Thursday, December 21, 2006

Entertainment review

We saw Munich last night. That was a huge disappointment. In fact, I didn't even bother watching the last five minutes because it was such a pointless movie. The story could've been compelling - the real life events certainly lend themselves to such - but it wasn't. Instead, it was like 5 hours (seemingly) of waiting for each person to be assassinated. The thread that held the "story" together wasn't even thick enough to floss with. It made me ask, when was the last time that Spielberg told a good story instead of just putting out a big movie? If anyone liked this movie, please enlighten me. One note: Daniel Craig was in it (Grrr, baby) but he was not looking quite so sexy in his 70's duds.
Currently, I'm watching Iron Chef - with a battle between Giada De Laurentis and Rachel Ray. Iron Chef America is not as entertaining as the original Iron Chef, but it's amazing to see what they can do with cranberries.
Final entertainment note: They are making a movie based on Philip Pullman's series "His Dark Materials." If you haven't read those books, I really recommend them! They are supposedly children's books, but they are kind of intense - even more so than Harry Potter. Anyway, I'm very excited about the movie.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

When the hoarding instinct comes in handy

I have been in quite a funk lately both about work and the upcoming holidays. I'm just not looking forward to them. Thanksgiving turned out better than I thought - mostly because of my (and those offered by Simba's mom) clever comments at the holiday table. This time I have to look forward to this weird polish thing where you hold a wafer and run around the room breaking off a piece of someone else's wafer while they take a piece of yours - and you each say something nice to each other. I'm plumb out of nice. I forgot to get input from Simba's mom at work today on what I should say.
Anyway, being my cranky self, I have been unable to stay at work and I've been using my hoarded vacation and personal days. Actually, I'm only using a total of 4 vacation and 1 personal days, but I've also been out some 1/2 days for doctor's appointments. All legit, but I'm kind of curious to see if someone is going to notice. I don't want to have to show them my clocked hours (that I log everyday on my calendar), but it might be nice to be missed....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ta Da!

After an embarrassing long search - we finally bought a couch! We even got a love seat to go with it! Yeehaw! I'm not sure what that says about us when most couples are excited about their new home and we're barely at the couch stage. Kinda crappy photo, but you get the idea. They don't feel quite like the overstuffed sausages that they look like, either.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I'd like to be able to blame it on the weather....

But I think I'm just getting old. This week (and yes, it's only Wednesday) I've left my apartment with two different shoes on, and my nose ran without me feeling it. Both firsts. That means, that if I hadn't - by some miracle - have looked down at my feet before leaving the lobby of my building, I would've actually made it to work with one brown boot and one black boot on. Note, I did make it out of my apartment and down the elevator ride and almost out the building without me or anyone else noticing. On the way home from work, I was one of those snot nosed kids! How gross is that? That MAY be blamed on the weather, but it's been this cold before and that has never happened.

Monday, November 20, 2006

007 and Mickey Mouse

It may seem unseemly that in the same weekend I drooled over the new James Bond I also took delight in watching the Festival of Lights parade from my window, but there you have it. I have to say that I really liked the new Bond movie. Really. It's got to be my favorite. This is saying a lot because I waited with anticipation for Pierce Brosnan to be Bond, and I couldn't imagine anyone filling his shoes. I like the movie for more reasons than Daniel Craig's handsome face too. The movie is smarter with an actual plot in addition to all the fancy tricks. I like this Bond a lot more too. He has a sense of humor, and he's more brutal than the others. He's less slick, and is a character closer to how I imagine a spy. I also really appreciated the opening scene that involved free running or Parkour. Sebastien Foucan was the athlete in the movie. It's a cool sport. Click here for a video clip.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The land of Lincoln and the Amish

Our final stops on our way home from Tennessee included Mt. Vernon. Actually, we kinda had to stop there to dodge the ugly weather that was rolling through. I guess all of our weather fairies were taking a break at that point. It turned out perfectly because that way, we got to stop in and see the 5th District Appellate Courthouse. Yes, it is as small as it seems. It's really very cute. In the late 1840's, an extension of the IL Supreme Court was built - which is now the appellate court. This courthouse is where Abraham Lincoln argued and won an important tax case. Another fun fact: The town was named after George Washington's plantation.

From there, on to Arcola and Arthur, IL. This is the country's fourth largest Amish community. There's an Amish Community Interpretive Center in Arcola, along with a few cute shops, the Raggedy Ann and Andy museum (they hold an annual festival) and the world's only "hippie memorial." Arthur is a little more spread out, because it mostly consists of big Amish farms. We stopped in at Beechy's store and shopped with the Amish on fresh pie day. Shoefly pie is really good! And, if you've never seen a horse and buggy go - they haul.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Look, up in the sky!

