Thursday, January 31, 2008
Charczuk has been kind enough to put me up for the couple of days I'm here, like he had a choice. I think this has been the second time in a month where I've called him and told him that I was going to be staying with him the next night. And, like a trooper, he keeps putting me up. So thanks, duder.
The maintenance guy is here right now, messing with the water heater. I think I just heard him swear, followed by the sound of water hitting carpet. Then some hammering, more swears, then the guy asking if he could use the bathroom for a minute. Seems like they know what they're doing. Although, I don't really remember him coming in with those guitars. Maybe he's working on those, too. Oh, I guess the TV's broken, so he just said he'll have to take that with him. Wow, lots of other maintenance guys showed up, apparently most of the things in here are broken and need immediate attention. I guess I should go help them load everything into their conversion van.
Well, they need to take the laptop now, so it's time for me to go! Wish me luck on the interview!
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Here are the top grossing films of '86
176,781,720 Top Gun (1986)
174,803,506 Crocodile Dundee (1986)
137,963,328 Platoon (1986)
115,103,979 The Karate Kid, Part II (1986)
109,713,132 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
91,258,000 Back to School (1986)
79,817,937 The Golden Child (1986)
77,632,096 Aliens (1986)
71,624,879 Ruthless People (1986)
70,136,369 Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Those were some entertaining movies. And that doesn't include The Fly, Hannah and Her Sisters, Blue Velvet, Hoosiers, The Color of Money, Stand By Me, An American Tail, Short Circuit, F/X, and probably a lot more that I didn't find in my brief search. So 1986 was a good year for movies, at least ones that I like(d) a lot.
You may be able to tell that I'm kind of bored right now. So, I'm talking about movies.
For this year's Oscar Nominated films for Best Pictures, I've only seen Juno and No Country for Old Men, but I really want to see There Will be Blood. The other two (Atonement and Michael Clayton) don't really interest me for whatever reason. I think the award will probably go to either No Country for Old Men or There Will be Blood. I'm really happy and excited that Juno was nominated, I loved the movie, I just don't know if it really "fits in" with the other two. I wouldn't be upset or disappointed if it wins, in fact, I'd be ecstatic! I would also be extremely surprised. Everyone's saying how it's this (I guess last) year's Little Miss Sunshine, which I can kind of see in that it's a smaller budget movie that's well-liked and doing pretty well, critically and otherwise. But I think I liked LMS more. I think it had a little more heart, and funnier parts. I love both movies, though, and am proud (is that the right word/emotion for a film?) of them both for doing so well.
I haven't seen too many of the other movies to comment on other categories (Actor/Actress/Director), but I'll be rooting for Javier Bardem, Daniel Day Lewis, Ellen Page, and both the Coen brothers and P.T. Anderson. I've liked both of them for quite some time, so either way I'd be fine.
One last category, Best Animated Feature Film, really interests me. The only nominee I saw was Ratatouille (and liked it a lot), but I've read the graphic novel on which Persepolis was based, but never got around to seeing this adaptation. The novel was excellent, so I really believe that the movie would be just as good. As for the other film nominated, was Surf's Up really that good? From the previews, it looked okay at best, but maybe I'm missing out. Maybe they needed to throw a third movie in there, just to appease everyone. Who knows!
So, any film buffs out there that care to comment/make predictions/tell me that Surf's Up is a cinematic masterpiece? Let me know! And tell me if the movies I've missed are any good
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Happy birthday Marin! You're still one of, if not the best friend I have, and I appreciate everything you do for me! Thank you!
Friday, January 25, 2008
Me and Marin in Times Square
A couple of cool airplanes in the Air and Space Museum
The Capitol Building
The National American Indian Museum (I was feeling artistic here, obviously it worked)
Another shot of the NAIM, this time from entrance, looking up
And, for your viewing pleasure, a mini-themed meal I had when I got back to Iowa
Mini tacos and mini cream puffs, both from Schwann's. The cream puffs are amazing, you don't do any cooking, just let them come to room temperature. mmm mmm
And of course, the perfect thing to top off my mini meal
Have a good weekend everyone!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Tuesday night I went to my Erin and Travis' place for some delicious soup and beer and fun board games (isn't that redundant? I've rarely played any un-fun board games) and some PS2. Good times, with some good people. I stayed there, since they live in North Liberty, and I was meeting up with my mom the next day in Iowa City (for those of you unfamiliar with the area, North Liberty is between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, closer to IC than CR by about 10 miles, so instead of backtracking to CR and then back to IC, I just made it easier on myself. So I thought). Plus, I was a little drunk. The plan was that I would get up the next day, hang out a little bit, then meet up with my mom.
