Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Waba Korean Restaurant (and Karaoke Bar)
Neighborhood: Lincoln Square
5100 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60686

Spoiler Alert!
I hated this place. If there is anything, anything you can take out of my rants it is this, do not under any circumstance go to Waba!

I am going to get raped. Where the fuck are they and why this far west?

I was standing outside of Waba waiting for Candice and Jennifer. They were driving from the suburbs and were stuck in traffic. I didn’t want to go inside by myself. The building was a giant purple box. The doors opened to a small room which you had to open through in order to get inside. On a functional level, it made sense. Create another barrier for the wind and cold. But there is a major problem, if you are going to create some sort of tunnel into your bar, don’t have it lined with mirrors, making it look even sketchier!

So I had three alternatives, wait outside, wait in the Joker’s hideout, or wait in the restaurant – a Korean Karaoke bar by myself. Each had its pitfalls. Waiting in the mirrored tunnel of death made me nervous. If there were bullets, glass would shatter, and I would be fucked up. Waiting in the restaurant by myself – I am not a Tong. Plus I don't have long finger nails, and my hair is not in a qui. Waiting outside, I would still be shot, but it is cold, so maybe my blood would congeal as it oozes out. Sophie had an easier choice. I decided on waiting outside, at least I could keep an eye on my car.

Reaching for my phone, I thumbed nervously and clumsily for Jennifer's phone. I felt like a bovine with Mad-Cow. Scrolling through my directory, A - Adam, Alex, Amy, Annie (damn it)! With a swoosh of my finger I get to G - Gary, Gwendaline (who the fuck is that?). Forward to J --- Jennifer! I caledl, and after a tense 30 seconds somebody picks up. It is Candice. she tells me that they are on Milwaukee Avenue and heading south. I responded with a curt "There is plenty of parking."

Shit it is cold. I could have gone to law school in California. Why did I have to come to this tundra? The seafood is better. The coffee is superior. And the mos, the mos like Asians there. Well at least they have a karaoke bar here. there hasn't been a shooting yet, so it already beats the ones on Western & Sepulveda. God it is fucking cold. I bite the proverbial bullet. I go into the hall of mirrors and wait.

As I open the door, I hear a metal clang. Oh my god, I just triggered a metal trap! I look up expecting the ceiling to come down on me. Instead what caused the noise was some garish Asian windchime. It was a spinning Buddha. I look at my phone, and thought to myself, "Well at least pretend you are doing something." So I go on Yelp and decide to look up the entries of Waba An average of 3.5 stars. People complained about service, which is understandable because it is a Korean Bar. I know this is offensive and I will be reported to Blogspot, ACLU, St. Peter, but Korean & Service, do not really run parallel together. Sure there are the exceptions, but those tend to exist in tony areas. 5100 N. Western, is not one of those areas.

I see two shadows approach the door. My heart skips a beat. The mental calculus was running. Did I give my brother a Power of Attorney on Healthcare decisions? Would Warren take custody of the cats? Who gets my shoes? I am not ready to shed my mortal coil!

Instead of Asian hoodsters, a pretty buxom black girl, and an equally pretty white girl opens the door. I have never been so happy to see Candice and Jennifer. Of course I always fear that good things would be be taken away from me, so I never show much enthusiasm for the subject matter, "OMG, do you see where we are in."

Jennifer and Candice just laugh. They are always so cheery. I should be like them. Unflumoxed they walk through the second set of doors. Are they unaware of the den of death that we walking into?

Two Korean boys greet us in an interesting form of English. Candice looks at me as if I could translate. Sorry I am not a Rosetta stone. Jennifer politely tells them "three" and they tell us to go through ANOTHER hallway! We walk a good 60 feet into a huge empty room.

Mildly relieved that there are no drug deals occurring, "Wow it is hopping in here."

Candice laughs, "Yea it is pretty dead in here."

Out of nowhere the Korean greeters pop out and says "Anywhere you like?"

What the fuck? Was there a trapdoor? Jennifer walks to the booth at the end of the dining space. The booth is too far away from the table, which is one of my greatest peeves. If they are not all that busy at least move the tables closer to the seats. Of course, it would take the strength of Hercules to move one of these booths. It is hard to describe the booths. They are actually good looking. Tall, dark wood, heavy as hell. But the rest of the dining room almost gave me epilepsy. The walls were inlaid with garish metal. And while the booths were sexy as hell, there were eight tables in the middle of the room. Each one of them could seat six. The tables were rather generic, but the chairs looked like they were out of a Chinese restaurant in the 80s. The bar was worse, like many of the bars I have written about it is U-shaped but surrounded by 18 red-stools. These were not sexy red stools. Whenever I listen to Billy Joel's "Piano Man" I have visions of patrons sitting on these ugly, dated, ragged stools.

I sigh and we open the menus. They looked like a child's homework project. "Are these written in crayon?"

Candice laughs, but she has a furrowed brow. I notice her apprehension, the first two pages are in Korean. Smudged characters in florescent pink, blue, and yellow - but definitely Korean.

Being the sagacious one, Jennifer tells us that the next page is in English. Relieved, I hate asking non-native speakers to describe a dish. One of the two boys who greeted us brings over warm water and a dish with honey roasted peanuts and pretzels. I was thinking well if there are honey roasted peanuts, it can't be that bad. Candice inquires to the warm water. Jennifer gives a sociology lesson about ice being an American thing and we attempt to decipher the menu.

Dear Reader, I think I lost two lines of vision. First of all, I hate menus written in some sort of stylistic font. I hate handwritten ones even more. Sure sometimes it can be portrayed as quaint - but I am not one of those customers. But what I hate more then crayons, are inexplicable items. Can somebody please explain what the fuck "CHEESE EGGROLL" means? Or here is another item that probably requires an epistle "Lonely Tiger in Cage with Kimchee." I have a headache, I don't even want to look at the entries because my imagination has been working overload. I just suggest that we order a few appetizers.

We order the salt and pepper squid, Korean seafood pizza (I presume it was hamul-paijon), potstickers, and the "firecracker chicken." Hoping that it was literally an eggroll stuffed with brie, I asked about the "Cheese Eggroll".

The waiter whom I will affectionately name as Wai Lung said "It is like a cheese omelet."

"I don't understand is it wrapped in a wanton wrapper."

Wai Lung says "No cheese omelet."

"OH! Cheese egg - roll." Jennifer just looks at me as if I was retarded. "Well can we get more peanuts. Oh, and we need to order drinks!"

Candice orders a "Sex on the Beach." I order an "OB" and Jennifer order a Miller Lite. We chastise her for her choice, but she defended herself by stating it was an "appetizer." Five minutes later, the drinks come over. We could smell the alcohol in the "Sex on the Beach." I wanted to throw up. But that was not the most startling drink, what was mind boggling was the OB. For the uninitiated, OB is one of the dominant beers in Korea. Apparently these also come in supersize at Waba I immediately ask for three glasses, what the fuck? Did Wai really think I was going to drink straight out of three liters of beer?

Half an hour later, and still an empty room, the food comes out (sans squid). I immediately notice that they all have several similarities. They all came out in white dishes, and all the items are served with shredded cabbage covered in this thick pink mayo. I understand the pink mayo is ubiquitous in Korean and Japanese food. In fact many people are rather enamored with the concoction. I am rather ambivalent towards it, but contrary to the bathroom walls, I hate thick sauces. But screw it. I look down on my watch and it is almost nine, I am starving.

I wish I ate beforehand. We dived into the hamul paijon, and we all noted that it was quite good. Candice in particular was quite partial to it. It was crisp, and actually well made. But, the seafood inside was actually quite disgusting. You could tell the seafood was frozen, and that is not a per se point of critique. I have been reading that people should only eat seafood that has been flashed frozen to reduce the chances of foodborne illness. The problem is the method in thawing. The shrimp and mussels in the paijon were mealy. Immediately I thought, "Microwave." This already set off red flags. Seafood should be defrosted under cold water and stored in a receptacle in the walk-in or prep counter. If the place needs to defrost in the microwave, the inference is low volume (let us not even mention the possibility of food poisoning).

Candice finished her "Sex and the Beach" and she said she was "done" with the alcohol. I was surprised she did not fall over. I pored her half of the OB (which by the way is a decent beer). I started picking at the pot stickers, and initially I thought they were pretty good. I tell Jennifer to try them (she is particularly partial to pot stickers), but at the second one I noticed that they were cooked unevenly. It was cold. Like a stepchild, I casted it aside to the periphery of my dish. Shit we were out of napkins. I looked for Wei Lung and his brother. They were missing. I started thinking that these kids were wearing Dolce and Gabbana. Which is emblematic of the problem of Waba. First, when working at a restaurant, and you are involved in front of the house, you can't wear couture (unless you are an owner, or working exclusively as a server), it is impractical because of stains, and you run the risk of creating resentment with the customer. Second, and more importantly, it is evidence that the kids were running the show. Rich kids running a restaurant is akin to invading Russia in Winter.

I flag down the waiter for more napkins and Candice actually lets out a surprised amount of delight while eating the chicken. I fork a piece into my mouth. I will admit, it was well cooked. It was crispy, and dry enough that it removed all the moisture out of the meat. Little nuggets of crispy delight. I know my description makes it sound like dessicated pieces of flesh, but there are moments when chicken can be fried to a point where enough moisture is removed that the flesh is firm but not gamey. This was the case, and the sauce was actually quite delicious. Unfortunately, it was served along five heads of cabbage and a jar of that obscene sauce.

