Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best Photos 2008

Prague, Barcelona, Luxembourg -- my trip-a-month year had lots of photos. When you add in booze-soaked trips with Benny and Scott, you've got an assload of photos.

If you're on Facebook, click here for the photos.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

No Snark Today

A trip to Omaha Beach, Point du Hoc and the American Cemetery there means I'm putting the snark on hold for a day. If you're on Facebook and want to see the photos, click here.

No worries, I'll be back to my snarky self tomorrow.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Live Blogging - Paris Metro

I thought that tourists dressing in cheap hooker* attire was just for weekends or evenings. But apparently it's also good for manic Monday mornings. Bon jour, indeed!

* Think "Pretty Woman 3: The Herp"

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Live Blogging - Eiffel Tower

I normally avoid lines on the day after Christmas, but the best sunset I've seen in Europe was worth seeing from a bit above ground level. Boxing Day hurrah!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas To Me!

This year I decided to give myself the gift that keeps on giving -- a lost wallet*. So far it's given me several long phone "conversations", including the 55+ minute hold I'm currently enjoying American Express.

Next year, I'm asking Santa for half a brain.

* Technically, my "DP" money clip. Goodbye, DP! It was a good 5 year run.

Live Blogging - Christmas on the Paris Metro

Taking the fam to the train to Disneyland Paris on Christmas morning is quite festive. There are the traditional "gifts" left along the sidewalks by Parisian dogs and their shiftless owners, the classic bums begging on the trains, and the scent of myrrh* in the stations and trains.

Joyeux Noel, indeed!

* "Myrrh" is the French word for "urine".

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Live Blogging - Musee du Rodin

I was in line behind the legendary Dolt Series villain, Clueless Jacques Jackson. He managed to amass 2 PSs (payment switches) and 3 OCs (Order changes) in one transaction.
It's always a pleasure to watch greatness at work.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Live Blogging - CDG Train Ride

The RER train to Charles de Gaulle hellport is a great transition from lovely Paris to what is easily the shittiest airport I've been to. First, you get the pungent aroma of stale urine with notes of a more recent vintage. Next, the dimly-lit car, made more drepressing by the dingy yellow walls. Finally you emerge from the tunnels to slowly trek through the most depressed parts of the city. Then, just as you're considering whether jumping might not be a better alternative, you get to
your destination.
Now you realize that you weren't in hell before - you were merely in Charon's ferry. "Welcome to Charles de Gaulle Airport"? Better the sign read "Abandon all hope, ye who enter."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Best Photos 2007

2007 was my worst year of the decade, but you're not going to tell that from the photos. I took far too many trips and had lots of fun. I also took wayyyy too many photos, which is why this album is so huge*

If you're on Facebook, you can see the photos by going to the actual blog post, here.

* like me!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hey! Accenture, Cut Tiger Some Slack

With the news that Accenture has dropped Tiger as their spokesman, they explained their decision as:

The company’s advertising campaign is about “high performance,” and Mr. Woods “just wasn’t a metaphor for high performance anymore,” a spokesman for Accenture, Fred Hawrysh, said.

How many women have come forward? 15? 20? I'd say Tiger has been demonstrating "high
performance" on AND off the course. Now, not all of these have been "majors" but he's clearly been busy racking up victories. Not, obviously, moral victories, but still victories.

With that, I return the blog to living in the past.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Best Photos 2006

Those of you on Facebook that want to see my photos should go here. Included are shots from trips to London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Dallas, Budapest and, of course, the Dorf.

Best of 2000s: TV Shows

I watch lots of TV, but not a big variety. I don't go for CSI, NCIS, ICN, SCN, or any of the other cop shows. I don't watch "reality" shows, and sports on a 7 hour delay (so, the next morning) isn't so cool. And German TV? Good for language, bad for one's funny bone*. Also, I've only included shows I started watching in the naughts. No Sopranos, The Wire, etc. for me. I've watched all of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and while it has its moments, it's no Seinfeld. I will say last year's season of The Simpsons, the last 3 seasons of SNL and The Clone Wars would have been numbers 6-8 on a Top 10 list. "Community" is rapidly moving towards spot in the Top 10, and "Smallville" would have rounded it out, since I enjoyed it back in the day.

5. The Office - I enjoy it more than the UK version (yeah, yeah, blow me anglophiles), but I think the day-to-day antics have suffered as the show tries to carry a plot. I still enjoy the wackiness, though.

4. Mad Men - I got tired of reading the Sports Guy rant about how great this is, so I watched an episode. Two years later and I'm still hooked. And Joan? Yo yo ma.

3. 30 Rock - "You have sexually transmitted crazy mouth", "[Donaghy Estates Champagne] tastes like the urine of Satan after a hefty portion of asparagus", and "Are you a pre-op trans-centaur" are but a smattering of the hundreds of great lines from the witties sitcom of the decade.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Mumbai Tragedy
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis
2. The Daily Show - John Stewart is my favorite news source, even if he's not the fairest. His bias against stupidity and for comedy is ok by me**.

