Monday, January 31, 2011

Snow Big Deal, Is It?

It begins Tuesday afternoon, the second snowstorm of the century – this year.

Snowpocalypse 2011! News at ten.

The Chicago local media is always a good source of entertainment but nothing beats watching them when there is a big snowstorm. When the best weatherman on television, Tom Skilling, reports that this will be up there with the big ones I tend to take note. Well, on today’s noon news he was peeing down both legs of his pants! Chicago WILL get 19-24” of snow, he insisted.

Living 55 miles east of Chicago we have gotten at least two snowstorms for each of the past two years that have dumped anywhere from 16-24”, thanks to isolated lake effect snow. Getting up to 24” in the next two days means nothing, just the slop to deal with for another week. Just another January. Take a pill.

When a storm such as this is predicted the Chicago media trips all over themselves to make a comparison with the 1967 Chicago blizzard. They already are.

I remember that ’67 Chicago blizzard very well. It wasn’t too difficult finding photos of it on the internets.

In 1967 I was in the eighth grade, my final year at a Catholic grade school. It was a big year for me. I had the prettiest girlfriend in school (my first), the grades were good and I scored more than six points in a league basketball game (half were free throws).

The severity of that blizzard was not predicted by most but I remember my dad telling me only one weatherman on television got it correct.

Snow began to fall as we boarded the school bus but I do not remember what day of the week it was. Think it was a Friday. By noon there was about eight inches and it was not letting up. The school janitor asked my nun if he could borrow a few boys to help shovel. There was a mad dash to the door. While shoveling, busses pulled up into the parking lot. School was being closed for the day. This is what we lived for, a snow day.

It turned out to be a two-week vacation from school.

Once home I began plowing the driveway with our small tractor and made a few bucks off some neighbors too.

Waking up the next day it was still snowing. Hard. And then it began to blow. Back out with the tractor it became obvious that it was no match for the drifts. So we began to shovel. There were no automobiles on the road. One guy with a 4WD truck was giving folks rides to the grocery store two blocks away. By the time we had a path clear to the street my mom gave us a few bucks to go to the store and buy bread, milk and eggs. The store was nearly sold out of these items when we got there. In fact, most shelves were next to bare. When we got home and told her she freaked.

We never lost power so the film reports on the Chicago news showed just how bad it was. The interstates were closed meaning food and fuel was going to be in short supply for up to a week. This really freaked her out.

It is this notion that drives people out to horde food, fuel, salt and adult beverages and the news report at noon jumped on the opportunity to drive the feeble minded into rash behavior. TV news fans the flame by airing live reports from stores under siege days before the storm.

No school and no passage did not bother the bro or me at all. We went out in the backyard and tunneled a cave into a drift that went from the neighbor’s garage roof to our house roof. That drift was ten feet high at the peaks and twenty feet long.

What made the ‘67 blizzard so bad is that nobody was prepared for it because so few predicted it. Inadequate snow removal equipment could not handle the rapid snowfall and high winds. Combine that with traffic that could not move through the drifts and it crippled the area for weeks. The interstates were clogged with trucks and cars. It was unforgettable.

This recent blizzard prediction came as early as seven days ago by Tom Skilling, but I am always skeptical of predictions that far out. Modern snow removal capacity is formidable, especially in Chicago. And with so many driving SUV’s with 4WD not many will be getting stuck or even bothering to go out at all.

Here in the Indiana snow belt I have not seen a snow total of 24 inches overnight stop anybody for more than a half day.

This one could be different. Heavy snow with east winds up to 45 mph (as predicted) may be too much to handle especially with the lake effect to follow late Wed. The east winds will add a lot of misery.

Since I have an assignment this week that is being done here in the home office all I will do is check the snow blower fuel supply and load up the front porch wood rack today.

We’ll just sit back and watch it come down. Again.

Monday Morning Blues

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Does Egypt = Thailand?

I have been practicing Muay Thai for almost four years now. I read a variety of information sources about Muay Thai, and sort of live that life – I guess you could say.

Over the years of commenting on different blogs and boards I have become friends with more than one professional Muay Thai fighter actually in Thailand, along with many people who go there to train in Muay Thai for pleasure, and some people who go to Thailand to report on the Muay Thai scene.

When the protests in Thailand erupted a few months ago, I was of course scared for the many acquaintances that I knew were over there, on the way there, or on the way back. The shots of the violence in the streets were a bit scary. I admit they weren’t anything like the tanks in the streets of Egypt, but the riot police was called in to Bangkok and the army was “on call”.

Over and over my friends in Thailand reported that not only were they not concerned about the rioting, but that outside of a small, few square mile area of Bangkok that you were really in no danger at all. Outside of Bangkok life was proceeding as usual, and many people didn’t even know what was going on outside of their small towns.

I wonder if it is this way in Egypt. I haven’t heard reports of any city blowing up besides Cairo, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, of course. I guess time will tell.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz.

Maps and History

I used to audit a community college. Some of the students on work study used to assist me with financial tasks and they were fun to work with. One day a girl seemed downcast and I asked her why. She said that she had a geography quiz and didn't feel that she performed well. I asked her which questions she had difficulty with and one of them was "Which continent is Brazil located in?" I pulled out a piece of paper and drew a crude map of South America with Brazil along the coast and gave it to her.

Later she came back with an atlas and exclaimed "You were right!" The most interesting part of the story to me is that, in her mind, a lay-person like me (not a teacher) knowing which continent Brazil was in seemed like such odd and obscure knowledge that she assumed I was "guessing".

I was recently in Room and Board, an excellent store, when I saw this interesting French map on the wall. What caught my eye was a small tag in the corner of the frame that said "c 1900" meaning "circa 1900".

I knew instantly that this wasn't true, since you can see from the map that the Austro-Hungarian empire had been split into its constituent parts and the post-WW1 land re-divisions had already occurred, such as the expansion of Italy. This is obviously a map dated post-1918 and pre-1945; this I could tell from the second I looked at it.

But the real issue is that this sort of knowledge of history applied to the lands of Europe is probably viewed as an obscurity by most people, including the hundreds or thousands of people that pass by this map every day at the store and look at it as an "art object" (it is a quite beautiful map, and if I had a place to display it and the price was right and I could yank off the "c 1900" tag I might think about buying it). I did not inquire but I am sure that if I asked the manager about this tag he would look at me like a crank and I can guarantee that my shopping partner would not have appreciated the likely subsequent argument.