The squid did not come out yet. But it is good company, and we keep talking. Candice could tell that I was not particularly happy with the food and she noted with a voice of encouragement that if we were in downtown, the food would be much more expensive. "The pizza would be like $18 on Michigan Avenue."

We hear some noise, could it be, would other people share in our misery? Actually I was hoping for a shooting so we could leave without paying for this garbage. The room is rather large, so it is hard to make out people from what looks like a mile away, but it was quite obvious what they were, Korean teenagers. I look at Jennifer, she just laughs.

I mutter "This is a frat party."

The squid comes out, and now I really want to throw up. To put all this in retrospect. Squid should be cooked one of two ways: cooked in a short amount of time, or stewed for a really long time; otherwise, it becomes really tough. Frying in a frier is not a technique that requires a particularly long amount of time, so this thing took at least an hour. Well it smells like the violation of several Levitical laws. What adds to the obscenity - they were entire tentacles that looked like the remains of the Kraken. At the very least, cut it up! Maybe the line-cook did not want to handle the squid. I think we each ate three to four pieces and we were done.

I was in Korean Karaoke hell. But then it dawned on me, "Where the Hell is the Karaoke!" I asked Jennifer and Candice and they gave me an equally puzzled look. It is called Karaoke Bar, and I don't see any underage Korean girls singing anime. We sit waiting for the check and then we hear the college anthem "CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG!"

Appalled Candice goes to the bathroom. I talk to Jennifer about our culinary Hindenburg. Candice returns and asks us about the logistics of a bidet. The check comes. It came out to $25 a person, we leave while walking through a throng of teenagers. As much as I feared it, I think a shooting would have been preferable.

On a scale of 1-4 with 4 being the best:
Quality: 1. The highlight was 4 ozs of chicken and honey roasted peanuts.
Service: 1. We were the only table, I shouldn't have to flag you for napkins.
Atmosphere: 1. If you want to have a quiet date, sure go ahead. Of course, I could just go to a cemetery.
Hotness of clientele: 1 if you are like me. If you like them young get thee to Waba.

The Worst 10 Dates of the Year.

I was actually racking my head in reducing my list from 17 to 10. First of all, I would like to note that I could have made a list of the Top 10 D-Bags. While that would be much more satisfying, I fear that it would just come out as 10 screeds of meanness. Second, I decided to omit the many weird situations where I thought I was going into a date, when in fact it might have been something else (the subjects often ran parallel with the D-Bags).

I stipulate, I come off as an asshole in a few of these:

#10. The Actor

He is cute, real cute. Tall, thin, good hair, but there is a catch, he is really young, 22. I approach with hesitation, sure he says he is a video-game nerd, but he missed the NES days, that is an entire generation. But the date goes well, good food, good wine (btw late harvest Gewurztraminer with scallops – better than a good date). Maybe I am worrying for nothing.

But then he says, “Yea, I am thinking about moving to California after getting my degree.”

Flabbergasted, I choked on the very sweet white “Wait, when is that?”

“Oh; in a couple of months, I don’t know it depends on auditions.”

“I don’t want desert, the wine is sweet enough.”

#9. Liar Number One

We met at the Art Institute. He is well read, a foodie, smart – smarter than me. He also tells me later that he is married.

#8. Selfish, Just Selfish

I thought I fell in love, “Eric, the problem with cap-and-trade is that if it is tied to say market cap it is under-and-over inclusive.” He continued about the problems of the economic policy.

I was thinking church bells. Then I pulled a Ted Mosbey. “Marry me.”

“I don’t believe in marriage. Actually I support polymorphic (sic) [polyamorous - take that!] relationships.”

Bewildered I ask, “Meaning more than one person?”

“Yes – it is economically efficient …”

#7. Visitor

I heard my Britney Spears ringtone, it was set to "SK." I jumped out of the shower. The cats were looking at me, a wet naked mess. “Hello, oh hi, 'Sk'… Sure I am free, I will meet you there.” He brings a friend, a friend I also dated.

#6. Dyslexia

“I am sorry, your profile says 6’ 5’’. Just wondering, umm… was that a typo?”

“No, my profile is 5’6’’ why?”

Appalled that I was being lied to, I use my inquisitor's tone, “No it doesn’t. Dude, it is not a big deal, but you wrote 6 foot.”

He shows me his phone. His profile under stark white light. Shit, he is right.

He winkles his forehead, “So is it a problem?”

“I am Asian, you can’t be shorter than me.”

#5. Where the Fuck is the Mandolin?

Dinner was amazing. He has a condo on Michigan Avenue with a view that Oprah would kill for. Things get hot and heavy. He goes to the bathroom to freshen up. He comes out in a kimono.

#4. Fuck You.

They are delicious. I offer hesitantly, “Would you like an onion ring.”

You could see him proverbially flexing his pecs “Do you know how many calories are in those?”

Appalled, not so much about the coloric lesson,but because I was being charitable without asking anything for return. “Ummm… they are really good.”

He scoffs, “If you want to look fat keep eating them.”


#3. Get Thee to a Panda Express

Act 1. We had burgers and fries. It started as a good date.

Act 2. He asked me where we would go next time. I asked “What about Thai.” He told me he never had Asian food: no fried rice, no orange chicken, no dim-sum, no pot stickers.

[Curtain Closes]

#2 "Let’s Go Get Some Weed.”

#1. Who is Counting

He told me he was 37. I pressed on with inconsistent facts. He was actually 47.

My Top 10 Books of the Year

In a short break to my blogs about 30 Bars, I thought I should write about the Top 10 books I read this year. “Top “ is actually a misnomer, because one would think it would be “best books,” but I think to determine "best" is highly subjective. So my criteria in determining best is "most influential". The Top 10 books that influenced Eric:

10. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee; “I work in a restaurant, so my children do not.” The ethos of my family. Sure, there were tons of chapters about the history and etymology of “fortune” and “cookie” but there are also many chapters that made me realize that in far flung reaches, people still have the same dream that my grandparents had four decades ago.

9. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin: Anyone who listens to NPR or watches Meet the Press have heard about this book. Sure Obama selected Clinton, but who else? What should serve as greater application is that people should get along to serve a larger goal, even if they hate each other.

8. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer; this was a god-awful book. Chapters devoted to describing the male love interest, nary a sentence about the girl (except she was a whiney bitch). But you know what, I am Bella and where is my Edward?

7. Pontius Pilate by Ann Wroe; I first read this book at Vanderbilt for fun, I reread it in September for knowledge. How do you declare a war on something that has no borders like “Al Qaeda,” how do you cut the Gordian knot when a man calls himself the “King of Kings?" A sympathetic portrait on history’s most hated bureaucrat.

6. Nixonland by Ron Pearlstein; forget Goethe, this is the ultimate Faustian tale. The man was a moderate, but he needed to win. He sells out, and the Republican party has never been the same.

5. The God Delusion by Richard Hawkins; he can be as irrational and extreme as the people he attacks, and sometimes it is shooting fish in a barrel. Attacking people who believes in the “Gap Theory of Fossil History” or “Irreducible Complexity” is amusing, but it preaches to the choir. What is more important and influential are his discussions and views of the Old Testament. He depicts God as an asshole, and that is offensive. But what the faithful should take out of it is why does God change? Why does he give us his son, when in the Old Testament he was wrathful, and why does Satan change from mere accountant to the embodiment of evil.

4. The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene; sorry I am a dick, BTW do you mind signing this?

3. The Agenda by Bob Woodward; you know what was the tipping point in securing Clinton’s economic plan? When Warren Buffet told Bob Kerry “Don’t worry [about his vote] the rich will set payroll low for themselves and invest in stocks that don’t pay dividends.” A policy that we should be cognizant about when adopting a plan in raising marginal tax rates for the wealthy.

2. Being Justice Blackmun by Linda Greenhouse; the ultimate profile in courage. After Roe v. Wade, Blackmun knew he would be one of the most hated men in America, but he did what was right. Women, racial minorities, and gays should erect a temple for him.

1. Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story by Kurt Eichenwald, we all want to be the smartest person in the room, but sometimes we need to know when to stop. What is more important than laws, is to know why they are erected.

The worst book of the year. Literally worst.

My Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas, you are Black I get it. You believe Blacks should work hard, I get it. 350 pages of it, really? Next time, skip Anita Hill and your attacks against Affirmative Action, and tell us why I should not be allowed to marry a person I love.

Kuma's Corner - numero tres.

Kuma’s Corner
2900 West Belmont Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618-5804
(773) 604-8769

In a concerned manner Alex looked at me and asked “So if we leave work at 4:30 we should get there by 6:00 right?”

Resigned over the hand that God dealt us, I answered in the affirmative “Yes. Well it depends on the Edens, but I think so.”

Sharing in our lament, Amy just gave us a glazed look. We were acting like we just heard that we were enlisted to fight in Iraq, that somebody attacked the president, or that a miscreant kidnapped my cats. We were staring into the abyss in a zombielike manner while ejaculating in the obvious, “Tell Gillian that if she gets there before us, to snag a table,” and “Maybe Dempster won’t be that bad.” Not since Ulysses has there been such a treacherous voyage. We had to take the Edens!