Clayton Bigsby - The most amazing home videos are here
1. Chappelle's Show - "I'm Rick James, bitch!" , Clayton Bigsby, The Niggar Family, The Playa Haters Ball and so many more. The only criticism I'll accept is that it only lasted two seasons. But any given episode had more laughs than you get in the average season of "Two and a Half Men"***

* No matter what Germans claim, the deutsch dubbing of the Simpsons isn't even vaguely comparable. An easy example -- they had to change "Doh" to "Nein!" (German for "No!"). Not. The. Same. Worse.
** As is his liberal slant. But at least he's up front about that. Unlike, say, Fox "News".
*** This is unfair, as I've enjoyed the few episodes I've seen. But it's just not even in the same league as Chappelle. Of course, their writers didn't lose their shiznit after 2 seasons.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stolen Top 5 of the 2000s : Worsts

5. TV Network: Fox News, duh. Close runner-up? Every German TV station during the Federer-Nadal 2008 Wimbledon Final. Biggest tennis match of the decade wasn't on live -- gotta show those weekly car racing highlights!

4. Movie: " Deathproof" - The one thing about Tarantino flicks is that they have good dialogue. Not this one. Of course, it's his homage to crappy 70s "grindhouse" flicks, so maybe he was aiming for crap. If so, he succeeded. Big time.

3. Book: "Wuthering Heights" What a load of crap. "Classic"? Can I get a "hell, no!"?. Its plot is less believable than a 1960s Spiderman cartoon and its characters would have to gain depth to be one-dimensional. "Gravity's Rainbow" and "Dr. Zhivago" were close runners-up.

2. Date: Hanna - This was so bad I'm using her real name. It started well, with 20 minutes of great conversation. Then she started having trouble focusing. Then she kept sniffling and rubbing her nose. But she claimed she wasn't sick and didn't have allergies. Then came an incredibly short attention span, fidgiting, and an inability to find her own apartment, even though it was "right around the corner." 45 minutes in, and I knew I had to see it through for the story. Goldmine!

1. Year: 2007 - Dumped, forced to supervise fing Milhouse, finding out a colleague was lying about me at work, multiple ultimate injuries, "Gravity's Rainbow" AND numbers 2 and 4 on this list were almost enough to break my spirit. I made it through, thanks to great friends, great trips and enough booze to incapacitate an Irish novelist.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Best of 2000s: Best Shows

Honorable Mention: Dave Jones 2001 - His rendition of "Baby Got Back" the first day I met him was the bomb.
10. The Santaland Diaries 2007 - Who wouldn't love a foul-mouthed, smoking elf ranting about Macy's?
9. Jack Johnson 2001 - I had no idea who he was in 2000, but I went anyway. Smart move by me. Lots of fun in a small club.
8. Norah Jones 2007 - My only popular music concert in the Dorf, she played 4 different instruments in her first four songs. And then continued to kick ass.
7. Dave Chappelle 2003 - My idiot friends weren't that into him -- until his show appeared before his appearance but after I'd tried to get them to join me. Suckers.
6. Janeane Garofalo 2001 - Only a few months after 9/11, Garofalo went on tour and I managed to fall ass-backwards into 2nd row seats (close enough she heard my smartass comments!). She performed for almost 2 hours and was hilarious throughout.
5. U2 2002 - My first U2 concert was also my favorite. John and I had great seats for a great perfomance and I've enjoyed listening to the bootleg we made. Oh, right, Nick never burned me a copy. Jackhole. But PJ Harvey rocked as the opener.
4. Tenacious D 2003 - Another show my idiot friends failed to take me up on my invite. Heh.
3. MacHomer 2002 - My first time to see this one-man version of Macbeth (doing a different Simpsons voice for each character) was the best, mainly due to the crappy accoustics on the second viewing.
2. Mike Doughty 2002 - Same club as Jack Johnson, different vibe. Doughty was in fine form, heckling a douchenozzle at the bar and playing his own stuff and old Soul Coughing tunes. Unfortunately, he refused my repeated requests for "Screenwriter's Blues".
1. Louis CK/Dave Attell/Chris Rock - I was a bit bummed that I couldn't convince the group to see Paul Mooney in NYC. But Louis CK and Dave Attell were great. But when Chris Rock made an uannounced visit for 45 minutes of new material, I was more than ok with our choice!

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Stolen Top 10 of 2000s: Best Trips

For those of you on Facebook, click on the city names/years for links to photo albums.