On our trip back from Nashville, we HAD to stop to check out the official home of Superman. This would naturally be in Metropolis, IL. It's way down there near the border of IL and KY. It's a little old town - with not much going for it outside a super museum for Superman and a Harrah's casino. However, this summer - July 7-10 to be exact - a life size bronze statue of Lois Lane will be erected. Kiddies, pack your bags!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yeehaw! Welcome to Nashville

I was surprised to find Nashville such a liveable city. It didn't hurt that for the two days we were there it was 78 degrees in November....The downtown is not very big, and it is mostly country and western buildings. Two of the few main buildings include the Grand Ole Opry and Gaylord Entertainment Center - where this year's Country Music Awards were held.

Nashville is also the proud home of the Parthenon - a replica of the one in Greece, complete with a 40 foot statue of Athena.

We also went to Belle Meade Plantation, an old plantation known for raising thoroughbred racehorses and being a stud farm - not to mention for being the headquarters for the Confederate Army at some point during the Civil War. The Battle of Nashville was fought on the front lawn, and you can still see the bullet holes in the front columns of the house. Supposedly one of the plantation owner's daughters stood on the big porch yelling "get off my daddy's lawn" at the soldiers during the fight.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Love the unseasonably warm weather in Chicago?

You have my special guest to thank for that. The only person with a more powerful weather fairy than mine is my mom. Where my weather fairy prevents bad weather from spoiling events, hers actually brings good weather to her. Every time she is in Chicago the weather is PERFECT! She was here a few days before Christmas one year and it was 70 degrees. We took advantage of the nice weather to see Cloud Gate or "The bean" - it was being polished last time she was here. Tomorrow we head to Nashville, TN where it will be a high of 78! I even dug out my sandals for the trip. I'm sure those will look great with the big 'ol cowboy hat I'm gonna get.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The "H" stands for happyland

Cowboy and I discovered a fantastic new store - Super H Mart. It's this gi-normous Asian supermarket. They have a huge produce section, lots of fresh fish, tons of American and Asian food products - the place is huge. But wait, there's more! It's really like a mini mall. When you walk in, they have a bakery and a food court. The bakery offers some of the regulars - cheesecake and chocolate cake - and also sweet potato cake. The little restaurants offered: Chinese food, dumplings, and Korean bbq (my fav!). As you make your way though the giant produce section - I bought a napa cabbage the size of my thigh for $1.50 - you get into the seafood and frozen food areas. If you like fresh seafood - so the place to go (this also counts as a warning if you don't like seafood stalls). Really, I just got a kick out of seeing things like "pickled garlic stems" and "wild ice fish." There was a whole aisle full of different kinds of soy sauce! We ended up getting some Shumai and some curry steamed buns I can pop in the microwave. Relatively non-adventurous, but we also got "Azuki" flavored mochi without being sure what that was. On our way out, Cowboy commented that there's something great about being in line behind someone buying a "black chicken" when it really was a black chicken. Then, another surprise! We thought we were done with the store, but there was more! Little stalls offering products were on our way to the exist. Stalls like: The Face Shop, Beautiville, Jade Bed and Fancy Pencil. Since I'm a sucker for beauty potions and lotions - even though I don't really wear makeup - I'll be back for sure. Who knows? Fancy Pencil may even become my Christmas shopping headquarters. Who knew such an adventure exists in Niles, IL?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Betty v. the homeless guy

This post is a shout-out to all those nerdy boys who ask who would win if paired off in a cage match - Bruce Lee or Muhammad Ali? Ah, a question for the ages.
I thought summer was the season where all the mentally ill homeless people come out of hiding. Maybe there's something about the cold that triggers a mental break...
Two nights in a row I have seen a homeless guy (not the same one) yell at random people on the street and try and fight them. The first was really scary. There was some young college kid who was just standing at the corner waiting to cross the street. He had his little back-pack on and clearly just came from class. He seriously looked MAYBE 18. This guy comes up to him and starts yelling at him - totally nonsensically. The 18 year old didn't know what to do, and did what most people do - tried to ignore him. The light changed and the 18 year old started to cross. Luckily (I guess) he must've been more freaked out than he looked (which is saying something) and he noticed when the homeless guy started running after him yelling something that indicated he wanted to beat the kid to a pulp.
I don't know where it came from, but I went from being a little bit freaked out to Protecto - Girl and started to turn around to follow them to - what? fight the guy for the 18 year old? I think that's where my instincts were going - nuts as that is. Luckily, I didn't have to test where I was going, because I saw that the kid got away, and I turned back to continue on my path home. Anyway, I couldn't help asking myself who did I think would win? Maybe I could give him one of those notorious double punches that are impossible to guard against.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Criminal defense work