For those thankfully unacquainted with the highways that stretch through the land of Lincoln, the Edens is quite possible the worst cement artery ever created. Not since the Maginot Line, or perhaps even the Great Wall has a construction project so failed man. The Edens [Expressway] is a (three laned!) highway that stretches from Downtown Chicago to I41, which eventually takes wayward drivers into Wisconsin. Where there are areas in California that are considered traffic dead zones; for example, the 605 and the 10, at least those areas make sense. A lot of people live in Los Angeles, and you have to take the 605 and the 10. But where the 605, the 10, the 60, the 405, the 101, the 5 are often the only avenues that can channel one from the drudgery of work to peace at home, the Edens is inexplicably busy. Why would anyone want to leave Downtown for Wisconsin is mind boggling. Why would fleets of commuters perform such a trek is an insult against God, physics and Darwin. What the fuck can possibly exist in the burbs that can cause so much traffic? Oh I know Dear Reader, I work in the burbs, so I have to take the Edens. I made some excellent life decisions in my life; hence, I have to make this commute, but are there so many people who failed in life? If Purgatory is strictly confined to Catholics, the Edens is the punishment meted out to people who did poorly on the LSATs. Thankfully there are alternatives such as Green Bay Road which takes me through the tony neighborhoods of Glencoe and Wilmette. I get a view of the lake, the Baha’i’ Temple and the most comfortable Starbucks that the company of Shultz ever erected. Green Bay is essentially my traffic condom. It is my protection from the Edens.

Akin to planning the invasion of Normandy, Alex, Amy and I had to make an attack plan. We had to get to Kuma’s Corner, but the only way to get there in an “efficient manner” was to take the Edens. Sophie had an easier choice. Do we indulge in a burger that has received such universal praise that the Tribune declared it to be “One of the best burgers in the Midwest,” or do I end up one short in my blog because I did not want to take the Edens? The die was cast. I gnashed my teeth. I-94, the fucking Edens it was. Our road to perdition would span 27 miles. It would take us an hour and a half.

When Gillian told her friends that we were going to Kuma’s Corner, they told her she would have to wait hours, the reason, Kuma’s is really busy. Anytime when you are down and you hear about unemployment at 10% or that retail sales are down, buck up and head to Kuma’s, you would think that Nasdaq is at 25,000. When I met Amy outside, she told me that she left her name with the hostess and that we were expecting the wait to be an hour. The wait did not really bother me per se because well my tuition was paid by people who eat at restaurants; moreover, the tag “Best Burger in the Midwest” was chiming through my head. But the one thing that I first noticed was that like internet stocks, the business of Kuma’s may be a sophistry. Kuma’s is not a very large place. At most it sits 60-80 people including 14 at the bar. I started to think, if Guy Fiere, Food and Wine, Gourmet (alas!!!), the Tribune, the glutton in Man vs. Food, and the Sun-Times did not hype up this place, would it be that busy? Moreover, if it was larger, would we have to wait?

As we waited for Alex and Gillian, Amy and I decided to wait near the bar and examine the beer list. I wish we had the brewer’s equivalent of the Rosetta Stone. We were assaulted with terms like “Purple Haze,” “Pumkin,” “Bouquet,” and “Lychee.” None of which made any sense with beer. All I knew, was that I was not going to order any beer costing more than $5; meaning, there were plenty of beers that I would not order. Thankfully, Alex walked in and I assaulted her with the beer list. I never thought I would ask another individual this, but it was necessary “I don’t understand please translate.” Well Alex, really didn’t. She was a pro and told us that she wanted a Logunistas – IPA and decided to let us pick by trial by fire. Amy decided to order the Pumkin because she liked pumpkin and voiced some amusement in the typo. I ordered “Purple Haze,” because gays are naturally attracted to the color purple. Well, it took me a good 5-10 minutes to wrangle the bartender. I was in a sea of heterosexual men yelling out orders. It was like the floor of the NYSE and I was Maria Bartiromo yelling out “PUUURRPLE HAZE!”

I also need to rewind 15 minutes before Alex came in. Amy noted the general atmosphere of Kuma’s and we felt mildly out of place. Dear Reader, conjure up an image of a J-Crew model, and you get Amy. She is the beautiful All-American girl that Reese Witherspoon should have become when she sold her soul. Amy was wearing clothes that looked like it came directly from one of the more fashionable racks of Nordstroms. Meanwhile I was wearing 4 layers of Miuccia … and Sketchers (it was snowing). The clientele at Kuma’s on the other hand, did not look like they were wearing house of Gucci. But this is the paradox with Kuma’s, it is not a cheap place, but it is located in one of Chicago’s more middle-income neighborhoods, Avondale; hence, you know that the customers probably do not live in the area. These are all transplants from other areas whom had the prescience to change before dinner. I essentially looked more like an asshole than I normally do. Thankfully, we did not get a cock-eyed glance from nary a soul, probably because their skull caps were spun from Scottish cashmere. The rest of Kuma’s is meant to resemble a bilker’s bar, sure there were the requisite picture of nude women drinking blood out of a bat, but it all seemed too synthetic. It was D&G acting as if it was Wrangler.

I digress. We clutched onto our beers and Dear Reader it has been nearly five days and I still remember the Purple Haze. It was quite possibly the best beer I ever had in my life (with the exception of another one I had at a house party, but I was high at the time so I don’t know if it affected my sense of taste). Purple Haze tastes like raspberries, and a little bit of beer. It wasn’t sweet per se, but it was smooth, and subtle. The next thing I tasted was Alex’s IPA. Her drink was disgusting. It was robust and bold. My God, Alex is more masculine than I am. Gillian came and Amy tried in vain to order her a drink. She asked the bartender a battery of questions which only resulted in a litany of alcoholic terms that flew over our head. We could talk about §§ 403 and 501(b), but you lose us at “Berliner Weisse”. Regardless, Gillian ordered, and we get our table shortly after, 5 minutes before promised to be exact.

The kitchen is an open-one, but it essentially has the same amount of cooking space in a studio apartment. There is a grill, a salamander, and some prep counters, that is it. While the kitchen sounds simple, it is fitting for its menu, there are fourteen different types of burgers, three-five generic versions of salad (chicken salad, cobb salad, etc), some appetizers, and mac-and cheese. Most of my attention was focused on the burgers because Kuma’s is known for them, not the calamari. The burgers range from $10-$14. The one that was shown on Diners, Drive-in’s, and Dives is the one served with a fried egg, “The Kuma Burger.” Since it is so iconic, it is only natural for none of us to order it.

I don’t remember what Gillian ordered, but Amy and Alex ordered the “EYEHATEGOD” burger, which was a patty with a pecan crust, served with three bacon wrapped dates, stuffed with blue cheese. If memory serves the burgers also had a special type of mustard but Amy passed on hers. I ordered the “Pantera,” which was a patty served on top a charred poblano pepper, a slice of bacon and Monterey Jack cheese. With every burger you get the choice of fries or chips. I chose chips, everyone else selected fries. Well we ordered, and we waited.

As I said, the kitchen is small and it took some time for the burgers to come out. I am not sure how much time passed, but I do remember that I went to the bathroom twice. Dear Reader, if you do not wish to contract hepatitis, avoid the bathroom. Thankfully my parents are Chinese and they eat everything; consequently, I have some naturally immunity, or I would be dead. I think I should also talk about the non-existent service. The waitress stopped by twice, and she seemed more concerned with us ordering alcohol then anything else. In fact I noticed that after the burgers were served, the water stopped flowing too.

The burgers came out and my coterie of sexy femme-fatales immediately noted how they could not finish everything and bring leftovers for lunch. Such thoughts did not cross my mind. I cut the burger in half, and noted that it actually took some effort to cut the pretzel bun. I finished the burger in 10 minutes. The chips took me another 5. But here is the thing, the entire experience was a giant “meh.” Don’t get me wrong, the beer was fucking amazing. But Alex told me that it is accessible enough that she will be serving it at her wedding, so it is not a Kuma’s exclusive. The chips were crispy, fresh, piquant and delicious, but was it worth the Edens? But the main disappointment was the burger. I had better ones in Chicago. The Twisted Spoke in Wrigglyville (before it closed down for inauspicious reasons) served a much better burger, and MUCH better bacon. I also remembered the bun to be resplendent verging to the point of being orgasmic. Here is the rub, the much vaunted “Best Burger in the Midwest,” even fell to burgers I had in Tennessee, California, Florida, and even Louisiana. The last of which I remembered sharing with Paulene in which the cook intentionally covered a patty with shredded cheese, and then covered the entire thing with an iron cover after squirting several tablespoons of water. This allowed for a steaming process that made for a resplendent cheese web (this burger is reminiscent of the one I read about served at the “Squeeze Inn” in Sacramento, Ca; another burger-mecca that I must make a pilgrimage to). But in the totality, the burger at Kuma’s was merely competent. The patty was juicy, and it tasted like beef, so it was not overly salted; but admittedly, Alex made a better patty at her Fourth of July party. The pepper and cheese was absolutely uninspired, it was out of a Mexican menu. Granted, the “EYEHATEGOD” was unusual, and maybe that was a better burger, but I was uncomfortable with eating something with such a moniker.

