Archive for April, 2008

Draft Weekend

The NFL draft was last weekend. If you ever wanted to learn about the subtle intricacies of the game of football, don’t watch the games themselves. Watch ESPN’s live coverage of the draft. A team selects a player, and then you get a breakdown of that player’s strengths and weaknesses. When watching a game it is easy to deduce the pros and cons of the players who actually handle the ball, but the other guys kinda get lost in the messy pile of players in the middle. But watching the draft you learn that that messy pile is not a mess at all, and is instead the result of careful strategy, finding ways to combine the specific skill sets of individual players into one of two goals: Move the ball, or stop the ball.

In this football fan’s humble opinion, the Bears had one of their best draft weekends in recent years. They shored up their aging offensive line, added depth at key defensive positions, and made for some interesting preseason competition at running back and wide receiver. I’m particularly excited about our first-round pick, OT Chris Williams from Vanderbilt. Six-six, 315 pounds, Williams will provide badly needed pass protection from the left side of the line, and will also allow the old left tackle, John Tait, to return to the right side where he has more experience. Given how porous our offensive line was last year, don’t be surprised if Williams gets added to the mix early. He’s smart, disciplined player, which counts for quite a lot at the pro level. I think I’m gonna like this guy.

I’m also very interested in seeing what happens with our 2nd-round pick, RB Matt Forte from Tulane. Forte finished his college career as the second-ranked running back in the country, with 2,127 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns. Coming from Tulane it might be argued that he hasn’t played much against heavy competition, but his impressive display at the NFL scouting combine (this guy ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds!) gave a few more points in his favor. He’s a big guy, more of a down-hill, crash-through-the-line kind of back, rather than a guy who makes quick cuts on the outside, which interests me because that’s pretty much the same description as last year’s starter Cedric Benson. Benson has been pretty much a bust since he held out on his first contract after his own draft. He’s been plagued with injuries, and just hasn’t lived up to the hype. Holding onto Benson while trading Thomas Jones was probably the biggest mistake of last year’s offseason.

There’s been a lot of buzz about the fact that the Bears did not draft a quarterback this year. The Bears have already committed to giving Rex Grossman one last shot at regaining the brilliance he showed flashes of two years ago. I think that’s the right move, especially when you consider that there just weren’t that many stand-out QBs available in the draft this year. I doubt that there is any position in football that has a more difficult transition from college to the professional level, and there are just too many intangibles to accurately assess which players have what it takes make it in the NFL. I think it’s safe to say, however, that if we don’t at least make the first round of playoffs then this will be the last we see of both Grossman and Kyle Orton in Bears jerseys.

There won’t be much more football news until it gets closer to the start of preseason, so we shall just have to content ourselves with the fact that right now both of our baseball teams are still at the top of their respective divisions. (Well, as of last night the Cubs are tied at the top of theirs, but the Sox are 2.5 games up! Awesome!)

Bear Down!

Photos!!

So now that it is no longer a cold mess outside (okay so the past few days don’t count….) I have been taking Little Mac (yes he has a myspace page….) for long walks around the neighborhood and I have been using the sidekicks camera to take pictures….I love tulips.
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The little sidekick takes good pictures in the daylight, don’tcha think? For more of them check out my flickr account

Gcycling!

So, it’s Sunday morning and I’m watching X-Play on G4, because my wife is something of a video game nerd and I am a guy who thinks they are cool and wishes he was good at them. And they mention something I was unaware of before, but now that I know about it I want to pass it on: Gcycle.org.

Gcycle.org is, first of all, a great source for information about recycling your old electronic equipment. Just type in your ZIP code, select the type of thing you would like to recycle — anything from batteries, printer cartridges and floppy disks to old computers and game consoles — and get a list of locations in and around the city that will take your crap off your hands. I was surprised to learn that most area Staples and Best Buys will take most of this stuff, but even the Lincoln Park Zoo has a use for some of it. Each location has its own list of items they will accept.

