I will take my aching head and tired body to bed even though it's only 8:30.
Please please please let me get home tomorrow...
Posted on Sunday, March 6th, 2011
After the sheer awesomeness of my Saturday, I did the best I could to get through Bullet Sunday.
• She's a Wonder. And so the most perfect woman on earth, Elizabeth Hurley, has been tapped for a role in David E. Kelly's Wonder Woman project. Apparently she'll be playing Wonder Woman's far more beautiful and classy arch-nemesis, Veronica Cale. I, of course, think she would be perfect as Wonder Woman herself, hard as it will be for anyone to fill Linda Carter's red boots. She was Wonder Woman. Even with Elizabeth Hurley, I have to say I am still very, very nervous about the show. If David E. Kelly can resist the urge to add his stupid-ass Allie McBeal craziness to the mix, it might have a chance...
• Pretty Cool. Gotta hand it to Miley Cyrus, she handled her guest-hosting on Saturday Night Live like a champ last night. She not only managed to get in a few digs on Lindsay Lohan, but spent a lot of time poking fun at herself as well. Of course, what every SNL fan was waiting for was seeing if she would make an appearance on Vanessa Bayer's ongoing "Miley Cyrus Show" skit. Surprisingly, she did... as Justin Bieber!
I was secretly hoping that Billy Ray Cyrus would make an appearance as himself here, but Jason Sudeikis did his usual hysterical impersonation. A couple sketches fell flat for me (The Sound of Music, really?)... but overall it was a pretty funny episode and Miley did a great job. I still miss Hannah Montana.
• Upgrade. Microsoft has an entire website devoted to killing off their piece of shit web browser, Internet Explorer 6...
Their suggestion is to have you upgrade to Internet Explorer 8.
If I may be so bold, a suggestion: bypass Internet Explorer 8 and upgrade directly to an even better browser...
Or, don't stop upgrading there... get rid of Windows and step up to Macintosh! It's so much nicer up here!
• Downgrade. Meeee-ow! My review of the latest "upgrade" to Twitter for iPhone...
Developers always seem to play the victim by saying things like "Well, nobody wants to pay for apps anymore, so we use ads. SOMEBODY has to pay, so cut us a break!" — And that's a very good point... except you can't expect people to be happy when the app's functionality is impaired by the ads. Either find a way to insert ads in a way that's not going to shit all over your app, or just charge for the damn thing.
• Go for the Gold. One last thing before I go... this morning I discovered Rold Gold "Everything Bagel" Pretzels. Deeeelicious. They kind of reminds me of Chex Mix, but more subtle and without the fishy Worcestershire sauce to mess things up. Still really good flavor though. This is a great find because it's really tough to find the Snyders of Hanover flavors I like around here...
And there's Bullet Sunday for you. Until next week... stay classy, blogosphere.
Posted on Thursday, March 31st, 2011
I just came back from London & Venice, then left for Los Angeles.
Now I'm back from L.A. and am heading off to Las Vegas.
Apparently my travel layovers are no longer in airports, they're at home. It's like I've gone back in time twenty years and I'm living out of a suitcase again. Except now I actually have a suitcase and can afford to stay in accommodations where I don't have to worry about getting stabbed in the middle of the night because somebody wants to steal my socks.
Though I did have my personal shampoo stolen while staying at a Holiday Inn just five years ago.
I suppose it was all my fault for stepping out to Taco Bell so I could try the new "Crunchwrap Supreme" that everybody was talking about. Except I had them substitute rice for the beef, so I guess it wasn't actually the same Crunchwrap Supreme that everybody was talking about after all. Still tasted good. Though it's probably impossible for anything with this much saturated fat content to taste bad. Especially when it's cheese-flavored saturated fat...
NOTE: Actual product will bear no resemblance whatsoever to this photographic fantasy.
Purple background is optional, and my not be available at your local Taco Bell.
I'm sure there's a life lesson here somewhere. I just can't decide if it's that you should never eat at Taco Bell... or you should never travel with your own shampoo and instead just use the crappy free stuff they give you at the hotel.
All I know is that they will let you take a full-size Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme through airport security. Try that with a full-size bottle of shampoo and you'll end up having it confiscated.
I'll leave it up to you to decide which is the bigger threat to National Security... but something tells me that the TSA has it all backwards.
Posted on Sunday, April 3rd, 2011
It's a Vegas-infused edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Classy. The most interesting aspect of Vegas is the people who show up here. People-watching is so good that could almost be a full-time activity. Hang around long enough, and you'll see it all. Drunks walking out into traffic. People puking in trash cans. Women walking through the casino in a bikini. A pickup full of cats that says "Pussy Wagon"... it's all going on in Vegas. But the best thing I saw this trip was a woman walking down The Strip in leopard print pants, a halter-top, hooker-high heels, and makeup so thick it was probably put on with a spatula. This alone wasn't unusual because half the women here look like that. But throw in the fact that she was nursing a newborn baby, and it doesn't get any classier!