But beyond a competent burger, the one thing that irked me was the attempt in rushing us out. The staff essentially cleared the entire table of everything but the check in order to give us the proverbial push out the door. I drove through an hour and a half of traffic, I waited another hour, I am surrounded by hot women making me the envy of every man in this place! The Office is a re-run, I want to talk about boys! But we bit the bullet, the girls were hitting a burger-coma.

I felt cheated really, and I pondered, if Guy Fiere did not visit, would Kuma’s be Kuma’s. If he had rolled into the Twisted Spoke, I think it would have deservedly won the plaudits that are currently bestowed on Kuma’s. If Food & Wine wrote about my little shack in Louisiana, the lines would be out the door; people would justifiably drive an hour and a half. Like the interior, I felt the burger was a counterfeit. Amy, Alex, and Gillian left like they were trying to recover from a carnivorous frenzy. I felt like I had a amuse bouche.

In a scale of 1 to 4 with 4 being the best:
Value: 1.5. $12 for a lack-luster burger, taxes are due soon.
Atmosphere: I think this varies. I personally like dives, not artificial ones. Regardless, what the hell is wrong with the bathrooms. 2.
Service: 2.
Hotness of clientele: I feel in love with this guy. I was going to have Alex walk me down the aisle - until he took off his hat. 3.

Monday, December 28, 2009

2 Down – 28 to Go

2 Down – 28 to Go

Finley Mahoney’s
3701 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60613-4104

It was a good night in Bible Study. We read a god-forsaken essay about how Joseph was the ultimate symbol of love. A discussion I may write about later this week, but I would like to share that I came out looking like an asshole. As I said, it was a “good night,” and it was my group’s turn to clean the eating area. I did it in an expeditious manner and then sauntered off to Finley Mahoney’s for Irish Beer. What is this magical brew that intoxicates three quarters of Chicago during every Cubs game. It is interesting to ponder the improvement in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ findings if we were to ban Irish Beer. Would we be at full-employment?

I opened the door with trepidation (or maybe rigor mortis was beginning to set because the weather was fucking atrocious), would I become hooked. Would this be like mother’s milk to me. Would my church fellows have to stage an intervention to wean me off Finley Mahoney’s proverbial teat?

The first thing I noticed was how warm it was; in both, appearance, and temperature. I thought I stepped into Texas --- yes, Texas as decorated by Pottery Barn. Warm colors, dark hues, tall dark stools. It was a good looking place. As I entered it took me 30 seconds to find my group. We were a motley group of seven out of a total of 20-25 patrons. Most of them were at the bar, but I noticed three couples sitting at tables. I estimated that the place could comfortably sit 60-70. During game nights, when fire codes are mere formalities, I am sure a100 bodies have been jammed inside.

I sat down and attempted to strip 15 layers of clothing off my body when I was asked “so what do you have against kids.”

“Nothing, I just don’t think my friend should be dating a guy who has them.”

The inquisitor looked puzzled and unhappy, “But why.” I started to explain, and then I noticed, there was no server.

So I asked Craig, “what are you drinking.”

“Shlisist” he answered.

I had no idea what he was talking about. My god, was he already drunk? Is this the Irish Beer that has destroyed nations at work?

So I asked Ashley, and she said “Smithwick's.”

“Thanks.” She seemed cogent and alert as ever. But then I started to think, she could probably outdrink Craig and me combined.

The bartender ran over the specials, “$4 Harps, $4…, $4 … $4 Smithwick's, and $3 Jaegers. Do you want shots.”

“Oh, no thank you. I would like a Smithwick’s.”

“Cool, your server will bring it over.”

Well she kind of brought the Smithwick’s, apparently something happened to the keg, but she kindly informed me that the beer was free. Remembering that Sara told me to order something with potatoes, I ordered the “Tator Tots.” It was only yesterday when I remembered it should have been “Potato Soup.” Regardless, I was excited, the menu described the little spuds as mini little explosions in your mouth. To wit, the tator tots are supposed to be covered in cheese, bacon, chives, and some other delicious things (but I remember sour cream was not in the concoction). I was hoping to share these little goodies with the table. Develop some goodwill since I sullied Joseph’s good name. Of course the mental calculus was going on, who are the cool–craven ones who are sympathetic to my dogma. Who can I go to Joy’s with?

Much to my dismay, what came out were unadorned tator tots, with a ramekin of ketchup. What the fuck! I especially wanted Will’s approval since he is a cook at Bakin’ & Eggs. They were still crispy, delicious, and enjoyed all around; even sans carcinogenic pork. I hope they don’t hate me.

My free beer came, and I am not going to lie, it was amazing. I don’t drink much. When I go out, a few Amstel Lights (as suggested in Men’s Health) and that is good enough. Well, Smithwick’s kicks Amstel in the gonads, rips them out with its bare hands, and stuffs them with cream cheese before consumption. It was a tremendous beer. But I would like to note that Ashley P. thought the Pinot was unpalatable.

It is actually hard to gauge the value of the place. For a table of six (Eve left early and closed out her tab) the total came to $68-$69. From the itemized list there were 9 Smithwick’s, two pinot’s, another wine, and tator-tots ($4). I think we left $85, and we trudged down Broadway.

In a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best:

Value: N/A. My beer was comped, but normal tator-tots for $4 seems high, at the very least offer a curry aioli on the side.

Service: 3 (the server was friendly and efficient, and the comped Smithwick was unnecessary, but when a guy orders Tator Tot’s and there is a superior alternative, you should state “Would you like the Super Tots?”

Atmosphere: 4. I prefer it to the gay bars on the street over.

Hotness of clientele:

Women were a 5. My table may have skewed it a little, because the girls in my Bible Study are smoking.

Men --- well there were a group of heteros talking about abstinence. We looked over, I am not sure if the alternative was possible. But Craig and Will are adorable so I say from 0 to 3.

I know I broke my rule of not including my group, but my Bible Study group is that good looking.

Number One of Thirty: Kona Grill

Number One of Thirty: Kona Grill

Kona Grill
940 Milwaukee Ave
Lincolnshire, IL 60069
(847) 955-1210

Since yesterday of my blog post, I have received several text messages and emails indicating my readers’ enthusiasm regarding “30 Days – 30 Bars.” Being vainglorious I was naturally basking in all the glory and attention. On the other hand, I was taken aback by the fact that it appears that very few people care about my boy problems but appear to be interested in seeing me shit-faced. Regardless, I am a trooper and in a desire to make sure the reading is as pleasurable as my potential caloric intake, I posted an add on Craigslist seeking an editor/bar-pal/potential date. Alas, the positions have all remained unfilled.

But I digress, as I marched into work late today, I tried to reacclimate my body to the morning. Dear Reader, I spent a good 8 hours trying to get my Wizard Elf (with sexy face tattoo) to woo a sexy orphan-Paladin who has daddy problems; alas, I fear my orphan is interested in the scantly-clad lady bard. So as I turned on my computer and allowed a good 40 minutes for Microsoft Outlook to startup, I decided to make some coffee.

As I ambled onto the water cooler filling up my carafe, a co-worker, approached me and said “Man, your blog idea is legendary.”

I looked at her in a surprised manner that could only be elicited by caffeine deprivation “What --- the fuck are you talking about?”

“Dude, 30 bars awesome.” And she walked away.

It is a funny thing really; considering that I only speak to her 3-4 times a month. But similar situations kept on springing up. Lynn approached me and told me “we should go to Dancers.” What is Dancers? Well, it is a strip-bar that caters to a clientele whom like their strippers to be preggers. Guess what I updated my Outlook Calendar with.

Anyway today was quite the hellish day. Near 4:00 I almost had a melt down. I was reading quite possibly the most infernal document ever drafted since Faust. As I gnashed my teeth, Jennifer mentioned happy hour this week; she also continued with a brief discussion of her boy problems. Tempted in playing my favorite role, Dr. Eric, I suggested we do happy hour today – “like now.” With very little arm twisting, Candice and Clinton also joined. I threw out the suggestion Kona, and everyone joined my suggestion, Kona it is.

Dear Reader, Kona occupies a special place in my heart. Not only does it have a killer Happy Hour menu, but it has the hottest waiters in the Chicagoland Area – oh yes – it beats Boystown. A random appetizer sampler of the waiters at Kona include “Kona King,” who is so hot, that I once tried to trip my co-worker/girlfriend, Alex, just so then he would fall on top of her. Then there is “Peter-Pecker” the ambiguously gay waiter with an amazing smile. My friend Andrew, probably laid down $150 for me to develop the testicular fortitude to ask him out; I am still waiting for Peter to give me a peck. And lastly, there is “THE Cutie,” so cute, I stole two of his pens just so then I could say there is an object in this world that has both of our finger-prints. Yes, Kona is a special place to me, it is my Eden.

Well we finally returned to Kona (it has been awhile because Fridays are often packed, and the Peter thing made me avoid the place), and we noticed that the Happy Hour menu was revamped! Maki rolls are $3. Sliders are $5. Tacos (chicken, shrimp, or beef) are $4.50. In fact the most expensive item on the menu are the pizzas, which are $5.50. As we sat down, we were surprised by the new waiter. Yes he fits the archetype, but here it the kicker, he is Asian! I thought I was the only Asian in the northern suburbs. From my last Yelp search, Panda Express was in Downtown. What the hell was an Asian doing here, let alone a hot one! As I scanned the menu, clumsily thinking about eggrolls, Clinton ordered an amber-ale, Jennifer joined, and Candice (whom arrived a little bit later) ordered a frozen margarita. He came back, efficiently dropped off the drinks and asked me “Pardon me Sir, what would you like to drink.” I almost fell in love, a polite waiter, using proper English. I hate it when waiters ask “Are you ready to order.” My thoughts often go to “Yes, I am ready to order. But I am not going to tell you.” But this, this oriental cherub said “Pardon me Sir….” Anyway, I ordered ice water, extra ice.