This week I had oral argument in my biggest case. It went pretty well. Of course, so did my last one (one of my most interesting and strongest cases) and I just found out that I lost that case. There's always the inevitable Supreme Court petition, but it's never been that likely that they'll take one from us lowly defense attorneys. I'm mad that I lost this particular case, because the facts of this case really illustrate how biased in favor of the prosecution the judicial system is. I can see how so many defense attorneys end up phoning it in after a while.
So, the fact that these oral arguments went well means nothing, and that fact kind of bursts the bubble created from the argument going so well - if you know what I mean.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

One step forward, another back

A woman's body was found in her Delhi apartment in January 1999 after being raped and strangled (among other injuries). The purported killer was tried and acquitted. The trial judge criticized the investigation - accusing the police of fabricating and manipulating evidence to ensure that the defendant (whose father was a senior police officer at the time). After a public outcry and campaign to retry the defendant, he was indeed retried and convicted. He will be sentenced at the end of the month, but apparently faces natural life or the death penalty. This case is seen in India as a huge step forward in ending the "policy" of letting high profile suspects go free.

On the other hand, I can't believe people are still doing this:
When I was in Edinburgh (one of my all-time favorite cities) I went on the "City of the Dead" tour where they took you into the catacombs and told you scary stories about how scoundrels used to use them for such nefarious purposes as keeping the bodies they'd just robbed from the grave so that they could sell the parts / bodies to medical schools. I remember thinking, wow, I'm glad that's not done anymore. Or is it????
Apparently, 7 undertakers in NY have been busted removing body parts without consent and selling them to biomedical companies. They've also been supposedly falsifying death certificates to indicate that the deceased did not have a disease in order to be able to remove bones. In place of the bones, they inserted PVC pipes. One of the victims was Alistair Cooke

Monday, October 23, 2006

6 months

I've now been married over 6 months. Cowboy and I celebrated our semi-annual anniversary. It was cute because we never really celebrated too many of the 10 years we were together before we got married, but he was all about the 6 months. We went to Roy's, the Hawaiian Fusion restaurant. Even though there was one right down the street from where we stayed in Kauai, and the one here is not that far away from us, I have never been.
All I can say is Yummy!
Well, I guess I can also say - yikes, expensive - but I'd still have to come back to Yummy!

On our way out, we were surprised to see a big truck with 4 guys smashed inside the double cab being pulled over by 2 women cops. As the cops were ambling up to each side of the truck, we realized that the big truck had been pulled over by two bicycle cops. I would have loved to have seen that unravel. But then, my mocking comments were probably already loud enough.

Friday, October 13, 2006

My heroes

For some reason, the idea of visiting Mt. Rushmore pops into my head every once in a while. I've never been, and I would like to see the monument. Ideally I'd like to go when I have kids, so they can appreciate it too. Perhaps the monument to Crazy Horse will be finished by then too. As I searched the internet to find a picture of the Crazy Horse monument, I ran across some interesting fun facts. The area was a huge part of the Sioux reservation. Six years later, after rumors of gold in the area - illegal settlements started popping up - starting with Deadwood. The Lakota unsuccessfully fought for the land. A Supreme Court ruling ordered the government to pay the tribe $100 million for the loss of the land. The Lakota have refused to take the money, saying that the Black Hills are not for sale. Today, the money is worth almost $600 million and the Lakota is one of the poorest communities in the US.
President Calvin Coolidge believed Mount Rushmore was "decidedly American in its conception, magnitude and meaning. It is altogether worthy of our country," Coolidge proclaimed at the dedication of the project in 1927. The Lakota would like to blow it up.
Read the Lakota story here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What do a whoopee cushion and toilet brush have in common?

