Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Obama Handball

There's two words you won't ever see side-by-side again nor two pictures that are similarly juxtaposed. First, I find it super amazing that Barack finds time to be president AND run a hair salon next to a building my company owns in Chicago. How many people do you know who have a Nobel Peace Prize that can also install a weave?

For those who don't know, Graham Beatty is on the USA handball team (that's him in the beard in the picture above). Yes, this means he could potentially be in the Olympics. That is, if Team USA weren't one of the worst handball teams in the world. In other words, if you go to wikipedia, you'll note that we weren't even in the 2009 world championships. That's because, primarily, the most successful players and teams are from the eastern bloc (when you were formally part of communist Russia, block is bloc I think?). But let's backtrack. How many people do you know who are on the national team for anything, especially after only playing the sport for a year? So mad props to my boy Graham.

Now, it's hard to see in the picture above but below the photo, it says "More then just a game." This was clearly written by aforementioned eastern bloc European who speak English well, but not that well. Furthermore, I've never really understood what it means when people say that. If it's more than just a game, what is it? If it's more than a game, more than pride or money has to be at stake. So, knowing this, is handball like the Aztec ball game? From what I remember, in that game, the winners got sacrificed. What a terrible reward. Score the game winning goal, and you get your still beating heart ripped out. Glad I wasn't an Aztec. I'll have to ask Graham about how this works in handball. Below is a good photo of the backup goalie for one of the teams. This guy is about 45, has a super creepy moustache and comb-over and is clearly not in the best shape. Maybe, instead of "More then a game" the slogan should be "Handball - child molesters welcome." This guy was a legend as were some of the other participants. Bottom line: I officially love handball and plan to watch a lot more of it.

Song of the Day:

Grizzly Bear ft. Michael McDonald - While You Wait For the Others

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I made beer!!!

As a product of a drunken conversation during a fantastic beer tasting hosted at my apartment in August, John Baker, homebrewer extraordinaire and me, decent chef who's always up for an overambitious task, decided to create our own homebrew. John has all the equipment so we spent a day buying ingredients and making it happen. My idea was to come up with a chocolatey beer that would also have a big spice kick since spicey chocolate is very popular these days. This idea was all the more intriguing because I don't think there is any precedent for doing this. This was also a reason to be nervous because let me tell you, making beer is not easy. So, if this beer turned out like crap because I wanted to infuse it with roasted cacao nibs, vanilla bean, and chiles, then we would not only be out 75 bucks, but would have also wasted a lot of time.

Here's an abbreviated version of how it goes down:

1. Pour the malt mix into hot water. This becomes the "mash."

2. Stir the mash.
3. Let the mash sit covered for a while.

4. Take the liquid from the mash and siphon it into a huge pot (or in this case hollowed out keg). Boil it for a while.

5. Create the super secret chile mixture. I took three different kinds of chiles and toasted them, then crushed the toasted chiles into a powder. I roasted cacao beans and crushed them up into a fine mixture as well.

6. During the last 15 minutes of the boil, add some hops but be sure to smell their hoppy wonderfulness before you dump them in (see below). The chile/chocolate mixture from step 5 goes in at this time too.

7. Once the liquid has cooled from the boil, then you pour the yeast in. As John describes it, the yeast are having a massive party and they're pooping out alcohol and CO2. This goes on for a couple weeks and is known as "primary fermentation." During this time, we added some vanilla bean and some whole chiles.

8. Bottle that shit. Leave it sit for a couple more weeks. Yes, at this point, it has been a month since that first day of inspired beer creation.

9. After much anticipation, drink and hopefully enjoy.

In our case, we had a pretty big scare. John called me saying that we "had to talk about the beer." Uh oh. We talk and John explains that the night before, he tried the beer for the first time, then got violently ill about two hours later, which lasted through the night. After a moment of panic, I calmed myself and did some research. My research determined that there is no way one can get sick from a few sips of spoiled beer. In addition, you would know if it was bad immediately by the taste.