Well after some talk with Jennifer about her guy issues, which are not really issues, but her lack in planning a military conquest, Hot Asian came by and took down our orders. Jennifer ordered pot-stickers and vegetarian maki. Clinton ordered sliders and vegetarian maki. Candice ordered calamari --- and --- vegetarian maki. I ordered chicken tacos and “tuna wanton skins.”

I would like to briefly talk about the decor and clientele of Kona. It is actually a pretty good looking restaurant. There is glass everywhere and the dinning room is very sleek. I believe the dining room has a maximum capacity of 100 people and it probably has 18-20 tables (8 of which are booths). The bar is a standard bar with a horseshoe shaped counter. The counter it sits 14 guests. And along the perimeter of the bar there are 6 high tables with allow for four to five guests each. Behind the bar is a foyer type area that has another 8-10 tables with a maximum capacity of 68. From there you get the view of a pretty nasty pond, several office parks, and a few residences with a lot of toys in the yard. But still it is a good-looking restaurant. The one real problem I have with the foyer, for some reason the tabletops are made with a particular material that becomes quite sticky when it is humid. An inexplicable sticky I may add.

I typically have one word to describe the clientale. Milf. Well, capital, bold, italicize, underline, and highlight “M,” and lower cases “l” and “f.” I have no idea where all the middle age women came from. But I noticed that they all had similar characteristics. They dress absolutely inappropriately for their ages, and they have hairdos akin to Dorothy of the Golden Girls. As it got later, the doors of Kona really opened up to these women. I felt like I was in Curves. I was surrounded by a sea of estrogen, I needed more ice.

Well the food came, and I must admit, I was very disappointed with the tuna wanton skins. The food was not bad, but the item made no sense. It was essentially four ozs of tuna sliced into six pieces and served over wanton skin and drizzled with some sort of indiscernible aioli. Now, I would like to reiterate, nothing that touched my mouth was objectionable, but the wanton skin was driving me crazy. The skin was literally one folded sheet of fried wanton skin, sitting as a foil to the tuna. Contrary to my friends and the boys on the street, my mouth is not that big. There is no way, I can fit the entire thing into my maw. You have to bite the item into two or three; thus, shattering the skin in greasy shards. Note, this was an attempt of making an amuse-bouche, but where it failed was that there is no way, that I could fit the entire thing into my mouth.

The chicken tacos were much more successful. Inside each taco (a total of four) were layered with fried chicken breast, avocado, cabbage and carrots. I also noticed that each taco was grilled before service, and each taco was resplendent. It was served with a peanut sauce, which I skipped because I found it to be an odd match for such a “taco.” The only minor complaint with the tacos were that they kept falling apart, but I think that is attributed to the kitchen’s zealous attempt to fill up each wrap (or use a binder at the end fold).

We lastly ordered a brownie sundae betwixt the four of us (Clinton actually passed because he needs to defend his girlish figure). This I must admit was a low point. The brownie, while the size of a loaf of bread was dense and dry. In fact the only way to consume this caloric brick is to essentially cut it with the vanilla cream; otherwise, you run the risk of choking. Since it is on the Happy Hour menu, I assume that there are fifty sheets of brownies sitting in the walk-in, and they are sliced when a Glutton raises his chubby fingers.

All in all, we left happy. Service was unbelievably attentive even when the waiter was essentially working 6 tables with a total number of 35 customers; granted I would have liked a little bit more attention. My total bill with tax and tip: $15. Full tummy, but a bit of dry mouth.

From a score of 1-5, with 5 being exceptional.
Quality: 3
Service: 4.5
Atmosphere: 3
Hotness of Clientele: 1

30 Years, 30 Days, 30 Bars

I just came back from a brunch that my Young Adults Church group recently implemented. I initially presumed that these brunches would be very interesting because I could learn more about my fellows who may have constrained themselves within hallowed halls adorned with stained glass, and scented candles. Well with the exception of a few, my fellows do live quite Christian lifestyles even when they depart from the pews. They are well-mannerd, patient, good-natured, and generous - everything that I am not. Well today we went to Goose Island, and I was staring at a menu with 10 different permutations of a burger, when out of the blue, I started to have the following conversation with a fellow:

"So I have been recently blogging on Facebook."

"Like in the Julia Child movie."

"Yea, I like to think I am more creative than the Amy Adams character, but essentially yes. I guess it would be easier if I had a husband to play the foil."

"What are they about."

"Well the last one was about Cap-and-Trade and friendships."

"I think that might be entertaining, but don't get me wrong, wouldn't that be unaccessible."

"OMG, what the fuck are you talking about. It is my life ...."

"Well don't get me wrong, quite brilliant, Cap and Trade really. But the thing is, Cap and Trade really?"

"So what should I do?"

"I think you should write about sports."

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"Ok, maybe not about sports, but what about food."


"I think it would be amusing to read some of your thoughts about restaurants. Or what about this, my friend is turning 30 and she is visiting 30 bars before her birthday."

"That is quite fascinating, I going to bogart that idea."

"Yea, and don't take offense, so you don't have a bf, you don't have to write about it in every blog."

"How do you know if I?"

"I presume you do, because you brought up the idea of a husband being a foil."

"Hmmm... so what are the rules?"

"It could be any bar, cereal bar, sushi bar, cupcake bar, bar with alcoholics."

"Nail bar?"

"Oh my gosh, that is exactly what my friend is doing."

So Dear Reader, I am turning 30 on March 7th, my quest is to write about 30 "bars." The rules, it cannot be a restaurant that just serves alcohol, it has to be a "bar" of some sort. If it is a restaurant like TGIF, I have to be sitting at the bar. If it is an unorthodox bar, such as a coffee bar, "Bar" must be in the name in the establishment; for example, I can't count "Super Cuts," but I can count "Nail Bar."

I will be grading on the following:
1. Affordability in relation to the area, and good provided.
2. Service
3. Atmosphere
4. Hotness of clientele (not including the attractive people I normally hangout with)

If you have any ideas, or wish to join me in my travels. Give me a call or send me an email.

I have till March 7th to visit 30.

Does Cap-and-Trade Apply to Friendships?

Does Cap-and-Trade Apply to Friendships?

Dear Reader, today has not been a particularly good day for me. Today started off as an excellent day. It was the day after an excellent Glee, the commute was perfect, and Bank of America paid back its TARP loan. But as the day started promising, an icy penumbra descended upon me. While discussing Glee, a particular co-worker announced her disappointment on how the writers treated Will’s marriage in a flippant manner. Naturally, this proved most offensive. Well this set off a conflagration of emotions, in particular a recent conversation I had a friend, which in turn further spoiled my mood. All of this ultimately resulted in an unpolitical email on my part in which a co-worker/very good friend rightfully took umbrage on. Ultimately, things are fine. I apologized, and we walked out as girlfriends again. But all this made me think, are our friendships miniature versions of Cap-and-Trade?

In reducing Cap-and-Trade to the most ridiculous of terms, the system is basically the trading of credits between producers to emit pollution. A company will be allocated a certain amount of credits based on several factors such as: number of employees, revenue, industry, and working capital. If a company expends all its credits, it has to go to the secondary market to purchase more credits. For example, if GM produces a bunch of Escalades and use up all its credits, it will have to go to Breyer Ice Cream (parent of Ben and Jerry’s) and purchase some of its credits. This exchange of credits, reminds me of the proverbial give and take in friendships and other relationships. My initial co-worker who brought up the marriage argument ticked me off, so what happened? Credit expensed. Which then leads to other problems, what do we do when all the credits are expensed, or even worse, what happens when a particular situation obliterates the entire pool of credits?

Dear Reader, I presume you are fully acquainted with my situation regarding Mr. Big. Well I had a conversation with an individual Sunday, and the topic of Big came along. I told him that Big is leaving on Tuesday, and that he might come back, but might is the operative word. This in turn lead to the statement “Oh, don’t take offense to this, but with how things are going for you, you will still be single when he comes back.” The conversation ended shortly after.

I discussed the conversation with several individuals. The first person essentially told me to use up a credit “That is how he is.” The second person told me that the only way to get more credits is if the individual apologizes “Fuck him. Has he said I am sorry.” The third person essentially told me that Armageddon descended into the secondary market, “I would punch him. In the face. In front of his mother.” Three different people, three different approaches to the market.

I find this concept of Cap-and-Trade quite fascinating. Because we all do it. Of further interest, is how we apply the secondary market. We don’t really purchase credits per se, but we do receive credits from other parties. An example is how my parents interact. Often after a particular slight no matter how petty or large, a person is dead to one of my parents, and it will often be the other who tells the injured to let it go. Essentially my mother gave my father a credit.