Here's the thing about plans: they're nice to have and all, but when one little thing throws everything off, I get pissy. That one little thing yesterday was a flat tire. Flat flat.
Travis was kind enough to drive me to Iowa City where he joined us for the lunch buffet at Old Chicago. Then he took me back, helped me take my tire off (since he had coveralls, I wasn't going to get my jeans and sweater dirty!) in the snow (did I mention it was snowing and balls cold?? It was) and then drove me to the tire shop. They said that they'd call me if there was a problem with the tire that they couldn't repair, otherwise I could pick it up sometime before 5.
Of course you know they called me about 20 minutes later. We had barely finished the front 9 on our game. Tire ruined. Bad. They could get a new one, but it wouldn't be there until the next morning. Plus, there's the whole thing about paying for it ($100 for the tire alone), and, as some of you more dedicated readers may know, I have no job, just moved, and ergo, have no money. Like none.
After some calls were made, the plan was to put on the spare, drive to Muscatine where my mom would help me out with a tire, and I would stay for the weekend. I was going to be coming down anyways to help watch the dogs, so it kind of worked out.
Apparently I should stop making plans, because they just give me flat tires.
As I was leaving North Liberty, after picking up my rim and old tire, I noticed that my car was feeling a little funny as I was driving. I pulled off into a shopping center, and wouldn't you know it, my spare was a little low on air. Since there were a few gas stations in the area, I figured I'd try to make it to on and then air it up. After 3 gas stations with no air pumps, I found one in working order, and started pumping. With no results. My spare was absolutely flat by this time, and not taking any air. Yeah.
More calls were made, this time I found a place that had one of my tires in stock (p205/55 R 16 tires aren't easily accessible, I guess, and expensive. Also, I will not say the name of the place that I got them, because I don't want to admit to spending money there. But it was cheap, so I don't feel too bad. And it wasn't my money). Then I called upon my gracious, amazing sister to pick me up, take me to the place, pay for the tire until she can be paid back, drive me back to my car, then stand outside with a flashlight while I changed out the flat spare with the brand new tire. At least it wasn't 0 degrees out. It was 6. And dark.
Finally back on the road, I head towards Muscatine, to sort of collect myself and lick my wounds. While driving, I realized that I didn't really have anything with me for my weekend. No phone charger, no clothes, no toothbrush, no deodorant. I had picked a car charger for my phone when I was waiting for the tire, but it was missing a part, and was useless. Did you expect any different?
Today, though, I'm a little bit back on track. Still in Muscatine (I'll give you a call soon, KP), I got a new car charger so my phone is functional after dying last night at a very inopportune moment, my tires are looking good, I'm warm, I'm well-fed, and only a little stinky. It turns out I had some clothes in my car, so those are being washed and soon enough, I'll have something to change into after a shower. I even had a pair of underwear in there! Don't ask me why.
Thanks for putting up with all of this bitching. I promise I'll be back soon, this time with some interesting and entertaining posts. A couple of landmark posts will be coming in the near future, so don't miss out on those!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
When we got back to DC on Saturday night, we just took it easy. We found out that the Hawkeyes beat #6 Michigan State, played some Mastermind (a birthday present for Marin), made Scotcheroos, and just sort of hung out. It was a good night.
The next morning I met up with one of my friends from Muscatine and her boyfriend, and the 4 of us went out to for a delicious brunch (more below), and a little catching up. I had just seen her around Christmastime, but a lot, as you know, has happened since then. It was nice to see friends, though.
More friends came by later that evening, for my (soon to be) World Famous Pizza. I make a mean pizza, my friends. We played some Settlers of Catan (awesome game, for anyone who likes fun and has a few friends that like fun, and have like an hour, get this game and play it!!). Good times!
The next day was a Chris day, since Marin was at work. I went to a few museums, including the postal museum (more interesting than you'd think!), the Air and Space Museum (always fun for me, I like planes), the National American Indian Museum (my favorite, the architecture is beautiful, I have a little Cherokee blood so I've always loved learning about them, and the cafeteria is amazing. Seriously, if you're in DC, on the Mall and looking for food, go there), and the Holocaust Museum (very good, but sobering). I felt good about how I spent my day.