Human size versions of them were both seen by me this morning on my way into work. They were just walking around - along with their friend - Whatamicallit. I'm not sure what he was. He looked like he was in a baby costume, with the hamburger helper guy coming out of his head. Oh, and he had a fake bare butt. I don't know. I just really wanted to see the kind of Halloween party that started at 10am.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

High priced high-rise tainted by crime spree

We were walking out of the building when 3 police cars came up the driveway - officers quickly hopping out of the car. At first we just thought that they were milking the possibility of a good call - after all, what could go wrong in a high priced high-rise? When we came back, an hour and a half later, the police were still there. We walked into the lobby and found the doorman busy with surveillance tapes. We also saw the stores at the base of our building were still open - way past usual closing time. We walked by and saw the police interviewing the employees of one of the stores. Apparently, a couple of guys came in with ski masks and tried to pull off an armed robbery! We went into one of the stores that was still open and tried to pump the attendants for information. They just looked at each other and one of them said, "yeah, I guess something happened over there." I said, "I heard the officer talking about ski masks. Was there an armed robbery?" The attendants looked at each other again. I asked if they were there when it happened (knowing full well they were - they are ALWAYS at the small store). Again, they just looked at each other. Finally, I managed to get them to confirm that no one was hurt, but I got the distinct impression that they were told not to discuss it with the building residents. Maybe management thought it was best to insulate us from it. That's pretty funny given what I hear and deal with everyday.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What night is Pagan night?

Yesterday Cowboy, Hello Kitty and I went out to Lake Geneva, one of our favorite towns in Wisconsin. We took the scenic route, and poked around in the antique shops in Richmond, tried some pumpkin fudge that was all raw un-spiced pumpkin and little fudge, then hit the wine and cheese shop for cheese curds. When we finally got to Lake Geneva, we expected to have the glistening water and cute shops all to ourselves. Whoa. Not quite. There was a harvest festival going on, and I've never seen the town so busy. We ate lunch and took a walk along the lake path to let people leave. Unfortunately, this also meant most of the shops were closed although we did manage to get some more fudge to make up for the earlier pumpkin disaster. The walk included a look at some of the mansions built when all the big names in Chicago - Field's and Wrigley to name two - used Lake Geneva as a vacation spot. The houses are amazing - even the ones not owned by a famous family. There's a gorgeous Queen Anne from early 1900's with 20 rooms and 4 stories, and an Italianate palace - as examples.

On our way home, we went passed Fairwyn Farms. It was about 7:30 at night, but the farm was hoppin'. We knew there was a good corn maze there, so I convinced Cowboy to pull in. We parked and got out, and I joked, "watch, it's not open - we're just crashing some kid's 16th birthday party." There were a lot of young people, but I thought maybe the farm was open a little late because of the holiday today. We went to the ticket counter and asked if the corn maze was open. They told us it closed at 5. Huh, I thought - that was a long time to keep other stuff open if the corn maze is closed. Nevertheless, we could hear a "band" off by the corn field so we wandered off in search of other activities. We checked out the corn maze - it looks nice, then watched the "band" for a while. Cowboy noted that he really felt like he was part of a Smallville episode. It was totally true except none of us was wearing flannel. The "band" was really one kid on top of some farm equipment singing. The kid was pretty good, and he kind of sounded like Damien Rice. We listened to him a bit and I watched the kids around him get all excited for each song. I couldn't understand how they knew the songs and I didn't. Then it hit me - he was playing all Christian rock. I said, "Uh...we didn't crash some kid's birthday party, we crashed a church retreat!" Cowboy jokingly took a step back and said, "I wonder if I'm going to burst into flames soon." We couldn't be sure of Cowboy's safety, so when the kid finished singing two songs later, we made our way out to the entrance. Not to be deterred by the fact that clearly this was a group outing, I went up to the ticket counter again. I asked if the tractor rides were still going on. The woman said, "Well, everything is running for THE GROUP." I should've been embarrassed, but really I was thinking of asking, "Uh-huh, I see. And for purposes of the tractor ride, how do I become part of this group?"

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Roadrunner, this one's "4" you

Congratulations to Roadrunner and Prince E! They got married this weekend - those crazy kids! After an afternoon of dicey weather, the sun came out just in time for the ceremony. The ceremony was very pretty and the reception was a lot of fun. They had a Hawaiian theme, and surprised us all with the Pacific Island Dancers who taught us how to hula. Cowboy's favorite part was the live music video Roadrunner and ShoreTurtle did for us. My favorite part was seeing my friend look so pretty and happy! The Inn we stayed at was very nice. The next day, we went on a dune buggy ride. Roadrunner wore her wedding dress. It was great fun. It was so nice finally meeting RR's family, too - although I missed saying good-bye to Shore Turtle because I thought I'd see them at the buggy ride.