But I guess there are situations were the market is impaired and inoperative. A person who was particularly dear to me announced that he voted for Prop 8 due to religious reasons. I was inconsolable and irate; essentially, I was betrayed. On numerous occasions my Father tried to give me credits: first he told me that, “__ is young,” on another occasion he attempted to persuade me in resetting the market. “Let it go,” my father even tried to appeal to my side of contempt, loosely translated from Cantonese, “It is offensive, his brother wouldn’t do that, at least Jon didn’t. Forget about it.” Admittedly, a period after, the individual did send an email extending an offer of reconciliation that I never answered.

I had a dialogue with a friend about the conversation regarding Mr. Big. My friend asked, “Are you going to cut and run like usual.” It is a sad and profound condemnation – that my market is a constantly bearish. What is ironic, was that my co-worker/friend expensed credits on me. I apologized, and she said “Forget about it, Kuma’s next Thursday.” Thankfully, there are some markets that can post gains.

Do We All Have A Mr. Big

Do We All Have A Mr. Big

A quick Google search for the term “Mr. Big” brought some interesting results. But they all seem to have one vein in common – violence. For example, The Online Slang Dictionary defines “Mr. Big” as a very important person; similarly, another entry holds that the term Mr. Big refers to some high-up in the mafia. Videogames continued this trend when SNK made “Mr. Big” a sub-boss in the Art of Fighting Series. Don’t mess with Big because he will cap you in the knees.

But lets face it. Today, when we hear "Mr. Big," we do not think of Don Corleone. We think of Chris Noth. We think of Sex and the City (SATC). We have the image of the character that Carrie Bradshaw defined as, "the next Donald Trump" and "major tycoon, major dreamboat, and majorly out of [her] league." After three days of ruminating, and numerous discussions with many intelligent friends, I ask the question do we all have a Mr. Big?

Now, I like to state off the bat that this entry is not exclusive to women and certain subsets of gays. I attempted to find a “Mrs./Miss/Ms. Big.” I got nothing. I found a Ms. Big Booty on Myspace. I think my computer still has crabs after I clicked on that profile. But I presume that my discussion will apply to men as much as women. But maybe not, which might be the reason why Twilight appeals to me and not my brother.

The germ of this discussion occurred when I was talking to a very dear friend of mine. As always, if I am not complaining about work, I am complaining about the lack of bf prospects. Recently I came across a fellow who had very similar interests to mine. For example, he referred to himself as a Red Mage, “which is problematic because I can only get up to Lit 2.” Dear Reader, if you have no idea what I am talking about, that is totally understandable. Dear Reader, if you know what I am talking about, you understand why I am writing about Mr. Big. Needless, to say, we had a lot of shared interests. I think my cats liked him. He was good to waiters. Fun to be around. He was even knowledgeable about movies, comics, and books. He even went toe-to-toe with me about my views regarding the New Testament. I would also like to add that he is quite attractive. So all-in-all he is “way out of my league.” Why the hell are we even shopping at Whole Food Together. As Jack Farland said “He is the rare hot gay nerd.” Well things were going well, but things had to end. It is not like I was diagnosed with cancer, or decide to date women. Instead, it ended because he has to go to California for an advancement in his career. I really don’t begrudge him that. I told him I would do the same thing, and I mean it. But I asked my friend, is this guy my “Mr. Big?”

My friend does not think so, she argued that if he is my Big, then he will come back and we will be together. I also reminded her that there is a sequel in the works, meaning something happens to the relationship. She thinks I am crazy. Now I didn’t poll her, but I spoke to many of my female friends about this issue, and they all concur, they all have a Big – and they are not with Big. In fact with the exception of a friend who met her husband on Myspace (out of all places), I can say nobody ends up with Big, and that is fucked up.

Now there are three reasons to us not ending up with Big.

(1). Big is merely a romantic character dreamed up by some dried up man-hating crone. It is merely fiction, stop being such a Mo.’

(2). We don’t end up with Big because we settle.

(3). The Fates make it impossible to get Big.

Argument 1 is probably the one that heterosexual men would avail themselves with. Why else is there no Miss Big. No girl is outside their league. But the problem with Argument 1 is that so many people can relate to Carrie Bradshaw. And if that is the case, then you can’t just argue “It is just fiction.” It is intellectually lazy.

Argument 3 is quite possible and quite possibly the most heart wrenching. One of my best friends lost her bf in Vandy because after graduation he went to study in Japan. She stayed in Nashville. They broke up. Torrid romance occurred. I played the role of Will to her Grace.

But here is the funny thing about Argument 2, there were chances for her to end up with Big. Even when she was engaged to her fiancé (current husband), there was a mild transgression. They even talked about being together and being the ultimate power-couple. But something told her to stick with her proverbial Aiden, she settled, and chose and number 2. But here is the secret, she still talks about Big once awhile. That is fucked up.

I would like to attempt to seek solace by arguing that my friend is just a whore. Maybe she just married the wrong person. But then how do you explain the fact that many of my friends explain they have a Big, and they are now with Big. If that is the case. Why don’t we go to Big. Is it because Big is an asshole, and Aiden is safe? Do we want stability over the guy who is “way out of our league”? You would think no; hence, why is all of our folklore centered around the proverbial Princess or Prince Charming.

So why, why do we let our Big get away even when we get a chance? And if I don't have a chance, "way out of my league" or across the nation. Then what do I do? Move on? Become a romantic zombie? Look for a Big bigger than Big --- Mr. Bigger? But really, Lit 2.

My Life in Adam Lambert's Song.

Whataya Want From Me lyrics by Adam Lambert

"Hey, slow it down"
Except you, you effing freak with the WI plates driving 40 on the Edens. For the love of God and all that is holy, speed up.

"What do you want from me"
I have to say, my Mother was rather particular. She was the type who would say “A- why not an A+” In all fairness I have much to thank her for, including my current day demeanor. My father says I often sound like her. Whenever he says that, I die a little.

"What do you want from me"
When Sam walks on top of me in the morning, I know he wants more food. I have a dog bowl – oh yes a BIG dog bowl for his food.

Yeah, I'm afraid
Afraid of failure. Not having money. Nothing on my tombstone. Die alone.

What do you want from me
I want to be happy.

What do you want from me
I asked myself this when I was talking to my supervisor. As my co-worker said, we are doing charity work by subsidizing some floatsam.

There might have been a time
A time when I was even more crazy and high strung than currently. I would like to attribute my growth to many things. An SO for five years who taught me much. Cats. Age. The 33 Strategies of War.

I would give myself away
I did that a lot. I fell for the wrong people a lot. I have finally met a person I am rather fond of; alas, a move is eminent.


Once upon a time
I always wanted to be an archeologist. That changed when I was 8, when my Dad told me they did not make much money.

I didn't give a damn
When I was a kid, I didn’t care about calories. I ate a lot. 240 lbs was my max.

But now here we are
In Chicago, and it is effing snowing.

So what do you want from me
In Tuesday, I asked myself that in Church. I don’t know if I was having a dialogue with cosmic powers, or myself.

What do you want from me
If this was a dialogue with God. I would want the cessation of conflict – maybe like something like universal grace.

Just don't give up
I always regretted dropping “African Art” in Vanderbilt. It was the only class I ever dropped. I felt like I lost, or I disappointed myself.

I'm workin' it out
Reading Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.

Please don't give in
I did. I read Twilight.

I won't let you down
Here is the thing. I think I have often let a lot of people down. Like my parents, my brother, my SO at the time. I am near 30 and I should be able to carry a lot more on my shoulders.

It messed me up, need a second to breathe
During the final months of Lambda and I realized I did not want to do anything Constitutional (because of pay and a lack of brillance), I went into a shame spiral. I should have studied harder for the LSATs – gone to Columbia. I should have done better in Crim Pro – get hired at Latham and Watkins. My SO was subsidizing my existence. I thought I was useless.

Just keep coming around
I don’t eat meat much. But once awhile I love eating double cheeseburgers. Nom nom nom.

Hey, what do you want from me
There has been some talk about a list. What I really want is empathy, patience, strength.

What do you want from me
I hope that it is ok that I am a caffeine addict.

Yeah, it's plain to see
I am afraid of Lasik. Really, cutting the cornea is scary.

that baby you're beautiful
Not going to lie, my cat Frodo is a stud.

And it's nothing wrong with you
I felt bad when I realized that I often made my SOs feel inferior. I think it was a result of an ego complex. Well I still hate #1. I feel bad for #2. #3. Who?

It's me

I'm a freak but thanks for lovin' me
After reading this blog, I am sure I convinced you Dear Reader that I am a freak.

Cause you're doing it perfectly
I often admire my brother and my cousin in social settings. It seems like everyone always gravitate towards them. They are the perfect social butterflies.

There might have been a time
When I thought my views were perfect.

When I would let you step away
I burned many bridges. Many relationships. I hate losing – when I am close to losing, I step away.

I wouldn't even try but I think
I should do this more. Just act and not rationalize things.

you could save my life
To the surprise of people who knew me since high school, I am in favor of a public option.

Just don't give up
Unless it is organic chemistry.

I'm workin' it out
I need to lift more. I really like cardio because I can read while working out. For example, I read Time Out Chicago on the elliptical.

Please don't give in
I shouldn’t have sold out. Maybe I should have gone back to CA and work on the Prop 8 cases.

I won't let you down
I plan to say that in the future.