10. (Tie) 3. Schlitterbahn 2003 - Our first annual trip to the Schlitt and the Guadeloupe taught me one lesson: NEVER GIVE UP!!!! Other highlights? Karen passing out in the shower, "Megi's Drunk!" and later finding out both couples in our room were surreptitiously frisky.

Wine Trip 2004 - It's November, raining, and barely 50deg. Would you prefer to be driving around the Hill Country with your best friends or playing ultimate? If you picked the former, you're correct. If you picked the latter, I'll bet you don't have a photo of your feet taken by a drunk, elderly winemaking woman.

9. Épernay 1 2 - There's no manlier destination for two single guys than the Champagne region. Great booze, good scenery, what more does a trip need?

8. Barcelona 2008 - When the LeGarrows come to Europe, one makes sure to get in on the fun. Amy and Corey cut loose when they cross the ocean, and it shouldn't be missed. Also, Barcelona has great nightlife, art, food, drink and beautiful people. And the weather's not bad, either.

7. Ireland 2009 Ireland 1 2 3- If you haven't heard, Ireland is kind of beautiful. They also have a beer called Guinness that is quite tasty. Especially at a pub in Ballyferriter. Unless you're stuck drinking the bitterest peppermint tea ever. So, the scenery is nice, but make sure your two non-drinking traveling companions are the ones on the rental agreement.

6. Croatia 2009 - Saenz, Shady and I risked our lives on some of the sketchiest "highways" I've been on. But we also saw the beautiful Dalmatian coast, Split, Dubrovnik. We also saw people preparing for the Picigin world championships, a sport whose garb is described by Wikipedia as "the only proper garment to wear while playing Picigin is a tight speedo". And so ended my thoughts of playing Picigin.

5. Italy 2008 - Taking the fam to Milan, Rome, Venice, Bologna and parts in between was fun. The highlight might have been Noah coming back from the train bathroom to say, "Guys, the bathroom is AWESOME!!! When you flush it just opens a hole onto the ground!"

4. Prague 2007 - Ah, Prague. Great beer, the hottest women in Europe, and an old town almost untouched by war*. Chad and I had an impressive amount of fun.

3. Morocco 2007 - My first trip to Africa was a blast. Great food, friendly people, and perfect weather. As for the week afterward leashed to the bathroom? I couldn't have asked for a more appropriate end to 2007, by far my worst year of the decade.

2. Budapest 2006 - My parents weren't able to visit me when I studied there in 1993, so it was great to be able to take them to see Budapest and Eger.

1. Europe 2006 - 6 great friends of mine, 6 countries, far too much good booze and food -- not a bad way to spend 2 weeks.

* Thanks to their strategy of mailing letters to both sides in World War II. The letters read, "Thanks for your interest in bombing our city, but we will be on vacation until 1950. Please direct inquiries and ordinance to Warsaw, Poland."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I've Got Your Mo-vember Right Here


Hey, Sean, you like apples? How 'bout them apples?
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Best Photos 2005

If you're reading this on Facebook, click for photos.
Compared to the mastery of some of my friends' photos (like Kieran!) mine are best described as "less artsy, more fartsy"* Since I didn't have a digital camera until December 2005, these are all from the rather festive month before I left DFW.

Steve will eventually post his 2005 photos, but for now he's too caught up in a meth-fueled blogging spree.

* H Simpson

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pro Hoops -- Deutschland Style

The Düsseldorf Giants-Paderborn Whatevers game last night had much in common with a Mavs game -- a sweet VIP lounge, a gangly German draining threes, cougars, and cheerleaders/dancers sporting ass antlers. In addition, there were twins goofier than the Lopez brothers, Sideshow Bob Terwilliger jerseys, synchronized unicycling, a Santa lookalike, PGs trading punches and more.

The highlight of the game, for me, was when Paderborn's coach called an angry timeout as the 'dorf made a run to put the game almost out of reach. He immediately yelled at his team, "what the hell are we doing on defense?" I took advantage of our seats behind the visitors' bench to yell back, "Not much!" One of the players saw me -- he wasn't amused. He should have given me some credit, though. Up until that point, I'd amused myself by yelling "You suck, Paderborn!" It actually was a compliment compared to how they actually played.

As for the dancers, I do like their innovative move of having more revealing outfits in the second half. It definitely keeps the fans interested in a blowout. Or would, if the dance troop wasn't called the Düsseldorf Butterfaces*.

Two trends that I think the NBA will adopt in the next 5 years -- sponsor logos on the front of the jerseys and businesses sponsoring specific players (they pay part of their salary). Which major bank will sponsor Allen Iverson? He would have been perfect for John Thain's Bank of America -- egotistical individual driving his team's to ruin while claiming he deserved exorbitant compensation.

And, of course, the capper -- the game clock didn't work for the entire 4th quarter.