• Cups. I swear, every time I come to Vegas, the drinking cups are bigger. First there was the "Big Gulp" cup. Then there was the long-neck cup. Then there was the "Yard Glass" cup. Now there's the 100-oz. Cup which is SO long (over 4-feet) that it comes with a neck-strap. I suppose next time I come to Vegas, there will be 200-oz. cups that come with a pull-cart to lug it up and down The Strip...
What I love is the little "Always Drink Responsibly" signs displayed where you buy these things. How could you possibly drink anything this massive responsibly? The entire purpose of buying one is to be irresponsible.
• Gambler. I'm usually pretty lucky when it comes to gambling (even though I don't believe in luck). But not this trip. I won a grand total of $17. On an "investment" of $200. I am officially poor now.
• Fremont. I'm always surprised when somebody comes back from Las Vegas, I ask if they visited Fremont Street in the "old town" and they say "no." It's such a shame, because it's such a fun experience. A lot to see and do in a rather small area...
And, of course, there's the giant-screen ceiling of the covered-walkway that spans a big chunk of the area. This time we got to rock out to Queen and Kiss, which was very cool because the sound system is great. If you ever end up in Las Vegas, don't miss a chance to visit. It's worth the $20 cab ride...
• Stargate! They will make just about anything into a slots game. TV Shows like Survivor and Sex In The City are popular, and this time I saw one I hadn't seen before based on Stargate SG-1...
Seems a little sci-fi geek esoteric for Vegas, but it ended up being a good game (even though I didn't win any money)! There really needs to be a slots game based on Top Chef or Project Runway!
• Bloody! The perfect Bloody Mary is a difficult beast to track down. Usually because so many place make such bad ones. Imagine my surprise when it was suggested to go to Rainforest Cafe if you want a good Bloody Mary... and they were absolutely right! It's a good mix that's not too spicy and not all watery. AND it comes with potato chips on top! Genius!
• Eat! The best place to eat in Las Vegas? EARL OF SANDWICH at the Miracle Mile Shops in the Planet Hollywood Resort! The franchises are hard to find unless you live in Texas or Florida, and the shop in Las Vegas is the only location in the Western USA. Probably the best sandwich I've ever had. So good I went both days...
Right next door is Pink's, which is funny since I just went there when I was in Los Angeles this past week...
Annnnnd... that's a Vegas weekend in bullets. Well, the parts I can talk about anyway. Because what happens in Vegas...
Posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011
You know how when you go to eat a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup how you have to go through all the hassle of removing that stupid brown paper cup? What a horrible waste of time! Who wants to mess with that crap? I buy Reese's Peanut Butter Cups because I want to eat them... not because I want to play around with stupid paper!
Well, the people at Hershey must have felt my pain and frustration, because they've released NEW Reese's Minis. Tiny little peanut butter cups that are UNWRAPPED, just like God intended...
So now there's no time blown on futzing with that stupid paper cup. You can just tear off the top and pour them into your mouth directly...
Now THAT'S how I eat a Reese's!
Annnnnnnd... SHIT! My entire website is down. Either Media Temple is dicking around with things AGAIN, or Skynet really has become self-aware, and I will never be able to post this entry!
Looks like Blogography has been terminated.
UPDATE: Annnnnnnd... we're back.
Posted on Monday, April 25th, 2011
Most people cite Thanksgiving as the "leftovers holiday" because they end up eating turkey for days afterwards. Others say Christmas is the "leftovers holiday" because they end up eating ham for a week. Neither of these work for me because I'm vegetarian. A vegetarian who eats dairy and eggs. Which is why Easter is my "leftovers holiday." It's hard boiled eggs, egg-salad sandwiches, deviled eggs, and potato-egg salad from here on out...
Not that I'm complaining. I love egg-salad sandwiches!
What I hate? Being the last person to hear a joke.
Which is why an email I got this morning made me a little depressed. I had to actually Google That Shit in order to even realize there was a joke in the first place. How did I become this out of touch with the world? I guess I'll ponder that while having another egg-salad sandwich...
Posted on Tuesday, April 26th, 2011
When I was younger, I loved to cook. I loved to bake. I loved experimenting in the kitchen to come up with something new. But, as the years went by, I had less and less time available for messing around with food. Home-baked bread was replaced by bread-machine bread. And when that got to be too much trouble, I went back to store-bought bread. Things I used to make from scratch were soon replaced by mixes. And when that got to be too much trouble, I just started buying pre-made stuff in the freezer section. It's not as good for me. It's certainly not as fun. But I just don't have the time any more.