It messed me up, need a second to breathe
There was one time where I ate bbq at Smoque. It effed me up for a week. I literally had trouble breathing the next day.

Just keep coming around
I don’t really have many vices. I used to shop a lot.

Hey, what do you want from me
If Obama asked me this question, I would say reform the tax code. Incentives for green technology is fine. But the 35% marginal rate starts at $370k for a married couple. That is nonsense. It rates should be higher and the level should be lower.

What do you want from me
I want a six-pack like a Men’s Health model.

Just don't give up on me
You know what would suck, if there is a God and he is like the one in the Old Testament. He just presses the home key on his Playstation 3 and resets on humanity.

I won't let you down
It is funny because I don’t think my cat Frodo would. He often act like the guardian of my apartment.

No, I won't let you down
Let us say I have children. Will I tell them this?

So Just don't give up
I was amazed when my parents didn’t give up on the restaurant in their first 6 months. I am amazed by the fact that my Grandmother does not know how to read. She is one of the savviest people I know. Machiavelli would be proud.

I'm workin' it out
I am trying to be conscientious of what I eat. I don’t think the sentient should die for my consumption. I know, if there were dinosaurs they would eat us. I just don’t want to do it.

Please don't give in
If you do give into Twilight. Realize that the writing will suck. But you want to be Bella.

I won't let you down
I don’t think Edward does. Which is why I want a proverbial vampire with a soul.

It messed me up, need a second to breathe
One of the things that really messed me up when I was a kid was this guy in a wheelchair at the Stardust Buffet. I think my friends were laughing at him. I didn’t. The fellow and his parents were offended and approached us saying it was wrong. I should have said something before then. I should have told my friends to stop.

Just keep coming around
Resse’s Peanut Butter Cups please. And String Cheese. And Quinoa.

Hey, what do you want from me
A good potsticker in Chinatown. Really why is it so hard?

Just don't give up
Unless you are driving in Detroit. Then you are SOL.

I'm workin' it out
Writing an article about the sophistry of stock splits.

Please don't give in
I am not going to settle for Civil Unions.

I won't let you down
My debate partner at Vandy said that. She did. I was pissed. But I totally forgot about it till now. And even now, I don’t really care.

It messed me up, need a second to breathe
My parents and brother had a dog, Bobo. When I was younger, I was never really fond of the dog. He was kind of smelly, wrinkly, not the best looking canine. But he was one of our best dogs. I just finished undergrad, stayed with my parents. For some reason, I made it a ritual to give him a biscuit everyday. He followed me around in the morning just for that cookie. Then one day he had a stroke. I cried.

Just keep coming around
If you are still reading, thanks.

Hey, whataya want from me
This Christmas is going to suck, so at most, dinner.

(whataya want from me) Whataya want from me
That I can say next year will be better for all of us.

whataya want from me.

Why Even I Love Twilight

Why Even I Love Twilight

A few years ago I watched “Sex and the City” in my parents’ house. I was enrapt in the episode where Miranda was complaining about her new beau’s “funky spunk.” As I watched, sitting and transfixed with every word, with eyes agog and mouth agape my brother had the temerity to interrupt.

“I don’t get it,” as he munched into a tuna-salad sandwich.

“What the fuck do you mean? It is quite obvious what they are talking about. You know what I don’t get, ‘Sports Center.’ Is it that hard to open up the LA Times and read the sports section, do I need a gorilla to recite what happened fifteen minutes ago ….”

“Actually yes, Sports Center makes as much sense as the boring political stuff you watch. You made Darren write an essay – while watching C-Span.” He grinned.

I admit, I did make Darren do that. But after a brief moment of guilt, I was still perplexed. What can my brother, who is both intellectually superior and infinitely more socially graceful than I, can not understand about Sex and the City?

The central premise of the show transcends all race, sex, creed, religion, and sexual orientations. We have all been Carrie/Miranda/Charlotte/and Samantha at one time. Oh sure, I never had the joy of being much of a Samantha, but I did some things that she would have approved of. Note Samantha is emblematic of much more than sexual gymnastics. She is emblematic of freedom, a certain genou c’est quoi that we are all suppose to exhibit while living our lives. For example, without any consideration for Smith’s career (whom we were suppose to assume made it big under her wings) suggests that the four fly off to Mexico. Playing her professional ball-cutting attitude, Miranda suggest she can’t go because of work. But as I stated earlier, all four are archetypes. We have all been there.

I think the four archetypes in Sex and the City are not that much more different than the four in The Golden Girls, or Frasier, or even I Love Lucy.

(1) Carrie is Dorothy/Sophia is Frasier/Niles/Martin/Daphne is Lucy (when lucid), Ricky (when not screaming) or Ethyl (when not listening to Lucy)
(2) Miranda is Dorothy is Niles is Ricky.
(3) Samantha is Blanche is Frasier (at times, others is Daphne) is Lucy.
(4) Charlotte is Rose is Niles (at other times is Frasier, and near the end is Daphne) is Ethel

The running theme, is that we can exemplify all modes of life into four main characters: the capricious, the philosopher-king, the innocent, and the professional. Which is why my brother’s innocent comment “I don’t get it,” was, and to this day is so bewildering. What don’t you get? It has transcended generations of television. We would all ditch the male/female if he/she had funky spunk.

But unlike Sex and the City, the one cultural phenomenon that I bet my brother does not get – and rightfully so, is Twilight. I am on page 140 right now, but from what little I can gleam from this teenage epic is that it can only speak to the hearts of teenage girls, women, and special subsets of gay men. The first hundred pages of Twilight is all about (a) a red truck, and (b) the stages of some sort of love you know will end in a disaster.

For no good reason, the main character, Bella obsesses over the mysterious-pale fellow with ochre eyes. The first time we are introduced to the enigma he is described as “the beautiful boy …. Picking the bagel with long pale fingers.” By page 87, Meyer opens up a thesaurus and wrote “It was hard to believe that someone so beautiful could be real. I was afraid he might disappear in a sudden puff of smoke….” The book continues with this obsessions. “I wonder what Edward would say,” (about walking along the beach no less)! She dreams about him. She compares different potential mates to him. One would imagine that if she was in the middle of cuninglingus with a werewolf, she would ask him to bare his proverbial fangs. But unlike the characters in Sex and the City, I think my brother has a right in not understanding Twilight.

A quote that I can actually relate to is:

It was the same as yesterday – I just couldn’t keep little sprouts of hope from budding in my mind, only to have them squashed painfully as I searched the lunchroom in vain (for Edward) and sat at my empty Biology table.

This was during Bella’s obsession phase, where she was constantly longing for this random stranger (whom by the way she has spent the total time-span of a few lab experiments with). Edward this. Edward that. And yes even being disappointed when he is not at lunch. But guess what Dear Reader, that is me, and every woman out there. Now sure don’t send me hate mail by my general statements aimed at large cross-sections of the populace. I am sure there are the sentimental heterosexual males; for example, I work with one. I am also sure there are many women who really do live like Samantha Jones; for example, go to law school. But I can state that I know of many man-whores who can relate to the Chinese saying “For as many stars are in the sky, there are as many women on Earth.” But I, my female coworkers, my best friends (who are all women), and even a friend whom I refer to affectionately as the “Mo” have been there. We all looked at our cellphones to see if there is a missed-call, even though we last checked 5 mins ago. This Sunday, I even scanned my church several times to see if my crush appeared. Forlorn, I passed the collection plate without even reaching into my pockets.

People demonstrate surprise when I tell them I am reading Twilight. When I tell them I am reading a book about Katherine Graham it is acceptable, but Twilight – how dare I besmirch my bookshelf. But guess what, I read it because I am Bella. I (and every romantic) have searched the lunchroom in vain. We have all sat at an empty biology table.

If Fish Were Cute, I Would Be a Vegetarian. Part II.

If Fish Were Cute, I Would Be a Vegetarian. Part II.

If you think about it, how we eat is usually loaded with a political overtone. Many times it is overt and laced with politics. For example, I choose to eat Artic Char because it is sustainable. Sometimes it is bad marketing. I do not order Patagonian Toothfish; with such a disgusting name who knows what the dish will look like. Other times, I vote with my stomach, I like Chilean Seabass because it is buttery and delectable. But what I mean by political nature is that only in developed countries do we have such luxury. I partially blame Top Chef and the Food Network. I feel that many people think of themselves as Daniel Boulud when they go to Ihop. For example in my book club there was actually this heinous woman who actually complained about the lack of Diet Sprite. She then picked at every food item saying that she could not eat the lasagna because it contained sausage. Taking the bait, another member asked her if she was a vegetarian. She acted the way I would if someone asked me if my shoes are Kenneth Cole. “No,” she scoffed, “I am a pescatarian.”

For those confused, pescatarians are like vegetarians – but they eat seafood. They are the culinary equivalent of agnostics. I am sure many came to their decision with “I hedge because I need protein.” Excluding the Jezebel at Church, I know three pescatarians. And of the three, one does not regularly bludgeon me with the importance of choosing shrimp matter over the bovine variety. We shall call this acceptable pescatarian “Fibromyalgia” (once again for fears of libel, and, well he speaks about lawsuits more than me). But like the vegan from the party in Part I, the pescatarian, even the much-loved “Fibromyalgia” often talks about the gospel of their diet. One ranted about the perceived smaller carbon footprint in consuming salmon than bacon (wild salmon, not farmed because the latter variety is unsustainable). FN1. Another talked about the dangers and evils of poultry farms. A few months ago, my brother informed of the actual evils from shrimp hatcheries. All I can conclude is that I am skipping the “all you can eat shrimp special” at Red Lobster.

