Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What is wrong with that sentence?

Q: What was my highlight of Tuesday?
A: My ability to say one of the weirdest sentences aloud.

There have been quite a few quazi-blogworthy life experiences since my last post:
  • The My Morning Jacket Concert
  • Rekindling my affair with John Madden
  • Completing the 3rd (Jimmy Smits-riffic) season of Dexter
  • My ability to finally see Inception before having it told me me
I might get to those.... I'll hopefully get to those... later...

It was a single sentence that made me want to fire up this blog again. Said, of course, by yours truly. Don't worry about what was said before or after the 100% true statement. Easily the most ridiculous thing I've said in quite some time, I must assure you that every aspect of it is truthful:
My friend's Dad, a part time clown, fell off his tricycle - a recumbent tricycle - and into a ditch because he had gotten caught up in the marching band that was ahead of him in a Wisconsin parade.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Have you been to Burt's Place or Kuma's Corner?

Q: Can food live up to its hype?
A: In the case of a particular pizza and burger joint, no question yes.

After reading the Yelp reviews of Burt's Place, I would not have been surprised if I was asked, "What's the password?" upon entry. The reviews are entertaining in their own right - almost as good as it's pizza. Almost. Burt, of "Burt's Place," is lovingly compared to the "Soup Nazi" character from Seinfeld. The association is from the operators' extreme ordering guidelines.

Imagine a pizza place that does not accept walk in business. Imagine a pizza place where all orders are called in about 24 hours in advance. Imagine a pizza place when they sit you already knowing what you are ordering and serve every single slice to you personally. That should create a nice canvas from which you can paint a picture of the experience of Burt's Place. The actual image of the picture - you'll just have to go there and eat the pizza to get that info.

For years I had heard of the allure of this hidden gem of Morton Grove. Finally, after a friend of mine had been taken there by another - he organized a campaign. I won't go out and say it's my A#1 favorite pizza of all time, but it was great beyond expectation (and the expectations from those Yelp reviews was rather high).
* * * *

I also heard many friends talk up Kuma's Corner (Yelp reviews here) as being the best burger place in Chicago. The hardship attributed to this place revolves around the constant demand creating long wait times (one hour is considered a short, if not normal, wait time). Last September I had stupidly attempted to eat there. The attempt was stupid because I had given myself an impossible small time window to try it (I could not wait 90 minutes that evening, had to get to The Bowling Party of Lebowski Fest).

Similar to the Burt's Place experience, it was a friend who has pushed the Kuma's initiative. To paraphrase it was like a I'm going to Kuma's on Thursday - I don't care how long it takes, you in? This friend is also a kickball teammate, and we have been walking by Kuma's Corner nearly every Thursday since April looking at the many people impatiently (newcomers) and patiently (veterans) waiting outside. We'd constantly remark at how good that place must be to have as many people willing to wait. Our curiosity about its hype finally reached its tipping point.

It was, without question, the best burger I have ever had. No contest. Also as nearly amazing was it's low cost of just $10 for an extremely large (and of gigantic quality) burger.
* * * *
Yes, I'm not mentioning exactly what I had at both places. This post is more about the reputation of these two establishments, and how in both cases they performed beyond their charged task.

Go there. Go to both places. You can thank me later.

I plan on taking the same two people that were with me at Kuma's Corner to Burt's place before this month ends (both have never been to Burt's before). I think I'll be going back to Kuma's Corner next in September (LF is coming back!).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What tragedy missed you by minutes?

Q: What happened on July 14, 2005?
A: A woman, attempting to commit suicide, ran a red light and killed 3 people.

Five years ago my friend Adam and I went out to lunch.
Our destination was a pizza joint up Dempster Road in Skokie.
We got there, had our lunch, and came back.
But there was a large commotion that delayed our prompt return.
All we were able to see, when we finally got through, was an overturned Mustang.

The next day we learned what happened: it was a suicide attempt.
A 23 year old model tried to kill herself by intentionally crashing her car.
She survived, but the 3 people in the Civic she hit did not.
All three were musicians, and all three worked at a nearby music equipment company.
(very nearby, like - drive past the architecturally unique building every day nearby)
Adam and I couldn't help but think what if...
What if we had left for lunch a little later, or left the pizza place a little earlier?
Would we have been in that car's path?
In 2007, the driver was found guilty, but mentally ill.

