Sunday, April 27, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
"It's days like this that you want a little adventure, find some place new that you haven't been before" I thought. So I walked up Clark street and passed a couple interesting places, but one kind of stood out in my mind. So, I retraced my steps and found it.
It was kind of a seedy place, full of boisterous people and quite crowded. The interesting thing is that as you passed the place on the sidewalk, I seem to remember a guy there who was kind of on the street, trying to bring people into the place. The same sort of guy that you'd see at a carnival trying to get you to play one of their rigged games. The bar itself had a name, I can't remember exactly what it was, but something like Tom's or Bob's - a very common sort of name.
As you entered the door, you turned left and had to ascend a flight of stairs to get into the joint. Loud voices cascaded down the stairway, and it was apparent the people were having a good, if slightly drunken, time.
As I got to the top of the stairs, I saw that the place was basically a bar. A bit smokey perhaps, but not oppressively so.
"How many?" a guy, I assume Tom or Bob or whatever his name was, yelled out to me
"What?" I asked
"It's Taco Thursday......how many you want?" The guy said
It was then that I noticed he was standing behind a table that was in the middle of the room. Pans with those little flame in a can things were there, and they held the best looking fixin's for chicken tacos that I had seen in a while. I looked up at Tom/Bob's face and he was beaming like he could read my mind. I could tell that he knew I thought those tacos looked awesome.
"Weird", I thought, "A Tom/Bob dude with the best tacos in town"
I told Tom/Bob I'd have three. Three chicken tacos.
"And get yerself a beer to with them" he said. Man, this guy was running the place like it was a midday party. I had the sense that maybe I bit more off than I could chew, but what the hell, I was there, the tacos looked excellent, and I had wanted a bit of an adventure.
Tom/Bob gave me my plate, I found a beer in my hand, and worked my way across the room, to an adjoining room where there were some extra seats. As I entered, I noticed this room was much different. There were only a couple other people in there, and they were just quietly eating their tacos. A couple of them stared at me as I walked in. I figured I should just eat my lunch and then get back to the office. I didn't like the vibe of this new room at all.
I don't recall eating the tacos, and as for the beer, I have no memory of drinking it. But there in front of me was an empty plate and glass.
I felt a little woozy.
"Oh, oh, this doesn't seem right" I thought.
As I got up to leave and re-entered Tom/Bob's room. People were looking at me a little weird. I think some may have been laughing at me. I couldn't really tell for sure, and to be honest, I didn't really care. I just wanted to leave.
I found my way to the stairs, and with heavy steps I trudged down to the main entrance and pushed the door open to Clark street.
It was dark outside.
And Clark street was nowhere to be found.
As I left the building I came out into a very run-down industrial sort of area. There were warehouses, some parked cars and a few people milling about, but not much else. "Holy shit, where am I?" I thought.
I started walking. I figured I'd better move like I knew where I was and like I had a purpose before someone figured out I was in trouble. They'd sense my weakness and I'd be finished!
I walked a block, maybe two. None of the streets were familiar. No Monroe, Madison, Washington, or anything that I was expecting. I did see an entrance ramp for something called the Boreman Parkway, but I had no idea what that was, and it certainly wasn't in downtown Chicago.
"Pursuit" I heard a voice behind me, but kept walking
"Pursuit" It was there again, and I turned around. It couldn't really get a whole lot worse at this point.
There behind me was a beautiful black woman. I remember thinking that her skin was perfect, almost radiant. She wore a simple, perfectly white dress.
"You're lost, aren't you" she said
I could hardly speak. Yes, I was lost. I was dizzy, disoriented, and to be honest not just a little bit frightened.
"Turnaround Pursuit. You need to get back to the city. Just look for the tall shining buildings" she said as she pointed skyward. I could see them off in the distance. How had I gotten so far?
"Here, come with me, I help you get started" She was so nice, so comforting I felt I could trust her. So I began walking with her and I started to feel better. Maybe things would be OK!
As we walked back towards the building that I had come out of I noticed that she had something in her hands. It was a card, or a sign - like those that limo drivers are holding at the airport when they are there to pick up their riders.
Something was written on her card, and although she was being casual about it, I could also tell that she was trying to prevent me from being able to read the sign. In a moment I caught only a glimpse, but it was enough.
"Pursuit - Ohare" was what it said.
At that moment, I woke up to an overwhelming sense of dread
Sunday, April 20, 2008
I've always been a sucker for a tightly crafted, well written pop song. There were several that I thought about posting today since its 60 degrees and sunny outside, but the one that I just can't get enough of is the title track from one of my all-time favorite movies, "That Thing You Do!"