* Tobias thought they should be called the DDorf B-Cups.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Stolen Top 5 of the 2000s : Drinks

As long-time readers may have guessed, I do enjoy the occasional tipple*. Some in the naughts were more memorable than others. It is sad that in the decade I learned to enjoy both scotch and wine, there were none in particular that stood out.

5. Murphy's Irish Stout - As good as Guinness can be in Dublin, Murphy's in Cork is even better. Maybe not my true love any longer, but still damn tasty.

4. Momokawa Pearl Sake - I thought sake was always served hot and harsh. Then I had some cold Momokawa Pearl with sushi and I was hooked. Now I never pass up the chance for tasty sake -- and I never fail to pass up the heated crap.

3. Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé - This was courtesy of the bartender at Mercy wine bar while I waited for my slacker friends to show up. I'd never had real bubbly before (and some would claim it wouldn't be til later), but this changed how I looked at champagne. Now, of course, I consider it one of the major food groups.

2. Strahov Monastery Dark Beer - It's in the background here, but as good as their amber beer is, their dark is better.  Sure, it's pricey by Prague standards ($3.50 for a pint), but it's worth it.  So, trudge up to the top of Castle hill, then go a bit further.  These guys have taken a vow of celibacy -- the least you can do is appreciate their beer.

1.Pilsner Urquell - All breweries are pretty much the same -- a bunch of tanks, some old (white) guys tasting pre-beer sludge, etc. The bottling plant can be (and was!) cool, but basically you're going for the samples -- be it Guinness, Pilsner Urquell, U Fleků, what have you.  But the king of the samples is Pilsner Urquell's unfiltered, unpasteurized, unmatched brew straight from the casks.  Yo. Yo. Ma.

* Also the occasional nipple.

Bama Proves It Doesn't Pamper Athletes -- Classes Are Secondary For Everyone

How important is the BCS game to Bama? Enough so that the "university" cancelled 3 days of classes to let students, animal handlers* and staff maintain an appropriate level of insobriety for such an event. You stay classy, Tuscaloosa.

Now, if I were a Alabama resident AND literate, I would be pretty annoyed that a state-funded school was wasting my tax dollars on such a break. Since I know 40% of this group, I will ask Bri and Schmubb if they're annoyed or not.

* Their official term for "faculty".

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

World Cup Draw - Euro Response

Now that I've gotten my coworkers' and friends' feelings on the World Cup, I can draw a few conclusions:
- Both English and American fans feel lucky to have the other team in their group. For the Brits, I have to ask, WTF? Ok, you're happy to avoid Mexico, but cut the crap. As for Americans, settle down. Remember how shaky the team was against Trinidad & Tobago and El Salvador?
- Germans only respect teams that have won the World Cup -- my coworkers were unanimous in the certainty of a 3-0 group record with each game being an easy win (despite Ghana scaring Brazil and Australia getting jobbed in their match against Italy). They also all think that France, Italy and Argentina will raise their games "like always". They, of course, apparently missed 2002 when all 3 were underwhelming.
- Europeans think that location in the World Cup means nothing. Even the biggest fans had no idea that some of the stadia are at altitude, and they invariably discount this as a factor in Mexico, Bolivia, etc. having great home records in qualifying. They also tend to think that the heat for some games in the 1994 and 2002 Cups allowed inferior teams to win -- conditioning is not an important consideration. This also explains why Germans HATED Klinsmann's "innovative"* training methods brought from the USA -- until the team started winning.
- No European had any idea that Euro teams have ONLY won the World Cup in Europe. They also thought this was a coincidence. Because 9-1 in Europe, 0-8 outside is clearly random chance.

More to come as I find it out.

* "innovative" in the sense that the ideas were being used by large numbers of competitive North American ultimate players, in addition to large numbers of pro and college basketball, football, soccer, etc. teams.

Monday, December 07, 2009

NON-Stolen* Top 10 of the 2000s : Dishes

I have eaten more than my share of food over the last 10 years, and fortunately a bit of it has been memorable. So here are the 10 best (or, more accurately) most my memorable dishes of the naughts. Please feel free to remind me of any I've forgotten.

10. 1/4 Sheep's Head - Exactly what it sounds like -- A few of the vendors on the Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech make this. They take the various fillings from a sheep's head (brains, glands, tongue, etc.), fry them up with some tasty spices, and voila! So, head to M'Barek, stall #118 and tell Mohammed I sent ya.

9. Steak Tartare - I had previously never had a steak tartare that was memorable -- most were just raw beef. But this was a bit spicy, with capers for a burst of flavor. Also, the fact I could eat it at midnight was a bonus.

8. Eggplant Parmesan - Imagine lasagna with a sauce from fresh tomatoes that would be delightful on its own over penne. Then replace the sheets of pasta in lasagna with slices of grilled eggplant. It's amazing. Don't believe me? Ask The Meach, she'll tell you.