Thanks for inviting us, RR! It was a fabulous wedding!

Here's the bride on the dunes, and Saugatuck's mascot.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Who knew King Lear inspired so much nudity?

(Introducing) Hello Kitty and I saw King Lear at the Goodman this weekend. First, I haven't seen so many naked parts since.....well, I'm not that kind of girl, so I never see that many naked parts. For those of you who are die hard King Lear fans (and who isn't a fan of tragedies), they kept the language, but spiced up the setting. The modern context they put the original prose to was part gypsy, part Russian Mafia, part hip-hop. Hello Kitty says one of the reviewers said it was supposed to be set in post- Milosovic Serbia. (Here's a shout-out to the former leader now being tried as a war criminal, from his supporters). I can buy that. Unfortunately, whatever ethnic group / setting it was supposed to be, was actually a cause of distraction. I had high hopes that it would enhance the play, but it was inserted unevenly and resulted mainly in blaringly loud, bad music. As for the acting, Stacy Keach as Lear rocked the house. (And ladies, you do get a special derriere shot from the man himself, along with others). We also enjoyed the actors who played Cordelia, Kent, Goneril (no, not Gonorrhea, like we first thought we heard). We had some issues with "the other sister" and thought perhaps she overacted a bit and wasn't a natural-born projector. Hello Kitty really turned out to like Edgar, while I had my eye on Edmund, the bad boy. Overall, the price is right at hottix. Hello Kitty's final word is: thumb slightly elevated above the middle point - or for those of you who crazily don't use that system - 2 1/2 stars. I would say that's about right. We got kick ass seats at half price, and I would do that again. Full price...not over Cordelia's dead body.
Up next: Hamlet at the Shakespeare Theater.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

What does that siren mean?

Cowboy and I experienced our first tornado siren - where there was actually a tornado spotted in the area. Cowboy and I were driving in NW suburbs of Chicago and the weather turned really bad. All of a sudden the sky got dark and greenish and it opened up with pouring rain. Cowboy commented that this really seemed like tornado weather. I agreed, and then I heard the warning siren. It was a little faint, so I thought I had just psyched myself into thinking I heard it. At the same time, we both said - that's funny, I could've sworn I heard the siren. He rolled down his window, let a bunch of water in, and sure enough - it was blaring away. (Testament to our car's noise control I guess) We slowly got to our destination where it seem to lighten up a bit - notwithstanding the lightning strikes all around us. Then the sky got light green, quarter size hail came down, it quickly went pitch black, and we headed for the basement - siren still blaring. I have never seen a storm like that, and I have to admit it was a little exciting. I LOVE extreme weather. We know what the siren means, but Cowboy has lived in the Chicago area forever and he's never heard a non-test siren. We thought maybe the city had changed it to indicate a severe lightning storm for all those crazy soccer playing kids who can't possibly miss practice even when the storm was forecasted. Turns out there really was a tornado sitting in the little suburb where we were. Love it! (I don't think it caused too much damage, or hurt anyone)
Check out Unpublished Opinion's video's on the storm.

Update: Dr. 90210 left a message on my first London post about all the wacky things I left out of my blog. It's true, part of this trip entailed fighting for one of 20 beds in some crowded hostel and fighting with Spaniards who spoke with the assumption that no one else in the world spoke Spanish. Another note she didn't mention - we noticed that in the land that brought my mom and my sister their beloved Pride & Prejudice - chivalry is dead. Only us Yanks gave up their seat on the tube for people who were carrying a child or were otherwise in need of a seat. (I was so tired, I have to admit I was inclined to follow the custom of the land - When in Rome.... - but I couldn't really do that) I could swear they looked at us wondering what our ulterior motives were. This trip in particular reminded me that an interesting side-effect of travel is that I realize just how "American" I am. This is funny because (especially lately) I am generally grossed out by our popular culture. I've noticed I get more "American" as I get older too.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Few more UK pics

St. Paul's Cathedral - somehow survived the WWII bombings.
The Old Bailey (below).
The Tower of London (below right).
Last tidbit - we went to Fabric - a nightclub in London. It's supposedly one of the hottest clubs in London - whatever that means. It's located in a Victorian meat cellar - you have to descend a couple of flights. It was a lot of fun and very interesting. "Trance" music is aptly named.