The other part that is interesting to me is that many of the employees of Room and Board are highly educated and literate people, at least in my interactions with them. I am certain that many of them have liberal arts and design backgrounds. But this sort of arcane knowledge, the impact of military and political affairs on the boundaries of European states from 1900 - 1945 (and now into the 1990's with the fall of the Soviet Union) would not be the type of work that would fit into their curriculum anyways. You could take an elective on virtually any historical topic to fulfill your meager requirement for history (if you had one at all) and I'd bet my last dollar that this sort of military / political history would be far less popular than myriad other potential classes.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chicago Theater

A friend of mine, Jill, goes to a lot of theater in Chicago and sent me this post so I am happy to give a "shout out" for those that might be interested. I like the comparison of the price of a movie ticket to the price of seeing "live" theater with actual human actors.

An endearing advantage to living in Chicago is its thriving, abundant and accessible theater community. Ticket prices are affordable, with the most diligent seekers sometime gaining access for the low rate of seat tax alone. The budget conscious among us can subscribe to email notification services that offer discounted ticketing to area events, making it easy to see live theater for less than $20 per ticket. Many theaters offer deals to followers on Facebook and Twitter, with a few offering discounted tickets on the day of the show at their box office. Half price tickets for numerous performances are available daily at Hot Tix in the Loop and online. I hate missing opportunities to experience theater and this winter is rife with exceptional performances and great chances to see local talent on stage.

In November I saw A Red Orchid Theater’s production of The Iliad, a play highly recommended in the Chicago theater press. Performed by members of AROT’s youth ensemble, the cast comprised young girls, ranging in age from nine to fifteen. The Iliad, an eighth century poem by Homer set at the end of the Trojan War, is not a children’s story, but this wonderful play, adapted by Craig Wright and directed by Steve Wilson, was creatively executed by kids for a sophisticated audience. Within A Red Orchid Theater’s intimate space in Old Town, there were violent sword fights, high emotions and epic battles – these girls were fierce and talented! The theater was sold out and shows were extended into early January. I’m looking forward to their next production by Irish playwright Enda Walsh, The New Electric Ballroom directed by Robin Witt.

In a three month time frame I attended Romeo & Juliet at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chekov’s The Seagull at Goodman, Detroit with Laurie Metcalf at Steppenwolf, and Lookingglass Theater’s aerial filled performance of Peter Pan (a Play). Although a little frightening for children under 7, Peter Pan was perfect for families with pre-teen and teenage kids. Keira Fromm’s production of Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero at Red-Twist Theater incorporated foot traffic, neighborhood sirens and by-standers on Bryn Mawr Avenue naturally into the flow of the performance, including a an errant car valet who opened the storefront door and was promptly incorporated into the action. My ticket costs for each of these shows came in under $30 – some were under $20.

In Chicago’s south loop, a cinema group is offering movie goers the chance to see films starting at $17. Seventeen dollars! For as little as $15, including seat tax, Chicagoans can see world class actors on stage, participating in an experience that, once it occurs in that space at that time never happens again in the same way. Film, gratefully, is permanent and can be enjoyed over and over again, generating different responses with each viewing; theater, even at the most basic level of performance, engenders an intimate and visceral reaction, as personal as one’s secrets. It is a compelling art form that is immediate and provocative, creating with each performance a once in a lifetime experience. Low prices may encourage an initial outing but the physically emotional response to live theater will certainly garner repeated attendance.

As we slog along through winter it’s exciting to imagine the shows on the horizon – The Moonstone at Lifeline, Eclipsed at Northlight, The Master & Margarita in the spring at Strawdog and Neil LaBute’s reasons to be pretty, a Chicago premiere directed by Steppenwolf’s Rick Snyder. I always look forward to my next theater adventure – my annual new year’s resolution is TO SEE MORE THEATER – and fortunately living in Chicago makes this resolution easy to keep, especially this season.

Social Misfits And Wisconsin Oddities

First, special thanks to Dan for selling his Bears playoff tix to me and the bro. Best loss I ever attended. The parking lot entertainment did not disappoint.

These Packer fans seemed to be as interested in one guy’s bratwurst as they were in drinking.

When initially offered the tickets my first instinct was to decline. To me, the best games all season are the NFL conference championships and best watched at home in front of a fire with the grill close and the canarble wagon closer while watching two full playoff games, the replays and all that pre and post game hype. That sounds more appealing to me.

On the drive home after the Seattle beatdown the bro talked me into going. Packers and Bears…Packers and Bears…he repeated. He was right. We were all in by Monday.

Mid-winter tailgating presents some challenges. Cold beer outdoors in January is not going to cut it for me like spicy Bloody Mary’s would. Some like brandy or schnapps. But I’ll go for a cocktail anytime. With ice, of course.

Warm food tends to get cold fast outdoors in temps below 40 degrees. We try to cook items on the grill quickly and in small batches, or comfort food in a pot, like gumbo or chili and let it be self-serve. For that, one needs propane or butane burners. Pots and pans are a b!tch to tote and clean but it’s simple and smart in cold weather. And delicious.

What’s not to like about this t-shirt?

Tailgating last Sunday took a back seat to people watching in the parking lot. All the food work was done Saturday, all we needed to do was to pack it and warm it on Sunday.

What a surprise it was for me to be in the most civil and orderly tailgate lot I ever experienced other than Notre Dame. There were Packer fans and Bear fans living together in harmony. Seriously.

Packer fan tailgating (pregame) behavior was very interesting for this elderly amateur anthropologist with a camera.

I was on the hunt for Drunk Bear Fans. The ones worthy of a photo. I had only one, a guy urinating between cars. There was a lot of yellow snow in that lot.

All the parking lot port-a-potties had colors that matched the Green Bay Packers uniforms. I can only hope that was intentional.

Then there was what seemed to be the slimmest female Packer fan I have ever seen enjoying herself just a few yards away wearing an embroidered “Ice Bowl 1967” jacket.

She was very friendly.

These two came by.

Woah. We now have lot lizards in the Soldier Field parking lot. For those who don’t know the term ‘lot lizard’ is trucker speak for truckstop prostitutes.

These two represented a local 'peeler bar’ (that’s a Canadian term for strip joint).

My guess is that the one on the right was legal because she spoke good English while the poor creature on the right was totally no habla. Her task was to simply hand out free lapdance discount coupons. It is what it is.

Finally my favorite snapshot of the day was of this guy.

I had to take a leak after the first quarter. The lower level was not crowded. This guy walks by and had no recourse but to allow me to capture this pathetic image since his hands were full or $30 worth of rotten Chicago Park District stadium food and swill.

All he needed was some tin foil and a propeller on top of…whatever the he!! that crap is on his head.

OOPS, I almost forgot, there was an NFC Championship game going on that day.