Later, Marin and I had reservations at Ceiba, as part of DC's restaurant week. Two weeks a year, a bunch of nice restaurants offer a smaller menu for a little cheaper price, $20 for lunch, and $30 for dinner, including an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert. And it usually happens that it occurs during my twice a year visits. It's like I planned it or something. Again, this will be covered in the food section.
I left on Tuesday, and spent A LOT of time in airports. I took the MARC back up to BWI, and got there a few hours early. No problem, I started reading Love is a Mixtape (excellent!) and napped a little bit. The flight was on time, and trouble-free. Then I arrived in Detroit. For 3 hours. I ate a chili dog (and accidentally forgot to leave a tip. I felt pretty bad about that), finished Love is a Mixtape, and read a few short stories from books I had. And still had some time. My flight was delayed about 45 minutes for whatever reason. Tends to happen to me. Oh well!
Now, onto the food.
First night (Thursday), we went to some place that had Burrito in the name. I don't remember. Anyways, I got some Mexican dish. It was alright, but as you can tell, it didn't make a big impression on me. Especially compared to the meal that we had Friday night.
John's Pizzeria was amazing. It could have been because we hadn't eaten since the expensive Burger King, but it was seriously some of the best pizza I've ever had. It was a simple sausage and mushroom pizza, but everything tasted so fresh and delicious. Plus, while we were waiting for a table, we sat at the bar and I got the most delicious gin and tonic I've ever had. I don't know what they did, but it was amazing. Marin even thought so, and she doesn't like that drink normally. Same thing with her and sausage. She normally doesn't go out of her way to eat it, but she enjoyed the pizza. The building is an old cathedral, so they have a pretty awesome stained-glass ceiling. Check out some photos on their website. The prices were pretty good, too!
Breakfast the next morning was provided by the hotel, and like I mentioned in the last post, it was good. I'm a sucker for waffles, so that may have put it up a couple of notches in my book. We had a snack in Little Italy at a coffee shop, that was probably about the Starbucks equivalent of coffee shops in Little Italy, but it was still good. I had an espresso, Marin had a hazelnut coffee (that didn't really taste that hazelnutty), and we split an eclair. It was sweet and good. Our lunch on Saturday was the prosciutto and fresh mozzerella sandwich, assembled in meat shop in Little Italy, and eaten at Central Park. One of my favorite meals, it was so simple and so delicious, and in a wonderful setting. Dinner was back in DC, and was leftovers. A couple slices of pizza from Friday, and some tacos that Marin had made a few days earlier. Yum!
Brunch at the Banana Cafe was good, very tasty, and came with unlimited mimosas for just $4 more. What a deal! They had the usual eggs and potatoes and some great pound cake, as well as some rice and chicken, and beef. I liked it all a lot. Maybe the mimosas had something to do with it. That night we made my pizza, with Canadian bacon, mushrooms, and onions. I was very proud of how it turned out!
Monday I had some leftover pizza, and a Mexican hot chocolate at the American Indian museum. DE-licious! Dinner at Ceiba was good, but for me it peaked with my appetizer - a Cuban black bean soup. It had some ham and manchego cheese, mmm mmm. The main dish was pretty good, grilled shrimp, but there's not a whole lot that can be done with it. And I was jealous of Marin's dish, pork shank with black beans. For dessert I got flan, which was good, but not overly impressive. I would still recommend the restaurant. They had an amazing sangria, and the food was very, very good!
So that's my trip! It was a great time, I'm glad I was able to do it, and very glad I have such great friends! I really like having friends to visit in different places. I'll visit anyone that wants me!
the politics of lonely will return to its regular posting soon. Oh, and pictures will be shown when they arrive.
Monday, January 21, 2008
I made it into DC with some time to kill before Marin got off of work, so I just sat around and finished up What is the What by Dave Eggers (very excellent book, I'll get around to talking about it sometime in the future). Marin got off work, we met up, went for some dinner, then hung out the rest of the night.
The next day we left for New York. Of course it rained on us most of the way, and there were a few navigational errors, but we made it in pretty good time, even with stopping for the most expensive "cheap" burger I've ever eaten (here's a tip: if you're ever driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, don't stop for food whlie still on the turnpike. It's like airport prices. I think it was $7 for 2 cheeseburgers, a small fry, and a small drink between the two of us at a Burger King.) Our hotel was in Jersey, an excellent find by Marin. I highly recommend the Comfort Suites in North Bergen, New Jersey. Our room had a bedroom area with a large bed and tv, then a sitting area with a pull-out sofa, and a lot of extra space. And the breakfast was pretty good - eggs, ham, and a waffle iron to make your own waffles, in addition to the normal continental breakfast fare.