7. Supreme Deep Dish Pizza - What sets Gino's East apart from the many other great deep dish pizza joints in Chicago are the tasty sauce and the cornmeal crust -- it balances the heavy toppings. And there are a LOT of toppings -- that's what makes it Chicago-style***!

6. Wasabi Crusted Salmon Roll - A big shout-out to Steve for turning me on to Piranha. I enjoyed sushi in Dallas but hadn't found a favorite til I went to Arlington. Oh. My. God. To be fair, this is sort of a token choice representing its tasty unnamed brethren.

5. Lemon Olive Chicken Tagine - Other than the many delights of the Djemaa el Fna, I had been a bit disappointed with food in Morocco until I tried this at Chez Chegrouni just off the square. I'm not a fan of olives, but this was a revelation. Tart, juicy, a perfect blend of flavors.

4. Ginger Beef - After a few days of bistro meals, even great ones, one needs a change from French cuisine. This unassuming joint (name withheld until I ask Scott to tell me again) had decent dumplings, but the spicy beef was unbelievable -- just a hint of ginger and the perfect amount of spice. The best chinese dish I've had outside Asia.

3. Grilled Squid Stuffed With Smoked Ham and Cheese - I'd had a long first day in lovely Ljubljana (I strongly recommend watching a city wake up while enjoying a capuccino in the main square), and I wasn't in the mood for the heavy cuisine associated with the former Yugoslavia. So I went with the risky choice of squid stuffed with local ham and cheese, sort of a Calamari Cordon Bleu. I never thought grilled squid from Taiwan could be bettered. I was wrong -- all they needed to do was fill it with yumminess.

2. Chicken Korma - The mellow flavors of nuts, curry and coconut are accompanied by golden raisins and juicy chicken breast in a dish LB and I enjoyed many times.

1. Roti Curry - While it's not a traditional Thai dish, Thai Garden's addition of chewy roti bread on the side is a perfect way to sop up the deliciousity.

Honorable mention to the garlic scallops at Maxim's, the falafel with eggplant at L'As du Fallafel in Paris, the crab curry at Rasa Samudra in London and many more. But not 2 tacos from the taco wagon, right, Seahawks Sean?

* This topic was actually my idea, and Steve stole** it from me!
** If by "stole" you mean took a lame idea and actually did something with it.
*** Also the fact that mobsters are profiting from your meal.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Year of Good Books: November

First Among Sequels - Jasper Fforde actually disappointed me a bit in this, the 5th Thursday Next novel, but also my least favorite. Still a fun read, it comes across as a bit too self-aware. I will still be back for the 6th, though.

 The Breaks of the Game - David Halberstam's book about the Trailblazers' championship season and its aftermath is enthralling. What makes a book about a season 30 years in the past interesting? It is more about the effect of money on pro sports with a backdrop of class and race conflict.

The Gathering Storm - Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson After 4 years, the 12th (and next-to-penultimate) Wheel of Time novel is finally here. And it was, in a word, AWE-FING-SOME. Wow. It seems that the slow pace of novels 7-10 is a memory. Unfortunately, this also sees my favorite character being put through the ringer -- and not coming out of it as a very nice guy. However, it definitely moves the plot along and resolves quite a few major storylines, some of which have been building since the second book. And hopefully only another year or so until book 13!

Peter & Max - Bill Willingham. The first Fables novel was a pleasant surprise, though it had a extremely quick, though logical, resolution. For those of you who don't know, Fables is a series of comics that feature various legendary fairy tale characters ("fables") living in New York due to having being exiled from their Homelands by a nefarious Adversary. Having read the comics/graphic novels, the scenes with Bigby Wolf and Frau Totenkinder were especially fun. I would recommend the first volume of the comics as a better starting point, but this is still new-reader-friendly.

The Soul of a New Machine - Tracy Kidder's award-winner book about the creation of a microcomputer in 1980 is fascinating. From the huge number of "exotic" computer terms that are now part of normal life to the mushroom management style ("keep 'em in the dark and feed 'em shit") that is now par for the corporate course, it's an interesting look at work in a startup that is surprisingly like life in mainstream corporate America in the 2000s. It also made me think I know what Corey does at work.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu - Susanna Clarke I'm not normally a fan of short short stories, and I'm not sure why. I tend to have a short attention span for movies and TV, but I prefer longer stories to read. This was exacerbated by the fact that these stories are all basically the same -- people in the Jonathan Strange universe that have to cope with fairy magic. I would have enjoyed it much more had I read it on and off over several months.

Top 5 of 2000s: Best Bar Crawls

If you're reading on Facebook and can't see the photos, click for Brussels 2009 and here for Nac 2002.

5. NYC, 2005 - Fun, but no pics. The highlight was definitely the KGB bar. But two people isn't critical mass for a good crawl.