But then I got addicted to cooking sites like Foodiddy and baking sites like Joy The Baker, and was assaulted with goodies so amazing-looking that I simply HAD to start baking again. Last night I brought a shit-load of work home with me, but then I happened upon a recipe for Cinnamon-Sugar Pull-Apart Bread from Joy The Baker. It looked too delicious to ignore, so I dropped everything and baked a loaf.
So there I was, eating mind-blowingly delicious Cinnamon-Sugar Pull-Apart Bread while Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was on... all while my pile of work sat there unfinished. And as I thought about how much trouble I was in, I began wondering how many other lives have been ruined by people getting all distracted because of blogs like Foodiddy and Joy The Baker...
If you would like to ruin your life too, you can visit the most excellent cooking blog Foodiddy here. And if that's not enough of a distraction, Joy The Baker can be found here. And you can go here if you want to make that stupidly-awesome Cinnamon-Sugar Pull-Apart Bread.
Posted on Thursday, April 28th, 2011
As anybody who follows me on Twitter is aware, I have been futilely searching for falafel here in Redneckistan. No local restaurants seem to make it. When I ask for it at the stores, few people even know what it is ("What's a floppal?") and I worry that I'm going to be put on a terrorist watch-list when I try to explain it ("Middle Eastern? LIKE IRAQ?"). A couple stores carry a falafel mix that's kinda okay, but it doesn't taste very falafely when I make it. I'd make my own falafel from scratch, but the recipe for it is huge and complex and I'm just not that smart in the kitchen. Yet.
So, basically, if you have a falafel craving in the valley here, you're kinda fucked.
Perfect Falafel Sandwich taken from Joy of Kosher.
Alas, as a vegetarian, I'm used to getting fucked (in a culinary sense).
Take Olive Garden, for instance. Every time I turn around, they're advertising some new special dish that could be vegetarian, but they screw it up some how. A couple weeks ago, it was Cheese-Filled Soffatelli. Yummy-looking pastries filled with cheese and herbs and junk. But the only way to get them? Served with your choice of beef or chicken...
Of course I could always order them without the beef or chicken, but you pay the same price. I tried negotiating an extra Soffatelli instead of the beef or chicken, but "it doesn't come that way." Oh well.
And now their latest creation is Four Cheese Pastachettis. Yummy ribbons of pasta filled with cheese and herbs and junk. But the only way to get them? Served with your choice of sausage or chicken...
I dunno. Maybe next week I'll go and try begging to see if I can get and extra Pastachetti substituted for the meat. Then prepare for the waiter to stare at me like I'm from outer space and tell me "it doesn't come that way."
But, you know... I'd kill for some good Indian food.
Of course, you can't get Indian food in Redneckistan either.
Guess I'll just have a salad.
Posted on Sunday, May 1st, 2011
It's a "Holy crap it feels like somebody shot me in the back!" kind of Bullet Sunday this week. Fortunately I have really good drugs to put me out of my misery so I can (hopefully) get some healing sleep tonight. Let's see how many bullets I have in me before I drop off...
• Quandary. As somebody who attempts to live my life according to Buddhist precepts, it is not possible for me to take joy in the death of any living thing. So call me unAmerican if you wish, but all I can think of today is the chain of events which began on September 11, 2001 and the horrific loss of life which continues to this day because of it. One more death on the pile... no matter how much one believes it was deserved... is not going to suddenly make everything better in my head. And I'm not sure how I should feel about that. About the only thing I can feel right now is regret. Not that an asshole terrorist and mass-murderer is dead, but that humanity has failed so badly for us to have gotten to this point.
• Accomplished? I keep running across people on the internet who are amused that today's news falls precisely eight years after a banner above former president George W. Bush's head declared "Mission Accomplished"...
Am I a tin-hat wearing conspiracy nut if I admit that the first thing that came to mind after first reading this was "Wow. That's really convenient!" Because, seriously, if you wanted to (further) embarrass President Bush over the failure to capture Public Enemy #1 on his watch, wouldn't this be the ideal way to do it? Hmmmmmm. Nah, it's most certainly just a coincidence. Especially when you consider Hitler's death was also announced on a May 1st. Irony can be so ironic sometimes.
• Who? Can I just say that Dr. Who under the brilliant mind of Stephen Moffat has evolved to one of the single best shows ever to air on television? I'm not kidding. The two-part season opener was jaw-droppingly amazing in every possible way...
If you have even a passing interest in really good sci-fi, this show is a must-see.
• Magnum! Another import that's well worth checking out? Magnum ice cream bars! It was just over two years ago I mentioned their advertising featuring Eva Longoria when I was in Germany...