By the time we got unloaded and headed to the park-and-ride for the bus, I was getting stressed that we wouldn't make it in time to see the screening of Conan. I had pictured our bus ride to Manhattan taking much longer, like maybe an hour or more, but it ended up being around 10 minutes. Amazing! Of course, I had forgotten to look up directions from Port Authority to the NBC Studios, but a police officer pointed us in (basically) the right direction. He was off by a couple blocks, but once I knew where we were, I figured it out.
We made it with plenty of time, and then began the process of getting into the studio for the taping. It was a long process. And a hot process. First, we got a wristband and a ticket, both of which had to be displayed for most of the time. Then we were told to meet at a certain place at exactly 4:15, no earlier, no later. After we all gathered at the precise time and place, were taken through a metal detector, then to a hallway, then sorted out by numbers and letters that they had given us, and then counted, and recounted, and recounted again. Then we stood there for about half an hour. That was a fun time, especially listening to the douches in the line near us. We finally were taken into the studio after that, and seated by some dudes.
The studio was nice. Smaller than it appears on TV, but pretty cozy, with some nice HD TVs spread throughout, which were playing old clips from the show, and were also used during the taping to show any of the clips that they cut to during the show. A warm-up comedian came on for a few minutes, then the man himself, Conan O'Brien came out and talked a little bit (maybe a couple minutes), then went right into the taping. The guests for the show were Brian Williams from NBC Nightly News, a dude who wrote books on and studied cocktails, and Doyle and Debbie, a country-parody duo. (If you missed the show, you can watch it here (ok, if that doesn't take you there, the address is http://www.nbc.com/Late_Night_with_Conan_O'Brien/video/episodes.shtml, just copy and paste the whole thing. I don't know why that's not working. Oh well)! Just select the January 11th episode.) It was pretty fun to see how everything is done, and see how things are run during the commercials and whatnot. My favorite parts, actually, were during the commercials. The band plays the whole time, and Conan sits at the desk. You know how the host is always talking with the guest when they go to commerical? Well, that lasts about 3 seconds after the camera goes off, then they sit there awkwardly for the next 2 minutes. I thought it was hilarious. All-in-all, though, it was an awesome experience.
After the show, we wandered around a little while, and found a pizza place that I had seen featured on a Travel Channel show just a few days earlier. It was amazing. But again, that's for another post, when I tackle the foods of the trip.
That was it for night one in NYC. We headed back to our room, and fell asleep watching TV, until Conan came on that night, and of course, we had to watch. It was kind of a strange feeling, watching an episode that I where I was in attendance.
Day 2 in New York was spent just checking things out. We went to Chinatown and Little Italy, got a prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sandwich made at a shop in Little Italy, then went to Central Park and ate. An awesome day. We left for DC later in the afternoon, but still had a wonderful, albeit short time in Manhattan. And once I get the pictures from Marin, I'll put them up here!
Come back soon, when I'll go into the DC part of my trip. I promise it'll be informative, if not entertaining. I'll work on that a little bit too.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I stopped along the way a few times. First, this rest-stop to call Captain Crab and tell him my sails were taking me north:
All I know is that this was somewhere in Kansas. I drove through Oklahoma while it was dark, so I didn't have many opportunities to take pictures. I was afraid I had taken a wrong turn when I came across this watertower:
I walked around a while to try to find Jad, but apparently, there's a different Ottawa!
I made it to Kansas City in the afternoon, where I stayed with Charczuk and Rhiannon. There will soon be video evidence of this. Should be exciting stuff!
The next morning I got back on my way, but not before stopping for a delicious breakfast:
And in case you were wondering, yes, that is my passenger seat, full of stuff. The XM Radio reciever, shown in the bottom right corner of the photo, was a life-saver on this trip. I heard so much good music, but that's a post for another time. It saved me the trouble of digging for CDs every hour, especially since the CD cases were somewhere on the passenger side floor area.
I made good time, made it back to the Iowa City area right in time for my mom's shift meeting (a.k.a. a bunch of paramedics get off of work and go get drunk). I stayed a night or two in Muscatine, before heading up to Cedar Rapids, where I'll be staying with my brother for the time being. I knew it was a good place to be when I saw this off of the front porch the first morning I was there:
Such a pretty sight. Then, later in the day, I was searching for something to eat for lunch, when I came across the ultra-rare cabinet dwelling cat!