4. Addison, 2003(?) - The drama started with one of the organizers bringing two dates, (never a good idea), then it ended with the other organizer's date spraining her ankle being "independent" (and drunk). Good times!

3. Nacogdoches, 2003 - While it was fun, even adding the handful of One Night Stand attendees couldn't top the original. We did barely avoid a huge brawl at a frat party, thanks largely to me overhearing the plans to kick Chip's ass (justified, as he was throwing chips at people).

2. Brussels, 2009 - Not an official bar crawl, but it turned into a great one. And (one of) the first great bar crawl of the 2010s will be a direct result of this one. Details to follow in mid-2010.

1. Nacogdoches, 2002 - I was inspired by Alex and the boys at Simple Prop's crawl diary in 2002. We hit every bar in Nacogdoches, starting with a possibly illegal pool hall north of town. We then hit the bar at La Carreta, Jitterbugs (who refused service so early, but whatever), Flashback, the 2 bars at the bowling alley, 9 Flags, the one downtown, Bullfrogs and a few others. Along the way we learned that John's mutant power is the ability to correctly guess any woman's bra size (he was 5 for 5 with the waitresses), there was plenty of cock-blocking and general jackassery. Chad is still bummed he missed it.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Stolen Top 10 of the 2000s : Bars

Take it away, King Wally:

I also like to drink. So today I enumerate my Top Ten favorite bars of the 2000s. As with restaurants, these will largely be bars I went to more than once.*

Honorable Mention: Tramways - Sadly departed, but very cool. I'm sure there's no truth to the rumor that Brendan only got engaged because his true love closed up shop earlier in the year.

10. The Flying Saucer (Ft. Worth) - Naughty schoolgirl outfits for the waitresses and shitloads of tasty beer on tap. Yes, please!

9. Vinique - OK, technically not a bar. But their Saturday wine tastings are pretty faaaaaaabulous!**

8. Rahr Brewery - Also not, technically, a bar. But their free brewery "tours" on Saturday are great -- microbrews, live music, and football on the big screen (in season).

7. Delirium - 2000 beers, plus Noneia, the Queen of Cockblockia? Who wouldn't want to go?

6. Bar am Kaiserteich - Though it can be a bit high on the Pretension scale (often registering 8.3 kDouches/sec or higher!), it's cool. And I can claim, almost honestly, I spent the evening in an art museum.

5. Flashback - $1.50 longnecks and a picture of Sean on the wall -- gotta love Nac. They've come a long way since a waitress tried to scam me in the 90s by charging us for pitchers we never ordered or drank -- though she hadn't cleared any bottles off the table and so it was obvious what we'd had.

4. C Comme - I've only been here twice, and on consecutive nights. LOTS of bottles and half-bottles of champagne to try -- far too many if you're me (or, apparently, Scott). But great bubbly, hot staff, and more local cougars than you can shake a stick at. But at least they were friendly French cougars!

3. Negroni - Again, another one-timer (a CarterBush!), but they did have the best cocktails I've ever tried. Oh, baby. Just make sure to have a woman order -- you might get free shots when you ask for the check.

2. Poechenelle Kelder - A smaller, better version of delirium. Knowledgeable, helpful staff, and directly across from Manneken Pis, so a perfect place to stop and drink after realizing how disappointing the statue is.

1. U Sudu - HUGE bar, with most of it underground, in tunnels that appear pretty old. No matter, tasty beer and friendly Czechs. So much fun Chad & I went 3 nights!

Unfortunately, I had to leave out some, including the cool rooftop bar in NYC (great view, fun vibe, insanely expensive, even for NYC), the KGB bar in NYC, the Porterhouse in Dublin, the Friday bar for the Cork Open (Surly, Trixie, help!), the Londoner, the Gingerman, and the Altstadt in the Dorf (which claims to be the world's longest bar). And a dishonorable mention to Lakewood Landing!

* But not more than twice.
** And, yes, Margaret & Frank, I was using "fabulous" ironically

Wait, You What?

In responding to Italy's easy group, coach Marcello "Yes, I'm Frank Drebin" Lippi claims this is unfortunate, "complaining that Italy performs best against big nations, when its back is against the wall." You know, like needing a tie or moderate loss against Brazil in the Confederations Cup. Which they got... Oh, wait, they didn't. Never mind. I guess Brazil isn't big enough.

I just hope Italy can get back assistant coach Nordberg in time.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Stolen Top 10 of the 2000s : Restaurants

Since I am again stealing King Wally's post idea, I will again steal part of his intro:

I like to eat.

I love to eat, actually. And drink. I could easily have made this a top 20, and it was especially hard, as many of my favorites from the noughts have slipped from memory after 4 years in the dorf. No faves from Houston remain, and there's still no space to include a Galveston seafood joint or anywhere from Prague, Ljubljana, Bologna or any of a handful of other great meals I've had in Europe. Not to mention the 1/4 sheep's head I ate in Marrakech or the pigeon meat pastry I had immediately afterwards.