Monday, September 11, 2006

My Brighton Beach memoirs

After taking London by the horns, we cruised down to Brighton. Brighton is great! It's this little sea-side town with so much character, lots of beach (pebble shores) and English charm. The guidebooks say that it's a day trip, but we had a lot of fun there in two days. After all, we had to take Brighton by the horns too, and we didn't think 1 day was enough.
There are all these little market stalls along the sea front - mostly selling fish and other food, but also jewelry and novelty items. One guy at a fish stall got Dr. 90210 and I to try a sea snail. (In case you are wondering - they are fishy and chewy.) I wanted to try a "roll mop" which is herring wrapped around pickled onions, but didn't get around to it. (here's the recipe.)
We cruised the stalls on the way to the Pier.

We also checked out the Royal Pavilion. This is the palace built by King George (before he was King). So amazing - worth the trip to Brighton alone if in England. Definitely check out the link.

We also checked out the little shopping areas - The Lanes and Kemp Town.
Finally, it was time to go back to London.

London meant another V for Vendetta moment with the Old Bailey and the Tower of London

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Here in London, giddy London

Dr. 90210 and I just got back from taking London by the horns. I tried to post while we there, but blogger was not working properly or something...anyway, at least you get pictures as a result of the delay. We had quite the whirlwind adventure. We went to the British Museum, where I contemplated my opinion on whether they should give the Parthenon marbles back to Greece.

Perhaps the museum can't afford to start a trend - the place is HUGE and full of antiquities acquired long ago - perhaps from the days of the British Empire.
From the Museum we went to the London Eye.
So cool. We had a little bit of an overcast day, but it really didn't matter. It's the 6th tallest structure in London and I believe it's the tallest observation wheel in the world. The view was incredible, and well worth the roughly $22 price. (I don't say that too often). We hopped in our little pod or "flight capsule" and took off way above the London skyline. We could pick out most landmarks, the parliament was right in front of us, we found the Palace in St. James Park, Trafalgar Square - lots of highlights were easily identified.
From there we walked across the Westminster Bridge, saw Parliament Square (had "Remember, remember the 5th of November" running around in my head - V for Vendetta) and Westminster Abbey. Hunted for 10 Downing Street, flirted with very well armed police who were outside the gate, wondered if we could pretend we were on "the list" when we saw a bunch of people from the EU get checked off "the list," walked through St. James Park, completely harassed one of those Royal guards of whom everyone asks if he's real because he can't move, found Trafalgar square where these punks -complete with multi-colored mohawks- asked if we'd pay them to take a picture with them (no thanks, we have you guys in the States), went to Soho for a late dinner before finding our way back to our little hotel.

Parliament + Abbey from the Eye Can you find the palace?

St. James Park Abused Royal Guard

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Weekend of favorites

This weekend, I spent so much time on the lake front. I went rollerblading in Hyde Park at the Point. The Point is right across the street from the Shoreland hotel - my college dorm. During college, I used to go the Point to meditate. In winter, I would love to go there and see the ice forming in the lake and on the rocks. In couple of days a year that was nice, I'd go and imagine there were seals that would pop up out of the lake. (I missed the beach). I also went to the Art Institute again. This time, we specifically went to check out the Dutch painters. The Art Institute has a couple of Rembrandts, but no Vermeers. After finding out about the documentary "Stolen," we wanted to see if we had any Vermeers in the city. "Stolen" documents a famous art heist in 1990, during which 13 paintings (including Vermeer's "The Concert") were stolen have yet to be recovered. Apparently there are only 35 (possibly 36) Vermeers in existence. This is fascinating to me. Every once in a while I check on the possibility of working in the art recovery field. Where else can you be the good guy with a patch over an eye?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Summer in the city

I hate the weather in this God-forsaken place. I know, this summer has been better than most - but I still have no problem making such a blanket statement. One thing the city does well, however, is put on events. Last week was Tall Ships. Usually, it's at Navy Pier, but this time it was along the river and continued along to the Pier. Since I live so close to the river, I thought that would be great - what an easy way to pick the ship that would carry me on my journeys after I trade in my bar card and live the rest of my days as a scallywag. Turns out, I hated it. Unlike Navy Pier, where you can walk up to them at any time of the day or night, they closed the river walk at 8pm (keep in mind the sun wasn't setting until around 8:30) Aaaargh! I was so annoyed (like the time they closed the street because Ocean's 12 was planning on filming in that area at some point that day - what, precious Brad Pitt can't walk on the same bridge I crossed hours earlier?). Also, unlike at Navy Pier, there was a huge distance between the ship and the path and the view was usually obscured by trees. By the time you were clear of the trees, you were right up to the edge of the river - with no guard rails. How was this a good idea? I suppose it encouraged people to pay to come aboard.... I still enjoyed seeing them - there were some beautiful ships. Oh, and I will go on a sailing adventure on one of them some day. Oh, yes. The trip will be mine.
This weekend is the Air and Water Show. I don't know if I'll go see that - it's notoriously CROWDED. If I don't, I won't have missed it all - the "air" part is practicing right now and my apartment feels like the tower that Maverick and Goose buzzed in Top Gun (you know, the movie Tom Cruise made before he became so openly offensive).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