After winning the coin toss our idiot head coach, playing at home, decided to kick off to an opposing team with the hottest offense in the NFL. He spotted his opponent a quick seven points instead of allowing his stellar special team the opportunity of returning the kick for points of our own.

All I can say is Go Steelers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jersey Shore - Anatomy of a Fight

I don't watch a lot of TV. When I do, it is typically a sporting event of some sort. All the rest of my TV is on "in the background" while I am reading, working at home, or doing other things.

For the first time a few weeks ago I watched Jersey Shore. Jersey Shore is a typical highly edited "reality" show where they put a bunch of people in a house and tape what goes on. They don't really have jobs to speak of besides to entertain the audience of the show - from what I can tell. The residents of the house are all fairly obnoxious, full of themselves, and as dumb as a box of dead crabs. The guys are all buff and constantly bring back girls from the bar to their place to do who knows what. All of the ingredients for great background fodder for me. Oh, and the women all have large brestesses, and they aren't shy about showing them off. The women all appear to be a bit overweight - probably from all the drinking.

I had a bit of time last weekend and youtubed some past episodes, or parts of episodes anyway. One guy in particular has been in several physical altercations. His name is Ronnie. He got taken to court a while ago for decking a guy. He appears to be a hothead and full of himself.

This clip is one of the fights that Ronnie got into in a past episode. Please view it as I will be referring to it for the rest of the post.

The clip above is the shorter version of a longer version that you can find, but all of the essential elements I need to talk about this fight are in the shorter clip.

  • Seconds 1-15 - to me, this is the most important part of the fight. A drunk guy had been harassing Ronnie and his girlfriend for the better part of the night. Instead of either engaging security or walking away, the two keep jawing at each other. There is no way this will end well. If one of them would have simply walked away, the fight would have never happened. Situational awareness - if you live it, you won't get into fights.
  • Seconds 16-26 - prelude to the fight. Ronnie says that the drunk guy was "swinging over his girlfriend" to try to hit Ronnie. This is not true, but Ronnie does do the right thing by not hitting the woman. During this time there is more jawjacking - still time for one of the combatants to call it off and run/walk away but neither do. It is officially go time.
  • Seconds 27-30 - Ronnie windmills some strange punches. He clearly wants to get the inside position on the drunk guy so he can use his upper body strength advantage and uses windmills to close the distance. Ronnie isn't so much punching as using the windmilling as a distraction to get inside. The drunk guy moves backwards but then stumbles - partially because he is intoxicated, partially because the footing is bad. It would have been very easy for the drunk guy to sidestep Ronnie at this point and perhaps counter with either a leg kick or a punch. Of course I am assuming that the drunk guy isn't, well, drunk and that he has a bit of training under his belt.
  • Seconds 31-32 - The Knee - Ronnie gives a quick knee to the drunk guy. It was not a well delivered knee, but certainly was felt by the drunk guy as heard by the 'oof' on the tape and was a good use of the knee since Ronnie had the free shot. A better thrown knee could have really ended the contest - if Ronnie would have squared his hips, and thrust with his whole lower body into either the solar plexus or better yet, the head, all resistance would have probably ceased at that point.
  • Seconds 33-35 - Ronnie uses his weight to push back on the drunk, causing the drunks legs to fold under him and giving Ronnie full mount.
  • Seconds 36-41 - Ronnie starts punching the drunk guy on the side of the head. It might look like the fight is over, but it is not, by any means. The proper thing for the drunk to do would be to cover up, and roll with these punches, all the while trying to "shrimp" or buck your way out from under him. Most importantly, if you find yourself in this position you have to REMAIN CALM, breathe, think and act. The drunk could have concentrated on wrapping up one of Ronnie's arms, then headbutted Ronnie. Those shots on the side of the head that the drunk guy receives, while distracting, aren't the end of the day. Shots to the front of the head (eyes, nose) are much more debilitating to anyone. One well placed headbutt would have exploded Ronnies face/nose/cheekbones.
  • In longer clips you can find, this fight goes on much longer and the drunk guy actually reverses the position and ends up on top of Ronnie for a bit. And this is good news for him because what I predicted would happen, happened. Ronnie runs out of gas. Sure he is a musclehead, but that doesn't mean he has any sort of cardio underneath him. If you end up in a bad situation such as this and can withstand the original flurry, you can eventually overpower your out of shape assailant and take the situation back under your control.
  • End of video - security finally shows up and intervenes. Ronnie, limping, walks away. You will also notice that he has a black eye in the video.

I have written a lot about these 40 seconds of video - fights happen fast! In the end there are several great takeaways. This could have been totally avoided. If the fight is going to happen, let it happen on your terms. Don't let a muscle bound guy get inside on you if at all possible. If he does, buck, shrimp and cover while he exhausts himself, then counter. Street fights do NOT have rules so anything goes. Why the drunk guy didn't try a headbutt is beyond me, nor did he try an eye gouge, or biting. Neither guy attempted any groin strikes (drunk guy could have tried that from the bottom). Lastly, good thing neither guy had a shank, or friends who could have done a bit of stomping.

Venison Playoff Chili

On Saturday I needed to prepare some venison chili for the Sunday playoff tailgate feast. I spotted something unusual about the steaks before I cut them into small cubes.

There was something about the shapes that got my attention.

The camera was nearby but the light was low. I did not feel like going upstairs for the tripod so I grabbed a quick but blurry snapshot.

Monday Morning Blues - Bear's Blues Edition

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bears Tailgate Vs. Green Bay

In retrospect of course the best part of the Bears vs. Packers NFC Championship game was the tailgate. We got there early in the Adler lot and set up a tent with a heater to boot and this made the wind and cold much more palatable.

The first course was huevos rancheros I believe - a great dish that Terry prepared for us. The photo is tinted blue because the side wind screens were blue it wasn't dyed in honor of the Bears.

Gerry also had some great chili that he makes without Beans and we also had crabcakes as a third course.

We were close in with some Packer fans, who were decent folks nonetheless. One of them was attractive and we were joking she was the only attractive female Packer fan we'd ever seen, which she thought was quite funny and it appeared to make her day (she is the one on the left with the Ice Bowl jacket). She was interviewed by the TMJ4 TV station out of Milwaukee and Courtny Gerrish (here is her facebook link) came over and talked to her and the adjacent Bear and Packer fans.

Here is the flyover which was great too after the national anthem.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Restaurants Around River North

Blue 13 is a restaurant in River North. It is on Ontario kind of tucked away past the on-ramp for the Kennedy, near the giant Reza's restaurant. I took Dan there when he was in town recently and he was wowed by their food, which is great because he has high standards (unlike me).