And now they have arrived here in the USA! If you happen across the "Almond" variety, which is covered in chocolate with crazy-delicious large chunks of almonds, it is about the best-tasting thing you'll ever eat. Unless you're allergic to nuts. Then it's about the most deadly thing you'll ever eat.
Annnd... my meds are starting to kick in. That's kind of a bummer, because I didn't get to all the bullets I had jotted down. Oh well. Something to blog about tomorrow, I guess.
Posted on Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
My day in pictures...
Yes. They are real. They are delicious.
"Hey Ferb, I know what we're gonna do today!"
So shark extreme I just can't stand it.
Of all the times to be a vegetarian...
Just don't put it in the microwave.
BODDINGTONS!!! (oblique Friends reference).
Not my photo. Not my inappropriate dessert.
Posted on Thursday, May 26th, 2011
There's something profoundly sad about being in an amazing city like Chicago and having to be stuck indoors working all day long. Even though the weather outside was pretty crappy.
Though I did manage to escape for an hour so that I could have falafel for lunch at a place that Farnsworth recommended last night called BenjYehuda (which, as Mr. Shiny points out, is undoubtedly named after the famous Ben Yudea Street in Jerusalem). It was fantastic falafel to be sure... BUT, it was the greasy bag of super-crispy fries that made this a lunch to be reckoned with...
As I mentioned, the weather during my lunch hour was pretty crappy. Cold, windy, misty, and a little rainy all at the same time. This made for a miserable walk to the falafel shop from the L-stop, and an interesting conversation as I waited for the crosswalk signal to change...
STRANGER: Geez, man, where's your coat?
ME: Eh, I don't need a coat when I'm walking.
STRANGER: Well, you're stopped now! Are you crazy?
ME: Maybe. But what about that guy across the street? He's in a short-sleeve shirt.
STRANGER: Yeah, but he looks cold like he's supposed to. You don't. That's crazy.
No more crazy than any other pedestrian in Chicago, I'd argue.
Mostly because you have to be crazy to be a pedestrian in Chicago in the first place.
Yesterday on our way back from the candy show, the shuttle bus had to make a detour because a woman was laying in the middle of the street. Presumably because she had been hit by a car. I was not the least bit surprised after I was nearly killed while crossing the street five years ago... the drivers here can get pretty dangerous. I didn't see anything about it in the morning paper, so hopefully the woman was okay.
After work it was time for dinner at my favorite pizzaria in Chicago, PIZANO'S! They have a thin-and-crispy buttercrust pizza to die for. As usual, I ate too much, and am now a little bit miserable. Which is no fun when I've got another 4-5 hours of work to do.
Especially when I'd rather be going to the opening night premiere of The Hangover 2. Sure it looks like it's going to be more of the same, but The Hangover was one of my favorite comedies in a long time, so I'm okay with that.
Alas, back to work I go...
Posted on Sunday, May 29th, 2011
It's Bullet Sunday from The Windy City!
• Forecasting. And when I say "windy" I actually mean "stormy with torrential rains." This afternoon there was thunder, lightning, black clouds, and a literal flood pouring from the sky. What's so odd is that the forecast for tomorrow is "mostly sunny" which is almost impossible to believe. But, then again, looking at the extended forecast, impossible weather seems to be a continuing event here over the next week...
Make up your mind, Chicago!
• Thor. Back in the 1980's I was mostly reading DC Comics, with only occasional dalliances with Marvel Comics' stable of characters. All that changed when I got hooked on Walter Simon's absolutely brilliant work on Mighty Thor. His critically acclaimed run on the book was the stuff of legends, and I instantly became a massive fan of the epic stories he was telling there. Eventually Simonson left the book and my interest in the series waned, but I never lost my love of Thor as a character...
Fast-forward to earlier this month, and Marvel has released a massive tome which collects Walter Simon's work and called it the Thor Omnibus. It runs 1200 pages and is almost too big to hold comfortably (it should have been a 2-volume set!). The interior is absolutely stellar, having been completely recolored. They also added 50 pages of bonus material including drawings from Simonson's sketchbook...
If you are a Thor fan, this is essential. If you are not a Thor fan, this book will make you one. Highest possible recommendation.
• Thorified. Which brings us to the brand new Kenneth Branagh-helmed film Thor, a faithful and wholly amazing adaptation of the comic book series. It is a massive, brilliant, totally EPIC film that I simply didn't want to end. Everything from the acting to the special effects to the design to the story was near-flawless...
If I have one complaint, it's that the story seems oddly rushed. What should have taken months to unfold seems to happen in mere days, providing an unrealistic edge to the character development. I don't care who you are, you don't completely change your entire outlook on life in two days, and yet that's exactly what we're given.