This tune has it all, in just under three and a half minutes: Terrific lyrics about love, a catchy riff that never seems to tire, great harmonies, and of course, a beat you can dance to. The movie itself evokes the magic of a time when just the right song could change the world and propel the band's members to a destiny they didn't know awaited them. It didn't hurt that Tom Hank's omnipresent management was there to provide a guiding hand either. Enjoy
Monday, April 14, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Allow me to set the scene for you. It is 645p.m. Saturday night. In my kitchen are 8 13 year old girls, here to celebrate PD2's 13th birthday - which was actually 2 months ago. That is another story. At any rate, I just left them with pre-maid pizza crusts, the fixin's for pizza and two hot ovens. Worried? Me? Not a chance. And the screaming that I'm hearing sounds, for the most part, like happy kind of screaming.
We'll see on that.
Any way, I am opening a very special bottle tonight. It seems that fellow commenter over at the Functional Ambivalent, Wally, is a major wine guy. Recently, he revealed a particular wine that has been fascinating him, and well, one thing led to another and Wally and I met on the streets of Chicago this past week to exchange two wine bottles. The wine of choice:
2004Three Rings Barossa Valley Shiraz Reserve. Wally tells me that the highly over rated Robert Parker has rated this baby a 96, which probably means it is a full bodied, blow the back of your head off sort of new world wine. And let me be clear, while I favor old world wines by a long stretch, I can appreciate Parker blow the back of your head off wine too. So we'll see if my expectation is correct, if Wally's recommendation is good, and if Parker still has any taste buds left!
First, the opening. This recently has become more of a disappoint for me. The 3 Rings, as with many other wines, has gone to a screw top. Let me be clear, while this is no indication of the quality of the wine, it is an abomination none-the-less. The opening of the wine, which used to require special tools, and bit of performance and style, and ultimately a satisfying pop, added to the overall experience. Unscrewing a bottle, just ain't the same my friends. Still, I persevere.
The wine has been in my "cellar" for the past three days. So it is at cellar temperature now. I plan to open it, give a sense of the wine right out of the bottle, and then also see how it pairs with dinner tonight. Since this is a shiraz, I've decided to go with a simple steak, hash browns and roasted vegetable medley pairing.
So lets see how this baby tastes.
Out of the bottle this is a strong wine. I haven't tasted it yet, but the nose is quite nice. Fruit forward, with some chocolate and mineral back tones. Mrs. P, who I should say has a minor cold is with me. "Ooh", is her comment as she takes a sniff. A little pepper on it, and earthy are her comments. I have to say, it has been in the glass for a few minutes now and it has a wonderful nose. Strong, but structured.
First taste: Not a lot of fruit. This is more old world in structure, but new world in strength. We both agree, perhaps some cherry, but more on the end. Wow! This is a challenging wine. There is a little pepper, and perhaps some tobacco, but nothing really predominates. An excellent structure. If I were to critique the wine, I'd say dial back on the power and let me appreciate the complexity a bit. Still, wow.
Ok, going to cook dinner. More later.
Well, I'm back. Lets take a taste prior to eating. The wine has been open for 70 minutes.
It is definitely deeper, and little more rich. It has taken on a bit of a silky sort of feel, the taste while not structured per se, is quite strong.
Dinner is finished now, and we're watching Clint in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. This wine is definitely the good. I would say though, that from a personal taste point of view, it is too strong. There are wonderful flavors here, but I would prefer to have to search for them a little bit. They should dance in my mouth, instead of fight for dominance! So it is hard for me to distinguish the flavors. The fruit has moved forward a bit- a kind of blueberry sort of taste, but I would still say that this wine is all about the earth. This is the characteristic of all of my favorite wines. When you drink a wine, you should be transported, and feel the land from which it came. This wine does that. It is a new world bang with an old world personality. Well done!
Lets look at what others say. Seems these folks tend to have the same sense, although, while I understand what the guy said about tannins, they really aren't predominant here in the traditional sense. Clearly the tannins are providing a backbone, but the camphor comment was more accurate in my view since this is how they seem to express themselves. I think there is some temptation to suggest that this wine will mellow over the years, and this might be true, but in all candor, I'm not sure. This is a big mutha of a wine, and it is never going to play second fiddle to anything.
So, in summary, an excellent wine. Thank you to Wally for suggesting it. I'd pair this wine with big bold foods such as the grilled steak we had tonight. I'm not sure it would work with spicy foods, since the two would end up competing with each other, to the overall demise of the meal.
I've always had a thing for tough chick rockers. Obviously, my Sass Jordan post last weekend was a result of this, and my life long infatuation with Chrissie Hynde is another fine example. But in the beginning there was Patti Smith. More than any other, I've always found Patti mesmerizing. Try watching this video without getting completely consumed. I also totally dig the dude playing guitar. Is he jamming his brains out or what?!
A great artist, and a great song.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
One of my dad's, and later on my, favorite columnists was Sidney Harris. Mr. Harris was an interesting sort since he was kind of an intellectual and had a habit of writing about a broad range of topics. A notable accomplishment for a writer in a tabloid.
Over time I became familiar with Mr. Harris' work, and he had one feature that I always found fascinating: Things I learned while looking up other things. It was great! In one column title he let you know that in a short time you were going to be treated to certain odd facts and tid bits that would intrigue, inform, and on the whole, entertain. Simultaneously, Mr. Harris was also revealing not only the fact that we are always learning, but that the learning process itself is one of life's great adventures.
I have no illusions, that this new feature in my blog will be as revealing or as regular as Mr. Harris', but I do hope you find the following of interest:
1. Since the first Thanksgiving, cooks with varying degrees of success have been stuffing turkey cavities with all sorts of items in an effort to impart more flavor to the turkey. The best way to ensure that you're successful in this venture is to first stick with aromatic vegetables, and the most importantly, steep them in a cup of water in the micro-wave before draining them and putting them into the turkey
2. Penultimate: Means the NEXT to last. For some reason I thought it meant the last
3. Division 1 schools can only give 9.9 scholarships for each female soccer team per year. Division III schools are barred from giving athlete's sports scholarships
4. Note to Hillary and Obama: The vast majority of lost jobs in Ohio went to states with lower taxes and right to work laws, not foreign countries. For example, GM is right now building a new plant for hybrids in Texas, not Ohio or Michigan
5. And speaking of manufacturing, per the St. Louis Fed we now manufacture more goods (even adjusting for inflation) than we ever have! We're just doing it with less people per unit produced.
6. Following on this productivity theme, in 1900 it took 40% of the population to feed the country while today it takes only 2.5%
Monday, April 7, 2008
As could be expected by everybody, save for the uniquely clueless execs at Absolut, a great cry of protest was heard from those who saw the ad as an insult to the U.S. Of course, they’re correct, if perhaps a bit overly vociferous in their outrage. And what does this say about Mexico? Whatever latent fantasy exists there for a return to the above drawn borders, the fact is that the land is U.S. territory and by virtually any measure we’ve done far more with it than anything our neighbors might have contemplated. As someone put it, the only real difference would be they'd be trying to sneak into Oklahoma.
What I love about this controversy though, is how even in the supposed triumph of this ad, Mexico still loses and seems to not have even noticed! Because, while the map represents their view of a better world, the message itself is written in English.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Yesterday, I took PD1 out driving. She is 16 in a couple days, and we haven't come close to doing enough driving to qualify her for her license. So I thought it would be good to go out for a couple hours on Saturday and just drive all over the place. As it turned out, Saturday was a beautiful day, with plenty of sun and a 63 degree breeze.
Naturally, I thought of grilling out for dinner, and suggested to PD1 that we drive into the city to Paulina Market (The Mecca of Meat) and buy a selection of fresh sausages for the grill. As we were driving in, traffic was a bit heavy and I realized that it was probably Cubs traffic; Paulina is very close to Wrigley Field.
As I mentioned this, PD1 suggested that it would be a most excellent adventure to see if we could scrounge up some tickets and take in the game. Who could argue with such logic?!
So we found some guys parking cars on their empty lot, and as we pulled in PD1 asked one of them if he knew where we could get some tickets. Immediately, the guy was on the phone and told us he could get us two club box seats in the 6th row, behind third base.
Well, we haggled a bit over the price, I went to the ATM and a moment later some dude pulled up on a bike with our tickets. What a fantastic time we had. I had a beer, PD1 a pretzel, the game was exciting and most amazing of all - the Cubs won.
A spectacular afternoon for us and proof that the best times are those that you don't plan. They just are meant to be.
I was working out today, and this tune came up on my Ipod. Man, Sass Jordan just rocks, or at least she used to, I have no idea if she still does. At any rate enjoy this, and while you're at it, contemplate this musical question.
If Sass Jordan and Chris Robinson had a rock and roll baby, would it not be the most soulfullest, rockinest child ever?