I had rabbit from their new winter menu and it was fantastic. Previously I got their "steak and eggs on acid" pretty much because of the awesome title, and it also is much better than it sounds. I also recommend their unique gin that they sell called Ransom Old Tom Gin which has fruit flavors and is completely unlike anything that you'd expect in the way of gin. Finally, their desserts are great I like the "coffee and donuts" which can't really be described here and a friend of mine who is an expert in sweets liked their vanilla ice cream so much (it was part of a pie a la mode) that he half-jokingly wanted to buy a gallon from them. They also have a great beer selection and the entire night is reasonably priced (for River North). Highly recommended please patronize them so that they stay open and around.

Moe's Cantina recently opened in a cavernous building off Kinzie near the Merchandise Mart. I did not know what to expect since they also own some other giant bars / restaurants near Wrigleyville that are hit-or-miss or fine during game day but you wouldn't go there otherwise.

When I first went in there were a group of four young women in their 20's and an order of tequila shots came for the table and one of them shouted "I love shots!" which probably will be her mating call later that night. The place was packed and with brick walls and high flat ceilings I figured I would be deafened in a giant bar.

Actually I was completely wrong. The restaurant was very professionally run we had a reservation and they showed us to the table and the food was excellent and reasonably priced. It was quite the "scene" they are into skewers which I didn't have but are hung on your table kind of like those gyro meat things that turn but with a much better presentation. I was pleasantly surprised but wouldn't go there without a reservation because it is nuts. There were flat screen TV's along all the walls with the Bulls game on it would be a good place to see a game. If you are over 30 or so you will feel like you are the oldest person in there but heck, that's life and if you don't like it move to the 'burbs.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Thank you.

*Our Papa
Who art a bear,
Hallowed be thy fame,
Thy championship come,
Thy play be run,
At home as it is away.

Give us this day our Sunday win,
And forgive us our turnovers,
Though we pounce on those who turn against us,
Lead us not into third and long,
And deliver us from McCaskey's.


In the name of Ditka, Butkus,
And the Holy Payton,
As it was in 1985,
So shall it be in 2011,
Without end reign,

* Edited from this site.

In no way am I clever enough to write that.

Violence Will Likely Occur at This Bears Game

Soldier Field is a small NFL stadium, at about 62,000 fans. There are 2 sides to the stadium, the east side (closest to the lake) which is essentially a giant sports bar where you can walk from your seats inside to sit down and watch flat screen TV's and get a bloody mary or whatever.

Then there is the west side of the stadium. This is where the cheap non PSL seats reside, and ticket prices are about 1/3 of the face value of the other side. This is where Dan and I and our lucky guests reside.

There is nowhere to warm up on this side of the stadium, except for the bathrooms, and I can tell you that they are none too glamorous this time of year and since men will outnumber women 50-1 at this game the men's washrooms will be completely packed to the rafters.

Since I have never been in the east side I can't say but I can affirm that in my 50+ Bears games attended on the west side the fans get pretty drunk. We don't have too many fans from the opposing team and they usually get mercilessly heckled, except for one time the Steelers came on opening day and it completely sucked because these idiot Steeler fans kept personally taunting the Bears (saying stuff like Cutler needs a candy bar) and Dan was showered with three full cups of beer that were meant for these dopes that landed on him, instead (somehow I stayed dry). This game must have been some sort of metaphysical test for Dan because as any casual reader of the blog knows Dan can fight like a MF and even I could have stomped on these particular dweebs and one of them even said stuff pretty much right to Dan's face which just prompted Dan to get up and go down to get a beer or get out of there before he literally killed the guy. If the Steelers would have won that day (the Bears pulled it out in the last second) I do think that many celebrating Steelers fans would have gotten stomped right there and then since they were seriously outnumbered, seriously drunk, and seriously obnoxious.

If any tickets are going to be sold in significant numbers to the Packer fans they are going to be the ones in the west side, since every time we sit in one of our 2 groups of 2 seats we see new people around, meaning that probably they go up on stub hub or ebay or whatever every week. And the Packers fans are going to be willing to pay and show up in large numbers.

So let's go through some scenarios:
1) It's a blowout, either way. In this case the excitement will drain out of the drunks and probably this leads, paradoxically, to the least amount of conflict
2) It's a close game, and the Bears win. In this case the Bears fans will shout and the Packers fans will shout back but since they will be a bit broken by the loss likely only scattered fights
3) It's a close game, and the Packers win. Here is where violence breaks out everywhere. The seats are stuffed until the last seconds, everyone is keyed up, and then the Pack starts to celebrate the NFC title right there in the Bears' house. This is when it is just going to go nuts, as people 3x the legal limit just jump on each other and security of course won't even get there for 20 minutes and when they do they will be totally outgunned. As it is they need 6 guys in red jackets to take out 2 tame guys I don't know how they can do anything the moment the game is done and it all goes down

Just wait for the news stories on this one if #3 occurs... and probably #2 as well. Heck, even #1 will have a few.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Biggest Game Ever - Until The Next One

Fair weather fan Dan here. Or so I am told this week by a number of people. So be it.

Apparently I have a huge issue with my manhood and am perhaps from another planet. I made the conscious decision NOT to attend this weekends BIG GAME at Soldier Field. You should hear the cries of derision from friends and family who know I am a Bears Season Ticket Holder.

I went last weekend and had a lot of fun. When I got home I collapsed from exhaustion at my house in Madison at 7.30, smelling like smoke, with cracked lips and cheeks.

You see, once I explain to people what I have to do to attend a Bear game they usually take it a bit easier on me. It is like they think that all I do is drive down there, enter the stadium, watch the game and drive home. It is hard to explain to people how difficult it is to actually attend a Bear game due to several things. In all, probably one of the worst NFL experiences next to FedEx Field.

I have to leave my house by 4.30 to get to Chicago by 7 or 7.30. The traffic is random, even on a Sunday morning and I have to leave time to be sure that I get to the pickup point for my friends on time. Why so early? Because the lots open at 8 (four hours before game time) and for the better part of the last two decades, the tailgate has been the best part of the game. The parking “attendants” (that is being nice calling them that) move traffic in asinine ways all around Soldier Field. If you don’t get there right when the lots open up you are hosed.

After Sundays game, it took me a total of four hours to get home. For those who are mathematically challenged, that is being away from home a total of fifteen hours. And that was WITHOUT significant traffic. Sometimes I have been away for up to TWENTY hours if I had bad luck on the Kennedy and felt like crap for several days afterward. It is brutal, and the dish is served even more cold if you toss in the crap winter weather.