Anyway... the movie tells the story of an ancient race of Norse gods who live in Asgard, one of the "Nine Realms" of our universe. One of these gods is Thor, a vain and arrogant warrior who is due to succeed his father Odin as king. But all this changes when Thor makes a big mistake and ends up being banished from Asgard to "Midgard" which we know as earth. Love, loss, and adventure ensue.
I gotta hand it to Marvel Comics here. First Iron Man came along and blew me away. Now Thor. Next up is Captain America, which looks even more amazing. And then there's X-Men: First Class which looks like it's going to kick all kinds of ass and finally make up for the totally shitty X-Men films that came before. All this will culminate with The Avengers in 2012 which has the potential to redefine the word "epic"... especially with Joss Whedon behind it. All in all, this is a great time to be a comic book fan.
• Bridesmaids. Even with all the critical acclaim and internet love, I was still wary of going to see Bridesmaids. Too many times the things other people think of as being "funny" I just think of as being "stupid" and a big waste of time. And then along comes Kristen Wiig's answer to The Hangover. And it's actually funny. And more than a little touching. But mostly entertaining...
Wiig plays Annie whose best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is getting married and wants her to be her maid of honor. Hilarity ensues. And while there are moments where it felt like an SNL skit that goes on way too long had been shoehorned into the plot, overall I really enjoyed the story. Probably because it went for "funny-smart" instead of "funny-stupid." Add to that a really good cast, and you've got a movie actually worth your valuable time.
Assuming you're an adult who can appreciate an R-rated movie with occasional lapses into gross-out humor.
• Pasta. I seem to be going through a ravioli renaissance. I stopped eating the stuff (despite it being one of the things on an Italian menu I could eat) because it always ended up being gummy and squidgy. The last Wednesday I had some of the best cheese ravioli in my life at Piccolo Sogno... followed by an amazing dish of butternut squash ravioli tonight at Prasino. Apparently the greater Chicagoland area knows how to make the stuff. Which is little help as I head back home where nobody seem to know how to make it very well at all.
And speaking of home... I suppose it's time to finish up my work, pack my bags, check in for my flight, and post this blog entry so I can fly out tomorrow. Hopefully in better weather than today.
Posted on Thursday, June 9th, 2011
After I got out of the movies last night I was wanting ice cream, but it was really late and so I decided to ignore my craving for the vile stuff and dream about it instead.
This morning when I woke up my ice cream obsession still there, so I decided to drop by a mini-mart on the way to the studio. I ended up buying a Chocolate-Almond Magnum Ice Cream Bar and a bag of "Original" Taco-Flavored Doritos for breakfast. When I got to work, I tore into them so fast that I think I broke the sound barrier...
So there I was eating ice cream and Doritos when I look up and see that a little boy waiting for the school bus is looking at me through the window and screaming "HE'S EATING ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST!!"
Soon a bunch of kids were pressed against the window pointing and staring at me as I sat there with Dorito-breath and ice cream smeared on my face. Not really wanting to be children's entertainment so early in the morning, I waved goodbye then retreated to the back of the studio so I could eat in peace.
As I was sucking the last remaining bits of chocolate off the ice cream stick and dumping the Dorito crumbs in my mouth, I was starting to feel guilty for being such a bad influence on kids... until I remembered that they were going to public school where they would undoubtedly be snorting cocaine off the bathroom toilet seats, looking at porn in the computer lab, and getting wasted off cheap liquor on the bus-ride home. I'm guessing at least one of the kids was having an affair with his teacher or had gotten a fellow classmate pregnant. All of them had probably been to rehab, and half likely had a police record.
Sure they looked eight years old, but the little bugger grow up so fast now-a-days.
Ah the innocence of youth.
Posted on Monday, June 20th, 2011
Now that groceries are so obscenely expensive, I'm far less confident and creative in the kitchen. I follow recipes exactly as they're written because I'm too worried about something turning out bad and having to throw it out. I just can't afford that kind of waste when a sack of food costs $50.
So when I got a hankerin' for potato salad this past weekend I needed to find a recipe because I've never made it before. After a recommendation and research, I settled on "Myron Mixon's Killer Potato Salad." Apparently the guy is a famous chef and his potato salad is award-winning and stuff.
Anyway, as I was following the recipe to the letter, a number of questions popped up.
Like... the recipe says to boil the potatoes whole, then cut them up after cooking. This sounded silly to me. Potatoes are oddly-sized and cook unevenly. Wouldn't it be better to cut them into uniform pieces BEFORE boiling so they all cook at the same speed? But I didn't want to goof up so I did as the recipe instructed. The bigger ones ended up a bit tough in the center and the little ones were a bit mooshy, but whatever.
Like... the recipe says to add a tablespoon of salt to the dressing. This seemed excessive for two cups' worth of dressing. But, I didn't want to question an expert on how to season potato salad, so I did as the recipe instructed. My expensive potato salad ended up tasting like a salt lick, but whatever.