The other reason to check out Gcycle.org is because it is one of the coolest websites ever. You gotta check it out. It’s just plain fun to poke around on this thing.

I’ve always wondered what to do with this stuff. I’ve got old cell phones taking up drawer space that I just couldn’t bring myself to throw in the trash.

Feed Me, Seymour

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I just realized that nearly all of my posts have been about food. My taste buds are clearly running the show here, and there’s no point in fighting it. Last night, my friend was feeling rather generous, so he treated me to dinner at Andersonville’s newest eatery, Big Jones. There were maybe two things on the menu that I could actually eat without abandoning vegetarianism*, but as soon as the Eggplant Fritter sandwich became acquainted with my mouth, the meat-heavy menu was a distant memory. If the crispy breaded eggplant smothered in sweet, green tomato relish didn’t bring me to heights of epicurean ecstasy, the a’ plenty (a medley of fried onions, okra and potato) catapulted me into food heaven. Seriously, it was that good.

As if the night couldn’t get any better, my friend and I made our way over to Andersonville’s Sicilian sweet shop, Pasticceria Natalina, where I gorged myself on rich, creamy gelato followed by an unbelievably light and tasty bigne, oozing with cream and covered in chocolate. Heaven, I tell you.

*Our server suggested visiting Big Jones for brunch, when the menu offers just as much vegetarian as fleshy fare. Good to know…

I am shamelessly plugging an event I am hosting here in this blog.

Hey folks, sorry I have been without computer access for a little bit. It makes life harder. But anyway, I am back! And I have an event to write about……
As you may or may not know, I work at John Fluevog Shoes on Milwaukee Ave in Wicker Park. This Friday we are having a fashion show/showcase featuring stores on Milwaukee Ave. Our dear friend Nellie, one of the other authors, will be attending and helping out. We did this event last year and it was a lot of fun. There will be two fashion shows. One will feature vintage fashions and the other contemporary fashions. My good friend Karl Meier along with Jon Balzekas will be DJing and there will be free refreshments from Peroni beer and food from ZK Foods.
Style Speedway
Feel free to come, bring friends and be ready for a good time! Believe me I know how to throw a party. And I promise, more blogs to follow!

Best (comedy) week ever!

The DC Comedy Fest is in town checking out Chicago’s talent which gives us two great FREE shows.

Tuesday, go see the free show over at the Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont) as The Chicago Underground Comedy folks present Chicago’s best stand-ups. The action starts at 9:30, but get there earlier to make sure you have a seat to check out: Nick Vatterott, Adam Burke, Brendan McGowan, Dan Telfer, Carrie Callahan, Brady Novak, Fay Canale, Steve O. Harvey, and Chad Briggs.

Wednesday, The Playground Theater (3209 N. Halsted) is hosting the sketch portion of the DC Comedy Fest auditions. This one is also FREE (what a beautiful word) and starts at 7pm. The amazing acts performing will be: The Puterbaugh Sisters, Seeder & Lee, Turbo, Hey You Millionaires, Ken Barnard, and Money Kids.

Thursday, local stand-up favorite Prescott Tolk will perform at The Lakeshore Theater (3175 N. Broadway) at 8pm. Tickets are $10, but if you missed him on Comedy Central then fork over the dough. He’ll be recording his live comedy album I Can Complain. Your laughs could be famous.

Friday (and Thursday too), Chicago’s best stand-up prankster Ken Barnard will be doing his “three-in-one man” show titled Get Into It. This will take place at The Lincoln Lodge (4009 N. Lincoln) at 9pm. As someone who is constantly entertained by Ken’s shenanigans (such as protesting the filling of the Montrose hole), I will gladly pay the $10 to see what he’ll do next.

Finally, on Saturday, sketch group Schadenfreude will be hosting one of their famous rent parties. These are always a blast of the best sketch, stand-up, music, and what ever else happens on the stage. This will be at Silvie’s Lounge (1902 W. Irving Park Rd) and feature Annoyance comedy goddess Susan Messing and music from Lola Balatro. Fun starts at 9pm and is another measly $10 for hours of raucous goodness.