On top of this, I had plans with my family to have fun in the Dells. Who knew the Bears would be in the NFC title game?

So when you fill people in on the hows and whys of going to a game at Soldier Field, they are usually a little more sypmathetic to my plight. This goes WAY back to when they were deciding what to do about remodeling Soldier Field. I was praying that they would do the RIGHT THING and put a new stadium with a retractable roof right where Poplar Creek Music Theater used to be. Endless parking for tailgating. Easy access to and from I-90. Everything perfect. But no, the Chicago way wasn’t having any of that.

As I have gotten older, I have attended fewer and fewer Bear games, and what I went through last week simply adds fuel to that fire. I will probably only go to the opener and one or two other games a year. I would rather either watch it on TV, or if we suck, I will just ride my bike.

So, this Sunday, I will be sitting at home watching this one by the fire, with a pile of wings and a couple of beers. I will wish I was there. Until the second the game is over, then I will be glad I am here.

Cross posted at FRT.

Monday, January 17, 2011


When Michael Jordan played in Chicago everyone followed the Bulls. After his departure we hit the skids although for some reason they keep filling up the United Center night after night. The Bulls hit the jackpot when they were able to draft Derrick Rose even though they had only a 1.7% shot of getting the first pick in the draft and since then it has been fun to watch the Bulls again and he keeps getting better and better each year.

Dan and I go back and forth about the NBA and he is often bored by the games and they never play defense until the end, a fact parodied by a spot on Onion article titled "NBA To Experiment with 3-Minute Games":

Nobody, including the players, cares about those first 45 minutes anyway," said Stern, adding that video analysis of prior NBA games consistently showed that players don't play defense, run, or show any amount of passion until the game's final two minutes.

Dan occasionally tries to watch some abysmal game like the Timberwolves but now I have a new challenge for him - watch a game with new LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin and see how he dominates around the basket and dunks like a madman. The guy is essentially a rookie (he sat out his first season with a busted kneecap) and players are apparently devolving to cheap shots to keep him from embarrassing them, at least per this article.

It reminds me of an NBA game I saw at an actual NBA stadium (don't remember where) with Shawn Kemp in his prime. The amazing thing about Kemp was that he was built like a bodybuilder but was immensely tall. He looked like a giant out there on the court and just threw people around. That guy Griffin reminds me of that. Dan - give a Clippers game a try and see if it is at least modestly interesting for half the game; a whole 3 hour NBA game is too much to swallow for even the players.

Life In The Great Midwest Product Of The Month

We used to have up on the masthead a slogan "we shill for nobody" but we do deviate from that on occasion. This is one such occasion.

Over on the most important and most heavily trafficked site on the web, Drunk Bear Fans, I put up an update from the Bears Seahawks game yesterday. On that update is a fine upstanding citizen with what we were told was a Beermingo. Well, actually it is a Flabongo.

Take a look at that outstanding website with the babes chugging cornwater out of that thing and tell me you don't need one of those.

As for me, I left the beer bong back at kollej, never to return.


Monday Morning Blues

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bears vs. Seattle Playoff Game

The Chicago Bears had a great day and beat Seattle. Next up is Green Bay at home.

We had a four jet flyover which was epic. The crowd was really pumped up for the game.

A couple of years ago we stopped tailgating at the South Lot and moved to the Adler Lot, which is right by the Adler Planetarium along Lake Michigan. We were able to park along the grass and got some great views in the morning.
Gerry and his brother Terry cooked up an incredible feast including this Gumbo. Thanks again for the food; I would bet cash money that our tailgates feature the best food at any lot near Soldier Field.

Some guys next to us put up a huge tent and had an actual large jukebox. They said it was hooked up to the internet (they brought power) and they played a wide range of very annoying tunes.

The Chicago Park District makes a big deal about their pat-down policy. You can see how effective it is given that the row behind us was able to smuggle in a variety of beers and the like.

Also there will be big updates over at "Drunk Bear Fans" - the most important site on the internet.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Forbidden Fruit

As I have grown older, I have found it fascinating to see how my taste in women has changed. Now don't get me wrong here - when I say "taste in women" I mean one thing and one thing only - looking, NOT doing. I am very happily married. But hey, I am a guy and I won't deny that I like looking at other women. I don't consider it cheating, or being mean to my wife, or anything else. I am just hard wired that way.

My wife and I on occasion play a fun game while we are watching TV. If I see a guy that I think is "good looking", I will ask my wife what she thinks about him. Sometimes I am surprised at the answer. Being a woman, she looks at the entire package of a guy more often. If the guy is a known scumbag, but still has studly looks, the wife will more often than not say she couldn't go there. Being a guy, I hardly care about a woman's past and will typically blurt out "hot" or "not". My wife has a soft spot for Nick Cage. That guy is a known scofflaw, but for some reason she just looooves him.

When I was young I never, ever looked at older women. Now, they are the ones that I find the most interesting, because you can usually get a conversation out of them and that is interesting to me. Sure you get the pure looks out of some of the younger set, but typically upon talking to them there is zero for me upstairs. That is one of the reasons I fell in love with my wife - smart AND good looking.

But on to the forbidden part of this post. Once in a while I will see a woman who is to me, a show stopper. As mentioned before, I am more interested in older women than I used to be, but I have always been interested in goth/tatted up chicks as well. I have never dated a woman with even one tattoo, much less a bunch of them. Of course most of the women who are all tatted up are doing it for attention, but I guess I don't care. On Facebook the other day I saw a photo of one of my friends with one Sabina Kelley. This is Sabina. Click for larger.
Uh, there is a whole lot to like about that photo and Sabina in general. This is the type of woman, along with older women, that can turn my head (I should add that I also lean toward women who are in shape). I think it is the whole "you will never have this" or "you have never had anything remotely close to this" aspect in my head that makes her so attractive to me. Again, I don't want my wife to go all tattooish on me or even for her to change her looks because I think my wife is babalicious just how she is. I just find it interesting to see how my taste in women has changed over the years and what type of women can turn my head now - and which ones can't.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sell The Dream - Deliver The Turd

Some time back Dan previewed the new B10 logo, emblem, identity or look of the newer, expanded collegiate athletic conference and I promised a response.

For the past six weeks I have been busier than Michael Jackson at a day care center so my professional opinion/response as to why the B10 picked such an awful design is a bit late.

Creating an identity for a major business (and make no mistake about it, the B10 is a huge business) is usually assigned to a very elite and small group of companies who are highly specialized in their field. I have personally worked on projects with these guys. I never worked with these guys but their work is exemplary.