I spent a lot of money on the ingredients ($6.79 for a tiny bottle of dill alone!) so I didn't want to throw it out. But eating it was out of the question because my lips were burning from all the salt. My solution was to make another batch of salt-free potato salad and mix the two batches. But this time I cut the potatoes before boiling. And I seasoned to taste instead of by measure. Now it tastes great!
And now I've got a shit-load of potato salad in the refrigerator. I'm going to be eating the stuff every day for a month. And yet, I'm okay with that because I didn't have to throw anything in the garbage...
I guess sometimes when the ingredients are expensive, it pays to question the recipe.
I guess sometimes when the stakes are high, it pays to break the rules.
I guess sometimes when the situation is bad, you have to start over.
I guess sometimes I need to be reminded of that.
Posted on Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
My doctor-prescribed diet consists primarily of... shit.
I eat shit for breakfast. Shit for lunch. Shit for dinner, and... if I'm really good... shit for dessert. And it's not so much that I mind eating healthy shit in an effort to actually be healthy, it's that there are other factors at play. Like the heat. It's been crazy hot lately. I am laying in bed right now at 10:30pm with a fan pointed at my head and two ice-packs under my neck. As if that weren't enough, my workload has been insane. From 5:00pm Friday until 8:00am this morning I logged 37 hours. Some three-day weekend.
Which is to say that the prospect of coming home to a shit sandwich* for dinner was unacceptable. At least tonight it was.
So I decided to ignore my doctor and go out to a restaurant so I could eat actual shit, filled with all those things I'm supposed to be avoiding.
And it was delicious.
Even if it was just the Olive Garden.
* I'm not meaning a literal shit sandwich here... mostly because I'm not allowed to have bread.
Posted on Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
The drive to Spokane is not a particularly pleasant one.
It's long, it's boring, and it's filled with more nothing than a person really wants to deal with. So whenever I have work there, a wave of dread washes over me. Don't get me wrong... Spokane's a terrific city... I just hate the drive.
But there is a reward at the end of this tedious journey. Because Spokane is where the Best Pizza in the Universe can be found. The mind-numbing hours of driving through vast open spaces isn't so bad knowing that a couple slices of my favorite pizza ever will be waiting for me. It's pretty much all I can think about the entire trip...
David's Pizza's Masterpiece... The DaVinci!
But there would be no pizza waiting for me today.
After nearly three hours of mind-numbing boredom, there would be no reward for the drive.
As usual, I don't pass GO, I don't collect $200... I don't even check into my hotel room... I head straight for David's Pizza only to find...
It's just gone.
And as I sat there in my car staring at the mounds of dirt and rubble that used to be one of my favorite places on earth to eat... I just didn't know what to do with myself. Life had suddenly become meaningless and impossible.
Apparently they will be opening up at a new location "soon," but that doesn't do me much good now.
Now that I am abandoned and pizza-less.
Now that all I have to console me are memories.
Posted on Friday, August 19th, 2011
Today I had to make the long drive back home from Spokane.
WITH NO DAVID'S PIZZA FOR THE ROAD!
Oh how I used to love road pizza. Remember road pizza? I remember road pizza. Nothing makes a long drive fly by like road pizza. Except perhaps Jägermeister and cocaine. But Oprah says you shouldn't drive while drunk and high, so I guess that wouldn't work.
Except Oprah doesn't drive at all. She has a chauffeur drive her ass around! So who the hell is Oprah to tell me that Jägermeister and cocaine is a bad substitute for road pizza? She's probably drunk and high in the back of her stretch limo all the time! If I had Oprah-money, I know I would be.
I really miss road pizza...
Mmmmmm... yummy road pizza!
Don't miss Oprah though.
Last night I went to Famous Ed's, which is a sports bar run by the same people that run David's Pizza. They had my beloved "Da Vinci" pizza, so I ordered up a pie...
It looked kind of like David's. It had a taste that was reminiscent of David's, but... not so much.
For one thing, they added clove garlic to it, so the subtle flavors in the pesto were destroyed. For another thing, the feta cheese had too many crumbs, so it was also too salty. Something was off with the crust too. Not that it was a bad pizza per se, but it just wasn't David's.
Oh well. Better than nothing, I guess.
Hopefully they'll re-open at their new location soon and the universe will go back to normal.
And I can go back to having my road pizza.
Posted on Monday, September 12th, 2011
Photo by Reddit user fybpm
Time for a trip to Taco Bell. Three Doritos tacos, substitute rice for beef please!
Posted on Thursday, September 15th, 2011
After a boring two-hour drive to the coast...
Dinner... just pump it!
Dessert... just fry it!