Of my top 10, 3 are one-timers and a 4th only had 2 visits. But I was all over the others like the GOP on a conservative black politician.

10. Drogheria della Rosa - My parents claim this was the best meal of their lives, and it was great. From the prosecco to the pasta to the amazing steaks in a balsamic reduction, this was a phenomenal meal. Unfortunately, 2009 was my only year in Europe without a night in Bologna.

9. Jack Stack BBQ - Can BBQ beans justify an 8 hour van ride (each way) with a bunch of dudes? Don't ask Charlie, because it was his birthday and he chose the crappy tacos instead. But, yes, they are. Get your ass to Kansas City and try to argue.

8. Pappas Bros Steakhouse - A great choice to celebrate, say, a promotion. One of the best steaks of my life and phenomenally tasty desserts.

7. Rasa Samudra - Indian (Keralan, apparently) seafood? Oh, yes. The curry whole crab is a revelation and the chutney* sampler made me like mango chutney. No small feat, that. And a beet-spinach curry? Soooo tasty, yet pinker than a commie on May Day. I'll be returning on my next London visit.

6. Ristorante Antica Taverna - Great food all 4 times I've been here in Rome, including the best eggplant parmesan of my life.

5. Clay Pit - My standard in Addison, and still a great place to eat. Sure, it's not authentic, but even some of my friends** of subcontinental descent have grudgingly admitted to liking it. It's not the same without Jo there, but still tasty.

4. Di Napoli - The best thin-crust pizza of my life (Gino's in chicago is my fave deep dish) is also the only 'dorf restaurant on the list. The Donna Carolina, topped with grilled eggplant, rucola and goat cheese, is a semi-religious experience. Also try their home-spiced olive oil.

3. Pasand's - I know it's "Pasand" but I call it "Pasand's" so you can bite me. Their lunch buffet was the cause of many a listless Friday afternoon, and I still miss

2. Thai Garden - The Roti Curry was long a must-have, and their Pad Kee Mao was great. However, online reviews imply the quality has dropped, but this was a monthly (or more often!) stop when I lived in Addison.

1. La Michoacana - With the death of my fave taco joints in Irving and along NW highway, this has become a key portion of any trip home. For $1.25 I get a taco filled with delicious barbacoa, nopalitos or other fillings. The other Wemyss should hate this place, as it always recharges my batteries enough to allow me to survive another 6 months or more in the mexican wasteland that is The Dorf. Sure, there's no atmosphere -- it's a grocery store. But I gotta have my cheap tacos.

Honorable Mentions - Truluck's (great soup, seafood, but not quite list-worthy), Kirin Court (great dim sum, angry hostess, good times!), North Main BBQ (Meat Coma!), the BBQ place on North St in Nacogdoches (Freeman's?), Aneka Rasa's amazing Indonesian in Amsterdam, Brussels' In't Spinnekopke, the 24 hr steak tartare at Au Pied de Cochon and many others. Including the amazing po boy from a gas station in Baton Rouge in 2001 -- worth dealing with a semi-insane teammate!

* I could, in fact, really taste the chutney.
** We'll call her N. Waliany. No, too obvious. Let's call her Naz W.

My Third Favorite Holiday: ProRep

Tomorrow is the 76th anniversary of the official end of Prohibition! So get out your stills!

Ok, so none* of us have stills, but here's my plan for celebrating one of the few moments in American history when common sense triumphed over knee-jerk close-minded religious craziness**.

Tonight: Act normally and drink wine with dinner. And perhaps a last drink before the curtain is dropped on fun and life becomes the plaything of organized crime***.

Morning: To symbolize Prohibition, I am taking ALL my (empty) liquor bottles to the recycling and hiding the rest.

Lunch: I will eat lunch while sipping surreptitiously from a flask to remember the dark days. Then I will watch "Homer vs the 18th Amendment" to get in the mood.

Afternoon: I will go to the Christmas Market to "shop" while I am really just going to booze it up and socialize -- a German substitute for a speakeasy.

Evening: Let the celebrations commence!

* Except Steve and maybe dan -- if beer counts as whiskey?
** Yeah, I know, not all the prohibitionists were motivated by religion, but why let facts interfere with a rant?
*** I.e., the Kennedys.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Stolen Top 10 of the 2000s : Sporting Events Attended(ish)

"Over the course of December, I will present a variety of lists for your enjoyment, amusement and, perhaps, tiny bits of jealousy and pity. These will often be Top 5 lists. But there may be a Top 10 list here or there.

I'll start out with a list that it is doubtful can be changed in any significant ways between now and Jan 2010. It is the top five* sporting events I personally attended:

Big thanks to King Wally for the idea AND the intro! Here are my top 10, in reverse order:

10. Dallas Cup, USA u-17 vs ? - Seeing Freddy Adu dominate guys 4 years older was pretty sweet. Too bad it hasn't happened again.