Uptown Eats

My dad was in town this weekend, which means I got to break the monotony of grilled cheese and cereal and eat at a Real Restaurant. Sweet. This week’s choice was Magnolia Cafe in Uptown, and boy, was it ever tasty. As a vegetarian, the pickings were pretty slim, but the options I did find were darn good. I started off with yummy little thyme and goat cheese potato cakes that were totally worth burning the crap out of my tongue for, followed by, quite possibly, the best mixed green and bleu cheese salad I’ve ever eaten. (I didn’t realize how into the greens I was until my dad, after watching me greedily chase around the last dried cranberry on my plate for twenty seconds asked, “Good salad?”)

Dinner was a wild mushroom and herbed ricotta pizza, and although the crust was fantastic and the other toppings were delicious, the overly chewy mushrooms made this my least favorite point in the meal, but that was soon forgotten when the gooey chocolate bread pudding arrived accompanied by a perfectly shaped scoop of vanilla ice cream. I feel bad that my dad is cutting back on his sugar intake right now, but man, did I not want to share that dessert, so it worked out well for both of us.

2 In 1st

It was a good weekend for baseball here in Chicago, topped by both the Cubs and White Sox climbing to first place in their respective divisions. Now, it’s only the beginning of a very long season, so let’s not get too excited. Even Cubs manager Lou Pinella was quick to point out that it was to early to pay much attention to the standings. But let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

A couple of highlights from the weekend:

  • The Cubs swept the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second time this season. The twenty-six runs in the last two days are the most scored by the Cubs in consecutive games in five years.
  • Sox DH Jim Thome hit his 512th career home run, moving him to 19th on the all-time home run list — tied with legends Eddie Mathews and Ernie Banks.

I’m starting to get excited about baseball season. This is actually early, for me. Usually I don’t pay attention until June.

HTML Happiness

I was walking doggies this afternoon, and I came across a little sticker advertising an intriguing-sounding website, and later, when I was in dire need of procrastination material, I decided to give it a little look-see. It turned out to be one of the most insightful, penetrating investigations of local Chicago news on The Interwebs. Check it out for yourself at WhatsWrongWithChicago.com. Brilliant.

Another web nugget that’s been making my week: Google’s Maps transit feature. If you haven’t tried it yet, use the “Get Directions” feature, and look for the “Take Public Transit” option. Trust me–it’s good stuff.

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Give it a Whirl, Chicago

Recently I tagged along with a large group of friends for a birthday celebration involving the “insanity, grit, and excitement” of WhirlyBall at 1880 West Fullerton Avenue here in Chicago. For around $200 an hour, you can rent a court with your besties, and flit around in little whirring one-seaters that look like lawnmowers on steroids, while scooping madly for an uncooperative little ball.

But be warned — by the time you figure out the one-handed steering and actually wrangle possession of the elusive ball, you realize the goal’s hoop is so sunken and crazily designed that you have about a one-in-a-hundred chance of actually hitting the sweet spot.

Not to mention the fact that the most likely way to score is steaming straight down the court full-speed to the goal, and, since there are no brakes on the Whirlyball cars, crashing head-on into the wall. After seeing that strategy implemented once or twice, I was convinced that my fun would be had cheering and documenting the night’s delights. My chronic neck pain endorsed this decision.

And in case you’re thinking “Well, duh, it’s also a bar, so everyone’s too drunk to play well,” let me assure you that that it is the adrenaline reward associated with Whirlyball that’s powerfully addictive — most of my group let their unattended beers grow warm on the table of the spectators’ lounge rather than miss another chance to play.

Enjoy this brief video clip I put together and remember, Whirlyball isn’t just for rambunctious 30 year olds and Bar Mitzvahs, it’s also the suggested setting for corporate team-building events, which only makes sense. Nothing will help you the trust of your underlings quite like repeatedly ramming into them with amped-up bumper cars and then sharing a basket of conciliatory chicken fingers.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1bJpdDgzN0[/youtube]

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