I only had a few days at home before I left for my trip out east, but it was definitely a huge improvement in attitude (and lattitude, ha!) for me. And my trip was wonderful, but that'll wait for another day. Or later today. We'll see. I think I'll break it into a few parts: NYC/Conan, DC, and food (which includes the best gin and tonic I've ever had). It was a good time.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
New Year's Eve was less than great. I got back to Austin around 5:30, then had to wait for my luggage, then took a bus home. After walking for nearly a mile from the last stop to my place, I made it into the apartment around 8:30. I was a grumpy Flenker. I actually ended up going to be at like 11:15, then woke up when my brother called at 12:05, then I got a couple of text messages, and another phone call at 2. Happy New Year. Had I actually known anyone in Austin, I'm sure I would've enjoyed it more. But I've never been a big fan of the holiday. You would think I would be, seeing as how it's basically an excuse to stay up late and drink, then do nothing but watch football the next day, but for some reason, it just doesn't do it for me. Maybe it's got something to do with the fact that I've only had a midnight kiss once ever. Who knows.
My trip home was excellent, though, I got to see a couple of decent snowfalls, and was lucky enough to get go shovel and use the snow blower!
Christmas treated me well, I got some clothes, lots of books, and, maybe best of all, XM Radio. I'm way pumped for it, I just installed it into my car today, and drove around for a little while, just to listen to it. (Something I didn't get was a laptop. I wasn't really expecting one, seeing as how I didn't really ask for one. But, I thought that it could be a good gift for my loyal readers to all chip in to get for me! I don't want a fancy one, just one in the $300-400 range for now. So if every loyal reader chipped in, it would probably only be about $100/person! What a deal!)
It was so nice to be back in Iowa, even if I felt like I needed another week to do everything and see everyone that I wanted. I was able to make it to a Hawkeye basketball game, against Southeastern Louisiana University, a team which features two players at 5'5". That entertained me, even while the Hawks were losing. They ended up coming back and taking control of the game, but it was a little frustrating for a while there. Of course I forgot my camera, so I don't have any pictures. But our (Marin accompanied me) seats were awesome, right at center court, row 14. Maybe the best seats I've ever had for a game at good old Carver-Hawkeye. Afterwards, we met up witha couple of my friends at the Fieldhouse. Now, if I had to make a list of bars I would go to if I had one night to go out in Iowa City, the Fieldhouse wouldn't be last, but it'd probably find its way into the bottom 5. (off the top of my head, Vito's and the Summit would be fighting it out for the last spot, with Old Capitol Brew Works possibly taking the top spot.) But, since my friends were there, with free beer, I felt alright going there.
The rest of my time was basically spent with family. KP stopped over for a little while, with beers in tow, which was nice. And any time that was not spent talking or traveling was spent eating. I ate a lot of food. A lot. It was awesome. But now I'm pretty sure I've gained a few pounds, so now it's back to not eating a lot. Which is not awesome. Oh well.
My flights all went smoothly, if sitting around waiting for a pilot for 3 hours can be considered smooth. I don't quite understand how we can sit there for that long with the plane sitting just outside the window, looking in, mocking us, while there's no pilot to take it. Then, once that flight left (going from Dallas to Moline), I had the worst trouble with my ears not popping. Or not popping. I don't remember, but whichever it was, sucked. I've never had a problem with it before, but I think since I was in the middle stages of a cold, it made things worse.
All in all, though, it was an awesome trip. I'm back in Texas for the time being, but a week from Thursday I'm taking off again, this time for the east coast. I'll be going to DC to meet up with Marin, then we'll be taking a bus to New York City on the 11th, which just happens to be my birthday. I will be celebrating the 27th anniversary of my birth by going to a taping of Conan O'Brien. I am super excited for this. Then, it happens to work out that I'll be in DC for their "Restaurant Week," a biannual event where all sorts of fancy restaurants have special menus made up for those who go, where a 3-course meal can be had for $30 a person. Not a bad deal. I'm really excited for the whole trip.
That's all I got for now. As you can probably tell, I'm still a little disjointed from the past week, and haven't gotten my thoughts straight, but I felt like I should do some sort of summary of the goings on around Flenker. More (potentially big) news will come soon. Until then, I'll be out enjoying the perfect weather here. And watching USC absolutely throttle Illinois in the Rose Bowl.