9. Dallas Stars v San Jose, Dec 14, 2007 - You know it's going to be a good game when your 10th row seats magically become glass-side. And then the guy next to you gets his beer knocked into his lap seconds after placing it next to the glass. And his date hits on all three of us while he goes to the bathroom. And then she mocks the douche.

8. MLS Cup, Nov 13, 2005 - "La la lalala, La la lalala, LA Sucks Ass!" Not the most exciting match, but lots of fun to sing songs mocking both teams. "Cobi Jones, Superstar, hung like a girl and he wears a bra!" (to the tune of "Jesus Christ, Superstar)

7. USA-Mexico, Men's Soccer Friendly at the Cotton Bowl, April 28, 2004 - Eddie Pope scored the winner in a 1-0 victory in front of a crowd that was at least 90% cheering for Mexico. Asshats.

6. USA-Mexico, Feb 28, 2001 - Watching the USA beat Mexico 2-0 in a packed sports bar was the first time I'd watched soccer with a crowd anywhere near as excited as I was. That it was against Mexico made it even better.

5. Braves - Cubs, Oct 5, 2003 - Getting game-day tickets to the clinching game in a playoff series? Not bad. Seeing the Cubs win a playoff series? Cool. Joining the entire stadium in a pregame Tomahawk Chop, only to later hear most of those people cheer for the Cubs? Freaking awesome.

4. NCAA Men's Soccer College Cup, 2003(ish) - Making up chants to mock players I don't know? Getting the people around me to start calling a guy "Junior"** because that's what we're calling him? Sure!

3. USA-Mexico***, 2-0 June 16, 2002 - Getting up early has never been more fun! Watching McBride and Donovan stick it to Mexico is as good as watching soccer on TV gets (for a fan of the USA). To have jackass Rafael Marquez red carded for being a punk-ass bitch was the icing on the cake. Suck it, Mexico.

2. Tottenham vs Leicester City, Feb 22, 2004 - a 4-4 Premier League match featuring Kasey Keller (all 4 goals were a result of Keller stranded by an incompetent defense). Of the 8 goals, 6 were scored on our side of the field. No rioting, but otherwise, all one could hope for from English soccer.

1. French Open, May 29-30 2008 - Great weather, great seats, great tennis. What more can you ask? The shallow male would answer: smokin' hot women's tennis players. I would answer: nothing. Scott & I saw the Bryan brothers, Nadal, Serena mailing it in, Dementieva NOT choking, Kuerten's final match at Roland Garros -- not a bad two days.

* Steve did 5, I'm doing 10. But I'm quoting, so that's life.
** I called him "Junior" because he looked so tiny compared to the others. Later I noticed he was the exact height and weight I was in college. Heh.
*** Yes, I realize 30% of my list are the USA beating Mexico. Bite Me.

Did I Just Get Scrumped?

After thinking about my recent post on Charles Dickens calling Hamlet "a poser", I have to say I find it implausible. I hope that my top position in a Google search for "hamlet dickens poser" doesn't lead to me being humiliated for falling for one of the many NY Times hoaxes. At least I didn't fall for the "Iraq has WMDs" one from a few years back.

And yes, this post was just an excuse to link to Tracy Jordan telling Liz Lemon "you just got scrumped!"

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Dickens on Hamlet: "You Would Find Him A Poser"

Thanks to the Morgan Museum, we can finally read Charles Dickens' changes to "A Christmas Story". While I was surprised to see no mention of the flag pole incident, the juiciest bit was on the first page. He'd originally intended to start the story with a jab at the Dorky Dane:

"Perhaps you think that Hamlet's intellects were strong. I doubt it. If you could have such a son tomorrow, depend upon it, you would find him a poser. He would be a most impracticable fellow to deal with, and however creditable he might be to the family, after his decease, he would prove a special incumbrance in his lifetime, trust me."

Later in the manuscript he refers to Macbeth as "a rather whipped sociopath," Richard III as "the gimpy king" and Juliet as "romantically impetuous, but with a nice rack".

I strongly recommend the entire manuscript for fans (or enemies) of both the Bard and the Blowhard!

One of The Less-Discussed Perks of Getting Older

I had a flash of inspiration last week (one of those delayed flashes, apparently) while flushing my body of the toxins filtered by kidneys & the liver. As the light in the bathroom failed to come on last night, I momentarily (and groggily) panicked. I pulled myself together, finished a stand-up job and reflected that a younger man might've been taken aback by such a predicament. But my years of experience with "the equipment" allowed me to succeed! Sure, it doesn't make up for the random hair appearing all over my body, the increasing amount of gray in said hair or the other ravages of age, but it's something.