City nights

My friend and I went to the MCA on Tuesday. The museum has "Target Tuesdays" where admission is free, there's jazz on the outside patio, and late hours. I hadn't been to the MCA in a while, and I didn't think it would take more than an hour to go through. Wrong. To be sure, it's nothing like the size of the Art Institute, but they had a lot more exhibits than the last time I was there. There were some interesting exhibits, and while a lot of them creeped me out, it was interesting and kind of fun to check out the unusual pieces. Currently, there's an exhibit of Chris Ware's comic strips he created while in Chicago. It's interesting, but a little hard to look at because it is a lot of comic book-type drawings and stories on one wall. I tried to get started and follow a story from beginning to end, but when I got to the part where the mom cuts her daughter's fingers off and stacks the fingers in a teacup, I was lost.
My favorite exhibit was a giant flow chart that charted the path to convincing yourself that pirates were going to attack Chicago. It was funny, clever, interesting art techniques and, strangely, it made sense. Gotta take my word for it.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

What do M. Night Shyamalan + Trump have in common?

(Update on the Trump building.)
Apparently, they are both quite full of themselves.
At least - that seems to be the complaint about Shyamalan and part of why his new movie, Lady in the Water stinks. I saw the movie this weekend. It was really not what I expected, but I really enjoyed it. It was more of a fairy tale than a horror movie - which is what I thought it would be based on the previews. It was a story about a journey and finding your calling in life, yet managed to be not cheesy. The movie didn't follow the typical formula that other movies do (meet the characters, conflict, some dangerous chase, resolution of the problem and hero/ine prevails), and I really appreciated that. One note: I agree that it was pretty arrogant to put himself in the movie, especially as a character who is supposedly critical to the world and subsequent political change. Overall, though, is a character driven story and, despite complaints that there were too many characters, they were realistic and enjoyable.
I did see some themes repeated from some of this other films that Shyamalan seems to be fascinated with - his main character is usually a broken man because of a past tragedy involving his family, water as significant to health, and wolves must be really scary to him. All in all, I really enjoyed it and thought it was a good story.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Life with Cowboy

I received this email from Cowboy while I was at work yesterday. Rest assured that if I hadn't fixed the problem I would have received "Auto-alert 44322"

Auto-alert 44321

This is an auto-alert from the bathroom, the soap dispenser is low.
Please return immediately to refill.

Thank you,
Auto-alert system

Monday, July 31, 2006

Camping fun

I went home for the weekend to go camping. My older brother and his family were in from S. Korea (where they live) and the whole family got together to camp. We went to a KOA campground - my first time at a KOA. It was really nice! There was a pool, a sand volleyball court, a basketball court, huge playground, a petting zoo, and big grassy areas we had to ourselves. We did it all, and threw in kickball and bocce to boot. At night we sat around the campfire, played "Mafia" and roasted s'mores. By the way, s'mores with peanut butter are the best - another first for me.
This was in northern CA, and despite the fact that there had been a heat wave, when we went - the coastal fog came in at night and didn't burn off until around 11am. This means it only got sunny and/or warm for a few hours until the fog rolled back in around 4 or 5 pm. By contrast, I came back at 10pm at night last night to 85 degrees and HUMID. Today was supposed to be a high of 99 with a heat index of 110. Sometimes it's hard to remember why I live here.
Here are a couple of shots.

The kids at night.