The B10 found good reason to revamp their identity (logo). By adding a twelveth school it further eroded their equity in ten schools especially after adding another years ago making it eleven. So now the conference is composed of twelve entities, but somehow they feel the need to hold on to the “10” figure due to tradition and heritage. This poses a huge problem for any business.

In unveiling a new visual identity the B10 took a huge risk and it backfired. Why?

With my 30+ years of career experience in graphic design and marketing I can only speculate on why this specific emblem was chosen, but I don’t think it would be too far off the mark.

The B10 first must have first chosen a company, or group of companies with a reputation, companies that had a history of creating memorable and successful visual identities for major corporations. They did not. They likely would have issued an RFP, a Request For Proposal. In this document, the lucky vendors chosen are given access to the assignment and opportunity to bid on the cost of executing the requested deliverables. I doubt this was done. Traditionally they all must present a response by a given date from all potential vendors. I have doubt they even did this.

Once the RFP’s are formally returned the client (B10), they may choose from a number of vendors for a speculative creative shoot-out to win the business (smart) or choose only one for a fee (dumb). My guess is that they chose only one.

THIS is the firm they chose.

When I researched this firm the first thing I noticed is that they specialize in architectural identities like urban high rise real estate, stadiums and such. Nothing on display indicated they were specialists in brand identities. So why did the B10 choose them? Here are a few reasons for me to speculate on.

1. It may have been cost. Their RFP may have been lowest and was delivered in a very compelling way. Firms delivering simple, boring white paper RFP’s are usually ignored over those delivering a fancy and impressive three-dimensional presentation. In this game, cost is not an object when pitching a large high profile client.

2. It may have been reputation. Many designers are able to achieve a recognized name or a brand for themselves by winning industry awards. To win awards these companies will do work for free as long as they maintain total creative control. Surrendering creative control leads to bad design due to paid client meddling.

3. There may have been a business relationship that this firm had with one of the B10 marketing chiefs from a past association. Since this firm had a reputation for creating visual solutions for stadium architecture graphics this would be my guess. If this were the case, this is the wrong reason to have given them this specific assignment.

My guess is a combination of 2 and 3.

Whoever in the B10 hierarchy had the authority to hire this firm did so for two reasons.

First, they could drop a name. This firm already had an established and recognized name in the sports marketing industry. This decision was probably based on the firm’s reputation for individual stadium identity design work. I see no other proof of past memorable identity work on their website.

Second, he/she knew the guy. Trust me, previous relationships go a long way. Existing relationships in the business carry more weight than any other reason to do business. Combine that with the ever-popular name drop and this firm was awarded the assignment.

When famous artists and designers achieve a level of recognition their work goes without question. They can deliver sh!t on a stick and the buyer will stand back in awe of their creation without question.

Then there is the rationale. Why is this design perfect for the application? Here is the designer’s rationale:

Michael Gericke, co-designer of the logo, said:

“The new Big Ten logo was developed to symbolize the conference’s future, as well as its rich heritage, strong tradition of competition, academic leadership, and passionate alumni, Its contemporary collegiate lettering includes an embedded numeral “10” in the word “BIG” which allows fans to see “BIG” and “10” in a single word. Memorable and distinctive, the new logo evolved from the previous logo’s use of negative space and is built on the conference’s iconic name, without reference to the number of member institutions.”

What utter rubbish. I dare anyone to connect his rationale with any aspect of his design in color, shape, typography or iconography.

This is what I mean when I say the buyer will simply stand back in awe and never question what a glorious masterpiece they purchased. Think Warhol. But Warhol never needed a rationale.

Future? Heritage? Passionate Alumni? Total bullsh!t!

The B10 ended up with a visual turd and the designer walked away with another handsome (probably seven digit) fee, along with the claim that they executed it and therefore gaining an even larger reputation to help obtain future business opportunities.

The B10 leaders have and will continue to defend this abortion. B10 Commissioner Delaney is not backpedling.

While I do not think Mr. D had anything to do personally with the identity development he lacked the guts to stand up in the boardroom presentation and call this turd a turd. He delegated the assignment to a trusted hire of his own choosing and to admit that individual’s poor decision would be admitting his own failure in hiring that individual.

I’ve seen it all coming from a career in the corporate marketing environment for over 30 years. This single episode in corporate marketing @ssholery does not surprise me one bit.

And that is about all that I can say about it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Borrowing Dan's Crappy Beer Challenge

I was wasting some time surfing through channels last night when I stumbled upon a show named "Drinking Made Easy" and they were touring Milwaukee. The host went into a bar that had a wide variety of beers on tap and available and basically made a bet with the bartender / owner that he couldn't tell his FAVORITE bad beer from the other bad beers in a blind taste test.

It is Dan's Crappy Beer Challenge! You saw it here first!

Mmmmm mmmmm look at the beers that they have to choose from. At first I thought my color was bad but that is PBR Light so it is just blue not red and blue.

And in this second photo you can see that they had the same effect that Dan's had - the beers, when poured into a glass, have no head whatsoever. Yum.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Training for non-zealots

Recently there was some research that was pithily titled "Are your Friends Making You Fat?" which basically said that if your peer group (friends, family) was overweight, you were more likely to be overweight, too.
Good behaviors — like quitting smoking or staying slender or being happy — pass from friend to friend almost as if they were contagious viruses. The participants, the data suggested, influenced one another’s health just by socializing. And the same was true of bad behaviors — clusters of friends appeared to “infect” each other with obesity, unhappiness and smoking.
Anyone who is even a remotely casual reader of this blog (the few, the proud :)) knows that Dan is pretty much a self-confessed exercise zealot. A few years ago Dan was just another middle-aged guy when he went on a serious diet and began martial arts training and now he is WAY out on the curve as far as physical fitness for his age group.

For me, this has helped. While I am not a zealot a few years ago I couldn't imagine running at all but I have moved from a 5k to a 10k to soon a 10 mile. Maybe late in 2011 I will run a half marathon but not quite there, yet.

And Dan has helped with his relatively-polite scolding. It does make sense to live a healthier life and he is living proof that you can do it.

Dan recently talked about his multi-sport training; for me, the day I signed up for a 10 mile run a few months out I broke a middle toe. In the past that would have been a great excuse for not working out; but that same morning I got up and went to the trainer and that weekend I tried something new for me - the stair master (because it was less jarring on my toe and I want it to heal). While many people do that without too much trouble, an hour on that damn thing completely had me soaked with sweat, and on a relatively low setting. But when you start out something new it is always harder; I'm sure after a while I will get the hang of it a bit better.