What is the need to proselytize about one’s diet? Not going to lie. I do it. In fact I am going to beat you Dear Reader to the punch. I stipulate, I am a pretty picky bastard while eating. I am not picky with food per se, just technique. For example, I lifted my nose at a hollandaise that resembled a custard more than a sauce. It would be easy to deflect all criticism by stating that my parents/grandparents cultivated my palate – they too are critical with their proverbial chopsticks. But I find my defense to be unavailing because I have one particular cousin who eats everything and never complains about broken bĂ©arnaise. I conclude that my feelings regarding technique is another form of politics. As the true Iron Chef opens “I am what I eat.”

Occasionally, I do vote with my stomach, I hate beans. This hatred of legumes can often play out in the chessboard that is life. Ordering an appetizer is often a “move”.
And even on my date Thursday, I tried to appear as amiable, charming, and well adjusted as I could feign, I had to assert “I hate beans.” It was a loaded comment really. A challenge. Like the Invasion of Poland, it was a declaration. If you dare order hummus as an appetizer, I will be leaving before dessert. Now this might not be the best example, because he did. There was a countermove, it was like he was saying “If you object, there will be no sugar with coffee afterwards.” I relented, I ate the mishmash of tahini and chickpea. It was another form of the politics with food. Like the vegan who objected to the ham salad, the cunt whom complained about the lack of Diet Sprite, and Fibromyalgia whom I can never take to Ruth Chris, the little skirmish over beans was political. Every time we order a menu, it is like reading Machiavelli. FN 2.

FN 1. I am quite surprised that this particular vegan could make such an assertion because it is normally outside the subject’s intellectual capacities.

FN 2. For those curious, I am glad I lost the Battle of the Chickpea

If Fish Were Cute, I Would Be a Vegetarian. Part I.

If Fish Were Cute, I Would Be a Vegetarian. Part I.

I have observed that in over the past five years there has been an explosion of people declaring themselves to have a diet contrary to our “normal” omnivore ways. Dear Reader, I do not wish to offend you if you are one of the many who goes into a “carnivorous frenzy” when he hears “Korean BBQ.” I merely state “normal” because we have both bicuspids and molars. If we only had molars, I guess we would be vegetarians. And if we only had bicuspids, I guess we would be vampires.

But why, why the phenomenon to declare that you are: the relatively-common “vegetarian,” or the militant “vegan”? Why isn’t it like sexuality or even one’s preference for shoes. I keep it to myself, and if you really want to know, just look in my closet. I am reminded about an event in college where my roommate and I brought ham salad to a party. In retrospect it was a bad idea. I still flog myself knowing that I contributed to the increased sodium and nitrates of some of Nashville’s young-and-finest. But I also rationalized it with the fact that my roommate bought the thing, I was merely an accomplice. Anyway, we carried it to the party and my roommate who will be known as “Stan” (I am withholding his actual name in fear of libel), placed the salad in the fridge. After doing so, we marched our awkward selves back into the group hoping to be assimilated by the college equivalent of Species 8472. While Stan was awkwardly flirting with this ogress, who was too good for him, I was fumbling through the host’s bookshelf. Tuesdays with Morrie (blech!), Suzie Orman (please shoot me), something by Mary Higgens Clark (egads!!), and an equally my mind-numbing diddy by Nicholas Sparks (but if any of you talk shit about the Notebook, I will fucking shank you). As the mental pinball was bouncing through my head – as I judged the host on her lack of literary good taste, I heard a minor commotion in the kitchen. A few of the guests went over to the kitchen to see what was happening. I was merely thumbing through Who Moved My Cheese, when a girl, with somewhat pleasant features, of average height, excellent shoes, stumbled out of the kitchen yelling “Who the fuck put ham in the fridge – I am vegan!” I volunteered “Stan did because it was on sale at Kroger.”

Stan does not talk to me anymore. We were never the best of friends, but we were chums. We were roommates. I knew more about his feeding, bathing and migratory habits than his mother. But somehow, like plate tectonics, we drifted apart. I like to think he lost his life in a fraternity; comprised of 4 members. That I lost mine at Yves Saint Laurant. But as I write, the more I am willing to pin the blame on that harpy at the party. I guess Stan viewed me as Judas for selling him out, and I do not view him as one who would read the Apocrypha. But you have to understand, Dear Reader, this banshee in fabulous Manolos was out for blood. She apparently cannot eat anything that shares the same fridge with any sort of meat product.

Well she is the only vegan I ever met. Like politics, religion, and sexual positions, I guess there are many extremes. Maybe not all vegans are crazy like that. But I only met one, so my sample size is too small for me to judge. But you know what I find aggravating? Well that come back for Part II.

For Tomorrow: If Fish Were Cute, I Would Be a Vegetarian. Part II

Is 98 Too Much?

One of the classes that most influenced my life was "Literature and the Law." I learned more about Equal Protection, the Commerce Clause, and Due Process from reading Hawthorne, Melville and Richard Wright than I did in law school. But a memorable quote that I remembered was one that had nothing to do with literature, or the law. My professor was lecturing about the importance of labels and group thought, and in the middle of discussing the importance of Liberia in Uncle Tom's Cabin, he ejaculates what would be unthinkable for an Associate Professor reaching for the golden rod that is tenure (but would lead to an automatic promotion for a school like Vanderbilt), "We are all racists in bed."

It is an interesting notion really. Recently I asked a dear friend if she agreed with this comment. She answered, "Absolutely not, I am a slut." I can actually vouch for her. She is quite the harlot. But I really thought about this situation. In the time when China is ascendant, a Black man is president, and Rick Bayless has made Latin comida all the craze, maybe the 14th amendment has hit the boudoir. But reality hits. In attempt to bring enjoyment to you Dear Reader, I decided to engage in an intellectual exercise and went on Match.com. At a random search, I pulled 600 profiles in Chicago. In the profiles I check the box for a preference for Asian. Of the 600, less than a 100 registered. I may also like to illustrate that many of the profiles that populated were also included for not listing a preference (perhaps brothers of my friend). Sadly enough, many of us may be racists in bed.

But even beyond the issue of race. We do screen out mates. We all have lists. Recently I have been derided by some good friends, and best hags for my list for a potential mate. The list, in its third incarnation totals 98 items. I don't have things enumerating race, but I do have: (20) Can manipulate the Keynesian Cross; (26) Can filet a fish; and (70) Knows who Tom Ford is. In those three items I have effectively screened 90% to 95% of the population (think of my plight if you read Kinsey). In those three items, what was once many fish in the sea, becomes a guppy in my proverbial fish bowl. In order to hit all three, one would likely have gone to college - Keynes is unfortunately not taught in high school. Holding all things equal, one would have to be in a significant tax bracket - Tom Ford's cologne goes for $160. Lastly, one would have to be a foodie - because who really wants to gut a fish. Dear Reader, you are probably thinking, bullshit. What about the college kid at the Art Institute working at Red Lobster? Surely he has heard of Keynes in macro, knows Tom Ford through GQ and can filet a fish when the diners roll in. Excellent point, but I would also like to point to (2) Read the NYT (I am generous to add NYT.com in Version 2), (12) Name 10 DOW Components, (75) Hates Summer blockbusters, (80) Read Lord of the Rings, and (93) Does not have a hard drive worth of porn. I am pretty sure the sous-chef has been knocked out by #2 and #12. But surely, #93 knocked out the college student.

I want to point out, not all my items are focused on the material. I do not look for a mate because he can buy me an island. What I want is someone who has similar values that I have. I stipulate, many are focused on business and finance. (98) Know the difference between an IRA and a 401(k), (11) Watch CNBC and (1) Read The Wall Street Journal. Why? Because I like talking about business, and money. Not because resources buy nice things, its just of interest to me. My relationship with CNBC is akin to many at a bar. This Sunday I passed by a bar, where many crowded around the Green Bay game. None of them have the body or potential to participate in such sport. But they were screaming and jostling like zombies after the last starlet in a mall. Similarly, I just like watching a stock ticker. But even with dealing away with the 20-25 items that revolve around Peggy Noonan, Milton Friedman, and Ayn Rand, I also have many for my own personal convenience. For example: (44) Doesn't drink much - I can't process alcohol very well, or (77) is ok with reading in the bathroom - not since Alexandria has a room housed so much material.

The crucible of all this is, 98 seems like alot. But is it really? We all do it. Some do it with religion; "I will not marry outside my faith." Others do it with finances. And some, yes some do it on race. This list does seem excessive, and admittedly, nobody will ever hit all 98. None of my ex bfs even hit 30.

Over the weekend at brunch, several brilliant fellows argued that I am seeking someone like myself. Hogwash. (86) Spontaneous, (77) Compassionate, (92) Good Listener. Well I am 92, but 86 and 77, I think not.

So why, why do I keep it? Am I a romantic. I presume items 1-67 prove I am not. My friends are right, maybe I should reduce it from 98. Maybe Tom Ford is not all that important. But (43) Order Appetizers are.

For Wednesday: If Fish were Cute, I would Be a Vegetarian.