Posted on Monday, November 21st, 2011
It's Bullet Sunday on Monday from the great state of Georgia!
• Hurt! After arriving at the gate of Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, I was pulling my backpack from the overhead bin when some guy decided he simply couldn't wait for me to get out of the way... and pulled down his pack right into my face. He had some kind of wooden easel or tripod attached, which ended up scraping across my eyelid. So now I've got a good cut there that's nice and swollen. His excuse to being such a dick? "Sorry, I've got a tight connection." And if my eye would have been poked out? Well, he's got a tight connection, so sorry about that. I swear that manners and courtesy go right out the window when people get on an airplane. The really terrible part? This is not the first time somebody has nailed me while retrieving their crap.
• Dino! Since my work was pushed back until late Monday, this left me all day Sunday to goof off in Atlanta. I started out by visiting The Fernbank Museum of Natural History, as suggested by Coal Miner's Granddaughter and The Muskrat...
It's a very cool museum... though a bit expensive at $17.50. As a holiday bonus, a group of young girls were dancing Christmas-themed ballet amongst the dinosaur skeletons in the main atrium. I wish I could say that was the oddest thing I've seen in a museum but, alas, no.
• Shop! From the museum I went to the Lenox Square Mall so I could go to The Apple Store. Along the way, I passed the shameless PC-based copy that is The Microsoft Store. Inside there were a handful of customers and a small group of employees. Once I got to The Apple Store, however... madness. Dozens of employees were helping wall-to-wall customers. The place was packed. And while there were a lot of people just looking, a good chunk of them were buying, as customers were leaving the store with Macintosh computer boxes and Apple-logo bags at a steady clip.
This is kind of an odd turn of events given the sorry state Apple was in just fourteen years ago. I remember a time when there was a very real possibility that Apple was going to fail...
Microsoft isn't going to lose their massive PC market share over Apple any time soon, but it's nice to see how well Apple is doing now-a-days after being an underdog for so long.
• Pig! In previous years coming to Atlanta during the holiday season, I was introduced to Priscilla The Pink Pig. It's a train ride for kids that is put on by Macy's each year. As you might imagine, it's a very big deal. And, if you must know, I'm kind of obsessed with The Pink Pig...
One of these years I'm going to ride that pig. Probably because my love of Invader Zim demands it...
• Eat! Copasetic Beth and Houston's Problem were kind enough to join me for dinner at The Varsity. For anybody unfamiliar with this Atlanta institution, it's "The World's Largest Drive-In Restaurant" located near Georgia Tech. Their menu is pretty limited and not very vegetarian-friendly, but they have a "Frosted Orange Drink" that I love, so I end up eating there every once in a while...
What makes the place interesting is that employees accepting orders will start screaming "WHAT'LL YA HAVE? WHAT'LL YA HAVE? WHAT'LL YA HAVE? at the top of their lungs when they're ready for their next customer. The first time I ate here (again with Copasetic Beth and Houston's Problem), the woman at the counter yelled "HAVE YOUR ORDER IN MIND AND YOUR MONEY IN HAND" at me as I approached the counter. For people not accustomed to it, this can be a little intimidating. But, given the sheer volume of customers streaming into the place, they have to do what they can to keep the line moving...
With practice, I now know to pass over my $5 while saying "GIMME A REGULAR F.O. AND FRIES!" so I don't get an eye-roll by not being ready and not knowing how to order properly...
It's like an Orange Creamsicle in a cup, and oh so delicious!
• Sew! When I was fairly young, my grandmother taught me how to sew. She figured I should know how to hem a pair of pants or repair a tear if I had to. I was never really good at it, but I did manage to use what skills I had to make Halloween costumes and stuff...
Since sewing is a handy thing to know how to do, I've always wanted to take a class so I could be better at it. The problem is that enrolling in a class requires you to be at a certain place at a certain time and adhere to a class schedule in a way my work and travel makes impossible. Enter Whipstitch and her e-courses, which allow me to take a "virtual class" which is a lot more flexible. The reason I bring this up is that you can now pre-purchase any of the 2012 courses (including the Sewing Basics class I'll be taking) for just $99... which is up to 45% off the regular price! If you've ever wanted to bone up on your sewing skills... or learn something new with the skills you already have... you can get all the details over at the Whipstitch Blog!
And now I should probably try and get some rest since there's no telling what time I'm going to be woken up for work.
Posted on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011
Work ended hours earlier than I thought it would at 8:45pm. This was a pleasant surprise, and meant I could drive back to Atlanta tonight and not have to worry about heading back tomorrow on the day of my flight. But my injured eyelid was killing me... I had been up since 4:00am and was exhausted... and it was raining hard with lightning strikes... so I decided to just grab me some dinner and go to bed.
At least this was the plan as I pulled into a 24-hour restaurant.