I decided to roll the dice and try this beer for myself. I can now report, after consuming four of these precious beverages, that I did not get ill in any way. In fact, the beer is delicious. The aroma of chocolate and spices is fantastic and the taste backs it up. It's got big cocoa and coffee flavors and hints of caramely sweetness with a spicy kick at the end. As it turns out, some bad chicken caesar salad was the culprit of John's malady. So, a deep sigh of relief because all that work going for naught would have been devastating.

Song of the Day:

Stereophonics (covering Rolling Stones) - Gimme Shelter

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Exorcism of Bad Music

A while ago, I wrote a blog talking about a lot of the music I was listening to at the time. I will probably do the same thing again soon. However, before I tackle that, I need to clear the air and today's a good day to do it because I'm in a foul mood, though I'm not sure why. I hate music today. I think the record industry is a joke and I think we, as humans, are a joke because we buy this junky music they force-feed us. They should make foie-gras out of us because we're stuffed so full of it. This is epitomized by a radio station here in Chicago that I am unfortunately subjected to every single day, all day, because of our admin at work, who sits about 10 feet away and has the radio on and tuned into this station non-stop. I am forced to desperately try to avoid hearing this putrid music by wearing headphones, but alas, I can't always wear headphones. Thus, I can't help but hear this garbage. Since I've been hearing the same songs on this God forsaken station over and over every hour of every day for the last six months, I thought I would put together a "worst-of" list, which will hopefully have a purging effect on my brain, allowing me to rid myself of the heavy burden this music places on my soul.

This may be hard to understand as I don't really know the names of any of these songs, but I figured I'd name them by their most repeated and annoying lines. I wanted to put them in order of hatred but it's kind of like my friend KC once said, "It's like asking a kid, what do you like least - long division or state capitals?" It's hard to choose so I'll just list them all out:

All American Rejects - Hope it gives you hell, hope it gives yooooouuu hell (officially the worst song ever made)

Kings of Leon - Use Somebody

Lady Gaga - Poker Face

Nickelback - their latest single, and every other song they've ever made

Black Eyed Peas - Tonight's gonna be a good night

Pink - Something about not feeling good sober and party being over

Unknown - Please don't stop the

The Fray - Everyone knows I'm in over my head, over my head

Unknown - Sometimes goodbye is a second chaaance...

The Fray? - You found me, you found meeeeee....

Taylor Swift - Why can't you seeeeeeeee, you belong with meeeeeeee

Unknown - And the suuuuun will shine for yoooouuuuuu......whine whine whine

Unknown - I'm livin without you babyyyy, but you're still with me all the time

I want you to knooooowwwww.....something something something.....I'm already gone

You can allllways turn the car around......

....brella brella brellla ay ay ay ay brella ay brellla brellla ay ay ay ay ay brella....ay...ay....AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So anyways, that's what sucks in 2009. I guess a lot of people probably said the same thing about Christopher Cross in 1980 when he did "Sailing" but at least he's wearing an Earl Campbell jersey, playing a double necked guitar, and looking like he just did a two minute kegstand. I don't hate you Christopher Cross.

Song of the Day:

Anything but any of the above.....please

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tim Hardaway

So lots to cover here. First off, when starting to do this post, I noticed that I inadvertantly spelled Elisabeth's name wrong for the millionth time on the last post. I'm still not used to the British spelling after a lifetime of being conditioned on "Elizabeth" but I love it. I wish I were British so I could have the accent, eat prawns and put my bills in the "post" instead of the mail. Anyways, I'm sorry. This has been corrected.