So Dan's sport zealotry has rubbed off on me, and heck I probably am in the top 20% of health for my age, from barely in the top half previously. That's still an upward trend. And just getting up and working out in pretty much all conditions without too much of a second thought is also par for the course.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Infrastructure and the meaning of "Investment"

In the field of accounting traditionally assets were "hard" assets, like land, cash on hand, factories, and other similar items. You could "touch" an asset, and you saved up capital in advance and then "invested" it into projects that would expand your capacity to do business or do it cheaper than your competitor (improvements). This "traditional" view of assets came under attack in the 2nd half of the 20th century, as accountants pointed out that brands had value (the classic example - the "Golden Arches" at McDonald's). As the economy moved more towards services, the public accounting firms also noted that people did not have value in this model; the famous line was "all my assets go out the door each night".

The traditional view of government was that they 1) built things like roads, bridges, schools, and jails 2) provided critical services like police, fire and military protection. In this manner citizens could see with their own eyes the value of the taxes that they were paying to the government; with it came roads, schools, and essential services.

Analogous to what occurred with accounting practitioners, those lobbying for higher taxes, which mainly go to transfer payments to favored constituencies, re-defined what an "investment" means. An investment used to be something tangible, like a highway extension or a new school; but now it is an investment in people, meaning that you as a citizen are in effect paying for a transfer payment to someone else.

It is astounding to see the degree to which the "traditional" view of government investment has been crowded out by the new view of investment being a transfer payment to someone else. In the City of Chicago we see the rotting, rusting hulk of the "L" tracks over our head every day, with holes in the streets and bridges and the only things that are new are the buildings erected with private funds that comprise our skyline.

Meanwhile in China they are building ENTIRE CITIES the size and scale of Chicago FROM SCRATCH. Now that is the traditional view of investment; power plants, roads, bridges, and all manner of hard assets to boot. It is amazing to think of what they are constructing there vs. the pathetic state of our infrastructure in the United States. And yet our government spends much more, but we direct it into transfer payments to other citizens or for retired government employees, rather than those "old school" ideas of traditional investments.

This rhetorical sleight of hand has gotten out of control; we need to re-label transfer payments as transfer payments and investments to be those things that actually serve the population for the future. This is not to say that all money spent on education and health care isn't an investment; it IS when those individuals gain significant and useful skills that they can utilize for the economy. But overall, the building of even a highway or power plant is now beyond the pale even with government spending far higher than the historical norm; transfer payments have been re-defined as investment. Just look at those rusting "L" tracks to prove it.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Tribune Images and The Media's Relationship with the Military

If you are in Chicago and get an opportunity to walk along Michigan Avenue you should pay attention to the Chicago Tribune headquarters. In the outside of the building they have stones embedded from historic locations worldwide. In the interior lobby they have statements engraved in the foyer.

The Chicago Tribune building was built between World War One and World War Two. They have the motto of the First Infantry division, made famous in the first world war
No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great
The history of the division can be found here at Wikipedia. In brief, they were part of the US forces that blunted the German offensive in 1918 when the other Allies (French, British) were crumbling, leading the victory at Cantigny and moving on to other costly battles through the remainder of 1918 until the armistice. During WW1 this division and their bravery and sacrifice were portrayed well by the media, indicated by the fact that this motto was carved on the wall and generally the public would not view this as an obscure fact.

The second quote would be obscure today even to most individuals reasonably acquainted with military history. As a teenager I read Blair's "Silent Victory" which was an account of the US submarine offensive against Japan in WW2 so I recognized it.
Take her down
Was the command made by the captain, Howard Gilmore, of a US submarine on a mission when his sub was severely damaged by a Japanese gunboat. The captain was wounded and still on the bridge; this order was essentially his death sentence because he was not going to be able to get into the sub in time to avert the Japanese ship. Gilmore received the highest US military honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor, for his bravery.

At its time the newspaper and radio were powerful forces for communication, as well as movies which took the place of television today as a visual medium. The US forces were portrayed well in combat and the media helped to promote the true heroism displayed by our soldiers.

It is interesting to think, today, if anyone can name any divisions' motto or cite specific acts of bravery by individual US soldiers. While people go to great pains to say that they support the war, the media does not work the war into everyday stories as far as heroism, and Hollywood is even worse, focusing on the hunt for weapons of mass destruction rather than the day-to-day heroism of our soldiers on the front line. It isn't a co-incidence that most of the movies about Iraq (are there any about Afghanistan, except for the excellent Restrepo?) have been flops (with the exception of the Hurt Locker) but we know no one in Hollywood is learning.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Sport Specific Training

I heard a little interesting news the other day. My gym is moving to the other side of town, and they are dropping their boot camp, as well as the kids programs, and a few other things. All of the associate instructors are going to be let go, and the head instructor will be teaching all of the Muay Thai, BJJ and MMA classes. JKD will also still be taught on a private basis.

Things change, and business is tough all around. The head instructor has joined with another gym to share space. The gym he will be sharing space with has cardio equipment - it is almost like one of those 24 hour fitness joints. In fact, there will be a new membership option where you can access the gym 24/7 with your key card, and use all of the equipment like a health club, along with the gyms kickbags and other training aids.

I actually end up on the winning end of this deal. Frankly I hated the little kids there - they were a distraction at times. I still get to train MT with the best instructor in the region. I do lose my strength training classes at the end of February.

But that isn't all bad. I still have until the end of February to figure out what I am going to do, which is plenty of time. I think I already have a pretty good plan.

At the end of last year I joined a health club that had a pretty good deal going on. I did this because even though last year I ran outside all winter I couldn't do that this year because of one major reason. I am going to France in June to ride my bike in the Pyranees and I am scared sh*tless of breaking my ankle/leg running on snow/ice. For a nominal fee I am able to use an indoor track and treadmills in the winter. Along with this, there are the other things that I can do, such as weights, steam room, you name it. I have found out that I enjoy heading out there quite a bit. I even got into a pickup game of hoops last week, and that was great.

I hadn't shot hoops in a very long time, and I am so much stronger now than I used to be. It sounds funny, but the basketball felt so light compared to how it used to feel. No, I wasn't using a womens basketball. Working out will do that to you.

So I have been reading about strength training for cyclists on the internets. It has been interesting. There are two camps. One says do it, the other says not to. I am not really a competitive cyclist and I enjoy the benefits strength training brings to me with my other sports. Note I am saying strength training and NOT bodybuilding. There is a huge difference.

I need to maintain my long and lean body for my cardio activities - extra muscle weighs me down. Muscle weighs more than fat. To digress a bit, this is why when you say "I am going to lose 20 pounds" that this isn't necessarily a good goal. As you muscle up, you may look great but the scale may not say so. Body fat percentage is a better way to go. But enough of the digression.