The neighboring ranch.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Good public television

Maybe I'm the last one to know about this, but I just discovered a great show on PBS. It's called Wide Angle, and it hosts international current affairs documentaries. When you go to the main site, it looks like it only has documentaries about women. While I wouldn't mind this, and I think a feminist viewpoint is generally only a humanist viewpoint addressing women's issues, when you read about the series, it seems to have a broader focus. Started as a response to the lack of international news in the U.S., the show's first four seasons involved traveling to 44 countries to capture global human stories that may not otherwise make it back to the States. I've only seen tonight's broadcast, Class of 2006: Islam's New Female Leaders, and I really enjoyed seeing a non-western viewpoint on democracy and social programs - especially how they affect women in different countries. There was an interview with Ambassador Dennis Ross, who saw the documentary and discussed the role of women in the Middle East peace process as well as the democratization process in the Middle East. I was encouraged by his comments. He didn't seem to simply tow the Bush-party line, and instead had some interesting ideas on how to change the current policy. Here's his bio from the Washington Institute.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cedarburg, WI

This weekend Cowboy and I ventured out to Cedarburg, WI. It's about 20 minutes north of Milwaukee and is a cute little historic town. Most of the downtown area is on Washington Avenue which, unfortunately, is also a main road through town. The street is on the National Register of Historical Places Cedarburg claims to have over 100 historically significant buildings - 8 of which are listed on the NRHP database. (If I were the city's attorney, I might have them reword a part of their website.) It is a town that (with the exception of the somewhat traffic-busy main street) has clearly made an effort to keep the historic quality of the town and work to use the historical buildings to their benefit. Really worth the trip. Here are some shots, but you don't get the flavor of it until you cruise the neighborhood - preferably by foot or bike.

The cultural center (that's what the sign says, though I saw a more modern one down the street)

The old firehouse - now a museum, complete with antique fire engines.
I would have gotten a kick out of meeting clients here. This is attached to the old firehouse. Below: a view from a bridge.

Couldn't resist - so cute!

You can see more photos of Cedarburg on my flickr site.

My only problem with Cedarburg is that most shops close at 5 or earlier. Yikes. We got up there a little too late the first afternoon. We ended up just taking a drive to Kohler, WI. This is another interesting, historic town. This town is worth checking out if you are in the neighborhood or want to splurge at The American Club. This is the Midwest's only AAA five diamond resort hotel. We poked around a bit. It was lovely. Beautifully manicured lawns and gardens, and I think they were having a BBQ special event so the whole place smelled like mesquite!
Deciding not to splurge, we continued on our exploration and ended up in Oshkosh, WI for the night. Home of (as far as we could tell) outlet stores and the Experimental Aircraft Association. We just missed the air show that started today.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Charlotte's Web, it is not.

I had a dream the other night that is still with me. I was with a friend at Crater Lake. My friend had been there before and I was driving to it with her. We got out of the car and I was so excited to take a picture. The water was so clear and calm. My friend pointed out that all the glints of silver you could see just beneath the surface were fish. I was amazed and leaned in to take a closer look. I then saw something that looked like a small x-wing fighter zooming up from the depths right at me. As it breached the surface, I dodged it - or so I thought. I looked at my finger and there was a really big spider on it. I tried to shake, then pull it off. My friend looked at me and said, "Oh, those - yeah, you have to watch out for those." I stammered, "What? You knew about these and didn't warn me?" My friend replied that she didn't think it would be a big deal. I looked at my finger again, and now there were three big juicy spiders covering my finger. I tried to step on them (and my finger) and then tried to peel them off. They wouldn't budge. I asked my friend (and some random guy who had suddenly appeared) how to get them off. The man answered that there was no way to remove them, I had to wait 'til they were done feeding on me - and they were thirsty buggers. I looked down again and noticed that my finger was covered by 5 spiders and they were all sucking on it. My finger was pulsing. I was completely horrified by it. At that point, I woke up, woke Cowboy up, and made him assure me that the spiders were not going to get me.
I have had other spider dreams. The last one involved me pulling out a giant spider and its yarn-like web out of my throat. The friend I told about that the next day thought it was Freudian. I don't think so - all my spider dreams freak me out too much. (Funny, too, b/c I'm not at all afraid of spiders in my conscious life) In fact, I'm pretty sure that the act of looking for a meaning in it is as Freudian as it gets. After this one, though, I looked it up. I didn't find any sexual connotations (told you!) except a possibility that the spider represented feminine power. Other possibilities include a good/lucky omen (hard to believe), the sense that the dreamer is feeling like an outsider (?), and the possibility that the spider represents someone who is the cause of the dreamer's stagnation (maybe...).
I'm not sure I believe any of it. But, the fact that spiders have a role in my dreams, I'm going to root for the good luck omen meaning. Maybe next time it will seem less horrifying.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Wedding photos

Our fabulous wedding photographer, Alex Schoenfeldt, put together an amazing set of photos. We finally narrowed down the ones we wanted him to print. Here are a couple of them:
The Ahwahnee from the wedding lawn

The view from the wedding lawn.

The delicious cake!

The newlyweds!