One of the three that died had a fund started through the Music Institute of Chicago:
The Doug Meis Gifted Artists of Tomorrow Scholarship Fund.
This Saturday is a benefit at Lincoln Hall for this scholarship.
Doug Meis was the drummer for exo, the headlining band.
This is how I was reminded of this tragedy tonight.
By simply scanning my favorite venue for upcoming concerts.

The memory brought quite a sense of pause to me tonight.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Did your Postapalooza dreams come true?

Q: How was the Cut Copy concert?
A: Very Fun (<-understatement) I've mentioned Cut Copy many times, for example:
They are a band I saw first in March 2009. I remember it was a Wednesday night because I chose the show over my usual basketball game. I also remembered wondering if I had expelled more calories at the show from dancing and sweating. I knew exactly what to expect from this show. I wanted to hear my favorite songs from their first album, I wanted to hear songs for the first time from their upcoming second album, and I wanted to hear most of all the single "Sands of Time" that was released in the meantime... It's so beautiful when an act lives up to every single one of your expectations! And I was never in doubt the entire time.

Although some may have objected to the late night start of the show, it worked out great for me. First off, I only worked a half a day (summer hours rule). After a leisurely afternoon nap that was a vital recharge, I was able to watch the season finale of Friday Night Lights before heading to pick up my friend. Left my place around 9:30 PM, Picked up my friend just after 10, strolled into Metro about twenty minutes before the show started. (It actually started early, by the way, at 10:50)

To read the latest example of how good looking, drunk, party girls often distract me and almost ruin every concert I'm at from endless inner monologue and second guessing - please read my other post inspired by that night.

To read a review of the opening act, check out the Dragonette post on Mountie Rock.

Cut Copy finally hit the stage at about 12:10. At that time there were about two people separating me from the front of the stage. From the get-go I was in uber-rare dancing form. Much to the dismay of MySister, it takes a Perfect Storm of situations to get me to dance (especially when I am stone cold, not a drop in me, sober). Nonetheless, I was probably a horrible sight. For certain I was an awful sight after their set was done, when I walked out of that place at 1:30 AN in a shirt drenched in sweat. But I also had a smile a mile wide. For my highlight was how the show ended.

Like I said, I was standing in "the unofficial third row" of standees - but by about the forty minute mark I had made my way to the very front. Only a steel barricade and a short bay for photographers separated me from the act. This was possible as most of the people ahead of me were at Lollapalooza earlier in the day, and have drunk the stamina right out of them. You leave for the bathroom, I step closer (thank you). The last three songs they performed were my three favorite songs I know of theirs. During the break before the encore, which was after "Hearts on Fire (click this YouTube link to get a good sense of what the scene was like!) "but before "Sands of Time" and "Out There On The Ice Again" we chanted Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Also, at one point of this epic three song section of the concert: I literally jumped out of one of my shoes.

In the days following this show, I've been watching random Lolla video uploads (like this one) and both smiling from my memories and already wanting them to return!

Monday, August 9, 2010

What did you win?

Q: Shouldn't I have been prepared with a line?
A: No doubt.

This story is mainly about the T-Shirt I'm wearing in the above picture. It's my new favorite shirt. I found it at the WHY Louisville gift shop for 50% off in Kentucky last month. The shirt has a picture of a trophy below the cursively written word, "Winner!" I wore this shirt to a concert I attended recently.

When my friend went to the bar to grab himself a beer, a woman approached me.
I had noticed her almost instantly when I first approached the stage of the Metro.
She was one of three people. One was a taller than me black guy, his apparent girlfriend, and her. She might have been a third wheel? Something we know for certain: she was drunk. (She was probably sauced from attending Lollapalooza earlier in the day - this story takes place at an official Lollapallooza After Party concert)

For those just tuning in, I've been known to foster instant affinities with these types. In fact, the friend of mine who left to grab a beer moments before this story took place is also the same one who witnessed the infamous "ordering wine at a pop concert" girl.

I'm by myself, nobody within 8 or so feet of me in all directions... Not many people have showed up yet for this show... The threesome earlier described are by themselves at the front of the stage. The apparent couple starts a very "close talking" conversation exiling the third friend. With her heels on, she couldn't be more than 5'5" and has dirty blond hair and an attractive physique.

Slightly Hot but More Drunk Girl: What did you win?
TQ: (pause)
SHMDG: (blinks... then nods to my chest, which is still above her eye level)
TQ: (pausing... still) I'm a winner in life.
SHMDG: Oh... okay... (turns around to head back to her two friends)
TQ: Thanks.