After being ignored when I walked in the door, I was finally told to grab a table and they'd be right with me. But nobody was right with me. Everybody wandered off. I tried to get the attention of the one girl who was left, but she just rolled her eyes at me and walked away. I'm a fairly level-headed guy, but After TEN FULL MINUTES of being completely ignored, my anger was at the boiling point.
I said "SCREW THIS!" and walked out.
Which I have only done twice in my entire life.
Fueled by rage, I was no longer hurting. No longer tired. No longer giving a shit about the pouring rain. I just wanted to get the hell out of Dodge.
So I packed up my shit and drove the hour-forty back to Atlanta.
One of the reasons I love The South is the genuine Southern hospitality here. These people aren't faking it. Most of the time I feel like family when meeting total strangers because they're just so dang nice. I expect to walk into a restaurant and feel like I'm at home because that's how it's been every other time I've eaten at a restaurant here.
So when bullshit like this happens, I'm understandably pissed off.
On the way back I stopped off at a Waffle House in the city of Griffin and had me a couple fried egg sammies, which were delicious. And served by a friendly, attentive, hard-working staff...
I tipped well. Not being ignored puts me in a generous mood. And now I am taking my generous mood to bed, where hopefully I can sleep-in tomorrow morning.
I'm taking an Excedrin PM, so my fingers are crossed...
Posted on Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
Dear Pizza Hut,
I love Pizza Hut breadsticks.
When I travel, I often times go from Pizza Hut to Pizza Hut so I can have your delicious breadsticks with their oh-so-crusty buttery tops covered in parmesan cheese that I love to dip in that rich, thick, sweetly flavorful red sauce. It's deliciousness I can count on no matter where I go... from London to Sydney to Tokyo to locations all over the good ol' USA. I write songs with Pizza Hut breadsticks in them. Most days I can honestly say that I'd rather have an order of Pizza Hut breadsticks than chocolate cake...
I wish I had Pizza Hut delivery in my small city, but I don't. My local Pizza Hut is thirty-five minutes away. I don't eat there very often because it's inconveniently located and usually requires a special trip. But tonight I was craving breadsticks, so I made a detour to get some.
Let me start out by saying that my server was excellent. She didn't just make me feel good about eating at Pizza Hut... she made me feel good about life. She was capable, friendly, helpful, energetic, enthusiastic, and knew exactly how to provide flawless, attentive service without being smothering. It was delightful.
But then the breadsticks came and I noticed something was wrong.
The sauce wasn't that luscious rich red color. It was kind of brownish-orangeish-red. It looked sad.
Then I went to dip a breadstick in it, and saw that it was thin and watery... not thick at all. This had the disastrous effect of turning my crispy breadstick soggy in the middle no matter how fast I took a bite after dipping.
And then I tasted it. Bland, uninspired, boring.
Are you now serving regular-old pizza sauce with your sticks instead of that sweet, succulent, scrumptiously zesty red sauce I know and love? Is that what's happening?
I sure hope not.
I hope this was just some terrible, terrible mistake. A temporary lapse of judgement, perhaps.
In this world gone mad, there's very few things people can count on. Delicious Pizza Hut breadsticks with red sauce is one of them. If that's no longer the case, then shame on you for taking a little happiness out of the universe at a time when we so desperately need it.
Right now all I can think about is my next visit to Pizza Hut and whether or not my beloved breadsticks will come with that wonderful sauce that makes life a little more bearable. I'm actually scared to go to Pizza Hut again in case it doesn't.
In happier news, there was a wonderful Google Doodle tribute to one of my all-time favorite artists, Diego Rivera, today...
If only I could Google up some real Pizza Hut breadsticks. Instead I'll just have to dream about them.
Posted on Monday, December 12th, 2011
I caught some crap for this old blog post today.
Some people are really serious about their wine, I guess. I thought I could get out of it by saying "I was only joking," but then I re-read the entry and realized that I wasn't. Oh well.
When I got home from work I was hungry but nothing sounded good to eat. Well, nothing here sounded good to eat. I would have killed for some Patatjes Met from the Netherlands. Or a Puka Dog from Hawaii. Or a plate of authentic Fettucini Alfredo from Rome. Or Pizano's Pizza and an America's Dog from Chicago. Or even just a Johnny Rockets veggie burger from Seattle...
But what I really wanted was something I can't even have any more... even if I went to Salt Lake City to get it... I WANT BIG CITY SOUP!! But it closed down years ago...
I hate it when that happens.
I hear they're making a Big City Soup Cookbook or something, but it wouldn't be the same.
I ended up having Peanut Butter M&M's and a Svenhard's butterhorn with a can of Coke...
Yo! Svenhard's... BUTTERHORN is ONE WORD, NOT TWO!