Most likely I will create my own strength training program from info gleaned from the 'tubes and run with that. Some sites have strength training set up specifically for cyclists so I will just copy some of these workouts and tailor them to my needs. They have all of the equipment at the health club (and they are open 24/7/365 so it won't be a problem to fit it into my routine.

As I was saying earlier, too much muscle would intrude bigtime on my running and biking. I do reap benefits of strength training at my farm, at work and in the other athletic activities that I am in. I think it is a great part of being an all around athlete. I will never win cardio contests in my age group (although I consistently place in the top 25%) but I am happy to sacrifice that for the piece of fitness that strength gives me.

I was reminded of this last weekend when I got into a discussion with a young woman who is trying out for the US bobsled team. Her shoulders, back and arms were pretty big. I asked her about her training and it is all quick blasts, plyometrics, and things of that nature, along with strength training. They do zero cardio work unless they need to lose weight. There is a maximum weight for bobsledders (I think she said 175 pounds). The woman told me that the US training is light years behind countries that take this sort of thing seriously like the Germans. It was a good conversation and I got the same sort of "you have an arm growing out of your head" look from her that I have gotten from many others when I tell her about my training regimen.

I like conversations like this one. It is fascinating to hear about how others train and really interesting to hear about sport specific training. I am an advocate of being an all around athlete and that is what I will be forever. I could certainly be a competitive amateur cyclist or runner, but that isn't what I am after.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Cheap Beer

Since I am an adult I rarely consider buying the cheapest of beers, even though I often end up with Miller Lite at sporting events. I spoke with a nephew of mine about what they drank at college and he mentioned "Beer 30". Beer 30 is of course a play on the old "What time is it?" gap and the answer is of course... "beer 30". Apparently you can buy a thirty pack of it (yes, a double-entendre) for about $10 bucks, which I guess would be 33 cents / can (or maybe 50 cents a can / with tax). If you want to be amused check out the reviews of this beer over at the Beer Advocate web site here is a sample:
This beer comes in a purple can. That should tell you something right off the bat. This is by far the worst tasting beer I have ever imbibed. The mouth feel is extremely thin and watery. It barely taste like beer. It just taste terrible and smells terrible, like dirty corn and urine
But hey, when you don't have much money, you make choices like this - apparently the competition is Keystone Light. We have our friend "Joe Strohs" who earned that nickname (not his real name) by bringing his clothes to college in a plastic bag and filling his closet with thirty packs of... you guessed it... Strohs. At the time Strohs was innovative by developing the 30 pack - after all that was 6 extra beers that you could carry with you at once.

I went on the lookout for "Beer 30" but apparently it isn't around in Chicago - but we have our fair share of competition for bad beer. Here is "Buck Range" which is $6 for a 12 pack, or at that magic price-point of 50 cents / can. I found this highly amusing as far as product placement, because it is right below beer I ACTUALLY drink - the Goose Island set of Matilda, Sophie and Pere Jacques. You get one bottle each (but they are twice as large, to be fair) for $24, or $8 / bottle. To even the ounces with the Beer 30 / Buck Range competition we'd be comparing $4 for an equivalent sized Goose Island beer against 50 cents for the competitors. That is an 8-1 price differential. In this instance, paying 8x the price is a good bargain, once you are old enough and well-off enough to afford it. Until then, it is the cheap stuff.

Monday Morning Blues

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Another Bloody Mary Morning

This day seems right for conjuring up a fresh batch of my homemade Bloody Mary mix. I have my reasons.

It’s cold outside. The sun is shining. The fire is already going. The Bears are playing the Green Bay Peckers today at 3:15. This day ends in a ‘Y’.

And, I am making a couple of pizzas that will be ready at halftime.

There are some very good pre-made Bloody Mary mixes on the market but Mr. & Mrs. T’s is not one of them. Zing Zang is a good one. I see on the internets that Tabasco has one offered but I have not tried it.

Here’s my favorite recipe. I am told it was stolen obtained by a friend of a friend who worked as a bartender at The Four Seasons restaurant in midtown Manhattan. I have had the pleasure of dining there once on business.

2 cans V-8 (picante or tangy flavor is preferred)
1/3 c worchestershire (whasdishere) sauce
1 T Tabasco
1 T celery salt
juice from 2 limes
1T fresh ground black pepper
horseradish to taste, fresh is best
3 cubes beef bullion dissolved in water

Be very careful with the horseradish.

I have garnished this drink with traditional celery and lime but have enjoyed it with any combination of pickled asparagus, pickled okra, a hot & spicy stringbean, along with crabmeat chunks and/or shrimp on a long skewer. Specialty stores are best for finding pickled spiced and seasoned veggies. Is this healthy or what??? Creativity is encouraged. A Bloody Mary could damn well be called brunch in a glass : )

This mix is definitely better than it has to be and is much more better than good. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A New, New Year Tradition

Traditions do not happen until they are initiated and repeated. It's never too late to begin one.

Last year we received a gift of yeasted malt waffle mix and pure maple syrup. These waffles were so good I wrote about them. Thanks to the bro, we have some again this year. This will be the official annual New Year’s Day brunch from now on here at the country bunker. It's a treat, not something we make any old day of the year.

The mix must sit and allowed to rise for an hour and a half after adding eggs, cream, yeast and butter.

This maple syrup is not like the stuff you find on your grocer’s shelf, at least not at my local grocery, but I am sure the trendy upscale food stores in Chicago stock it. I think bottle this came from Williams-Sonoma.

Real vanilla beans floating in the sweetness add a nice flavor.

If you have never tried real maple syrup it is very thin and ultra sweet so you don't need much. Commercial brands like to portray their syrup as thick because it is usually loaded with adjuncts meant to increase their viscosity.

A yeasted waffle brunch would not be complete without bacon and some eggs cooked in the rendered bacon fat.


A sidebar: the finest bacon is sold under the Farmland label. Farmland Hickory Smoked Bacon. Don't waste money on so called 'gourmet' bacon costing upwards of $8 per pound. Been there, done that. We have tried dozens of bacon brands and Farmland is by far the very best. It's also low in price. This was confirmed years later in a taste test conducted by Cook's Illustrated Magazine, so I must be doing something right.

Tomorrow it’s back to the more mundane wintertime weekend breakfast, French toast and homemade Bloody Mary’s. C’mon back tomorrow and I will post my recipe for the world’s best Bloody Mary. It comes from the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan. It was stolen obtained by a friend of a friend who spent time as a bartender there.

Nothing like savoring the first Bloody Mary of the New Year!