So my mom came to visit Chicago this weekend and we decided to take a trip to the museum at the Art Institute to show her how cultured I can pretend to be when she visits. Normally, I don't read the descriptions of the artists and artwork but this time I did because the ladies were and I had to wait on them anyways. The reason why I don't read these descriptions is because they just say nonsense like this:

"...challenging the reductive formalism of minimalism"

This seems like it would have been part of a good rebuttal to a poor paper grade in college. As in, I don't really know what it means but I think it sounds good, which is the name of the game when you want to get a good paper grade at Harvard. Something like:

TF: "This paper lacks direction, organization, and support"
Me: "Precisely. That's intentional. My objective was to challenge the reductive formalism of minimalism by writing a paper that may, on the surface, imply a haphazard effort at a thesis with an apparent lack of organization and support. However, this was merely a satirical commentary on the fallacy of the American education system."

Another good art museum quote:

"...takes pleasure in perversion and embraces bad taste."

My question is, if something is in bad taste, then why is it in the museum? Does this mean we are to appreciate bad taste? If so, wouldn't that make it good taste? When does something become so bad that it's good? Is there an inflection point somewhere near airport food, Sandra Bullock movies, or death metal? My head hurts. Moving on...

On Saturday, after watching Terrelle Pryor continue to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad quarterback, we went out to dinner at May Street Cafe. In addition to the phenomenal Puerto Rican food, they had a unisex bathroom with what looked to me like an observation or waiting stool right beside the toilet.

Talk about uncomfortable. Can you imagine doing your business with a critic sitting on the stool judging the whole time? I sure can't. Now apparently this is a frequent appearance in a women's bathroom and according to the ladies, it is used for "putting down one's purse/jacket/whatever." It's a decent alibi but this is clearly a cover up. If no one was sitting there, why would there be a seat cushion on the stool? Huh? A trip to the art museum and juvenile toilet humor in the same blog. That just happened.

Highlight of the weekend: finding this 1991 Fleer Tim Hardaway card in a flower bed on Division Street. At first I was so thrilled and grabbed it to take with me just because of the novelty of finding a 1991 basketball card. However, I put Tim back in his flower bed because I can only imagine how happy this made any number of people who walked by it that day.

For those who don't know Tim Hardaway, he's famous partly for having a sweet crossover dribble and a long NBA career, but mostly he's famous for this. I thought I'd title this post "Tim Hardaway" because I figure how often does Tim Hardaway get to be the title of a blog or any conversation whatsoever now? I remember when this happened but listening again, I actually laughed even though it's not funny because it's just so appalling and it's unimaginable that anyone would say that out loud on national radio. Anyways, time to stop before any sort of serious discussion starts on homosexuality....not that there's anything wrong with that.

Song of the Day:

Zero 7 - Mr. McGee

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Congrats Max and Elisabeth!

So I've been finding it really hard to write blogs lately if you haven't noticed from the complete and utter lack of posts. I was in Annapolis, Maryland for Max and Elisabeth's wedding and came back all jacked up to write a massive and hilarious post about it because so many crazy, fun things happened. However, I returned to Chicago completely exhausted, which carried into Monday and Tuesday. So now, between work, making dinner, and trying to maintain generally hospitable living conditions, we're sitting on Wednesday night and it just doesn't have the same effect after reliving the event multiple times with multiple people. Plus, I'm way funnier the less I have to talk about and the more time I have to do it. Thus, I can no longer do justice to how much fun Max and Elisabeth's wedding was. All that's important is that the bride and groom were clearly having fun, as shown above. So were the rest of us.

Time not spent at the wedding was spent hanging out in Baltimore with Lawrence (aka The Law, L-Train, and some others I can't think of), one of my best buds from high school. We hit up the orioles game on Friday night, then hit up an excellent breakfast place (at 2 pm), followed by the greatest bar with the greatest beer selection I've ever seen (and that says a lot) on Sunday for football games. On the way there, I picked up a free t-shirt at the neighborhood festival with a "Big Boyz Bail Bonds" logo on front and back. You can't make this stuff up. What a way to cap off the weekend. Baltimore baby!

Song of the Day:

Wilco - You and I