And that's it sports fans. Welcome to the latest example of my complete incompetence. Why couldn't I have just thanked her from the start and asked her name? As a different friend would ask me the next night, "Why would you wear such a goofy shirt without knowing what to say when called upon it?"

Well Dude, we just don't know.

Did I regret my inaction more when I saw her fistpumping during Dragonette's set? Of course I did.
Was all my regret washed away when the time between her trips to the restroom began decreasing rapidly to the point that she never returned for the last half of Cut Copy's set? Not all of it. She might have been a landmine of trouble I didn't need, but I'm still relatively upset at myself.

The good news is that I had an unbelievably great time at this concert. Who knows how I would have enjoyed myself with the cancer of thinking about what to say to that girl after the concert existed. Nope, I decided to just throw away every single "chance" I might have had with her right away. I'll live to act stupidly another day (since I'm still without a line to say while wearing that shirt, I and love it too much to stop wearing it in public).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How great was July?

Q: What were my weekend highlights from July 2010?
A: A Beer, A Dude, A Pig and a Bear.

It's kinda odd how my July began this year. The "4th of July holiday weekend" was easily the most ho-hum of the month. It wasn't even a three day weekend for me (as it was for most, but I worked Monday July 5). Although, in its own way Sunday July 4 was great as MySister (who also didn't really want to go to any picnic or fireworks party) came over to see my newish HDTV to have a mini movie marathon. She brought over Swedish fish, we had dinner from Panera, all was great.

After receiving annual "you should go with us!" invitations from friends I finally got to go to Barrington Brew Fest. It was a jewel of suburban adventure. Also, it was a perfect display of Metra knowhow. Walked over to the Des Plaines Metra Station to take the train to Palatine. Off to meet up with more people to have a, you guessed it, pulled pork BBQ sandwich at Durty Nellie's before hopping back on the train bound for Barrington. The Brew Fest is held in the Barrington's Metra stop parking lot. Once the 4 hours of sampling the local microbrews we went back home via the Metra. This time we stopped at Mount Prospect on the way home to have dinner at Blues Bar. The night ended with the final leg of my Metra voyage back to The City of Destiny. For those of you scoring at home, that single $7 Metra weekend pass funded the Des Plaines - Palatine - Barrington / Barrington - Mount Prospect - Des Plaines itinerary.

The weekend following was my vacation to Louisville. I won't bore you again here with the events of that weekend. Since there's ample info on the other blog I write.

Last weekend wad the 3rd Annual Pig Roast. You might have already seen the pictures from it, but have you seen the video?

Finally, yesterday July 31, the month got closed out with another nice venture. A few friends and I went to Bourbonnais, Illinois. This is where the Chicago Football Bears of the National Football League's North Division have their training camp. The team held a public practice on Saturday night, free of charge, for its fans. It was the second straight year we went to "Bearbonnais."

From the outside, it's rather low key - glaringly apparent from the stark signs on the road leading up to the campsite:

Those signs could be for Jellystone Park for all you know.

Once inside, there's a little more of the over the top Beardom you'd expect to see like giant inflatable objects and words not normally in "Bear Font":

As for the actual practice?
It's difficult to to evaluate.
For one, it's very early in the training camp - maybe it gets more intense as the season draws closer?

The crowd wasn't nearly as large as it was last year. Of course, last year was the Debutante Ball introducing Jay Cutler to the drooling masses. This year, after a interception heavy Bear debut, the feeling was a little more reserved.

The highlight, and I use that term loosely, of the practice was when the quarterback crew came over to where we were seated to practice shuffle passes (I like the below picture, with new assistant coach Mike Martz monitoring):

But the fun isn't about seeing Bears up close. It certainly isn't seeing the many minutes of large men stretching while laying on their backs.

The fun is realizing that football season is about to start. The fun is getting in a car with friends to make bold, if not sarcastic, predictions about the upcoming year. And the fun will be watching this team throughout the year with friends. I for one, can't wait until the team tries to run that shuffle toss play.

We also saw the defense practice.

I didn't get a picture of a D-Line pass rush drill that featured a very angry #97 Mark Anderson head slapping linemen dummies. It was a move that I thought had been outlawed since Deacon Jones left the league.

The last picture I have to share - Rod Marinelli: