Monday, June 29, 2009

Shopping Day 2009

Sunday was that wonderful, yet terrible day that comes once a year where I'm forced to take a massive shopping trip. Shopping is just an exhausting task between fighting the traffic, the people, trying things on, etc. And you also have to pay for what you buy. On the other hand, it is always somewhat enjoyable to freshen up the wardrobe a bit. Yesterday, I did this at the Aurora Outlets because outlet shopping is pretty much the only shopping I do. There was a huge line outside of the Coach store. I don't know a whole lot about Coach but I do know that these people are idiots for waiting in line like this. I was very encouraged that my girlfriend was as appalled by this as I was. In fact, she was done shopping way before I was and I had to drag her to "just one more store," rendering me embarrassed. However, I think that's partly because she spreads her shopping out over the year, whereas I just take one monster trip. I will keep telling myself that.

I wish I had some notable impulse buys from the day but given all the money I was spending, I was less inclined to spend needlessly. Oh wait, we bought a pizza stone. That was needless. Another good moment was in the Nike Store. I went to look at the packaging on a pair of wristbands, which would have been a dumb purchase as I have a few sets of wristbands that I previously bought senselessly on past trips like this. The packaging said "Suggested Retail:$10.00. Our Price: $9.99." WHAT A DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was almost convinced that the 0.1% savings was worth it.

After a well-deserved nap, we ended the day by taking a walk down to a Greek restaurant in our neighborhood and taking in dinner on the rooftop with a view of the Sears Tower about a half mile to the west. We ate the most garlicky garlic mashed potatoes ever, which my breath was still paying for this morning. It was a fantastic evening to be outside. Been waiting for one of those.

Finally, as an update to the tomato blog, the tomatoes are indeed dead. They were pulled out of their pots and laid to rest in an adjacent bush on Saturday. R.I.P.

Song of the Day: Fleet Foxes - Mykonos

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Memoirs of a Dying Tomato Plant

After a ridiculous amount of rain last week, I noticed that all of my plant pots on the patio were flooded. I figured this might be the case for a day or so as the water subsided but a few days later the pots were still flooded. This is a problem, because you see, we professional gardeners who have never grown anything before know it kills the plants if the water doesn't drain. Upon investigation, I found out that the pots don't have holes in the bottom as every good pot should. I furiously started stabbing the bottom of each pot to make a hole as if every second counted. Parsley flops out, roots and all. The first casualty. I keep stabbing....mud and soil all over me. Just save the tomatoes. It was all for naught, as evidenced by a picture of the writer:

Dear Sean:

Cough....cough. How could you not have looked at the bottom of the pot before planting me? Cough....cough. I'm on my death bed....of soil. Look at me...look at my wilted, yellowing leaves and drooping stalks! You got lucky with good weather in the first few weeks but once those storms hit, hello root rot. Yes, that's right. My roots were rotted by the excess water, which means that no nutrients get to my stalk or to the leaves, or to the flower buds that would later turn into tomatoes. Hell, all you had to do was elevate the pot like Charlene instructed you to do and you would have noticed that there was no water dripping down underneath. You bastard. Me and my friend the heirloom tomato plant were going to produce some luscious tomatoes for your eating pleasure but instead you killed us and there will be no.....don't you dare call it a vegetable....fruit. We had high hopes for our lives - great tomatoes that could be eaten raw, could go on burgers, could make bruschetta, tomato sauce, maybe even enter a competition. The possibilities are endless really. Excuse me, were endless, you swine. You better pick the two bite-sized green tomatoes and enjoy their bitter not-yet-ripe flavor because they're going down with the ship. That's right my friend. Your inexperience, ignorance, and dare I say hubris caused the death of your most promising plants - the tomatoes. Sure, you may buy another tomato plant to replace me but no plant, I repeat no plant, will sprout up as fast as I did. Furthermore, I shall haunt the ground in which I lived, cursing anything you plant there. You may have holes in your pots now, but it is of no matter. All your plants shall experience the pain that I have felt this last week.

Sincerely regretting the day you were born,

Cherry Tomato Plant #1

(did I just write a letter as a tomato?)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

375 miles and a cloud of dust....

In what has sadly become a pretty infrequent trip, I made it home to Columbus last weekend to spend some time with the family. One thing I love about going back to Ohio is driving through the country and going through all the random towns, each of which tries to display some sort of claim to fame as you enter the town. These "claims to fame" are almost always extremely underwhelming, such as "Home of the 1997 Boys Division III Golf State Runners Up." One I actually saw in Johnstown, Ohio on this trip, which may be the best yet, was "Home of the Famous Mastodon Remains." That's it. I had to google this to see what the deal was and once again, I'm completely underwhelmed by this accomplishment. I guess that's the best they've got? Wow.

Although I am definitely a Christian, another thing I find hilarious in Ohio is the churches in these same small towns that have really super lame slogans. I'm all for God, but I don't really buy into cheesy slogans. I caught this one, again in Johnstown. It's a little grainy as I had to crop out of a picture that I took blindly out of a moving car that I was driving at 25 mph (not 26, lest I get pulled over). In case you can't read it, it says, "Warning: Exposure to the Son may prevent burning." It works on so many levels. Pretty sure God is rolling his eyes too. I love it.

Spent some time golfing, bbq'ing at my brother Brian's house, which has fantastic views, and lastly, taking in a polo match with nephew Nolan on my shoulders (that's right a polo match) on Sunday before heading out of town. All in all, a great, relaxing weekend with beautiful weather. Always good to be home.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Electric or acoustic, it must be invisible

Because I am always up for a good spectacle, I attended the Chicago regional for the U.S. Air Guitar Championships this weekend.  Yes, it's official.  They have a national championship for everything.  There's even a documentary about this, which I plan to watch.  Here's how it works:

1.  The instrument must be invisible, i.e. air.

2.  Personal air roadies are allowed.

3.  Back-up bands - air or real - are not allowed

4.  Props in place of the air guitar are forbidden.  

The air guitar "Grand Finals" consists of two rounds.  
Round 1 - Contestant-chosen song that plays for 1 minute
Round 2 - New song that the contestant only hears immediately prior to Round 2 and is also played for one minute.

Points are awarded figure skating style, and three criteria are used: technical merit, stage presence, and of course airness.  

Now that you know the rules, here's how it went down last night.  With names such as Hot Lixx Hulahan, Air Leigh Legal, Rockness Monster, I expected big things out of air guitar.  As it turns out, the Chicago contestants just weren't that good.  Hot Lixx (reigning world champion) was in attendance and served as a judge.  He also put on a ripping guest performance in between Round 1 and Round 2.  In the end, it came down to The Tetrad and Romeo Dance Cheetah, with Romeo ultimately carrying the day.  However, I would be amiss if I didn't mention the Tetrad, who came on stage as a tetris block, which he exploded out of when he started his song.  That was phenomenal.  Hot Lixx said, "You're everything I love and hope for in air guitar."  Anyways, here is your winner, who I ran into outside the venue.  

To give you an idea of how ridiculous this is, a girl from Brooklyn entered the air guitar hall of fame by virtue of dislodging (not just dislocating) her toe while trying to jump over a chair, then finished the performance, ultimately having her toe amputated.  This is just one example, but apparently there are lots of air guitar injuries.  

The event was sponsored by boone's farm.  Yes, boone's farm.  In fact, one judge (Nordic Thunder -last year's Chicago champion who was out this year do to an air guitar-related back injury) did two "down in ones" with bottles of boone's farm.  It was disgusting.  After the second one, the host said, "Oh my God.  You're going to get diabetes."  He's probably right.  I was also surprised with how hostile the crowd was towards bad performances.  There was boooing, throwing of things.  Boone's farm was all over the stage.  All in all, it was a ridiculous scene.  The crazy part is that I actually found myself critiquing the performances, judging "technical merit" and booing the judges when I thought they gave an inappropriate score.  At the end, when it came down to Tetrid and Romeo, I was even starting a chant of "air off."    

The most bizarre moment of the night was when all the contestants went on stage at the end and did air guitar to Freebird (The Tetrad is wearing the yellow shirt on the left).  This picture doesn't even do justice to the hilarity of when I took a step back and noticed that there were 25 people on a stage contorting their bodies and faces in all different directions.  I realized then that most of the people on stage were probably virgins and that my nerdiness was nearly on par with theirs for having paid money to watch them do this.   

Here are the awards for the night:

Best Move: The Tetrid's entrance 
Best Performance: Hot Lixx guest spot
Drunkest: The judge who chugged two bottles of boones farm in front of everyone 
Best Name: Sexton Hardcastle
Best Song Choice: The guy who chose the other song by Motorhead that isn't Ace of Spades

Word of the Day: Airdeology

Sentence: Tell me a little bit more about your airdeology.  

Friday, June 5, 2009


I went to the hardware store to have some keys made for one of our buildings on Friday.  This hardware store near my office is the most poorly kept dirty, unorganized store in the world and I love it.  The employees are grizzled.  My kind of guys.  Unfortunately the feeling didn't seem to be mutual at first.  When I gave them the key to make copies of, the guy says to me, "it's going to be a few minutes.  You can run over to Starbucks or something."  Talk about a slap in the face.  I reply,  "are you implying I would like Starbucks?  What makes you think I would like Starbucks?  Just because I'm wearing khakis doesn't mean I like that shit."  Then, as a test, he asked me what coffee I did like.  I said "Dunkies.  All day."  For those who know me, I tend to add "all day" at the end of statements for emphasis.  This exchange instantly made me one of the guys.  They then sat me down at the counter with them and handed me a Chicago Sun-Times while they made my keys.  I won't lie.  It feels good to be blue collar, even though I'm not.  

Word of the Day: gaggle - a group, aggregation, or cluster lacking organization.

Sentence: How'd it go with that gaggle of girls you were talking to?